Big in Iceland, 2003

Three songs were all over the radio and TV when Kelly and I were in Iceland in 2003 for our honeymoon, and I find that they frequently pop into my head.

“Be Faithful” by Fat Man Scoop

I love the sampled from “Chic Cheer” & Black Sheep, but what gets me about this song is how in your face is. It’s exhausting to listen to, and the video is a little terrifying.

“Slow” by Kylie Minogue

I like all the whitespace in this one. Weird that the video takes place poolside because all I think about when I hear it is the frozen Reykjavik landscape. If I remember correctly, I took this picture out the window of of our bus back to Keflavik:

Iceland Landscape near Keflavik

“Call of the Wild” by Gus Gus (Warning! It’s gross.)

Sorry about this one! When the video for this was on in our hotel room, we couldn’t stop watching. I can’t imagine this ever playing on US TV. Definitely recontextualizes the title and lyrics.

“Claire” by Baxter Dury

After a helping a friend set up a new blog this week, I realized it was time to revive DRNRN!, which I’d been planning to do for months now. Mostly after seeing what Kaleb’s been doing over at Dynamite Chair, I’ve been thinking of changing my approach (which had been to post single tracks from my record collection) to focusing more on single tracks from anywhere, if they mean something to me. So, here goes.

This one is still a bit of a vinyl story, since it involves the new single from Baxter Dury that arrived in the mail yesterday. It was technically a Record Store Day 2011 release, but since the US has consistently slept on Dury, it was only available in the UK. I bought it from Banquet Records last week and it came very quickly. (Aside: have you noticed how much more skillfully packed parcels from England tend to be? So slender, yet so strong!) The person who packed the 45 left a little note for me along the lines of “Thanks for your order. Did you manage to pick up any other RSD ’11 items? -Chris.” I was dying to answer yes, I did, but realized I couldn’t. I imagine he knows I did.

Anyway, without further ado, “Claire.”

The b-side is an equally great song, “The Sun.” Both are a little crisper and brighter than his other records, but very much in the same vein. Baxter’s songs are so different from his father’s in almost every way, but the wryness, the humor, and the effortless way they inhabit the characters in their songs. Here they are together on the cover of New Boots and Panties:

2002′s Len Parrots Memorial Lift and 2005′s Floor Show are both subtlely brilliant records that never got the attention they deserved, as evidenced below.

Beneath The Underdog

Lucifer’s Grain

Francesca’s Party

Cocaine Man

For those interested in both Durys, the film “Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll” is a must see, but probably for fans only. It’s on Netflix Instant!

Oh, and to Chris from Banquet: I picked up the two Black Angels RSD ’11 releases and I’ve been obsessed with “Melanie’s Melody” and “Choose to Choose” for the last 6 weeks.

“You sold the cottage” by Martha and the Muffins

martha.jpgBefore another month goes by, I have to make another post. I have many on deck, and a big project to procrastinate from, so I’m hoping to squeeze in a few posts this week before we go on vacation the first week of August. & on the cusp of something great is the perfect time to post about Martha & the Muffins (later M+M), one of the greatest Canadian bands of all time. & that’s saying a lot.

This track, from their 3rd LP, This is the Ice Age,  is one of my favorites, and demonstrates their keen attention to sound. Their albums are so amazingly mixed it gives me goosebumps to listen to them. Also, this album’s cover is just gorgeous in every detail, down to the tiny typography.

This is the Muffin’s first album produced my Daniel Lanois, the production genuis– he happened to be the brother of Jocylene, the band’s new bassist. Lanois, with Brian Eno, is responsible for blowing the world’s mind with the production on the Joshua Tree. The band eventually had 2 Marthas (!) and even featured Tim “not that Tim Gane” Gane and his brother Mark. Talented siblings.

Martha & The Muffins, “You sold the cottage” from the This is the Ice Age LP on Virgin (1981).

You should pick up a copy of the reissued Danceparc cd ASAP.

Here’s a video of the group performing “Echo Beach,” from their first album.

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 & a mix I recently made featuring their great track “Cheesies & Gum” about 1/3rd of the way in (track 6).

“Subways” by Urban Verbs

urban.jpgUrban Verbs reunited recently. My friend Haley told me in advance. I was meaning to post this a while before Haley, outta nowhere, asked me about them. NPR has a recording of the show. A good band that you can learn about here. The fact everyone will tell you bout them is that this is Chris Frantz’ (Talking Head/Tom Tom Club/Producer of less-popular Happy Mondays albums)’s little brother Roddy’s band. I bet they hate hearing that all the time. The baggies of water on this cover freak me out a bit; don’t like thinking about wet photos.

Urban Verbs, “Subways” from their self-titled LP on Warner Brothers (1980)

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“Sunny Day,” by Pigbag

pigbag.jpgPigbag is an absurdly funky post-punk ensemble. I ripped this track (the version from the Stiff US 12″) recently for a mix I listened to while training for the 2008 Buffalo Marathon (which I ran last week and got a PR of 3:44!). It’s got all the Pigbag trappings, frenetic funky beat, horn blasts, and countless changes. Theses guys are tight.

I was prompted to post this track this yesterday when I saw that the always fantastic Fantod Under Glass has made available a live Pigbag LP that I didn’t even know existed. Head on over and check it out.

More on Pigbag here. This band has been getting ripped off for years, but somehow still sounds incredibly fresh.

Pigbag, “Sunny Day,” from the 12″ single on Stiff Records (1981)
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“And He Descended into Hell” by Microdisney

crooked.jpgA strange, downtempo, twangy number from Microdisney, which feaures Sean O’Hagan of The High Llamas and Turn On (and, frequently, of Stereolab).

This album will feel familiar to any High Llamas fans, as it includes many lush arrangements of strangely-worded pop songs. Plenty of banjo as well. What’s a little strange about it is that the songs sound almost like they’re trying to be conventional… something I think O’Hagan is incapable of. I wonder if that’s the major label influence.

The first time I came across this album was in the mid 90s at School Kids Records in Carrboro, NC. There was a title card for them in the CD stacks, but no discs. I later found this LP at a store in Cleveland, and noticed Sean O’Hagain was involved. Needless to say, I think $1.99 was a deal.

Microdisney, “And He Descended Into Hell” from the Crooked Mile LP on Virgin Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth two-fer

tollbooth.jpgA few days ago, I went on a long walk on Brooklyn in search of some clementines. I ended up getting some at a produce stand in Cobble Hill, which is separated from my neighborhood by the Gowanus Canal, a filthy, opaque body of water that fills with poop when it rains. Jonathan Lethem called it the only body of water in the world that’s 90% guns in Motherless Brooklyn.

Anyway, when I was walking across it, I was reminded by Phantom Tollbooth‘s song “Down by the Gowanus,” and here it is, a fittingly fractured, sludgey ode to the canal. It’s short, so I’ve also included the brief instro freakout “Circle of Wolves.”

I’m sure someone could prove me wrong on this, but I think that Homestead Records pretty much ruled the late 80s– I’m only appreciating how much this is true in hindsight. Most everything they but out but the Dinosaur Jr/Sebadoh/Big Black stuff bored me to tears back then. Maybe this is grown up rock.

Phantom Tollbooth, “Down By The Gowanus” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth, “Circle of Wolves” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

“Kelly Kilogram” by Janeen Brady

metrics.jpgSorry for two reasons! First, I apologize for not posting for so long… I’ve been having some hardware issues lately that are keeping me from getting good recordings. Hope to have that sorted soon. So, on to the next apology: this post is only about half as good as it should be. I bough this metric system indoctrination LP in Boston several years ago because of this song, “Kelly Kilogram.” It’s got a great groove, but I was disappointed that the singer envisions Kelly as a man, instead of a woman. I was hoping to make this my wife’s theme song.

Anyway, here it is. I wish we were on the metric system.

Janeen Brady, “Kelly Kilogram” from the The Metrics Are Coming LP (1977)

“This Is How It Feels (robbery mix)” by the Inspiral Carpets

this.jpgIt’s time to get your early-90s dance on. This track is from the remix EP of the Inspirals’ downer hit single from 1990. The b-side of this ep, the “drum mix” is nearly unrecognizable as a derivative of the original single, but this version has a bunch of bit that you’ll remember.

What I like most about this EP (aside from the cover) is that it seems to fundamentally betray the sentiment of the original song, without any hesitation. Crazy times.

Inspiral Carpets, “This Is How It Feels (robbery mix)” from the This Is How It Feels Remix 12″ on Mute Records (1990)

3 solo works by Pere Ubu’s David Thomas

Due to some irritating computer problems across three systems, I’ve been unable to post lately. Sorry for the delay. I hope, in the mean time, you’ve found that I’ve posted many great new music blogs to the Now Rock N Roll Now! section of the sidebar. Click through to find some great tracks.

vocal.jpgToday’s post brings together three tracks from Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas. The first two tracks are from the Vocal Performances 12″, and they suggest that Thomas may have been a bit reigned-in by the structure of Pere Ubu. The “Sloop John B” cover is just strange, and sounds like it was recorded secretly in a public place. The version of “Petrified” (which also appears, in a more fleshed out vein, on Songs of the Bailing Man) is a bit more engaging, but still feels like it was made for an empty audience. I think the sleeve for this disc is a masterpiece of graphic design.

David Thomas “Sloop John B,” from the Vocal Performances 12″ on Rough Trade Records, 1981

David Thomas “Petrified,” from the Vocal Performances 12″ on Rough Trade Records, 1981

moreplaces.jpgThe third track in this post is David Thomas amongst friends, including Pere’s Tony Maimone on Bass. It’s more of a groover in the off-kilter Pere Ubu style.

David Thomas & The Pedestrians “Enthusiastic,” from the More Places Forever LP on Rough Trade Records, 1985

Relately and belatedly, RIP Jim Jones.