A Perfect Circle's first album, Mer de Noms, has been on heavy rotation around here lately. Particularly, Judith, which is singer Maynard Keenan's ode to his mother's faith after she had suffered a stroke. Basically, the song is him questioning why she continues to pray despite the tragedy life has chosen to slap her with (praise the one who left you broken down and paralyzed/he did it all for you). The music matches the lyrics, cascading down sheets of screaming anger, always seemingly about to veer out of control. I've found it all to be an intense experience.

You're such an inspiration
For the ways that I will
Never, ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your savior has abandoned you

Fuck your God, your Lord, your Christ
He did this, took all you had and
Left you this way, still you pray, never stray, never
Taste of the fruit, never thought to question "why?"

It's not like you killed someone
It's not like you drove a hateful spear into his side
Praise the one who left you broken down and paralyzed

He did it all for you...
He did it all for you...

Oh so many ways for me to show you
How you dogma has abandoned you

Pray to your Christ, to your God
Never taste of the fruit, never stray, never break, never
Choke on a lie even though he's the one who
Did this to you, you never thought to question "why?"

It's not like you killed someone
It's not like you drove a spiteful spear into his side
Talk to Jesus Christ as if he knows the reasons why

He did it all for you...
He did it all for you...
He did it all for you

Religion is always a touchy subject, and I'm certainly not here to judge. Like anyone, I've had my experiences with it. I'm not for or against religion, I have no problem accepting that other people believe in something and pray to a god. So it seems a little weird to me that he is not okay with her faith through the troubles. She has something to give her hope, so what's wrong with that? If that's what gets her through the day, then that would be a good thing...right? Then again, I might change my tune if it were my mother or father who was bed-ridden, unable to physically function and cope with day to day life itself.

A Perfect Circle > Judith


I'm coming home, via Chicago

I'm off to Chicago for the long weekend. Laters!
Wilco > Via Chicago


California Love #1: Neko Case > In California

I've been toying with the idea of posting a series of songs that are specifically about San Francisco or even songs that just briefly mention San Francisco. Mostly because I this is my home and I think it might be fun to dig out tracks like that. I think, however, that I will expand it slightly and go for mentions of either San Francisco or California. One of the best compliments I've ever received was from a girl, Stephanie, with whom I had a major falling out. It was a very ugly and very public shouting match at the courthouse downtown, of all places (don't ask). That was in the mid-nineties, and I haven't seen or spoken to her since. In any case, the compliment she paid me was obviously before our little brouhaha. I don't really remember the context in which she said it, but it was pleasant (I do remember that much!) and she said, "You're a real Californian." She was (is) from Sweden, so it gave me an odd sense of pride, although I think she was mostly commenting on the laid back nature of my personality. Which is fine, I suppose, and here we are.

So, I think I'll start with Neko Case's
In California, which was originally written by Lisa Marr of The Lisa Marr Experiment. I'm gonna roll with Neko's version, as that's the one with which I was first acquainted and with which am more familiar. This particular version is from Neko's Live from Austin, TX album, which was recorded for Austin City Limits in 2003 but released early this year. It also appears on her Canadian Amp EP, from way back in 2001.

I like the slow pace and the feeling of heartache that her voice conveys. It's bittersweet story of leaving home and trying to make it big in LA, with lines like
now I'm livin' in Korea town/waking to the sound of car alarms; and in the land where the sun's always shinin'/I'm cryin alone/palm trees are laughin' at me.

I think my favorite line has to be
another fool playin' songs that don't matter/to people who chatter/endlessly. You can almost feel the frustration dripping onto the words as she sings them. The song ends on a sorta hopeful note, they tell me LA is beautiful/when it rains, but I'm not sure if the rain is supposed to be her tears or not. Either way, I guess.....

Neko Case > In California


The Future Is Unwritten

There's a new documentary about Joe Strummer, called The Future Is Unwritten. So far, it seems to be playing in the UK only, hopefully it gets out here soon because I'd really like to see it. I'm almost ashamed to say I got into The Clash so late, waaaaay after they were gone. Joe Strummer seemed like a real, genuine hero. I bet it would have been fascinating to have a chat with him over a few beers. Seems only fitting that he should do a cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song. You can find this on the Streetcore album, which was released in 2003, just after his death. He was working on this album at that time. He also had recorded a duet of this track with Johnny Cash, which shows up on the Cash 5-disc box set, Unearthed. So I'm posting both versions just because I like them. It might be overkill, but whatever, I'm just trying to share the love.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros > Redemption Song

Joe Strummer & Johnny Cash > Redemption Song


A Call To Arms

I used to love this one when I was a kid. I'd sing along every time it came on the radio. I don't really know anything about Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. I know that they came out of that mid-70s Philly soul era, but that's about it. This track is the shortened radio edit, I suppose. The album version is roughly twice as long, around 7-8 minutes. I actually prefer the edit because the original version kinda drags for me. There's no reason a song like this should go on that long unless they're gonna introduce each band member and let them do a solo. Even though the music might sound a little dated, the social awareness lyrics still apply today. I'm actually a little surprised nobody has tried to remake this song. Perhaps somebody has, I probably just don't know about it. I'd imagine George Michael or maybe Rick Astley trying to do this up, early 90s style. I know Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes did the original version of If You Don't Know Me By Now, because it's on the greatest hits compilation I have. You're probably more familiar with the Simply Red version and perhaps, more recently, the hilarious David Brent (from The Office UK) version. Anyways, check this one out.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes > Wake Up Everybody


What a beautiful life

There's too much information on the net. I mean, it's a good thing, but it can be so overwhelming. Just look at music alone. 20 years ago, there was a build-up for the release of an album. Sometimes the anticipation would just about kill you. Now, most people wait around to see when the album will be leaked onto their favorite file sharing sources. And before the album has been officially released, many have already heard it, passed judgment, and are onto the next thing. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting to know the music the way I used to, just because there's so much of it available, whether it's legal or not.

The cool thing, of course, is that there is now music available to you that, twenty years ago, you wouldn't have even heard or dreamed about. How many of us are listening to more foreign language artists (I'm of course coming from the point of view as an English speaking American). I know I'm listening to a lot more Japanese stuff for sure, as well as Spanish, Korean, and Chinese.

So what's the fucking point? Glad you asked. A couple months ago, I read a review of Gui Boratto's
Chromophobia over at Stylus Magazine. The review was especially glowing, and had me intrested in hearing the album, so I went and downloaded a few tracks to check out. However, I had forgotten about it all too soon and went on to be consumed by some random obsession (probably j-pop). Then, last week, I happened to be checking out a random blog (it was actually the blog of Ramesh, from Voxtrot) which was mentioned Gui Boratto's Beautiful Life, from the Chromophobia album. I gave it a spin and really liked it...and then I realized I had already downloaded it a long time ago, but I had too much on my plate to even give it the time of day.

So yeah, the point is...THERE'S TOO MUCH!! Either that, or I need to slow down. But it's so hard to slow down where there's so much great music that you'll never, ever hear.

As for Gui Boratto
, he is a DJ and producer of electronica and house music in his native Brazil. Perhaps if not for the internet, this guy might be a hero only in his own land. Who knows, he might not even being doing what he's doing if it weren't for the net. Instead, he's reaching out across continents and people are reaching back. Yeah, there's a ton of everything out there, accessible to anyone with a computer, and it can be overwhelming. But when the alternative is silence and waiting, I'll take the information overload.

Beautiful Life
is indeed a beauty. I love the blissed out ending with the New Order style bass goin on. Great fucking track and the rest of the album is solid as well. Yeah, I finally gave it a proper listen, several times over. It is a beautiful life.

Gui Boratto > Beautiful Life


Like a rat, I want to be beautiful

My copy of Linda Linda Linda finally showed up on my doorstep. I saw this last year at the Asian American Film Fest here in San Francico. It's a very laid back and charming movie about a band of girls trying to learn a song for their high school talent festival. They choose to cover "Linda Linda", by the Japanese punk band, The Blue Hearts. One of the more amusing scenes, for me, was when they were rummaging through a box of old cassette tapes, trying to decide which song to play. One of the girls says, "Puffy?", to which the other replies, "Are you kidding me?"; and then they move on to the next tape. I'm the big PUFFY fan, remember?

Another one of the more amusing aspects of the movie is the singer of the Paranmaum (At the end of the movie, the band are introduced as Paranmaum). The guitarist and the original singer had a falling out, so the girls were sitting around in the courtyard wondering what to do next. They finally say that the next female to pass by will sing for the band. The next female happens to be Son, an exchange student from Korea whose Japanese is lacking. It's very funny but not in a stupid slapstick-y way. Everything about the film seems so natural and genuine. It's not gonna change your life or blow you away, it's simply a cool little film. I completely recommend it, so check out this scene from the movie.

They also made a PV (promotional video) for the song, "Linda Linda Linda", and an actual EP as well, featuring songs from the movie. The EP is called "we are PARAN MAUM", and the video is below. They also have a myspace page, now you can friend them! BFF! THX 4 TEH ADD!!~!


I'm so unsatisfied

This is from The Replacements' 1984 classic, "Let It Be". The way Paul Westerberg screams "I'm so unsatisfied" is filled with heartache, pain and hopelessness. It kinda makes me thinking of hearing an echo in a canyon. The song is sad, angry, and beautiful all at once. I know there have been more than a few times when I would have liked to scream it out. The rest of the album is pretty solid as well. It's worth having if only for "Unsatisfied", "Androgynous", "I Will Dare" and their straight-ahead cover of Kiss' "Black Diamond".

One of my favorite concert memories involves the first and only time I had seen The Replacements. They were playing The Warfield Theater in San Francisco, touring for what would be their final album, "All Shook Down". I ended up going with this girl I kinda liked at the time, Laura Pesavento (I'm not sure how/why I remember her full name). The day of the show was the day the gulf war started in 1991, it was all so surreal. I went to Laura's and collected her and we headed downtown on my motorcycle. When we got to Market / Van Ness, there were hundreds of protesters walking around in the streets. I slowly navigated my way through the crowds all the way down to 5th Street, and we parked the bike in an alley. Once we got in, the place was packed tight and the Mats rocked every single one of us. Superb, superb gig, I'm glad I was able to see them at least once in my life.

The Replacements > Unsatisfied



I didn't plan on this, but my buddy Wood, from the John Heron Project, asked if I was going to post about it, so why not. This slightly expands on a post I made over on the Bowlie board.

I was at a get-together this past weekend for someone's birthday. We ended up drinking quite a bit and playing Guitar Hero. Someone chose to play Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" and a Nirvana conversation sprang up between the non-participants. The conversation then naturally turned to Alice in Chains and it got me thinking about how much I used to like their album, "Dirt". Yesterday, I gave it a spin and the album still sounded as good as I remembered it, kinda heavy and electrifying, with all the subtlety of a Mack truck plowing through your living room.

I loved the darkness of the album. It was bleak and hopeless, with themes of addiction and doom running through every song (it's all about heroin, man). Add in Layne Staley's vocals, which sometimes bordered on creepy, Jerry Cantrell's distorted guitar, and the solid rhythm section and you have a damn good album.

Someone had responded by echoing almost exactly what I had said, and then adding that AiC were a third rate metal band who got lucky. I think I'd be inclined to agree because "Dirt" is the only album of theirs that really worked for me. I bought the others ("Facelift" and the self-titled "Alice In Chains") and they weren't nearly as good in my mind. However, the "SAP" and "Jar of Flies" EPs were quite good and fairly intense, despite being, musically, much more mellow than "Dirt".

The way I found "Dirt" was a bit unusual. My friend, Jennifer, whom I've known since junior high, was the one to recommend "Dirt" to me. Now, if you had ever seen her, you wouldn't guess by looking at her that she'd be listening to this album. If you spoke with her, you probably still wouldn't guess it, as she's very friendly, engaging and disarming. She's very cool, we have a lot in common and we're still pretty good friends these days; although I was recently disheartened to discover that she likes The Clash's "Cut The Crap" -- oh, the horror. She's gonna be pissed off if she reads this.

Alice in Chains > Dam That River


If I was young, I'd flee this town

I've been meaning to write about Beirut for a while, but I always keep pushing it back for whatever reasons. I know, I know. A million people have already hyped this band last year and I'm late late late, but I don't care. Like I've said before, there's no timetable to this page, I just do whatever whenever. So yeah...my friend, Vanessa, turned me onto the debut album, "Gulag Orkestar", sometime last year. I was kinda put off by it at first listen, but I tried again and the melodies slowly found their way into my brain. I really like the whole old school European sound he uses. Apparently some people make a big deal over authenticity...meaning it can't be good if it's from a 19 year old in New Mexico as opposed to actual musicians from the Balkans and whatnot. Whatever, he's making the music he wants to make, and it's different from most indie bands you run into these days.

The one really cool thing, I think, is the cover of the album. I don't know how true this is (because I haven't really seen anything on it), but Vanessa said the guy found the photograph in-between the pages of a book in a library in Germany. I think it's a pretty cool photo, kinda like a slice of life moment in time thing.

(edit) -- found info on wikipedia
It is written in the booklet that the front and back photos were found in a library in Leipzig, torn out of a book. The original photographer was unknown to the creators of the album while it was recorded, but has since been discovered to be Sergey Chilikov.

In any case, this track, "Elephant Gun", is actually from Beirut's follow-up EP, "Lon Gisland". I love the opening line, "If I was young, I'd flee this town, I'd bury my dreams underground". It just hits me perfectly, I can't explain it, it's just a great song. You can check out other tracks on Beirut's myspace page and on the official site.

Beirut > Elephant Gun


Unfortunate Truths of the World #47

From Marva Whitney's most excellent album, "It's My Thing", which is sooooo worth tracking down. This track features some dude named James Brown, you may have heard of him. So make this your daily mantra and sing that shit out loud. MACEO!

Have a cool weekend ^_^

Marva Whitney > You've Got To Have A Job (If You Don't Work, You Can't Eat)


I'm gonna try my best move, I'm gonna leave you way behind me

While we're talking about the late 80's/early 90's, anyone remember The Primitives? I played that one album, "Lovely", to death. It's chock full of insanely catchy power pop gems with hooks for days and days. I even saw them once for $5 in 1989, at SF's legendary I-Beam, which used to be on Haight Street back in the day. I think it's now a skateboard shop, right across from where Amoeba is located. Hilariously, I was just looking at the album cover and realized Tracey's face is on the cover. I never noticed that before! Anyways, I got a lot of mileage out of this album and it still sounds good to me. They released a second album, "Pure", that had its moments but wasn't nearly as good as "Lovely". Apparently, they had a third album as well, which I've actually never seen here in the States, but I guess it doesn't matter at this point. In any case, this was one of my favorites from "Lovely". It might sound a bit dated, but it's still fun.

The Primitives > Way Behind Me