SEXY CHOCOLATE at JITTERS, MPLS, 19 MAY 05

My first real karaoke experience began at “KJ” Sexy Chocolate fired up the Godfather of Soul and proceeded to shake and spin better than he sang; apparently, he felt good (ba-da ba-da ba-da bap – he knew that he would). Chester rocked New Jersey-style (“Wanted Dead or Alive”), we couldn’t talk CJ or Sarah & Natalie into anything, and I alternately killed Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” (melismas + Nebraska boy = noooo!) and gave a straight, if inspired, take on “Say It Ain’t So.”

But the evening’s gems were the potential social research master’s theses just lying around the club, waiting for someone to pick them up and run:

“Achieving Status and a Reputation for Humility Simultaneously Through Human Spectacle” – What is the nature of the dual attraction we universally feel towards live microphones, and its associated nervous fear obeserved when possession of a mic is obtained?

“Towards a Unified Model of the Repression of Awareness of Irony” – In the subgroup of people who take karaoke seriously, how is this inherently unstable worldview maintained? (It would seem to collapse either into postmodern detachment and amusement, or the realization that karaoke is not a credible venue for serious, non-ironic artists – yet the phenomena of taking karaoke seriously endures in some individuals).

“Juxtaposition of Culturally-Defined Opposites as a Source of Meaning” – Combining sociology with aesthetics, how does the re-introduction of humanness (imperfection) into the object of pop music contribute to the value of a karaoke performance? Case studies: Young bartender barking Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know” as a passable hardcore song. Asian woman covering “Hotel California” respectably. First-year seminary student absorbing crowd with a performance of “Immigrant Song.”

Credit to Tina for the better half of these. If you actually write the paper, promise to send us a link!

TRAVELLING MUSIC – MAY EDITION

13 May: Deephaven, MN –> Crete, NE

Foo Fighters / The Colour and The Shape
Blame the Game / EP and Acoustic at the Solid Ground (both unreleased)
Cursive / The Ugly Organ
John Vanderslice / Cellar Door
Melodious Owl* / Transition EP
Dosh* / Live on KALX
Heiruspecs* / A Tiger Dancing
Astronaut Wife* / Flying Saucer

16 May: Crete, NE –> Wayzata, MN

The Plastic Constellations* / Mazatlan
Olympic Hopefuls* / Radio Sessions (recorded at home from The Current and Radio K)
Idlewild / 100 Broken Windows
Poison The Well / You Come Before You
Halloween, Alaska* / Halloween, Alaska
Dave Matthews Band / Listeners Supported
Rage Against The Machine / Rage Against The Machine

Trending towards: Self-titled albums, Twin Cities bands (*), music I got into in high school (Dave Matthews Band, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters).
Album I Was Most Into: Cellar Door.
Song That Stuck In My Head The Stickiest: (tie) Cursive, “A Gentleman Caller” and Halloween, Alaska, “Des Moines.”

Gilmo's "Points of Parallax" Released

Mr. Furious Records is proud to present Points of Parallax, the first-ever recording by free-jazz duo GILMO. Scott Morris (howie&scott) and Allen Gilbert (“Gilby”) have done themselves, and us, proud with naught but a saxophone, drums, and the spur of the moment. Entirely improvised, Points of Parallax brings a new sound to MFR and, after many trips through the music, we like it more and more.

In the process of updating mrfuriousrecords.com for GILMO, some of the artwork changed. Who knew? Enjoy.

In related news, today marks the re-launch of www.howieandscott.com. The site compiles stories, images, and info about h&s shows and recordings. The collaboration/brotherhood is resting at the present, with howie in Minnesota being echoes and Scott in Nebraska being GILMO; you can hear, however, from nickel and Points of Parallax that the musical journey continues – the future is rich with possibilities.

BURNING UP THE BANDWIDTH

April brought mrfuriousrecords.com to new height for bandwidth use; 700 megabytes of music transmitted out into the world.

Notably, the record was set in a month where only one new song was released; echoes’ live cut of “I Don’t Even Know How Right This Sounds” on Furious Instance #3, on the 25th of the month. Which tells us that new listeners continue to discover Mr. Furious Records and releases by Beach-Puppy, Bike, and echoes. The Furious Instance regularly generates traffic beyond anyone’s expectations; I, for one, anticipated that those tracks would generally interest hardcore MFR listeners. Maybe it’s the pink links? Whatever the reasons, we love it.

The numbers:
700.91 mb of .m4a data (songs only – total bandwidth use was nearly 1 Gb)
Average song file size = 3.4 mb
700.91 / 3.4 = 206.15

Meaning that roughly 206 songs were downloaded directly from mrfuriousrecords.com in April. This breaks previous high of 592 mb in Dec 04 (Bike’s How Is That Possible was released that month). As always, we have no way to track burning (our own and yours) and file sharing/trading, which we encourage wholeheartedly. Thanks for giving us a great month. We thought it was worth a pause to celebrate, before we get back to giving you music; GILMO’s new Points of Parallax EP released today!

MRFURIOUSRECORDS.COM HOT 5 – April

“Title” / Artist / Album / # of hits

1. “Rose Colored Glasses” / Beach-Puppy / Creepy Eepy / 29

2. “Was I In Bon Jovi For A Second?” / howie&scott / Furious Instance / 21

3. “I Don’t Even Know How Right This Sounds (live)” / echoes / Furious Instance / 20*

4. “Lunch By Yourself” / Gilby / Furious Instance / 18

5. “Taking A Break” / Beach-Puppy / Creepy Eepy / 16
-. “Save Your Breath” / Beach-Puppy / Creepy Eepy / 16

* posted April 25

echoes ACOUSTIC CASE STICKERS

Blacklight Sunshine, Math and Science, “Examined by Ghana Customs”, Baltimore Orioles, Weezer (Blue Album), Weezer (Green Album), Weezer (Maladroit), North Mississippi Allstars, “(Proud to) Be A (Nebra)Ska (Democ)Rat”, votenader.org, “Amandala!” album, Blackalicious, Fiction Plane, Music For The Last Day Of Your Life, Airwalk, Doug Martsch “Now You Know”, 101.9 The Edge (defunct Lincoln alt-rock station), Sonic Youth, NERD, The Mediums, Moth, Atmosphere, Tricky “Blowback”, Jimmy Eat World “Bleed American”, Simon Says, Life In General “Flowers”, various custom-painted jet fighters, Nullset, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Reel Big Fish, Kidney Thieves, Ozomatli, Rustic Overtones, Apple, lower case i, rocker-guy with moustache & broken guitar (Zwan), Black Eyed Peas, My Hotel Year, “CH” European driving decal, “Sock It To Me!” (with a sock), Jackson Hole Wyoming (moose), Before Braille, WoVen, Life In General “lig”, 36 Crazyfists, Sugarcult, a smirking pumpkin, The Music, Ben Harper (live), Dilated Peoples, I (heart) NY, “Fragile” Ghana Airways, Starsailor, Wayne, Bryan Farrish Radio Promotion “Air-Play!”, tiger paw, Hot 96.3 FM WHHHoosier, “Music Making Means Unity, Healing, & Strength” flag, Doane College, Tiger Country 101 FM KIXC, “WOW!”, Monster Magnet, purple fight-breast-cancer ribbon, 89.7 The River, Chemical Brothers.

A EUREKA MOMENT?

JT sent this message earlier this week. As I thought about a reply, I realized that I wanted to write about these things already but wasn’t sure there was any interest beyond my own self. But when a question is voiced, often other people have the same question, and haven’t vocalized it yet. So JT’s letter raises some things, and my long comment is an initial reply.

“h&s” = howie&scott

From: JT Hills
To: mfr@mrfuriousrecords.com
Subject: A eureka moment?
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
——————————————-
H-man-

I was perusing my music library a few minutes ago and stumbled up some
Dave Matthews Band. Now, I know it seems unlikely one can just forget
music one has in a music library on a computer, where iTunes has it all
nicely organized for one, but when one has nearly 4500 songs in said
music library, one can forget about certain tunes listened to less often
than other tunes.

Anyway, I discovered I had a live version of “All Along the Watchtower”
by Dave and his guys, which was an interesting coincidence because I was
just thinking earlier today about how I’d like to hear Jimi Hendrix’s
version of that song. But it also got me to thinking about some
old-school h&s days. I recall when I first met you (and thus, h&s), you
hadn’t yet embarked upon the adventure of original music, and instead
relied on a set of regular covers and then a set of Dave covers for your
shows. It was a rockin’ good time, but unable to equal the days ahead
of new songs and electric guitars. I like listening to h&s not only
because it’s good music, but also because it reminds me of those times
when the songs were live and raw.

I remember when I first heard “Mable” escape your stage, and I was
jarringly introduced to Goldfinger. I remember watching you (with Becca
and Mel along) struggle for words of the cover songs you played the
night you premiered original h&s tunes in Lincoln (nervous, perhaps?).
I remember a long drive to Omaha as the official h&s roadie of the
evening (because I couldn’t find anyone else to take me), and longer
drives to Hastings for dual shows with Rob and his cronies. I remember
seeing another night show in a Lincoln coffeehouse when, two songs
before the end of the set, multiple strings broke on your acoustic
guitar, so you brought out the electric to finish with perhaps the most
powerful h&s moment I ever saw. I remember a few CD release parties,
and I remember hearing “Blues or Astroblue?” live for the first time
with the electric and the drum kit and the looping saxophone over
looping saxophone, and I (with David Morris) couldn’t contain the pure
excitement passed down and handed out throughout the crowd, feasted upon
by those of us groovin’ in the back of the room.

Of course, there are other memories too, but they don’t stick with me as
well as those do. These were the memories that all had a common factor:
the h&s live show. Then this idea came across my eyes almost as if it
were projected from another place: what if there was h&s live tunes to
take home with us? I realize that there are already many (a la Blades
of Vengeance), but that’s not all of h&s. I know you guys first as a
cover band, where everyone gets involved, then as a folk rock band with
songs to think to, and then as a rock band to groove to. Each live
instance of h&s has its own flavor, and I think you captured the
folk-rock h&s well with Blades of Vengeance. But where is the live rock
h&s? Where is the live cover h&s?

The live h&s shows weren’t just musical performances, they were
something to experience, and I miss that experience. I long to hear
your versions of “Mable,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Ants Marching,”
“Creep,” and the always fun “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” I yearn to lose
myself in the raw flavor of rock “Blues or Astroblue?,” “After the
Countdown,” “Houston,” “Thanks For Visiting Me on The Radio” or “Stop
Walking.”

Is it possible for this to happen? Is there any plausibility to it? Or
am I living in a dream world?

Just a few friendly thoughts down Colorado way…

-JT

P.S. In a somewhat related (but not really) note, what’s the deal with
the h&s web site? Re-launching?

MRFURIOUSRECORDS.COM HOT 5 – March

“Title” / Artist / Album / # of hits

1. “Lunch By Yourself” / Gilby / Furious Instance / 33

2. “Was I In Bon Jovi For A Second?” / howie&scott / Furious Instance / 15

3. “Rose-Colored Glasses” / Beach-Puppy / Creepy Eepy / 11

4. “God Bless The Strokes” / echoes / nickel / 10

5. “He Came To Steal Your Children” / Bike / How Is That Possible / 8
5. “There’s Something To Be Said” / Beach-Puppy / Creepy Eepy / 8
5. “Bad Attitude” / Bike / How Is That Possible / 8

HEIRUSPECS "IT TAKES"

This track, one of my favorites from A Tiger Dancing, is a perfect illustration of a musical quality I’ve tried off and on to nail down and describe; the “meta-song.” First, let’s walk through some of the lyrics and I’ll make some highlights. Then I’ll explain how “It Takes” is a perfect example of a meta-song within a song.

–(Intro)–
14 creates of records with my name on ’em…
Pick one without looking at it / Put the needle down
Spin it back to the beginning / Now I’m ready
–(hook v1)–

“It Takes” tells a story about Felix’s discovery of hip-hop, with a warped sense of time. His experience is the past, like a memory, but it’s also a fresh experience in itself. The introduction is a beginning to the song; it also tells the beginning of Felix’s love for music. And when he says “Spin it back to the beginning / now I’m ready”, a whole new, full sound jumps in with the “It Takes” vocal hook, a second “beginning” to the song. It’s a beginning (song), and Felix names it as such (meta-song).

–(Verse 1)–
As I listened the words weren’t there anymore
It was just those drums and a little keyboard
I’m staring at the needle and the record’s on the floor and
All that I could do was mouth some more / It said…
–(hook v2)–

Felix’s line “…drums and a little keyboard” names the instruments playing when he drops it; another clue that he’s speaking the song into being as well as telling the story contained in the song. “It said…” leads straight into a second vocal hook, the hook becoming a quotation from Felix’s memory as well as the hook to the song the listener hears. Again, when Felix tells us that about the memory of a song that speaks to him, “It Takes” speaks to us in a parallel voice; memory and moment occuring together.

–(Verse 2)–
Now there was a / I don’t remember but there was a part of this song that did break down
I don’t mean the beat break / No / I mean the beat almost cried,
I thought it had died, I thought it had drowned…
————-

These words fall over a drum breakdown. Are you seeing the pattern, the technique that Felix is using? His words ARE what happens in the song – not just occuring together (like a typical song), but related on another level as well.

–(Verse 2 cont’d)–
I look at the sleeve and the tears well up in my eyes because my name is printed right there
The record’s still spinning / The voices came back
I stare at the cover / Like a mirror / I’m staring back
I was relaxed but this is so intense so I flip over the sleeve and I read the comments
It said ‘I dedicate this record to my brother Andy with the hopes that one day you can better understand me
Til that day here is this one song / I hope you learn from it / others will take it wrong’
And the breakdown was over and I held the sleeve tight / afraid that somebody might’ve seen me cry
I never wrote this song no how’s or why’s / But I guess I can’t say that it told a single lie
And the last little lyric in the last little part was a fire in my heart / That last little part
I live life like a diesel; all pressure, no sparks / So I throw myself out there as a shot in the dark
–(last hook)–

Indeed, A Tiger Dancing lists “Andy” under Felix’s thank-yous. The last two lines above are Felix’s last lines in “It Takes,” as well as in the song he’s remembering; we might even read the phrase “A fire in my heart” as a direct quotation; the punctuation isn’t defined (on purpose? I tend to do that in lyrics…). “It Takes” is a song, and also consciously a meta-song. It is self-referential in a way that is essential to its being itself.

“It Takes” offers a clear picture of song and meta-song at work explicitly; I think it is more often done implicitly (see Radiohead from OK Computer on, Wilco from Summerteeth on, echoes’ nickel EP). Sparked by a piece in the New York Times magazine, an upcoming post will tackle the “meta-song” idea more generally and completely. It will be accessible for anyone willing to follow me down the rabbit-hole, and since this is how I hear and respond to music, it most certainly feels like a valid, if somewhat academic, expression for the [blog].