Let it rain

In this wonderfully oppressive hot state of Arizona, temperatures have reached 115 recently. Our annual monsoons — thunder and lightning storms galore — have arrived (sort of) to “cool down” things to a mild 104. It sprinkled a bit tonight, and so rain is the theme of these two songs, plucked from my 45 collection.

As I’ve said before, my dad passed on to me a beautiful Wurlitzer jukebox to me, along with about 250 45s. We lugged this thing from Chicago to Phoenix when we moved when I was about 8. For the better part of our time in Phoenix, though, the jukebox was nothing more than a household decoration: “Oh, cool, a jukebox. Does it work?” “Uh, no.” Well, I paid a pro to get it working and I cleaned and covered all the 45s and I’m working on cataloging them into the computer.

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Shopping for records is fun, but sorting through all these 45s and playing them and pulling out some 40-year-old pop gem is the best. The catalog is loaded with some Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Sly and the Family Stone (I’ve added from my own collection, including a stash of James Brown singles and more modern indie/hip-hop tunes).

What’s interesting about the records is the generation gap they present. That’s why I want to mix it up: Righteous Brothers with Whodini in the same jukebox. That said, I’ve come to gain a valuable appreciation for the music my parents enjoyed.

Anyway, let’s get to the differing opinions on rain: Eddie Rabbitt loved it; the Carpenters were saddened by it (maybe they were my parents’ version of emo?: “What I’ve got they used to call the blues / Nothing is really wrong / Feeling like I don’t belong.”) I used to really love this Eddie Rabbitt song as a kid and I was thrilled to find it on 45.

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Comfortably numb

I won’t let a little root canal this morning keep me from posting today. I’ll spare you all the details, but it wasn’t as bad as I was fearing. A few shots of novocaine go a long way. I will say, I had some perverse attraction to keeping my eyes open during the whole procedure. My mouth was kept open by this rubber wedge — something akin to a doorstop — and I could see each instrument, and I had an idea what the endodontist was doing with it, but I really couldn’t feel much. The tooth is a little sore now, but I have prescription pain killer to keep it at bay.

Alas, I’m thinking an easy post here. I’ve been on a Mike Doughty kick (see a few posts below) of late, and that’s made me pull out the Soul Coughing, which has made me pull out this excellent cover of Blue-Eyed Devil by Low. It’s on a box set called A Lifetime of Temporary Relief, (a three-CD+DVD compliation which I gave to my brother for Christmas and have since borrowed and haven’t returned. Sorry, B); buy it for $33 at Stinkweeds (as opposed to $56 at Amazon). I’ve been listening to Low quite a bit lately, especially after a poignant NPR interview and then singer Alan Sparhawk’s announcement on the band’s message board that the group canceled touring because “I have not been very mentally stable for the last while.”

In the future, I’m sure I’ll put up some original Low stuff. But I’ve been loving these covers (and the originals, too).

Soul Coughing: Blue-Eyed Devil
Low: Blue-Eyed Devil
Bob Dylan: Blowin’ in the Wind
Low: Blowin’ in the Wind

Bloc Party — fine vinyl find

Went record shopping Wednesday night at Zia, a splendid used CD/record chain in Arizona where I spend much time and money. Digging through the vinyl, my ever-observant wife spotted Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm used for $8.99. (That was almost as great as finding Neil Young’s Decade — six sides! — for $1.99.) Anyway, the Bloc Party 12″ contained three records, including one — The Dim Mak “Dimmakified” 12″ — with two remixes apiece of Positive Tension and Price of Gas.

Not sure if I’m behind the curve on these, but I thought I’d share all the same. I especially enjoy the Jason Clark mix of Positive Tension and the Jus Ske mix of Price of Gas (that bassline … dang).

Bloc Party: Positive Tension — Jason Clark remix
Bloc Party: Positive Tension — Johnny Whitney remix
Bloc Party: Price of Gas — Automato remix
Bloc Party: Price of Gas — Jus Ske remix

I kick it root down

I’m off to the endodontist tomorrow for my first (and hopefully my last) root canal. Let this be a lesson: Don’t put off going to the dentist. And brush. And floss. And you’ll be happy, like Little Toothy over there.

The good news is I can listen to my iPod. The bad news is I doubt I’ll be able to hear anything with whatever god-awful drilling instruments they’ll be inserting into my teeth. But the worst part about the whole ordeal is I don’t even get to go under with gas. Only novocaine.

Oh, well. Enough about the torture. Here are some dental-inspired tracks. The Poison track, recorded from vinyl, comes from the album Open Up and Say … Ahhh. Naturally.

Poison — Every Rose Has its Thorn
Roots with Roy Ayers — Proceed
Beastie Boys — Root Down

Supermarket — “Aisles of styles”

Digging into the crates of Arizona’s hip-hop past, Supermarket is bound to turn up. I can’t believe this album (1996) is almost 10 years old. To me, these guys represented all that was right in hip-hop: fun flows, creative beats, and they never took themselves too seriously.

The group — emcees Fluid, Ruckus and Type O and DJ Jimi the Mantis Claw — formed in 1994. That was about the time I was in college, knee-deep in all things hip-hop: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Digable Planets … they were all at their peak. And their influence is pretty evident in Dump Koch, named in honor of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, whose vehement crackdown on graffiti ran contrary to hip-hop culture’s street-art ethos.

Supermarket also takes shots at the bluster of gangsta rap via skits (a la De La Soul) and “covergirl emcees” using all those “verbal cosmetics.” DJ Z-Trip, whose name you’ll see plenty on this site, worked production on the album. This album was great because they repped Arizona to the fullest, with mentions of the 6-0-2 — Phoenix area code, y’all — and, on True Feelings, they name-check “6th and Mill,” the main drag in downtown Tempe. On the same track, Fluid drops the perhaps the album’s best line: “I’m a hypochondriac, all my styles are sick.”

The group quietly dissolved, but last I read the guys reunited for a show in May. Be sure to peep my personal fave Frontal Lobe Piercing, which includes a guest spot from local emcee Puma.

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Podcasting diatribe

Allow me, if you will, to rant about the latest developments in podcasting. It seems major media types are jumping into the fray since Apple introduced podcasting into its latest version of iTunes a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I was one of the million or so people who started subscribing to what iTunes had to offer. It was free (good) and gave a forum to the everyman (even better).

But we all knew this was going to happen, didn’t we? “This” is advertising. Now, my daily ESPN radio podcast is sponsored by (Tough Actin’) Tinactin. And the very first episode of the new podcast by Slate, an online magazine I read regularly, was brought to me by Chrysler. I stopped listening immediately. Unsubscribing is my next step.

Between listening to my iPod, reading some fabulous MP3 blogs (look over to the right) and downloading podcasts — oh, and work and stuff — I’ve discovered time is a finite resource. It’s bad enough ESPN’s SportsCenter hammers me over the head with the “Budweiser Hot Seat” and my precious Cubs games include the Pepsi defensive lineups and the Aflac trivia questions. Now, not even my iPod is safe. Worse, my favorite podcasts, from NPR affiliate KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., are going to be underwritten by Toyota for six months in exchange for 10-second spots on each episode.

(On a side note, there now will be ads in the ads I’m trying to fast-forward through on my TiVo. From AP story: “TiVo has announced plans to insert symbols that identify advertisers during commercial breaks, making them more visible even when a customer is fast forwarding through them.” TiVo is desperate for money — it hasn’t turned a profit since ’97 — so it must be OK to sell out the idea of commercial skipping, which made the device so ingenious to begin with.)

I’m not naive. I work for a major newspaper. Advertising dollars probably pay a bulk of my salary (thank you, Christie’s Cabaret and Hi-Liter Gentlemen’s Clubs). I get that. But as the aforementioned story hints, these major media companies are squashing the true spirit of podcasting: the democratization of information. People will subscribe to podcasts by companies they know: ABC, ESPN, Disney (gee, all owned by the same folks). Thus advertisers will flock to said companies and it’ll end up just like commercial radio — exactly what podcasting wasn’t supposed to be.

I suppose Apple’s involvement brought podcasting to the mainstream. But where does that leave the grass-roots programs? How long before they start charging?

Ah, just had to vent. Here’s some music (free of charge, but go buy it if you like it!)

Public Enemy — How to Kill a Radio Consultant
Jets to Brazil — Resistance is Futile

Mike Doughty EP on iTunes

Mike Doughty, former frontman of Soul Coughing, released The Gambler EP on iTunes. For less than $6, you get this:

1. The Gambler (studio version of Kenny Rogers classic)
2. Strange Powers (live on XM Radio’s “The Loft”)
3. St. Louise Is Listening (live on KCRW)
4. Busting Up A Starbucks (live on KEXP)
5. The King Of Carrot Flowers (live on KEXP)
6. Janine (live from the street in Seattle)
VIDEO: “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well”

Go to Doughty’s Web site here and you can print out cover art. The guy also has a fantastic blog. And if you don’t have his new album, Haughty Melodic (an anagram for Michael Doughty), I highly recommend it. Buy it here. I miss Soul Coughing, but I’m digging Doughty’s solo resurgence and his so-called “small rock.”

In honor, here’s a couple of tracks from his solo projects Rockity Roll and Skittish and a live track from his new album played live for NPR.

Mike Doughty — 27 Jennifers
Mike Doughty — The Only Answer
Mike Doughty — Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well (on NPR)
Mike Doughty — Busting Up a Starbucks (remix) by fan sent to Doughty; posted on Doughty’s blog.

45 RPM

I’ve got no central theme tying my selections together on this post, other than that they all were converted from vinyl 45s, a process at which I’m slowly getting better. I basically cobbled together any and all information I could on the Internet about it.

Briefly, this is how it works: I have a Technics 1200 turntable (yea, I had designs on wanting to be a DJ years ago) hooked to a preamp mixer. The mixer is connected to an analog-to-digital converter (I use Griffin’s iMic), which is then hooked up to the computer via USB. Then you’ll need some sort of sound-editing program: I use — and highly recommend — Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro, which also works to strip audio from applications like Real Player, Quick Time, DVDs, etc. Audio Hijack has a ton of filters to enhance the sound. There’s also Sound Studio, Amadeus and Audacity, to name a few. (If you have any other questions, e-mail me and I’ll be glad to help as much as I can.)

It’s really a trial-and-error process, but the best part about it is shopping for records. My dad passed along an original Wurlitzer jukebox to me we’ve had since I was about 8. With it, I took on roughly 250 45s — mostly ’50s, ’60s and ’70s pop and rock. I’ve gone a bit nuts shopping for records, especially 45s. You can find some serious gems, especially those with the picture covers (just look at that Jermaine Stewart!) The jukebox also is the inspiration for the jukebox tag links.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com So, enjoy the selections. I apologize for any static; again, I’m still working out the kinks (any feedback about how the audio is sounding on your end is greatly appreciated). Anyway, a little crackle and pop adds some warmth to the sound. I think you can clean the sound up too much to the point of diminishing returns.

(That little John Cougar Mellencamp acoustic ditty is for Dodge, who went all Authority Song on us a coupla weeks ago.)

Jermaine Stewart — We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off
The Fixx — One Thing Leads to Another
John Mellencamp — Small Town (acoustic)
Pet Shop Boys — West End Girls

Never enough Derrek Lee

No music (for now), but I gotta update Cubs news. Derrek Lee goes yard twice (they were chanting “MVP, MVP” … IN CINCINNATI). He’s the first in majors to reach 30 home runs. Seriously, Triple Crown … I’m getting pumped (see the Triple Crown tracker on your right).

Then, shortly after the 9-4 win, Cubs deal Jason Dubois (in Triple-A Iowa) to Indians for Jody Gerut. Not sure how I feel about this one. Cubs need left-handed power, but I’m thinking they gave up on Dubois too soon. But they are only 4 1/2 games out of the wild-card chase. I’m just not sure Jody Gerut is the guy to push them over the top. (Peter, thoughts?) Meanwhile, Todd Walker is at .309 thanks to an 11-game hitting streak.

It should be noted that since I took off my Cubs “Believe” bracelet out of frustration, Cubs have won seven of past eight. Oh, I believe.


If you got to the end of the previous post (thank you), you read that I had a personal investment in the local music scene. Alas, I begin features on Arizona bands with a logical (if not nepotistic) choice: sourceVictoria, also known as my brother’s band.

Obviously, it’s hard to stay objective on this one. The truth is, though, my big bro, Brendan, was the inspiration for starting this blog. I sent MP3s to a few other blogs, and Dodge at My Old Kentucky Blog posted — twice! (Thanks, Dodge.) But I decided I could help out in my own right because a) Brendan is my brother and b) if he wasn’t my brother I’d still think sourceVictoria is more than worth it. Honest.

That said, I’m stuck somewhere in the middle here. It’s probably unfair of me to compare them to some national act — I’d rather let unbiased ears do that. But here’s the set-up: Brendan (vocals/guitar), Darren Henley (drums), Jeff Livingston (piano/synth), Mike Risch (bass).

What I will say is that I don’t think I’ve seen my brother so driven by any other musical endeavor. Both the songwriting and music are honest; nothing feels contrived. I recently spent some time snapping photos in the studio while they recorded. The guys take painstaking attention: Every note and every beat feels thoroughly thought out. And I do believe that comes through in the music.

I could go on, but I’d rather let the music do the talking, as the cliche goes. These songs can be found on the band’s self-titled EP, available at the Web site. One note: The first track, Opportunistic, was remixed with a new guitar part by Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World.

Tell us what ya think.

sourceVictoria | Opportunistic
sourceVictoria | No Safety in Numbers

"Prague… you'll come back a bug."

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