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Pay the Price

A non-Neil Buffalo Springfield standout. I’m not an audiophile who usually notices such things, but the remastering on this is great. It really brings out the guitar jangle like I’ve never heard it before. And it rocks pretty hard, actually. I kind of mentally file Buffalo Springfield as folky and relaxing, but this is somewhat up the road from folksy and halfway to country rock. Very wakey-wakey, which I needed this morning.

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The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch

My, my, my… Brian Eno continues to surprise even if you think you’ve figured out his methods. We’ve all heard by now of his oblique strategies; starter packs are available for purchase. Throwing out sounds, ideas and words at random then finding some means of binding them together has served Eno and his collaborators very well. I always presumed that this particular title was a result of just such witchery. There’s no cohesion to those words being together. But, nope, Eno took inspiration from a true tale of a young man named William Underwood – a Negro in the parlance of his time – from a place called Paw Paw, MI who claimed to possess pyrokinetic powers. Being the 1800’s, of course, science had no means to either disprove or explain those claims, but the man was documented by observes breathing fire (though not, to my knowledge, barbecuing kittens.) The nineteenth century was full of such delightfully credulous tales of pseudo scientific quakery, and more of them should be revived in pop culture. The weight of real context lends a whole new meaning to a self-consciously flippant song; suddenly there’s a story that you really want to know more of. This could be the seed of the next AHS.

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Pavilions of Sun

Swans do fly. One from the Tyrannosaurus Rex vaults. This one does a real 180 on you; it starts off like a mellow head trip with the bongos, then it explodes into a raging guitar solo. All in less than three minutes. It’s Marc Bolan being split two ways with his persona. It’s a tiny capsule in which you witness the failed ‘new Donovan’ reinvent himself as a guitar god. To use one of Bolan’s favorite animal images, the glam rock swan arises.

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Patterns

Simon & Garfunkel put a particularly bleak spin on the outlines of your life. Thanks, Simon & Garfunkel. Life is, indeed, a maze of blind corners and dead ends which we scramble through like frightened rats, pausing only to enjoy a nice cheese. Also, lonely nights spend alone in cramped walk-up apartments. Also, angst and self doubt. Also, Paul Simon needs a hug. Honestly, there’s few things that appeal to me more that the combination of beautifully refined musicianship and dysfunctional emotional flailing. Simon & Garfunkel mastered that balance like none other, with their chamber pop harmonies, and Garfunkel’s Sunday choir vocals, and Simon’s disgruntled-nerd songwriting. Paul Simon is known as a mellow fellow, thanks to his melodic gifts, soothing voice, and nonthreatening stature, but he wrote some of the darkest hit pop songs in the pop canon. This is a song I’d like to hear in the hands of some Bad Seeds, so it can’t sneak by disguised as pretty.

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Patins

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a love song or the opposite. However, I do think it’s accurate either way. Lovefoxxx sounds both seductive and insecure, which is probably accurate for most people dealing with love-type feels. The beginning of every relationship is a whole lot of flailing around expecting the worst (true also at the end too.) You can also tell why CSS won an award for best punk album (from some super obscure award-giving organization, but still.) CSS literally recorded their first album in somebody’s garage/basement/home studio, but it only sounds like it at times. It sounds unprofessional, but in a good way, a kids having fun way. It’s well made enough to sell, and though it didn’t actually sell all that many units, it was enough to launch the group into a solid international career. Sometimes doing your thing in your own backyard is the only way to really have the freedom to do your thing. That bursting-with-cleverness diy project energy is what makes the first CSS a classic a decade later.

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Pass It On

It’s been a while since I’ve promoted the long-defunct Timbuk 3. Although I have no illusions that my singlehanded efforts will help Blift them out of obscurity, I still have to do my part. But, on the other hand, for all the 80’s nostalgia going on and so many figures from the pre-grunge indie post-punk whatever scene getting lionized, why not them too? It seems that all six of Timbuk 3’s albums are now out of print, but they’re still available for download. If you’re not into that, I know someone with a full set of cassette tapes they’d gladly copy for you. Which would be just perfectly appropriate, because feeling nostalgic for 1993 is, like, everybody’s mood board right now. I think that Pat MacDonald’s brand of darkly humorous modern life malaise is never not relevant. When he said the future was bright, he was being ironic, and in fact, the future is a cornucopia of bleakness.

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Party Out of Bounds

Would you mind that terribly much if The B-52’s crashed your kegger? They seem fun, though Fred Schneider seems like the kind of guy who would make you feel bad about your record/book collection. They also make a crashed party sound like fairly innocent fun, because pretending that everything’s the 50’s is their thing. Nothing bad could ever happen in the tacky glow of The B-52’s retro world. It’s all wigs and martinis and camp.