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Showing posts from December, 2019

100 Albums: The Shelters by The Shelters

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Shelters
Title:The Shelters
Released: 2016
Genre: indie garage rock


Closing out the year with a very cut-and-dry straightforward indie rock album. The Shelters are a throwback to 60s rock with a slight skew towards British Invasion--they even cover The Kinks' Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl. They got studio time when Tom Petty heard a previous incarnation of the band and gave a couple of the members the keys to his home studio. He co-produced the self-titled debut from The Shelters and gave them creative feedback on the follow-up.

The Shelters bops along at a light and easy pace. It's got a few out-and-out rockers like the opening song Rebel Heart, but even slower jams like Surely Burn are constructed around solid hooks and strong pop sensibilities. It's a good time.

And that wraps her up. Happy New Year. Stay tuned for Wednesday when the nex…

100 Albums: "Paint Your Wagon" (1969 film) Soundtrack

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Lerner and Loewe, various
Title:Paint Your Wagon
Released: 1969
Genre: Lerner and Loewe, who are a genre unto themselves



Why does this even exist? The 1951 Broadway musical by Lerner and Loewe was not a success. So why would anyone try to adapt it for film nearly two decades later? Why cast Clint Eastwood--a white dude--as a character named Julio? Why cast Lee Marvin--who is not a good singer--as the lead in a musical at all? The adaptation might as well have been a complete re-write. In addition to changing Julio's name to "Pardner", songs and characters were added and removed, the ones that remained were moved around and given to different characters. Notably, the stage show's biggest hit They Call The Wind Maria (pronounced Mariah--I don't know why) was taken away from the lead and given to a tertiary background character named Rotten-Luck Willy. Who thought this was a …

100 Albums: "8-Bit Jesus" by Doctor Octoroc

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Doctor Octoroc
Title:8-Bit Jesus
Released: 2008
Genre: holiday chiptunes


Merry Christmas, those of you who partake! Because I miscounted, you get an extra post this week, and since today is Christmas, we're going to look at my favorite holiday album, Doctor Octoroc's chiptune holiday opus, 8-Bit Jesus, wherein Levi "Doctor Octoroc" Buffum re-imagines holiday classics in the style of various music from the hit games of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Feast your ears on Carol Of The Belmonts (Carol Of The Bells in the style of Castlevania), Kraid Rest Ye Merry Mother Brain (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen a la Metroid), and Icarus! The Angels Sing (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing a la Kid Icarus). And my personal favorite, linked above, Have Yourself A Final Little Fantasy. Not all of the songs are hits, but none of them are particularly long, so even the so-so ones pass by…

100 Albums: "Issues" by Korn

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Korn
Title:Issues
Released: 1999
Genre: nu-metal


If you ever wondered why so much of the early aughts rock scene was dominated by bass-y guitar crunch while dudes whined about their childhoods, blame Korn. Not that they should be held completely accountable for spearheading a movement that was largely implemented by lesser acts, but a lot of the aesthetic and subject matter of nu-metal was pioneered by Jon, Head, Munkee, Fieldy, and Dave. They were a gimmicky band to start out with--they played seven-string guitars with an extra low string (and a five-string bass, although that is already far more common) that were detuned an extra step, making the lowest string of the guitars and bass a fifth lower than a standard-tuned guitar. Detuning is already a thing hard rock bands to make their sound a little chunkier, so the idea here was that detuning so far down makes Korn the chunkiest, most metal b…

100 Albums: "Soul Power" by Curtis Harding

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Curtis Harding
Title:Soul Power
Released: 2014
Genre: soul power


One of the sources I go to for new music is the Next Music podcast hosted by Chris Bro, and a lot of what he features are new artists whose sound is a deliberate lo-fi throwback to older styles. Curtis Harding is squarely in that camp. He was born in Michigan but lacked a permanent home until he was 14 and his family settled in Atlanta. From there, he became part of the local music scene, backing CeeLo Green and forming a touring rock act before striking out on his own as a soul singer.

Soul Power is another one of those records where what you get is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an old-school groove. The one exception is the song I Don't Want To Go Home which is a garage punk song that's been adapted to Harding's voice. The standout on the record is the anthemic Keep On Shining (linked above), but all of th…

100 Albums: "Love Everybody" by The Presidents Of The United States Of America

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Title:Love Everybody
Released: 2004
Genre: power pop


The Presidents Of The United States Of America burst onto the 90s rock scene with Lump, an up-tempo number that was just weird enough to sit neatly in second-wave grunge. They were goofy punk with a gimmick: the entire band only used five strings. The singer/bassist plays a "basitar"--a guitar that only has two lower-gauge strings (read as: bass strings) and the guitarist plays a "guitbass" which has three guitar strings. There's a sense of punk minimalism that I admire in that, although their songs have some remarkable underlying complexity. They only use five strings, but they really use them to their fullest extent.

Love Everybody is the album the recorded after a brief hiatus in the early aughts. It's a little less self-serious than previous efforts--not that POTUSA…

100 Albums: "Hints, Allegations, & Things Left Unsaid" by Collective Soul

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Collective Soul
Title:Hints, Allegations, & Things Left Unsaid
Released: 1993
Genre: singer-songwriter alt-metal kind of


By 1992, Ed Roland had all but given up on being a musician. He'd studied composition at Berklee College Of Music and been active in the Atlanta club scene for the better part of a decade. He'd worked in a studio engineering and producing for local artists. He'd formed and dissolved two separate bands. His bands had been staples of the club scene. He'd been featured in a movie-of-the-week and even profiled on local television, but he just couldn't get any traction. Frustrated, he decided to shift his efforts into publishing. He got some friends together to record a quick-and-dirty promotional demo in a basement and started shopping the songs around for other artists to cover. The lead song Shine was an instant hit on college radio. Pressured to put on …

100 Albums: "Random Album Title" by deadmau5

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: deadmau5
Title:Random Album Title
Released: 2008
Genre: progressive house/trance


Random Album Title is the third album from Canadian house/trance maestro Joel Zimmerman under his stage name deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse" and not in any way related to Danger Mouse). He performs in a stylized mouse head helmet because after Daft Punk, that's what EDM artists just do anymore. His album titles all have bizarre names, like Album Title Goes Here, 4x4=12, and--a personal favorite of mine--W:/2016Album/.

Random Album Title was deadmau5's breakout record, largely on the strength of the single I Remember, which is just one hell of an earworm. I heard it during the club scene in the 2010 remake of GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo Wii and decided I had to know more about what was going on with whoever this artist was. I Remember was also the fifth single from this album, which just proves …

Out Now: "Autoimmune" in DreamForge Magazine

Hey y'all,

My story Autoimmune is in the new issue of DreamForge Magazine, which you can read with your very own eyeballs! The online version is paywalled, but if you're already a subscriber, click here.

And if you're not a subscriber, now through January 15th you can save $5 on a subscription.

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100 Albums: "Watashi Wo Onigashima Ni Tsuretette" by Wednesday Campanella

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Wednesday Campanella
Title:Watashi Wo Onigashima Ni Tsuretette
Released: 2014
Genre: J-pop rap


Suiyōbi no Campanera, anglicized as Wednesday Campanella, formed in Tokyo in 2012 as a side project for label manger Dir.F. He met musician Kenmochi Hidefumi in 2011 and they named the band after the day of the week they practiced on. They met singer KOM_I, then a high-schooler with no musical experience, at a house party and invited her to join the band. He liked the way her voice clashed with his music. They've been putting out music constantly ever since. The rest, as they say, is art.

Whereas my other favorite female-led Japanese rap act draws influences from dub, funk, and classic hip-hop, Wednesday Campanella's music is more informed by J-pop and Euro-style EDM. Opening track Sen no Rikyu could have been written by Moby, meanwhile Demeter could be the theme song to a girly high school anim…

100 Albums: "Fire" by Electric Six

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Electric Six
Title:Fire
Released: 2003
Genre: sophomoric disco-punk


Electric Six is only one or two steps removed from being a novelty act. The man who sings and does the bulk of the songwriting goes by the stage name Dick Valentine, and that should give you a good feeling for the band's aesthetic. Their songs are mostly about--to the extent that they're about anything at all--partying, sex, and drugs, but generally on very silly terms. They found success with the single Danger! High Voltage (the slightly-NSFW video couldn't be embedded, but you should absolutely go watch it right now) that may or may not have featured a pre-fame Jack White on backup vocals. Sources conflict.

Fire is the band's only successful album, although they've kept going, releasing a total of 14 studio albums. I saw them in concert a few years ago and Gay Bar just about brought the house down. The soun…