Monday, September 29, 2008

2 Records, 2 Beers

This is a repost of an entry from my MySpace blog earlier this year...I'm feeling this today, so I wanted to throw it on here:

2 records, 2 beers
Current mood: thoughtful

I just wish that I could do that every night. Listen to two whole records, drink two beers. I wouldn't be so tired that the beers would make me too sleepy to enjoy the music...I wouldn't have to start so late that I would flake out after the first record, or sooner...

John Coltrane is a beautiful thing, especially once you've been through your day, and your mind has been stretched out enough to handle it. I've always been bewildered by the fact that things that are less conventional are more enjoyable to me at the end of the day. If I try to listen to Coltrane, or Electroacoustic Music, or Sonic Youth even, at the beginning of the day, it doesn't really work out. The beginning of the day is the time for The Beatles, or R.E.M., or They Might Be Giants. Electric Miles Davis, Albert Ayler, Kenneth Gaburo and The Mars Volta are late night indulgences.

I have a conflicted relationship with the night...I desperately want to wade into it, deeply, until I'm up to my neck...I want to sit, engrossed in the music and the awareness of the darkness outside until the final notes of an album fade and I suddenly realize the sun will be up in two hours. I want to deny that the need for sleep even exists. For it doesn't do me any good in my soul to acknowledge said need...It only makes me feel discouraged and sad, because somehow my body has trumped my spirit... and my true being is disturbingly, dishearteningly subservient to my physical one. The intangible elements of my self could go on for days, continually absorbing and interacting with that which gives me life, if my damned eyes didn't begin to feel so tired, and demand that physical rest occur...

Will John Coltrane be there tomorrow? And Aphex Twin, and Frank Zappa, and Guided By Voices? Yes...but tomorrow will contain only a fleeting moment to engage them, and some of them will be left again, for the next day, and then for the next, and the next, and the next...and I will continually say, "Yes, I'm getting to that record. Or getting back to it. Giving it the attention it deserves, even DEMANDS..."

I try not to dwell in sadness because of these realities. And, let's not forget, this is to say nothing of my OWN music, and the neglect that it suffers. That's a whole other story. For another entry. For now, let's just listen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Soundtrack Spotlight: 1989

So, this is volume one of the Soundtrack Spotlight series, where I pick a year of my life and create a new mixtape of some of the things I was listening to that year. We're starting with 1989.

This is NOT a mixtape strictly of things that were released in 1989...A lot of it is, but my listening has never followed that strict of a trajectory. These are all songs that I listened to a lot in 1989.

I chose to start with 1989 because I tend to view it as a sort of "golden age" in terms of my musical tastes. It may seem odd, but I miss the innocence I felt during this time, discovering some classic rock and "alternative" music for the first time, but still being very much of the opinion that the top 40 and butt rock on the radio was worthwhile. Granted, I was starting to get pickier about which top 40 songs I liked and was willing to sit through (the radio in the car never stayed on a particular station for long), but there were still some that I just couldn't resist (within a year, top 40 radio would go so far downhill that I would declare myself finished with it forever...a stance I've maintained to this day). Hip-hop was really starting to become un-ignorable, and from about sixth grade onward it was a fixture of my record collection. I also was a huge fan of the Dr. Demento show, which not only permanently impacted the aesthetic I use in my own music to this day, but also introduced me to some pivotal artists as well (The Dead Milkmen, They Might Be Giants, Camper Van Beethoven, Frank Zappa). Many of the listening habits I formed in 1989 continue to be prevalent in my approach to music now; there's no one category of music (see previous entry "Freedom..." to hear more about my opinion of "categories") that I really am 100% loyal to, or that I am a fan of in particular. There's genius to be found in every musical genre, every radio format, but it is in very short supply in each individual context (this is my opinion, mind you...most people are more forgiving than I am). Classic rock radio ceased to be anything I wanted to participate in around 1991 or so...They didn't play enough of the bands that I liked, and too much of the bands that I didn't (not enough Zeppelin, Who, Beatles, Stones, Jethro Tull, too much Styx, Foreigner, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd). This problem seemed more severe once I moved back to Oklahoma City from my one and only year living in the DC area...Oklahoma folks like their American 70's rock. God knows why. Add to this scenario the continual discovery of exciting artists outside the radio spectrum, and you have the beginnings of a journey into music geekdom, rock snobbery, whatever you want to call it. I just call it being obedient to my own damn taste. If I don't like something, I'll let you know, and I'll let you know WHY NOT.

All that being said, the 1989 mixtape has 3 sides (yeah, I know...I tried to keep it to 2, but couldn't, and wasn't able to stretch it to 4, either). YOU get to make the 4th side...Leave comments including what would be on YOUR 1989 mixtape. You can just leave one song, or create a whole 45-minute side yourself. How about that?

Side 1

Wild Wild West-The Escape Club
Fish Heads-Barnes & Barnes
Beats To the Rhyme-Run-DMC
Mr. Brownstone-Guns N' Roses
Mercedes Boy-Pebbles
Turning Japanese-The Vapors
Beds Are Burning-Midnight Oil
Houses Of The Holy-Led Zeppelin
Why Don't We Do It In The Road?-The Beatles
Smokin' Banana Peels-The Dead Milkmen
Polka Dot Undies-Bowser & Blue
Once Bitten Twice Shy-Great White

Side 2

Detroit Rock City-Kiss
Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)-De La Soul
I Won't Back Down-Tom Petty
Eye Of The Beholder-Metallica
Boyz-N-The-Hood (Remix)-Eazy-E
Watching, Waiting-Extreme
Square Dance Rap-Sir Mix-A-Lot
Orange Crush-R.E.M.
My Sharona-The Knack
Open Letter (To A Landlord)-Living Colour

Side 3

One Of These Days-Pink Floyd
Dig A Pony-The Beatles
Purple Toupee-They Might Be Giants
Baba O'Riley-The Who
Werewolves Of London-Warren Zevon
Teacher-Jethro Tull
Maybe I'm Amazed-Paul McCartney
Should I Stay Or Should I Go-The Clash
Dig It-The Beatles
Ten Years Gone-Led Zeppelin
In Your Eyes-Peter Gabriel

Side 1
Wild Wild West-In retrospect, not really that good a song at all. But at least these guys played guitars, or acted like it. It was just quirky enough to hold my attention at the time. This probably came out in 1988, but leading into 1989 it was a song that consistently didn't make me want to change the station.
Fish Heads-This is an all-time Dr. Demento classic, in case you aren't aware. The minimal, absurd arrangement is genius all in itself, before you even consider the lyrics or vocals.
Beats To The Rhyme-By the time the "Tougher Than Leather" album came out in 1988, Run-DMC's big moment was over for most people. I was still loyal, though, and I think this song shows why.
Mr. Brownstone-Hands down, far and away the BEST Guns N' Roses song ever. Totally embodied their attitude and swagger in a way a lot of their other songs did not.
Mercedes Boy-I don't know if I really can explain this one. Couldn't get enough of this song at the time.
Turning Japanese-Totally wasn't aware of this song in the early 80's when it was originally released...Dr. Demento turned me on to it later. Can anyone out there listen to this and tell me it doesn't kick ass?
Beds Are Burning-Another one that I think was 1988, but I had to include it simply because I remember feeling when it came out that it was like a window into another musical world, where good songs were the most important thing, that having big hair or a drum machine weren't important at all. Ground zero for my own personal alternative revolution?
Houses Of The Holy-I remember buying the "Physical Graffiti" album and feeling like it was almost too big to handle...Single Led Zeppelin albums took a lot of getting used to for my top 40 addled mind, and a DOUBLE album seemed much more daunting. I latched on to this song first, since it was so catchy, and I was fascinated by the fact that it had been left off the album that shared its title.
Why Don't We Do It In The Road?-I had been listening to the Beatles since I was 3 years old, but did not hear the White Album until I was in 7th or 8th grade. I borrowed a friend's vinyl copy and taped it...It pretty much blew my mind, and still does. The White Album is one of those records that opens musical doors for you...It supplies a context, or a framework for most other musical experiences to live in, whether it's jazz, folk, sound collage (would I have heard musique concrete the same way in college if it hadn't been for "Revolution 9"??), or whatever. The White Album is, in some ways, where it all begins.
Smokin' Banana Peels-Again, one of the most underrated bands of all time. I'm serious.
Polka Dot Undies-Another Dr. Demento treasure. I really didn't even get that it was a Bob Dylan parody at the time...The implied profane rhymes were really my reason for being there.
Once Bitten Twice Shy-This song was everywhere, and it really doesn't suck nearly as bad as some of the other butt rock from that year. It probably helps that it's an Ian Hunter song.

Side 2
Detroit Rock City-I had never heard a single Kiss song before 8th grade (with the possible exception of "Rock & Roll All Nite"). Exploring the roots of butt rock led me to "Destroyer", and this opening track.
Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)-De La Soul showed me what hip-hop could be, what it could aspire to artistically. Still a masterpiece (both the song and the album from whence it came).
I Won't Back Down-Tom Petty was like a gift from heaven...I can't explain it any better. He was another piece in the puzzle that helped me understand what my personal definition of "good music" was.
Eye Of The Beholder-Metallica felt like a really extreme thing to be listening to at the time...I had a hard time sitting through a whole album of theirs, but my penchant for purchasing cassette singles (anybody remember those? little cardboard sleeve...YEAH!) helped me avoid that eventuality for a while.
Boyz-N-The-Hood (Remix)-This is, of course, not the original version from NWA's first album, but the remix that Eazy-E included on his "Eazy-Duz-It" album. THIS was extreme as well, and was one of a number of things I taped from a friend and (of course) NEVER let my parents hear. I didn't really follow gangsta rap after 1989...Once the novelty/controversy wore off for me, it failed to hold my interest.
Watching, Waiting-So remember "More Than Words"? Same band, but they had an album before the one with the big hit; that's why the second one was called "EXTREME II: PORNOGRAFFITI". This is a great little butt rock ballad about Christ being crucified...
Square Dance Rap-Most of you know Sir Mix-A-Lot from "Baby Got Back", but his TRUE moment of genius was "SWASS", his first record. There has been much debate whether this high pitched guy rapping on this song is Mix-A-Lot's protoge, Kid Sensation, or just Mix-A-Lot himself with his voice sped up. Either way, this is one of the most ridiculous/brilliant things I have ever heard.
Orange Crush-My obsession with R.E.M. wouldn't truly begin until about 1991, but the "Green" album was definitely one of my first flirtations with music that existed somewhere (even if not very far) outside the mainstream.
My Sharona-I was aware of this song growing up, I think, but didn't really get into it until the year in question. It helped that I heard a parody of it on Dr. Demento entitled "Nine Coronas".
Open Letter (To A Landlord)-Living Colour embodied a lot of what I remember to be great about 1989...starting to break out of boxes and so forth. They were an incredibly talented band...1988-1990 or so was their moment, though; sonically, they would have required a complete overhaul to continue after that.

Whew...only side 3 to go...I'm getting tired...Feel like I say the same damn thing about every song...

One Of These Days-"...I'm going to cut you into little pieces." Still one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. The "Meddle" album was really my introduction to the band...before any of the more famous records.
Dig A Pony-"Let It Be" is an album I remember listening to constantly after we arrived in DC. I think my brother and I were kind of obsessed with it.
Purple Toupee-I happened to see the video for this song on a late night local PBS rock video show called "Video Spin". The moments in life where one feels he/she has experienced art that truly speaks to him/her are rare...This was one of those moments. Never the same again. Aesthetic doors blown wide open.
Baba O'Riley-If I had heard this song and NOT liked it, there would have been something wrong with me.
Werewolves Of London-My true love of Warren Zevon would not manifest until many years later (when I do a spotlight entry for 1996 we'll talk more about that), but his biggest hit had me from the get go.
Teacher-Jethro Tull only have about half a dozen really great songs, but this is one of them.
Maybe I'm Amazed-This is one of McCartney's best love songs...I purchased a vinyl copy of "McCartney" for 50 cents at a church bazaar, along with a copy of "Thick As a Brick" by Jethro Tull, complete with the newspaper on the inside. Still have that one.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go-This kind of fits into the same category as "My Sharona"...A friend bought "Combat Rock" on cassette and loaned it to me and I fell in love.
Dig It-One minute of the most brilliant gobbledygook ever committed to tape.
Ten Years Gone-This is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs ever. As I explored "Physical Graffiti", I kept coming back to this song, drawn in by its beautiful sense of longing for things past. It became all the more poignant when we moved back to OKC in the summer of 1990.
In Your Eyes-It doesn't really matter what year I discovered this song...If it had been any other year, it would be on a spotlight mix for that year instead. Quite simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music from the 80's, period.

Okay, done. Fill in your own side 4 in the comments. No, really, I really want you to. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Slave To the iPod

I have a different relationship with my iPod than some people, I'm sure. I am looking to my iPod to help me achieve certain help me reach maximum enjoyment and fulfillment potential from my music collection. It's a tall order, and really, the iPod (being that it is not alive and does not have free will) doesn't have the capacity to really do this. I have to do it using the iPod...figuring out how to load the iPod with the appropriate things at the appropriate time to accomplish maximum enjoyment/fulfillment potential.

Being that this is not an exact science, there has been a lot of trial and error. One thing that is a particular source of conflict in my brain is the Soundtrack to My Life (read below entry for definition/details). For most of the last year or two, I had the complete series of mixes loaded on my iPod. This was a really easy way to get most of the music from my past that I cared about at my fingertips without going through my CD collection disc by disc and then just picking the songs I wanted on there (granted, I had to make a series of almost 250 mix CDs to achieve that goal, but once you've read the entry on the subject you'll understand that this is the type of thing that I'm prone to). However, in addition to the entire Soundtrack project, I also had loaded on my iPod the better part of 100 or so albums that I had purchased/accumulated since the current 2004 cutoff of the aforementioned project. My iPod is 60 gigs, and I had filled up most of it at this point.

I was happy with this arrangement for a while. Really, anything I could have possibly wanted to listen to was at my fingertips. What could be better? I mean, that's what the iPod is for, right? Well, the problem was that I was so overwhelmed by what to listen to (even just narrowing the field down to the actual COMPLETE ALBUMS on the iPod, and cutting out the Soundtrack mixes altogether), that most of the time I would just put the damn thing on shuffle and take what I got. Mind you, this can be a really enjoyable thing at times, but it also just made me lazy. I went through a looong stretch of time where I was taking no deliberate action in terms of getting to know most of my recent acquisitions. If a song from, say, ALIEN LANES by Guided By Voices came up in the shuffle (I was a REALLY late bloomer with that band...a story for a future blog), great, but I could probably barely tell you what one or two of the other songs on the album were called or how the melody went.

So, something had to change.

I went through and whittled down the post-Soundtrack album count. I have around ten on there now. I also went through the Soundtrack project and cut out things that I didn't really want to come up on shuffle (there were moments during shuffle time where a particular song would come up and I'd just think, "No, no..."). All these things remain in my iTunes, so I can add them back in at any time.

This is a fluid process...I have a feeling things will change soon. I do know, however, that the current arrangement is better. I've been listening more to actual albums, and I've only been rocking the shuffle feature when I desperately need to hear something familiar (this shows you how dire the situation was...I was only barely familiar with most of the records I've bought in the last 3-4 years!).

So, coming up soon on the blog, the first entry in the "Soundtrack Spotlight" series...where I create a mixtape featuring music I was listening to during a certain year (they will be newly created mixtapes, using current mixtape format, and none of them will duplicate any disc already made for the larger Soundtrack project). I've got a couple in mind already that I want to do that really showcase where my listening was during a particular time. It's exciting stuff. Also, some time soon (probably after the Dr. Pants EP is finally released) I'm going to start Round 2 of the Mixtape Jones Project (some of you already know what that is...I'll repost my original MySpace blog on the subject before we start so you know what we're doing). If you were in on the project before, count on your mixtapes this time around being a tad more adventurous, musically...Be prepared to be challenged...

More soon...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Freedom... be the President of the United States." No, I'm not going to write a political blog. That line comes from Mike D's remix of Ween's "Freedom of '76"...Kind of a rarity, but seek it out, because the intro he tacks on it is really entertaining.

Freedom, freedom in music, in art, in expression...This is what everyone is looking for, at least those who are desiring to CREATE. Many listeners, and the culture at large, are NOT looking for this whatsoever. Society and many people within it are looking for things that can be put neatly into little boxes that they call "categories" or "styles" or (grrrr) "genres"...whereas the REALITY is that to many who CREATE, such words are...meaningless.

This is the kind of blog that is going to frustrate people (including some very close to me, although I will not single out who those people're welcome). However, I think that sometimes people are frustrated by the truth. Ultimately, music and art don't have any obligation or recourse to these things. The music that I make or that ANYONE else makes, for that matter, does not have any inherent responsibility to fit neatly into a box so that YOU can know what to call it. This is the biggest lie of the entire entertainment industry.

I have just finished jumping around to some different sites/blogs that I found the links to on Peter Breslin's blog (, most of which having to do with so-called "free jazz" or other types of improvised music. The reality is that there is all kinds of art and music out there that begs to be listened to, but in a posture that does not subject it to any sort of "boxing". It even demands a kind of attention that is purely about the experience of listening itself, and not about, "What do I do with this? What do I call it? Where do I file it away? How do I know what "it" is so that I never have to hear "it" again?" Some days I feel like that's why the term "free jazz" was invented; so that people knew what to call this thing that they were being told to avoid like the plague (or so that the detractors would have something more constructive to call it other than "noise". Whatever. I'm not a detractor and I call it wondrous).

Mind you, there ARE scenarios in which "style" is a concern (for instance...I played my first gig as a substitute guitarist for my father-in-law's bluegrass band last night, and, although I have yet to play a solo in a performance context with them, if I do, I will definitely make some effort to adhere to a bluegrass "style" in said improvisatory moment). Mostly, though, it's a concern in scenarios where, as a musician, I am not "in charge" of the aesthetic direction of the proceedings. In other words, as a side man (like the bluegrass band scenario), I am under the obligation to adhere to the prescribed "style" of the musical context. However, if I am the LEADER of the ensemble in question, and I want to go really "out" in my solo (like I do sometimes in the second solo on "Hey Abe Lincoln"...doesn't really sound so much like Tom Petty at that point, does it??), I can, and I will, and I SHOULD, as far as I'm concerned. If that one moment takes that song ("Hey Abe Lincoln") out of the box of "classic rock" or "singer/songwriter" or WHATEVER, then so damn be it. I really don't care. From my perspective, that's the way the song is SUPPOSED to be, and it's not about rebellion or some deep-seeded, reactionary non-conformity...It's not a reaction to ANYTHING. It's my pure action. My pure, authentic, artistic ACTION that I make out of my deepest being.

And THAT, my friends, is what we should all be pursuing...the purest, most authentic artistic moment that you can conjure up at any given time, regardless of genre. If you are interested in writing for electronic instruments, orchestral instruments, guitar, bass and drums, and you want each one of those contexts to sound different, then that's okay. Go for it (I say this as much to remind myself of this truth as anything else).

Go out there today and find at least one piece of music that you've never heard anything like before in your life. Start breaking down those boxes.

P.S. Please don't mistake "passion" for "militancy". I am not "militant" about this. I am "passionate". I welcome your comments, your arguments to the contrary...I will just say one more thing. It is not the FAULT of the art or artist that many people find it difficult to break out of "boxes"...therefore it is not the RESPONSIBILITY of the artist to cater to that reality.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Soundtrack to My Life

So, this is the moment where I reveal just how obsessive and crazy I am in regards to my music collection, the mixtape concept, my life/experiences, and how all of those things go together.

Once upon a time, around 1989 or so, I embarked on a project. I decided to create a series of mixtapes that would have all of my favorite stuff from all the albums I owned on them. As I accumulated more albums, I would make more mixtapes. Normal mixtape rules applied, but this was going to be COMPREHENSIVE. Now, I wasn't really too obsessive about the project otherwise...I wasn't rigidly autobiographical (in other words, the music did not go on the mixtapes in the sequence that I discovered or grew to love it), and I kind of just played catch up when it occurred to me to do so. But I kept up with it pretty regularly all through high school, and through my freshman year of college. I can't quite remember how many tapes I had created by then...maybe somewhere around 50 or 60.

Then, tragedy struck...I was home for the summer in 1994, and was driving somewhere, when I suddenly realized that I had left the entire series of cassettes in their storage cases in a cabinet in my dorm room. The dorm rooms were rigorously cleaned after the school year ended, so I knew that the cassettes were gone. All that work, kaput.

I did not attempt to replicate or restart the project for another year and a half or so. I made mixtapes occasionally, but no large connected series of them. Then, some time around the early part of 1996, I decided to attempt the project again, because I thought it would be a good way to occupy my time. This time around I had a LOT more catching up to do, since almost 7 years had elapsed since I started the first time. So I sat around and made mixtapes A LOT. I spent an inordinate amount of time on it. I kept it up until some time in 1999, when I kind of abandoned it for a number of reasons: 1) Cassettes, for better or worse, were on their way out. I didn't even have a cassette player in my car anymore at that point (although I do now, ironically enough). 2) I felt as though a lot of the later tapes had a good bit of music on them that I didn't really like that much...I didn't dislike it, but it was the product of accumulating too much music too fast in a non-discriminatory way, and being able to go back and listen to music that generally didn't mean much to me was not the purpose of the project. To some degree, the point of mixtapes retroactively is to be able to go back and experience a moment in your life, where the music on that tape was, literally, the soundtrack to your life. So... 2004 I began again, with even stricter, more obsessive adherences than the first two times. I decided to use CDs this time around, and did not pursue my current "mixtape" format (see entry "Introduction/What Is This Crap?" for definition) because I had not invented it yet. I rigorously pursued the "autobiographical" nature I had always wanted for the project, starting with the earliest music I ever heard on the first few discs, working all the way up to the present (or early 2004...that's as far as I've gotten with it). So far there are around 250 discs in the series. I found that it's good to stay a few years behind, because when you look back a few years, you REALLY remember what you heard, and what you enjoyed and latched on to...You remember the music that really meant something to you. We'll see how far I get. I know that, given my current situation (most of my CD collection is in the garage, so I don't really have the kind of access to it that the project demands), I won't work on it much any time soon. But we'll see.

This description of this project is necessary to continue a discussion I want to have about iPods, and my struggle/journey with them. So I'll get to that soon. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the above text.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weird Files, Santa Fe, Sonic Youth, blah blah blah....

I can't even say for sure that I'm going to write about all of those things in this entry. Those are just a few things that I'm thinking about as I begin it.

So, I wrote a piece of music yesterday that is, again, frustratingly unfit for any sort of "live" performance. It might be a piece of drivel, so it may not matter, but in the current musical culture of Oklahoma City, it's an issue in terms of making people aware that it (or the "project" it's associated with AKA Weird Files) exists. Maybe no one would care anyway, and therefore it doesn't matter whether I try to "promote" it or not. But it also comes back to some of the things I spoke about in a previous entry...

Let's say I want to make this piece (at this moment, it is imaginatively titled "Composition 1", since it is the first piece of music I've written since quitting my day job two weeks ago) a part of a Weird Files live performance. Currently, Weird Files live performances (of which there have been exactly 3 to date) involve me performing on electric guitar, acoustic guitar or vocals over some sort of recorded backing track, depending on the piece. No songs have "lyrics", per se...Any vocals are usually some sort of nonsensical noise. What I've managed to do so far, though, is to make every piece in the show a combination of taped and live performance. "Composition 1" does not appear to be performable in that fashion...No guitar part, no vocal part, all electronics and samples generated from within my little Mac laptop. And, silly, poor me, I have no midi trigger that I might use to play some of those parts "live" (even if I did, it might not gel...I don't know). So what do I do? Do I make the piece a part of the show and just let it play while I stand there? This, again, brings up questions about what performance is, the question about DJs, and when they become "performers" and when are they just spinning records. I would just be "spinning a record" of my piece, really, but in the midst of something that could be called "performance" (this is not the first piece I've written for Weird Files that I felt this way about).

That brings up the whole DJ thing again...I really want to do something along these lines, but it is incredibly difficult not to brand the whole idea as ludicrous, mainly because I don't know of anywhere that would allow me to do what I want to do. I mean, it's partly about choice of material, it's partly because I want to mix my own pieces of music in...It's partly because I don't want to do any sort of "DJing" that really fits in any sort of category that people are familiar with. I also am pretty sure I'm really going to suck at it, and that I'll get laughed at because my gear is shitty and not "real" DJ gear. Whatever. Let's imagine a playlist for a DJ set by me:

Jungle Love-The Time
Big Jilm-Ween
Discipline-King Crimson/Phil's Boner Story-Weird Files (Phil's Boner Story is just spoken vocal, so it would play simultaneously with the Crimson track)
Ballooon Man-Robyn Hitchcock
Postal Blowfish-Guided By Voices
Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague-Frank Zappa & M.O.I.
Music Is My Radar-Blur
Cause For Concern-Nels Cline Singers
Rock & Roll Friends-Sifl & Olly
Fake Talking Heads Song-Liam Lynch

That's probably around 45 minutes or so, but you can tell how it might go on from there. Not especially concerned with any beat matching, or beats period. Not concerned with anything except playing some music that should get played.

I was in Santa Fe for only the second time since 1998 a weekend or two ago. I never thought I'd enjoy being there again as much as I did this time...When I left in 98 I was kind of sick of it, and the first time I went back (2006) I was just kind of in shock that the place was even real. Shocked that my memories were accurate, and that I had, in fact, spent 5 pivotal years of my life there from ages 18-23. This time it was like coming back to an old friend who had no reservations about giving you a warm embrace, even though things had been awkward the last couple of times you had seen him/her. I feel the pull of Santa Fe, of the boho/artistic population that, perhaps unlike anywhere else, and definitely unlike OKC, believes that whatever you do as an artist has intrinsic value, and doesn't need to be acknowledged by the populace at large as having value...a lie that is perpetuated daily by most of the citizens of my current city (more on that in a's all going to tie together somehow). I couldn't help thinking, as I wandered through the park adjacent to the cathedral downtown, "THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!!" Yeah, I'm sure half of them are flaky nuts (e.g. our waitress at Tomasita's the night we arrived),'s really hard not to want to be somewhere where my artistic whims could be indulged without having to f$%@ing explain myself to people all the time, or whatever, whatever my complaint of the week is. Plus, I love the mountains more than I ever have...the landscape speaks to my heart in ways that it only showed an inkling of when I lived there. I don't know what to chalk that up to. I came close to tears as we headed into the Texas panhandle on the way home and the last vestiges of the NM-esque landscape disappeared. The clouds became further out of reach, the land became flatter and less interesting...Ugh. Thank God for trips in to Lawton and back the last two Fridays, where I witnessed the Wichita mountains and learned (again for the first time) about the geographic loveliness Oklahoma has to offer. That, and when we went to Lubbock last weekend, I also learned about some NM-esque bits of West Texas that I was unaware of.

So here I am in Oklahoma City, plowing away with Dr. Pants (we do have an EP coming out, that I am really excited about, and it's really positive, and I promise I'll get to talking about that and some other positive things some time soon, just not today), and attempting to muster up the enthusiasm for/tweak the performance concept of Weird Files. And trying to start DJing, all in the face of inevitable apathy on the part of the general populace. So, in the wake of quitting my job, not only do I think about all this, but I make the rather hopeful decision to try and write some string quartet music, with the goal in mind of doing a performance of it some time in the spring of '09. There are two possible explanations for this, one being much more cynical than the other. The cynical one is that at some point, I decided to give Dr. Pants a more narrow focus, musically, because I was convinced that a certain "commerciality" would give the music a better chance at being noticed by a larger audience. Now that I know that people don't give a shit no matter what you do, why not write some string quartet stuff? The less cynical explanation is that now that I have some more time to devote to my art, I feel able to tend to more of the "branches" my "musical tree" and therefore can do some things like this.

A few things about records:

Sonic Youth-EVOL

Man...I can't even describe the joy of my late "catching on" that is happening with these guys...I'm all over the map with their material, but this one is a particular favorite at the moment. It's dark, kind of dreary, and has a great 80's production feel that lends it a certain commonality with Joy Division, etc. Highly recommended. Only feel as though I'm scratching the surface.

The Hold Steady-Almost Killed Me

Their first record, which I purchased out of sequence with the others. Has more in common with Lifter Puller, Craig Finn's old band, than their other albums do. Great riffs, less Springsteen-esque than their newer stuff. Well worth it if you're a fan at all.

Brief, yes. But it's almost 1:00 am and it's about all I've got the juice for. Please leave comments. Go be a fan of Dr. Pants on Facebook if you can. We need to build this shit up. "The Cusack-Loggins EP" is almost here. Give us another four weeks or so, and hopefully we'll have it in your grubby little hands. Also, since Mike at was so generous as to post a link to my blog on his myspace page, I need to give him a shout out. could be one of the coolest music networking sites on the net, if you are willing to allow it to be. Go check it out. Dr. Pants is on there, so how could it be bad?