Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Funk

Sadly, the combined search terms of "Steelers" and "Funk" produced no noteworthy results. Instead, here's one of the best jams from the forever classic Street Songs.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

I'll start with an anecdote, then get to the news.

While at Iowa, one of my closest pals and fellow musical geeks was a chap named James. We were also neighbors, and countless nights were spent at my apartment getting sloshed and listening to oodles of music. From the getgo, we bonded over garage rock, the Talking Heads, Gary Numan, Zappa, etc.

One night [after a sweltering summer day, and I had no a/c at the time], James and I watched Frank Zappa's Baby Snakes. After enjoying that and downing quite a few mojitos, James pulled out a VHS tape of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the visual companion to their first singles collection, Once Upon a Time.

I admit I was hesitant. As far as I knew, this was "goth" music. I didn't like "goth" music. My college roommate listened to that stuff constantly. But I humored James, and we popped it in.

And I was shocked.

First of all, as later conversations with he and other folks brought out, Siouxsie and the Banshees are really not a "goth" band. They're heavily influenced by punk (see The Scream LP) and new wave, so-called alternative, and a number of other styles. However, Siouxsie's persona is decidedly of the goth ilk, and her persona has superseded their music in popular culture. So I was pleasantly surprised in hearing songs like "Hong Kong Garden," "Christine" and this, which is probably my favorite Siouxsie track:

I'm not even sure why (but I'm guessing it was based on my reaction to the Siouxsie video), but at some point James made me a tape (yes a tape!) of what can broadly be labeled as British alternative of the 1970s-1980s.

As a genre, I admit that this is something I've come to with age. Earlier, I couldn't get much into bands like The Cure. Too whiny for me at the time, I think. But in late college I very superficially revisited some of that material, and warmed up to it quite a bit.

But anyway, this tape (and the volumes that followed) did much to reintroduce to this music, as well as introducing me for the first time. Siouxsie, Simple Minds (pre-Breakfast Club), Chris & Cosey, etc. I was definitely most taken with Siouxsie, and bought most of the reissues that were available.

I threw on the Once Upon a Time album tonight while doing some work, and thought "will they ever reissue the rest of the Siouxsie albums? Is this going to be another Madonna situation where the first three discs get reissued, but the rest of the catalog sits idle?"

Lo and behold, on the official Siouxsie and the Banshees MySpace page, the following blog post:

The next set of Siouxsie & The Banshees albums to be remastered, 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse', 'Nocturne', 'Hyaena' and 'Tinderbox' are set to be released on 6th April 2009. Watch this space.

Score! And another post indicated that the band is in talks with Universal to put out a DVD of their videos (finally!).

So I'm pretty excited for these reissues, so that I may explore the Banshees' catalog further. I'm particularly looking forward to Hyaena, purely for "Dazzle," which is one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard:

Monday, January 26, 2009

I wanted to take a moment to point you to the first in a regular (hopefully monthly, if I can keep my ish together) feature on the great IckMusic. With "Between the Cracks," I'll be looking/listening at underrated, forgotten and misunderstood albums that are worthy of reexamination. This time around, I offer some thoughts on Sly and the Family Stone's debut, A Whole New Thing.

And while you're there, check out Pete's Old School mix, and break up the mid-Friday afternoon blahs with the Michael's Friday Five feature.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Funk!

Pulling into Graham Central Station this week...

Enjoy the weekend everybody!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Funk

Great song, cheezy promo. Reminds me of the video for "Sexual Healing" in the totally literal visual depiction of the song.

Have a funky inauguration weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Running Mix

Some of my pals from grad school and I have a little online support group for our exercise habits. In addition to victories, defeats, injuries and goals, we also share recipes and (as of today) music.

I'd promised the group that I would compile a workout mix specifically for them, and share. But hey, you're apparently reading my blog, so why not share with you as well?

The music that I like to listen to while running broadly falls into two categories: 1) balls out rock and 2) things I like to dance to. The latter category encompasses pop, hip hop, funk, electro, etc. The former is self explanatory.

This mix is firmly entrenched in the second category, though a rock-oriented mix may follow. I'll keep the tracklist a secret for now (surprises!). But I tested it out on shorter runs the last two days, and I'm pretty pleased. A couple of not-so-great transitions, but overall I'm satisfied. I use it for running, but I'm sure it would suit pretty much any exercise activity. Enjoy!

Gonzo's Running Mix, Jan '09

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Copyright Criminals trailer

Kembrew McLeod and Ben Franzen have been working on a documentary about sampling in an era of ever more restrictive copyright laws. The film will start making rounds on the campus and fesitval circuit this spring, hopefully with a dvd release to follow. Check out the film's website for upcoming events etc.(to be updated shortly, I'm told).

Here's the trailer:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

USATF revises iPod ban

INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field has amended Rule 144.3, which pertains to the use of headphones and other electronic devices, to enable race directors to choose to allow the use of headphones by runners in non-championship races.

Approved at USATF's 2008 Annual Meeting held earlier this month in Reno, the rule now reads:"The following shall be considered assistance and therefore not allowed:

"(f) The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices."

The rule previously had banned the use of headphones by all runners. While headphones remain banned for any athlete competing in a USA Championship, they may be allowed by race directors in other circumstances, at the discretion of each race director.

Enforcement of the previous ban was in the hands of race directors, with some enforcing the ban, some simply urging runners not to use headphones and others not enforcing it. Rooted in a concern for athlete and volunteer safety, the rule had drawn passionate feedback from all sides, including from runners who hated the rule and runners who loved it; from volunteers who had seen the logistical difficulties of having participants wearing headphones; and from race directors who supported it and others who had had encountered logistical difficulties enforcing it.

"The difficulty in enforcement was part of the reasoning," USATF Rules Committee chair John Blackburn said. "However, several good-sized races have demonstrated that they were able to enforce the rule. There were strong opinions on all sides of this discussion, both understanding the issues related to athlete safety, race organization, difficulty of enforcement. This resolution appeared to be the best position for USATF overall."
Original press release here.

I'm glad that the USATF put some logic into amending this rule rather than the inherently flawed logic that dictated it in the first place. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, though I think it's pretty clear what will happen - the majority of races won't take it upon themselves to ban headphones. As was the case with most races while it was enacted, I imagine most organizers will see posting and enforcing such a rule a logistical nightmare, and will simply let runners make the call. No word on the situation for the Pittsburgh Marathon yet (for which I am now officially registered!), but I'd be shocked if they took up the rule. Yinzers love them some R n' R.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Funk

Sorry to have deprived you of your weekly dose of funk for two weeks. But as I said - sick as a dog the day after Christmas and last week I was out of town. But I digress.

A classic, and a 12" I was after for some time. Thank you eBay, for taking care of that.

In looking for this video, I also found a cover by Mariah Carey. I'll spare you. CRAP - She covered "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" too? Man, what is this world coming to?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Angry Video Game Nerd: Moonwalker

Some of you know that I have a soft spot for classic video games. A couple of years ago, I was YouTubing and came across The Angry Video Game Nerd (then known as "The Angry Nintendo Nerd"). Essentially the schtick is that this fellow (in character) reviews some of the worst video games of all time, generally in a pretty entertaining/humorous way. I admit they're kind of hit or miss, but when they're good, they're VERY good.

What does that have to do with music?

His latest review: Michael Jackson's Moonwalker for the Sega Genesis!!!!

I remember when the arcade version of this came out. The Sega-owned arcade at a local mall had it and I nearly shat myself. My mother nearly shat herself when she found out that I'd pumped $5 worth of quarters into the machine (this was back in the day when 1 quarter equaled 1 credit). I never got a Genesis - I lusted after the Super Nintendo instead (which, with an 8-bit NES, is still hooked up to the TV in my living room). But I always wanted a Genesis just so I could play Moonwalker at home. Years later, I downloaded it with a Genesis modulator and beat it pretty swiftly. Anyhow, check out The Angry Video Game Nerd's review below:

Check out other Angry Video Game Nerd Videos at

CSS: 9:30 Club - Washington, DC 12/20/08

I know, I've been conspicuously absent. Holidays, the flu and travels got in the way. But I have a few posts in mind for the next week or so. But first, the long delayed review of the CSS show from last month.

We opted to skip the opener in favor of a few cocktails with a friend of mine from grad school. We got to the 9:30 Club just in time. Perhaps predicatably, CSS took the stage with an in-your-face rendition of "Jaeger Yoga," the opener of their most recent LP Donkey (one of my absolute favorites from 2008!). From there, the band embarked on inciting a non-stop dance party with their pop-oriented electro sensibilities. I admit not being at all familiar with their previous, self-titled album (though of course now, I need to check it out). Even so, the band made it through the bulk of the Donkey LP. I was a little surprised that they pulled out "Move" and "Left Behind," the album's two singles so early in the set. I would have pegged either of them (but especially "Left Behind") as closers. Instead, the band's encore was a rousing performance of "Reggae All Night," which was actually a perfect closer anyhow.

I have to say I was very pleased with their performance. While I love the album, live the songs sound much fuller, and have more punch. Not to mention the stage personality of the band. In addition to a solid performance, the sound was stellar. I also didn't realize that this was the last show of the tour (at least the US leg), so that made it a little special and added to the energy of the show.

All in all, CSS is well worth seeing live - tight, well executed, energetic, and super fun. That's right, I said "super fun." Check 'em out if you ever get the chance.

CSS on MySpace

Stooges Guitarist Ron Ashton dies at 60

NME article.