Known Johnson

June 30, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:48 pm

The Guardian Unlimited last week featured a fantastic article about the dull nature of the lyrics in today’s modern music. One of the “experts” referenced in the article is a Lull favorite, XTC’s Andy Partridge, whose particularly pointed words from “No Thugs In Our House” (from another Lull favorite, XTC’s English Settlement) are compared to the bland nothings crooned by Coldplay’s Chris Martin to particularly good effect. Who’s selling more albums today? That’s pretty obvious, but is just so, so sad.

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June 29, 2005

Enjoy Super Furry Animals, live

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 12:28 pm

Here’s “Run Christian Run,” the final song of the Super Furry Animals’ appearance on the Peel Sessions last year, October 6, I believe. These guys completely rule and you need to love them, too.

SFA – Run Christian Run For a limited time only! Grab it while it’s hot!

Comments are kaput

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 12:18 pm

Sorry, I had to do it. I am entirely unable to keep up with a deluge of several hundred spam comments and trackbacks everyday. So, for the foreseeable future, comments are gone, and until I get some free time and can install the latest WordPress and also assess whether the comment/trackback-spam problem is any better with it, if you have something to say, email me.

Comments are kaput

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 12:17 pm

Sorry, I had to do it. I am entirely unable to keep up with a deluge of several hundred spam comments and trackbacks everyday. So, for the foreseeable future, comments are gone, and until I get some free time and can install the latest WordPress and also assess whether the comment/trackback-spam problem is any better with it, if you have something to say, email me.

June 28, 2005

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for June 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:43 pm

As has been noted, we’re now deep into the doldrums of summer and the release schedule is indeed looking a little thin . . . but that doesn’t mean some interesting stuff isn’t out.

New Releases

Longwave: There’s A Fire – Where their debut album made pretty obvious the influence 80s alterna-pop had on them (U2 came immediately and strongly to mind,) this sophomore release (following a couple of EPs) witnesses the band developing a more individual sound that, while still showcasing some of their favorite influences, allows the band to mature. This could be a breakthrough year for the band – they likely won’t be huge, but they might be a name more people recognize.

Reissues/comps/etc.

Can: Future Days, Soon Over Babaluma, Landed, Unlimited Edition – Mute records continues its efforts to reissue the entire Can catalog with four more albums offered in chronological order. The first four, which were released late last year, showed a stunning improvement in sound quality, not to mention being offered as hybrid SACD, for those of you with the proper home theater equipment to take advantage of the format. There’s little doubt the sound quality improvement on these four will be just as impressive, but as much can’t be said for the music. The sad thing with Can and this chronological campaign is that it makes the band’s decline pretty obvious. This set represent a band right at the peak of their creative arc that slowly declines with each subsequent album. However, Can was such an unusual outfit that even these “lesser” offerings are still pretty intriguing. It’s when we get to the next set of releases where I might suggest buyers take some caution in diving in unprepared . . .

Brian Eno: Nerve Net, The Shutov Assembly, Neroli, The Drop – Yet another set of beautiful Eno remasters, but depending on your interest in the man’s music, these might not be highly necessary. I would suggest any Eno fan pick up at least Nerve Net, which was his first vocal work in nearly 20 years, and which makes a nice companion piece to his excellent new vocal album, Another Day On Earth that was released two weeks ago. Nerve Net comes packaged with a couple of bonus tracks in the form of remixes, which is a first for the Eno reissues. These discs represent Eno melding his ambient side with touches of his pop side, resulting in some unusual, and not always entirely successful, moody pieces.

Megadeth: Greatest Hits – When a band has more than one “best of” in their catalog, it’s usually because one skimped on a portion of the band’s catalog that was really pretty signficant. This one, however, only fills in a few gaps of the previous best-of, Capitol Punishment, while mirroring a lot of the other material. As such, they at least have put together a special package, if you’re willing to pay extra, that includes a DVD with 6 or 7 tracks of live footage, a “mega mix” video (footage for this is taken from all of the band’s previous videos,) and a glimpse of the two-DVD retrospective that will be coming out in the fall. The band’s legacy would have been much better commemorated with a two-disc best of where each album could have been represented by more than just the singles. That is, of course, the name – “greatest hits” – but it really should have been so much more.

June 27, 2005

And you said you’d never use anything you learned in Biology after high school

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:34 pm

Alissa, entirely out of her own curiosity, did a Punnett square to determine the likelihood that our children will have flat feet. The outcome? Basically a 50/50 chance.

Incidentally, a Punnett square is not needed to determine the geek factor in this family. The outcome of that is now painfully obvious.

ShakerLeg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:09 pm

This guy is amazing (be sure and check out the A/V page for a fascinating video, plus his CD page for samples.) He plays all hand-percussion, but does so in such a way to sound like a drummer with sticks, only relying on a shaker on his left leg to keep time like a drummer would with a high hat. What’s more, he goes beyond sounding like a drummer to get an even more muscular sound. I’m betting there’s dozens of technically-great drummer who wish they could cop some of this guy’s tremendous sense of time and power – how many drummers do you actually want to just listen to, without accompaniment? I can think of only a few, the first names coming to mind being Rush’s Neil Peart and ex-Yes/ex-King Crimson/now-jazz drummer Bill Bruford. And who does he play with? No one! He plays in New York’s subways, solo, where he sells his drumming CDs. Found through a link from a link from a link . . . wish I could remember where now.

June 26, 2005

Above the weather

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:36 pm

It seems like only yesterday I was muttering something about how it seemed like weekends don’t exist anymore. Well, add this “weekend” to the previous post . . . it’s the same story.

As I rip my entire Thought Industry collection to Itunes for my Ipod, I’ve got a few minutes to detail the past 5 or so days of happenings. Lots of stuff going on, so much I haven’t the energy to detail it all (and, knowing me and how much I like to go on and on and on, that’s saying a lot) so I’ll resort to a handy list:

  • Managed to both find a disease and have it take over my body for the better part of the week. It may have only been a cold, but it was an unpleasant one, complete with a couple of near-sleepless nights, lots of fiery sore throats, coughing fits, runny nose fits, etc. Suffice it to say that it was a pretty typical summer cold. Winter colds make sense. Summer colds? They suck.
  • Even be-colded, I forced myself to make progress on The Room Of The Unknown Johnson, and I can proudly and very happily say that it really is very, very near completion. I thought of posting pics of the near-complete status, but I figured I might as well wait a week until it really is basically complete. It’s actually not out of a sense of drama but simply because I’m lazy and tired and don’t feel like messing with resizing photos, etc.
  • Had our second Babies R Us registry festival last night during which we happily found out that the glider-rocker that we picked up on sale at Kmart for $79 was just about exactly as nice as the ones BRU priced at three to four times as much. Score!
  • Dr. Foot has some work to do when I meet with him this Wednesday for a follow-up. His orthotic shoe inserts worked in one sense – my arches didn’t feel as much pain – but they failed in another: I gained new pain elsewhere. In fact, after two busy days this weekend, I found that now my right ankle is especially sore and unreliable feeling. I can’t say there’s been a reduction of pain . . . just a “spreading around” of it. I don’t think that counts as a victory.
  • Yesterday was the third birth/labor class, which contained the much-looked-forward-to hospital tour. After we watched a series of horrible movies, we took a break, then went and saw where all the magic happens. It was actually very helpful – it’s still a hospital for sure, but the parts of it we spend the most time in are much cozier and homey than you might expect. The labor/delivery/recovery room was quite big with a large and flexible transformer of a bed. Some of the walls were a calming shade of hazy blue, upon which were some oak cabinets presumably hiding scary equipment. As our instructor said, we’d spend about two hours in that room following the birth, then we’d be moved across the way to our real room, where, by regulation, we begin a 48 hour stay in the hospital while Alissa recovers and we adjust to life with the Known Johnson. I was relieved to hear that – I knew we were supposed to get 48 hours at the hospital, but worried that it was 48 hours from the time Alissa checked in, which could be a short amount of resting-time after a long, difficult birth (God forbid!) It’s a relief to know that we have two very assisted days where we’ll be helped with doing whatever it is that babies need done (everything!) before being shoved out the door and on our own.
  • But that day can’t come soon enough, as scary as it is. The Unknown Johnson was kicking and/or hitting up a storm tonight, and the thought hit me all of a sudden how fun it will be to actually see this tiny person cavorting out in the open. There’s also fun in the mystery of trying to determine what is what – is that an arm? a leg? a butt? – but, of course, that’s nothing compared to what’s about to happen to our lives two months from now.
  • Ba-dink: Itunes signals that the last disc is ripped, which means it’s time to go to bed, which will be the first identifiably post-sick night of sleep I’ve had since Wednesday. I’m kind of looking forward to that . . .

June 21, 2005

Overlooked Alternatives: new releases for June 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:46 pm

Wow, what a quiet week for music, both new and reissued. As I’ve noted before, it’s a good week to pick up those things you didn’t get around to before.

New Releases

Schoolyard Heroes: Fantastic Wounds – I reviewed the young Heroes’ last album, The Funeral Sciences, last year and found it to be a refreshing change of pace from all the angsty teen melodrama that’s forced down music buyer’s throats. Tinges of metal-greats past such as Iron Maiden with a PJ Harvey-esque vocalist at the helm, this is certainly not aimed at the OC-loving crowd. I would expect more of the same on this new release.

Engineers – Self-titled debut from this UK act that I can’t find much about. You try looking up “engineers” on Google and see what you get – not much useful info on the band. AllMusicGuide provides some samples of their dreamy, slow-motion pop.

Reissues

Porcupine Tree: Up the Downstair – The first “real” Porcupine Tree album (On the Sunday of Life being a collection of oddities) gets a serious facelift more than a decade after it was first released. Steven Wilson, essentially the man behind the whole thing, wisely decided to replace the album’s cheap-sounding drum programming with real drumming courtesy of current PT drummer Chris Maitland, then extensively cleaned up the sound in general with a remix and a few spots of new guitar parts. The result is a stunningly powerful “new” album that easily stands up next to their latest release, Deadwing. This is one of those times when a reissue is a MUST-HAVE item for anyone who enjoys the band.

Bruce Dickinson: Tattooed Millionaire (Deluxe), Balls to Picasso (Deluxe), Skunkworks (Deluxe), Accident of Birth (Deluxe), Chemical Wedding (Deluxe), and Alive – Hot on the heels of his extremely strong new album, Tyranny of Souls (reviewed here by Blogcritics’ MuzikMan,) Sanctuary shoves out a load of good stuff for fans by adding a bunch of non-album stuff to each previous solo release. The best thing about these is that they went all out – these are separate discs with a significant amount of extra stuff in most cases. The only offerings that differ from the rest are the more recent Chemical Wedding, which simply gets three tracks tacked on to the end of the album, and Alive, which is a repackaging of Bruce’s two live releases (the double CD Alive in Studio A and the single disc Scream for Me Brazil) into one cheap package. Each album has been remastered and features extra artwork and liner notes plus a nice glossy slipcase for the jewelcases. I picked up my favorite Dickinson album today – the overlooked Skunkworks – and can vouch for the package’s greatness. Disc two has all of the single b-sides that I could never find, plus the equally hard to find Skunkworks Live 4-track live EP that I also never found. The bonus non-album tracks are surprisingly fun – opener “I’m in a Band with an Italian Drummer” showcase’s the band’s humor and a surprisingly successful nod to Frank Zappa while “R101” is an obvious ode to Led Zeppelin’s acoustic side. Definitely a good deal and a highly recommended upgrade for Maiden and Dickinson fans alike. Now if only we could get him to release the long-out-of-print videos Dive Dive Live and the Japan-only Skunkworks Live on DVD . . .

June 20, 2005

Exhaustion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:30 pm

I’m not quite sure I had a weekend. I think it was there . . . something flew by really quickly, but it might just have been a truck or something. There was a period of time between Friday and today, but I’m having a hard time justifying the use of such a casual term as “weekend” to describe it.

Birthing class Saturday morning followed by shopping for maternity clothes, then the evening spent with my parents for Father’s Day #1, then off to Borders to track down a gift for Alissa’s dad, then home. More painting the next day (you people must think I’m painting the friggin’ Sistene chapel in that nursery – I’m just a very cautious perfectionist,) then dinner and the rest of the evening with Alissa’s family, then back to my parents’ house to deliver and install a new keyboard for their computer. Then home, then bed.

At some point in there I think there was some rest, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I’m in the middle of a very long week that started about 9 days ago. This definitely wasn’t helped by the massive accident on the freeway that we take home tonight. What should normally be a 50 minute drive home turned into over two hours spent mostly sitting on a two-mile stretch of the road – and we still had to do some grocery shopping and pick up a prescription! End result . . . I feel completely exhausted and just about ready to break. I know, I know – “get used to it!” I get it already – parents get tired, don’t have much time to themselves, etc., etc., yada yada yada. But parents have something rewarding to justify their exhaustion. There’s nothing rewarding about sitting in traffic . . . the upside (so that I don’t sound like a complete whiner) is that while sitting in traffic I got to listen to two complete CDs that I picked up at lunch today. I could have found other ways to enjoy those in a more relaxing setting, but you take what you can get.

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