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I feel like I’m living in a really strange era of music right now. I also feel like I’m living in a really strange period in pop culture/time right now. The 80s are retro and I’m not that old, you know? I feel like so many things that happened when I was a kid are coming back around or something … basically, they are probably coming back to people who are a little older than I was then, but because I was so aware and precocious* at even 6, 8, 10 years old, it doesn’t matter. I still thought then like I do now and remember them like it was yesterday.
I was driving to a friend’s photography show a year or so ago and heard this song (I didn’t know the name) — Welcome To The Black Parade. Because of how the chorus kicked in, I knew it was a modern band that was probably popular with the kids. but as the song continued to progress, I just pulled back and heard all the guitars and whatnot, and I thought … this was our Poison, cause it was pretty metal. And what I mean by that is not “It was pretty metal,” as in fairly metal, but it was “pretty” metal, as in shiny metal. Fluffy. Wanker lite. When I was a kid, I thought that Poison and Winger and Cinderella and Warrant and all those bands were metal. They weren’t. They were pop. But I didn’t know that then. And that’s what this song is — pop. With lots of guitars and posturing.
As I continued home, I heard this song — Sweet Escape. Let me tell you. I had NO CLUE who this was. Not one single clue until I looked it up when I got home. I heard this one and I thought, this could have come straight out of 1985. Seriously. I would have been all over this song then. It would have been a Top 40 #1. I nearly fell down when I saw it was Gwen Stefani. (Sidenote: is she going to lose those harajuku girls or what?) It just seemed so unlike her. No bad girl here. Straight popalicious. Not a hard edge to be found. I guess it features Akon, but I didn’t catch any of that on the radio.
(I love that I can type “bad girl escape sweet” and “carry on marching band” into google and get the names of these two songs, and then go to you tube and find the videos.)
Then, as if i needed the 80’s deal sealed, they went into With or Without You, for an authentic 80s classic. It’s funny. There was so much different stuff on Top 40 radio back in the 80s, and the things that lasted are now our classic rock. This would be one of them, I suppose.
The whole night kicked off with hearing Johnny Mars back on the air for the first time in over five years, which was really a treat. What comes around goes around.
*To illustrate: I’ve always remembered that one of my favorite songs was Separate Lives, a song by Phil Collins with Marilyn Martin from the movie White Nights. Before you roll up with peals of hysterical laughter, let me at least tell the story. I always loved love songs and songs of romance and all that stuff. Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Chicago featuring the lovely Peter Cetera, you name it, I was there.
But the reason I use “Separate Lives” to illustrate my point is this — “White Nights” came out in 1985. I was ELEVEN years old. Never kissed, much less had any sort of romantic relationship. Yet, I distinctly and VERY clearly remember loving that song and KNOWING what the words meant. Singing along with heartfelt emotion as Phil Collins sings: “ooh, so typical, love leads to isolation/so you build that wall (build that wall)/and you make it stronger…”
WHAT? How can an 11 yr. old comprehend that? But I loved the song and I loved the crescendos and the key change and the whole feel of it. That they were together and now apart, and how dare they look at each other like that now that they couldn’t have each other, but … maybe… someday, but for now, they’d go on living separate lives… and… CUT.
Wow. So dramatic and emotional for a pre-teen. Obviously worth pulling out the boombox to tape it on.
This originally appeared at Smussyolay in March ’07, but is still completely relevant 2 and a half years later.
In 1990, a friend of mine walked into my high school cafeteria, in his ratty unbuttoned flannel shirt and matching ratty hair wearing a Mudhoney shirt. He looked like a combination of Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes and a moodier, dirtier Steve Albini. I was never sure where I stood with him, but no else really did either. He was either slightly just less than happy to see you, or entirely indifferent to your existence. That day, he was a bit more pleasant than usual and was enthused to tell me all about this great band he saw over the weekend. He demanded that I do myself the favor of finding the Superfuzz/BigMuff record. I did just that, mostly because I generally found his music taste agreeable with mine.
CHIRP volunteers have been working all summer to get the new station ready to launch at CHIRPradio.org. We’re excited to be getting very close to the point where the new station will go live, and to make it to the finish line, we need your help.
One of CHIRP’s biggest expenses will be streaming fees — our next biggest cost after rent. That’s why we’re so excited that social funding site Kickstarter invited us to launch a fundraising campaign to cover our first year of streaming expenses.
The way a Kickstarter campaign works is that donors pledge money in support of a specific project, but no money is collected unless the group meets its goal. CHIRP’s goal is $4800, the anticipated cost of our first year of streaming.
You can help get CHIRP Radio up and running. Make a pledge right now and you can pick from all sorts of cool thank you gifts, from CHIRP t-shirts and water bottles to limited edition mix CDs and exclusive house parties from well-known CHIRP DJs. And everyone who makes a pledge at any level will be invited to a special open house at the brand new CHIRP studios later this fall!
With your help, Chicago’s brand new music and arts focused community radio station will launch before the end of the fall. Make your Kickstarter pledge now to show your support!
By now most people have heard of the “vinyl killer,” a miniature VW bus (and the new VInyl Killer 2.0 Mini Clubman) that drives across the surface of your vinyl LP in ever decreasing circles playing your record via built in speakers. It’s an adorable invention, but indeed it truly destroys your records.
Let’s up the ante a bit shall we? Enter Australian artist Lucas Abela, who devised “The Vinyl Arcade” for this year’s This Is Not Art (TINA) festival.
The Vinyl Arcade, running from 4-7pm on October 1st to the 4th, is a participatory play-set, playing off vinyl fetishism, video arcade mystique and the machismo of motor sports. An immersive sound instrument putting you in the drivers seat of a tiny remote control car with styli attached as it navigates it’s way through a landscape of disused vinyl records.
Sadly, you’ll have to go to Australia to see it. It’s perhaps not the most musically pleasing exhibit you’ll ever see. Still, the concept is pretty amazing; count it as artistic Driver’s Ed.
All that’s missing is that killer video of “Blood on the Highway”
Abela created the exhibit with electrical engineering assistance by Frederick Rodrigues and it is Co presented by Electrofringe and Renewcastle.
Earlier this year I discovered Blinking Pigs, a song on a double A-sided 7” by Little Dragon. The drums, sculpted cleverly out of multiple delays, fill every corner of the room but that’s nothing compared to the incredible and eerie voice of Swedish-Japanese Yukimi Nagano. In a flurry of harmonics reminiscent of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, she captured my heart with this little love song. I wanted more.
I dug around and noticed their first self-titled album from 2007 but to my ears it lacked the inspired emotions and nuanced vocals I was after. Several months later a seductive and soulful single again with this astounding voice work finally emerged called Feather and it was clear that this electro dream pop outfit from Gothenburg, Sweden, had been working hard at perfecting a brilliant new sound.
This September, their pristine cathedral of work was revealed: the Machine Dreams album. From start to finish Nagano’s vocals pleasantly flow in, around and over the drums of Erik Bodin, bass of Källgren Wallin and a wide range of electronic sounds constructed by the long bearded Håkan Wirenstrand. The album’s mood generally compliments something like a romantic dinner or an afternoon on the couch but it ventures into dancefloor territory on the “step, slide, lightning, fire, topical times” of 808 driven My Step and in the P-Funk boogie of Runabout.
There seems to be a lot of unwritten rules in electronic music these days. One standout moment on Machine Dreams is when Wirenstrand breaks two rules: he wields a crunchy clavichord tone along with a synthesized flute in the exquisitely exotic Swimming. And it works. On this number, Little Dragon leads us through a lush, tropical paradise that I imagine to be full of elated toucans and sneaky monkeys. The album ends on Fortune, an epic tune driven by a climbing melody embellished ever so slightly by Nagano’s breath, the perfect ending.