Friday, June 24, 2011

RIP Peter Falk

"I'm a helluva guy. I think yer a lovely lady."

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I just reviewed the recent reissue of Paul McCartney's half-baked (take that in many ways) solo album, McCartney II, for Resident Advisor. What's funny though is the adverse reaction from the RA readership, deeply offended that "rock" was held up for inspection over there. At first, I thought their xenophobia was strong. But then I realized that when I wrote reviews of albums by Augustus Pablo, Keith HudsonRoy Ayers, and Terry Callier back in the early aughties for Pitchfork, they were greeted with similar disdain by the readership. Though in hindsight, that was just racism, right?

Monday, June 20, 2011


This is yet another Father's Day that I did not celebrate. And when Emusic pitched its writers on songs about fathers, I bristled at the idea, trying to push it far from my mind. And yet, I wound up writing about two for their Father's Day feature. One is on Ras Michael's "Don't Sell Daddy Any More Whiskey" as "The Drunken Dreadlocked Dad" and Riley's bittersweet rocker "Daddy's Come Home" as "The Parolee Dad."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Shaggs

Today I have a story on the off-Broadway musical based on The Shaggs. My tone might be slightly acerbic, but in no uncertain terms, I have --if not loved-- then admired the music that the Wiggin sisters made under duress.

Fifteen years ago, I was in a Half-Price Books in Houston, Texas, trying to find the bathroom. Instead, I happened upon a backroom filled with merchandise that wasn't on the floor just yet. Staring back at me was a copy of The Shaggs' lone 1969 album, Philosophy of the World. No, it was not the original, but the 1980 Red Rooster reissue. Still, it was $3 well-spent.

I only wish that in the piece today I could have included composer Gunnar Madsen's explanation on how the Shaggs put their music together:
Dot wrote the songs and she wrote the melody to go with the lyrics and didn’t really know much about 4/4 time and tried to fit the lyrics into regular phrasing. What she ended up creating were mixed meters: 3/8, then a 2/2 bar, and then a 5/8 and then a 4/4. Meanwhile, it sounded like her sister Helen got drum lessons because she knows how to do basic 4/4 beats like “The Twist” but she can’t follow the shifting meters that Dot does. So in each song, you’ll hear Helen try to stay with her sisters but then just go into 4/4. So she’s going off in one direction while Dot and Betty are singing their melodies in mixed meters.   
I was also puzzled by the recording of “Philosophy of the World.” The vocals are one bar behind the guitar but they’re in unison. And I realized they must have overdubbed the vocals because it’s one beat off. The sound pulls your mind in two different directions!     

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ford & Lopatin

From the band formerly known as "Nails on a Chalkboard" (as well as Games), I did a brief chat with Ford & Lopatin's Joel Ford about jazz fusion and the like for The Voice blog. Check it here.

And while I'm at it, I will be posting another interview with Dan Lopatin about his love of New Age music here before too long...

some new jams

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Robert Pete Williams

It came out a minute ago, but since I finally received my copies over here, I should state that I wrote a brief set of notes about the alien yet intimate blues of Robert Pete Williams for the reissue of his Louisiana Blues album. Every so often, humans like Captain Beefheart and Black Keys take a crack at Williams' uncanny blues "Grown So Ugly." His other songs though, remain well out of reach for most folk. That said, people who own a set of ears that connect to their heart need to hear the man. You can pick it up here.


Oh right, my profile on Brooklyn's Mountains ran this week at the Voice.