A Day in the Life – 9/3/16

It being September 3rd, there is no reason why I should post a biopsy of my day to the Internet for all to see. However, the sheer amount of music that passed through my brain in the past sixteen hours is incomparable to that of any day’s haul in recent memory. I have cycled through about five hours’ worth of tunes today, not entirely on purpose. First I consumed the Melvins’ Gluey Porch Treatments record in reverse side order — that is, beginning with B1 “Glow God” and ending with A9 “Leeech” — in a Costco parking lot, under the pretense of doing homework; now that was a blast. It feels so weird to put “Eye Flys” right in the center of the album, or “Over from Under the Excrement” anywhere but last. They were basically meant for their ordained spots. Plus, you must listen to tracks B1 thru B3 in order, or else some horrible chain-letter fate will befall you. Fill in the blanks yourself.

Dogma aside, I got home to do some work for real and plugged into my new and improved “Andrew Relaxes” playlist. At present, it is approximately eight hours and fifteen minutes long, and I have beaten my way through about four of those as I write this; both totals will likely increase in the future. I added a good forty-five minutes’ worth of material today alone. I am probably fortunate that so many of my great albums are vinyl-only, and cannot be transferred to the hard drive, or else I would be elbow-deep in a dozen other great bands as well. (Side note: Isn’t it weird how many of Bowie’s favorite groups end up in my collection? Devo, Kraftwerk, Blondie, Tangerine Dream, Mott the Hoople… it’s probably that antique store in San Juan Bautista where I get some of my stuff. Still waiting on a used Stooges album, though.) I feel a little tired out after all the music, as should probably be expected. However, the stuff itself was uniformly excellent, and I plan to listen more tomorrow. Someday I might even publish the contents of the “Andrew Relaxes” playlist. For now, though, I shall list a few of the albums I am in the process of evaluating:

The Cows’ Cunning Stunts has grown slightly on me since I plopped it on my turntable for the first time last Saturday. “Heave Ho” is still a little underwhelming, but I now pledge allegiance to the remainder of Side 1, and #2 isn’t bad either. The only problem with their earlier record Daddy Has a Tail, I thought, was that “Sugar” and “Sticky and Sweet” tarshished the blasterpiece that was the first half; that complaint — and suspicions of B-side slump (like sophomore slump but more abrupt) — have no basis in this record. People complain about “Terrifique” and “Ort” sometimes; I think both are great. I wanna learn to play that riff from the former. It sounds so cool! Conclusion: even though I felt ambivalent at first, Stunts has begun to impress, and I think it will continue to improve in my estimation.

More astonishing, David Bowie’s first Berlin album has me at Lowggerheads with Mark Prindle himself. As I expected, I have begun to enjoy the fragmentary songs of the first half, with their fun little melodies and Iggy Pop guest appearances. However, like a deceptively benign tumor, appreciation has grown within me for the second side’s moody ambient crap, and I need serious psychiatric help before this enjoyment gets more acute. What will I do walking through the grocery store from now on? Hum along to that unbearable garbage on the speakers, so desperate to be inoffensive that it offends more than the most vile of honest expression? It’s not like I can wean myself off it.

On a lighter note, I am diving headfirst into the Heroine Sheiks’ brain-feeding CD Out of Aferica. The vocals here are certainly out in front. Occasionally — on “You d’Etat,” or “Mr. Innocent” or “Cock Asia” — they can overpower the music slightly, as they might with Captain Beefheart or Jimi Hendrix’s first album. However, this Selberg-centric mix allows us to hear the man himself in a way that was impossible with the Cows’ noisiest work (which was, admit it, ALL OF IT) without his traditional nose-howl. While his Cows period was enjoyable by itself, Out of Aferica gives him the opportunity to show off the timbres of which his voice is capable. He plays three different characters in a single song (“Break Up”) and ranges between ecstatic (“Brooklyntown Romeo”), foreboding (“Jaws of Life”) and what sounds like delayed, mounting terror (“Harmonic Fix”). An unrelated note: On the whole, this record reminds me of the Melvins’ ‘93 album Stoner Witch, and not just because “You d’Etat” sounds a bit like “Revolve”; the two albums follow the same general arc: opens obfuscatorily; suddenly shifts into blistering cock-rock aimed at a different audience than usual. Then a funky, distorted, single-worthy track in drop-D slaps us face-wise and before it even registers, it’s replaced by a hilarious, nonsensical narrative bit with unusual instrumentation. Then there comes another rocker which fades in and out of semi-acoustic sections, and after that a creepy bastard of a track that exemplifies pretty much everything great about the band. Flip it over (if they ever release the digitally-recorded Out of Aferica on vinyl), and you get a slightly more conventional track (in the Melvins’ case, prefaced by three minutes of what sounds like a washboard with heavy echo and applied distortion pedal), which we can kind of forget without feeling too bad. Now, the two recordings switch it up a bit, so that the Sheiks place a surprisingly catchy ambient pop piece after a decent but applause-worthy rocker (the Melvins do the reverse with “Shevil” and “June Bug”); finally, in both cases comes a bizarre, gradually intensifying experiment in rhythmic, somewhat-tonal noise, which dies away soon on the Sheiks CD but is replaced, about eight and a half minutes in, with the album’s title track: a piece called “Out of Aferica,” a laid-back psychopath’s sort-of reprise of the sociopathic howl that was “Cock Asia.” It isn’t quite as good as the rest of the album, but it’s not as out of place as many “bonus tracks.” In all: not a very appealing album for the easily offended or tonally inclined, but absolute gold for a guy with my tastes.

Moondog, Celtic Frost, Fugazi and the Stooges are all very tired after listening to so much music, and would like to go to bed. As fun as it would be to keep doing this all night, I must respect their wishes, and so I must sign out. Good night, readership!