When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pretty good record collection. She owned all the albums you’d expect from a former party girl-Hollywood starlet-blonde bombshell who liked her mixed tropical drinks: Yma Sumac, Chaino, Esquivel, Julie London and of course every Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Les Baxter you could find at the May Company on Wilshire and Fairfax. And when I got little older, I dug a little deeper and conveniently found all her stag party albums on Fax Records featuring cover art of lovely and beautifully naked women, and at age eight discovered the musical charms of Terri “Cupcakes’ O’Mason! … but I digress! The best records she owned, that for me have stood the test of time, were the Tom Lehrer Albums.
Music historian, record geek and novelty song guru, Dr Demento, has called Tom Lehrer “the best musical satirist of the 20th Century”. Even Mr. Lehrer, a Harvard Graduate, who taught mathematics at UC Santa Cruz until retiring in 2001, has been somewhat amused by the longevity and impact of his music career, though he retired from that vocation back in the Sixties. He’ll be the first to point out that his ‘career’ consisted of 109 live shows and the writing of 37 songs in a twenty years span! But these aren’t just any old songs! Songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”, “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, “The Masochism Tango” and “The Vatican Rag” are all timelessly classic, (at least in my interpretation of the construct called the space-time continuum, being three-dimensional and timelessness plays the role of the fourth dimension-- actually I should just ask a mathematician about that…)
Took my lovelies out to the Dick Powell double feature on Friday. We caught an atmospheric Italian dinner across the way at Miceli's before hand (always an oasis in the madness that is modern TMZ Hollywood) then headed over to the classic movie house. Master Sylvian used his trick cig that he had purchased at Hollywood Toys & Costume to have a smoke break between the hardboiled flicks and made a couple of innocents gasp-all in all a wonderful night! We'll be there this coming Friday as well, a special treat being billed as "Hostage Noir Double Feature". In the past, many of the movies listed as "not on DVD" come out soon after the festival is over, so if you miss something keep and out for it in our Film Noir section up in the Mez. Click on the poster to link to the Egyptian Theatre schedule....
The Breeders are a force of nature (no pun intended)! I wasn’t sure that they could up the ante after 2002’s Title TK, which I thought might have been the most perfect album ever and seemed to pick up right where Pod left off. To my great pleasure, they certainly have created an incredible album in every respect, possibly the best album of young 2008-- Mountain Battles. Blasting off with “Overglazed,” you are taken to another planet where The Breeders guide you through sonic terrain only they can offer.
Mountain Battles is the culmination of many years of recording on and off with the assistance of the likes of Steve Albini, Erika Larson, and Manny Nieto in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dayton, Ohio, and comes complete with incredible design and of course classic 4AD aesthetics and style as a whole. Mastered at Abbey Road “because I’m going from half-inch tape directly to vinyl, there’s only a couple of places in the world that still do half-inch directly to the cutting of the acetate,” as Kim has explained. You can hear the passion and dedication to the art of record making in every single track of the album. Joining Kim and Kelley Deal (vocals, guitar) are drummer Jose Medeles and bassist Mando Lopez (of Fear), who played on TitleTK.
The namesake track “Mountain Battles” is somehow oddly reminiscent of Nico's Desertshore and Low-era David Bowie. The avant-garde composition works its magic whilst Kim croons “My wilting heart does shadow on the moon/ Fantastic view/ Thinking of things to do.” As a matter of fact, you can hear bits and pieces from decades of music history in the mere 36.5 minutes of the duration of the album. A few rise to the surface immediately – Jimi Hendrix, Isaac Hayes, Roy Orbison, The Pretenders, Wire... Isn’t this the stuff of which great music is made? Here one might want to consider the fact that the “All Wave” recording method was used in conjunction with on the fly mixing during mastering for a total analog dream sound end product. This “pure sound” method is opposed to using any form of digital recording manipulation and sound can be seen as a music making strategy or style parallel to the realist film movement Dogme 95. Ladies and gentlemen: sit back, relax, close your eyes and enjoy the masterwork that is Mountain Battles.
…all to undo the stressful day at work. (By “we” I mean the royal we, of course – I wasn’t assisted by a gang or nuthin’. Gangs are terrible at helping people relax. Have you noticed? Like, when you’re sitting under a cork tree and smelling the flowers, a gang – say like, a gang of Japanese whalers – will amble by and be like:
And you’re all, “Japanese dudes, I’m just trying to smell the flowers!” Or, you’re picking at some rhyolite in hopes of discovering an opal to polish and give your sweetie during the famous aria from “Gianni Schicchi”…
…and the two of you lock eyes and, in that one moment, you know that you’ve always been lovers – that every sonnet and song that’s ever been penned for love – have been about the two of you, and the devotion that binds you beyond the restraints of bodies and time and a gang of Crips, some Grape Street Crips say, come along and cause you to accidentally drop your foot-long hoagie over the balcony seating and it lands on Princess Diana’s head (this is before she’s died, obviously) and they’re all, “Gee whiz, we’re sorry. We were just hoping to find some slobs to curb,” and you’re all, “If you think any Bloods are gonna be caught at a Verdi opera, you’re crazy! Come back next month when there’s a performance of ‘Peter Grimes’ – they’re all over that Britten sh*t!” and they’re all, “Thank you. Sorry about your butty,” and you’re all, “Huh?” and they’re all, “Butty – it’s a British slang for sandwich,” and you’re all, “Oh yeah. Okay,” and there’s an awkward moment when they don’t leave but no one says anything and then they finally get the hint and go away but by then the People’s Princess is in your face and yelling at you and being totally unreasonable and for a moment – just for a moment – you think to yourself, “Just you wait, girl – you’ll get yours.” But you feel bad immediately afterwards because no one deserves to die in a car crash. Nobody.