Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Allan Sherman- Music to Dispense With

In 1966 Allan Sherman was apparently as famous as Paris Hilton. Being negative eight years old I don't have very reliable memories of the pop culture gestalt of the time. But when I brought this record home from the flea market in 1998 I knew it was destined to become one of my favorite van-passenger testing tools. If you can hear the brilliance in this most silly record then I wanna hang out with you.

The Scott Paper Company commissioned Sherman to write six songs for them. They were handed a masterpiece of parodic songs concerning the effects of reforestation, technology, and economics on man and dog.

Did Scott flinch when Sherman declared their products made holy water 'somewhat holier' or made chicken soup taste 'twice as jewish?' And when was the last time a corporation risked being directly responsible for religious humor?

These mp3 files are taken from a vinyl rip. The vinyl source was in poor condition, so I did the best I could to de-click the thing. It may not be the audiophile treasure of the year, but if you care that much you're missing the point.

Makin' Coffee (Makin' Whoopee)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical

At the tender age of 17 my best friend and I were looking at colleges in Washington D.C. We found time one evening to take in an animation festival. The first clip in the festival was this:

We arrived in NYC a few days later on the same college campus tour. His godmother took us to Tower Records where I somehow located this cassette. There hadn't yet been a tropicalia renaissance, no hipsters constantly praising Os Mutantes, so finding the album without much information wasn't hard. I remember there only being one shelf of world music cassettes.

Brazil Classics 1 was compiled by David Byrne and in 1989 was the first release by his then new label Luaka Bop, under the Sire Records banner. It stands as one of the finest compilations I've ever heard. It could be argued that it did for tropicalia what the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack did for country. This is not one of my rarer picks. BC1:BT is relatively popular, and being released through a major label means its not hard to find. You can purchase the mp3 album on Amazon. I'm only adding my voice to the choir of listeners in love with this album. It's one I always take on tour. More serious students of Brazilian music may tell you this compilation is obsolete and says nothing about the state of music today. I don't have many tropicalia albums, but I can tell you if you're craving a couple dozen indestructible melodies this is the album for you.

Lô Borges- Equatorial

Jorge Ben- Ponta de Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Renaldo & the Loaf - Arabic Yodelling

Renaldo & The Loaf- Arabic Yodelling

My band is about to board a plane for Japan to play pop music, eat udon noodles and speak slowly with our friends over there. So I can't go on too long right now.

All you need to know is this: Renaldo & the Loaf is pop music. Really, really weird pop music. Just about as far out as you can get while maintaining any semblance of a verse-chorus-verse dynamic. Like many, I first heard their music on the Residents'
Video Voodoo compilation.

How does this make you feel?

It makes me scared, but aware of beauty. I can think of very little else in the art world that does that to me? True, much of that reaction comes from the video, not the music which is what I'm supposed to be writing about. But without the slightly disturbing yet whimsical video the music still makes me feel lost and bewildered.

RatL have been written off in the Trouser Press guide as "weird for weird's sake." Sounds like a cop-out. Music either connects with you or it doesn't. Maybe you just don't like it. But for those of us that like feeling something harmlessly strange Renaldo & the Loaf are magic, like Harry Partch making dance music.

Their second release on Ralph Records
Arabic Yodelling is less aggressively weird than the music in the video, which is from their first album, Songs for Swinging Larvae. It's downright pastoral at times.

Okay, I've gotta go. I've got to make sure I've packed my purple lamé pants, so read this webpage, listen to the tracks. I find their music rewarding upon repeated listens.

"Green Candle"

"A Critical Dance"