cartwheels into your heart

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tagged by David.

Total volume of music files on my computer: 40.48 GB. It's annoying because I finally got the point a month or two ago where my 40 GB iPod was no longer big enough to store everything, and so now whenever I upload something new on the computer, I have to browse around and see what I can take off the iPod to make room for it.

Last CD I bought was . . .: On Sunday I bought Love's a Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa for my dad. He asked for a Fela Kuti CD for Christmas a couple years ago, so I thought this would be a good addition to his collection. Especially since I already own it and like it. We listened to it while he made Thai food for the two of us. After picking up that record, I decided to browse the store (Dr. Wax on Berwyn) for a few minutes. They've always had a fairly decent electronic section there, but I was shocked to find three entire rows of all Kompakt discs, which weren't there the last time I went in. Seriously: there were multiple copies of Superpitcher's Here Comes Love, Michael Mayer's Touch, Justus Koehncke's Doppelleben, Triple R's Friends, almost all of the Pop Ambient and Speichen series, and Mayer's Immer -- which is ultimately what I ended up getting, since I'd heard about the similarities between it and Superpitcher's Today, which I've been enjoying lately. It also came with a high recommendation from Scott P. Anyway, I went up to the counter and the dude lifts up Immer and said, "I love this fucking label." I said, "Yeah! I haven't been in here for a while, I was surprised you had so many Kompakt releases!" "I just order 'em all direct, that's the only way to do it." Then he recommended Touch "for when I come back around." I like him. He seems like kind of a hard-ass at first, and a real "Chicago guy" -- but that's part of the charm.

Song playing right now: Cornelius, "Drop." My friend Scott and I bonded last summer over our love of POP and promised each other mix CDs, except both of us then dragged our heels for months. Now his is supposedly on the way, and I'm scrambling to put one together, and thinking maybe something from Point would work.

Five songs I listen to a lot these days: Amerie, "1 Thing (Siik Remix)"; Common ft. John Mayer, "Go"; Isolée, "Mädchen mit Hase"; Of Montreal, "The Party's Crashing Us"; XTC, "The Meeting Place."

And now I have to tag 5 people, so:


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My long-awaited 1991 Summer Jamz mixtape is now up at Stylus. This was an interesting project for me. On one hand, my once-upon-a-time love for these songs, many of which I hadn't heard for years, happily triggered nostalgia for long drives and summer soccer matches. But also the fourteen years' distance allowed me to cast a critical eye on this specific moment in pop history. 1991 is, of course, remembered now as The Year Punk Broke, when Nevermind swept away hair-metal forever and ushered in a new rock revolution. But I'm much more interested in the microtrends of pop music, and in this respect, C+C Music Factory is, in many ways, the archetypal act of 1991: underground house music trickling into the charts (cf. Black Box), hip-hop rising in popularity but still kept safe and positive (DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) or anonymous (the guest rap in Tara Kemp's "Piece of My Heart"). (I mean, who was Freedom Williams, anyway?) You also still have acts like Amy Grant and Roxette, both of whom it's impossible to imagine even existing in 2005, with their instrumentation and production. Let's just say that this year's version of a #1 song by a white woman in her 30s sounds nothing like "Baby Baby."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

You like how I congratulate myself on maintaining a blog for two years and then for the next month plus do nothing but post links? Yeah, me too. I am feeling dizzy and getting drunk off one beer, though, so here goes:

The Junior Boys show on Tuesday may well have been my favorite of the year so far, which was a nice surprise because I was underwhelmed by their set at the Logan Square Auditorium last fall. But that was very likely due to the fact that the sound at LSA makes everything sound muffled, and the spacious gymnasium/ballroom feel of the venue (domed ceiling, hardwood floor, yellow lights) perhaps wasn't the most appropriate for the JBs' intimate songs. At the Empty Bottle, though, Jeremy and Matt were bathed in a cool, dim blue glow, and the speakers overhead were perfectly crisp. Everyone stood close and attentive, which was nice, but it was also far from packed, which meant I had plenty of room at the front of the stage to dance. (This is really important: some of my favorite shows of the last few years have been those in which I've been able to let loose without feeling stuffy and cramped.) It wasn't long into the set -- probably the first song they played from Last Exit -- that I just felt really centered and happy. I was moving my body despite the heat (the A/C was on the fritz, and you should've seen Jeremy's shirt), swaying and writhing to the beat, running my hands through my hair, swigging cheap beer, and every melancholy synth squiggle and delayed guitar just kept me locked into this pleasure-space. They played "Teach Me How to Fight," "Bellona," "Birthday," and "Under the Sun," as well as three new ones. (Caribou was good, too, but after hearing most of my favorites from Up in Flames and The Milk of Human Kindness, I called it a night.)

Three days before, I'd seen Kraftwerk at the Riv. The visuals were spectacular -- the four of them stood still at equidistant laptop-adorned podiums, while a large screen projected bright computer-generated images behind them. (Edith, along with dozens of others around us, took some ghostly cellphone photos.) The music, too, was immaculate, everything with a modern digital sheen. But the show also did nothing to change my opinion of large venues. I sometimes felt lost and crushed in the herd, and all of those orange-shirted security dudes lurking around made me depressed, because their mere presence means it was a BIG SPONSORED EVENT, which just seems antithetical to the potential of having a private aesthetic experience. Also, they're almost always assholes, barking at you to move it along or stand here or there. Ugh. Of the few big-scale shows I've actually been to (that was only my third time at the Riv, and my first in four years), several have been good and rewarding, but exactly none have been special.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Even more self-promotional whoring: here's my Top Ten Songs of the Mid-1990s Chicago Rock Scene. You can download three of my picks here.