Many years ago, KEXP DJ Riz Rollins pointed out to me the significance of Sir Mix-A-Lot's biggest hit, "Baby Got Back." At the time of its release in 1992, hiphop had two great camps: East Coast and West Coast. The East Coast was dominated by a pro-black, Afrocentric program with a militant side (Paris, Public Enemy, and so on) and a bohemian side (A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, and so on). The West Coast was all about the gangster realism of Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre, whose track "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" became the anthem of that dangerous way of life. The music from both camps tended to be righteous, serious, and all about reality. Dr. Dre, for example, would spend hours in the studio trying to capture the exact sound that an automatic weapon makes when fired from a moving car; A Tribe Called Quest rapped about the importance of eating healthy foods and appreciating black cultural heritage. Then, out of nowhere, some rapper from Seattle released a track about loving big butts.
According to Rollins, Sir Mix-A-Lot's success caught everyone by surprise because (1) Seattle was completely off the hiphop radar, and (2) there was nothing in the mainstream that sounded remotely like his music. Sir Mix-A-Lot did not rap like Ice Cube or Chuck D, nor was he swept up by the Das EFX fast-rap "-iggedy" craze of that moment. Sir Mix-A-Lot rapped only like Sir Mix-A-Lot. As for the beat, with its weird mix of electro stabs and hectic robot bass, it was made by a producer who seemed to be completely ignorant of the mainstream trends—the G-funk of the West Coast and the deep jazz moods of the East Coast. Sir Mix-A-Lot's hiphop was like a weird plant (purple leaves, red stem) growing under the blended and bending light of two distant suns. But most importantly, Sir Mix-A-Lot wasn't so fucking serious. "Baby Got Back," which opens with a conversation between two white girls disgusted by a black woman's huge butt, returned laughter to the hiphop charts and the dance floor. The record felt like a window being opened in a stuffy room. Finally, someone wasn't rapping about being shot, or shooting a nigga, or returning to Africa, or being proud about the color of their skin. "This," Rollins explained to me, "was Seattle's big gift to black America. People remembered it was good to have fun now and then. And it could only happen in Seattle because we were so isolated. We were free to do whatever we wanted." "Baby Got Back" spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard chart.
Here's the third installment in a series of old skateboarding VHS tapes, the first two can be found here and here. On the Prowl is a video that I recall from the olden days by name only. After watching the first five minutes, I couldn't remember any of the footage, because it's really fucking boring.
With as much credit as the Alva team got over the years, their style was always clunky brute force that doesn't make for interesting videos. The first segment of On the Prowl is Chris Cook and Jeff Hartsel doing kick-turns on a tall quarter pipe and simply riding over a medium height jump ramp. Sometimes they attack a parking block with as much grace as one of my uncles eating an ear of field corn at an Ohio summer BBQ. I can assure you, that's graceless.
A band called Bad Reputation provides a majority of the soundtrack for the video, which is mostly limp mid-tempo metal. My favorite part of this tape is being reminded of some horrible fashions, like those hideous Vision Street Wear light blue skull berets and double (and sometimes triple) hip sacks. Oh, and if you pause the frame at 10:36, you can see my friend Paul Tempest and I on the right side of the screen. That footage is from Dayton, Ohio and the first pro competition that either of us had ever been to. Paul's father was kind enough to drive us there and back as we were 12 years old at the time. Mr. Tempest was always an admirable adult, I hope he's doing well today.
As a sequel to the earlier post of Thrasher's A Blast From the Past and Present, here's another "gem" from yesteryore. Curb Cruisin' is from 1987 and features some of the lamest scooter (!?) footage that I've ever had to watch. The skits are pretty bad too, at one point a l'il shredder rescues a lost pet and is rewarded by a kiss from a grateful skate betty. Seconds later, he bumps into a fellow shredder and knocks a pie into his face. Oh, and there's a skinhead.
Also included are a few (vaguely) interesting R.E.M. inspired songs as the soundtrack. I watched part of this video with a friend (who was three at the time of its release) who couldn't fathom why it was even made. I can only assume that the wild popularity of the Bones Brigade videos caused a gaggle of sub par imitators, many of which I hope to post here in the coming weeks. If you haven't seen Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, I highly recommend it.
Here's a generous description from Videmarketplace.com:
Action-packed footage as the scooter dudes get chased by the local skateboard punks through the alleys and streets of Hermosa Beach, California. Features exciting mini-scooter demonstrations.
One of my favorite things is getting lost in Scarecrow Video. Every room and small cubby seems to hold something forgotten and exciting, I usually end up renting an armful of things that I have to race to watch within a week before returning them.
For the first time last week, I stumbled onto the sports section, which has a row of skateboarding videos from all eras. There are a lot of videos from the 2000s, the 1990s, and a whole bunch from the golden age of the 1980s. I rented several and watched with a mixture of glee and horror the wretched fashions and skateboard stunts of yesteryore.
Certainly one of the best videos is this one, Thrasher Magazine's A Blast From the Past and Present. There's a slew of clunky skateboarding footage (early Mark Gonzalez, Steve Rocco, and (I think) Jesse Martinez) and musical performances of varying quality. Agent Orange, Dicks, and the Drunk Injuns have always been faves of mine when it comes to skate rock, but here you also get Condemned to Death, Screamin' Sirens, and Tales of Terror. Enough about me though, if you're into this kind of thing, I present to you the following video to enjoy:
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM
This 20-minute documentary, Bassline Baseline, about the Roland TB-303 bassline-generating synthesizer has been around since 2005, but you may have missed it, as I did. It’s an informative, breezy look at the invention, history, and utility of this crucial piece of gear in electronic/dance music (hiphop, electro, acid house, Big Beat, minimal techno, etc.). If you were ever going to use the annoying word "game-changer," you'd be justified in dropping it in regard to the TB-303.
Also, you gotta love (or hate) how the film’s narrator/director, Nate Harrison (who let me crash at his pad in Manhattan a long time ago; respect!), expresses way less emotion than the 303 itself.
(By the way, Easy Street QA is selling its used vinyl, CDs, DVDs at 40-percent off. New product is 20-percent off. Today is the last day to get these deals. Yo La Tengo play an in-store at 7 pm. Early arrival is recommended; invasion of personal space is guaranteed. Sunday at 11 am there will be a public auction of various Easy Street furnishings, billboards, and posters.)
SHANE TUTMARC (floor/register/accessories/used-product buyer, 2006-2009; has been living in Nashville since 2010)
Best thing about working at Easy Street QA? [C]onstantly discovering new music. As an employee, not only was I familiar with everything coming out each week, but I was always constantly digging deeper and deeper into old music—whether it was jump blues, ragtime, gospel, world music, you name it! Which had a major affect on me as an artist, as well. If anyone was curious how I went from a making everything-and-the-kitchen-sink pop records with Dolour to putting out live-in-the studio rootsy rock ’n’ roll with the Traveling Mercies—Easy Street was a key ingredient. And I also have to say that my coworkers were a major bonus. I worked with a really eclectic group of people, who were all very talented in their own area—whether it was sketch comedy, graphic design, photography, songwriting...
Best in-store performance? I would have to say that my experiences playing Easy Street would have to be my "favorite in-store performances." I first played Easy Street QA in 2003 after the release of my band Dolour's second album, Suburbiac. And then I played there again in 2008 with my family group, the Traveling Mercies supporting our second album, Hey Lazarus! And I played there one more time in 2009 when my first solo record, Shouting at a Silent Sky, was released. Easy Street was always a very supportive place to be.
(By the way, starting today, Easy Street QA is selling its used vinyl, CDs, DVDs at 40-percent off. New product is 20-percent off.)
KURT ALTERITY (used product manager, 2005-2013) Best thing about working there? The community.
Best in-store performance? Macklemore—ON THE ROOF!
Craziest or strangest customer encounter? Talking with Thurston Moore about noise for 30 minutes before I realized who he was.
How do you feel about the store closing? Heartbroken.
KEVIN LA TRANCHE (vinyl buyer, off and on 2003-2012) What was the best thing about working there? Getting introduced to a ton of great music while hanging out with a bunch of amazing people. Also: first dibs on records!
What was the worst thing about working there? Not being able to afford all the incredible records I found.
What was the best in-store performance you saw at Easy Street QA? Toss-up between Dr. Dog and Dungen. CocoRosie was amazing and they drew me a picture, which I still have.
Craziest or strangest customer encounter? There are too many, but one of my favorites is when someone asked me if he could unseal some records to listen to. When I told him he couldn't, he replied, "You need to get right with the Lord!"
How do you feel about the store closing? I don't know what to say. It was a huge part of my life, and I'm really sad to see it go…
MACKENZIE MERCER (worked the floor and counter for two years) What was the best thing about working there? Being surrounded by people as obsessive about music as yourself. I definitely miss being as up to date on new releases, I have to do more leg work nowadays. Meeting and working with Troy Nelson was a game-changer and highlight for sure. The seeds that would become the Young Evils were plotted and planted behind that counter for some time before we actually got our act together. Had I not worked there, who knows if we'd have met at all! Prior to working at Easy Street, like many of my coworkers, I'm sure, I spent all my time trapped in my room with headphones on, dying to talk to someone else about the records I was currently obsessing over. There’s nothing quite like getting to go to work and do that all day.
What was the best in-store performance you saw at Easy Street QA? I feel like I have a lot of favorite in-stores because I was a fan of the artist or band, but my fondest memory of an in-store I worked was Record Store Day 2009. We had performances all day from the Moondoggies, Dex Romweber Duo, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Sweet Water. Sweet Water closed out the night and I remember the place was packed. Matt [Vaughan, Easy Street owner] was running around getting ready for them to start and he ran up to me behind the counter urgently inquiring what rock albums were closest at hand. I named off a few and when I landed on the KISS platinum collection he shouted, "Perfect!" He threw on the record, blasting “Strutter” almost as loud as the store sound system would go. I was then given strict instructions to watch for him at the back of the store and begin slowly fading the song down as he began slowly raising the garage door up to reveal the band who would already be playing their first song before the audience could fully see them. I had never even heard Sweet Water before and it was fucking epic. Matt spent the rest of their set moving throughout the crowd, rocking out with everyone, and passing out beers from the fully stocked cooler tucked under his arm. In that moment I felt like I was really part of something special. It wasn't just about selling the records, stocking racks, and ringing people up. It was about creating those kind of magic moments. Right then I realized that Matt’s passion and goal with the store was always about the experience. He wanted our customers to leave there feeling that childlike wonder. To feel like we were all 16 years old again and had just seen our favorite band play at a sold-out arena. He made that happen all the time. Getting to be apart of those in-stores is probably what I will miss the most.
Yesterday Mr. Segal asked "What’s the greatest rock song by an Australian band?" His answer, obviously, was Coloured Balls' "That’s What Mama Said." I LOVE that song!! However, it's a tough call to pick the BEST Oz rock track, but I'm gonna TRY - my pick is Zoot's heavy sike jam "Strange Things." It's a bit of spring, 1968 released in 1970.
Pleasureboaters' promising career ended as abruptly as their discordant punk songs do. Four or five years ago, the band's name was on the tip of everyone's tongues— local blogs and music fans couldn't shut up about Pleasureboaters' infamously chaotic shows that often devolved into nothing more than a noisy pit of sweaty bodies. Night after night, singer and guitarist Ricky Claudon thrashed around the room, eliminating the boundaries between stage and audience, while drummer Tim Cady often abandoned his shirt, standing up behind the drum set and jumping in the air in an effort to pound the drums as hard as humanly possible.
Once they released their fantastic full-length album, ¡Gross!, on local label Don't Stop Believin', everyone was hooked on their unrelenting and wonderfully cacophonous noise. And then they disappeared. Gone. Just like that.
While it's no longer surprising to see an old flame relight these days (what with reunion shows seemingly being announced every hour), Pleasureboaters delighted many when they declared their return, playing their first show since 2008 at the Funhouse on October 20.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 12:27 PM
What’s the greatest rock song by an Australian band? Is it something by the Easybeats? AC/DC? Radio Birdman? The Saints? Birthday Party? The Moodists? The Go-Betweens? feedtime? The Church? The Scientists? Dead Can Dance? Tame Impala? Little River Band? Or is it “That’s What Mama Said” by Coloured Balls? This is a question that weighs heavily on the minds of some of the world’s least-respected thinkers.
The song starts with power chords from leader/guitarist Lobby Loyde that loiter with malicious intent while a special foot-powered Theremin wails crazily, then things gradually accelerate to a purposeful chug, creating a sensation akin to the greatest tension-building scene from the best movie Quentin Tarantino never made. Imagine Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” retooled by artfully brutish Aussies who've eaten fistfuls of magic mushrooms and then thought it would be cool to combine the best traits of Hawkwind and Canned Heat. When they finally come, the unison chants of “That’s what mama said, mama said” are utterly uplifting, and the tune proceeds to blaze toward the horizon line with Theremin squeals Silly Stringing all over the stereo field. The coda sounds like the band’s entering a supremely nasty hard-rock vortex in the dustiest Down Under dive bar in existence. You stagger away from the nearly 11-minute track as if you’ve guzzled a keg of Foster’s. BRAAAAP! The end.
Good news, Bowie fans everyone in the world! The only man on Earth who could pull off stretch pants and a mullet has released a new song called "Where Are We Now?" from his upcoming album The Next Day, which will be released in March.
With a new album out in March, surely a tour will follow. Think this means Bowie will hit any festivals? Coachella? Sasquatch? Bumbershoot? Let the speculation begin!
Brutal Vaginas: Author Laina Dawes sheds light on being a black female in the metal scene with her new book, What Are You Doing Here?.
Buy, Buy My Darling: The Misfits are releasing a new live album, Dead Alive on February 5th!
Get Your Snark On: New Season of Portlandia starts this Friday!
Punk Money Burning A Hole In Your Pocket?: Good! Cause for $199 you can purchase the new NOFX box set including ALL released material and a pair of Fat Mike's fudge-tracked boxers* (*Fat Mike's fudge-tracked boxers may or may not exist).
Send Your Eardrums to Rehab: You love Motorhead. You love headphones. Then you'll love Motorhead headphones.
Pot Head: Lil Wayne gets the word "BAKED" tattooed on his head. He's just doing what we're all thinking.
I Can't Drive...65!!!: Driving 90mph in a 65mph zone while possessing marijuana doesn't bode well with CHIP. Watch Frank Ocean sweeten the deal with a suspended license.
Trippy Canvas: What can you make out of ink, white-out and, coffee? This psilocybin of a video.
In anticipation of spending hours on air travel over the Christmas holiday, I picked up a copy of a book called Loser: the Real Seattle Music Story. The spine and cover made it look kind of simple, like it could be another of the boring books that simply cashed in on grunge-splosion. A quick look inside revealed that author Clark Humphrey is actually a mad scientist who meticulously mapped Seattle's musical origins from its very beginnings. It's now very easily my favorite book on the subject, crammed full of information and images.
I'll probably be posting some of these artifacts as I dig them up on the Interweb. I first thing I looked into was the 1978 four song EP by Chinas Comidas. This five piece genre-bending group played a compelling brand of triumphant PNW no-wave that has refreshingly original rhythms for that area. It was so easy to write songs that sounded punk back then, but to blend Pere Ubu and Nina Hagen without maybe even knowing it is so excellent.
Another Chinas Comidas 7" a year later and a CD compilation in 2006 seem to be the only releases on the Exquisite Corpse Records label. Miraculously, this excellent single can still be bought at a decent price!
"This album is really cool and it will annoy your friends." —Amazon customer review
I became an instant convert to the scrappy cult of Royal Trux when they first emerged in the late-1980s. It was a natural extension of my interest in Pussy Galore, since singer-guitarist Neil Michael Hagerty (Weird War, Howling Hex) had been part of that NYC-by-way-of-Washington DC outfit, although they didn't sound much alike; there was just a similar sensibility at work.
After buying their first few records, I lost touch with the duo. It had more to do with me than them as there was a lot going on in my life at the time, and I wasn't able to keep up with new music the way I once did, but I'm now catching up, both with the group and their solo efforts (this year, that included Jennifer Herrema's Black Bananas project). This preamble means to explain why I didn't hear 1998's Accelerator until Drag City reissued it a few months ago.
In response to K-Fenn's enviable mugcollection, I'd like to submit a favorite cup of my own, and the brief history of how it came to exist in my life.
How do I like my coffee? Black, motherfucker!
Unlike a lot of my friends, I never really fell in love with the music of Superchunk. Sure, they had some hot jams, but I never really dug into their catalog. Well, except for Indoor Living, which became the unlikely soundtrack to my summer of 1998. Around that time I was working at a record store in Chicago under the masterful management of Scott Rutherford, who published a great car/music zine of that era called Speed Kills. A version of the mug in the above photo held pens on Scott's desk at work, the same desk where I ate Subway sandwiches while on my lunch break. When ownership of the chain of record stores shifted a few years later, Scott left the job and the Superchunk mug pen holder somehow stayed behind. I adopted it into my home.
The Superchunk Hyper Enough mug is a high quality mug. It's not like the modern transfer printed mugs made of thin ceramic. It has weight and depth and the image is superb. It became my main mug for a few years. Eventually, I gave it to my best friend who is a huge Superchunk fan. She also had the hots for singer Mac McCaughan, I figure she deserved it more than me. Fast forward a few years later to a going away party that I was having for another friend. I was living in a big house with the same best friend who now owned the mug. For some reason, I decided to invite all of MySpace (?!) to the party. Most of MySpace accepted the invitation and the party devolved into a total disaster. I knew it was going to be awful when I spoke to a giant older man wearing an over sized Marvin the Martian t-shirt. He was eying a shelf of CDs and didn't know that I lived there. "There's no way that I'd have this many people in my house with this much stuff," He said. "There's a lot of expensive things here." Hours later, the bathroom was covered in blood. Somebody strung dental floss webs around most of the house. The kitchen faucet was broken. Somebody stole the oven knobs and some random dishes. After all the dust settled, the Superchunk mug was missing. Somebody took it! What a dick!
Public appeals for the return of the mug went unanswered and my best friend was heartbroken. Somehow, miraculously, it turned out that a friend had the same mug and she was willing to send it to quell the sorrow. In another stroke of luck, the person whose going away was the reason for the party knew the drummer for Superchunk and was able to procure another mug! Two mugs!
Here's where I paint myself as a total worm: I never mentioned to the other person that we had two mugs coming. I just accepted both mugs so we could each own one. Today, they mean a whole lot to the both of us. And Liz, if you want yours back, I totally understand.
This weekend, while doing some housecleaning, I came across an item I had completely forgotten about: a KCMU mug. Because I drink coffee out of the same Touch & Go model every morning—I prefer black to white—I never pay attention to the other ones in my cabinet, but I was reaching for something at the back of the shelf, and discovered an object I haven't thought about for over 15 years.
It reminded me of the other promo items I amassed during my KCMU days (1988-1992), where I served as DJ, promotions director, music director, and specialty show host ("Straight No Chaser"). I left before the University of Washington station established an alliance with the Experience Music Project and became KEXP, but returned to volunteer between 2008-2009 (despite their current South Lake Union address, the UW still holds KEXP's license).
The Urban Dictionary informs me that "schwag" also refers to "low-grade marijuana." There was some of that floating around, too. More pics below.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 9:42 AM
This post is strictly for the hardcore Grateful Dead fan. Wait, are there casual Grateful Dead fans? Probably not in abundance. Anyway... Michael David Murphy stitched together recordings of the iconic San Francisco psych-jam band tuning up, as heard in every live recording available for the not-quite-Dead-peak year of 1977—93 minutes of it. This is the audio equivalent of watching a montage of porn actors taking off their clothes. In other words, you gotta hear it.
It's Segall "helping" a ciggie-smoking Petey from Thee Oh Sees play his guitar. Oh Sees played on the basketball court, on the ground, with The People. Segall jumped in, and joined the band for a couple songs.
I miss moments like this—intimacy that most other small clubs have yet to match. SNIFF.