Monthly Archives: December 2013

one word band names

Posted in poetry of the universe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

selections from Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Niccolò Machiavelli

“Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who have been, and ever will be, animated by the same passions, and thus they must necessarily have the same results.” (531) Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

my top ten albums of 2013

in the twelfth month, like the rest of the stinking Internet and its rabid music fans, i like to compile my top ten favorite albums from the past year. i do things only slightly differently from the rest. for one, i don’t rank them. i used to rank the albums, but it’s truly an exercise in bullshittery because–let’s be frank–a list of the “top ten” albums is silly enough already… no point in making it any sillier. secondly, like the rest of my blog, i keep it pretty personal. so don’t mind the two albums from 2012 and the two from the late 1970s that accidentally found their way in. whoops!

without further ado…

a1744531296_10

Allah-Las — Allah-Las (2012)

it’s worth noting that this is the only rock & roll album to make my list this year. certainly that says more about me, and how much disco took over my life this year, than it does about the current rock scene. or so i hope.

thankfully, there’s at least this album floating around my mind. hailing from southern California, this would be modern-day garage rock revivalist at its finest… if it weren’t for Thee Oh Sees. but where dOCs are violent, Allah-Las are chill… where dOCs jam and jam for ten minutes at a time, Allah-Las are content with a little four-minute ditty… where dOCs push garage rock into its punk rock tendencies, Allah-Las wade into the psychedelic center between beach and the desert. “Sacred Sands.”

from the straightforward drums to the steady bass to the twangy guitar to the inviting voice, this music easily tricks listeners into thinking it came out in 1967, not 2012. even the number of tracks–12, or six to a side–feels like a throwback to 60s LPs. it’s only 40-minutes, and it’s just plain good.

—————

Cest+Chic+Chic

C’est Chic — Chic (1978)

i’m just going to be straight up: Nile Rodgers appears on this list three times.

it’s quite overdue. if ronblog were a shitty music awards program, i would be making a big speech about how we all worship Nile before handing him a “lifetime achievement award,” secretly masking the fact that we basically snubbed him for 40 straight years from the actual awards. in short, 2013 is the year i discovered how much Nile matters to music.

Carly Simon. Chromeo. Daft Punk. David Bowie. Diana Ross. Duran Duran. Larry Levan. Madonna. Notorious B.I.G. Sister Sledge. The Sugarhill Gang. Will Smith. the list goes on… and yet it doesn’t matter. the influence this man had on disco, funk, soul, and all music forever and ever cannot be computed.

while i had listened to many the above artists and even a ton of songs performed and produced by Nile, it wasn’t until Daft Punk’s collaborator series that i actually sat down and listened to Chic albums. i listened to a handful of the essential ones, but none are quite as perfect through and through as this one. unlike much of the disco hits of the late 70s and early 80s, “Le Freak” is actually far from the highlight of the album. from the opening cheer to the b-side’s house-y opener to the closing track’s irresistible grooves and laughter, it never lets up. even the slow songs are superb.

what more can i say? music like this never goes out of fashion. c’est chic!

—————

AFTMB001769501LP

good kid, m.A.A.d city — Kendrick Lamar (2012)

i am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again
Lord, forgive me… Lord, forgive me things i don’t understand
sometimes i need to be alone
bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe
i can feel your energy from two planets away
i got my drink, i got my music, i would share it but today i’m yelling
bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe

the year wasn’t yet halfway over, and i was already treating these lines like a prayer. whether freezing in a lake in Yellowstone National Park or freezing while biking through San Francisco streets or pissed off or annoyed or frustrated at somebody or no one, all i have to do is close my eyes, breathe, and recite these lines. what mantra could be better than “bitch don’t kill my vibe”?

and yet, at the same time, the very use of the word “bitch” makes some of the feminists in my life (and even a bit of the feminist in me, if such a thing can be said to exist) flinch at the word. not just the word, but the aggressive, over-the-top, gangsta machismo. “i pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so i can fuck the whole world for 24 hours!”

it’s silly… stupid even. but is it excusable? is it okay for a black kid from Compton to throw around “bitch” at the expense of women just so he can tell his own troubling story of an unprivileged life, of unavoidable heart-wrenching loss? does he even know he’s doing it? is this a step forward for everyone, or a step backward? is he talking about real pain? is this real pain? is this okay?

these are not my questions to answer. all i can say is “bitch don’t kill my vibe” while i rock my head to these sweet beats. and listen.

—————

4e6c6fb2

Random Access Memories — Daft Punk (2013)

big. fucking. surprise.

no, but really, if you had asked me a year ago whether i’d put the upcoming Daft Punk album on my 2013 list, i’d have responded, “i don’t know… i really hope so.” it’s like i was traumatized from an experience in high school, when Nine Inch Nails made its epic comeback with the dullness of “The Hand That Feeds” and the okay-whatever of With Teeth. poor teenage ronny.

what would i do this time, besides try desperately to not have expectations? i would hope.

i still remember the moment when i heard the name of the album for the first time. when i saw the album cover for the first time. when i heard the first 15-second clip of “Get Lucky.” when i heard the second 15-second clip of “Get Lucky.” when they released the minute-long teaser at Coachella, complete with sparkly Pharrell, Nile, and robots. i remember playing that minute over and over again. i remember watching the collaborators’ videos. i remember waking up in the morning to see if a new one had been posted. i remember telling all my friends that the video series was too much, it was becoming a shitty marketing gimmick. i remember i kept waiting every day for more and more. i remember the full release of “Get Lucky” and playing it in the living room. i remember playing it multiple times at my house party that weekend, no shame. i remember the video they released the morning of the album’s release, i remember hearing the beginning of “Give Life Back to Music” with its epic dad rock intro, and i remember–at that very moment–feeling, at its most potent, the insane concoction of fear, hope, humility, and ecstasy that had been brewing in my brain for months, years.

then… i remember reserving a conference room at work, stepping inside, and pressing play.

i didn’t know what to think. it felt so cheesy. the intro to “Give Life Back to Music.” the emo voice on “The Game of Love.” the two whole minutes of talking on “Giorgio by Moroder” and its F-Zero finale of a guitar solo. more emo piano and singing. emo indie rock. and then “Get Lucky.” and then the rest of the album.

everyone was talking about the album online. most people loved “Giorgio,” which i didn’t quite understand. maybe, to their ears, it made up for the album’s lack of hard-hitting house music. the lack of Discovery. i didn’t really have a strong opinion. i felt confused and intrigued, and that delighted me.

i listened again. and again. and again and again and again and again. and it kept getting better. an accelerating Nilephile, i quickly cherished the funky-as-a-feather guitar work on the first track and the two singles. the perfect musicianship on “Game of Love” floored me time and again, and still does today. “Get Lucky” doesn’t get old for me. “Beyond” feels like the 70s and, like the songs we love from that time, so far beyond. the ending track… an experiment in noise and rocketry. and… “Touch.” the track that Xanthe thinks i only claim to actually like because she hates it so much. but i understand. it’s out there. it’s almost ten minutes long. it’s orchestrated, it sounds more like Sufjan Stevens than Daft Punk. but it’s so joyous and heartfelt and wonderful that once, while listening to it on a pier at the Embarcadero, i almost cried along to its sublimity.

they’d captured me. they brought in virtuosic studio musicians, recorded an orchestra onto tape, toiled over hundreds of tracks, and released not just an homage, but an autobiography. a love letter. a perfect, beautiful album.

—————

daftside

Random Access Memories Memories — Daftside (2013)

only one month after the release of RAM–i swear to god–Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington released this ridiculous rework of Daft Punk’s entire album. and i loved it.

every single component that made RAM what it was, they inverted. Nile Rodgers, the guy who played drums on Thriller, orchestras, and analog tape decks? we’ll just do this in Ableton. millions of dollars of hype and months of marketing? we’ll just upload this to SoundCloud. seven years making your album? we’ll do this in one month.

it’s half a joke, which is obvious when you hear the 2-second version of “Lose Yourself to Dance,” but, taken as a whole, it’s really not bad! Darkside knows what sounds good, so their screwing around with a great Daft Punk album in Ableton for a month actually isn’t a waste of time.

it sounds good, and they get a thousand points for creativity.

—————

The_knife_shaking_the_habitual_artwork_2013

Shaking the Habitual — The Knife (2013)

The Knife challenges you to look at this art, as they challenge you to listening to this album. The Knife challenges you to listen to this album, as they challenge you to understand what it’s about.

life is hard. waking up for work is struggle enough for some of us, but making it to 5pm can be even harder. when we get home, we want to drink beer, smoke a bowl, put on the game, and/or hear the smooth, pleasant “Heartbeats” of our favorite artists’ best songs. we don’t want to think about how many people don’t have jobs or money. we don’t want to think about the countries where, with our salaries, we would be considered the 1%. we don’t even want to think about how 50% of the world–our mothers, sisters, and daughters–automatically face a disadvantage in what we call the civilized world. we don’t want to wonder whether these things could possibly be connected, or how.

but we probably should.

you are given time to think about these things on the 10 eerie minutes of “Fracking Fluid Injection,” nothing but shrieks through a delay pedal and clings and clangs for percussion. you are given time to think about these things on the 20 spaced-out minutes of “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a haunted planetarium show from 1972.

no, we are forced to think about these things on all nine-and-some-minutes of “Full of Fire,” which you think starts abrasively, but only grows increasingly frantic and insane as the minutes going on… until the last 10 seconds, when Karin ruins your favorite Salt-N-Pepa chorus with the line, “let’s talk about gender, baby, let’s talk about you” in a toilet flushing frenzy of distortion and noise.

you can feel the passion.

—————

Fuck-Buttons-Slow-Focus

Slow Focus — Fuck Buttons (2013)

to be honest, i can’t say too much about this album because i’ve only listened to it a couple times. so why does it make the list?

one, because it’s that damn good. Fuck Buttons is always damn good. to my ears, they’ve maintained consistently solid jams from Street Horrrsing to Tarot Sport to this. i wouldn’t say they’ve changed what they do very much, but that’s fine. they’ve got a good thing going.

two, because i saw them play it live. i was right near the stage in a small venue, i had ear plugs in, and i still felt myself going deaf. it’s just two guys, a shitton of electronics, and a floor tom, and yet their energy infected the crowd. electronic drone post-rock should be electrifying… just like this.

—————

boards-of-canada_tomorrows-harvest-608x608

Tomorrow’s Harvest — Boards of Canada (2013)

like the Fuck Buttons record, i’m not really an expert with this one. but i’ve listened to it just enough times to know it’s damn good.

even moreso, Boards of Canada have selected a tone for themselves and they know how to house themselves within that tone in a way that doesn’t become boring and repetitious. instead, they make the tone work for them in new and strange ways that keeps listeners like me and Mark F coming back for more.

besides, its theme shares sentiments with The Knife’s album: if we don’t look at this problem seriously, the problem being all of us, then we’re most certainly fucked.

—————

sister-sledge-front

We Are Family — Sister Sledge (1979)

damn, look at those pretty sisters.

their luscious, harmonious voices match their smooth brown skin and the flowers blooming in their dark hair. they sing about how “He’s the Greatest Dance” and how they’re “Lost in Music.” they even plead at the end of the album that you “kiss me, say it one more time.” two decades before Daft Punk asked anyone to do anything “One More Time.”

from beginning to end, it’s all Edwards and Rodgers ripping up the bass and electric, laying down divine disco guitar for the four lovely ladies above to help you lose track of time.

dance music that Larry Levan, James Murphy, and your mom can very much get behind. we are family.

—————

yeezus-new-cover

Yeezus — Kanye West (2013)

Kanye says a lot of stupid shit. i mean a LOT of stupid shit. the shit on Kendrick’s album becomes standard fare salad at your local buffet when you compare it to the raw steak dripping fat and blood that are the words that never cease to spew from the mouth of Mr. West.

it’s worth repeating: anyone who listens to the Kanye’s music for the lyrics first is walking a risky road. even on The College Dropout, this guy was no poet.

but those beats.

i listen to the first 33 seconds of the first track–you know, the whole 33 seconds before Kanye says a single word–and i’m already convinced that this album is better than 99% of the music released in the past decade. i restart the track, just to make sure, and turn the volume up to 11… oh god yes. that’s the good shit. it’s that crack music.

how much does Kanye not give a fuck? enough to drop an angelic sample singing, “oh… he’ll give us what we need…. it may not be what we want,” in the midst of the hellish analog synth terrordome that is just song number one.

next song? panting human breath all throughout. next song? ghoulish screams chained to ice cold death. next song? Kanye thinks we’re trying to make new slaves, and he makes a damn good point. i’m not feeling very comfortable at this point. i feel somewhere between Kendrick and the Knife, and it’s a bit maddening.

it doesn’t get lighter. if anything it gets darker and madder and more ruthless… until “Bound 2.” gentle singing women, sampled brilliant by Yeezus to carry us away on a cloud of… confusion and love.

if any musician created passionate, unrelenting, avant-garde art in 2013, that musician is Kanye West. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

target him, not me

Posted in poetry of the universe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a chronology of Immanuel Kant

1724 — Immanuel Kant born in Königsberg on 22 April. 1732 — Birth of Haydn. 1737 — Death of Kant’s mother. 1746 — Death of Kant’s father. 1749 — Birth of Goethe. 1756 — Birth of Mozart. 1759 — Voltaire … Continue reading

Posted in oxford | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Danksagung Fodderstompf

we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved
we only wanted to be loved.

last night i hosted a vinyl listening party, and it was one of the very best. Adam and Natalie whipped up caramelized onions, polenta, ground beef, and salad for pretty much everybody at the party. good beer flowed, weak beer flowed, bourbon flowed, water flowed. we all got down to “Dreams” like a bunch of middle-aged adults, a man and woman twerked their behinds together with the help of hip hop, and, past midnight, a Brit just repeatedly blunted us all.

and the music… oh, the music. from CCR to PiL to RJD2, Kanye to Crimson to Kendrick, my friends’ collective taste in music never ceased to amaze me. i felt grateful to easily trust Nick, Mark, and Dan on the wheels of steel… keeping good beats flowing all night long.-

in fact, this was one of my favorite weekends in a long while, thanks to all the love i shared with family and friends.

things kicked off wednesday night with a hell of a drinking session at bermuda with Madison and then, later on, Steve. we kicked backed beers while spotify-djing, and watched Pharrell’s homies get down to our tracks on Chris’ big screen. it synced up perfectly! Madison crashed, we danced with the devil, then the world traded us Sophia for Steve. i grew listless as the night grew long, so i bounced on my bike and journeyed into the night.

on the one day a year where we’re supposed to give thanks, i awoke with an achy thankfulness for medicinal herbs. i just lay in bed breathing support for my temples while reading everything i could about Bitcoin. it’s truly fascinating. the economy, in general, is a topic that intrigues me endlessly. like breathing oxygen or drinking h-two-oh, we support and base our entire lives around the ability to trade green bills and digital credits for pleasant things like donuts and warm bedrooms. and yet, to a far greater degree than respiration and hydration, economics appears to work like magic. its mysteries evade my grasp.

perfect recipe for a high me to fall in love with this shiny new “cryptocurrency,” and to arbitrarily decide to convert $1000 of my own savings into BTC. i haven’t done it yet, but i’ve downloaded software. this might actually happen.

eventually, after pulling myself from bed, i made the drive down to Daly City. i almost had a hissy fit because all the boys had decided they’d rather listen to football and an hour of commercials then hear music. the compromise was supposed to be music over the muted game, but the compromise became music over the non-muted game. oh, but i repeatedly begged for and was sometimes granted muted ads in between. how complicated.

in any case, my family was fun, my mom’s food was fantastic, and my Adam was a joy to have again.

oh, Adam. guest of guests. he reminds me of Cameron in that he explodes what it is to be a guest. you can’t feel burdened by a best friend. we made music, we went on walks, we fed on feasts, we stared at skies and evening stars, and we made music. he did, perhaps, make my Tina puke from too much fancy feast and also, perhaps, fuck up my bass guitar to the point where it’s now out of commission for 1-2 weeks and $75… but maybe those things would’ve happened anyway. and even if not, it was all worth it anyway.

i mean, Christ, on friday afternoon, Adam on drums, Chris on electric, and myself on bass… the house shook. we rocked and rocked and rocked as knickknacks rolled off tables and everything vibrated on edge. an empty champagne glass tipped over and ricocheted across a chair, shattering against the carpet. thinking i heard something, i looked over and laughed, “fuck!,” making sure Chris knew not to step there. we were mid-song and couldn’t stop. we wouldn’t stop.

in the evening, after a walk to Glen Park and picnic overlooking the canyon, Adam started drifting asleep to the warm tape recording of Caroline Rose. so i went downtown alone. three gin tonics for Steve’s birthday, one hot dog and two gin tonics for Tania’s. Alan, Chris, Chaz, Sophia, Zoe, Matt, Elise, Luca, Billy, Danny, Abe, Erika, Nina, Mared… hella people. and Natalie!

oh.. if i could say the fun Natalie and i have. maybe i should have a private blog. maybe i should write “cryptopoetry” that bares all behind a veil.

tight,
space is limited in heaven, but once
you arrive you learn how the walls
always sweat hot, wet “yes.” at sunset,
trace a line across the big december
sky, then dip your molten star behind her
perfect earth, sigh an eight minute bliss,
and love.

yes, she’s lying next to me right now. yes, she’s clicking around aimlessly on her computer. yes, her skin is the same perfect brown i love to kiss. yes, her flowery pajama pants sag to display her little plumber’s butt. no, i can’t do anything about how much she means.

so fortunate for my stunning, loving sweetheart. so fortunate for the man, Adam, my old best friend. so fortunate for my family–healthy, happy, wealthy in life and love. so fortunate for my friends, disciples of the world.

moondaze tomorrow? let’s do this. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary, poetry of the mind | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment