Friday, February 23, 2007

A Friday Jaunt

Hey! Today the Indiepop list continues... I believe it's Indiepop A To Z # 7. Have I been writing it all wrong this week? What a weirdo. I'll start with the Boy Least Likely To... When will it end? Tune in to find out! That's 4:30 today. Be there or send me a card explaining why you couldn't make it & a little money for the tissues I had to buy when I missed you.

Did you notice there are more shows digitized? Did you miss them when they were first on? Or do you feel that, like episodes of Lost, you can listen to them again & again & find new clues to the mystery of me? Okay, that would be freaky. Flattering, but scary. Anyway, the two shows that I digitized for you are last week's show about Gin & the first show I did when I got back from Europe that I called the Brand New Show. Go listen to them if you know what's good for you. You heard me.

For the "Song Of The Day" today, here's a deejay mix/sampling piece of the kind I love so well by Innerstance.Beatbox (I believe the period between the name is required) from his record All Little Boys Do Silly Little Dances (they do!) called What Time Is It? (click the name to hear it). & no, I don't only like it because it samples Monty Python. I'll leave it up until March 9, 2007.

Listen today! I have made enough cookies for everyone!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If There Are Letters To Be Answered, By Gum I'll Answer Them

But there aren't. Am I no longer a mystery to you? Why don't you write me some email? I will respond in public like a minor celebrity!

Even better, why don't you take this survey about programming on KOOP? Make sure you say Self Help Radio is your favorite show. But otherwise, be honest about what you think - & you could win neat stuff too!

Today's "Song Of The Day" is heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine & the band came into existence during their heyday, but the Swirlies have charms all their own. This song is a noisy pop gem from their record Blonder Tongue Audio Baton & is the wonderful song Pancake in honor of the lunch I had today. Mmmm. It's a delicious song, but its shelflife is two weeks - it won't be here after March 8, 2007.

Back to my indiepop list... I've removed British Sea Power - too late-period indie/postpunk - but I may add the truly postpunk stylings of Brian Brian... Let me listen to that again...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 6?

This is a true story. I went to Germany in 1992 & for some reason I only took four or five mix tapes with me. As if, somehow, five times ninety minutes would last during the plane ride. I was a dork. The batteries in my Walkman lasted longer than those tapes. Anyway, I got very familiar with them & even today, if I happen to hear a song from those tapes, I will expect to hear the next song to play - even if I am listening to the original album the song is on. Those songs remind me of getting lost in Frankfurt, trying to ask for directions, staring at buildings that seemed to me older than time.

The point of this is that, on those five tapes, several songs recurred. I had made the tapes over the course of a couple of years & I always favored particular songs. It was annoying to hear them over & over in Germany, especially since they seemed out of place on every tape.

When I got back, I was like, Fuck this. I need a random song generator to make tapes for me. Since I didn't know how to build a random song generator, I simply began to look at my albums, cassettes & CDs & put the tracks in a long computer file & then, when that was completed (it took a while), I started at the a's & began to make mix tapes. I did this for several years & still have the tapes somewhere. I think I got to the m's. Most of those tapes are really fun to listen to, but since they're on cassettes, a format that's going to die sooner than later, they'll probably never be used again. I stopped making the tapes probably just a couple years after I started - but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, too, the idea, when I started on Self Help Radio back when it was an hour, of occasionally dipping into the OCD side of me (with help from the bands list at to attempt the impossible - to play as many indiepop songs from a to z as I could in my lifetime. So, according to this playlist here, I did three shows on Self Help Radio in 2003. For some reason, it didn't feel right, & when I was talking to Jennifer of Ear Candy, we sort of agreed it would fit better on Ear Candy. So, around 2004 or so, when I subbed Ear Candy, or when Jennifer didn't have anything else to do, we started. You can hear five of those shows linked on my archive page. As I said yesterday, I don't know why I never archived the first show. It may not have been recorded.

Jennifer seemed exasperated at continuing (you can hear her as we muddle through the b's) so I figured I'd let it die quietly. But then, a couple of months ago, I was like, No. It's a fun idea, it's just weird enough to work toward, & indiepop sounds really good when you play a bunch of it together. Playing indiepop, indie-influenced stuff, & the influences themselves sound cool. & I confess I like how a list can sound as good as it does.

Just please don't ask me to do the same thing with garage rock or electronica. My head would explode. But do expect me to continue with this throughout 2007. Let's see how far we go.

Over on that same archive page, you can see I've digitized a couple of shows from January. Interested in Owls? What about what I liked from 1971? Well, if you missed the shows, they are there for your consumption. Have fun!

What? You expect a "Song Of The Day"? How about this retro-sounding gem from the Radio Dept.? I like this song a little too much. It's called The Worst Taste In Music & clicking on the name will let you hear it. It's from their record of last year called Pet Grief, which should have made my best of but I must've forgotten about it. I won't forget to remove the mp3 two weeks from today, on March 7, so get it now!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Preface To Indiepop A To Z # 6: What Happened To The First Five?

What is this thing called "indiepop"? Is it more "indie" than "pop"? Is it something, like "God," which is defined by the likes & dislikes of the believer?

You can read this article called "Twee As Fuck" on Pitchfork if you want to read someone's definition of indiepop, as well as a lot of names dropped to give you context. Since I'm not going to try to define "indiepop" here, I also probably won't drop many names. In fact, I'll just completely cop out & repeat Justice Potter Stewart's remark about pornography but in an indiepop context: I know it when I hear it.

But I also hear a lot more than a single genre when I listen to music. I hear musical influences - like, "Say, does the Blondie song 'Denis' sound like a Buddy Holly song?" or "Doesn't that Elvis Costello song sound like a slowed-down version of the Stones' 'The Last Time'?" - & I also pay attention to the subject matter. I'm a sucker (as everyone knows) for songs about relationships starting & relationships falling apart. I like clever wordplay. I like songs that are fast & jangly. It turns out these three things describe a lot of indiepop, so I gravitated at some point toward indiepop.

Friends often tell me the one thing they don't like about indiepop is that it sounds happy while the lyrics are sad & sappy. I totally dig that. How great to dance to something that's completely broken-hearted! What, you've never danced to "Love Will Tear Us Apart"? & no, that's not indiepop. That's postpunk. Do you need a checklist?

Although, having said that, a lot of indiepop is more affected than natural, which should disqualify it I suppose - "It's not real!" - but the sound - the sound of indiepop - much like a lot of retro music or electronica - even if it doesn't have the soul or feeling behind it - the sound is enjoyable enough. Some of the singers may annoy, some my cloy, some may be talentless & have strange speech impediments, but if the sound is indiepoppy, it'll sound good.

Most of all, indiepop reminds me of being young. It reminds me of a time when I believed in love & when I could still feel in love & I could still feel heartbroken. Nowadays those feelings, if I stumble upon them, feel like echoes of sounds I haven't heard for years. Except when they're in indiepop songs. Then they make complete sense, & I feel them anew.

What I've written above is what my brain says when I ask it, "What is indiepop?" Typically, it's not a definition, it's just a shuffling of observations. That's what my brain does when you ask it that kind of question. Just never never never ask it, "What is the color green?" I've lost an entire weekend to questions like that before.

The "Song Of The Day" is not indiepop. It's New Wave, which I seem to find myself listening to at work a lot, although while I was writing this, I was listening to Starlet, which is indiepop. Never mind. This song is by the Japanese New Wave band (much beloved by Devo & David Byrne, among others) called the Plastics. It's from their self-titled record & it's the song Robot. Click on the name to hear it. The song is in no way an endorsement of robots. They want to destroy all humans, so we must guard against them. But it's okay to hear a song about them. I'll remove it on March 6, 2007, before a robot removes me.

Tomorrow: a brief history of obsessive-compulsion.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Barkeep, I'll Have A Gin & Wrap-Up

What if I never mentioned gin ever again? Wouldn't that be WEIRD? What if I couldn't mention something I did a show about, like my show had this totally great power to wipe things from the earth once my show covered them? Wouldn't that be WEIRDER? Also, it'd be handy. Certain powerful people would no longer exist. & a couple of snotty businesses, too, I'll tell you.

I confess I did the gin show sober, but the folks who won the haiku contest were completely blitzed. Utterly stinko. The haikus reeked of quinine. & you know what that means - tonic. Here are the winners, from fourth to first:


She drinks her gin slow
Holds the glass up to the light
It looks full of tears


God you stink of gin
Like you passed out in the leaves
Of the forest floor


A drink, a card game,
A machine to pick cotton,
A pretty girl’s name


This dry, bitter alcohol
Bottle of date-rape

& was there a limerick from the Mysterious Limericker? There was! It went like so:

There once was a world-renowned sinner
Who’d share his advice with beginners:
“Don’t help out your brothers -
To do unto others,
You must be a tonic & ginner!”

Or weren't you listening? For shame!

This week, I'll be continuing a series I started with Jennifer over on Ear Candy, but which I didn't follow up on for all of 2006. It'll be the infamous attempt to play Indiepop A To Z. This week I'll talk a little of my obsessive-compulsive desire to make these kinds of lists & all that. Maybe you could go listen to episodes 2 through 5 over here. I never digitized the first one for some weird reason. I should do that. If I can find it.

But it means that there isn't a specific theme for a haiku this week, so why not just write a haiku on anything? Here's some possible subjects: the war on sailing, earwax, confidentiality agreements, how you feel at 3:23 am when you're accidentally awakened by your cat crawling between you & your girlfriend under the covers, whatever happened to softcore porn, eating & running, Roy Lichtenstein, the last telephone booth you ever saw, the difference between Kentucky Fried Chicken & KFC, mannequins, Jack Kirby's OMAC series, what happened when you were thirteen, all the violence in that Blood Meridian book & how you still dream about it, ditto in HBO's "Rome," words like cantillation & how to use them more in everyday life, Gary Larson's "The Far Side" - funny or really fucking funny?, gin (in case you just thought of something), & possibly a haiku about haiku writing.

There are some ideas. Surely you have one or two of your own.

Today's "Song Of The Day" is by the strange, brilliant Moondog, from his sometimes too gorgeous 1969 record Moondog. I had been familiar with his more jazzy stuff, so this record took me completely by surprise. This is the piece called Symphonique #3 (Ode To Venus), & you may consider it a late Valentine's Day present. Click on the name, hear the gorgeous song. Listen to it every day until March 5, 2007, when I will replace it with a glass of gin haikus.