Friday, August 26, 2016

Self Help Radio 082616: Indiepop A To Z # 51`

(Images of some of the records heard on today's show, taken from

Ha ha!  A show on time!  I might get the hang of this, eventually (although yes I am still courting radio stations these things take time!).  This week's show continues the Indiepop A To Z series, from within the letter L: Lin to Lou.

One thing that should be said about this process is that it takes a lot of time & I listen to far more records than make it onto the series.  I probably forget a bunch as well, but I shouldn't say that.  Let's forget I said that.

Artists from the UK, the US, Sweden, France, Norway, New Zealand, & more appear on today's show.  As such, it's the equivalent of a small vacation in your head.  I hope you enjoy it.

The show is available now at Self Help Radio website page & the instructions for downloading (you need a password & username) are in the text at the top of the page.  The songs I play - although not what I say about the songs I play - are listed below.

(part one)

"Nerve Pylon" The Lines _Scared To Get Happy: The Story Of Indie Pop 1980-1989_
"Supercheri" Lina _Redevenir Modeste_
"Happy New Year" Lasse Lindh _The Sound Of Young Sweden, Vol. 2_

"When I Get To California" Linus Of Hollywood _Your Favorite Record_
"This Scene Is Happening" Liquid Faeries _La-Di-Da...  So Far..._
"Team Player" Liquorice _Listening Cap_
"The English Softhearts" Literature _Chorus_
"Happiest Times" Little Big Adventure _The Hateful Eye EP_

"Ruining Things Like Everything" Little My _Little My's Sixth_
"Nobody Loves You" Little Name _How To Swim & Live_
"Happy" Little Red Schoolhouse _When I Find You_
"In The Morning" Lizard Kisses _In The Morning_
"Something Nice" Robert Lloyd & The New Four Seasons _Something Nice_

"Busman's Holiday" The Loch Ness Mouse _Busman's Holiday_
"Kicking Sand" The Lodger _Grown-Ups_

(part two)

"Up The Hill & Down The Slope" The Loft _Creation Soup, Vol. 2_
"Press Play & Record" Lois _Press Play & Record_
"Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl" Loney, Dear _Citadel Band_

"Small Talk" Claudine Longet _Love Is Blue_
"Cactus Cat" Look Blue Go Purple _LBGPEP2_
"Mirror Man" The Looking Glass _Dreamworld, 1985-1987_
"Never Understand" Loons _Dim Movies_
"On The Flipside" Looper _The Geometrid_

"Stop What You're Doing" Lorelei _Why Popstars Can't Dance_
"Brooklyn Bound" The Lorimer Sound _Green Streets_
"Why Can't You Be Yourself For A Change?" The Losers _Dalmatian Generation_
"Dock Ellis" Lotion _Full Isaac_
"German Girl" Lotus Eaters _No Sense Of Sin_

"Falling" Lotus Eaters _Falling_
"Inverness" The Loud Family _Plants & Birds & Rocks & Things

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 51?

Ho ho, I bet you didn't think I could finish this week's show on time, but I have n't.  But that's because it's not time!  I have until noon tomorrow!  & I'll be finished with it then!  I hope.

No one's really ever asked me about my fascination with indiepop, & where it began, & why I would want to do a never-ending series about it.  I'm not sure if I could answer satisfactorily if someone did.  Certainly my obsession with alphabetization & with order have something to do with it, but I could easily have done a "postpunk a to z" or a "garage a to z."  Why indiepop?

It probably had something to do with a show on KOOP radio called "Ear Candy."  It began when I was at KVRX under a person named Tina whom I met only once or twice, but when the two Jennifers took over, it was, for many years, the best thing on a station full of great radio shows.  When I became involved at KOOP, I would often sub the show, doing a shabby job no doubt, but generally being nice enough to the women in charge that they let me help out from time-to-time.

But before I knew what "indiepop" was, I did like a lot of twee, na├»ve music, especially Jonathan Richman.  Friends who knew me for years as a fan of the Smiths, Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, etc., thought I had gone crazy when I fell for Jonathan Richman.  Because every angsty teen appreciates the first Modern Lovers record, but not too many people can stomach the eight-minute-long version of "Ice Cream Man."

Indiepop was a world with beautiful melodies but often rather dark lyrics.  A sprightly song might have some depressing undertones.  One friend of mine, who doesn't care much for lyrics, thinks the music is too happy.  He once asked me, "Is that all you listen to now, upbeat music?"  & trying to explain that to someone who can't hear what I hear is like trying to describe color to the blind.

What strikes me most about this experiment is how good the music is.  I'm sure there are some terrible indiepop bands - I mean, if I reject a band for the series, I must not think they're very good - but the ones that make the cut have an excellence that belies their overtly simple trappings.  I hope tomorrow's show demonstrates that.  I hope all the shows in the series do!

Another entity to give thanks to is Napster.  For the few years (or was it months?) that it existed, it enabled me to sample other people's music libraries, including tunes unavailable - or expensive & rare - in the United States.  Indiepop is an international phenomenon, but its roots are in the UK.  People shared stuff way out of print, & I gobbled it up greedily.  Though ethically dubious, it was a grand time for people like me who otherwise wouldn't have known so much existed.

Well, the two Jennifers knew.  & I took notes when I listened to their show.  & some of those notes, I hope, are what I'm reading off of when I do the Indiepop A To Z show, although one time one of those Jennifers, when I was doing the show with her on Ear Candy, said, "Ugh! This will never end!"

She was right, but, like Edwyn Collins said, just like the Four Tops, I can't help myself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Preface To Indiepop A To Z # 51: Who's Counting?

I'm so embarrassed, I didn't remember which number of the Indiepop A To Z series I was on when I mentioned it on the show last week.  I remembered the letter L.  But I said it was like number 53 or something; the last show I did in the series was the eventful number fifty!  I should remember such things.

But unfortunately, I don't.  People who are being politely curious about the show will often ask me, once I've told them it's theme-based, "Oh?  What was your last show about?"  & I can't remember.  Standing there like a fool, I will wrack my brains, I will mentally try to walk back through time, even try to recall where I stood or what I was doing to bring songs to mind, but it's useless.  My brain dumps that information very soon after the show, because it knows there's another show I need to start working in.  It's one of the reasons I need the check if I've covered a theme before - I will never remember if I have.

This is so incredibly self-indulgent.  I'm so deeply uninterested with myself, which makes me feel bad as the son of a narcissist.  Speaking of dear old Mom: she lives less than an hour away now, & I have to adjust my memories of returning to Dallas from Austin.  We visited her Sunday & I was shocked when we got to the I-30/35 interchange (from a different direction, but you know what I mean) & so little driving time had passed.  I had purchased two newish stand-up albums, one each by Emily Heller &  Hari Kondabolu - & both are excellent - but the ride to Dallas was longer than the albums.

There's another reason for this: we need to update our GPS.  The highways around here have changed so much - mainly because there are so many toll roads up here - hooray for the Libertarian spirit of Texas! - that we can be driving along & suddenly our GPS will shout "Route recalculation!"  At times like that, the wife would turn the CD off - or worse, turn it down - usually during a punchline - to figure out where the hell we were supposed to go.

Seriously, though, toll roads.  Beautiful new toll roads.  Named after presidents named Bush, who were against, you know, taxes & shit.  Lots of toll roads.  & if you use them, they'll mail you the bills.  Best to avoid them until I understand exactly what that's all about.  Texans are funny.  They'll accept being taxed to death in dribs & drabs but suggest a state income tax & they go all Yosemite Sam on you.

I have nothing else to say right now.  But those two comedy CDs are aces.  Emily Heller &  Hari Kondabolu.  Awesome stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fort Worth Stories No. 1

(Image from Google Maps.)

Honestly I have no idea if anyone who reads this blog cares about where the host of Self Help Radio lives or what he does or anything about his life - hell, even about the show! - but in case someone does, here's the first of some stories about living in the city known as "Cowtown" & also "Dallas' Sullen Younger Brother."

My family is living in a small house in a cool section of town that, I discovered as movers were carrying boxes of our things into the house the evening we arrived, is near a massive railyard.  It is in fact the Union Pacific Davidson Yard, & it's just south of us.  You can see it on the map above, where an inch is about a thousand feet (once you click on the image).  Not only that!  Look!  Someone filmed it for YouTube!

While you can hear a lot of noises in that video - including air on the microphone, train bells, & someone making a farty sound - one thing you can't hear is the one sound I hear all the damn time.  It is the sound of trains braking.  It's a constant sound - I can hear it in the quiet of this house as I am typing this - a constant, eerie noise that would give Brian Eno an erection & would make John Carpenter incorporate it into one of his soundtracks.

Everyone tells me that, living here, one learns to ignore it - it becomes the background to one's life here - but every new train braking - would someone give them some oil or something to maybe make their stoppings smoother? - is like a new slow scratch down the chalkboard of this environment.  It's not in itself unpleasant - it's just a more drawn-out sound than the shorter, more immediate sound of a car screeching to a halt - but it is uncommonly creepy in its unpredictable length, in the volume one whine differs from another.  Were Franz Kafka renting a room around here, he would have written a story that began, "Josef K woke that morning, as usual, to the sound of trains slowing on their tracks with a ghostlike cry.  But today was the day he truly listened to it."

In the right conditions, that uncanny scraping sound could be the background music to an unsettling David Lynch scene.  & oh shit!  It's the sort of thing that sets off the presumed normal Stephen King character!  Eventually no one hears it - but the protagonist.  Does it turn her into a killer, or is it affecting everyone else subconsciously?  I don't know!

We've lived here almost three weeks now & that noise sings slow, monotonous lullabies to me as I fall asleep, & that noise occasionally wakes me in the middle of the night.  Worse, that noise follows me into my dreams - recently I dreamt there was a person learning how to play a weird pipe-like instrument, & the noise coming out was...  Trains squealing to a halt just a few hundred yards away from me.

But don't worry!  I am not tortured by it.  I am just aware of the possibility of being tortured by it.  I am sufficiently convinced that I'm not trapped in a Stephen King story or a David Lynch film.  & we are looking for homes in other neighborhoods than this.

However.  The longer I live here...  Who knows when I will start hearing voices in that ubiquitous disquiet?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bringing Weather Along

At some point, she thought, the weather was all they had in common.

So, because she loved him, she began bringing it along.  Little cloudy days stuffed into small notebooks, or a rainbow in the sunshine fancily placed in a little box as a surprise present.  That one cold day in September, when it's not supposed to be too cold, saved like a postcard in a memory book, or that strange warm day in the middle of the winter, that would melt snow if there were snow, scribbled like an afterthought on a scrap of note paper.

Eventually she began leaving the weather at his place.  It began absent-mindedly, a small drawing of a crisp autumn dusk forgotten on the coffee table, & an envelope of spring rain that fell behind the sofa when the cat jostled it, walking by.

At some point, she began to wonder where all the weather went.

Her mother, in the weekly phone call, found it impertinent that she couldn't talk about such a simple subject.  Yet she would look around helplessly when asked, "What's the weather like there, dear?."  I was like someone had misplaced her perceptions.

Once she was with him, it was, of course, all they talked about, & their discussions began to take on giant proportions: a night comparing a century of hurricanes that was the closest to passion they'd had in years; an evening drinking hot beverages & slowly trudging through Ice Ages.  His eyes flashed like lightning & she thought he was falling in love with her again.

At home, looking out of her bedroom window, the world looked empty & dull.  She knew, this was not what he was seeing.  When she looked out his window, it was like she was looking at a meteorologist's map, it's lines, arrows, & numbers a magnificent language she felt fluent in.

Surely she had to get the weather back!  But how?

He noticed parts of it missing as soon as she started to steal bits of it away.  Truthfully, she wasn't subtle at all - the first thing she fled home with were those two perfect weeks of spring that anyone would miss.  So he told her to stop taking his weather, or visit him no more.  In his mind, the weather had always been his; he had no idea how much of it she had brought, over the course of the past year, to a home mostly filled with beer commercials & sports on the television.

She tried to explain to him that no-one owned the weather, & then promised sweetly to return all that she had taken some day.  She simply wanted to check some of it out, like library books.  His covetousness, his jealous anger, frightened her.  He roared like thunder at her, & the only thing she managed to leave with, that last day, was a fog she found herself in.

But she was right: no-one owned the weather.  & one morning a stray raindrop found its way into her eye & acted like a kind of prism to break up her weatherless world with desultory storm clouds & a furtive sun peeping behind them.  She began to feel the wind again.  She couldn't believe she had forgotten things as simple as humidity or hail.  She greedily took even the hottest days, the gloomiest nights of rain, until she had filled her house like a hoarder with all types of weather.

& she missed him no more.  But she wondered, was there enough weather for everyone?