Archive for the Music Category

Thrifting Around

Posted in Books, Me, Music on August 27, 2009 by frumpunk

Here’s a secret: I was raised in thrift stores. Everything I ever owned for the first twenty or so years of my life once belonged to someone else. I got my first new clothes when I was eighteen. Green cargos and a blue plaid shirt from the clearance rack at Marshalls. I found it odd when I first met people who shopped at thrift stores when they didn’t have to. For my family it was a necessity. For them it’s fashion or some sort of cultural statement. I could wax poetic on my feeling towards people from affluent backgrounds who slum to pretend to be like people from my actual background, but that’s for another rant that will probably never get written. Fun fact: most of my rants never get written. I just don’t like being negative, not to mention judgmental. And now that I’ve followed my usual habit of digressing from the point in the first paragraph, let’s talk about thrift stores.

Even now that I don’t have to, I still love going back into thrift stores. It’s a blend of reasons, from the personal pride in no longer having to dig through racks of corporate picnic t-shirts to find something vaguely wearable, defined in my adolescence as not being something that my classmates, most of whom were the more affluent sort, to the fond memories of the little treasures dotted around that I’d spend hours with. While my siblings looked for clothes I’d browse the thousands of old and strange books that only thrift stores seem to have or dig through old electronics and computer systems from the eighties.  There’s a line from an Oasis song “my body is young, but my mind is very old”. It resonates with me because my experience of things is from a timeline inconsistent with my age. My first computer was state of the art in 1980, with its green and black screen, dot matrix printer and no hard drive. I was using it in the days when my friends had Windows 95. I read books that were given as Christmas gifts in 1975, when other people were lining up for the latest Goosebumps release. The age of my clothes was a given. I apparently rocked out at Seths bar mitzvah, even though I was only seven at the time.

Thrift stores contain all the little treasures of the past that society has discarded. I’ve never owned a record player but I did own LP’s, because I couldn’t think of anything cooler than owning the original Star Wars soundtrack.  Those cassettes came in handy when I turned seventeen and owned my first car, which in true thrift life aesthetic, was older than I was. A 1984 Pontiac 6000. Originally baby blue, it was involuntarily brown by the time it passed into my hands. And while my classmates got new cars with fuel injection (oooh, how fancy!) I was rocking a carburetor in a rust colored piece of Detroit vintage. In retrospect, I may have unintentionally been an ironic hipster, except there was nothing ironic about it and I wasn’t very hip.

I went back into a thrift store today in a whim. I took in the sights and smells. Appreciated the fact I can now afford to wear clothes that weren’t previously sweated in, and headed to the one part that I’ll never leave. The book racks. After a gut wrenching decision, I left with three new reads I’d never have heard of otherwise. But when I got home I discovered I literally can’t fit any more books on my shelf. I hadn’t realized I was at that point yet. Maybe I should donate some to a thrift store?

The Music Trance

Posted in Me, Music on February 2, 2009 by frumpunk

I came down ill last night, and spent the day in bed trying to get over it. Not usually much fun but it was worth it today as I spent the afternoon in one of the deepest music trances I’ve ever experience.

A music trance is my own form of meditation. It’s impossible to entirely put into words, but I’ll try. It generally involves lying in bed, with headphones on, in the sleeping position listening to a song with enough layers and textures to get sink deep into it. The right headphones are key as I’m a side sleeper, and headphones hurting your ear from being pressed into the pillow simply won’t do. A good pair of earbuds that are small enough to sink into the ear canal without pressing against the outer ear are needed. Next is the right song. Generally something atmospheric and comforting works for me. Today it was “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” by Spiritualized with its simple refrain of “All I want in life’s a little bit of love to take the pain away…”

You put that single song on repeat and just listen to it, like you’re trying to fall asleep. You sink into the song until you’re at that special place where you’re awake but just barely, the closest thing to an out of body experience I’ve ever had where you’re just wrapped around the song, where each note and instrument can be picked out and isolated. You start daydreaming with the song as your background music, reimagine the song as you go, place the song as a theme for your thoughts. You don’t want to move as that will break the spell, the magic of being wrapped in a song that feels hundreds of miles deep. Anxiety, fear and pain wash away for a while, because all you feel is that song.

The right song is key, but you also need to have that level of being able to space out, or rather space in to the song. You have to be able to stop thinking and let yourself go. It’s difficult to do on cue, but when it works it works. I listened to that song non-stop for six hours, drifting in and out of sleep and thoughts. You don’t want to be asleep, you don’t want to be awake. You want to find that equilibrium between the two.

My record? About two days, but that was over two albums and broken up a bit obviously. If that was straight, that wouldn’t be a trance, that would be a coma.  And I’ve never managed to sink into an album that long before or since.

21st Century Dreidel Version with Y-Love

Posted in Music, Yom Tov on December 9, 2008 by frumpunk

As Jews, we’ve always had a hard time during this season. While the world around us strings lights everywhere and gets to wear Santa hats we get to light a menorah and spin a dreidel. We can’t even decorate the house and deck the halls with lights, because that would be goyish.

Worst of all are the carols. Sadly, despite the plethora of Jewish musicians, they’ve all put their best efforts to Christmas songs, probably because that’s where all the money is. Everyone from Paul Simon to Barbara Streisand has had a Christmas song or album and they haven’t so much as thrown a musical latke our way.Well we still don’t have a truly joyous set of Chanukah songs to sing around the menorah (although Adam Sandler has certainly tried and come closest) but at least we get a cooler sounding version of that old classic, featuring a rap from the inimitable Y-Love (good question btw).

The album is called “Songs In The Key of Hanukkah” and is out now.

Big ups to Material Maidel for finding it first.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “21st Century Dreidel Version with Y-Love“, posted with vodpod

Geriatriclly Speaking

Posted in Me, Music on November 16, 2008 by frumpunk

Oh G-D. I’m old. Its official, I’m one step removed from shaking my cane at those damn kids with their skateboards.

I came home as my sister was on her way out. I asked her where she’s going, she says to a concert. I asked her who it was, and she said something that sounded like “Tire Fire”. I go, “who’s that, a rapper?”

And then I have an out-of-body experience. I suddenly hear what I just said, and the way I said it, as a bystander. And I sound like my mom. I’m only 23, and I have absolutely no idea what the kids are listening to. I mean, I’ve never liked what the kids were listening to, even when I was one of the kids. I was aware that everyone liked Linkin Park and DMX and Limp Bizkit, even while I smugly listened to Sonic Youth, but now I’m not the kid with a better taste in music, I’m the old guy who’s just arrogant about what he listens to with only a vague idea of whats even popular. I mean, I know new bands, but I don’t know whats popular. I like MGMT, but I’ve no idea what vacant poptart the teenagers are going crazy over these days, or what corporate mainstream rock band the kids are banging their heads to, thinking its the coolest thing since, I dunno, Nickelback.

By the way, a bit of Googling reveals she’s gone to see Taio Cruz.

Someone get me a wheelchair and an iTunes playlist.

Phone + Camera = Random Pictures

Posted in Me, Music on July 24, 2008 by frumpunk

I’ve been away for a few days and working nine hour days since then so my blog suffers. During lunch today a great post formed in my head and I mentally added throughout the day. If it comes to fruition it’ll be a drastic departure from my usual stuff.

Here’s a pic I shot of where I went last weekend in all its two megapixel cellphone glory. Cookie to anyone who figures out where it is. As always you can click the picture to open it full size.

And this is a random flyer I saw. What’s wrong with it?

Also, I’m digging the cover of ‘The Boxer’ on the new Me First album. Not such a fan of the rest of the tracks apart from ‘Only The Good Die Young’ (thought I might be biased due to being distantly related to Billy Joel) but I haven’t really given the rest a chance yet. I’m sure they’ll grow on me. How sad is it though that when I saw a track was called ‘Rich Girl’ I thought it would be a cover of that Gwen Stefani song that stole the melody from ‘Rich Man’ from Fiddler on the Roof? Says something about my knowledge of the classics.

Nostalgia Tripping

Posted in Books, Me, Music on July 3, 2008 by frumpunk

When I get into something I get into it totally. When I read a book I like from an author I’ve never read before my next step is usually to read everything he’s written until I’m sick of his style. I did it with John Grisham when I was 13, Jefferey Archer a few years later, Nick Hornby in Israel, Woody Allen and Colin Bateman this past year, and it looks like Philip K. Dick is next. This applies to everything, I never understood the pleasure of shuffle on iPods. When I stocked shelves I would listen to my Zune and in a day would usually go through a bands entire discography. I find it jarring to have a playlist or shuffle and jump from style to style. I only use playlists when I want specific songs, but they’re always all from the same band. The only thing this doesn’t work for is movies. Maybe it’s just that I enjoy the script more than the acting, but I’ve never seen a movie that made me want to see other things by the same actor. Well, except for when I saw The Transporter. I watched everything else by Jason Statham over the next few months. It’s been years since I actually watched TV, usually I’ll see a show on DVD, which means I can watch a whole season at once, and if I like the first episode I usually will.

So on that note I’ve been on a nostalgia trip and have been listening to albums I’ve neglected for years. Sunny Day Real Estate are one of my favorite bands. You’ve probably never heard of them, but you know their sound from current screamo bands such as Thursday and Taking Back Sunday. I’d call them the Godfathers of the emo/screamo genre along with Rites of Spring and maybe Fugazi. So after a lull of several years I rediscovered their first two albums ‘Diary‘ and ‘LP2‘. I’ve listened to their last two albums a lot, but somehow neglected the first two for ages to the point I forgot the songs on it. At this point I’ve had them on repeat since Monday and I can’t believe I ignored it for so long. This nostalgia trip had me digging through some plastic tubs that hold my life from about 14-20. I’ve reread an issue of Guitar World from March 1999 that had a whole retrospective on the 90’s. (Does anyone know how to preserve magazines? It’s very tattered and I’d really like to keep it.) That kind of thing was important to me as until the indie movement hit I hated all the music of my generation in favor of 80’s and 90’s alternative and underground. Usually Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit were on the cover of music magazines.

Also I just finished something else I neglected reading for ages, Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’. I’m not usually into Science Fiction but this book transcended the fantasy and went into themes of morality and choice. One poignant passage that I loved: “I lifted you from the tomb world just now and I will continue to lift you until you lose interest and want to quit. But you will have to stop searching for me because I will never stop searching for you.” I recommend reading it in context.

Some Sunny Day Real Estate media to give you an idea:

Snibe | Every Shining Time You Arrive | In Circles | Seven | Rain Song

More Ears Breaking

Posted in Me, Music on June 4, 2008 by frumpunk

For the few of you who bothered to listen to any of the songs I posted from my old band in ‘The Sound of Ears Breaking‘ or more specifically, for the single crazed individual who actually requested more, my bandmate set up a MySpace with some more demos.

As I said, I brought the punk and he brought a bit of old school metal and basically prog-rock to the table, so since he picked the songs there’s very little punk. Though he put up our version of ‘Twinkle’ and all of the songs have my influence so there’s a bit of punk style in all of them. Doesn’t look like any of the Jewish ones made the cut. I have a CD of Jewish songs we did but we never did vocals on them so it’s just instrumental versions of some Jewish classics.

For anyone wanting to see a color pic of me, I’m the one with the Les Paul pushing the shopping cart. That’s an outtake from some publicity shots we once did. The poster says Stereofuse because that’s what we called ourselves before we discovered another band called that.

My all-time fave, Yechi, isn’t up there sadly. I’ll have to speak to him about that. We might record some new stuff this summer.

Edit: Wow, that’s spazzy. Forgot the MySpace link.