Monday, August 24, 2009


If the Woodstock generation can be exemplified by one humongous, sprawling multi-day event, the Twitter generation in contrast bathes not in mud (or bud)—but in brevity. Twittering's a succinct, uniquely solo endeavor, promulgated in office cubicles, Blackberries, and personal laptops.

But a spirit of community does indeed exist among the pixelated 140 character bursts of info from a myriad of locations. It's tuned in, turned on, and dropping recommendations for this or that track, LP, or band. Its users point the way toward other Twitterers and other blogs via '#FollowFridays' and '#MusicMondays' — and community's born, man.

So, with the anniversary of the original Woodstock having just passed, we've invited the many Twitterers who follow TVD and vice versa, to go one better than the 140 character limitation and, y'know—riff a little bit about what's spinning on their own turntables.

All this week we've got other bloggers, music writers and reviewers, and some of the bands themselves, in a convergence of both the Woodstock and Twitter generations in something we're calling—(...)—TWITSTOCK!

Help yourself to the blue acid.

David Malitz, Washington Post, Post Rock

Like any good music nerd, I've spent a decent amount of time over the last few months working on a best albums of the decade list. But as I was going through this largely pointless, mostly narcissistic exercise I realized something -- not all bands actually get around to making a proper full-length album. So here are five bands you won't ever see mentioned on a Best Albums of the (Whatever) list, because for whatever reason, they never did. But these songs deserve to be noticed.

The DoubleHappys - The Other's Way (Mp3)
Shayne Carter is one of a small army of pop savants from New Zealand who started writing blissful, slightly-off-kilter, very perfect songs in the late-'70s/early-'80s. He's best known for his fine work with Straitjacket Fits, but it was brief time with the DoubleHappys, his short-lived band prior to the Fits, that remains his crowning achievement. They managed a 7" and a and EP before a freak train accident killed band member Wayne Elsey, bringing the DoubleHappys to an immediate halt. The limited output the band left behind can stand with the best work by fellow Kiwis the Clean, Toy Love, the Bats and the Verlaines, which is honestly the highest praise I can dole out. This is the from the 7" -- all woozy guitars and warbling vocals and lyrics that split the difference between hopeless and hopelessly romantic. All of the band's recorded output is collected on the compilation "Nerves." It's one of the best CDs in the world, ever. For real.

The Last Wave - Bars and Barons (Mp3)
This song comes from Teenbeat's 2004 sampler. It was the last year the iconic indie-pop label released its annual compilation, ending a top-notch nine-year run. As far as I can tell this is the only song that exists from the Last Wave, which was a project helmed by Greg Pavlovcak. He was previously in the Saturday People, who were as nifty a little pop band as you could find. This song hints at what could have been, but it's so perfect -- the sing-songy vocal melody, cleanly strummed guitar, "Wooo ooo-ooo"s in the chorus -- that maybe there was just no need to continue. Pavlovcak now plays in Philadelphia's Public Record, where he explores much more experimental sounds. Every band that Pavlovcak has been connected to by a couple degrees -- most of which are mentioned in this City Paper article by Mark Jenkins from 2002 -- is worth checking out.

Jonathan Halper - Leaving My Old Life Behind/I Am a Hermit (Mp3)
A true mystery. I was introduced to this song when, for some reason, I decided to watch a DVD compilation of short films by Kenneth Anger, maybe because I wasn't feeling like enough of a pretentious asshole that day. The film itself is, y'know, arty and weird and some kid at Wesleyan has probably written a very incisive paper about it. But it was the song (actually a pair of songs edited together) that grabbed me. It's just one meek sounding guy with an acoustic guitar and some spooky sound collages in the background. Syd Barrett is an obvious reference point but this sounds even too weird for him. The titles really drive home the solitary nature of this recording. Maybe some more songs by Jonathan "Santos L." Halper will magically appear someday, but the mystery of and possibility that he recorded this six minutes of music and was never heard from again is a lot more intriguing. WFMU (who else?) has a bit more on the topic.

Monkey 101 - French Feelings (Mp3)

Released as the A-side of a single on Siltbreeze on 1989, and it would certainly fit in on the revitalized label today. Chugging, grimy guitar, snotty vocals, angsty lyrics ("I'm so damned impatient/Why the fuck didn't you call?"), all in a tidy two-minute package. No manufactured lo-fi, thrift store chic or blog buzz. Just the pure stuff. The Philadelphia City Paper caught up with singer Paul Kowalchuk back in 2002 after he won a Matador Records-sponsored contest to meet Robert Pollard. Ha! This song and its almost-equally-awesome b-side, "Now That You Have Left Me," are both on the "Tar'd and Further'd" comp which collects lots of Siltbreeze's early singles by bands such as GBV, the Dead C, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and more.

This Poison! - Poised Over the Pause Button (Mp3)
It wasn't on the original C-86 compilation, but it sure has that sound -- those hyper-strummed, chiming guitars, manic vocals and militaristic drumbeat that leaves you gasping for breath by the time the song is over. This was the band's second 7", released on Reception Records, a label run by the Wedding Present. Which was proof that David Gedge sure knew the kind of sound he liked. It's also one of those songs that so perfectly captures a time and place and sound that it shows up on numerous compilations, including the excellent Rough Trade Shops Indie Pop 1.

Joe Warminsky, Popcesspool

Until the Cramps' Lux Interior died early this year, I had no knowledge of the "Lux & Ivy's Favorites" series that some of the WFMU dudes had been compiling. It took a Phawker post for me to get hip, and I'll admit that since then, I've only listened to a fraction of the 250-plus songs. I'm in no position to offer any over-arching insights about what the 11-Zip-file opus amounts to. But I will say this: Other than the fact that the files are a minor nightmare to sort in iTunes, I'm consistently jazzed by all of it.

So here's a taste of my taste, in the following order: a buzzy Indonesian rock instrumental, some elegant blues, a bizarro nightclub cut, some throbbing proto-psychobilly, and a hillbilly ballad.

The Tielman Brothers - Marabunta (Mp3)
Lonnie Johnson - Tomorrow Night (Mp3)
Kay Martin & Her Bodyguards - The Heel (Mp3)
The Musical Linn Twins - Rockin' Out The Blues (Mp3)
Ric Cartey - Young Love (Mp3)

Christopher Smith, Groovemonkey and Covered That

While in no particular order, the 5 songs I have chosen really seemed to already be there, in a neat pile on my desk, some already well worn, and others looking to be dusted off and admired again. And though it is an overused cliche, as cliches go its pretty spot on... these songs are my friends, and whether I have heard them last night, or last year, it is as if we have been in the room together always, with no time apart.

Muse - Feeling Good (Mp3)
I have always been a huge Nina Simone fan. Her cover of the song penned in 1965 has always been a favorite of mine. But when Muse recorded the song, it took on even more meaning for me. There is a passion and cry and a hunger that is elevated by the tight vocals and the industrial structure of the rhythm section of the recording. It give me great hope, like I have emerged from the wreckage of my own history and I am, indeed, feeling good.

Beck - Guero (Mp3)
The title track to Beck's groundbreaking 2005 record of the same name, each listen has me slipping into a rambling pimp roll and strolling the main drag of any Mexican community in my home state of California. Slipping in and out of taquerias, stopping for Horchata, leaning against a building and watching the neighborhood go by, there is an elegant beauty and comfort in the vegetable vans, horns, and the ever present Mexican accents in the background. The song is a teleporter, every time.

Tosca - Susuki (Mp3)
Another title track selection, this song never ever fails to put me into a place of supreme joy. I was on a date with the girl I eventually married, driving around 4 am thru the empty streets of San Francisco, on our way back from a rave. Downtempo chill mixed with the warm breeze coming thru the windows, flashing yellow lights synchronized on the downbeat, and not a single car on the streets all the way home. True story.

No Doubt - Simple Kind Of Life (Mp3)
This song gave me they keys to my wife's heart and to her head. Not just this song, but the entire record, helped me understand life and love from a woman's perspective. Gwen Stefani illustrates every level of emotion that her breakup with fellow band member Tony Kanal brought, and with that break up came her climb out of the despair of a broken heart to the anthems of a powerful woman in love trying to figure it all out. But this song is especially meaningful to me as it lays out the fragile yet hopeful nature of trying to balance the need for independence with the desire to get married and start a family.

The Clash - Rock The Casbah (Mp3)
I had just moved to NYC. I was 19 or 20. I remember going to jukejoints like the Scrap Bar in the West Villiage, hanging on stoops with punks in Alphabet City, and sneaking in the service entrance at Limelight to avoid cover charges. A steady mix of disco, new wave and punk seemed to be the soundtrack of the times, but this song always stood taller than the rest. It gave me the courage to stand up for myself, to stand against 'The Man', who at that time were my parents back in California, or religion or whatever. It was my anthem. "Shareef don't like it. Rock the Casbah." Still rockin it after all these years. Thanks Joe. Really.