Category Archives: music

Boris Grebenshikov

My recent post about the Polish Beatles reminded me of my favorite Eastern Bloc rocker, Boris Grebenshikov.  OK, I don’t actually know if he’s my favorite, but I have never really fallen out of love with his unsuccessful attempt to crack the US market, “Radio Silence.”  He used to be in a band called Aquarium, which I remember the Soviet participants in the International Math Olympiad being really into in 1988.  They wrote “Aquarium” in Sharpie on our T-shirts so we’d know what was going on in Leningrad.

I’ve posted this song on the blog once before, but that was four years ago, so here it is again.  Bonus:  young David Letterman.


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Czerwone Gitary, the Polish Beatles

One good thing about flying LOT home from Israel (Chicago and Tel Aviv both have a lot of people of Polish descent, thus you can get from one to the other via Warsaw) is that you can learn a lot about rock in Polish from listening to the seatback audio.  How had I gone my whole life without hearing Czerwone Gitary, the “Polish Beatles”?

Here’s “Nie zadzieraj nosa”

and “To Właśnie My”


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Seether is neither big nor small

Eyes starting to glaze over from staring at book as I plow through almost-final revisions.  It reminds me of being in college and having a paper due, a paper that would benefit from having more time to devote to it than the three hours that are left before I have to go to class.  And in that spirit of the early 1990s and inarticulate anxiety, I am listening to Veruca Salt.  Why do I never listen to Veruca Salt?


All the unreleased Prickly songs I have

I’ve written here before about one of my favorite bands, Prickly, who played jaunty, noisy, insistent pop songs for about three glorious years of the middle 90s in Greater Boston.  Prickly only put out one proper album, Velleity, but had lots of songs that weren’t on it — I had some of these songs on their cassette demo, 14 Songs, and over the years acquired others from the band members themselves.  I posted sendspace links to these but these have long since expired, and every once in a while someone sends me e-mail asking if they can have the copies.

So thanks to Google Drive I think I can now share these in a more permanent way:

All the unreleased Prickly songs I have.

Here you will find:  14 Songs, which has terrible sound quality (I digitized it myself from a 15-year-old cassette) but some songs unavailable elsewhere; three radio sets, two from WMBR and one from WRIU (between-song banter included!) and two studio demos.  I didn’t include Velleity, but the songs on there are all here, in multiple versions.  I did include one released song, “All the Little Raisins,” from a compilation called Dreamboat on the now-defunct Cassiel Records, which I bought from a guy in the Netherlands and have otherwise never seen; so I feel safe in considering this song no longer a commercial product.  Also, a three-song EP from Cassiel, Winded.

Note:  I have gotten permission to post this stuff from the three out of four members of Prickly I was able to track down, and from Tim Alborn, who originally put out their records on Harriet.

I think this is pretty much the closest thing to a Prickly box set you’re ever gonna get, so enjoy, fellow old-time indie-pop fans!

If there actually were a box set of unreleased Prickly rarities, you’d pretty much have to take the title from the lyrics of their single “Breakfast of Champions” and call it Holed Up In The Can.

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Tweendom approaches

Spent 20 minutes today arguing with CJ over which is better, the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” or Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Good Time” (feat. Owl City.)  CJ favors Jepsen, arguing that songs are made of “music, singing, and words,” and that “I Gotta Feeling” wins on words but loses on music and singing.  His judgment of “I Gotta Feeling” as a piece of music is that “the music doesn’t match the singing and 3/4 of the music is copied and the 1/4 of the music that isn’t copied is boring.”

I asked CJ what “Good Time” is about and he said “it’s about people who overestimate their life and think bad things never happen in it.”

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Every Noise At Once

Glenn McDonald is the guy who wrote the amazing, obsessive, beautiful music blog The War Against Silence, now mostly dormant.  I admire him for writing tens of thousands of words about Alanis Morissette, whom he, and I, and maybe nobody else, still consider an important cultural figure.  He’s also a pretty hardcore data analyst.  I’ve often fallen down the rabbit hole of his analysis of the Pazz and Jop ballots.

Now he works for Echo Nest, the Greater Boston music startup that sponsored the Music Hack Day I participated in a couple of years ago.  And his latest project, Every Noise At Once, is a map of all music.  Seriously!  A map of all music!  By which I mean: an embedding of the set of genres tracked by EN into the Euclidean plane, and, for each genre, an embedding of bands tagged in that genre.

Play with it here.

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The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton

Hey, somebody has posted an acoustic cover of “The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton,” the greatest song (against much competition) by 90s Boston indie-rock heroes Prickly:



You can hear Prickly’s original (in cassette quality, sorry) at my earlier Prickly post.

More transitivity

I don’t really know anything about Amanda Palmer, but if there’s a picture of her hugging Robyn Hitchcock and Eugene Mirman, I guess that means I must like her?

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Happy Birthday, Robyn Hitchcock

The great man turns 60 today.

“(I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp,” The Soft Boys, 1978.

“Chinese Bones,” Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, 1988.  (Peter Buck plays guitar on this.)

“The Yip Song,” Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, 1993.

RH plays the 1985 Egyptians track “My Wife and My Dead Wife,” live acoustic, 2000.

“Viva Sea-Tac!” Robyn Hitchcock, 2003.

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Salience, purchasing behavior, Franklin Bruno

I like Franklin Bruno a lot, and I even know him a little bit, so naturally I was interested in obtaining the new Human Hearts album, Another  I could have paid for a download of this album at any point in the last several months, but I didn’t.  I could have checked to see if I could listen to it free on Spotify, which I have open on my laptop most of the time, but I didn’t do that either.  (Just checked now — it’s not there.)  But the other day, when I walked into the record store on my block and saw it on the new releases shelf, I bought it.  That’s one thing about physical stores — they give you a reason to buy the thing now, not at some other time, while the continuous and eternal availability of the record online meant that there was no moment at which my desire to hear the new Human Hearts album outweighed my desire to click on whatever else I was clicking on.

I presume there are theorists of this kind of thing.

Anyway, here are some favorite Franklin Bruno tracks.

“Love’s Got a Ghetto”

“Going to Marrakesh,” by the Extra Glenns, which is Bruno together with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.

I wanted to link to “Coupon,” which is much noisier and messier than the two above, but I can’t find a publicly available sound file, so you’ll just have to imagine it!

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