Death in Naples

The Beets - Dead

Turning this around from another place mostly so I can ask this question: how is it possible that, in all the promo materials for this band, no one mentioned the fact that the Beets is also the name of the fictional band featured prominently in "Doug," the Nickelodeon cartoon? I hypothesized that some of this may have to do with the fact that Doug was not as popular as some of the other Nicktoons, and so not as well remembered, though even cursory investigation shows that that's not true. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the founding member of the Beets is from Uruguay, and thus maybe not familiar with late 90s cable TV cartoons? My knowledge of the scientific method is exhausted at this point, so I'll just conjecture that the reason the Beets (from Doug) aren't mentioned in relation to the real Beets is that PR people and kowtowing bloggers are too lazy (or too nice?) to do so.

In my efforts to write a soft-hitting and mildly investigative post, I also stumbled across this amazing little trailer for Doug: the Movie. The short film was made by a comedy group called Dr. Coolsex, whose members belong to Upright Citizen's Brigade, apparently. The trailer is funny and weirdly intense, sort of like if Spike Jonze kept going on his Arcade Fire adrenaline high and decided to adapt Doug with all the gravitas and emotional power he could muster.

Beat Radio - Sleepwalking

More importantly though, the Doug trailer has a great song playing from the midpoint onwards, by the band Beat Radio. "Sleepwalking" is charming, catchy, funny, and dramatic, with at least one really great line, "16-bit troubles for my 8-bit heart." One of those songs where the singer is essentially delivering a heartfelt but elliptical memoir between musical outbursts from the rest of the band. This is the kind of song that, if I'd heard it when I was 18, probably would've hypnotized me into a repeat-play dementia. It's good.

[Buy Stay Home by the Beets]

[Buy Beat Radio's music (they have a new album out)]

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Playboy Aspirant

Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns - Between Two Sheets

I recently received an arts grant from Holiday Inn to write a few episodes of a sitcom that will play on the guest room televisions as a default welcome and distraction when the guests first switch on their TVs. The show follows the adventures and travails of two human bed warmers in the London Holiday Inn. Jason, the male bed warmer, and Lynn, the female bed warmer, hate each other at first. They can't even stand to be seen in the same bed. Each has a different style of interacting with the guests, and each has a certain philosophical outlook regarding the vocation of bed warming. As you might guess, those philosophies diverge on a few crucial issues, one of which is the degree of moral obligation they have, as bed warmers, to the well-being of the guests. Jason and Lynn kiss at the end of every episode, but fight at the beginning of every episode as well. There are some ghosts involved, as is only natural. Lots of maids too. Keep an eye out for it in 2012.

[Buy A Blow For Me, A Toot To You]

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Fredericksburg Ice Cream River

Alternative TV - Facing up to the Facts

Driven in an old Mustang through a gauntlet of slow-moving cars to the station in the middle of Philly. Ran down the steps to the platform and slipped between the doors. Sat next to: an older Russian lady. Her daughter, do you know, is a doctor. Her husband also. She's been here and there. Followed her off the train in D.C., said it was nice talking, said goodbye, bought flowers at a stand. Presented the flowers, presented a kiss. Physicist father, confederate mother, funny brother. Hilltop history lessons. Central Park (the mall). Carried tiny body across some ice. Walked around town. Listened to Fugazi in the basement. Mispronounced Dvorak. Saw bands play. Met friends. Glared. Went to the bathroom as noiselessly as possible in all instances. Made terrible terrible jokes.

[Buy Vibing Up the Senile Man (collection of ATV songs)]

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Quartal Stroke

Hauschka - Ping

On Salon des Amateurs, Hauschka explores the more emphatically rhythmic aspects of past songs like "Rode Null" or "Schönes Mädchen" (both on Ferndorf). It seems like at some point Bertelmann took a step back and decided he wanted to pull apart his music and look very carefully at the different components he found--thus Foreign Landscapes in the fall, which was controlled, precise, and pretty, and now Salon des Amateurs, which augments the percussive elements of prepared piano with outside drums and an intense low end. Where FL was hibernal and calm, SdA is rousing, warm, dramatic. "Ping" is a good example of what Bertelmann is doing on the album: this song starts with an interesting melodic idea, introduces another one, then elaborates on those ideas--though here, the drums come in, the song recollects itself around the two-minute mark, and everything shifts. Light static in the background, drums are now imperious, piano submissive. Most of the songs on Salon des Amateurs feel like that--like proofs that go off in unexpected directions, yielding new answers.

[Buy Salon des Amateurs]

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Apple Cider Loggia

Jens Lekman - The Opposite of Hallelujah

I had to force myself to stop listening to this song in the fall of 2007. Now, almost four years later, I can listen to it again and love it again. It sounds just as good this spring as it did that fall. A slapdash film full of the images that pop into my head upon hearing "The Opposite of Hallelujah" would feature: people dancing at a ball, someone drinking water from a garden hose, one person tousling another person's hair (twice), a woman biting into an apple, someone popping the cork on a bottle and pouring champagne into a closely set line-up of five paper cups.

[Buy Night Falls Over Kortedala]

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Tired old jokes from Skeletor’s handsome cousin

Outer Limits Recordings - I Need My T.V.

Interview with Tanning Salon Owner, pt. 2

A: Maintenance is the name of the game. And advertising. Upkeep and outkeep.

B: Outkeep?

A: Advertising. Don't people call it outkeep?

B: I wasn't aware--

A: You know, like, keeping your name out on the street. Outkeep.

B: Maybe it's an industry term. I haven't run across it.

A: If I use it in a sentence? "Those SuperBowl outkeeps are always fun to watch." Like a projection of the business. Outkeep. Outside keeping.

B: So what do you do for that--for the salon, I mean?

A: Print ads in the Penny Pincher. Online ads. Those are merely showy though. Buff dude or chick tanned to the bone plus some copy about our prices and hours. Most effective is the word of mouth. I encourage that. We do some conceptual outkeep to that end. Performance art.

B: What does that entail?

A: Beautiful, evenly tanned women. Words in the air. Listeners.

B: Continue.

A: Not much more to it than that. But I'll expound, since this is for posterity. Picture a little coffee klatsch at your standard construction site.

B: All right, that's a bit of a stretch already.

A: So you've got five or six construction workers standing around, drinking their coffee straight from the thermos, really shooting the shit. Getting into it. Talking about hot cars, hot wives, hot girlfriends, and hot rivets.

B: Fair enough.

A: And then--whoosh. A beautiful, evenly tanned woman walks right by. Dressed in one of those bag dresses. Do you know which ones I mean? It's like a cloth bag with a couple holes in it? They really stick to chicks' asses, which is what makes them notable. Whoosh.

B: Why the whoosh? Is she being rocketed past the site?

A: That's just a sound that hot women make. Whoosh. Or sometimes, Phsh. And even other sometimes, Unnh, do you know what I mean?

B: Sure.

A: The girl walks by the site, phsh. And of course all the construction bros stop drinking their coffee and whistle at her in turn. Like, whew-woo. [whistles]. What is that called?

B: Wolf whistle.

A: Right, wolf whistle at her. And she then turns around, smiles, and says, "Thanks boys! And by the way, I got this tan at Sun Glow Forever Summer Touch Tan!" Knocks 'em dead.

B: And that's it?

A: That's more than enough. Better to be direct than subtle, am I right? Listen. Those construction workers will stew on that all day. That girl will rankle them. Suddenly their hot cars, wives, girlfriends, and rivets aren't enough. Not even their precious girders can console them. So they go home and take out their envy on their significant others. Tell their wives, "I wish you would get a tan for god's sake. People are starting to talk about how pale you are." Or say to their girlfriends, "I'd marry you if you would just a put a little color on your hide." They probably wish they could tan their cars. That's what I mean by word of mouth, basically.

[Buy Outer Limits Recordings' "I Need My T.V." single]

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I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - When You Go Out

Coming soon

Suddenly dance music was everywhere and people were freaking out. Until the middle of 2002, most popular music had no beat. Drone ruled the radio. Stars of the Lid were talked about in some circles as dual presidential candidates. Dancing was a thing of the past: for geezers only. We all knew old men and women who did the twist, the foxtrot, the Tennessee Tussle at the drop of a hat, or at the slightest hint of a Chubby Checker song. Then something changed. Rhythm. Musicians found it again, and found it in a big way. They found it so hard that dance beats were in everything: shampoo commercials, audiobooks, poolside PA announcements. Everything. Young people learned how to bend their knees again. How to sway with the music. How to contort their bodies in ever more spinally risky ways. People understood: so this was fun.

[Buy the ILYBICD EP (produced by Britt Daniel)]

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She Brailled You

Sam Prekop - C + F

For calling out of work on a nice spring day

To whom it may concern: This is Mr./Mrs./Ms. __________ . I'm not going to be able to make it into work. It's my ({head}{stomach}{allergies}{blood}{animus}{bones}{nerves}). Really ({acting out}{giving me trouble}{under duress}{entropic}{temperamental}{angry}). Please don't let this dampen spirits at work. I'll be back ({tomorrow}{next week}{someday}{during the rainy season}). God be with you.

[Buy Who's Your New Professor]

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Don Henley Whispers in Your Ear for Eternity

The Ataris - San Dimas High School Football Rules (acoustic)

The Ataris - Boys of Summer

"San Dimas High School Football Rules" is a fine fine fine example of a guitar-based song written by a dude who was in the midst of fine-grained anguish over a woman in the late 90s to early 00s. I first heard this song in the loft of a woman who used to slip handwritten copies of Hafez poems into my books and desk drawers. I don't love the Ataris, but I have pretty good memories of listening to this song. It sounds very homemade, very discreet in a way, as though it were only intended to be played for a few friends who had been invited over for cards. A little diversion in the front room.

The Ataris cover of "Boys of Summer," on the other hand, is a monstrosity. The original "Boys of Summer" has got to be one of the most disgusting songs ever conceived by a human. Whenever I accidentally hear this song, I feel like my pupils dilate and I enter a weird fugue fomented and structured by the song and its lyrics, and I imagine being trapped in an unairconditioned Chrysler Laser, being driven down an endless beach-side street, and all I can see out the window are people dancing to this song in vaguely sexual ways that aren't really sexual or even amusing, but more like calibrated to be the dancing analogue or translation of the words 'horny' and 'frisky,' or the choreographic representation of things like "Why Cucumbers Are Better Than Men" or Big Johnson t-shirts. The scents of sunscreen, body odor, and old seafood mix gently in the air. Not an exaggeration: this song makes me think of my own death every time I hear it, in a way that's not like a positive memento mori or anything, but more like I'm afraid of my own death because I suspect that, if there is an afterlife, I will be subjected for all time to the despair produced by this song (so more like a medieval memento mori). The Ataris' version is objectionable because a) it exists, and b) there's a weird note of youthful hopefulness woven into the song by the singer's voice, which makes it more effectively obliterating. I don't know...but, yeah, fuck this song.

[Buy some Ataris songs]

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abide like a night

Moderat - A New Error

"A New Error" is recommended if you like slow-build heartbreakers like Melchior Productions' "Her Majesty". It has those tones--commonly heard in Boards of Canada songs--that can sometimes trigger a reflexive state of nostalgia (were these synth tones actually ubiquitous in the past? Or is it just a quality of slightly pitch-shifted notes, their uncertainty, that makes us think, "oh yeah, memories!"), but it also has four separate stagings of propulsive and escalating beatscapes (kidding) drama; implacable music. The last half of this song is so pretty that it's tough to listen to, if that makes any sense.

[Buy Moderat (Basic Version)]

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