Molars

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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Henleyana

Don Henley - The End of the Innocence

800px-Henley_Regatta,_Henley-on-Thames,_England,_1890s

I have my problems with Don Henley, and I think they all started with this song, which I first heard on the radio when I was 9 or 10. I'm not going to say that I was the worst parser of lyrics when I was that age, but I wasn't very good either, and so when I heard the last part of the chorus, when Henley--in his grossest voice--sings (to a woman, presumably), "You can lay your head back on the ground/And Let your hair fall all around me/Offer up your best defense/But this is the end/The end of the innocence," I was pretty sure he was telling the story of a sexual assault he had committed. This was something I believed 100% for a long time, probably up until I heard the song again in my 20s. As a kid, I don't know if I had the explicit idea that the song was a re-telling of something terrible, but it absolutely felt like it. I realize now that the lyrics are more about the passing of time, how things were probably unbelievably wonderful for Don when he was in the Eagles and in his early solo career, when every horizontal surface of everything he owned was rimed with coke, when love was possible for him, and before the dawn of whatever it is that Don hates in this world. Even knowing all that now though, this song still creeps me out in ways that I can't articulate graphically enough to other people to make them understand. Just know that this song is perverse and virulent, and try to forgive Bruce Hornsby for his involvement in its creation.

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the birth of the firework

On the 4th of July, will you be boating on a lake of sunscreen with Don Henley? Perhaps you will celebrate the birth of the U.S. by calmly and grimly drinking a gross of beers, composed of three equal parts of Bud Light, Coors Light, and Natural Light. Hold that sparkler over your heart when the anthem plays. Remain in full sun until your skin obtains the texture of pemmican. Someone has grilled a round meat with molten yellow atop it: celebrate. Enjoy the holiday, lapse into oblivion.

[BUY Singles, Demos and Rarities (2007-2010) at Discogs]

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A new causality

IMG_20160601_092005

Aloha’s new album is built around a sense of escape. It’s in the music, the lyrics, the track titles too: Signal Drift, Faraway Eyes, Ocean Street, Flight Risk. This is, I imagine, the same kind of appeal by which Jimmy Buffett’s insane shtick works (though let me add here that Aloha’s music is infinitely more elegant, subtle, and enjoyable than Buffett’s (I know many people love Buffett, but he, like Don Henley, is a way gross leathery suntanned satyr who exists as a sort of emblem of all the failures and, let’s say, weird and disgusting exudations of Boomer-era capitalism—no offense, Parrotheads)), i.e., drop your shit and let’s go. Leave work. Drive to the beach. Or get on a plane. Or board a boat. It’s time to leave behind all the worries and shit. In that sense, you can bet that this is a fun/appropriate album for summertime excursions (pedestrian or reckless).

[BUY Little Windows Cut Right Through]

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A DECADE IN PINK

Molars

Robbers on High Street - A Night at Star Castle

Hot Snakes - Plenty For All

Tim Hecker - Acephale

Molars has now been in existence, in one form or another, for a decade. September 2004 was the beginning, at the old address of greenideasblog.com/molars. I was 24 and I knew next to nothing about music, writing, blogging, mp3s, or life. My friend Matt Henry, then living in Brooklyn, had started a little blog called Greenideas, to which he asked me to contribute. Greenideas was a way for us to peddle our opinions on politics, music, the Boston Red Sox, and philosophy (Matt), and literature, football, cartoons, Richmond (Va), and music (me); the tone we used was a strange mix of royal-we imperiousness and confessional whispering. It was a wild time, 2004, and almost definitely the heyday of 'blogs,' when some writers who hit it big had their sites bought out by (somewhat) bigger media companies, or received contracts to write books that expanded upon their blogs, etc. (which still happens, I guess, for novelty tumblrs that get turned into little bathroom books like "Hippos in Monocles," or whatever). So what I'm saying is that we went into this blindly, with zero experience, and it definitely showed at first.

Anyway, six months into Greenideas, Matt asked me to start a sub-blog and to do with it whatever I wished. I'd been reading Fluxblog and Said the Gramophone for a little while by then, and there was another site that had existed way back in 2000 that had also posted songs with little write-ups (I wish I could remember the name of this proto-mp3 blog, but I'd already forgotten it by 2004. I learned about Belle and Sebastian and Elliott Smith from that site, and I dearly wish I could remember its name)--those were my main inspirations in building an mp3 blog. The other, more personal reason for creating Molars was that I wanted to make myself write more often. I'd been messing around with writing fiction for a couple years by then, but I wasn't making much progress, I felt--my stories had bonkers plots and the sentences I wrote were convoluted and whimsical and shitty and yet I couldn't seem to find a way to change my bad habits. I suspected that writing about music every day (or almost every day) would make me a stronger writer, one who was capable of expressing things clearly and simply. That suspicion was mostly correct, though it took me a long time to become a better writer and an even longer time to get better at writing about music (which is still tough, anyway).

In the decade since starting Molars, I've listened to countless hours of music, some of which I liked and some of which I did not. I've written a lot of posts: lazy ones, funny ones, absurd ones, insightful ones, drunk ones, sloppy ones, heartfelt ones, skeptical ones, joyful ones, etc. I've had the pleasure of posting writing by three of my good friends: Matt Henry, Tony Luebbert, Sean Barry, and Andrew Porter, all of whom are excellent writers. There was a Steely Dan week, a long time ago now. There were contests that people actually entered (the earliest of which generated the tagline for the site). There is a multi-part philippic against the music and personhood of Don Henley that has been in progress for at least half a decade. I've met a lot of wonderful people through this blog, both online and in person, and even though there have been times when doing it felt at once frivolous and punishing, it has been totally rewarding. I'm thankful to everyone who's read, commented, or listened over the past ten years. Maybe I'll go for another decade (which would be nuts) or maybe I'll stop when it feels right. Who knows. But it's been fun and it's still fun.

So all of that is to explain why I put up the three songs I did today. These three tracks were among the first 5 or 6 on the site, and I wrote some crazy shit about each of them. Enjoy.

BUY the Fine Lines Ep

BUY Audit In Progress

BUY Mirages

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Memorial Day Weekend Barbecue Disaster ’88

23-82 Welcoming Picnic

Don Henley - All She Wants To Do Is Dance

Billy Idol - Mony Mony

The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian

Steely Dan - Reelin' In The Years

Over the last decade or so, I have occasionally put up a Labor Day mix (actually the same mix a couple times--since the end of summer is such a downer, it's the 'Dentist's Office' mix, which is all soft, numbing, deathly anodyne rock), but I don't think I've ever done a Memorial Day mix. So here's that.

The only organizing theme for this one is 'songs that you might have heard at a mid-80s family barbecue/company picnic.' I can attest to having personally heard and danced to all of these songs when I was a kid (at my dad's company's picnic/summer celebration), much as it pains me to say that, and particularly in the case of the Don Henley song, because that one is--like much of Don's work--unspeakably gross (c.f. my previous self-therapy re: Don Henley). I have some vivid and bizarre memories of drunk adults going fucking wild for "Mony Mony." Same with "Walk Like An Egyptian," a truly awesome song anyway and one that started an insane dance (though I don't know how long that lasted. Not long, I would guess).

The only song in here I actually love is Steely Dan's Reelin' In The Years, which, jeeze, I don't know if it gets much better--if you fantasize about ferocious riffs, or ever say the word 'riffs' to anyone, you will love this song. Fagen's lyrics are so good here too, just a great mix of cutting observations, smiling wistfulness, etc. Every couple years I'm reminded of how much I love this band and how rich and freaky their music is. Anyway, while caught in a Steely Dan fugue the other night, I stumbled across this amazing video of them playing Reelin' In The Years live (they look impossibly young--also this was when they still had David Palmer with the band, before Fagen took over all vocal duties), and they're introduced by Bill Cosby, who is casually smoking a cigar. Check it out:

[BUY The Very Best of Don Henley, if you must]

[BUY The Very Best of Billy Idol]

[BUY The Essential Bangles]

[BUY A Decade of Steely Dan]

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Ipecacked

Don Henley - Sunset Grill

Somewhere out in, I don't know, western Nebraska or southern Idaho, there is a radio station staff preparing for the upcoming holiday weekend by going through their entire music library and discussing what they're going to do. Maybe a countdown? Maybe a seeded tournament? Maybe some double, triple, or even--fuck it--quadruple shots? Independence Day Weekend calls for some outside-the-box thinking, in the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al., but those sweet Nebraskan or Idahoan DJs are going to turn to their old reliable workhorse artists at a time like this: Springsteen, Thorogood, Stones, Zeppelin, the Brothers Allman and Doobie, CCR, Hendrix, the Eagles and all evil that erupted therefrom, including Don Henley. I guarantee that this song will be played at least 30-50 times--or more, who knows?--over the course of the July 4th weekend, on radio stations that have the look, feel, and philosophy, not by accident either, of WKRP in Cincinnati.

"Sunset Grill" is particularly loathsome, not just for the lyrics which are, par for Don, pretty gross, but also for the electro-bass that makes up a huge part of this song's personality, and which has got to be one of the ugliest sounds ever put to tape, no joke, comparable only to something as ancient and sad as the dying moan of an obese moa. In terms of narrative, I think this is Henley's stab at a Donald Fagen-esque black comedy, with the narrator telling his companion to come with him down to the titular shithole and watch homeless people, old dudes, and prostitutes cavort while they (the narrator and companion) sip on their beers and take succor from everyone else's misery. Hey Don, no one wants to hear this tale of wretchedness, sunscreen, parochial alcoholism, and xenophobia, with the possible exception of other leathery assholes like yourself. I don't know what could have possibly moved anyone to write this song. A Fever? Drugs? Voodoo? "Sunset Grill" is on the wrong side of the tracks of Margaritaville, very much like the fun, sun, burgers & booze philosophy of Buffett, but here in Henley's world everything is sick, ashen, poisoned, dying, perverted. Like "Boys of Summer," this song too makes me think of nothing but a day-glo Hadean realm peopled with abominations.

[Buy "The Very Best of" Don Henley]

P.S. This untitled new song by Joker, feat. Buggsy, is beyond wonderful. Looking forward to Joker's album.

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