You Know... for Kids!

The son of a friend of mine heard Fela Kuti and, at about only two years of age, stated that it was, and I quote: «Dancing music!» To which I've been told he promptly started moving his extremities about. Such excellent taste at such a tender age is impressive, if not a little intimidating. (And perhaps a little disconcerting; Fela Kuti played some seriously, er, adult music.)

A musical education is not to be underrated. Parental neglect in this regard is to blame for all the rubbish on the hit lists that supplants the intense, intelligent, emotional, sincere, ballsy, gutsy, fun or funny music that is, almost systematically it seems, relegated to obscurity. And so this compilation goes out to the children…

Noise is infantile like poop and stuffing stuff into your mouth. Rock 'n' roll, although people have tended to take it far too seriously for decades now, is childish and puerile. Perfect for kids!

So here's a compilation of idiotic, fun loving music—simple, three-chord, three-minute noise pop with stupid (and out-of-tune) sing-along melodies—ideal for kids who want to shout and bang things into other things and smash toys or their parents' precious furniture rather than be quiet, obedient and bored or boring. As the song goes:
(Freak out!)
When your momma says
(Freak out!)
It's time to go to bed
And so this one goes out to Ask, Ive, Freya, Nico and all other children whose parents are trying to calm them down and put them to sleep, when all they want to do is rock out! And if you want to teach your child English, what better way to make them sing along:
I saw my sisters fight just last week
I didn't know what to do, so I freaked
I climbed the crazy mountain's highest peak
And then I kissed Big Bird on his beak
Let one of the most moronic bands of our time take you to…



Larkin Grimm Announces New Album!

What a summer and autumn for music: the War On Drugs just released Slave Ambient, HTRK Work (Work, Work). Guitarist/lead singer of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band released his transporting solo effort, Efrim Manuel Menuck Plays «High Gospel», and indie's finest idiots Black Lips gave us the decent, if not great Arabia Mountain. SWANS will be releasing a live document from their recent tour, and now Larkin Grimm has announced she'll be releasing her next album, Soul Retrieval, before year's end.

I refrained from using an exclamation mark in that last sentence, but that's only because I'm trying my hardest at retaining my composure in the face of such titillating news. As yet there are no details. No track listing, no release date, no record label. (Last year, Grimm, true to character, wrote that «Young God Records and I have decided to try having an open relationship. It was, at best, a mutually abusive union…») She did, however, assure us that Soul Retrieval is «the best album I’ve ever made, and I’m finally the person in control of its final sound.» We can't wait.

Never mind, then, all this Nevermind re-issue nonsense; there's too much good new stuff around. Pull yourself together, man, this is no time for nostalgia!


Net Nuggets 40: The War On Drugs Soldier On!

Tonight, the War On Drugs are playing at the NBI here in Berlin. Their new album Slave Ambient (and its companion EP «Future Weather») contain some of the most uplifting sounds released this autumn. I don't know how, but somehow their brand of classic rock, veering as it does towards the middle of the road, is still never boring. Listening to their latest releases on a headset is a pure, hedonistic joy any bon vivant should experience at least once. As synthesizers prepare the ground, numberless guitars swirl back and forth and in and out, the wave upon which Adam Granduciel waxes lyrical:
I hear you dish it out, dish it out
well, you want to remain
my friend, no it's not
it's not quite the same
Remember me when you dissolve in the rain
when the rivers run dry through the cold mountain range
and you turn to the name you invented to keep
your identity safe from the smell of defeat
And there is no way
to carve your righteous paths of rage
by holding the candle to those half your age
Your jaw will be locked from hornets and bees
and you'll understand why I leave so suddenly
with the breeze
For a taste of what their new stuff sounds like, check out these free mp3s, courtesy of record label Secretly Canadian:

Then there are these mp3s, of Granduciel performing three Slave Ambient tracks live, solo and acoustic in the studio, courtesy of radio station WXPN:

«Brothers» (live acoustic)
«Best Night» (live acoustic)
«Black Water Falls» (live acoustic)

And if that's still not enough for you, go to the top of the page and download recordings of the War On Drugs playing live in the studio for KEXP, back in 2009 as a three piece, promoting liberating debut long player Wagonwheel Blues (albeit without Kurt Vile). There's a blissful rendition of «Show Me the Coast», and Wagonwheel's five-minute «A Needle in Your Eye #16» is transformed into the 12-minute workout «A Needle in Your Eye #24».

Monday 19 September 2011 at
Neue Berliner Initiative
Schönhauser Allee 36


Groovin' without Movin'—Trippin' Garage Rock

Enlightenment, people! That's what it's all about, though none of us can ever achieve it. From the Beatles' Tibetan Book of the Dead-by-numbers vision of becoming one with the universe (in «Tomorrow Never Knows»), through the Rolling Stones' marketing ploy response («2000 Light Years from Home»), to familiar '60s staples such as «White Rabbit» (Jefferson Airplane), «Eight Miles High» (Byrds), «Have You Ever Been» (Jimi Hendrix) and «Break on through» (Doors), the radio waves from 1966 to the heroin daze of the early '70s spat out many a wide eyed song about minds being blown, hearing the taste of invisible beige—always brought on by a miracle chemical (usually only alluded to or implied in the lyrics).

The fad saw many embarrassments, of course. The Temptations' psychedelic phase, hypocritically balancing bandwagon celebrations of mind expansion with cautionary tales of bad trips (both equally ignorant of the reality of psychoactives), was a particularly cynical attempt at cashing in (though the music produced some of the most ear tingling sonic textures ever put to tape). And the Hair musical was only the nadir of exploitation films that began in the '60s with Psych-out, The Trip and other unintentionally hilarious misrepresentations of the psychedelic experience.

But these were the success stories among the sell outs. Other hopefuls recorded songs they hoped would catch on, tune in and drop out. Some were sincere in their beliefs that entheogens could free their asses, minds and society as a whole. The 13th Floor Elevators, the Grateful Dead and Golden Dawn thought so. Then there were the garage bands that penned acid anthems more in the hopes that the wave would carry them on high to the very top of the Billboard charts. Or who tried to convey something profound, but whose talent, originality or eloquence never quite matched their ambitions. Others—Kim Fowley and Frank Zappa, to name but two—were merely taking the piss.

This compilation collects not the famous anthems you all know from Hollywood films about hippies, but low budget '60s rock odes to chemically enhanced revelation. And it's sequenced to trace the trajectory of a trip! The whole ordeal kicks off with incitement to ingest illegal substances, followed by descriptions of the first surge of heightened sense experience to tickle your mind & body. Then things settle as the trippy hippie thinks he's getting used to the high, finding his equilibrium, before things start getting weird and not groovy at all and the trip goes bad. Or he just panics (as you do). It doesn't last of course, and in the end, though it's not a happy one, the frazzled tripper finally settles back into his own skin, not enlightened but perhaps a little wiser for it.

All to the scuzzy strains of garage rock!



Recently, I spent three weeks in a town I no longer live in, and sorely needed someplace to crash. Many friends were out of town, others busy or out of space, and I didn't know how or where I would go. Certain people—some friends, others barely acquaintances—took me in when I really needed it, and for that I'm very grateful.

So grateful, in fact, that it warrants Toilet Guppies compilations, one tailored for each of my generous hosts. The honour roll is as follows:

To Katherina, who was listening to a whole lotta João Gilberto when I was staying with her, and to whom I promptly promised a collection of Brazilian bossa nova from the generation of artists following the more suave originators Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes. This is listening less easy on the ears and more confronting to the emotions. Proves that bossas's not bland.

A collection of miscellaneous singer-songwriter indie, mostly quite downtempo (if not downbeat), a lot of it rather recent, all of it for perfect host Karoline. If you like dreamy melodies, this is your stop.

A compilation of vaguely political and at times paranoiac music about empires, the environment and untrustworthy baby huggers for freedom fighter and home entertainment aficionado supreme, Mattias.

Another singer-songwriter compilation, from rock through country to folk. Contains a definite streak of manly 'tude. Dedicated to Håvard, connoisseur of Nazi jokes and classic men's fashion.

5. Ba(d)con [.zip]
Fresh and recent music for unrelenting bacon enthusiast Wenche.

A tricky compilation to compile, as it's meant for two: Matt, a distinguished gentleman hip to what's hot, and Howie, the man who only has room for Kate Bush in his heart, but always lots of room (and rum!) in his home. A lot of funny, silly stuff on this comp, but also flashes of serious brilliance.

7. Trigging Dreams [.zip]
I didn't end up staying with Thanushiga, but was offered shelter by her, which, considering we don't know one another that well, was extremely nice. It's always the kindness of strangers that tugs and pulls at the strings tightly tangled around your heart. I didn't know what music she likes, but as she said she likes anything that «triggers daydreams», here's a rather random compilation of songs about reverie.