nate patrin.


RANDOM ACTS #1
October 30, 2007, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags:

There’s something kind of weird about the way MP3s and the eventual delivery mechanisms thereof have tweaked my listening habits. In the span of about seven years I’ve gone from making 80-minute mix CDs to 8-hour 100-song playlists, broadened my taste fivefold and spent a lot of time in the process trying to find all the strange invisible threads that connect seemingly disparate songs. Maybe owning an iPod with 20,000 songs and spending most of my listening time in shuffle mode has made me a bit more self-aware of an eclecticism I used to take for granted; it doesn’t seem unusual to like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Nas and 808 State until you realize, completely by chance, that “Sin City” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” and “Pacific 202” sound entirely incongruous played back-to-back-to-back and you have to conjure up some convoluted internal listener syntax that might somehow connect them.

This is really just a fancy-pants way of introducing a timefiller idea I have where I play songs from my iPod at random and talk about them a bit. I plan on making this the first reoccuring feature I have ever maintained past the four-month mark, mostly because it seems like a good fallback “what am I going to write about” thing, and also because hopefully it’ll keep me limber as a music critic somehow. A couple notes:

-Tracks appeneded with the notation FAVORITE are songs that I enjoy to the point where I’ll actually add them to an unfailingly entertaining playlist that I can retreat to if random song selection proves too unpredictably boring.

-Tracks appended with the notation DELETED are songs I plan to delete from my iPod. (Which would technically make them “to be deleted,” but you get the point.) This is less a judgment on actual quality — though I fully expect to find some terrible songs I’ve inadvertently loaded onto the thing — than it is a sign of my impatience with alternate takes, rap record skits, redundant mixes and the generally unremarkable.

-YouTube links will be provided where available. Not always to the original music video, but to something interesting, at least.

-These things will go for five tracks or whenever I get bored/run out of free time, whichever comes last. (For this first installment, it turns out both things happen simultaneously.)

Here we go:

Mudd, “Damn Flu” (from Claremont 56, 2006): Of course this whole thing would have to start with a track I’m not even remotely familiar with, culled from one of my “the month’s almost up and if I don’t download something I will lose the 13 downloads I have left” eMusic panic attacks. Mudd apparently specializes in leftfield downtempo disco house, which means he’s batting roughly .500 (with a walk and a sacrifice bunt), but there’s something kinda irksome about this track — imagine if the beat to Eric B. & Rakim’s “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em” never kicked in or went anywhere and was regularly punctuated by the “pressing the ‘use’ function button doesn’t do anything” noise from the Half-Life games. I can appreciate how this track’s put together — like its judicious (read: sparing) usage of slap bass, the Fender Rhodes (?) that starts seeping in about halfway through, and the fact that it tricks you into thinking it’s going to be an instrumental by waiting until the three-and-a-half-minute mark of a six-minute track to bring the (admittedly semi-anonymous “chill-out” soul-house ice-diva) vocal in. Probably sounds great at 11 PM riding home through a snowfall.

EPMD, “Underground” (from Business As Usual, 1990): No reservations here: thumbs up to the fantastic “Keep on Truckin'” intro that transitions into the sophisticated smooth-funk bassline, Erick Sermon’s neck-snap sound effects, the whole laidback beat/tough-as-hell rhyming duality, the references to turn of the ’90s boxers (“I’m knockin’ out wack MCs like Michael Nunn”) and future NBA stars (yeah OK Parrish says “my main man D-Wade still gets paid” but Dwyane was 8, it’s just a goofy coincidence, let’s move on).

Harry Nilsson, “Jump Into the Fire” (from Nilsson Schmilsson, 1971): Someday I will compile a list of the Greatest Basslines Ever, and this song will be somewhere in the top ten. Some other day i will compile a list of Martin Scorsese’s Greatest Film/Pop Music Juxtapositions, and this will also be in the top ten. Not much else I can add to that, except that getting a lead vocal like this from the man who sang “Everybody’s Talkin'” is a pretty interesting leap, especially when he dives headlong into the whole tormented-wailing bit.

Björk, “Bachelorette” (from Homogenic, 1997): Someday I’m going to have to get ahold of the entire record — for now all I’ve got is this one track, acquired through (I’m pretty sure) one of Matos’ CDR-Go trades. And while this is, judging from my experience with Debut and Post, one of Björk’s most epic and beautiful songs, it seems a bit incomplete without some other context — not just the rest of the album, but the Gondry video or the implicit story arc some of her previous songs hint at.

Nebula, “The Alchemist” (from Apollo, 2006): This song means we’ve hit the second post in a week to use proper-noun capitalization for the word “Alchemist,” which is approximately the most interesting thing I can find to say about this seeds-and-stems stoner rock. DELETED



A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
October 30, 2007, 10:53 am
Filed under: Criticism | Tags:

Aidin Vaziri is possibly the best music critic in America. Or at least the funniest.

That is all.



VINYL HAUL #1: PAGING DR. SCAMP
October 24, 2007, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags:

In an age where every CD in one’s collection can be easily transferred onto a computer and quickly shared between friends and/or RIAA agents masquerading as friends, one can’t help but cultivate a certain masochistic respect for a media format that is completely unwieldy to digitally copy and distribute. There’s this local used LP mini-chain in town — Cheapo in St. Paul, two blocks from the hoity-toitish liberal arts Macalester College, which Bob Mould attended at the time Hüsker Dü was formed; this means you occasionally find rare esoteric stuff that students have sold for weed money. I’ve made it an occasional habit to rifle through their half-dozen just-arrived copies of The Grand Illusion in the hopes of finding something interesting that still hasn’t been released to CD or at least would be novel and cool to have on the original vinyl. Some days I come home with two LPs, one of which is late ’70s Aretha Franklin or something, and some days I find a bit more. (Also including late ’70s Aretha Franklin.) Here’s what I got today:

Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Roadrunner (Tamla Motown, 1966): A solid record from the Motown sax player and the (ironically unattributed anywhere on the sleeve notes) All Stars, with the great title track, the requisite cover of Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” and other choice stuff. Lots of weirdness about this particular copy, not all necessarily related to that cover art — that is clearly a goose, and I know that’s meant to be smoke but it ain’t coming off its feet. Not only is the copy I found a Dutch import (insert Holland-Dozier-Holland joke here), there’s an address-label sticker on the front stating that it previously belonged to a Dr. Warren E. Scamp, who, according to Google, is apparently a dentist.

Peter Brown, “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me” (12″) (T.K., 1977): Sleek mid-tempo synth-disco with a version b-side, “Burning Love Breakdown”, that sounds like it would’ve been called “electro dub post-punk” if it came out of 1982 NYC instead of 1977 Miami.

National Lampoon, Missing White House Tapes (Banana Records/Blue Thumb, 1974): Chase and Belushi lampooning Watergate-era Nixon — yeah, I know someone who might want to hear this. Extra bonus beat-nerd namedrop: a David Axelrod apparently has a hand in this, though I’m not 100% sure if it’s actually the same David Axelrod of Electric Prunes/late ’60s Cannonball Adderley/Song of Innocence/sampled a hundred times by DJ Shadow fame.

Fine Art, Scan EP (Good Records, ca. 1981/82): So apparently Christgau liked a song or two off this, which is a shock considering I kind of assumed these locals’ influence didn’t go much further than Minneapolis. What little I listened to in the store seemed pretty X-ish, so there’s that.

Pebbles Presents Highs in the Mid Sixties Volume Eight: The South (AIP, 1984): Not sure who compiled this 16-track collection of garage scuzz — helpfully and repeatedly referred to in the sleeve notes as “punk” just in case Those Kids Today might have been concerned about the prospect of buying, like, a bunch of hippie crap — but he had a sense of humor on him: “The Hazards are notable for their pronunciation of ‘Hand’, equalled only by the way they say ‘gonna’, which came out something like ‘guh-huh-unna.'”

Clipse, “Studyin’ Ya’ll/Re Up Anthem” (12″) (Re-Up Records, 2005): Listen to the A-side and then complain about how overrated Hell Hath No Fury is. I dare you. I suppose I’d be a lot more pissed if I read the Turntable Lab review that claimed it sounded “like a board meeting with RZA, Stockhausen and the Meters where the consensus is ‘more Korg'” and bought it off that description and then waited for a week for the record to arrive through mail-order and getting super-geeked in anticipation. I mean, OK, I’m actually listening to the instrumental right now, it’s not terrible, but the whole tinkly toy-piano instrumentation is an acquired taste, like pistachios or something. The Timbaland-by-numbers B-side’s a bit better, the “Queen Bitch” freestyle’s all right, whatever, who cares, it was three bucks, lay off will ya.

The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Live in Concert (Metro, 1965): Looks pretty beat-up, but he covers the theme from “Goldfinger,” so there you go. The (unattributed) sleeve notes refer to his music as “roller-rink rhapsodies,” which is both obnoxiously alliterative and weirdly fitting. Also on the back of the sleeve: METRO’S EXCITING WORLD OF MUSIC! If you like Jimmy Smith, why not look into The Mighty Sousa Marches, Kate Smith’s God Bless America or the soundtrack to the motion picture The Singing Nun?

Basement Jaxx, “Bingo Bango” (2×12″) (XL/Astralwerks, 2000): There is literally something like 51 minutes’ worth of “Bingo Bango” here. Maybe that is overdoing it.

N.W.A., 100 Miles and Runnin’ EP (Ruthless/Priority, 1990): Is it worth $7 just for the title track (still one of their most intense) and one of those classic covers that really needs to be owned in 12″ format? Yeah.

Buc Fifty, “Metal’s Advocate” (12″) (Battle Axe, 1999): The bad news: dude raps like a pissed-off Chi-Ali. The good news: “produced + mixed – The Alchemist”.

Aretha Franklin, Sweet Passion (Atlantic, 1977): Aretha’s late ’70s work doesn’t get much love, though I figure if you go from Muscle Shoals to smoothed-out, string-filled studio band disco-soul that’ll probably come across as some sort of compromise. I figure it only gets to be a problem when she loses the power in her voice, and that isn’t happening here. Still, hearing some of the more half-assed disco stuff here makes me irritated at the fact that she didn’t record with the CHIC Organization or August Darnell.



NOW GO READ SOMETHING ELSE
October 24, 2007, 1:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As if my creating a new blog and posting to it wasn’t momentous enough, there’s a new issue of the peerless pop-cult webzine The High Hat. I discuss the myriad reasons why the Colorado Rockies would be better off losing the World Series, but if that were the only reason to read it I’d just post a link to my article instead of posting one to the table of contents, which has no shortage of quality stuff.



THERE GOES MY MONTHLY PARENTHESIS QUOTA
October 24, 2007, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

This is going to be an introduction for a few people and a reintroduction for a few more. My name is Nate Patrin, I’m 30 years old and I write about popular music. (This would make me a rock critic if rock was all I wrote about, but I don’t specialize in a single genre, which is bound to get me in trouble every so often. I’ll elaborate sometime.) My work currently appears in Pitchfork, City Pages and Paper Thin Walls, among other places. (DISCLAIMER RE THE PITCHFORK THING: I am required by law to clarify that this does not make me a hipster and/or snob and it is, in fact, actually impossible to be a hipster and/or snob if you unironically believe that Dark Side of the Moon is a great album.) This blog will contain further thoughts on pop music, as well as other areas of interest (film, baseball, video games, seething frustration). Most of these posts will not sound this stick-up-ass, I swear. I’m just kind of distracted by the fact that I’ve got to say something for a first post and maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead and put up a list of my ten favorite albums of all time. (NOTE: “all time” is subject to change and does not denote any sense of permanency or finality, much less an authoritative guide to albums you, the reader, are obligated to listen to and enjoy.)

IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
Funkadelic, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
Prince, Purple Rain
Nas, Illmatic
OutKast, ATLiens
The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole
Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
Daft Punk, Discovery

Now you know everything you will ever need to learn about my musical taste and can assemble a perfect snapshot of my entire personality. Enjoy the blog.