Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Only in 3's

Because these things always happens in 3's, there will be one more music-related celebrity death by the end of today, and furthermore, just like Poly Styrene and Phoebe Snow, the third death will have the initials "PS". Based on this formula, here are my guesses:
1. Pete Seeger
2. Paul Simon
3. Paul Stanley
4. Peter Sframpton

Please don't send me any hate mail about this list. I am a music scientist, and this is my research.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Disco:Very Dissects Album Covers - Part One

Artist: The Steve Miller Band
Album: Let Your Hair Down
This witty album cover depicts a well-dressed bald man with a rabbit on top of his head. In the background is a woman in a red gown. There is no connection as to why the bald man and the woman in the background are dressed in fancy evening wear. Perhaps they will be watching a special performance of the rabbit which perches on the man's head?

Directly underneath the sitting rabbit is a ladder, which was used by the rabbit, one assumes, to climb atop the bald man's head. This seemingly unconnected image becomes clear once the viewer reads the name of the album, Let Your Hair Down. The title references the action in the photo in that a rabbit is sometimes called a hare; thus, this man will be letting his hair (hare) down via the tiny ladder provided. The irony is intensified due to the man in the foreground being bald, meaning, he has no hair--and yet he does have a hare.

The conundrum bears the risk of exasperating the viewer until one explores what the album title means: letting your hair down is a common English-language phrase meant to suggest that one is too uptight and, therefore, needs to let loose or unwind somehow, usually accomplished by letting one's hair down--for instance, if the uptight person is a woman whose hair has been tied into a tight bun. This is a device used in many feature films and commercials wherein an uptight woman, say, a professional Librarian, will take off her glasses and unfasten her hair, thus making her more sexually available to the male (and in some cases, female) population. Many political pundits speculate that this is one of the main attributes which sustains the popularity of former Governor Sarah Palin. Most of her male followers are hoping that she will loosen her tightly-knotted hair-do and allow herself to become more available for sexual favors.

Because this is an album of blues-bases rock-and-roll, we must explore the context of the title as it relates to the genre of music it illustrates. One of the significant qualities of blues-based rock-and-roll is that it allows one to feel free and relaxed, usually with dancing or by imbibing alcoholic beverages during a rock concert. Thus, this album of blues-based rock-and-roll by former hit artist The Steve Miller Band will allow the listener to kick up their heels (though not literally) and let their hair down due to the music's pounding rhythms and sexually-suggestive lyrical content. The visual depiction of the rabbit on the man's head reinforces the notion that this album will encourage the listener to avoid the constraints of society which, presumably, corner the listener into taking on uptight or safe behavior. Thus the album cover sketches the theme of the album within the boundaries of a simple photograph.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disco:Very Celebrates Record Store Day [By Being a Nuisance] - Part 4

Store Clerk: [Name of record store].
Disco:Very: Hi, I'm calling to see about a title you might have in stock.
Store Clerk: OK, who's the artist?
Disco:Very: The band is Chicago, and it's a special Record Store Day reissue of one of their albums, but I don't know the title.
Store Clerk: That's OK, give me a sec and I can look that up.
Disco:Very: I wasn't able to come in on Record Store Day so now I'm worried you might not have any left. It's a limited-edition reissue.
Store Clerk: Well, I'm looking through our list of Record Store Day releases and I don't see anything by Chicago on here...
Disco:Very: I'm sure I'd remember the title if you just ran through a few of them you have listed in your database.
Store Clerk: [Pause, realizing this is going to be a laborious phone call] Well, they have a lot of titles here...I'm looking at them and they're all numbers, or mostly, you know, Roman Numerals.
Disco:Very: Could you maybe just run a couple past me? I'm sure the one I'm thinking of will ring a bell.
Store Clerk: [Long pause.] Well, I mean, there's "Roman Numeral Three"--these are all in Roman Numerals--there's "Roman Numeral Seven"...I think there was probably a "Four", "Five" and "Six" but I'm just reading you what we have in stock.
Disco:Very: Those don't ring a bell. Could you read the rest?
Store Clerk: [Pause, annoyed sigh.] Uh, "Roman Numeral Seven"--
Disco:Very: No...
Store Clerk: "Roman Numeral Eight"--
Disco:Very: No...
Store Clerk: "Roman Numeral Nine"--
Disco:Very: No...
Store Clerk: "Roman Numeral Ten"--
Disco:Very: Wait, which one did you say??
Store Clerk: "Roman Numeral Ten".
Disco:Very: [Long pause.] Hmmmm...no...
Store Clerk: [Annoyed grunt.] They're all pretty much Roman Numerals, and there's like 30 of them or...it goes up all the way to 32 or 34 so it doesn't make much sense for me to keep reading them. Just...you know, do you remember the number or not?
Disco:Very: Did you say "Roman Numeral 34"?
Store Clerk: Yes, that's the last one in succession. It might not be the latest reissue but--
Disco:Very: Yeah, yes. That's the one. That's the one which got a special reissue, I'm almost certain.
Store Clerk: [Becoming increasingly annoyed.] Well, I'm not seeing a special reissue of this, I don't see a reissue on my regular database and it's not in the Record Store Day releases either.
Disco:Very: Oh, well, I forgot to mention that it's going to be under a completely different title. For this special edition reissued on Record Store Day, instead of using Roman Numerals, they've used Egyptian Numerals so the name of the album should read "Upside Down U, Upside Down U, Upside Down U, Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, Stroke."
Store Clerk: [Long pause, which goes on so long I'm afraid I will start laughing.] Fuck. You. [Hangs up.]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Disco:Very Celebrates Record Store Day [By Being a Nuisance] - Part 3

Store Clerk: [Name of record store] on [name of street].
Disco:Very: Good morning, I hope International Record Store Day was able to keep your store afloat for a few more years.
Store Clerk: [Taken aback.] Uh, yeah, well, we had a good day.
Disco:Very: Good to hear, good to hear. I just learned about a specific item which was made for sale on American Record Store Day and I wanted to see if you got any in.
Store Clerk: [Pause.] OK.
Disco:Very: Well you know what The Buddha Machine is, that little iPod-looking thing which plays calming New Age sounds on a perpetual loop?
Store Clerk: Sure, yeah. We have some of those in stock.
Disco:Very: Well, I just heard that there was a special one made in celebration of National Record Store Day which only plays loops of the band Train specifically, that one hit "Hey, Soul Sister", and it's not a loop of the whole song, it's a loop of the part where he sings "Hey, hee-e-e-ey..."
Store Clerk: [Realzing this is a prank, annoyed] Yes, yes, I know the song
Disco:Very: --but it's not the "Hey" at the beginning or on the final chorus, it's specifically the "Hey" sung at the 1:11 mark. Renowned music experts have determined that "Hey" to be quite different from all the rest. So it's just a loop of that one "Hey".
Store Clerk: [Long pause.]
Disco:Very: Also, this Buddha Machine is wrinkled and old, with dyed black hair so it matches the lead singer of Train. So do you have any of these in?
Store Clerk: [Pause; hangs up.]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Disco:Very Celebrates Record Store Day [By Being a Nuisance] - Part 2

Store Clerk: Happy Record Store Day, this is [Name of record store] at [name of store clerk].
Disco:Very: Hi, yes. Happy Record Store Day to you, too, and what a glorious Record Store Day it is!
Store Clerk: Ha ha, yeah it is! We've got a lot of people here celebrating here at the moment, actually. [Laughs.]
Disco:Very: Wow, that's just great. I'm calling about a specific album I'd like to come in and purchase.
Store Clerk: Sorry, can you hold for just one second? [Muffled talking--store noises in background paint the portrait of a very busy store.] Sorry about that, thanks for holding.
Disco:Very: No problem. I'm calling to see if you have a specific limited-edition LP being released for Record Store Day.
Store Clerk: Sure, what's the title?
Disco:Very: [Speaking quickly so as not to lose the call.] It's a new CocoRosie album of duets but it's a recording of dance and movement, CocoRosie is doing dance duets with other dancers and movement artists so there's no actual singing, but it's a very quiet record, very spatial, you know, comprised of the sounds of movement and wind and spirit--you know the spirit of the band, their soul. And I don't know the name but the album cover shows the members of CocoRosie on dolphins and the dolphins are flying through the sky and they're surrounded by hand-drawn depictions of birds, like, curved-bill thrashers specifically, and the birds are painted all these rainbow colors and the colors have sparkles in them and the cover is hand-pressed so the birds are in relief and each bird is holding a peace sign--
Store Clerk: [Taking it all in] Hmmmm, OK...
Disco:Very: --and they all have word balloons above them saying thinks like "Radical!" and "LOL" and the album isn't on CD, it's on vinyl and the vinyl is a special 900-gram pressing. It's very thick.
Store Clerk: [Long pause.] So...is it...what--how many grams?
Disco:Very: Well, you know how most limited-edition vinyl albums are pressed on 180-gram vinyl, this one is extra special and is pressed on 900-gram vinyl, so it has five times the amount of vinyl as a regulalr limited-edition vinyl release. It weighs almost two pounds, so the album is pretty large and kind of heavy. I'm not sure it will even fit in your vinyl racks.
Store Clerk: [Pause; lots of Record Store Day noises in the background--perhaps he realizes this is a crank call and tries to remove himself from the call] Tell you what, we're a little busy so maybe if you called back in 20 minutes I could probably dig it up but--
Disco:Very: See, but I have to have it today because I think this is the one album which is going to save the brick and mortar record stores forever. Record store sales have been pummeled by the ease and convenience of online shopping and it's making you go under but I think this one album is going to bring actual physical record stores back from the brink of death. Just because I can find any album I want online at the click of a button, I don't think it means we need to kill off the dinosaur record stores. I think this new CocoRosie album is going to turn things around for you guys. I really do.
Store Clerk: OK, I'm going to hang up now. [Hangs up.]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Disco:Very Celebrates Record Store Day [By Being a Nuisance] - Part 1

Store Clerk: [Name of record store], this is [name of store clerk].
Disco:Very: Hi, I understand that tomorrow is Record Store Day.
Store Clerk: Yup.
Disco:Very: Well, I'm calling to find out more info on a particular release.
Store Clerk: OK.
Disco:Very: It's a limited-edition vinyl LP by Animal Collective, and I just read about it online and I'm hoping to see if you'll be getting a copy of it in for Record Store Day.
Store Clerk: OK, what's the name of the record?
Disco:Very: Well, the problem is, I don't know the name. From what I read online, Animal Collective really wanted to recreate the feeling of an Animal Collective performance as best they could, so they are releasing this limited-edition vinyl album and the record itself will be made to look similar to an Animal Collective performance. So the vinyl will be completely covered in glitter and day-glo body paint and feathers and spandex--
Store Clerk: [Laughing] Wait, what??
Disco:Very: --and my question is, I want to buy this album really bad because I am so all about Animal Collective, but how would I able to play this album if it's covered in glitter and day-glo body paint and spandex?
Store Clerk: [Long pause.]
Disco:Very: Also, the album will trumpet its stylistic excess as a sign of creativity, and make that the purpose of the music, rather than the other way around.
Store Clerk: [Says nothing.]
Disco:Very: Are you still there?
Store Clerk: [No answer.]
Disco:Very: Hello?
Store Clerk: [Hangs up.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

With Only 40 Years Left to Live, It's Time I Finally Got Around to Digitizing My Cassette & Vinyl Collection [Part 7]

Stereo Total - Holiday Innn 2 x 7" (Two 7" singles on Bungalow Records, 1998)

Six aggressively loopy remixes of the Stereo Total pop/punk song Holiday Innn, which music scholars worldwide consider their abiding masterpiece. Spanning a two-fer clear-vinyl pack housed in a see-through plastic sleeve, every track takes the German/French duo's original and smears it in ecstasy and/or ecstacy--whichever is easiest to find first. It's incredibly rare, despite what the sellers on Discogs will tell you.