Monday Morning Hot (and Cold?) Tips! (March 11th, 2018, Highway 5 between Lebanon and Camdenton, Missouri)

I am not exactly a scoop-finder–things normally seem to trickle down to me. Once they do, I am fairly good at recognizing something interesting, but it might be months after the artifact’s emergence.

Hot Tip #1: However, on International Women’s Day, I did actually find something fresh that few seem to know about, based on social media’s evidence. Few readers would disagree with me that it’s easier to find international outlets for American garage-punk-styled music than it is to find domestic ones. As someone fairly passionate about that style, though, I have to dig through several layers of boiler-plate to get to something legitimately hot–to the extent, recently, that I’ve kinda given up. However, Madrid, Spain’s FOLC Records released the above compilation GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN!!! AND RIGHTS on Thursday, and–sucker that I am–I was intrigued enough by the album cover, the all-caps, the exclamation points, and the untranslated Spanish blurb to take a plunge without doing any research.

I’m damned glad I did! This lively and concise 14-song compilation made both Nicole and I sit up and take notice as we headed into mid-Missouri snow on the way back from a parental visit. The songs are neither all in Spanish (few are) nor all performed by women, but the commitment, enthusiasm, catchiness, and sheer energy that run like current throughout did honor to the release date and the title cause. The neat thing is, it’s also a little survey of styles: yep, there’s garage rock (Flamingo Tours’ surly cover of Roscoe Gordon’s “Just a Little Bit”) and garage punk (Las Calebras’ “Shake It”), but also straight-up old school r&b (Lord Rochester’s “Crawdad”), pre-war vocal group nods (Dr. Maha’s Miracle Tonic’s “She Stole My Bike But I Love Her”–imagine The Mills Brothers singing the line “Her perfect body / Fading Away”!), and a dab of hardcore-ish punk (Lupers’ “Me he vuelto a caer,” clocking in at 1:10). It’s a very enjoyable trip–and you can name your price!

Hot Tip #2! I’ve long been a fan of Oakland’s indefatigable activist MC Boots Riley and his group The Coup. I do have to admit, however, that after reading his screenplay Sorry to Both You a bit over a year ago, I was slightly underwhelmed. From Boots, I expected world-shaking, and the material seemed a light punch to the world’s shoulder. I am fully aware of the cruel tricks a trailer can play on you, but the above preview for the finished film convinces me to take a flyer when it comes my way. Why? Well, one, if ever a time was ripe for a Boots Riley production, it’s now, and the trailer convinces me he may have put very substantial meat on the screenplay’s bones. If you’re not all that familiar with Boots, he has proven he can tell a story. To wit:


Cold Tip #3, for cassette-seeking hipsters: go look for this item, which collects some ravin’ early tracks from the sadly-departed Pope of Memphis Music, Jim Dickinson. You can hear him doing his best Jerry Lee on the 88s, roarin’ through souped-up jug band music, closin’ down Sun Records’ golden line of singles with “Cadillac Man,” rubbing shoulders with The Cramps, and world-boogieing with Mud Boy and the Neutrons. Definitely worth the hunt, and you’ll have to.

Cold Tip #4, for those working on meditation: I have been striving to learn to meditate effectively with music as a focus. The above item worked great for me this weekend, mainly because I was focused on just experiencing things becoming as opposed to anticipating what would happen in the next moment. The music collected herein also eluded my attempts at analysis, because I don’t have the background to analyze it if I wanted to. Most important, the minorities making the music need all the spiritual support they can get, even if my mid-Missouri meditation will not help them not be oppressed. At least I’m conscious.



“What If You Knew Her?” (March 8th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

You’re sitting in a restaurant having lunch, staring into space, trying to organize your mundane day. The restaurant has a satellite radio subscription, and oldies–comfortable, rockin’ oldies–are blasting out into the space. The other diners are working on their taxes, fiddling with phones and laptops, complaining about their days so far, asking a server why mustard’s on their hamburger when they clearly didn’t ask for it. The cooks pick up the tension and nervously, clandestinely, dart glances at that table. There’s a silence as a song (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy”?) ends. That silence dovetails with the coincidental sudden pause in patron chatter.

Then, a lurching, threatening, familiar guitar figure, and:


What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.

The anguish that rolls out across the melody behind those first three lines would have seemed impossible for us to tune out. The anguish–and the awful familiarity–shot through the words would have seemed to command our attention. The truth of that fifth line? A confirmation we could surely recognize.

From the first note, I’d been sitting bolt-upright. In Macbeth, a knocking at the palace gate and an ensuing comic hellscape imagined by a commoner snaps us out of murder-induced shock. In this tableau, the horror should have snapped us out of a routine-induced trance. I looked around, into every nook and cranny of that restaurant, and nothing had changed. So I resumed eating.

But those lines echoes all day, and all night, and this morning, and assuredly, horribly, tomorrow.


On the brighter side, in honor of International Women’s Day, I put together the following YouTube playlist. Enjoy, if you’re curious, but beware a couple of full albums I mischievously dropped in, and be vigilant for an appearance by Diamanda Galas.


Short-shrift Division:

The Clash: Sandinista!–I can still remember, as a college freshman at the University of Arkansas, and already-avid Clashaholic, snapping this triple-LP up the day it showed up at White Dog Records some 37 years ago. I, um, liked it, but–Clash fans will understand. On impulse, I slapped it on, and–as it has been doing to me for the past two decades–it rendered up new favorites I hemmed and hawed through as a young man. I wasn’t ready. Thankfully, not only do we never step in the same river twice, but we also should stop stepping into the river, period. Tracks I repeat-played yesterday: “Something About England,” “Somebody Got Murdered,” “Crooked Beat.”

The Kinks: The Kinks’ Greatest Hits, Face to Face, disc one of The Kinks Kronikles–Mick Jones’ fragile, plaintive singing on “Something About England” flipped my Kinks switch, and based on past experience I will be in their England for the entire coming weekend.