There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Five musical questions

I'm not a big fan of memes running around the net, but Elaine is a nice person and tagged me, so it would be rude not to participate. What the heck.

Total volume of music on my computer:

28.52 GB. I would have more, but my iPod only holds 20 GB, and I'm running out of space on my main computer anyway. I figured I've ripped maybe a third of my CD collection. There's another 3.73 GB of files on my Linux server, accessible to iTunes throughout our house thanks to Rendezvous Bonjour, the technology Apple developed to allow autodiscovery of services on IP networks.

Last CD I bought:

I generally don't buy CDs one at a time. I just picked up four this afternoon:

Go-Betweens, Tallulah

My friend Shirley is flying from Ohio to NYC to see these guys next weekend in Brooklyn. Given her impeccable taste, I figured I should find out why.

Buck 65, This Right Here Is An EP

My favorite track on the most recent MetaFilter CD Swap CDs I received was "Wicked and Weird" by hayseed Canadian rapper Buck 65. It's hilarious stuff.

Sloan, A sides win: singles 1992-2005

Since I was going back and picking up on bands that never made it to the center of my radar screen, I figured I would buy this. Also, they're Canadian. Can't say I've ever heard them; just picked this one up on a whim.

Sufjan Stevens, Greetings From Michigan, The Great Lake State

I remember reading reviews of this a couple of years ago. As a born-and-bred Michigander, I couldn't pass this up. I have no idea what to expect from song titles like "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)".

If I hadn't gone out this afternoon, my list would consist of CDs from Germany or New Zealand, both of which I've received packages from in recent weeks. Best of the New Zealand CDs was Toy Love, Cuts, a comprehensive CD made up of this seminal band's one album, all their singles, and assorted rare tracks. Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate went on to have a long and interesting career as Tall Dwarfs after Toy Love imploded in the wake of many months confronting the indifference of Australian punters as they tried to break Australia. Australia broke them instead. The best of the German CDs is the anarchist band Kapelle Wlodek, Aus Glücklichen Tagen, which sounds like the soundtrack to a movie about Swiss clocks of the 1930s. Near as I can tell, this 1999 work is the only album they ever released. There's very little information about them on the web in English, but true to form, John Peel played them on his radio program back in 2000. There before everyone else again.

Favorite song from that album:

No favorites from the ones I bought today, since I haven't had a chance to listen to most of them.

From the Toy Love CD, it would have to be "Frogs", an apocolyptic tale of insanity that was different every time the band played it, and which gave free reign to Chris Knox's id, foreshadowing some of his work with Tall Dwarfs.

From the Kapelle Wlodek CD, "Wilkommen daheim!" It's not about anything, per se, given that it's instrumental.

Song playing now:

As I write this, Kapelle Wlodek's "Das Kino mit dem Gesicht zum Dorf!", because I had to figure out something to write about "Wilkommen daheim!" and I just let the CD keep playing. But if you go by what was playing when I first started writing this, it was "The House That Jack Kerouac Built" by The Go-Betweens.

Songs I listen to a lot or that mean a lot:

Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, "I Know You Will"

I met my wife because of the album this appears on.

Chris Knox, "Not Given Lightly"

Knox wrote this for his partner Barbara. It's one of the greatest love songs ever written. And he's willing to record a version especially for you. He did for our wedding, and all it took was to send him a few DVDs that he can't get easily in New Zealand.

Ass Ponys, "Dollar A Day"

I could include any of dozens of the Ass Ponys songs, all of which are incredibly well written, but this one gets my vote for including the immortal lines "In the right light she looks like a girl you remember from summer camp / who reached through your rib cage and tore out your heart with a postage stamp". I don't think there's a better songwriter around than Chuck Cleaver. Laura and I sing Ass Ponys songs to each other all the time.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, "I.T.T. (International Thief Thief)"

This song was my entree into the world of African music. A classic indictment of the intersection of western corporations and third world politicians. From the interest generated by this record came a huge percentage of my record collection.

Log, "Who Is The Silliest Rossi?"

This cover of a Bird Nest Roys song was almost included on Log's first album Light Fuse And Get Away under the wrong name, but my friend Shirley (see above), their bass player and fellow kiwimusic fanatic, had the foresight to ask me what the name of the song was. I corrected their misimpression, and saved them from great public embarrassment. This album was the first, and I think only, time I've been thanked on a record cover, making it a very important record for me. (I think they thanked Laura as well.)

Okay, now it's my turn to irritate five other people by roping them in. Tara, Steve, Kelly, Deb, and pjm, go to it.

Posted at 10:47 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Ooooh, thank you! I knew you had interesting tastes, so I was looking forward to seeing what you're into now, etc. :)

Posted by Elaine at 5:25 PM, June 6, 2005 [Link]

oh gosh, Chris Knox's Not Given Lightly is one of my all time favourite songs. And I love the Go-Betweens. But I couldn't really get into Sufjan Stevens. I might have to go listen to it again. Btw, thanks for tagging me - I only just noticed. Guess I'll have to go away and do it now :)

Posted by deb at 4:21 AM, June 9, 2005 [Link]

I wouldn't bother with the Sufjan Stevens. Sometimes you just buy a clinker.

Posted by ralph at 9:11 AM, June 9, 2005 [Link]

What did you think of the Go-Betweens, anyway? I have nostalgic memories of "Streets Of Your Town," as it coincided with my birth into the alt/indie underworld in the late '80s, but I bought their best-of when it came out semi-recently and was fairly nonplussed. It just sounds pleasantly bland to me now, like so much of the so-called "post-modern" pop of that period. (File under The Ocean Blue, The Jack Rubies, and some of The Feelies' more prosaic material.)

I also remember reading about Toy Love in my first edition of Trouser Press Record Guide back in '88 or so... I figured that stuff would make it back out eventually.

And, yes, big ups on the Fela. Although I'm more of a Mahmoud Ahmed man, myself.

Posted by myke at 9:45 AM, July 4, 2005 [Link]

I wasn't overly impressed with the Go-Betweens. My friend tells me that their new material sounds somewhat different.

I have a vinyl copy of Toy Love's one and only album, and most of the compilation tracks that they did in their brief career, but it's still nice to have the CD version, which adds a ton of stuff I didn't have on the second disc. Tall Dwarfs is better, but Toy Love is still pretty good, and I can definitely hear the seeds of how Knox and Bathgate got to where they are today.

I like Mahmoud Ahmed, and have 17 of the 19 volumes of the Ethiopiques series, but I think of the artists on those CDs I like Alemayehu Eshete better. I still need to pick up volume 17 and the new volume 19, which is another Ahmed CD.

Posted by ralph at 12:04 PM, July 4, 2005 [Link]


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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

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[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

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[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

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