Happy Happy CD Splendor

Where was I? Oh yeah, listening to every CD I own, one at a time. I was going to listen to a box set once I hit 100, but I might just blow by that via xmas CDs… oh the tension.

81) Blonde Redhead: Certain Damaged Lemons

Squirty? Quirky? Squirky? Some interesting songs here, lots of wrap around time signatures and discothequey pararhythms, plus wobbly soprano vocals on some track, and wobbly boy tenor vocals on others… a bit like what wa once called “math rock,” but way more danceable and hook-laden. “Melody of a Certain Three” was the college radio hit, and there are plenty of other songs like that one, interesting, fun to listen to, and only memorable as an aspect of a particular brand. (bonus: produced by Guy Picciotto, ah, I see, Blonde Redhead does sound a bit like Fugazi’s queer neighbors… the two boys in the group are even twins.)

82) Dusty Springfield: Heart and Soul

The first 8 songs or so are just awful, that crappy 80’s production with some asshole trying to make shakahuchi flute sound with his keyboard and so much treble that Dusty’s voice becomes just another pattern in the wallpaper, and yes thanks could I have another line, please? Then, #9 is “Son of a Preacher Man,” which is fine but not great, and then there are some live versions of soul classics that are really good, and serve to remind us that Dusty started out as the British Diana Ross, more or less. After the live songs are a few more crappily produced songs, but crappily produced in the 70’s manner: strings drenched in treacle, snares that pop like bubble wrap… and that also make Dusty into another wallpaper motif, thanks for the Quaalude. I guess the fact that Dusty’s voice was kind of thin made producers want to envelop her in HFCS arrangments, but why not pare things down and let the smoke in her thin voice out? I blame Phil Spector. Also, this is just not a very good collection of material… (bonus: the “hidden track” is a radio commercial for some kind of UK make your own soda syrup. ??? I can’t figure out if that is some kind of mean joke or what…  Oh, and Dusty’s real name was Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien. No, not kidding.)

83) Melvins: Hostile Ambient Takeover

Too bad Dusty Springfield couldn’t do a CD with the Melvins. It would be good for both of them, I think, but, Dusty died in 1999. The Melvins probably should have… kidding, Melvins are fun, even if they have released the same 2 albums over and over again: the protosludge groovy stuff that makes heads bob, and the “experimental” noise stuff that isn’t really interesting at all to listen to unless you are 12 and just figured out Led Zeppelin is a load of shit. That said, this is not heir best take on the latter formula; the “trilogy” is much better, as is “Stoner Witch” and some of the more recent stuff. (bonus: here is the key to enjoying the Melvins: pretend Buzz is singing in Armenian, unless you speak Armenian, then pretend it’s Japanese. The lyrics, almost without exception, are worthless.)

84) Gay Dad: Transmission

I remember reading somewhere that folks in the know, that is, rock critics, argued quite a bit about whether Gay Dad was a joke or not. I see why; poppy, almost twee guitar songs, just interesting enough to stick with you, and vaguely bland teen love-n-angst lyrics that could easily be a nasty joke, making fun of whoever is listening. But, if I believe that, then I’ll have to rethink if Boston is some kind of in-joke as well… and that sort of mental gymnastic, my friends, might well cause my hypothalamus to smoke like a pinto with a bad fan belt. A sonically interesting slab of grocery store birthday cake. (bonus: the band was formed by a rock critic, ah. Well, Chrissie Hynde was a rock critic too, and she turned out ok. Not so Gay Dad, who vanished into the back of the fridge.)