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Quick Take: I Need That Record!

I Need That Record

I Need That Record! The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store is filmmaker Brendan Toller’s love letter to those indie record stores and investigation of what brought about their downfall. Given the amount of time and money I spend in record stores, this documentary would seem to be right up my alley, but there’s a curious disconnect in the film’s intended audience. If you’ve followed music for the last 15 years, it will come across as a tedious mix of preaching to the choir and beating a dead horse. If you haven’t followed music for the last 15 years, you’re less likely to check out a documentary called I Need That Record.

Let me run through some of the major topics of discussion from the first hour of the film: major radio stations are bad, Clear Channel is bad, big box stores are bad, major-label executives are bad (and dumb), manufactured pop is bad, MTV is bad, indie record stores are good, and the old “Is Napster / file-sharing good or bad?” debate. The well-trodden “why” of indie record stores’ downfall is considerably less compelling than the reasons for their success, which usually come through interviews with musicians like Ian MacKaye, Glenn Branca, Lenny Kaye, Mike Watt, and Thurston Moore (who, like Chunklet mentioned, is obligated to appear in every documentary). Noam Chomsky even appears, giving the film a rare moment of critical insight when he expands on the film’s emphasis of the community appeal and value of the stores. I feel for the (mostly former) record store owners interviewed for the film, but only Newbury Comics’ Mike Dreese recognizes that such stores need to adapt their business models to survive. The others are exasperated and angry, but not proactive.

I’m not surprised I Need That Record has garnered enthusiastic praise. Toller’s heart is in the right place, and few music lovers will argue against the premise that independent record stores are a good thing. My final point may come across as overly harsh—perhaps like Dreese’s indictment of the tired business models of his brethren—but I Need That Record feels like a student paper. It recaps the major developments, pulls quotes from primary and secondary sources, and makes some conclusions from its findings. Sure enough, I Need That Record started out as Brendan Toller’s senior thesis at Hampshire College. By itself that’s an astonishing achievement—I certainly never interviewed Noam Chomsky for a paper—but I’d be more intrigued by a graduate-level film, one that contributes something new to the discussion instead of just recapping it.

Quick Takes: Thinking Machines, Hoquiam, Errors, and Foals

I’m fighting Sonic Youth burn-out at the moment, midway through the decidedly trying SYR series. Thankfully the following 2010 releases have kept me going.

Thinking Machines' Work Tapes

Thinking MachinesWork Tapes: The follow-up to their superb 2008 album The Complete History of Urban Archaeology has a street date of June 4, but it’s already slotted itself into my eventual year-end list. Adding a second guitarist to the muscular indie rock of its predecessor, Work Tapes makes a slight trade-off of immediacy for depth, but the payoff came by the second listen. That spin came at top volume in the car, which is exactly where I’d recommend playing Work Tapes. The initial highlights are the taunt rhythms of “Pays to Know,” the emotional vocals of “Parallax,” and the ascendant melodies of the instrumental closer “Loop,” but every song on Work Tapes stands out with a monster riff, a gorgeous breakdown, or an urgent vocal hook. You’ll hear more about this one, I assure you.

From what I can gather, TMvFM will release Work Tapes, presumably through digital distribution, but I’d absolutely love a physical pressing. Perhaps taking a cue from Gordon Withers’ album and doing a Kickstarter drive for funding would make it happen, but I’d gladly drop $25 for a 2LP of Complete History and Work Tapes. Any tour dates outside of Philly would also be appreciated.

Hoquiam's Hoquiam LP

Hoquiam – Hoquiam: Fans of Damien Jurado get a double dose this year. His proper follow-up to 2008’s Caught in the Trees, Saint Bartlett, will come out on Secretly Canadian on May 25th. You can hear “Arkansas” from Secretly Canadian’s site. Presumably its overtones of ’50s and ’60s pop will extend to the rest of Saint Bartlett, giving the album an oldies vibe separate from the rock and folk of Caught in the Trees. The difference in personnel is notable, since producer Richard Swift is the only other contributing musician, leaving usual Jurado cohorts like Eric Fisher and Jenna Conrad to help out with the long-awaited Ghost Wars album from Arlie Carstens of Juno.

First, however, Jurado fans should track down Hoquiam’s self-titled LP, his collaboration with his brother Drake. Its seventeen short tracks vary nicely between up-tempo stomps, layered folk, and the hushed personal tales at which Jurado excels. It finds the perfect middle ground between spontaneity and polish. It’s entirely conceivable that Hoquiam could surpass Saint Bartlett.

There are only 500 LPs to go around, so I recommend ordering soon from St. Ives or elsewhere. Each cover is handmade, so even if there’s a repress I’d venture it’ll be less unique.

Errors' Come Down with Me

Errors – Come Down with Me: Errors’ second full-length stresses what was already their foremost strength: it’s difficult to come up with a more listenable band in my regular rotation. Come Down with Me isn’t marked by any huge departures in their usual post-electro-sound, but rather an ongoing honing of their melodic instincts and textual layers. Lead single “A Rumour in Africa” (check out the vaguely creepy video on YouTube) and “Supertribe” follow up the lighthearted jaunt of “Salut! France”; “Antipode,” “The Erskine Bridge,” and “The Black Tent” emphasize the group’s drifting atmosphere; while closer “Beards” comes close to Stereolab’s lounge territory. It’s a consistently solid album, precisely what I expect from Errors. Is that a soft sell? Sure. But Errors has never struck me as a group that would blow someone away, rather casually yet insistently insinuate themselves into your regular listening habits.

Foals – “Spanish Sahara”: Foals’ sophomore effort, Total Life Forever, is slated for May, but if its first taste is any indication, it’ll be worth the wait. “Spanish Sahara” takes a measured, patient approach to its build-up, initially avoiding any trace of the energetic dance-punk of Antidotes, but its refrain lingers. It’s a step toward Radiohead, sure, but the pay-off applies the interlocked guitars of earlier Foals to this new template.

Three 2009 Releases: Last Days, Trail of Dead, and National Skyline

While I still need to finish writing my 2008 wrap-up and cover the music I've bought this year, I'll take a minute to cover the first few 2009 releases of note.

Last Days' The Safety of the North

Last Days - The Safety of the North: Continuing to mine the areas between ambient, post-rock, and electronic music, Graham Richardson has quietly built an impressive discography as Last Days. Both 2006’s Sea and 2007’s These Places Are Now Ruins are quietly compelling listens and The Safety of the North expands upon the success of those records. Richardson mentioned that this record is more cinematic in approach, which is quite evident from the fifteen tracks spanning sixty-six minutes and the addition of both spoken word excerpts and female vocals on a few tracks. I keep repeating “Life Support,” which reminds me of an ambient take on the interlocked melodies of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. While I certainly wouldn’t mind if “Life Support” mirrored the album-long length of the Reich piece, I can’t wait to spend more time with the rest of the album, since other tracks like “The City Failed” and “Onwards” are also stand-outs.

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's The Century of the Self

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - The Century of the Self: The Festival Thyme teaser EP was just good enough to convince me to check out The Century of the Self, which I’d hoped would remind me of Source Tags & Codes but instead recalls the expansive prog-rock of Worlds Apart. Whereas Worlds Apart and So Divided seemed thrilled to deviate from expectations, The Century of the Self is lyrically consumed with returning to what was lost—cough, their direction, cough—but it’s often unsuccessful in mirroring that theme musically, falling prey to the same overblown prog-rock impulses. There are sections of this album that remind me of 1970s Genesis albums—having two piano-based “Insatiable” tracks, for example—which is an awfully strange tactic for any band to take. There has been some progress since So Divided, however. The first half of the album has a strong stretch from the energetic “Far Pavilions” to “Isis Unveiled” (recalling the Worlds Apart highlight “Will You Smile Again”), through the affecting bridge of “Halcyon Days,” but the album dips during the Festival Thyme rehashes “Bells of Creation” and “Inland Sea.” I’m a sucker for the maudlin surges of “Pictures of an Only Child” and the cathartic sing-a-long of “I’m the monster and I exist / And on this summit I am lost” on “Insatiable (Two),” but the canned strings of “An August Theme” are a laugh riot. The best thing about Trail of Dead is how they’re even compelling when they fail, which is more than I can say about a lot of groups.

National Skyline's Bliss & Death

National Skyline - Bliss & Death: I approached this release with trepidation, since Jeff Garber’s recent track record has been less than stellar. It’s been eight years since National Skyline’s This=Everything, during which time Garber moved out to Los Angeles and Jeff Dimpsey retired from the project to take a remarkably similar approach with Adam Fein of Absinthe Blind in Gazelle. Year of the Rabbit was Ken Andrews’ baby, but Garber and Tim Dow’s talents were wasted in that watered-down version of Failure. The Joy Circuit was a mush-mouthed step toward U2-derived rock, which Garber already flirted with on a number of National Skyline songs. Garber released the three-song The Last Day EP to iTunes in 2007 under the National Skyline banner, which was an improvement on The Joy Circuit but more alt-rock than the old National Skyline. Bliss & Death received a similar electronic release in February. (No physical pressing is planned.) Bliss & Death isn’t quite a Garber solo record: Micropsia mentions that “Garber had the bulk of the album finished by May 2008, but felt as if some extra input were needed to give the record more texture. ‘I began to feel like this record was closer to my first band, Castor, and one of the most important things about Castor was Derek Niedringhaus’s bass playing.’” Mixed signals to be sure—who adds bass lines at the end of a record—but the Castor mention piqued my interest. I thought he’d forgotten about that group entirely.

You can safely disregard the Castor reference, since there’s little here that remotely emo; this album is all about guitar textures. Garber seems to be in love with an acoustic-guitar-addled shoegaze approach, which unfortunately lends itself to some languid songwriting when the pace drops. It took me a few tries to make it past the titular instrumental, the tired “Edge of the World,” and the inexplicable single “Revenge,” but the rest of the album picks up the pace. “Bloom” does just that with a thousand guitar overdubs, “Glimmer” recalls the Edge-aping energy of those older National Skyline albums, “Driving Down” features both shimmering guitars and vocal hooks, “Kingdom” pays off its gradual build-up with an ascendant rush, and “I’m a Ghost II” is an excellent closing instrumental with a solid Niedringhaus bass line. While I’m impressed by Garber’s guitar work on many of these tracks, too many of his vocal lines drift aimlessly above the mist, lacking the solid hooks of Castor and National Skyline. After a few listens, Bliss & Death is certainly an improvement upon the last few releases from Garber and I hope it keeps growing on me, but next time he should bring collaborators on board at the beginning of the process. Hopefully that won’t be in 2017.

Six Recent Releases

2008 has been a disappointment musically, something I’ve noticed as I’ve struggled to cull together twenty solid candidates for my usual year-end list. I’ve tried my best to stay on top of things, as documented by this list of some of the albums I’ve checked out recently, but it’s hard to say whether many of these will make the final list.

The picture disc cover for ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's Festival Thyme EP

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Festival Thyme EP: To say that the Trail of Dead had lost the plot since 2002’s excellent Source Tags & Codes would be a vast understatement. I remember listening to Worlds Apart and thinking “This has to click at some point, right?” before recognizing that it had three good songs, tops, and suffered from an overblown rock opera fetish. (Is there any other kind of rock opera fetish?) I don’t think I’ve ever heard So Divided in its entirety; simply nothing that I’ve heard from that record appealed to me in the slightest, not even the cred-grab of the Guided by Voices cover. Yet I checked out the ill-titled Festival Thyme EP out of morbid curiosity and was marginally encouraged by the results. They’re still appropriating too much 1970s prog-rock without the requisite spirit of adventure or the sense of danger of their own early material, but at least these songs have melodies and some forward momentum. “Bells of Creation” backed with “Inland Sea” would make a good single, although the four-song picture disc ten-inch is a reasonable alternative if you’re fond of Warcraft. It’s no surprise that the nasal whine of Conrad Keely has wholly supplanted the evil Bono pipes of Jason Reece and the faux-British sneer of former bassist Neil Busch, but I still long for those other voices. Festival Thyme is a minor step in the right direction, but I don’t know if they’ll ever equal the combination of melodic indie rock and barely controlled abandon from their self-titled debut, Madonna, and Source Tags & Codes.

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker's Fantasma Parastasie

Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie: Nadja’s Radiance of Shadows made my top twenty list for 2007, but none of their 2008 releases (that I’ve heard, at least) has equaled the scope or depth of that release. It’s not for lack of trying, with eight releases coming out during this calendar year (including two following their strange penchant for re-recording their old albums), but Radiance of Shadows’ doom-metal Codeine approach still lingers with me. As if those eight releases weren’t enough, Nadja guitarist Aidan Baker also collaborated with fellow Canadian Tim Hecker for Fantasma Parastasie, which combines the electronic drones of Hecker’s excellent 2006 album Harmony in Ultraviolet with Baker’s guitar feedback to great effect. There are hints of Nadja’s signature menace on “Skeletal Dane,” but the crushing waves of distortion that highlight Thaumogenesis and Radiance of Shadows are nowhere to be found. The balance between Baker and Hecker is remarkable; some beautiful moments peak out from the haze of Baker’s guitar during “Dream of the Nightmare” and “Auditory Spirits.” It’s a solid listen, but whether it measures up to the evocative thunder of Radiance of Shadows has yet to be determined.

Benoit Pioulard's Temper

Benoît Pioulard - Temper: I fully expected this album to be one of my favorites of the year, given my ongoing fondness for his 2006 album Précis, but I keep coming away from it feeling underwhelmed. Sure, “Brown Bess” and “The Loom Pedal” equal the previous album’s highlights (“Triggering Back,” “Sous La Plage” and “Ash into the Sky”), but the novelty of his formula—bedroom singer/songwriter material treated with IDM textures alternating with sound collages—isn’t delivering the same punch this time around, despite more fleshed-out structures for the “real” songs. It’s still plausible that I’ll put it on and it’ll hit me differently, but I’m beginning to doubt the likelihood of that happening. Don’t let this stop you from picking up the 2LP set of Précis and Temper, which invalidated my begrudging CD purchase of the former upon its release.

Lukestar's Lake Toba

Lukestar - Lake Toba: I heard “White Shade” on the Flameshovel site and then tracked down their web site since I couldn’t determine if it was a male vocalist or not from my brief, verse-only spin. After finding their astonishing promotional photo (there’s a dead ringer for Jim Carrey in this band, for starters) and confirming my suspicion of “high-pitched male vocalist,” I watched the video for “White Shade” on YouTube and tracked down the Norwegian group's newest album. I can’t say that I understand the post-rock tag that’s floating around in reviews and press clippings, since they’re basically doing catchy, slightly off-kilter indie rock with falsetto vocals—i.e., something that fits in perfectly on Flameshovel, their American label. Closer “Peregrin” and the aforementioned “White Shade” are highlights, but the falsetto wears thin on some of the poppier tracks.

Pocahaunted's Chains

Pocahaunted - Chains: I keep wavering on whether I enjoy the droning, pseudo-Sioux psych-chants of Pocahaunted or whether I simply lose focus after fifteen minutes (approximately a song and a half) of Chains and tune it out. Maybe that has to do with my preference of “The Weight” and “No More Women” over the final two songs on the album, but the intensity of the former and the drifting swells of the latter are compelling enough. The title track is a vague cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” and while I prefer the Silkworm’s gang-vocals version, I’m impressed that I could recognize the original song—its bass line, at least—underneath all the gauze. I don’t have enough of a penchant for psych-rock to explore Pocahaunted’s growing discography or the recreational drug habit to fully appreciate it, but Chains is a good sampler for anyone who can stomach the idea of listening to “The Olsen twins of drone.”

Marnie Stern's This Is It...

Marnie Stern - This Is It and I Am It…: I view making it through almost all of this record without itching to stop it—after several failed attempts—as a monumental achievement, one I’m unlikely to repeat. This Is It… is nowhere near as spazzy or Deerhoof-derived as her debut, which is a huge step in the right direction, but Stern’s still a highly idiosyncratic artist and too many of those idiosyncrasies irk the hell out of me. She’s made significant progress with her vocal melodies, but it’s easy to overdose on chirpy exuberance. Similar to my dreams of In Advance of the Broken Arm magically reappearing as a four-song EP, I’ll condense This Is It… to “Ruler,” “Transformer,” “The Crippled Jazzer,” “The Package Is Wrapped,” and the verses of “The Devil Is in the Details.” I can’t bring myself to say that I’d prefer an album of comparably more straightforward songs like “Every Single Line Means Something,” since I can appreciate what Stern’s doing in the songs I didn’t mention, but it’s a clear case of appreciation trumping enjoyment. And since I’m not getting paid to review records, I’ll stick with enjoyment and the pared-down LPs.

Five of Ten

My current writer’s block is a bit confounding, since I don’t think there’s a particular reason why I should open up Microsoft Word, type a few lines, and then shrug my shoulders and close the application, but it certainly happens often enough. Instead of trying to come up with some tremendous conceit to get my blood flowing again, I’ll just expand my usual sidebar feature by writing about ten things I’ve enjoyed recently and hopefully working out some of my nagging concerns in the process. Here are the first five items—as you can see expanding those entries takes up a good amount of time.

1. Colin Newman’s “& Jury”: While my Last.fm account tracks a larger period of time, I typically pay more attention to the play count in iTunes nowadays, having switched over to the software back in September in order to expedite transfers to my iPod. Currently the most played track is “& Jury” from Colin Newman’s 1980 solo debut A–Z with a whopping 40 plays since February 10, 2008. Given my obsession with early Wire, I’m rather astonished that it took me this long to delve into Newman’s solo discography, but such reticence wasn’t entirely undeserved. As the review on Wireviews mentions, A–Z is decidedly hit or miss, with the misses being rather annoying, although I can appreciate the anti-single appeal of “B.” But “& Jury” is easily on par with my favorite late Wire tracks, particularly since its urgent chorus (“We are the judges too”) peels back some of Wire’s trademark detachment. “But for a moment I felt a need to be closer to the reasons / And what I saw I can’t describe, I understand / That we are the judges too” furthers that reading, but what’s exposed isn’t necessarily genuine emotion but the recognition that pure detachment has its faults and its limitations.

I’ve tracked down most of Newman’s pre-1990 catalog and here’s the lowdown: A–Z is scattered, but frequently great; Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish is an occasionally compelling entry into short Eno-esque instrumentals (think Another Green World); Not To has the closest connection to Wire’s 154, in part because some of its songs were originally meant for Wire’s fourth LP, but it’s also more consistent than A–Z, if slightly less sonically compelling; Commercial Suicide issues more synths, less percussion, and a more measured approach to songwriting, but its languid pace makes it difficult for me to make it through the entire album; CN1 is an odds-and-ends EP with a great vocal version of “Fish One” from Provisionally Entitled… called “No Doubt” (with vocal hooked based around the lyric “We all got awfully good at dying”); and It Seems completes Newman’s voyage into sequenced new wave with its great synth-heavy opener “Quite Unrehearsed,” but sounds far more dated than any of Newman’s other efforts.

2. Dexter: At the urging of my friend Jackie, I started watching the Showtime/CBS series Dexter last week. It didn’t take me more than five days to make it through the twenty-four available episodes, which is about par for my other speedy television catch-ups (Lost, Friday Night Lights, The Office). The first season was nearly flawless, as the writers balanced Dexter’s serial killer exploits, personal life (sister, girlfriend), professional duties as a blood splatter analyst for Miami PD forensics, and growing recognition of his past with aplomb. The second season had a less grounded plotline, reminding me of some of the lesser moments of recent Friday Night Lights and 24 seasons, but thankfully the resolution didn’t threaten the show’s future appeal. Michael C. Hall’s performance in the title role carries the series, but Julie Benz and Jennifer Carpenter’s respective portrayals of Dexter’s girlfriend and sister give the show depth. Some of the other characters seem more stock than they should, but there is a fairly large ensemble to introduce so perhaps that’s understandable. My biggest question is how much CBS has to edit out of the series in order to re-air the episodes—there is a great deal of blood and a good amount of nudity in the series—and whether fans of CBS’s flagship CSI franchises will appreciate Dexter’s connection to the forensics field despite its deeper bloodlines. In an ironic twist, I missed some of the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament watching the only reasonably good show on CBS on my computer. The third season starts September 30th, giving me something to look forward to a day after my birthday.

3. Wipers - Youth of America: The biggest problem with my current iteration of iPod Chicanery is that I included too many records that simply haven’t connected with me. The Pop Group, Suicide, Pere Ubu, This Heat, and other forays into post-punk haven’t provided the same level of interest as my previous favorites from the era. From the other end of the spectrum, my attempt at finally appreciating Black Flag hasn’t come to fruition, either. While I’m hesitant to say that I enjoy a limited spectrum of post-punk and punk/hardcore, since my tastes may very well evolve to appreciate more of the post- aspects of the genre, hearing the guitar-centric songs of the Wipers was exhilarating. Part of the excitement came from finally understanding where Zoom’s antsy guitar sound came from—I’d seen the Wipers used as a point of comparison in every Zoom review I’d come across, but never bothered to track down the originators until last week. Yet Youth of America has far more value than its guitar sound, since “No Fair,” “When It’s Over,” and the title track provide an epic counterpart to the other three songs’ comparatively lesser scope and place the Wipers (in my mind, at least) firmly in the post-punk canon. Youth of America has a nearly apocalyptic feel in those longer tracks, in part due to Greg Sage’s fondness for spoken-word narratives. I’ve listened to Is This Real? and Over the Edge as well and enjoy both of them, but Youth of America seems closer to the artistic statement records I relish so much (see: first three Wire albums). It’s great that Jackpot has reissued Youth of America and Is This Real? on LP, so hopefully Over the Edge is also forthcoming.

4. M83 – “Kim & Jessie and “Couleurs”: I’ve hesitated from slagging on pre-release albums in the idea that I’m far more concerned with helping people buy records than dissuading them from doing so, but M83’s upcoming Saturdays = Youth is enough of high-profile release that I don’t think my darts will puncture it too badly. I’ll start with the two tracks mentioned, since they’d make an excellent double a-side single if M83 had the stones for it. “Kim & Jessie” is kin to the last record’s twin singles, “Teen Angst” and “Don’t Save Us from the Flames,” but relates even more to 1980s synth-pop, particularly Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels.” It’s no slight to say that “Kim & Jessie” could slip into Donnie Darko’s soundtrack if Richard Kelly’s nostalgia was less of a deciding factor. I’ve already read at least one site mention that “Couleurs” sounds more like a remix of an M83 song than the song itself, but I appreciate the sentiment. If I had to name the remixer, I’d guess Port-Royal, since “Couleurs” sounds enough like Afraid to Dance with less emphasis on crescendos and elongated fade-outs. “Needs more digital cowbell” would be a fine heckle if anyone sees them on their upcoming tour and bonus points if you can do it in French.

Now for the rest of the record. Whereas Dead Cities, etc. worked as an album because the non-singles blended into a greater aesthetic (My Bloody Valentine shoegaze as performed by analog synths), Before the Dawn Heals Us’s increased emphasis on vocals authored several wretched mistakes that crippled the album’s flow. Now Saturdays = Youth attempts to complete the move into a electro-indie band with a new female vocalist and a greater emphasis on rousing anthems like “Teen Angst.” Second single “Graveyard Girl” seems like it’s pandering with a spoken word discussion of what it’s like to be fifteen. “Up!” has the single funniest opening couplet in recent memory, as the female vocalist intones with utmost sincerity that “If I clean my rocket / We’ll go flying today.” The rest of the record tries with varying success to incorporate these female vocals into their synth-pop framework. If I gave the record more time, I’d probably enjoy “We Own the Sky” and “Dark Moves of Love,” but I don’t think I can put that much effort into another ill-fated attempt to revive new wave.

5. Kevin S. Eden - Wire: Everybody Loves a History: I’d argue that I enjoy a history more than most, since I tracked down this rather out-of-print biography of Wire that tracks their careers until 1990’s Manscape. The most surprising aspect of the book is how much of it (55 of 188 pages) covers Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert’s various exploits during Wire’s hiatus between 154 and Snakedrill. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I prefer Colin Newman’s more song-based output during that era, so I was a bit disappointed that nearly a third of my bathroom reading for the next while would be about Dome and modern art installations. It’s interesting to read about the divisions between the Lewis/Gilbert and Newman/Thorne camps that developed during 154, since that record is so clearly a product of internal tensions. Yet I would have preferred more emphasis on the first three records, since they’re Wire’s classics. Perhaps it’s merely the weight of the timeline that is the source of this frustration, since those records were produced in a three-year span and the book covers the decade that follows them. Everybody Loves a History, like many of the 33 1/3 books that have been released recently, is flawed, but worth checking out. If nothing else, it could be a great source of inspiration for a 33 1/3 entry for Chairs Missing or 154.

Some Quick Hits

This clip was featured on VH1’s Best Week Ever, but they didn’t credit the band: Kevin Federline sings a Pilot to Gunner song on One Tree Hill. I would say that the J. Robbins protégés deserved a healthy cut of money for the (mis)use of their song, but perhaps it’s a source of bragging rights in Brooklyn.

There has already been a 2CD benefit compilation for J. Robbins’ son Callum (featuring exclusive songs from Channels, The Life and Times, Mission of Burma, and Pilot to Gunner’s excellent “All the Lights”), but the second benefit release to surface is an entirely different beast. Gordon Withers has recorded an entire album of cello-only Jawbox covers. If you had told me ten years ago that someone had recorded an entire album of cello-only Jawbox covers, I would put good money on it being me, but thankfully Withers is a far superior cellist as his performance on “Desert Sea” attests.

I should probably just do a large YouTube post, but here are some of my recent favorites: Shudder to Think performing “Hit Liquor” and “X-French Tee Shirt” back in 1993, Girls Against Boys performing “Bulletproof Cupid” in 1993, Shannon Wright performing "Louise" in 2007, a batty video for Colin Newman's "B", and a fruity video for Wire's Eardrum Buzz.