Must be a bad week, cuz he’s writing about music again…

I’m sure that joke’s gonna get old pretty quick. Doesn’t mean I won’t beat it to death, I’m just acknowledging my faults. Dig?

In perfect seriousness, it has been a pretty bad week. What am I talking about. It’s been a bad month and year. Since I’m pledged to not letting this turn into one of those whining, self-reflective, tedious blogs that indie rockers (you know who you are, and if I ever get my hands on you I’ll give you something real to cry about) are so fond of writing, I’ll spare you folks and just write some more about good ol’ rock and roll.

Last year I ended up the somewhat less than proud owner of a stand-alone CD burner. I’m less than proud about it because I’m one of those dorks who thinks CDs are evil. That I now have the means to make CDs of my own chafes my hide just a wee bit. Ultimately I got this thing because I needed it. In one of my many other lives I do audio engineering for bands with less than no budget. When I do a recording the folks I work for expect me to hand them a finished product that they can listen to and duplicate as needed. I used to record to DAT, but since next to no one I worked with had a DAT machine this meant that I was forced to spend hours transferring the DAT tapes into my computer so that I could edit them and burn a CD to give to the band. A real pain in the ass. So, I got a CD burner. Now I finish a session, take the CD home, dupe it enough times for the band, give them their copies and I’m done.

Of course I couldn’t possibly leave the CD burner just sitting there during the months that no one asks me to do any recording for them. Heavens no. It was inevitable that I’d end up making compilation CDs from my and my wife’s vast record collections. I’ve been making comp tapes on cassette for friends as birthday and holiday gifts ever since I got my first cassette deck when I was about 17 years old. And to be perfectly honest, I’m damned good at it. I’ve made some tapes that I go back and listen to (I always make an archive copy for myself – saves me making tapes for myself) and I’m just blown away by how cool they are. I seriously have a hard time most of the time believing that it was me who made the tape I’m listening to.

Well, last year sometime I’d made a tape for a friend and was astonished to be told by them a few months later that they’d never listened to it. It seems that this individual did not, in fact, own a cassette player of any kind. So I ended up dubbing the tape over to a CD. Thus began the brave new world of comp CD making for yours truly.

To be honest, I don’t much care for it. There’s no finesse involved. With a mix tape you are constantly struggling to get the transitions just right, popping the tape out of the deck numerous times to nudge it back a few seconds with your fingers. CDs don’t work that way at all. All the transitions are clean as can be unless you make a mistake. Oooh, and if that happens you have to scrap the CDR. Really annoying.

So anyway, tonight I was making a comp CD for a friend as an Xmas gift. This is someone whose loyalty and steadfast friendship to me has often amazed the shit out of me. This man has been at the brunt of me being a total asshole a few more times than most people would or should tolerate. And yet the worst he’s ever done is not talk to me for a few months at a time. I don’t deserve such a friend. This fact is made particularly clear by the fact that my idea of a good holiday gift for him is a comp CD of some of my current favorite songs. Someone needs to sock me in the nose, I tell ya.

My other musical thought of the moment has to do with has to do with my utter amazement and wonder at how dismal a year this has been for new music. Here’s some shit I’ve liked this year:

Bottles + Skulls – Born In A Black Light
I cannot and will not say enough good things about these guys and this record. This is some thunderous and powerful stuff. I’ve been saying for about three years, maybe more, that Bottles + Skulls are the best band in San Francisco. More than once I’ve said that they’re the best things I’ve seen in SF since I was going to see the Dead Kennedys back in the mid 1980s.

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
Yeah, I know, this was a pretty big hit (for a record made by a bunch of druggies). Pretty mainstream alternapoop in a way, but I honestly really liked this record. It goes without saying that Dave Grohl’s drumming took them over the top. He did things on this record that made my jaw drop. Why he wants to front a band as a mediocre singer who can barely play guitar instead of being one of THE great rock drummers really is beyond me.

Electric Six – Fire
Ok, I admit it, I got turned on to these guys because of that bootleg Flash video for “Gay Bar” that used cut up footage from the Bush/Blair joint press conference where they announced the war on Iraq. This really is a very good record though. If you know me you know of my not-so-secret love of disco. I never understood why disco was supposed to suck. Nope. To me good dance music is always gonna get me going. This record is disco rock. Big guitars and great dance beats. The lyrics are hilarious to boot. How could you not love a record with a song called “Dance Commander” on it, let alone with one called “Improper Dancing.” I’ve done a bit of that myself from time to time.

Gore Gore Girls – Up All Night
Two girls, a drumset, some guitars, a bass and Jim Diamond. Wahoo!

The Dirtbombs – Dangerous Magical Noise
I honestly didn’t think Mick Collins was going to be able to follow up “Ultraglide In Black” with anything. That’s the risk of doing a record that’s 90% covers of songs written by really great songwriters. It’s always hard to come back with your own songs and not look half-assed. Well, Mick and co. managed it pretty well. Groovaliciousness abounds.

That’s enough for now.

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