Magic is Tragic Mix: February 2013

Yeah, I’m lame and post more mixes than albums these days, but I’ve got an excuse this time. A flu descended upon my abode and my son, wife and I have been recycling some bad hoodoo between us for the past month. Therefore, blogging about unpopular albums fell somewhere between roll over and die and wish for a healthier tomorrow in my daily to-do list. Anyhow, this one is a bit of a sloppy mess of songs that have lightened the load during these contagious times. It falls somewhere between an ode to 90s indie-pop and its forefathers, divergent strains of reggae and library music coupled with the greatest hits of the 60s and 70s compilation that only exists in my mind. Hope you enjoy.

April March & Los Cincos-Baby Blue

New Age Steppers-Fade Away

Melody’s Echo Chamber-I Follow You

Kevin Ayers-May I

Royal Headache-Never Again

The Pastels-Nothing to be Done


Keith Hudson-Playing It Cool

The Baird Sisters-On and On

Robin Artus/Paul Kass-Alphia Micro

Harlem-Friendly Ghost

Ducktails-Hamilton Road

The Oblivians and Quintron-Live the Life

Lower Dens-Tea Lights

Flaming Lips-Hit Me Like You Did the First Time

Times New Viking-No Room to Live

Chris Darrow-Shawnee Moon

Segun Bucknor-La La La(Part One)

Fairport Convention-Million Dollar Bash

Butterglory-Back of My Hand

Guided By Voices-Non-Absorbing

Beau Brummels-Laugh, Laugh

Blawan-Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?

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Oblivians-Sympathy Sessions

October 14, 2008


Sympathy Sessions (Sympathy for the Record Industry 1996)

Outside of the Buzzcocks, Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, I never really got into the poppy punk anthems of contemporaries like the Clash and Ramones. All of the 77-82 punk bands have moments which leave me humming like the fool I am, but I feel more kinship with those who twisted it into grubbier forms. Whether it be the bizarro concoctions on Wire’s first three albums or the Killed by Death series, punk just seemed like it should be alien, aggressive and ugly in its own beautiful manner. My wussy teen years led me to ignore the 60s Nuggets, Pebbles and Back from the Grave comps, but they felt like a stirring slap in the face once I heard the roots on punk in all its catchy and primitive glory.

One of the bands that opened my eyes to the gruff history of punk were the Oblivians. At the time, I had no inkling of their influences and garage rock had more to do with Animal House than anything else. However, their debut singles and eps captured what I always wanted from a punk band. It had a nasty streak a mile wide and the band played the living shit out of each song.  It was fast, shitty-sounding and their live set was a simple reminder that rock and roll can stir you like a gospel anthem in a church full of hopped up folks speaking in tongues.

Sympathy Sessions collects their early singles and eps for the Sympathy label and includes some of their absolute peaks and only a few meager valleys. Their collaboration with Quintron stands as the pinnacle of their career, but this is a great representation of what made them so immediate and special. No frills or ambition to make a grand statement; Sympathy Sessions is a reminder of punk’s kinship with 60s rock, gospel, R&B and the power of a bad attitude. It is a revival session for folks with a hankering for trouble.


These Hands of Mine (Skin Graft 1998 )

Like many of you, my phobias are somewhat irrational. I flinch at the sight of Great White Sharks. When Deep Blue Sea came out, I had to cover my eyes during all movie previews because I couldn’t bear the sight of animatronic sharks on the big screen. I even get nervous on boats due to the possibility that a fin may break through the waves. Rollercoasters are another thorn in my side. I’ve ridden on some rickety devices and screamed like a baby after the first moments of an incline. However, I always hold this album in high esteem for its ability to provide retard strength on a trip to Kennywood Amusement Park.

I was visiting Pittsburgh and we had the bright idea to get high and listed to Quintron’s These Hands of Mine all the way to Kennywood as I kept puffing away in the hope that it would alleviate my anxiety about hurtling to my death on a goddamn ride. Looking back, this was not the best course of action, but it worked like a charm. I became a big boy and laughed like a village idiot on every accursed contraption in my path. Quintron was the carnival barker that I needed to prod me out of my skin.

My sober self prefers his work on the Bulb label or his collaboration with the Oblivians, but I always loved Quintron’s thoroughly campy and sleazy version of r&b and soul on These Hands of Mine. I’m always a sucker for the Hammond organ, so its prevalence on this record makes it even more appealing to me. It’s hard to name an influence or touchstone for his work because I don’t know if anyone else has orbited this planet before. It’s sloppy as hell. Nothing is actually catchy. The co-star of this mess is the Drum Buddy, a “mechanically-rotating, five-oscillator, light-activated drum machine which can either be set to play automatically, or manipulated to create a number of different sound effects.” He uses his wife Flossie to provide high-pitched, cartoonish backing vocals to his rants. It’s downright mental and I don’t recommend it to everyone, but it’s a lovably noisy and absurd mess that serves as an excellent soundtrack for your next road trip to an amusement park.