I had no intentions of listening to Raffi or limp-dick classical music or Kidz Bop. Because I love my job, I also had no intentions of putting on Return to Metalopolis or Zombi and being like, "There's no swearing and it's virtuosic! What great music for kids!" just to be an asshole. After awhile, I ended coming back to these albums again and again. I can't guarantee that it's worthwhile or sinking in, but you could say the same thing about math.
Jim O'Rourke - Bad Timing
This album is pretty even sounding until some majestic, closing-movie-credits horn arrangement comes out of nowhere towards the back half. I always end up running into the kitchen to shut it off around then, because it’s around 7:45 in the morning at that point, and I don’t feel like hearing Jim O’Rourke’s interpretation of what a Clint Eastwood western would be like if he flew to the sun on the back of a dinosaur at the end.
I put this album on after hours at the bar I work at and my buddy Zach asked if it was Al Di Meola, which kind of sucks.
Chet Baker - Chet Baker Sings
Thankfully, the kids are still about fifteen years and several failed attempts at fucking a girl who looks like Death from the Sandman comics away from knowing anything about that documentary. For as much instrumental music as I play at the school, it’s nice to get something with vocals in. This isn’t nearly as desolate as Baker’s lispy cover of Elvis Costello’s “Almost Blue” years later, and not as flip as some of the ballads albums he did for drug money. I think the kids would actually dig it if they weren’t busy yelling over it because they’re stoked I built a four foot tower out of some wood blocks.
Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man
This one is mostly instrumental with random smatterings of jive soul nonsense thrown in because it’s Marvin Gaye, so who gives a shit. It’s like sexy meth head open mic rambling. Apparently it’s the soundtrack to a Blaxploitation movie about a detective named Mr. T who is also a pool shark attempting to clean up the ghetto. I haven’t seen it and I probably don’t need to because it uses a dice game as a major plot device and life is pretty short.
Whenever I put this on, one of the parents dropping of their kid will almost always do a little head nod and be like, “Yeah, we’re really jamming now!” Iowa is the whitest place on earth. Everyone owns the soundtrack to The Big Chill and has a favorite sandwich at Subway.
Toe - The Book About My Idle Plot On A Vague Anxiety
For all the weaving and patchwork of the guitars, the drummer’s probably the best part. Usually I don’t want to listen to a band where the drummer’s the best part because they think they’re Led Zeppelin but they’ve actually just been playing the same blues riff for twenty minutes while some prick does fey wrist movements on his and-a hi-hat hits.
There’s a Toe album where some girl does weird techno-pop vocal punching—or at least that’s how I remember it—over top of the band and some more EPs that are all right, so this and Songs, Ideas We Forgot are the one I end up playing the most. This band and that heavy metal shred game show where Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman cut heads and speak very campy Japanese are almost enough to make up for all the cartoon tentacle porn and vending machines that sell used panties.
Tristeza - Spine and Sensory
It was actually the second Tristeza record, Dream Signals In Full Circles, I had back then. Like Air’s Moon Safari or Unwed Sailor’s The Faithful Anchor, we only listened to it once or twice for whatever reason. Years later I wanted to hear some emo stuff without the vocals, because I hadn’t gotten laid in a long time but was mostly at terms with it. Remembered Tristeza and checked out the wrong record, Spine and Sensory, which I like a lot more.
TL;DR: This is a good album and I don't want kids.
The Score for David Lynch's The Straight Story
I came back years later and tried Eraserhead, and thought it was like what happens when some kid gets too much money to make his entrance tape for film school. Blue Velvet had cool cars in it and I really loved Wild At Heart because it’s got Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern listening to thrash. Twin Peaks is great for awhile until that one chick turns into a knob on a cabinet or whatever. Audrey and Cooper never banging is horseshit.
I still haven’t seen The Straight Story, but I think I would really like it. Whenever I listen to the score I always mishear the kids and end up thinking they’re talking about manic depressive states and hyper-realistic alternate realities. Either Lynch really knows how to get the most out of sonic elements or I’m more deaf than I thought from years of practicing with a dumb stoner rock band without earplugs in a 9’x9’ room.
Eluvium - An Accidental Memory In the Case of Death
I watched a dude play entire Lizst compositions from memory before and I don’t think the Eluvium dude could hack that. Not that there isn’t a lot of middle ground, but this feels like classical music for dipshits. Which is fine, because if some kid is telling me a ten minute story about how they saw a bird at the park the other day, I don’t want a blanket of piano hitting me in the back of the head. It’s hard enough trying to guess what kind of bird they’re talking about based only on the description of “my grandpa threw his cigarette at the bird and then the bird ate it.”
Sigur Rós -Heim
This is the last thing by these guys I really dig. The one after this sounded like Animal Collective and the one after that was pretty middle of the road. This one sounds like what I imagine Weird Al sounds like if you run his songs through one of those programs that slows stuff down by 400%.
I keep wanting this one girl at school to hear this because I think she'd get it. She randomly says stuff like “My name’s Debbie, and there’s a party in my body,” and “Oh, the concerts! My mother will kiss me!” apropos of nothing. One time she drew a bunch of random letters on a toy chalkboard and when I asked her if it says that we’re best friends she turned around and said, “Uhhh, these aren’t words.”
Gary Burton - Who Is Gary Burton?
1) The percussion/jazz professor during my two years as a music major was a dude named Joe Caploe. One time he told me about how he wanted to audition for Thin Lizzy and “really fuck them up, man.” He’s a monster behind a drumset but he absolutely kills it on the vibes. (The music ones, not the Teaches a Class On Sandal Tightenting At the Y and Doesn’t Tip When Ordering a Beer ones.) He told me that in the 70s he’d play four-mallet electric vibes with “like, forty ProCo Rat pedals hooked up to it,” which may be a bunch of bullshit, but is an awesome enough thing to think about that it doesn’t really matter.
2) Some drumline instructor I knew gave me a copy of Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians back when I was really into finding similar alternatives to doing drugs, like listening to Spine of God by Monster Magnet and falling asleep in public a lot. I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to the whole thing and I’ve been listening to it monthly for about a decade. I put it on and try to follow one of the pulses, but they all fade into each other so weird that my brain is like, “Hey, this is less like watching wrestling and more like doing math. I’m going to sleep.” Now I mostly listen to Reich’s Six Marimbas, which my girlfriend hates. She never did an album with Pat Methany, though, so I like her more than Reich by default.
3) I have no idea how I got this Gary Burton record, but I listen to it all the time, especially when the only other similar options at school are moozak versions of popular songs played from a Pandora station with ads off an iPad. Those nasty, soaring notes in “Sweet Child O’ Mine” as played on a marimba are only slightly more tolerable than listening to Axl sing them now. So, fuck it, put on Gary Burton.
Bill Evans Trio - Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Here’s how I explained it to a four-year-old recently. Let’s say you’re playing Kid’s First Memory Game and you get really good at it. You practice all the time and develop that part of your brain that remembers stuff. Sometimes you accidentally knock the tiles off the table, but it’s an accident. One day, your friends watch you play and are amazed. The next day, they all want to play Kid’s First Memory Game, but they’re kind of dumb and the only thing they remember you doing it knocking the tiles off the table, which is how they think the game is played. Nobody has any fun and I need to take a two hour nap when I get home. Fast forward twenty years and everyone but you has a goatee and a three word band name with the word “Fire” in it.
Morton Feldman - Rothko Chapel/Why Patterns?
It’s between Morrissey and Motley Crue on my iPod that I still can’t work the wheel on correctly, so most of the time I end up accidentally playing the opening to Dr. Feelgood or Bona Drag. I’d never play either one of those for kids because they both usually make sure the point in their lives where they shrug off falling asleep while crying into a dude’s crotch come far too early and far too often.