I added a few more music mixes to the archive page for my streaming sets. Simmer (Mix 56) is from last month featuring a blend of ska, reggae, vocal jazz, latin jazz, and rock. Rock1 and Rock2 (Mixes 5 and 6) are two hard-rocking sets from 2016 featuring punk, metal, psych, garage, doom, and more — with a few other things to spice them up. Enjoy!
If you’ve enjoyed the virtual “mix tapes” I’ve been posting here since late last year, then visit the new page that collects them all for your listening pleasure:
I once thought I would end this mix series after the fiftieth recorded set. But thanks to other DJs, I kept discovering new music. That’s the beauty of hanging out with other music maniacs. Plus, I now realize that several styles I love are grossly under-represented, from modern jazz to classical music of India. So you know what? The PBN will live on and explore more sonic territory.
Thank you for supporting the Puma Broadcasting Network, a division of the Feline Liberation Front. Long live the resistance.
PBN SET 18: SUBWOOFER
Subwoofer is a hearty blend of heavy riff-rock and hip-hop seasoned with electronic dance music and punk.
Monster Truck – Sweet Mountain River
Godsmack – Cryin’ Like A Bitch
DJ Kay Slay – 60 Second Assassins
Larry Tee & Princess Superstar – Licky (Vandalism Remix)
Puma Broadcasting Network – Station ID 7
Crookers + Rye Rye – Hip Hop Changed
Snoop Dogg – Bitch Please (with Nate Dogg and Xzibit)
KLF – 3 a.m. Eternal (1991)
Sound Out – Gotta Be Acid (Original Mix)
Architectural – Peacetime
The Chemical Brothers – Get Yourself High
Way out West – Domination (Bonkers Break Beat Mix)
SNWCRSH – Party Mix (Excerpt)
Grinderman/UNKLE – Hyper Worm Tamer
Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows (Unkle Reconstruction)
Unkle – In a State
Wo Fat – Analog Man
Om – Unitive Knowledge of the Godhead
Puma Broadcasting Network – Station ID 2
Rollins Band + Chuck D: Rise Above (Black Flag)
The Donnas – All Messed Up
T Rex Quiet – Millennium Breath
Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable
I met Pi this year in cartoon world, when a friend invited me to Pi’s virtual music and art club Blush Response to hear a techno set. Electronic dance music isn’t my favorite thing, but as a veteran raver of the early 90s, I can still groove to some flavors of techno, and Pi had her finger right on that button. She also mixed absolutely killer hip-hop sets — so killer that I eventually stopped writing down all her tracks and started recording her entire sets.
Those recordings might be all I have to remember her by now. Though I was just a fan, I empathize with her close friends who are mourning her sudden disappearance. I’ve been there, too.
In the spirit of sharing music and rocking out to awesome tunes together, here are the five Pi sets I recorded in June and July 2019. These were made for my personal enjoyment, so please forgive their slight imperfections: they are only 128 Kbps, they sometimes miss the beginning of the first song, and they sometimes drop out for a couple seconds when the music stream dropped while I was recording.
But they also totally jam, and since Pi was notorious for not recording her sets — something we joked about just two weeks ago — I think a few of her friends might like to have these, and that a few readers of this blog will also get their minds blown by these jams. And the music will live on.
Listen or download the MP3 files:
DJ Pi – Hard Techno Set at Blush Response – 06 July 2019
DJ Pi – Hip-Hop Set at Chest Rockwell Suite – 14 June 2019
DJ Pi – Hip-Hop Set at Chest Rockwell Suite – 21 June 2019
DJ Pi – Hip-Hop Set at Chest Rockwell Suite – 28 June 2019
DJ Pi – Hip-Hop Set at Chest Rockwell Suite – 05 July 2019
PBN SET 55: Collision
The Turbo A.C.s – Collision Course
Lazy Cowgirls – But It’s Alright Now
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Driving South (live on BBC)
Fu Manchu – Hell on Wheels
Core – The Monolith Problem
Frank Black and the Catholics – I Switched You
Reverend Horton Heat – Slow
Los Lonely Boys – Señorita
Hank Williams III – Hillbilly Joker
Life Leone – Trust Me
Hangmen – Wild Beast
The Freeks – The Secret Pathway
Stanton Moore – Stanton Hits the Bottle
Brian Setzer – Hell Bent
Tito and Tarantula – Hungry Sally
Jimmy Barnes and Joe Bonamassa – Lazy (Deep Purple)
Larry Terry – Hep Cat
Contours – First I Look at the Purse
Walter Trout and the Radicals – The Best You Got
Cowbell – Never Satisfied
Death Lens – No Colt No Johnny
Flatliners – Cry Cry Cry (Johnny Cash)
Joyce Green – Black Cadillac
The Volcanics – Get a Move On
Moods – Rum Drunk (1966)
The Remains – Why Do I Cry
Johnny Burnette – Rock Billy Boogie
The Brain Setzer Orchestra – ’49 Mercury Blues
Suns Evil Twin – Dream On
Jesse James – Red Hot Rockin’ Blues
Benny Joy – Spin The Bottle
Ronnie Allen – Juvenile Delinquent
Hillbilly Hellcats – Cats Like Us
Velcro Lewis Group – Bernadette
The Maharajas – Weekend Sparks
Little Barrie – I.5.C.A.
InHeaven – Treats
Strangers Family Band – Elle S Dee
Los Lobos – That Train Don’t Stop Here
Floyd Lee – Down in Lamar
Iron Horse – Want a Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)
PBN SET 54: Epilogue
Hank Williams Jr. – Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
Snow – Informer
Clutch – 12-Ounce Epilogue
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Boogieman Sam
The Black Keys – Weight of Love
Smashing Pumpkins – Transmission (Joy Division)
Imperial Wax – Art of Projection
AWOL One – Ignorance
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – Booty City
Drake Bell – Runaway Boys
George Carlin – People I Can Do Without (live)
FeverTree – I Can Beat Your Drum
Red Foley – Smoke on the Water (1944)
Iron Horse – When the Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin)
Marlena Shaw – California Soul
Charles Bradley – Love Bug Blues (live)
Shatner – Heterosapien
Kill for Eden – Kerosene
Throw Rag – She Don’t Want To (She Don’t Care)
Black Bone Nation – I Wanna Live
The Grizzled Mighty – Get Your Way
The Bots – Ubiquitous
Morlocks – Sex Panther
Raconteurs – These Stones Will Shout
Revered Horton Heat – Big Little Baby
Crystal Syphon – Marcy, Your Eyes
Ron Gallo – Put the Kids to Bed
The Haunted – 1-2-5
The Shots – Keep a Hold of What You’ve Got
Tom Morello – Rabbit’s Revenge (feat. Bassnectar, Big Boi, and Killer Mike)
Creative Waste – Slaves to Conformity
PBN SET 50: GLUE9
Valravn – Krummi
Gjallarhorn – O-Vals
Faun – Von den Elben
Hoven Droven – Slentbjenn
Goat – Stonegoat
Lillasyster – Nu har jag fått nog (Akustisk)
Delerium/Katharine Blake/Mediæval Bæbes – Extollere
Bjorn Berge – Honey White (Morphine)
Jane’s Addiction – The Riches
Iron Horse – Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)
No Mad – Mental Revolution
R.E.M. – Crush with Eyeliner
Little Barrie – I.5.C.A.
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Dustbins of History
Swans – Alcohol the Seed
Stef Chura – Method Man
Bjørn Berge – We’re Gonna Groove (Led Zeppelin)
Sonic Youth – Renegade Princess
Whiskeydick – Drunk as Hell
Midnight Oil – The Dead Heart
All Them Witches – Charles William
Beck – Think I’m in Love
Lo Fidelity Allstars – Battleflag
Crystal Method – Vapor Trail
Missy Elliott – Lose Control (feat Ciara and Fat Man Scoop)
Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance
Hills – Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd
I posted a lot of music sets in the past few months without any explanation or context. Let’s remedy that oversight.
In late 2012, some friends of mine in cartoon world put together a training session so more people could stream music into our little fantasy land. It had been about ten years since I volunteered as a DJ and sound engineer at public radio stations on college campuses, so streaming sounded like a fun way to scratch my DJ itch. Plus, the chatroom aspect of cartoon world promised to be more interactive than hiding in the basement of some campus building for several hours without anyone to talk to other than the occasional musical guest or friend who dropped by.
I picked up the basics quickly, since they are way less complicated than mixing boards, patch bays, CD players, record players, and all the other toys in your typical 1990s college radio station. Over the next six years, I streamed music sets in cartoon world for private parties, public events, and various virtual clubs who were reckless enough to give me the power to control sound.
I never liked keeping a rigid schedule, due to my completely aberrant sleep patterns, but I enjoyed being a “fill-in” DJ with no responsibilities and using my magical powers over sound to help train aspiring DJs and troubleshoot technical problems for them. That way, I could contribute to the thriving DJ subculture in cartoon world without stressing over any of it.
This was also the period where, because of my love for mountain lions, I invented the imaginary “Puma Broadcasting Network”, which eventually made its way into fiction as the pirate radio station featured in The Adventures of Meteor Mags and Patches. That’s why you see the music sets tagged and labeled with “PBN”.
In those six years, I discovered a cartoon club that became my favorite virtual venue to listen to tunes. With DJs from the UK, Europe, South America, and the States, this international group of pixel pals had a taste for modern and vintage psychedelic rock that was right up my sonic alley. It seemed like every time I went there, I discovered my new favorite band, or at least a band I couldn’t live without hearing more of. The venue is the Glue House, and the folks who run it also run my favorite Internet radio station, GRRR Radio.
By the end of 2018, several regular weekly slots at Glue House had become open as people moved on to other things in life. I thought it might be fun to put together some music sets specifically for the Glue crew, sets focused on a massively broad genre I invented to cover everything I love about Glue House musical tastes: The Retro Psychedelic Garage. I also throw in some retro jams from a genre I file under Metal Shit, which includes music people call Doom Metal, and some rad instrumental music people have given the ridiculous label of Post-Rock. Spice up the mix with ska, hip-hop, industrial, piano ballads, songs about cats, and whatever musical obsessions I have that week. Throw it all in a blender and pour it right into your gluey little earholes!
Anyway, I got clearance to DJ at Glue House, and magical music powers from the club owner, and I started with the modest goal of doing every Tuesday in February to test the waters. It went well, and I signed up to do every Tuesday in March, too. Every Tuesday you’ve seen a “Glue” set posted, it’s the set I played that day at Glue House.
I might need to take April and May off to focus on my university coursework, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my two-month run at one of my favorite virtual venues and sharing the sets with you on this blog.
Glue8 is a 169-minute music set I streamed in March 2019. You can listen or download as an mp3 free of charge at: https://app.box.com/s/at47dy5degnpqrqv907riqdsapwzrx1u
The set list is available as a text file.
PBN Set 43: Glue8
Clark S. Nova – Reborn Again
Nova Driver – Particle Explosion
Cherokees – I’ve Gone Wild
Tito & Tarantula – Wild Love
Answer – Memphis Water
Madilyn Bailey – Titanium
Cambrian Explosion – Crust of Theia
Albatross Overdrive – Calico
Rollins Band – Marcus Has the Evil in Him (live)
Urban Dance Squad – Good Grief
India/Tito Puente – Fever
Fumaça Preta – La Trampa
Mitch Hedberg – Pizza
Beastie Boys – An Open Letter to NYC
NaS & Damian Marley – Friends
Bassnectar – Do It Like This
Plump DJs – System Addict
Dope – You Spin Me Round
Black Angels – Surf City (Revisited)
Black Angels – Paladin’s Last Stand
Black Furs – Warm Satisfaction
Black Furs – Devil Got Me on the Road
Wayne Hancock – Goin’ to Texas When I’m Through
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Smash It Up!/TV Eye (live)
Fugazi – Full Disclosure
Fugazi – Exit Only
John Prine – Please Don’t Bury Me
Bob Dylan – Tangled Up in Blue
Wayne Hancock – California Blues
Andromeda – Too Old
Andromeda – And Now the Sun Shines
Dogfeet – For Mary
Hard Meat – Through a Window
Colour Haze – Into Her Garden
Dwellers – Creature Comfort
Dwellers – Totem Crawler
Blind Faith – Do What You Like
Glue6 is a 143-minute music set I streamed in March 2019. You can listen and download as an mp3 file free of charge at: https://app.box.com/s/45drk49j055o3wl5sn4zfgj3uhk5hvum
The set list is available as a text file.
PBN SET 41: GLUE6
SNL – More Cowbell (excerpt)
VomitFace – Sloppy Joes
Dogs – John Rock Roll Sinclair
The The – Dogs of Lust
Mitch Hedberg – Death Metal
Black Market Karma – Jingle
If These Trees Could Talk – Solstice
Limiñanas – DownUnderground
Cambrian Explosion – Mugen = Mugen
Eden Rose – Faster And Faster
Elephant Stone – Don’t You Know
Comanechi – Love is the Cure
Pink Fits – I’m on the Red
Pearl Jam – All Night
The Flaming Sideburns – Let Me Go
The Freeks – Bitchin’
Ron Gallo – Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me
Temples – Shelter Song
Ty Segall – You’re the Doctor
King Khan and BBQ Show – Zombies
Puddy – I Gave You My Love, You Gave Me the Clap
The Datsuns – Freeze Sucker
The Shots – Keep a Hold of What You’ve Got
Smog – Wicked Man
Big Chief – Fresh Vines
The Flaming Sideburns – Funk 49 (James Gang)
Ron Gallo – Please Yourself
Ron Gallo – Put The Kids To Bed
Titanic – One Night in Eagle Rock
Sunsets – The Hot Generation
The Sacred Mushroom – I Don’t Like You
The Sacred Mushroom – You Won’t Be Sorry
Screen Vinyl Image – Lost in Repeat
Samsara Blues Experiment – Vipassana
Gallon Drunk – Before the Fire (excerpt)
Engelbert Humperdinck – Lesbian Seagull
If These Trees Could Talk – From Roots to Needles
Jam Room, which you might have seen posted here in 2018 in its original draft form, is a one-scene episode in The Adventures of Meteor Mags and Patches. Honestly, Jam Room should have been combined with the previous full-length episode: Rings of Ceres. But it wasn’t until after Rings was published and I started the next story that I realized I’d forgotten something.
Since the scene didn’t fit the pacing of the title story in The Battle of Vesta 4, I made it a standalone piece followed by supplemental material not included here: song lyrics from–and magazine interviews with–bands and characters in the stories. Mags and her crew might be villainous pirates, but they are also talented musicians. Jam Room is the crew’s last jam session before the life-changing events at Mags’ birthday party, and it shows how “the new girl” from Rings of Ceres makes friends with her eventual bandmates in Dumpster Kittens.
9 November 2029: Vesta 4.
The day before her 106th birthday, Meteor Mags showed off her drum set to the new girl, Jinx. The two convened in the jam room Mags set up so Sarah and Anton could practice and work on songwriting.
Patches stretched out with her eyes closed, resting her fuzzy face on one outstretched limb atop a tube head on an Orange amplifier.
“It’s a beautiful kit,” said Jinx.
“Bird’s-eye maple,” said Mags. “Custom-built on Mars. But if I had it to do over, I’d go with mahogany. Not as pretty, but a heavier sound that could kick a god in the balls.”
“Can I play it?”
“Anytime you want, dear. But if you fuck it up, you’re paying to fix it. Deal?” Mags held out her hand, enclosed in a fingerless biker glove.
Jinx slapped her hand into the older woman’s leathered grip. “Deal.”
Mags’ eyes twinkled like stars in a telescope’s glass. “Check out this bass pedal. I keep tweaking the action on it, but I think I got the right tension now.”
Bronze cymbals glowed in the jam room’s light. They perched atop polished chrome stands and hardware. The bass head bore a ring of skulls. Mags sat on the drum stool. Her ample backside and swishing, fluffy tail enveloped it.
Jinx said, “I thought you’d play with a double kick.”
Mags scoffed. “Batalla plays a double kick for the 78s, but I prefer the old-school approach. One foot for the bass, and one for the high-hat.” She gave the high-hat an expressive flourish, demonstrating its glistening sound closed, open, and a half-dozen states in-between. “All about that high-hat.”
Corrugated foam panels lined the walls to reduce the ambient, reflected noise of the kit and the stacks of amplifiers around it. A hint of jasmine piped through the air vents to mask the stale scent of recycled air. Tattered couches and love seats along the walls sat so close to the array of instruments that ear damage was practically guaranteed, but they gave the close quarters a lived-in, homey feeling.
On one couch, Tarzi reclined with his feet on an armrest and his head smushed against a pillow on the other. He had arrived a few hours earlier after spending his morning in a spacecraft with Ryder. The older man’s conversation left him with a need to immerse himself in George Orwell’s book, Homage to Catalonia. He lifted an eyebrow to gaze over the top of the memoir. “John Bonham didn’t need two kick drums.”
Mags pointed a drumstick at the adolescent she affectionately called her nephew. “Right on, T-man. All in the wrists? All in the ankle, too. Speed, precision, lightness, power.” Mags pounded the bass pedal with her right foot and made it fire as rapidly as a machine gun.
Jinx took note. “How do you get it to go so fast but still keep time?”
“Come here and watch.”
Jinx stepped behind the kit and observed.
Mags blasted another staccato bass burst. Then she rested her sticks on the snare head. “Stay loose. You can’t tense up. But you need to stay firm, too. Don’t get all flabby. When you find that balance, you can do anything. I don’t just mean with a drum. I mean anything in life.”
Jinx did her best to absorb this advice. “When my ankle gets better, I’ll be all over it.”
“That’s the spirit.” Mags twirled the drumsticks in a blur. “Sarah and Anton could use a drummer, and you seem like you have the right attitude. Why don’t you show me what you got, but without the footwork?” Mags held out the sticks.
Jinx grabbed them. As soon as Mags slipped off the stool, Jinx filled it. She adjusted the tilt of the ride and crash cymbals, brought the high-hat a little closer, and executed a brief roll across the three rack toms from smallest to largest, ending with the floor tom. “You’re taller than me,” she said. “But I can work with this.”
Tarzi called out, “Drum solo!”
Jinx twirled her sticks with almost as much panache as Mags, tossed one into the air, and caught it. “You’re on.”
Mags lit a stolen cigarette and appraised the girl’s technique and timing. Jinx blasted into a speedy 4/4 punk beat then stretched it out into a flurry of syncopated, off-beat fills—not with the facility of a seasoned New Orleans drummer, but showing solid ideas and spontaneity.
A knowing smile crept across the smuggler’s face. Jinx was not yet a percussion expert, but she would be just what Sarah and Anton needed to jam out their tunes and kick some arse: straight-ahead rock beats, with a generous amount of creativity to help their songwriting and improvisation. Mags made a mental note to thank Tinta for the introduction.
Sarah ran into the room, dragging Anton behind her as she had nearly every hour of every day since the boy’s father brought him to Vesta. His embarrassed expression of the first few days had disappeared, and a newfound contentedness shone on the face of the boy who had so recently lived under the threat of terror on Mars.
Mags said, “Now this jam session can officially start.” No one heard her over Jinx’s drumming.
Jinx saw the founding members of Dumpster Kittens and stopped playing. She didn’t smile, but she lifted her head in a gesture of recognition.
Sarah said, “That would be a cool beat for Agents of Cruelty! Are you feeling better?”
“Fever’s gone,” said Jinx. “Ankle is damned useless right now, but at least it isn’t throbbing.”
Mags introduced Anton to Tarzi, and a comfortable chatter filled the room.
Ryder showed up to see what all the racket was about, and another round of introductions followed.
Mags said, “This is the guy who planned the Yeltsin job.”
“I’m retired,” Ryder lied. “Now I’m just a chauffeur to Mags’ teenage sidekicks.” He plopped down on the edge of Tarzi’s couch.
The young man held out a hand and received a hearty slap on his open palm. “Thanks for the lift.”
Mags asked, “Are you two friends now?”
Tarzi said, “You were right about his having shite taste in music but awesome stories.”
“Dude,” said Ryder, “I played you the good stuff.”
“Sweet bleeding fuck,” said Tarzi. “It was like eight hours of Ted Nugent.”
“That reminds me,” said Mags. “Drum fills! Some of the all-time greatest are in Stranglehold. We need to add that to our list.”
Tarzi said, “I am not putting that right-wing jackass on our list.”
“Then I am,” said Mags. She took the sticks from Jinx and settled again on her drum stool.
Anton piped up. “We could do a jam on it. The riff is pretty easy.” He lifted a Gibson SG from its stand and tuned it.
Tarzi returned to reading. “All hope is lost.”
Sarah said, “I don’t know the words.”
“I got you covered.” Ryder snatched up a pencil and paper. He recited the words as he wrote, until he came to the second verse. “The road I travel’s a—” He raised his head. “Mags?”
“She’s just a little girl. Are you sure you want her singing this?”
“Because it says bitch? Jesus, Ryder, you’re getting soft in your old age. This girl’s seen some shit you don’t even know about. Sarah, what’s a bitch?”
A pair of sweet, angelic eyes met Mags’. “A female dog. Or, in prison, a person who performs sexual favors for protection from gang violence.”
Mags pointed a drumstick at Ryder. “See?”
“Oookay. Bitch it is.” He completed the line on the paper. “And if your house gets in my way, baby—”
Tarzi barely lifted his eyes from the pages. “We’ll get sued for this, you know. Quoting song lyric without permission.”
Mags laughed. “The Nuge was assassinated when he ran for President in 2020. Nobody’s suing us over Stranglehold. And if they do, I’ll kick their arse.”
Sarah asked, “What’s the melody?”
Ryder sang a few lines for her.
Celina appeared in the doorway. “For fuck’s sake, Ryder. Sing it in the right key!”
“Celina!” He descended on her like a storm and crushed her in a hug, sloshing her drink over her hand. “Goddamn, is it good to see you again!”
Celina slapped his bum. “You too, you lousy felon. Now let go, before I suffocate.”
He released her, but his eyes were held captive, and his smile faded not one bit. “What’s a key?”
Celina rolled her eyes and wiped her wet hand on her jeans. “Let me do this.”
Sarah listened intently to the older woman’s singing. “I can do that.” She stepped up to the mic. “Who starts?”
Mags aimed a drumstick at Kaufman’s boy. “Anton. I’ll count it off.” She smacked the sticks together crisply four times, establishing the tempo.
The young man began the riff, looking to Mags to make sure he had it right.
She gave him a wink and a smile and four extra bars to get settled. Over the blaring guitar amplifier and its crackling distortion, she shouted to Sarah. “Ready?”
Sarah closed her eyes. Anton’s riff was a warm liquid, a comforting bed of fuzz, a sound as soothing as a city being bombed off the map.
On Anton’s eighth time through the riff, Mags exploded a drum fill on snare and bass. It shook the room so hard the building seemed in danger of falling off the asteroid into space. The precise, sharp sting of her snare made Ryder jump. He’d almost forgotten what a musician his partner in crime was.
The twelve-year-old Sarah launched into the first line. She didn’t really know how a dog in heat felt, but she was pretty sure it felt like kicking arse, the freedom to say anything, and a desire for something immediate and personal.
Celina sipped Kraken black rum, nonplussed by the wave of sonic annihilation rolling over her. She tapped her foot as if the ear-splitting racket from the speakers was the most natural thing in the world. With cool detachment, she noticed the new girl’s eyes never left Mags.
As Sarah’s vocal chords ripped into the verse about bitches and houses burning, Celina considered Jinx. Many of the young women the Australian had worked with in the club over the past few years were basically nice girls who had survived terrible events. But this newcomer had a good helping of the antagonistic, punk-rock attitude Mags exuded. It was a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, it showed an inner anger and strength. On the other, it might be a guard against a deeper, overwhelming sadness. Rage was a wall, a barrier, and Celina wondered what unspoken torments Jinx carried with her. Would they destroy the young woman, or was she strong enough to conquer them? Celina decided to keep a watchful eye on her, lest inner turmoil lead Jinx and her new friends to destruction.
A woman who had dealt with immeasurable sadness for too many years, Celina relegated all these thoughts to a space she held inside her. She returned to the joy of the moment. It was time for the guitar solo.
Mags backed off her assault on the drum heads and let the band bring it down. Anton was no Ted Nugent, but he took a credible turn at a solo. His father’s illegal Sonic Youth records had influenced him, so he eschewed Nugent’s shred style for an atmospheric, textural romp. He set the headstock of his guitar against the amp. A wailing cascade of feedback poured out like a lake from a broken dam.
The raucous, flowing noise excited Patches. She leapt down from her perch on Anton’s amplifier and shoved her face between the speaker’s tweed cover and the microphone in front of it. With her ears pressed flat against her tri-colored head and her whiskers shimmering in the soundwaves, she howled into the crisscross pattern of the microphone’s metal head.
The guitar solo gave way to a caterwaul that nearly paralyzed Patches’ friends. The criminal calico filled the room with noises that spoke of her prehistoric ancestors: the fury of a smilodon sinking its teeth into a cave bear; the iron flavor of a mastodon’s blood in her mouth; the despair of watching spear-wielding primates rob a continent of its massive, mammalian fauna.
No one in the jam room would forget that cry, but only Mags understood it on a primal, genetic level. The smuggler shut her eyes and saw in Patches’ song a place of bestial beauty and torment. A place of perfect belonging and never-ending loneliness. It smelled like Earth and rain and matted fur.
Mags’ drumsticks smashed into the tom heads like they called out for war. She attacked the crash cymbal repeatedly and released a forlorn, unearthly wail in duet with her kitten.
Again, Mags backed off the percussive assault to let in the band. Sometimes, she thought, you gotta start low.
Sarah sang the pirate’s thought, and her voice led the group to the finale.
These three audio collages are comprised of song samples chopped up, layered, and re-arranged using only the free software Audacity. They were inspired by an old friend who made mix tapes in the 1980s (and more recently, mix CDs) by stringing together only the most awesome few seconds of each of 99 songs.
My versions of that idea are relentless assaults of drum fills, guitar riffs, screams, beats, memorable lines, and other madness arranged in a way that might only make sense to me but which you might also find kind of groovy.
Click the titles to listen to the mp3 files. Download them if you like.
Last year I sent copy of the Meteor Mags: Omnibus Edition to a band whose albums I listened to approximately one million times while writing the story Voyage of the Calico Tigress. Mags and her crew, including space monkeys and telepathic octopuses, do an impromptu performance of one of Snail’s songs. In return, I received a note saying, “This is the coolest thing ever,” which made me smile. I’m glad the guys got a kick out of it. Here are some other albums in heavy rotation in the writing lab.
Unida: El Coyote.
If the Internet is to be believed, Unida’s final album was never released by their record label, but was eventually made available directly to fans at concerts. It is often found on the web with different titles, but I like El Coyote. Singer John Garcia, formerly of the legendary Kyuss, is Mags’ favorite vocalist, and references to his various projects pepper her stories like buckshot.
Hell Camino: Hell Camino.
I usually listen to this album back-to-back with its follow-up, Orange Lily.
Bullet: The Entrance to Hell.
Bullet changed their name to “Hard Stuff” because another Bullet already existed. You can find the Hard Stuff albums on YouTube, but I’m partial to this odd reissue under the original name. Maybe because the first time I heard it, my mind was blown by hearing a song from the incredible compilation series Nuggets in a random YouTube recommendation. Nuggets rocked my world with so many garage/psychedelic/heavy bands from the UK and Australia that I am still reeling from the impact years later.
Wo Fat: Noche del Chupacabra.
Wo Fat convinced me that C minor is the heaviest key of all time. They are the reason I got a baritone electric guitar to tune to Drop C. My favorite songs on this album are Common Ground and Descent into the Maelstrom, the latter of which shares a title with a totally different yet amazingly ass-kicking song by Australia’s Radio Birdman. You really can’t go wrong with any Wo Fat album. Psychedelonaut slays with tunes like Analog Man, and The Black Code is a masterpiece with Hurt at Gone and Sleep of the Black Lotus, a title I believe to be inspired by my favorite Conan story Queen of the Black Coast, about a female pirate.
Orange Goblin: Time Travelling Blues.
I never heard an album I didn’t like from Orange Goblin, but this is the one that stays in heavy rotation. From the rumbling drum riff that opens to album to the closing song that shares the album’s title, it’s such a hefty slab of rock and roll that I usually listen to it twice in a row. The title song’s declaration “We own the sky” has become a recurring motif in Mags’ stories, and her band covers it in their concert in Blind Alley Blues.
Black Angels: Passover.
I attended a Black Angels concert last October in downtown Phoenix, and the music was so simultaneously heavy and beautiful. These cats annihilate me. The band hails from Austin, Texas, but I first heard them courtesy of the Europeans who run my other favorite Internet radio station, GRRR Radio. GRRR Radio’s streaming URL is: http://pstnet5.shoutcastnet.com:50390 This album doesn’t have what is perhaps my favorite Black Angels song, Currency, but it’s damned amazing all the way through. Black Grease and Bloodhounds on My Trail are my faves on this one.
My father died two years ago today, after a long bout with cancer that spread from his spleen to eventually his brain and his whole body. Dad and I did not agree on most things, and my teens were times of conflict, to put it mildly. But in my twenties, we were able to put most of that behind us and just hang out.
Dad never understood my love for playing guitar until I was in my thirties. Then one day, he started sending me emails asking about mandolins—and I’m an easy target for anyone and everyone who has questions about music theory and stringed instruments. I don’t know exactly what turned him on to the mandolin, but soon he got into guitar. Our relationship reached a turning point after he got his first guitar and told me, “Now I get why you were into this.”
All I could say was, “It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?”
By then, we were separated by great geographical distance. But when I would visit, Dad stocked the refrigerator with beer and tuned up his growing collection of guitars, and we would play together for hours. I would show him a few techniques and answer his theory questions, and we played from charts he had for country and worship music he liked.
By the time I got into my forties, Dad’s arthritis made it increasingly difficult for him to play. But he still loved buying guitars, and trading them in later for other models, and getting on Internet forums to discuss gear, and trying new types of strings. He often performed at his church, accompanying his impressively deep bass voice with his ever-growing arsenal of acoustic guitars.
It was a massive about-face from his discouraging attitude toward my love of something which, for twenty years, had basically defined my entire life: playing the guitar. He eventually told me why he was so antagonistic toward my interest, and the reason is probably too personal to blog about. The important point is this: he eventually changed his tune.
Perhaps my fondest memories of Dad are the ones we created over a 12-pack of beer and 12 vibrating strings, jamming in unison. He never got to the level he wanted to with the instrument, but he kept trying and learning and improving. At the age of 44, I can tell you that journey never ends. One day, you pick up the axe, and something changes inside you. You’re never the same afterwards.
It was a pleasure jamming you with, Dad.
2016 was, among other things, a year of musical discovery. And few songs I found in that time make me as happy every time I listen to them as Galaxies Lament by Snail. Snail’s album Blood has become one of my all-time favorites, but this one comes from Terminus.
Pick up a copy from the band: https://snailhq.bandcamp.com/track/galaxies-lament
And here’s the jam on YouTube:
Galaxy, will you wake up from sorrow?
Quarks weeping from the heart of a proton.
Cold tears in the endless expansion.
Small voices in the heliosphere…
How can you sleep so good,
hosting your incubi?
End your solar eclipse of the sun
to flee the waking dream.
Here are a few more tunes in heavy rotation at Martian HQ. Crank it up!
Long live the glorious island republic of Scandinavia. They make some awesome music there. What’s that you say? You can’t find it on a map? Then try this one.
I started to get a clue about what a Scandinavia is right about the time I first heard Hoven Droven’s tune SlentBjenn. Taking the energy of a rock band, adding fiddle and saxophone, and drawing on folk material, Hoven Droven lays down some seriously heavy grooves with beautiful melodies.
Below, you will see scans of their album Groove, which you can score on Amazon, and the first Nordic Roots sampler that features one of their tunes. If you want to get totally Scandinavian, Nordic Roots put out a second and third sampler of awesome bands from the region.
In 1962, Art Blakey recorded The African Beat not with his quintessentially swinging Jazz Messengers but a percussion ensemble. Yusef Lateef, who also recorded modern jazz albums using Asian and African ideas, joins the ensemble. The result is a sumptuously rhythmic album that often gets overlooked, perhaps due to its defiance of easy categorization.
Nat Hentoff’s liner notes give a brief but enlightening explanation of the music’s sources and the musicians’ cultural backgrounds. I recommend The African Beat for fans of jazz, percussion, “world” music, and African music. Fans of jazz/rock fusions and prog rock might also like this album, if they want to expand their listening into some other types of musical fusion.
While patiently waiting for our 1-in-2500 limited edition album The Gate to arrive this week from the sonic headquarters of Swans, we went looking for other extended psychedelic monster jams.
And that’s how we ended up with a massive musical marathon courtesy of Germany’s Electric Moon. This guitar-bass-drums trio, formed in 2009, has been playing festivals all over Europe and releasing many mind-blowing albums in the process. Here are three of our favorites so far.
This is the first one we listened to, and we were hooked.
This one incorporates synth sounds, and has a more driving, upbeat vibe.
This video has some cool space imagery to go with the jams.
P.S. Yes, The Gate did finally arrive on Saturday. With three of its songs clocking in around 30 minutes each, it is a supremely awesome sonic experience of pure Swans power.
After listening approximately a gazillion times to the Motor Dolls album we posted twelve days ago, we had to pick up this one, too. Burning Memories is the second and final solid slab of Detroit rock and roll from this trio, the stand-out cuts being “You Want It” and “Nailed to the Cross”. Several people have told us to include “Power” in that list, too, though the whole album is a veritable non-stop blaze of straight-up rock fury. You can find it on Amazon as Motor Dolls: Burning Memories, and it is usually selling for about half the price of Motor Dolls: All Fired Up.
One of the songs on this 1996 album, “Hangover”, appeared two years later on a compilation called Motor City’s Burnin’ 1: 1968-1998. That disc places the Motor Dolls right alongside legendary acts like the MC5 and The Stooges, and other hard-rocking southeast Michigan bands of the mid-90s like Big Chief. We think after hearing this album you will agree that placement was well-deserved.