Cars, Turntables & Physical Objects

Last week I had the opportunity to drive a 2022 Honda Civic. It was the top-of-the-line Touring trim. It is an all-new, 11th generation Civic. It has leather seats, Bose audio with 12-speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an array of sensors for safety, moonroof, 180-hp turbocharged engine. . . and a lot more stuff.

It is really an impressive vehicle, and being a Honda Civic, I would imagine that whoever buys one is likely to have it for some years in reliable operation. A value play.

This morning I read piece by Jacob Heilbrunn in The Absolute Sound about his quest for getting a custom reference stand for his turntable. He contacted the chief engineer at a Buffalo, New York-based company, Harmonic Resolution Systems, about getting the company’s VXR stand. As things went, Heilbrunn obtained a custom VXR Zero stand.

It cost $52,000.

The Civic has an MSRP of $28,300.

I suspected that I was missing something.

So I looked at the turntable that Heilbrunn needed this very specific stand to accommodate.

A TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable.

According to Hideaki Nishikawa, who designed the reference turntable, “The goal of the project was to develop a truly groundbreaking product, building on our expertise and knowledge and incorporating new ideas and insights. To achieve this goal, the project had to be cost-no-object. And it had to have whatever technologies would be best suited for sonic performance, no matter how much it would cost.”

The result is a unit that weighs 727.5 pounds and measures 35.5 x 26.6 x 13.2 inches.

According to a recent review in Stereophile, the TechDAS Air Force Zero has a base price (i.e., there are models above it in the TechDAS lineup) of $450,000.

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New Courtney Barnett video: Before You Gotta Go

Video: Courtney Barnett – “Before You Gotta Go”

Courtney Barnett - Before You Gotta Go (Official Video)

Director by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore. From Things Take Time, Take Time, due November 12 on Mom+Pop.

Does anybody else do post-millennial slacker style better than Courtney Barnett? She’s so laid back, she might tip over. And yet she’s still groovy. And clever. It’s a combination that works great: Calming and hypnotic without being boring.

Don’t you know I’m not your enemy, maybe let’s cut out caffeine.
Tomorrow’s too late to reminisce, call me when you get this.

Barnett says, “This video was filmed in Titirangi, Tatarata, Taiorahi and Waitakere in Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and at various locations on the beautiful lands of the Wathaurong/Wadawurrung, Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation around Victoria, Australia. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and pay respect to Elders past and present.”

Courtney Barnett: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Guided by Voices video: Dance Of Gurus

Video: Guided By Voices – “Dance Of Gurus”

Guided By Voices - Dance Of Gurus

Video by Aaron Dunkel. From It’s Not Them. It Can’t Be Them. It Is Them!, out October 22.

Guided By Voices is one of those bands that’s been so prolific it’s hard for a newb to figure out where to dive in. I don’t know the answer but I like everything I stumble upon, so maybe it doesn’t really matter. Available evidence suggests it’s all good.

Wikipedia says this new one will be the band’s 34th full-length studio album, which is isn’t even counting all the standalone singles, EPs, live albums, box sets, and compilations. What have you been doing for the past 25 years? Compared to Robert Pollard, not much.

We caught them live at Riot Fest in 2019 and Pollard is a charming front man with fine dance moves. You can see a bit of that in this new video.

“Raise a drink to a planet rich in symbols.”

Guided By Voices: web, insta, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Guided by Voices video: Dance Of Gurus

New Muna video: Silk Chiffon (ft. Phoebe Bridgers)

Video: MUNA – “Silk Chiffon” (ft. Phoebe Bridgers)

MUNA - Silk Chiffon (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

Directed by Ally Pankiw. Single out now on Saddest Factory.

Is this any good? Or is it boring major label pop music that seems kinda cool because it’s super gay and features Phoebe Bridgers? I can’t tell anymore. A lot of people apparently have a lot to say about Haim, but does that make them interesting?

Muna released two albums on RCA and toured with Harry Styles before being picked up by Bridgers’ Saddest Factory imprint. Is this what passes for independent music these days?

The song is catchy enough.

Like life’s so fun, life’s so fun
Got my miniskirt and my rollerblades on
Bag on my side cause I’m out til dawn
Keeping it light like silk chiffon.

It’s refreshing in a pandemic, I guess, to keep things light and emphasize fun. The video is cute: Our hero gets sent to conversion therapy camp where she faces indoctrination until all the inmates escape to a rock and roll roadhouse gay bar. Yee haw!

Too bad they’re not selling those “straight is great” shirts in their merch store. Come on! Leaving money on the table.

I wonder if Bridgers’ verse that mentions “feeling anxious inside of the CVS” is a reference to her 2020 photo shoot for Rolling Stone in a CVS.

Like all well-crafted pop songs, the more you listen to “Silk Chiffon” the more it grows on you. Turns out it is pretty good after all.

New Clem Snide video: Forever Just Beyond

Video: Clem Snide – “Forever Just Beyond”

Clem Snide :: "Forever Just Beyond" (official video)

Directed by Isabel Coixet. From Beyond Forever Just Beyond, out now.

Eef Barzelay has been getting spiritual on us.

God is simply that which lies
Forever just beyond the limits
Of what we already seem to know.

It’s weird to think I’ve been listening to Clem Snide for 20 years. I still think The Ghost of Fashion is one of the best albums of this millennium. Since then, there have been lots of good albums released either as a band or as a Barzelay solo project.

2020’s Forever Just Beyond, produced with the Avetts Brother Scott, was the first album of originals in five years and it was recently reissued and expanded (as Beyond Forever Just Beyond) with new songs from the sessions, demos, and live recordings. And now there’s a new video for the title track.

Barzelay says, “From way back in the early days of Clem Snide, Isabel Coixet was a great champion of the band. Clem Snide songs would occasionally turn up in one of her beautiful movies. I also speculate we’ve been able to come back to Spain many times over the years largely because of her tastemaking. ¡Viva la gente de España!”

Then, Now and In Between

On September 11, 1956, the movie Rock Around the Clock opened in London. And after the showing at the Trocadero there was a bit of a kerfuffle with teens gone rowdy. This resulted in other theaters in England cancelling their showing of the movie.

To which I can only think “Huh?”

Fred F. Sears directed the film, which was shot in January 1956. This was near the end of Sears’ career, as he died of a heart attack, age 44, in November 1957. It is worth noting that 16 movies Sears directed were released between Rock Around the Clock and shortly after his demise, with the five subsequent to Rock being Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Werewolf, Miami Expose, Cha-Cha-Boom! and Don’t Knock the Rock. (In all, he directed 60 films—which is all the more remarkable when you know that he didn’t start until 1946.)

Which pretty much gives you a sense of (a) Sears’ oeuvre and (b) the types of movies that were being released back then. Things change.

The plot of Rock Around the Clock was essentially about the discovery and launch of rock and roll. The band that launched a thousand AM radio stations was, of course, Bill Haley & the Comets, the band that had release the single “Rock Around the Clock” in early 1954.

It was actually the second time the tune had been released, with the first being by Sonny Dae and His Knights, in 1953. Sonny Dae & His Radio Raskals were performers on the “WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance,” which also featured Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Carter Family. Which pretty much gives you a sense of (a) how musical performances were taken much less seriously back then and (b) that musical performers, like the Carter Family, are the stuff of Ken Burns’ documentaries today.

When you read the date in the first sentence of this you probably thought back to last Saturday, September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the day that irrevocably changed America.

On that day in 2001 Jake Brown posted this on Glorious Noise:

Please stop flying into buildings

God help us. I get into work today to find a group of people staring at the television. Just as I realize that the smoking building is the World Trade Center, I see a plane fly right into the second tower and explode. Live on tv.

All the major news websites are totally down right now. Either overwhelmed or just plain off. This is fucked up.

It was fucked up.

Continue reading Then, Now and In Between

New Naomi Alligator: Concession Stand Girl

Video: Naomi Alligator – “Concession Stand Girl”

Naomi Alligator - "Concession Stand Girl" (Official Music Video)

Animation by Corrinne James. From the Concession Stand Girl EP, out October 29 on Carpark.

Well this is about as adorable as it gets. A voice and a banjo and lyrics about a pregnant kid at a football game. Wow. Who is this Naomi Alligator?

Turns out she’s a songwriter from Virginia named Corrinne James who’s been uploading her self-recorded releases to Bandcamp for five years. And now she’s signed to Carpark.

Inspired by Liz Phair’s Girly Sounds recordings, James decided to create her own music. “I was nervous to show it to other people because I was just scared about what they might think, but eventually I started sharing it with friends in college and they would share it with more people.”

Just like Girly Sounds! Very cool. I might have to dip into her Bandcamp archive. There’s a lot there!

Naomi Alligator: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr: Spirit Power and Soul

Video: Johnny Marr – “Spirit Power and Soul”

Johnny Marr - Spirit Power and Soul (Official Video)

From the Fever Dreams Pt 1 EP, out on October 15.

Johnny Marr is still as cool as ever, but man, these are some dopey lyrics.

When we all turn to gold
When make believe is in your eyes
That’s when I realise
The dawn has come.

That is some Bernard Sumner-level nonsense right there.

Marr’s solo material has the tendency to veer toward generic 90s britpop and this is no exception. Sure, it’s fine. The guitars sound great and glammy, and the groove is dancey enough, I guess. But overall, it suggests that Johnny Marr is a better songwriting foil to a creative partner.

Then again, he’s Johnny fuckin Marr — he doesn’t need me or anybody else telling him what to do. I’m glad he’s still out there, running marathons, eating vegan food, showing off his incredible collection of guitars, never saying racist garbage, and generally being a decent human being.

New Ty Segall and Denée Segall: Feel Good

Video: Ty Segall and Denée Segall – “Feel Good”

Ty Segall and Denée Segall "Feel Good" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Joshua Erkman. From Harmonizer, out now on Drag City.

The last time we heard from the Segalls they were in a band with two basses and no guitars. They’ve definitely got some guitar on this one!

I love how Ty is scowling throughout the entire video for a song called “Feel Good.” I wonder if people think he’s insane because he is frowning all the time?

Denée says, “’Feel Good’ is about allowing oneself to be confident and unrestrained in regard to whatever makes them feel good, be it emotionally, physically, or beyond. It’s also about extending this sentiment to another who might desire this same sort of freedom, but needs a little encouragement. It’s an ode to the joy that comes from loving and supporting one another unconditionally.”

New Mac McCaughan: Circling Around

Video: Mac McCaughan – “Circling Around”

Mac McCaughan - Circling Around (Official Video)

From The Sound of Yourself, due September 24 on Merge.

Isn’t Mac McCaughan’s voice comforting? The Superchunk frontman always makes me feel better.

I often think about his December 2016 single, “Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again)” and how we naively hoped it might not be as bad as we feared. But it was. It was worse. And it’s not getting much better. Not any time soon anyway. But hey, at least Prince can’t die again.

“Circling Around” feels like acceptance that we’re going to be stuck in this loop for a while.

X’s in the carpet of where I walked a path through to the floor
Kinda looks like a target but I’m not getting my hopes up anymore.

Mac says, “Here’s a song for wherever you’re wearing out a path & thinking your thoughts.”

Mac McCaughan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Mac McCaughan: Circling Around

Rock and roll can change your life.