Category Archives: music

The Dresden Dolls

OK, guilty pleasure confession time. I really like The Dresden Dolls. I feel like they’re a little juvenile, and that maybe I am not supposed to take them seriously because I’m not a teenage girl with a self-mutilation issue.

But it’s just so refreshing to have an alternative to guitar rock that doesn’t involve some solitary white boy making clicking and bleeping noises with his laptop. It’s refreshing to hear music with melody, odd chords, and, good heavens, dynamics, something that amplified music has almost systematically obliterated over the last 50 years. They’re also very good musicians: the guy’s a pretty good drummer, but the girl is seriously amazing on piano, and she can really wail. (It also turns out that she’s the friend of a friend and we met her at a party; Terri thought so, I didn’t think it was the same Amanda, but the friend confirmed it a couple of weeks ago. It’s hard to tell with all the make-up in the album photos…).

Have a listen to Half Jack or procure yourself a copy of “Coin-Operated Boy” and decide for yourself. Maybe Brechtian punk cabaret is for you.

They also have a song about former local NPR talk-show host Christopher Lydon. How funny is that?

Track 7

One of the things I like about iTunes is the ability to create “smart playlists”, which are basically just filters on any piece of metadata that iTunes keeps for a song, but they show up in your playlist. Apple gives you “60′s Music” and “My Top Rated” and a few others as starters. I created one for “recently added” so that I can easily listen to things that I’ve just put into my library within the past few days.

My smart playlist of the day is the “Track 7″ playlist, which just plays songs which are the 7th track on their original album. Back in the days of the Doug, Marco, and Ezra morning radio show, we used to do that when we were being too lazy (or half-awake) to decide what to play on the show. It was our “Lucky 7″ feature: we’d play 7 track 7s. I’m sure at least one of the Crawfordsville High kids that listened to us thought it was clever. Then again, maybe not.

On amplified music, digital accordions, and Johnny D’s

Terri and I had dinner at Johnny D’s last week. We almost never go see music there, because for the most part, the kinds of acts they book… well, they suck. It’s all this jumble of world zydeco funk blues reggae folk roots crap. But their food is actually decent, they have a varied tap, and it’s on the way home from the T. As we were eating, a guy was setting up a bunch of gear, presumeably for his gig later that evening. It seemed like a lot of effort. And I had an epiphany. I hate amplified music. All of it. It’s ridiculous. This guy is spending hours setting up equipment to spend about the same number of hours playing music. And the room is basically the size of, say, a shoe store. Just get up and play, guy. If someone in a crowd of a hundred or so people picks up a hollow hunk of wood with strings on it, and starts whacking at it and yelling words at specific pitches in rhythm, the other 99 people are going to listen. We’re wired to.

Yes, you say, but what about bigger venues? Well, bigger venues inherently suck. So, no amplified music also means no sucky big venues.

So I toyed with this idea in idle moments the past week or so, and became more and more enamoured of it.

And then, like most ridiculous extreme ideas I toy with, I found something that made me drop it immediately. And that was the new Roland FR-7 digital accordion. Fun fun fun! But I’d have to plug in somewhere…

Before I wrap this up, I have to also soften my stance on the kind of music Johnny D’s books. I confess to owning a klezmer disc or two. And confess that I saw Brave Combo, a polka band, at Johnny D’s. More than once. So I’m not immune to the occasional allure of world zydeco funk blues reggae folk roots polka klezmer crap. I guess it’s the whole Weltanschauung and the lifestyle that goes with it that I can live without. Like if I start liking it too much, I have to grow a beard and send checks to PBS and buy an old Volvo to plaster with bumper stickers.