Dum Dum Girls

Just a quick one today about a new song I’m digging: “He Gets Me High” by the Dum Dum Girls.

It’s more a person than a band; Dee Dee did all the writing and performing for this EP. That doesn’t mean she’s the only influence here, though–in her very brief career (one full-length and an EP), she’s worked with veteran producers and writers. This track had production help from Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes. The match makes sense; Dee Dee is moving slowly away from the noise end of noise pop, and this sounds like My Bloody Valentine covering the Supremes. She’s just getting a start, but I think we’ll be hearing much more from her in years to come.

Punk and black

Just watched a cool documentary called Afro-Punk. It’s a fairly modest movie; the director wants to show the life that he knows, living as a black person in the punk community (and likewise as a punk rocker in Black America). There’s clips from the bands you’d expect (Bad Brains, Living Color, Fishbone) and some you may not have heard of (Cipher, Ten Grand). But this is much more about the fans than about the black men and women working in punk and hardcore. The interviews show a shared experience of being the one black person in a white community, of feeling alternately proud and worried that they’re defying the category of “being black.” It’s an intelligent, thoughtful little film, and I recommend it for anyone interested in the punk or hardcore scene.

Oh, and some music! Let’s see . . . how about some live Fishbone?!

Ching chong, ting tong

2.2 million views on YouTube. That’s how many videos Jimmy Wong has so far for this amusing little video response to a thoughtless post by a college student annoyed by overhearing Asians talking in the library. The song is good, but not great, and you probably won’t remember it exists ten years from now. But take a minute to think of how many things came together to make this video.

  1. a singer-songwriter tradition emphasizing individual, even idiosyncratic narrative viewpoints;
  2. an immigrant tradition that brings the descendants of Chinese, Norwegian, English, Fon, and countless others to sunny California;
  3. a modern, privileged self-involvement that makes young people of no particular accomplishment or skill post videologs of their everyday lives for the whole world to see;
  4. technology that allows us–you, me, everybody reading this–to view those videos with a simple mouse click.
  5. Not just those, videos, but all kinds of videos: amateur guitar players, news clips from Benghazi, wrestling matches videotaped in 1983 and lovingly transferred to digital files, English television shows, public domain films.

OK, that’s enough thought. Let’s just sing along. “Ching chong . . . ting tong . . . ling long . . .”

Dark and twangy

Woven Hand

Woven Hand (pic by Madelyn Boudreaux)

I want to talk about one of my very favorite working musicians: David Eugene Edwards. “Alternative country” would be one description, though Edwards has none of the po-mo hip irony that sometimes seeps into alt.country. He’s complex and noncommercial, but deeply sincere and impassioned. His music is dark, even oppressively so when listening to a whole album. Edwards is prone to getting lyrically overwrought and opaque, but at his best he’s one of modern folk’s finest poets.

Edwards is best known for his work with two projects: 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand. 16 Horsepower is old time country seen down a mighty long lens of American Gothic–one reviewer accurately called them “goth bluegrass.” They can take an old outlaw ballad from a staid museum piece to a genuinely tense gangster tale, or draw out parallels between frontier music from Nebraska and Slovenia and Mongolia. Woven Hand has a similar sound, but with more reverb, bombast, and pomp. That fits: Woven Hand is Edwards’s vehicle for exploring his deeply mystical Christian beliefs. Woven Hand draws equally from Nick Cave and holy roller gospel, and I’m in awe of his rawness and honesty.

I put together a playlist of some of my favorites. Click here for a David Eugene Edwards primer.

Return of the riot grrrls

Doll Fight

Burlington's own Doll Fight

 

Local band Doll Fight look too youthful for what they play. This is early 90s riot grrrl music: L7, Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill. You can hear Sleater-Kinney in their sound too–one of the best rock bands in recent memory, but so unique that it’s hard to incorporate their angular, complex sound into anything else. Doll Fight manage it, though, with slightly off-kilter guitar parts and declarative singing. Going back even further, I can hear strains of the Descendants, the Butthole Surfers, the Slits, and other cheeky bands of the punk and hardcore years.  They could benefit from better production and more confidence in the vocals, but Doll Fight are a welcome addition to Vermont’s music scene. You can listen to their music here.

 

A re-dedication

I’ve been updating sporadically, partly because I often feel that I’m forcing myself to come up with topics, then spending nearly an hour of my day polishing the longer posts. Alternatively, I just feel like getting something up so I’ll post some link I found fun that day. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have decided to make this blog more specialized.

So, welcome to litlblog: Music in an age of plenty. I love how much of humanity’s entire musical output is now available for easy streaming and download. In all modesty, I believe I am quite good at finding good songs and combining them into organic playlists. This is not a very marketable skill anymore, sadly–most radio stations are relying on software to program playlists. Not as good as humans, but costs much less! So expect to see more regular updates with new artists, old favorites, Terpsichorean musings, and streaming playlists.