Thursday, May 27, 2010

I ain't here to really talk about music as such today: I'm going to talk about a couple of blogs. There's a zillion of 'em out there, and the laws of probability can deduct that at least 7 of them must be worth reading. The following fall into that category.

First up is The Houndblog. I stumbled across this one via Blog To Comm, of all pathways, but it's the destination that counts, not the journey. Houndblog has been around for a couple of years and is helmed by music scene vet, James Marshall. I'd never heard of the guy before, though I get a feeling he could walk into any bar on the east coast USA and everyone would know his name, so to speak. In other words, I probably shoulda heard of him on my travels: he DJ'd at WFMU for umpteen years, has written for a whole bunch of publications and CD reissues worth a gander and knows his shit like no other. The shit in question is mainly raw country/blues/soul/gospel of yesteryear and classic proto-punk a la Stooges/Velvets/Flamin' Groovies et al. The writing is no-nonsense but not without a sly sense of humour, giving you all the facts - the background info, the personnel, the label, the musical terrain, the sounds - and is usually accompanied by several kickass Youtube clips which give you the sounds and pictures necessary for an all-round appreciation of the artist in question. One of his great passions and areas of expertise remains the pre-rock 'n' roll electric blues which has been lighting my fire like nothing on earth the last six months, and if only for that reason alone, I'd say Houndblog is an essential stop on your interweb highway. His excitement is contagious, and I fear that if I continue to read his site I might just fall into total self-parody realm within the next few years, as I slip into a rut of attending 78 parties, discussing widened holes and cracks ala Ghost World. I guess there are worse places to wind up. For now, I gotta investigate me some hot sides on the Duke/Peacock, Excello, King/Federal, Specialty, Fortune and Trumpet labels, and pronto.

Next up is Mutant Sounds. I have no idea who is behind this blog - there's little information given in that regard - though it has a huge following (over 1,000 official) and is rampantly prolific in its entries. In its debut year, 2007, it clocked up a whopping 2018(!!) of them, though it has since tapered off the last couple of years to a cool 3-400 per annum. My hat is tipped. Mutant Sounds is a download-oriented site, something I'm usually not too fond of (for various reasons), though there are two great things in its favour: it concentrates on out-of-print product, often so rare and mythical the sands of time had me thinking some of them never really existed in reality; and secondly, 90% of the music it offers is either great or at least "interesting" (ie. "Collector Music"). Even moreso, they were kind enough to remove a download link to an old F/i LP I'd reissued when I politely requested that they do so. So they're not simply thieving, opportunistic bastards, but nice folks. I wish there'd been a site like this back in the early/mid '90s when I busy purchasing all kinds of alleged "psych/prog monster" reissues from various mailorder outlets, only to come crashing back down to earth upon first listen, soon realising that one man's monster is another man's Weather Report/Jethro Tull hybrid. The depth of knowledge and musical aquisition on Mutant Sounds is staggering. I can honestly say that the bulk of the music covered I have never heard of, and that's coming from a guy who's gladly wasted most of his life wanting to scour every last piece of information on exactly the kind of esoteric nonsense Mutant Sounds specialises in. You'll hear prog, art-punk, electronic drones, Euro psych, free jazz and pretty much everything in between. Essential!

Lastly I'll mention The Hedonist Jive. Jay Hinman has taken the leap from a mere blog to the big league of an actual .com website, and in its wake he's swept up the three blogs he was concurrently running, Hedonist Beer Jive, Detailed Twang and First Principles - dealing in beer, music and politics, respectively - and put them under the one roof. I never read his beer blog much: it all tastes the same to me, and since I haven't drunk a drop of booze for nine months, the site was of little interest. First Principles I visited on occasion, though I'll be honest, I get most of my political commentary from bleeding-heart sites such as The Huffington Post and the like, and contemporary politics isn't something I actively read about these days as much as I probably should. Detailed Twang was definitely a site worth a regular drop-in, of course, and putting the three together makes for a swish balance of topics and ideas. Best of all, in his latest entry, his given y'all a link to a pdf version of the first issue of his old fanzine from the 1990s, Superdope. This one, from 1991, I never managed to read the first time round (I think I have all subsequent issues, though consulting those piles of paper in the spare room for an answer is not something I feel like tackling right now), and it ably demonstrates that Superdope was indeed the finest read of its day, along w/ Feminist Baseball and Wipeout!, covering the best music of its era in a smart-arsed (but smart) fashion which few could rival. I piss in no man's pocket, but The Hedonist Jive is a darn good read.


Jay said...

Dave, thanks for the shout-out on The Hedonist Jive. It's going to ebb and flow like any blog depending on how busy I am, but I intend to digitize all my own fanzines plus those of others, and post 'em up there. If you have any early Pfudd back issues with the Eurythmics and Men Wthout Hats reviews, let me know and we'll get them out to the people.

Pig State Recon said...

Weather Report/Jethro Tull hybrids! Where can I find them?!?