Sammy the Seal

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Crazy Food

In vinyl on Sunday, 29 May, 2011 at 13:18

Song: Apple
Artist: Cibo Matto
Album: Viva! La Woman

So, yeah, this announcement is already two Tuesdays old. A li’l negligence, but mostly distraction. 90s stalwarts(?) Cibo Matto are making music and touring again. (Nice website name.) Album not until next year, so it’s said, but performances start almost immediately! They’ll be at Neumo’s on Tuesday June 21, which, according to their site, is the first show of the tour. Ought to be a good time!

“Apple”: a delicious fruit, and an extra-chill, extra-groovy way to start an album, as well as a Sunday. Love this vibe. See you real soon, ladies.

Oh, you girls so kooky...


[Enter melodramatic sing-sighs]

In vinyl on Sunday, 29 May, 2011 at 1:06

Song: Magic Vs. Midas
Artist: Sunset Rubdown
Album: Random Spirit Lover

Yup, those are the actual “lyrics”. In the booklet, that’s how it reads after the last verse, referring to those whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh’s near the end. So yeah, he has a sense of humor about his oddness. I used to be a bigger fan of Spencer Krug and his SR stuff, the musical flights of fancy, etc. then my affinity shifted to Dan and Handsome Furs and the more driving, passionate, immediacy of those songs. Which is not to say I don’t still enjoy me some SR, even though I haven’t listened to it in a while. Today, though, I worked four hours of extra time and listened to only SR for most of it. This album in particular, I had liked parts of it, but never really got into it as a whole, and so would put the record aside, having listened to it straight through in one sitting. I did today, and it all held together. I mean, it’s certainly not a crowd-pleasing album, especially the middle, but for the first time, really, I appreciated the album as a whole. (Though it’s certainly one that requires patience, so I won’t be pulling it out so often. But at least I won’t be skipping those middle songs so much anymore.)

Anyway, the song… It’s hard to describe what’s good about a Sunset Rubdown song, as it’s hard to pin them down period, without sounding arty or pretentious. I think that’s the appeal of their best songs, it’s something ineffable and intangible, that sounds magical and transcends the mundane. Most songs in general are personal and written small-scale and are often about identifiable, relatable subjects, whereas Spencer’s songs seem more to deal with something greater than the personal, even though the abstract lyricism obscures just what that might be. And personally, I find a comfort in that vastness and unknowableness. (One day, I’ll have “Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings” demonstrate this.) Musically, I can say I quite like the piano, though, on this and on the album as a whole. The guitar, drums, and piano really mesh well with the sing-sigh portion of the song, the last couple of minutes or so. It’s moving and kinda sad, even though you have no clue what the song’s about. Now that is the Sunset Rubdown Effect.

(This is one of those records where all the songs bleed into one another, which is why the track both starts and ends abruptly.)

“All I got is this blank stare”

In music videos, vinyl on Friday, 27 May, 2011 at 10:02

Song: Ruby Soho
Artist: Rancid
Album: ….And Out Come The Wolves

Was looking for something spunky for a Friday. The good old punk days, they’ll never let you down. Man, I used to be so into them. Simpler times. And it’s still a pretty decent song– it’s anthemic, nostalgic, and as the video below shows, a li’l goofy too.

Nothing says like hanging out in the clubhouse with the boys like having a cat around. Hell yeah. Also, the expression on Tim Armstrong’s face when he says the word “distance” in the last verse is hilarious. So defiant!

Hazelnut banana bread

In delicious on Wednesday, 25 May, 2011 at 0:51

Wow, how long since I made this? A year even? I used to make it quite often, but that’s probably because of a limited (not that my library is burgeoning even now) repertoire. Strangely, never tried hazelnuts before. A shame, because they’re rather inexpensive. I found some at $6/lb, and you only need about 1/4 lb. The pre-packaged usually costs more for about 1/8 lb., and you get them whole so you can roast and chop them yourselves. Hooray, freshness! So:

4 medium-sized overripe bananas (plan ahead and intentionally buy too many bananas, or put them in a paper bag for a few days to speed up the process)
1 egg, well-beaten
1/2 c = 4 oz. = 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1.5 c flour
1 c sugar (superfine if you got it), maybe even 1 T or so less
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
a couple dashes of allspice (optional)
a few dashes of cinnamon (optional)
≥ 1/2 c roasted, chopped nuts (around 1/4 lb if you’re buying in bulk)

First, set the oven to 170° or the lowest your oven will go, whichever is higher. The butter is first to be prepped, since it needs time to cool, the longer the better (melted butter retains heat rather well). If melting in the microwave, melt the stick in bursts, about 15-17 seconds at a time, swirl around, then back in. I think it takes about three rounds. (If you set the timer to do it in one fell swoop, the butter will get too hot too quickly and you’ll likely have butter on the inside of the microwave. Then set aside to cool. Next, I roasted the nuts, since roasting takes time and you can do everything else in the meantime. (Or you can do it before attempting the recipe.) Science says that if you put nuts in the oven for too long, it destroys the delicate fats/oils or something, so the lower, the better. They say 170° is ideal, happy coincidence that that’s my oven’s baseline temperature. Put the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes. Don’t forget about them, even at the low temperature.

While waiting for the nuts to roast, get out two mixing bowls. In one, sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices, if applicable. In the other bowl, drop all the bananas in and mash them (I wish I had a masher…). None of this should take long, so you’ll probably have to wait for the nuts to finish. When done, remove the nuts from the oven, set it to 350°, then transfer the nuts to a cutting board and start choppin’. The size of the nut pieces is up to you, though I wouldn’t go so far as to mince them– chunky bread good. You might have dust from chopping, I add it to the batter as well as the chunks rather than just adding the nuts and tossing the dust. In fact, unless you bought way too many nuts, I’d be using every last bit of them.

Whisk the egg and butter into the mashed bananas for about a minute, then stir in (you don’t need a mixer for any of this, just blend well) the flour mixture until completely incorporated, then stir in the nuts. Pour into a 9×5 loaf pan (grease it first if you don’t have nonstick, but only about an inch up the sides, not the whole inside) and bake for 55-60 minutes. When the loaf is done, let it cool for 20-25 minutes before attempting to remove it from the pan, then cool on a rack.

With no inflated sense of pride, I must say it’s yum.

hazelnut banana 1

hazelnut banana 2

Yes, that's another loaf beside it. One is most definitely not enough to feed myself and others.

hazelnut banana 3

How about a shot on the counter, rather than over the sink? Serrated knife in your face-- look out!

“A new age letdown in my face”

In vinyl on Tuesday, 24 May, 2011 at 11:26

Song: Nitemare Hippy Girl
Artist: Beck
Album: Mellow Gold

I love that line so much. Yeah, so I don’t find this song all that catchy– this is not a slight, but objectively speaking, I wouldn’t say the song has a strong melody– and yet, at any given moment (e.g., 7:26 a.m. this morning) or during any given activity, I will find myself singing “she took me off my guard…” out of nowhere. Huh.

So, in the first couple minutes of this “video”, Beck is playing live and he takes the first lines of some of his songs (“Pay No Mind”, “Lord Only Knows”, “Dead Melodies”, etc.) and goes into one right after the other, it’s quite funny. The relevance is when he does the opening line to “Nitemare Hippy Girl” and some guy recognizes it and grunts out an enthusiastic “yeah!” (I never listen to the rest, I just like the opening.)

“If she seems as lonely as me, let her sink”

In vinyl on Monday, 23 May, 2011 at 18:34

Song: If Work Permits
Artist: The Format
Album: Dog Problems

The album chronicles the end of a relationship, this is its final song. Quiet, then loud. Great stuff. If it had stayed acoustic, I doubt I would’ve thought much of it. The song would have come off too wistful and plaintive, not emotional or ferocious as it befits the subject matter. Adding punch halfway through was a strong move.

These lines wanted to be the title too, but the winner has been the favorite for so long:

“All the things you have, they aren’t the same as what you hold”
“Baby, listen”
“I scream as loud as anyone, but when asked to make a point, I tend to whisper”
“I think I could make better use of my time on land”
“Love just ain’t some blood on the receiver”
“Lord knows I could use a warm kiss instead of a cold goodbye”
“Love is speaking in code, it’s an inside joke, love is coming home”
“I’m doing alright, yeah, I’m doing just fine”
and the final line (scream along with me):

“Let her!!!”

Through, I found this excerpt from the band themselves about this specific song, cribbed from a livejournal entry, talking about recording the album:

“…i was 10 minutes away from where i had been the previous summer when i was back” on” in my” on and off” relationship…i was ten minutes from her…she was calling every day…i was singing about it…but how was it not getting to me? why did i not care?

my phone was off…i woke up in silverlake one morning and started wondering why for the last month i had a smile on my face…sure i was down at times…but the thing that had been brining me down for 3 years was now the last thing on my mind…apparently it had been that way for awhile…something that took 3 years to get over…i was finally just ok with it…no big realization…just the fact that things happen…people make mistakes…and i came out of it alright…i was good…not great…i was good…and that felt good…i wasnt looking for great anymore…i was ok…the last song on dog problems is all about that…here this record was supposed to be the downs…and the ups…and it ended with the middle…the realization that i dont need to be talking…i dont need to be locked in my room…i need to enjoy whats going on around me…and if things go wrong…they go wrong…theres always tomorrow”

Interesting read. Thanks guys, I enjoy the record.

“Did we even know?”

In vinyl on Friday, 20 May, 2011 at 19:14

Song: Sweetest Kill
Artist: Broken Social Scene
Album: Forgiveness Rock Record

Sexy. I can’t remember exactly how Kevin Drew introduced this at the show last year, but the gist was that this was a song for exes, and despite the prettiness, it clearly is. The mood and rhythm are very seductive (those drums… simulating heartbeats, perhaps?), but make no mistake: the tone is mournful. I imagine a scene of two persons who know it’s over, but engage in one last bout of lovemaking, as a sort of closure or funereal commemoration, with each secretly, faintly hoping that it will save them somehow. Borderline melodramatic, yes, but this is definitely an elegy.

Of course, if it weren’t for the songcraft, it wouldn’t even be worth discussing. The melody swoons, the awesome slow-burn throbbing of the bass and drums have my head and torso bobbing, and those rather simple, but completely enjoyable drum fills that are scattered throughout? Mwah, les battements justes!

“I will always carry all this weight”

In vinyl on Friday, 20 May, 2011 at 10:45

Song: Ocean
Artist: Asobi Seksu
Album: Fluorescence

Resigned, accepting, but proud. I like that. A post commemorating this past week’s news of the Cibo Matto reunion will be temporarily delayed for some AS. (At least I’m keeping it Japanese.) This is not much more than an atmospheric piece, but it’s still a gorgeous one. When I own 63 of your tracks, and there are only eight I don’t care much for, that 55 for 63 gets you some slack. Also when Yuki is your vocalist, you get cut some slack too.

Happy Friday

“I put a special recipe in the batter”

In celluloid, funny ha ha on Thursday, 19 May, 2011 at 21:29

These are some of the best outtakes I’ve ever seen. As funny as the finished skit itself, which is most definitely the equal of the Rick James skit, even though everyone references that one more. I still laugh ’til I hurt. This show was so genius, even the outtakes slayed (or slew, if you prefer). See the “Making the Band” outtakes for further proof. Thank you, kind poster, for this clip:

I can’t even pick the best moments, but here are the most notable:

“Charlie Murphy is the best dancer in the motherfuckin’ club right now.”

“‘Silence’… Shit, we don’t work for you, nigga.”

The “uh uh” sound/face in response to Donnell’s “they probably want to play with two balls.”

“Shoot the J, shoot the J!”
“Should I shoot it…?”
“Yeah, you’re goddamn right.”

“Let’s go crazy!” + hip shake (Side note: the reason they laugh after that is because Dave’s pass “hit the boy in his nuts”, as Charlie tells us.)

“Eddie, do you want some? Sorry about that.”

And of course, Charlie Murphy’s laughs. Major props to him for giving so many awesome takes with so much gusto. You can’t help but laugh with him.

“Oh bury me”

In vinyl on Thursday, 19 May, 2011 at 11:53

Song: Snakes on the Ladder
Artist: Handsome Furs
Album: Plague Park

Didn’t we just hear from these two? Oops! I don’t control the song shuffle, the song shuffle controls me! I preferred the second album because of all its energy, and because the first was too atmospheric, but that doesn’t mean the songs aren’t good. (Hello, this one!) Even on this song (and album), which is rather low-key, there is so much simmering below the surface of their songs. And once again, thank goodness for Dan Boeckner’s vocals, sparking a flame under something as moody and controlled as this. The last thirty seconds are just gorgeous.

Listening to this song made me go back and listen to “Yulia” again. Man, that’s fantastic. The subject matter and video are heartbreaking, but if there’s a way to do depression as catharsis, this is it.