“It’s almost impossible to de-program the incestually-established, male oppressor, especially the ones who’ve been weaned on it thru their families…like die-hard NRA freaks and inherited corporate-power mongrels…But there are thousands of green minds, young gullible 15-year-old boys out there just starting to fall into the grain of what they’ve been told of what a man is supposed to be, and there are plenty of tools to use. The most effective tool is entertainment.”
A deep dive into the discography of the band that meant everything to me back in 1991. Rather than feel nostalgic, I was shocked to discover that in 2019, Nirvana still feels as eerily powerful, cathartic and prescient now as it did then. And I finally put the best Nirvana song at #1.
Every Nirvana Song Ranked, for Vulture.
Happy Release Day for Mort Garson’s Plantasia, which sees official release on Sacred Bones Records today. I had the honor of penning the liner notes for this rhododendron-friendly synth jammer and waxed about the plant consciousness of everything from Swamp Thing to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. True roots music. Pick up a copy here and let your mind sprout.
“He was possessed, so vivid and mesmerizing. His voice was so sharp and cutting — sometimes he’d get lost in his screams.”
It’s hard to fully explain just how vital a figure Roky Erickson was for all the weirdos growing up deep in the heart of Texas. Not just as an acid casualty, of someone who went out too far and never quite came back, but just as someone who had to cope with the suffocating conservative culture of Texas and America at large by making gloriously weird music. Has anyone but Roky ever written this many insanely catchy, tangy songs about the Devil? Maybe I didn’t quite understand it then, playing endlessly my cassette copy of You’re Gonna Miss Me, which compiled all of his post-Elevators insanity, or the heartbreaking fragility of Never Say Goodbye, which my friend Craig released at the end of the ’90s (great write-up of that set here), but his life and art –in addition to the capturing the darkness that exists alongside such searches for enlightenment– tells us more about America’s brutal repression of its artists and visionaries than almost anything else.
Roky Erickson remembrance, for Vulture.
“Relentless and incandescent, Brown Rice rebuffs the notion that spiritual music must be placid. Cherry suggests—as Alice Coltrane did in the same era—that true spiritual awakening stems not always from a state of peace but from tumult and upheaval. In its balance of noise and bliss, beauty and chaos, Brown Rice is true world music.”
Don Cherry’s classic Brown Rice, for Pitchfork.
“Before John Lennon primal-screamed that he didn’t believe in Beatles, before David Bowie set off on a career of chameleonic reinventions, before Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake shook off the shackles of teen pop stardom for serious adult music, Scott Walker had already performed self-immolation on his mid-’60s image as ‘the Boy With the Golden Voice’ and ‘the Blond Beatle.'”
On the godlike genius of Scott Walker, the erasure of the Walker Brothers from ’60s culture memory, and how his solo work contained not just heartbreak but humanity’s greatest atrocities within them.
“This is How You Disappear” for Vulture.
“There are plenty examples in both Eastern and Western mythology of God in all of their omnipotence assuming a more humble human form, returning to Earth to be among mankind. For a fellow often referred to as ‘God,’ that’s perhaps the only explanation we will ever get as to why Eric Clapton put out this agonizingly shitty and half-hearted stab at ambient and drum-and-bass.”
A Brief History of Rockers Who Went Electronic, for Vulture.
“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of West End Records, not just in disco but in hip-hop and house as well, thanks to a roster that drew from soul, R&B, gospel, and funk. West End fueled the sound of both the Paradise Garage and Studio 54, and launched the careers of many pioneering remixers. Some of the headiest early work from Tom Moulton, largely credited with inventing the remix, was for the label. Other luminaries and legends abound under the West End name: Larry Levan, Tee Scott, Walter Gibbons, François Kevorkian, and Arthur Russell, with one of his earliest dance-music productions.”
Last month I paid a little tribute to Mel Cheren and West End Records. Those hot pink sleeves really jump off the record shelves still. Also be sure to check out the immersive West End issue from the heads over at Love Injection.
Where to Start with West End Records, for Pitchfork.