essay Archive

Remembering Rena Rent-a-Record

As Record Store Day (April 17) approaches, my thoughts turn to an experience I had when I was a high school senior. I was looking for a summer job to keep me occupied in the months before heading away to college, and I figured such a job would provide some cash for the essentials (records,

Goodbye, Alex

I remember the first time I saw Alex Chilton. I was in college in Atlanta, and I had met this sort-of-weird couple (they were probably “on the drugs”) through, I don’t recall exactly, some sort of common musical interests. I think I probably had a class in common with the guy. Anyway, once they discovered

Words Have Consequences

When a writer’s work gains a certain degree of visibility, an interesting thing sometimes happens. The artists getting reviewed and/or profiled often contact the writer to give feedback. This happens more often than you might expect. Owing to the ease of communication afforded by the intertubes, it’s easy for an artist to find out when

Busy Doin’ Nothing

Well, not really. Not at all. I’m busy with a bunch of interviews, and with giving critical listens/watches to a stack of cool stuff. Each will be detailed and recommended in its turn, and soon. Here’s some of what’s coming in the next few days: Beyond Reality, the latest album (out now) from Dutch progressive

“Avant Garde is French for Bullshit.” — John Lennon

Like anyone who does what  I do, I get sent a lot of music. MP3 files, CDs, and occasionally vinyl.  Sometimes it takes me awhile, but I do listen to all of it. By “all of it” I don’t mean to imply that I play every disc all the way through. Some, I quickly identify

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” part 4

On the group’s 2004 full-length album release, Sun Greets the Dawn, I used the Roland RD-300s for piano sounds; the Emu Vintage Keys for Farfisa, Mellotron strings, Vox Continental, Hammond B3 and electric piano sounds; the Roland Alpha-Juno for some additional Farfisa sounds, the Ensoniq Mirage for some more electric piano sounds (I think, anyway);

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 3

ANYway, I digress. So I bought this thing, more or less expecting it to arrive and require a few hours of plug-and-play assembly. What I found instead was an “unstuffed” printed circuit board and a plastic baggy full of things that looked like little Sputnik satellites the size of Tic-Tacs. Yes, I know, I know…

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 2

The Poly 800 had lots of sounds, was relatively easy to reprogram with different sounds, allowed saving of the sounds, and weighed about 15 pounds. It had pegs at either end, so of course I had to buy a strap and go all 80s on it. Sometime around this time I let go of the

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 1

When I was little my parents had this toy of a keyboard called a Magnus Chord Organ. Most 1960s homes seemed to have one. It was a two-and-a-half-octave affair, with (I believe) slightly undersized keys, and two rows of buttons that played “chords.” Black buttons were minor; white, major. Even as a child I loved

Essay: “Don’t Fret,” or, “I Write the Songs” Garage Style

For several years starting in 2002, I led a little ol’ cover band. We played much-loved and little-known garage-psych classics in reasonably faithful arrangements. Songs like “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators, “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and the Choir’s “It’s Cold Outside.”  Those were the well-known ones. No