Monday, August 11, 2008

Dart Adams presents Livications: Floodwatch Music

I was thinking of doing either a Bernie Mac or an Isaac Hayes tribute blog this Monday afternoon but I figured/knew that several of my blogging brethren and sisteren would already be handling it (and doing excellent jobs at it) so I instead decided to do the first of many "livication" blogs where I adapt the format or concepts from one of the many blogs that inspire me and push me to keep it fresh daily like a damn bakery. Today's blog is dedicated to one of my personal favorite blogs, Floodwatch Music.

The following is my reinterpretation of a typical (?) Floodwatch post but as written by myself. Here goes:

The first time I ever heard this CD was when I was working at CD Spins at Downtown Crossing back in early 2000 (R.I.P.). It was a terrible day outside which meant damn near no customers until the afternoon. My manager Jay was this short blond cat who played in a band that sounded sort of like Spiritualized and Oasis mixed together. The principal owner of CD Spins was Bill Shafer, a musician who also self published his own comic book called "Glue Boy". Needless to say, we got along pretty well.

We took turns playing CD's from the store (to purpose is to play something someone would want to buy) but when his turn came he went into his own CD player because no one was gonna come in during a goddamn blizzard. He put in what he told me was his girlfriend's favorite CD ever, His Name Is Alive's "Stars On E.S.P". I remember thinking to myself that this sounded like music that you hear in a movie. I still have the urge to cut a trailer to random songs on this album to this very day.

I remember sitting in that store with Jay listening to that CD three times in a row before we actually got any flesh and blood customers. All we (Jay, Rev. Bob, Elliot, Andi, etc.) did was read "Transmetropolitan" graphic novels, argue about if it was even humanly possible to make a good adaptation of "Watchmen" (!) and whether or not Terry Gilliam would ever make another movie. When we got bored (which was often) we'd all talk music, crank call other music stores, ask for "red flag" books from bookstores and steal from our store (inside joke..kinda). Those were the days.

My record store days ended when I got into a shouting match with CD Spins co-owner Art Jannakis and we decided to go into the basement to have a fistfight (at least I did). I instead decided at the last second to quit rather rather beat the fuck outta Art and leave him bleeding in the basement because Bill needed his business partner and I really didn't feel like going to jail (cuz it's ghey).

This CD reminds me of the good times before Art decided to suck all of the fun and soul out of the stores ultimately leading to their demise (that and filesharing). Those days of working in the warehouse and going through thousands of CD's to find rare, out of print gems and then playing and selling them to customers in the store was like analog blogging almost. After the record and video stores that actually used knowledgeable people shut down or went out of business it was time to find a new place to use all of my useless music and film knowledge. Thank God for the internet!

"The Bees" -His Name Is Alive 2:57 (Stars On E.S.P., 4AD 1996)

"Wall Of Speed"-His Name Is Alive 2:29 (Stars On E.S.P., 4AD 1996)

I was already familiar with Ambersunshower because she was half of the group Groove Garden with DJ Atsushi back in the days and they were signed to Flavor Unit Records. She was on the song "Do You Wonder?" from the "Roll With The Flavor" compilation that was released back in 1993 on Tommy Boy Records.

After that deal went sour and Flavor Unit Records lost it's distribution Groove Garden broke up and Ambersunshower went solo. She signed with Gee Street Records and released the slept on LP "Walter T. Smith" back in 1996. Even though BET played the videos for "Walter T." and "The Running Song" every day on Video Vibrations that unfortunately didn't generate a fair amount of sales for this project.

I found this album while rifling through the CD Spins warehouse stacks back in 2000 and it only cost $3.99 (before my 25% employee discount). I uploaded this very same CD back when I first started the blog but a few months later I was asked to remove the link by a lawyer (Gee Street is no longer in operation).

This is one of my favorite songs from this brilliant overlooked project. Enjoy:

"Chide"-Ambersunshower 4:14 (Walter T. Smith, Gee Street 1996)

Who hasn't heard of Bjork? I mean, really? The very first time I ever heard of Bjork I was in detention at Boston Latin School and some gothy chick from my English class (it was 1988 so she was pre-Goth) was sitting behind me playing her Walkman and the weirdest fuckin' screeching noises were coming out of her headphones. I turned around and slowly mouthed "What the fuck are you listening to?" to her. She started laughing and handed me the earphones. She told me that it was an Icelandic band named The Sugarcubes and the singer's name was Bjork. I never forgot the sound of that voice even though I didn't hear it again until years later.

In 1992, one Saturday morning I was flipping channels until I got to MTV. They were playing a weird video and then I heard that voice again! The song was "Hit" by The Sugarcubes and it ended up becoming a hit (no pun intended) in the States. The Sugarcubes had an amicable split shortly afterwards and Bjork went solo. She recorded two incredibly successful LP's called "Debut" and "Post" in the following years.

She did a bunch of collaborations with various producers and she got Tricky and Goldie to fight over her while in London among other things. She also went left from her previous albums to create her new project "Homogenic". The concept was to be minimalistic and incorporate strings, electronic music, sounds from Iceland and her own sampled voice (that she manipulated with a QY 20). I still have her Bravo Profile from 1997/Homogenic documentary on tape to this day.

Most people pick "Joga" as their favorite track from "Homogenic" but to me the joint was "Unravel". I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone do a cover of this song and doesn't ever seem to get old. Here it is:

"Unravel"-Bjork 3:18 (Homogenic, Elektra 1997)

Speaking of covers, the thing about working at a record store with a bunch of people that know damn near everything there is to know about music is that you have to come up with ways to entertain yourself on the job. One of those ways was to do these challenges and make up lists like "Top 5 Cover Songs Of All Times" or "Top 5 Favorite Cover Songs". Most of my favorites are obvious like Aretha Franklin's "Respect" or Jimi Hendrix "Hey Joe" but if we're talking recent ones then this is at the top of the list, The Cardigans version of Black Sabbath's classic "Iron Man"

The way they completely reworked the entire song is bananas. It went from a rock anthem/entrance music for a closing pitcher to chilled out lounge music/entrance music for Ghostface Killah. If you've never heard this before then click the Zshare link and see what I'm talking about:

"Iron Man"-The Cardigans 4:20 (The First Band On The Moon, Stockholm 1998)

The first time I ever heard an Esthero song was when I was watching MuchMusic one day back in 1998 and they played this out there video that looked like it was completely drawn by hand. At first they only played in once or twice a day but then It started to make it's way up the MuchMusic Countdown. The song was called "Heaven Sent".

That spring the LP "Breath From Another" dropped and it became one of my favorite non Hip Hop albums in a very short time. Esthero's voice combined with the production of Doc mixed Jazz, Hip Hop, Electronica and strings to create a modern classic.

The biggest crime is that Esthero never blew up even though she's continued to make great music over the years. Her songs often get used in ad campaigns for TV shows and are featured in movies even to this day. This Esthero song became many folks personal anthems for a while back in 2005.

Here's one of my favorite joints from Esthero's debut album. Enjoy:

"Superheroes"-Esthero 3:59 (Breath From Another, WORK 1998)

I told the story about how I first heard this CD way back in the early days of this blog but few of you were reading Poisonous Paragraphs back before I learned how to upload pictures and YouTube videos and realized that if I posted on Firefox as opposed to Safari I could add more functionality to my blog and cut and paste stuff in my posts.

I ran across Dub-L and Ann Colville's first and only album while listening to a compilation of Aesop Rock's early tracks and demos on MiniDisc (Appleseed & Music For Earthworms). Aesop appeared on two tracks "Shere Khan" and "Home Again" but the song that really did it for me was a white label promo single from Sm:)e Communications (the label with the clear multicolored vinyl 12"s) called "Coward Of The Year" (the other version I heard had Aesop and Percee P on it).

I was the first blogger to post it online and I remember when it began to pop up all over the place shortly thereafter with my original Sendspace link on it. I laughed because I remember being one of the few people hip to it back when it was still available for purchase in stores. I still own the same copy I bought from the Tower Records (R.I.P) I worked at right before I quit back in 1999.

"Coward Of The Year"-The Controls 5:08 (One Hundred, Sm:)e Communications 1999)

This album fell right into my lap. There used to be this Hip Hop magazine in Boston called Fever Magazine but they eventually folded. The owner, Gadget told my mother that she could do what she wanted with what was delivered to the PO Box since she was in charge of them at Mailboxes Etc. at that time. She would give all of the CD's and press kits she got at work to ME. This is how I ended up getting a promo copy of Res' "How I Do" weeks before it came out.

It didn't take long for this album to crack my regular rotation and become one of my favorites. The entire album was written by Santi White (Santogold) and co- produced by the same Doc that produced Esthero's "Breath From Another".

I couldn't pick just one song from this album so I decided to pick my favorite two tracks back to back from the album. Even though "Golden Boys" and "They Say Vision" are both great and ended up singles that got burn on both BET and MTV, I have to go with "700 Mile Situation" (Santi White co-produced with Doc) and "Ice King" (co-produced by Mr. Khaliyl formerly of Da Bush Babees). If you've never heard the "Ice King" remix with Nas before then seek it out, too!:

"700 Mile Situation"-Res 4:10 (How I Do, MCA 2001)

"Ice King"-Res 4:48 (How I Do, MCA 2001)

You wanna hear a funny story about how I got into this group and their music? Well, back when I used to work with the overnight crew at CVS between 2003 and 2005 I would sleep these odd hours. Oftentimes that meant I would either go to sleep or wake up watching whatever station my niece and nephew left the TV on. Noggin used to turn to The N (no Nas) @ night and they used to show this Canadian show about some teenagers with a pirate radio station that played indie music called "Radio Free Roscoe".

I would watch the show here and there and sometimes I'd hear these songs in the background that sounded like a mix of Esthero and The Cardigans that stood out from the other songs featured on the show. I went online and after some searching found out that those songs were made by a Canadian band called Reverie Sound Revue. The instrumentation and arrangements are banana Nutriment and the lead singer's voice (Lisa Lobsinger) is crazy.

I've been trying to get my hands on a proper copy of this EP or any of their other music but it's extra rare. They don't do shows anymore because they're all in other bands and they live so far apart in Canada (big fuckin' country) that it's hard to do. They've supposedly finished an album and will release it in 2008/9, hopefully this EP finally makes it's way to iTunes since they're not signed to any label. Here are two of my favorite tracks from their harder-to-find-than a-Black-person-randomly-doing-air-guitar-on-a -subway-platform EP. Enjoy:

Rip The Universe-Reverie Sound Revue 4:21 (Reverie Sound Revue EP, N/A 2003)

One Marathon-Reverie Sound Revue 5:03 (Reverie Sound Revue EP, N/A 2003)

This is the final track of today's blog and the best way to end it in my personal opinion (does anyone's else really matter?). The main reason why Reverie Sound Revue cannot get it together, record an album and then tour is because Lisa Lobsinger is a member of this particular Canadian band/collective called Broken Social Scene. They are a popular, well respected group of musicians and singers that are lavished with crtitical praise and acclaim as well as enjoy a devoted following both in Canada and abroad.

Leslie Feist is perhaps to most noteworthy member of Broken Social Scene to those unfamiliar with their music. They also recently did the score for the indie film "The Tracey Fragments" starring Ellen Page. They haven't recorded an album in years due to individual bands/side projects and constant touring. They're like the Wu Tang Clan of Canadian indie rock or some shit based on all of the offshoot/related acts they've spawned!

My favorite all time Broken Social Scene track is "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl" because when it's played live it's always a show highlight and each version varies from show to show from the original depending on who actually shows up for the show and how many vocalist and band members are on the stage that night.

Here's the original track and you can check YouTube out to hear and see all of the different versions that they've done over the years. I just feel like this song sounds like the music that plays as the screen fades to black and the credits start rolling:

Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl-Broken Social Scene 4:36 (You Forgot It In People, Arts & Crafts International 2003)

I hope you enjoyed my "livication" to Floodwatch Music because more of these are forthcoming in the near future. I also mixed these songs into a muxtape (the ones that would upload, at least) that you can listen to here

Rest in eternal peace to Isaac "Black Moses" Hayes and Bernie Mac.



Anonymous said...

interesting take sir...I like this.

shit one of my favorite music blogs is HearYa!, indie rock blog (blues rock, americana, folk, etc)

keep it up Dart...Blogging like a cot damn Pro.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Dart - color me humbled and flattered. Some great, random records here - I never thought I'd ever see The Cardigans covered on PP, but I also never thought I'd know so much about your employment history, so there ya go.

Don't be surprised if I repay the favor with some ol' "Oh No/Maybe/Mos Def" style of reviewing coming up. Even if I have no idea what the fuck "livications" means.

Dart Adams said...

@ flood:

As opposed to "dedicating" something to someone you make a "livication" to them seeing as their still alive and kicking and nowhere near calling it quits or passing away. Seeing as how Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes had recently just died I figured a livication would be in order.

The phrase was coined by Pete Rock and the "Fakin' Jax/Step Up Time/Props" 12" and CD maxi single. On the sleeve it said "Livicated To Mark Da Spark".


Anonymous said...

Man, that Res album was something else. It's always bothered me that she hasn't dropped anything since then, besides a few cameos singing for Kweli here and there. She was sexy and could make any kind of song her own style.

Dart Adams said...

Too bad she needed Santi to write her lyrics for the record execs to like her tracks.