Silence is a feature in Jukebox Heart where I just yammer on about the music I’m listening to throughout any given week which is not included on any other audio entry. I usually do this once a week or so to sum up the miscellaneous stuff that got some attention…


The Swans “Celebrity Lifestyle” Single (Young God/Invisible Records CD 1994)

I am so mixed about this band. In the early days, the band could do no wrong. It was a slow, vague decline for me that I think ended with the band’s dreadful cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart and their assumption of a very deliberate goth persona. I just never saw that coming. I love goth, but something about that marriage just doesn’t work. And given that 50% of marriages end in divorce…

But even given that, sometimes the band emerges with some pretty amazing shit. This is not that, though. Sorry…


Grand Ulena “Neosho” EP (Family VIneyard Records CD 2003)

Unassuming, but still formidable. “Grand Ulena masterfully bridge the gap between the uber-angular non-repetitive hyperstructuralism of the most rigid, martial modern classical composition and the traditional rock and roll power trio format while leaving everybody wondering what the hell just happened.” Sadly, the band appears to have put down their noisemakers for good…


Violent Femmes – Freak Magnet (Beyond Records CD, 2000)

While this doesn’t have the hitmaker potential tracks like Gone Daddy Gone or Blister in the Sun as did their 1982 debut, but it does have some very fun moments. One of the only stable aspects of the band is their aversion to rehearsal. Due to this they would take the music to the streets in an attempt to hone it and earn some spare change. It was on one of these occasions that they were spotted by the Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde and the gang were so amused by the Violent Femmes antics that they invited the band to open the show for them. The hometown Milwaukee audience received the Femmes with unanimous booing. However by the end of the set the Femmes had converted approximately 50% of the audience to their cause. Many years later Brian Ritchie encountered Hynde when the Femmes and Pretenders shared the bill at a radio concert. She said, “Oh, you’re still around.” The Femmes borrowed $10,000 from Victor De Lorenzo’s dad to record their legendary first album in 1982. Slash Records in Los Angeles was the only label to offer them a deal with the amazing advance of $0. The band accepted the deal and started on the predictable round of world tours, recording, more world tours, nervous breakdowns, band members quitting, solo albums, regrouping, more touring, divorces, more crackups, dropped from record deals, new deals, more touring, record company going bankrupt, lawsuits, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. Fast forward to the present. Many things have changed. One thing that hasn’t is the sound of the band. Their loose, improvisational, acoustic sound is timeless. You heard me; I Said Timeless.


Test Dept. – Proven In Action (Invisible Records CD, 1990)

One of the best bands to emerge from the first wave of Industrial music circa 1980, Test Dept. is defined by its use of percussion. This is a live album, recorded at the Actuelles Festival up in Canada, in 1990.


Tahiti 80 – Fosbury (The Militia Group CD, 2006)

Tahiti 80 JUST released their fourth album this week, so we’ll e hunting around for that. But for now, the wonderful Fosbury has to hold its place. Tahiti 80 is an English-language French pop group formed in 1993 in Rouen, France. The group’s name originates from a slogan on a t-shirt worn by Xavier’s father. Their music resembles pop with soul tendencies. They have encountered a fair amount of success in Japan, notably. The true Tahiti 80 fan will need this release plus the import release on the Atmosphériques imprint. The import has 3 tracks that this, the US version does not have, while the domestic version has two tracks that the import does not have. Why do they do that? Oh, yeah, the domestic also includes a fabulous and exclusive bonus disc with the sweet sweet “Give it Away” track, and a totally cheeky cover of the Turtles’ Happy Together.


Jah Wobble – Requiem (30 Hertz CD – 2003)

Much respect for this man. Given his personal musical diversity and his breadth of talent, it shouldn’t be a surprise that every release is a technical masterpiece regardless of the fact that some may fall outside the limitations of the individual tastes of his fans. There are some of his recordings which I absolutely lovelovelove while others leave me comparatively unmoved. Requiem is just brilliant, appearing as an extended orchestral journey in five movements, of spiritual awareness, ranging from somber & melancholy to uplifting & enlightening.


Discom – Automot (Deco CD, 2003)

The Deco imprint, run by Discom themselves, is a totally obscure and abstract imprint from France releasing the most challenging and far left-field stuff from ambient to insane experimentalism to synthpop. Discom is the experimental electronic project of Lionel Fernandez and Erik Minkkinen. Since they release their music on their own label Deco, Discom can afford to do what they want to do without label meddling. Not that I see any need for meddling, nor believe in some great label conspiracy to streamline bands within this genre. Not me. Er… *wink* Anyway, the album is made up of all sorts of sounds and noises – “chewing gum sounds and bubble cracks, marshmallow high frequencies” and more, mostly used sparingly in a “less is more” fashion. This album is playful, enjoyable and innovative. But it takes time to get into it.

The Sound of Silence

So, invarably, what happens in posts in the category “The Sound of Silence” is that they tend to be about the music I’m not considering for podcasts or any other Jukebox Heart feature. Hence, no musical interludes with these. Does that mean I’m trashing it? Not at all – though maybe…

Unwound – Challenge for a Cicilized Society (Kill Rock Stars CD, 1998)

This band characterized the Olympia sound of the early 1990s, and this was their sixth album for Kill Rock stars. Unwound’s main influences included Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Big Black, The Wipers, Black Flag, Rapeman, Can, Mission of Burma, Hüsker Dü, Flipper, and Gang Of Four., although this album has a markedly more experimental feel than those would suggest. For a defining moment of “where were you when…”, Unwound were scheduled to play The Middle East in Cambridge on the night of September 11, 2001. The show was cancelled.

Discharge – The Clay Punk Singles Collection (Clay Records CD, 1995)

THis collects all of the tracks on 9 of the band’s singles from 1980 through 1985. While roughly the first half of the cd sticks pretty close to the band’s earliest sound, there is a shift into more complex playing and songwriting about halfway through. Discharge is a reference point and huge influence on many pop metal bands like Anthrax and Metallica, so even if this music isn’t your thing, its historical value and cultural significance can’t be overstated.

Jah Wobble – Umbra Sumus (30 Hertzx CD, 1998)

For me the jury has been out about Jah Wobble for over 20 years. He has a HUGE body of work to his credit, but all of his credibility is tied to his stint in PIL. While that’s no short money, it WAS a long time ago. Plus his move toward world music LONG before it ever beame part of the broadband cultural horizon is cerainly noteworthy. On this CD, the use of tradional East Indian music is very profound. While critics seem to feel that he draws from a variety of ethnic traditions without explicitly evoking any one of them, I tend to disagree and point to a variety of tracks here which seem to purely emulate many of those traditions. THis is not a bad thing, in fact, most of this is hypnotic and strangely appealing. It’s just not as focused as I might like it to be.

UnUn – Super Shiny Dreams (bad taste USA CD, 1995)

While the timing of this CD is a bit nebulous, it is early in the career of post-Sugarcubes THor Eldon and the desperate need to find a Bjork replacement is sorta evident here. Beyond a handful of songs, I’ve never been much of a Sugarcubes fan – I mean, when they hit, they hit big – Birthday – My God! Coldsweat and Deus, well, they were pretty damn good too. But that was it for me. (Now <i>KUKL</i>, well, tha’s a whole ‘nutha story). Stylistically, this Unun CD has it down cold, but style only goes so far. And so will I…

The Vanity Projct (Flagship records CD 2006)

A very quietly promoted solo project of Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page. This is a collection of his songs whose lyrics deal with much of the same irony of modern life in much of the same irnic way as his songs in the Barenaked Ladies oeuvre does. That of course means You’d Love This – but good luck fdinding a copy. Oh yeah, the packaging is pretty gorgeous too.

Williamson – The Trashcan Electric EP (Williamson CD, 2005)

“All music written, recorded and mastered in the most unkempt bedroom in North America.” I can’t say anything better than that…

Watch this space…

So, more ramblings.

Driving around today, I was listening to The Seconds “Kratitude” CD, an early Velocity Girl EP and Dntel’s most recent CD, Dumb Luck. I raved about the Seconds in a recent Screamer of the Day, so naturally when the Kratitude CD turned up in the clearance bin at Newbury’s yesterday, I snatched it in my greedy little fingers.

It started up and suddenly I felt my mouth fly open and my body nod rapidly to the bounce of the bass and the contrasting screams of two opposing vocalists, wailing against each other “MOVING SLOWLY!” and “MOVING FASTER!” against guitar chords that were so distorted they just broke down completely and stopped altogether, as if they’d just worn through every possible surface they could bounce off of. I started to laugh out loud, hysterically, and said to an empty car “This is fucking brilliant.” Yes, I love this band.

The Velocity Girl EP, “Six Song Compilation EP”, is just essential, and I grabbed this to give as a gift, since I’ve had a copy of this since it first came out. It compiles tracks from prior 7″ singles from the 1991 timeframe, and features the band at it’s un-produced finest. The out-of-sync layered vocals in “I Don’t Care If You Go” are not too precious, and the whole thing is just a charming affair. It kind of fits into the early 90’s shoegaze/4AD thing, such as the Pale Saints and Lush. Maybe if you’re real nice to me, you can have my extra copy?

Dntel is Jimmy Tamborello who is also part of the The Postal Service and, another favorite, Figurine. He features lots of guest musicians and as such, each release has a personality all its own. He started working as Dntel in 1994. A collection of tracks created between 1995-1997 (Early Works For Me If It Works For You) was released on the Phthalo label in 1999, followed by the release of an E.P. recorded in 1994 (Something Always Goes Wrong) in 2000. Both of those Phthalo imprint releases are very sought after, but they are also very different from his later releases out on Plug Research and Sub Pop. While Dumb Luck is actually a great read, His “Life is Full of Possibilities” CD offers some of his truly breathtaking music, such as “Why I’m So Unhappy”. Another band to just love to pieces…

And so, that’s what whirled around the air today here. In other news, Stereolab releases their new album, Chemical Chords, on – wait for it – 4AD. I’ve waited *years* for those two roads to intersect. Watch this space. . .


Lately I’ve been just blabbering on about Fleet Foxes to anyone who will listen, and I’ve been trying to locate a copy of their debut EP (from 2006, self-released *not* the releases on Bella Union or Sub Pop) to the point of calling local Seattle record shops. To No Avail. The more I listen to this band, the more I love them. Still not getting all of the Beach Boys comparisons, though. Sometimes the vocal harmonies are in the ball park, but that’s as close as it gets.

The good news is that they are making a Boston appearance on Monday October 6th at the Somerville Theater (I. Am. SOOOO. There.) The bad news is that the tickets have either not yet gone on sale, or the show is sold out. A handful of online agencies are showing tickets for insane prices – like $100 US for an orchestra seat. I mean, I love the band, but they ARE an indie rock band…


Newbury Comics placed a TON of amazing CDs in their $1.99 clearance bin, so, guess where I was for several hours yesterday. Honestly, they should have a VIP listening suite set up for people like me. 😉

More good stuff to come. But for now…lunch.

The Sound of Silence: Joy Division

“What’s this?” my son said, as he blearily marched into my studio at 2 AM. Apparently, my attempt at keeping the volume low failed.
“It’s called ‘Decades’, and it’s by Joy Division.”
THIS is Joy Division?”
“Wow. All these years I’ve seen that poster (pointing to the framed, zoomed graphic from the “Unknown Pleasures” album that I have on the wall in the studio) but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you play any of them. This is great.”
“Yeah…it is.”

And he’s right; I haven’t actually sat and listened to any Joy Division in years. It’s just not necessary, and my listening bandwidth is always crammed with other stuff. By now, I have every nuance committed to memory, every inflection so fluently memorized that I can spot an alternate version in seconds. The mp3 player that is my head doesn’t need me to play it the music in real space anymore. There are several bands like this, but Joy Division is probably the most intense. My fortunate early exposure to the band (while they were still current) and the timing of their appearance in my life (Late in the summer after my freshman year in college, late August 1979, when I received a copy of the Unknown Pleasures album for my birthday. It was shortly after my mother’s death.) catapulted the band to idol status at that tender young age. All through college and shortly thereafter, I tracked down every bootleg live recording I could find – pretty much every live gig is committed to vinyl – and I still own about a dozen or so, the remainder having been sold upon my fall to the temptation of insane collectors waving mountains of green at me. But some were just too precious to part with.

I recently saw the Ian Curtis biopic, “Control”, which I pretty much hated. More about that in a moment, but I think that’s what has put the recent bug back into me to listen again. And then learning of the theft of Ian Curtis’ gravestone also got my adrenaline pumping for the band again. Ya know? People are, ironically of course, calling this “an atrocity”, but I think it’s just great. Honestly, I’m completely stunned that his original grave stone remained in place for almost 30 years! All this time, I just assumed it was the first thing someone would have attempted. It’s one thing to own an original copy of the Warsaw seven-inch, or a first press of Dead Souls, but Ian’s fucking gravestone? How fucking cool would that be? JD fans, especially of the legacy variety, are a fanatical bunch. Since there are no surveillance cameras in place at that cemetary, it seems like it would have been relatively easy to get away with that. What would be nice is if someone would make a casting of it and make some poured concrete reproductions, so we can all have one. Of course, there is nothing like the original, but…

And yeah, take the above in the fashion in which it was meant.

Seriously, though, this does raise him to the gold-medal platform level of Jim Morrison, now, doesn’t it? It would be fitting – and the proper payback – since early reviews of the band compared his booming voice to Morrison’s. And now he’s shrouded with even more mystery.

But yes, I hated “Control”. Not the whole movie, but mostly, the ending. The rest of the movie, I dunno…it reeked of being told my a woman scorned. It was *her* story more than it was *his*, and that just left me feeling a little bit resentful, and the rest of the band was treated like an afterthought throughout the movie. The DVD comes with the video of the Killers performing “Shadowplay” – which, in itself, has no bearing on the film, and indeed is not included in the film. But the video superimposes the song over snippets from the film of the band about to view their own TV appearance. The song is cool – with a little willful suspension of disbelief, because the “woohoo” thing just kills it – but the video left me scratching my head.

And the debate continues. Which of the two Joy Division stuio albums do you prefer? The punkier, grittier, whiskey chaser “Unknown Pleasures”? Or the cerebral, ethereal, clove cigarette and halogen light “Closer”? What I liked about Unknown Pleasures was that it was definitely a punk rock album, but it set the standard for creativity in teh following “post-punk” wave that was about to wash over us. “Closer”, on the other hand, redefined the way a band used a synthesizer. It became an instrument of terror rather than another synth-pop idiom. Its flickering brightness in “Isolation” and inconsolable sadness in “Twenty Four Hours” were new and unexpected. There is a recording available of Martin Hannett’s personal mixes of Joy Division tracks that allows a glimpse at the process of transforming the raw tunes into the tracks we heard on the albums. Some of the tracks were previously available in much less produced forms. “Interzone”, for instance, appeared on the Warsaw demo – released as a bootleg LP – in a much more basic arrangement.

So, my choice? Closer. I love Unknown Pleasures, but Closer is the one I reach for first…

The subcategory in Jukebox Heart of “The Sound of Silence” is where I blog on-topic but don’t include any media files. This is because all of the podcasts generally have some kind of category they fall into, and yet, I listen to so much more music that I don’t include all of it all the time in the podcasts. These excursions allow me to document all that stuff. Formerly, this was known as “Sonic Diary”, which was kinda lame. But it was also somewhat inaccuratre since I’ll be talking about more than just music.

Anyway. Cold Play. I was a little slow to take to this band, because I hated “yellow” – especially all of the remixes that came out. So I wrote them off. Of course, then “Clocks” blew me away enough to make it a standard ringtone on my phone. (My own creation, that is, not some downloaded midi atrocity). And now Vida La Viva. I have to admit, though, the band is reminding more and more of The Police – albeit updated for the new century – with each successive release. So much so, that I’d love to hear them do a cover of, say, Invisible Sun, or, not to be too obvious, but Roxanne. This has been rockin’ the car stereo for a little while now, and the title track is just to die for. And just when you think you get to exhale at the end, they close with those brilliant, off beat choral measures.

I’ve really been struggling to put together Jukebox Heart 012, “Rollin’ with Jukebox Heart”. But it is coming along. Almost all the tracks have been selected, and when I’m ready, I’ll jst have to sit at the mixing desk and spin it all into one. Two weeks ago, I traded a couple of rare CDs i had multiples of for this large collection of about 60 CDs. It was primarily of interest to me because it contained DNTEL’s “Early Works for Me if it Works for You”, which has become impossible to find. There was a wealth of great music in this collection, too, so I’ve been selecting tracks over the last two weeks. Let’s just say there is an amusing reason Jukebox Heart is titled such as it is…

I should also note that my on-line record store is back on line via You can browse my items for sale just by clicking the link. But visit often, I’m updating it daily. There is a lot of nice stuff there that I wouldnt even consir selling but for the fact that I have duplicates.

Sonic Diary

I’ve been keeping a “Sonic Diary” elsewhere, taking notes on whatever I happen to be listening to, whatever it may be. It’s interesting to go back to them from time to time to see what I was thinking about what I was listening to. I figured I’d start keeping them here, even though there is no audio media to accompany them. I mean, who really needs me to feed them Simon and Garfunkel, fer Chrissake… 😉

Some of the lesser known stuff may appear in upcoming podcasts…who knows? This is exactly how that selection process begins…

Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Waters
(Columbia LP – 1970)

“So Long Frank Lloyd Wright”, for whatever reason, was an interminable brain-stain this week, so I figured the only way to erase it was to finally listen to it. So I pulled out the vinyl, and fell in love with S&G all over again. Decades have come and gone since I’ve listened to a S&G record all the way through. I guess that means I’ve come full circle – but I’m not sure what exactly that implies. In fact, the notion of that bothered me so much, I had to throw down the first acid/DNB/Jungle thing I could reach for and that was…

1.8.7 – The Cities COllection
(Jungle Sky CD – 2000)

And the familiar “Blaaaaang” of the San Francisco track reset my inner clock and kept the tears of sentimentality at bay, at least for now. It all started because I decided to clean and dust my studio this morning – really, it’s unworkable in there – and now here I am, cloistered in the house on a rainy day cranking 1.8.7. Jordana’s sense of rhythmic flow on this CD just rocks. Its a collection of tracks named after cities, compiling the EPs with Hollywood, Los Angeles and New York (EP1), Pittsburgh, Miami and San Francisco (EP2) and two exclusive tracks, Philadelphia and Detroit. Hot

One Mile North
(Ba Da Bing! CD – 2003)

One Mile North is the New York-based project of guitarist Jon Hills and keyboardist Mark Bajuk. Breathaking and painstaking passages. It is like wandering through an unknown place, blanketed by silken curtains that flow in the breeze, caressing you as you pass through, only to find more. Their softness soothes  you and the breeze cools you, as the music beckons you on. (I know, how lame is this…but, you get the picture?)

Joni James – When I Fall In Love
(MGM LP – 1960)

The first Joni, a Your Hit Parade era megastar, she sold over 100 Million records – a phenomenal feat for a female artist in the 1950s. Consequently, Joni’s records are easily obtained in thrift stores everywhere. Her style is soulless and naive, like Doris Day in a training bra, and “Joni dreamed the dreams that girls have always dreamed – the tender, misty world of the first romance, the longings, the laughter and the loneliness of young love…” Man, they sure don’t write liner notes like they used to! This is an album of standards, and she hauls out some sweet versions of Embraceable You and People Will Say We’re In Love. But, I definitely have to be in the mood for this stuff…

Gene Pitney – Greatest Hists of All Time
(Musicor LP – 1966)
Gene Pitney’s Big Sixteen
(Musicor LP – 1964)

We watched the classic “Town Without Pity” this week (where the fabulous jukebox image above was ganked from…), and the movie’s theme song, a childhood favorite of mine, was stuck in my head. So I dug out both of these LPs. There’s a fair amount of overlap, but a total of 23 unique tracks over both LPs. So I’ve had my Gene Pitney fix for a bit. It was great to listen to “Last Chance to Turn Around” again. :)