Laurie Anderson- Big Science (1980)


I am starting to prefer artists who straddle different genres, ideas, or modes of expression. Sometimes, the result is a very fabulous aesthetic that leaves all parties feeling a little bit awkward. And that is fantastic.

It's hard to describe what Laurie Anderson does, exactly. One of her earliest musical performances was her playing violin on a street corner wearing ice skates embedded in giant blocks of ice. When the ice had completely melted, she stopped playing violin (see an amazing continuation of that here).

She might be the only artist/violinist you have ever experienced. You might say her main language is performance, but when she started putting out albums, it demolished that idea. Big Science is a strange collection that mashes together violin parts, vocoder, pop hooks, spoken word, singing, poetry, sound... they're not really "songs" per se, perhaps not even music, really... but what to call them?

Big Science--surprisingly--had a massive radio hit, "O Superman (For Massanet)." That has to be the strangest "song" that ever landed in the top 5 (and a surreal-beautiful video). Yet more evidence that the 80s were a far superior decade for music.


tune yards: Bird Brains (2009)


When you have a woman singing really well, playing ukulele, and looping things like nobody's business and recording the entire cd into a one-track digital player... well, what's not to love?

Since signing onto 4AD, she is poised to be the next quirky-female-singer-songwriter-producer, to tour the world with St. Vincent and Dirty Projectors.

You know, in typing all this, i realize how much people rely heavily on myth that surrounds records. You know what? It sounds really bizarre and fresh and the homemade quality really hits the spot after reading about Beyonce and Lady Gaga. I love to hear someone make music that actually sounds like they were making music live. And when people only make music with loops (aka Juana Molina, Imogene Heap, Andrew Bird) i get really excited because of the limitations as well as the possibilities.

So there! I like it.

The Lassie Foundation- Jet Stream, Three Wheels EP (2010)


I had a strange musical childhood, with two parents who listened to those irritating Christian Church worship tapes every week. That was their definition of music, and because of that hideous weekly routine (**shudder**), we kids were expected to listen to "christian music." How can music be a Christian?

One of the few things that came out of that ridiculous musical wasteland was a band called The Prayer Chain, who later split into The Lassie Foundation. TLF was obsessed with The Beach Boys, Yo la Tengo, Built to Spill, Lilys, Medicine, and 60s garage rock like The Kinks and The Who. I couldn't get enough of that combination of sugar-sweet pop falsetto and make-your-ears-bleed loud noise rock.

Alas, the band did not age well. The Schlock Factor hit pretty hard. They were incredibly inconsistent and distracted, and seemed to have an "All or Nothing" approach, rotating band members with each new release.

Jet Stream, Three Wheels EP really surprised me because it's fantastic. The first song is negligible, but the two last songs are fantastic. I can't tell if it makes me forgive them of all the pedantic releases or hold it against them more...hmmmm?

I just noticed this amazing link: on their website, you can download "fancy" PowerPoint presentations to accompany their songs in order to "Impress your teachers, professors, and office colleagues." I have to give them credit for these ludicrous extras. 

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Another musician, interested in and inspired by music from different times, different cultures, and different intentions.