This is a song called Maria También, by a band named Khruangbin, from Houston. I heard about them a couple of years ago and use them for background grooves when I’m working on projects; I heard this tune in Austin while waiting for coffee and it’s stuck in my head ever since. This is just a monster jam.
I read a retrospective review of an an odd album called Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots on Friday that got the song Fight Test stuck in my head. It was a strange album 20 years ago and it still sounds like nothing else out there today, but the melody here is catchy and the lyrics are really quite perfect.
My good friend Matt sent me a text asking if I’d been to a Soul Coughing show at Bohagers with him back in ’97, and I said, Yes! I was there! They were throwing board games out into the audience! Turns out there’s a recording of the show on the Internet Archive. It’s not recorded through the board, but the sound is good enough. Bohager’s is long gone now; it got razed and developed into a parking garage about five years after that show. And, here’s the inspiration for the name of this website.
This week’s Earworm is a track by Sleigh Bells called SWEET75. The album track is good but this live version is about ten times better:
It’s an interesting song. The drum breaks are odd in their placement and construction, but the hook is solid and they work it hard. I dove into their back catalog and can’t say I enjoyed most of it—there’s a lot of noise rock and overprocessed elements I can’t get into, but a track from their previous album also caught my ear:
This is an even stranger construction; the chorus has nothing to do with the verse other than the key it’s in, but they hang it together really well. And damn, that woman can sing.
I’ve had this tune stuck in my head since I heard it last week:
I really dig the distance between the verse melody and the chorus melody; it’s a beautiful, unusual song. Soccer Mommy is one of a group of women artists I seem to be diving into further these days.
This week’s earworm: New York, by Richard Ashcroft.
This song came out on his first solo album back in 2001 and it has a great dirty groove through the verse section—it’s this part that’s stuck in my head. I was never much of a Verve fan back in the day but I really liked this album and the vibe of this tune.
Driving Finn back from karate on Monday, I was flipping through the radio stations and the distinctive guitar opening for Lit’s My Own Worst Enemy came on. Typically I change the station as soon as I hear these notes, as I could not stand this song in 1999 when it was released, and I dislike it even more now. One of the many “I’m a drunk manbaby and I can’t remember what I did last night” songs that headlined that era, it played constantly for years and never seems to go away. Now it’s stuck in my head.
I don’t have much more to say about it (and I’m not linking to the video here) because I want it out of my head as quickly as possible.
This week I’ve had Lies by Chvrches running through my head, mainly the chorus. The song starts out strong, and has a killer hook, but when that chorus kicks in, it’s like the band magnifies itself by a factor of ten. Chvrches was at the forefront of an electropop revival at the beginning of the last decade, all heavy synths and processed beats, but they did it better than any of their peers, and they’re still around and kicking today.
It’s hard to believe this song is almost ten years old at this point; this was one of my favorite albums of 2013 and is still on repeat in my favorites list.
As someone diagnosed with ADHD, there are multiple symptoms that come along for the ride. One of the things I’ve dealt with my entire life are songs that get stuck in my head for days on end, until they burn out and I need to lock them away for months or years until I can hear them again. There is no logic behind why a song will stick; I can’t control it nor can I shut it off. Imagine being stuck in an elevator for hours with a song on repeat—or, in many cases, a particular section of song repeating. They are the soundtrack of my life.
This week’s earworm is one of the lesser tracks on Steely Dan’s Gaucho, called Glamour Profession. A song about a coke dealer in L.A. in the late 70’s, it’s anchored by an uncharacteristically weak rhythm section, a beat programmed into every cheap keyboard punctuated with even cheaper keyboard tones. It’s almost saved by the supporting elements of the band’s signature sound: careful horn arrangement, world-class backup vocals, and an excellent bridge leading to an abrupt chorus.
There are far better songs on this album: Babylon Sisters and Time Out of Mind are some of their best. Gaucho was was a troubled production, at the very end of the band’s first run. Drug use, perfectionism (perhaps influenced by drug use) and interpersonal problems split the band up at perhaps the best time to preserve their legacy—AOR sounds were shifting and yacht rock-adjacent music was dying out. I get the sense this was as close to filler as the band was willing to release. Either way, it’s stuck in my head until something else comes along.
Yesterday I was out the door to catch the train at 7:30AM for the first time in 2+ years; I had a full schedule of meetings and a photo shoot in the afternoon, so I dragged some gear with me and set to work cleaning up my corners of the comms area. The first issue I had to deal with was getting online. At some point in the last couple of months the wireless network decided it didn’t like Macs, so I had to cobble together a wired connection to be able to look at my email. Then I had to deal with about 30 boxes of printed materials that have been delivered and stacked under cabinets and desks, most of which are already out of date and useless. The printers all forgot who they are and where they live, and the one next to my desk is completely broken, so I couldn’t print or scan anything. Then I had to sort and organize our video and photo gear, which has been scattered among houses, bags, closets, and locked drawers since lockdown. In the afternoon I set up a photo shoot for the South Korean ambassador, who signed an MOU with us to do climate-related work (they didn’t use the best photo I shot).
It was both strange and reassuring to be in the office for a full day. It was strange to wear a button-down shirt and work pants all day. I’m still navigating mask etiquette from house to train to station to office—I will be wearing a mask on the train, through the station and all the way to my desk—but it’s strange to have it off in the office but put it on to ride the elevator and walk through the lobby, etc. I ran into a handful of colleagues and the social animal part of my brain wept with joy to be interacting with human beings again. And I spent more time on my feet in the office yesterday than I do all week at my house, which was both exhilarating and exhausting.
The word is that we’re going to be going to 2 days a week sometime later this spring, which will be tricky. I’ll come into the office if I know other folks will be there, but I’m not going to spend time and money on the train if I’m going all the way to D.C. to sit in an empty office on Zoom calls. Doing the math, I’ll save money buying individual tickets two days a week instead of a monthly pass, and that makes me happy.
I got a very nice Audio-Technica needle cartridge delivered yesterday, and after dinner I installed it in the Technics turntable. Then I hooked the unit up to the amp in the basement. My Steely Dan album was upstairs on the shelf behind Jen, who was on a zoom call, so I pulled an Elvis album from the pile we saved at the Mildew House and queued up Hound Dog. The result: absolutely beautiful. The platter is smooth, and the sound was ten times better than the Scott—smooth, crisp, and clear. I can’t wait to hook it up to better speakers and a subwoofer.