THE AGITATED MAJESTY OF SHOES THIS HIGH

I knew I’d be posting this one sooner or later, and I suspect it’ll be one of the more popular entries on Detailed Twang to date. Which is good, ‘cause I’m going on vacation for a few days anyway so you’re in good hands with this agitated post-punk masterpiece ‘til I return. Here’s what I had to say about 1980 New Zealand-based act SHOES THIS HIGH on an earlier blog of mine:

“…..Think it was all whimsical happy-go-lucky goofball pop music down there in New Zealand twenty-some-odd years ago? Songs about sheep and fish and heartbreak? You gotta hear SHOES THIS HIGH, a quick-lived 1980 Auckland-by-way-of-Wellington quartet who are by far one of the best lost post-punk bands I’ve had the pleasure of finding out about. Think a more jagged Minutemen, The Gordons, Seems Twice, Pere Ubu, some Beefheart-like deconstructed stabs at atonality – or, as Gary Steel’s liner notes for the reissued 7”EP exclaim, “killer-riffing-angry-in-your-guts-avant-garde-pin-pricking punk funk”. The lead track on their sole four-song single, “The Nose One”, has a real spastic stop/start structure which successfully masks some great weary, disengaged vocals. Guitars chime in and chop out of all four tracks, some of which are pretty biting and aggressive (hence the GORDONS comparison). The greatness of this thing again reminds me of the strong influence of The Fall in NZ, where “Totally Wired” went actually into the Top 5. Not that Shoes This High sound much like The Fall, but there’s gotta be a hook there somewhere. Recorded December 1980, released in 1981, reissued on Raw Power records in 2002. Please do yourself a favor and begin a tireless, unyielding quest for the Shoes This High EP forthwith…..”

Here’s the entire EP for your listening pleasure.

Play or Download SHOES THIS HIGH – “The Nose One”
Play or Download SHOES THIS HIGH – “A Mess”
Play or Download SHOES THIS HIGH – “Foot’s Dream”
Play or Download SHOES THIS HIGH – “Not Weighting”

I can only watch one David Lynch film

…and it’s rated G. 

When I was 17, Wild At Heart was the shit. Tonight, mumbling on in the background, it’s unwatchable. To think of the 90’s retro-robot awfulness that this thing inspired. I can’t. Intense? Fucked-Up? Yeah, alright. UFO or Bigfoot documentary NOW please!!!!

Ok, I like Blue Velvet.

But that’s it.

Who out there has seen a little Brit-Caper called The Hard Word? Not bad!! Could have been baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!

Here’s the next ,and possibly last, installment of the SXSW table that I sat behind.

STROKE BAND – “FICTION/NON-FICTION”

THE STROKE BAND were a Valdosta, Georgia combo who put forth one 1978 LP and a 45 in their brief time on earth and no more. The long-playing record is called “Green And Yellow”, and there’s talk of getting a reissue going. Myself, I’ve never heard it, but I have heard and own a track from it called “Fiction/Non-Fiction” (courtesy of an old CD-R from the “Homework” series), and it’s one of the most killer slices of punk-era pop I’ve ever heard. Velvet vocals, strange time patterns, and plenty of bold moves that presage much of the Southern pop that would flow like so much wine in the years to come. Don Fleming, later of many DC-area bands like the Velvet Monkeys, was a member of this band, as was a guy named Bruce Joyner whose name I know from somewheres. Give this song a download and let’s start the reissue campaigning going so we can hear some more.

Play or Download THE STROKE BAND – “Fiction/Non-Fiction”

Y’all remember when I used to blog regularly? Nei…

Y’all remember when I used to blog regularly? Neither do I.

Lots has happened in the last… month? Really? Damn, it’s been a while.

Most of these guys who I memed below have done that thing that I asked them to do. Sorry for the vagueness, but it’s easy to forget what the hell I’m talking about.

The Bush Admin has completely gone off the deep end with the Scooter Libby pardons, man-sized safes, repeal of desegregation laws, that sort of thing. But you know all that.

Most importantly, our baby is imminent! She’s head-down and low (and I say “she” knowing full well that she could be a he) and could show up, like, any minute now. We have carseats at the ready.

What we don’t have yet is a crib. That’s gotta happen.

Our son’s new room is almost done. I’ve spent the last month painting and building IKEA furniture (thanks, Scott & Kathy, for your contributions to that effort!) and turning the garage into a guest bedroom/study/storage area (before, it was just a junk room, basically).

I’m sure I have more to gas on about, but I’ve got too much to do right now. Next post could be notice about the birth, so check back periodically (so I say to all none of you who read this stupid blog).

A Blog Is Born

What are the odds that two people, both named Ward, would live within a couple of blocks of each other in Berlin? Josh Ward and I aren’t related, but we do share a deep interest in food and cooking, and a few weeks ago, Josh came up with an idea for a blog aimed at helping English-speakers in Berlin cope with reproducing their favorite things in Germany. The idea is to provide information on ingredients, report on sources, investigate what’s at the markets, and in general make life easier for folks who like to cook. The emphasis will be on cooking, and not on restaurants, although you can bet that if we ever find edible Mexican food for sale somewhere here we’ll make a big noise about it, and frankly, if that really is a Malian imbiss going in down the street from me — as it seems to be — where the old Chinese one was, I’m going to report on that, too.

The blog is very much still under construction, both graphically and conceptually, and Josh has been slightly hampered, too, by the birth of a daughter who’s been variously described as “beautiful” and “looks just like Josh,” which is certainly confusing.

At any rate, ladies and gentlemen, here it is, Hungry In Berlin

Neighborhood Ramblings

Berlin and fashion are mentioned in the same sentence about as often as Milan and Mettwurst, but over the past weekend, Berlin actually played host to something called Fashion Week, which played out in my ‘hood as something called Projekt Galerie, in which a large number of the (be nice!) second- and third-tier galleries in the area pushed the art to the side and hauled in rack after rack of clothing from designers who presumably rented the space from them. Given the quality of the art in most of these galleries, this was probably the first time they’d made any money in a great long while, and given the taste of some of the designers, hell, maybe they bought some of the art on display, who knows?

Entry was by invitation only, and for some reason, the world of fashion doesn’t consider me a player, so I didn’t look in, but one odd thing I noted from what I could see through the windows was that all the clothes seemed to be black, with the occasional bit of white. Whether this is the result of the informal local ban on non-black clothing, some sort of scheme to make it easier to see the lines of the garments, or what I can’t say, but I did find it appropriate that the poster for the event, which was plastered on just about every flat surface around here, features (as you can see on the website) an androgynous head, blindfolded by a tightly-wrapped cloth. Was s/he being protected from the sight of the clothes, or of the art, I wonder.

At any rate, the fashionistas, who’d been rushing around clutching street maps and notebooks and wearing worried expressions, all vanished on Sunday, and I’d like to thank them for taking down all the posters, too; they were a unique form of pollution, and pretty annoying. I’m sure some money was thrown around; I saw some of these folks dining at local places, and the former copy-shop run by hostile Ossis on my block was transformed into a showroom for some designer whose sign is still in the window.

Ah, well, at least we didn’t have the Love Parade this year…

* * *

It looks like street art is really in the forefront of people’s minds these days. A few weeks ago, I was showing a visitor from Texas around, and noted that one of those funny alien dolls had appeared overnight on a wall by my place. “Gotta shoot that,” I said, and made a note to do it. Two days later, here’s all that remained:

Below, the component parts of the doll, which had horns or ears, and a tongue sticking out — clearly the best of all of this person’s work I’ve yet seen — were strewn all over the vacant lot, torn apart violently. Just why anyone would want to do this is beyond me, but then, I tend to respect other people’s work in the hopes that they’ll respect mine. I also remember Berliners’ penchant for the “if I can’t make art, I sure as hell can destroy it” meme, back when Keith Haring did a section of the Wall and within two hours it had had an orange line drawn across it (as every piece documenting it that I’ve seen has shown).

However, it wasn’t as if the lot was devoid of art, because this had appeared:

Given the amount of unexploded ordnance that keeps popping up here (anyone remember some years back when a bulldozer hitting a buried bomb took out the better part of a block in Friedrichshain and nobody but the bulldozer driver — who was vaporized — was hurt because they were all at work?)(Too bad that was before all the hipsters moved there, eh?) that’s a pretty grim piece of art.

But it’s not like the doll-maker’s been silent; s/he’s just learned to position the dolls so they’re harder to mess with, and a couple of days ago, this showed up in a location I won’t disclose (but I’m sure many can figure out):

Not a great picture, but not all that easy to shoot, given the altitude and the intricacy of the face. Anybody know of any of these outside Mitte? I think I’ve tracked down all the ones here at one time or another.

And this post was going to include a photo of another amusing piece of street art which appeared a couple of days ago, showing Rambo as a Renaissance Madonna, but the one nearest me has vanished. The one at KW may still be up, though. It was also going to have a demented tiny doll someone stuck to the face of Hello Kitty on the sign on the shop on Rosenthaler Str., but it, too, was gone. Gotta move fast both to put this stuff up and to document it, I guess, and the cold rain last week just made me too lazy.

Fake? Real? HILARIOUS!!!!

From Craigslist “Missed Connections” re: last weekend’s Pitchfork Festival:

Green-eyed girl standing behind me during Grizzly Bear at Pitchfork – m4w – 22


Reply to: pers-374122413@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-07-14, 10:42PM CDT

I’ve never done a missed connection before, but the vast amount of unthinking masses at Pitchfork, in their rush to see Battles, removed my position away from your proximity this fine Saturday afternoon.

You had spectacular green eyes, and a kind face. You were with what i supposed to be a group of your friends. I was wearing cuffed-up jeans, a black t-shirt, and a white/black biking cap, i also have a beard that i’m working on. Unfortunately, my physical description does not really seperate me from many of my peers at this festival, but perhaps you will remember we did that thing where eye contact is briefly made then averted; and the process again repeated.

I’ll be there tomorrow, Sunday; and i live in Chicago . I’m not a creep, i swear.

YOUR ROADMAP TO THE WORLD OF POOH

It makes me happy to see references to late 80s/very early 90s outsider nervo-pop act WORLD OF POOH online, and yet chagrined that the band is still such a goshdarned secret to so many. Granted, I was lucky enough to be a free-spending, heavy-drinking, club-hopping early twentysomething San Franciscan during their heyday, and so I got to see the band live about half a dozen times. They were about my favorite band going for about six months – and then they broke up. I’ll never forget the last show of theirs I saw (which was either their last show ever or their last San Francisco show), at the Blue Lamp bar, in which guitarist/bassist Brandan Kearney smashed a sand bottle on bassist/guitarist Barbara Manning’s head, causing the entire crowd to gasp, and then chuckle with relief. Me & my pal Tone EB always talk about the show in 1989 where they played with The Melvins & The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, right as the latter had arrived from a sweaty first-US tour and blew everyone away, as being among our favorite rock n roll experiences ever.

If you look at old issues of WIRING DEPT. magazine (not that you have any lying around), there are references to a pre-Manning, pre- Jay Paget World of Pooh in which the band sounds like a more dark & strange beast with keyboards & noises & whatnot. Around 1987, with the arrival of recent Chico State college grad Barbara Manning, legend has it that they morphed into the jagged, oddly constructed New Zealand-meets-100 Flowers-meets-second album Wire pop trio they became marginally known for. I was a college radio DJ when I heard 1989’s “The Land of Thirst” LP at our station, and that’s when I knew there was this small treasure in my own backyard that I didn’t even know about. The record went out of print very quickly, where it remains. Rumors have persisted that it will be compiled onto CD with much or all of their other work, and Kearney himself has told me and others that a multitude of failure points have kept this event from actually happening. So they had those final six months or so, and poof – were gone. Manning presently went on to quite a career of her own, amassing a body of songs that are or should be the envy of singer/songwriters everywhere. Paget too didn’t miss a beat, and joined those aforementioned Thinking Fellers right away. Kearney went deep into experimental music and absurdist comedy – here’s a good interview with him if you want to know more.

One booster and friend of the band from day uno was Seymour Glass’s BANANAFISH magazine; I’m posting two tracks that the band put out with him from freebie comps that came with the mag – “Strip Club” (100 Flowers) and “Drucilla Penny” (The Carpenters). Both are fantastic, with the former being among the best cover songs I’ve ever heard. I’ll also include two tracks from “The Land of Thirst”, both with a Kearney vocal, as this is an excellent record top-to-bottom, and needs to find a new legion of devotees starting right about now. Finally, World of Pooh put out two 45s after they’d broken up, both of which were great. There’s “G.H.M./Someone Wants You Dead”, and there’s a 4-song EP on Kearney’s Nuf Sed label called “A Trip To Your Tonsils”, which has some of the best non-LP songs they were playing live up until their dying day. I’m giving you a healthy smattering of my favorites here. Anyone with stories or contributions of any kind is invited to share them by clicking the comments button.

Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Stones of Judgment” (from posthumous EP “A Trip To Your Tonsils”)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Owl Business” (from posthumous EP “A Trip To Your Tonsils”)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Playing One’s Own Piano” (from “The Land of Thirst” LP)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Laughing At The Ground” (from “The Land of Thirst” LP)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Strip Club” (from a Bananafish comp CD of some kind)
Play or Download WORLD OF POOH – “Drucilla Penny” (from a Bananafish comp 7” of some kind)