Archive for January, 2008


Who need’s an instrument? Not Petra…

I’ve been a big fan of Petra Haden ever since her home-recorded a cappella version of the entire Who Sells Out album (click the picture to purchase) came out on Bar/None over two years ago. Of course I should have known about her long before that. Apart from being a member of that dog, The Rentals and The Decemberists she’s also an in-demand session musician and vocalist having played and/or sang on dozens of records by artists such as the Foo Fighters, Green Day, Mike Watt, Luscious Jackson, Victoria Williams and Beck.

What I’m really digging though is her a cappella work. Now when I say a cappella I don’t mean she’s just singing the words without any music behind her. She does everything: guitars, strings, drums, bass, keyboards; all with just her voice. At first I thought the novelty would wear off pretty quickly but every time I hear it I get this warm happy feeling and repeated listens only leave me more impressed with what she can do with those vocal chords. Plus some of the cheesy cover selections are just too damn fun.

The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” (unreleased from her official site)
Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin‘” (from the compilation Guilt By Association on Engine Room Recordings)
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (unreleased)

She’s also currently streaming a new track on her myspace page. It’s her cover of Japanese pop-noise savant Cornelius’ “Music” from his brand new EP Gum out now on Everloving Records.


Mashup Monday (on time)

One of the most famous (and controversial) examples of the mashup genre is Danger Mouse‘s “The Grey Album”. Released in early 2004, it layered the a cappella version of Jay-Z’s The Black Album over instrumentals created from unauthorized samples from The Beatles’ self-titled double album more commonly known as The White Album. White + Black = Grey, get it?

Needless to say EMI popped a vein slapping cease & desist orders on anyone distributing the limited copies Danger Mouse produced (rumored to be in the neighborhood of 3,000). This somewhat defensible protection of EMI’s copyright led to an impressive grass roots movement to distribute the record over the internet led by the folks at Downhill Battle. Dubbed “Grey Tuesday”, February 24th, 2004 saw roughly 170 sites hosting the album for download. Estimates range up to 100,000 copies dl’ed that day. Happy to say I’m one of ‘em. Hurray for internet civil disobedience!

Two of my favorite tracks:
December 4th

There’s also this fabulous video for “Encore” directed by the Swiss duo Ramon and Pedro (aka Laurent Fauchere and Antoine Tinguely). I can’t decide what I like best, scratching Ringo or headspinning John…


Music Picked By My Kids

So those are my two boys. This photo of them frolicking in the Pacific Ocean was taken in late December. We Californians may be wimps when it comes to weather but I gotta bet there aren’t too many folks on the East Coast wearing their bathing suits outside right now. Anyway, it’s time for a bit of shameless self promotion (as if blogging weren’t enough of a self indulgence): I have a regular DJ shift on KALX in Berkeley every other Wednesday from 6 to 9 PM. A regular feature on my show is “Music Picked Out By My Kids” when I play four records that the boys have picked (usually at random) from my record collection. It’s an interesting (and challenging) exercise creating a set that flows nicely without having control over the source material (well, I do pick the tracks). Hope you like it.

The installment from January 10th features:
Zap Mama – Gbo Mata (Station)
Buffalo Daughter – Silver Turkey
Smashing Pumpkins – I Am One
Lydia Lunch – Spooky

Get it here (3.8 MB)

PS: I really need to come up with a better name for the segment so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears


Mashup Monday (a day late)

This could be a regular feature here if folks dig it. Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes shall we?

If I had to pick a single track to demonstrate to the uninitiated the pure funky joy that is mashup culture I’d be hardpressed to come up with a better example than Sweet Home Country Grammar. This toe-tapping collision of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Nelly is the brainchild of local SF DJ Mwei-Lun. As his alter ego Mix Master Mao Lun was part of the CRFTP collective along with Ean Golden (aka Fidelski) and other like minded spinners. It looks like the bulk of the site hasn’t been updated in a couple years but the forums (with plenty of links to other mashups and artists) are still active. I’m really into the whole “music for the masses” aesthetic they have going too. They have their best stuff up on this page but the cream of the crop for me is this track here:

Mix Master Mao – Sweet Home Country Grammar


How do I do this?

Hello there and welcome to my blogosphere deflowering. Posting everyday is a pipe dream (I’m a father of two so whaddya want from me?). I do hope to get stuff up here a couple times a week though. For my premier post I thought I’d start things off with something old and something new.

For the old I’m kinda cheating; though this slab of seminal garage punk originally appeared in 1966 the good folks at Sundazed Records reissued it back in 2004. The Sonics were a blast of white hot energy out of Tacoma, Washington that took the R&B/rock fusion of local favorites like The Wailers and The Kingsmen to unimagined extremes for the time. Lead singer Gerry Roslie wails like a cranked out white Little Richard. Still some of the raunchiest rock ever recorded.

Check out a couple of tracks:

Bama Lama Bama Loo

The new: I’m going with the lovely debut by local San Francisco band The Botticellis pressed into my grubby mits by my good friends at Antenna Farm Records. Old Home Movies is packed with beautifully crafted pop filled with Big Star type hooks backed with vintage keyboard washes under soulful croony vocals. It’s coming out May 13th but here’s a preview, the title track plus one of my favorites:

Old Home Movies
The Reviewer

Find more of their music and a schedule of upcoming shows on their myspace page

Catch me on KALX in Berkeley

I host the Cuppa Joe show on KALX in Berkeley every other Wednesday from 6 to 9 PM. You can tune at 90.7 or online by clicking HERE ------------------------------------------- NEXT SHOW: October 28 FUNDRAISER SHOW!! ------------------------------------------- Check out past playlists HERE
Got something I HAVE TO HEAR? Wanna send me free stuff? Email me at


Quick note about the tunes

The mp3s on this blog are to give folks a little taste. Imagine they're those little pouches on the bag your Sunday paper comes in. You know, the one's with a packet containing just enough toothpaste to brush your teeth once or twice. They are left up for a limited time. If you find something you like support the artists by dragging your friends to their shows and/or buying their CDs/records/schwag. If you are the artist (or their label/representative) and don't want an mp3 on here, please email me ( and I'll remove it posthaste.
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