Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cat scratch fever

Just for fun, go to Hype Machine and type "Cat Power" into the search box. Okay, now try "Arctic Monkeys." Now "Test Icicles" You see where I'm going with this?

Shake Your Fist didn't start out as an mp3 blog. Originally, it was a bunch of old friends who wanted to write about film, books, music, television, technology, politics, etc. That lasted about a day. Because I was the one with the time and tendency to adopt hobbies that assume gargantuan proportions and take over my life, and because I felt like writing about music, it became an mp3 blog. Jon gamely stuck around (bless his heart), Joe's still on board as artistic director/tech troubleshooter, and we were fortunate to pick up Troy along the way. But as many things that grow organically, SYF has never adopted a theme or mission. I'm not saying I can articulate one now. But I can tell you what this blog is not. It's not a hype machine or a P.R. mouthpiece. We talk about music we genuinely like, and most of that music is either newer stuff that's so under the radar, it's barely left the ground (and, needless to say, doesn't have major marketing muscle behind it) or older music that probably once got some notice, but could hardly be considered trendy now.

I have nothing against Cat Power. Whenever I hear "Maybe Not," I'm incredibly moved, when I listen to "Nude As the News," I'm frightened...in a good way. But it's safe to assume we won't be posting any tracks from the new Cat Power album. Nor from Arctic Monkeys, Test Icicles or, good God, Morningwood. That's not to say we shun everything that's popular or ignore what's sent us. I listen to it all. Most of it just doesn't interest me and I have nothing to gain by pretending it does (nor do you).

Polysics (Custom)However (you knew a "but" was coming), one of the few recent "represented" bands I do admire are these spazzy Japanese kids who call themselves Polysics. With their matching retro-futurist factory uniforms and pogo-punk hyperactive rock, they're fixin to spearhead a major Devo revival. Their new album, Now Is The Time! will be released in March and you should check them out.

Mr. Psycho Psycho - Polysics

Speaking of Devo, WFMU's Beware of the Blog, has some fun Devo-related news today. And totally unrelated: I think I've found the bitterest, most bile-soaked breakup song that ever arrived swathed in gossamer and lace (from Manchester, England's Anna Kashfi).

Ash Ballad - Anna Kashfi

In case you didn't catch all the words, they go:

On the bed we lay last night, let's fuck it til it dies,
Let's watch it turning blue,
Let's watch it turning blue.

They're talking about killing their love. But still. Anna Kashfi cover an original by folk musician Matt Hill, which I haven't heard. But could it possibly be more chilling? The band has a couple more excellent downloads on their Web site.

Anna Kashfi

I don't know what's going on over at Stylus. First an ELO tribute, now, the definitive ABBA. ABBA is the first band I really got into. In fact, I think Arrival (US, UK) was the first record I ever bought. And I recall a slumber party where I forced my poor friends to watch an ABBA concert my parents had taped. (The other girls wanted to watch Grease again, go figure.) So we're talking mad, deep, unironic love.

When I Kissed The Teacher - ABBA

Finally, I need your help. My father is collecting train songs--songs about trains, songs that prominently feature trains or train sounds--for a train song playlist. It's not just for personal enjoyment, he volunteers at a children's group home where he and some other train buffs are building a model railroad with the kids. He also regularly visits a recent stroke victim living in a V.A. hospital who loves trains. So he's planning to put some mix CDs together. If you have something to contribute (my dad especially likes old-timey folk, but rock, blues, country, whatever is welcome), please email in mp3 format to shakeyourfist@gmail.com. Thanks!

Lehigh Valley train


Blogger Jon said...

Did I just read a mission statement? Did Amy have a Jerry Maguire moment and now we all know what we are doing here? Does that mean no more Dicks, Am?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Just kidding. Great post as usual, pal.

3:13 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

You're not alone in being frustrated with this -- I am too, and yet I'm part of the problem. I posted a rare Cat Power track; I posted that hideous Arctic Monkeys Girls Aloud cover precisely because it was so bad. I even said so in my post, and not ONE person commented. But oh, about 10,000 people downloaded it -- it's the most downloaded song I've put up so far. My joke bit me in the arse, as it were. But I've tried to make up for this by posting non-hyped stuff. I hope I'm succeeding.

Anyway, thanks for posting this Polysics track. I heard them a few weeks ago, and I think they're really wonderful.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Jon, Tomorrow's post leads with "Unfortunately, due to work and family responsibilities Jon will no longer be participating in Shake Your Fist..." No, just teasing honey. You know I love you even if you make me think when I don't feel like it.

Cindy, As someone who traffics heavily in irony, I find it often gets lost in the mp3 blogosphere. As I said, I actually like Cat Power. And I don't hate the Arctic Monkeys. It's the bandwagoneering that drives me crazy and makes me think the endeavor is rather pointless. I will be sure to check out your blog.

3:37 PM  
Blogger -tr0y- said...

today's post made me glad to be associated with SYF. (even though i put the ASS in associated....) thanks again amy

4:53 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Ok. I've never in my life heard a single Cat Power song and honestly have no desire to. I did however just post about Arctic Monkeys last week. Good band. I also posted on Test Icicles way back last year. They are also quite good. I guess we all just like what we like.

9:49 PM  
Blogger annulla said...

Just found my way to your blog via the notorious Hype Machine.

Can't say I'm a huge fan of Cat Power, Test Icicles or Arctic Monkey Girls, but I do adore train songs. Sending a few your way.

Maybe you could let me know what your dad already has in his collection so I don't send him duplicates?

10:31 PM  
Blogger annulla said...

By the way, check out today's post at Old Blue Bus: http://oldbluebus.blogspot.com/2006/01/norman-and-railroad.html

10:48 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Troy, You know how very happy I am you joined us.

Annulla, Everything you've sent me is great--thanks!

Eric, You're right: The line is different for everyone and personal taste is personal taste. Obviously, I'm not pointing the finger at someone like you who clearly engages with the music, but at the trend jumpers who seem to make a sport of hyping bands. I read some of those posts and I don't hear any kind of emotional connection or intention of sticking with them long-term. It's all about What's! Hot! Now! Maybe it's because I'm an old school indie snob, but I don't want any part of that.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To each their own, I suppose. There are a lot of other Devo followers out there, by the way, not all of whom feel the need to actually dress alike. For my part, I have no desire whatsoever to hear Polysics.

I do, however, want to hear the new Cat Power album, which seems likely to be really good based on what I've heard so far. I'm sure it'll be much better than whatever flavor of the month is being hyped elsewhere. Which brings us right round to the fact that everyone has different tastes. We may not be able to agree on what's hype and who's doing it, but we should at least be able to agree on that.


12:11 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Fair enough.

11:20 AM  
Blogger The DoorKeeper said...

I do wonder about this. The difference between espousing the music and stealing it. The irony of aggravating somone just enough that they cripple you. There is so much music that rarely gets heard ...

This post and the Lesley Gore post have made me a regular. Tell me more ;~)

7:42 PM  
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