Home / The Listening Room February 19, 2007: Guster, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Bowling for Soup, Autechre, Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Kweller, and Sly And The Family Stone

The Listening Room February 19, 2007: Guster, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Bowling for Soup, Autechre, Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Kweller, and Sly And The Family Stone

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Welcome to The Listening Room, your weekly survey of what your BC Magazine writers have been listening to for the past week.

This week's mix of styles is a little more diverse than last week's, likely attributable to the fact we have more writers than ever taking part. I think I am going to have to ask management for bigger facilities.

These may not be the best songs ever, they may not even be our favorites, but they kept us entertained last week. You could do worse than to try a few of them out and see what they do for you.


DJRadiohead: "Satellite" from Ganging Up on the Sun by Guster

I know… I'm on about Guster again. 

There is an actual reason for this, and it's something I will get in to in more detail in the coming days. I wrote about this song specifically in August of last year. I don't have much to add to what I said then, other than it's five months later and it still has the same traction, the same pull as it did then.

I know some of you are tired of my Guster cheerleading, but if you haven't checked out Ganging Up on the Sun, you really are missing out something wonderful.

A. Hathaway: "Whatever I Fear" from Coil by Toad The Wet Sprocket

"Whatever I fear the most is whatever I see before me.
Whenever I let my guard down.
Whatever I was ignoring."

Words I could live by. Words that describe how I have lived. Even before I ever heard this song.

In June of 1998, I first heard "Whatever I Fear" by Toad the Wet Sprocket. I immediately connected with both the sound and the lyrics. I still do each time I listen to it – which has been most of this week. If I had to pick a theme song for my life, then this one is it. Now that I have exposed my insecurities for the mocking pleasure of cyberspace I will go on to say that if you can't relate to this song on some level, then I have to wonder if you have a pulse.

Connie Phillips (Music Editor): "Belgium" from Let's Do It For Johnny by Bowling for Soup

When I get stressed out I have a whole playlist of music I play to turn my mood around; much of it is comprised of Bowling for Soup. Though I'll usually turn to the outrageous and fun, this week I've found myself going back to "Belgium" over and over again.

You wouldn't know it by the title, but it's actually a sweet love song. "And now you’re halfway around the world/and I’m just a day behind/Nothing seems to fill the hole/That I have since you left my side." Not typical fare for these guys, but the mellow sound and the underlying theme of real love and desire has been just what I needed to hear.

Tom Johnson: "Augmatic Disport" from Untilted by Autechre

It's the abstract rhythms in the electronic chaos that Autechre creates that draws me in. The beat lurches back and forth, fighting with itself, as if two drum machines are dueling over time. This is impossible dance music – no sane person could find a beat to center themselves around here, or, if they did, it would make for something humorous.

There are stabs of synth here and there, but the focus is on time and how it competes with itself for the little sensible space our minds can allow. The listener's payoff comes when bits of rhythmic predictability set in, little by little – chaos resolving slowly to order, layers of fragmenting drums giving way to a steady pulse. Left with a simple beat for what seems like an eternity, it's something oddly soothing and predictable from a group who so rarely offers anything of the sort.

Mark Saleski: "Nobody Knows My Name" from The Sermon On Exposition Blvd. by Rickie Lee Jones

The initial idea was to create a musical and spoken word recording based on Lee Cantelon's book The Words, a "plain English" rendering of the words of Jesus Christ. Rickie Lee Jones was brought in to read from a few chapters and managed to completely transform the entire project. Jones' idea was to improvise her part, based on the selected text, over the given musical track. "Nobody Knows My Name" was the first result and it is stunning. Over a steady (almost Velvet Underground-ish) chord progression, Rickie sings out the idea of an anonymous Christ walking on earth. Pretty amazing stuff, even for a non-believer.

Mat Brewster: "I Gotta Move" from Ben Kweller by Ben Kweller

I really thought I would be talking about a new Lucinda Williams song, but through a series of mis-adventures (wondered around the big multi-mart looking for Valentine's Day gift, but for some crazed, unknown reason forgot all about the new LW album; went back to the store the next morning specifically to purchase, and forgot my wallet) I am still without the new Lucinda album.

Instead I've been giving the relatively new Ben Kweller album repeated listens. I didn't pay much attention to it at first, but dang, it's crazy catchy. The whole dang album keeps sucking me in, but "I've Gotta Move" has been stuck in my head for days now. I wish it were summer so I could play with the windows down, cranked to 11.

Lisa McKay: "Don't Take Me Alive" from The Royal Scam by Steely Dan

I could listen to Steely Dan all day at work (and I often do). That sounds as if I'm calling them purveyors of elevator music, but that's not really what I mean. I love Steely Dan, and part of their appeal for me, especially for workday listening, is the way their music can just insinuate itself into the back of your mind without constantly pawing at your elbow for attention. The Royal Scam is a swell album, full of the edge and sardonic humor that makes Becker and Fagen such fine company, and this track is simply one of my favorites.

El Bicho: "Five Card Stud" by Lorne Green from Ricky Jay Plays Poker

Magician Ricky Jay has collected 21 tracks of poker-related songs from a roster containing legendary musicians: Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline, Robert Johnson, and Anita O’Day. Yet, the highlight for me is by an artist who has also appeared on the infamous Golden Throats series of albums. Recorded during his tenure on the TV show Bonanza, he doesn’t sing so much as he talks his way through "Five Card Stud," the story about a poker showdown between a stranger and a young cowboy. It makes me yearn for The Dr. Demento Show.

Anna Creech: "Can You Feel It?" from New Magnetic Wonder by The Apples In Stereo

As I wrote in my album review this week, "…New Magnetic Wonder is a fantastic pop-rock record. 'Can You Feel It?' repeats the title of the song in the chorus and adds the line, 'It makes you feel so good.' It certainly makes me feel good when I listen to it…." From the electronica intro to the sing-along and totally rocked out chorus, every aspect of this song gives me aural pleasure. It has been a lovely bit of sunshine in this otherwise grey and overcast week.

Glen Boyd: "Sex Machine" from Stand! by Sly And The Family Stone

In anticipation of the upcoming re-release of Sly's entire catalog in a few weeks — remastered with new tracks to boot — I've been revisiting much of that catalog, but always seem to come back to Stand!. There is just no way to understate how important this band was for it's time. Sly And The Family Stone influenced an entire generation of funk-rockers from Earth Wind & Fire to Prince (whose concept of a multi-racial, multi-gender powerhouse band was first done by Sly with this very band).

Stand! has plenty of better known songs than "Sex Machine," — "I Want To Take You Higher" and "Everyday People" to name just two — but this nearly side long, psychedelically wigged out instrumental shows just how tight this band really was. Anchored by Larry Graham's trademark bass-popping and some wild guitar work from brother Freddie Stone on the wah-wah (remember those?), the track builds in tension for nearly fourteen minutes before exploding in a crescendo of crashing drums and cacophonous horns at the end. If this don't get your groove on, nothing will.

Also highly recommnded are a couple of live shows from the Fillmore recorded during about the same period that are available now over at Wolfgang's Vault that are off the hook.

Cara de Pescado: “Walking In Memphis” from Marc Cohn by Marc Cohn

First, who can’t appreciate a man who was shot in the head and released from the hospital the next day?

Sometimes I feel nostalgic and want to listen to music from the early 1990s. “Walking In Memphis” always makes the cut. Something about a suave baritone voice singing over the smooth piano makes the song speak to my soul. Plus, it is fun to sing along and really find my groove. I can sing neither gospel nor blues, but “Walking In Memphis” lets me pretend I can sing a little of both. Knowing the story behind it adds to the soul of the song.

Marc Cohn was at an old slave commissary turned into a café called Hollywood. A woman was at a piano, singing spirituals and the like. Cohn spoke with this woman, each sharing their live stories. Their two spirits drawn to each other, she asked Marc Cohn to join her in singing “Amazing Grace.” Her name was Muriel.

Benjamin Cossel: "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" from Your Cheatin' Heart by Hank Williams

Williams' final released single, no one at the time of its writing could have known the poignancy the song would take on. This is a song about living too hard, drinking too hard, and realizing there's only one way out at the end. A good Sunday morning, you drank too much the night before tune and one of my personal favorites of Williams'.

Michael Jones: "All The Things She Said" from Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds

I can remember playing the daylights out of my cassette tape of the album this comes off of. When I'd heard another of this album's songs playing on Sirius a while back, it immediately made me wonder why I'd never purchased this as a CD. I was floored… this was an album that I'd basically adored at one point, and I'd come to the point where I'd nearly forgotten it.

I'm sitting here listening to the song I chose, "All The Things She Said," and it all came rushing back. I can remember sitting on my bedroom floor with my cassette player, just listening and grooving to the music until I heard that harsh "click," which meant it was time for me to flip the cassette.

This is just a great song off of a great album, and it waltzed its way back into my life and heart by tempting me with the all powerful currency of memory. Now, s'cuse me while I close my eyes and remember asking my mom to borrow $10 to buy another copy of this cassette after I'd let the other one melt on the dash of her car one fine summer day…

Brian Garrepy: "Blackout" from Leading Vision by Gorod

In the spirit of breaking boundaries, pushing the envelope and pioneering a new era, technical death metal gurus Gorod have really stepped up with their latest installment, Leading Vision. In the same fashion as Opeth, they have shown their ability to journey through soundscapes that are not all that common to this genre while attaining a style that still has the soul and Human element to keep it from sounding clinical and sterile. The track "Blackout" is a great example from this CD that shows just how progressive they can be while still incorporating what has influenced them as death metal musicians.

What draws me to them week in and week out is how they keep it fresh and exciting. Leading Vision as a whole doesn't drudge on and has enough twists and turns for the ADHD in all of us.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Lisa McKay: “Don’t Take Me Alive” from The Royal Scam by Steely Dan

    Ah yes, the second Larry Carlton showcase on Royal Scam (the first being “Kid Charlemagne”). SD would have several more memorable guitar playing after this one, but never again would it be so freewheeling as this one. And then there’s that trademark dark wit on full display, too. Good stuff.

  • A round of applause for all the writers who participated this week and a special thank you to DRJ for putting it all together for us.

    It’s nice to see so many suggestions from people whose opinion I’ve come to trust. I have a feeling a better part of the afternoon is going to be spent checking these songs out.

  • It’s fun to do, and yeah, a special thanks to the DJ for making a venue available that’s kind of like “writing for the time-impaired”.

  • Great job, everybody. There are a lot of selections this week I have never heard and some I have never heard of.

  • zingzing

    autechre may not be as obscure as they used to be, (in popularity, never in sound,) but it is still surprising to see them on blogcritics. woo, tom!

    between all the “walking in memphises,” (memphi?), simple minds, toad the wet sprockets,(could of dealt without that, thank you,) etc, it’s nice to see something pop up that’s more than just a memory.

    come on people, whip out the strange, the obscure, the new! (no offense if you didn’t this time, but this is your last warning.)

  • zingzing

    ok, i’ve never heard of gorod. i admit it.

  • zingzing

    and el bicho and anna creech get away with it on the obscure/new tip (respectively). this despite el bicho’s anti-prince tirade somewhere else. fuck you, he’s god.

  • no fair zing! i usually get accused of hanging around in obscureland (especially with jazz)…so then i bring in Rickie Lee Jones…which, if you give it a listen, is actually obscure (at least in sound) AND new.

    ok, next week…something really whacky.

    ps. i’ve never heard of Gorod either.

  • zingzing

    yeah, ok. it is new. i forgot about that one. ok, a lot of you are getting away with it. so, i take it back in a way. except “walking in memphis.” and toad the wet sprocket. feh!

  • Careful, Zing, I am both a Toad the Wet Sprocket fan and married to the wonderful woman who championed that song. =) You treading on dangerous ground. Besides, that really is a great song.

  • zingzing

    bring it on, you wet sprocket fans do not frighten me. i’ll just raise my voice above a soothing tone and your heads will implode into the void of your own obvious self-loathing. why would you harm yourself by listening to that smooth, smooth buttmud? ahh… how i love to hate…

    that said, i just read the last line of her “championing” of the song, and i see your revenge is already complete. you need not respond.

  • why listen to Toad? because any band that can write a song like that AND do a cover of “Rock ‘n Roll All Night” is OK in my book.

  • zingzing

    ahem, “FEH!” (growled with lower lip starting tucked behind overbite, then thrown out with as much spittle as possible, left dripping onto the floor with nostrils flaring, eyes cocked at wrong angles, crotched rudely grasped to increase the look of pain on the face.)

    thank you.

  • zingzing

    that’s “crotch,” not “crotched,” and it totally ruins my fun.

  • I stand by Waking In Memphis. It’s a great tune to play in an entirely hokey playlist!

  • I just updated my piece with a sample of Mr. Green for your listening pleasure.

    zing, my comment wasn’t anti-Prince.

  • Last year, a friend recommended I check out some Toad the Wet Sprocket. So I picked up their best-of album and was surprised that I a) knew a lot of the songs and b) actually liked them. Go figure!

    zingzing: You wanna talk obscure? Hm. Well, then I’ll be browsing through my indie singer/songwriter collection this week. Although, a number of them are starting to get national attention.

  • Zing, fear not me nor the other Toad fans. Fear TheWifeToWhomI’mMarried. đŸ˜‰ She did have her defense on the field already, though, didn’t she? Now you know why I encourage you all to fear her. Unless this would displease her. Right, of course.

    Besides, soothing tones are no bad thing in a world that is… less than soothing?

    Anna, the best of collection is a decent compilation. Too many of my favorites aren’t on there, but best of’s aren’t usually designed for the devoted. Dulcinea is my favorite of their proper albums.

    Lisa, the bite-size nature of this does make things a little easier, doesn’t it?

  • The sound of my own voice. I love that song.

  • Sussman, shouldn’t you be talking about NASCAR or something?

    On the obscure issue… I might have one or two items that would qualify. I listen to some stuff that is not on the hit parade, but I don’t know where you draw the line with obscure.

  • zingzing

    it doesn’t just have to be unpopular, it has to be deservedly so!

    nah. just something that you won’t find through most media sources, and not because it’s crap, but because it’s out there, at the edge of music.

    take this, for example:

    recently, i heard a song called “you’re nogood” by terry riley. it seems that he was playing one of his more typical minimalist pieces in a club (nyc? la? don’t know,) and the club owner was impressed and ask riley to make a piece of music that he could play at the club before bands came on. so riley asked for his favorite current song and the club owner brought out “you’re no good” by someone named Harvey Averne. (i swear you’ve heard the song before, but it in itself is also quite obscure.)

    so, riley took the record, gathered up a moog synth, a white noise generator, a couple of delay pedals, some tape and about 20 minutes spare time, sat down and recorded this doozy. it starts with about 3 minutes of moog and white noise, with a steady rising tone in continuous peak until… a soul song starts. riley plays most of the song before he starts to mess with it, delaying and layering it back upon itself, vocal lines and horn hits whining and eating themselves, then looping around and around… it becomes hip-hop.

    this was made in 1967.

    the song continues to eat itself, becoming more and more chaotic, before snapping back into place and going down a different path towards ever more chaos and rebirth, including a final section where white noise meets soul cut-up. yum.

  • zingzing

    sorry for the nakie link, but here it is:
    “you’re nogood” by terry riley

    [Naked no more, zinger! Comments Editor]

  • While I am sure that’s great stuff, Zing, the purpose of The Listening Room series is not to come up with the most off-the-wall songs we can conjure up- although. It’s simply a group of us talking about what we’ve been listening to, however main stream it may or may not be.

    Thanks for commenting and mixing it up with us. I am going to check out your link.

  • zingzing

    thank you, sah. i’ve never learned how to do that… but i don’t do it too often, and it gives you something to do other than take out “fuck off, you pussbag of human butt mud” and shit like that. must be refreshing.

    did you listen to it? listen to it! lovely stuff.

    i’d listen to it on speakers, not headphones, as the stereo effects of 1967… well, they leave something to be desired. too black and white for my tastes. listening to the beatles and the who on headphones makes me want to die.

  • zingzing

    well, dj, much as i respect the idea, wouldn’t it make more sense to come up with something people don’t know? you guys do this to some degree, but it would be absolutely pointless to have a three paragraph statement about how you’ve been listening to “heart of glass” or something like that…

    it’s not off-the-wall that i’m trying to push, particularily, it’s lesser-known stuff. stuff that people might not be aware of.

  • Thats it! My next listening room entry will be on “Heart Of Glass”. Hell, jibes pretty good with Abba right? Heh::Heh::

    Okay I’m not serious. But I couldn’t resist the temptation, the set-up was just too easy ya know?

    So anyway, this was definitely fun and I will definitely be back. We really do have an eclectic bunch of scribes with equally eclectic tastes here don’t we?

    You guys really should check out that Sly stuff though. Didn’t see any comments about it here and it really is some freakadelic shit. I’ll be reviewing the whole remastered catalog here in a few weeks.


  • Zing, I don’t see one as inherently better than the other. We’re just here to talk about music. I’m not (always) on a crusade. The passion and enthusiasm is just as worthwhile, to me, as trying to sell someone on something they’ve never heard. I don’t have a predetermined agenda to do or not do anything. Your perspective is interesting, though. I have no quarrels with it.

  • zingzing

    yeah… sometimes i like reading what other people think about music that i like as well. i’ve been on a bit of a crusade lately, but that’s only because i’m swinging back towards avant stuff rather than pop stuff. a couple weeks from now, all i’ll want to talk about is the replacements.

  • i used to like Terry Riley but it sounds like he’s masturbating with finger knives.

  • Hey, there’ll be no Toad bashing while I’m around! One of my absolute favorite bands, and a great song-choice by Mrs. DJRadiohead. And, yes, I’m actually just as likely to cue up something like Toad after Autechre as anything else – that’s just how my brain works and why I have to carry around an 80gb Ipod all the time. Before Ipods came along, you should have seen how many CDs I had to have with me to cover my daily needs.

    Anyway, let’s not force this into being only obscure stuff. Mine was relatively obscure, maybe, but it simply happened to be something that spoke to me at that particular moment and I had to write about it. Next week it might be something completely mundane. The point isn’t being obscure and weird, it’s simply talking about music – anything that gets a reader to check out something they previously hadn’t is a good thing, right?

    Toad the Wet Sprocket is 10 years gone now (wow, that’s sad) so it’s safe to say that there are more than a few people out there for whom the name means nothing, but who might enjoy the music they created a whole lot.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “i’ll just raise my voice above a soothing tone and your heads will implode into the void of your own obvious self-loathing.”

    I have to disagree with ya Zing(as usual), I love Toad and I’m the one who brought the most obscure plate to the table. My fav releases from Toad would have to be either Bread & Circus or Pale BUT Fear was pretty damn good as well.

    It’s funny how they came from NWOBHM and ended up capturing the sound that Matchbox 20 ripped off & got ultra famous for…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *BTW* Thanks to DJR for the space, even if it was at the end*Sniff*… LOL, Atleast I got the Pic spot on this article… YaY!!

  • Leslie Bohn

    Woah, Mark. I saw He’s Masturbating with Finger Knives back in ’85, and trust me, Terry Riley sounds nothing like them. HMFK’s early stuff is awesome, BTW.

    In all seriousness, that “You’re Nogood” track is great — hypnotic and soulful, too. Radical, but right, that crazy Moog white-noise crescendo beginning. How many people probably never make it through that!
    I love the sort-of-related Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band album called All Night Flight from about the same time. It’s excerpted from Terry Riley playing an all-night solo concert on soprano sax, organ and a double tape machine that loops and that he manipulates. It’s like trance music, and way ahead of its time, to me.

  • this is all kinda funny because today, in an effort to not do work, i downloaded a software synthesizer that attempts to make sounds like the old analog synths from the Moog/Buchler era. i didn’t succeed in anything brilliat, but i did make such a frightful noise at one point that i almost dropped my laptop on the ground.

  • zingzing

    “I love the sort-of-related Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band album called All Night Flight from about the same time.”

    actually, the song “you’re nogood” was released on an album with a composition titled “poppy nogood” and riley was doing on of his “all night flights” the night that he was approached to make “you’re nogood.”

    mark, i’m sorry you feel that way. i think it’s absolutely beautiful.

    and why didn’t i know that the big guppy was behind the obscuro metal band? also, brian, your love of toad is the only thing that keeps you sane, i believe. too much metal (and i’m groovin’ on some justin broadrick as we speak) can damage the senses.

    tom–obscure isn’t the point. but, methinks, blatantly obvious isn’t the point either. a balance should be struck between exposing the reader to something new and, i suppose, making sure the readers can get SOMETHING familiar out of it… even if i think it should be a relatively unknown track by a well-known artist… like a b-side or alternate version by the who, or something like that. you know?

    hmmph. maybe i’ll just start up an obscuro column. obscuro meaning all process music! hahaha! (process music is so easy to write about…)

  • Terry Riley is irrelevant.

  • zingzing


  • zingzing

    i mean, bug?

  • mark, i’m sorry you feel that way. i think it’s absolutely beautiful

    uh…it was a joke son!

    p.s. the “You’re NoGood” piece is way cool

  • oh, on what this column is “about”: to me, the interesting thing to discover is…what have people been listening to that week and why. whether it’s completely obscure to most (brian’s metal, or me & pico’s jazz weirdness), very popular and ‘mundane’ (nobody picked “Heart of Glass” but that might just happen now), or something that grates against the nerves of dj radiohead (lisa’s Steely Dan)…is really beside the point.

    now if you’ll excuse me, i’ve got to go dig out my copy of Parallel Lines

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Zing,It’s really not that obscure if you are pasionate about the genre. I mean, you point to alot of weirdo techno/synth stuff quite often.

    I can agree that Toad keeps me grounded in a way but Dream Theater has been doing that to me for years. Though, I think some high decibel levels can be good for the soul!

    Mark, I agree 100%… This article is/was totally about sneaking a peak into people’s iPods/Mp3/CD/LP/Cassette/8-Track players and getting a piece of what moves them for that week and why. I love it!! And, I hope I can be apart of this every week because my taste runs the gamet…well you guys/gals already know that.

  • Mark Saleski

    and why isn’t zingzing writing music articles for bc?

  • Yes, yes, let’s bring on the Obscure Column by Zingzing. We need one more sane voice to drown out the pooflingers and fingerknife masturbators.

  • Somebody just needs to invent a “logic-check” (works kinda like spellcheck) for the “fingerknife masturbators”. Not to mention a “fact-check”.


    P.S. I’m all for zing’s mondo obscuro deal.

  • And while were on the subject of new writing blood for the music section, I’ve been trying to encourage Vern Halen (a frequent commenter) to try his hand. Very sharp lad who seems to know his stuff.


  • I’d love to see zing and Vern become writers here, too. At the least, I’m pretty sure they could come up with less vulgar metaphors to describe someone’s singing.

  • zingzing

    maybe i will write something. but i don’t really have a blog for anything but putting up articles for a few friends to proof before i publish elsewhere… and i don’t even do that too often.

    how strict is the “have a blog, write for us” rule these days?

  • zingzing

    pico, my writing, should it be published here, will be the most vulgar stuff in the music section.

  • zinger: As far as I recall, that requirement has been relaxed almost entirely but writing samples may well be asked for. Eric O is the definitive source for this…

  • zingzing

    i’ll email you with links.

  • zingzing

    um… villa rentals?

  • Not me dude, send them to Eric Olsen direct. Oh, and it’s one villa, the one I spent two years modernising. You got a problem with that? đŸ˜‰

  • zingzing

    ok, i’ll talk to eric.

    no, i have no problem with you owning a villa just outside Antequera in the heartland of Southern Spain, no problem whatsoever. you fuck.

  • lol. Why don’t you rent or buy it off me?

    Let me know if/when you get hooked up, I’m looking forward to seeing your work. And, when you’re in, make sure you get signed up for the all new BC Forums too.

  • zingzing

    like i could afford it. maybe you could give me a discount. i’ll live in it and keep your insurance rates down, if you want.

    right after i power-dump into the toilet 4 floors up, i’ll email eric.

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