Friday, March 31, 2006


Scare Quotes (Nick) -Any Major Dude Will Tell You

Ant and the Johnsons -- various songs

6 songs

Cripple and the Starfish
My Lady Story
For Today I'm a Boy
Fistful of Love

These are my favorites from our favorite gender bender, Antony.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Roly Poly

Speaking of things that make us unreasonably happy, this is exhibit A for me:

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys - Roly Poly

Homemade Lounge

John's post brought back a whole lotta college for me, my last two years in particular. I was friends with a lot of musicians, most of whom I'd met in the Black Music Ensemble (a rite of passage for jazz musicians who went to school here), most of whom were more talented than myself. There was a lot of playing and teeth-cutting going on, and almost everyone went on to good and unexpected things, musically speaking.

This particular little group was the Dan V3nn3 Trio, guitar/bass/drums. We'd get together and rehearse Coltrane and Tortoise and Cinematic Orchestra tunes. We recorded a demo, but only played two or three gigs (one in my stepmom's bookstore). This is my favorite thing we recorded, a loungy, Marc Ribot-ish version of 'Softly as in a Morning Sunrise'. I have a shaker in one hand and a mallet in the other, v. minimalist. The guitar playing is pretty beautiful.

But wait, there's more! Here's that version of '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover' by the Plat1num P1ed P1pers. It doesn't sound like anything else on the record, in that it's got a memorable melody and it's jazzy, Big Beat bossa rather than Dilla-ish hip-hop.

An aside about that non-quantized beat shit that the kids love these days: the rhetoric is that the snares are laid back or all over the place, and that's what makes it swing differently. I don't hear it that way at all! It sounds to me like the kicks and hi-hats are in the cracks, sometimes shuffly and sometimes super straight, but the backbeat is dead on. Here's a British dude and Madlib talking about this stuff over a Jay Dee beat.

Drop Them Like They're Hot Biscuits

These biscuits are wicked simple. Modified from a Cooking Light recipe.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces (you can get away with a little less)
1 cup fat-free milk (nothing says you can't use buttermilk - if you do, let me know how it came out.)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450º.

No sifting! Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives (scroll down and let Martha show you how). If you are going to make biscuits more than once in your life, just buy a pastry cutter. It's a lot easier. You're done cutting in the butter when the flour starts to look like coarse sand. Make a little well and add the milk. Stir it until it's just combined.

Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray and spoon the batter into the cups. You should get twelve small-ish biscuits. You can double up and make six big biscuits that work for delicious egg sandwiches.

Bake at 450° for 12-15 minutes, until deliciously lightly browned. Dump the biscuits out onto a rack to cool.

Homemade Post-Rock

Untitled 1
Untitled 2

JC/MM/CS is no kind of real band name; it's tagged that way on my iTunes because this college band I was in never actually had a name, and those are the initials of its three core members (me, Michael Mullaney, and Chris Seaton). We only played one show, outside on the quad in spring '99 -- although because we had only really written the two songs posted above, we supplemented our set with a handful of covers, including My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow" and Eric's Trip's "Behind the Garage." The covers (there must have been more, though I can't remember them) featured Rachel Collins on vox and Mike DaRonco on bongos.

On all of our material, I played keyboard and Chris and Michael both played guitar. "Untitled 1" has an interesting story behind its creation. I had come up with this repetitive melody while mucking about at the piano in the vestibule of DeWaters Hall, an dreamily arpeggiated 6/8 right-hand figure that stayed the same as I alternated the bass. When I played it for the other dudes, they said, "Huh. That's actually remarkably similar to this thing we've been working on." (I had been on study abroad in the UK when they first started jamming.) In this recorded version, the part that I had written constitutes the middle section (approx. 2:55 to 4:45) of the piece: Chris is playing what was originally my right hand on an amplified acoustic, and I'm playing the left hand on the Casio. For what it's worth, Michael hated this composition, because he's playing the same six-note pattern on electric guitar through the entire seven-plus minutes -- but that's also what I love about it, how Chris and I are able to play around within those parameters, creating new harmonies as that middle section comes in.

I had less of a songwriting role in "Untitled 2": the only thing I contributed was the organ part, which I think provides a gentle bed underneath the rhythmically dueling guitars, although in the end it's perhaps too quiet. (The recording was done by Dave Arney and Phil Ward in their off-campus house full of discarded and rebuilt electronics.) Chris was the one who had the idea of making the fade-out almost ridiculously long, which I think adds to the general hypnotic feel.

In both of these songs, you can tell that we're all very much influenced by late-'90s post-rock, including stuff like Tortoise, Directions in Music, Gastr del Sol, and Windsor for the Derby. In fact, I remember playing for Chris a Sam Prekop instrumental called "A Cloud to the Back" (from the first solo album, which had just been released) in order to show him the feel I was going for with the piano on "Untitled 1."

After recording these tracks in early 2000, we never actually bothered to play music together again. I had a similar guit/keyb instrumental project later that year with Jason Hendrix of The North Atlantic, entitled Pico de Ohio (still best band name ever) -- but all that came of that was two shows and, regrettably, no recordings.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mitchell Akiyama - "enfin, rien est gagne"

Deconstructionist piano and cello compositions from If Night is a Weed and Day Grows Less.

World's End Girlfriend - "We Are The Massacre"

From The Lie Lay Land. Remember GYBE!? What happened to post-rock? This is Japanese and pretty good approximation of what it would sound like if you haven't listened to any music since Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Here is what the author says about it:

... there are tens of thousands of moths creating a gate. The moths’ wings are hitting each other and there is a lot of ‘scale’ floating in the air. It sparkles like a fog, and sticks on the skin of people who pass through the gate. By becoming covered in the ‘scale’, a threshold is made between us and the world, and at the same time, you enter another world. Once you pass through the gate, that world is covered in the sparkling powder, and continues on that way...
Isn't that cute?

The Buddy System

For no particular reason, I am posting songs by the band that Sarah and I were in in college, the Buddy System. Warning: these are pretty lo-fi recordings.

Stopped Clock (Nick song)
Shield (Sarah song)
New York Yankees (Peter song)

The Muldoons

Hey all, here are two songs from one of my favorite bands ever, The Muldoons (yes, they are from the UP.) In this incarnation they are a three-piece duo (each sing and play guitar, and drum with their feet.) It's junky folk-punk with great lyrics and I love it.

"That's What We Used To Do" is from their album The Wreck of the Muldoons, "Randy Dapper Cock-a-Doodle Done It" is from You Are Lost and Gone Forever, Dreadful Sorry, The Muldoons. They are not on a record label. Enjoy!


Everyone should have a working plan

So I've always wanted to give these songs to someone, placed neatly together. Now, here you are, my captive audience. [cackles] While I'm 100% sure that a couple of you already have Pharaoh Sanders' Karma, I know from our recent discussion at Simon's that some of you don't have a whole lotta jazz, so I thought this might be a nice way to start.

"The Creator Has a Master Plan" might be the only 32 minute makeout song about God that features jingle bells and yodeling. When Leon Thomas starts in with his "yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeeeeeeeeeah yeah" around 7:25, it gets groovy. At the halfway mark, there's a squeaky free jazz freakout. After that, an old-fashioned tent revival. Then more yodeling and groove. Add tamborine, piano, flute, groove and you have a genuine ode to joy.

The other song, "Masterplan", is on that Brazilian remix comp we also discussed that night at Simon's. Similarly groovy, but in a much colder way, the "yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeaaaaaaaah yeah" is sampled and adds warmth to an otherwise chilly walking-through-the-city-streets-at-night type song.

Put these songs together and you have 40 minutes of unadulterated groovitude.

"Masterplan" - DJ Soul Slinger

"The Creator Has a Master Plan" - Pharoah Sanders


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Jenny you were right about Jesse. I still love him, though. And how can I not comply with a request for Ziggy Stardust?

Penne with Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Hey guys it's Dan. I posted this on I Love Cooking but I figured this would be a good home for it as well...

I first saw this basic recipe in a nuevo-Italian book a couple years ago. Then I started noticing the sauce in jars at the store. This is how I made it tonight:
Sautee garlic, a thinly-sliced medium onion, and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil until the onions are soft. Then add a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat slightly and allow to simmer and thicken. Salt to taste.

Meanwhile, I cooked some rough-cut chicken thighs with salt and pepper in a little more oil in a separate pan. (Let me just say right here that the original recipe was vegetarian and I was really using the chicken to get rid of it - the end result is probably better sans meat as originally intended.) When the chicken was nearly done I transferred it and its drippings to the sauce, increasing the flame to keep things hot and cook the chicken slowly until fully done.

At the same time, my (salted) pasta water was about ready for the penne.

When the pasta was about ready, I turned it down and added ~2 tablespoons of vodka to the sauce. I had one of the little airplane bottles and used about half. Maybe that's more than 2 tbsp, I don't know. I drank the rest of the vodka. Stir the vodka into the sauce, and leave it on the heat for a few more minutes to evaporate some. While this was happening I drained the pasta.

Next I added heavy cream to the sauce. The recipe called for about a cup IIRC, I used slightly less. "To taste" is a good path to follow here. You want to retain some thickness in the sauce but definitely be able to taste the cream. I also tossed in a crumbled up chunk of goat cheese I had hanging around, which is definitely not essential.

I added a few healthy spoonfuls of the sauce to the pasta along with several tablespoons of coarse chopped flat leaf parsley. Don't use curly leaf because it will taste like shit - I speak from experience. I spooned out some noodles, covered them with extra sauce, and cracked a beer. If I had bought wine, it would probably be a chianti (that's what the book called for at least.)

To recap the essential ingredients:
Penne pasta
Heavy whipping cream
Crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
Flat leaf parsley


Quinoa Phoenix

Quinoa Phoenix Salad
(rumored to be the lost salad of the talented and illustrious Phoenix family*)
Makes 4-6 servings. Keeps for 5-7 days. Perfect for lunch.

(*not really)
What you’ll need:
One small red pepper, finely chopped
One small orange or yellow pepper (optional), finely chopped
A large handful of frozen corn (briefly rinsed under hot water to defrost but not re-cooked)
About ¼ of a purple onion, very finely chopped
One can of black beans (drained and well-rinsed in cold water)
One prepared serving of Ancient Harvest quinoa (an easily-prepared, high-protein grain available in the health food aisle of your grocery store)
Red wine vinegar
A handful of fresh, finely chopped cilantro (note: basil or parsley can be substituted for the cilantro)
One cube of vegetable bouillon (optional)

What you’ll do:
To prepare the quinoa:
This is probably the trickiest part of the whole thing – you need to cook it, but it needs to be cool in order to add it to the salad. I suppose it can probably done and cooled the night before, but that means that you’re very patient. If you want to do that, make sure to add some oil or something so it doesn’t turn into a huge gooey blob like cold rice does.

I tried it the following way:
Cook according to directions on the box – one cup of quinoa to two cups of water (with bouillon cube for flavor). When I made it, I prepared the quinoa and then when it had finished soaking up the water (about 10 minutes) I added ice cubes to cool it down. When I added the ice cubes, they melted and cooled the quinoa. Then, once I had chopped all of the ingredients, I took handfuls of quinoa, wrung them of excess water and added them to the vegetables. It sounds annoying, but it’s easy. If you do it this way, the hot quinoa won’t cook the vegetables accidentally. You wouldn’t want that. You also don’t want excess water in the salad. So just do it this way and I can almost guarantee it’ll turn out well.

Chop all of the choppable vegetables and add to a big bowl, the one you’ll be storing the salad in. Add beans. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle liberally (no drowning!) with vinegar. The veggies should be moist, not swimming. Wring handfuls of quinoa and add to veggie mixture. The ratio of quinoa to vegetables is really up to you – I think I added three large handfuls and then the rest was sort of left over. At the end add the cilantro/basil/parsley and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more vinegar if it’s bland. You can also add a little white pepper if you think it needs zest.
Total cost: no more than $10
Approximate cost per meal: ~$2
Ease of production: Easy to very easy

Nutrition: veggies, protein, whole grain and no fat!

Sweet Potato and Bacon (OR NOT) Soup

Sweet Potato and Bacon (OR NOT) Soup

4 slices of (turkey) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
5 cups chicken (or vegetable broth)
salt and pepper to taste***

Sautee the onions and bacon until the onions are transparent and the bacon is crisp. Drain out any grease that has accumulated. Add cumin and coriander and anything else that you think would be good, spice-wise, and stir. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat with the spices.

Add broth to cover. Add salt and pepper. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Take a stick blender to the whole thing, adding more broth as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

To make this vegetarian, you can omit the bacon. I think you would need to add a smokey, aromatic something, but I don't know what that should be. That's probably why I didn't make a good vegetarian.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Robert Wyatt does Bob Dylan

Homage? Interpretation? Brilliant? You make the call.

Robert Wyatt - Blues in Bob Minor

My Bloody Valentine and The Minutemen

Here are two songs.

The Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing

My Bloody Valentine - Map Ref 41°N 93° W (Wire Cover)

The Minutemen song is the first on "Side Mike" from Double Nickels. I don't know all the words but I like to make them up. In my head, the opening lyric is "This monitor is a right wing petition." Who knows, this might be correct.

The MBV song is a Wire cover. I don't have the Wire album and have never heard the original, and I only just heard this song RIGHT NOW. Once. But whatever, My Bloody Valentine is a sickly sweet good band.


Sour Cream Panwaffles

Via Jimmy Beard:

2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
6 table spoons of melted butter

Beat eggs in biggish bowl. Beat in the sour cream. Sift the dry ingredients together and then stir them into the egg-cream. Add the melted butter and blend thoroughly (it's gonna be thick). Makes small, thick, delicious (that's how I like 'em) pancakes but takes a while. Waffles are much faster. Top w/syrup or sour cream and serve with coffee, mimosas, and Kids in the Hall dvds on a Saturday morning.

Come on in and sit right down and make yourself at home.

Hello. We will post recipes, songs and other things for sharing here.