Saying goodbye to the dogs
This is the ninth year that i’ve put together Trevor’s Poor-Ass Christmas, and it’ll be the third with extensive liner notes. You can check out the 2010 and 2011 liner notes by clicking those years right there.
So as you may already know, the Poor-Ass Christmas Collection (PAC) is a mix of the music that i’ve been listening to relentlessly between birthdays. I hand it out for free to all my friends at my birthday party each year. So if you’re interested in why a specific track is on the disc and what it means to me, read on!
1. Wye Oak/Civilian
Wye Oak’s 2011 album Civilian landed the #1 spot on The Onion’s list of best albums of the year, and that was the first i had heard of it. My friend and co-worker Mike, usually one to have his finger on the proverbial pulse of indie music, had also somehow missed them until that list came out, and fearing for his cred, immediately bought it. He shared it with me, and this song in particular shattered my brain. Even though i can’t understand a lot of the lyrics, the guitars alone trigger emotional responses my android countenance isn’t used to. I get chills every time i heard the whole band kick in after the intro.
2. Geri X - Work is the Wolf
I saw Gainesville, Florida’s Geri X twice in one weekend this summer. She’s really a great performer and a really nice person. Work is the Wolf is the title track off of her new album, and the whole thing is great. I also seriously considered the song Fuck for the compilation this year, but chose this one. As it turns out, i’ve chosen a lot of title tracks this year, purely unintentionally…
3. A Place to Bury Strangers - Onwards Toward the Wall
I’ve been following these guys for a few years. Formerly known as the loudest band in New York, now generally considered the loudest band in the world, they run their guitars through seven amplifiers and the bass through four. It’s noisy metal shoegaze, and i love it. This is the title track from an EP they released early this year. I found a prerelease copy at a used record store in Indianapolis, which you can imagine made me very happy. A couple months later, A Place To Bury Strangers swung by Madison, opening for The Joy Formidable (who put on one of the absolute best live shows i’ve seen this year…i was less fond of their album, though). I ran into guitarist Oliver Ackermann after the show, he was completely fucking smashed, and i had him sign my prerelease EP. “Aaaaahhhh, you work at a radio station, huh!” “Nope, just found this at a used record store in Indianapolis…” “Aahhh those bastards! They’re not supposed to sell these!!” He also didn’t believe me when i told him i’d come for them, not for Joy Formidable.
4. Tegan & Sara - Walking With a Ghost
I was first introduced to Tegan & Sara two years ago, and that story is recounted in the 2010 liner notes. I had thought then that i’d be getting really into them and you’d be hearing them again on the 2011 PAC, but for some reason i didn’t progress much into their catalog beyond Hell, the track on the 2010 CD. However, that changed this year. Even though i had copied all their CDs from the library to my computer, it took finding a copy of So Jealous on CD for a dollar at Half-Price Books to trigger my obsessive Tegan & Sara listening…i’ve since purchased most of their albums, as it should be. Some might argue that picking Walking With a Ghost to represent them on the PAC is wrong and not Trevor-like, since it is their most popular song, but really. Have you listened to this damn song?! It’s SO GOOD. I’ve listened to it on repeat for hours and i learned to play it myself.
5. Biffy Clyro - 57
Yep, Biffy again… One of the most popular rock bands in the world right now, they just can’t seem to break into America for some reason. They’ve got a new album out this year, but it hasn’t yet reached our shores, so i can’t share any brand new material, unfortunately. But in the early part of the year, this song got stuck in my head randomly, and i ended up listening to it on repeat, just like Walking With a Ghost, over. (hey) And over. (hey) And over. (hey) And over.
6. Robots in Disguise - The Sex Has Made Me Stupid
Here is a band that i was introduced to by my former co-worker Tammy. She thought they would be right up my alley, and as it turns out, my alley is not that darkly lit or mysterious. I guess my musical tastes are pretty transparent. I’ve been woefully unable to obtain anything by this band on CD, though. All i had was a shitty copy of this song that i ripped from YouTube until i stumbled across a nice torrent of the album randomly…if i can find a way to legally obtain a physical copy of this for less than $20, though, i’m gonna jump on it. Also check out the music video, it has robots fucking in it and is pretty hilarious. If you’re into that sort of thing.
7. Sexy Ester and the Pretty Mama Sisters - Who Needs Loves Anyway
Sexy Ester, formerly Sexy Ester and the Pretty Mama Sisters, is a Madison band with a powerful frontwoman who will outright destroy your face if you are too close while she is singing. No joke, i had a rhinoplasty after my first Sexy Ester show this summer. I’ve ended up seeing them about four times this year and featuring them on Wisconscene, and the aforementioned frontwoman Lyndsay Evans was one of the first people to recognize me in public as the Wisconscene guy, which felt pretty good. She also gave me their two EPs for free because of it, which is the greatest economic gain i’ve experienced from the show yet. This is my favorite song between the two EPs, though i think they’ve got much better songs. Here’s my advice: see them live. Stand as close to the stage as you can. Here’s a video i did of their song Holding On, live at the High Noon Saloon.
8. t.A.T.u. - Running Blind
I love t.A.T.u.. I absolutely love them. This is not a universal feeling but i am probably going to continue to force them upon you forever. So anyway, i just managed to obtain a copy of their third and final album, Waste Management, in early November of last year (it was never released in the US), and even though i listened to it a lot right away, no particular song had grown on me soon enough to know what should have gone on last year’s PAC. So i hastily added 220, largely because it was in Russian and i had a number of other non-English songs on the comp that year (two in Japanese and one in French). I don’t regret it, 220 is still a really great song, but i really should have gone with White Robe. I didn’t because it had been the lead single from the album, the only single to reach the States at all, and i wanted a deeper cut. I was wrong. White Robe is one of the greatest songs ever. You know what else is a great song? Running Blind. I listened to Waste Management almost every time i went to the gym from last November until about July, and Running Blind and White Robe were the two songs i looked forward to most. And the White Robe remix. God i love t.A.T.u..
9. La Roux - Bulletproof
And when i forgot to bring my iPod to the gym, i was mostly exposed to horrible Top 40 radio. Katy Perry three times an hour. Guaranteed Nickelback. Fucking Ke$ha. In this sea of top shelf poop, there was one song i’d hear almost every day that didn’t make me feel stabby, and the chorus went, “This time, baby, i’ll be bulletproof.” I had no idea what it was, but after a few months i turned to the Google Machine and found an answer, and subsequently wrote an entire blog post about Elly Jackson’s teeth (side note: a comment on that blog post was how i was first exposed to Gotye. Weird how i missed that one for so long). Seriously, watch the music video, and once you get past the fact that it is somehow more 80s than anything that came out between 1980 and 1989, notice her teeth. They’re so…normal. Maybe it’s because she’s British.
10. Beta Male - Are You Holden?
My friend Christina first introduced me to Beta Male, friends of hers from Indianapolis, in March. Again under the heading of “Trevor’s musical tastes are horribly transparent,” she knew which alley she was throwing that ball down, and wouldn’t you know it, a strike. I can’t say much more than that when we were next in Indianapolis a few months later and i got to see them at a small, packed bar, meet them afterward, and interview them for Wisconscene, i felt like may as well have been hanging out with The Beatles. Hearing them play this song live invoked such a strong emotional response in me that i almost lost my shit right there. Of course, it also helps that i’m a film nerd and this song includes quotes from On The Waterfront.
11. Screaming Females - Buried in the Nude
Early this year i discovered No Idea Records, which is a big mail-order record label focused almost entirely on punk music. They deal in CDs and actual vinyl at very low prices. I had gone through and filled up my online shopping cart with every CD they were selling for one dollar or less (somewhere around 40 of them), but for whatever reason never finished the checkout process. They have two compilations available for free download, titled Pretend Record and Pretend Record 2. This song is on the first of those compilations, which i gleefully downloaded since, you know, they’re free, and the first time i heard it, it hit me like a sledgehammer. This band is AWESOME. When i looked to see who it was, and saw the name of the band, i had one of those moments where i felt like the universe was pandering to me (see: Trevor’s musical tastes are easy to predict). I listened to this song a lot for months, and when Screaming Females came through Madison, of course i jumped at it. At the show, i bought all of their albums, a T-shirt, buttons, stickers…pretty much everything i could get my hands on. Their albums are all great, but this song is still the one that resonated with me the hardest. I had posted on their Facebook Event page for the show, “I hope Buried in the Nude is on the setlist!” And it was! I have reason to believe they played it just for me, too, since i’ve stumbled across a few bootlegs from other stops on the tour, and it seems to be the same setlist, but with a cover of Sheryl Crow’s If It Makes You Happy in place of Buried in the Nude. So yeah, winner!
12. Baristacide - Oars in Hands
“Pop punk for people who hate pop punk,” they call it. These guys are probably the most fun band in Madison. I first heard of them in January, we (damidol) had a bunch of bands drop off a bill we were setting up at the Wisco, all told five bands had agreed to play this three-band show and mysteriously backed out, so just a few days before the show i put up an ad on Craigslist, and Baristacide responded within half an hour. It ended up being just the two bands, but they made up for the lack of other act and then some. This show was also the infamous syrup incident, in which the Wisco and many of the people attending ended up covered in Mrs. Buttersworth. I didn’t get the full story on how the hell this happened until about six months later, but i have seen Baristacide about ten times this year and they never fail to disappoint. Even Amanda has gotten really into them to the point of actually wanting to go to their shows, rather than just tolerating me bringing her out, and that’s saying something. I don’t know if Baristacide feels the same, but i consider this their signature song, and it will get stuck in your head for days.
On a side note, their song Hot Pot Unbeliever contains the lyric, “Don’t forget i killed your dad,” which frontman Educational Davis once locked eyes on me and pointed as he sang. This was a powerful moment for me, considering the current relationship i have with my father, which he had no way of knowing about. Just an interesting aside.
13. Venus in Furs - Death of Disco
Venus in Furs and i go way back, to before they were a band. My friend Natalie plays bass for them, we’ve collaborated on a huge number of projects including damidol and like a hundred videos for the company she owns, which i work for. Including the music video for this song, which features a bunny. So, between working on this video and seeing them several times, i’ve listened to this song quite a bit this year, and that’s probably not going to stop.
14. Helliphant - Rats Catsup
Another of Madison’s finest. Helliphant’s been around for a long time, but they first hit my radar just a few years ago when my friend Mike brought their LP Another Glorious Exercise in Horror to work for me to copy, and i, like many before me, became somewhat obsessed with the song Bullshit. They released a new EP this year, Human Beast, which i picked up at the CD release party at Mr. Roberts, a venue i’ve become quite familiar with in the last twelve months, and have filmed many episodes of Wisconscene at. The chorus of this song is really catchy, and i find myself singing it softly to myself frequently.
15. Butt Trumpet - I’m Ugly and I Don’t Know Why
I was casually searching for this album for years. Finding it for a dollar at a Half-Price Books in Indianapolis was one of the greatest moments of my bargain bin-diving life. Great album. This song in particular hooked me, probably because of, “Hey! That’s my boyfriend! Why do you have my boyfriend’s name written on all your pumpkin seeds? I’m gonna have to kick your fuckin’ ass, bitch!”
16. Poopshovel - One Pass Away
I was rummaging through the dollar shelf at a Half-Price books, as i am wont to do, and stumbled across an album by a band called Poopshovel. It was titled, I Came, I Saw, I Had a Hotdog. I said to myself, i don’t know what this is, but it seems like something i should own. After posting this sentiment on Facebook, my friend Bobby commented that they were from Madison, and he knew at least one of them. Funny thing, that. The whole album’s pretty good, but despite being uninterested in football, i latched on to this particular song about a particular Packer game and played the hell out of it. I later found out that the music video ran on MTV at least once in 1990.
17. t.A.T.u. - White Robe
I think i covered everything i needed to say about this up there on track 8. Waste Management is simply the best dance pop album i have ever heard and it needed two tracks included on this year’s PAC.
18. Metric - Speed the Collapse
Metric’s been one of my favorite bigger name bands recently, ever since the first time i heard Gold Guns Girls, and i think Synthetica may actually be the only major release i purchased this year. Oh wait, that and the new Black Light Burns. But those are the only ones. Anyway, by the time this album was released in June i had already noticed how many album title tracks were cropping up in my PAC playlist, but even so, i threw Synthetica in there. It’s a really good song. After i’d had some time with the album, i added this one as well. In the end, it was a really hard choice between them, and Amanda had to break the tie. She picked this one without any discussion of title tracks at all. I’m happy with her choice. And i’m happy with the Synthetica album - i heartily recommend picking it up.
19. Moby - That’s When I Reach For My Revolver
Of course, the year that i christen the Mobyfort, there must be some Moby on the PAC. Maybe i should back up? You don’t know about the Mobyfort? Well, in January, i finally got around to building new shelving for my CDs and getting them out of the moving boxes that most of them haven’t left since my triumphant return to Madison in 2007. I had the 3000+ of them spread out in piles around the entire living room as i sorted and catalogued each and every one of them, and i discovered to my surprised that i own about 30 Moby CD singles. Why? For what purpose? I haven’t a clue. I mean, i like Moby well enough, but do i like him enough that i need thirty separate 3 track CDs with a few non-album remixes? Do I? Probably not. I made a Facebook post proclaiming as much, and one of my friends suggested that i build a Moby fort. The name stuck. So, naturally, i got to thinking about Moby more and more and enjoying his work more and more, particularly the Animal Rights album. It’s pretty different from the music that he’s known for, as in, it’s very guitar-based and very heavy. Also, i’ve recently learned that this song is a Mission of Burma cover. I’ve never listened to them. Perhaps i will.
20. I am Dragon - Get Out of the Corn Maze
damidol played with I am Dragon and The Skintones at the High Noon Saloon in July of last year, one of our best shows and also one of our most poorly attended. This was the first i heard of them. At that show, i was chased by a plastic snowman, which i later wrecked, and have scars on my legs from. The next time we played with I am Dragon, their drummer, Andy, showed up wearing the remains of the lawn ornament, and the rest is history. damidol and I am Dragon, bros for life. Or some such thing. Whatever the kids these days are saying. Get off my lawn.
21. The White Stripes - Walking With a Ghost
The White Stripes need no introduction. They are the greatest rock band of my generation. They are our Beatles. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. So i think it’s safe to say that Tegan & Sara have made the big time when the greatest rock band of a generation is covering them. I’m not entirely sure but i may have heard this cover before the original, actually. Anyway i picked up this random White Stripes single from, yeah, the dollar bin at Half-Price, and the song got its hooks in me and that was that. So yeah, both versions get to be on the CD.
22. Sons of Atom - Ice Road Truckers
I’d heard of Madison’s Sons of Atom a few times, but i first saw them when damidol played with them at The Frequency in May, a show which became the first episode of Wisconscene. They’re a great local surf/punk band, they put on a good show. I’ve got a great story about their guitarist, Tim, at a different damidol show, but he probably wouldn’t want me posting it on the internet. Anyway, the Ice Road Truckers are a bunch of fuckers.
23. Pink Razors - Geometric Park
Here’s another band from the No Idea Pretend Record. I don’t really have anything profound to say about this one, i just really like the song. The chorus gets stuck in my head often.
24. Hinckley Design & Production Staff - Mad Rollin Dolls Remix (Reprise)
Hinckley Design & Production is the company i work for. We did this awesome roller derby commercial early this year and it needed a soundtrack, so we put this together. That’s my voice you’re hearing. This has since been adopted by some as the unofficial theme song for the Mad Rollin’ Dolls, as it should be. The DJ has played it at a few of the bouts. It’s so catchy and infectious, how can you not love it?!
Last night i went to see a band that i was really into in high school. I always think that doing that kind of thing is a good idea, for some reason.
I’m talking about Sepultura. Back in high school i couldn’t really afford a lot of CDs, but when i had money, that’s what it went toward, generally. So often, if i’d find them at garage sales for, say, five bucks, i’d consider it a good investment almost regardless of what it was. I think that such was the tale for how i was exposed to Sepultura, when i grabbed Chaos A.D. for maybe two bucks. It had an interesting cover. I was into metal. Or so i thought. I’m not even going to tell you what my definition of “metal” would have been in high school (1999-2003, if you want to figure this out for yourself). Needless to say, Sepultura changed that. Chaos A.D. was unlike anything i’d heard at that point, and it was hypnotic, particularly the tracks Refuse/Resist and Biotech Is Godzilla.
I’ve since obtained about eight Sepultura albums, and in recent years my interest in them has waned. But, similar to the time i saw Meat Puppets a few years ago, when the opportunity to see them live came up, i decided that it was probably one of those things i should do before they die. After all, Sepultura formed the same year that i was born.
The first band, Havok, was alright. Nothing to write home about, but they did the job. Thomas was really excited about them, Bob thought they were ok, and that covers my group pretty well. It should be noted that Bob and Thomas are both members of my band, damidol.
I don’t even remember the name of the second band, but we all thought they were boring, for speed metal. Their songs all sounded the same, and caused me to remark to Bob, “I’ve been watching their guitarist. Why do we play punk music? Metal seems easier.” Midway through their set, Thomas had somehow started talking to these two middle-aged women standing near us, and disappeared with them toward the bar. When they were done playing, Bob and i ventured toward the bar. We learned that one of these women was Sepultura’s accountant, and the other was her friend, who is a doctor. They were good company, we chatted throughout the lull in the show and partway through the next band, Death Angel. They bought us some drinks. Death Angel was pretty good, good stage presence, good music. Thomas and i did some moshing. Blah blah blah. I guess i don’t really have much to say about it.
So when Sepultura came on, fulfilling a desire i’ve harbored for over a decade, an emotion swelled up from my guts, fully encompassing me. It was disappointment.
When your drummer has the most stage presence of the band, and your singer, who is not also playing an instrument, has the least, something’s wrong. I mean, these guys played fast and heavy, just like i expected and just like i wanted to hear, but onstage, they mostly just stand there. Their vocalist, Derrick Green, is great while he’s singing, but when he’s not, he just kind of stands there and either bangs his head (just his head…his body doesn’t move), or air drums. Air drums! Think about that for a minute.
Are you picturing a gigantic black man air drumming while two old hispanic guys rock out on either side of him with a shirtless white 20-year-old beats the fuck out of real drums behind him?
Also i’m a little bitter because, for the first hour of the set, there were these two guys standing right in front of me that kept carelessly backing into me, which was inconsiderate enough considering i had my back to a wall and i was there first, but they kept talking to each other the whole time. I’d try to move left or right a bit to get away from them, but they’d fucking move with me! It was really infuriating because, of course, i was trying to bootleg the show and was holding my H2 right at about shoulder level, or right where their stupid conversation was taking place. I haven’t listened to my recording yet, but i really hope they’re not prominent or anything.
They played Refuse/Resist second, and they didn’t play Biotech Is Godzilla…but they did play Territory so i’m pretty ok with that. They played a two song encore, and after the first one, Derrick Green was trying to incite the audience to shout along with the last song, whether they knew the words or not. I turned to Thomas and shrugged, saying, “Biotech Is Godzilla?” He gave me the toothy, sympathetic “no fucking way” grin and shook his head, because of course it was Roots.
All in all, they played for just over an hour and a half, which certainly isn’t bad, and they still sound great almost three decades in, and for a band with no original members left (i know Paulo Jr. has played bass on all of their albums, but he missed the founding of the band by i think about a year), but they just don’t put on an exciting show.
And, for the record, Biotech is STILL Godzilla.
I ended up giving Screaming Females ALL the money.