touch & go records

hey so do any of you guys know my mini 1989 tour outfits drawings series i’m doing? well for the this love/style outfit i accidentally (( not accidentally at all )) made a speed painting video of me making it if anyone wanted to watch it maybe. coolio. 

(and yes that is another 1989 tour outfit drawing i’m using at the beginning in the background so that the sketch would be to the same scale + proportion as the previous drawings in case u noticed)

In the early eighties, Thurston and Kim were both coming into the record store I worked at before they knew each other. They were buying the same records, and I told them they should probably meet. About a year later, they were inviting me to their wedding.
—  Terry Tolkin, former Touch & Go Records executive, and VP of A&R, Elektra Records, 1992 - 1996
Big Black "Atomizer"

This is very unpleasant. Right off the bat, it just feels really unpleasant and painful.

The first couple of songs are supposed to be political I guess, but it’s not clear what they are trying to say. And the music is just displeasing all around. I guess this music is what you would call “industrial.” It kind of sounds a little bit like Nine Inch Nails.

I actually recorded an interview with the WNYC show Soundcheck a few days ago - it’s going to air on Tuesday, (I’ll post a link in a few days!) and for part of that interview, they played me part “Kerosene” without me knowing about the band Big Black at all or ever hearing the song. It’s better than the first couple songs, because it is a little slower and less in your face, and it’s about how living in a small town sucks. We can all relate to that. But I don’t really remember what I said about it. I know I didn’t think I would hate this album so much after listening to that clip. I think I would have had a much stronger negative reaction during the interview if they had played the first song, “Jordan, Minnesota.”

The liner notes, rather than including lyrics, feature descriptions of the songs. It’s a cool idea, but the descriptions are really badly written. They remind me of high school poetry. This is the description for the song “Cables”: “our interests in death, force and domination can change the way we think. make us seek out new forms of ‘entertainment.’ ever been in a slaughterhouse?” Supes profound.

Steve Albini is in this band, and I know who he is, but I didn’t know he was in this band, Alex had to tell me that. I know he is very cool and has had a huge impact on rock music, but I just really don’t like this. “Bad Houses” is ok, I guess.

Alex just asked me “Did you not like the first song (“Jordan, Minnesota”) because of the lyrical content or because of the music itself?” and I said that while the lyrics were upsetting, it wasn’t the only reason I didn’t like the song. Then he said “I always really liked that song melodically.” Um, what?

The song “Bazooka Joe” starts with this sort of haunting spoken word where he’s saying “You don’t have to be alone, Joe” over and over again, and it’s definitely the best song so far. Or the one that sounds the most like a rock song. The description for that song says they recorded someone named Joe shooting a gun for the song. That’s pretty cool. I guess.

On the song “Cables,” I thought he was saying “Tybalt” the whole time, like from Romeo and Juliet. So I guess that’s kind of great? Probably the best part of the listening experience. But then it turns out he’s only saying “cables” over and over again.

I gotta say, this was the first post that I really did not enjoy writing. Even Albert Ayler I enjoyed how mad it was making me in a masochistic sort of way. But this album, I was just sort of waiting for it to be over, I was having a hard time really analyzing why exactly I didn’t like these songs, my body just kept telling me, “I don’t like this.” It was really hard to listen to the whole thing. It was like on the cusp of being completely unlistenable.

Bottom line: Sorry, guys, I know Steve Albini is cool and everything but I’m not going to be listening to Big Black again.

Alex Says: I grew up four hours east of Chicago on I-94. It was a straight shot. In the early 90’s, I feel like music still had a greater pull regionally than it does now. Even though I lived closer to Detroit, Touch & Go records was the planet around which all the music I really loved seemed to orbit, and Steve Albini was one of its biggest moons.

Also, around 1993 or so, Shellac released “At Action Park,” which was a total ripper, and I was simultaneously getting into The Pixies, so I thought “sure, I’ll buy everything Steve Albini has ever touched, I can’t go wrong doing that.”

Big Black is immensely appealing to a 13-year-old in the midwest for a couple reasons. First, he spends a lot of his time just hating on small-town midwest. Both on a specific type of dumb American, but also just the lengths people will go to entertain themselves in places that are cultural voids. As a kid who used to tear ass around people’s front yards in his friends’ hatchbacks and spend nights in the woods in a drunken stupor, I definitely got it.

More importantly, the music felt so dangerous. It felt like he was just slaying sacred cows left and right. A song from the perspective of a domestic abuser! A song about child sexual abuse where the words “suck daddy!” are screamed over and over! A song about a black woman trying to pass as white! It all felt iconoclastic and exciting and totally uncompromising.

There are things I still like about Big Black. I think “Racer-X” is incredible (don’t have it on vinyl, so no review, unfortunately). I think “Headache” is pretty good. I like the first half of “Songs About Fucking” a lot. And sonically, their music is insane. The guitars sound so sharp that they could cut you in half, and the drum machine is totally unrelenting and brutal. The band never pulled its punches, even if the blows don’t necessarily hit their intended targets.

The problem with Big Black is it feels like an old friend that is still doing the same shit you did when you were in high school. You visit home to hang out and he’s still smoking pot out of a coke can and lighting firecrackers in dumpsters. It felt fun and dangerous in high school, but now it just feels a little silly and embarrassing not particularly deep and worst of all, kind of boring. There is music that I can not listen to for years or even decades, and when I come back to it I can take something new and exciting away from it. But Big Black is fixed in time as “aggro teen music” for me. “Jordan, Minnesota” totally wails though. And the album cover is awesome.

daddyreaves  asked:

My mom had to drive across our state recently (I live in a long state) so I recorded a reading of your stories and made them into a playlist and she said they were almost as good as coffee at keeping her awake when she hit the sixth hour of the drive

i’m going to cry