Glyph!

You may not realize it, but for most of the last year you’ve been given a true treat, bi-weekly, in the form of the Mindless Diversions Wednesday music and Friday Night Videos posts. The author of those posts, our very own Glyph, used his vast store of musical knowledge, and his impressive writing talents, to bring us interesting, informative, and at times deeply personal takes on a wide variety of moody music from or inspired by the 80s (I’m kidding, his taste isn’t so limited: it also includes some moody 90s electronic music*). Many of those posts attracted some excellent comments from similarly knowledgeable music-lovers, making the conversations they inspired as fun as the posts themselves. I’ve said this several times, but it bears repeating: I’ve looked forward to Wednesdays because I knew I was going to get to hear some interesting music, read some interesting musical commentary, and have some fun discussing all of it in comments.

At the risk of coming off overly fawning, let me again say that his posts have been a treat for me. He’s a genuinely good music writer, and at times has simply blown me away. Take his post on depression, which, as someone who’s suffered from it for most of my adult life, really hit home. Then there was the brilliant album art post that wasn’t actually about music, but was. I remember he and someone else (Jaybird? dhex? someone) talking about the idea of such a post, and thinking it would be painful to read, but then he nailed it. And the first Friday Night Videos, which was about Miami Vice music. Miami Vice music!

Unfortunately for me, and even more so for you, Glyph’s decided to take a break from regular Wednesday and Friday music posts (though I’m hoping he’ll throw one up now and then), and because absolutely no one else on the planet was available, he asked me to take them over for now. More on the bit about me taking them over in a bit, but before that, I thought it only fitting that, as a Glyph fan, my first Wednesday music post (actually, it’s my second) should be a tribute to the dude who made Hump Days at OT exciting, and who made me watch a 30 minute video on recording drums. And the best way to do that, I think, is with music he gave us. So without further ado, here are some songs by artists that I discovered, or re-discovered, through his posts. Feel free to add your own Wednesday music discoveries in the comments, or just let Glyph know how much you enjoyed hearing about how awesome The Smiths and The Cure are.

I’ll start off with a recent one. In the second installment of his recent series on electronic music, he included a track by a pair of techno producers collaborating under the name Motor, and after listening to it I immediately bought their album, because damn it’s good, that’s why. It’s a collection of 12 tracks that are so in your face that they’ll keep you awake even after a Benadryl overdose. For example:

Makes me want to get up and dance. However, I’m typing this with my window open, and neighbors regularly walking by, so that might be a bit awkward. Ah, what the hell…

Moving on (now that I’ve caught my breath), one of my favorite Wednesday music posts was the one all about “girl groups,” which was simply awesome from top to bottom. My favorite discovery there, of the many (it was filled with artists I didn’t really know), was the Dum Dum Girls, whom I’d affectionately describe as dirty 90s mellow pop. Consider:

and

I’ve apparently missed them at SXSW a couple times in recent years. I won’t make that mistake again.

Transitioning again, let me just say that I like Laika. Thing is, in the years between the late 90s and this Wednesday music post, I hadn’t merely forgotten that I liked Laika, I’d forgotten that Laika ever existed.

If Motor is the music you listen to while trying to stay awake after 10 hours of staring at data on a computer screen, this is the music you listen to in a recliner with your eyes closed while trying to reconnect with yourself after 10 hours of staring at data on a computer screen.

And finally, my favorite discovery, Chromatics. I’d heard of them before, but after this post, I became a serious fan. We’ve done in your face, we’ve done mellow, and we’ve done chill, but this is something else entirely:

It’s transcendence. And while I’ve tried to avoid songs that Glyph used in his posts, I can’t resist this, because it’s almost perfect:

 

 

Wait, did I say finally? Silly me, you can’t have a tribute to Glyph without My Bloody Valentine:

I’m not a huge fan, but after he talked them up so much I had to give them another listen, and I’m glad I did.

And finally (for real this time), Guided By Voices. If you want to know why I will miss his Wednesday posts, just read his fan essay on GBV.

I think I’m cheating and using the same GBV song that I used in my first Wednesday music post, but whatever, that song rocks. And with it, so long Glyph, we hardly knew ye. I mean, I know you’ll still be around, and commenting, and posting sometimes, but still…

I promised more on me taking over, so let me say a bit about that. I’m not a great music writer. I’m not a good music writer. Whereas some of you are connoisseurs, I am merely a fan. I’ve got some posts in the can, and I’ll probably throw in some with a Cog Sci spin (I’ve got a post on the evolution of music that I really need to finish). My musical taste is also a bit different from Glyphs, so you’ll probably get posts with a more pop feel, along with a bit more hip hop, and maybe even some crazy stuff like reggaeton. I hope you’ll like them, but I know some of you are dying to share some music with us, and now’s your chance. Just write something up and send it to me. There are only a few rules (as passed from Jaybird to Glyph, and from Glyph to me):

1. Wednesdays
2. Build something up, don’t tear something down.
3. Include a link to or embed of some sort of media, so people can see or hear what you are talking about.

Well, the Wednesday thing is loose, because there are also Friday Night Videos, but those are shorter and at least nominally about the videos (but whatever — they’re about music!). I’d add one more rule: if you send me something, I’d appreciate it if you’d do it by the Friday before the Wednesday that you’d like it published. Otherwise, I’m going to spend the weekend writing something, and then I’m going to be angry that I did work that I didn’t have to do, and I’ll probably call you all sorts of names under my breath.

*I’m joking, of course. He’s actually covered wide swaths of contemporary music.

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17 thoughts on “Glyph!

  1. Thanks Chris! I’m kinda blushing over here, this is some of the nicest stuff anybody’s ever said about me. Looking forward to learning about some new tunes, I’ve lately fallen pretty far down some of my old habitual rabbit holes (note to self: both “Habitual Rabbit” and “Rabbit Habit” prove there ARE still good bandnames left*) on that front.

    I was going to say “Prairie Dog” is the best song on that Laika album, but then I thought it could be this one:

    Or this one:

    Or this one:

    Anyway, thanks for doing this, and I’ll be checking in – if y’all haven’t wrecked this place up like the vacationing rich parents’ house in an 80’s teen comedy, I’ll be very, very disappointed.

    * I went on a rant (appropriately) the other day about this, when I saw a listing for a band called “Restavrant”. COME ON! Just replacing the “u” with a “v” in an otherwise-boring word? You kids aren’t even trying anymore!

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    • It’s a pretty good album, which I’m pretty sure I once owned, but can find no traces of. I’ve been through so many moves and girlfriends since then that it’s either in someone else’s CD rack or in a landfill somewhere, I imagine. But it was good to rediscover them.

      And you’re welcome. I meant every word of it, including the moody 80s music part ;).

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      • Margaret Fiedler was in this band prior to Laika:

        But I like Laika better. I had a few of their albums, but only that one (Sounds of the Satellites) made the transition to the hard drive, since it was my favorite one. I’ll have to see if I still have the others and report back as to their quality.

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  2. Glyph’s decided to take a break from regular Wednesday and Friday music posts (though I’m hoping he’ll throw one up now and then)

    Is that how you guys do it? To think of all the time I wasted by typing mine.

    In all seriousness, even though I don’t comment on them often, I love the music posts. And I [heart] Glyph. Glad to know it’s just a small break from posting and not a wholesale departure.

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    • Thanks Doc!

      If by “work” we mean “research, so as to substantively back up my gasbag opinions”, then no, I don’t, beyond checking album release years and such.

      If by “work” we mean “watch YT video after YT video, trying to figure out which one has the best sound quality and also the best video (often, I went with fan vids over official ones), and revise, revise, revise” (that GbV post shows 194 revisions – but I am pretty obsessive with the “Save” button when I am working, so that number’s maybe not quite as insane as it sounds, or at least it’s insane in a different way), then I def. put some work into some of them. That Albini one (157 revisions) took forever for some reason.

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  3. Well, I think I need to start working on the post (still spinning around my head) I have been thinking about for a while, on local Sacramento music.
    I also have to say that Glyph is (and always) a great addition to the Times, and we look forward to his return.
    One last thing Chris- you have the keys now, drive it home.

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    • Awesome, I’m looking forward to it.

      I just realized I didn’t put my email in the post, which kinda makes it hard to send me stuff. So here it is (take out the spaces and replace the at with an and the dot with, well, you can figure it out):

      mixing memory at gmail dot com

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    • I’d like to read that SAC music one. Here’re the limits of my SAC music scene knowledge:

      I assume you guys go ahead and claim Pavement, since Stockton’s just down the road.
      Knapsack was started at UC-Davis. Blackalicious (how’d we miss them on the hip-hop posts?) is from SAC. I’ll give you the Cramps on a technicality, since they started there (but didn’t stay long), but if you take them you have to take Tesla too, and it’s probably just not worth it.

      And, uh…Folsom and Lodi are nearby, inspiring classic songs!

      That’s all I got, I think. Every time I am in SAC I get dragged by coworkers to the same bar with the disco cover band.

      It’s not bad, but that can’t be all there is.

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  4. Sad to see Glyph take a break! I’ve mostly lurked in the music posts but really enjoyed them and the comments they spawned. I’m happy to see Glyph still popping into the comments and I’m really looking forward to Chris’ perspective.

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    • I’m trying to decide whether I have a perspective that goes beyond, “Man, this is cool!” I’m just hopin’ what I think is cool a.) maps with what some of y’all think is cool, and b.) includes some stuff that y’all haven’t heard before. The latter is a much tougher standard to meet than the former, I think.

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