Episode 3: The Chilling Moon

CasseroleX–Episode3

Episode 3’s title is a joke, not some attempt to be gothy or jump on the Twilight bandwagon.  This episode contains a couple new bands, an old band, and plenty of bounce.

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Summer Show Highlight: Wild Flag

Concert Highlight of the Summer: Wild Flag at the Wicker Park Fest in Chicago, July 23. The band has only released one 7”, but they’ve already gained a huge following due to their “supergroup” status. Wild Flag members’ resumes include such bands as Sleater-Kinney, Helium, Quasi, The Minders, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and more. Description for readers who aren’t long-time indie rock fans: this band is a big deal and consists of women long admired by rock fans. As a group, Wild Flag puts on a strong show, raw and energetic with musical precision. At this particular performance, they included a cover of (The Rolling Stones’) “Beast of Burden” and “Ask the Angels” (Patti Smith), both of which they’ve done in a number of other sets across the country. I won’t bore you with a description of their music when you can listen for yourself:

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A brief note of explanation

Casserole X will officially be a consistent project as of this month. Earlier this year I recorded 2 podcast episodes just to see how the process worked, if I enjoyed it, etc. I learned enough to figure out I like doing the podcasts, but needed some better technology to make them happen. Now that I’ve got adequate technology and my time-dominating summer job is complete,  Casserole X can move forward.

Several quick items for the FAQ compilation:

Q. Is this blog just for music snobs?

A. Even though sometimes I’m admittedly a huge music snob sometimes, my goal is for this podcast and blog to be fairly accessible. Plenty of blogs and podcasts seemingly exist for impressing each other, battling for credibility points, and feeding the hype machine. On the other hand, Casserole X is about introducing people to good music they may not have heard before and reveling in “found” artifacts. Sure, much of your curator’s taste runs with the hip indie rock, and that will show up plenty enough. Even so, the curator also happens to be a thirty-something white fellow living in the rural Midwest without so much as a falafel joint or designer cupcake shop in sight, and I’ve got nothing to gain from trying to convince everyone that my favorite band is so underground that they only release music on 8-track and play small basements for only the worthiest of listeners. You probably won’t hear much of this music on mainstream radio, though.

Q. What’s your favorite casserole?

A. Something called “Jackpot Casserole.” Look for the recipe later once I find the old family cookbook.

Q. Why name a podcast/blog “Casserole X”?

A. Like a casserole, every podcast will be a mish-mash of ingredients and flavors. We’re also terrific to take for potlucks/carry-ins. In fact, you’ll find we don’t mind getting mixed in with Mystery Ingredient Jello Salad.

 

 

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Second Episode

Britpop Twee, Punk, and more, including a story about rural Midwesterners scoffing at delicious hummus.

Here it is: CasseroleX–Episode2

In other news, you can now subscribe to Casserole X podcast episodes through iTunes.

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Episode 1: Stuck

The Casserole X debut episode features songs stuck in my head…some new, some old, all solid gold. Episode 2 brings a few more songs and a story.

Listen or download (right-click and save) here:

Casserole X — Episode 1

 

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Introducing Casserole X

My new podcast, Casserole X, focuses on music that I happen to run across and find interesting. This podcast, and therefore this blog, isn’t about breaking and scooping the Next Big Thing — plenty of podcasts and blogs already do just that. Some of the music featured on the podcast might be new and buzzed-about, but some of what I play will be favorites I feel like sharing, regional bands that haven’t made a huge splash (yet), and “found” or forgotten songs from years ago. I’m too busy to promise a weekly podcast, but we’ll release new episodes regularly.

You may notice a few blog entries below this one. I like to play around with writing, so for a while I just occasionally scribbled down some ideas about music with a loose focus on the 1990s. I couldn’t commit to it regularly, so I told only a couple friends and just added something every few months. I left the articles sitting around in case anyone’s interested, but we’re moving forward now.

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MMMM MMMM Good?

An unlikely worldwide Top 40 Hit: ballad about a boy whose hair changed color in a car crash, a girl with birthmarks, and a boy stuck in a strict holy roller family, all gently placed before the listener by a smoothly pocked deep voice that sounds like Eddie Vedder on a Vicodin+Helium cocktail? Back when mainstream radio occasionally took chances and played weirdo songs now and then, Top 40 countdown king Rick Dees called it “the M16 song.” The Crash Test Dummies may have only charted once in the U.S. with 1993’s “MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM,” but they had already won a Juno award in Canada. You can read their Wikipedia entry and website for yourself, but in case you’re too lazy, here’s what you really need to know: Lead singer (and songwriter) Brad Roberts cites XTC as a major influence. Hard to believe based on “MMMM…,” I know, but the success of that single allowed Roberts to lead the Dummies in musical directions no one could have predicted from a Winnipeg-based folk band. 1999’s “Give Yourself A Hand” showed up ready for Y2K with electronic chilliness, synthy creep-out ballads featuring Roberts’ best Benedictine monk howl, falsetto chorus hooks and Ellen Reid’s vocals.  But was it in your Y2K survival pack? What, you never heard of it? No one but the Canadians did — by then we’d shunned the scruffies for Backstreet Boys, slick goon rock, and predictability.

We’re probably not  going to hear another breakout Top 40 hit off the Crash Test Dummies’ most recent record, Ooh La La!, released just this past May. After all, radio doesn’t take chances anymore, especially with rock. The Dummies went after an indie producer (Stewart Lerman, whose most notable client is Antony & the Johnsons) rather than Timbaland; their chosen technology isn’t Auto-Tune – Roberts built the record around 1980s analog synths (primarily sold as toys), the Optigan and Omnichord. The record itself holds mellow chamber pop along sprawling and gritty ballads, often more Tin Pan Alley than “singer-songwriter.” Here’s a sample track: “You Said You’d Meet Me (In California).”

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