Category Archives: Rob Law

Results: Ghosts

Rob Law

Attaboy Skip – Ghostbusters Theme

I don’t have many songs about ghosts. So after deciding that a Ghostface song or any song from that fucking Unicorns album would be a copout, I figured I should go with what I know.

Attaboy Skip were a band from Las Vegas, my hometown. They rolled in near the middle of that third-wave ska thing that you either love unrepentantly or still try your damnedest to forget. Largely because of this band, I was in the former camp. I’m not sure what it was: inserting non-sequitur bongo breakouts into their sets? The warm regard for their fans (the lead singer once thanked me personally and another time called me out in front of several thousand people for wearing one of their t-shirts)? Bizarre-ass covers such as this one, the Ghostbusters theme song?

Also, their drummer later went on to play for that other Vegas band, the Killers.

Sohrob Kazerounian

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Ah, ghosts. The millennia old notion of the paranormal, metaphysical spirit that haunts all of us stuck here in the physical world. They range from friendly creatures (casper comes to mind) to those that commit unspeakable (except when spoken of) acts of horror. You might think that the only justification for ghostly obsession with the living is complete and utter boredom with the netherworld. And – you’d be right. The thing is, being dead sucks. Granted, I can’t know this with certainty, but judging by the dumb ghost-y things ghosts do, and the even dumber people they choose to do them to, Hades isn’t exactly the eternal club-med some people make it out to be.

Thats why I’ve chosen the epic ghost song Thriller, by Michael Jackson (ghoulish zombie song really, ghosts are supposed to be transparent no?). In an apparent cluster-fuck of boredom, this zombie collective decides that terrorizing MJs girlfriend is a quality use of time. Moreover, if terror is to be the order of the day, they decide it should come in the form of killer dance moves that ironically, would one day revolutionize hipster (zombie) dance parties.

The confusion over MJ being a zombie or not aside, this song (and video, AND ALBUM) are absolutely awesome. If I had the time, and an old betamax, I would find old videotapes of me at 3 dancing to thriller. No matter. Find me today, and you can still see me dancing to it (and in all likelihood, in just as uncoordinated a manner).

Matt Silver Alex Storer

Concrete Blonde – Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man

Lots of people report of ghost experiences.  Their TV turned off without them touching it, or some dead guy transubstantiated in their mouth.  But rare is the experience of ghost lovin’.  For that, you’ve got to turn to the gothic underworld, or at least its radio-friendly counterpart from the early 90s, embodied by Concrete Blonde and the $20 set they constructed to tell their harrowing tale.

I’ll sum it up for you.  Dark queen Johnette Napolitano is taking a shower, when she sees some weird shit in the fog on her shower.  And when her towel isn’t where she remembered putting it, she deftly concludes that there is a GHOST among her.  Not just any ghost, some sort of otherworldly slut ghoul that wants to peep her naked body and inject some ectoplasm into her or something.  Clearly then, this is a ghost of a Texas Ladies Man.  They fuck during the guitar solo, right when that sepia-toned train (Freud, much?) crashes into Johnette’s crucifix-fingers.  Hot.

At least nobody picked that Indigo Girls song about being in love with your ghost…




Filed under Alex Storer, Response, Rob Law, Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: Civil Rights Movement

Sohrob Kazerounian

Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam

“This is a showtune but the show hasn’t been written for it yet…” Far from from a showtune, this protest song was released as part of a collection of live recordings from Carnegie Hall made in 1964 and marked the beginning of Simone’s explicit incorporation of civil rights themes into her music (which had already contained political undertones). The song, a response to the killing of Medgar Evans (a civil rights activist) in Mississippi and the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama which left 4 schoolgirls dead, captures Simone’s frustrations with calls for the civil rights movement to ‘take it slow’.

But that’s just the trouble

“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Simone went on to perform the song the next year at the end of the third march from Selma to Montgomery, a five day, 54 mile march to demand that then Governor George Wallace provide protection to Selma’s black population – who were prevented from registering to vote through police intimidation. The day after Simone and others performed, the number of marchers grew to 25,000 – and a speech was given by Martin Luther King Jr. by the State Captiol building. Five months later, the Voting Rights act of 1965 would be passed. Aside from Simone’s status as a civil rights icon, her music is often cited by many musicians as a primary influence on their own work.

Rob Law

Dead Kennedys – I am the Owl

Wiretapping has come up in the news a lot lately, and I just wanted to try and calm everyone down. It’s no big deal!

Disabuse yourself of the notion that wiretaps will ever be used against you or anything you stand for. Nobody peaceful is going to have their communications monitored or their well-being threatened! Hell, it’s not like Martin Luther King, Jr. was wiretapped and harassed for… Oh, that’s right. He was!

Sexual indiscretions as blackmail fodder? Planted letters from supposed civil rights activists demanding King’s suicide? Saint Bobby Kennedy as the authorizing attorney general? What a story!

The Dead Kennedys’ “I am the Owl” was written only a few years after the Church Committee released its report outlining the FBI’s and CIA’s abuses of power. These included COINTELPRO, the counterintelligence program under which King was harassed, as well as MKULTRA, which included dosing unknowing targets with LSD. While I’m certainly a proponent of responsible drug use, I wouldn’t want to be turned loose tripping on the freeway as happens to one of the song’s characters.

But hey, don’t worry! That sort of thing couldn’t possibly happen again!

Natty Raymond

Staple Sisters – When Will We Be Paid?

When will be paid?
That is the question being asked by the Staple Singers, arguably the premier R&B group of the Civil Rights Movement. What is so powerful, so moving about the Staple Singers (besides the fact that their elderly father, Roebuck “Pop” Staple, played bass) is that their music was more than simple protest songs. In tunes such as “Long March to DC” and “The Challenge,” the Family Staple created inspirational and supremely optimistic anthems that challenged the United States to transcend the worst of its history while simultaneously facing it.
It would have been easy for the Staple Singers to simply have been just another angry voice in the fist-pumping chorus of “Black Power” bands calling for the easy tropes of “revolution” and “revenge,” themes which typified the Blaxploitation period in funk and soul music. Instead, the Staple Singers were different. They invited the entire nation to join in that “Long March to DC” and they challenged all of us to move beyond the sins of the past towards a shared future.
However, their songs, especially this week’s special feature, “When Will Be Paid,” speak poignantly of the necessity of justice as a prerequisite to equity. It is a lesson that this country, this world is still struggling to learn.

Soylent Green is made out of people? Who gives a shit! Now you can…


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Filed under Natty Raymond, Response, Rob Law, Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: Turkey

Rob Law

“Hey Joey! I’ve got some stuff you just gotta try.”

“What is it?”

“Pot! You know, marijuana?”

“I don’t know…”

“What are you, chicken? Bawk BAWK bawk bawk”

“I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!”

And that brilliant comeback echoed in the minds of millions of now smack-addled twentysomethings, their fears instantly displaced. Avoiding becoming Joey was suddenly much more important than avoiding fifth-grade pot pushers. It has been said that the war on drugs was lost the very day this commercial aired.

And so for turkeys everywhere, here’s McLusky’s “To Hell With Good Intentions.”

McLusky – To Hell With Good Intentions

Natty Raymond

William Onyeabor – Better Change Your Mind

The omnipresent specter of avian flu has received a great deal of warranted attention in recent years. However, if you have been reading your local newspapers of record closely, you have certainly become painfully aware of the deadly spread of another global pandemic: Jive Turkey flu, to use the parlance of the experts. Vectors known to spread this dire disease are first and foremost jive turkeys. Some of the symptoms of Jive Turkey flu, also known as Douchebag’s Syndrome–eponymously named after its discoverer, the late renowned French microbiologist Jean Genet Douchebag–include the rise in “reality format” programming on major television networks, estate tax “reform,” attempts to justify the “legality” of waterboarding, as well as a propensity to invade soveriegn nations in contravention of international law. Sadly, friends, these symptoms are the proverbial tip of a behemoth iceberg of unmitigated suffering and tool-like behaviour.

Fortunately, there exist several known prophylactics that can help prevent and limit the spread and severity of Jive Turkey flu, chief among these critical dams against the rising deluge of Douchebag syndrome cases is funk, Motown, and R&B music from the 60s and early 70s. One of the most powerful yet least known innoculations against this scourge is the classic African psychedelic funk anthem “You Better Change Your Mind,” written and performed by Willaim Onyeabor. Onyeabor is a well-known West African funk musician, or “get down artist,” who is featured on the excellent 2004 release entitled Love’s a Real Thing from David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Real Thing is a collection of other Jive Turkey flu fighters, including Nigerian powerhouse the Super Eagles and Ofo the Black Company. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about…

The opening, almost child-like electric organ chords of “Better Change Your Mind” expertly mask the sonic smackdown that is about to befall you and any jive turkeys in the vicinity of your sweet ghetto blaster. The song is a startling blend of influences varying from really bad Ethiopian lounge music out-takes to Kenyan Karaoke re-recorded off of an 8-track…with a pinch of American blaxploitation ass-kicking sprinkled in for good measure.

Within the first three bars, you can rest safe in the thought, for the moment at least, that no jive turkey would get within five miles of such a solid fucking bass line. Gobble, gobble, bastard people. This little number opens with a lyric that can only be described as a right hook of righteous indignation and outrage. Listen up: “America, do you ever think this world is yours? Russia, hey, yeah, do you ever think this world is yours?…If you thinking so, my friends, you better change your mind…” It says emphatically and resoundingly to jive turkeys everywhere: “Wassup, my bitch…”

The American Medical Association recommends, as I do, that you listen to “Better Change Your Mind” and the rest of Love’s a Real Thing four to five times a day, preferably while walking down the streets in fitted velour slacks, a Marvin Gaye style “What’s Going On” leather trench coat, and shoes made from lizards.

A West African funk song a day keeps them jive turkeys away.

Lisa Xu

Yo La Tengo – Return to Hot Chicken

It’s not quite turkey, but the undeniable warmth of the opening track to Yo La Tengo’s phenomenal I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is sure to conjure up memories of Thanksgiving repasts past. In fact, the whole album sounds as though it was produced and recorded in the toasty hearth of your living room, with stuffed stockings hanging over the fireplace, and everyone sleepily cozying up in armchairs. The guitars do churn every once in a while, but overall, they’re dosed up on so much tryptophan that 16 tracks of autumnal mellow almost feels like a few helpings too many.only it’s the holidays, so why bother caring?

That warm languid guitar, exhibited on such tracks as the instrumental “Return to Hot Chicken”, is really what makes the album (that, and the bass line on “Moby Octopad”). It’s also showcased on “Green Arrow”, the other instrumental track on I Can Hear the Heart, which incidentally has always reminded me of Christmas. (For those who’ve noticed, I’ve conflated Thanksgiving and Christmas for purposes of this review. According to most department stores, the distinction is imaginary anyway.)

But since chicken really is a poor substitute for turkey at Thanksgiving, here’s another option:


Filed under Lisa Xu, Natty Raymond, Response, Rob Law