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Sunday, 15 June 2014

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Mike, after reading the text about the Rega P3-24 you've linked to, I can establish, with the highest degree of certainty possible, that you suffer from 'audiophilia acuta'. Its symptoms are easily identifiable: an obsessive attention for accessories, an unfightable impulse to constantly modify audio components under the ominous excuse of 'improving sound quality', and a rather unhealthy willingness to spend considerable amounts of money on what amounts to gadgetry. You should take care :)
Seriously now, I have an antediluvian Rega Planar 3 with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge and can endorse every word you wrote about Rega turntables' sound quality.
It is curious that I came across this text a few seconds after having listened to the debut album of a british psychedelic pop band I find to be quite interesting: the Temples. Their album 'Sun Structures' can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZSmqSveboY

[I don't mean to alarm you, but I'm a piker when it comes to audiophilia nervosa, as Jeffrey Goggin could attest--I'm sure he can tell lots of worse stories. This was the only turntable I've ever tried to tweak, and most of my TT's have been decidedly mid-fi. I only tried to "optimize" this one because there are so many aftermarket accessories (as with the Miata) and it looked too fun to resist. But I actually quit before I crossed the finish line, as I mentioned. --Mike]

I have a tin ear. Perhaps that's why all waterfalls sound (and look) alike to me.

Don't know if you're a Dinosaur Jr fan but J Mascis' most recent solo album fits the bill of "wistful, slow-drag, plaintive, romantic folkie songs with a certain gentleness." It's called Several Shades of Why.

"wistful, slow-drag, plaintive, romantic folkie songs with a certain gentleness" makes me think of Meg Hutchinson's love song about her parents' divorce, "True North." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuypgtjEl9Q

Townes Van Zandt said it simply- "Theres the blues and then theres zippy-de-do-da"

Mike, would you mind sharing with us what are a couple of your favourite vintage direct-drive Japanese turntables, and which arm/cartridge combinations you like to use with them?

[Hi Gerry, Unfortunately, I don't know enough about them to write about them even semi-coherently. Not an expert. Sorry I can't help. --Mike]

You know Mike, it is posts like this that elevate your blog to the daily internet highlight it is. Thank you.

Great to see Courtney Barnett get a mention :-)
There's a slight chance you might like Dick Diver, The Twerps, and Boomgates, more Aussie stuff with a bit of a similar feel to it.

I don't know who to attribute the quote, but "Writing about music makes as much sense as dancing about architecture".

If it moves you and you like it, awesome! Suggest your favorite and I'll happily give a listen. Maybe I'll like it also. :)

Try "Pink Martini" - my new most favorite band.

Other good banjo bits:

Instant Street form The Ideal Crash by dEUS (rock)

There's some good work on The Theatre Fire's Everybody Has a Dark Side (alt. country I guess?) - These Tears Could Rust a Train is a near perfect short alt pop country song...

Modest Mouse have done a lot of good work with the Banjo too.

Really, with the rise of alt.country/pop, it's actually kinda hard to avoid the banjo now!

Mike, what vintage dd japanese table are you using now? Denon? Technic? I sold my Michell Gyrodec with SME IV + Sumiko Bluepoint cartridge a few years back. Still missing the combo. Huhu...

So you like jazz and banjo--have you listened to to Béla Fleck & The Flecktones? Try Flight of the Cosmic Hippo to whet your appetite ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z_wKsJBuR0 ). Although their music defies categorization I hear jazz in most of it. One of Béla's primary influences was Chick Corea. Admittedly some of their songs can be described as country ( Big Country and Hoe Down are the first two to come to mind). With their incredible diversity ( listen to the Little Worlds CD) it's fun not knowing what's next from them.

"wistful, slow-drag, plaintive, romantic folkie songs with a certain gentleness."

I think this might be what you are looking for.

http://smallwonder.bandcamp.com/album/wendy-2

Three's not the limit for me on "Happy." It's a guilty pleasure. It's one of those songs that gets under the skin and I just can't get enough. My first choice is Jazz too, but OK, so I'm a Philistine. So be it. But whether it's "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, or John Lennon singing the ballad of John and Yoko, or Happy, there's certain songs you just can't get out of your mind.

[You don't like music if you can't have guilty pleasures! I have plenty.... --Mike]

Oh Mike, Thank You. I have found my theme song in Bhi Bhiman's "Take What I'm Given" I love the lyric-"live life like a loose ball of yarn" . . .

Mike:

You are correct: Not only can I tell lots of worse stories based upon my time working for The Absolute Sound (and later, Sounds Like...) magazines, I'm afraid that a good many of those stories involve me!

Unlike you, I often didn't know when to stop and in fact, I did sometimes take things too far and occasionally ruin whatever product I was modifying in the process. I still have a box in my garage with various parts from three Linn-Sondek turntables I modified and a dead Koetsu Rosewood Signature phono cartridge that came to an untimely end after its rosewood body was removed and it was used "naked" ... for a while, anyway.

As the joke goes, it's better to be addicted to drugs than to high-end audio, because with drugs, there's at least a chance you can be cured. (ba-da-boom!)

John Lennon was more pre-Yoko and post-Yoko.
He was my teenage hero
A great northern Bloko
Until captured by a Nono

Have to agree with John Camp

"I love following musical threads across the different genre landscapes..."

Like all the way from this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzlw6fUux4o

To this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzzta-_N2rQ&feature=related

(Depending on your mood ,taste and sensibilities.....)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX_2NLrF484

Lovely voice - check
folky tone - check
whistful - check
banjo - check

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones for the banjo lovers.

I have been listening to the Elaine Elias Chet Baker tribute album on my commute lately. This is my second album by her the first being Bossa Nova Stories which is also highly recommended.
When I get a little more flush I'm going to pick up her Bill Evans cover set.
On an obscure banjo note. Did you know that the original score of Rhapsody in Blue has a banjo part? I have an old Musical Heritage Society LP of it from the 1980's and there's a banjo on it. It's rather sweet.
Talking LPs has a part of me that would like to find an old Dynaco tube amp and some refurbished AR3a speakers and take a trip down memory lane.
I wonder how they would sound after all the itchy, overwrought sound tracks I've been subjected to over the last decade.

If you like the banjo background and enjoy a good tongue-in-cheek cover, go to YouTube for a listen to Jonathan Coulton's rendition of "Baby Got Back." You will not regret it.

I love the banjo in Sufjan Steven's [The Upper Peninsula][1] in the album Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State.


[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9n5o26hPCc

I always found the banjo in Tegan and Sara's Living Room to be quite enjoyable - it's from one of their older albums and a far cry from their modern dance friendly hits. Be curious to know what you make of it.

Simple but happy nirvana cover version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dfoRHGFSZs

What I like about this is the mood difference to the original could hardly be greater but still it's immediately recognizable.

Slint and Courtney Barnett - and I thought I just came here for the photography discussion, pool stories and hi-fi equipment recommendations.

Seconding Peter Williams, Dick Diver is another Melbourne band with a laid-back, ramshackle quality which is growing on me.

But given you like both Slint and Courtney Barnett you really should give another Melbourne band, The Drones, a listen. The guitarist, Dan Luscombe, plays with Barnett and mixed her EP. And, like Barnett, Gareth Liddiard's lyrics are always interesting and he makes no attempt to mask his Australian accent. And his guitar is often just this side of slapdash. But we're definitely in rock territory now. Here's a live cover of an indigenous Australian, Kev Carmody's, song 'River of Tears' which makes the hairs on my back stand up whenever I hear it live. But choosing one song is hard. They're nearly all great. My favourite band of the last decade.

I second that endorsement on Courtney Barnett, a great catchy album. I'm one of those folks that's always looking for something new.

I've tried to find a few resources on the web that review music and share my musical point of view, then I check their reviews regularly. Pitchfork is my site of choice these days since most of my interests are in the Indie Rock side of things (they were pretty keen on Courtney Barnett, for instance). Then any review that sounds interesting I'll add it to my play lists and try to give it at least a listen or two.

If you like that country/folk/roots rock genre, bands like Woods, Real Estate, Cass McCombs, Phosphorescent have all had outstanding releases in the last few months. If you want to find the good stuff you have to kinda be your own curator (like photography these days, I guess!), but there's so much good stuff out there it's a shame not to enjoy some of it.

Here you go, Mike, my nomination for the most beautiful song with banjo, plus it qualifies for " wistful, slow-drag, plaintive, romantic folkie songs with a certain gentleness":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K56E-1bR4R4

At YouTube you can even listen to, and see, this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4JQZb83oCc&list=RDF4JQZb83oCc

I thought someone might mention John Renbourn and Bert Jansch. Looks like it's going to be me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqjUWJtH88c and many more

for banjo playing (and covers) so beautiful it will make you weep, you might try "red on blonde" (tim o'brien).

A folk-based musician I'm very fond of who sometimes plays banjo on her songs is Laura Veirs. She's primarily a guitarist but at least until recently still gave banjo lessons (in Portland, OR). She's also a terrific songwriter. Here's a link to a live performance of "Where Are You Driving?", a song on Laura's 2010 album July Flame, featuring simple banjo accompaniment.

http://youtu.be/XgGOSJTkZOU

-Dave-

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