ooh, romance

some dusty springfield playing off a dusty
disc of vinyl; dusty in memphis. a classic.

you’ve got some rings on your ears.
move some hair away, you scoot in,
my hand moves through…

***

do you like the way they pick up
sound? I like the way yours taste,

when we’re embraced in each other’s
embrace, and my mouth is at your

neck and it goes up, at a lobe: metal,
skin, and your taste, your ear, just
slightly salty because, yes, didn’t you,
yes you biked here, dear?

Mike Posner Gets Emo on ‘At Night, Alone.’

The first words of Mike Posner’s latest record are “this album is best listened to at night and alone,” and boom, that’s the first track. It’s over. Ten seconds from start to finish. If you’re like me and you’re mostly familiar with Posner thanks to his dancey, pop hit ‘Cooler Than Me,’ this 10 second clip could be a bit surprising. I was pretty familiar with ‘Cooler Than Me’ thanks to my stint working the fitting room at Uni-Qlo. Bruno Mars’s ‘Somewhere in Brooklyn,’ a wonky cover of Estelle and Kanye’s American Boy entitled simply ‘Jamaican Boy,’ and Posner’s double platinum single were apart of the oh-so-hip song mix that blared across the three floors of the SoHo giant. These key tracks (and a couple others) helped create my shy-boy swagger that I stumbled around with in New York.

So, yeah, this first taste of the album has me scratching my head. Hadn’t I heard his new single ‘I Took a Pill in Ibiza’ on the radio just the other day? It didn’t sound like something… low-key. I even remember the video. While it was a bit, uh, art-y, it still had pounding club scenes and girls in short skirts grinding on a Posner, who, throughout the video wears what looks like a giant pinata head; he looks like a Nintendo Mii. But yeah, the song talks about sports cars, and shoes, and girls, and taking pills in Ibiza, and Avicii for God’s sake. What’s up with this ‘at night and alone’ stuff?

Well it turns out that the version we’re all familiar with is the SeeB remix, which is in fact on the album ‘At Night, Alone.’ But first we get a line of advice on the how to listen to the album (which is very polite I think) and 10 reflective, relatively somber tracks that touch on faith, lost love, and even motherly advice. It’s a turn for Posner, to be sure. But it works.

This raw and stripped down version of Posner is admittedly impressive to me because it’s such a departure from his previous work. I love an artist making a change. Posner has written songs for several famous, famous musicians. He brags about it in one track, name-dropping Snoop and Justin Bieber. But instead of the expected braggadocio that would come with lyrics like that, the lines come off as self-aware and ironic. The song as a whole, like a lot of tracks on this album, is ultimately pretty, well… sad. Posner sings:

“I used to sip the whiskey and hit the bong / I gave that up, now all my friends are gone / And my folks don’t understand I ain’t no macho man”

This simple admission to his change of life style and the subsequent loss of friendship is brought up throughout the album. And even his parents don’t understand him! I don’t know if I ever thought Mike Posner was a macho man or not, but I probably had always assumed he was trying to front like one. He ends this verse with “But I know how to write one hell of a song.” Which is great. We get a vulnerability without it turning into a pity party; Posner still has enough of an ego to know he’s good at what he does.

Because this record is so stripped down in comparison to his first one, it feels like Posner is just being straight up sincere with us. Of course this could be attributed to the fact the production is so much sparser. It’s a common tactic. If you want to drop some cheesy, slick image take out the wall of synths, insistent dance beat, countless vocal tracks and simplify. It’s not just about production though, and Posner doesn’t half-ass anything here. The songs are (for the most part) clean of traditional cliche pop trappings that persist through much of his first album. And I’m not even saying ’31 Minutes to Takeoff’ was bad. But whatever ‘Takeoff’ was, ‘At Home, Alone.’ feels like a palate cleanser. Posner wallows in regret on some of the songs off ‘Alone,’ but he does move on. More than a couple of tracks talk about his relationship with God and the solace it has brought him. I find this refreshing, even as um, not a very religious individual. Simply put, there are an absurd amount of songs written about love. And mostly romantic love at that. Posner is a jilted lover on his second album, but that’s only part of him. He’s gained some dimensions since he was singing “I shoulda cheated on you” off the surprisingly titled ‘Cheated’ from his past. It seems one of those dimensions happens to be really into God and Posner doesn’t shy away from letting us know. (On a side note it is interesting to me that in a lot of ways a pop star incorporating his faith into his music is more radical than his admittance of lying and cheating on women. Go figure…)

The 11th track of “Alone” has Posner continuing the introspective theme the whole album takes. ‘Buried in Detroit’ is perfectly timed at just over four minutes, and is at once a look back on his career so far and a love letter to God, family, and his birthplace. He repeats the hook and title of the previous track ‘One Hell of a Song,’ musing that maybe this is what will be said about him at his eventual wake: “he could write a hell of a song.” At this point it’s an easy declaration to believe. Mike can indeed write a damn good song. Ten of them in fact.

There’s a cute ‘Thanks for listening’ track (Thank You) to mirror that first clip at the beginning of the album. Then we have six tracks remixed into dance-ready jams, every single one of them better than even the best song off “31 Minutes.” The Lucas Lowe remix of ‘Buried in Detroit’ has a solid verse by Big Sean (also from Detroit!) and ends up being one of the best songs on the record. Regardless of how you feel about Mike Posner’s music of the past this album is worth a listen. Look, can you think of another ‘acoustic pop’ album that got the 2 Chainz bump?FullSizeRender (4)

96.7 KISS FM Phone Tap Prank: Elvis Duran is a Fucking Hypocrite & Yes, Radio is Still Terrible

I just want to start off by saying, look, yes, I know that the radio is almost 100% awful, like, 98% of the time. I am aware of this. This past Friday though, I listened to something particularly disturbing. The station comes in for me as 96.7 KISS FM. Self-described as “Austin’s #1 Hit Music Station,” it contains a host of caricature-like DJs. I’d like to believe that the lot of them are just a troupe of actors doing gross parodies of disc jockeys, biding their time, seeing how long they can fool the general public before dropping the act and laughing at everyone for eating up whatever shit is served these days on the airwaves. If only, I guess.

The program was ‘Elvis Duran & The Morning Show,’ and I wasn’t unfamiliar with it, though I don’t listen to it frequently. It’s pretty awful radio. I’ve taken a 30 minute commute to work before, never leaving the station, and never hearing a lick of music. It was literally just four or five ‘personalities’ having god-awful conversation with those grating voices. Can “Austin’s #1 Hit Music Station” play me some god-damn T-Swift so I can get pumped for work today?! Or some old school Rihanna, or something. Hell, I’d rather listen to a whole Imagine Dragons album than sit through Duran and his goons cackle about downtown escapades gone awry. Whatever. I digress.

Prince’s ‘Batdance’ had just ended, which was the last track on album I was listening to, so I switched over to the radio for some classic American AM. 96.7 got my attention immediately because I couldn’t tell initially if I was listening to an advertisement or a recorded segment. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was tuned in to some crank call segment. Greg T, one of the on-air personalities was pretending to be a plumber. He was talking to a young woman who was interested in getting her toilet unclogged. It wouldn’t flush, and the water level was getting pretty high in the bowl; she was afraid of the water overflowing and flooding the bathroom, she explained. Greg T began to, in detail, go through all the ways he was going to “clean out her pipes” and “stick his snake in her can.” He boasted he could clean out all of her shit, “no pun intended” he drawled in some shitty, Brooklyn (I guess?) accent, suppressing a giggle.

This continued for a few minutes, and it was pretty hard to listen to. The girl quickly caught on to the double entendre, and started calling out Greg T for the creep that he was. He relented for a second, and I thought an apology or explanation was coming. Nope. Instead he started to go into detail about the special type of electrical ‘shocker’ tool he was going to use. The fingering reference went over the girls’ head, which I assumed delighted her husband (Named Chad, I believe. Go figure) who was listening on the other end. It wasn’t until she started cussing Greg out that he gave up the bit and informed her she was being cranked.

The husband’s sheepish admittance to being in on the prank wasn’t met with laughter though. His wife was obviously pissed and continued to yell at him, claiming that his prank wasn’t funny. And I agreed with her.

I realize that this isn’t a new bit. These crank calls are a recurring segment of the show, and scrolling through a list of past episodes, this isn’t the first overtly sexual one.

My question is, how is this okay?

This is harassment. This is catcalling over the phone. This was unsolicited sexual advances being broadcast nationwide. Nationally. Think about that. I don’t know if she had to give her permission for the piece to be broadcast; it does seem prerecorded. At one point I thought, ‘maybe the girl is in on it.’ Still though, would that make it okay? Let’s for a second say that she was completely on board, the woman was a voice actor and the bit was a plumber verbally assaulting her through sexual innuendo. It’s still not funny. It’s still has us laughing at the woman being mocked. Her ignorance and discomfort are the crux of the joke.

What is the punchline? “Oh, haha, I’m not a plumber!”

Yeah. We know. You’re just an asshole who makes gross comments to women on a nationally broadcasted program.

Elvis Duran has stated that his show is “a safe place for women.”* He admits that it is not a show “for women,” but he does claim that his show is a show where women win.

“Women never lose on our show,” he said in a 2014 interview with ABC’s Dan Harris.

If that crank call I listened to was not a women losing, (dignity, privacy, comfort) I shudder to think what Elvis Duran considers a loss.

*James, Chris; Effron, Lauren. “Elvis Duran, The Man Behind the Voice: Top 40 Radio Host Dishes on Famous Guests Who Have Been Rude, Wonderful”. ABC News. ABC Nightline. Retrieved 16 April 2015.

Bad Vibrations

Flash Shuffle Fiction 2: “Sabotage,”  The Beastie Boys, “Star Dust,” Aaron Neville, “Strong Badia Anthem,” Strong Bad f/Ms. Partsmatter’s 1st Grade Class, “Black Wave / Bad Vibrations,” Arcade Fire, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” The Beatles, “Walcott,” Vampire Weekend, “Idaho,” John Linnell, “Hey Bulldog,” The Beatles, “Dazed And Confused,” Led Zeppelin

It was a strange and muddled mixture, the mud beneath Rob’s feet. Surely most of it was the usual stuff: dirt, water, etc. But there were other things there, other things that should not have been there. While trudging toward the stage, pushing past stoners, hacky sack circles, mosh pits, and middle-aged couples in foldout lawn chairs, Rob’s eye caught several things beneath his feet: a condom wrapper (where was the condom?), a banana peel, a tampon, several beer cans, a deflated beach ball, a couple of baseball caps, bent, battered, and filthy beyond washing. The filth wouldn’t stop any of the hardcore concert goers here. Rob assumed all of these most things in mud would be recycled some how. Such is the way of MoonFest and most other large outdoor music festivals of this type. Rob would know. He use to be one of these assholes.

Bulldog was playing at the Apple stage and he knew he should have left the Screaming Grandchildren show, which was at the AT&T stage (on the other fucking side of festival grounds) earlier. It didn’t matter though, it seems he had reached the wall. The smoke circles and gently swaying potheads were far behind him now. Among the hardcore fans, Rob would have to throw a couple of elbows to get any closer to the stage. It didn’t seem worth it to him anymore. He started to notice the mist around him, which had been palpable for the past three days of the festival, start to thicken; large heavy water droplets began to fall sporadically into the audience. Just in case anyone was worried about the mud drying, Rob thought sardonically. The mass of people started to cheer and the wall in front of Rob began to undulate and pulse. Expanding backwards, people surged towards him, in a drunk meandering sort of way. It was all turning into one big, muddy, mosh.

Whatever, thought Rob. He could hear their shitty fake prog rock from a mile away. He didn’t need to be this close to write a review for some minor pop culture website. Especially for a flat fee of fifty bucks. “Fuck this,” Rob said, pushing his way to the west, the edge of the crowd. By the time he broke through, the rain coming down in buckets. The band hadn’t stopped playing though, which was odd, because normally bands do that in torrential downpour. Wishing the stage would just get struck by lighting already, Rob turned towards the nearest exit. The band was just getting into their second half, and for some reason sound and musical equipment here were water proof.

I’ll just give them a 7.1, thought Rob, eager to get back to his sterile hotel bed and free HBO. Maybe there would be some porn on tonight.