Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck I’ve suffered from Nirvana fatigue for at least a decade, so I never expected to like—or even watch—this new documentary on the life of Kurt Cobain. I gave it a shot after realizing it was the work of Brett Morgen, who codirected The Kid Stays in the Picture; he avoids hagiography and makes Nirvana’s rise feel improbable instead of inevitable.
Dennis Larsson, History of Damage I became mildly obsessed with this record more than a year ago, after I fell down an Internet rabbit hole that led me to an old WFMU playlist stream featuring Larsson’s chipper, demented folk-pop jam “Holly.” Larsson self-financed and self-released this charming, oddball pop-rock record in 1980—it didn’t get much love in its time or in Larsson’s hometown of Minot, North Dakota. Earlier this year, my fixation on “Holly” drove me to find History of Damage‘s producer, who helped fill in some of the blanks about the record; I also spent an irresponsible amount of money on a copy of the LP, and I have no regrets.
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell For the first week I had Sufjan’s new record, I wound up wiping tears from my eyes every time I listened to it—and I listened to Carrie & Lowell a lot. For a couple weeks, even thinking about the harrowing “Fourth of July” would start the waterworks. I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time with a Sufjan album.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Arvo Zylo, noise musician, leader of Blood Rhythms, founder of No Part of It
Coil Coil’s 20-year career weaves a magnificent web of carefully sculpted, occult-infused experimental electronic music. I’ve read everything in their Web archive, which at one point hadn’t changed since 2010. In November, I loaded it to see an update about two new art books—it was like witnessing an eclipse. One of the books, from Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, includes his photos of the Sex Pistols, COUM Transmissions (pre-Throbbing Gristle), schoolyard brawls, and staged death scenes. They painted their windows black. My kinda guys.
Lux & Ivy’s Favorites The Cramps have a huge legacy as record collectors, and fans have dug up songs the band mentioned in interviews for the 17 volumes of these Favorites comps, which overflow with oddball bravado. Cramps interviews tended to treat self-promotion as an afterthought—you’d be more likely to hear how Poison Ivy would lose her mind as a kid anytime someone put the Ran-Dells’ “Martian Hop” on the turntable. My copy of the Musical Linn Twins’ 1958 single “Rockin’ Out the Blues” does that too.
Taki Pantos About five years ago, I saw this charming man perform to a modest crowd at Simon’s. Once a month, Taki Pantos (pronounced “tie-key”) left his nursing home to play haunting, Gypsy-flavored 60s-style tunes on accordion, singing in a childlike, creaky, unassuming voice. Recently I went to Simon’s to find his CD-R, and I’m left with the imprint of what I call Midnight Cowboy Death Valley Sunshine Pop. RIP, Taki.
Arvo is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Sarah Moskowitz, DJ at WZRD 88.3 FM
Yannick Dauby I grew up in a place where the loudest noises at night came from crickets, frogs, foxes, our old farmhouse settling, and my own breathing—all combining to create a piece of musique concrete way too fascinating and terrifying for sleep. It was an apt primer for the work of Taiwan-based French electroacoustic composer Yannick Dauby, who weaves field recordings into electronic environments. The result is often dark, but it’s softened by the appearance of a treefrog’s call or a bird’s. Maybe Herzog was right and they’re only the sounds of creatures crying out in pain, but to my ears, reduced again to an eight-year-old’s, they’re like greetings from old friends.
Danielle Dax Danielle Dax is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist from the UK who was most active (musically at least) in the 1980s. Listen to one of her albums (recently I’ve been enjoying Pop-Eyes and Dark Adapted Eye) and ruminate on the fact that she’s playing most everything you can hear. Experimental music for pop fans, pop music for experimental fans . . . who gives a shit; either way it’s wonderful.
Bo Diddley, The Black Gladiator When my buddy RT showed me the cover of this 1970 LP, I thought it had to be a joke. Bo Diddley in full S&M leather-man glory and coke-bottle glasses? But what fun this album is! Suddenly I’m singing and dancing along to songs called “Shut Up, Woman” and “If the Bible’s Right.” Put it on when you need to please a crowd.