A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Philip Montoro, Reader music editor
Early Bauhaus Last month at Rockefeller Chapel, Bauhaus founders Peter Murphy and David J played the band’s 1980 debut LP, In the Flat Field, which is almost as great as 1982’s The Sky’s Gone Out. This could be creeping fogeyism talking, but I miss when goth music was histrionic, grotesque, campy, and bonkers.
Barkmarket My favorite 90s power trio split in ’97 after three albums (five if you count early nontrio lineups), and each one wrapped its insidious rock hooks in ugly noise, perverse arrangements, and prickly, often blackly funny lyrics—a layer of off-putting avant-garde fuckery that made it seem like they were daring you to love their songs. Guitarist and front man Dave Sardy, who produced most of the band’s output, has since worked with System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, and Oasis, and his soon-to-be-expensive expertise made every Barkmarket record sound more beautifully, elaborately gnarly than the one before.
Mabel Kwan performing two of Georg Friedrich Haas’s Trois Hommages In February at the Frequency Festival, Chicago pianist Mabel Kwan played Haas’s early-80s homages to György Ligeti and Steve Reich. The pieces consist of simple, rapidly repeated figures, shifting slowly in pitch and shape, played in sync on two pianos tuned a quarter step apart. This dense, steady barrage of notes at microtonal intervals produces an expansive halo of overtones and psychoacoustic effects—I sometimes heard disembodied choral voices or even a third piano that seemed to be floating invisibly near the ceiling.
Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Keith Herzik, poster artist and guitarist in Wet Wallet
The Gerogerigegege My favorite letter is “G.” Japanese band the Gerogerigegege released an EP in 1993 titled Yellow Trash Bazooka featuring a call and response between someone reciting from a list of words beginning with the seventh letter of the alphabet (many of which are deviant in nature) and bursts of screaming noise introduced by a Joey Ramone-style “One-two-three-four!” “Gadget,” “Go commando,” “Gräfenberg spot,” “Greek culture,” and the giggling after “Go straight” make me crave more than the 13 minutes I found on YouTube.
Alien Sex Fiend UK freaks Alien Sex Fiend always give me a great trip. A shirtless maniac screaming silliness while his rad wife makes crazy gothic-horror death rock with buzz-saw rockabilly guitars, drum machines, and sci-fi movie samples is the peak of modern music by my standards. In high shool decades ago I was turned on, and now I am indeed living in a “Nightmare Zone”! Overall I can’t pick a favorite cut, but my cassette of the 1988 album Another Planet has been the soundtrack for many long showers.
The end credits music of The Jeffersons This TV show’s closing theme mellows me out, man. Singing along with the amazing Ja’Net DuBois at the show’s beginning is uplifting, but for me the soothing humming and tender piano of the ending give me my personal mantra—when I hear “The Jeffersons was recorded on tape in front of a studio audience,” I usually return close to my baseline coolness. Hmm mmm mmm. . . . Mmm hmmyeahh. . . .
Keith is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Gina Herzik, bassist and singer in Wet Wallet
Pledge Drive The first time I saw this Chicago band, the guitarist pulled out a Flying V, and I thought, “Whoa! This is gonna be great!” Almost all their songs tell relatable stories—about having only one nice shirt to wear, or not having enough money for a $5 Hamm’s. Several allude to professional wrestling, and “Empire” reminds me of Weird Al’s “Mr. Popeil,” with words lifted from the Empire Carpet commercial: “Free Michael Jordan basketball!” “Halloween deals so good, they’re scary!” They’re so much fun!
Talent shows on sitcoms In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, no matter how much TV neighbors, kids, parents, and school faculty hated one another, they could always organize a talent show or concert where they’d all perform together. And there was always an emcee and a packed house! This seemed to happen often on Good Times, and someone was guaranteed to impersonate Wolfman Jack. I wonder how many kids of my generation thought throwing a talent show was part of adulthood.
Sammy Hagar Ever since I was old enough to pick the radio station, Sammy Hagar has been a presence. The first song where I remember my brother and me changing the words to make it funnier was “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy”—we probably did something like “Your Gloves Are Making Me Lazy.” I started following Sammy on Instagram after seeing him in the crowd on a PBS awards show, singing along to a Neil Diamond performance. His feed is mostly sweet pics of two or three generations of his family on vacation, doing shots. v