By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Over the past few years this mysterious little record label out of Portland, Oregon, has been releasing LP-only collections of beautiful early and mid–20th century American music, each 12-inch object crafted like a collection of classic short stories or a folio. The best, and most essential, is a record, first issued in limited edition in 2007 and reissued in a 1,000-press run this year, featuring a cover in stark black and white and looking like an early 1980s hardcore compilation. In big bold letters across the top: “I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE,” underneath it a cutout of a woman playing a guitar next to a grove of mod arrows. Seven songs on each side feature music from the nooks of the American immigrant experience from 1927 to 1948, when first-generation Americans, violins, guitars and snare drums in hand, streamed into the country and, eventually, into neighborhood recording studios. Mississippi Records also issued the expertly titled collection of mid-century gospel called Life Is a Problem, and last month released a second volume of blistering spiritual R&B called Fight On, Your Time Ain’t Long.
Buddha Machine 2
For insomniacs, the Buddha 2 is something to cuddle up to like a teddy bear, a little plastic box the size of a transistor radio with a button on one side, two dials on another, a circular speaker on one of the broad sides, that offers promise of sweet relief. Turn it on and a drone comes out, a soft, soothing hum that runs in a lubricated eight-second loop. You’ve probably seen a Buddha Box before; they’ve been around for a few years. But the second version of this Japanese-born device issued this year is even better than the first, with a few simple innovations that make the experience of droning out or meditating even more, er, meditative. First: Pitch control lets you adjust the pitch of each loop (obviously). Second: A few weirder loops, less yoga savasanah, more John Cage tonalism, appear among the nine. But still, the same soothing effect. Curl it close to your body during restless nights, cup it next to your ear, buuunnnngggg, buuuuunngggg, buuuunnnnnngggg, and let your thoughts drift away like feathers down the bottomless well of something or other.
Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, by Carl Wilson
Carl Wilson, ace music writer for the Toronto Globe & Mail, tackles taste at its basest level: in the work of Celine Dion. Through careful ponderings, fan interviews, historical research, Canadian intuition and thoughtful, expert prose, Wilson struggles to understand the hows and whys of the Quebecois Queen, one of the most polarizing global cultural figures of the past decade, a woman whose appeal cuts across cultures and classes to approach a kind of fame seldom seen, and yet who is nearly universally despised among the critical elite. In terms of staring into the belly of the beast and finding peace and joy within — or at least tolerant understanding — this book stands alongside such classic aesthetic/cultural examinations as Dave Hickey’s treatise Liberace: A Rhinestone as Big as the Ritz, and David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. A perfect little book about a “perfect” singer.
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