The following queries were posted to me at my e-mail account ( during the last week.

Do you like Tindersticks?

Sometimes, although their one idea got tiresome after several identical albums. How much faux tormented pathos does one man need? I'm being harsh, however. I liked their lush, orchestrated Nick Cave-esque melodrama fine when they started, and if you leave a couple of years gap between their shows, then their world-weary cabaret soul is great... moving, even. I'm a sucker for a deep voice, for Lee Hazlewood. I'm a sucker for strings, properly used, and a trumpet. Orchestrated pop! Let's have more of it. But I was over-exposed to them for a while, and am still recovering.

Why don't you write about more local stuff?

I'm only human. I want to enjoy myself when I venture out. Take the Rapture, for example. (Please.) How did Adam Sandler's backing band escape from The Wedding Singer? Tip for new bands: don't start your set with a damn cover, instantly showing off your main influence (in this case, Gang of Four's "At Home He's a Tourist"). Of course it'll be your strongest song... you didn't bloody write it!

How was Sleater-Kinney?

Sleater-Kinney were great, but not at the RKCNDY show. I mean, they could have been, but seeing as how I wasn't present (instead being at a late Stranger staff Christmas Party, shaking my head over the DJ's ridiculous choice of jazz fusion), I can't comment. They were great at DV8, though, when they secretly opened for the Ex and Fugazi--so secretly that the place was only a quarter full. Janet Weiss was so awesome on the drums, so fluid and powerful. I was right at the front, tapping a leg or three and lapping up the band's expressions. Carrie gave me a beatific smile when she spotted me... (yes, I can still name-drop!).

The Ex were awesome, too--I saw almost all their set, despite Lois busting me for talking--especially when the drummer started banging her pot lids together. The Dutch combo played angular, wired, sharply explosive, funny punk, which almost sounded like techno in places. They featured a couple of former Dog-Faced Hermans, and banged their butts constantly together on stage. (You know the Dog-Faced Hermans' first couple of releases came out on my old label Calculus in the mid-'80s?) Fugazi were fine, but I admire them more than I like them, know what I mean?

And hey! You know what? I've already tracked down two LPs by that guy you recommended to me, Emitt Rhodes, for 99¢ each, courtesy of Second Time Around in the U-District. I almost always act on recommendations, as long as I feel they're genuine, because it's so rare I get them. He's like an early '70s post-Beatles singer/songwriter in the mold of Nilsson, right? I liked the one I played, but because it was so late I played it very softly. Give me more volume, and then I will judge....

How can you say The Raincoats were in the same league as the Monochrome Set?

How can you say the Monochrome Set had even a tenth of the soul of the Raincoats? English art school pseuds with one decent tune ("He's Frank") between them. Although I can see why hearing the Monochrome Set would've sounded fresh to you if you grew up on a diet of Captain Beefheart and Gram Parsons. They were two acts I only discovered second-hand, being fortunate enough--or unfortunate enough, depending on your perspective--to have started listening to pop music in '77. Punk was my Year Zero, literally. I really did believe all that rubbish spouted about how there was no good music before (which maybe is just the vanity of youth, but whatever). Living in the U.K., bands like the Monochrome Set who espoused their Englishness were not a novelty, but the norm.

Courtney's problem with Olympia is this: she perceives its musicians to be "hip" and so aspires--or doesn't aspire, whatever--to being part of their "scene." Not me. This is the music I grew up loving (see also, early Rough Trade records), and have continued to love whether it's in fashion or not. What is unfortunate is that because I have a forceful personality many people consider what I like to be automatically hip, often disregarding plentiful evidence to the contrary.

Do you have any wit or is it all just sarcastic remains of past teenage angst?

Not a bad question. I personally feel I have no wit or opinions at all--the only people who claim either for me are those who don't know me. Those who do, know better.

What's your favorite record right now?

I'm currently listening to the best goddamn hiphop album I've heard in a very long while--the Roots. It's so intelligent, soulful, articulate. (You can just picture this one picking up five Grammys. Yeah, right!) It kinda leaves me with a minor crisis because in two days time they play Seattle, same night as Hole and Marilyn Manson--and I don't want to miss them, but kinda feel like I should see Hole. Oh jeez!


1. THE ROOTS "The Return to Innocence Lost" (from the MCA CD Things Fall Apart) Compelling tale of inner-city violence sung/spoken in female voice, all the more chilling for its sweet sorrowfulness. Awesome album, too.

2. JOE JACKSON "Fools in Love" (from the A&M LP Look Sharp) Joe at his most twisted and heroically bitter: "Fools in love/They think they're heroes/Just because they get to feel more pain...." New Wave began and ended with Mr. Jackson's spotted tie.

3. THE MICROPHONES "Spy Cameras" (from the Elsinor CD Tests) Forget Belle & Sebastian, already. This is so sweet, shy, and soulful. Dub, like dub has always been played by Marine Girls fans.

4. CREATION "Making Time" (from the London Original Soundtrack for Rushmore) Angular, sharp, mod. From the film based 'round Jamie Hook's school days. At last! A decent soundtrack!!

5. MANIC STREET PREACHERS "If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will be Next" (from the import Epic CD This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours) A "Town Called Malice" for the late '90s--ask an old person.

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