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alla pugacheva

Best-selling music artists of all time. The list starts out normally enough (The Beatles, Elvis, Abba, Led Zeppelin). But at No. 5 comes…Alla Pugacheva?
Alla was/is apparently the biggest pop star in Russian history. Although it’s rarely a good thing to have this in your bio: “Although hugely popular in Russia and other former Soviet republics among older generations, she is also widely disliked by many, not least for the amount of airtime given to her by the Federal channels and the continual gossip about her life in popular tabloids. For many she epitomizes the stale, repetitive, state-endorsed pop-culture fed to the population through the media.”
Or: “Pugacheva is also credited (and blamed too) for helping many young and unknown artists to rise to fame. Although most of them have become pop stars of often dubious talents, some of them later became such rock legends as Slava Butusov of Nautilus Pompilius.”
Of note is the fact she was named the “National Artist of the Soviet Union” in 1991, which of course led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union later that year.
And this priceless line, which actually makes me applaud her cheekiness: “While never directly opposing the Soviet regime, her outspoken and unrestrained manner of behaviour, such as saying ‘Cheer up! Ho Chi Minh may be dead, but I’m still alive!’ at a concert held on the day of Ho Chi Minh’s death, would have constituted grounds for regulatory action or even arrest.”

in my cd changer

One of the nice things about my new car is the six-CD changer. So — you guessed it! — it’s time for the first installment of “What’s in Josh’s CD changer?”
Disc 1: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Yeah, they’re kinda overly hyped — in the sense that any band 99.9% of America has never heard of can be said to be “overly hyped” — but they’re also really good. Lots of Talking Heads, a smidge of Smiths.
By the way, that last link starts to get into the strange, overwhelming (although largely healthy) influence Pitchfork has on contemporary indie music. Saved somewhere on this site is a never-published, 1,500-word-plus post on the subject. It was prompted by this post on someone else’s blog (6/14 entry), which I thought was really smart. Unlike my post, which got so damned muddled it’s best left in the vapor of crabwalk’s unpublished archives.
Disc 2: Various artists, Samba Soul 70! From the very reliable Ziriguiboom label, this is a compilation of Brazilian black-power music from the late ’60s and early ’70s. “Samba was in search of new forms, claiming more space for the electric guitar and incorporating the beat on the first tempo and harmonies from the blues. People like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, O.C. Smith and the whole Motown cast were extremely popular. Samba soul aggregated the most diverse styles of funk and R&B.”
Disc 3: Various artists, The Funky 16 Corners. In the people-I’d-like-to-be category falls Egon, a skinny white kid from Connecticut who reinvented himself as perhaps our fine nation’s top funk archivist. (He also runs Stones Throw, which as any careful reader knows is one of my very favorite record labels.)
This compilation is the result of Egon and fellow white-guy-turned-funkateer Peanut Butter Wolf roaming the country for two weeks, trying to unearth 7-inches from old regional funk bands from the early 1970s. (The liner notes point out that Wolf insisted on bowling in every city they stopped in.) The result is some awesome damn funk.
One clear highlight is the strange self-help spoken-word funk of Co Real Artists. Of note to Dallasites is the Soul Seven track (a band based at Bishop College, where Paul Quinn College is today). And cratediggers will love the song by the Kashmere Stage Band, the legendary band at Houston’s Kashmere High. (Kashmere is the source of parts of “Schoolhouse Funk,” the DJ Shadow-produced compilation of funky ’70s high school marching bands.)
Disc 4: Luna, Rendezvous. Luna’s had a place in my heart since about 1997 (“Pup Tent”). Their last few records were hit-and-miss; they sounded kinda lazy. Which is why I was surprised their final album, “Rendezvous,” was so invigorating. It’s really a step back up in quality — up there with their classics, largely because they shifted back from aping the Velvet Underground’s fourth album to aping the Velvet Underground’s third album.
And the two songs from guitarist Sean Eden are really good too. I always thought that, when I finally started my indie rock band, I’d want to play guitar like Sean Eden.
Disc 5: The Long Winters, When I Pretend To Fall. For some reason, I associate this band with Columbus, Ohio — in particular, the Applebee’s next to the Red Roof Inn, on Olentangy River Road. I used to stay at that Red Roof when I lived in Toledo and had to go cover some story at the capitol, circa 1998. I remember the Applebee’s had cute Ohio-State-coed waitresses, and I remember the Red Roof Inn never had shampoo in its rooms. B.Y.O.Shampoo, I guess. I don’t know if that’s a chain-wide policy, but I always thought it was a bit shortsighted, because I never stay at Red Roofs any more because of it.
Of course, it’s absurd that I think of Columbus circa 1998 when I think of the Long Winters, since their first album didn’t come out until 2002. And I hadn’t heard of John Roderick’s previous band, the Western State Hurricanes, until circa 2000. It’s weird.
Wait a minute, I figured it out. I was listening to a ton of Harvey Danger when I was in Columbus. And Harvey Danger’s lead singer, Sean Nelson, was keyboardist in the Long Winters for a while. It all makes sense.
Anyway, both Long Winters albums are good. Their new one is due out early next year, with an EP coming this fall, allegedly. If their post-Sean sound is anything like the show I saw of theirs last year, it’ll be more guitar-y.
Disc 6: Radiohead, OK Computer. Hadn’t listened to it in years until Spin’s rankings called it the best album of the last two decades. (I have fond memories of June 1997, particularly the two weeks after college graduation and before my first job started. Lounging around Seattle with then-girlfriend Fiona, watching “Law & Order” reruns on A&E all day — and seeing the “Paranoid Android” video over and over again on MTV. Man, those were good times — all optimism and possibility, nary a responsibility in the world.) The album’s held up nicely, I think; the first half in particular.

jb moving

If my eyes look droopy today, it’s because I spent the weekend moving. Jesus H., I had no idea I had so much stuff. Thankfully, there’s less of it than there used to be, since I’ve been trimming — sold about 150 books to Half Price, threw out 500-plus magazines, tossed about 400 old newspapers, and preparing to throw out countless clothes. (I still have clothes in my closet I haven’t worn since high school.)
My new address is on the Contact page, if you need it. Not too far from my old place.
Finally, a deal for all readers!
Two items — my living room couch and my upstairs desk — could not make it into the apartment, despite valient efforts from the movers. I thus have no use for them. Either is free for the taking for any reader who can cart them away. Just drop me a line or give me a call. Anyone who’s been to my place can vouch for the fact my couch is extremely comfy.

beyonce loves cajuns

Destiny’s Child singer Beyonce Knowles is reportedly recording an album of Cajun music, after falling in love with France while shooting her new movie Pink Panther there. However, instead of recording it in a traditional French style, she has decided to use the Cajun style developed by French settlers in New Orleans.”
I have no indications this is a joke. And if it’s true, I can say, completely irony-free, that it’s awesome.
My secret plan for small-scale rock stardom is to merge Cajun music with indie rock. I’m telling you, it could be huge.