Liner Note 37: January 2014

Daron: Happy New Year everyone. This month went by really fast.

ctan: No kidding. For a while I thought maybe we’d get to Christmas 1989 right around when Christmas 2014 happened. But no.

Daron: We would have if Cray and I got along better and if Remo didn’t have a hurt paw. But I guess nothing’s ever that easy. In today’s liner note, some music to go along with the Japan travelogue, curious site stats, lesbian Russian punks, what else?

ctan: I should explain what’s coming up with Ziggy’s Diary.

Daron: Do that first.

ctan: Okay. I’ve owed you all a Ziggy background story for a while, ever since the voting months ago, and I’ve also wanted to give you a glimpse of what’s been going on with him since he left the country. So what you’ll be reading is his trip diary. Sometimes he writes about what’s happening in the present day, sometimes about his past, sometimes both. Because Zig makes a lot of short entries, I’m going to post four a week – – every day Monday-Thursday – – unless we go over the usual $50 bonus threshold, in which case I’ll add one Friday, too. Daron will take a short break until Ziggy’s posts are through.

Daron: I’ll be in the Bahamas. Drinking heavily.

ctan: Um.

Daron: I know. I shouldn’t even joke about that. What date is that going to start?

ctan: That depends how long it takes you to get to Australia.

Daron: Oh.

ctan: The artwork for the Ziggy section is a combination of two photographs. The one of the man mediating is copyright © Bowie15 at Dreamstime, while the handwriting is © Roman Pavlik.

Daron: Is it a total coincidence that the guy who took that photo uses “Bowie15” as his photography name?

ctan: Yes, it is. Meanwhile, Ziggy’s Diary will be bringing us up to, or very close to, a huge milestone. The 500th post!

Daron: Meanwhile aren’t we about to hit the 1000th tag on the site?

ctan: We just hit 999, yeah. Here’s a breakdown of the most often used ones:

115 Ziggy (plus 17 “ziggy ziggy ziggy”)
73 Jonathan
38 Digger
37 Bart (plus 8 “bart is a rock”)
37 Los Angeles (plus 10 “Hollywood”)
30 Christian (plus 5 “chris”)
29 Carynne
29 New York City (plus 5 “nyc”, 11 “still in new york city”)
26 Remo
20 Colin
20 music biz
19 Courtney
15 San Francisco
10 New Orleans
10 Chicago
10 New Jersey
9 Lacey
8 Allston (and 10 Boston)
7 Artie
7 Toronto
7 Mills
6 Michelle
6 Matthew
6 stupid stupid stupid
6 Cleveland
5 flashback
5 Providence
5 Madison Wisconsin

Daron: I really used stupid stupid stupid 6 times?

ctan: Are you surprised at how many, or how few?


ctan: Speaking of David Bowie, did you see the column by Trent Reznor about the new Bowie album? It’s on Hollywood Reporter.

Daron: No, I missed that! Interesting. “What I thought was conservative production now feels forward-thinking. Like any great album, it’s revealed itself to be something that wasn’t what I initially thought.. … [Bowie has] been a consistent reference point as somebody who is uncompromising. He has found an audience yet challenges that audience and continues moving forward in a fearless way.” I agree. At first I was like, oh, that’s a nice song, that’s a nice ditty… and then I realized I had put the album on repeat five or six times.

ctan: I feel like usually I have to hear and album five times minimum before I “get” it. This one was the opposite for me. From the very first listen to “The Next Day” I felt like I had heard it a million times. But I wanted to hear it a million times more. He’s never the same twice, which is part of his definition, but it felt familiar somehow.

Daron: Speaking of artists who challenge the world, I had to bring this up. Lesbian punk band trying to change the world—how could I not bring it up? Pussy Riot have been freed?

ctan: Yeah! Sounds like they went through hell in Putin’s gulag, though. Forced gynecological exams every day? (See: The Guardian. And the authorities basically snuck Masha out of jail in the middle of the night and left her at a train station with no money, nothing. Meanwhile her family and supporters were camped outside the gates of the prison waiting for her to be released. To put it mildly, that’s a dick move.

Daron: I… can’t even imagine. Way to make me feel like a pampered, overprivileged jerk. Oh, the documentary about them is nominated for an Oscar, too. See: New York Times. Trailer below.

ctan: From punk in Russia, I bring you heavy metal in Botswana. See: Messynessychic. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, the art of dressing like you’ve just stepped out of a Metallica concert is still very much alive. South African photographer Franck Marshall found the unlikely subculture in the Republic of Botswana, taking their heavy metal style of dress very seriously.”

Daron: This is the part that makes me blink: “While the renegades incorporate that aggressive side of metal into their look, “there’s a strong sense of camaraderie amongst them,” says Marshall, “They’ve got a very strong bond and friendship with each other.” Seen as role models in society and often followed by a trail of young children in awe, they’re seen as protectors of the community with a strong awareness of social responsibility.”

ctan: That’s the thing, though. That’s a lot like the bikers in the U.S. who protect abused kids. Bikers Against Child Abuse. I cried reading this article about the chapter in Arizona: AZ Republic.

Daron: If anyone ever needed to understand the value of nonconformity, maybe that’s it right there.

ctan: Speaking of nonconformists, Colin’s story has been the most visited post since it was posted. I think that means people are reading it more than once. It definitely means that the post attracts the most spam comments. For whatever reason it also attracts the funniest. One of them literally says “Thanks for sharіng your thoughts on debt management.” And another one: “Verу descriptive post, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?” Ha! Very descriptive indeed.

Daron: Another great one was promoting “Luxurious natural leather iPad lawsuits.”

ctan: Must be something about certain key words used in it. SEO LOL. My favorite is this one, which must be machine generated somehow: “Minimal kittens and cats is available in Couple of years of these Pet cats because of the Is the reason Stewart, Hamster Scuff A fever and nausea while Ted Nugent, Lots of Lovecats with the Conquered both Terrific created for Moggies with the help of Tug.” It must be a mashup of two things, or something!

Daron: So you know I love mashups when they’re done well. If you don’t know these two songs, take a listen first:

Fall Out Boy “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark”:

Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”

Now check out this mashup of the two on Soundcloud:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

ctan: I like it. I liked “Radioactive” to begin with. There’s a whole lot of “anthemic” going on these days in indie rock.

Daron: Yeah. Can’t say I mind. Okay, now it’s time for today’s amazing, unerappreciated guitarist. Today I have Billy McLaughlin, who plays “hammer style.” But you don’t really realize what that means if you haven’t see it done:

ctan: I think the people most people associate with that style is jazz player Stanley Jordan.

Daron: From Plainfield, New Jersey, I might add.

ctan: Okay, but wait, I just Googled Billy McLaughlin and holy shit, did you see what happened to him? He used to play hammer-style, but with his left hand like usual. But a neurological disorder called dystonia robbed him of the use of this left hand for playing… and he spent SIX YEARS re-training himself to play with the OTHER HAND. Video here: CBS News.

Daron: That… Wow. Again, I feel like I’m spoiled in comparison. My RSI isn’t nearly so bad. When I end up having to play all night to finish a soundtrack or something… I can just shove it in a hot bucket of epsom salts.

ctan: Quit comparing yourself to others. Internalized homophobia isn’t a piece of cake, and neither is being told by your record company that no one wants to hear your songs.

Daron: Yeah, yeah. I know. Okay, let’s wrap this up with some songs for my travelogue. Here are some of my recent world music faves:

  • The Yoshida Brothers:
    Two brothers, two shamisens. The shamisen is the banjo-like instrument I played in the shop on Guitar Street. First this one that is just a duet between them:
  • And here they rock out with the full band. This one the best part starts around 1:45:
  • Here’s another song, by a band called “Guitar.” I know, there you go. The song is “Ayako” on the album “Tokyo.” A bunch of traditional Japanese instruments on here, mixed with modern beats:
  • Um, and while I was looking for a video to show you the koto, I stumbled on this. I can’t explain why all these unbelievably beautiful boys are all in the same singing group. Do Japanese boy bands have more than five members?

    ctan: Are you sure they’re Japanese and not Korean?

    Daron: I have no idea. I admit to being out of my depth when it comes to any kind of Asian pop culture. For example, I really cannot explain the following video. You just have to watch it to believe it, a NSFW gameshow called Orgasm Wars:

    Poko x Tate – Orgasm wars: AV actor Sawai VS… by jimakutv

    ctan: That is really like something I’d invent for a story.

    Daron: I know. Okay two last songs featuring twangy stringed instruments that are not the guitar:

    Khalgi Stomp by Transglobal Underground

    Beauty Beats by Beats Antique (song takes a minute to get going)

    And one rendition of “Hare Krishna” — this one done by Jai Uttal, to give you an idea what the call and response chant of this kind is like. This one is a bit Westernized, but the idea is the same.

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    Comments 10

    1. daron wrote:

      Oh and by the way, it’s David Bowie’s birthday today. Happy birthday to you.


      Posted 08 Jan 2014 at 12:24 pm
    2. Connie wrote:

      Awesome liner note. And SOOOOO excited about the 4 (and maybe 5) postings per week.


      ctan Reply:

      Yeah, I’m looking forward to letting everyone overdose on Ziggy for a little while. :-)


      Posted 09 Jan 2014 at 9:54 am
    3. Nona wrote:

      I just stumbled on this. An 11 y.o. guitar prodigy seemed appropriate here.


      daron Reply:

      Oh that’s fun. I was deadpan like that a lot when I was his age, too. Didn’t really start to loosen up until, well, really when I moved to Boston.

      Wait, even better, I found another video which shows the whole intro with the kid challenging the band’s lead guitarist:


      daron Reply:

      Wait wait wait, what’s even more perfect? Is the band Steel Panther description from Wikipedia:
      “Steel Panther is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California mostly known for their profane and humorous lyrics as well as their exaggerated on-stage personae that reimagine and parody the heavy metal music and lifestyle of the 1980s.”

      It’s like metal is so… over the top, the only way to appreciate it with any brain cells remaining is to parody it while being it at the same time. It’s Spinal Tap come to life, with a touch of the movie Rock Star, too. (Recommended, btw.)


      Posted 09 Jan 2014 at 2:38 pm
    4. Alan Arthur Katz wrote:

      You’ve got a broken link.
      I tried to get to the Arizona BACA story, but I got a “file not found” error, as the browser was looking for it on this site, not on its own.

      For anyone who wants to read this story (and it’s profoundly moving!), try this link instead of the one in the article:


      ctan Reply:

      Thanks for pointing it out, Alan! The quotation marks got munged (stupid word processor suddenly decided to add “smart” quotes to everything, which of course breaks HTML…)


      Posted 10 Jan 2014 at 4:17 pm
    5. Joe wrote:

      Great liner notes, as per usual. Heard about BACA a couple of years ago — they are seriously cool. I’d like to get a bike when I retire and just do shit like that (though I’m sure I wouldn’t intimidate anyone).

      re: Billy McLaughlin & “hammer style” — see, that makes sense to me. This whole thing with chords and whatever else, that seems unnatural. But this hammer style thing, that makes sense, it seems like a more intuitive way of playing an instrument. Not to slight you and your work or anything, D.

      I really liked the two Yoshida Brothers videos. The duet was pretty cool, then to hear it again with more modern instruments was nice, and seemed to fit right in.


      Posted 11 Jan 2014 at 11:23 am
    6. Joe wrote:

      re: Orgasm Wars — for real? That was…seriously Japanese bizarro shit.


      daron Reply:

      The show is real. I don’t know if it’s like American “reality tv” where they manipulate the outcomes but… Wow. I didn’t expect there would be so much trash talking. You can’t even call it trash talking when they are being so polite about it, I guess. But you know what I mean. Talk about unbelievable awkward and uncomfortable situations… but I guess that’s what it’s all about.


      Posted 11 Jan 2014 at 11:26 am
    7. Joe wrote:

      Here’s a taste of Shivkumar Sharma (Santoor) and Zakir Hussain (Tabla) in Japan in the late 80’s (you can tell by Kair’s hair).

      They play for a little and then stop to give instrumental lessons, which is in and of itself interesting.


      ctan Reply:

      One of the most incredible concerts I ever saw was Zakir Hussain and Rahul Sharma (on santoor). Rahul is Shivkumar’s son, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s incredibly handsome and the santoor is one of the most inherently beautiful instruments to listen to, but then the connection between the two musicians… it gives me goosebumps just remembering it. Now I try not to miss Zakir Hussain whenever he comes through Boston no matter who he is touring with at the time. Sometimes it’s just him and one other musician like this, other times he has the whole Masters of Indian Percussion with him. Amazing amazing music.


      Joe Reply:

      Wow, he is a looker! And talented, too.


      daron Reply:

      Wait. And coincidence that this concert you linked is in TOKYO in 1988? Everything is everything.


      Posted 11 Jan 2014 at 11:45 am
    8. cayra wrote:

      Yeeep, SuperJuniors are from Korea, land of giant boy bands. Their japanese equivalent would be the groups under Johnnys Entertainment, like Arashi.

      I love the Yoshida brothers, they are amazing.
      That reminds me, since Daron is in Japan now, I wanted to throw lots of japanese music at you. Because that is where 50% of my music tastes lie.
      One band that mixed punk rock and traditional japanese music, prayer chants etc beautifully was Quaff (sadly disbanded in 2010). Their only MV can be found here: They even did a mini US tour a few years back, playing at literal hole-in-the-wall clubs.

      One of the oldest still active iconic bands of japanese rock (aside from X Japan), is Buck-Tick (founded ’86). They’re slightly goth-y, but not Visual Kei yet.
      Their bandleader also has a RAMMSTEIN tribute band called Schwein (german for pig).

      Abingdon Boys School are comparatively new, though their lead singer has been doing electronic and rock under the name T.M.Revolution since ’96. ( )
      I love them for great instrumentalisation and of course Takanori’s incredible voice.
      I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live and they bowled me over.
      Bonus: ABS covering Buck-Tick with the original singer joining in.

      For a more mellow sound, I can recommend Suneohair, a former indie band.

      Another disbanded group working with traditional instruments was Rin’.

      On a only vaguely related note, 2cellos, the awesome rock cellists, have made it big in Japan, too, and wrote a very nice theme song for a japanese mobile phone commercial.


      ctan Reply:

      Woo, thanks for the links! Though at first WordPress thought the comment must be spam and held it. Fortunately I caught it and approved it. :-)


      cayra Reply:

      I did two follow-up replies with more stuff, too. I think they’re still pending.


      ctan Reply:

      Hm, I don’t see them in the pending queue, and they weren’t in the comments that were marked as spam, either…


      daron Reply:

      Speaking of the 2 Cellos, it’s nice to see they’re just as much dorks as the rest of us musical geniuses.


      cayra Reply:

      Hahaha, yes. Stuff like that alway makes me happy.


      Posted 16 Jan 2014 at 3:31 pm
    9. cayra wrote:

      XD Ok seems like I was’nt done.
      More Nana Mizuki, who is a great voice actress and singer, and sings pretty much everything from rock over sparkly anime pop too traditional enka.

      Another group of awesome ladies are Kalafine (under the patronage of Yuki Kaijiura and and offshot of her Fiction Junction project), who do modern fusions of classic, pop and rock. Classically trained voices and a rock orchestra backing them.


      Posted 16 Jan 2014 at 3:57 pm
    10. cayra wrote:

      And then there is Shikao Suga, who sounds completely different from his albums when live.
      I like him better live.


      Posted 16 Jan 2014 at 4:19 pm

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