Today's blog is a little all over the place but I have a lot of random thoughts, and a few opinions, and I need to put them somewhere, and that's why I started a blog. Anyway, call this another edition of SCINTILLATING MUSICAL MOMENTS MEGAMIX.

Getting older is humbling

I gave up drinking for Lent for the second year in a row. I'm a (very glamorous) lapsed Catholic, but giving up something for 40 days still feels right to me. It's enough time to ponder some stuff. Of course, if you make it all the way to Easter, Lent is technically 46 days, but I thought 40 was good enough for my designs.

blogger and known martini lover Molly O'Brien

Last night I wanted to break my Lenten teetotaling with a single dirty martini. Most of my walking-distance neighborhood options aren't really in martini mode, but there's a nearby place that mixes a decent-enough cocktail, and has a live stage that often hosts tasteful jazz or lively Latin music. When we rolled up to the watering hole, loud music was emanating all the way down the street, but it wasn't jazz or Latin. It was GRUNGE. Grunge, veering into honest to goodness butt rock. "The people playing this are either going to be 20 years old, or 50 years old," I murmured to my husband as we approached.

It was 20-year-olds! Playing for a packed crowd of other youths. It sounded like Stone Temple Pilots in there. "Is there a cover?" we asked the bouncer. "12 dollars," he said, "but it's an open bar. Well drinks and beer." I gazed into the middle distance as my night morphed from 2011 Mad Men viewing party vibes to a rowdy grunge night, tossing back rum and cokes with second-semester seniors was tempting...the Goddess of Mess crooked a manicured finger...the price was certainly right...but in the end, I couldn't hack it. Part of getting older is realizing when the proposed night is going to do you more harm than good. Ugh!!

A kick-ass EP by Tonsil Hockey

Vi Viana, who did a Three Music Thingz for this very blog, fronts her own band—the catharsis-chasing indie-punk group Gutless. But she also plays keyboards in Tonsil Hockey, a Brooklyn band fronted by Veronica Prudence, that's more in the tradition of jangle-pop / fuzz-rock. (They contributed a cover of "Game of Pricks" to last year's Guided By Voices tribute compilation released by Rusted Gear Records, if that helps ya get a sense of their aura.)

The T4T Olympics, by Tonsil Hockey
5 track album

Tonsil Hockey just put out an EP last week that I love. It is called The T4T Olympics. Per the press release, it "explores isolation, relationships, and personal growth from a trans woman’s perspective"; the liner notes underscore a theme of "becoming comfortable enough with yourself in order to feel comfortable enough to let others in." It's five songs, all bangers. The tones? Deliciously scuzzy. The pace? Vigorously boppy. The 'tude? Raggedly resolute. Each song sounds road-tested and U.S. News & World Report-certified to absolutely rip live.

My favorite song is closer "Poppers Sommelier" and I'm not just saying that because it's called "Poppers Sommelier." "I'm not saying everything is going perfectly but / I might have finally decided that I'm worth it," Veronica sings at the outset, and then we're off to the races, building up steam 'til the boisterous, hard-charging outro—takes us over the finish line. Now that's what I call Rock Music.

Camila....dare I say...I luv it???

Fifth Harmony alumnae Camila Cabello is in a transitional mode. Her biggest hits were 2017's midtempo Latin pop song "Havana," and 2019's midtempo Latin pop song "Señorita," which also featured her ex-boyfriend Shawn Mendes, who is NOT Marshmello.

Now, Camila appears to be tired of releasing midtempo Latin pop songs. Like the queen of England, she's entering a new phase. She's been teasing a single called "I LUV IT" for a while, and based on its short musical snippet and the aesthetics around the video clip—digital camcorder, stringy bleached-blonde hair, hyperpop tempo—a lot of non-stans scoffed at the new vibe. Is she ripping off Charli XCX? Moreover, can you really get mad at someone for ripping off Charli XCX when Charli XCX is always distancing herself from her own prior releases?

Anyway, "I LUV IT" is out, and I'm...not mad at it? I kind of like it?? Maybe I even luv it? Camila, what have you done?! The chorus, with its repeated-to-the-point-of-irritation vocals, drill-esque drums, and Gucci Mane "Lemonade" sample, is the most interesting thing about it. God, I loved "Lemonade" in college. I loved the imperious way Gucci introduced himself at the beginning, which sounded vaguely Italian to me: S'GUCCI!

The video, to its credit, features several bits of imagery that genuinely tickled me. In one scene, Camila hugs the top of a palm tree like a stubborn cat as a police officer attempts to chop the tree down. In another, she pulls up to a gas pump and holds out a plastic cup to the station attendant, who fills it with gas that she then drinks. Drinking gasoline! That's funny! Charli XCX has a million songs about cars and driving at this point but I don't think she has ever thought of guzzling gas like a damn Hummer. Excuse me—drinking petrol.

The song wraps with a verse from Playboi Carti that convinced me that Playboi Carti is a rapper, but he's also a sort of human synthesizer, with a proprietary tone and frequency. I can't really describe it, you just have to hear it for yourself.

Ode 2 the Cramps

I need to shout out the all-around excellent dude Casey Hopkins on the blog for a second. I first encountered Casey when he played guitar for the sadly defunct but incredible, rip-roaring rock 'n' roll NYC band The Advertisers. We once saw a show of theirs at the rowdy Bushwick bar Carmelo's, which I think was sponsored by a mezcal company, and there was an astonishing amount of mezcal flying around, and I remember thinking 1) pouring mezcal into the audience is some real old school rock star shit 2) wow this liquid is smoky as hell.

Casey is also a stone-cold fan of and expert on The Cramps, those psychobilly progenitors who have very likely influenced a band that has influenced a band you like, if ya know what I mean. Casey came on my podcast back in 2019 to talk about the book Journey to the Centre of The Cramps and thanks to his enthusiasm, I found a true hero in Poison Ivy Rorschach.

Now Casey has been making video essays about music and wrestling on the YouTube channel Trash Media, and his tribute to The Cramps, and to Poison Ivy in particular, is definitely worth a watch. It's the rare YouTube vid where the comments are nothing but positive. Sample: "I am 55 and the Cramps have been with me since I was 17. I am so thankful that someone out there gets them."

Poison Ivy is responsible for one of my favorite quotes of all time, about the revitalizing potency of rock music:

"There’s a myth that rock’n’ roll destroys and has to burn up those who use it. But I think it’s a myth perpetuated by non-rock’n’roll demon forces. The opposite is true. There’s life-force energies in the atmosphere you can tap into. It’s nothing that comes from us, it goes through us — we don’t own it.”

Hmm, maybe I should have gone to that grunge open bar after all...something to consider...

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