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Columns > Andy Miller - Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique

Published: 2007/05/23
by Andrew Miller

Summer Soundtrack

Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a coffee shop when a Minnesota State Trooper walked in, ordered a cup of joe and sat down next to me.
Peeking over my sports section, I spied that he was without the usual props that accompany most folks when they sit in coffee shops- a newspaper, laptop, Blackberry, whatever. He kept sighing as if to let everyone know that he was available for small talk, if anyone was interested.
Since most of my conversations with State Troopers consist of clichsuch as, Ive only had two, officer, I dont know who that is, maybe the keyboardists girlfriend left that in here, or my favorite, Ya know, I just heard from a couple of Jacksons that you might have turned a blind eye a couple of minutes ago, I put down the paper and started chatting away.
After the usual stuff about the weather and the eventual certainty of the Vikings winning a Super Bowl (this is the year, bet the farm on it), I said: Tell me something I dont know about your job. Im sure youve seen a few things from a unique angle.
After looking past my shoulder with that creepy thousand-yard stare that I usually associate with the weird kid that always sits in the back of the classroom, he sighed heavily and replied: While sitting off the road with my radar gun during a speed trap, I see people doing things when they dont think anybody is looking. You wouldnt believe how many hot women pick their nose.
And now you know
In the summer of 68 a reporter asked John Lennon how he thought he might die. He responded: I suspect some crazy bird will shoot me. (Im paraphrasing, as I have no more luck finding what I want on Google than Jimmy Buffett does finding his lost shaker of salt. But he said something like that) .
Such prophetic moments are more than ironic when they play out, but theyre not actually prophetic per say. A couple weeks ago I found my musical tastes hijacked when a song written by a couple of gals was played on Minnesota Public Radio.
I was driving home, not thinking of anything in particular, (yet eerily cautious about picking my nose), when something wildly out of tune, yet absurdly catchy, caught my attention. It was the voices of two girls singing with the same skill of sugar-buzzed kids on a school bus on the way to the zoo for a field trip. After turning the radio down (I keep the volume of the car stereo somewhere around excruciating to facilitate clearer thinking; the sonic assault somehow quiets the other voices in my head, so the usual one can speak without interruption), I tuned into MPRs music critic running a piece on a Minneapolis novelty band Best Friends Forever.
BFF are these two young ladies from the middle of nowhere in Minnesota with a taste for the innocent; apparently, they like to write songs about being best friends, doing things together as friends, and talking about various nouns (The Eisenhower Freeway System, for example) in a friendly way.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention- they have absolutely zero musical talent. They cant sing- and trust me, I know a thing or two about suckin on the mic- they cant play, and their lyrics would be enough to convince Robert Hunter to put a gun in his mouth if he thought BFF was the future of music.
So what do they do right? Well, if I can call it right, they stick in the head. One particular ditty, Hand Pocket, is the chief instigator of this guilty pleasure mischief. Its so fucking sing-songy and irresistibly addictive that Ive thought about putting Bob Hunters gun in my mouth rather than let anyone I know find me in my garage at three AM, hunched over the Mac, humming along with this goddamn piece of fuck it, find out for yourself: (Be sure to play Hand Pocket for the full effect!)
As cutsie as this is, dreams- unlike, I guess, best friends- dont last forever. Theyve scheduled a tour of the West Coast. (Where else? Boston and Philly would eat them alive and spit out what remains of their souls. On the other hand, New York has room for everything- good or evil, but usually evil.) And theres nothing like the open road to cause a rude awakening upon a pair of daydream believers like our Best Friends Forever.
Like John Lennon, a man whos not a prophet, yet correctly prophesized his own demise, BFF has somehow made music without bothering to become musicians.
Unlike John Lennon, my old friend Jason Fladager’s band God Johnson doesnt mind sharing. Their sophomore effort, The Squirms volumes 1 and 2 (sold separately!), shares just about everything, including songwriting. Unlike God Johnsons debut, Timmy Carrow, one of the two keyboardists, wrote most of the songs.
After I talked to Jason, he joked that they were thinking of calling the disks Timmy Carrow. However, in an unexpected move, a musician opted for modesty over featured glory, and the band found an apt title instead. Although Ive heard the disks several times, I thought I would play the tunes Im most familiar with again before writing. Jasons Half Past One, an old Wu staple, gets lyrically funnier with each carnation: Jason informs us that he wont even bother getting out of bed to slap a monk before 1:30 in the afternoon. The two live tracks (one at the end of each disk) bring out God Johnsons best, and my favorite Timmy song, On The Run rocks. All selections- including the ones I didnt mention- get the double thumbs up upon serious review with my good pal the one-hitter.
Because I wanted to hear about a personal hotspot from the horses mouth, Jason quietly said he digs the solo in Schizophrenic off the first disk. For the record, I dont know which one of the solos he was talking about, but it doesnt matter- they both rule.
Theres never been anything wrong with Jasons playing that he couldnt remedy by doing more of, and GJ brings out the best in him. Number one, he started the band, which should give him all the room to wail away- and he does. Secondly, the cats in the band are the kind of guys anyone would want: Theyre talented, they play the music like it matters every time, and most importantly, theyre there for each other.
And I can hear it! When Jason told me the all-in cost of the two CDs, I was impressed with what they got for the money. Ive heard A LOT of music that cost a fortune to produce, featured a roster of chumps that couldnt play their way out of a paper bag, and left the band in a state of self-destructive shock when it became apparent to all that they stink. (Any American Idol comes to mind.) The difference with God Johnson is that theyve obviously bothered to do their homework by playing week-in and week-out every Wednesday at the Cabooze in Minneapolis.
Turns out that I wasnt the only person that noticed. _The Real World: Denve_r has licensed three songs from God Johnson for the show. According to Jason, they only start playing them when theyre filming the gay guy
Good shit- Check it out.
Right before Jason and I took off for Japan with the Wu last October, I was all set to receive an advance copy of Megadeth’s new album, United Abominations. But then the worst thing I could imagine happened: The record company postponed the release until May 15, most likely to drive me crazy.
Dont laugh. Mustaine’s post-Metallica outfit has been regularly making musical fools out of Hetfield & company for two decades. Unfortunately for both Megadeth and his former band mates, they spent the second half of the nineties and the beginning of the new millennium sucking ass. While Metallica went on to show in the movie Some Kind Of Monster What incredible pussies they are (Chris Castino’s review), Dave Mustaine was busy as a beaver resurrecting the intricate and highly-syncopated breakneck guitar lines set his outfit a band apart twenty-two years ago.
Ever since his return to making the music that literally few other guitarists on Earth can earnestly play (lets just say Trey would have his hands more than full), with 2004s The System Has Failed, Ive returned to the Megadeth fold. Besides, with the worlds best living drummer, Vinnie Colaluta (hes played literally EVERYONE from Aiken- as in Clay-to Frank Zappa) the album rocked so hard I gave up even trying to play metal tunes in my office/studio/hedonistic hideout.
Before Minneapolis best record store, The Electric Fetus, opened her doors at 9am, I had already met up with a friend of mine that sells certain things that I would never admit to enjoying and put a case of Old Style on ice. By the time my 35th birthday came around fifteen hours later, I had restated my vows to forget about even trying to play catch up with Mustaine. I wont bore you with a review of a record that no reader will ever buy, but Im floored.
As if youll bother clicking, but why not? (Trey wont get mad at you just because he couldnt even hope to cop these riffs. Besides, if that shirt I saw in the front row was correct, he already hates you).
Which brings up a sticking point between Relix magazine and me: If youre going to send someone to review a Megadeth (or any metal/ Mexican polka/freak rock ala Mr. Bungle) show, send a man who cares. Send me.
While Ive lost the issue with the Megadeth concert review from a show a couple of years ago, it holds true that you shouldnt bring a knife to gun fight. Jobs like this should be delegated to those with a flair for the silly: Well maintained long hair, Flying-V style pointy guitars and illiterate concert going goons are no place for the regular Relix reviewer. Its just not safe, for the band or the unsuspecting critic.
However, Im available for this and all the other dangerous missions Jon Schwartz and cronies can dream up. Have ticket and a reimbursed bar tab, will travel.
Uninvited employment requests aside, there is an album that I guarantee will be on the Miller dinner time play list all summer: Amy Winehouse, Back To Black. As the gods of music decided to throw me a bonus beyond last summers sundeck staple, Wolfmother’s debut CD, Winehouse fulfills my deepest fantasy: An album released by a modern artist that actually sounds and feels like anything out of Motowns catalog.
The first, and most impressive part of Back To Black is the production. Barely anything on the CD sounds like it was recorded after 1965. Its as if The Marvelettes hit the fountain of youth and started singing about rehab. All the essential components are there: the back beat drums, the hard-panned horns, the crappy resolution of the recording that makes the disk sound as if the band had no choice but to record on an old four-track deck.
Gone are crutches of slick production. I started listening for the tell tale sounds of tape hiss and the faint, muted tones buried under a thousand retakes, Jesus H. Christ, this sounds good! Fuck that, it sounds great
If it werent for the opening line They try and make me go to rehab, and I say no, no, no!, there would be little reason to think that album wasnt from 1961.
If Best Friends Forever can make music without the benefit of anything, God Johnson can bring a weekly show and two CDs worth experiencing, and Dave Mustaine can put the rest of the sad, sad, sad metal nation to shame in his forties, then why cant a twenty-three year old lush from Great Britain make short work out of modern recording talents?
Well, she does, and the others do it as well. Summer is back with a vengeance and its time to play music- on the deck, in the car, at the festivals, anywhere and everywhere. Lets just make sure its the good shit and dont forget to be nice to your Mother and drink your milk!

This months Old Style zealot is not one, but two people: namely, my bosses. Meet Chef Monty Behm and his Sous Chef Tom Toohey. (Sous Chef, according to Monty, is French for my bitch.)
Aside from wearing the daddy pants around the kitchen, Chef Monty bravely led the cooking corps for a few years at the Big Wu family Reunion. Later, I hired him to cater my wedding. Now that the tables have turned, he keeps the fun and games intact by making me play Bobbing For Paychecks In The Deep Fryer, Pin The Tail On The Whistling Mexican Dish Washer, and his favorite, Walk-In Cooler Blanket Party. (If there are any rock bands that could use a broken-down bass player, please call before he makes up new rules for Ring Around The Prep Cook.)

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