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I Used To Love The Boys…

Last weekend I was hanging out with a friend when we randomly we began talking about the song “Playground” by the early 90s rap/R&B band Another Bad Creation (I believe the conversation started when the word “playground” was said in passing, and of course this led to one of us blurting out the chorus “At the playground, ya know?”). While my friend simply knew the child group’s one hit, I began listing off the songs that began resurfacing in my memory: “Iesha”, “Jealous Girl”, and “My World”.

There are so many things wrong with this video…

He looked at me like I was insane for knowing the band’s music so well, so I tried explaining my 8th grade love of ABC.  I reasoned that Boys II Men were a gateway drug that led me to their less talented label-mates Bel Biv Devoe and, of course,  ABC.  But as I made this excuse, my mind led me into the recesses of memory that I’ve tried to ignore since those early prepubescent days.  Another Bad Creation were only the tip of the iceberg of embarrassment when it comes to child R&B boy bands.

I liked The Boys.

No! Not in a gay or pedophilic way (you sick-o); I liked the The Boys – a child quartet based out of California that were the protégés of R&B singer Babyface. If confused, you’re probably not alone in your lack of Boys knowledge, yet the band, thanks to the songwriting assistance of Babyface, scored a #1 R&B hit with the song “Dial My Heart”.  Despite their popularity in more urban environs, The Boys went completely unnoticed in my small Iowa hometown where all of my friends were listening to Poison, House of Pain, and Guns N’ Roses.

I love the creepy old security guard who watches little boys dance:

As for middle school music taste, I hated the hair metal of the time and my rap exploration stopped at MC Hammer, so my natural choice was the R&B stylings of artists like Bobby Brown and Shai.  But The Boys? I’m not sure where or how my discovery of The Boys happened, but even at the young age of 13, it was a musical admiration that I wasn’t proud of.   On bus trips when my friends would share their Motely Crue and Vanilla Ice tapes, I’d slink low in my seat and sneak my “Message from the Boys” tape into my Walkman.  I knew this was the type of musical fare for young black girls, yet I found something commendable in their music; what it was, I can’t quite pinpoint.

They’re not even good dancers:

I would like to blame it on a 13-year-old’s childish innocence and the discovery that goes on during puberty; but I can’t.  A year later, a year wiser, I ended up buying The Boys self-titled sequel.  My love was not limited to one foolish year; I couldn’t get enough of these kids and their off-pitch vocals.  To make matters worse, I enjoyed the second album even more than their first.  My journey into the abyss of dissonance only deepened.

My favorite song on their second album had to be “I Had A Dream”.  I found this comment on discrimination to be riveting, carrying a message like no other song had done before (in my young eyes, it put Marvin Gaye to shame).  Re-listening to it this weekend (I decided to torture my friend with my walk down memory lane), I discovered what I once found to be a poignant song was actually a borderline insult to Martin Luther King Jr.  The mix of the “My Prerogative” rip-off background music and MLK’s voice being scratched incessantly, results in what resembles a parody song.

I also like that this video I found was using this song to promote Obama in 08’:

The band went on to release another album, “The Saga Continues…”, but I can proudly say that I finally freed myself from their clutches thanks to the help of Jimi Hendrix and the growing grunge scene (I’ve since found out that The Boys and their families moved to Africa and formed the band Suns of Light which is still together today).  All of my R&B tapes found a new home in the back of my closet as I realized that my prejudice against guitar driven music was misguided (my hatred for hair metal blinded me far too long).

But the question still remains: why did I like The Boys in the first place?  I’d like to believe it was a result of me being a member a middle school male quartet that performed at county fairs and talent competitions.  Then again, I never shared the music of The Boys to the other members of the group nor did we sing any of their horrific songs.

Pondering this question with my friend the other night, he suggested that maybe I wanted to be a black kid.  This hypothesis is based on a recent omission that I may have enjoyed the “Rumpshaker” video a bit too much as a teenager.  I also had a cult following of the NBA (and still do), but, again, I disagree with this theory.  I never bought hip-hop clothes and never cut silly designs in my hair.

Over the past few days I’ve thought more about the origins of my allegiance to The Boys, and I think I’ve sort of figured it out.  Musically, I’ll never understand what I found enjoyment in, but I do think my love of the obscure grew out of my secret delight in their music. My unshared adoration was mine and mine alone (at least in my Midwestern stomping grounds). I didn’t hear it on the radio, and my friends weren’t all clamoring to hear the latest from The Boys. I felt ownership with them (not in the slavery sense you weirdo); they were my band, and I kind of liked that feeling of discovering something others around me ignored.  This pattern would continue as I headed into high school and found a solace in real bands like Fugazi, Jawbox, and Shudder To Think.  And really, you can’t deny that The Boys were one Ian MacKaye away from being a damn good group.

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End of Summer Albums 2010

Summer’s almost over.  But that makes this even more pertinent.  And it’s not like the value of these great albums will diminish in the first few days of fall—although we may have to do another one for autumn.  We decided to do this after Android50’s Best Summer Albums of 2010. Not that we hated the list or the music of 2010.  Our input just wasn’t asked for, like Android50 had some sort of monopoly on summer tunes.  So here is our list, no restrictions, just albums we have been listening to this summer.  Looking through it, it gets me all excited, as it just might turn some on to some new tunes.  As for me, Kid Kilowatt took my Jawbox (I love Novelty), but besides that Iggy Pop’s first two solo albums (Lust for Life & the Idiot) are great to bike around to and have been in heavy rotation, Yo La Tengo have made a huge comeback (I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One) would be perfect for this time of year and autumn, but it was played constantly this summer as well.  I got hooked on Will Oldham’s Palace incarnations, especially Viva Last Blues and Sleater-Kinney (especially One Beat & All Hands on the Bad One)  once again—it had been a while.  Oxbow, Beach House (an obvious pick), Smog, Destroyer (City of Daughters is soooooo good), Dinosaur Jr.’s Beyond, Guided by Voices, High on Fire, Modest Mouse (I think I have Songssuck to blame for this one, as he made me revisit Moon & Antarctica due to the 2000 list), My Morning Jacket (their first three, don’t talk to me about them after that), Neurosis, Mastodon, and the Woods made up the majority of my playlists this summer.

Of course the start of the summer saw me listening to nothing but Isis, Dio and Black Sabbath.  It was a sad time for a while.  But I said goodbye to Dio and Isis in my own way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss them.  Lots of stuff to check and revisit (for some reason the 90s were in VERY heavy rotation this summer, hum), enjoy what’s left of the nice weather with these great picks!

Emitt Rhodes

s/t
(ABC/Dunhill Records: 1970)

8.6

Being a big Paul McCartney fan I was hesitant to try Pthestudp’s recommendation of this album. I started to hear about it in other places, and Pthestudp insisted we listen to it.  Forgive me, I should have proponent of Emitt long ago.  The McCartney comparison is unavoidable, as even his voice sounds like Sir McCartneys.  But unlike Paul’s work with Wings, these songs never veer towards overkill and are brilliant.  His four solo albums have been re-released, but it was his self-titled debut that one HAS to have in their collection.  Perfect summer listening.  – Suzy Creamcheese

Unwound

Fake Train/New Plastic Ideas/The Future of What/Repetition/ Challenge for a Civilized Society/Leaves Turn Inside You
(Kill Rock Stars: 1993/94/95/96/98/01)

Really I could have picked any Unwound album (and I did).  They are all fantastic.  Start with the beginning, (93’s Fake Train) if you wish.  I have always told people Unwound are Sonic Youth plus Fugazi.  And I don’t fucken lie about shit like that.  So fucking underrated it pisses me off. – Songssuck


Gandalf

s/t

(Capitol Records: 1969)

8.4

Psychedelic, poppy, spooky—this one, in a sea of lost 60’s artifacts, stands out as being legit. No hype here, these guys have it.  I dig it out every summer and it is a required listen on summer road trips, with no one I have played it for not being enchanted and won over. – Willie Rambo Strider


Fennesz

Endless Summer

(Mego: 2001)

9.1

I play this album over and over again.  Guitars processed & distorted beyond recognition.  The sounds come from summer, but not summer on this planet.  Summer in a much better time and place. Summer somewhere, when it rains, it rains drops of warm sunshine.  Though maybe, this place is just a summery state of mind. – Tyrannosaurus Banks

Leo Cuypers

Heavy Days Are Here Again

(BVHaast: 1981)

AK-47

I wanted to highlight this one during our ‘Best of 2000’ list, but Songssuck said absolutely no reissues.  So here we are, with an unheard of classic from 1981.  Have you ever seen those ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ posters/decorations?  Well, those schmucks should just hang this LP on their wall instead, because this album is just bursting at the seams with the exuberant energy from those three entities.  Pthestudp described it as Schroeder’s soundtrack to Charlie Brown losing his virginity on a roller coaster to Lucy.  Fuck yah! –Tyrannosaurus Banks

Band of Horses

Cease to Begin
(Sub Pop: 2007)

8.5

I did me some listening to the Band of Horses this summer.  Reminds me a bit of old My Morning Jacket, lots of grandiosity, lots of reverb, guitars making the night sky seem small.  Pretty great.  –Dr. Anonymous

Borbetomagus

Barbed Wire Maggots
(Agaric: 1982)

AK-47

Fierce.  Free.  Uncompromising.  Because something has to be.  The problem is most people go into this album looking for jazz.  This ain’t jazz.  It’s the sound of a herd of wild stallions that have never seen a harness.  And the fuck if these ones ever will. –Kid Kilowatt

Cold Sun

Dark Shadows
(World in Sound: 1973)

Deserves its Holy Grail status.

Roky Erickson fronting Pavement.  Captain Beefheart jamming with the Grateful Dead.  Good shit. – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

Jawbox

Novelty/For Your Own Special Sweetheart
(Dischord Records: 1992/Atlantic: 1994)

These are classics, one cannot rate a classic.

For these two, Jawbox may have become mightier than their labelmates, Fugazi.  Some songs on these two remind me of The Jesus Lizard, but Jawbox were always Big Blackier then Minor Threaty.  I like Novelty better than their major label debut (I know, I know, probably wouldn’t have been possible without major label money, but I would like to hear it with more balls), but both are essential 90s documents.  Make sure you take them both with you when rock climbing.  –Kid Kilowatt

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