A blog for commentary regarding the music of today (and yesterday...and the day before...)

Click here for a review of Dark Circles by The Devils.
Click here for a review of Bangs...Sounds of the 80s.

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If you are looking for old posts, they are archived monthly now; links are in the left-hand column at the bottom.

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Oktober's website:
Late Bar Radio
Streaming Internet radio, tattoos, and Duran Duran.

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November, 2002
October, 2002
September, 2002
August, 2002
July, 2002
June, 2002
May, 2002
April, 2002
March, 2002

July 31, 2002
Random thought of the day....

I want to do a drag skit to "Opportunities" by the Pet Shop Boys.
I've got the brain...you've got the looks...
Let's make lots of money.

I'd also love to do one to "Notorious" by Duran Duran. I think I would look like a very convincing Simon Le Bon, given the right outfit. In fact, I decided that at next year's Smith College School of Social Work Drag Ball I will dress up like him. The problem is, what era? Hmm...."Girls on Film" with the bandanas and the striped shirts...."Hungry Like the Wolf" with the fedora and safari colors..."Is There Something I Should Know" with the blue shirt and tucked-in tie...oh, decisions decisions!

Meanwhile my sister decided she will dress up as one of the girls from the video for "The Chauffeur". I think she'd be better off doing the woman from "Rio" or the Tiger Lady from "Hungry Like the Wolf" becuase those videos are much more well-known...we do have a year to think about it, though, so whatever we do, it will be fabulous, I am sure.

By the way....this year at the Drag Ball there was a reappearance of the five women who did a dead-on N'Sync impersonation in 2001. Last year they performed "It's Gonna be Me" complete with dance moves horked from the Madison Square Garden show. This year they did a medley: "It's Gonna be Me", some slow song (sorry, I'm not a N'sync fan), and "Bye Bye Bye". It totally rocked. Those women should really take that show on the road....

posted by DJOktober at 4:07 PM | link this post! | Comments []

Go Computer Geeks!

This made me giggle (from CNET news):

The Recording Industry Association of America's Web site was unreachable over the weekend due to a denial-of-service attack. The apparently deliberate overload rendered the RIAA.org site unavailable for portions of four days and came after the group endorsed legislation to allow copyright holders to disrupt peer-to-peer networks.

I've been in the unfortunate position of having to stop these types of attacks when they come into an enterprise network. It is enough to drive a computer network engineer completely nuts. Poor, poor RIAA (insert sarcasm here).

By the way, I will make no editorial comment on the fariness of the RIAA decision that elicited this attack. I personally do not use peer-to-peer file sharing networks; I used Napster maybe five times before it was shut down and I have no desire to explore other options. I hate the RIAA, but as for this specific issue, I will leave the comments to those who have more experience in the matter.....

posted by DJOktober at 12:36 AM | link this post! | Comments []

July 30, 2002
This moment of regression brought to you by DJOktober...

All hail these lyrics by the Dead Milkmen:

Don't try to tell me that you're an intellectual
Cause you're just another boring bisexual
("I met Andy Warhol at a really chic party")
Blow it out your hairdoo cause you really work at Hardees
80 pounds of make up on your art school skin
80 points of I.Q. located within
Know what you are? You're a bunch of ...
Artfags! Artfags!

*giggle* *snort* You'll know why this tickles me so much in about 24 hours. I'm working on a very long post for this blog, and those lyrics popped into my head and I started laughing out loud at my damn computer screen.
You'll dance to anything by the Communards
You'll dance to anything by Book of Love
You'll dance to anything by The Smiths
You'll dance to anything by De-peche Mode
You'll dance to anything by Public Image Limited
You'll dance to anything by Naked Truth
You'll dance to anything by any bunch of stupid Europeans who come over
here with their big hairdoos bent on taking OUR money instead of giving
your cash, where it belongs, to a decent American artist like myself!

Brilliant! Absolutely bloody brilliant!!! WHAHAHAHAHA! And in case you have not yet discovered the Dead Milkmen phenomenon, make sure to visit their website. They broke up years ago, but the albums are still worth a listen. God, I wish they would get back together for some shows. I had such a great time slamdancing back in the day....

posted by DJOktober at 12:42 AM | link this post! | Comments []

July 25, 2002
More on Tuesday...

I'm a-going to the Smith School of Social Work Drag Ball this weekend. My sister is studying there, and this is a picture of us from our outfits last year; the two bad Catholic School kids (that's me on the left, of course). This year instead of dressing in drag, my sister has convinced me to show off my big-ass tattoo. This means I will be nearly naked. Ugh.

Updates will be made next week when I get back; including major changes to some of the Late Bar Radio stations and a review of the new CD by The Devils, Dark Circles. I have indeed listened to the CD a few times since my bad experience last Saturday, and it has grown on me; so the review will be pretty positive! I wanted to post it before going out of town, but there just isn't time...

Have a great weekend. I'm sure I will...maybe I'll actually get a date out of it this year, eh?

posted by DJOktober at 3:46 PM | link this post! | Comments []

July 24, 2002
More About Pink...

So yesterday I'm walking home from the store and a little girl is dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk; her father yelps "Watch out!" as I try and walk by but she still drops the ball on my bare toes. I just smiled at her as her little face stared at me; taking in the piercings and the purplish hair sticking out of my hat. As I keep walking I hear her go, "She look just like Pink!" I couldn't help smiling; it was so darn cute! She kept going on about it, too: "Dad! She look like Pink! Dad, Dad! She look like PINK!!!!"

That's the second time in the last year someone on the street has said I look like Pink (although the first time it was a homeless guy who was very much out of his mind, so I'm not sure that counts). I guess it's a compliment; as I mentioned in my previous post, the woman is hot hot hot.

Although both times it happenned, my hair was really purple, not pink.....

posted by DJOktober at 4:44 PM | link this post! | Comments []

July 23, 2002
Oh my lord, this song really sucks....

If I hear the song "Pill" by Pink one more time at my gym I am going to fucking scream. I always bring my MP3 player when I work out; fully loaded with Basement Jaxx, Radiohead, Crystal Method, Missy Elliot, and a sampling of slower tunes to relax with during my post-cardio cooldowns. But inevitably when I am in the dressing room, or when I have stowed my player away to get busy with the weights, this stupid song comes on the radio:

And I swear you're just like a pill
Instead of makin' me better, you keep makin' me ill

Okay, so first of all, the word "ill" just sounds horrible. It's a jarring, ugly little word. And the rest of the lyrics just aren't much better. I will refrain from posting them because they make me twitch.

I kind of dig pink. For one thing, she's really hot (although I don't dig her leathered-out tattooed look in the video for "Ill"). The first single from her latest album, "Get The Party Started", drove me batty because it got stuck in my head all the time; but I thought it was a good, catchy song. I liked her first album quite a bit; although not quite enough to buy it, I admit.

I think I just liked her R&B flavor from her first album much more than her pop/dance flavor from this one. I don't know. Regardless, going to the gym is becoming a torturous experience. KTU is the station of choice there, and although I don't mind all the dance-pop, the DJs are still throwing "Thong" by Cisqo onto the airwaves. Jeez, won't that song just disappear already???

posted by DJOktober at 3:25 PM | link this post! | Comments []

July 21, 2002
So I bought the CD....

After three hours of helping a friend move (leaving Queens I can understand; but going to Massachusetts??? He will be sorely missed....), a very tired and sweaty DJ took a detour to the Virgin Megastore in Times Square to scope the Import section for the Devils CD, Dark Circles. It was Saturday, mind you. Saturday in Times Square. For those non-locals, I have just one word for you:


I braved Times Square, Manhattan, on a Saturday, when the population increases one-hundred-fold with gawking out-of-towners carrying bags from Madame Tussaud's wax museum and snapping pictures of the MTV building; none of whom have the first clue about how to walk on a New York city sidewalk without holding up the locals (who always, always have somewhere to go).

I say this just so you can understand how important it was that I get the damn CD. You may recall my post about electronic music where I was obviously very excited about this project. And so I couldn't wait any longer; the CD was released last Monday and I just had to have it in my hands....

The good news is that it was there; two lone copies crammed among the Ds in the Import section.

On my walk to 50th Street (Times Square pedestrian traffic was giving me a migraine) I eagerly threw the CD into my discman, and pressed play as I descended into a hot, steamy, subway station. I was already dirty and smelly so when a full train came I figured I'd wait it out for one that was less full; what was a little sweat to add to what was already there? Besides, I had a rocking new CD blaring through my headphones...

I became disgruntled and very impatient as I waited for the next train. See, the CD just wasn't rockin'; it provided me no distraction from the discomfort of the subway platform.

I won't attempt to review the CD right now; I have to listen to it many more times before passing any sort of judgement. Part of the problem is that the songs I heard (I only played seven out of the thirteen tracks, and some of them I didn't finish) confused me terribly. I have no idea what to say about them, frankly. It's rare that I don't form some sort of strong opinion about music; anyone who's been reading my posts over the last two months can see that. But The Devils have managed to render me speechless. It's...well...


Ermm, no, that's not it; sure, the tracks have a rather gloomy tone to them, but the poppy little background vocals sort of clash with that genre...

New Wave.

No, that's not it either. What the fuck is "New Wave", anyway, but another name for songs from the 80s with lots of synthesizers.


*scratches head* No, it's those darn backing vocals again...and that vocorder...

I give up for now. I really have to give the whole thing a few more listens over the next few days, but I'm a bit busy...I'll pick it up again, I am sure. But right now I fear that the CD is going to remain in the realm of a collectible interest for Duran Duran fans as opposed to a new, innovative British pop release.

posted by DJOktober at 2:01 AM | link this post! | Comments []

July 17, 2002
I feel like I'm 10 years old....

I got a hug from Robin Williams on Sunday night. I still feel like a giddy little kid. I've been a fan since I first saw "Robin Williams Live at the Met" years and years ago; me and my sister can recite his bits from that show by memory. I never, ever, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I would get to even see him live, never mind on Broadway, in the front row, and ending with a big ole sweaty bear hug.

And I owe it all to dying my hair fuschia.

This has absolutely nothing to do with music. But I thought I would share it anyway. Hell, I'm thinking of turning this blog into more of a "New York Rambling" type thing, since lately I just don't have too much to say about music, and when I do it ends up being long-winded essays....

posted by DJOktober at 12:16 PM | link this post! | Comments []

July 13, 2002
Yo La Tengo

Anyone heard of these folks? I hadn't until just yesterday, when I saw them perform live as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn summer performing arts festival. Yo La Tengo has been around since 1984 as a "local band" and have a very dedicated underground following. They consist of two men and a woman who all are very, well, normal. They play basic pop music (4/4 rhythms, I, IV, V chordal structures) but with fun and intelligent twists. I would describe them as an "Aging Garage Band" since they are all pushing 40 and still manage to sound like kids making lots of noise in their parents' basement. And despite their name, the music isn't based on any form of Latin beats.

Their sound is very diversified; from punk to alternative to slow ballads. Their setup consists of a few flavors of drums, a guitar, a bass, a grand piano, and some very old electric organs. The guitarist likes to play with feedback a lot, and has a neat trick of slamming his guitar body with a mallet to produce some rather interesting noises. The trio genuinely looked like they were having a good time up on stage; it's always nice to see a band who enjoy themselves.

I really, really liked what I saw and heard. I danced a bit, laughed a lot, and was glad that my friends had suggested it. I'm going to go check out some of their CDs; I'm pretty sure you can buy them at major record stores. Their sound is a refreshing alternative to today's mainstream rock and pop, and I highly recommend them!

posted by DJOktober at 12:15 PM | link this post! | Comments []

July 4, 2002
Speaking of analog....

I just read a post over at The Angry Robot blog about a group called ISAN, who just came out with a new album that features electronic music made the old-fashioned way: analog equipment.

This post reminded me of something that has been on my mind recently; mainly, electronic music.

Today a website was launched by a group called The Devils, comprised of Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran and Stephen "Tin-Tin" Duffy from The Lilac Time. Their new CD, Dark Circles, is due to be released in the UK on July 15th (pre-orders are available at Amazon).

If you have ever visited my main site you know darn well who Mr. Rhodes is...but did you know that Stephen Duffy was the original singer for Duran Duran? It was many many years ago, all the way back in 1979, when Rhodes, Duffy, and John Taylor (known as "Nigel" in those days) were the original Duran Duran lineup. Duffy left, and I am sure anyone over the age of 25 knows exactly what happenned to Duran Duran once they found a new lead singer.

The new album by The Devils is a collection of original Duran Duran tunes that were written and performed prior to the five-piece lineup that was created in the 80s. Apparently Duffy found an old tape of a performance by the original trio, and later when he ran into Rhodes at a fashion show, the two discussed recording the material and releasing an album.

Bringing this all back to the original point: one of the requirements of recording this album was that they only use equipment available to them at the time the songs were written; all the way back in 1979.

This prospect is quite intriguing. I am a big fan of old, analog synthesizers, and this new album is sure to be packed with such classic sounds. In the alternative/underground music scene, analog is back, as if revisiting the 80s decade is much more than just a fashion trend (and let's pray that fashion trend is over very soon, thank you very much). Just listen to one album by Radiohead or anything by Aphex Twin and you'll recognize those looped clicks, pops, and wave manipulations that comprised the biggest advancements in electrical engineering back in the 1950s and 60s. Remember the Theramin, a contraption invented in 1919 that was used years later by Led Zeppelin? What about the RCA Mark II synthesizer, built at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in 1955? Certainly you've heard about the Moog; one of the first commercially available synthesizers, released in 1960.

In the late 70s and early 80s, electronic music equipment became widely available and affordable, and thus began the rise of so-called "New Wave" or "New Romantic" 80s sound, driven by the sounds of synthesized music.

The concept is simple: take the purest example of audible sound, a sine wave, and change it to create new, different sounds. The manipulation of the sine wave comes from feeding it through a variety of electronic devices that speed up the wave, slow it down, expand or contract it, change the inherent waveform, etc. etc. Samples were then recorded onto magnetic tape and then cut up and spliced back together to make loops; sometimes creating rather odd combinations of sounds.

Early synthesizers were merely devices that took all those external sine wave manipulators (which were controlled with patch panels and a lot of cables) and compressed them into small, compact packages. With the touch of a button a person could manipulate the pitch, control vibrato and reverb, change a smooth sine wave into an abrupt square wave, and even store loops into onboard memory.

In an age when artists are being churned out from the recording industry as if from factories straight out of Huxley's novel Brave New World, a revisitation of pop music's electronic past is a breath of fresh air. The most intriguing aspect to the project by Rhodes and Duffy is the fact that there are new songs included on the album; but they still adhere to the "original equipment" rule. The album is not only a trip to the duo's past, but it is also an adventure into the creation of new music with a classic, analog sound.

Here is a rather personal, introspective note: I had the honor of studying at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (located right on 125th Street in West Harlem...New York City, dawg!!) back in 1993/1994, before the digital age had taken over all aspects of popular, commercial music. Unfortunately, Columbia shut down the center a few years later. Apparently much of the equipment (sine wave generators, tape machines, mounds and mounds of patch cables) was taken down to 125th Street for the garbage man, while many of the snythesizers were donated to a museum.

And why did they do this? See, they needed more room for the computer/digital music center (incidentally I also studied there; back then the MIDI studio had one ancient Macintosh and the computer studio was full of NEXT boxes). And it just so happenned that the one electronic music professor retired, and Columbia did not see the point in finding a replacement.

Ponder this while I throw Radiohead's Kid A into the CD player and start blasting "Idioteque".

I am betting someone at Columbia is feeling like a royal ass right now. At least I sure as hell hope so. Becuase within two years of them trashing this fundamental piece of electronic music's history, analog devices have had a resurgence in commercial (although still mostly underground and "alternative") music.

The RCA Mark II is still there, though. It's bolted to the floor in a back room, and weighs too many tons to be moved anywhere. The original RCA Mark was made by Bell Laboratories for voice synthesis, and donated to Columbia-Princeton; they then developed the Mark II for music synthesis. During my studies the Mark II was kept under strict lock and key, and no one except for one guy in his late 80s knew how to program it (the device runs on vacuum tubes and punch cards); nor would he teach anyone else how to use it. So before Columbia trashed the whole center, a group of students set out to fire up the Mark II for a graduate project. And what do you know, the thing still worked; and they recorded hundreds of sounds before putting it back under lock and key (I'm trying to figure out if the sounds are on CD anywhere; I have a contact who could probably tell me...stay tuned....).

Okay, getting back to the point again: long live analog. Computers and digital sound are an inherent part of today's music and I have no problem with the utilization of these latest technologies (as long as the end-product doesn't sound artificial and computerized), but as a self-proclaimed "music purist" the resurgence of analog equipment is the most exciting trend in today's music.

In fact I'd dare say that it is groundbreaking. And with any luck, the new release by The Devils and further releases by Radiohead and other bands utilizing original analog equipment will bring this classic sound into the mainstream, and perhaps help us remember what once constituted innovative, fresh pop music.

Meanwhile, Columbia has been crossed off my list as a choice for graduate school (if I ever make it back to music study, that is!). Anyone know where I can find a grad school with a Moog?

Long-winded Editor's Note: The difference between analog and digital: Basically, "analog" refers to the physical manipulation of sound waves. A piano, violin, tuba, bass, clarinet etc. are all examples of analog equipment. These instruments produce sound from hitting, plucking, or bowing a string; or moving air through metal (and wood) tubes. Old synthesizers created sound waves electronically, but they were still created using basic principles of physics (music is the fifth science, ya know). The basic principle of digitization is to take something with physical, tangible characteristics and turn it into something a computer would understand; which is only two things: 1 and 0. Therefore, a sound wave that has been sampled digitally loses it's native waveform and becomes a collection of ultimatims: 1 or 0, positive or negative, yes or no. This is how "sample rates" are calculated; they represent the amount of information from the original soundwave that is analyzed to produce a computerized (digital) format. CDs were quite an uproar in the music world; vinyl and cassette tapes were able to capture pure, analog sound that emits an infinite number of high and low harmonics that add a depth to music but are not within the capabilities of the human ear (example: low bass tones that you can feel, but can't actually hear). CDs are basically music sampling (squaring off smooth sound waves and turning them into 1s and 0s) at a very high rate. This is why when you "rip" a CD into a "wav" format it comes out sounding exactly like the CD; that original CD is already digitized, and all you've done is transfer that information into the 1s and 0s that your computer understands. In making MP3s you are taking the original "wav" file and resampling it down to something small and compact, that can be sent via e-mail, etc. I hope all that made sense! I could keep going, but I think you get the point; anything else I say would be far too geeky for the scope of this here blog....

posted by DJOktober at 12:38 AM | link this post! | Comments []