Sunday, May 15, 2011


Artist: Daft Punk
Released in:1997
File Under: Famous

I grew up in the suburbs, and unsurprisingly there was a mall in the neighboring town. I spent the most time at the Rave clothing store and in Waldenbooks, both of which have long since gone out of business. The place to go for your best 90's style was Contempo Casuals (bought out years later by Wet Seal), and they had a giant screen behind the check-out desk where they played music videos.

Usually, the videos were your typical bland shopping fodder. But I remember standing transfixed in front of the screen one afternoon -- there were suddenly mummies, girls in sequins and bathing caps, guys with giant shoulders, skeletons and robots. They were all on a series of raised circular platforms, sorted into groups, and they were doing mechanistic, adorable dance moves. The beat had a nice thump, with a bouncy, playful top note. It only had one lyric that repeated over and over: Around the World.

That was my introduction to Daft Punk, and I bought Homework shortly thereafter. I never really adored the album, though -- Around the World is by far the cutest, catchiest song. The rest are well-done but not as interesting (to me) acid house/techno tracks, with stand-outs including Da Funk and Teachers. I do get a special kick out of Teachers since it's a list song (thanks, Stephen Sondheim, for introducing me to the concept). It also has a bassline that should be enshrined as the definition of squelchy: it kicks in at about :32 and is particularly audible around 1:06.

Although nearly fifteen years have passed, Around the World remains one of my favorite tracks. I've even been known to perform the moves from the video at parties. So, though this album as a whole wasn't too exciting to revisit, the shot of 90's nostalgia that it triggered has been enjoyable.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Artist: Couch
Album: Fantasy
Released in: 2000
File under: Unexpected

The Dishes Project has been on a long hiatus, and partially that's because I didn't want to listen to the next CD in line. I vaguely remembered that Couch were some early project of Kieran Hebden and that I didn't care for the album. False on both counts, although perhaps my taste has merely changed (matured?) with respect to the latter.

The name of Kieran Hebden's early project is Fridge (I was close), and this album is excellent. It's post-rock done very well, with the right balance of interesting sound textures, melodic elements and motif repetition. Post-rock = bands that use the instruments of rock (in this case, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards) but without rock/pop song structure. Post-rock bands vary in how much they end up sounding like electronica (in developing and repeating themes) and/or jazz (in noodling around). Fantasy is more on the electronica end and also encroaches somewhat on shoegaze, especially in the final track Gegen Den. The stand-out tracks are the gently propulsive opener Ich Bei Davor, guitar-heavy (in a good way) Control, and the contemplative Nah Dran. Ich Bei Davor and Nah Dran are available at my profile if you want to take a listen.

As some of the song titles suggest, Couch is a German band. The keyboard player, Stefanie Boehm, turns out to be half of Ms. John Soda -- a band on Morr that I like. So perhaps I was bound to be a fan of this album, but it seems fortuitous that The Dishes Project has restarted with such a pleasant surprise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Interlude : Mix

I recently created a mix for my friend L.K. She was interested in hearing some minimalist classical music, but the mix ended up more of a meditation on modern electronica (and, to a small degree, how modern electronica is influenced by minimalist classical music). I made it late on a Tuesday night, when my brain was all relaxed and fuzzy. Sometimes mixes turn out better the less you think about them, and I like this one a lot. Enjoy: Mix for L

Return of the Dishes

It's been nearly two years since I last wrote for the Dishes Project. For those of you who may be newcomers, I started this blog for two reasons:

1) I was washing a lot of dishes, and found it boring

2) I have a lot of CDs and I don't listen to enough of them

I decided to solve these two problems at the same time by listening to all my CDs alphabetically, one CD per dish-washing session. I then posted reviews, comments, rants, anecdotes, etc.

Nowadays, I have a dishwasher, so Problem (1) is no longer applicable. However, Problem (2) remains, and the more time passes, the more I forget the stories behind all the music that I own. So, I've decided to restart the project. I'm going to aim for two CDs a week, and we'll see how far I get!

NB: the ugly red boxes in the old posts used to be links to individual tracks that I uploaded to a kinda crap site called imeem. I think I will use henceforth, unless anyone has a better suggestion.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Moving = Insanity

We here at the Dishes Project normally stick to music-related/inspired content. However, the last couple of days have been so insane that they require some commemoration.

Backstory: I moved across the country -- sold all furniture, shipped all worthwhile possessions (clothes, books) and got rid of the rest. I had help (thanks Mr. R.!) but the last day was still utterly exhausting. My move-out date was Wednesday, which is where our story begins....


7/8/09, 7:30 am: Wake up time

8:30-10:30: Retrieved moving van from San Jose airport

10:30-12pm: Disassembled various furniture items, emptied apartment storage area

12-1: Went to recycling center and gave them mattress, cardboard boxes from storage area

I was so happy to get rid of the mattress in a legal way... but it took a lot of time.

1-2:30: Met with former professor to retrieve library books, went to campus and cleaned out office, returned library book, ate lunch

He could only find one of the library books...

2:30-3:30: Gave dresser to Mr. W. and fan to Ms. F., removed seat from moving van, carried bed, microwave, dresser, multi-drawered office organizer, mirror and end table to van

3:30ish-5ish: Went to Public Storage, set up storage unit, unloaded all furniture into storage unit

Furniture Count: 7 pieces, including mattress

5-6:30ish: Loaded van with futon (frame and mattress), Ikea chair, bike rack, and bookcase and delivered to Mr. N. on campus

6:30-7:30ish: Loaded van with couch and filing cabinet with help of Mr. H., delivered couch to Mr. H.

Furniture Count: 15 pieces

7:30-8:30ish: Gave floor lamp to random person, loaded van with large bookcase, small bookcase and TV, delivered the previous to Mr. T.

8:30-9:30ish: Took more furniture to storage unit before it closed (desk, bookcase, printer), deposited check, checked in at hotel, ate dinner

Furniture Count: 21 pieces

9:30-10:30ish: cleaned out car, sold car to Mr. T.!

10:30-11: shipped two last boxes, retrieved shelves accidentally given to Mr. T.

11-1:15ish: cleaned remaining stuff out of apartment, packed multiple suitcases

There was so much stuff to be gotten rid of: misc unclaimed furniture and household goods, food, plants, gah.

1:30-3:15am: cleaned apartment, loaded van with vacuum cleaner, garbage cans, misc small lamps, filing storage bins, toaster, box of kitchen goods, standing lamp, returned keys

3:15-3:45am: delivered standing lamp to Mr. T., went to hotel, crashed

The standing lamp had to be last since we wouldn't have been able to see without it... no overhead lighting in most rooms of the old apartment.

Total Furniture: 25 pieces or so in approximately 12 hours (garbage cans+ lamp + bins = 1 piece, toaster + box = 1 piece)


7/9/09, 5:15am: wake-up time after 1.5 hours of sleep! gotta get to the storage unit again before leaving SC

6-6:20: went to storage unit, unloaded all items which had been loaded at the end of the previous night

Very bleary-eyed...

6:20-7:30: breakfast (thank you Hampton Inn), got gas for moving van, drove moving van to San Jose airport and returned it

8am Pacific time to 8:30 pm Eastern time: in airports (San Jose, Reno, Las Vegas, Baltimore), on planes (reading Breaking Dawn), wrangling four suitcases, riding on courtesy shuttles

9 pm: Finally in Lutherville, watched Ghost World for no reason, crashed



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bossa Per Dishes

Artist: Nicola Conte
Album: Bossa Per Due
Released in: 2001

Acid jazz/downtempo/Italian film music from the 60's/sitars/go-go wonderfulness. Recommended for: cocktail parties, secret missions, summertime afternoons, jetting around town on a Vespa. Nicely done, Nicola.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Top Five Artists (week of 6/21-6/28):

1. The Magnetic Fields
2. Dave Brubeck
3. Wye Oak
4. Arovane
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Entirely different from last week.

Dave Brubeck + Arovane = working

Magnetic Fields = I listened to their latest album Distortion again... there are some lovely songs (like Courtesans), but also some novelties that grow quickly old (like Zombie Boy). Not my fave MF album.

Wye Oak = excellent Baltimore band that my sister introduced me to

Yeah Yeah Yeahs = their latest album is great.