Wednesday, February 04, 2009

An Endorsement:

This week (and as far as I know, until the end of time) my local public radio station is running its pledge drive. You know what that means - 5 minutes of something you like bracketed by 15 minutes of cheerful badgering for cash. I rely on KCRW to provide music during my morning shift, because they play stuff nobody else will, and most of it is pretty damn good.

So until the horror of the pledge drive passes, I'm burdening our company's network with the stream from They inhabit an especially weird corner of the music world: the stuff your parents listened to in the sixties that you couldn't stand then. For example, a moment ago it was an orchestral arrangement of STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT. Now, it's some groovy party music which is almost certainly backing to a love-in scene from a Don Knotts movie.

They worship this stuff.

Also frequently you can hear Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood collaborations, lugubrious French pop songs, Rat Pack live recordings, and studio-musician sitar instrumentals of rock and roll tunes. It's a reminder that "easy listening" is anything but.

There is a weird aesthetic to this kind of anonymous material, because as dubious as the results are there's no denying that a lot of talented people working at the top of their game put it together. You can appreciate the craft that goes into a Ferrante and Teicher album even if you are apalled that the cut is called KUNG FU SOUL BROTHER.

I'm especially partial to a show on Monday nights called THE KITSCH NICHE, hosted by a guy named Strike. It's a kind of distilled, concentrated version of Luxuria, with the addition of kid's story records and a "blue" segment of quaintly shocking sex records, back in the day when that meant something. That segment would be considered Not Safe For Work if I turned it up loud enough for other people to hear. But the truth is, the whole stream is NSFW because if people realized how unhip I truly am, they'd have me committed.

What do people who didn't grow up when these things were produced think of it? Is it just some alien blur to them? Or is it all some form of Martin Denny exotica to their fresh ears?

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