Mutant Eternity

Vinyl Record GIF by Laurène Boglio

For the latest issue of ➰➰➰ (aka Many Loops), I reviewed Mutant Eternity, a highly addictive album that remixes itself with each new spin:

In all my years of listening to and writing about music, I never thought I’d declare something as hyperbolic as this, but if I could listen to only one album for the rest of my life, it would absolutely be Mutant Eternity. It’s basically a cheater’s choice. From what I can tell, Mutant Eternity is never the same album twice. I don’t mean this in a metaphorical way, like when Heracliltus said, “No person ever steps in the same stream twice, because it’s not the same stream or the same person” (although that’s somewhat true with all albums, because even if the music recorded on an album remains exactly the same, both we and the times are no longer the same when we listen to it later). I’m talking about an album that literally remixes itself every time you listen to it.

Read the entire review at Many Loops.

Musical Storytime on YouTube

In late 2017, I started doing a program called “Musical Storytime” at the Livingston Public Library. It’s a half-hour program where I sing songs and read music-themed books for young children.

Due to the pandemic, our library is closed indefinitely, but we’re still hard at work serving our patrons through the internet. I’ve been recording video installments of “Musical Storytime” and posting them to our library’s YouTube channel (which has scores of great videos for viewers of all ages). Here’s a playlist of the 11 videos I’ve done so far, with more still to come (perhaps even after the pandemic dies down).

“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” (cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song)

“Purple Coyote” (musical version of a book written by Jean-Luc Cornette & illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette)

“Stand” (cover of the R.E.M. song, with a lesson in directions, and a guest appearance by my wife Ashley)

Continue reading “Musical Storytime on YouTube”

The Aura of the Flapper in Question

BADMOTORFLAPPER cover + Jessie Janeshek's faceI am enormously flattered that Jessie Janeshek, my favorite living poet, really grokked my debut poetry collection BADMOTORFLAPPER, & wrote a very kind review of it, which you can read in full on the instagram feed of Really Serious Literature.

I’ve talked about conceptual aspects of the collection; O’Brien’s craft is also strong. I love their flexibility with and careful use of form to suit both the aura of the flapper in question and the song that she’s paired with…


Transparent Anatomical Flapper; thanks to In Utero, The Saturday Evening Post, & William BlakeMy debut poetry EP, BADMOTORFLAPPERis now on sale! It’s a 10-track collection of poems I wrote as tributes to some of my favorite women of the 1920s + music of the 1990s. Some of these poems have been previously published in places like Yes, Poetry and Rag Queen Periodical, but some are exclusive to this little booklet.

Print Copies are $4US via PayPal (shipping in US only)

Digital (PDF) copies are $2US via PayPal

Track Listing

  1. DOROTHY PARKER will have her revenge on Manhattan
  2. GRETA GARBO behind the counter in a small town
  3. Sometimes ZELDA FITZGERALD gives the creeps herself
  4. JOSEPHINE BAKER ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit
  5. CLARA BOW is in your face but you can’t grab her
  6. THEDA BARA with butterfly wings
  7. LUPE VELEZ is a hot spitfire fit to burn
  8. Got them Down-in-a-hole BESSIE SMITH Blues
  9. ANNA MAY WONG’s gonna break this rusty cage
  10. Last Dance with LULU BROOKS

“Buddy Holly” in Many Loops

Today marks the launch of Many Loops, a fascinating new online publication obsessed with recursion. It includes “Buddy Holly,” which is a thing I wrote in 2018 about my nostalgia for Weezer’s 1994 video “Buddy Holly,” which was nostalgic for the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” which was nostalgic for the 1950s. It’s pretty much the most Joe O’Brien thing I’ve written to date.

This is something I’ve been writing called “Buddy Holly,” but it’s not really about the late preppy-nerdy rockabilly musician with the thick-framed glasses. It’s about a music video for a fuzzy-yet-sleek new wavy power-pop song called “Buddy Holly,” which isn’t really about the musician Buddy Holly either, it’s about how the song’s singer, Rivers Cuomo, resembles Buddy Holly.

This is something I’m writing in the year 2018, looking back affectionately and obsessively upon a music video I fell in love with when it first aired in 1994. Directed by eventual Oscar-winner Spike Jonze, the video features Weezer, a pop-rock band formed in the 1990s, playing their song “Buddy Holly” as if they were characters on Happy Days, a fondly-remembered sitcom from the 1970s that looked back warmly on American life in the 1950s.

This is about 2010s nostalgia for 1990s nostalgia for 1970s nostalgia for the 1950s. Nostalgia kinda like those Russian Nesting Dolls, or matryoshka.

[read the whole thing here]

Weird Times: NYC Rocknroll & Other 9/11-Era Tunes

Been indulging nostalgic urges by reading Lizzy Goodman’s MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM, an oral history of NYC rocknroll in the 2000s. Which of course has been putting me in the mood to listen to this autobiographical Spotify playlist I made a few years ago called “Weird Times: ’01 – ’02,” all the music I surrounded myself with as a collegiate NYC rocknroll kid between 9/11 through the end of 2002, a surreal & unforgettable period I spent oscillating between madly exhilarated & madly depressed.

Obviously this playlist has a bunch of those NYC rockers– The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, Andrew WK (no Interpol, though; never really my bag). But there’s also lots of kick-ass non-NYC rock: The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, System of a Down, The Hives, The Donnas, Tenacious D, Weezer; plus plenty of wonderful non-rock: The Avalanches, OutKast, Eminem, Bjork (though alas, nothing from THE BLUEPRINT, because Jay-Z is still anti-Spotify at the moment).

Curious how most of these tracks were recorded before 9/11, but a lot of them still seem to anticipate some crazy, sinister, no-tomorrow times ahead. Or maybe that’s just hindsight-goggles talking. Either way, “Weird Times” is a pretty riveting collection of tunes if I do say so myself, even if it doesn’t necessarily transport *you* back to that year or so you spent stumbling around the East Village (and occasionally Brooklyn), finally able to legally drink and constantly on edge that the city around you would start exploding again so why not go to Brownie’s to watch some raucous sloppy-haired garage band while you get utterly obliterated?