Hello? Is There Anybody Out There?
I've been thinking... although Rolling Stone voted "Kid A" as the "album of the decade", I disagree even though I would probably vote Radiohead as the best band of the decade (considering their total contributions from 2000-2009: Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows).
But what is the best "song of the decade?"
My vote... "Nude" from In Rainbows.
I love singing along to this song... it's been a couple years now and I'm still not sick of it.
Anyone else care to vote?
Is anyone still listening?
Putting the dust in (Ziggy) Stardust
As I pulled on black cowboy boots over shiny silver tights one recent morning, I mused (in somewhat of a detached way, hilariously, as though this ensemble had actually chosen itself) that this particular getup seemed like it was trying to inadvertently channel a Western version of Ziggy Stardust. Then I thought, oh wait, that concept is actually nothing new. It's not! It's true, fans! It's TRUE.
The glammed-out Legendary Stardust Cowboy, a.k.a. Norman Carl Odam, already treaded those dusty tracks for us as far back as the '60s. His shriek-filled single "Paralyzed" confused the hell out of people, but it also became mainstream enough to end up on Laugh-In. Manic, slightly bizarre craziness? Yes. Awesome? Also yes:
More importantly, LSC (and perhaps LSD as well, but that's an entirely different post) influenced heavily David Bowie aesthetically--Bowie has credited him as partially inspiring the Ziggy Stardust character--as well as musically. Bowie finally paid him a concrete musical homage when he covered "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spacecraft" on his Heathen album (music only):
Of course, LSC is hardly a subtle guy, but his approach to the music is an entirely different one than Mister Bowie. The guy revels in the deep-fried kitsch of the South with no qualms ('bout a minute in):
True proof -- maybe somewhat along the lines of my "yeah, NYC dwellers, I really am from Texas" self -- that it's possible to embrace the Stetsons and the stardust in tandem.
There's only so much you can hide before I corner you
There are precious few people who can resist the lure of sex with an ex. Particularly during the cooling off period, while you're still correcting yourself to add that e and that x to the mention of their name. It just happens. Why oh why did you do that last night? You were bored, they were bored, and the churning morass of feelings, once all lovey-dovey, now gnarled and complex, can still get something going in the loins.
Last Day of Magic/The Kills (mp3)
This song has the gnarliest, ugliest guitar squall opening and I LOVE IT. It gets my heart going and all I want to do is move my arms to a brand new dance called the hurricane-o*. That grimy sound doesn't last long enough but it comes back at regular intervals, with great push and pull, working as ballast between the teasing unison of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince.
Buy Midnight Boom by The Kills on Amazon MP3.
* Online, the lyrics are listed as being "My little tornado/My little hurricane roar." Really? That's too bad, I love singing hurrican-o, it's wild and bizarrely Shakespearean.
You and me watching the jets go by
Saw this movie late one night when I was a teenager. It was made up of black and white stills, streaming along to the murmur of a placid narrator. The film was about a post-nuclear world, time travel, love but most importantly, memory and how powerful it can be. In this unique and beautiful sci-fi short, a single well-remembered moment has the capacity to alter lives. What is that memory? A man racing towards a jetty at the Orly airport where his beloved is watching the planes and possibly waiting for him.
While I'm sure Beck Hansen has seen Chris Marker's La Jetée, I don't think he intended this song as a soundtrack to that moment. Nevertheless, it works that way for me. His voice sounds so far away, so detached, it sounds like someone gone beyond caring for themselves but still not immune to horror. Their destruction is assured, it is happening, it may have already occurred, there's no point in crying about it. Music swirls around, an avalanche of drums and too-loud bass, mimicking a maelstrom of devastation. The vocal at the center stays calm, the only thing that matters is that they are not alone, they have someone to witness the disaster with. To hold their hand as they perish.
Purchase Modern Guilt
That ain't nothing but drugstore lovin'
What I love about Otis Redding is his certainty. He's not ambivalent in any way. He announces his intentions easily and plainly. It's like he's standing in your doorway in his best new clothes, easy smile on his face, ready to take you out for a night on the town. Baby. Here I am, I am the man on the scene. The vocal runs in those opening lines sound like ripples of warm laughter. He knows that there is no question that you will choose him.
Hard To Handle/Otis Redding (mp3)
The horns in this are no joke. I love the slightly dissonant baaah babap bwaaaahs that underscore the second verse. Deliciousness.
Buy Dreams To Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology by Otis Redding on Amazon.
Haven't slept since summer oh how I try
The room is dry and dark and his eyes are shining like tiny, wet pebbles. They are about the same color. He's not feeling well. He's having a hard time breathing. When I try to help him, he bats my hands away. He doesn't want them anywhere near his face. He scowls.
I can't think.
I help him sit up. Some light is peeking through the shutters but it would be hard to tell the exact time of day. It doesn't matter. It really has been one long day. For months. The computer hums in the corner. That's when the voices start. Low and lower. We both turn towards the sound. We breathe and listen. The tiny speakers vibrate. After a while, his small fingers stretch out, resting on my sweater like a starfish. He grabs some of the black wool and pulls it to his mouth. I'm too tired to do anything but stare. He stares back. The music ends.
Concrete Walls/Fever Ray (mp3)
Buy Fever Ray by Fever Ray from Amazon MP3.
A friend recommended this cd to me as a great "new mommy record" and bless his heart, it is. This song in particular, slow as molasses, a lullaby sung to a child that won't ever sleep.
You keep your distance with a system of touch
This song is a cheesefest. I'm not going to tell you otherwise. I used to be obsessed with the video which features a dork with books, the lank-haired librarian he's crushing on, a chimp doing research, a man playing the synth with one finger whilst rocking massive shoulder pads and a Hasid suddenly busting out on the drums. There's just too much to admire. I mean, really.
Heard outside of its astonishing video concept, a sudden play on your iPod, for example, Head Over Heels reveals something else. The song is basically the sound of a grown man who loves like a high schooler. There's all this awkwardness and beating around the bush; when he finally lets go and really announces his feelings it's less about being in love, or as it is in this case probably, like, than it is about being caught off guard by infatuation itself. And just like a teenager, he's barely talked to the girl and he's already dreaming about time flying and growing old with her. Silly boy, it rarely works that way.
Head Over Heels/Tears For Fears (mp3)
Then again, who cares about immature infatuation in pop form when there's A SIMIAN IN A LIBRARY!
Purchase Songs From The Big Chair
I'm shootin babies, no ifs ands or maybes
When it comes to music I think I, like Brad Pitt via Jennifer Aniston via Vanity Fair, am missing a sensitivity chip. Things that people find appalling in mixed company seem perfectly okay to me. It's just art, ya know? Turn up the volume, sing along, as long as children aren't in the room to ask you what things mean, what is the problem? Case in point, I was playing vehicle-DJ in a car full of friends. A song came on that I particularly love. As the booming, cocksure voice filled the car, menacing, playful and ridiculously precise, I felt the other passengers cringing. Not just cringing, but actually shrinking into their seats. My feeling of elation dampened somewhat. It was "Did I say the wrong thing?" in song form.
Dead Wrong (feat. Eminem)/Notorious B.I.G. (mp3)
Yes, everything Biggie says in this song* is hackle-raising, taken seriously or no. It's meant to be. It's a million miles away from politically correct. Nevertheless, it's no different than Nick Cave reinterpreting Stagger Lee. It's a man telling you how hardcore he is. Should you laugh? Should you run? Well BOTH if you so desire. But don't deny it's power.
Luckily, I didn't lose the radio controls that day. By the time Biggie got around to the unexpected and deliciously sing-songy "Because you know I love it young, fresh and green" the ice broke, thanks to some nervous giggles from the couple in front. Point taken though, not one for polite society, best saved for one on one listens.
Buy Born Again by Notorious B.I.G. on Amazon Digital.
* Yes, Marshall is in there too. While I'm fond of his verses, with their neat little internal rhymes, they belong in another song entirely. Not really his fault, since he recorded this after Biggie's death so it's not exactly a joint venture. Nevertheless, Eminem's lurid and fantastical story is clearly a character talking. He's playing the crazy man screaming at the walls. Biggie's lines, on the other hand, vile as they may be, are meant as braggadocio. He's play pretending too, the part of the big bad man, but his words are aimed directly at the listener. They seem to come with a little wink and a head nod. Which strangely, make him the more frightening of the pair.
Going to give this heart away
No, I am not at SXSW. And yes, I've been busy. Have you missed me?
Portishead's Glory Box is a sweet little mystery of a song, enthralling and puzzling. A woman slinks around on the verses, drawling about being some kind of been there/done that vixen and then suddenly jumping up to declare, in a different voice entirely, that possibly YOU are her salvation. This is how crazy people talk. Sometimes crazy is irresistible. Beth Gibbons' vocal is a master class in delivery. When she sings about a thousand flowers blooming, her voice opens up to mirror the line. She is tremulously hopeful, commanding but vulnerable and as the music stalking behind her patently telegraphs, possibly dangerous too.
It would be hard to improve on such a vocal and I'm glad to note that this man doesn't really try.
Glory Box (Portishead cover)/John Martyn
Listening to this cover, I picture an old man at a bar remembering a siren's song and singing it back to himself. It has been over thirty years so he's unsure of the words but he still remembers, with perfect clarity, the look in her eyes when she first touched him. How he felt when she did. He wasn't the one to save her of course. But that's life, right? He's had a few too many, he usually does. The barkeep yells last call, and wisely, he doesn't order. He gathers his tattered things; cigarettes in their almost crushed pack, a tiny pencil used for racetrack forms and errant thoughts, a lone grocery receipt. He makes his way outside, still singing his mumbling version of that long lost tune. The melody fades as he gets further down the wet street. He turns a corner and goes out of sight.
John Martyn died this year on January 29th. A contemporary of Nick Drake's and in the vanguard of the 60's Brit folk resurgence, Martyn was an innovative singer and guitarist whose own compositions veered from gentle folk pastorales to booze-soaked jazzbo crawls. Do yourself a favor and check out Solid Air. A perfect antidote for what ails you when you're not going anywhere but are still tired and desperately need music for your cooling fire.
ATJ/CMJ show CANCELLED
ATJ/CMJ Saturday show MOVED
I've been busy, this you might know. Nevertheless, I am making time to wash my hair and put on some clean spittle-free clothes in order to celebrate CMJ with the After The Jump crew and - wait for it... wait for it... - BEARSUIT. Yes and yes and yes! How fantastic is that? It's safe to say Soft Communication exists largely because of this band (object of desire for our very first music post all those carefree years ago) and the fact that they are here in NYC makes me happier than I can possibly say. I won't be rehashing any of the many posts I've done on them before, simply do a search on the name Bearsuit to see some of my past frothing at the mouth rambling, I'll just say COME SEE THEM FAH REELZ. I will be standing up front with hearts in my eyes.
By the way, the show has been MOVED. This is an important detail. It is no longer at the Yards thanks to tomorrow's apparent deluge so the whole shebang is taking place at The Market Hotel in Bushwick instead. Many other delightful bands are playing but seriously BEARSUIT. Gawd.
I have been listening to a lot of Misora Hibari and her covers lately. Not for anything, just because a sentimental connection to the past is the one thing driving me forward these days. The present, may I put none too politely, fucking blows. Hibari's songs did much the same for her country then as they do for me now. Born the same year as my dad (1937), understandably there's nothing political, challenging or angry in anything she offers. There is gentle, loving, witty, bawdy and even dreamlike testimonies to more idyllic times. She sings and once again the world is beautiful and worth one more look. After all, I'm the working man. I am tired of hearing my country put down and shamed. There's hard times ahead and the economy is a lot more than embarassing. I just wanna turn on my radio and laugh about that meddling rickshawman.
What I want from a cover is the familiar but not the expected. UA works classic songs like classic fabrics. She cuts here, embellishes there, twists and turns all the while maintaining the integrity of the original in a way that is neither boring or predictable.
Try finding Misora's original RINGO OIWAKE りんご追分 and then I highly recommend digging up UA's version. In English, it's called "Apple and the Fork in the Road". The song was Misora's first hit at the age of fifteen. It's operatic highs and lows, typical of classical enka, sound as though she is lulling a snake to sleep. This clip of her singing it in a film I don't know the name of absolutely silences me. Misora's sounds like it came out of an old Western (hoofbeats and all). UA takes it to the beach.
Speaking of apples and nostalgia, this video of Shiina Ringo's cleverly titled "Ringo no Uta" (Apple Song) makes me smile as it literally recounts the chronological turns of her aesthetic. Ah, for those carefree pseudo-fetish days of pouty rock.
Another song I'm listening to a lot is Oborozukiyo-Inori 朧月夜~祈り (Prayer for Moonlight). This erhu-laced romantic pop version sung by the likeable Miss Mika Nakashima is pleasing to me in that this is so not a pop song. It was written in the 20's as a traditional piece to help students learn the koto and shamisen. Aiko Shimada's version sticks to more traditional threads and is intended to be a lullaby.
Neon Lights presents...Friday, August 29th!
The hiatus ends abruptly with a seriously stacked fuzz-pop extravaganza. More info to come. Obviously.
08.29.08, Neon Lights presents...
the Pains of Being Pure at Heart: - "Kurt Cobain's Cardigan"
My Teenage Stride: - "Theme From Teenage Suicide"
the Capstan Shafts: - "61 Sideburns"
the Beets: - "No Blood"
ただいま JAPANEE SOUL
Parting is never easy in any language and I found myself doing so in English, bad English, modest Japanese, barely-dignified bastardizations of both, noogies, hugs, groans, beers and smiles. Japan is a hard knot to untangle once you've clawed your way into the weave. The things I missed in NY don't shine as bright as they used. Many things need redefining. I'm a bit uncomfortable.
Japan made me a fan of enka. Partly because I gravitate towards what has gone before but also because there is no faster way to bond with the fellows you work with than to respect the pop of their generation. My principals and vice-principals, the PTA members, even a few of the teachers would be amazed enough to learn that I even knew names like Misora Hibari, Yosui Inoue and Ishikawa Sayuri. It is a different matter altogether to pick up the mic and let go like it's 1955. With them I was always in the right crowd. Going to karaoke with ALTs and singing "Dani California" for the billionth time is truly a boorish obligation. They could have at least sucked my kiss.
I've culled my own bevy of standards, the most complicated of which was the original version of 車屋さん KURUMAYA SAN. Once covered by my beloved pomme, it is truly amazing to hear the late Misora singing a classic example of what Shiina Ringo has made into philosophy. Old with new. Swanky foreign jazz blended with traditional undulations. The lyrics are biting, coquettish and conversational, written to evoke images of rural Japan, as idealistic as Dixie. Idyllic characters like the festival booth owner, the drunk old farmer and the meddling rickshawman (kurumaya san) assigned to deliver a love note in absolute secrecy.
naisho de watashite naisho de henji ga
naisho de kuru you ni
dekya senkai na
(in secrecy deliver it, in secrecy turn over the reply only to me)
It's a complicated old ditty and the apple loves nothing more than complication. The Rickshawman is something of a simpleton and upon failing to do as instructed, he is scolded by the singer with the words:
"He who opens something not addressed to him is foolish but the one who addressed it is even moreso."
One listen and you will understand why my colleagues laughed their asses off whenever I attempted to sing it. That part is a bitch to sing.
My last hurrah was on the eve of my wakarekai (farewell party). All my other schools just happened to be gathered at the same bar. The vice principal of Futada Elementary, knowing my penchant for humiliation, thrust a mic in my hand and announced that he would select an appropriate song for me. I was appropriately drunk so I said hi.
The song was AMAGIGOE 天城越え by Ishikawa Sayuri。If a standard for karaoke exists, folks, this is it. This is their "Somewhere Over the Rainbow.", "Miss American Pie", "Nessun Dorma" rolled into one. If you claim to be Japanese and not know this yarn, the Emperor himself gives you detention. They've even made a reggaeton version. It is not an easy song to sing or understand. The lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen are so archaic they are no longer recognized by even adult Japanese. It's so poetic that even a sentiment as bitter as jealousy becomes somehow sweet.
"If another seeks to intrude, may I then destroy you?"
Catering to the national passion for competition, karaoke bars have installed some weird electronic ranking system for how well one follows lyrics and when you're trashed those numbers really fucking count! I sang knowing that good or bad, I'd receive the same appreciation. Kyoto sensei was so proud to have chosen wisely and dammit but I do love that song! I scored a 92, higher than anyone else.
Stay tuned, I'm far from done with this madness.
Side Effects with Saxomaphone
Have you heard the new El Jezel CD "The Warm Frequency"?
Have you downloaded "the champagne & cold coffee EP" free from their website which D posted about in May?
If you've seen El Jezel live, you've probably heard the song "Side effects"
which is my favorite of the 4 song EP. They rock the f*** out when they play this "scorching ode to paranoia" live, and on the studio version they get a bit more experimental, with guest saxophonist Felipe from the band Cholo.
I love it.
This song reminds me a bit of the "Buena" cover they often pull out live to let George unleash the furious side of his vocals (how about a studio version of that one, guys?), but it's still a sound all their own.
These kids have been at it for a few years playing their songs to fellow New York indie-rockers, and fine-tuning their sound, and they only seem to be picking up more steam as time goes by. I hope the steady stream of good tunes never runs out for them.
Download "Side Effects" by El Jezel
Ryan Adams Channels Danzig (Song dedication for Man in Gray)
Listen: Ryan Adams - The Sun Also Sets
At first you may think this is your run of the mill pop ballad, but it builds. The payoff is at about 1:55 when Ryan Adams channels his inner Danzig and kind of sounds like he's being strangled, but in a good way (?). There it is.
This is definitely the highlight of his latest album, Easy Tiger, for me. Of course this has been out for a while so he's probably written 5 more albums by now (just check out the craziness posted on his myspace page)
What's in your past is still in your future
A problem. It's way past bedtime and you are having what has become a regular nighttime occurrence; a panic attack. Your head is racing in that middle of the night frenzy of thought, possibilities opening up and closing in billions of tantalizing and terrifying ways. These scenarios are fantastical and unlikely, but they whip up the neurosis into fine, featherweight meringue nonetheless.
Through it all, through the heart racing terror, is your lover dozing on the other side of the bed. Breathing lightly, oblivious to it all. What would they think of this? What would they think if they knew? There are no answers. When sleep comes, and finally it does, it's not peaceful surrender. It hits suddenly, like a slap to the face.
Sleeping/Man in Gray (mp3)
About six years ago, my beloved friend Jared made me go see him play with his new band, Man in Gray. I went to humor him and stuck around because despite my cynicism, their giddy enthusiasm won me over. I became a fan. I went to most of their shows. I observed each member's particular strengths and idiosyncrasies and made up nicknames for them all. I liked them. I wanted to see where this ramshackle group of disparate personalities would go, I wanted to hear their music grow and I wanted to be there when they became whatever it is that they were supposed to be. I'm not talking about "making it" - that stuff bores me to tears. I mean something else, a feeling to be experienced where everyone looks around and recognizes it too.
A year or so later, the fangirl unexpectedly turned consort when I took up with MiG's quiet, sly guitarist Jeremy. I wasn't too wild about the role-switch at first. I liked being able to just be a fan, once you become "a girlfriend", the dynamics change. Now you're expected to carry someone's gear in a blizzard and no one will say thank you for your 3AM Sherpa work. No matter. It can't be helped. It's all part of being an insider, right? So wind-whipped and wet, you trudge on home, trying not to slip on the sidewalk and hoping against hope that the next gig will be a dry one.
Multiply that scenario, I have a dozen variations. And for every club that unexpectedly had no sound but somehow turned into a disco, booker that drunkenly fell down a flight of stairs before they could pay you, performance space that wouldn't let in a band member because they were underage, or radio station with mortifying technical difficulties, there were ecstatic moments. I knew those songs, saw them born, cheered them on and sang along to whatever words I could make out. I didn't have to be there but I was. Tired eyes or no.
Man in Gray is playing their last gig TODAY, Thursday, June 19th at The Delancey and it feels like the finale of a long-running, adored, and sometimes infuriating TV series. Whatever will I watch in its place? Thank you Bryan, Jared, Jeremiah, Jeremy and Tina for being my Tuesday night for the past six years. Man in Gray is dead, long live Man in Gray.
Purchase I Can't Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing by Man in Gray.
Love, D (Your #1 Fan)
* Inside joke. BECAUSE I CAN.
After The Jump '08 THIS Saturday!
Come out to After the Jump Fest this Saturday!
Free t-shirts, Photographs and Giveaways all day!
Plus Raffles to win a pair of tickets to Virgin Mobile Fest, VIP passes to Siren Festival, CMJ Badges and a new Zune with a free 3 month download subscription!
Metromix.com, your online guide for arts and entertainment in New York, will be kicking it all day long at After the Jump Fest 2008, with their very own Street Stage right in the middle of N. 6th st. in downtown Williamsburg. They will also be there taking pictures of the fabulous crowd to post in a special photo gallery.
Make sure and come out to see Pela, Ponytail, Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears, The Forms and over 30 more free bands starting at Noon!
|Gen Art Pulse|
|Vitamin Water||Snoozer Loser|
|Uncensored Interview||Blog Fresh Radio|
|CMJ Music Marathon||Rize|
After The Jump '08!
Here is the official After the Jump Fest flyer, designed by Rob Corradetti of Mixel Pixel (also playing the evening show at ATJF). Taking over the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Galapagos Art Space, and a substantial chunk of North 6th Street starting at noon on June 21st, ATJF is partnering with Make Music NY, Metromix, Stereofame and others (including over 40 bands) to support underfunded New York City school music programs.
Calling All Unsigned Bands in/near NYC!!!
Don't let my heart turn sore
This past Sunday, The Monkey and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. In terms of relationships, they say you should celebrate your wedding anniversary over any other but since there was no party, most of our family and friends couldn't be there, and we picked it because it was the last Friday before the end of the month, that particular date holds little meaning to me. June 1st does however. It wasn't the first day we met or even our first date, but it is the day we both stopped being cautious about one another. I couldn't replace it.
As a shotgun wedding present, our beloved landlords gave us a gift certificate to eat at this fancypants joint called Rosewater. It's the kind of place where, if you're anything like us, you can barely keep a straight face after you order. Because attempting to sound blithe whilst saying "Crudo di Opah" is tough. We ate without having to do menu-math and had dessert (chocolate banana tart with coconut sorbet - yowza!) too. It was all delicious. I gazed moonily across the table at J and asked him for another five years. He looked surprised and said, "Only five?" to which I replied, "In five years, I'll ask you for ten." He agreed to this arrangement. The two of us (and our shadow third) walked back home hand in hand on a hushed 6th Avenue and talked about various things as the tall, verdant trees rustled sweetly overhead.
Palate cleanser, anyone?
Stay (Just A Little Bit More)/The Dø (mp3)
Stay (Just A Little Bit More) is totally unrepresentative of this band's sound and totally unrepresentative of my feelings about my fella. I'm just using it because if you completely ignore the bitterness invoked in the lyrics*, Olivia Merilahti's sweet, coquettish voice makes the whole thing sound like strolling in the park with a winsome lass. For more information about The Dø and another track to sample, go read this fine gent's post.
Purchase A Mouthful by The Dø.
* I don't make of habit of ignoring song meaning but thanks to the fact that most of the music I listen to nowadays first gets played on my tiny little computer speakers at work, the lyrics are the last thing catching my ears. It's like listening to music back in Chile and English is foreign language all over again.
You've loved me before
Do You Love Me Now? by The Breeders is one of those curdled little numbers where the question is more challenge than plea. Sure the words are straightforward enough but how could you love her when she sounds so childlike and insinuating and uh, creepy? This cover by El Jezel is a little less Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Jessica Flanagan sounds more reasonable, less wild-eyed nutty than Kim Deal. But given the song's underlying feel, those wobbly guitars, the way it sounds like the room is spinning, that vocal cool-headedness might prove more dangerous in the end. Ladies and gentlemen, watch your hearts!
Do You Love Me Now? (Breeders cover)/El Jezel (mp3)
Tonight is El Jezel's CD release party for their new album, The Warm Frequency. Admission to Crash Mansion is free if you RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and arrive before 11pm. There is an open bar from 9 -
For the softer side of this band, check out this brand new hairdresser in love themed video for Champagne and Cold Coffee directed by Chris Brunelle and Phil Rondeau.
The Warm Frequency by El Jezel will be available for purchase on eMusic, iTunes and Insound in the next couple of weeks.
I want you to know when I look in your eyes
I'm standing outside a thrift shop storefront. It's past closing hours but the window is lit, so I'm staring at the items inside. A red child's drum, some depression glass candy bowls, a lamp or two. You are there too and you are talking to a mutual friend of ours. Your back is to me, you're blocking me out from the conversation, on purpose it would seem. I know I should ask you to include me but I can't. I'm just too angry. I'm so angry in fact, that when I put my hand on your arm to move you gently to the side, I wind up digging my nails into your arm and shoving you hard. In the redness of that moment I fervently hope that you land in the gutter and crack your skull. But you don't, you barely stumble, you're fine. This all happens very quickly. "I'm sorry," I shout. "It was an accident!" Nervous laughter. But my eyes can't lie and things get very quiet. I light a cigarette to fill the silence, puff away for a couple of drags, realize what I'm doing and throw it out into the street. I run to a club next door, lock myself into their bathroom and scrub my hands. I keep thinking over and over about how you will tell everyone about my smoking and I won't be able to explain that I simply forgot that I don't do that anymore, that it was an accident. Another one, a real one this time. I start weeping. I wake up weeping. I can still smell the cigarette smoke.
Knife (Live on KEXP)/Grizzly Bear (mp3)
Knife/Grizzly Bear (video)
For a song about hurt, Knife by Grizzly Bear sure comes on like honey. I fell in love with this live version, partly because of the doo-wop meets luau vibe and partly because the vocals here are much more intimate than the studio version. Ed Droste's warm, fluttering vibrato keeps the central question, "You think it's alright?" light. As if the situation at hand is already happening with some distance and these statements are merely the fantasy of confrontation. A ghost doomed to bleed eternally from his disappointments, plaintively showing you his wounds, but unable to retaliate in any real way.
Buy Yellow House by Grizzly Bear.
There's someone I forgot to be
I always resented having to think of George Michael as a sex symbol. My older cousins thought he was the hottest thing going and I was convinced he had smelly feet. Seriously. In the Faith video he wasn't wearing any shoes and I was sure his feet were stinkin'. Then in the Father Figure video he was wearing the exact same unwashed outfit and I knew I was right. Also, it wasn't just his feet. I decided he had all over funk barely masked by the kind of cologne local guys wore to go to Webster Hall on friday night. I obsessed over this notion while my cousins swooned, dreaming of putting their little hands (EW!) in his. Not I, I stood alone, wrinkling my nose in disgust.
I did love Freedom '90. He wasn't in the video, I didn't have to see those jeans or that stubble or that scowl. I could picture whoever I wanted singing it and to like the song any way I wanted. Whether the message was "I'm done being frowny leather jacket guy" or "I'm done pretending to be hetero frowny leather jacket guy" was irrelevant. The song sounded like the title and its attendant elation mixed with a little fear comes across beautifully.
Freedom '90/George Michael (mp3)
You can't hate on this song. It may go on a bit. The clothes do not make the man a mite too often. BUT there's the fantastic syncopation - "Gotta have some faith in the sound/It's the one good thing that I...got", the faux gospel choir and the pre-chorus bit where Michael's voice takes on a new edge as he sings "I think there's something you should know..." as if to say but seriously now, let's get to what this is reeeeally about. It's an amazing vocal and if you don't believe me because it sounds so feather-light and easy, try singing this at karaoke sometime.*
Purchase Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 by George Michael on Amazon Digital.
* Sometimes, when I'm bored and I'm alone at home, I go to Oxygen On Demand and I sing a few of their Karaoke selections. I chose Freedom '90 a few weeks ago. Hoo boy.
My musical coming of age knew no older siblings, no church-going folk, and no roving beer-guzzling events besides the dude downstairs. Still don't really know/care who/what/when a Black Sabbath is. I first heard them via Japanese cover. It was a Japanese man who gave me my first taste of Zepplin, Motorhead and his beloved Type-O Negative. Sure, I knew what an 80's metal band sounded like. I saw the "Wayne's World" movie. Still, I feel like I don't know what I'm missing when I flip on my Ipod and listen to ANTHEM scream.
M'friends, I've found my own personal Yoda.
Really, all teachers should be scary ex rock stars/lounge divas or at least make a convincing act. A rebel at 40. Scarred, gritty and allergic to everything except cocaine (or so he claims). My coworker in bygone days once fronted a fantastically unfamous rock band. He even showed me his poster. His 20 minutes of slippery fame have left him with rage against the dying of the spotlight and legends to tell over coffee. He was in the pit of Japan's first realized underground, screaming along in customary ripped midriff and bandanna. He knew the MODS, flailed to the PEES and worshipped at the shrine of RC Succession. When he asks what music I like in class, he makes happy faces if I cite his band. They truly are fantastically bad but I couldn't ever tell him that.
OMG! Tee-hee! We both think Elephant Kashimashi and the Red Hot Chili Peppers should marry and have a lovechild named PHREK. He lives in Japan and knows you can't eat Cibo Matto. He likes Bon Jovi under very specific circumstances. He knows precisely when to make the sign of the devil. He thinks Mr. Children is for kids.
He is the Nancy to my Sid!
How sad I will be leaving him soon.
After The Jump Fest - Noise Stage!
June 21st, 2008 Noon
Gen Art Pulse
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If you don't love me now, you will never love me again
If you're prone to feverish, fan-fictionesque flights of fancy about the rock bands in your life, then you must be a Fleetwood Mac fan. It's practically mandatory. They make it so easy. Everyone WAS sleeping with each other and busy as beavers being bitter about it. No projection necessary; most of the songs were meant as nasty little messages. To one another, old lovers, new lovers, rivals, to the listener.
The Chain/Fleetwood Mac (mp3)
Everytime I hear The Chain* it has such satisfying snap. Lindsay Buckingham is seemingly leading the recrimination charge with the lead vocal but since everyone else comes in and out on the singing as well, his attack doesn't quite land as it should. There's no clear injured party. Everyone is claiming the role of righteous victim. You wronged me, see? No, you wronged ME! And so on, and so on. Of course the song is smart too. It knows that because no one is willing to accept responsibility or see anyone else's point of view but their own, they will never be able to part. They are stuck with each other forever; a figure 8 of pointed fingers.
Purchase Rumours by Fleetwood Mac on Amazon Digital.
* In fact, it's so fa-fa-fresh that I'm confounded as to why it wasn't Track 1 on Rumours. I never heard this album on vinyl, can anyone tell me if this was at least the first song on the second half of the record?