I've got no new act to amuse you

dear friends,

1. I heard this song on internet radio & I was convinced I stumbled across a pure cheese lost 80's number sung by a blonde with smeared lipstick in a too-tight black & pink polka dot dress & ginormous heels. she abuses eyeliner & men with equal wastoid enthusiasm & she wants you to dance with her, right now on the slightly scuzzy dance floor. forget coke, she's a 'lude monster; slow & zonked. disco zombie.

most people would say eeew to such a lady & such a song. not me. the tune is called stay where you are by the delays* & it is totally CORN-AY! which to me & my varied & at times, cringe-inducing to all my indie rock friends taste, is a-ok. SO if you have dance keyboard ditty tolerance & an appreciation for the mascara-smeared, you will find yourself groovin'.

2. I found the little flames by swingin' link to link simian style through the british indie band website scene. they have a couple of downloads available on their website & since the last time I was there, seem to be doing pretty well indeed. I recommend goodbye little rose. contributors jeremiah & travis seemed to enjoy this short sharp post-punk tune at the serious business bbq. how could they not? it's about as step up to the line, stare you straight in the eye as bare-bones rock gets. singer eva petersen doesn't seem to be pushing a character or story through her vocal yet her clipped, stern, business-like delivery still sends a message. she's not messing around. it's over. eat your burger.

3. at dinner last night, conversation turned to elliott smith & the sad thought that there will never be another new album to look forward to unless his estate goes all makaveli on our collective asses. while I was never as rabidly enamored of him as some of my esteemed colleagues, I never felt like he was faking it so I never knocked his fans' cult-like devotion. I just wasn't completely grabbed.

when I first saw a photo of smith & found out that that soft, pressed powder voice came from this coiled guy with a craggy, 'I'm a'beat you' pirate face with sharp, wary eyes, suddenly all that sadness made sense. hard/soft, weak/strong, open/closed...pick a side, get fucked.

penny dreadful psychology aside, I listened to coast to coast this morning on my way to work. smith had always sounded plenty angry in other songs. this one feels different to me. it's cold & a little more distanced from his usual admissions of defeat. like walking into the pacific fully dressed for no other reason than to wake up & start talking straight; a flurry of words seemingly coming out from nowhere. everything's askew. guitars make high plaintive screeches & there's extraneous noise coming from all sides as the ground tilts away from your feet. yet...it's purposeful despite those vertiginous swirls. how is that? even smith's inability to NOT** have a beautiful vocal melody can dissipate this feeling of hardness. he's telling you something that you shouldn't forget even if he tells you something different tomorrow. so no matter what, try to remember. scary but gorgeous.

don't misunderstand, I don't hear this music as the sound of approaching suicide. this is no romantic interpretation. no matter what had happened to smith, I just feel this song is just terrifyingly real as an open admission of weakness. the repetition of "is there anything that I could do/that someone doesn't do for you" where his harmony shadow self (his frequent album companion) descends away from the lead vocal is a promise that this pledge, which is sincerely, even painfully, meant, cannot & WILL NOT hold. when the piano comes in at the coda, the tv in the room will be the only noise left & he'll have forgotten all about it.

4. moment of quiet to get over how incredibly rough thinking about/listening (specifically: on repeat) to coast to coast is.

I honk for hummingbirds. but I've never seen one in person, unfortunately. let's look at one here.

ah, that's nice.

however, from a basement on a hill is still playing. strung out again follows. a beautiful george harrison-esque slice of plaintiveness. I never pay attention to the lyrics on this one. I don't want to know. I just want to enjoy the sound of his voice sliding around in a way that belies junkie lamentation. I like that it's an almost cheeky vocal move. listen to it. do you hear what I'm hearing?

5. I heard first nine black alps when I was searching for black mountain (imagine you are my brain. it kinda makes sense) & I went nutty for their song cosmopolitan. I don't know anything about their personal lives or back story or what they had for breakfast & when did they know they made it & whether or not david bowie is their friend & that's beautiful to me. 'cause ultimately the formula is simple. does it give me pleasure? oh yeah.

cosmopolitan starts with brief, familiar guitar angularities which leads to a full rush of band with a singer accusingly using that insecure inner voice thing that can creep up on anyone any time you're at a club surrounded by folk with seriously coordinated outfits ("you're not pretty enough/you're not skinny enough/you're not healthy enough!" - I don't care how great you think you are or how hot, it happens to all of us) & the song just keeps hitting you with stridency & sneery cynicism at every fast turn. very punk rock. ah. but also very pop & that's what saves it. 'cause it's as clean as a brand new automobile with everything neatly sliding into where it should be. listen to the end where the chorus gives way to slight breakdown punctuated by drum attack before it comes back to the chorus again with renewed viciousness. it's so pristine that it would be easy to dismiss it as studied. but I SO buy it. I'd learn to drive just to get it around.

I will be away all of next week in floridarrgh. the monkey promises me beaches. I hear they have them there. I'm not sure what my internet access will be while I'm away so I implore you to mouse it up while the cat's away. write like mad, recommend, recommend, recommend.

also, anyone who wants to play the character of d in my absence, simply post twice a week & make yourself sound like an utter ass with an addiction to guitars & gettin' down on impromptu dancefloors. should be easy.

love, d

* the singer from the delays is not remotely like this description. that's why it's much more fun to hear this song first THEN go see what the band looks like.

** double negatives are warranted when talking about smith. that is the rule I have just made up.

songs to seek: stay where you are/the delays, goodbye little rose/the little flames, coast to coast/elliott smith, strung out again/elliott smith, cosmopolitan/nine black alps


Anonymous Tina said...

I will try to post something. Really I will. Have a great trip. I plan on listening to Mr. Smith on the subway ride home now with NOTHING to read (sob).

4:31 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger d said...

that is why I'm addicted to cheap gossip magazines. it's not just the cheap gossip, it's the lightness of the magazine. & of course, how disposable it is.

5:09 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger Tavie said...

Each of your posts is like a work of art. No wonder I can't get through any books right now. This stuff is all I feel like reading.

My favourite E.S. song is "Waltz#2", because it pretty much describes my former best friend and sometimes I like to bum myself out.

9:38 AM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger d said...

thanks t. I feel like writing about what I like is teaching me how to write. eventually, I will crack the code & be stylistically & grammaticaly sound & people will tell me I make sense & that they heard the song & liked it. that's my goal. that & free nachos.

off to my vacay. I know something will be forgotten. I'm just musing on what it will be...

12:42 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger liz o. said...

Re: Mr. Smith
There have been rumors around LA for years that people were intent upon building a Strawberry Fields-esq tribute to him in Echo Park. Maybe this has already happened. I don't know. There's a shrine to him on the wall in front of the music shop at the Sunset Junction where he took that picture for the album cover with all the mad swirlies. Anyhow, considering that E. Smith is basically Jesus of Silverlake, I would not be surprise if, in fact, someone released his "lost" tunes in the not-too-distant future.

12:49 PM, June 27, 2005  

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