all of your willing dimensions
firstly, go to contributor mike's blog, scroll down to the saturday, july 9 entry & wish him a happy belated birthday.
secondly, I will rip a page out of contributor jeremiah's live blog review post book & attempt to listen to & write my immediate thoughts on stephen malkmus' new album face the truth.
thirdly, this is where magazines insert stuff like "full disclosure" - I was a pavement insano. I wrote a sestina about them that's somewhere on the matador records web site, I went to many of their shows with that wild eyed look mouthing nonsense about "wave your credit card in the air" & yes, I was one of those idiots who would scream "conduit for sale!" just because I could when really, I just wanted to hear strings of nashville but they we're never gonna play that. when pavement dissolved, I found that all the middle of the road tendencies that singer/guitarist/mastermind stephen malkmus had been quietly cultivating like bonsais had borne tiny fruit & it was called stephen malkmus & the jicks. still a good writer, still plays good but gosh, it's so tidy. so clean. so perfect for the windows. & the ones that make them - such nice people!
let me make something really clear. malk & the jicks will never be coldplay. I don't mean that particular kind of lifestyle music so don't throw that cabbage just yet. malk's middle of the road is still far better than most. besides, I can completely understand that post pavement, he wanted to play with others & those others had to play like real musos. unfortunately this newfound maturity seemed to exclude fun. & I don't mean that the songs' subject matter wasn't fun (like I pay attention to subject matter! HA! please. that would make me a real music writer instead of a nut with opinions ranting in the wilderness of blogdom) but that there was no longer any sense that the music could go anywhere at any given time & there was no way of knowing when that would be. on your toes, all the time song experience. I loved that about pavement & I missed that wondrous sense of surprise. but I'm no hater. everybody's got to grow up. or go through a change to come back to something in a purer form. huh? I think you know what I mean.
so I heard that this album was done in malk's home studio. this cheered me somewhat. maybe the home situation would lead to more off the cuff loosey-goosiness. let's get to it, shall we?
1. pencil rot - static radio/guitar in ironic copulation. with body farts. then malk comes in sounding...nasally & playful. there seems to be actual attempts at singing. is that back-up singing or keyboards? lovely leather bound boy? is that what he's singing??? I love this man.
it just went from a weird rap into a nursery rhyme reprimand in falsetto. I think I need more coffee to catch up with the rest of what's going on.
2. it kills - this right here is what I like to call "joust rock". whenever I hear this type of thing, I always imagine the bands/artists in question as disgruntled & stoned renaissance fair workers planning a walk-out.
the truth is that this is probably how malkmus most directly sorts out his fairport convention jones. I find it rather lovely despite the occasional jarring guitar skronk. ah but then the skronk fully blooms into malkmusian splendor. he is one of my favorite guitarists in the world because no one can make a mistake sound so good or turn mistakes into genius "I did that on purpose" flights of soloing.
points to anyone who spots the five seconds of rod stewart's do ya think I'm sexy?.
3. I've hardly been - this sounds like some other song...which?* something latin. with hats & guns & rose accented ladies. 'cept the...eh chorus (?!) is just a cut & paste bit of weirdness seemingly put in for collaging purposes. I'll probably tire of this one.
I hear an egg shaker.
the minute before the end is faboo, it's like the drum kicks in as well as the booze & then everybody lurches to the floor taking the keyboard with them. or is "everyone" really just malk playing all instruments? hmmm...
(runs to look for credits listing)
4. freeze the saints - ah, the beautiful "I'm not a yuppie" (yes, you are! you ski! & wear northface parkas! I saw you playing with your expensive cell phone on the f train! ha!) love ballad. I'm not kidding, despite the summer house-ness of it all, I love this stuff.
only malk would find it a charming display of open-ness to ask a lady to help him "languish here". wow. he must really like her (said in my pre-diction class accent). or the gent he's pretending to be really, really likes her.
my favorite lyric in terms of delivery #2 - "done is good, done well is so much fucking better".
5. loud cloud crowd - simon & garfunkel! tres earnest. & vaguely patriotic. why do I think this? is there an americana chord? wait a minute, malk is being earnest? pink floyd reunited? are these the signs of a rock apocalypse? what's next?!?**
6. no more shoes - rhiaaaaaanon! "...rings like a bell through the night & wouldn't you love to love her". that's stevie not stephen but that's what this song sounded like when it started. I got so excited at the prospect of rhiannon being covered by malk that I was almost disappointed when he started singing something else. I said almost.
ok, how excellent is it when he says "getcha back" & gets down with the guitar in a short, but satisfyingly dirty little blast. & then walks away. & then comes back. & gets all spacey with a delicious delirium that makes me wanna do drugs, worship the moon, become president & buy my own island where this would blare out of speakers hidden in the trees during the harvest months. yes, everything. all at once.
in my head this monster solo is very "what? you want some of this? well, I'll give it to you." of course, in malk's head it was probably, "I need to pick up some polenta for dinner...maybe some basil". this is why it's a good idea to keep fans far from their obscure objects of admiration.
there's a "chikka chikka" moment in it! pan & scan earphone vocals! I'm way too excited about this.
I need more coffee.
7. mama - sanity returns. this song is cute as a button the way indie likes to be sometimes. is this malk's attempt to do madness' our house (sepia toned childhood recollection cum pop song) 'cept maybe, unlike them, it's not his childhood he's rhapsodizing about? sounds like it. I find it hard to buy the lyrics about growing up poor but there was LOVE. though I do see him on a hobby horse. then again, he's so set in stone as a sardonic smart ass in my mind that picturing an innocent little stephen is sorta of difficult. malkie: the unironic years - a brand new comic by daniel cloves.
on a side note, anyone looking to be seriously depressed, go watch anthony pelissier's the rocking horse winner.
I like the drumming on this, it's like a cantering horse. dressed in silks. medieval silks. yeah...
8. kindling for the master - this is the kind of song that will get dudes that hate disco to inadvertently twitch their behinds & when they do, they'll look around anxiously hoping that no one's noticed. then they'll think about rod stewart's hot pink spandex pants from those blonds have more fun days.
9. post-paint boy - "relationships, hey hey hey" - sounds just like that. 'cept it has the lines "trade up with a thicker skin" & "penny rich & dollar dumb" which are the sorta off of the top of his nogging shit that makes me light votive candles.
after a brief interlude of what sounded like the theme to dark shadows, it's back to the a/b, a/b major leagues thing that is exactly what I can't keep in my head or heart. nice & cleverer than most but I'm not swooning into the moors. & swooning into the moors WEARING AN ERMINE & SATIN CAPE is what I demand from this man. harsh, I know. but that is what a fanbase can be like. evil hordes of over-expectant bastards wanting to drain you of your blood. hey! like dark shadows' barnabas collins! maybe that's the subconscious reference. I think the caffeine is getting to me.
10. baby c'mon - I adore this song because I love cock rock. if I had a show on tv & it was all about a myopic, ill tempered scold with bad teeth who avoids the phone & makes all the special guest stars listen to her ranting whenever they stop by & it was called "everyone thinks d is really odd" or some such, this would be the theme song. it's like this sloppy call to arms shouted from the back of a pick-up truck by someone who's never been on the back of a pick-up truck much less shouted from one.
my favorite lyric in terms of delivery #1 "so you say that you're too old to yell but too young for hell"
9. malediction - this one always goes by without my retaining anything about it. let me listen to it again. yup. same thing. s'alright, I guess. the goodness had to end eventually.
so yeah, can't you tell what I'm saying here? despite the limp to home plate finish, this album is one to purchase. so do so. malk needs to go to another weekend wine tour. why deny him? he deserves that fine pinot gris!
* anyone who can figure out what this sounds EXACTLY like wins a mix on the theme of their choice.
** anyone who comes up with the third credible sign of the rock & roll apocalypse also wins a mix on the theme of their choice.
songs to seek: it kills, freeze the saints, no more shoes, baby c'mon