The Dredge Report

The subject's been done to death and back to zombie life and then to death again, so I don't really have to get into a whole speil about how the iPod changes how a person accumulates music. Basically, the thing is that I'll pick up tracks here and there from MP3 blogs or Limewire, and since I didn't go through the trouble of buying an album or anything, I forget that I downloaded the song, and it gets lost. The other thing that could happen is that some dude could decide to dump 1,500 songs on to my device one day, and I end up in a situation where I've got hundreds of songs at my fingertips that I've maybe never even listened to once. So that brings me to perhaps the most boring music writing activity known to new media: the shuffle report.

To make a long story short, here is some good music I've come across on the pod that I didn't know I had, and so didn't research in the same meticulous way that I do for, say, the geneology of a Dischord release. So, in the spirit of high Greenbergian modernism*, these reviews are more or less devoid of any contextualization. Just impressions about some songs.

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, "Your Worst Is Your Best": In contrast to an unfortunately unweildy and melodramatic band name, this is a tightly crafted indie rock tune, replete with cometing guitar and vibe (xylophone?) arpeggios. It's got a gentle, driving beat with that soft, yet raspy snare sound that, in itself, makes me think of a military ceremony. All in all, a bittersweet song that would serve well playing over the end credits of a comfortably hip romantic drama.

Xiu Xiu, "I Luv The Valley OH": Honestly, I kept seeing Xiu Xiu CDs at Other Music and thought that maybe they were one of those bands that everybody in the know was supposed to know. So I used the internet to steal their songs, and then never really bothered to give them a good listen. This song starts out normally enough as a little bass and guitar number that sound almost like something off the Reality Bites soundtrack. But then you get these peaked-out, unhinged vocals that make you feel like you're listeing in on tapes of Robert Smith during some kind of schizophrenic episode. That, combined with some richly textural electronics, make this a really interesting listen - and I don't mean "interesting" as a euphemism for weird and unlistenable. It's catchy, too.

Liz Phair, "Batmobile": This one doesn't really fit with the theme, as I do have this album (Juvenilia), but I had forgotten about it for years, and just came across it again. Let's not dwell on the fact that Phair's recent output has been a huge, stinking pile of crap. Fact is, there is more to the good Liz Phair than just Exile in Guyville. Whip-Smart, and especially Juvenilia are worth listening to in their entirety. This lo-fi gem is a little bit indie, a little bit folksy, and has got some really great vocal harmonies. It demonstrates her conversational mode of songwriting that can be refreshingly unassuming.

And on a similar note: Have people been talking about the new White Stripes album? I used to really really like the White Stripes, but I don't think I could find a better illustration of a band with a distinctly inverse proportion of noteriety and quality. I understand and sympathize with people who say that even their first two albums were just a ripped-off sythesis of delta blues and Led Zep, but nonetheless, those songs fucking rock. Sure, White Blood Cells and Elephant both had their ups and downs, but the vast majority of the shit off of Get Behind Me Satan (incidentally, a really good album title) might as well be Ben Folds Five or something. Really, horribly, deathly boring. Will D have something conciliatory to say here?

*As if that could be more of a joke on a collectively written, hyperlink-heavy music weblog. But whatever, Greenberg was full of shit anyway.


Blogger d said...

greenberg? (who that? I never went to SKOOL!) I'm so guilty in terms of not doing research which is why I stick to feelings & butterflies & lavender soap.

I like your list, I've been curious about xiu xiu because a band that names themselves after an incredibly depressing chinese film has gotta have something up its sleeve.

as for los rayos blancos - mojo gave them a 3 star instead of the usual 5 gazillion stars & it was still complementary! (I loves me some mojo) I'm curious about hearing it but I'm not feeling the same mania that I used to greet stripes records with. they put on some of the best live shows I've ever seen, theatrical & fun & serious but not ('cause a man who clearly does not wear underwear unstage is a FUNNY man). all those good things. but now, I guess I fear their success. which is a lame reason to avoid them, I know. what to do? what to do?

3:59 PM, July 06, 2005  
Blogger Phil said...

Actually, I would argue that getting depressed about a band's increasing noteriety is totally reasonable. Not only to you have to contend with the possibility of more "palatable" (read: bland) content, but you also can't count on having an intimate concert experience any more. The personal connection, which is always one of my favorite parts of music fandom, is totally severed.

Popular=Bad, as a hard and fast rule, is lame. But I almost always enjoy small acts in small venues much more.

On Clement Greenberg, try this:

Or check the Wikipedia entry.

4:31 PM, July 06, 2005  

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