you know you can follow my voice

dear friends,

friday is the bestest day in the world. especially pay-day friday. today I plan to treat myself like a duchess & lord about the manor or at least the lower east side in freakin' style. if you see a woman dressed in a canary yellow blouse swanning about somewhere on bowery tonight with a loud laugh & an eclair in hand, that would be me. be sure to say hello.

1. I'll never forget the first time I heard kim deal's voice. I was in my mom's bedroom rifling through her jewelry & the local alterna radio started playing gigantic. I cocked my head like the hmv dog & listened. I didn't know what that song was about, or who or what exactly was really that big; I just felt drawn by the repetition & how soothing & intimate her voice was. soft but with this occasional, not unpleasant sandpaper quality. it seemed as if her voice could turn to either of those sides on a word & those words were all meant especially for whoever happened to be listening. in this case, me.

one recent track featuring her voice that's probably been overlooked by those of you who aren't into songs from musicals (that might be everyone here save contributors george & tavie but I might be wrong...) is the breeders' cover version of wicked little town from hedwig & the angry inch. the rough & the sweet are both in evidence & since the song is part lullaby, part gentle seduction & part statement of recognition, it plays to all of deal's strengths as a vocalist. an inspired pairing of material & artist.

2. usually songs that start with an eeeee noise make me think that a test of the emergency broadcast system is taking place & I promptly turn off the radio before the instict to start squealing along takes over. in the case of the deathray davies' tune the medications gone, they got lucky 'cause I was feeling lazy. this tune possesses that particular rock anomaly; the caveman stomp drum. this type of beat is the best friend of many a male music geek because no fancy footwork is required to dance along. all you have to do is nod your head fiercely to the cavernous beat. perfect when standing in a packed club & you want to move but can't 'cause of the crowd. but of course this band couldn't stop there so they added a sly organ line on top of it all which makes the song a fitting tribute to good time 60's rock even if the deadpan vocal is as modern indie as it comes. not perfect but still a worthy addition to a shuffle.


as a fan of both rock & sex in films, naturally I saw 9 songs when it premiered last weekend. the film has been inspiring a lot of chatter largely because the explicit sex scenes in the movie are real & not acted. real parts, real time (ostensibly) & at least one of the orgasms is eh visibly real. now, I'm a fan of director michael winterbottom's not just 'cause he named one of his movies after an elvis costello song but because when he wants to, his use of music in his films is satisfyingly dexterous. my favorite, if uninspired choice, is in 24 hour party people, when after a gruelling session recording she's lost control with legendary madman producer martin hannett, ian curtis, peter hook, bernard sumner (then albrecht - oh, who's a geek?) of joy division & tony wilson of factory records decide to test out the material by listening to it in a moving car.

of course, I have to go back here. previously hannett has decided that in order to get the particular drum sound he wanted, they would have to assemble the drum kit on the roof of the studio & record drummer steve morris playing the tune's relentless teutonic beat up there until someone came to tell him to stop. so later when the musicians drive away & the drums sound fills the car, we can see from the shot that it cues up perfectly with morris still on the roof, still playing that beat like the drum machine he pretty much is 'cause no one came up to tell him that the session was over. a great moment, probably false as all get out, but it displays an imagination that understands exactly what the right sound & image can say in a film.

I probably expected too much from 9 songs as a result. the film is one long remembrance of an affair between a brit & a comely young american girl in london. presently, the brit is doing something with ice in antarctica (reviewers say he's a glacierologist, not that I would've guessed that but then again, unless there's "press play" involved, I'm shamefully ignorant) & while he rummages around in the snow he remembers the sex. oh & the live music they went to see, most of it indie rock. these live shows are seen from the couple's perspective; out in the crowd, looking at the stage & multi-colored lights. the movie falls into an easy groove of sex, black rebel motorcycle club, sex, the dandy warhols, sex, michael nyman, etc...

I was disappointed. not by the boot knockin' but by the music. the sex was interesting in a nature film way, like oh, that's common? huh, interesting. that's not to say that it wasn't erotic, which it was at times. I just felt that winterbottom never made a convincing connection between the music & the relationship or at least the memory of it. he could've just as easily punctuated the fermatas between shags with a trip to a restaurant or the zoo. & while winterbottom has repeatedly said that he didn't intend the film to be arousing, I feel that's a ridiculously out of touch statement because if he means to show sex as it is between people who are passionate about one another how could it fail to be? so what's the problem then? well, I wanted the music in the film to be just as affecting & sexy as the bed action. because if that is what he chooses as a framing device then it needs to be just as intimate & important. as it was, it seemed like an afterthought, & I felt let down by someone who usually doesn't miss on that score.

nevertheless, I wouldn't say it's not worth seeing. I found kieran o'brien's performance quite good & I've seen him in other films & he's always seemed like he was "acting". in this film, he genuinely seems blind-sided by his feelings as they make their inevitable progression from lust to love. & while margo stilley, who looks like a longer, slightly zonked maggie gyllenhaal, doesn't come across as well it works to her advantage since the whole movie is his memory. she can remain maddeningly unknowable.

I'm sure it'll wind up becoming people who find porn artificial & distasteful's favorite rocks off title. but as an art film, it feels empty & unfinished. the music performances, lacking any subtext, fail to complete the portrait of love/lust lost.

anywho, a couple of the musical acts come off okay despite the graininess of the images & truncated versions of the songs. the monkey & I are split on this one, he votes the von bondies' c'mon, c'mon, I vote for franz ferdinand's jacqueline but I suspect this is because we love those songs to begin with so they couldn't fail. you tell me what you think.

must go...work beckons. enjoy your weekends!

love, d

songs to seek: wicked little town/the breeders, the medications gone/the deathray davies, c'mon, c'mon/the von bondies, jacqueline/franz ferdinand


Post a Comment

<< Home