10.26.2005

too hot, too greedy

dear friends,

1. the new album and the glass handed kites by mew has a cover that makes me very uneasy. by the looks of the thing I was expecting some art-damaged prog psychosis coming my way. of course, that's not the case. the sounds contained within are poppy bits of chiming guitar bounce-along not dissimilar from late 80's never-rans the ocean blue (whose between something & nothing I voted for shriek of the week on wdre* all the time, like a NERD) but with a more feminine sounding male singer trilling all sorts of scandi-english imagery. seek out am I wry? no from their album frengers. warning: not for people who don't like sugar or factory-like song structure.

2. I'm not a fan of the instrumental because then there's no sing along & I must sing along, even if I'm up against bjork, kate bush or liz frasier. the results might not be pretty but I feel awfully satisfied as I screech "heathcliff! it's me, cathy! come home!" or something that sounds like "iiiina iiina lakka lakkka lakkka" as my co-workers grimace & fall to their knees all around me. I got powers, yo!

despite my aversion, I like mountain book by ooioo even though there are no lyrics, not even in a made up language, is interminable & sounds like the von trapp family caught in a drum avalanche. which come to think of it, would probably please a lot people who wished the sound of music had a different sort of ending. one featuring an alpine disaster. hmmm. maybe that's why I like it. warning: not for people who require song structures & more traditional vocalizing.

3. I've always longed for a flat affect. huh? that's right, I always wanted to be one of those people who have no reaction to anything mostly 'cause I spend most of my time doing subtle variations of "!!!" & I want to see how the other half lives. that & the fact that french movies have taught me that women with no discernable facial expression get a lot of play. perhaps this is why I like deerhoof's spirit ditties of no tone. perhaps I'm jealous that satomi matsuzaki sings like a xanaxed elementary schooler at a spelling bee. perhaps I find it amazing that anyone can sound so disconnected from the words they are singing & yet, it doesn't affect the song in the slightest, in fact, it enhances it. the vocal is a perfect foil for the so freakin' jaunty it reminds me of harry belafonte guitar squiggles. sounds intriguing, doesn't it? check it out.

4. there's some kind of game called stubbs the zombie? I don't know anything 'bout it (maybe one of our gaming contributors can shed some light on the game itself) but I can tell you that this game has a soundtrack featuring various indie types doing 50's & 60's songs. go find the dandy warhols' take on the everly brother's all I have to do is dream. picture 50's zombies with pomaded hair doing a side to side shuffle underneath a street lamp. then an arm falls off. I'm scared**.

5. contributor stephanie tells me I am a bad friend because I haven't contributed a list of suggestions for halloween related music to play at her devil's night party on saturday. I guess that means any song that features the scaries, regardless of genre. if you have any suggestions for her, can you please post them in the comments? I would be oh so grateful. wow. I just resisted making a grateful dead joke. aren't ya glad?

love, d

songs to seek: am I wry? no/mew, mountain book/ooioo, spirit ditties of no tone/deerhoof, all I have to do is dream/the dandy warhols

* for those who are confused, somewhere here, there's some discussion/explanation of wdre's shriek of the week. too lazy to pinpoint exactly where. enjoy!

** in a related note, for terrifying hypothetical fun, check out contributor phil's post regarding zombie attack preparation here.

10.20.2005

I could be there when you land

dear friends,

1. I was lurking around the virgin megastore on 14th street like quasimodo in a hoodie when I bumped into the hard workin' contributor george who had a walkie talkie in his hand & that mirthful smile of his that always makes me wonder if there's something on my face, like a big glob of toothpaste or a wet maple leaf. he saw the stack of cds in my hand & "said what you got there?" & I showed him, he went "good", "great", "I like that one" & "eh...". eh? he was referring to the new franz ferdinand, you could have it so much better. I said "oh no, it's no good?!" & he replied, with a shrug, "I was never into them". & I suddenly felt like a sad little kid. which is what happens whenever I come across an intelligent music fan who is also a franz hater.

why, d, why? why feel sad that the folks aren't feeling the scottish disco dance rock offerings from a quartet of dior homme clad dandies? it's not like they're hurting for fans or are sobbing themselves to sleep for lack of acclaim. I dunno. I wish I knew! it's not that franz is my favorite band by any means. I never even really listen to the first album. what I do is play certain songs of theirs like the dark of the matinee or michael on repeat on my headphones 'cause it makes good travel music. music to scan faces with on subways as I pretend I'm in a spy movie. a spy movie where people are nondescript & have bags full of receipts & passersby occasionally break into huge musical numbers. perhaps I'm revealing too much about myself here?

jacqueline is my favorite off of the debut. it starts of with a tossed off narrative about nothing really, I'm not paying attention to the story, all I know is singer alex kapranos is being conversational & croony, in a sighing black & white world sorta way & then, the drums come in like well planned stealth attack & the lead guitar goes pah pada MEEEEOW!, pah pada MEEEOW! all bump & grind slink & I'm in a tiny little heaven. because when guitars sound like horny cats...that's when I feel at peace. so franz is providing a valuable service, no? I'm still revealing too much, aren't I? oh well...

but back to the purchases, I haven't heard enough of the new album to say anything about it as a whole so I'll leave the reviewing to the real writers at this here swap meet. of course, lack of ability won't stop me from saying go listen to eleanor put your boots on NOW. all a'yous, the franz haters to the lovers, unless you an ogre with a heart made of MATH, will be charmed, utterly, stupidly charmed by this kinks-like nursery rhyme of a request, complete with tinkly parlour piano, for a far away lover to get dressed, scamper to the top of the cyclone at coney, take off & FLY across the atlantic where you will meet them when they land. because you need to see them. because you must see them. a lovely whisp of longing & sweetness to add to your day. give in, let franz soothe you.

2. some of you might not know this, but I'm insanely obsessed with elvis costello & have been for a very long time. I know way more about him than anyone would ever need to & when his songs play anywhere near me, I sing along to all the chainsaw through a dictionary lyrics with the ease of leatherface making his way through some screamin' teens. for example, I'm pretty sure I could lip synch everyday I write the book, one of the cheesiest songs ever written, as flawlessly as any highly paid lip synchin' performer. with a dance routine to go with it. now why would ANYONE ever, ever learn to do that?

my introduction to costello occurred when I purchased a copy of the 2-disc collection, girls! girls! girls!*, on the strength of its hilarious liner notes written by the man himself. while girls! girls! girls! is no longer being made, used copies can be purchased on the web here. the cds soon became something I listened to daily, through coma-inducing homework, on saturdays as I lugged my cello to the city, on rainy sundays sitting on my twin bed next to the radiator. in short, it was love.

one day I will have the courage to start my massive series on elvis costello here on soft communication. in the meantime, I'll tell you to go hear the brief & odd secondary modern off of the motown lovin' get happy!!. secondary modern doesn't quite sound like the rest of the album & I wouldn't call it one of his better compositions but when he sings the line "nobody makes me sad like you/now my whole world goes from blue to blue" & jumps the octave between the two blues, I smile like the cat with a yummy canary. I savor this moment of technical dexterity because the lyric already says it all but costello, that big hambone, can't help himself & goes & throws that vocalizing on top of it just to drive the point home. he's freakin' sad & that sadness is ecstatic. got that?

3. go here & read contributor travis' bit on the new book about guided by voices. then afterwards, try & get your mitts on the clear-eyed ballad now to war off of gbv's fantastic mag earwhig! & give it a listen. now to war is one of the few gvb songs where big cheese bob pollard DOESN'T use the cut & paste method of lyric writing** to bracing effect. it sounds like he's just sat down next to you & is telling you exactly what he thinks of you. goosepimples!

love, d

songs to seek: jacqueline/franz ferdinand, eleanor put your boots on/franz ferdinand, secondary modern/elvis costello, now to war/guided by voices

* o contributor tavie, this double cd is my recommendation to you.

** let me be clear that this is not something I have beef with. he does a fine job of it usually, kicker of elves, anyone?

10.18.2005

Smaller Units of Observation

Rather than recommend a series of artists, albums, or songs, I would like to take a moment to call your attention to some individual sounds within songs. Sounds that really float my boat. I find individual sounds easiest to approach within the context of electronic music, as the parsing and modulation of individual instances of sound is so fundamental to it's composition (not that this isn't true of rock, for instance, but more so in digital composition I think). That said, all of these suggestions come from the realm of "techno", and the innumerable sub-genres contained therein.

Schneider TM - "Moist": I suppose this song could be classified as "house" music, in the sense that it keeps four huge, fat, meaty, wet kicks on the floor for the duration. Generally speaking, I don't find house very engaging - it tends to get a bit monotonous. Schneider TM, mostly by dint of his texturality, is one exception to that rule. The song "Moist", off of an EP by the same name, wraps the listener in a series of plasticized blankets - the sort that glow red or blue when television EMTs use them to warm up or cool down a patient. "Forget The Terminator and Total Information Awareness," it seems to say, "Computers will provide soft surfaces to insulate you from the harsher, sharper objects that fly by as we proceed though the mechanized music of the future. A sonic amnion, if you will.

The individual sound that bears noting here can be heard clearly between 2:18 and 2:50. This sound is the point at which the insidious potential of our comfort-buffer starts to materialize, at least in our imaginations. It sound a bit like a metallic insect burrowing around out there...the blankets keep us from seeing it clearly). It might be friendly, or it might be venomous - we just can't say for sure from in here. Somewhat unnerving, but it certainly presents some exciting possibilities.

After about 30 seconds, the bug is swallowed up again within the cacophony of moving parts. But you can't help remembering it was there. (Q: How is this dynamic upset or altered when considering the last 30 seconds of the track?)

Plug - "Drum N' Bass For Papa" : This track features one of the most satisfying tones I've ever experienced. Beginning at 1:09, you're confronted with a sound that is identifiable as both (or neither) a kick drum and a bass synthesizer tone. It is both very high-pitched, and extremely low-pitched. This kind of effect is almost realized in places like Aphex Twin's "Vorsthosbn" (check out the short "Drukqs" video on this site - scary!) and Boards of Canada's "Sixtyten", but not even Richard D. James manages to create a sound that is so sharp at the top, yet so wide and bulbous at the bottom. I'd call it teardrop-shaped, if it wasn't so awfully ferocious.

The Earl of Bandwidth - "Daisy Remix" : Call me a nepotist, but I really think it's neceessary to mention a noise found at the 1:30 mark of the Earl's remix of "aarrgh Daisy me animal...", as performed by Stop It! You Are Killing Me!, which is in turn a cover of "A Bicycle Built for Two". Overall, this track is something I might call "rainy day drum and bass". The beats are hard, yet there's something distant and melancholy about the whole thing. At 1:30, as the pick-up to the main vocal sample (Michael Jackson, could you tell?), there's a little twirp. Thought it gives an unpleasant impression, I might call it a dentist's drull. Maybe it's just a mechanical hummingbird in need of a little WD-40.

By the way, for anybody who is thinking they might like to listen to more techno, but don't know where to start, I ran across this especially good, though certainly not exhaustive, list of "important" albums.

10.16.2005

not-so-Supergrass

So I was anticipating the release of their new album "Road to Rouen" for quite a while, and I bought it as soon as it came out as I've done with their last couple of albums.
D finally admitted that she's always found Supergrass's albums boring, though she admits they have some amazing songs. If you're not someone who's obsessed with guitar tone, I can see where their album tracks' mathematical repetition of riffs can be boring. But to me this is the band that is the perfect mix between The Beatles and punk.
Anyway, I listened to the new one and thought, "it's OK, but it must be one of those albums that takes a while to sink in." Two weeks later, it hasn't sunk in yet... and I don't think it ever will. Is it bad? No, it sounds a lot like their other records, but it uses the same formulas of sound without much added excitement. I wouldn't call it a flop, but I also wouldn't recommend it. Maybe my expectations were just too high since their last release(Life On Other Planets) was so amazing but I just don't hear any amazing songs I can play for D on this one. If you want to hear some of their really great songs try these:

"Richard III" (from In It For The Money)- according to Gaz, this is the best song he's written and I agree.

"What Went Wrong(In Your Head)" (from Self-titled)- hypnotically catchy, it boils up to a screaming chorus.

"Evening of the Day" (from Life on Other Planets)- doesn't sound as poppy as the other 2, but has a nice slow groove that everyone can appreciate.

They're still touring, so if you get a chance to see them live, do it!

10.13.2005

if it's all the same to you

dear friends,

I am trying to drown out the sound of incessant reggaeton coming from outside my window with other music. it kills.

moment to ponder the fact that I am latin & I hate reggaeton. I don't even like the word. it sounds like the spanish work for rat, "raton", so naturally, every time I hear the word "reggaeton", I picture a rat dancing to reggae. which could be funny if rats were cute. but they are not.

before the ranting, part 1, contributor tina likes to stomp about purposefully wearing oven mitts*. if you like to eat & can follow recipes, go visit her newly revamped site, combustication which promises to provide a plethora of recipes for culinary treats plus photos. & combustication rhymes with mastication & that's a good thing as that other kitchen maven likes to intone!

before the ranting, part 2, for proof that the polyphonic spree were wearing charlie brown robes from someone that I've never met or spoken to, go read this post about the beck/across the narrows show at heart on a stick.

before the ranting, part 3, for all you secret or not so secret depeche mode maniacs go here on the people's dance party to read contributor liz's track by track take on the new dm album. good stuff.

I wish I could say that I can look past the blare of rodent reggae & see the rainbow on the other side but really I'm just way too depressed. must be seasonal. either that or reading about the moors murderers when one is on emotional tenterhooks is not a good idea.

quick cuts:

1. bettye lavette has one of those ancient voices that seem to come from the deep, grimy well. lavette, a former back up singer for otis redding & james brown among others, does a terrific cover of fiona apple's sleep to dream on her new album called I've got my own hell to raise. when lavette rasps in her soul drenched, I smoke BABIES for breakfast voice about how you should give her hers back & "take yo ass on there", ya know you've left teenage diaryland behind & entered the adult world of capital E 'xperience.

2. after a weekend of groupie observation, casually insulting new englanders that own 44 magnums, eavesdropping on litigating ghost conversation & fielding musical requests from contributors jared & steph, I realized that what I really needed was to hear nina simone's love me or leave me. in my estimation, simone hasn't been lauded enough for her contribution to the "mash-up" genre. what the hell am I talking about? go find love me or leave me. listen as her jazz combo gets gradually worked up over simone's bach-like variations on her piano "solo". you can almost hear the hair on their arms stand on end as they go "what in tarnation is she doin'!?" & reply with steadily building enthusiasm; supporting her five finger exercises with swing, swing, swing. she's so confident about the rightness of her "classical. meet jazz. make nice" style, the fusion of the two is so assured, just listen to how that delivery works to underscore the willfulness of our narrator when she sings the line "I'd rather be lonely than happy with someone else" with an evangelical fervor that's scary. but that is the genius of simone. powerful & slightly scary. I like.

3. britain is the factory of lifestyle music (something to go with your white couch, madam? a little keane, coldplay or perhaps a fine embrace?) & one of their prime imports in that genre is scotland's travis. sometimes, these gentlemen write songs with lyrics & sentiments that fill the head with unwelcome thoughts of dental exams. as in, strapped to a chair having something really unpleasant being done to the inside of your mouth while some really insipid lite fm plays on the speakers & you plead with your eyes to the dentist TO JUST MAKE IT STOP. PLEASE.

despite this, I rather like them. firstly, because travis's singer, fran healy, has a voice that makes me gurgle like an infant staring at a mobile* & secondly, because I met them once & they were really, really absurdly nice, humble guys & I'm a sucker. & that is the sad truth. so I don't feel so bad about wearing my travis t-shirt because every now & then, they throw me a bone by doing an excellent cover (all the young dudes, river) & writing a weird, sad song like last train from their cd, the invisible band.

last train still has some lyrical clunkers ("I'm gonna shoot everything, everyone" being particularly leaden) but the gentle strumming, mist-like keyboard accompaniment, tiny stripe of ambient guitar noise & of course, healy's cashmere tenor makes this tale of delusion & homicidal stalking work. at the end, healy's protagonist goes on a tangent about a dream where he sees a picture of che guevara sitting beneath a tree & part of me as a listener, thinks YES! stick to that! tell me more details of your dream, not just platitudes about the world turning or rain that always falls but then, just like it began, the song abruptly ends in a wash of chimes.

4. whilst up in rhode island I met a nice guy from a fine shoegazerin' trio called dreamend. unfortunately, I cannot remember nice guy's name (& if it hadn't been for everyone correcting me, I would've kept calling his band "the good one" instead of their real name 'cause my brain is spongy.) but what I do remember is him recommending a lee hazlewood & nancy sinatra ditty called down from dover by describing it as a song that reduced him & his manly man driving companion to silent tears. this I had to hear, so I did.

down from dover concerns a young woman abandoned by her lover & pregnant besides & at the song's incredibly messed up conclusion, she has realized that he is never coming back & there's nothing she can do but cry. sinatra doesn't sing about the lonely tears; she is actually crying. her voice cracks & veers wildly off pitch as she warbles her final verse. listening to it, I felt weirdly complicit in this hardy-like tale. because what should be a pleasant aural experience has turned into something slightly ghoulish, all for my...entertainment. some devastating stuff, I tell ya.

thanks nice dude from dreamend! you should check out the go! team's ladyflash which samples down from dover to vastly different effect.

hmmm...that reminds me, I never did my disturbing songs playlist... perhaps next week.

love, d

songs to seek: sleep to dream/bettye lavette, love me or leave me/nina simone, last train/travis, down from dover/lee hazlewood & nancy sinatra

* & if you bake, you really should be wearing joy division oven gloves. I'm serious. they're featured in MOJO magazine this month. it looks like your standard oven glove with this image on it.

** speaking of babies, when I read that thom yorke wrote sail you to the moon for his son as a lullaby, I had this image of a stupefied infant staring with fear & wonder at the sounds emanating from pops. lucky seedling.

10.11.2005

I Have a Finger to Shake

Hey yo hey,

Long time no see, m'friends. This means long post. I am here because I have no class now. WOO! 500 glassy staresssss a week sux. But it's harvest time now and the sake is fresh. Sushi is cheap. Sales are aplenty. In one department store chain, they play the Indiana Jones and Star Wars themes on a loop. Never have I felt so accomplished finding that discount on fish egg spaghetti. Jesus, I love this place. I will only leave when they throw me out.

May I take some suggestions from you with the know? This is actually work related. A popular classroom activity is printing out lyrics to a song and then mixing them up so the kids have to listen to the song in class and arrange the verses in the correct order.

Green Day's When Semptember Ends has served me well so far. But does anyone have any other suggestions? My limitations are accents, slang and speed. Ixnay on the Brit punk and extended vocabulary. Even Bowie's diction is too difficult for them. Slow, simple American rock/pop works best. I have been toying with the idea of Ted Leo or the Barenaked Ladies.

Oh yes, I had a finger to shake.

What the F is this???

Ok, this is where I call Disney AND Japan into my office for a serious dialogue. Now I love Disney as much as the next Tavie but jesus. Japan is completely in love with Disney in ways that are unthought of. The more obscure the better. Songs from films I heard on shitty bootlegged videos covered by lukewarm Japanese punk bands. Dad has a word for this and it is DREK.

Yeah, that would SO sell here.

*siiigh*

November is the crunch month for Japan's music industry. The big names are readying new releases like a well-oiled machine. Quruli will release a new album and go on tour. Rapture! I want mooore, yes moooore! I am still on the prowl for their first album MoshiMoshi. The search continues. Hajime Chitose will have a new single. I hope it is in Uchinaguchi. But most importantly, I am a happy happy fiend...

Tokyo Jihen will release a new single on November 2nd. The title is "Shuraba" or "Scene of Carnage". I await this with optimistic anticipation. Tokyo Jihen's debut didn't thrill me and I honestly had little expectation for any future releases. Shiina, free to her own devices, still puts out quality work but Tokyo Jihen sounds like she's just doing the same thing as her critics' darling Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana. Not that it sucked but I don't want just more of the saaaame. Well, the band recently lost and replaced two members. Maybe this will shake up the lizard mixture?

Dear Shiina Ringo,

Halt your obscure song covers now. Put down those jazzy lounge standards.
You have Kenichi Asai's phone number. Call him when you're ready to collaborate. Do it before I plotz. Love, Kirsten

Speaking of Kenichi (UNNNN) Asai two songs by the Sherbets have been dominating my Ipod of late. Lemon Lime (レモンライム) and HIGH SCHOOL. The Sherbets were less focused on putting out singles than they were about giving Kenichi free reign. That is why NO one has heard of them. Self-indulgence isn't always a bad thing. Especially when you've done your time. Lemon Lime begins simply with a pensive piano and moody guitar. It's got a Calvin Klein ad aesthetic I can't tire of. No, I have no idea why it is called Lemon Lime. I think all Japanese musicians just have a random title generator. HIGH SCHOOL pummels with pleasing violence, Kenichi shouting about high school woe more desperately than pissed off.

AHHHHHH! Why is Hyde's new album playing over the school PA? NONONO! BAD! Stop the mewling! AGHGHHHHHHHHHHHH! Hyde just wrote a hit single for a hit film and now the fucking thing is EVERYwhere.

Oh wait. They've stopped. Now it's Madonna's "Like a Virgin".

Sometimes I am deeply in love with the way this place makes me go WTF???

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10.10.2005

A guilt trip from your Jewish mother

I have lost interest in music. Every blessed song on my iPod bores me. I need something new. I never feel this way, so: seize the opportunity-- if you could pick ONE album in your whole collection to lift me out of this musical malaise, what would it be?

(Forget my musical taste for now, I only listen to Aimee Mann and showtunes*, why do you think I'm so bored?)

I hereby swear I will buy, borrow, beg, steal, or illegally download** your choice and give it a fair chance, which I almost never do with music that I'm unfamiliar with. (Yeah, I know, what am I doing on this blog again? I'm scared of D, that's what I'm doing here.)

I'm practically a blank slate, and very open minded, so chances are I haven't heard your recommendation (no really, ask anyone), and that I have the capacity to enjoy it.

Also, feel free to ignore me. I'll go listen to the Spelling Bee OCR, or Apple Venus Vol I again. Until I die of boredom.

I'll just sit here in the dark.




*This is not actually true, but my sister insists that it is.

**Probably that last one. I be po'.

10.05.2005

don't be too sure of that

dear friends,

october is shaping up to be rocktober. today is man in gray at galapagos art space where they are the musical accompaniment to fashion show featuring designs by robin english. it is described on the galapagos website as "a fashion show filled with hot newtrailer punk styles. come check out the clothes and drink in the scene--it's cutting-edge fashion at its best." I have an eye for fashion (if not the skeleton for it) so I'll be there enjoying the sights & sounds. next week is metric at southpaw & while I know I'll be very tired, I'll be ready to move. I just hope I don't get hit with the curse of southpaw*. a powerful curse, that is!

the above section is italicized because as contributor bryan so correctly points out in the comments section below, that metric show is TOMORROW 10/6 & not next week. I am very, very tired. & confused. I sorry.

so last night I went to see brakes at piano's.

got there early & caught some of the band prior, the octagon. they had nice staccato bursts amid the pop rock, also the lead singer & second guitarists did some fine braided type vocals where their voices twisted around each other but not in a way that was jarring OR rote, but just right. I suspect those boys will do well, despite the cowboy boots on the lead singer's feet. man, I don't even know why I am so anti-boot, especially when all I want for x-mas is one of those two boots mugs for my soda pop. boot in my mouth, not on my feet? sounds weird, is weird.

I was excited to see brakes in a small venue & from the front of the stage, no less. I shared that exalted space with two comely ladies with gigantazoid cameras, that were, astonishingly, two completely different types of huge. one had a lens the size of my face & the other had a pop up thing with a...thing. I know I don't know nothing about no cameras but they certainly looked impressive & they must've captured some good shots of brakes in action. so go search out those blog/sites (note to self: move soft communication to softcommunication.net, so that contributors can post photos) for pictures from the gig.

less fortunately, I also shared the space with a gray-bearded man who moved me aside, put his beer next to the monitor in front of me & started doing things with camera cables. naturally, I'm thinking, "rude. ergo, he must work here." WRONG. he was just a clever dude who realized that looking purposeful & carrying a digi-beta video camera will make stupid people like myself think you're supposed to be in front. plus he was stinking. I mean, stink'aaaahn. & barefoot**? BAREFOOT! the smell coming from his body as he moved around made me afraid to breathe. I kept looking at the people next to me with beseeching "I need oxygen" eyes. later, when he spacily asked the band what their name was, I was like a) WHAAAT?!?!? & b) filled with a murderous rage that I could barely contain. luckily, I had nothing to stab him with. if anyone sees this joker around, please let me know so I can bring my gas mask.

but enough vitriol, yes, brakes! I found them, a supergroup of sorts featuring members of british sea power, electric soft parade & the tenderfoot, by following the links on the duke spirit web site & was charmed by their brief, righteously humorous punk jabs at pretension of all stripes. their album, give blood, which I heard illegally but purchased legally last night, balances the punk fury (sample goofy lyrics: "cheney!/cheney!/cheney!/stop being such a dick!") with quasi-comedic country-ish tales about growing up in the boonies. I say "quasi" because there's a palpable longing to those songs. is it the knowledge that they've gotten out? who knows? the nowhere-ness of the town you grew up in stays in the heart no matter where you wind up.

singer eamon hamilton has a high reedy voice that sounds like a parody of american earnestness if it weren't for his ragin' (to our yankee ears) accent. he played acoustic just the way I like it in my non-trad-folk: hard & glass-sharp. unfortunately, his voice was drowned out at times due to the mix. this was a shame for various reasons, but none more so than that his pointed & often hilarious lyrics were lost in the din.

the rhythm section was trampoline tight & just as fun. drummer alex white and bassist marc beatty easily switched back & forth between both the hardcore & the more pastoral selections with precision & passion. guitarist tom white's (who looked so familiar, like one of my friends but I couldn't place just who & it was driving me INSANE the entire show) guitar playing was frenzied when it needed to be & rather beautiful in striking & original ways on the more sprawling numbers. at one point, they did a cover of jesus & mary chain's sometimes always & white coaxed the song along with his subtle shadings. impressive considering when anyone tries to pay homage to the j+mc guitar sound, it comes off like a bad xerox; grainy & useless. I recommend you see brakes when they come back around***, you won't be disappointed.

I went home & made sure to shower the faux-homeless odor off of myself. lest I sound too bitter about the smelly, I should stress that none of these urban venue horrors**** (& trust me, I know that that's NOTHING) can keep me from going to ye olde rock shows especially when they feature wonderful bands from across the pond. as for you, soap smelling (I presume) readers, please provide me with your favorite club tales of eh?. let's commiserate.

love, d

albums to seek: give blood/brakes

* not pretty combination of no dinner plus drinks.

** a pair of brand new converse lay at his hairy feet. expensive watch on wrist. not a derelict.

*** brakes are also fan-friendly, I had brief complementary exchanges with hamilton (who provided me with my first ever memento set list - hey! there's always a first) & t. white. I hadn't expected their warmth. this was more of a response than I get from local bands I complement. ah, nyc. you're a cold, cold mistress.

**** two other unhappy piano's moments: 1. I waited something like 5 minutes for a beer, as 4 different bartenders passed me repeatedly, scanning the crowd over the top of my head like actors playing the same blind ingenue in a film starring cher. I had a rising feeling of panic where I felt like I wasn't well dressed enough or tall enough for the bar & its servers. panic crested when I almost cried. I'm not kidding. didn't get another beer. still left a tip. I am a bar martyr. 2. the bathrooms are wading pools of nasty. long unisex line. I thought this was supposed to be a semi-posh place? wha'ppen?

10.04.2005

I need your loving like the sunshine

dear friends,

this past sunday, the monkey & I went to keyspan park in beauteous coney island to see beck. they have a two beer at a time MINIMUM inside the stadium so as you can imagine, while it didn't end in tears, the evening wrapped in a fuzzy love the world & you sorta way.

firstly, the polyphonic spree: nice racket, harps, robes look like charlie brown, the chorus doing some very boring & repetitive "dance moves"...

- interjection of conversational snippet -

d: the chorus only has one move. this one... (demonstrates up with people side to side arm raised sway)...bla-ah! you know why they only have that one move & variations thereof?

j: no. why?

d: 'cause they're all white.

j: ah...I hadn't noticed.

d: that's the FIRST thing I notice. if there were latinos in there, there might be at least some hip action or something.

- back to the listing -

...odd similarities to the secret machines in the build, build, build, big beat come in, vocal remains steady, more build (evidence of their shared history*, p'raps?), lots of songs about the sun, jesus poses.

I liked the spree but every song had a big, big climax. every song. after a bit, I started to get antsy. I blame my cynicism & the fact that I wasn't at the front of the stage basking in their love. the people that danced there, spinning in circles in the setting sun as bubbles flew past, were having the time of their life. & there ain't nothing wrong with that.

secondly, belle & sebastian: another thousand band members, tinkly & sweet, violins, good banter from all their singers, which must be some kinda band record...

long break wherein I went on a mission to find pizza. it was fraught with peril.

later, munching...

d: that stuart murdoch (clad in mets t-shirt!) is kinda foxy. I didn't picture him that way. I figured he'd be dorkier.

j: I think he's gay.

d: really?

j: they have a huge gay following.

d: yeah but that don't mean he is...besides, he can still be foxy.

j: true.

I did enjoy that judy & the dream of horses. but alas, no fox in the snow. sniff.

finally beck & his band of minions! at this point I was pretty toasted so any attempts to write down the set list or jot down notes about the show was thrown out into the briny atlantic breeze. there was some initial confusion as to where beck was onstage 'cause he was sporting a fedora that obscured his apple cheeked 12 year old face.

j: where's beck?

d: in the front, under that big hat!

j: oh yeah! who is the guy dancing?

d: where? (squinting) oh...who is that?

j: I thought it was beck, he dances just like him. do you think beck hired him to do the dance moves he normally does?!?

d: probably. wow. he's made it.

so yes, beck's green jump-suited dancing dark haired doppelganger, whom he later credited, during the I-totally-called-it-when-the-groove-slowed-down obligatory introduce the band jam, with "percussion & body movements", was going crazy with the kicking & the robot & what have you. later, whirlwind heat came out (also clad in green jumpsuits. has beck taken a page off of jack white's concert rule book? hmmm?) carrying boom boxes of ridiculous size during a pumped up where it's at?

me, I was freakin' ECSTATIC when anything off of midnight vultures was played & it was played plenty. I love that record. I never really bought the caucasian chalk critic assessment of it as a "minstrel" album. it was a bad ass party record. nothing crazy or revolutionary about the groove. I did a frantic but still sinuous in-my-chair dance as beck sang touching lyrics like "we like the girls with the cellophane chests" & "mixing business with heather/freaks flock together". too bad he didn't do beautiful way. sigh. sometimes, you can't have it all.

the highlight of the night for me was the beck solo acoustic set where it looked like the rest of his band was sitting down for cocktails at a table set up on the right of stage. normally, I wouldn't pay much attention to the props since beck had a gigantic red bed on stage during one tour which he barely used. but I'll get back to that... he did a beautiful lost cause and everybody's got to learn sometime. the latter which he dedicated to michel gondry.

people a row behind us:

guy: what did...who's that?

girl #1: the video director!

guy: who?

girl #2: yeah, she's really good.

girl #1: he! he's french!

guy: who?

girl #2: why is his name michelle? oh right, french. my bad! where's my beer?

girl #1: you know, he directed that cool video! & something else...that movie...whatsis

guy: video? movie? what?

d: (shrieking) ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND!

all of 'em: oh yeah. he's really good! thanks! oh my god, that's such a good movie!

when beck started into golden age the table of drinkers on stage revealed their purpose. they began to "play" their glasses; wetting their fingers around the rims or clinking the sides with their silverware so that eventually there was something like a moroccan sounding percussive orgy taking place & this foray into gorgeous sad bastard balladry was brought to an oddly joyful close. nice. (pronounced: na-ishhh)

eventually the party had to end & it did with shouts of "na na, na na na na, na na" from e-pro. we went home to our nest, buzzed & content. october is shaping up to be just as good as september. bring on the autumn leaves!

love, d

PS I have an extra ticket for the brakes show tonight at 8:30 at piano's free to whoever wants to come with...let me know!

* secret machines guitarist, ben curtis, used to play drums in spree leader, tim delaughter's mid-90's band, tripping daisy. they had a minor hit with the song I got a girl.