still I know if you impress me here I might...

dear friends,

monday night*. chinatown. the duke spirit. live. FINALLY. motherfuckin' A.

I don't know whether it was the deliriousness from receiving the early tip off about bust magazine** hosting their free show (thanks contributor therese!). or the fact that fontana's is a pleasing, albeit extremely hip, venue that I will definitely return to. or the fact that the cranberry vodka was free from 8-10. I don't know, I don't know. but it's true, I haven't enjoyed myself that much at a show in a while. since I was the goofball at the very front of the stage, dancing & singing along (the only one, I might add) chances are that if there are pictures of this show circulatin' on the internet somewheres, then there's definitely an elbow or a hitchcockian profile shot of me to be found amidst the sweat. & was there sweat. the spirit purvey an almost throwback blues vibe that's thankfully neither blueshammer or rebel motorcycle club 'cause they manage to make their blues meets razor shoegaze sound WARM. & that warmth makes ya move. there is no listless british deadpan mumble behind it all. & the songs start & end in sharp cuts instead of shuffling off in a neverending fade. & I like that nonsense! but things gotta change don't they?

but first, let's be critical. in the past, I've singled out vocalist liela moss's talents. her hoarse kitten taunt-rasp of a voice draws you into something that paradoxically you can't quite touch. her persona of blonde toughness is as artificial as it is alluring & that's a troubling thing. live, moss was very much a part of an extremely well-oiled machine. the cynics out there with a working knowledge of their cd, cuts across the land, might even say too oiled, since the spirit have been touring behind this offering for quite some time now & while the live versions thrilled, they weren't all that much different than the album. one new song in the set provided at least a touch of danger to the proceedings. but for the most part, it was tight, controlled rock choreography of the highest order down to the (lamentably) brief harmonica appearance.

I can't say it mattered much in the end. the crowd wasn't really moving ('cept for the aforementioned goofball) but that didn't stop moss from shaking it with the shakers, with the hips, with the tambourine. her hard little dark blue eyes fixed out in front of her, brown/blonde streaked hair swinging all about the place as she shimmied to her own commands. she is a calculated performer in that she certainly channels that frontperson as shaman thing & that's impossible to do without getting INTO it. & she was. occasional between song charmingly incomprehensible patter aside, like dr. john, she was there to nighttrip. & the crowd, despite their nyc-issued air of jadedness, were appropriately spellbound.

the rest of the band, all skinny, all dark haired & all strong-nosed were straight outta central casting for "jesus & mary chain: the movie!" but could back up the look with their fiercely telepathic playing. lead guitarist dan higgins was like an attack dog straining at his leash, itching for the moments when he could wail on his guitar in orgasmotastic waves of feedback. rhythm guitarist luke ford was also impressive with his tasteful but absolutely essential contributions, he was definitely the conductor of it all, bringing the control to the controlled chaos. rhythm section players, olly betts & toby butler, impressed with their fluid groove cohesion (that sounds pervy, don't it?), drummer betts being particularly impressive by playing with a straight-backed precision somewhat at odds with the power of his sound. he was, dare I say...watts-like?

as if you needed further proof of my dorkitude - yes, I nabbed the setlist & the songs played were:

cuts across the land
drinking you in
into the white
hello to the floor
love is an unfamiliar name
win your love
salt the stings
lion rip
red weather

all in all, the gang noir sound this band gives off is somethin akin to aural black leather. it's dark, sexy, & moves well with the hips. the duke spirit are on my space, befriend them. & luckily for those in nyc, the duke spirit are playing bowery ballroom this friday, march 31 at 9PM.

now children, I know I've been trying to make you believers for some time now but my words aren't enough, let them seal the deal.

love, d

band (I'm serious! go!) to see live: the duke spirit

* belated posting due to home nursing of monkeys & wednesday night tv programming insanity.

** contributor mary has an article in this month's issue! about ladies on bikes (not babies on spikes)! she write good!

*** that's the new one, I'm sure there's more title but that'll do for now.


Now I eat humble pie.

When I woke up today, the Encore movie channel was having some sort of Robert Deniro thing, with Deniro movies all day, and was, at the time of my waking, halfway through Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, Brazil (in which Deniro has only but a cameo; Jonathan Pryce was the real star of that, and the reason we forgive him for making Evita is because he was so good in Brazil.)

Unsatsified with watching it halfway through, I dug out my tape and started it from the beginning. (Why don't I have that one on DVD?) Partway through the movie I realized something funny: the song parody* of "Brazil", the old 1930's standard from which the movie takes its theme, is more familiar to me than the actual song: it's called I Love My Boss, and it's by an early-'90's Canadian band called Moxy Fruvous, known mainly for their kitschy tunes (My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors, King of Spain) and, I hope, rather gorgeous harmonies. I liked them quite a lot in my early days as a Kids in the Hall fan and, although I never did get around to actually buying one of their albums, I have quite a few of their songs on my iPod for when I'm feeling for the kitsch.

Isn't it funny when song parodies become more familiar than the actual songs? I could only hear Fruvous's lyrics as I watched the film:

I love my boss
He isn't full of fluff and gloss
He gives me work and many chores to do
My model, like Ben Cartwright to Hoss.

So silly. I thought I'd link it for your** downloading pleasure, in honour of Jeremy's triumphant return. I love my boss. Welcome home!

*I don't know if you can actually call it a song parody; it uses most of the tune of "Brazil" but actually doesn't relate to the lyrics of that song in any way.

**When I say "your", I'm referring to Kirsten, who I know likes this song; I don't expect anyone else to actually listen to anything I would link.



you are sleeping. you do not want to believe.

I'll break from my usual epistle to bring you this strange little scene:

(adult d picks up a magic phone that enables one to communicate with oneself in the past. she dials 13 year old d who picks up the phone immediately because she hates to hear it ring & besides, mtv sucks. there will be no space/time repercussions because of this phone call. this isn't bradbury, this is rock 'n' roll.)

d-now: hey.

d-then: hi.

d-now: what are you listening to?

d-then: is this, like, your version of an obscene phone call?

(both ds laugh, then stop because a) identical laughter sounds creepy & b) while d has been known to laugh at her own jokes, this seems a bit much, even by her standards)

d-now: seriously. whatchu listenin' to?

d-then: well...I just bought power corruption & lies at second coming. I know it's not hit city but I really like the cover. it's beautiful.

d-now: oh cool, you're gonna like that one but it'll take a few listens.
so..eh, I'm calling 'cause I have something to tell you & I want you to hear it from me first.

d-then: hear it from you? what the fuck...did someone kill robert smith?

d-now: no. he's cool. & weirdly, still looks pretty much the same.

d-then: elvis?

d-now: no. elvis is safe. well...relatively. he's made a lot of really pretentious albums with orchestras & burt bacharach & now he's married to a grammy winning jazz chanteuse named diana krall.

d-then: does he suck completely?

d-now: not quite. he's older & stuffier. anger's not the driving force anymore but there's still the occasional gem. by the way, when you go see him with anastasia in '02, make sure you bring handywipes.

d-then: eh...okay, weirdo. well? what? should I be sitting down?

d-now: okay...


d-then: yes, miss dramatic pause?

d-now: morrissey. he has a new album. it's called ringleader of the tormentors. eh...he's having sex & singing about it. with men.

(long silence...finally)

d-then: WHAT????

d-now: it's true.

d-then: SHUT UP. no. I don't believe you. really?

d-now: hell yeah. here's a lyrical quote from the song dear god, please help me: "and now I'm spreading your legs, with mine in between"

d-then: oh. my. god. that's GROSS!

d-now: why? 'cause it's dudes? I don't recall you being a homophobe. all your friends are gay!

d-then: no, stupid. it's...because...I don't know...moz... he's not supposed to like anybody. nobody's supposed to like him. like me.

(the last fragment is whispered. there's silence on both ends.)

what does johnny say?

d-now: nothing as of yet. he wouldn't really. they never reunited. & they all hate mike joyce. long story. it's like this trial thing, too boring to get into. dickensian chancery baby. all the way.

d-then: well...that's too bad. are the songs okay? or is it...I don't know. embarassing?

d-now: no. the songs are really great. he's working with tony visconti & that was inspired 'cause after his work with ronson, I didn't think he'd be good again. he gets way too into the baroque & loses touch with how in order for his work to be effective the music needs to be just as biting as the lyrics.

d-then: ronson?

d-now: keep reading those import mags. you'll learn.

d-then: ugh. condescending!

d-now: I'm not! I'm only this way with you.

d-then: thanks. can I tell mane?

d-now: eh NO. she'll think you've lost it & she won't believe you anyway.


seriously though. I'm happy for him. I'm glad he's getting a piece. & he's writing about it like someone who has just discovered greenland. & that's beautiful. there's this real sense of passion & awakening & he seems re-invigorated. he has this great song called you have killed me where he compares himself to pasolini--

d-then: who's that? a writer?

d-now: nah. he's this italian director from the '60's. you're gonna be confused & turned off by salo but you're gonna love his mamma roma. anna magnani's in that one. she's a dark eyed goddess. you'll relate to her messiness & her natural frown.

d-then: so morrissey's directing neo-realist italian films or he just thinks he wants to?

d-now: no. he moves to italy. from los angeles! I know...weird huh? like he must burn not tan...oh & all these american/latino kids are all about him & he's so inspired by it that he named a live concert video oye esteban! & writes songs about mexican gangbangers named hector. but that was the last album not this one. now it's all about roma.

d-then: GET OUT!

(general laughter)

that's so crazy about the latino following! but not...unexpected. he does have the florid over-dramatic thing familiar to latins worldwide. how are they with the whole man-love thing?

d-now: I don't know yet...so far everything I've read is more about the fact that he's getting it on rather than who he's getting it on with...I swear, it's hilarious that all these music writers treat him like he's the pope or something 'cause you know that a lot of them got into music because of him & now they have to bow down at the altar of stephen patrick.

d-then: gangbangers?

d-now: well, that's where the whole pasolini thing comes in. pier paolo pasolini was totally attracted to the super macho violent element but remained outside of it by virtue of his class. & you know about moz & his fascination with the krays explored in the last of the famous international playboys, the moors murderers in suffer little children, etc... pasolini was eventually murdered by blackmailing male hustlers. or something. some people think it was a government hit. it's all rather murky. anyway, there's another good one on the album called I will see you in far off places that has a distinct paul bowles lost in tangiers sorta feel with this cod middle eastern back-up. nothing in the lyrics, it's all in the melody. very "euro awakened to themselves by the allure of the foreign" which is a kinda colonialist, kinda gross, kinda racist but he gets away with it sorta, 'cause he's the one playing the fool in this VERY cliched scenario. death in venice with exotic rent boys. dig?

d-then: wow. yeah, I guess I can see that.


so am I a lesbian?

d-now: (laughing) much to your chagrin, you are not. you like the boys. & you really like guitarists. it's kinda funny.

d-then: ooooh...do I have a musician boyfriend? SCORE! am I pretty? am I a writer? or an actress? can I wear lip gloss without looking like I'm drooling?

d-now: ha, ha. I'm not gonna answer that. or anything.

d-then: sadist.

d-now: masochist.


d-then: I hate the phone.

d-now: me too. anyway...I hope I didn't freak you out too much. with moz & the sex & stuff.

d-then: well...I guess it had to happen someday.

d: now: ha ha ha ha. that's so much funnier than you know. ok, gotta go. by the way, give the velvet underground another chance. they're SO great. trust me.

d-then: they're scary but ok. alright. thanks.

d-now: & remember your thing for the name jeremy?

d-then: yeah.

d-now: don't forget it.

(d-now hangs up. d-then keeps listening to the dial tone. when the operator voice comes on saying "please dial again...," she puts the phone gingerly back in its cradle. she stares off quietly. her cat, thomalina, enters the room & meows at her.)

d-then: I forgot to ask her about rubber ring.

(she picks up the cat. pets it. end scene.)

- - - - -

album to seek: ringleader of the tormentors/morrissey


I only do it cause I know you know it's bad*

Dear friends,

So Soft Communication's one year anniversary came and went on March 8th without any fanfare from me and I'd like to say it was because I was stressed out (which I was/am) but more because I was depressed by the fact that I still don't know how to do simple internet things like move the site over to its new domain name, post songs, post photos, etc... and depression renders me inactive. I was bummed. When I am bummed, I retreat. Carefully, slowly back into my cluttered shell.

I don't think I can babble about music exclusively anymore. So I'll add movies/tube to the mix because I have things to say about Flavor of Love, The L Word, Lost and Footballer's Wives. Things of import. But not today.

1. My friend Emily F. introduced me to The Violent Femmes in elementary school. She played me Add It Up on her walkman headphones on the carpool back home (we were part of the Riverdale/Yonkers contingent) And I was shocked. SHOCKED. The kind of shocked where you don't show your shock, you just try to look like a properly blase hip to things type person. Like oh, he just said screw in a scary whiny voice like he means it, like he might rape you and no, I'm not terrified. So (furrowed brow, attempt at nonchalance)...who is that?

Years later, I'm no longer scared** and can now listen to that song while I tidy the house and sing along like I mean it. I always wondered if The Femmes' Gordon Gano had an evangelical upbringing, 'cause just like Charles Thompson (another escapee from the tents) at his most speaking in tongues fervent, Gano has this delivery that's like a preacher with a handful of serpents. His eyes a'buggin braying about the "Day after daaaaay/I get aaaaangry" is theatrical but earnest and that's a terrifying combo. The song has a feverish sincerity that's all hormones and youth and raging BELIEF. Yes, it's religious, full of spirt and somewhat pimply. These elements are unbeatable in popular music. I mean, really, "Why can't I get/just one fuck?" is THE rock 'n' roll question that squirms underneath indie songs about horniness, though usually it's stated in far more oblique and/or polite ways. Which is a shame. The indie world needs more direct admissions and you can't get more direct than that.

2. Speaking of sex in music, Jarvis Cocker's 21st century lounge lizard routine on Pulp's salacious Pencil Skirt from 1995's Different Class, is so self-assured that you can almost see him slinking about in the hedges, waiting for his opportunity to make sweet, sweet love to your wife. Or mom. Or dad. Teorema translated by Joe Orton into a 3 minute pop song. Jaunty perversion. That's what I look for in my seduction music. Damn skippy.

3. The Wedding Soundtrack's Berceuse is a guitar plus violin bit of sparse folk beauty. It makes me want to walk in a river surrounded by willows and be sun-blinded. This description means absolutely nothing unless you were there. Which means you'll hear this song and substitute your own mystical outdoors experience. Go HERE and download that song. Loveliness.

4. Everyone knows my stars in the eyes love for all things Raymond Douglas Davies. And of my love of covers. Mojo Magazine's cd last month, featuring various folks doing Kinks covers, had a band called Gravenhurst (which I have never heard of, investigation underway...) doing that is he or isn't he? classic, See My Friends. Of course, when I first heard the original, I thought it was about losing your lover but hey! at least there's drugs!*** Something about the lethargic/stoned Davies vocal, the drone, drone, drone and numb desolation in the lyrics. I figured it was only a matter of time before Jason Pierce aka Jason Spaceman of Spiritualized did the tune in Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space narcotic death style. Alas, it never happened but Gravenhurst's version, which even has some noodle-y organ thrown in, does the trick just fine. Ffor lovers of the shoe, the gaze, and the neverending riff. Amen.

5. Broken Social Scene gives me rabies in that they make me froth at the mouth and want to bite and infect everyone with my love. I love them so, I'll never let them go, all that stuff. I found this video for their Ibi Dreams of Pavement**** (best Pavement song not written by Pavement) HERE at Clip Tip*****. Now, maybe my screen is just way too small and crappy but is Kevin Drew not wearing UNDERPANTS? Because if he's, in fact, NOT wearing flesh colored man panties and his nether-parts ARE blurred out, AND he's dressed in a leather jacket/helmet/sunglasses/boots plus bare ass combo, then I'm speechlessly even more enamored 'cause...WOW. (Shakes head in silence for five full minutes.) AMAZING.

Then again, if those are flesh colored man panties along with other clothing items mentioned above, it's still pretty freakin' bad ass. O Broken Social Scene, I toast thee.

Love, D

Songs to seek: Add It Up/the Violent Femmes, Pencil Skirt/Pulp, Berceuse/The Wedding Soundtrack, See My Friends/Gravenhurst

Video to see: Ibi Dreams Of Pavement/Broken Social Scene

* If you (you know who you are) are reading this, then yes, I dedicate this song to you in the radio show in my head. Diga albon. Albon.

** The only song that scared me in my youth which I still can't bring myself to revisit is The Boiler. One of you should listen to it and tell me if I'm being stupid.

*** According to Mr. Davies, it's not about drugs OR switching teams. Just about being left by your lover and having your friends around to comfort you.

**** And if anybody out here can make out what he's singing, please get in touch. I'm sitting at the computer making strange noises in lieu of actual words. Help a sistah out.

***** Clip Tip says those are "male hot pants". And these 5 asteriks are ridiculous.

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Adventures in Red Hook

D was looking to unload two Ted Leo/Pharmacists tickets. I met her on a windy corner in Brooklyn and, in the shadow of a disused service station, exchanged a bit of cash and a young adult novel based on The OC for the tickets.

The show was at the Hook and getting to that venue is always an adventure. Last night was no different. The shuttle the Hook provides was iffy, we called the club and they weren’t sure if the guy was going to show. Apparently, he can’t afford the insurance required to drive in bad weather. So my friend Colleen and I walked up the street and hailed a cab. The driver didn't know how to get to the club so he pulled over for a lengthy, off-meter consultation with his map. We got to the club and scored seats on the top riser, where we were joined by our friends Tom and Terre.

The Duke Spirit was supposed to open, but they had some visa issues. (Or were kidnapped by pirates, if you ask D.) So a band called Direct from the Hollywood Cemetery played instead. They were dressed like the Groovy Ghoulies and sounded like the Misfits met Boss Hog for a beach party. Oh, and the singer slashed his way out of a coffin at the start of the set. Costumes and stage props pretty much guarantee a good time in my book. I’m easy to please.

The second band, Les Aus, was from Catalonia. We didn't really hear their set because Gentleman Ted Leo came over to Tom and Terre (and Colleen and me- a/k/a Their Entourage) and invited us downstairs to dine at his vegan buffet and drink his whiskey. And talk about New Jersey (Seton Hall, Springsteen, Action Park…), of course. Because when one meets a fellow Jerseyan, that's what one does. Anyway, Mr. Leo and company played really well. Lots of energy, good amount of stage banter... No Kelly Clarkson cover, though. But all in all, a good time. And the Hook has cats in the basement! Cute!

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the crush crush crush is so comforting now

dear friends,

after an evening watching likable guys who seem to have tourette's hoot & holler on american idol and typing up one woman's incredibly articulate & lengthy suicide note (I'll explain soon,) I really couldn't, couldn't, WAIT to go see the duke spirit tonight at the hook. because when I feel like ass on a stick, I need music goddammit! of course, respite never comes that easy, does it? two words: show cancelled. two more words: visa problems. AH!

anyway, I need to feel better than this. to the rescue...

1. I owned a grubby copy of treasure by the cocteau twins in high school. it was given to me by an older, wiser friend who told me it was the best bathtub music in town*. I played it over & over again. to me, it was the sound of a bedsitter with a drum machine & some guitar effects pedals who had gotten his cigarette stained fingers on a mermaid, trapped her in a large tank in his living room & was making her sing for her mackerels. her songs? in mermaid, of course! girl never learned no human speak! instead you got high trilling, swooping & soaring elegies in a babbling, burbling language of the seas. which meant that if you wanted to sing along, you had to approximate the sounds. which usually went something like this: "ish mish meow, ish mish meeee, ish pish pow, inna meepy mah!" that didn't bother me at all since it was no different than hearing & learning american songs on the radio when I was a kid. it all amounts to "I don't know what you're saying, but it sure sounds great" & that's all one needs really.

of course, elizabeth fraser of the cocteau twins is no mythical sea denizen. for one, she's got legs. also, I eventually found out by perusing Q magazine or something, that she's scottish & speaks actual english. still, hearing her sing in a recognizable language is much like seeing thurston moore play money with the backbeat band. this weird feeling of dislocation, like, they can do normal? crazy!

for something magical & soothing, go find her cover of chic's (by way of the magnificent robert wyatt - discussed previously here) at last I am free for rough trade's covers compilation stop me if you think that you've heard this one before. her vocals on this are so gentle & fucking PERFECT, I just want to purr & rub my face with a swatch of velvet. her soprano is a wondrous thing; it never hits the ear in piercing way. instead her soft tone works like a whispering kiss, one that you wish would stay. listen to this song & picture yourself in the water & imagine what you'd most like to see. it will be beautiful.

2. speaking of the disconnect & of the happy, the monkey & I were watching new york noise, which is a video show on channel 25 that caters to the local & the indie. it was a bizarre episode because in between the videos, there was this continous spoof? take-off? something? on blind date & it starred a fetching young lady named nicole atkins from nicole atkins and the sea out on the town with the singer/guitarist of the cloud room.

the singer/guitarist? the man has a name, d. I know he does, but I don't want to know it. seriously, I was alarmed to see he existed & was just some regular guy because the cloud room's hey now now was one of my absolute favorite songs of '05 & as far as I was concerned, the tune had been written & put together by anonymous christmas elves. no foolin', hey now now provided the soundtrack to many a walk to the store, a commute, dinner & impromptu solid gold dance from the moment I heard it. it's got a quick, rolling chime hook that all but carries you & this charmingly run on, almost breathless commentary that works like a balm. that song made me feel accompanied in a way I can't explain. it sounds like an inner voice that doesn't berate but pulls you along in a "you can do it!" way that's practical & reassuring but not sappy. so you can imagine, I felt perturbed looking at this poor guy on his blind date, eating pizza (at my local pizza shop!), singing don't you want me baby? at karaoke! & there was a video for the song! with the rest of the band! other normal looking guys! disturbing! so yeah, I can't learn his name, I'm sorry. I want to love those types of songs as mine & mine alone & take the makers out of picture entirely. because hey, I am a little bit touched.

this doesn't mean YOU have to be totally insane 'cause if they're playing anywhere near you anytime soon, you should go see them. also, if you haven't checked out the cloud room, you really should STAT. their self-titled album is full of catchy pop with bits of surprising beauty tucked in its edges.

love, d

songs to seek: at last I am free/elizabeth fraser, hey now now/the cloud room

albums to seek: treasure/the cocteau twins, the cloud room/the cloud room

* my home at the time had a giant tub. it was also my preferred listening station.