21 September 2006

(favorite song of the moment: "sally o'gannon" by the tamborines (listen). it's not nu-gaze, not enough guitars--more like a glaze. or a sheet, instead of a wall. they're also fond of random keyboard outbursts, as well, and melodic pop. it's as if "sally cinnamon" took up w/ the reid brothers, and they took her down to the darklands. "so much better now!" the chorus goes. we all should be singing along. (buy.)

natasha khan is, for all intents & purposes, bat for lashes; she's a friend of devendra banhart. now, listen carefully b/c i'll never say this again: but don't hold that against her. she's getting a lot of positive press over in the uk; i was fearing joanna newsom mk ii. no no no and, therefore, yes yes yes. bat for lashes, at its/her best, is like the shangri-las lost in a soundtrack to a 1960s french film, something by delerue, maybe. "what's a girl to do" (listen) is for girls dressed in black who can never go home anymore (buy).

another thing i never thought i'd be able to say: i've found a saturday looks good to me track i really really like, rather than one that reminds me of other bands i really really like. "edison girls" (listen) is their latest, and to my ears, greatest, only available on a wonderful new compilation called the kids at the club from the good people at how does it feel to be loved? (buy). even at import prices the collection is a downright steal, w/ daymaking tracks by vs&l favorites like voxtrot, i'm from barcelona, lucky soul, suburban kids with biblical names, and stars of aviation.)

20 September 2006

(a friend said, "i'm sorry, i know you were only trying to do the right thing." i said, "ha, well, if certain people are to believed, i only try to do the right thing when it can serve as a convenient cover for my baser wants & selfish desires" (as if they confused who i am w/ the name of this website, and but they did). i'm not sure why i try to do the right thing; it hasn't gotten me v. far--months ago, i thought of turning evil or scientologist.

another said, "shoot her down as much as you want ... tell her to go fuck herself." ah, that's why one has friends, to say such impossible, bizarrely gratifying things! that's why one (listen)s to lou reed, too, whose "somebody else would have broken both of her arms" is something that same friend would have agreed w/.

and yet through a statement like that, one is reminded how removed even your closest friend is from you, b/c they could never understand why what they say isn't a feasible course of action; they could never understand why lou would say somebody else would have broken both of her arms. simply, that person meant something, means something, and you'd feel a phantom pain if they lost a limb.

other statements, like one i heard tonight, reminded me w/ great sadness how far removed--from myself, from how i perceived things--even someone whom, for a time, was closer to me than anyone else alive. just goes to show how wrong you can be--or how wrong they can be--& both. b/c something she said caught the attention of the man in the moon and made him sing this song.

i said to her, "i'm not feeling better now," and i should have added, "but i will." and i can b/c i know she's reading this. it stings now, but it's a flesh wound, on skin i'm due to shed any minute. i've a new job, a new life, a new love interest, and something really, really new to me: purpose.

for now, though, i dedicate a few songs to someone and raise a glass to the past, and yet i can't quite shake the feeling that she must have been drinking alone awhile before she said what she did, else she saw through that glass, darkly.)

19 September 2006

(... but maybe i spoke too soon.)

12 September 2006

(writing "official" emails for school & such has gotten me back into the accursed habit of using capital letters. grading doesn't take me nearly as long as i thought. kids are receptive; some are, dare i say it, enthusiastic. none have found this page, but one myspaced me after i took steps to prevent just that. nothing to hide, really, but it struck me as a boundary that didn't need to be crossed.)
(And this is a song by british post-teen goth betty curse. it's fucking great.

 My, this is a wonderful track from bromheads jacket, the arctic monkeys it'll be okay to like.

 Yeah, this here is simply an amazing beyoncĂ© track. (buy.)

 Right, you'll probably love this if you <3 jens lekman--& you know you <3 him. (buy.)

 Oh, this has the sample of the year; girls aloud must be pissed she beat them to it. (pre-order.)

 Sweden's still on a roll. here and here, electro-pop equal parts manchester & mpls. (buy.)

 Enough for now.)

10 September 2006

(i always thought ccr's "travelin' band" was meant to be the beatles covering little richard. hearing jerry lee lewis's cover, on his new record (pre-order), w/ fogerty in tow--well, it sounds like he's just reclaiming something that's always belonged to him. (listen.) like fire, and passion. jesus christ, he sounds great. jesus? one suspects the devil's involved in this one, he sounds too good. the devil, though, will have to wait awhile for his quarry. what, you thought this would be another old-timer confronting his impending mortality? shit, son, they call him the "killer," not the "killed."

one of the perks at my bookstore gig is free cd promos. i noticed today that no one claimed herbert's album & so i went a-proselytizin'. prince writing for dr. buzzard's savannah band. w/ a name like that, you'd think it'd ring a few bells. "cherchez la femme"? um. "tommy mottola lives on the road." oh, right. (indulging me, i think.) then it occurred to me that scale sounds exactly like prince side-project the family, best-known for the original version of "nothing compares 2 u." but, really, they ring far fewer bells than august darnell et al. "the screams of passion" (listen) would have been the best song on matthew herbert's album, and that's no knock against his record. (naturally, the family's lp is out of print. but the girl 6 soundtrack (buy) may be the best single-disc prince primer out there; it's certainly got the most interesting tracklisting. "adore!" "girls & boys!" "nasty girl!" "how come u don't call me anymore!" "erotic fucking city!")

the album is still unclaimed.)

07 September 2006

(magazine is the most underrated band ever. perhaps i exaggerate--no, not there, here : when howard devoto left the buzzcocks, he went on to form magazine and, w/ them, post-punk. (john lydon "leaving" the pistols & forming pil is also acceptable, but "shot by both sides" was out seven months before "public image.") "give me everything" (listen), their third single, is my favorite magazine song; it amazes me that it's not on any of their "hits" compilations (buy). it's a bit like sly & the family stone meets eno-era roxy music, something for the the cognoscenti to dance to. put differently, it's a coupling of two of my favorite bands, conceptually & musically, a real dream fuck. & yes, there's something recognizably punk to it, the jabs of the guitars, the abrasion in the chorus, devoto shouting "now you give me everything!" devoto's lyrics, too, have influenced every songwriter who practices rock & roll & who wants to mean something. he's at times blunt, at times indirect, as if there's an ideal listener out there that the song is directed at, someone whose personal knowledge of & dealings w/ devoto fill in the gaps--and yet you can't shake the feeling that he's talking to you, and, well, what does he want? in other words--in devoto's words, "so bleak and easy" or "so oblique and so easy." and in the music, disco or art rock. then, both. at the same time.)

05 September 2006

(arctic monkeys won the mercury prize. i was hoping they were like the obvious answer on a standardized test that the testmakers want you to choose instinctively. alas, they were the right answer. richard hawley shoulda won, even alex turner thought so; (listen) to this & tell me he shouldn't have. ok, that track isn't from from coles corner, but you should know that he has other records, too, that you should (buy). it's about the rain, like so many hawley songs, and soothes like the here & there of your windshield wipers on a late summer early a.m. no one does this type of song as well as him--except maybe the clientele, who i'm seeing tonight at the knit. maybe they'll do "rain." i don't know what to expect since they have few, as i see it, definitive songs. every fan has v. different favorites, as w/ will oldham or the fall.)

04 September 2006

(i've just finished claire messud's much-buzzed-about the emperor's children, which might as well be subtitled the way we lived then. it's excellent. read it before oprah puts a sticker on it, as happened to the much-buzzed-about novel i was reading exactly five years ago today.

9/11 happens in the emperor's children. it's neither as near as world trade center nor as far away as mcewan's saturday. it is the first 9/11 book or film i've chosen to encounter; i don't think i need to see a film--the memory is all visual; i'm not sure i need another book now.

my birthday falls four days after the 11th; that year, it was on a saturday. the weekend, when one is robbed of their routine. time meant for other pursuits. yet that week, it was all as one, since i was off the rest of the week, and the media coverage was constant. my birthday passed happily unnoticed, but it made me think of people whose birthdays were on the 11th, about albums released that day (i still remember jay-z & mercury rev; dylan i didn't learn about until later)--about anniversaries & births. and, too, about private tragedies completely unrelated to that day's events. if it was your fiftieth wedding anniversary, were you allowed to celebrate? if your fiancé/e called it off, could you grieve?

the most moving moment of messud's book is not the handling of 9/11, which is minimal, but precisely such a private loss as i've mentioned, a grief observed in a window that once looked out onto the towers, as smoke & ash & the smell of fuel overwhelmed. "she had seen these things and had been left, forever, because in light of these things she did not matter."

let's get it out of the way : here is what i was writing then, saved on the 9/11 digital archive, unalterable, frozen in amber.

but what the emperor's children reminded me of was the subject of an entry i'd written the next week. "the posters," messud writes, "thick and thickening like some mad foliage, each with its photographs, its carefree snap at a wedding, a beach, a picnic, and its plea, shone white in the dusk, and people circulated, quietly, wet-faced, examining them."

i never cried when it happened. my mother did, copiously, much of it probably b/c she wouldn't hear from me for hours; but to this day, she still wells up when she hears "God bless america." two miles from the wtc, i suppose i was neither close enough nor far enough away, too wrapped up in just getting out of new york & getting home, having at the time only seen the first plane hit, cut off from any reliable news source (but not from lots of gossip & secondhand accounts; the last information i'd heard was that a tower fell, this as an elevator door closed in front of me). i cried last night, remembering & in remembrance--and maybe i used the opportunity, as so many in the emperor's children do, to shed a tear or two for my own personal losses & disappointments, reflected in this wondrous piece of fiction.)

01 September 2006

(one of the things that bothers me most is the sainthood given to the "insane," the nimbus that surrounds the entire output of artists as disparate as daniel johnston, syd barrett, brian wilson, and james carr, when even these fellows are lucid enough to recognize that some of their material is shit and there aren't enough prescription drugs in the world to make it seem otherwise (score one for the new critics). what bothers me even more is when this same mentality, if you will, is applied to the works of, say, obscure, intense religious types, like those making up the compilation good God! a gospel funk hymnal (buy); as w/ the praise of the mentally ill, it's a sort of exoticization that condemns at the same time as it elevates, i.e. "look at these crazy God people!" which always annoys me & makes me feel both protective & propietary, not the least b/c of my own amorphous undefined religious beliefs, which are beliefs, make no mistake about it; the more observant among you will have noticed that i can't bring myself not to capitalize "God"--& also my infrequent reference to my catholic upbringing.

so, as an "insider," i say that this compilation is pretty good, not great--best when it lifts popular r&b licks & melodies--and this to me is the best song by a country mile. it's a choir & a drummer, that's all. i fail to provide you w/ a title b/c i want you to make out the words for yourself. in parts, it might as well be greek (or latin, to rep for the western church), it's so unintelligible; even when deciphered, it might as well be greek to the outsider. what moves is the depth of conviction, common to so many gospel records; unlike many, esp. contemporary gospel records, though, it's the sense of awe & beauty conveyed by the simple lyric, the group vocal, the sparseness & low-fidelity of the track & not the tropes of the genre--sweat, buoyancy, wailing--that galvanize the listener. it's as mysterious as individual faith & as involving as shared belief.)


(& if that's not your bag, here's a link to a new decemberists song, one of two on the soon-to-be new album (pre-order) worth hearing. anthems for civil war reenactment types (more blue than grey), or drama kids too cool for queen--or "alt," as we said in my day. i have a constitutional weakness for songs about hanging one's head in sorrow : it's the nexus where real grief meets a learned pose. tom waits sings "hang down your head," but here colin sings, "i'll hang my head," breaking down some sort of wall, demonstrating near-unforgivable self-consciousness (like any drama kid worth his or her salt). but only "near" : it's so damn swelling & soaring, it covers a multitude of sins--or at least half-an-lp's worth. shame about the rest.)