clap clap blog: we have moved
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Something else I realized at the concert--and I don't remember exactly in what context this revelation came--was that when you look at someone with a lot of tatoos, you can point to each one and go, $100, $100, $200...seriously, they look hardcore or whatever, but it's not much different from a, like, tricked-out truck. "Yeah, I got these great wheelrims from working 20 hours at the Shop-n-Save..." v. "I got this awesome dragon tatoo from working 20 hours at McD's." Ain't no different, and ain't no badassness.
posted by Mike B. at 2:34 AM 0 comments Links to this post
I only caught two songs of the Andrew WK show tonight, but just with those, it was the most rock 'n' roll show I've been to this year. He launches into "Party Hard" and immediately there's this stream of kids--and I mean kids, like actual teenagers, and how weird is it to see them at a show?--just starts piling onto the stage, hordes and hordes of 'em. And there's already four axemen and a keyboard on the stage, pretty close to the edge, to say nothing of the drummer, so it's getting pretty crowded up there. But no one seems to mind! Security's trying to drag them off but Andrew just grabs as many as he can and hugs 'em and dances with them. He loses his mic, he doesn't care, one kid sings the chorus, it's cool. He gets this one 14-year-old boy in a denim jacket and a homemade "AWK" t-shirt up on his shoulders and they're twirling around and it's wonderful. "I Get Wet" is the finale and during the midst of that a girl makes her way onto the stage and gives someone what looks like panties and Andrew hugs her away from security and gets her up on his shoulders and puts her down and she's dancing and it's great. It was total chaos and anyone and everyone could sing, and it was loud and fun and dancey. Great shit, man. What people miss about Andrew is that yes, he's not serious about stadium rock, but the problem with stadium rock is that people take it seriously. He's just realized how fun it is for many people to engage in and does it with all the joy that requires. Awesome.
Joan Jet was pretty cool, too. She's oldish but a total badass, in that Madonna way, except cool. The great thing about her music is that it's definitely punk rock (guitarist looked about 17 and had a mohawk and an agnostic front t-shirt; bassist looked like Joey Ramone except, um, he had an eyepatch) but it's also definitely 80's--you can do "the 80's dance" to it. Which is kind of fun. She did this one absolutely horrendous song she wrote with, natch, Kathleen Hanna. It was bad enough while it was going on--lyrics about how you take a picture is that your camera or is it a gun bang bang and make your own identity, UGH--but it just looked worse when they followed it with a cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, which was trite, I guess, but totally awesome. And then later they covered "Crimson And Clover," which was odd but good.
Warsaw still sucks--there was this tiny little door to let people outside to smoke and the bouncer yelled at all of us and got spit on me. Ah well. And, of course, the sound was horrible. The crowd was pretty good, though--older punkers who actually danced!
posted by Mike B. at 2:32 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Friday, October 24, 2003
Goin' home, but don't forget to ask Miss Clap.
posted by Mike B. at 7:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The more I listen to John Mellencamp's greatest hits, the more certain conclusions are inescapable.
Conclusions like: "Pink Houses" is, simply, one of the best rock songs of all time.
First off, there's the music. There's the hook, which, goddamn, is just mind-blowing. It's a simple little pattern, but it's great because there's no reason for that to be new. No reason. It's so simple and so good. And there's the restraint: the way everything holds off for the first verse/chorus but still sounds really driving, really exciting. The arrangement is great. The instrumentation is great: that slide guitar, that electric, that percussion. The singing is great. It just sounds great, timeless: there's country in there, and rock, but blues too, and soul--I hear not a little Van Morrison in John's singing (see "know know know" in this one) and songs. It sounds classic rock, but it mostly just sounds classic. Oh yeah, and the fucking handclaps. Holy shit. Holy shit.
Then there's the lyrics. All three verses of this song are wonderful little images, starting specific in the first (black man's house), going more archetypical in the second (rock 'n' roll yoot) and then going totally general/theoretical at the end ("the simple man"). And what they do well is what John Mellencamp does so well: act in two opposing ways. The chorus has "America" in it and the song's kind of cheery, so it seems pro-America, but I don't want to seem superficial about this. There really is a valid patriotic interpretation to the song. There's the gauzy nostalgia of the first verse, the simple rock-is-greatism of the second, and the championing of the common man in the third. It's very populist.
But: it's also very, very sad. The third verse speaks of common people thusly: "What do they know know know / Go to work in some high rise / And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico." The common man "pays for the thrills, the bills and the pills that kill." You can take that "bills" thing and say it's anti-capitalist, and it kinda is, but it's more in that traditional country vein of portraying the lives of most people as being crushed, not ennobled, by suffering; as something that happens, and that is OK, but something that shouldn't. Sure, it's opposed to the views of some of your more elitist liberal types, but it's also diametrically opposed to big-business Republicanism.
Verse two, a fucking mind-blowing little compact bomb of meaning, starts with rock 'n' roll, but sees it as a good thing only because the speaker's political aspirations have been crushed. He recognizes music as a compromise, as a second-best thing, as something that is good but far from the best. And I really like that. Rock 'n' roll is not salvation: it's just a comfort.
The third verse has a cute quality to it, the comforting teasing of a happily married couple, but at the same time, this house they proudly own has "an interstate runnin' through [its] front yard" but "he think that he's got it so good." And that house, the "little pink house" of the chorus, is all cute and Americana, but it's crushing, too, in its own way. The house is little, and it's just like all the rest. Ain't that America: a bunch of mass-produced shit that all looks the same and isn't very good. But I'm sure you know that I'd hate any song that had this as its only meaning. However, Mellencamp puts it alongside a strong acknowledgement of how wonderful little houses and rock 'n' roll and cheesy vacations can be, how they do provide comfort in a harsh world. And I like that. A lot. Would that some of our more "intellectual" lyricists could pull off tricks like that effectively.
But the best thing about this song is that it has two spectacular choruses.
Of course, they are smushed together, and that could fool people. But realize that you could easily refer to this song as "Ain't That America" just as much as "Little Pink Houses." And Mellencamp could have simply stopped after "home of the free..." Ending on that unresolved chord would have added a nice admission of uncertainty to the wink-wink jingoism being employed. But he goes on to a lyric that also ends on an unresolved chord and so the great little hold happens twice. Thus: home of the free to do what? Little pink houses, for you and me. That freedom is clearly being expressed with a bitter edge to it.
But ultimately, it's not even about the meaning, about the words, about all of that. It's about the fact that the first part is a great melody and rhythm and arrangement, and then he adds more. You can't help but sing along, can't help but have both parts stuck in your head for days and days. Goddamn fucking right. That's a fucking song for you.
 You get kind of a Toby Keith vibe from him, but the man hates Republicans; he's a Democrat in that old-school way.
 I would argue that the critique made explicit in the Pulp song of that name is implicitly contained between the lines of "Pink Houses," but I could be wrong.
UPDATE: Right, since he semi-famously covered a Van Morrison song with that bassist lady whose name I don't care to copy and paste from allmusic right now, that's not the most cutting of insights. Bad rock critic.
posted by Mike B. at 7:20 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The problem with absolutist negative reviewing like that practiced by Dale Peck is that, like with Mark Ames or Pitchfork, half the time I can prove them to be objectively wrong, or at least get to the point where the authors/supporters are simply offering weak excuses or nonsensical justifications. I've never done so with Peck mostly because he seems to care far more than I do--if he starts in on Lethem or A.M. Holmes or something I'll step to, but I could give a shit about Rick Moody. But hey, maybe we'll get lucky at some point.
The problem, broadly, is that the absolutists are pro-sincerity and anti-irony. Unfortunately, statements like "Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation" aren't actually true; the retarded guy working at McDonald's is the worst writer of his generation. And so they are being--duhn duhn DAH!--ironic and insincere. Especially if, as Peck and others readily admit, they are simply using overstatement to get our attention, and how is that better that Klosterman's far more honest self-aware wholehearted embracing of things he doesn't entirely believe? It ain't. Of course, they would defend these outbursts as necessary to break through the wall of incompetence and laziness and apathy that afflicts culture, that a little lying is necessary to reach THE TRUTH. (We agree with you, gents--and it is always gents, isn't it?--but that's called irony, you'll recall.) Problem is a) this assumes that they have the truth, and, well, wake me when that's the case; and b) it's all predicated on the image of the critic as alone in their genius and persecuted by bad taste. Ha. Mister, there are lots of very vocal people out there who don't like many things and enjoy being creatively mean; this particular stance hardly makes you unique. It's needlessly AUR. (And bullshit pseudo-Bangsianism to boot.) For instance:
In the afterword to ''Hatchet Jobs,'' Peck reports that his hands are ''literally shaking'' as he types his indictment of modernism ''like a fugitive'' in the middle of the night. ''Sometimes even I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what I'm saying.''
"Enormity"? Christ almighty. Look, Galileo's discoveries can be characterized that way. Martin Luther's theses. Ghandi's civil disobedience. Indicting modernism? Yeah. Not so much. It's been done a few times before, if I recall correctly--like, for instance, by those post-modernists who you don't like vewy much.
Similarly, it presumes that this is an effective technique, which seems doubtful to me. Why would that kind of thing actually change people's attitudes? Isn't it just, as suggested in the article, a technique to get more money for the publication and more notice for the critic? Seems likely.
Then again, I don't know if I can add anything to this:
Peck himself wasn't so fashionable -- or maybe he was by downtown standards. He wore baggy knee-length pants and a short-sleeved checked shirt. He had arrived by bicycle and was sweating profusely; his spiky hair stood up on his head. He had just come from his therapist, he told me after we found a table shielded by a white umbrella and ordered drinks. Had they talked about our interview? I asked. ''We talked about it, and I started crying out of the blue,'' Peck said. Did he have any idea why? ''I've been thinking of ending therapy because I haven't been engaging. While I was at the gym, before therapy, I was thinking that there was an incredible similarity between my feelings about therapy and this interview and the reviews I write. The StairMaster was a metaphor; I was running in place.''
The argument can be made that there's actually a core of good, positive criticism in a lot of these pieces. But of that not unreasonable claim I have to ask: then why the disproportionate negativity? To get attention? Well, you know, that's not the only way to get attention. There's always the theory that if you point out something about a piece of art that no one else has, or that you make a connection or a theory about it that is relatively new or interesting, that will get you a lot of attention, too. And from that view, it's hard not to see negative absolutist criticism as anything other than self-interested laziness, the work of writers with a talent for insults but not insight, looking to elevate themselves as essentially entertainers while angrily decrying the value of entertainment in art. Come down here and play in the sandbox with the rest of us, kids. It's way more fun.
posted by Mike B. at 6:43 PM 0 comments Links to this post
One of the nice things about blogs is that they allow you to follow your muse wherevs. This blog started off mainly political, and now it is mainly music.
But hey, why not throw something else into the mix? The music won't, won't, won't stop, but I thought it might be fun to try a little experiment. Viz: an advice column.
Starting on Monday (hopefully), Miss Clap will be answering your questions in a segment we like to call Ask Miss Clap. Ask her anything--she will have words of wisdom for you. It will appear here for now, although if it gets reasonably popular/frequent we'll give it its own blog.
So send in your questions! All will probably be answered! And not by me, but by the semi-mythical Miss Clap (and by "semi-mythical" I mean previously mentioned), who--let's be clear about this--is not me. Use pseudonyms, don't, hey, follow yer own muse. Just write in those questions.
The address to use is askmissclap at hotmail dot com. Use it early and often.
We both look forward to helping you out, and/or to seeing how this all goes...
Some suggested questions:
- Should I buy the Erase Erratta / Sonic Youth 7"?
- Does the new Britney single suck or rule?
- [anything you'd ask Dr. Phil]
- Why can't I meet women / men?
- What the hell is oozing from my genitals?
posted by Mike B. at 3:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
For my UK readers: I just got accosted by a Big Issue guy in Union Square. In New York City. I told him to bug off, of course, because no one who's anyone buys Big Issues, of course (I've done my time in your socialist hellhole), but it was kind of weird, especially because he was, in fact, a Brit. Except I don't recall them saying things like "I'd be ever so grateful" accross the pond, presumably because this would get them punched.
I think he was trying to charm New Yorkers with his Englishness, and I think it was working.
posted by Mike B. at 3:20 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Looks like I'm doing a little review of the Mandy album, so I am indeed gonna get the album, ya freaks.
...but I do get to get it for free. Whee!
posted by Mike B. at 6:20 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Pretty nice little riff from our friend Heather...
And I look in the mirror all the ti-yime...
Her and Klosterman should do something.
posted by Mike B. at 4:46 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Courtney is in a custody battle with Wendy, Kurt's mom, after Child Protection Services took away Frances after C-Lo's drug arrest.
Christ, Courtney. This is just getting stupid, OK? Let's be nice to Frances Bean...
...oh, and let's not seriously attempt to introduce Kurt's journals as evidence of Wendy's poor parenting skills. Sheesh.
posted by Mike B. at 3:08 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Sweet fucking Jesus Christ my almighty dickhole love my ass shit rape fuck lard bottom fumble porkrind.
Uh, I mean, "wow." I'm never going to refer to myself as "longwinded" or "obsessive" again.
The Firesign Theater?
posted by Mike B. at 1:19 PM 0 comments Links to this post
I think if you're worried by misogynist overtones in AC/DC you probably need something better to do with your time. That or start listening to some fucking hip-hop. Goddamn, dude.
posted by Mike B. at 1:14 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Presumably this is the first Martin Amis reference in a piece about Timbaland. But I could be wrong.
You're a goddamn tease, Sasha.
posted by Mike B. at 11:27 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Now, if you didn't know anything about the principals involved, would this description make you think they were talking about a major-label rap album or an undie one?
The other shift is in subject matter, where Bavitz avoids a singular album topic (Labor Days) or a far too scattered listening experience (Float). Aes tackles a variety of concepts, including the emergence of young killers ("Babies with Guns"), fondness for his home state ("N.Y. Electric", "No Jumper Cables"), and disillusionment with the media ("Bazooka Tooth", "Easy"), all the while offering his usual mix of hard-edged rhyme schemes ("Park your bets, sharks or jets/ It's bark marked targets where the barnacles nest") and clever idioms ("They burrow deep under the carnivore's flesh, without a trace/ Carnival games, like try to shoot the star out of his space").
My vote would be for major-label, and not in that good, Jay-Z/Ludacris/Eminem way--more in that third Nas album way. Street violence? The fickle media? Sheesh, Ian [not Adam, ahem, sorry about that], we do still remember you're a big ol' Jew from Northport. (And, if these samples are anything to be believed, not the best lyricist in the world, either, but I kinda hate the Def Jux flow.) Dwelling on these subjects makes you sound a lot more like Phil Collins than 50 Cent. (c.f. "Land of Confusion," "Another Day in Paradise.") And "the revolution"? Please. Y'all know what I'm gonna say about that one.
The themes we're talking about here can be explored in very interesting ways (see Jay's oeuvre) but not when you have the size stick up your ass that Aesop apparently does.
posted by Mike B. at 10:42 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Here's my theory about Elliot Smith: Courtney Love murdered him with her bare hands. No particular reason, it's just what that unfeeling harlot does. Or so I'm led to understand.
posted by Mike B. at 6:06 PM 0 comments Links to this post
I'm currently on hold with a music supervisor for The Bold & The Beautiful (don't ask) and in the middle of the various hold tunes--it's, um, been a while--came the theme music for the CBS Evening News With Dan Rather. And I said, i.e. actually chanted out loud, "Rocked by rape! Rocked by rape!" -- as this is how that particular song starts.
Regrettably, it was not, and I was not. So it goes.
Oh hey, ECC is playing the WFMU record faire in November. Maybe I'll go.
posted by Mike B. at 5:21 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Maybe I'm being shallow, but I kinda like what Angelina Jolie had to say:
At premiere of "Beyond Borders," Angelina Jolie says she now has "a purpose as a human being. I think I really didn't have one before. I was an artist and I, you know, I'd wake up with little things I'd complain about. I had no idea, really, how unbalanced the world was and how fortunate I was, and how rare my life is in comparison to the amount of people that really know suffering and really know pain, and I'll never be self-destructive again."
Hey, I agree. Given how fortunate most of us (i.e. people who could conceivably read this blog, say) are, it seems stupid to try and fuck yourself over.
posted by Mike B. at 1:58 PM 0 comments Links to this post
"I'd like the Jeff Buckley package, please."
posted by Mike B. at 10:55 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Where'd-the-Boondocks-go update from the Post:
posted by Mike B. at 5:13 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Pitchfork gives my man Sufjan Stevens some much-deserved love. I really do need to post about that album sometime, it's brilliant.
posted by Mike B. at 5:11 PM 0 comments Links to this post
...and then you're sitting in your cubicle and you've got the Rapture album playing in the cubicle opposite and two other people in "the pit" have music playing too, louder than yours, and you forget it's on until you suddenly catch a snatch of "House of Jealous Lovers," except you can only hear the vocals, and you realize goddamn, that is some astoundingly amelodic, off-key yelping right there, and damn fine.
There was more I was gonna post today, but ah well, it's gone. Subsumed by work, as happens sometimes.
I did pick up the Basement Jaxx and British Sea Power albums at lunch (regretfully put down Mandy Moore) so we'll see about that, now won't we?
posted by Mike B. at 4:55 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Oh, incidentally, the AMG reviewer likes the Carla album almost as much as I do.
Meanwhile, their entry on the original exhibits one of the universe's more curious phenomenons: a middling review with a five-star rating. Whuzza? Here's the conclusion: "It's undoubtedly distinctive — and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year — but it's strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it's a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was." How is that 5 star-worthy?
posted by Mike B. at 11:40 AM 0 comments Links to this post
For the record, the All Girl Summer Fun Band's 2 is not just good when you're drunk. It's good all the time. I gave it a spin this morning on the train and yup, it still sounds fucking awesome. Great disc.
posted by Mike B. at 10:42 AM 0 comments Links to this post
I guess there's not much point in talking about the new Lethem novel yet, since it's just out in hardback, so maybe I'll save the longer critical posts for when the paperback come out. Or maybe not. But here's what I can tell you right now: if you like music and you like books, you have to read this novel. Trust me on it.
Anyway, here's the review I finished up this weekend, presented as a teaser for much more stuff later.
The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday)
In the midst of the fictional liner notes that serve as an intermission to Jonathan Lethem's new novel The Fortress of Solitude, we learn that Barrett Rude's vocal group—Barrett being the father of Mingus, Mingus being the best friend of Dylan, Dylan being the only white kid in his Brooklyn neighborhood and the subject of the book—we learn, as I say, that his vocal group, which had a few hits in the early 70's, changed its name from the Distinctions to the Subtle Distinctions. That's a good joke, since the change itself is a subtle distinction, but it's also a perfect description of the game this book is playing.
Starting in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, the book tracks the awkward friendship between white boy Dylan and black kid Mingus through Dylan's time in the local public middle school (his absentee hippie mother Rachel not wanting to be gentrificationist) and into the magnet high school as a punk and then private college in Vermont and California as a gen-u-ine New Yawker who uses his play-acted "street cred" to score status and/or drugs. On the way we pass by such subjects as tagging, magic rings, and the politics of interracial dating, but by and by you realize that it's mostly about the little things, the little differences: who like hip-hop, and who like soul; who use crack, and who use cocaine; who are real graffiti artists, and who are just "toys." And in the midst of all these micro-intervals, the seemingly insurmountable differences between blacks and whites that is the apparent center of a book practically screaming “THIS IS ABOUT RACE” become subtle, too, because that's what novels are supposed to be: subtle, ambiguous.
It's about the differences between this book and Lethem's last, the National Book Award-winning Motherless Brooklyn. That one, about an orphaned detective with Tourette's Syndrome, was widely embraced; Fortress, on the other hand, appears much harder to love. Still, they each have a first section set in a child's-eye view of Brooklyn that turns out to be merely a setup for a much more difficult, but much more rewarding, finale. And, contrary to widespread opinion, Fortress is hardly sprawling, its length aside; it focuses precisely on its main character and three supporters, and spends at least as much time in Brooklyn as Motherless did, even while it encompasses a larger time frame.
And ultimately, it's the little differences that make Fortress so rewarding and so good. Not that this was necessarily assured: as a longtime Lethem fan, it was impossible to miss the transition from inventive slipstream sci-fi (Gun, With Occasional Music and Amnesia Moon) to a sort of carnivalesque pomo-realism with Motherless Brooklyn, and be worried upon hearing that the next book was going to be semi-autobiographical. This turns out to be unfounded: Lethem's style, always shifty, here subsumes all worries, eschewing an authorial voice even when in the first person and continuing to tell the kind of stories he always has. True, Dylan isn't very likable, but the lack of a fanciful conceit (some superheroics aside) to hang the plot on turns out to be an advantage: by placing race, something very real, ostensibly at the center, the history in the first half doesn't resolve in the second in some genre pastiche like Motherless' detective fiction, but in one of the best pieces of music criticism I've ever read, about music that doesn't actually exist.
Music criticism? Sure, when you break it down, the novel's three-fourth history, recalled in the course of a trip a 30-something Dylan takes from California to Brooklyn and back again; you know, a novel. But from the last few chapters of the first section through the liner notes and the beginning of the back half, it's a gleeful, breathtakingly creative blast of criticism (while remaining a great novel), making a whole series of great points about cultural capital, music geekery, punk, hip-hop, and on and on and on.
This isn't an easy book to fall in love with. But there's a lot there to dig into, and I think it's something that can be profitably mined for many years. Give it a try.
posted by Mike B. at 9:18 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Monday, October 20, 2003
posted by Mike B. at 6:00 PM 0 comments Links to this post
I'm not going to post the text because I don't want it to be my "definitive" statement on the matter (plus I'm going to recycle some of the material, probably) but if you're interested, here is my review of the new Carla Bozulich album, in convenient Word format. The full statement will probably be coming tomorrow.
Short version: album of the year. I'm serious.
posted by Mike B. at 4:57 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Incidentally, Jon, if you really think the Rapture "revolves around Luke Jenner's discordant rhythm-guitar slashes and his yelping, androgynous lead vocals," you're not listening closely enough. Everything circles the rhythm section, particularly the bass, to my ears. Luke's role is to come crashing in at opportune times; Matt, on the other hand, is probably the one the music revolves around. (And, as everyone besides Pitchfork--oddly--seems to be forgetting, Matt does a fair amount of singing, too.) Just because Luke gives off the most rock-star vibe in a band full of people who don't seem to have any inclination to be rock stars (or Vedderesque anti-rock stars, either) doesn't mean that you can ignore the others.
posted by Mike B. at 3:23 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Brief pointer: for those of you following the discussion on the Zenarchery post, I've posted a response which might be of interest. Wouldn't normally note, but that post is getting a bit buried by now.
posted by Mike B. at 12:31 PM 0 comments Links to this post
While I'm repping Phantroll, let me point you (nudge nudge) to a place where you just might be able to download a Comets on Fire track. Let me know what you think--the nyhappenings crew is all over them, but they have way more love for psychedelia / "rock" than m'self.
Oh, and incidentally, some of us musicians would be fine with people not knowing titles, as they're mainly things that we make up so the other band members will know what's next on the setlist. If we could get away with listing "5/4 song" and "Newy" on a tracklist, we would. (Then again, this is coming from a member of a band that has songs actually called "Shoegazer" and "2 Chordee.") Sometimes I want you to chuckle at my witty James Baldwin reference, but by and large you come up to me and say you like "that Shoshawna song" or "that one where you talk a lot" or "duhn duhn duhn NAH-NEE-NAR!" and I'll be pretty happy.
posted by Mike B. at 11:59 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Thanks to Matt for posting Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind Of Wonderful," because it made me realize that for the first two minutes and fifteen seconds of this song (which is only 3:22 in total) it is nothing but bass, drums and voice. That's the kind of minimalism you'd expect from, I dunno, PJ Harvey or Shellac, but, guys, this is Grand Funk Railroad. Moreover, this is "Some Kind Of Wonderful." And OK, those harmonies aren't very minimalist, but lemme just break out the old Prince "Kiss" comparison, which, flippin' the script, is nothing but drum machine, guitar, voice, and a quick little synth line. It's really kind of amazing that they get away with it. I really appreciate that kind of daring and skill.
Don't get me wrong--I still don't really like the song, although I don't care if you do like it--nothing wrong with that. But I can't help but be impressed at this level of daring, fuck-you minimalism in a pop song that still occupies such a large part, relatively speaking, of our cultural landscape. Makes you wonder why people thought the White Stripes couldn't have a hit. And yes, it's that big: you can hear "Some Kind Of Wonderful" in supermarkets, department stores, offices, fast food restaurants, weddings, cars, bars, late night talk shows, etc., etc., etc. This is one of those songs like "Yesterday" in that it's everywhere, but it's also one of those songs like most of Journey's hits, or John Mellencamp's, in that it's everywhere but you never notice it. Kind of like Queen before Wayne's World.
Oh, and yes, I am going to take up that Journey gauntlet at some point this week. (You with me, Phantroll?)
posted by Mike B. at 11:48 AM 0 comments Links to this post
I kind of disagree.
Yes on the Jaxx stuff, obviously, but dunno about the Rapture. First off: Luke does not sing all the songs. Secondly: exactly which Cure songs does "Olio" sound like? Admittedly I'm not the biggest Cure-head, but I was under the impression that they usually had some guitars, whereas there ain't a single one in Olio. It's straight dance-pop, which is why it's good. Moreover, how does Jenner sound like R. Smith? Smith always sounded a bit constrained to me, whereas Luke is all over the place; kind of a whiskey v. amphetamines thing.
Fair enough on the Primal Scream thing, but as for the Rapture's lack of current bigness and/or dissenting critical opinions ("the album has been engendering backlash for the near year it's been floating around on promos and P2Ps"), there are a few other things going on here. First is the fact that the Rapture are trying to do disco and dance, two genres which many American rock fans have an inbred, unreasoning hatred towards, no matter the merits of the actual music at issue--see the Zenarchery guy, for instance. So that's not helping them. As for that P2P backlash--c'mon, Michaelangelo, you don't actually think that backlash is all, or even mostly, in reaction to the music, do you? It's a hype-allergy, and fair enough, but the best antidotes to prerelease hype backlash are good reviews, and seeing as how the damn album isn't even out in America yet, there haven't been a whole lot of constructive criticism to contradict the hipster squeamishness about Things People Like.
I'm not saying the Rapture are guaranteed success. Hell, I work for a record company--I know not to say that. But I do think that it's unfair and extremely premature to dub them failures when their damn album hasn't come out yet. I've had Echoes for a while, and I still really, really like it. It's a great fucking album, and I think--or hope--that other people will think so, too. You know, once the damn thing comes out.
posted by Mike B. at 11:31 AM 0 comments Links to this post
I was just listening to Blink 102.7 while waiting for the computer to boot up and they played the exact same ad for Skin twice in a goddamn row. The exact same ad. Twice. In a row. Christ.
posted by Mike B. at 11:03 AM 0 comments Links to this post
From the Texas Republican party platform...
Monetary System – The Party calls for the United States monetary system to be returned to the gold standard. Since the Federal Reserve System is a private corporation, has no reserves, and is not subject to taxation or audit, we call on Congress to abolish this institution and reassume its authority, enumerated by Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, for the coinage of money.
Do they seriously support the gold standard? Guys, that went out with William Jennings Bryan. This plank seems more like the remnant of a high school history class project, not an actual substantive policy statement in 2003. It's pretty much a moot point anyway, given the way that gold is valued these days.
In less serious commentary, there are some great names on that platform committee. "T. Skip Leake," "Roy V Casanova," "Johnny E. Lovejoy," "P.J. Lemons." Mmm. Good short-story names.
Incidentally, W.J. Bryan is pretty cool.
posted by Mike B. at 10:43 AM 0 comments Links to this post