I owe you guys some serious material, and I swear it's coming, but maybe not today. In the meantime, though, a few notes.
A few people have mentioned to me that they thought of doing their own versions of 100 SONGS THAT POP INTO MY HEAD AT THE MOMENT. I'd love to see other people's take on that idea! If you're looking for something to do, maybe pick up that one and run with it.
Right now I'm thinking next week will be Blueberry Boat week, where I'll try and do a somewhat coherant analysis of the album song-by-song, with structural stuff and narrative stuff and technical stuff. These things often don't work out, seeing as how I'm not paid to do this, but I'll do my best.
I do have two somewhat major posts in the ol' noggin that aren't Fiery Furnace-related, so I'll do my best to hit that up during the day today.
The problem with hearing "Sweet Child of Mine" shortly after arriving at the office first thing in the morning is that after about 2 seconds of that opening riff whanging against my brain, all I want to do is throw my papers in the air, tear off my button-down shirt (were I wearing one) to reveal a concert t, and take off to go drink beer out of the back of a pickup truck until I passed out in the early afternoon or something.
"..takes me away to that special place..." Apparently that special place is friggin' Oneonta.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHY PRINCE IS COOLER THAN YOU--AND BY 'YOU' I MEAN EVERYONE EVERYWHERE--BASED ON HIS NYC CONCERT 7/12/04
#1: He really goes with the "musicology" thing. - Except what he means is "the musicology of Prince." The show begins with a greatest-hits showreel culminating in a cross-cut clip of his induction into the RnR HoF that serves as an introduction. And it goddamn works.
- Two of the horn players appear at one point in doctoral robes. Not just graduation robes, but specifically PhD robes, with the sash and everything. You just know this was specifically requested. This is sort of my definition of "awesome."
- During "D.M.S.R." he says, "I think we got a lot of young folk in the house tonight. They're here to learn. Maybe they know this one." And then the band plays the hook from "Crazy in Love." Which is, of course, actually the hook from the Chi-Lite's "Are You My Woman." This makes me start weeping. Then they play the hook from "The Way You Move."
#2: He doesn't really need a band. - He begins a "cool it down" acoustic set by playing three of the best pop songs of the last twenty years--"Little Red Corvette," "Cream," and "Rasberry Beret."
- He interrupts the chorus of "Cream" to say, "You know I wrote this looking in the mirror, right?"
- The acoustic set lasts 45 minutes. This is to say, he does an acoustic set as long as most band's entire sets. This, too, works.
#3: He makes technical mastery into something other than self-indulgent wanking. - He plays guitar at different times just like Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and either Jimmy Page or the guitarist dude from Aerosmith. I don't mean the notes--I mean the actual physical movements. Prince has realized, I think, that as good as dance/funk/soul is for working a crowd and getting a party started, the only thing in pop that's ever topped the attraction of a singer at a microphone is the lead guitarist. Rock really nailed this trick; there's something about the guitar as a physical object that allows it to be manipulated in eminently dramatic and charismatic ways.
- The drummer--who is probably the best drummer I've ever seen--spins his drumsticks. But he doesn't spin them like Tommy Lee spins them, i.e. during a part where he's only using his feet or one hand. He spins them in the middle of the beat, in the half second he has between hitting the snare and hitting it again. He does this all night. It's awesome. If you're ever bored, you can pretty much just look at him.
- Even the songs we don't know work. The band does what I'm told funk bands are supposed to do, keep everyone dancing, keep everyone excited, even when there's no hook of recognition or theatrical display or lyrical interest. Just playing through (and it doesn't need to be said that they flow from song to song in a way I don't even try to understand) they keep up a groove that has an independent worth. They're incredible musicians all playing incredibly well--and I'm not bored. It sure makes indie rock look stupid.
#4 And so forth. - He has a cushion pile that he just throws his guitar in. Later, he lets his guitar sit on the stage and walks around it carefully, letting it make random bursts of noise, manipulating it from time to time with a wah pedal. It's not the noise-rock wash of sound noise, but little odd bursts. Then an assistant comes out with a white cloth and covers the guitar and carries it offstage. Yes.
- He gets applause from sitting down and reading a magazine. No, really.
- He closes with "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "Purple Rain." He plays the symbol guitar during "Purple Rain." Previously, he has played "Kiss" and "Seven" and "Go Crazy" and good, good lord.
AND, JUST TO BE BALANCED, A FEW REASONS WHY PRINCE MIGHT NOT BE THAT COOL
- When he plays "Cream" on an acoustic guitar, Dave Matthews does not just up and die of shame.
- You look at him as a musician and you know that not only will you never be a better singer, or songwriter, or guitarist, or performer, or dancer than him--you will never be better than him in any of these areas. And you're not 4'11" and from Minnesota. posted by Mike B. at 11:02 AM
Just a brief note (with hopefully a lot more later): the commercial release of the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat seems to have some differences from the prerelease, although I suppose I could just be losing my mind. At any rate, the booklet has lyrics, so you should buy it for that reason alone, aside from the whole supporting-the-band thing.
I'm hopefully going to write a lot more about it later, but for now, let me just note that I think it's akin to a modern literary novel in many ways: the narrative is both historical and personal, and it's delivered with the kind of difficulty and stylistic experimentation we might expect from a novelist, where you sort of have to fight things and pay attention to figure out what's going on. At the same time, of course, there are more incentives to re-examine the work than most novels give you, I feel (like catchy singles), but you do have to sort of consciously construct this story to explain everything there. But it can be done, which is impressive. It makes you work but rewards you. Good stuff.
In other news, I notice my traffic spiked lately and has sustained itself at the new level for about a week. Is this runoff from the Fluxblog bump resulting from the media coverage, or are y'all just here on your own volition? Stick around, regardless--lots of new content coming soon.
 I'm avoiding naming a school here because I can't tell whether to put 0, 1, or 2 "post-"s in front of "modernist." posted by Mike B. at 10:47 AM
Monday, July 12, 2004
My first reaction to hearing Jawbox: my God, did people really like this? That explains a lot, I suppose... posted by Mike B. at 12:49 PM
Incidentally, The Fiery Furances' "Blueberry Boat" comes out Tuesday.
And me without a place to write a review for. Any suggestions? posted by Mike B. at 11:54 AM
Sunday, July 11, 2004
ROCK 'N' ROLL BON MOTS #015
"...but then, my project has always been to bring the smells of the barbeque to the world of the avant-garde." posted by Mike B. at 3:51 PM