Odds and Ends 012
Been Through Less Than They Think, These Guys
Diamond Rugs: Diamond Rugs (Partisan)
Whose songs do you think stick out when the Deer Tick guy convenes yet another roots-rock supergroup with the Black Lips guy and the Dead Confederate guy? ("Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant," "Gimme a Beer") ***
The Obits: "Moody, Standard and Poor" (Sub Pop)
Perpetually PO-ed alt lifers get a grip on it ("I Want Results," "No Fly List") ***
Wavves: Life Sux (Ghost Ramp)
"A joke a stroke of genius/Probably somewhere in between" is tuneful enough, finally, but make that second line "Or only a waste of time?" and we might believe he's got some brain left ("Bug," "Poor Lenore") ***
The Rapture: In the Grace of Your Love (DFA)
Posers have real lives too‑-really‑-only it's really hard to care ("In the Grace of Your Love," "How Deep Is Your Love") ***
Herzog: Cartoon Violence (Exit Stencil)
Pop boys are always facing manhood, but that doesn't always spruce up their songs ("Your Son Is Not a Soldier," "Fuck This Year") **
Surfer Blood: Tarot Classics (Kanine)
EP embraces a maturity they define in part as saving your winners for Warners ("Drinking Problem," "I'm Not Ready") **
Art Brut: Brilliant! Tragic! (The End/Cooking Vinyl)
Guitarist often shines, lyrics often don't ("Clever Clever Jazz," "Bad Comedian") **
The Front Bottoms: The Front Bottoms (Bar/None)
Two-"man" Bergen County Nerd Liberation Front cell finish each other's bellyaches, hire or simulate trumpet commentary ("The Beers," "Maps") *
Jason G.-sad, funny and true-re: Wussy in San Diego. Maybe not funny to
Wussy. Have a good time.
CD Execution of All Things
Son of Altered Beast
LP Detroit (Ryder)
Jan & Dean Anthology Album
The Ellington Suites
Rio Medina (a Sir Douglas album with "Every Breath You Take" cover and a song called "Viking Girl"!)
38 bucks Canadian. Good score, no?
For this O and E --
I'm snagging The Obits just for their sound.
I continue to love John McCauley's voice. As recorded that is. I fear that if you got him live on a bad night, it could prove to be excruciating. In the studio he can choose the take he wants.
Herzog's "Your Son Is Not A Soldier" is my favorite song of the bunch.
My favorite lyric is from "Bad Comedian" as sung by Eddie Argos: "And then he signs his name in Comic Sans/ . . . /I don't know what you see in him."
When I was desperately lonely right after moving to Boston the hottest female employee at the record store was obsessed with Journeyherfavoritebandevah! For months I pretended to dig them and play their poop often as possible in the store.
She didn't even let me get to first base. Journey airbrushed out my pop history.
Speaking of pop in history (and Bob's upcoming reflection on life-changing bands from his past) I'm gonna try to start my thoughts on looking back at pop (does involve a number of topics that have been floating around here) ...
Back when, after many delays, the Beatles catalog was finally issued on CD, the Boston Phoenix ran a series of special articles on early, mid- and late period Beatles with one of the best headlines my late colleague John Ferguson ever came up with: "The Act You've Known For All These Years." Tim Riley did early, I did middle, Mark Moses did late (his was the fabulous piece). It was a ton of fun. But it felt very, you know, un-rock-and-roll. Rock and roll was anti-yesterday and looking back -- the future's so bright we gotta wear shades, dammit.
Ha. By the time the Hall of Fame opened, I had totally flatlined on the issues of rock and nostalgia and official cultural honors.
But now I think it's a ripe field. Not least because Mikal Gilmore's Stories Done scored biggest for me with the two most unlikely candidates: the Doors and Pink Floyd.
I don't agree with all his Pink Floyd album assessments and I'm not sure I even believe in his narrative (bolsters it that, yes, there's no doubt that Roger Waters is a world-class toid). But I believe in it as a compelling piece of writing about a superstar band haunted and even defined by the presence and absence of its founding sprite of magic and madness. Made me care about a band I'd barely thought of in decades and inspired me to check out An Introduction to Syd Barrett with lovely remastered sound by David Gilmore. Recommended.
And it makes me think the finest historical-perspective evaluation of rock and soul is, well, not the future, but a gratifying look back.
Best wishes to the SoCal EW crew at Wussy in San Diego.
Haha, fair enough - use the Doobie Brothers and REO Speedwagon instead (both of whom had their occasional moments, I know). By definition, though, of course everyone on classic rock radio has stood the test of time, nostalgia and possibly music licensing.
blues album of the year. If something even comes close, that would be news itself.
"But I would ask how and why historical continuity matters, at least outside of criticism."
Well, when the guy was trying to sell my parents on the idea of the Famous Writers School (speaking of history), he said portentously, "Not all serious readers are writers, but all writers are serious readers."* So I would adapt that as "Not all serious pop fans know music history, but all those who know music history are serious pop fans."
Delving into the sources for the Beatles and, especially, the Rolling Stones turned me from a pop consumer into a pop fan and collector -- music was about changing currents of sex and the sexes, race and class and the sacred and profane in the story of American culture. And getting the big narrative from Elvis onward -- flawed thought it was at that time -- was exciting as hell. Like being part of a titanic movie that wasn't finished and you couldn't wait to hear the next scene. Breaking through to the big story liberated me from the chains of What's Hot NOW.
Yakking about phases and figures that led up to current trends is a perennial fave among all the music crazies I know, even those who don't read much about music. Even those who scorn music critics (present company always conveniently excluded, of course).
Didn't you yourself once say that an increasing problem with young writers was their inability to articulate historical context for their subjects? (Oh, wait -- that is criticism; but it sure conveyed the impression that it made them sound less like they knew what they were talking about.)
Finally, those who do not know history are condemned to be Sha Na Na.
*Something I now know is not necessarily true. Sounded persuasive back then.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.