Those Darlins/Middle Brother
Road Songs and Bros
Those Darlins: Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang)
What pushes this Nashville cowgrrlcore trio past the cutesy two-steps and over-the-hills strums of their brief professional yore is the male drummer who turned them into a quartet. But I bet the Casio that marks track one as not-country was their idea‑-and that, actually, so was the drummer. Because this album's great leap forward is hooky, saucy, punky songwriting in a mood somewhere between Be Your Own Pet and the Donnas, only savvier: "Be Your Bro," which may not sum up their platonic feelings for that drummer but could, or "Hives," proving they do too get the itch, or "Boy," in which love on the road needn't be permanent to be nice. They have mouths on them, yes they do. But their mouths are connected to their hearts and minds, and amped by loud guitars. A MINUS
Middle Brother: Middle Brother (Partisan)
Deer Tick's John McCauley is the centerpiece of this Americana supertrio. Compared to Matt Vasquez of the florid Delta Spirit or Taylor Goldsmith of the wan Dawes, he's got the melodies, the wit, and the cultivated rasp. What he doesn't have is the ripeness of spirit without which roots music dies on the vine. So the doting Vasquez love song "Blue Eyes," the lyrical Dawes lost song "Thanks for Nothing," and the clippety-clopping Replacements road song "Portland" all augment the deep craft and acrid wordplay of the guy who's why you heard them‑-in fact, who's why you heard this varied, consistent, tune-conscious album. Catchiest of all is the McCauley road song "Mom and Dad," sing-song rather than clippety-clop and better for it: "Mama gave a camera to her little star/All she gets is pictures of hotels and bars/No Big Ben, no Statue of Liberty." A MINUS
Speaking of Deer...tick, here's something I did on their last one for Nashville Scene:
Records outta the Xgau Guides I've been looking for: I found the second and third Billy Swan Monument LPs cheap in Nashville and looking forward to hearing them again, even "Ubangi Stomp."
Cheap, leisurely, mobile, and another modest connection to rock and roll. (Ya I know I'm stretching it.)
On the money, Jose Louis - I have good childhood memories of sitting in the backseat of my parents' car listening to a. baseball games (RIP Expos) and b. oldies stations and American Top 40 (the latter at my request - my parents had little use for current pop).
Can't stand the fireworks? Hate the inflated ticket prices? Forgot to pay your cable bill? Baseball's the one sport that works on the radio. It's a numbers game you can easily visualize. Cheap, leisurely, mobile, and another modest connection to rock and roll. (Ya I know I'm stretching it.)
(Did the Bose advert up top just start appearing after Levy's posts?)
I think one of the uniquely pleasurable things about baseball is to watch a game with somebody who fills out a scorecard (I'm too inept to do it myself). It's a souvenir and a prod to memory like no other.
And with the comments about The Mountain Goats, TVOTR and Tune-Yard recently, I'm surprised no one has thrown any love towards the new The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Shiny happy pop. A little shoegaze, a little New Order. Goes down easy.
EDIT: I should say, shiny, happy-sounding pop. The chorus to the title song, "Belong", is "Don't belong/Don't belong/We-e-e don't belong." I wouldn't be surprised if there is more of the same hidden in the sweet, murmured vocals and layers of ringing, echoing guitars.
I was just grousing about how baseball owners have -- successfully, it seems -- turned baseball into a sport for the moneyed elite.
For a myriad of reasons, mostly economic-related, thousands of fans have lost interest and many will never return to the game they once loved. My own enjoyment has been muted considerably. . . . the whole atmosphere is more like a friggin' circus or rock show.
I'm guessing that several of us live closer to minor league baseball than major league ball. I think I mentioned it before but I live in a town with a Giants low end farm team. Lincecum started here as a pro. I looooooooove going to the ballpark. And here, it is about the price of a movie ticket. Plus beer, peanuts, cheap parking, summer evening, small stadium, close to the action. Oh baby!
Well, the symphony patrons have exited, but the orchestra continues to rehearse. Actually another easy night, plus I got fed, which is always a plus.
Repeating one hundred times in front of the class: " I am not the village redneck. I am not the vill......"
You're right about the archaic stereotypes and such, Cam. Tried to make it clear that I do my best to embrace and respect all the various permutations of thought and expression, and all those shades of gray that I've encountered in books, music, on my travels and here at home. But when that very small percentage of people don't show me and my admittedly imperfect home that same respect, it tends to get my dander up. Definitely no "us vs. them" mentality with me. Matter of fact, I'd just as likely side with "them" should push come to shove. Keep on my case, please.
No problem with Quebecers; lotsa snowbirds come here every year. Enjoyed the day I spent a day in Montreal many years ago and left wishing I could stay longer. I've heard my share of abuse heaped upon them from Americans and other Canadians, but I've had no bad experiences. I'm quite happy, in fact, for anyone to come to Brevard County for as long as you want, to frolic unabashedly and help keep my taxes low. Just don't tell me how much better everything is where you come from and we'll get along fine.
So very sorry STB. Even though I've got rows of LPs and books I rarely, if ever, take off the shelves anymore, I'd be a weeping mess if my roof ever caved in. Trivial maybe, in the light of real tragedy, but a loss nonetheless.
Sangfreud, your fears are justified in a sense, vis-a-vis the owners' detachment. For a myriad of reasons, mostly economic-related, thousands of fans have lost interest and many will never return to the game they once loved. My own enjoyment has been muted considerably. I fear the same will happen to the NFL should the lockout drag on into the season. But, comical as you made it sound, the polite, country club audiences aren't obvious at any baseball game I've ever attended. On the contrary, I don't enjoy games near as much anymore 'cause the whole atmosphere is more like a friggin' circus or rock show. First time my dad went to the relatively new Comerica Park in Detroit, he came back bitching about the merry-go-round. In a baseball stadium for heaven's sake! Yelling and screaming is fine, but I don't need to be egged on by 90-decibel, thousand-watt theatrics and light shows. Worse, too many of the "fans" are preoccupied with their cell phones, blocking my view moving in and out of the rows chasing their next beer and endlessly roaming the aisles "networking" or whatever. Yewwww.........
Excellent points Joe Levy. You clearly and concisely stated long-held beliefs I've shared re: the baseball/rock'n'roll connection. Doesn't work for everyone, obviously.
The orchestra's outta here, finally stopped raining, so I'm headed home. Hmmm, the makings of a decent lyric there. Good night all. Back tomorrow, if you'll have me, to see what delights the Dean has in store for us.
Thanks for the support, guys. I realize that damaged records are a silly thing to bitch about when other people here are losing loved ones.In my experience, hits you in the same spot, even if it doesn't seem appropriate to complain. When I moved from MA to NJ, we boxed up all the LPs and deposited them in the basement for months before I got around to opening them. When I did, I found a small leak that the cardboard in the boxes and album covers had just wicked up. Net damage was several hundred LPs. Plastic sleeves protect the vinyl OK, but paper ones turn to pulp and dissolve into the grooves, so they're a lot of work to clean up. Also got some mold growing. I bought blank jackets, plastic sleeves, cleaned the most precious items up, threw some of the junk away, just dried out and flattened and shelved the less damaged. Never felt good about the records again -- felt like I didn't deserve to own them if I couldn't take better care of them, which obviously I couldn't. Next time we moved, to KS, I sold off 90% of the vinyl.
The packaging matters.
On the other hand, I got a kick out of Infinite Jest.
Nice to hear that other intelligent people did! And also that they're not afraid to admit it.
(Not that I'm attempting any unfair comparisons between you & I; intelligence is a broad spectrum and I'm fine with my presence on the lower end.)
Thanks for the support, guys. I realize that damaged records are a silly thing to bitch about when other people here are losing loved ones.
My wife told the movers to put some boxes down there - it didn't occur to either of us that the patio (which is covered) could/would get flooded - this hasn't been a problem anywhere else we've lived before, plus it's not storm season anyway. We don't have renter's insurance.
Maybe this is some sort of sign that it's time to go digital. Bummer, though - I like to be able to hold music in my hands.
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.
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