Odds and Ends 009
The Kills: Blood Pressures (Domino)
Love still hurts, but they understand it better ("Heart Is a Beating Drum," "Pots and Pans") ***
Dum Dum Girls: Only in Dreams (Sub Pop)
Pretty darn good Pretenders ("Wasted Away," "In My Head") ***
The Shins: Port of Morrow (Aural Apothecary/Columbia)
Problem's less the precious lyrics he attaches to his premium melodies than the increasingly precious way he sings them ("Simple Song," "September") **
Imperial Teen: Feel the Sound (Merge)
"Too many songs we sang are left unsung"--that about sums it up ("Last to Know," "Out From Inside") **
Cloud Nothings: Cloud Nothings (Carpark)
Sincere ex-brat faces mortality and/or sexual insecurity without whining or fronting about it ("Nothing's Wrong," "Been Through") **
The Coathangers: Larceny & Old Lace (Suicide Squeeze)
The meat remains, the sauce does not ("Go Away," "Jaybird") **
The Wax Museums: Eye Times (Trouble in Mind)
Brat-punk lives in Denton, Texas, and that's a good thing ("Midlife Crisis," "Mosquito Enormo") **
Dengue Fever: Cannibal Courtship (Fantasy)
Not only are their English lyrics easier to understand than their Khmer lyrics, they're easier to understand than your English lyrics ("Cement Slippers," "Mr. Bubbles") *
Just for fun and off the top of my head without any re-listening, this is how I would rank my Motorpsycho collection.
1. Trust Us (1998)
2. Angels and Daemons at Play (1997)
3. Timothy's Monster (1994)
4. Demon Box (1993)
5. It's a Love Cult (2002)
6. Black Hole/Blank Canvas (2006)
7. Roadwork Vol. 1 (recorded 1998)
8. Blissard (1996)
9. Let Them Eat Cake (2000)
10. Roadwork Vol. 4 (2008-2010) (this is really growing on me and will move up)
11. Little Lucid Moments (2008)
12. Phanerothyme (2001)
13. Lobotomizer (1991) (debut -- still getting their shitlist together)
14. The Tussler (1994 "soundtrack") (the only utter dud I have -- band's concept of C&W is so lame if it was a horse I'd shoot it)
Which leads me to wrap up by responding to my buddy from a distance Ryan, who felt bested by Joe Levy. While I don't recommend comparing ourselves to famous people we don't really know, at least give yourself the courtesy of waiting a few decades before you compare your ability to someone who has been doing it for . . . a few decades. Sure, set high goals for yourself. A person's reach should exceed his or her grasp and all that, but reward yourself for intermediate successes too.
That this site has turned into the casserole of wit, wisdom and occasional wankery that we see on a routine basis is a tribute to us all. Most of all Bob of course, but us all too.
And fwiw, I didn't say this to change any of y'all's mind about anything, I said it to ease my own mind about everything.
So Cam, are you saying your health is not effected by what you eat?
Somebody please tell me that they have a killer box set
If only ....
Being a big tease is part of a Motorpsycho thing, far as I can tell from this distant seat. Which, as far as I can tell, is one of the things they most enjoy -- admiration from distant seats.
Wussy just confirmed their West Coast dates. The are 4 shows within 200 mile radius. Call me crazy but why not catch all four. What are vacation days for anyway? Besides going to India next January that is.
Edit- I think one of the 2 shows in the Seattle area is an unplugged one. How cool would that be.
I saw the Magnetic Fields in D.C. a few weeks ago. Merritt hates performing live, or so he tells interviewers, and the evidence that night confirmed this. He sighed visibly several times during the show, and halfway through kicked over the music stand with notebook that he was using for occasional help with the lyrics - poor lighting on the notebook apparently brought out his frustration. Claudia then asked him if he was “going off book” - the music stand and notebook lay on the middle of the stage until the encore. I have to say though that Merritt’s a professional regardless, which is what bugged him about not being able to read his cheat sheets. He gave his best, as did the rest of the band.
Peter G - Merritt's definitely a professional. Second time I saw them (2002 or so) he was recovering from food poisoning and looked terrible but played, sang and joked brilliantly. He made a great joke the first time I saw them, early 2001, just after the prolonged vote count. Claudia was talking about Florida, and Stephin asked the audience, "Do you even know where Florida is? Oh, now everyone knows where Florida is. It's in Chad."
I missed how these guys came up, but I have around 14 albums by them. Saw a performance at Terrastock 5* and that was all it took.
Metalocalypse. Have we not talked about this cartoon here yet?
I like it, but think the albums are better than the show. And "Home Movies" better than either. (Protagonist's mother Paula one of the great Dysfunctional Moms. Terrific voice work by Janine Ditullio: "I'm gonna take my shirt off now because it's really f*cking hot in here.")
*A music festival which wisely included the following on its schedule: "Lunch Break (not a band)."
Japandroids' 2012 album Celebration Rock is much better than Japandroids' 2009 album Post-Nothing insofar as shouting over loud guitar is much better than whining alongside loud guitar. I recommend it!
What are some good songs that describe a modern bourgeois/bobo lifestyle or household environment?
Wash your fingers for typing "bobo" (David Brooks ptui ptui ptui), but I would propose "Goin' Down Slow" by Howlin' Wolf.
Quite a while back, somebody mentioned the Curious Decline of Oliver Sacks and that struck a chord, because I've had an odd parallel development with two writers who first drew me in with sharp insights about psychoactive drugs.
I thought Sacks's Awakenings (1973) was a clarifying jolt -- the most particular and penetrating discussion of drugs and the mind that I had read ... maybe ever. I thought it reset many discussions for the better from then on. I haven't read Leg To Stand On but felt The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was also meaty with lots of perception/personhood insights.
And then ... somehow this cornball element began to creep into his writing, more and more all the time, until when I tired to read Musicophillia he'd become this repellant combination of squishy and involuted to the point I decided this guy needed an awakening himself.
Just a year earlier in 1972, Dr. Andrew Weil's The Natural Mind: An Investigation of Drugs and the Higher Consciousness had scrambled my neurons but good. What a wild, on-target book. I knew absolutely nothing about Weil, but amidst all the blabber and smoke about psychedelics going around at the time here was ... seriousness and science. Nice. It raised waves, but as usual in this land, the full-blown discussion of psychoactive drugs never emerged.
Then Weil slipped a little toward New Age with Marriage of Sun and Moon, but okay okay, still trying to provoke the discussion. But soon enough Health and Healing came out and the trip was over. I thought Weil's mini-empire of natural med and health and food was honorable and tedious at the same time. (I met the guy at a Ken Kesey conference in 1975 and thought he was charming and enormously smart, though now in my memory he's become more shifty, constantly calculating the effect of his words.) With Weil, I was like the cartoon characters whose eyelids are exactly in the middle of the orbs ... "whatever" ...
Then I speed-read The Harvard Psychedelic Club (you would be amazed how much Cambridge, or at least Harvard Cambridge, keeps parts of its history under wraps -- I lived there for decades and never heard many specifics about these affairs) and my former golden idol was not only tarnished, but partly turned into a turd. Now I can't see a byline by Weil without thinking -- "Wow, more stuff from the Acid Fink."
Allen B., keen observations re Allo Darlin', and helps explain why it still sounds much more like the Go-Betweens than a Grant McLennan solo album.
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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