Standard Fare/Allo Darlin'
Standard Fare: Out of Sight, Out of Town (Melodic)
Tighter and/or tougher‑-the guys sharper and bigger, the gal exploiting her nasality to cut through. But unless you care that the objects of Emma Kupa's lust have become more explicitly female, which she herself makes very little of, what really differentiates this from 2010's The Noyelle Beat is that Kupa's now an old pal even if you didn't think about her once since then. Which she suspects maybe you didn't, because right beneath her forthright specificity lurks an edge of anxiety that portends trouble down the road‑-trouble that may be your fault. Kupa gets around not because she has a taste for the orgiastic like fellow janglers Los Campesinos! but because relationships go awry. She really wishes they wouldn't, or at least that's what she thinks. But partner by partner, she's still figuring it out. A MINUS
Allo Darlin': Europe (Slumberland)
The magic of the debut wasn't just that thing that happens with young bands when everything is new and bliss is just around the corner. It's that Elizabeth Morris recognized this illusion as an illusion and entered wholeheartedly into its ebullience anyway. But now the Old World's cold weather and cramped spaces are getting her down‑-her most irresistible new song, taken solo with ukulele, recalls a blistering summer day down under when they found a Go-Betweens tape in the car. Though her tempos have slowed half a turn, reducing the twee factor if that was a problem for you, her melodies are still very much there and her lyrics are sharp throughout. But she's no longer at all confident that talent will out or love endures‑-her "This is life, this is livin'" is more resigned than celebratory, copping to her suspicion that a great night in bed will never be repeated. So let me assure her that at least she hasn't "already met all the people that'll mean something." Some of them haven't even been born yet. And I don't mean the kids I bet she's not sure she'll ever have. A MINUS
'I want to second this. A highlight of the entire run of the blog so far. Like a first-rate magazine survey. (Follow-up topic sometime: influential teachers?)'
Haha, this isn't even a swing or anything, but I don't know, when you're being sarcastic anymore! (Short bursts would suggest yes, but I'm not sure...)
And thanks, Nate, for making the turn to kids. One of the true joys (out of many) of being a parent has been having my kids open up my ears to music I would never have heard otherwise. And also helping me hear old stuff in a new way...
And Nate, can't wait to hear John K. Samson--a few years back my older child got me a Weakerthans record for my birthday and after I said I hadn't heard of them he said "What? You're gonna love this--it's like that jangly stuff you're always playing"
I was shaking by the end of reading this. I swear to God, that's just how I feel and I'm pretty sure I would have been shaking even more if I was there. 'Hi. We're Joy Division.' Oh my god.
I saw them in the St. Francis Xavier Hall in Dublin on their first tour, about 9 months after Ian Curtis' death. They were great, and in a way it *was* Joy Division, but they were pretty dour. That was the mood, although it was a fine show and I remember it well. This version sounds like it mighta been *better.*
The St. Francis Xavier hall later -- sadly -- abbreviated its name to the SFX hall, dumbing things down for the rock crowd I think.
John K. Samson's Provincial. I'd never heard of the guy, though he's been around since the late 80s, first in the Canadian punk band Propagandhi,
Thanks a ton, Nate. My oldest son has tried to convert me to Propagandhi (and failed thus far though he tells me it's 'cause I picked the wrong albums to try) so this is one I can hand back to him. Sounds great so far.
Reminds me of one of my favorite family musical memories from the other direction as you say, when in mid-94 (he would have been 15) he said, "Dad, I've got two new bands for you. They're called Green Day and Offspring."
Whew. Great discussion/feedback on moms and dads; very enlightening. Want to thank everyone for opening up and sharing. I'm sure it brought back some good memories and perhaps a few not so happy emotions for those who struggled with the folks over their varying tastes, though that seems to be a rarity here. Especially poignant, I would imagine, for our friends whose parents are failing or have recently passed.
Agree wholeheartedly with Liam and Milo. I've really enjoyed the posts on this thread as much as any previous bunch and doled out a slew of thumbs-up. I hope we'll hear from more of you, but everyone who has contributed thus far deserves a pat on the back. It's a privilege to be in this company.
My wife and I ended up in London for a long work-related weekend, but we made some time tonight for a not-so-work-related event, seeing New Order at the O2 (formerly Brixton) Academy, a classic venue in a rough part of town but close to the Brixton Tube Station. We didn’t even know about the show until right before we got on the plane to London yesterday evening, so this was complete serendipity. It turns out the band has reformed for a brief tour of England and we just lucked out. The great news is that Gillian Gilbert is back on stage for the first time in this millennium and boy has she not changed—on those rare moments when she looked up from the keybs tonight, she couldn’t help but break her scowl to smile at the crowd, but otherwise she barely moved.
And Peter Hook is long gone, but that’s not such a bad thing. One less stage hog, and it turns out that anyone who plays simple lead guitar patterns on the high end of a fuzzed up bass sounds just like him, cuz that’s what his replacement (who’s name I didn’t catch) did.
I’d only seen New Order once before, at the Fox Theater in Atlanta around the time of Power, Corruption, and Lies, when they were still more goth than dance. And although the band did grow up, Kris and I went to the show tonight expecting a nostalgia trip. In fact, all objective evidence suggests that that is what we got. The crowd skewed older (but only slightly) and 50:50 female to male. The set list was a tour through their greatest hits. And Bernard looks a little bit Boy George-ish around the middle.
But hey, even if the tunes were familiar, the energy wasn’t faked—in fact, it seemed brand new. Give credit to the new lineup—Bernard was having a lot of fun with Gillian on stage, and having fun in general in a totally sober way. And give credit to the crowd, which didn’t treat this like an oldies show at all—I sensed guarded optimism at first, making the band prove themselves, but they (we) gave in as the intro of “Ceremony” went from jagged and ragged to rolling and swelling. (After which Bernard said “We’re watching your show as much as you are watching ours.”) Let’s face it, dance music isn’t about being tight, it’s about finding the groove, and then taking a full step higher, once-twice-three times a song. And they didn’t fail for one of the 16 songs they played. The “586/Perfect Kiss/Blue Monday/Temptation” sequence left my heart palpitating, the crowd visibly staggered.
And then, they stopped playing. And got called back for an encore, and Bernard said “Hi, we’re Joy Division”. And they proceeded to play “Transmission” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” like the songs from the front line that they are. I wasn’t there for the real thing, and to hear these songs this one time—not mimicked but resurrected, reinhabited—all I can tell you is I will take those 8 minutes to my grave. “Dance, dance, dance to the radio”, don’t forget, ok?
P.S. I’ve got video of tonight’s entire “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (with crappy sound, cuz it was crazy crazy loud, but who cares?) that I’ll try to post over at Facebook if I can figure out how to do it.
The discussion of parental musical influence, or otherwise, has been lovely.
I want to second this. A highlight of the entire run of the blog so far. Like a first-rate magazine survey. (Follow-up topic sometime: influential teachers?)
Did want to diverge before I get caught up in other things to toss some notes about recently reviewed and mentioned players.
Lee Renaldo clanging the bells out of the gate. 'Course he keeps his sighs and goodbyes to the past brief (subtext of "Waiting on a Dream"/"Off the Wall" maybe) but mostly he sounds liberated from Sonic Youth. Like the man said, set free to find a new illusion. But it sure feels good in this moment.
Spoek Mathambo kicking in the stall now after multiple listens. Something new under the hot, hot sun, I think -- so the tentative or confused reactions are due to freshness, not mess. Weird thing is, this here, there, and all-things-everywhere style is very much like what I swear I heard when I first checked out The Very Best mixtape and then gradually couldn't hear it as much on repeat listenings (and thought it all but disappeared without the many samples on the regular-release debut). It's a style. It has no name. But I think it's a distinct mode.
I find Parson Sound a bit on the historical-interest side myself*, and much prefer a spin-off group, Trad Gros Och Stenar. (*And they remind me of Motorpsycho only in a very general way.)
As to Noir Desir, I recommend the 1994 S/T compilation on Barclay as their nosiest, yelping, grunting, guitar-grinding, screaming, hard-whomping-best-French-drummer-ever release. Although 1989's Veuillez Rendre L'ame is a more "varied" and "well-constructed" album.
By the way, new RG up today. Lots of Norwegian jazz.
Considering how much older they were than their kids, my parents were pretty tolerant. They let me go see my local heroes the Blades when I was 14 or 15. My mother used to collect me, because we lived out of the city and there was no bus home after gigs. My brother went to R.E.M. with me when he was only 13.
My parents didn't play any instruments. I went to piano lessons but never practiced, which I regret now of course. I get out the guitar now and again but can't play much. The girls seem to like music, which is great.
So while my parents didn't have much influence on me as a music fan, their tolerance is a good influence which I hope I'll be able to live up to as a parent.
[Part 2 of parental reminiscences, having trouble posting]
My dad didn't have any interest in my music, but he enjoyed the Pogues anytime I played them or he saw them on TV.
My mother was a bit more open minded, although also not a major fan of my records. My brother would play stuff for her to see if she liked it, usually without success. This led to the following immortal quote, when one of my friends asked her if she liked any of my records: "I quite like "Wendell Gee" by R.E.M., but I don't like the Jesus and Mary Chain".
The discussion of parental musical influence, or otherwise, has been lovely.
My parents married and had kids quite late. My dad was born in 1911, my mother in 1924, me in 1968 and my brother in 1970. As with Milo's parents, I doubt they were in range of recorded music in their childhood. Neither of them were big music fans and we didn't have much music in the house, the few records we had were Irish. We didn't have a proper record player till I was 15, only a tape player.
Both of them were Clancy Brothers/Tommy Makem fans and one of our nicest family memories is my parents, my brother and I attending a Makem and Clancy concert a few months before my dad died (their last tour together, I think).
Recent Xgau A MINUS day at work. Played Bruce, Madonna and Standard Fare - all final spins. I had the Standard Fare at A MINUS weeks ago - but wanted to see how they stacked up. So, for those who care - Standard Fare, Madonna then Bruce. Oddly, all three albums have stronger second halves.
Dad: Born 1929 - 100% Italian-American. Owns thousands of records. I heard a lot of Sinatra, Harry James, Basie, Ellington, Kenton growing up. Now, he likes some Connick, Diana Krall. Went to see Michael Buble - but was not impressed. Dad liked WNEW back in the 70's - but always caught me by surprise with the Top 40 songs he would turn up on the radio - 70's Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Phil Collins, etc. There are nearly 40 years between us - so I was always timid about what I would try and play for him. When I lived at home I remember him liking "Yellow Moon" and some of The White Album but not Sonic Youth or Public Enemy.
Mom: Born 1940. Grew up with the radio. Always played the Top 40 station until she turned 45 or so. Then, went to the Adult Contemporary station. Owns no records. Hasn't mentioned a new song to me in years. She liked the Michael Buble show more than Dad.
I remember as a kid I used to control the car radio as much as I could, and after graduating from Dr. Demento on Sunday nights I always tuned in to KLOS's The Seventh Day, in which "Uncle" Joe Benson (a figure of considerably less importance in the L.A. deejay/hanger-on stratosphere than Rick Dees or Rodney Bingenheimer) would spin seven records (double LPs counted as two) with commercial interruptions only at the side breaks. I taped all my Zeppelin, Floyd, and Beatles that way in the late 70s and early 80s, and often had a few seconds of Benson's basso between sides one and two. (And oh, how I hated records that ran over 45 minutes; in those pre-internet days I wouldn't know to have a C-60 ready.) Anyway, my father usually tolerated this if we were out driving somewhere, and I do have one really concrete memory of him from when I was about 11 or 12, sitting in the car somewhere listening to the first side of Live Rust. When "Sugar Mountain" began, he said (like he had known the song all his life, and had lived it), "This is a really amazing song." Where that came from, where it went, and what it meant, I wish I knew.
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.