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
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.
My father was a self-taught painter and did it all the time, which was very inspirational. He also loved literature and read aloud (with great skill) to the family from classic texts, very unusual in mid-Montana in the '50s. My mother understood a child's capacity for fantasy was an escape from her own too-mundane life. Let's dream together. When I was little, I loved every minute of it, Mom.
From this plus my comments about college rap and blues I think it is completely obvious how my tastes are positioned vis a vis this blog -- overlapping dramatically with Christgau's, but shaded noticeably toward the feminine and/or androgynous, the soulful, the political, and the unapologetically literate.
Conclusion: My mum is a massive fan of country & western, so anything like Garth Brooks is a win! My mum hates, hates, hates hip-hop (and I have no idea why)! She, also, doesn't like anything too guitar based. She, also, suffers from 'headaches' very often (I use that loosely, not because I don't appreciate headaches, but because I believe she fakes them), so I have, to turn it down. My father, on the other hand, really enjoys guitar-rock (but had a hard time swallowing Sonic Youth, for some reason), and he also really loves dance music and soul-ish stuff. Basically, I have to say, my dad has the broader sense of musical tastes, and he's more up, to listening to anything--anything with a hook, that is!
As I believe I've mentioned several times, my father's favorite band is the Doors, one of those bands that I find inherently unsavory (though the best of on Rhino does make me give in). He did, however, turn me on to Buffalo Springfield and Love. My mom gave me Carole King and Joni Mitchell. They're probably also to blame for the Beatles obsession I've had since the age of 5 . They both were hippie types, and my dad in particular found their teenage son's love of the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys and XTC and R.E.M. unfathomable (to say nothing of art films and Nabokov). I once mentioned this to a family friend, who pointed out: "You are the son they raised you to be," which is a poetic way of pointing out the paradoxes that separate parents from their sons and daughters.
My mom had arm surgery yesterday and is laid up in my brother's condo recuperating. When she was in the doctor's office she ran into my father's mother, who hadn't seen her in ten years, and was coincidentally there getting cataract surgery. My grandmother mentioned how she heard the doctors loved my mom, having taught their sons and daughters. "You've made such a mark in the community," my grandmother reportedly said. "Everyone loves you and I'm very proud of you." My stepmother -- a very nice woman -- stood by, looking slightly uncomfortable. But hey, my mom, like my grandmother, is someone special.
It's nice being the son of someone so appreciated -- an honor. Love you, Mom. Grandma, too. Get better soon.
The new Santigold album is a masterpiece !
Great beats from start to finish, and only one song is over 4 minutes long.
But disgraceful as it may seems,
I'm a little turned off by her similarity to you-know-who (and o.t.h.e.r. artists),
guess she's never had much personality anyway.
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.
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.
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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