Let's Wrestle/The Henry Clay People
Craploads of 20-Somethings
Hiring Steve Albini in a doomed attempt to stave off those twee rumors, these three London slacker-punks or whatever they are do what s.-p.o.w.t.a. always do‑-mature. Fortunately, they also do what all maturing s.-p.o.w.t.a. wish they could do‑-write better songs. I noticed the guitar roar first and the tunes second. But I stayed for the lyrics. "There's a Rockstar in My Room": "But they wouldn't want to stay." "I Forgot": "I may be a few hours late." "In the Suburbs": "I'll have dinner with my mother then play computer games all night." "For My Mother": "If the children need to go to school/Well I'll do that." And my favorite, "I Am Useful": "I will not let my big emotions get ahold of me today/I'm gonna put an English face on this." A MINUS
The Henry Clay People: Somewhere on the Golden Coast (TBD)
Although their new EP sounds suspiciously like a reject pile, this talky 2010 tunefest showcases a six-years-running LA g-g-b-d who like Neil Young, Tom Petty, and especially the Replacements, the latter of whom they resemble but fall well short of matching, as goes without saying for the first two. Says chief songwriter Andy Siara: "The situations I find myself are situations that a whole crapload of 20-somethings who don't know what they're doing are in as well." Their gift is transforming these situations into songs that don't have quite the juice to inspire a movement, including songs with titles like "Working Parttime" and "End of an Empire." They named themselves after The Great Compromiser because they wanted something historical-political, adjudged the Forgotten Presidency of Chester A. Arthur too long for a marquee, and settled‑-too soon, as compromisers will. I think of them as the Displacements myself. B PLUS
As someone who loves the band [Husker Du] dearly, I don't think that they recorded well live, in general.Yeah, I really agree. Don't know why, exactly, but think it's the pits. Wide gap between live perceptions and re-experience on disc.
And how considered were his remarks if he doesn't even touch the Eddie Cochran allusion?Hey, I mentioned it because I hadn't read a single review of the album. Three out of the four I've read since have mentioned it, and I thought it was typical savvy for the last one (Bob's) to give it a pass. As for the minor-artist squibble, well, I started to have trouble with her when it seemed she thought Nick Cave was a BFD. (See: Julie Doucet.)
anti-SemitismI came to grips with this after finding out what a thread it was for Dick "Not as Bad as Cheney" Wagner. Verdict: not mental illness, but a sicko obsession on an attitude a lot more widespread in the day. Stage two was coping with Louis-Ferdinand "What the Fcuk Are Jew Lookin' At" Celine. Verdict: mentally ill, and there's vanishing little reason to read anything beyond Death on the Installment Plan. Also: he's a nihilist punk. But you'd be insulting soul and brain by disdaining the masterful art of such rather wretched human beings. Apply same standards to all other creators.
Plenty of Jewish women are very sexy.In this case, I think that's more of a give-away than "I am not an ..." Surprise me, clotface -- "there's a bunch of hunky Jewish guys in films..."
I could add comment on the Ramones and their songs about blitzkriegs and Nazi-shatzes, but I'm patiently waiting for our host to post the new EW......
Actually, I was thinking that when the initial poster was commenting about an offensive Kinks song, I thought that the Kinks must have done a song about a rose garden.
This type of confusion can happen when we're having multiple conversations about Lynn Anderson, Husker Du, Public Enemy, and the Kinks.
30 years ago, I played "When I Turn Out the Living Room Light" to a Jewish friend, who immediately laughed out loud when he heard the "offending" line. I'm still friends with him.
(I admit to not delving into deep thought about this lyric.)
- B+ seems right for the Henry Clay. Nothing eye-opening, but some smart lines.
- Slightly-older-than-me band I had never heard until today: Shoes. Slightly-older-than-me-band I should listen to more of: Shoes.
- Marsha Ambrosius may be the best Michael Jackson impersonator yet, though I wish she had Timberlake's production options.
- I have temporarily convinced myself that Nutcracker: The Motion Picture is the best music film of the Eighties that Jonathan Demme didn't make.
- I kept wondering why the Cartagena! comp had two versions of each track until I realised that (i) in each case, both versions were the same, and (ii) it was a bug in my Rhapsody. This corrected, it's firmly in my top ten for the year so far. Thanks to Tatum for the rec. (The Weeknd still sucks though.)
I've been reading excerpts from the upcoming Bob Mould autobiography (co-written w/ azerrad) at amazon dot com and so far it looks pretty good. Comes out 6-15. Coincidentally, I was listening to Land Speed Record a couple weeks ago and was struck by the intensity of their performance and the audacity of the musical conception. The aural equivalent of being in the path of an oncoming tornado. In my opinion, the most underrated Husker album in the catalogue and at least an A or A- although the sound leaves something to be desired.
Recently watched a Brian Eno Doc(The Man Who Fell To Earth 1971-1977) which contains quite a few perceptive comments on the 1st 4 solo albums by our esteemed host as well as an amusing anecdote about the first time Xgau saw Roxy Music live in '72. It was made by the same people who did the Under Review series on The Velvet Underground, Neil Young etc. Worth seeking out although not a whole lot of footage of Eno performing or being interviewed ;however, it is redeemed by the wealth of intelligent commentary and contextualization provided by both journalists and fellow musicians(Chris Spedding and Brian Turrington both share insights into their contributions to the Eno process).
Looking forward to Friday's EW!!!
I remember a gossipy remark back in the mid-80s in an article I'm pretty sure was in the Voice, or maybe Spin, to the effect that two of the best bands at that time were led by unnamed gay men
I totally remember that! It was a comment on a Pazz & Jop poll (1989, maybe?) from a writer who was upset about closeted gay performers. IIRC, it also had veiled allusions to Tracy Chapman, K.D. Lang (I think), Luther Vandross...
Also, I am ashamed to say--well, very slightly abashed--that I had completely forgotten the existence of Mold, much less their mouldy song, until Cam's post. This doesn't make me think I need to include them.
I AM NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE
Whenever I get into an identity politics debate with intolerants, they always start off with "I'm not an anti-Semite but... I'm not a homophobe but... I'm not a racist but..."
It's a dead giveaway.
Because a few people who screwed me over in life were Jewish and I like to make fun of them, does not make me a Nazi. No. But it does make you a rationalizing closet bigot.
How would we be reacting to Davies' song if he had slipped in a verse that was less than complimentary to his own appearance? Especially if he threw a British slang term at himself? Limey, let's say.
Or is the fact that we can't conceive of him doing that, just exactly the problem?
She held firm for Neil Young's version of "Four Strong Winds"
I hear ya, other Jeff.
But anybody who has a "Waterloo Sunset" in him can't be all bad...
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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