June 4, 2006
Here are the eleven most interesting music blog posts I read in the past week:
I am a big Mountain Goats fan. Of course, that is not a challenge, and I know some of you are Big Mountain Goats Fans. You win. But I enjoy the entirety of Darnielle's catalog, and by all accounts, I'm still learning. What may make you question me, though, is my preference of his latest albums. I was introduced to the band in a way that led me to believe they were gimmicky: all acoustic, lo-fi to the end, unbelievably prolific.
The Catbirdseat's June mix is wonderful, as usual.
The other notable presence in the June Mix is a track from the brand new Tap Tap CD, Lanzafame, also known in some circles as CBR 005. I just want to say one thing about it: it's amazing.
Chromewaves previewed Toronto's NxNE music festival, linking to many bands' legal downloads.
Though we've got the acronym and the stylish lower-case "x", this ain't SxSW - not by a long shot. Locals don't even refer to it as "North by" (actually what many locals call it is far less flattering, but that's another topic). But as easy as it is to be cynical about NxNE, the fact is is that there really is a fair bit of excitement amongst a lot of people for the fest.
Clap Clap Blog offered the "lapsed nerd's guide to Final Fantasy's He Poos Clouds.
But the point is, where before I had seen it in terms of composition-major influences, I now saw it as a take on artistic musical theater, with the music's tendency toward the unmemorable being wholly justified in its service of the lyrics, which I then proceeded to enjoy without reservation. They really are the best thing on the album, highlighted by the fact that they actually fulfill their mission: not only do individual songs productively tease out the metaphorical implications of the individual schools, but over the course of the album a lot of parallels are drawn between the fictional settings of not only D&D itself but nerd culture as a whole, and the reality in which those geeks live, a juxtoposition that can be roughly summed up as "going to a sci-fi convention."
The band also performed a menacing version of "Myxomatosis" (including Thom adding in a never recorded additional verse), which was probably the best version I've heard. Radiohead used the Tower Theater's natural acoustics as an instrument itself during the song's manic slapback break-down. "Bangers N Mash" had luscious vibe of Talking Heads, introducing what would be a more upbeat Radiohead sound, where "Naieve Melody" meets "Nice Dream," followed by a wailing Dick Dale-esque guitar riff.
MP: You mentioned that you've been in bands, and you've written music. How is the experience of writing prose different for you? Were there ever points in writing the book where you felt like "oh man, this feeling would be so much easier to express with a guitar"?
BC: Oh yeah, all the time. Because there are places that music can reach that literature will simply never be able to. I love Jimi Hendrix, he's one of my favorites, and I will never, ever find the feeling I get listening to "Little Wing" in some book. As far as comfort level goes, I'm more comfortable with prose these days, but only because I feel out of practice with songwriting.
Good Hodgkins explains his "Decemberists burnout."
My natural reaction to songs of this nature is to become emotionally detached myself and judge a work purely on its aesthetic merits. But when I find myself comparing a nine minute sea shanty to being aurally raped by the world’s car horns, that leaves me with very little except lyrics I can’t relate to set to pseudo-melodies that fail to excite me.
Popsheep's "weekends of sound" offered three of my favorite tracks with spot-on commentary.
Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
While it's difficult not to compare this band to Belle and Sebastian, such comparisons are becoming increasingly off the mark, especially since Camera Obscura are making the kind of 60s cinematic twee pop that B&S have been unable to since at least Boy With The Arab Strap. In fact, I don't think B&S have really ever been able to produce the kind of sweeping wall-of-sound effect that makes Let's Get Out of This Country so awesome.
Vain, Selfish, and Lazy provided commentary fpr tracks by the Pet Shop Boys and Scritti Politti.
heady stuff, to be sure, but you can dance to it; "integral" is a reminder that, when they're not making dance music for people who don't dance, they're making music for people who do. "integral" is a bit like something from the ongoing disco series, only reined in for the charts by trevor horn's uncanny pop nous. ah! but this is where settembrini would interject : dance is an opiate; it distracts people from the message!
WFMU's Beware of the Blog's "recent faves from the new bin" waxes poetic about singer-songwriter Carla Bozulich.
Opener "Evangelista I" is almost an invocation to the harrowing ride ahead, as scraping strings and drones swell around Bozulich, her fearsome voice declares war right back at the proceedings to the point of cracking. The album is however as full of as much beauty as it is unrest, and it is when these elements clash is when she shines strongest (I probably realized this upon hearing her version of "Masters of War" on a Scott Amendola release, it's one of the most venomous takes on the song ever); her ability to enhance verse with completely self-stylize flights of fancy illuminate her in the same breath as moments of Patti Smith (ala "Birdland" or "Radio Ethiopia") and Starsailor-era Tim Buckley as well.
Zoilus profiles Canada's alternative to the Junos, the new Polaris Music Prize.
Nothing wrong with selling records, but not all forms of music are cut out for it. It seems like a way to help solidify the world's growing awareness that Canadian music is not just one big opportunity for Bryan Adams jokes.