Archive for the ‘Music’ category

Hidden World: Better Listening to DAVID COMES TO LIFE

June 12, 2011

After Husker Du’s punk bildungsroman Zen Arcade and the Minutemen’s idiosyncratic road rock record Double Nickels on the Dime both dropped in 1984, the massive punk concept album threatened to become an institution. But few bands along the larger punk spectrum followed suit. And maybe this has saved listeners from an intolerable amount of pretension, but it’s still very cool to hear a band stretch a story across an album, and do it well. With David Comes to Life, Fucked Up have accomplished just that. The album’s songs are aggressive but tuneful, with tight playing, layers upon layers of guitars, and powerful vocals from Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham (a dude possessed of the most commanding voice in indie rock) on every track. David Comes to Life is the work of a band in control of its sound and at the height of its powers.

The album’s storyline follows a young light bulb factory employee named David as he finds love, loses love, and confronts death in early ’80s England. (Beyond that, even the band’s members don’t seem totally clear about what happens.) David Comes to Life is a remarkably consistent record, but not so much a diverse one. The album lacks a musical arc that follows its narrative arc. Most tracks run about four minutes, and feature similar tempos, F’d Up’s signature stacked guitars, even the same themes of alienation and romantic confusion. (more…)


Friday Video: “When I’m Small” – Phantogram, or, You Guys Make it Really Hard to Get on Board with This When You Look Like Such Self-Serious Buttholes

April 22, 2011

More so than a novel, more so than a film, the pop song makes it easy for us to forget the intentional fallacy—to regard its content as autobiographical unless we have strong evidence to the contrary. And maybe more than even a live performance, a music video can confound our sense of distance between the artist and the art. We’re watching a really carefully-put-together clip that (in many cases at least) shows a performer/performers giving us his/her/their song. Which, not that big a deal if you’re watching the video for “Power“—when Kanye says, “[the SNL cast] can kiss my whole ass,” he probably is talking about himself. But when you see something like “When I’m Small”? In which Phantogram all but say, ‘we are not having fun right now, nor should you be’? Oh brudder. This video invites you to daydream about complementing the duo after a set, only to have them mutter faint “huh”s without taking their eyes off their phones.

Friday Video(s): Homosapien Plus One

April 1, 2011

Apropos of Pitchfork’s song-by-song write-up of the LCD Soundsystem catalog , which notes that James Murphy may or may not have cribbed the chorus of Pete Shelley’s song for “North American Scum.” Watch a Manchester punk clean up, put on a New Wave suit, and do his best Gary Numan.

(Also, not to add to all the eulogizing going on, but let’s acknowledge that Murphy writes about the highs, lows, and general complications of lived experience better than just about anybody making music in the 21st century, and hope for some more songs, sometime, in some form. The closer from This Is Happening is a devastator, and the shortest eight minute song I can think of.)

Friday Video(s): Pre-MTV Music Video Double Shot

March 18, 2011

For fans of idiosyncratic pop music and sparsely decorated rooms.

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Friday Video: Color Me INTRIGUED

March 12, 2011

Obviously this is not actually a music video at all. In fact, the documentary Color Me Obsessed apparently features no actual Replacements music. But it does feature a Ramone, a Kid in the Hall, and lots of other interesting people waxing nostalgic about the ‘Mats, so I’m down. Premiering in the Twin Cities on May 4.

via Gimme Noise

Friday Video: “Infinity Guitars” – Sleigh Bells

March 4, 2011

Ever worry that we aren’t leaving anything for our children to deconstruct?

Scattered Thoughts About a Three- or Four-Year-Old Mash-Up

March 4, 2011

Listening to this song a few days ago, as I often do while editing narrative non-fiction for second graders about saving the environment, it occurred to me how cool it would have been if Jay-Z himself had the notion to sample “Bitter Sweet [sic] Symphony” while recording “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, if the above jam had happened not by mash-up but by Jay’s own will. And it occurred to me shortly thereafter what a weird thought that was. Why, after all, should it matter whose idea it was to sample the Verve, if the end product is (hypothetically) the same? (more…)