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Archive for July, 2009

Pulp

Pulp – Smudge

The best use of the word “pulp” in this household. What an amazing band Smudge were. They were just before my time, or at my earliest of times with all impediment of the misguided and inflexible tastes i had back then, but over the 5, 6, 7 years their brilliance finally reached me and i’ve succumbed to every bit of it. So i fall on another posthumous appreciation of an excellent band. At least this one had some amount of deserved success. I would have loved to have been around for it, with this expanse of taste and love for them i have now. At least they left such a significant trace all the components readily exist for discovery. Walk into any second hand record store, find the Smudge CDs, fall in love. We’ve had a lot of good bands here that seem prime for such rediscovery: Pollyanna, The Hummingbirds, Sandpit, Even, Sodastream, Screamfeeder (who just rereleased Kitten Licks in a deluxe edition), etcetera. It’s like giving a contemporary face to those old Recovery bands. It’s like realising amazing music existed beyond me as close to home as this, as well as on distant shores. To be everywhere, everytime at once.

splndour in the grass

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When nice people think dumb things, attack, and vote – Armalite

I seem to have reached a point of repetition, of bands at least. Oh well, who writes about or gives any exposure to this most ephemeral of bands these days? Anything i can do to ressurect their profile and delegate them in my own slight, almost invisible way as a notable at the least, great at the most appropriate, band, i will.

Will i ever hear anything from Armalite again? There always seemed to be this sense of impermanence about them, and that seems to have been fulfilled. Maybe they do still play the odd show, confined to where their lives, schedules, and other responsibilities allow, but what good is that to me? A record sent to the other side of the globe, played to myself in a room, all involvement, benefit and inspiration found in that listening room, is what i need.

I’d like for Armalite to do something more. Who else is going to sing about type 2 diabetes, the French New Wave, growing up and punk rock warnings thereof from a post of being already grown up, the permanence and effect of one’s life set apart from punk’s lofty ideals, being in the system and writing from that perspective, and those moments in life where, separated from punk rock and agreeable company and now in the real world, you find yourself having to deal with the differing, sometimes hard to swallow political views of otherwise nice, compatible people, and the volume of such people in the world becoming more and more apparent to you (as in this song) – all done in the best DC influenced pop punk in the past five years?

Armalite were an older band, i.e. a band full of older people. It’s nice to know no matter how old i get there will still be that older band to look up to and not only make myself feel better for not being as old as i possibly could be, but also have that band with life experience to impart with perspective i don’t yet have. Makes me feel like a kid again. But these four people had already achieved far more at my age than i have. Plainly. They did things.

Oh, look what came in the mail today:

I’m such a loser.

sweetie

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Rehab

Rehab – Amy Winehouse

I know nothing of Amy Winehouse except those unflattering things i read in magazines on breaks at work, and i’ve heard nothing of Amy Winehouse save for dull 10 second clips i catch in passing on TV commercials. It’s that same soundbite that keeps playing over in my head this morning. Why? I don’t know. So really, on downloading it this morning, this is the first time i’ve ever heard it attentively, and i really do not think it’s that great of a song. This might be the first time i’ve posted a song i don’t like. It’s not an intense, active hate, just polite dismissal in response to something that doesn’t appeal to me. Controversial…

Ok. Maybe i can hate it, and launch myself to an uncomfortable moral highground at the same time. As said, i only know Amy Winehouse by what i read in tabloid magazines, and as virtuous a journalistic platform they are this song, these lyrics, this autobiography, her visible tendencies and behaviour at once celebrated and condemned by public and media all point to someone who may benefit from some kind of rehabilitation. But to benefit, you would have to admit the problem, want recovery and accept help offered, and this song is plainly renouncing that path. So Amy Winehouse has substance abuse problems that cannot and will not be dealt with in the traditional celebrity, public eye appeasing method of the rehabilitation clinic. Stated. It is on the threat of divorce from those things that give her being in her life – music, inspiration, family, friends, relationships both good and harmful – that she denies rehab. Her problems run to a depth she believes incurable through clinical help. Who doesn’t? It sometimes can help.

Her problems. I am not writing about a person here, i am writing about a construct of expectations, from both her status as an r&b/soul singer who lives, breathes then sings the hard life and the horrible tabloid circus of that life we see. All throughout, we pray for her to get cleaned up and have her life, her relationships, everything that drives her to a life she needs rehabilitation from all sorted out. Yet at the same time that life gives fuel and authenticity to her as a musician. Where would she be without this hard living? There comes a purity with the life this character leads to the music she plays, the stories she tells, the soul with which she sings, elevating it to art, to the venerable, to something honourable, to the real. Substance abuse giving substance.

Reviving music associated with so much hard living in its time, to be inattentive to that aspect of it would render the music trivial and erroneous. Amy Winehouse’s precision in capturing and carrying that aspect that gives her a respected place in this music’s canon, possibly above all her evident talent as a musician. It is to this legitimate artistry you can award Mercury music prizes, Grammys and Rolling Stone articles. It is to this music snobs grant their attention and praise. It is to this she is of consequence. This is living, this is compelling, this is romance, this is heart and soul, this is worth, this is life. It is never dying.

It’s unfortunate attention is concentrated to her on this rather than her music, which, while not my cup of tea, she undeniably loves. It’s unfortunate how marketable it all is.

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Deliri-loco

Deliri-loco – Assfactor 4

Assfactor 4 are simply the greatest band. Well, maybe not the greatest band, if i am to be absolute about it and rest one (1) band on that pinnacle. And i know who they are, and i know several filing just below them. Nevertheless, Assfactor 4 are more than deserving of the heights unexamined hyperbole can reach. This is a fantastic song by them, one of my favourites. A slower one. The melodic, two guitar line outro is something the band did so well, and something i think i copy too much in my own attempts of songwriting. So much so that i’ve already repressed any appearance of something resembling it before it’s ever had the chance to appear in a completed song.

Today i have to go get my haircut (bad thing), buy a stylus (good thing), and save a set of swings from being torn down (desperate thing).

if....

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Dead of the night – Demon Flight

Metal! At least i hope so. The vocals on this song seem so artificial, so whiny, so “when i squeeze my nose i sound like Axl Rose”, and yet so awesome that i hope on hope that this is genuine and not some sham hipster parody. I should probably do some research on it. Until then, my love and appreciation of this song is entirely contingent on the legitimate proprietry of heavy metal – those that live and die by it, who contribute to it, who have a sincere love for it, who have place and little where else to go, not capricious, appropriating, occupying forces who claim stake to all through whim, endorsement from on high and apathy; who come and go through no struggle or overhaul of identity. This must be of the former. It must be. I don’t mean to say that a certain purity is mandate for certain endeavour, just that this song, if it were sincere, would have a value it otherwise would not.

an actor's revenge

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Luka

Luka – Suzanne Vega

Such a great song by the godmother of the mp3. I had always expected it to be a light, cheerful song, as once all i knew of it were the first two to four lines sung by Homer Simpson, Space Ghost and Bjelke-Petersen Youth. I was expecting it to be like Rio, who dances in the sand, the song designated to that soft, palatable world of pop music subject matter. But this is Luka, who lives on the second floor. It is to Suzanne Vega’s credit that the lyrics are so resonant and affecting, that the content, and the most horrible and sad aspect of abuse is the excuse and denial of it, is never obscured by what really is the catchiest of songs. It’s sad that this was her only real success.

mother joan of angels

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N.I.T.A.

N.I.T.A. – Young Marble Giants

I’ve wondered before here to where, if there exists a where, i would go next with music; who i would fall in love with and which formerly closed world would open up to me next. It’s no distant world, and i wonder why i’ve not gotten into them earlier, but for the past few months i’ve been enamoured of Young Marble Giants and every sublime thing they did in their two years of existence. They’re my new thing.

The method and minimalism the Young Marble Giants used in their songs, and Alison’s voice, delivered always beautiful things, but the synthesizer/organ lines in this song in particular are so fantastic, so enchanting, so otherworldly. It sounds like it belongs in a Jacques Cousteau or a Jean Painlevé documentary, without any illustration of the scientific underwater, just the magical, unearthly underwater, unknown, unstudied, illusion intact, possibly with mermaids and mermen, sunken treasure.

So what does N.I.T.A. stand for? There’s my next step: Complete immersion in and comprehension of the band, from lyrics to gear used to philosophy.

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