Category Archives: rock/roll

Taking Sides: Boat Shoe Core

Quickly, before we start, a Google search:

Results 1 – 10 of about 28,500 for vampire weekend boat shoes. (0.31 seconds)

doorknobs: i’ve almost exclusively listened to vampire weekend today
doorknobs: i think i’m officially ostracized from cool kid club
Tyco Nightglow: guh
Tyco Nightglow: I bet you’re feeling very happy and twee
doorknobs: not particularly twee, but happy, yes
Tyco Nightglow: to me that’d be like eating nothing but lik m aid all day
doorknobs: man, what an asshole i am
doorknobs: haha
Tyco Nightglow: they really do just sound like guster or dispatch to me
Tyco Nightglow: not actively TRYING to be a grouchy hater
doorknobs: i know yr not
doorknobs: maybe i didn’t listen to enough guster or dispatch, but i don’t hear it
doorknobs: diff strokes/folks i guess
Tyco Nightglow: just artificially sunny
Tyco Nightglow: in a squint-inducing way
doorknobs: what makes it artificially sunny?
Tyco Nightglow: maybe I hate the sound of “happy”
Tyco Nightglow: haha
doorknobs: hahahahaha
doorknobs: yeah maybe
Tyco Nightglow: something about the tone of the voice, the tone of the guitars, and most importantly, the tone of the songs themselves just feels…..guh. Words are failing me on this one
Tyco Nightglow: it’s what one calls a “visceral dislike”
Tyco Nightglow: they seem like assholes and I hate them
Tyco Nightglow: there
Tyco Nightglow: is that concrete enough?
doorknobs: you see, i was with you when you were talking about tones of instruments and feel, and then……….
Tyco Nightglow: hahahaha
Tyco Nightglow: their music feels like music made for and by assholes
doorknobs: ok
doorknobs: i shouldn’t have brought this up
doorknobs: sorry
doorknobs: haha
Tyco Nightglow: haha
Tyco Nightglow: no I’m enjoying myself
doorknobs: clearly
doorknobs: :–(
Tyco Nightglow: 😀
Tyco Nightglow: :-*
Tyco Nightglow: 😛
Tyco Nightglow: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand
Tyco Nightglow: :-X
doorknobs: hahah
doorknobs: there ya go
doorknobs: never to be spoken of again
doorknobs: however, i AM thinking about corner bistro tomorrow
Tyco Nightglow: YES
Tyco Nightglow: this I am down with
Tyco Nightglow: FEY
Tyco Nightglow: that is the word I am looking for
Tyco Nightglow: something horribly fey about the tone of the songs and the playing itself
Tyco Nightglow: all of Stephen Malkmus’s worst spoiled-prince tendencies married to little toy-keyboard shuffles that no weight or viscera
Tyco Nightglow: I viscerally react to a lack of viscera
Tyco Nightglow: this Nitsuh review, who I really really like, nails what he likes and what I dislike: Koenig, the lead singer, is a “happy observer who never bores you with how he feels”
Tyco Nightglow: he just sounds smugly, airily entitled to me, which I wouldn’t care about if he made music with some semblance of grit or life
Tyco Nightglow: okay, now I’m done
Tyco Nightglow: that was a tad more articulate, though, no?
Tyco Nightglow: though I do really like this Nitsuh review
Tyco Nightglow: I tend to like his writing more than the records he enthuses over, I find
Tyco Nightglow: RESPOND TO MY TORRENTIAL OUTPOURING
Tyco Nightglow: haha
doorknobs: hahahhaa
doorknobs: this is a great and studied and NOT DUMB response
doorknobs: thank you
doorknobs: “i think they’re assholes who make music for assholes” somehow wasn’t cutting it for me
doorknobs: haha
doorknobs: i ❤ nitsuh
Tyco Nightglow: hahaa
Tyco Nightglow: yes, I like nitsuh too
Tyco Nightglow: hey
Tyco Nightglow: think this could be an IM post?
doorknobs: mayhaps!
doorknobs: it might feel a bit one-sided w/o me saying why i actually LIKE these fuckers
doorknobs: haha
doorknobs: but
Tyco Nightglow: so….why do you like this????
doorknobs: lemme paraphrase myself from a different convo
Tyco Nightglow: please do
doorknobs: nothing that’s gonna convince anyone
doorknobs: but
doorknobs: thassok
doorknobs: i think it’s fun and well written and sincere and smart
doorknobs
: people may disagree with sincere, or take “smart” to mean the wrong thing (note: the loadedness all of a sudden of equating smart and COLLEGIATE, RE: nitsuh review)
doorknobs: but that’s how i feel
doorknobs: also, on a simpler note: i think the songs are really strong
doorknobs: and, as you know
doorknobs: i also just kinda think the arguments that are about their sweaters or what college they went to or saying the afro-pop part is “contrived” or whatever…it’s just so lazy and annoying to me
Tyco Nightglow: I think the Afro-pop isn’t so much “contrived” so much as another example of their giggliness
Tyco Nightglow: for lack of an actual word
Tyco Nightglow: haha
Tyco Nightglow: but I hear the general point
Tyco Nightglow: also: pretty much when people say that an indie rock band is “smart” or that their lyrics are “smart” this ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS means “collegiate”
doorknobs: yeah true
doorknobs: but when i first wrote that out, i meant smart as like “smart songwriting” or, like, smart/interesting arrangements, etc
Tyco Nightglow: right
Tyco Nightglow: that I buy
doorknobs: but the COLUMBIA/etc. connotations are too prevelant to ignore i guess
doorknobs: i also think they are distinctly different from, say, the decemberists, RE: smart/collegiate
doorknobs: and way way less willfully obscure/potentially annoying
Tyco Nightglow: hmm
Tyco Nightglow: I don’t know
Tyco Nightglow: here’s what I was going to say, but it took me too long to type it haha:
Tyco Nightglow: (it’s no longer relevant)
Tyco Nightglow: cuz lyrically “smart” usually means stuff like “What she asked of me at the end of the night/Caligula would have blushed” more than “Cops come blocking the
ave/I put the glock in the stash/slabs and tops in the trash/still stop and i laugh, ma put
them rock in your ass/ the rest twat in ya bag, dag, hop in a cab”
Tyco Nightglow: but yes
doorknobs: oh totally, i know what you mean
doorknobs: i’m not disagree w/that at all
doorknobs: i mean, it’s weird to say this considering how much we’ve talked about it, but i think the key to my enjoyment has been UNDERthinking and kinda gut enjoyment…..it worked for me and against you, in terms of enjoying it
doorknobs: but like
doorknobs: i think the first sentence (regardless of the rest of this mumbo jumbo i’ve typed out) just kinda sums up my take on them
doorknobs: and why i dig it
Tyco Nightglow: also, you’re an asshole
doorknobs: also, it’s hilarious that this could be an IM post
Tyco Nightglow: ZING!
Tyco Nightglow: cut, print, post

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2 Comments

Filed under blogosphere echo chamber, IM, Posted by Doorknobs, Posted by Tyco, rock/roll

Devil got my head in a vise…

“Was terrified of death but I don’t fear it now/Was blind, dumb, and deaf but I hear it now.”

beans.jpg

No one. I mean NO ONE. Does world-weary paranoia like Beanie Sigel. No one rages more bitterly against life’s indignities. And no one sounds more like Scarface in his raging, shivering, powerless prime when he’s on.

All the proof you’ll ever need of any of this should be here.

But Beanie has given you more. “Judgment Day” samples “War Pigs,” and is as good as — nah, better than — I imagined it to be. Beans attacks the track with an astonishing ferocity and fills the verses with vividly bleak imagery. Some immediate quotables (I can barely type fast enough to catch them as they strafe by):

“Satan’s whispers got me back on my dark liquor/That firewater killin’ my liver/ The snake hisses in my ear, he’s a natural born killer.”

“I wake up with my sheets soaked, half-asleep/Hearing Tupac’s voice screaming blasphemy.”

The delivery is vintage Beans — every single line spat through gritted teeth, the sound of barely contained murderous impulses. He raps like his soul’s at stake.

Here. I’m sure I have more to say, but fuck that all for right now. Just listen. I’ll be back for more later…

1 Comment

Filed under Posted by Tyco, RAP MUSIC, rock/roll

Picture yourself in a living room: The Spoon Post

So I’ve been thinking about writing this post for days (UPDATE: weeks) now, and fear (UPDATE: know) that the initial inspiration may have drained out of me. But I’m cracking my knuckles and giving it a shot anyway, dammit, cuz this blog needs a post! Our readers need constant, updated entertainment! (ALL of them!) Keep shovelin’ motherfucker! Must feed the gaping maw of the Internet!

So here’s what I’ve been thinking, for days now, about Spoon.

…. giving you a second to cue your favorite Spoon record ….

needle11.jpg

Ok …..GO:

Spoon are one of the many indie-rock bands overlooked by Sasha Frere-Jones in his bizarrely generalized critique of indie rock a few weeks ago in the New Yorker, in that they generally understand the combust

ive power of rhythm, of restraint and abandon, of booming bass frequencies and sharp percussion, and other qualities generally ascribed to “black” music. The best Spoon songs introduce a simple, rhythmic figure, often on piano, and then punctuate it with small, striking elements – well-placed handclaps, for instance, (the chorus on “The Way We Get By”) or a melancholy two-note doodle of a melody surrounded by space (see: Everything Hits At Once, at the 1:03 mark). This oft-remarked-on use of space is what distinguishes them from pretty much everyone else in indie rock (Interpol understood it for a minute or two there as well), and it’s why their music shares some (SOME!) DNA with Timbaland, whose music is often so spacious as to feel cavernous. Every band member contributes to this sensibility, but it’s Jim Eno’s drumming — arguably the greatest drummer in indie rock — that pretty much embodies Spoon’s musical philosophy.

But that’s not even what interests me most about Spoon: that’s just what attracted me to them initially, and what most critics gravitate towards when writing about them. (Either Mike Powell of Stylus said it best, with his review of “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” — “Spoon has made a career out of being terse” — or it was Sasha Frere-Jones, in a much more characteristic — read “excellent” — piece).

No, what makes me return again and again to Spoon is the lurking spectre of Britt Daniels’s concealed hurt, which broods beneath the music’s swagger. It’s the subsumed hurt of a 50’s-generation male, the kind Tommy Lee Jones portrays so beautifully in No Country for Old Men. (He achieves this largely by standing around being baggy. Method acting at its finest.) Emotions never coalesce into words; they just swim around until they find an outlet, whether appropriate or no. Cue “The Fitted Shirt,” a song from Girls Can Tell that expresses both Daniel’s veneration of his father’s generation and his uneasy sense that he will never measure up in their eyes: “When I was growing up, and Dad head off to work/He put coat and tie on/over fitted shirt/Nothing else would fit right, or seem so directly applied/the fitted shirt hung on me.”

ragingring3.jpg

De Niro as Jake LaMotta as self-flagellating Modern American Male. (Remember, this post is about SPOON.)

Fitted shirts aren’t the only by-products of malehood of that Daniels fetishizes. In “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case,” he sighs the words, over and over: “It’s just my/Japanese Cigarette Case/Bring the mirror to my face/Let all my memories be gone,” and I picture him clutching the little case tightly as if it were a talisman that could ward off weakness or self-doubt. Then there’s “The Underdog,” in which the bright, cheery horn section is undercut with Daniels wistfully singing: “Picture yourself in a living room/Your pipe and slippers laid out for you.” Your PIPE AND SLIPPERS? Now we’ve bypassed James Dean and headed straight for Ward Cleaver. Even with this uninentionally comical image (where’s the dog bringing a newspaper in its mouth?) the longing is clear, and affecting. Daniels imbues these inanimate objects –the fitted shirt, the pipe and slippers, the cigarette case — with a profound sense of moral authority, of the stoic wisdom of his father’s generation.

Then there’s the messier, more stereotypically “feminine” side of his persona, which finds its way out in moments of arrogant, wishful denial (“I turn my feelings off/made my untouchable for life” he insists in “I Turn My Camera On“) or in startling moments of open-hearted confession. The clearest example of this is in “I Summon You,” perhaps the most emotionally raw moment in Spoon’s catalogue. Over a simple acoustic-guitar shuffle, Daniels mournfully surveys a wrecked relationship, which climaxes in the devastatingly succinct line “How’d we get here? It’s too late to break it off.” If the terse, indirect nature of his other music is to be believed, Daniels and his other probably “got here” through mutual misunderstanding — “the signals have crossed” — that Daniels tries to cut through with a simple, pleading directive: “I summon you here, my love.” Then, silence, as he waits and the guitar ticks off the seconds.

There’s a lot more out there, but not sure I’m ready to tackle it all. Consider this an installment. (Ah, the privileges of blogging. Imagine doing this with a paper?) Till next time, dearies…..

4 Comments

Filed under post-millenial manhood, Posted by Tyco, rock/roll

Cass: Wist, Doom and L.A. via Baltimore

Safe to say I like Cass McCombs significantly more than anyone else I know. Not counting shadowy internet personalities, ‘course. I’ve had a Cass post somewhere in me for the last six months+, so it’s a bit odd/unsettling to just sit down and try and puke one out w/o a clear “thesis” or whatever. But I guess sometimes (okay, most times) that’s gonna be the only way to get something (ANYTHING) from digital ink to digital scroll.

Immediate heresy out of the way: I’m gonna focus mostly on A, Cass’s debut full-length, here, with probably a cursory stab at deflating Dropping the Writ, his latest, and almost completely fly by Prefection, the sandwiched LP. This is partly for sanity’s sake (I clearly need to feed my will bite-sized morsels) and also partly because the chinked-armor, basement looseness of A serves as the better contrast to the morning-sun-in-L.A., Devendra-as-the-Eagles milquetoast-ness of Dropping the Writ. Stay with me here (I’ll try the same).

Almost all of A drags. The drums are loping and aggressively drowsy; you could probably count the number of times the hi-hat gets hit on one hand. The sonic stew is essentially standard issue: guitars (clean electric, acoustic), bass, acoustic piano, keys, drums. It’s not like dude is e-bowing an electric violin or some shit. Even the stand-out elements – drone-y/buzzy keyboard, the super left-panned distorted electric guitar ripping on “Gee, It’s Good to Be Back Home” – are subtle-at-best.

Cass’ voice itself is a slightly off-kilter indie wheeze – it does well to be perma-brushed with reverb. Still, it’s affecting, and adds equally to the understated task at hand, wherein all these unremarkable things (standard instrumentation, dirge-y pace, post 90’s indie dude vox, general folk-rock) create an ENCOMPASSING sense of sincere emotion and doom.

There’s something in the repetition of A. There’s a paranoia and a DRONE to it – even when there are moments of swinging or lilting or gentleness, it’s almost MENACING. Even a determinedly passing look at the lyrics/themes (and believe me, I more determined to pass ’em by than anyone) seem to paint an anguish, a desperateness: “I went to the hospital / they put me in a bed / I may soon be gone / To pluck on our hearts”; “You ain’t gonna pin it on me / I don’t wanna hear your sermon / You spit like hypodermics”; heck, the entirety of “Meet Me Here At Dawn.”

Sure, from a distance there’s a teetering on WISTFULNESS or, like, indie MOR or somethin’, but this isn’t a fuckin’ soundtrack to yr post-work camomile, believe. These tunes (and YES, there are FER REAL TUNES on here) are enveloping and patient and HARROWING.

At this point, I’d almost rather not delve into Writ – a second installment perhaps. As way of a preface, just know: there is a dynamic shift more than anything else. There’s twinkle and vocal swells and some occasional (and occasionally welcome) sweetness, but what there AIN’T is MENACE. A minor, odd gripe I suppose, but there it is.

I Went to the Hospital [mp3]
Meet Me Here at Dawn [mp3]

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Filed under Beatific sadness, Posted by Doorknobs, rock/roll

Electric Warrior: This Just In…It Rules!

I’d all but ignored T-Rex until about 6 months ago. I bought Tanx when I was in Austin three years ago, but just ‘cuz Jeffey told me I should. I didn’t even listen to it until a month ago. Even when Brendo was buying expanded-edition double discs of The Slider, I had my head in the sand. I was probably neck deep in fresh worship of Guitar Romantic, with some yellow and pink paint-splattered blinders on.

I have no explanation for this, really, other than the fact that sometimes I’m a stupid stupidhead. The fact that I have no idea what the turning point was (if it even existed) that lead me back to Electric Warrior is a curious one, but ultimately unimportant. The important part is that Electric Warrior is casually AWESOME in ways that I can’t shake. I don’t have a thesis, or, like BIG POINT necessarily, but figured I’d share some thoughts I’ve had as EW’s been on mega-repeat the last few weeks.

First of all, I’ve shocked myself by so deeply loving an album that sounds largely backbone’d by WHITE BOOGIE BLUES. I mean, not that I’ve heard enough Butterfield Blues bootlegs to say whether the “TRUE” white blues is worth a hoot, but, ummmm, HELLO Blues Hammer and Double Trouble and Kenny Lame Shepherd and shit, amirite?? Even infants do a fucking eyeroll when they hear some “since my baby left me” Em -> Am pentatonic shit. I know, I know, the peanut gallery backseaters are gonna start lobbing softballs about Led Zep and Jack White and ETC ETC, but right off the bat:

a) Exactly – that’s why, as much as I sometimes dig ’em, I can’t go apeshit for the Leds and Stripes of the world.
b) This isn’t hard rock blues, this is more like some BOOGIE WOOGIE shit which is troubling cuz it evokes more HOT TUNA than hot drummer.

Here are a coupla things that seem to make Bolan’s blues awesome and NOT-THAT enough to ease the boogie pill down my throat:

I know this seems random as my first point out of the gate, but: listen to how SLOW the drums are! It’s like they’re being played underwater. They drag and almost, you know, SWING. It’s sexy and offhanded and hit me from way out in left field. They crackle super crisp and jock the hi-hats bigtime.

CRISP is a key one, here, too. The whole operation is, if this is possible, an INTIMATE reading of glitter boogie. There are all these dual acoustic guitar parts panned both ways over those woozy drums and the dude is basically COOING. Nevermind that he’s cooing shit like “Woman, I love your chests ooh/Baby, I’m crazy ’bout your breasts.”

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the WWW, lyrics are kinda neither here nor there for me. And mostly, the “baby baby”-isms of Electric Warrior fly by pretty much shuffling back and forth between inoffensive and kinda stupid. Seriously worth noting, though, is the Momentary Malkmus (MoMa, anyone???) moment on “Bang A Gong.” In the midst of some odd chick-chasing stuff (“you’re built like a car,” “you’re windy and wild”), we get: “you’re a hubcap diamond star halo…that’s the truth with your cloak full of eagles.” It’s a head scratchingly stunning enough moment of WTF to turn the most squeaky polished track on the whole record into an oddball pop gem.

I’ve listened to Electric Warrior a TON recently and less-so The Slider, but I think there’s a DEFINITE reason that EW gets preferential canonization out of the two. I think it ABSOLUTELY has something to do with MYSTERY and MAAAAAYBE something to do with studio mic positioning.

But that’s a discussion I’ll have with the web void another time. Maybe five months? YA NEVER KNOW, CUZ I’M A FLAKE…

Over and out.

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Filed under Posted by Doorknobs, rock/roll