Friday, December 09, 2005
Sit. Good Boy
I have a cat. If I stand in the stairs down into our rec room with the door to the kitchen closed and call the cat's name, she'll race from wherever she is in the house and bump and bump and rebump her head against the door until I open it. Yesterday, on the mothership, Jerry asked his readers for lists of their desert island favorites, and as soon as I saw the offer I posted, which makes me as conditioned as my cat.
An acquaintance who works in sports talk radio once told me that the surest way to light up the phones was to revisit the Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, Yes or No? debate, and while I'm a relatively new citizen of Blogoslavia, I've little doubt that asking for personal lists is a surefire comment generator. A quick flip over to S21 just now shows that 20 comments have been posted (two by me - I couldn't control myself twice).
The impulse to rank and list, hardwired in humans, diminishes everything not elevated to top tier (which makes it a valuable tool of the elevated, as earls and barons and K St lobbyists can testify). As soon as I had posted five or six albums I immediately thought of 20 more, and one, The Magnetic Fields' *69 Love Songs,* I felt badly enough for having left it off that I posted a second time to get its name into Haloscanistan. Still, here I am, someone who professes to question the legitimacy of hierarchies, gleefully, droolingly on cue like a behavioralist's dog, pooping out a list of must-have music within 60 seconds of being asked.
I am NOT criticizing the exercise. It's fun. I've got a list of stuff off everyone's lists I hope to soon land and listen to, and I have no doubt that everything everyone posted was sincerely offered. But is there wankery and posing and posturing and competitive name-dropping involved? Absofuckinglutely, which makes it like life. I just wish I'd taken a couple of minutes before I wanked, posed, postured, and name-dropped. So I could be more elevated than my cat.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"
Sufjan Stevens - "Casimir Pulaski"
Broken Social Scene - "Ibi Dreams of Pavement"
Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe in Anything"
and Patti Smith live!
I remember exactly where I was, who I was with, what I was doing 25 years ago tonight around 11:00 when I heard. I never had any illusions that Lennon's music and Lennon the man matched: he was as big a bastard as we are all capable of being. I like to think that all his exhortations for peace and generosity and "Instant Karma" (on the radio right now on KEXP) were personal exhortations aimed at his own propensity for violence and greed and depression, and that's what gives the songs their emotional oomph in me. "Imagine" is a terrible song if he is hectoring me. It's plaintive if he's hectoring himself.
A few blinks ago I posted about Eno/Gabriel and the World Cup Does Broadway as a bridge to begin discussing the boundary that's not a boundary between acceptable commercialism and unacceptable commercialism. Today's Washington Post has a front page article on some of the same issues I raised about the trend of today's indies to not view having their songs used in commercials as "selling out." Bob Mould is quoted. S'funny: Husker Du is always mentioned in a paragraphical biography of Mould - as it should be - but never Sugar, an outstanding band whose *Copper Blue* is one of my favorite albums.
Hey! how about some music:
Deerhoof - Wrong Time Capsule
Portastatic - I Want to Know Girls
The Portastatic was on the weekly picks a few ago. Deerhoof I'll be writing about soon.
I've just read an interview with Steve Reich in the November 2005 issue of Wire. He makes this statement about when he was a student in the late 1950s studying for his MA:
You could sound like Boulez, Cage, Stockhausen, Berio, etc, or get laughed at.
Reich also complemented Berio on being more "musical" and "generous" than others on that list.
Somewhere else, I think in another issue of Wire, I read someone recommending Berio's Sinfonia (I had written the 8th Symphony, but I found the reference and have made the correction here). I can - and will - get access to a cd with Berio's Chemins 2 and 4, Points on a Curve, Chorale, and Ritorno.
I had never heard of Berio. Is the CD I can get my hands on a good place to start? And of course, more juicily, what political nerve is Reich striking both in his statement about his MA and when he singles Berio out for compliment over the others?
More of my favorites from this year.
Animal Collective (hear "Grass" here) (hear "Prospect Hummer" here) is often compared to the Fiery Furnaces. Both are from Brooklyn, and while the FFs are brother and sister, AC is a combine of lifelong friends. Both groups are deemed "experimental," a term which is leaving me more and more dissatisfied.
I don't dislike the Fiery Furnaces (I want to clarify). I do like Animal Collective's music more. It seems strange to say this about a band wearing dog and cat masks for a publicity shoot, but their music seems much less postured than FF's to me. I realize whimsy may be as off-putting to some as earnestness is to others, but I like it.
The Posies reunited. I think it would be impossible for them to ever make another album as brilliant as *Frosting on the Beater," one of the great albums ever, and *Every Kind of Light* isn't great, but it's pretty damn good.
The Pernice Brothers "There Goes the Sun" can be heard here.
If I can find any downloads for the New Order, Royksopp, and Rachid Taha albums I'll post them. bLCkdgRd