Please email me if you are having trouble reading the page with the new look. I’m happy with it, and wouldn’t have a clue how to solve any new problems, but it will give me something to worry about. I didn’t realize that i’ve almost been blogging for a year now, discounting the six week break around last November when i was too busy yelling at the radio and television on my time off to bother writing.
this coming Monday, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci will be signing copies of their new single at the HMV in Cardiff at 4 pm.
Radio Birdman. “Aloha Steve & Danno” I guess that i shouldn’t be surprised, but they are surprisingly melodic and silly. The Saints haven’t entirely convinced me that all of the Australian pseudo/proto-punk bands are not depraved, bloodthirsty nihilists just like the Birthday Party, my archetypical Australian band. (Sorry Luke, concerning my ignorance, but at least i don’t think that they all sound like Men at Work instead.) when i heard that they sounded like the MC5 and the Stooges, i thought Kick Out the Jams and Fun House, not High Time and Raw Power. How could i be so foolish, when the song is obviously dedicated to Hawaii Five-O? I thought that the Ventures song was novelty enough, even if it happens to be one of the coolest TV theme songs ever, but it seems a little early to start singing songs about pop icons in an ironic fashion, although the Ramones were doing it with the Television Personalities just a few years later.
Bruce Springsteen. Never gave a damn about him, even though a lot of the Raindogs seemed to like him a lot. I know Jacopo is fairly sane, and he followed Springsteen through every show in Italy, which has seemed decidedly insane to me for years. I still cannot stand the bombastic, overearnest stadium drama of Bruce Springsteen. I was able to get past the sentimental, schmaltzy strings of Tom Waits’ Asylum records many years ago, even love them for underlining the emotions that they evoke, but the sweaty breastbeating of stadium Springsteen could give me the creeps. People repeated assured me that i’d love his acoustic work, and would recommend Nebraska, and even rather recently, when i heard the tribute to Nebraska on NPR, with a great version of Johnny Cash doing “I’m on Fire”, i remained unconvinced. I’d heard Springsteen do “The Ghost of Tom Joad” years before, and no matter how weirdly i’m fixated on that kind of imagery, it left me untouched. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when i downloaded an mp3 someone offered on a message board, of the accursed “Born in the U.S.A.” that i feel as if i’m beginning to understand.
Yes, i knew that Reagan’s spinners completely misinterpreted the song, probably deliberately, knowing full well most Americans misinterpret it the same way, missing the pain of betrayal of the narrator. Even if a musician’s sentiments are in the right place, he can still bore the shit out of me. this version of “Born in the U.S.A.” is completely stripped of the arena theatrics… an acoustic guitar, vocals, and an electric guitar overdub. I’ve never heard the words more clearly, and now i can actually feel them. It’s weird how Springsteen built his career playing to huge masses of screaming people, out for a rock and roll night, because this skeleton of a song practically sounds like outsider music, music recorded in the bedroom to exorcise demons. It bothers me to write any of this, as i was quite comfortable dismissing Bruce Springsteen as one of those critical mysteries that steak and potato fetishists shower with praise. It’s not as if i’m going to be running out to buy Thunder Road, but i might start downloading and hoarding Springsteen’s demos, something i never remotely imagined.
Cannibal Ox “Iron Galaxy” The band’s name almost turned me off entirely because it was too meaty and highly caloric. It reminds me of a gothic death metal band, and i can imagine a 350 pound man with long hair in white pankcake make-up, with his tattooed teardrops showing through, gnawing on a big bloody bone, a la Twisted Sister. Descriptions of the sound in various people’s blogs and posts made me relent, but the song titles still had me thinking of Old Dirty Bastard fronting Hawkwind. It’s deeply weird stuff, and while the first couple of seconds of this track don’t grab me, once i’ve plunged deeper into the mists, seeing where it’s going to go, i look back over my shoulder to feel lost. Somehow i’ve wandered into a private conversation, but then they turn to direct their words at me.
Gorillaz. I was ready to delete my mp3s, but i’ve found that i cannot do it. I’ve marched from ambivalence to acceptance, and am finding myself unnaturally entranced by it. Part of it might come from being mocked offline by a guy who thinks that the Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, and Feeder is where it’s at (and it pushes me into being defensive,) but part of it comes from flipping on Radio 1 every few minutes to hear people trying to be sexy, profound, sentimental, vibrant, energetic, cutting edge, whatever, and it’s not working for me. The kitchen-sink pop of Gorillaz puts more hooks in my ears. The fact that “19-2000” was played to death as the theme song to Monday night’s 100 Best Children’s Show on BBC1 only kept driving home that i love it for the same reason that i love singing along with the theme song for the Muppet Show or Sesame Street.
When i wonder about other people who i respect the musical opinion of hating Gorillaz, i must remember that a lot of it is just personal. It’s probably quite rational to hate a middle class West London boy, but i don’t understand that. I understand why it’s perfectly acceptable to detest plastic stage school brats whose hometown is only a stone’s throw away from my own. West London? What’s that? Kentwood, Louisiana? Yet another story from the Daily Star down in Hammond of local girl makes good?
I don’t truly hate Britany Spears at all. She’s as much of an artificial muppet as 2-D of Gorillaz. The Britany song that i know best doesn’t appeal to me because it seems like a sugarcoated piece of bile, weirdly self-loathing and insecure, which unsettles me worse than a Nick Cave murder ballad. Teen pop is not obligated to promote independence and emotional stability. Perhaps it’s the unsettlign undertone that attracts people in the first place. Combine that with extremely poor social skills and bad memories in grade school, and i don’t care to empathize with the weakness of fresh-faced incarnations of past oppressors. I’d rather dance around with muppets, even if they are the masks of the beneficiaries of a painfully classist society.
Hmmm. It looks like i still need some work on justifying myself.
By the way, as many things as i download, Louise always manages to find the most popular things that we get sought out for. After the Office series concluded, Louise had the song “Handbags and Gladrags” lodged in her head, and she had to show me the song, or it was going to drive her crazy. As she hates Rod Stewart with a passion that even i don’t understand, as i think the Faces were pretty cool, she managed to find another version, by an artist named Chris Farlowe, who i’ve never ever heard of. The number of requests for Chris Farlowe’s “Handbags and Gladrags” became so great that i actually had to unshare the song, as it was becoming too much of a drain.
I also want to add that Louise seems to have fragments from lyrics of any imaginable song in her head, and will suddenly spout the most obscure line and melody that often has convinced me that she’s making it up on the spot. She crosses every genre and time period. When i contemplate her odd gift, i can actually get confused trying to figure out just how much is stored in her head. Her brain seems like a near infinite jukebox that skips and scrambles from just the slightest change, from a sunbeam through the clouds, the thickness of her socks, or the tick of a wristwatch. It’s pretty damned amazing, and too often i take for granted how much she really knows.
Ah, damn you, Jarvis Cocker. You’ve left me thinking about C.W. McCall yesterday. The rest of you remember him just for “Convoy” i bet, but i remember him for so much more… well, sort of. In any case, i know more about him than i possibly rightfully should, and in a way, i think that i’m a better person for it. My parents used to take me and my brother out west every summer in the back of a truck camper. Because we were small, we’d get to ride in the front of the truck sometimes, and listen to the 8-tracks that were played in the front, of John Denver, John Hartford, and the brand new C.W. McCall that they picked up at the Stuckey’s on the side of the road all across Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Not only was it truckdriving music, but it fortuitously had songs about the San Juan Mountains, where we pilgrimaged since i was born (and where my older hippie cousin lived in Telluride.) We almost moved up there twice, incidentally.
C.W. McCall did oddly sentimental music, about his boyhood in Audobon, Iowa, about rafting down wild rivers doomed to be dammed, about old trains, about mountain trails, about trees and the sky, and about the open road. I cannot make an argument that he’s a lost genius, a misunderstood songwriter, as a lost of his stuff was corny, but it was willfully corny, deliberately goofy, and when he wanted to get preachy about the environment, sermonizing on the evils of air pollution and overdevelopment, he did it in his monotone gruff half-whisper that scared the hell out of my six year old self. Remember Woodsy the Owl? “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute.” Well, fuck that little gimp clown pervert. I had a big, gravelly trucker telling me to walk the straight and narrow for the sake of the planet or else.
Incidentally, while i may have been retarded musically, i was reading Edward Abbey just a few years later, and the original Monkey Wrench Gang (ignore the sequel Hayduke Lives!) rocked my world. I learned most of my early obscenities from Edward Abbey and felt literate doing it. I know that it’s insane pulp now, but there’s much, much worse books to become a foulmouthed kid.
I haven’t figured out how to link directly to the editorial on The Morning News, but it was commenting on the Salon TRL piece, as well as something in the New Republic about political rock. I don’t feel like going on about the image of action replacing actual action, because while i agree with in in part, it’s quite backwards looking. No matter what i insist about image one day, it’s decidedly unfair to take music from 1965 to 1990, toss it on the wall to see what sticks, and then look at 2001 to sneer, “Whatcha got? Rage Against the Machine? Well, you suck”
sorry, but that won’t do. RATM doesn’t qualify, since the Dredlocked One has left the group. I can think of plenty of other polilitically conscious groups, especially since all it seems to take is Hendrix interpreting “The Star-Spangled Banner” to qualify. I appreciate some of the points of the writer, like the difficulty of having a solid platform to reach a wide audience without compromise, but he needs to try a little harder than RATM.
I don’t see why using ELF to kill zebra mussels is any safer than using chlorine. Just because it’s not chemical doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous.
Uh-oh. Secret satellites. That has to be behind the times. There’s bound to be dozens of them up there already, if not hundreds.
I’m sure most U.S. citizens know these dividing lines in America, but here they are again anyway, and why the next few years are going to have some surprising social upheavals, if the word majority means anything anymore.