Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Honey, I miss your two-toned kisses.

So I finally slogged through Robert Greenfield's Exile on Main Street. Ugh.

The book goes nowhere and Greenfield writes like an affected theater director; some lines actually reek of pancake make-up, they play to the back rows so hammily. In fact, the goddamn thing is structured like a play, so he invites this. Also, for a guy to call out other authors for their sources, it takes a lot of chicklets to turn around and use Wikipedia as a source, multiple times, and to admit as much in text. The book isn't even that insightful, just a lot of jerking off to the Stones' decadence. I get it.

Anyway, if you want to read a book about the Stones (which you probably don't), go with Old God Almost Dead or The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones. Not so much bullshit.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From stage to stage we flew, a drink in every hand.

Saturday: coming off the Metro I saw Ian MacKaye grabbing a Citypaper (supposedly he's also supposedly a big fan of Vace and also related: this); I drank multiple pink drinks ("Just like Sex and the City! And I'm Charlotte!"); told a story about Travis Morrison that, technically speaking, had no beginning, middle, or end; must have saved a wood nymph from a bear trap and been rewarded for that heroism, because only that could explain my blessed pockets that were never without cigarettes (seriously, every time I reached in: more cigarettes. Never-ending. And like, different brands, too. It was like something out of the Bible and what it must be like to hang out with Joe Camel at a jazz club); went to bed at 6 a.m., but not before buying two breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This is a song that I wrote about some girls that I met at the beach back when I had the Jeep.

Three points:

1. Catherine has pointed out that I am the only result that pops up when you google "murder of sluts" so I want to preemptively apologize to the confused new visitors and say, no, I actually don't have any tips, sickos. But hooray for me nonetheless. The weird thing is, Catherine actually found this out without knowing I wrote that phrase. I don't know what she's up to, but I'd keep an eye out for some interesting weekend picks at Washingtonian.

2. What do sickos travel in? Gaggles. A gaggle of sickos. I claim monopoly on this as well.

3. I'm going to a party tomorrow attended by the bloggerati of DC and you just know In Rainbows is going to come up and I still haven't downloaded it, and I mean, I write about music, so this is going to be embarassing. I think when the subject comes up I'll just lie and say, oh Radiohead is so October 10th, and ask if anyone's heard the new band "Murder of Sluts" because I heard they played a great show in a moving van at CMJ this weekend and I ordered their demos online, and it's actually a cassette tape. Then I will try and hide my secret shame.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm breaking through, I'm bending spoons, I'm keeping flowers in full bloom.

Four points:

1. Idolator is telling me Rolling Stone included "living in Philadelphia" on their Hot List, and I have no firsthand proof, but well-played semi-hometown, for getting attention from a washed-up, close-to-unreadable shell of a formerly relevant magazine. If not for Kid Rock and a gaggle of sluts (or do they travel in schools? Murders?), you may have gotten the cover, Philly.

2. Paste Magazing has the R.E.M. live album streaming. I have it too, and I'm "streaming" it... from my stereo! (Ha ha ha! Get it? I'm old!) I'll say this: it doesn't stir my soup. The songs from the past two albums are just stillborn on stage, absolutely murdering any momentum. "Leaving New York"? "Final Straw"? They make me wish I had a full bladder just so I could take a bathroom break. On top of that, is it just me or is the mix really off? I appreciate going for the whole "You. Are. There." vibe, but it sounds closer to a cheap bootleg rather than a major label release that cost me twenty.

3. Hooray for 30 Rock on DVD. Mind grapes. Killer.

4. A murder of sluts. It's got a certain ring.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No one really cares about your hundredth luft balloon

Things I don't care much for:
1. Blowing up balloons. Never really cared for it before; care even less since I started smoking
2. Packs of balloons that are 1/3 faulty. I do not like those odds.
3. People who practice the trumpet at 10:45 at night.

Your flag it flew so high, it drifted into the sky.

Hearing that the new Springsteen was called Magic, I thought it was the stupidest title, possibly ever. All it needed was an exclamation point; pink, cursive font; and a cover photo of a winking Bruce, and it would be all the proof I needed to believe Springsteen was settling into a career of irrelevance. Nothing he had done before should have given me such thoughts, but still... it's a stupid goddamn title, right?

Listening to the album, of course I was wrong. Yes, the title track clumsily stretches the metaphor of magic tricks to apply to, apparently, the current state of affairs, but the track is dark, subverts the title, and provides a touchstone for the album as a whole. And as for irrelevance, take a look at Springsteen sharing the stage with Arcade Fire. This is a man with a number one album and a tour that's printing money; I'd argue he doesn't need to make a grab at the indie market. (Plus, consider that he's shared the stage in the past with Southside Johnny and Marah - bands that have, like Arcade Fire recently, used Springsteen for inspiration, but have far less cache. It's more about respect than starfucking.)

Already, enough preemptively defending Springsteen for whom he duets with. This album isn't the world-changer that Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone says it is. But it is a hell of an album, and you know what? They're close to being right. Take this with a grain of salt: I loved The Rising, drum loops and all. But this album is one hell of an album, and every just about every song, no matter how upbeat it sounds on first listen, is tinged with anger, regret, and maybe hope. This isn't anything new: just listen to most of Born in the USA. But the new album really takes a look at where we are as a country, and it's framed by an archetypically American sound that Springsteen had a hand in creating.

There are very few missteps: the aforementioned clumsy metaphors, the heavy-handedness of "Last to Die," and the arguable muzzling of the E Street Band. His two Beach Boy-inspired tracks - "Your Own Worst Enemy" and "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" - are sunny as shit and catchy as crap and actually stretch his respectable repetoire without overreaching (for overreaching, see those drum loops). "Gypsy Biker" and "Livin' In the Future" satisfy the need for Bruce-rock without straining any muscles musically. Lyrically it's a different story, as he, respectively tries to pretend the last few years never happened, and that a savior will come back riding a motorcycle (not as cheesy as it sounds, but it really depends on how much you buy into Bruce mythmaking). "I'll Work For Your Love" actually sounds like it could be an outtake from Tracks and is the definition of unchallenging, but damn it if it doesn't sound great. "Devil's Arcade" officially ends the album on a moment of doubt and unease; unofficially ending the album, the hidden track "Terry's Song," for all its folksiness, creaks with a sadness and respect for his lost friend.

Yeah, I'm in the tank for Bruce; I don't think I've ever been anything less than upfront about this. Hell, I wrote a term paper about Springsteen in college (ah, state school). But I approach each new release with a bit of hesitation. This one really surprised me, especially after his last few solo albums. It really can't measure up to his better, earlier stuff, but it's a solid statement from a man who's earned his stripes, knows his legacy, and is kind of pissed at the way the world's turned out. In this world, "the profiteers on Jane Street sold your clothes and your shoes." His father tells him "You know the flag flying over the courthouse/ means certain things are set in stone/ Who we are, what we'll do, and what we won't" and its recounted nostalgically. Now "We don't measure the blood we've drawn anymore, we just stack the bodies outside the door." Back home, "the times they got too clear, so you removed all the mirrors/ Once the family felt secure, now no one's very sure." Framed by these sentiments, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" becomes less a Beach Boys homage, but an elegy for the small things in life and the romanticized simplicity of the past.

Can't say it'll change your life, but it's certainly a strong statement from a man who could rest on his legacy and play "Rosalita" five times a week to sold-out crowds. And if "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" doesn't lift your skirt, then you're dead inside. It's a scientific fact.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When I lived alone, is there a ghost in my house?

Three points:
1. No, I haven't downloaded In Rainbows. How much would I pay? 10,000 Schrute bucks, easy. I just... well, I haven't taken the plunge. I've been too busy falling for gimmicks like three cute English girls singing adorable girl group songs (i.e. The Pipettes).
2. The new Clarkson? Yes, I do like it. Probably a lot less challenging than In Rainbows, but can you practically hear Thom Yorke wrinkle his nose when singing about an ex? No. No you cannot.
3. The new Band of Horses: now we're tallking. Their first didn't set my world on fire, but I've grown to appreciate it. This one's not setting my world on fire but its at least setting off sparks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

And I hope your new man thinks of me when he sees what I number I did on you...

-Okkervil River: Love to a Monster
-Multiple artists covering songs from Automatic for the People (aka the greatest album EVER).
-And for the kids, an oldie and goodie: bear + trampoline + tranquilizer. That's where it's at.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Let fall your soft and swaying skirt. Let fall your shoes, let fall your shirt.

Sunday night, Rock N Roll Hotel. The Phillies had clinched the NL East title. I had just gotten back from a great night in New York. The roommate was kind enough to lend me her car. And Catherine was kind enough to give me an extra ticket to see Okkervil River and introduce me to obscene levels of DC bloggerati. So I had some momentum. But it was hot as nuts in there. I am telling you straight. As much as I love "So Come Back, I Am Waiting," its lurching lugubriousness (oh no he didn't - oh yes I did) forced me to concentrate on how everlovin' humid it was in there, including every drop of sweat and what sort of weird pattern said sweat was making on my shirt. I'm just saying - and I don't think I'm overstating my case here - a less couth blogga would say that it was like living under Jim Belushi's testicles. But I am not that uncouth. And I got through it.

Let's put aside my Irish adversion to any level of humidity, because that's not the point. Okkervil River put on one of the better shows I've seen recently. The more I listen to The Stage Names, the more I'm impressed by it, so let's just make it clear I'm a fan. Black Sheep Boy I like a lot, but here's the thing - I've always had this nagging impression that it sounded a little ramshackle. Nothing wrong with that. But seeing them live - they are absolutely crackerjack. Just a tight, tight band. Even if they were, as opener Damien Jurado said, depressed and tired, it really didn't show.

Someday I'll have to list the things that are indicative of a good show. I'll give you two from Sunday: I never looked at my watch and I danced. Just a little. But I moved the hips and shuffled my shoes. Which is Level 2 of my Dance Revolution. And that counts for something. Actually it counts for a lot; songs like "Unless It's Kicks" and "Black" had the power to move. And beyond that, slower songs like "A Girl in Port" (quickly becoming a favorite) were, to borrow a phrase, bonkers. I really can't put it better than that. If anything, "I Am Waiting" was the only momentum killer, but I honestly don't know if you can blame the band, and I know there were some people who loved it, heat aside. And this is after the band started with three songs that were not from the new album. Whichever way you slice it, and however romantic you want to be about it, it takes a lot of chicklets to not bring the new stuff to the table immediately. Of course, the crowd wouldn't and didn't care, and the reaction to the older songs in the encore bear that out.

And that's the last point: bravo to the crowd. These guys were here for the show and not the scene. It's nice to see that.

Listen here for yourself, and experience the magic/music of the night, sans Belushi's-testicle-level humidity.

And a couple additions to my top ten list:
- Jimmy Rollins (On what would happen if the Phillies win the pennant: "I don't know. A couple thousand more babies might be born.")
- Rice crackers from Trader Joe's
- Having the cash in hand to buy three albums today. It's really underrated pulling a regular paycheck.

Remind me, internet: I still have to tell you about the new New Pornographers, The Stage Names, new Springsteen, new PJ Harvey, the Wrens, and the Pipettes album. We'll see if I can come up with something that boils down to more than "It's awesome!"

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