Posts from 22nd October 2000

Oct 00

speaking of emo,

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speaking of emo, what the heck is emo anyway? does a great job of answering just that, with extensive chronology of the different styles, recommended records, and tongue-in-cheek emo fashion tips. very illuminating.

native nod – tangled

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native nod – tangled

more mid-90s adolescent angst, this time male and louder and played on guitars and dissonant. also one of the greatest guitar rock songs ever. beautifully pungent trebly chords are arrayed in triumphantly tragic progressions then left to swim through murk. the rhythm section beats a solemn tattoo, solemn through all the changes of time and tempo. a panicked voice bleats “i love you” in desperation. if emo is dead, let this be the memory that survives.

tori amos – crucify

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tori amos – crucify

sigh a skeleton of my own, i suppose (though maybe old r.e.m. would be more appropriate to the way tom used the term). or a ghost from my abject adolescence. or something. all i know is i heard it on the radio after not having heard in maybe a couple of years and swooned as helplessly as ever and if i’m going to stick up for boston and the pumpkins i might as well lay it all out.

this isn’t her best song, mind you. if i was to try to pick what is, i’d reveal my knowledge of under the pink more than you’d like. and i’m aware of the kate bush-imitation critique but that doesn’t mean i’ve put on the dreaming anytime recently. and nostalgia might provide an excuse for the weak but there must be a reason i got nostalgic in the first place right so

it’s not the lyrics. not in any semantic way, at least, and it never was. “delivery” would be much nearer the mark. kate bush’s voice is ‘stronger,’ conventionally at least, but i don’t plan to start listening to opera any time soon. the cracks and whispers and near-misses express in themselves, even if fragility is all they express. the ornaments on “chains” make the song — maybe because they’re somehow reminiscent of indian classical vocal ornaments (which my mom hears in morrissey’s melismas too –may well be something there) or maybe because they make sonic the search of some sort that the lyrics seem to be about from what i heard.

and make alluring as well — amos is after all a consummate miserabilist.

Garage Convert

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Garage Convert – The Observer interviews Wookie, who seems to be plugging his new album all over the place. The idea of him remixing American artists to promote the music in America brings up the fact that UK Garage is already making slight progress on the other side of the Atlantic. K-Ci and Jojo’s last single, while painfully cliched in its execution, couldn’t have been described as anything other than UK Garage. My new concern: will the name have to be changed to “UK Garridge” to avoid American pronunciation problems?

Adventures in Sound

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Adventures in Sound: very interesting looking music zine with articles and reviews ranging from Burt Bacharach to Z’Ev. I say “looking” because I don’t have time right now to give it the full checking-out it deserves. Maybe you do – link via Scrubbles.

JOHNNY CASH – “I See A Darkness” THE HANDSOME FAMILY – “The Dutchboy”

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JOHNNY CASH – “I See A Darkness”

You might hardly notice the most important difference between Will Oldham’s reading of his “I See A Darkness” and Johnny Cash’s new version. The song’s first line, “Well, you’re my friend” is followed in the Oldham recording by a ghostly backing parenthesis – “(That’s what you told me anyway)”. Cash allows no such ambiguity. So the song in its writer’s hands becomes a postcard from purgatory, a faltering cry for comfort and survival in a world where nothing can be taken on trust. And in Cash’s hands it’s something simpler, starker, and somehow more awful still: a straight choice between friendship and horror.

Cash sings like his voice could carve commandments on stone: a thrilling, humbling sound which does point up the weaknesses in Oldham’s typically tricksy, mock-antiquarian lyrics. “And its dreadful and position”? Cash simply sings it all anyway, saving his thunder for the chorus, letting you see the darkness too. Oldham as a songwriter has always played games with religion, and it’s tempting to open the metaphor bag and call Cash’s staggering performance here ‘Biblical’. But Cash is singing in and about a world abandoned by God, and what he’s singing is that in such a place every man creates his own Judgement Day. The song ends with the choice still unmade.

Where The Handsome Family come from, though, even such choices seem ridiculous. “The world is made up of milk and scissors”, they sing on “The Dutchboy”, and attempting to steer between the two, or influence them, is a fool’s pastime, as the Dutchboy comes to realise. The Handsome Family’s great strength is Rennie Sparks and her tender, nihilistic lyrics. Brett Sparks’ voice can’t always match up, though on “The Dutchboy” his gloomy, grave-born drone does its job well. And the guitars which crack the song in two, primitive and vengeful, drown him half out anyhow. Just as with Oldham, there’s a sense sometimes with the Handsome Family that they enjoy country and western as metaphysics as much as music, and their cleverness sometimes rubs their songs up the wrong way. But they’re also willing to be straightforward in a way he almost never is, and if Johnny Cash has another covers album in him he could do far worse than to start by looking here.

Outkast: Stankonia

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Outkast: Stankonia – heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Robin, getting excited about the new Outkast album, something I really ought to hear myself.

It’s Tricky! He’s a mentalist!

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It’s Tricky! He’s a mentalist!: interview with Mr. Thaws which contains much scary ranting, a few sensible bits, and one useful nugget of information, to wit that “Divine Comedy”, his most vicious 90s record, is seeing ‘proper’ release on a new EP.

A tale of two rock critics

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A tale of two rock critics: this is a good one. On the one hand you have Cameron Crowe, he of first rock-crit film biopic fame and youngest-staffer on Rolling Stone notoriety, telling the world about how absolutely cool it was to be hangin’ with Poco and the Allman Brothers in 1973. And then you get Charles Shaar Murray, Brit-crit veteran and 21 in ’73, pointing out that British hacks had more fun, were allowed to be rude, and that 1973 was a flatulent pig of a year, and that the Allman Brothers were rubbish, and that basically you can be the youngest, oldest, fattest, thinnest or hairiest music critic at Rolling Stone, but you’re still working for Rolling fucking Stone. But he says it all a bit more politely, obviously.