May 31, 2007
the pbw summer sex issue
i saw this once. it took me seven hours to realize that turtles have shells and hence the top turtle was not “protecting” the bottom turtle
though i know i am white and young and entitled to, in a disturbingly large portion of the universe, allowed to gawk at r. kelly like he was some sort of schizoid, i sort of don’t, because, you know, i don’t really listen to all his records in the first place. i’ve been chewing on double up lately, though, because i wonder if i see anything in him other than the occasional punch line (though yeah, i subscribe to the position that–i’m paraphrasing john darnielle–”if you don’t think r. kelly thinks it’s funny to talk about how the ‘remix to ignition’ is actually the remix to ignition over the song itself, then you’re racist”).
r. kelly, did you write “sex planet” before neptune was tossed out as a planet? i’m curious.
incidentally, i like the idea of a sex planet, a lot, actually. it’s comforting.
other than that, i guess i feel a little bit inspired by how shameless he is on “leave your name,” and really like the bounce on “i’m a flirt”–auto-tuned vocals::t-pain as hair::samson–but, y’know, another summer, another r. kelly album, another gaggle of hip young kids saying “did you fucking hear the new r. kelly album yet–hilarious!” and mock grind-dancing and whatnot (i still only grind to julee cruise, “sleepwalking,” “i love how you love me,” and “donna” by richie valens on my warm brian mcknights).
except for “the zoo.” what we need more of is “the zoo.” “the zoo” is a song about doing it like animals do it, which is sort of an old trope, but a refreshing one, especially after wallowing in all-to-human psychodrama and all-too-human bullshit like “hanging out in bars” and “talking to girls” and “analytical thinking,” especially in the summer, even though i have pretty much gotten out of doing drugs that make me feel like i am actually a lizard. and i really have no problem admitting that the closest i have come to sex in the recent past is watching episodes of planet earth at four in the morning or eating an octopus. bird sex is violent and uninteresting, for the most part. ape sex…fine, i can handle it. turtle sex is uniformly great, which i think has more to do with turtles, who are in no particular rush.
i’ve been trying to disguise myself at the dog park lately, because i feel like the dog owners are on to the fact that i don’t actually own a dog and am just there to whistle “the zoo” to myself and watch the dogs carouse. favorite dog is one i’ve named TAILS, a sprightly creature that looks like a chihuahua wearing an enormous orange muff. tails has this thing where he’ll only hump dogs at least four times his size, and he really jackhammers in there, and the big dogs pretty much don’t notice, or notice a little less than a horse notices a fly.
this post is dedicated to r. kelly and tails, for inspiring pungent misanthropy and furthering my confidence in anti-social behavior.
please make sure to check out woebot’s new mix, which i’ve been enjoying a lot, and i think has a great conceit: sonic cousins to the panda bear album. calypso, new agey stuff, henry cow side projects, beach boys, van dyke parks–well-considered and quite fucking great. it almost makes me want to post my own summer mix.
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May 18, 2007
the feist thing: illogical, complicated, probably unsatisfactory
i am sorry, i didn’t even realize that there were a bunch of comments on the feist post. lots of you got marked as spam.
this post is dedicated to andy beta, who has–and i think he barely realizes this–gotten me into more music that i’ve come to love than almost any of my friends.
anyway, i think beta thinks that my feist crusade is, well, both a “crusade” and a headhunting, to the point that he pre-empted me with a wonderfully complicated post about his personal relationship to the album (nb: i have heard feist. i listened to let it die several times and even purchased it for relatives; i listened to a couple snippets of her new one, which, no, i have not heard in its entirety). further, beta calling me a “professional acquaintance” sorta begs the question of the possibility of us having this back-and-forth to begin with–we’re friends, which is why we’re bothering. right?
my beef with feist isn’t a beef with feist at all, as i told him in a marathon phone conversation a few weeks ago. it’s about the response to her music. it’s about the idea of feist, not as a person or even as a musician, but as a probably unwilling phenomenon. Results 1 - 10 of about 123,000 for feist “sophisticated”. (0.24 seconds). do i have a problem with sophistication? not inherently. i love steely dan, and my aunt and i bumped let it die b2b with katy lied last christmas. what.
ultimately, my reaction to feist–OR MORE, LET ME POSIT AN ABSTRACT: HER “FEISTNESS”–is as personal as beta’s passion for her. i mean, calling the stylus review a “backlash” seems like a devastatingly blind way to consider what is ostensibly a middling review. does liz’s stance that feist is more “corporate” than before constitute criticism? no, i don’t think so. but liz definitely seems to feel like feist used to walk an important line, and now the line’s gotten blurry, and now she seems less potent to liz. fine. these are all charged opinions skating around on the invisible concrete of value systems. did i like liz’s review? it was okay. maybe too aggressive. did i like the piece in the new yorker? it was okay. maybe too irrelevant. did i like the pitchfork review? it was okay. it leaned hard on fest’s self-sufficiency and abstracts when i feel like what we need regarding feist is more context–who listens to feist, who sounds like feist, where is feist on the musical map.
then again, we’re all revealing our biases here, which is fine. for me, lately, i’ve been depressed by the critical masquerading of adult-contemporary music as any sort of edge at all. i am 24 years old and grant myself this rebellion. i spent a long time trying to “like” “everything,” but have, as of late, found myself gravitating away–flying, really–from the kind of baby-powder, fresh-lacquered sounds that seem to have struck my generation into a fast middle-agedness. do i want feist to sell one billion records? sure. i want everyone to be rewarded for their hard work, which is partially why i’ve given up on communism. i would love to see feist as a happy, rich woman. would i get just this small twinge of disappointment though, if, stuck in among the billion, were some of my best friends, people whose tastes i’d grown up with, sipping riesling in some fresh socks? maybe.
and that’s my problem, people. maybe i’m bucking my inevitable aging. maybe i want a riesling and feist. maybe i don’t want to want a riesling and feist. maybe the fact that i cannot stop listening to dan deacon or epmd or stetsasonic or raymond scott is my last gasp of energy before a gentle, 60-year coma. maybe the fact that i am trying to focus my attention on quiet music with teeth–excepter, juana molina, robert ashley, the ghost box groups–is just a weird placeholder for my inevitable senility. weirder things have happened, e.g. the discovery that ducks have corkscrew-shaped penises. strange but true.
i am following something a lot more difficult to parse than critical opinion here, and so is beta, which i applaud. and i applaud his bravery for being frank about it. i just get the feeling that in the sea of wilcos, seas and cakes, feists, and all the other unweird indieness wafting out lately, that someone, somewhere is lying to themselves about their age. i have no problem with carole king or with my mom’s musical opinion. we can both listen to the del-vikings; she’s in it for nostalgia, i’m in it for the easy, optimistic weirdness that permeated records of her youth. but when my aunt and i listen to feist, we’re both just sprinkling lemon juice onto a salmon fillet, waiting patiently for the future, which could mean nothing at all.
also: someone interviewed me for salon about my emp paper. of this i am proud.
May 8, 2007
any even semi-regular reader of this blog may notice that i have an unquenchable thirst for THE MOUNTAIN GOATS. so instead of just letting myself scratch the itch in private, i’m starting a blog entirely about the mountain goats, which you can read here. i will write about one mountain goats song every day for the next thirty? sixty? ninety? days, i have no idea.
the only other thing inspiring me right now are my awesome slippers, weather reports–right now, at 4:34 pm est on 5/8/07, the forecast for gainesville, florida is “smoke”–and my awesome synthesizer, with which i am trying to outdo selected portions of the SUNROOF! discography.
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May 2, 2007
THE FIRST-EVER PBW POLL!!
your death, accelerated
to folks under the age of, say, 33 (sorry sages): what, if anything, do you like about canadian recording artist FEIST? now’s really the time for the randoms who read this page to come out and say something. this is really important. i’m doing field research. i have a thesis already. help deliver me from the burden of my assumptions.
April 24, 2007
extremely specific answers to very pertinent questions
go on, you deserve it
so i just got back from the emp pop conference, which was sort of like a combo summit, fashion show, and collective lecture for music nerds of a wide variety of glasses styles. i gave my paper on north korean pop and it was fine. well, i’ll say this: i was trying to be my “awkward, uncomfortable, twitchy, unfiltered, detail-obsessed, noisy, painful, blood-drawing” self, and instead earned one lone “haunting.”
highlights: former voice writer and decibel contributor and hospital janitor scott seward delivering a narrative about his appreciation for contemporary metal that spilled pretty much every shade of emotional resonance with CALM and PURPOSE; joshua clover talking about pop in the moment of the fall of the berlin wall. honestly. deeply inspiring. and i don’t say it without a reason. scott was personal, funny, and super-informative without scrambling to offer some sorta thesis or big picture per se–he made me realize that MAKING connections and FORCING them are really different things. it was a brain at work, but a brain refreshingly without a world-gripping agenda. joshua demonstrated that talking impressionistically about history isn’t a categorical joke-less drag. i got a breeze in my heart.
i also finally got to meet carl wilson, who was every bit as engaged, engaging, sharp, and human as i expected. we stood outside talking about notions of “location” in music–writing about it, specifically, but also relating to it. anyway, it occurred to me that a shift had taken place: i no longer desire infinity in its traditional, misleading costumes! i am growing up! let’s celebrate by bringing things extremely close to home; like, if you want to come over, just call me:
go get your copy of steely dan’s aja. position your five stereo speakers so three are on one side of a wall and two tweeters are on the other, facing away from the wall. then turn on your artificial dolby stereo splitting and skip to “peg.” you will discover michael macdonald’s backing vocal in one of the tweeters and i am not lying when i say it will change your life, quite possibly in an irrevocable way. i have been searching for metaphors for the past 12 days: warmed butter? gravelly butter? buttergravel? steaming chocolate fondue with a smoothed beach stone dipped in it? if you can’t do that all, skip to minute 6:21 in this. though really, nothing beats 7:20 am, a half-finished bowl of greek yogurt, leaning over an upright piano with your face to a tweeter to hear michael macdonald wrapping close harmonies with all the easy flair of god.
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April 13, 2007
post-easter bloggerina bleats RESURRECTION
paeanut butter worlds
oh good morning! i have been making the rests. doing the other little things at styhuts like here you go. i have also done a couple of things like burningly ambivalent reflections on billboard chart monsters and even my first thing on movies (you may have to register for this, but the oa is good people, and you really should read my friend and unruly half-mentor davey, writing on nashville hot chicken).
i’ve also started a new column thingy for profiles on stylus, with the first two being about Very Favorites marnie stern and max tundra. i also did one with john ryan from excepter, which is quite wily, and will be up soon.
blog needed breeze while i settled in, really. i’ve just been busy. and frankly, not listening to a lot of stuff i’ve needed to share–IF YOU HAVE NOT BOUGHT A ROBERT ASHLEY ALBUM SINCE MY LAST POST, I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG–just lying low and drinking hot blood-orange tea and refinishing my floor and working new, fun jobs. today i spent all my money–really, almost all of it–on this, which is to say not on records.
here is what i need to say about the last few months:
- i may have given up on contemporary commercial hip-hop (except for the unfortunate yet hilarious genesis of the new catchphrase, “he shouldn’t'a made it rain then,” especially given that the whole rainmaking thing got a guy’s spine wrecked; also, that new cathedral-burner by young buck–someone help me with a title)
- i may have realized a latent, burning passion for the history and aesthetic of old-school hip-hop (erick sermon listhping “and if it geths warm, take off tha hot sthweata” on “it’s my thing”; this astonishingly great and likely ubiquitous book)
- i may have crossed over to believing that the needling miniatures of early mountain goats records are just slightly better than his more recent stuff, as far as morsels of domestic strife and walloping epiphanies go (cf. “nine black poppies” to “dilaudid,” though both cause a certain volume of inadvertent pants-pissing)
- what is contemporary indie
- why does boring music
- what is guitar
- who is i’m from barcenlona and how much will you give me for my promotional disc
this post is dedicated to lily kane from brooklyn and not the lily kane from veronica mars and lindsey millar and ‘dru beta for putting the heat on.
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February 27, 2007
people keep telling me that the good, the bad & the queen is a ‘depressing’ record. but i’ve been given to fantasies about losing large quantities of blood, so it’s hard for me to gague. it’s stoner music without the fantasia. just massive fogs. as far as i can tell, few records in the past year have had more warmth and insularity to them. when the world ends you just walk around and everything’s fine i guess–more or less the feeling i’ve had since i’ve gotten back to new york. a special loneliness. it’s the suspended animation of non-horror: damon albarn et al are deaf to whatever crumbling’s going on, because they’ve still got light and streets and noise to greet. or get lost in. so, okay. blur used to write songs like this but they had a shred of hope nestled in; because they did–“coffee & tv”’s refrain of “oh, we could start over again”–a sunny thought would invariably get wedged in. there was an emotional dynamicism. the kinks were always too sharp-witted to cocede to vacancy. to notice shit you have to have your head up, but tg, tb & tq is blank-faced shoe-shuffling–with nothing at stake, wry brit sociology has finally petered out to the comforts of total disengagement. very modern.
other than that i’ve been pretty much immersed–really, totally obsessed with–70s new music composition. i’ve repped robert ashley enough here; what i hadn’t heard until recently was david behrman’s gloriously inert on the other ocean (even more white-label ‘celestial highways’ meditation-tape lubed than ashley, even) and the fairly brain-soldering leapday night, which has the uncanny feel of doing a shit-ton of very hot, very intent moving through warped trumpet lines and organ clusters, but not actually going much of anywhere. there’s always been a sun but leapday night has been a magnifying glass right above my brain.
elsewhere, gordon mumma and non-i am sitting in a room alvin lucier (particularly, the evasive moans of music on a long thin wire). every record on lovely seems like it could destroy my new new york life, still shaking off placenta.
February 20, 2007
this is a post about the david lynch movie INLAND EMPIRE (and i think the title is supposed to be in all caps)
so, a half-week back into the city and i went to see INLAND EMPIRE just like i promised myself i would.
i can’t really understand people saying it’s “not good” or, more specifically, that not only does the heavy symbolism and signage avoid falling into a readable lexicon to what seems like a taunting degree, but that, well, maybe he’s kinda gone too far in terms of the plotless nightmare shtick.
anyway, few movie experiences have moved me as much. moved me to the point that i was nearly in tears on the sidewalk afterward, not because i was saddened by INLAND EMPIRE but because i had stopped conceiving of experiencing life that was not watching INLAND EMPIRE; the world had become a completely disorienting place. and that sorta hits the spot, why i think that it’s a great movie in spite of the goofy use of the beck song and the graduation of plain ol’ mystery–which is parseable–to black coal incomprehensibility: it’s a completely immersive experience. not immersive because a plot drags you along, but because it seems so howlingly open-ended, like you could just keep watching these discrete pieces fall and never quite form a picture, or staring into one of the four faces laura dern makes over three fucking hours (all of which are more vulnerable, terrifying, and deeply magnetic than laura palmer at her worst).
furthermore, when you don’t really seem to have a narrative aim, horror can be heightened and protracted indefinitely, which is kinda what he does. dark hallways, long stretches of sonic dissonance (the IFC center got almost excruciatingly loud at times), but no catharsis in sight. well, one. and there were ebbs. but really, i ended up spending the last hour with my eyes half-shut. it’s a long, unbearable moan of a film, and it’s ultimately one that you just have to sit there with and feel. some might like it and some might not–and the characterization of lynch as a deeply emotion-oriented, instinctive director best experienced on those same terms is kinda a foregone conclusion. but if you’re on the fence about him (or maybe you’ve been on the fence since wild at heart or lost highway), i’d almost say that this is the one. probably isn’t playing anywhere anymore, but if it is, go sit, stop thinking, and discover your body three hours later–unbearably tight, frightened, somehow changed. two hours after leaving the theater, my phone rang and i almost fell out of my chair.
February 20, 2007
marnie stern is releasing a record of feverish, eerie noise-pop with lots of guitar finger-tapping today named after a famous shovel, which is only funny because it is digging my ears a new grave, right next to a wide, untended plot for max tundra’s mastered by guy at the exchange, the last record that made me want to break my own teeth just to make sure i wasn’t dreaming.
i’m still settling in & will be back to regular spouting soon.
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