Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ramblings’

Our President gives a speech tonight, blah blah blah. I’m watching it right now, and I gotta say, sorry Mr. President, but you have a real scene-stealer behind you.

I love this guy. I can’t even pay attention to what Obama is saying. I’ve heard it all before, but nothing changes. But there’s one thing that can still make me smile: Joe Biden. Watching him grin, clap, smirk, preen, swoon… I mean, really. He should have been the winker in that VP debate in ’08. Oh look, he winks too…

I think I should go back to paying attention… as in, adoring Joe, and wanting to pat Nancy on the head. She’s so earnest. I feel like she needs a little chirpy hug. Or one of Joe’s winks.

Read Full Post »

Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Godspeed You! Black Emperor being vague, or, you know, something like it

Without a doubt, the greatest 57 seconds in music is “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)”, with 57 being arbitrary, since the piece is actually 1:18, and that piece is actually just a fragment of “She Dreamt She Was A Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone In An Empty Field,” which is, in turn, just one of the movements in “Anthems,” the fourth song on Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s eternally something else album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Said album also has the greatest introduction to any album anywhere ever,  “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven…”

There’s no real point to this, but I just want to put it out there. I was listening to Do Make Say Think’s new album Other Truths, and all of a sudden I was very much, dude, I need something epic-and-more. Something which is going to not just space me out, but speak to all the nuttiness I feel after Capitalism. I loved Lift Your Skinny Fists when I was a young lass, and I can’t say my feelings of it have changed in the slightest. Ultimate point being, there can’t really be a way (I hope) for a human being to hear “Attention Mon Ami Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La (55-St. Laurent)” and not just feel something fucking huge.

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven

On a side note, Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one of the few bands where I’d like to meet the whole crew, though they haven’t recorded in ages and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. Still, there are not many other groups I’d really want to sit down and just listen to them bullshit or rant and rave. It’s not like I’d particularly like to pick their mind about the songs, but I just sorta like what they say (and don’t) and the explanations they give (or avoid giving at all). Plus, they named themselves after a Japanese documentary about bikers entitled God Speed You! Black Emperor. I don’t know, them, they just make sense to me. Yeah, that’s it.

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

from the film which gave the band the name which made all the songs which are super neat

And if I haven’t mentioned they have one of, if not The, greatest names for a band ever, let me say it: Godspeed You! Black Emperor has one of the greatest, if not The Greatest, name for a band. Ever.

Read Full Post »

Okay. So I am sort of a fan of Mandy Moore. As in, I inexplicably love her as a person despite, you know, not knowing her. Whatever, man.

mandymoore

I don’t know how it started. It wasn’t her early music, for sure. But I didn’t dislike her for it. I remember seeing her on tv from time to time and thinking to myself: “She seems like a sweetheart. I like this broad. I had better not tell anyone.” Of course, being myself, I told everyone. I went to see her films. I bought a cd. I listened to it occasionally. It was silly pop, but hey, I can make room for some of that in my life. So for years, unbeknownst to Ms. Moore herself, we shared a steady but slightly embarrassed relationship. I would get drunk and tell people I was a fan. I would go on lengthy talks about how I bet she was really cool to hang out with, and my theory that her earnestness might lead to her making a sort of decent album one day.  Friends had to listen me chat about how yeah, she did some cheesy movies, but she was always polite about it and self-deprecating and spoke about how she wanted to be a better artist. I would wake up in the morning and think: “Damn! I told people how I feel about Mandy again! I have to stop doing that!”

I need to point out that, despite my bizarre faith in Mandy Moore, I wasn’t under any illusions about some of the stuff she had done. I only saw the film How to Deal when my sister told me it was the most hilariously terrible film I would ever watch. She was right. Manos: the Hands of Fate and Troll II are certainly joyously bad, but much of the awfulness is because they are both (I don’t really know what to call them) sci-fi/fantasy/supposed horror films. They have a lot of room to be stupid. How to Deal tried to deal (ha!) with teen ‘problems’. Instead, Mandy Moore put her arms above her head at many points in the film, doing a weird swaying thing. I don’t know what it meant. God, Mandy, that swaying!! That fucking swaying, and those little turns!! Please, why, please, explain it to me. And! Alison Janey! I’m sad you were in that. Still.

Anyway, digression aside. Mandy Moore did things I wasn’t wild about, but I persisted in thinking she was going to do something pretty good one day. Then Mandy Moore did something which kinda broke my heart while also delighting me. She totally started dating Ryan Adams.

I Like This.

I Like This.

There were a whole lot of feelings I had about this. A) I love Ryan Adams. B) I like tall people. C) Mandy Moore seems like one of those really nice people who meets assholes and jerks and doesn’t feel a need to prove how morally superior she is to them, but just kinda smiles and makes the best of it. D) Does this mean Ryan is into dating tall people? Cos I’m as tall as she is. E) Why do I know how tall Mandy Moore is? F) Whatever, so I do. G) This is the only celebrity relationship I approve of. H) I hate celebrity relationships. I) I never want to know a single thing about their private relationship, because that is creepy J) All the same, I will feel devastated if they break up K) I probably shouldn’t live vicariously through this relationship L) Does this mean Mandy Moore will write a good album soon? M) I feel so proud of them both. Look at these two kids, growing up! N) I am getting old and sentimental.

Well, obviously a lot of those thoughts were silly (were they?) but L was actually rather on-point. Because this year she released Amanda Leigh, an album which is not bad. In fact, it is kind of okay. Okay to the point where I kinda listen to it more than occasionally. I wasn’t mad about Wild Hope. Wasn’t into that album of covers. I tried to like them because I could tell she was really trying to become a decent song-writer, but she wasn’t there yet.  On this new album though! There are some good songs on here!

‘Merrimack River’ is rather lovely. And ‘Pocket Philosopher’ is charming, holding itself back from unbearable perkiness. It makes me wanna restrain my own hyperness a bit and try to put some balanced rhythm in my walk. The album is pretty without being totally fucking boring. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly listenable. I still think she could benefit from going on-tour with Ryan Adams and getting really fucked up on stage every night, doing shots of whiskey and trying to figure out how to play the guitar while wobbling around. I feel that would be good for her as an artist. But that is probably why I am not a musician, and a poor blogger: because I like to have some beers and try to sing Ryan Adams songs before getting tired and watch Stella shorts. Still. Listen to me Mandy! Get drunk and tour the country! Yeah!!

Read Full Post »

Hell Yes

Hell Yes

This is the phenomenally lovely cover from an album entitled Wavering Radiant. The band is called Isis. They are not just any band, but a heavy metal band. Not just any heavy metal band, but a sludge heavy metal band.

…I must be honest.

I am not into metal. This sentence will never escape my mouth: “Hey, guys, I am so into sludge metal lately and I really need to hear some growling right now! Get something with deep screams and pounding drums!” It’s just, it’s not going to happen. I keep a pretty open mind and will listen to just about anything people suggest. Someone gave me a “power violence” cd once, and for about three minutes in the car we had a blast. Then my natural instincts kicked back up (or more drifted since they are too unaggressive to get rambunctious and dominate the scene) and inside I was all: “Hey, how about some ‘Gang Bang Suicide’ by Broken Social Scene?!” Yeah, that sounds wild!

That would definitely not be true. It is the antithesis of hardcore. It is spacey and marvelous and beautiful and it is not for people who don’t enjoy taking lots of naps (I do). So automatically: crazy-devoted. I will maybe think about going to one of the metal shows I’ve been asked to someday (I suspect it will include me saying things like: oh, this is unusual and No! of course I don’t wish I could find a place for a nice little catnap). But there’s no use pretending my attempts at being open-minded means I am in anyway knowledgeable about something like metal. I am too passive and I kinda hang out around Neptune.  I respect what they do because most metal artists, when I read about them, are fucking interesting and out there and way smart. Plus the metal dudes I’ve met are by far some of the calmest, sweetest, and most thoughtful people I’ve encountered; something which was only a surprise to me since I grew up with boys whose love for metal was only rivaled by their dedication to creating trouble, and occasionally being overprotective of nerdy young ladies (me!) down the street. Point: our musical tastes are just different.

So I saw the cover illustration above and went: “whoa! this is fucking fantastic art work to my untrained eye! I am wild about this!” Then I read the review and it was: Isis. Metal Band. Me: Oh. Huh. The album is entitled Wavering Radiant. Again: “fucking gorgeous, I love it!” But then… is that a joke? Is a title as dreamy as Wavering Radiant an attempt to have all the space cadets of the world flock to it and be suddenly “Oh… I was not prepared for so much howling.”  Am I too earnest to realize this could be some mild mockery of people who get starry-eyed and flock without thought to something with a word like ‘radiance’?

Because, man, some words do get me like a magnet (see ‘snort’. Ha, oh man!) My personal adoration for the word ‘radiance’ came into being when I was a young lass of 17 and encountered the band Athenaeum and their album Radiance.

These Guys Are Not Metal.

These Guys Are Not Metal.

Man, I loved them. My sister and I (who for the rest of the time I write this blog shall be referred to as SisterSister until I forget) drove down to North Carolina to see Athenaeum multiple times (not a short drive). It was not the coolest thing we could have done. Athenaeum was, well…. let’s say Gin Blossoms-esque. I haven’t listened to much Athenaeum for a while except ‘If Baby’s Gone’, a totally dreamy song that pretty much embodies radiance. While I have moved on from nearly all the music I first went nuts over (People born in New Jersey are born in love with Bruce Springsteen. It is a pure love we never leave behind), still, deep down, sitting very patiently and quietly next to my interest in spacey Icelandic music, is a pretty solid desire to listen to some lovely pop songs on a patio in North Carolina on a gorgeous evening.

So it’s strange to see a word like ‘radiance’, which is attached to a lot of shit for me, used by a band whose music I couldn’t associate less with the word. But I’m into this. We need words such as ‘beautiful’, ‘good’, and ‘light’ because they can refer to nonphysical Ideas as much as solid shit so perfectly; they also are such unspecific adjectives that people reach for them too often and the words become vague and meaningless.  ‘Radiance’ summons up a much more precise image while retaining the sort of superlative quality that ‘beautiful’ and ‘light’ bestow. Since I elected to become crazy-devoted to the word it seemed it’s usage increased (though I probably just noticed more). I worried it would get used up and worn-out since it’s pretty, evolving into an object of ridicule for people who despise the cheesy, the sentimental and the simplistic.

I think of heavy metal musicians being the sort of people who call out “bullshit” because they are good at detecting insincerity and big egos. They seem to take special aim at it. So I wondered if an album with what seemed to be quite a few guttoral ARGHHHs might not have been named Wavering Radiant cos they were feeling cheeky towards the people of the world who were all: radiant = mellow? Yeah! I don’t think this interpretation would be silly to someone who knew nothing about them:  Isis referred to this as their “pop” album. Excuse me, but I know me some pop songs gentlemen. I grew up with pop songs. Your songs are no pop songs. I would like to assure you that, to me, you will always absolutely be sludge metal. If you want to. Or not. Please, don’t sell yourself short, do what makes you happy. I just think you have way too many screaming riffs to create and howl around the world before anyone comes close to confusing your music with Justin Timberlake or Coldplay. I do not want to seem patronizing: I decided to learn a little bit about you. You guys are pretty fucking interesting. When I was thinking ‘radiant’ seemed a little out of place in a title by a metal band, I forgot that no one (except people with bizarre priorities) enjoys having themselves defined by others. Plus, it’s been quite a while since I’ve thought about metal. Let’s just say I’m rather out of touch about with that scene.

But Isis, I’ve grown. ‘Radiance’ doesn’t make me think of heavy metal? Who gives a shit! And I am not saying that because one of you was in a band called Agoraphobic Nosebleed, I promise (though that does give me sincerely warm feelings for you all). I have been won over by other winning traits: your complete unconcern for people who insist on defining and categorizing everything. The fact that you are influenced by the likes of Jorge Luis Borges and Jeremy Bentham. Your interest in creating narratives and themes for your album about women, water and the danger of mega-corporations and life in a surveillance society. Guys, I never want to see you live. It would be intriguing, but I’m fairly certain I would be kinda terrified. I listened to some of every song off this album. The title song was very pretty, and I am quite impressed by how you slid with ease from that ethereal piece into a sound which, personally, I wouldn’t quite describe in the same way.  Maybe I will listen to some more of your album one day if someone will hold my hand and tell me the sound of impending doom is intentional and I shouldn’t be hiding under my desk. But you know, I love what you’re doing though I can’t really listen to it. You’ve made an album that delights a lot of people. I like that this is, to you, your pop-ish album that needed a pretty cover and title. I appreciate that you are capable of moving between sounds and can pick and choose between them, cos I can’t move between all musical genres with such ease myself. So I think this is goodbye for us right now, but I really do think you are super.

So Isis is a sincerely weird band defying limits and genres: sweet. What I like best is how they use a word, one which doesn’t normally come up when talking about metal (dark slamming psychedelic guitars! mmm, i feel so peaceful and isn’t the light right now so beautiful), and their usage shakes it of all it’s tiredness and hands it back to the audience as something new. I fell in love with that word from a 90s alt-pop-rock band and it won my heart. Repetition began to dull it, and then Wavering Radiant recreated its potential. Now my subconscious will add ‘strange heavy metal group’ to the connotations I have with ‘radiance’, and I like that. A lot.

I’d like to make one more point which doesn’t have much to do with Isis or Athenaeum, though they got me thinking about all this. This is about how we all think and react to music in different ways. We all love stuff that we’re well-aware others can’t stand, have no interest in, or feel substantial sarcasm towards. I think this is a good opportunity to be honest from the get-go about secret passions. Sure, I can play The Replacements and the Rolling Stones and the YYY’s all night. I love to drive places shouting along to ‘Wolf Like Me’ and ‘Ceremony’ and do a half-dance, half-jumping out of the car thing. I get crazy-devoted and think about the genius of Broken Social Scene and KC Accidental and Do Make Say Think for hours straight. But there’s a part of me devoted to some shit I don’t really brag about. Like, a part of me which has a few drinks on Friday with SisterSister and ends up watching every Maxwell and Boyz II Men video, and not in the ironic too-cool-for-school-I-still-love-Motownphilly way. No, in the I must sing ‘Water Runs Dry’ from the bottom of my soul three times way. A part which wonders if the day will ever come when I hear ‘November Rain’ and actually get out of my car to run errands instead of circling the block till the song finishes (I LOVE ANTHEMS). Will I admit that Mr. Big is a cheesy hairband and it is time to get rid of their album (…albums? Don’t be silly, stop prowling around my room)? Of course not. What? I had an enormous crush on Steven Tyler? I don’t know what you’re talking about. No, I didn’t suggest we get silk pajamas and re-enact TLC’s ‘Creep’ video. That would be strange, leave me alone.

I’m talking about it because as much as I love listening to good music, and as much as I roll my eyes at myself when I’m listening to bad music, bad music makes people happy. It unites people when they find out they share a secret obsession, it reminds us that no one has perfect taste and we should tolerate other people’s passions with grace. People can share great songs, but the bond formed between two acquaintances when they realize they both love, oh, Dexter Freebish: that can create a real fucking friendship, because, no joke, you get that the other person has stuff they love they don’t share with the world too. It’s like when Vanilla Ice comes on at the beer and wine store and all the customers get disproportionately excited: they’re sharing something they love that is so bad and they can just chill out and be dorks together. It’s the best. When no one feels a need to prove how cool and awesome their taste is then people can sit down and get serious about how much they love ridiculous songs, and that is one of my favorite activities. I can’t help but sometimes feel I must let someone know how much I wish I was back in Houston driving on 59 out to Victoria with acres and acres of green grass and low trees…and singing ‘Fast Cars and Freedom’ by the Rascal Flatts with fucking passion.

So though there may be writings about social justice and good books, it’s so good to ramble and rave about shit that makes me happy, including the not-too-hip shit which isn’t always at the forefront of my mind, but is always waiting for me to remember it and go nuts for it all over again. There should be a place in the universe for people who love fine literature and get irrationally angry about Dan Brown’s writing style… and yet have Robbie Rob’s ‘In Time’ from Bill & Ted on their computer and listen to it more than sporadically. Bonus: no one can be too disappointed or frustrated with my ideas and writings, because, if you actually read all of this, you now know I have a soft spot for the Rascal Flatts. My judgment cannot be entirely trusted. It’s not all diamonds, in case My Favorite Moose didn’t clear that up.

This was a long post about how I liked an album cover and title. I need to drink less caffeine and study more.

Read Full Post »