Friday, June 17, 2005

Listen! Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen!!!

Friday. What goes better with the feeling of knowing that you are about to take a brief, yet sweet, sweet respite from your job/education/whatever the hell else one would be doing than music?

Nothing. Which is why I asked Jed what he thought about my doing a regular post on Fridays where I can take all my musical obsessions and channel them in a helpful way. I can't fly across the country to come to the record store with you so I thought this would be the next best thing.

I kind of like themes. It's weird, but I do...so most of these bands that I talk about every post will most likely be connected in some way. Unless I get lazy, or I'm feeling uninspired. Then it's grab bag time.

Anyhow, this week's installment deals with bands/albums that have at least a twist of twang; not neccesarily overtly country, but that will possibly invoke that mindset. So without further ado...



Neko Case: Blacklisted

Anyone who's been reading the comments this week has most likely heard me extolling the virtues of Ms. Case. This is probably my favorite of her albums thus far. Explaining her voice to one who has never heard it is difficult, but the best reference I can give is Patsy Cline, but even that doesn't quite do it. There is a certain sultry, sexy element that is subtle, but still manages to give you goosebumps when you hear it. She is far more in league with the ladies in the Golden Age of Country as opposed to some of the prefabricated, slick as hell Real Dolls who two-step across CMT in designer clothes. There is a palpable soul that underlines this work, which is only improved by the backing instrumentation of Joey Burns and John Convertino from the Tucson collective Calexico. This is as deep and noir as this genre is liable to get, and there is atmosphere to burn.

Key Tracks: Deep Red Bells, Pretty Girls, Blacklisted, and a stunning cover of Aretha Franklin's Running Out of Fools






Calexico: The Black Light

I thought I would now would be a good time to talk about Calexico, as I just mentioned them while talking about Neko. Critics love to talk about the Ennio Morricone influence on Calexico for what I surmise to be two reasons. The first is that Morricone(Italian Composer/minor deity) had a deft hand in creating tense moody atmospheres in his many scores. The second, and more obvious connection is the one that Morricone has with the Western genre, having most notably scored the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In general, the duo turn out an almost 50/50 mix of instrumentals and songs with vocals, augmented by sparse, twangy instrumentation that brings in everything from Mariachi horns to pedal steels to twinges of surf guitar. The pair's tunes, especially here on The Black Light, are extremely cinematic. I challenge anyone to not picture some anti-hero driving a boat of an classic American convertible through a dusty, desert Lynchian nightmare. I dare you.

I should also mention that on one of their recent EPs, Convict Pool, they did a great cover of Love's "Alone Again Or".

Key Tracks: The Ride Part II, Missing






Mojave 3: Ask Me Tomorrow

In keeping with the lonely desert theme, I thought we'd move along to the band Mojave 3. From the ashes of the seminal shoegazer band Slowdive, members Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell rose to form Mojave 3. Moving in an unexpected direction, the very British band decided to embrace their love of Americana, mixing it with some of the hazy, dreamy feel that was prevalent in their work with Slowdive. One aspect of this band that I enjoy, is the switching of lead singing duties between Halstead and Goswell, and how both harmonize so beautifully regardless of who is taking the reins for a particular song. Goswell's shimmering, gossamer vocals stand out in particular, as they are reminiscent of another favorite singer, Hope Sandoval from the slightly similar band Mazzy Star. This is a record that evokes thoughts of swirling sand, purple-orange sunsets, and lost and/or unrequited love. It is a great album for a sad cocktail alone, or curling up in the fetal postition. Whatever floats your proverbial dinghy...

Key Tracks: Love Songs On The Radio, After All, Tomorrow's Taken



Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker

Ok, I have a confession to make...I am indifferent to Ryan Adams. It's true. My friends up here love him. A lot. I find myself frequently annoyed at some of his diva antics, and the ridiculous revolving door of musician/actress girlfriends. I think the man has talent, but he's never done anything that made me really stand up and take notice.

Except...


His solo album Heartbreaker. Ryan recorded this back when I felt he had a little more grit, spit and country to him. These are songs with emotional heft and weight sung by a man who sounds as though he has lived every aching syllable that he is singing. It's very easy for one to find themselves caught up in the sweet thrall of his turmoil and pathos, and the whole package is interestingly counterbalanced by the fact he is working with artists Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who usually take a more traditionalist stance. The whole affair smolders like a heart that has been used as an ashtray for the thousandth time, and listening to this record allows me to look through the cloud of hype to see a young, capable songwriter in his prime committing himself to some of the best material of his career.

I guess that's it for this edition of the column which is not yet named. Maybe that will happen next week. I've learned a lot doing this first one, such as be damn careful with drafts, and that I'm not so sure I like the theme thing as well as I thought I would.

In any case, if you have a particular genre you'd like to hear something new in, or you are looking for something brand new in particular, let me know and I'll try to cover it. I love a challenge.





84 comments:

Damfino said...

Holy Jezus Kern!

First, urnotme, can you download whatever you can find on these discs - we can take a listen and respond.

Second, Kern - you have such a way with words man. Bravo! I hope you are still writing.

Third, what are you doing telling everyone where your title post came from. Never give up the movie... always test the water to see how interesting the readers are.

I loved seeing that title post on this page... this is so cool!!!

Thanks man,

Damfino

Damfino said...

Also really jazzed to hear the Calexico record.. Love Morricone's work (Once Upon a Time in America!!!).

Wish I would have had something like this while reading the Dark Tower series.

Kern said...

Oh Christ! I went in to edit something, and I botched the whole bloody thing!!!

Kern said...

There isn't some master index where the correct version of this would be stored perhaps?

Kern said...

Hmm...dammit. I may or may not be able to rebuild it, but I don't think it would be until Sunday Night or Monday, because I have to go to my parent's house this weekend. If I have some time this afternoon I'll give it another shot. But it's probably not going to be nearly as good as before.

I'll get this thing down yet...

urnotme said...

All I see is neko case
good stuff
have 20 downloaded damfino...

Kern said...

Hey all. I am rewriting furiously as we speak. There will be more. Check back soon.

krysta jo said...

Checked out some clips of Neko --- Incredibly good.

Damfino said...

I am confused... what is missing?

Keep downloading urnotme...

Kern said...

I kicked a lot of ass and rewrote 3/4 of it. Just finished actually. If you reread, the text is different than it was this morning, as my mistake deleted everything past Neko's pic.

KJ-Glad you dig it. I was just listening to her album The Tigers Have Spoken this morning. That's the live album, and it's awesome.

Kern said...

Jed-Also note that I removed the film reference at the end so that others may guess.

Damfino said...

WICKED!!!!

Kern said...

I think I may just keep that as the column title, actually...

Kern said...

Urnotme-What all have you found so far?

Damfino said...

I think he is off playing... man - no one is around today.

Kern said...

That bums me out. It's been a ghost town the last couple of days.

I feel so withdrawn...

krysta jo said...

I'm here!!!

krysta jo said...

Talk to me. Please.

Damfino said...

I wanna go home... it is too nice outside. Went riding to the library last night... came home with Sedaris' "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and Keroac's "On the Road."

I am an illiterate fool... so forgive my simple tastes in reading.

No more Richard Ford to speak of.


Gonna see Batman again on Saturday night - you Kern?

Kern said...

Well, I want to see it, but it won't be this weekend. I have to go to the parent's house. 7th wheel and all that.

I'm also wanting to catch High Tension before it gallops out of here. I'm having a small crisis buying a digital camera right now as well.

KJ-How are you today?

krysta jo said...

I am doing good - I am staying around until dinner time because I have crappy amounts of homework to do before Monday and I want to enjoy my weekend.

Things are going well though - I am going home to the farm tomorrow and then going to see my friend play the part of a prostitute at the Des Moines Community Theater. You can't be that!!!

Oh and my mama is bringing home 7 bottles of wine from Upstate New York. You can't beat that!

Kern said...

I bought some books the other day, speaking of books. I bought The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, and a book of Updike short stories, and Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude.

I've only finished The Grifters so far, which was a fun, pulpy read. I began the Updike yesterday on the bus and read the first story, which was not one of his better ones.

I haven't read On The Road, so don't feel too badly. I read Ford's The Sportswriter a few months ago, and it was solid, but not stellar. It was certainly no Rock Springs.

Kern said...

KJ-Wine and fake hookers all in one weekend? Awesome!

krysta jo said...

I am still attempting to finish Gone with the Wind. We are looking at possibly next week and then I can finally watch the movie.

krysta jo said...

I am a party. Let me tell you!

Kern said...

You know, I think my column came out better the second time, actually. I was worried it would be worse, but I think rewriting actually made it far better.

Jed, I have that Calexico album. I can bring you a copy if you want. I have the idea that I don't want to recommend anything on the site that I don't actually own and listen to.

Kern said...

KJ-Stats class getting any less awful?

krysta jo said...

You can't recommend something you haven't tried. That's for sure.

Stats class totally ROCKS my pathetic life. No wait...nevermind. Let's see..here are the top 10 reasons I hate Stats 401.

10. It's super duper easy (boring)
9. It has no relevance in my life (yet)
8. The professor is a dink
7. My non-friend Romeo won't shut up
6. The half-finger keeps my attention diverted from the subject
5. The TA has no idea how to use the software she is teaching us
4. The prof assigns homework he hasn't lectured about
3. There are quizzes every Thursday
2. The first exam is July 5 (hangover central)
1. It's summer and I should be out rendezvous-ing

Kern said...

Wow. Those are pretty sound reasons. The prof did sound like a bit of a wanker. The half finger guy is in that class? Hmm...

And who is Romeo?

Damfino said...

You mentioned the Sportswriter before... mehaps I should read it.

Also, I am working through the entire run of Alias... then the Pulse.

GWTW - I would never suffer through the Mitchell... love Gable and Leigh too much.

Why is the weekend not here yet?

By the way - I heard High Tension is terrible.

krysta jo said...

The book is fabulous - it's just an incredibly slow read which is frustrating me beyond words.

Romeo is a guy from Brazil who was in one of my classes in the spring. He's supposedly getting a PhD in painting (what??) and he doesn't believe in exams so he wasted 45-50 minutes one night arguing with the professor (in spring class) about the exams and how he thought they were not necessary. I thoroughly agree, but at that point, the prof has already made the exam so much easier than writing a paper. I promptly told Romeo that he still had a week to drop the class. We didn't see him after that. I got an A in that class - coincidence? I think not.

Yes...half-finger is in my class and when he raises his hand to answer a question, I can't help but stare. I have problems...

Kern said...

Are you talking about Bendis' Alias? It's awesome. The Pulse, is not so awesome, in my opinion.

The Sportswriter is ok. I only read it so I could read Independence Day which is the Pulitzer Prize winning sequel. But it's been so long I would have to read it again. D'oh!

If you want more Ford, I'll bring my copy of A Multitude of Sins. More short story goodness, which I think is Ford's strong suit.

I have heard High Tension was kind of fun. I don't know. There was something else coming out around here I wanted to see too, but I don't remember. I'm kind of out of the loop on current stuff.

I did watch Jacques Becker's Touchez Pas Au Grisbi the other day. Even an aging Jean Gabin kicks ass!

Damfino said...

You lost me at Jacques....

Bendis's Alias - finished Ultimate Spidey (Jer does not have all of the Powers books).

I am out of the film loop as well - out of everything.

Especially this half finger ordeal... but then sometimes ignorance is bliss.

krysta jo said...

Half-finger...

Went on three dates with the guy. Did not realize that he was missing half a finger. Then I couldn't stop staring. Decided it was going no where. Now he appears in my Stats class. Fun times for princess krysta jo.

Kern said...

Hmm...we'll have to have a tete a tete about French film when I make the scene. Powers is sweet candy.

Be back in an hour, going to drink yet more decaf with an ex-coworker.

Damfino said...

Three dates with a guy who has a half finger.... where are you shopping girl?

See ya Kern, I will be sneaking off soon - too nice for me outside.

Yo

krysta jo said...

You two totally stink. I want to bust out of here.

I am done shopping around for guys. It doesn't work out like you expect - you wind up with guys who have problems. Though I think the latest conquest may turn out to be ok.

Damfino said...

Dan is the man!

Good catch.

krysta jo said...

I'm pretty proud of my princess-ness. :)

Kern said...

As well you should be. If it makes you feel any better, I had to come back to the office and I'll be here until 5. Blah!

krysta jo said...

I am here til 5 but staying afterward to do homework. Have to be out of here by 7 though.

Kern said...

God, it's nice here. It's not too hot, and it's sunny. I think it's about 71 degrees and sunny. With a light breeze. What's the weather like there?

krysta jo said...

Same but warmer - I think it's probably over 80. I don't know though because I haven't been outside since I walked over from my wonderful class at 10 a.m. But I can see the sunshine on my face and it's making me want to take a little nap.

Kern said...

I'm in a file room with no windows.

And I ain't seen the sunlight since I don't know when, stuck in File Room prison, I know I can't be free...

krysta jo said...

Oh my ... I have visions of you in Office Space...

Kern said...

"I notice you've been missing a lot of work lately."

"Well, I wouldn't say I've been...missing it."

krysta jo said...

HAHAHAH I love that movie

Kern said...

Mmmm, yeaaaah. I'm going to have to ask you to come in this weekend. Yeaaaaaah...

krysta jo said...

Do you have those TPS reports?

Kern said...

I read somewhere that TPS stands for "This Place Sucks". Even if it doesn't, that's awesome...

urnotme said...

Sweeeeet. Office Space. Okay, I am now ready for some good tunes. Here goes....

urnotme said...

Oh Krysta before I listen I wanted to give ya a tip. I'm not sure if you're the type of girl that's way in to purses or not, but there's this new place in Des Moines called La La Handbags that's really worth checking out. Some chicks from my work were telling me about it and I just stopped in there today and picked up a Gucci knockoff for my wife for $30!! Very good deals and the place is really catching a buzz around here. So if your in to them let me know and I'll give you directions and if you're not then forget I said anything.

urnotme said...

Ooh. I just read that and it sounds incredibly awful. A little flamey considering I'm a man and I'm talking about purses and a little sexist with the use of "chicks". My bad. Oh well.

krysta jo said...

urnotme (are you afraid of letting your real identity out??)...you may possibly be my new favorite person. I love purses and they make great gifts for all my fashion-loving friends!!!

Definitely send on the directions!

Kern said...

Urnotme, were you able to find any of the other tunes to download besides the Neko?

La Bona said...

What is your view on ABORTION?

While Muslims and Catholics even regard contraceptive evil, Would you like to know what do most people think of these religious taboo?

See it from the divine perspective ... http://divinetalk.blogspot.com/

urnotme said...

No I don't think I'd like to know what most people think of these religious taboos. Thanks though.

Kern said...

I have a feeling somewhere Eddie Lampert is having a good chuckle...

So true, so true.

krysta jo said...

Yeah that was a random post - maybe she should read the randomly dirty word post...

urnotme said...

Fist of all. Are you serious about my real identity? Because you know who I am. Or wait is that sarcasm? Damn that was hard for me to pick up-I'm losing it today. But yeah I'm using Holly as my beard and it seems it's not working. Kern- I just used your link for Calexico. Now there were 3 of them, but they were only 10 seconds long. It's kind of hard to judge by that, but I seriously liked the latin flavor. Makes me feel like a burrito. Anyway I'm absolutely going to download some of their songs. Now on to the next band!

Kern said...

Ha ha. That would be awesome. Just post a link in the thread over there with all the dirty business in it.

That'll teach those bloody spammers!

Kern said...

Urnotme-Right on! If you like Calexico, I will probably burn Jed a copy of The Black Light when I come back. You guys should keep a tally and I can just knock them all out at once when I go to burn discs.

krysta jo said...

I was being sarcastic silly. Sorry you missed that. It's the end of the day - my humor is running flat. Thank you Statistics homework for sucking the life out of me.

I feel like an enchilada.

Kern said...

Urnotme, I forgot to mention...if you want to hear longer individual clips, go to the speaker next to each song, and I think those clips are 30 seconds each. That might help give you a better picture of what they sound like.

urnotme said...

Fffuuwhhhh........cough couch cuuhhh....yeah that was me taking a hit from my blunt I had to roll while listening to Mojave3. Holy crap. My mother's birthday celebration in less than two hours where's the damn Visine. Again it's really hard to judge with only 30 seconds, but that was some seriously depressing shit! I'm not so sure on them. I need more before I make a committment. But Kern you are absolutely right they do remind one of Mazzy Star. I may have to dust off the old Fade into you album. Alright on to the next!

Kern said...

I feel like a chimichanga...

Fried.

krysta jo said...

I feel like a quesadilla.

urnotme said...

La Bona? Is that a latin porn star name?

By the way- I just learned that Ron Jeremy's nickname is the Hedgehog! Weird.

urnotme said...

I just noticed Neko Case and Calexico do a song together. Did you know that?

Kern said...

Yeah, I tried to warn everyone that Mojave 3 is a little maudlin. I think it's beautiful, but I really have to be in the right mood. I find it's good music for being rejected by girls and things of that nature. Good music to wallow in self pity to.

Kern said...

Yeah, in the article I mention them backing her up on Blacklisted, which is why I thought it would be cool to talk about them right after that.

Kern said...

Hmm...can I begin any more posts with the word "yeah"?

urnotme said...

Seriously. I'm an idiot. Of course the speakers next to the song (hand smack to forehead). jeez. Ok I just listend to a few of Bryan Adams. Man that summer of 69 is really really cool.
What?
Ryan Adams?
Ohhhhhhhh
Yeha so I've heard this guy before. I didn't really like him, but you say this is his first by himself? Before the band or something? That's cool. These few that I listened to are much better than the garbage I heard a few years ago. I will faithfully download this album.

urnotme said...

So, listening friday is over. You made some really interesting choices that turned out to be pretty cool. I need more time for examination though. Then I'll have to burn for Jed so he can too. Kern- at least you didn't use Yeha like I did. You're going to have to seriously bring your whole collection down. Rent a Uhaul or something.

Directions for manly purses. La La Handbags is on Douglas and I think 44th. Right across the street from Tasty Tacos which is far and away the best place ever for real tacos. (Is this blog going spanish or what? Monday it'll be Damfinoblogo) The store is on the North side of the street in a little dive building. It's smaller than a jail cell so come clean or be ready to be talked about.
I am out.

krysta jo said...

Thank you!!! I cannot wait to go down there and touch all the purses. It's a sick addiction.

urnotme said...

Sure no problem. In fact your probably coming from Ames so if you take the interstate down get off on Merle Hay and drive that south until you get to douglas and take that east and it'll be on the left(north) within a few minutes of driving.

Hey It's better than going to Victoria's secret and touching the models

krysta jo said...

FUNNY!!! I can almost picture you doing that.

Thanks for the tip - that'll be much easier than fighting crappy 235.

urnotme said...

Yeah now I can't go two of the four malls here. What a burden.

krysta jo said...

There's a VS in Ames if you ever get the urge. It's a crap-tastic mall so you won't be missing much if you get kicked out.

urnotme said...

Yeah that mall sucks. Thanks though.

See ya all folks have a great weekend.

Out.

Kern said...

Well, in case everyone leaves all of sudden, good talking to you all. It's more fun than working.

Also, one note about Ryan...I have been unimpressed by nearly everything he's done except Heartbreaker. There are a few nuggets here and there I liked. But, overall I'm not really with it, which is why you can trust me when I say Heartbreaker is good.

Some Ryan fans are so fervent, they think he could take a crap on record and it would be brilliant, so it's hard to trust their judgement on grading his records. As someone who could give a damn, for me to like it means that it probably isn't bad.

Are you finding whole albums or just pieces? If just pieces, I'll burn the whole records for you guys.

urnotme said...

Yeah, so I'm finding only pieces of albums for Calexico and Neko Case, but have almost completed the downloading of Heartbreaker. The few tracks that I have heard from calexico and Neko were in my opinion just ok. Calexico ended up being just too slow for me. Neko Case was better, but I think I need to hear an album all the way through before I can be absolute on my opinion. I really like her songs that sound like Mazzy Star, but then I feel like I should just listen to Mazzy's records. I don't know. I'm still open. The songs that I have heard from Heartbreaker have been really good. I'm more of a guitar driven listener which is probably why my fav's are The White Stripes, Nirvana and such. Although I have been getting into Jazz since I saw my step sister play bass in her jazz band. I thought the drumming was phenomenal so I've been downloading all kinds of recomendations from the all about jazz website.
One more thing: I stumbled on to Bright Eyes new album I'm Wide Awake, It's morning and from what I've heard so far it's amazingly good songwriting.

urnotme said...

Just to clear it up: I have been drinking.
That should hopefully explain my rambling.

out

urnotme said...

I'm beautiful