Monday, November 06, 2006
DFSBP nod # 2
this one was kind of a no-brainer. so as is probably clear from the materials discussed here previously, i generally spend a lot of time listening to, writing about and playing nonpop music of all kinds of weird stripes. as far as the playing part goes, that's just sort of what i like to do; with the writing, though, i guess a lot of times i feel as if i should cover the esoteric stuff that interests me b/c if i don't, who will?
at the same time, though, i have absolutely no problem with the popular stuff; it's just that i don't really have a habit of staying on top of it. i've been learning a lot by taking cues from friends and collegues lately, though, and i feel like i'm getting a more complete picture of what's out there. for one, my friend Jesse made me a mix last week with, among other things, some songs from the new TV on the Radio, which i think is really creative and classy and nice to listen to. and i'm always rummaging through the iTunes folder of my fellow Time Out scribe Cristina Black, who has a really great and well-rounded grasp of what is going on in terms of music that has some form of mass popularity (this isn't a dis on CB's tastes at all; she knows about and enjoys way more than just pop, but she does also make it her business to stay on top of what's making waves).
aside from the Joanna Newsom CD, which i'm somewhat obsessed with at the moment, CB also recently led me to check out the Raconteurs, which as you probably know is Jack White's new band. i loved their single, "Steady as She Goes," the first time i heard it and i'm still playing it all the time and am thus bestowing upon in DFSBP nod #2.
it's a pretty simple, snappy rock song, but it is played with extreme class. the lyrics--"Your friends have shown a kink in the single life / You've had too much to think, now you need a wife"--are awesomely wicked, and the vocal performance is just badass, combining the best parts of Bowie and Plant and whoever else with maximum sass. [note: "You've had to much to think" is a pretty obvious pun, but i was just listening to a Beefheart song, "Ashtray Heart," with the exact same lyric. carry on...]
in the back of my mind, i've known that Jack White was a songwriting genius (i really loved "Seven Nation Army"), but i never really let myself admit it till this one. the thing that i think is so awesome about him is that he seems to be totally happy working within the three-minute pop idiom; he can follow all of the conventions of the form and still come across as subversive. (a lot of this has to with his image, of course) i love how in "Steady," the first verse consists of just one little couplet and then we're right into the sunny chorus; it's just so decadent--with so many other songs, this rush to the hook feels obligatory, but with this one, it just feels fun and right. i heard it on the radio today and it sounded so at home, yet so much better and more savvy than everything else that came on.
the video is honestly hilarious too, esp. how White just starts singing when the reporter asks him a question at the beginning. doesn't White, with the pale face and black mane, kind of look like Edward Scissorhands or some sort of Tim Burton creation? anyway, this is really a hell of a song and i want to go somewhere where i can hear it really really loud and dance to it.
yes, the Joanna Newsom album is completely enchanting. what is striking me at the moment is the HUGE amount of information presented--the words and musical ideas just keep flowing forth in a gush. even if not every image she chooses sticks, her vocabulary is somewhat astounding. i'm not sure i've never heard nine- and twelve-minute songs that are this gripping (at least the first three tracks; the burned copy i have has skips on numbers four and five). the first song is especially beautiful; it's got this sad, slow melody that seems like it could have been written in the Middle Ages. the vocal affection is definitely strange, but you sort of come to crave it if you listen long enough. listen for this crazy squeaking sound that she makes every so often (like right at the beginning of track four)--i can't imagine how she controls that.
so yeah, this one is probably going to end up on my top ten for the year (i know, i know... how illustrious!!!)
band plus Maya had a nice Polish dinner and viewing of "The Player" yesterday, which is easily one of my favorite movies. informal DFSBP nod to Dean Stockwell's performance, e.g., "Griffin, you move in mysterious ways [zigzags index fingers to indicate a state of bafflement], but I like it!"