Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flora & fauna

Hitty Floating In Water, Dorothy Lathrop

Jacques - Plants and Animals

David Letterman has this regular segment (or used to) called Is This Anything? He and Paul Shaffer view a performance of some kind, generally acrobatic, usually involving noise, movement, color, misdirection, then deliberate on whether it's "something" or "nothing." The show's entertainment media-critiquing mechanism is deep rooted and as effective as anything on network television, so I probably don't need to highlight how these segments participate in an absurdist theater tradition or lend themselves to Dubordian spectacle discourse. Mostly, they're just funny in an utterly stupid way. But it's that "something and nothing" that occurred to me as I heard "Jacques" by Montreal's Plants and Animals--and how permeable the line between them is. As quivering acoustic guitar dissolves into a storm of orchestrated noise I'm thinking, oh, this is nothing.
I mean, yeah, the strumming gets louder and faster and denser and more saturated. But, nothing's happening. And then ... nothing becomes something. First a moan (a human voice!), then some scale ascension and percussive punches that blur into a mesmerizing groove. And what's this? A drunk electric guitar line emerges, drums come stumbling in and it's a party! But abruptly the party is interrupted. I'll let you hear what happens next. Maybe this isn't exactly something, but it's definitely not nothing.

From Plants and Animals.

Learning The Game - Buddy Holly
Learning The Game - Leo Kottke

Whenever someone says they're looking for a good dance track I'm tempted to sugesst "Rave On" or "Oh Boy." Not to be snotty or flaunt the fact that I'm (barely) conversant with pre-punk rock n' roll. But just cuz they're fun to dance to--at least as fun as they were 50 years ago. But then there are Buddy Holly's sentimental slow-dance numbers, with their crepey skin and unsightly age spots ... Which is probably why I originally overlooked the mid-tempo rocker "Learning The Game." As it so often does, it took a cover--Leo Kottke's--to get me to hear the lovely, natural chord progressions and appreciate sad, simple lines like "When she says that you're the only one she'll ever love/Then you find that you are not the one she's thinking of." Kottke's version is probably a little too maudlin, but the original is fab.

From The Buddy Holly Collection (US, UK) and Essential Leo Kottke (US, UK).

Point That Thing Somewhere Else - The Clean
Point That Thing Somewhere Else - Kinski

Oh, what the hell, we're already talking about covers. I told Jon a few weeks ago that if I ever finished my Clean post, it'd toll the death of this 'ere blog. That puppy's been languishing in the queue for about six months. And no, this isn't it. (Though God knows I'm tempted almost every day to quit and channel my energies toward more productive activities.) I'm just going to say a couple things. About Kinski's cover: So that's what he's saying! About the original: VU art & churn + punk energy & youth + pub rock enthusiasm + pop melody + one of the cheapest-sounding recordings you'll ever hear (lo-fi by necessity, not aesthetic) = glorious noise.

From Compilation (out of print) and Semaphore EP (iTunes).

Other voices:

Bethanne of Clever Titles Are So Last Summer is participating in Blogathon 2006, a pan-blogosphere event to raise money for the charity of the bloggers' choice. To participate, bloggers must post something every half hour for 24 hours straight. For those still counting on their fingers, that's 48 posts in one 24-hour period! Bethanne is getting a little help from guest posters, and of course she needs your help with pledge money, all of which goes to support Global Fund For Women.
The fun begins the evening of July 28. Make your pledge here, now.

Molars has an odd, ascerbic song from Powers, new band of an old Liars member.

William Bowers' Puritan Blister columns are always solid. To wit:

Up-to-the-moment research would analyze not industry hangers-on but anonymous broadband pirates vying in sad forums to be the first ones to "leak" a "rip" a release months before its quaint street date. These folks often mock Sudanese refugees by using the word "need," as in: "Oh man, I need that new Lambchop."

The Observer lists the 50 most influential albums.

My vote for mp3 blog post of the year. Be sure to click on NF's link back to Hype Machine. I want to keep my man in that site's top referrer list. A small victory for those of us who refuse to post aggregator bait.


Anonymous Boswell'sJohnson said...

Brillantly clear-eyed review of P&A's Jacques. I'm not sure it's something exactly but it is better than nothing. Maybe we should be asking 'Will It Float?'

7:23 PM  

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