Making loose the ends
Steel Scissors, Duane Keiser
Scissors - Barbara Manning
Walking Stick - Barbara Manning
Don't Let It Get You Down (Paul McCartney and Wings cover) - Barbara Manning
Wherein I make my annual plea on behalf of woefully neglected singer-songwriter Barbara Manning. Of all the musicians I've talked with after shows (not so many, but when I'm in a good mood and have a couple drinks in me, I get chatty), Manning is by far the sweetest. About 10 years ago, I caught her at the Empty Bottle and I've never seen anyone so visibly thrilled with her reception. Apparently, she and touring partner Chris Knox had played some other Midwestern burg the previous night to a sparse, indifferent audience. But that night in Chicago the house was packed and bubbling with goodwill. Manning praised my recently adopted hometown--nice, since I'd so often (and frequently since) heard the opposite about chilly Chicago hipster crowds. But the greater pleasure was watching such a fundamentally modest person unabashedly bask in the warmth of fans. Self-effacement, unfortunately, doesn't get you very far in the music world, even in (especially in?) independent rock. And thus she's been overshadowed by musicians who, I suppose, play the game better.
A couple recent events give me hope more folks will hear Manning and discover how wonderful she is. Rough Trade has included "Scissors" on its just-released Singer Songwriter, Vol. 1 collection (US, UK). And cool kids The Harvey Girls pay the song tribute on their new covers album (the free download also includes covers of The Flaming Lips, Bad Brains, Daniel Johnston, Blue Oyster Cult (!) and Billy Idol (!!)).
While you're investigating Barbara Manning's back catalogue (Amazon: US, UK), consider also these yummy records just released: The Knife's Silent Shout (US, UK) finally made it to the U.S., as did Archie Bronson Outfit's Derdang Derdang (US, UK) and Scritti Politti's White Bread Black Beer (US, UK). I'm enjoying Headlights' glossy waves of synths in Kill Them With Kindness (eMusic) and am still mulling over White Whale's WWI (US, UK). (I think I like it, but this one could go either way.)
Words Make You Tired - Headlights
We're Just Temporary Ma'am - White Whale
The album that's really got me giddy, though, is Tap Tap's Lanzafame from Catbirdseat Records (offshoot of the blog). Like Figurines, or perhaps Wolf Parade without the keyboards, it's well-written, impish garage pop. I ordered the special limited edition of the CD (bound in my favorite color, green) and it's gorgeous. Plus, there's a bonus disk.
Come On Feet - Tap Tap
So um, this is just to say. . . I'm about to break for a week or so to think hard about what I'm doing here. I'm a long-time and devout worshipper at the altar of fruitless endeavors. People who know me well might even say (behind my back, of course) that I'm dilettante. And for the record, I don't disagree. But lately this has felt even more than usual like meaninglessness. And more an obligation--even a source of irritation--than a pleasure. As obsessive as I become about hobbies and as often as I lose perspective when I'm thigh-deep in a project, even I realize a blog shouldn't be making me bitter. So it's time to try to recharge.
Yeah, I think these kinds of posts are lame, too. Whiners suck. So do quitters. But I dislike it even more when blogs I frequent take off for several weeks without so much as a see ya. So this is for you terribly kind souls who come round here regularly and indulge me for some damn reason: See ya. Soonish.
Feeling So Good (Skooby Doo) - The Archies