Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One and two and

Image: Erika Giovanna Klein

You Earn Your Enemies (Tower Song) - Un Deux Trois

Un Deux Trois is a trio of course. But "You Earn Your Enemies" is a duet of vivid clanging guitar and hissing/thumping drums -- a rough, gentle, clumsy, graceful pas de deux of faith and disappointment, praise, (but mostly) reproach. Its title is withering and just a little self-righteous. You would be too if you'd stood still and solid as a tower while your errant lover romped across the countryside quaffing whiskey and collecting bodies and other souvenirs. Yet Heather McEntire never sings cold or bitter; her tongue sustains notes like orange embers. And I nominate the backing ahs ahs in a best supporting role (not sure if that too is McEntire or Maria Albani, the band's late addition). They coax the lead with courage, courage, like some Ronette or Shangri-La or Go-Go who wandered off and into 2007, into a fun, fresh-faced Chapel Hill, NC indie pop band.

Un Deux Trois's Lovers EP will be released on March 7 on Holidays For Quince Records. The band plays multiple Carolina dates with the Rosebuds in March. And you should visit their Myspace to hear "Janice Says."

Noel, Jonah & Me - The Spinanes

I bought The Spinanes' Manos (Amazon, iTunes) the same day Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was released.
I'd been waiting, waiting, waiting for CRCR, but Manos was more of an impulse buy; I'd seen the video for "Noel, Jonah and Me" on 120 Minutes (which I still, weirdly enough, feel embarrassed to admit because in 1994, indie kids with any shred of cred didn't cop to watching MTV) and I couldn't get the song out of my head. A three-and-a-half minute blast of noisy, sweet-snarling pop, the song shouldn't be as good as it. The Spinanes were a duo -- Rebecca Gates on guitar/vocals and Scott Plouf on drums -- and in my experience, most guitar/drums duos are object lessons in the indispensibility of bass guitars to rock combos' satisfying dynamic range, texture and timing. But a bass only would have held the self-taught Gates back. She somehow coaxes a wonderfully infectious melody and a wobbly, growling rhythm out of her guitar. It's confident and blustery, as if no one ever explained that she's playing it wrong (not that she would care). And Gates sings with the same sangfroid, with a kind of dreamy, worn-in alto that suddenly becomes sad-sounding and vulnerable when her vocals are double-tracked on the second verse. For some reason, "I'm a square," gets me every time. Which reminds me, I've never been quite certain of the song's lyrics until I just now searched for them. I still have no idea who Noel or Jonah are, but I will love a song with phrases like "screeching fear" and "creeping complications." Fear, at its most inhibiting, is indeed a muffled screech and complications almost always walk on the balls of their feet. So yes.

When I took my merchandise to the register that February day 13 years ago, the same unfriendly dude who, I swear to God, has and always will work in every independent record store in America offered a small sniff for the Pavement. I'm sure he'd sold 100 copies already and if you were really cool, you were over Pavement the week after Slanted and Enchanted came out. But when I handed him the Spinanes, his tight indifference cracked into a smile and he wagged his finger at the plastic box, "This, this is great," and then he started gushing about Rebecca Gates and the time he had seen the Spinanes play and what an amazing opening track "Entire" was and ... once he started talking he wasn't going to stop. I might have walked out without paying.

Ok, unrelated to either of the preceding scrappy, minimalist gems, but in honor of the Hallmark holiday tomorrow today: red paper hearts, purple eyeshadow and a handful of glitter. One of my favorite songs of last year:

Valentine - The Delays

From You See Colours (Amazon).


Blogger C. said...


your encounter with record store clerk Pavement snobbery reminds me of a Usenet music board I was on in '94-'95--when CRCR came out, the response was almost unanimous: "This is crap--Pavement is so over!!--what a sell out, worse than REM, etc." Then, weirdly, a few years later, CRCR and especially Wowee Zowee got canonized by the same hipsters, who went on to hate the late '90s Pavement records.

10:07 AM  
Blogger dominic said...

i went to school in indiana from 92-96, and i made a few trips to chicago even though i didn't have a car (god bless the south bend-south shore rail line). i only made it to the legendary lounge ax once before it closed (stupid 21+ laws), but the one time i went i saw the spinanes and it was amazing. there's a review of the show here:

i couldn't understand how the spinanes weren't one of the biggest bands on the planet at the time. i saw them a few years later after scott left and ARCHES & AISLES came out - rebecca was playing with ted leo, jerry busher, and kendall meade (mascott). that was quite the lineup.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Chris: To be fair to the fans, I found most everyone but the biggest snobs pretty much stuck with Pavement til Terror Twilight. And rightly so. I was being a tad flippant, as I often am, unfortunately:)

Dominic: Whenever someone says the words "Lounge Ax" I get a little weepy. Best damn rock club in America, RIP.

11:37 PM  

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