Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yes is the answer

A funeral for proper argument
Image: PCP

Seward Park - Grand Hallway

On its Myspace page, Grand Hallway compares its sound to "echoes in a grand hallway," which you could read as brand reinforcement. And if you're a music blogging geek who spends too much time thinking about such things, you could also pause to consider if the name or the description came first -- if the band set out with that vague, romantic notion of making music that sounds like echoes in grand hallways. Or if in early rehearsals, as Tomo Nakayama's eerily sonorous, gender indeterminate vocals and alternately diffident and grandiose keys, and the band's stately plucked bass, rippling guitar textures and labyrinthine rhythms pointed irretrievably to something so old-fashioned and dignified, that they merely capitulated to the name. Either way, it's a snug fit. "Seward Park's" nostalgic lyrics evoke winding drives and grassy reclines, but its instrumentation infers the structure and formality of doors and floors and walls -- of massive, high-ceilinged, elaborately decorated structures that might hold both austere marble halls and a great gilt and trompe l'oeil-frescoed Palladian-style domed space. Beautiful rooms, spacious and solid enough to house a big, glorious crescendo of string quartet, dauntless, lapping piano and keening, frayed-rope voice, and not reduce to rubble.

The band will release its album Yes Is The Answer in Japan in April, but is currently seeking a US label. Hey, US labels, ya listening? You can stream another very good song called "Napoleon's Left Shoe" on Grand Hallway's Myspace.

Time Taunts Me - Lost In The Trees

So all day I'm feeling spacey and distracted, like I sometimes do when I've slept too much or taken a Sudafed. And I have no appetite for my chicken korma at lunch. I think maybe the flu is coming on, but on the way home from work, bounding the wet pavement and observing the trees dribble melting ice, I realize what it is: We are finally on the frozen-thawing cusp of spring. And I have been holding my breath all winter.

From Time Taunts Me (Preorder from Trekky Records).


Blogger Tuwa said...

Good post and good tracks. I like the mood of both: generally stately and graceful, and the string section freakout in "Time Taunts Me."

I hear you on the gender indeterminacy, or maybe I'm just stuck in outdated gender roles. At first I thought it was a woman, then a man, then decided I didn't know and why was I so interested in knowing? ^_^

10:22 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh, I really like androgynous voices! And Nakayama's got a good range. The guy who sings for The Delays (I posted a track last week) is similarly fun to listen to.

But it's an interesting question: Why, in 2007, are we still so invested in the identification of gender? I suspect this slipperiness has a destabilizing effect--making it difficult to attach value to a song. That's what some feminist theorists would say, anyway. It makes you (me) think about how popular music (and I include indie rock in popular music, of course) participates in the culture-wide performance of gender and reinforcement of certain roles. Where is Judith Butler when you need her?

1:10 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Great songs and beautifully written, as always.

I've had the same dazed feel the last couple days, but it's mostly because I am definitely getting sick.

Have you heard the new Laura Veirs? Not quite so androgynous, but very nice for the mood of these songs.

Also, I got to meet Judith Butler a few years back - she's just as smart in person, but far more intelligable. And pretty funny, too.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I haven't heard the new Laura Veirs, no. I'll look into it.

Butler seems like she'd probably be funny. It's nice when academic superstars get to that position not just because they're prolific publishers, but also because they have people skills and can teach.

8:47 AM  

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