Sunday, April 29, 2007

Plan B and death

Image: Inca

Half Staff Stomp - The Dying Californian

The Dying Californian's 2003 album We Are the Birds That Stay leads off with this great, anthemic song called "Prairie Fire" -- a sloppy, huge-chorused track that should have been as "big" as Band of Horses' "The Funeral" and for similar reasons. It bypasses the original gut-punch of grief for the full-bloom ritual of mourning (to borrow from Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking: "Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention") and it howls and moans and tears its hair and rends its garments, before busting out with some cheesy keyboard effects. And works anyway on an entirely visceral level. Nothing on the band's new album Coarsegold (Amazon, eMusic) is as immediately arresting as that song, but Dying Californian is still mining misfortune for fat diamonds. In "Half Staff Stomp" singer
Nate Dalton MCs a funeral picnic, commanding mourners (in doleful shades of Michael Stipe/Mark Eitzel/Jeff Tweedy) to "dry your eyes again." Even if the shoulder-swaying mid-tempo beat didn't motivate, the ridiculous cowbell would. And you can imagine these guests dropping their cold fried chicken and white plastic shovels of potato salad, abandoning their beer n' lemonade, finding their feet, and shaking off their sorrow.

The Dying Californian's Myspace.

The Secret Life of Dolls and Doldrums
- We All Have Hooks For Hands

We All Have Hooks For Hands indeed have hooks. And red noses, grass-stained jeans, grape-gum purple tongues,
scraped elbows, scuffed sneakers, balled Kleenex in pockets. They have bent monkey bars, crooked swings, sand spilling its box, games of tag that become games of tackle that become tearful brawls that are no game at all. Mostly, they have throats raw from shouting just to hear their own voices and the lung-sore, muscle-weary joy of child's play on a fine spring day.

More WAHHFH playground aesthetic can be found on their The Pretender (Amazon, eMusic). Their MySpace.

Also: Berkeley Place is asking for your list of the best independently released rock albums. Vote now before polls close.


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