Saturday, September 29, 2007

Walk on over, but not all over

Image: Fabletoo

A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise - Phosphorescent

How it trudges through the woods brushing tambourine and tom from its coat ... this song is like that gentle, open-ended film of last year, Old Joy.
And not only because Matthew Houck sings something like Will Oldham and is another scraggly bearded dude (though that too). It sounds how summer slides into autumn while we sleep and how we lose the friends of our young adulthood to graduate school and work and love and homes and cars and bank accounts and other cities.* And when we meet again, we're shy and skirt each other's eyes. We speak the different tongues of the foreign far-off lives we now live and fumble for the stilted sign language of rote compliments and old jokes about deadbeat roommates and disastrous hookups. Old jokes that linger awkward as orphans. But if we're lucky--really lucky and determined--we flinty creatures might rub that dead spark and find new jokes to tell and laugh deep again, together, from our softened bellies.

The new Phosphorescent album, Pride (street date Oct. 23) is lovely (wait til you hear "Wolves"!). In 2005, Phosphorescent released a good album (Aw Come Aw Wry) and one of that year's best songs ("I Am a Full Grown Man"). But those didn't quite seem full-grown--still swaddled in influences, I guess. Now Houck sounds to have found his voice. A stupid thing to say, I know, because we always-only have our own voice. It's just a concise way of describing rapprochement
following a long estrangement. Myspace

*In "People You Meet," Bishop Allen states it brutal, but sadly correct: The sun may set on friendship/But never on your bills.

I Want You to Walk All Over Me - The Wave Pictures

Here are some true statements, and others that are mere speculation:

When they were first learning to play together, The Wave Pictures performed only Jonathan Richman songs. They hoped for a few seconds, just a few seconds, as great as any few seconds of "Roadrunner."

The Wave Pictures find lyrics in comic strips and on pickle jars, in the margins of algebra textbooks and the bottom of sneakers, in the crooked arrangement of mah jongg tiles and the twitched whiskers of dogs, the dregs of pint glasses and much-pawed copies of risque Edwardian novels. Certainly at the end of relationships.

Here is a seascape that looks like nothing so much as the inner thigh of the girl I never touched. See what I mean?

"I Want You to Walk All Over Me" was written one morning in a frayed bathrobe at a kitchen table covered with toast crumbs, a dirty knife and a half-consumed jar of Guinness Marmite.

The loved and loathed Everett True is the band's fiercest champion. About Dave Tattersall's voice he has said, "I get lost in the sound of sardonic vocals and distorted vocals and smart bittersweet vocals and listening vocals." Listening vocals.

It wasn't the first time someone praised Tattersall's voice. When he was 13, the village church choirmaster favorably noted his "queasy seasick adolescent wobble" and asked if he would sing solo in the Christmas production of Handel's Messiah.

The Mountain Goats and Herman Dune are fans. Reportedly, Coldplay is too.

The Wave Pictures are green and raw and unbound. Their songs make me want to wrap my arms across my chest and spin around the room until I'm dizzy.

From Sophie. Myspace

Also: Charles of Heartache with Hard Work writes passionately about Okkervil River--in concert and on record. I agree that the band is a phenomenal live act and you should see them if you can. And I've been trying to get my head around "John Allyn Smith Sails" for weeks.

And what's more: I love Alison Byrnes' "historical" paintings: Romans & Greeks, Romans & Americans, Americans & Europeans.

And finally: Brooklyn Books of Wonder in The American Scholar. Some interesting things (
connecting the dots with Kundera's kitsch), and some rather forced and ludicrous ones (that novels can only illuminate human experience via realism).


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