Saturday, October 20, 2007

In defense of self-doubt

Image: Tudyk

The Sun On My Right - The Rosie Taylor Project

Maybe they're onto something, this dour pack of Northern Brits. In a time when every baby band is buttering its bio with oily superlatives, The Rose Taylor Project deliberately undersells itself. Check the MySpace how-di-do:
Born through an unexciting mixture of boredom and whimsy the Rosie Taylor Project is a somewhat laidback attempt at an alternative country rock band.
Unexciting! Boredom! Attempt! Sign me up for the street team! Ok, so reduced expectations pretty much guarantees you'll be pleasantly surprised. And I am. In fact "The Sun On My Right" is lovelier than it has any right to be, seeing as it treads the most familiar of folk-pop-whatever territory. (Whispery, sensitive male vocals: check. Male-female harmonies: check. Acoustic jangle-strum: check.)

But here's what's worth the bother.
The song's razor-etched lyrics are stark devastating (Not for the first time/ You called that morning/ Your breath tells of dark rum). As are the solemn little trumpet solos that sneak in after every verse. The horn is distant, as if leaked from the next room, and communicates better than any words the emotional and physical divide of a couple ripped in half by alcohol.

Jesus Christ I Don't Know - Listening Party

Speaking of self-doubt ... this song's itchy beats and desperate-yelp vocals are the sound of hopping impatience, of a bug-eyed addict twitching for a fix. I think this guy's been set loose on some dire survival course, but it's probably no different from what most of us face every day--pretending to know all the answers when we wish we could scream, Jesus Christ I Don't Know!

Listening Party's Myspace

And what I learned this week:

With The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson has entered his self-parody period. (By comparison it took Woody Allen, what, about 20 years?)

There's been a suffocating avalanche of responses to Sasha Frere-Jones' New Yorker polemic--from the thoughtful and impassioned to the petulant and uninformed (not gonna link to those). But Carl Wilson's Slate piece was the best I read for bringing up, among other things, the unsaid in this conversation: class. Yes class, that great American blindspot. I'm convinced that most Americans would rather admit to being racist than acknowledge the existence of, let alone their participation in reinforcing, our actually rather rigid class system.


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