Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Retrofuturist fantasy

Image: Dark Roasted Blend

You know that 2008 best-of list? I take it back--not gonna happen. 2008 was a rotten year for music overall and I'm not motivated to extend it any longer than necessary. But 2009--shaping up to be awesome!!! Aw, just kidding. You know better than to expect ADDed enthusiasm round here. Read on for the usual hedged rah rah and ambivalent approbation.

Tunnelvision - Here We Go Magic

Didn't really expect this coming from Luke Temple, whose previous work struck me as alright but kind of plodding guy-with-a-guitar prime-time TV drama fare. But this and "Fangela" are two of my favorite songs this year (all 13 days of it), so go figure. Temple sings a Lindsay Buckinghamesque falsetto to divine syncopated folked-up pop, and coats it with ambient drone. To make a visual art analogy, it's like an Edward Hopper/Agnes Martin mashup. Any representational/abstract tensions get canceled out by a shared appreciation for geometry and the American perspective of hard, flat, infinite space.

From Here We Go Magic (preorder), Myspace

Woodfriend - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

A con artist approached me recently while I was wrestling with one of those barely functioning parking garage ticket validation machines. He didn't start out as a con artist, of course--he started out as an 19-year-old or so kid who wanted directions to a Metra station. The tip-off (even before he produced the "police report" about his "stolen wallet")? He said his mom had told him to ask a nice lady for help. Lady, hee hee. Nice, har fucking har. First rule of the con: Know your mark. That's when I decided he was a) working a classic angle, and b) really, really bad at it. But I listened to his spiel with fake interest anyway and almost felt sorry for him when I asked if I actually seemed like someone who would hand over money to a stranger with a lame, completely illogical story. There's a sucker born every minute, etc. Now Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson recycles just as many chestnuts--of the guitar hero variety. But I'd slip him some cash to buy drugs, sure. He's that charming, in a slack-shifty sort of way. When he yells hey like a faded Gary Glitter and slurs something about everything being ok, to a ticking cowbell, you believe--because you want to. Good cons make you care.

from Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (Amazon, eMusic), Myspace


Anonymous muruch said...

I usually agree with you, but I personally thought 2008 was a great year for music. But then my best of list had more artists like Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band and Xavier Rudd rather than the yawn-worthy indie-rock acts that peppered other lists.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Sure, it depends on the sort of stuff you like. There were some enjoyable albums last year, but the only one that blew me away was Sam Amidon's (or Samamidon's) All is Well. (Which you should check out if you haven't already, Muruch. Given your taste, I think you'd like it.) And it was an awful year for songs. My favorite 2008 track was a 12-minute remix of a middling original. Nuf said.

Jokes aside, 2009 looks to be much better.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Eyquem said...

Hello Amy,

that "Here we go magic" track was on Grizzly Bear's blog too.

Good choice !

And happy new year ;-)

7:53 PM  
Blogger jonderneathica said...

I looked up All Is Well, and noticed that it was released in 2007. Was 2008 really THAT bad?

10:23 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

It came out in the UK in late 2007, but the US release was 2008.

But yes, 2008 was that bad!

2:37 PM  
Blogger A Couple of Artists said...

Amy- I really enjoyed reading your reviews of these 2 bands that were unknown to me before today. I especially appreciated the Edward Hopper/Agnes Martin analogy and listened with that impression in mind.
I also listened to all the tracks on myspace by miles benjamin & watched the influences video (amazing. if you didn't watch it, you should). His electric guitar sound on "now vs. later" planted Neil young in my head and was difficult to shake, but agree with you that his music feels really genuine. That is ultimately the most important factor in deciding what is great and what is not. Was last year a great year? Too early to say.
Thanks for getting me interested in new music again.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous zenm said...

i think your description of luke temple's solo work is grossly inaccurate - sean at daytrotter got it right when he referred to the "appalling lack of recognition of the merits of last year's extraordinary Snowbeast" [http://www.daytrotter.com/article/1248/luke-temple-encore] - maybe a second listen to that album would be in order

3:58 AM  
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