Tuesday, October 31, 2006
"You Look So Absurd / You Look So Obscene / Oh"

Yeah, so I ain't exactly painting the town tonight. But as a frustrated pre-teen rap fan trapped in a frustrated little goth boy trapped in a frustrated rapidly aging I don't know what all, Halloween has to be the best holiday, like, ever and shit.

Wow, that made no sense... neither does this:

Ministry - "Everyday Is Halloween"

For those of you playing the home version of the game, that's the early, gay, synthpop Ministry when Al Jourgensen spells his name Alain and affects a totally bad Brit accent. Before he started doing smack and mucking about with animal carcasses and all that.


Time to go get more bourbon.

For the love of Christ, please have a safe and joyous Holiday and stuff.

Cross-posted with S&M 'cuz I'm a lazy git.

Posted by Mallory at 8:19 PM | | Comments | links

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
They call me new money, say I have no class

The Saturday Club presents... Instant Gratification #01: Me and My Friends Are Classier Than You and Your Friends


01 Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)
02 Ada - Eve
03 Jurgen Pappe - So Weit Wie Noch Nie
04 United State of Electronica - Umbrella of Love (Ron Curty Mix)
05 Sophie Ellis Bextor - Mixed Up World
06 Bloc Party - Banquet (Phones Disco Edit)
07 Coldplay - Clocks (Royksopp's Trembling Heart Remix)
08 Electric Six - Future Is In The Future
09 M.I.A. vs Mylo - U.R.A.Paris (Erik Pearson's Remix)
10 The Knife - Heartbeats
11 Architecture In Helsinki - Like A Call (Two4K's THX Mix)
12 Kylie Minogue - Slow
13 Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue (Postal Service Remix)

So here is the mix I promised last week, the first Instant Gratification. This happened because about... well, probably a year ago now, I started thinking about how I'd rather lost touch with what was going on in electronic music. See, I used to be all down with all the DJs and all, initially as a result of all that big beat Fatboy Slim/Chemical Brothers deal that went down in the late '90s, but later on due to all the good house music that was coming out round that time. Eventually the dance music focus shifted to electro and bastard pop and glitch, which all ended up acting as a a sort of musical torniquet; I lost my patience for broad, sprawling seven minute throbs and became only interested in the short term satisfaction offered by artists like Peaches and Miss Kittin and Chicks On Speed. The bottom fell out of electro pretty quickly, and with plenty of interesting things going on in indie rock and hip hop and modern rock and pop and country and well, everything else, I began to pay less interest in the Euro-geeks-making-blipping-noises scene. Everyone was talking about micro-house, but that genre didn't really have a mainstream arm operating as an easy entry point the way drum 'n' bass or house or trance or any previous genre had, so I didn't really pay much attention to it. I always thought that I should, but that was a responsibility I never followed up on.

Eventually, though, I slsked a bunch of Kompakt releases and resolved to put together a compilation aimed at redressing my recent neglect of electronic music. it didn't actually work; my short attention span quickly piled in all this other stuff I'd been listening to, like Jacques Lu Cont remixes and Scandinavian pop and all this other stuff, and it turned into the compilation posted above. I also decided that the set would work best mixed into an hour of continuous music, all proper club style, and... never one for expedience, I ended up doing that just this past week.

So, OK, it isn't by any means the micro house primer I intended it to be. If anything, it's a mix of vaguely trendy acts that if you weren't paying much attention at all, you might still think were real cool. For this mix, I recommend playing it when you bring all your friends over for one of those fancy-ass dinner party get-togethers I know all you kids are into, one of those dos where you want music that doesn't overpower the conversation, but isn't so bland that you can't convincingly pretend you're listening to it if you need to get away from someone who needs to tell you about their latest property investments in Arizona or something.

Since it is a year later, I should probably make another bid at putting together a proper electronic revisitation, but in all likelihood, it will just turn out like this one again. I can't say I'd mind that too much, though; this has some absolutely fantastic songs on it. I don't think I'll ever get sick of "Mixed Up World" or the incredibly underrated "Future Is In The Future." And if I should ever want to genuinely check out what the dance DJs are doing, I know I can always start reading Stylus' Beatz By The Pound, and its accompanying Podcast.

Until that day comes though, I'll just keep putting together comps like this. In the future though, I may be thinking about tempo as well as awesomeness, which will mean less awkward moments like the super-speed version of The Knife's "Heartbeats" with which this mix is saddled.

Cross posted with Screw Rock 'n' Roll

Posted by Jonathan at 10:00 AM | | Comments | links

Monday, October 16, 2006
1,800 Words on Emo
So Ian invited me to join the club a few weeks ago, but I'm only getting around to making my inaugural post now, as I nurse a beer and eagerly await the Junior Boys show at the Empty Bottle tonight. (I've even broken out my soft black pinstripe trousers and am strongly considering mascara.) Anyway, howdy. I'm not sure yet who are our readers are, but I suspect that most of my fellow bloggers already know me as an occasional contributor to Stylus, so I won't bother with an overly long intro. I'm John, I live in Chicago, and my musical preferences mostly encompass pop, indie, and dance/electronic, with specific weaknesses for stylish synths, finger-picked guitar, and bossanova rhythms -- among plenty of other things, of course. (Right now, I'm listening to an Italo Disco comp a friend burned for me.)

Speaking of mascara, though, I've been thinking about emo lately, and part of what I've been thinking is how the genre even got to the point where I can start a sentence about it with "speaking of mascara." An acquaintance in the UK (read: some guy on ILX) reports using the word "emo" in an article he wrote for the Daily Mail, which prompted the following query from his editor: "I wonder if we need to spell this out for our readers ... would neo-goth in brackets do it?" And I don't want to be all "back in my day" about this, but back in my day (I went to college in the late '90s) emo and goth were completely different subcultures; if emo had a dress code, it was geek glasses and thrift-store Izods and no makeup for boys whatsoever. It was also fairly underground, thriving without constant MTV exposure and before ringer tees were made widely available at Urban Outfitters.

I'm not invested enough in the scene to seriously bemoan this shift, though I did cringe when I learned that "emo" has recently become a noun, a new category of high-school students to compete for cafeteria space with jocks, preps, skaters, and burnouts. It's just that most of the emo I heard in college wasn't really up my alley. If you'd asked me in 1998 to name a prototypical emo band, I'd have said either Cap'n Jazz or the Promise Ring, mostly because that's what my roommate listened to. At the time, the Promise Ring just sounded like uninspired indie, but Cap'n Jazz was pretty much intolerable: sloppy, lo-fi, and deliberately abrasive, with guttural, off-key vocals. Both bands were on Jade Tree Records, and over the next couple of years, several other bands on the label's roster -- Jets to Brazil, Joan of Arc, and Pedro the Lion -- contributed to my sense of what emo was all about. The summer after my sophomore year, my friend Chris and I went on a road trip to Cleveland, and along the way, I made up the chorus of an emo song, which was pretty much just me yelping "O-HIIIIII-O" in a wounded voice: this, years before Hawthorne Heights's "Ohio is for Lovers."

During my senior year, I befriended a freshman named Jason Hendrix who wore small, theadbare t-shirts and old corduroys. He always appeared restless and eager: he rocked from side to side when standing, and when he found out I was into music, he quickly said, "You heard of this band Braid? What about Cursive? You like American Football?" I was embarrassed to admit I'd heard of none of them but wasn't too surprised once he explained they could all be loosely considered emo, and so I kind of dismissed the recommendations. At that point, I was still bopping along to Stereolab's (still underrated) Cobra and Phases Group. But Jason was a persuasive kid, and smart and hilarious, too, and so not long after I graduated, he'd made me a fan of Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie and Dismemberment Plan, none of which were really super-emo but close enough, right? (First time I heard "Ice of Boston" was in his car, and I said "Whoa, what's this?" and he grinned and said, "I knew you'd be into it." Why, because I liked it when Malkmus rapped, too?) Braid and Cursive still seemed too difficult -- my reaction to the latter's Domestica, which Jason eagerly bought the day it came out, was mostly bafflement -- but American Football's self-titled record ended up as the first bona fide emo album I embraced.

Mike Kinsella of American Football

Or was it? I mean, I called it emo because Mike Kinsella's voice was raw and wandered in pitch, and the rhythms were mathy and jagged, and there was even this chord change that still strikes me as an emo chord change, even when it's used by, like, Múm (on "Green Grass of Tunnel") -- which is really just a "I" chord dropping down to a "vi," and I don't even know why it resonates as specifically emo for me. But it also doesn't take a genius to guess that the reason I took to American Football was that it was never too aggressive -- the vocals strained but never screamed, the guitars twinkled in clean arpeggios instead of erupting in shards of noise -- and that a fair bit of it could aptly be called post-rock. ("Stay Home," for instance, is entirely in 7/4 and features a three-minute-plus instrumental intro.) By definition, emo is supposed to be a fairly pussy genre, but few bands can get away with a fucking trumpet solo.

[Download: American Football, "Honestly?"]

Which is fine. No one agrees on what counts as emo, anyway. The guys who listened to Rites of Spring in 1985 sneered at Sunny Day Real Estate in 1995 (what, too melodic?), and the Sunny Day fans probably look aghast at Taking Back Sunday now. Death Cab only took on the emo sobriquet once Seth Cohen's name-drop of the band on The O.C. dovetailed with Dashboard Confessional's appearance on the cover of SPIN; whereas before, they were just another wussy indie outfit from the Northwest (early reviews referenced Built to Spill and Quasi), now they were spearheading a movement.

So I didn't have a whole lot of patience when certain emo-aligned friends of mine complained about Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American. It wasn't even their major-label debut, but I guess "The Middle" got played a whole lot more on KROQ than "Lucky Denver Mint" did, so that made it bad. The thing is, I don't even remember a whole lot of Clarity from the one time I heard it, while "The Middle" is easily one of the best mainstream rock singles of this decade: an efficient pop confection with tight, tension-building guitars and an invigorating sing-along chorus. (To be fair, I recently listened to "Lucky Denver Mint," and it's pretty great, too.)

I'm assuming what turned a lot of fans off when emo became a buzzword in the early part of this decade is that a lot of it was indebted to pop-punk. The intersection isn't so odd: the chief demographic of both genres is misunderstood 17-year-old boys. The difference is that pop-punk channels its misfit status into dumb, cheery adolescent pranksterism (cf. Blink-182), whereas emo kids, who read books, usually sulk before they explode. If there was an antecedent for this merger, it was probably Weezer, who rocked the airwaves in the mid-1990s with a crop of silly, upbeat singles before turning more introspective on their sophomore effort. Neither pop-punk nor emo exactly, Pinkerton still may have paved the way for streamlined alt-rock that wasn't afraid to wear its insecure heart on its sleeve. (Not that I was aware of it at the time. It wasn't until late college, when Weezer became the default band to put on at the end of the party, and people closed their eyes and nodded meaningfully, did I realize they were respected as much as they were, and not the three-hit wonder I'd previously considered them to be.)

With the exception of "The Middle," though, most of the pop-punk that's now considered emo hasn't done much for me. I was recently browsing through my girlfriend's CD collection and found an "Emo Mix" that a friend had made her, but my initial intrigue turned to tedium as I took it home and had to sit through five largely uncompelling Saves the Day songs. However, I'm fascinated by this new wave of bands that preserve the moodiness of '90s emo but make its melodrama more overtly theatrical: see the pale-faced altar-based pageantry in the videos for both My Chemical Romance's "Helena" and Panic! At the Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." Scholars of the '80s revival might also note that these bands' eyelinered affectations harken back to the Cure, while their predilection for long song titles (e.g., Fall Out Boy's "A Little Less 'Sixteen Candles,' A Little More Touch Me) might make even Morrissey blush. But it's precisely this ambitiousness that draws my curiosity, even as the songs flail under their own weight and wind up sounding ridiculous and immature. That my 19-year-old sports-buff cousin has lyrics by Fueled by Ramen bands plastered all over the quotes section of his Facebook profile, instead of the bland platitudes of Jack Johnson, is somehow encouraging.

San Diego's The North Atlantic

Then again, how does this trend benefit the emo band that's working within the traditional 1990s indie-rock model? The North Atlantic describes itself as "a staggering blend of New York post-punk, Chicago noise rock, and San Diego punk" (the band is based in the latter city), although the hallmarks of mid-period emo are all over Wires in the Walls, a 2003 release that was recently reissued by We Put Out Records (a sub-division of Warner). There's the full-throated drunken yelling, the stuttering guitar assault, the convulsive stop-and-start beat that must nearly cause whiplash in excited fans. There's even, in "Scientist Girl," a crunch-pop song that finds the band at its catchiest, the kind of lingering bitterness about failed relationships that's led many critics to theorize about emo's latent misogyny (although I don't think this band is guilty of such). But while Panic! At the Disco acolytes can stomach 14-word song titles, it's not clear whether they'll gravitate toward 7-minute epics like The North Atlantic's "Atmosphere vs. the Dogs of Dawn" -- in which furious, sweat-soaked choruses crash against sparse, drawn-out verses -- or be able to follow the band's shift to skeletal dance-punk in the middle of "Swallows Air."

Because of this versatility, I generally consider The North Atlantic to be a cut above its peers, but since this post pretty much encapsulates most of what I know about emo, I'm not always entirely confident of that claim. I'm mostly just happy that they've gotten signed, since I've been following them since their very first show more than six years ago. See the lead singer up there on the left, the one looking all serious at his guitar? That's Jason Hendrix.

[Download: The North Atlantic, "Scientist Girl"]

Posted by John C. at 4:34 PM | | Comments | links

Show Me What You Got
We've all probably refrained from commenting on it because pretty much everything that can be said about it already has been said about it on every other blog that exists on internet.

It's not a *bad* single... It's just not a particularly "good" Jay-Z single. It's lyrically poor, uses recycled samples that could've been mixed better probably, and, well, apparently Jay just isn't interesting enough to carry a song by himself anymore. He's great for throwing in a line or 2 here and there in other peoples' songs, but when you're Jay-Fucking-Z and start being reduced to a level on par with Paul Wall... er...

And to top it all off, we have a video now. And if you're a fan of NASCAR...


Posted by Lady K! : at 12:31 PM | | Comments | links

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Yellin' over tracks like a motherfuckin' DJ

The Saturday Club presents... Instant Gratification 0.9: Milk and Water

01 Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
02 Ciara ft. Chamillionaire - Get Up
03 Nelly Furtado - Do It
04 Cam'ron - Weekend Girl
05 Fall Out Boy - Dance Dance
06 Fat Joe ft. Lil' Wayne - Make It Rain
07 Jay-Z - Show Me What You Got

I've been doing some mixes lately, some screw, some not, and I'll be putting up some of those later in the week, but I thought I'd give y'all this in the interim. I was just messing around with a loop made out of the Ciara track, and then threw some other stuff together on it. Some of it's pretty sloppy, because I wasn't even intending to turn it into a mix or anything, but hey, it turned out OK. It's entirely posible that I think it's good only because I'm so self obsessed that I like near anything that I come up with, but while there's a bit of that involved, you know these are all good songs anyways. So, here you go, a preliminary shot preceding the first real Instant Gratification mix. It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you...

Cross posted with Screw Rock 'n' Roll

Posted by Jonathan at 10:19 PM | | Comments | links

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Growing Old Disgracefully

The genial lie that most self-appointed cultural historians would love you to swallow is that young, "hungry" artists make vibrant art but, as time goes on, they become mellow, gentrified parodies of their former selves. While I won't dispute this on the whole, I do think that the overall picture is a bit more complicated. Notwithstanding what the ravages of time can do to ones' very vocal chords, some of our greatest singer-songwriters (though I loathe that term) manage to wrangle some of their greatest work while in the latter portion of their careers - I'm thinking Waits, Cohen (up until his recent Sharon Robinson-curated downturn), Prince, etc. All have had "comebacks" ranging from moderate to formidable, all suggest the distinct possibility that the most interesting things they have to say may be, as yet, unspoken.

For years Caetano Veloso, he of the unassailable early cred as pioneering Brasilian composer and interpreter, has been drifting slowly but surely in the direction of mediocre balladry. Recent albums for Elektra Nonesuch have borne witness to a lush, orchestrated, inarguably gorgeous direction that lacked any of the grit and vibrancy of his early work. Veloso's last record, the "tribute to American songwriters" A Foreign Sound cast him in a ghastly Rod Stewart-esque mould - sure, he covered "Come As You Are," but the results were more Paul Anka than anything else. Stacked up against the usual suspects from the Great American SongbookTM and all yer Tropicalia begins to look like so much flash in the pan.

So it was with a great deal of trepidation that I turned to Ce, Veloso's outright tribute to my old archnemesis Bob Dylan. Fortunately, it's also his "rock" record - though there's a great deal more "roll" here than anything else.

Son Moreno may be partly to blame for injecting the proceedings with a youthful energy, but I refuse to believe that this isn't a Caetano show first and foremost. His singing, for one, hasn't been this effortlessly edgy in years - listen to "Rocks," which, umm... rocks. Elsewhere, the familiar smoothie of recent efforts is still in evidence - "Nao Me Arrependo," which opens with the same three notes as "Walk on the Wild Side," is more of a stroll, and trannies are conspicuous only in their absence. But there's also a yearning here, a jazz-derived opening of the throat that Veloso's avoided since his days on Verve.

The rest will have to wait upon a future, actual review of this record, as I've just received word that such a thing is pending... for now - let us revel in the fact that it's never too late to learn some new tricks... well, maybe it is. But you can always relearn some old ones. And in the end, that's more than enough to ask of those who have given so much of themselves to be cultural institutions rather than mere artists.

Here's to being old as fuck! (Clink)

(Cross posted with S & M.)

Posted by Mallory at 7:20 PM | | Comments | links

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
"Oh, those sun-kissed French girls..."
The Rapture's first album missed me entirely. I danced whenever I heard "House of Jealous Lovers" but avoided the rest, assuming that it was rank hipster jive (post-apocalyptic white kids steal post-punk dance moves, yawn). Pieces of the People We Love, however, is a first-rate record, by far the best synthesis of 1981 sounds and post-Strokes attitudinal pop I've heard. "'The Devil" and "Get Myself Into It" conjure the gay-disco vibe with sturdier beats and tunes than I've heard the Scissor Sisters proffer; the former has an especially ominous swagger, like a shrieking cat-beast had figured out how to grope the rhythm of PiL's "Poptones" and lick ugly Mekons guitars. "First Gear" features the year's silliest refrain ("My-my-my-my-my-my-my Mustang Ford!") and the sexiest car-as-sex metaphor since R. Kelly's "Ignition." Luke Jenner's words may be confusing, but he's not confused; while he doesn't cop to after-party wisdom (the kind you know you'll forget as soon as the hangover ebbs) he keeps enough of his wits about him to recognize that one party's as good as another. Accepting the ephemerality of scenester fame positions him closer to the Prince side of the continuum than, say, former mentor James Murphy's: the cops are going to break things up soon, so let's not waste time on hamhanded irony (listen to LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" again).

It's almost impossible to parse Jenner's sexuality, which is probably how he wants it. What is admirable is the band's commitment to self-reliance, and not the kind infused by mere "positivity" either (except on the closer and sole dud "Live in Sunshine," a compendium of greeting-card maxims set to a raga melody evoking the Chemical Brothers circa 1999). Take "Down For So Long":
Then an analyst said, "Why fret finality?"
Cuz lookin' up ain't nothing lookin' down on me.
When, four albums after their debut, New Order released their own manifesto ("All The Way") it swung with a loose, earned ferocity. Their career trajectory suggests a model worthy of study: how to take drugs, record brilliant music, and maintain your savoir faire. As for The Rapture, their dreams may go up their noses by the next album but after careful examination of the evidence The Rapture are (a) aware of it; (b) will make all the guest lists anyway, even if they can afford the DFA and Danger Mouse just once.

(crossposted with A Grand Illusion)

Posted by Alfred Soto at 8:09 PM | | Comments | links

"'>They even made me show ID to get inside of Sam's Town

The Killers, Sam's Town and "When You Were Young" (which always makes me think of Whipping Boy's fine "When We Were Young") seem to have been much discussed recently, which means this is the perfect time for me to finally get around to posting this. Back when the single hit the Jukebox reviews were... "mixed" is too kind a word, and I was probably in the 5-6 camp myself. The funky funky Jonathan Bradley, though, saw its genius immediately and gave it a 10, something I'd now agree with. What follows is a discussion we had near the beginning of September about the band via gmail...

Ian Mathers: Okay, I give, "When You Were Young" is one of the best singles of the year. Have you heard the album yet? I haven't, but this makes me wonder just how good it's going to be.

Jonathan Bradley: Proving once again that good music criticism relies on repetition, not strength of rhetoric! :)

I mean, hey, glad to see you've come around. I really want to believe that Sam's Town (which I haven't heard - I don't think it's leaked) will be this incredible, monster success that will blow everyone away and establish the Killers as a fantastically awesome band, but I keep remind myself that if I'd only heard "Mr. Brightside," I probably would have expected Hot Fuss to be amazing as well, rather than a record with good singles and stacks of filler. I want to be a fan of the Killers, you know? They want to be a big rock band and act all dumb and grow goofy moustaches and make Statements, and that sort of thing is fun, and maybe Sam's Town will make them as good a band musically as they are publicity-wise. Or at least see a whole lot of critics saying "we always kind of liked these guys" like they did after Green Day made American Idiot.

IM: Agreed. Especially as one of those who said that about American Idiot. What's interesting to me is that on my recent listens [of "When You Were Young"] I can finally hear the Springsteen influence Flowers has talked about in the past. I think that being a genuine outcast as a teen (fat Mormon > the kind of "geek" every other guy in a band talks about having been - video games and comic books are cool now, kids) affects his songwriting in interesting ways. I do think it makes him better, and it's why he can toss in lines like " You sit there in your heartache / Waiting on some beautiful boy to / To save you from your old ways" without being emo (in the negative sense). What's crucial about Flowers is that you can tell he's never referring to himself when he writes about "beautiful boy"s, and while he's bitter about that fact (about his ugliness/awkwardness, however illusory/self-created they are), he's also very self-aware about it. This is, of course, why "Mr. Brightside" was one of the best written pop hits of the last couple of years.

JB: Sorry it took me so long to write you back - I've been way too busy this past week. But I didn't want to ignore your last email re: "When You Were Young," because I thought it was definitely interesting, and rung real true. The whole Flowers as Mormon outcast is an idea I really like, and yeah - you are right. I hadn't considered it before, but you're right on with Flowers never referring to himself when he sings about "beautiful boys." Somehow I'd missed the... self-loathing, I guess, in the Killers' music. It seems so often that in his songs Flowers is an observer - he's like the platonic friend of the popular girl, who's living vicariously through her life. Sort of. I think I'm not quite on target with this, but, I mean - "Somebody Told Me" is about him hearing about events second hand, the "Mr. Brightside" video did something I think is pretty rare even amongst the most whiny bands, that is, it showed the frontman of the band not getting the girl, not triumphing. Even when she goes out to watch the fireworks with him, he only gets a moment before she goes back inside to be with the asshole. And then, of course, there's "When You Were Young," with Brandon as offsider and confidant rather than leading man and saviour.

PS: Were you the one that put Monkey Swallows The Universe up on the Stylus board, and if so - where on earth did these guys come from? I've only listened to the first couple tracks so far, but... I think I'm really liking this. They need a new name though.

IM: Yep, that was me with MStU. The name comes from a TV show, I guess? I admit it put me off as well, but after hearing "22" and "Wallow" and "Sheffield Shanty" I came around. Interesting that you'd mention them, because I think one of the reasons I love The Bright Shallows is because Nat Johnson writes from what I think is a pretty similar perspective to Flowers - although both of them are perfectly physically attractive human beings they usually are coming from the perspective of the shunned/rejected/ignored party (see: "Chicken Fat Waltz", "Wallow", "You Yesterday", etc, etc). I think there's definitely some self-loathing in Flowers (and perhaps in Johnson as well, although in both cases we should be wary of assuming an identity between the singer's actual self and the narrator of their songs...).


We then trail off into talking about how good the new Mountain Goats and Jason Molina records are (in both of our cases, Get Lonely and Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go are likely to make our 2006 top tens, so you know they're good...).

I think Anthony and Alfred's discussion of "When You Were Young" is pretty on the mark, as I'd bet Alfred's review is (although I have yet to listen to my copy of the album yet; Jonathan had already told me that "
Unofficially (ie, pending further listening), this appears to be no better than Hot Fuss"), but I want to take a minute to defend two of the more universally mocked parts of "When You Were Young."

First and foremost, the lines "We're burning down the highway skyline / On the back of a hurricane / That started turning / When you were young" are getting way, way too much flack. When Bloc Party's "The Pioneers" came out I don't gales of laughter from the line "shaking hands with the hurricane," and "burning" only doesn't make sense if you think Flowers means literally on fire, which seems a bit odd. They're burning down the highway (i.e. moving quite quickly) riding a hurricane. If you don't like it because it's kind of over the top and absurd, fair enough - but I've read plenty of criticism centered around the fact that apparently "burning" and "hurricane" are not allowed to be in the same sentence. And I love the second half of those lines - the image of childhood as a hurricane, something both powerfully on your side (they're riding it, after all), but also potentially destructive and out of control (it's a friggin' hurricane), as something that stays with you despite you thinking it might have exhausted its grip over your life by the time you're an adult is one that I love.*

Then there's "Every once in a little while" - I would never attempt to defend it, as it is most definitely a horrible grammatical crime; I just want to point out that until I read Anthony's post I hadn't noticed it, because Flowers sings it well enough that it's effective. Here is where I'd refer to Alfred's point that Flowers has a massive emotional range to make up for his limited technical one...

*And, I think, this is a reading that's pretty sympathetic to the Brandon Flowers I've read about in interviews, the one who clearly has never quite gotten over being a shy, ugly wallflower with unpopular beliefs and tastes. This, if anything, is where Flowers reminds me of Morrissey; both are or were attractive young men who cannot help of themselves as unappealing. Although Morrissey always seemed to think so on personal/ideological(?)/metaphysical grounds, whereas I think Flowers is more haunted by the fact that he was actually physically ugly, or at least I assume - I've never seen pictures from the period of time he's referred to.

Posted by Ian at 11:40 AM | | Comments | links

Monday, October 02, 2006
Only in Amerikkka

I'm devoid of much witty, clever or insightful to say on this fine morning - having successfully relocated and semi-successfully unpacked, I now (of course) am sick as a worthless dog, this morning in particular feeling like I have throat cancer.

But I've been away too long, so enough griping - here's the goods!

Eazy-E ft. Blood of Abraham - Niggaz N' Jews

Body Count - Cop Killer

And a quick poll :

Is or is not Big Daddy Kane's "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" the most pointlessly offensive song of the pre-90's rap era? I'm thinking of, in particular the little sequence of lines right here - "the Big Daddy law is anti-faggot / that means no homosexuality / what's in my pants will make you see reality" but, believe me there's plenty to be horrified by in the 4 minutes and 9 seconds of this little nugget. "Let me up off this virgin before I come," much?

Posted by Mallory at 8:48 AM | | Comments | links

The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.