In the Irish town of Recess, there is a monument that proclaims: "On this site in 1897 nothing happened." I've never visited Recess during what has essentially become biennial excursions to Ireland; I've only passed by during bumpy bus rides from Galway to Clifden and back. Nonetheless, the monument articulates a perfect emptiness that I find intriguing.
I've come to understand that if you geek out over particle acceleration or cryobiology or creating special powders from a pig's bladder for the purpose of re-growing fingertips, then you're spared from ridicule as your infatuation largely benefits the species.
Two years ago, Broken Social Scene's Charles Spearin released The Happiness Project, an experimental album that brought together concepts associated with field recordings, sociology, jazz, and phonetics. If you think that sounds pretentious, you're right. At the same time, every track had at least one moment that left you in awe.
Categorizing M83’s oeuvre is difficult. A drone/swarm aesthetic gets the shoegazer senses tingling, but not intensely enough. Despite an Enoesque approach to soundscaping, it fails ambient’s “Does it slip into the background?” test thanks to synth lines stacked like cordwood and percussion that leaves blast craters. And though there are dream-pop overtones, leader Anthony Gonzalez’s approach is just a bit too enthusiastic, too ebullient.
John Lennon died for our sins. Beardy Jesus guise and messiah complex aside, the former Beatle dedicated large swaths of his solo career to demanding penance from us: the war hawks, the caste perpetuators, the Blue Meanies, the obstinately pious, the Paul McCartney idolators, the crooked government-men. Imagine, reissued on vinyl as part of the ongoing “From the Capitol Vaults” series, finds Lennon in full finger-pointing mode.
Lately, I've been listening to a lot of '80s hair metal, and when I listen to said hair metal, I frequently find myself thinking about Siberia.
Okay, let me explain.
Deviating from my comfy-cozy personal norms, and gamboling down such an execrable and anomalous (translation: powerfully lame) musical road leaves me feeling quite empty. As a way of legitimizing the whole experience, I began equating it with a genuine, self-determined, colorful, perilous journey. Glam bands, ho!
In recent years, the advertising industry has developed into a contemptible archenemy of independent music artists. After Beach House's repeated rebuffs to Volkswagen, which was keen on soundtracking a TV spot with their song song 'Take Care', the Baltimore twosome discovered the car company produced a near-exact facsimile of the tune.
In detailing the power of loquaciousness the Blarney Stone allegedly imparts, Irish humorist Francis Sylvester Mahony wrote of individuals being transformed into "noble spouters." Fellow countryman Glen Hansard (from the Oscar-winning folk duo the Swell Season and indie-rock outfit the Frames) spouts with a dexterity and zeal few contemporaries can match.
In the two decades since its release, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless has become a Teflon-coated favorite; sharp criticism of the album never sticks. So in honor of the '91 classic officially getting the remaster treatment this week (also slated for release: a remastered version of Isn't Anything, as well as a new compilation featuring the group's first four EPs, and rare and previously unreleased tracks), the cranky critic in us felt a need to counter the shower of superlatives.
It’s rather fitting Sarah Records’ headquarters in Bristol were just minutes away from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of England’s most notorious suicide spots. Because for eight years, this independent label’s gossamer paeans and against-the-grain sensibilities had many indie pop fans wanting to take a flying leap.
The opening torrent of notes in Ornette Coleman's "Kaleidoscope" reminds me of the ubiquitous television closet gag. You know, when some unsuspecting soul opens a closet door and is buried under an avalanche of junk (executed rather brilliantly in this episode of Elmo's World). "Kaleidoscope" even has the closet gag's exclamation point (the moment when the victim believes the deluge is over, only to be bonked on the head by one final item).
There are certainly Van Morrison songs where the emotional intensity doesn't feel so hackneyed. And there are definitely Van Morrison songs where the past and the present blend more seamlessly. And there are, without question or doubt, Van Morrison songs where the arrangements aren't so overwrought (those garish strings!). So why "Orangefield?"
My 11-year-old son, beginning to understand that pop music is much like his first love, professional sports, and that part of its enjoyment arrives from tracing an artist's career arc, once asked me: "So what is Joy Division doing now?"
"They broke up," I told him, "and became a different band."
"Their lead singer died."
"He killed himself."
Indie-rocker Sufjan Stevens is akin to the bell-ringing charity man you sidestep while entering the neighborhood drugstore: holiday perennial, purveyor of a sound that's an exercise in patience, and effervescent with so much Christmas cheer you want to poke him in the mug.
On the title track to Randy Newman’s first studio album in nine years, the man once hailed as the “bard of barbs” details a near-death experience that left him lying prostrate on the pavement. So here’s some news that will assuage the mortal fears of a man approaching 65: Last year, a Norwegian University of Science and Technology study concluded that those who easily found humor in real-life situations outlived those who didn’t. So let’s pencil in Newman for the centenarians’ club right now....