Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

And It's Something Quite Peculiar... -- The Church

"They're Australian?" -- My father, with some measure of incredulity, reflecting not a low opinion of the Australians, so much as the fact that their country of origin had not shown through to him.

"Yep," said I, knowing that the country I'd identified as my "favourite" in my youth (due to my affection for its peculiar wildlife, including my favourite animal, the platypus¹) was responsible for a number of artists I had, by then--a few months before today--identified as quite enjoyable. My love of INXS is no secret, but I'd recently discovered not-Aussie-but-Kiwi Split Enz via Gillian Armstrong's Starstruck (that is my own review of the film, though I make no mention of the band responsible for writing the songs, and it's not exactly my finest movie review--to be clear and avoid angering residents of either island, they are from New Zealand, but were on major Aussie label Mushroom), an accidental discovery years ago of X, not to be confused with the far more famous Los Angeles band, some years ago, AC/DC (though a bit garbled, as the Youngs were born and mostly raised in Glasgow, Scotland), the Bee Gees (similarly to AC/DC, they emigrated to Australia, albeit from England), and milder interests in Men at Work. Recently, I've decided I might give Midnight Oil a shot as well, and have been pleased so far.

But those bands aren't, any of them, the band I'd just informed my father had come from the furthest hemisphere from our home in the United States. No, that band is one that is generally known for a single song or not known at all: The Church.

Now, if your immediate reaction is "Who?" then I can give you the only answer likely to make sense to you--if this doesn't do it, you're not going to get it (or possibly from, say, Australia, and know their first hit, "The Unguarded Moment" better).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Everybody Get Random, All Gal-Dom, All Man-Dom -- Bits and Bobs

Over the course of time, whether it's reading around the internet, reading liner notes on album reissues or talking to people, I pick up tons of weird trivia. Now, of course, I could insert it into discussions of other concepts or the bands or artists they relate to, but that's very artificial, or, sometimes, would require editing existing entries.

So, instead, here's a bunch of random bits of fluff I've found interesting over the course of time recently. Think of it as a sort of memory dump, preserving things here and there to fill the heads of anyone reading with strange points of information that will likely never serve any useful purpose...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Listen: Do you want to know a secret? -- Aspera (Ad Astra), My Unknown Love

I went out gallivanting again (one more XTC box down!), and perused the endless supply of $1 discount CDs strewn about (but neatly) the Greensboro Edward McKay figuring I could spare $1 here or there.

Surprisingly, I found this:

This is a compilation released in 2000 called Post Marked Stamps. Tree Records released a series of 9 7"s in the late 90s, independent bands of varying stripes (mostly in the realms of what might be termed "emo" and "post rock," I guess). I'd barely interacted with it when I downloaded the track I gathered from a legal source (which has changed enough that I don't mention it by name here), I didn't get the rest of the compilation. Now, later, I did manage to end up with one of the songs, "Lighthouse in Athens, Part 1" by Cerberus Shoal (one of the more obscure post rock bands I took up in the early 2000s), but mostly I'd gotten it for one track: "Black in the Eye" by Aspera Ad Astra.

Normally, this is where I'd link you to that song via YouTube.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Need the Noises of Destruction When There's Nothing New (Or: I Like It When Voices Grate)

Vocals in a band can be something of a peculiarity. I listen to a number of artists that at least primarily lack them, and enjoy many of those artists on into the "upper echelons" of my taste in music. My affections for Goblin, Aphex Twin, Mogwai alone are enough that when they come up with some people it's with the acknowledgment that their appreciation stems from my own and the sharing of it. But instrumental music isn't always for everyone--heck, all three of those artists have used vocals in one way or another¹.

But vocals are more likely to be a splitting point for people, it seems. Sure, the 80s are maligned in general for their drum sound a lot of the time, it having become so dominant that The Church had their third album, Seance, rendered with gated reverb drums basically without their knowledge, let alone their consent. That, however, tends to be more association and generalized preference, and it hasn't had a major effect on things like popularity of songs overall. In a sense that might confuse the issue, it's similar to the usage of heavily auto-tuned vocals in the modern era, which tends to bug a lot of the same crowd that hates gated reverb. No judgment here, incidentally--but there is truly plenty of crossover there.

Unusual, especially off-key, non-melodic, grating, unusually pitched, or strangely toned or timbred voices can rapidly put people off an entire body of work. Some will even forego an artist's work until someone covers it, simply because the original author's voice is inexpert, amateurish, or just plain weird. Respect is occasionally given to these artists by folks who can't stand their voices, because it has nothing to do with the song itself.

To ease us into something that will eventually start annoying the hell out of some readers, let's start with the voice of one Tom Waits:

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