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.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Remember What the Music Meant to You? To Me? -- Pretty Girls Make Graves

Only once in a great while do I get in on the ground floor of an act. It's rare, because I wander in too many directions at once to focus long enough to expand completely on any direction. A new band in a genre, or from a label is a rarity for me, because I'm too stuck on each band or artist I start myself on. The exceptions generally come from two places: opening acts at live shows (I can happily note that I knew OK Go before their famous treadmill dance video, before they were even signed, for that matter) or when a band breaks up and I catch wind of what this or that member happens to be doing. There was no moment better for this than the early 2000's as I was leaving high school. My two new favourite bands, At the Drive-In and The Murder City Devils both broke up, and I was too much a neophyte to music in general to yet be overwhelmed, so when I heard about side projects, it actually connected and stuck. While At the Drive-In turned into The Mars Volta and Sparta, The Murder City Devils seemed to generally dissipate quite completely. Briefly, vocalist Spencer Moody, drummer Coady Willis, and guitarist Nate Manny formed a band named Dead Low Tide, releasing an EP, seeming pretty quiet and then breaking up, only then putting out their self-titled full-length.

A little more on the side, MCD bassist Derek Fudesco had reunited with Andrea Zollo (who you may remember did backing vocals for the Devils once or twice) to form Pretty Girls Make Graves, named for the Smiths song (in turned name for a Kerouac quote). Like Dead Low Tide--and thus mirroring the At the Drive-In descendants movements, EPs first--Pretty Girls released a self-titled EP of four songs in 2001. Following shortly thereafter was the debut full-length, Good Health, on April 9th, 2002. Apparently major indie label Matador took over the album's distribution sometime (from original label Lookout! Records) and dropped the EP on it, which is news to me and means my failure to ever collect the original EP in physical form might be rectified more simply.

This is where I really come into the story, which is silly considering this is my story (in a sense), but nevermind that. Once again, eMusic played a big role in this--Lookout! was one of the labels working with eMusic at the time (at one point I suggested the place to label Kranky, but they told me, in some of the nicest e-mails I ever got, that it simply wasn't financially viable, which made me want to buy more of their releases) and so I downloaded my legal copy of Good Health with a shrug one day in college and listened to it. Then immediately listened to it again. I was kind of in awe: normally I'm not one for immediate impressions (indeed, anyone who reads many entries will know this, and my recall that at the time I made brief mention of this album). At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul, though I came to it during what I'm told was a glut of Swedish-styled melodic death metal, was another that I listened to again immediately as its hooks went in without hesitation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recommendations: I Hate You, Rob Crow; Karate by Kennedy; Glances at Björk and Unexpected Pumpkins Riffing

I'm still settling on format here, so bear with me. There's something a bit stilted about my usual approach--take a band, write something, that makes it more of an "event" to sit down and write it, which may not be the most appropriate approach to take to something like a blog. I'm still working this out, as its only been about a month, after all. I'll still take that approach toward whatever band ends up tops in my little poll (and possibly or even probably the rest of them there, eventually), but for now this less formal recollection seems it may be appropriate.

I've actually got a handful of recommended listens hanging around, which I normally just let pass by. Well, not exactly true, I've always listened to the recommendations people have given me. That is, the recommendations themselves. I'm often feeling so at a loss with the artists I've taken up on my own that taking time from "getting to know" Depeche Mode or Joy Division or New Order or The Church or Robyn Hitchcock seems wrong and makes me feel "behind," so the name ends up filed away for future reference.

Sometimes, of course, this leaves me in a place like yesterday, where, wandering around, I find Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime, and can't figure out why the name is imprinted in my brain so strongly. As I'm at CD Alley, I go to ask who's working if they can tell me something. Luckily, it's Alison (I know her name now, as I decided to ask for the purposes of writing here!) and this is--or was, anyway--her area. She's always been enthusiastic about the post punk and post hardcore bands I ask about, which has been terribly helpful. Drive Like Jehu, she says, well, Yank Crime was one of her all time top albums once upon a time, and yes, it makes sense for me to associate them mentally with Jawbox. It's easy when my source of information is conveniently placed at the time one of these things comes back up, and, once in a great while, someone might (possibly) get a text from me while I'm out, asking for recollections on why I'd know a band's name. Usually Brian suffers this, alongside requests to do bits of research on bands we are both ignorant of. Bless his heart. He's like my portable internet, since I don't have a smartphone. Lots more personal, too--and able to summarize or collate data helpfully!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A More Casual Update on the State of Music and Me -- Gotye, Jeff Beck, and Poll Update

 I've written a bit on my feelings regarding immediate impressions of music, but it's not a perfectly strict rule. Now, that isn't to say that all, or even part, of what I wrote before is irrelevant. What I'm going to tell you now is, for one thing, likely not news to many people, or maybe some of it will be. That doesn't matter, as there are bits and pieces, at the least, that will be new to people. And newness isn't the point--were I to begin pursuing "unheard" music for dissemination I'd turn into the reality of John Peel (who I'm beginning to think is the soul I'd most like to aspire to be), rather than the reputation of the man. If you start pouring through comments on his actual show, or look at reviews of the box set of singles that his label, Dandelion Records (named for his hamster--true story), released, you'll find that some people feel there is an "ugly truth," in that for every Pink Floyd, Marc Bolan or David Bowie, there is Bridget St. John or Medicinehead. Some stuff apparently is pretty decent, and a lot is apparently considered forgettable pap.

Now, my own approach to things means I don't particularly care about that, and I'm actually kind of interested in that Dandelion material, mediocre or unimpressive though it might be, because it actually makes Peel even more interesting to me. Honesty and integrity of taste is one of the things I find most completely respectable, and it means that Peel saw something in those artists that no one else does. Not in the sense of a magic guru ahead of his times, but in the sense of a man who had tastes that weren't defined by what was cool, is cool, or would be cool--except to himself. He liked Sheena Easton and had no shame about it, he loved the Fall like there was no tomorrow, despite the rocky reputation their cluttered discography has when some parts are magnified.

So, rather than begin to pour in things you've never heard of and I've never heard of--the desire to hear things first is one I've long, long since abandoned--I want to simply emphasize the things I hear in the natural course of things. It can be random suggestions, names that prick up my ears, names I've read or heard a thousand times, or mistakes made from confusion of names that seem similar in my head. Sometimes covers lead me somewhere with no other clear origin. Sometimes an image comes up that attracts my eye. There's no telling, really.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...