Monday, March 19, 2012

Phaze Major

The last time I was in a music studio... Macalester's electronic music lab (R.I.P.), spring 2009.

Friday, March 16, 2012

In His Image of the Day

Higher Ground, Vera Farmiga, 2011.

Hopefully she’ll direct another movie, but for now her body of work is as personal, particular and flawless as Charles Laughton’s.


Higher Ground workspace:


I couldn’t quite figure out what Studio Ghibli was doing messing around with The Borrowers, but having now seen The Secret World of Arrietty I can say it’s a perfect fit, one of the best, most relevant movies they’ve made. As nature continues to shrink one has to find new ways to make it large, so of course a sickly boy resting in the country and a tiny, tiny girl make excellent protagonists and awe-sharers. And awe not just in beholding the visual world, but the whole sensual world… gosh, this movie’s sound design.

Objections to My Week With Marilyn generally amount to a feeling that Marilyn has been displaced from the starring role in the movie’s title, and some boring nobody takes her place. But not really. The ending goes a little soft and maybe disallows a cynical reading, but the rest of the movie knows what it’s about: Imagine the title with emphasis on the “my,” just another person tasked with delivering Marilyn to the end of the week.

Also quite something: Pina (the great 3D movie); The Interrupters; The Mill & The Cross; Rampart (weird premonitions of an Ice Cube career revival, I swear he could be a major actor yet, playing against Woody Harrelson’s ego train might not be the best start but still I look back to “don’t know, don’t show,” his “coulda been a contender,” and know he’s still a contender); A Separation (how minor difficulties quickly make life impossible).

TV Highlights

Friends (NBC) 8 pm EST/7 pm CST
The friends, having not seen each other in years and each facing his or her own mid-life crisis, plan a six-way orgy with the help of Facebook.

The Bob Newhart Show (CBS) 9 pm EST/8 pm CST
Bob waits for Emily to visit him in the nursing home, but she never comes. But Howard shows up… in drag!

The Honeymooners (CBS) 8:30 pm EST/7:30 pm CST
Ralph and Alice decompose in their graves, far removed from the noise of the city.


I’m going to try to stop using the word “nostalgia” in reference to my affection for music, having realized it implies a period when affection for the music to which the nostalgia applies was non-existent or forgotten, whereas my affections have been fairly unchanging and consistently intense since childhood. I’d never say, for example, that I’m nostalgic for my family or that visiting my family is a nostalgia trip.

Are musicians nostalgic people? I don’t know if my feeling can be generalized, but I thought about it while reading Simon Reynolds’s piece on Lana Del Ray in the new Spin, where he says: “As time goes on, signs become steadily more detached from their historical referents, hollowed-out. These sounds, gestures, and time-honored phrases are entering into a free-floating half-life, or afterlife, of pure style—dated-yet-timeless beauty.”

I don’t object to the idea, really, but I wish he was more specific about these “historical referents,” which are written about as if they are self-evident and inherently meaningful. When were the signs of music ever attached to anything absolute, readily apparent, solid? (The graphic on page 51 doesn’t clarify much—does the first appearance of a color-coded genre represent the height of its realness, and if so, why?) Part of the problem has to do with how we imagine the lives of modern musicmakers. Are they just Internet-crazed symbol abusers who can’t decide what they like or like everything and who never learned about anything in an organic environment? More likely, they wake up with a small amount of stuff they want to say and self-imposed and/or natural limits on their means of saying it, most of this determined during formative years when signs seemed well-attached to their referents, if somewhat mysterious and confusing. ~ I’m probably missing the point, but still, things to think about.

Call for empathy

I remember reading that Deerhunter’s “Helicopter” is an act of “superhuman empathy,” which I always thought should read simply “empathy.” Scratch the “super,” because it reads like an attempt to excuse everyone else from a similar empathy with a character who really demands to be understood (it’s not the empathy that’s so super, but its translation into art), and scratch the “human,” because “human empathy” is redundant. So… let’s all have some empathy, people, it need not be superhuman.


For posterity, this New Yorker piece, which says everything I would ever want to say about how little we know about what things mean and who people are.


What pop music have we been tolerating this past year? I’m pretty fond of “Sexy & I Know It,” “Love You Like A Love Song,” and the part on the immensely superior (can’t believe I’m saying this) club version of “We Found Love” where the vocal sounds like falling even as the notes rise. Next update in a year or two, there might be a few more good radio songs by then.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a lighthouse light, lit up,

A springtime mix CD, intended primarily for an upcoming drive to Las Cruces:

[1] Real Estate – “Blue Lebaron”
[2] No Age – “Chem Trails”
[3] Pat Benatar – “We Live For Love”
[4] Big K.R.I.T. – “Dreamin’”
[5] Tennis – “It All Feels The Same”
[6] Yuck – “Georgia”
[7] Boogie Down Productions – “Stop The Violence”
[8] Jay Reatard – “Nightmares”
[9] Girls Names – “Bury Me”
[10] Elton John – “Son Of Your Father”
[11] Eric B. & Rakim – “Chinese Arithmetic”
[12] Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Share The Red”
[13] Stereolab – “Motoroller Scalatron”
[14] Television – “Days”
[15] Perfume Genius – “Take Me Home”
[16] TLC – “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
[17] Queen – “Misfire”
[18] Avi Buffalo – “What’s In It For?”
[19] The Ropers – “Waiting”
[20] Bettie Serveert – “Heaven”
[21] Janet Jackson – “Together Again”

Hoping to also spend a lot of time listening to the new Shins, and the full albums that contain those choice Bettie Serveert, Reatard and Malkmus cuts, all of which are perfect for the road and the latter of which I'm starting to realize is as lovely and quotable as a lot of the best of Malkmus: the distortion is way too clear, etc.

Finally: TLC's CrazySexyCool is full of surprises, including that strange Prince cover, almost identical to the original except for the vocals...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brian Finds His Man

I always figured the girl Brian Wilson sings to on "Don't Talk" either doesn't exist or would quickly lose patience with his true love ways. So...

BRIAN: I can hear so much in your sighs.

MIKE: Take me home.

BRIAN: And I can see so much in your eyes.

MIKE: Tend to me.

BRIAN: There are words we both could say.

MIKE: Baby, lay me down easy, for I have grown weary on my own.

BRIAN: But don't talk, put your head on my shoulder.

MIKE: Oh, alone, I wither and I bruise ... I run my mouth like a fool! I'll be so quiet for you.

BRIAN: Come close, close your eyes and be still.

MIKE: Look like a child for you.

BRIAN: Don't talk, take my hand and let me hear your heartbeat.

MIKE: Be like a shadow of a shadow of a shadow for you.

BRIAN: Being here with you feels so right.

MIKE: Take me home, tend to me.

BRIAN: We could live forever tonight.

MIKE: Baby, lay me down easy.

BRIAN: Let's not think about tomorrow.

MIKE: For I have grown weary on my own. Oh, alone, I wander aimless, I work the corner of an endless grid.

BRIAN: And don't talk, put your head on my shoulder, come close, close your eyes and be still.

MIKE: I'll be so still for you.

BRIAN: Don't talk, take my hand and listen to my heartbeat.

MIKE: Like a dead god, wait until my eyes part.

BRIAN: Listen, listen, listen.

MIKE: Oh, all for you.

BRIAN: Don't talk, put your head on my shoulder. Don't talk, close your eyes and be still. Don't talk, put your head on my shoulder. Don't talk, close your eyes and be still. Don't talk, put your head on my shoulder.

1. Sources:
The Beach Boys, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)"
Perfume Genius, "Take Me Home"
Neither of which ever uses the word "love."
2. Sort of what I was trying to get at here.
3. It just occurred to me how much Perfume Genius has in common with Randy Newman, in the economy of his songs and especially in the way he sings "tend to me."
4. But let's please not actualize this dialogue, aural mash-ups are the worst.