27 June 2010

The Brian Jonestown Massacre Lament

I don’t have much interest in The Brian Jonestown Massacre but this afternoon, cold and miserable, I put on their 2004 album…And This Is Our Music and felt much better for it.

Like most people, I got pulled toward these guys by the hype of that split personality documentary, Dig! My favourite album of theirs is Thank God For Mental Illness. I don’t know why. I can’t even remember any of the songs. Maybe it’s not. I can’t really say. I just wanted to update this sad little blog with some sad little thoughts. Boo hoo. 

In 2005 or so I skipped class and went up to Gaslight Records to catch a reported in-store the band was going to play. It never happened. Anton Alfred Newcombe was MIA, last seen in St Kilda. Anton is the boss. He is a douche. He likes the Church. I don't mind the Church. Anyway, that was the day of the night they played an apparently god awful gig at The Hi Fi Bar. I'm glad I wasn’t there. Were You? 

13 June 2010

Fugazi Gush

So Fugazi are perhaps, maybe, probably, most likely the best band I have yet to discover in this world we share together. I could go on and on about my feelings toward them. For brevity, just know that for me, they embody everything that's desirable in a band. I pull them out of the stack occasionally and never fail to be in awe of their mastery, not just in the music they make (made?) but their philosophy/ideology. 

There's tons of unofficial Fugazi bootlegs out there. This weekend I found both the best quality recording and best performance yet. It's from the Irving Plaza, NYC 5/4/95 and you can get it here in parts One and Two. As always the band play songs from their entire discography, with the first part covering mostly material from Steady Diet Of Nothing to Red Medicine. There's lots of caustic and funny banter from Guy. 

When I first went to England I met a guy who had taped two Fugazi shows from '88 & '90 himself. These were the dark pre-download days so I jumped at the chance to dub them. I remember  my friends at the bottom of the world listening to them and freaking out. 

I finally got to see Fugazi in June '97. Twice. After the Auckland show I  drove 492 kilometers to see them in Wellington the next night. They are two of my favorite gigs ever and going to them was one of the better decisions I've made. 

Meeting your heroes is generally not advisable, but Fugazi were cool tourists. 

Found A Photograph...

Went To A Gig...

I dragged my old bones to a gig last night. It has been awhile. I'm slouched in my chair with a hangover to prove I did it. A good line-up of the new guard in a Coburg art gallery got me there. I like art gallery gigs and I like gold coin donation beer.

It was my second time seeing Absolute Boys and Gold Tango. Absolute Boys were the the band of the night for me; good songs and plenty of potential to improve. New War were okay, I've been meaning to check 'em out for awhile but I just didn't really feel them, if you know what I mean. Likewise with Gold Tango. I'm interested in anything the members do (Useless Children, etc), but I couldn't completely let myself enjoy them. Too many beers, probably.

Afterward we caught Chrome Dome at the Empress (of India). They were the best I've seen them. I may buy their debut album yet.

10 June 2010

A Confession

Do you ever stand in front of that misshapen pile of CD’s you own and wonder what the hell to put on? You know you should put on a record, but God, where to begin and who can be bothered choosing something, pulling out the sleeve, putting the thing on the platter, carefully placing the needle. Don’t get me wrong, I love the vinyl ritual, but sometimes you just want easy access to good sounds, right?

My CD collection isn’t massive. I’ve culled it down to the absolute essentials so everything in there is good to great. Compared to my vinyl collection, I treat my CD’s like an albino brother who ran away, became a drug addict and is now a shame on the family name.

What’s my point here? Well, I play about 10 of those albino CD’s on a regular basis: Dr. Dre, 2001; T.Rex, The Slider; Dead Moon, Echoes Of The Past come to mind. Aside from compilations like the Can’t Stop It! series, anything from the Soul Jazz label and the Anthology Of American Folk Music, my most listened CD is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco.

Now hang on. Keep reading, I can explain. It’s a masterpiece. Yeah I know every Pitchfork-touting nerd in town thinks that, but it’s true dudes. I’m up to my elbows in assignments at the moment and YHF is my best friend. We laugh, we cry, we drink!

I stumbled across Wilco at the 2003 Auckland Big Day Out. They played mid afternoon on one of the small stages to a ridiculously small audience. I didn’t know anything about them then but I was sold. Actually, I forgot about them until I saw Sam Jones’ I Am Trying To Break Your Heart documentary on the making (and breaking, and fighting, etc) of the album. I was sold all over again. 

The reason I'm garbling about Wilco is last month I had the opportunity to meet drummer Glen Kotche and guitarist Nels Cline at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. They’re two of the nicest guys going. I said to Glenn, ‘I dig your band’ and he was like, ‘thanks.’ I didn’t tell him that his percussion intro to the song I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is one of my favourite opening sequences ever. Nels and Glenn played as a duo at Bennett’s Lane later that night and were as far removed from Wilco as your imagination can stretch. 

It’s no secret that YHF is a document of a band at the height of its powers. If you’ve heard the demos floating around the Internet you can appreciate just how much Wilco crafted the songs and the mastery of Jim O’Rourke’s mix. The little things he incorporates totally make the record. He is absolute key here.

This is the only Wilco album I own. I’ve heard Summerteeth and A Ghost Is Born, but honestly, I’m happy for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to be entirely representative of the Wilco I know and love.

09 June 2010

Sweet Marianne

I'm making a compilation of music for my Dad. It's all the stuff we used to listen to when I was growing up, stuff he would play me. 90%  of it is utter crap. There's some Eddy Cochran and Buddy Holly in there, but apart from that it's of little use to anyone but him.

One thing I did revist, and probably the most interesting record in my parents entire record collection is Marianne Faithfull's  Broken English album. I know it's not exacly Sticky Fingers or Dark Side of The Moon like I desperately hoped for as a kid, but it's something.

Just what is Marianne Faithfull saying in The Eyes Of Lucy Jordan? Is it some kind of suburban housewife nightmare? Does the woman in the song kill herself at the end?

Hang on, I'll do some wiki-cheat research...
Faithfull said that the story she intended to put across in the song was that Lucy climbs to the roof top but gets taken away by "the man who reached and offered her his hand" in an ambulance ("long white car") to a mental hospital, and that the final lines ("At the age of thirty-seven she knew she'd found forever / As she rode along through Paris with the warm wind in her hair ...") are actually in her imagination at the hospital.
This song could have so easily been a folk tune (it was originally done by Dr Hook?). The opening line, 'The morning sun touch lighty on, the eyes of Lucy Jordan' always reminds me of the Fairport Convention. Faithfull's voice is amazing in the second verse, the part where her voice changes/breaks as she sings 'and the kid's are off to school', and 'rearrange the flowers'. I love that verse. Thank God for ciggarettes, eh?

I wonder how much input produer Mark Miller Mundy had on that post-punkish synth sound she got. It's so subversive the way it barely changes through the whole song yet you hardly notice. I like the way he brings up the second synth half-way through the first chorus and builds it thereafter.

07 June 2010

Giant Steps

My first ever jazz tape, Ellington/Hawkins & Eric Dolphy's Outward Bound. Dubbed from loan CD's at Auckland Library sometime in the mid 1990's. Unbeknown to me at the time, these two albums are a straightforward jazz style, nothing too crazy and a good place to begin. Something like Ornette or Albert Ayler would have flipped me out back then. I remember dancing at home with a girlfriend to Duke and it being so cool. I also recall alternating this tape in the car with my other new discovery: Minor Threat - Out Of Step.


Stevie Nicks' pageboy

Dead animals, alive animals, idiotic things written on walls by anonymous losers, naked things, acid, cheese burgers and music. --------