"Aaron Sorkin gave bad advice on Angry Birds 11-4. The key is NOT not to use the green bird as a boomerang - it’s to not use the green guy full-stop. you just need to aim the first bird (the big red one) at the helmet of the nearest pig. You get it exactly right, the bird goes through, takes out the tower, killing all the rest of the pigs. You do that, you don’t need the green bird.
"That said, very funny episode. Enjoyed it a lot." — MatthewL (Comments)
I find myself less drawn to international psychedelic comps than variations on other Western forms. Maybe because I stopped doing drugs when I got out of high school and can’t disassociate thick fuzz psych-rock from that time (or worse, the times during which most American psych-rock was recorded); maybe because the first thousand times I heard someone elaborate over “Black Magic Woman” were enough. In theory, there’s enough looseness and strangeness to provide room for all sorts of interesting, decentralized freak-flaggishness.
But as Ricky Ililonga hints in the notes to this two-disc 2010 Now-Again/Stones Throw comp of his work, rock beats are so primitive that they’re almost a handicap to more rhythmically advanced cultures. You’re always free to overthrow your influences — but fidelity is easy and people emulate success, and when you’ve been living in a British colony that’s been saturated with imperial pop music it only makes sense to find inspiration there. Ililonga talks warmly of post-colonial visits by James Brown and Duke Ellington, but was mostly captivated by blues artists and the guitar sounds of Jimi Hendrix.
Not especially illustrated in this track! It’s the first disc of this set, Ililonga’s early singles and first full-length (Wings of Africa, 1975), with which I’ve fallen in love. There’s an exploratory variety there that settles down quickly on disc two (which features tracks recorded only 6-12 months later). Some of the songs have still-excited foundations. “Walk and Fight” has a couple deep hooks, some great (though sloppy, yes) brass trade-offs, and an unexpected, cleansing soul turn toward its end. I’ve been strutting to this most of the morning, despite the snow.
What I loved about Loleatta Holloway was how much church she carried around with her. She redeemed “You Light Up My Life,” somehow. She takes this song — she’ll tell you what it is — about getting ready for a night out and makes it perfect for an occasion such as this, makes an occasion such as this not as sad. Hold them gates, Dude. She’ll boogie through when she’s good and ready.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 3/17/11.
"I thought you were all lined up for confession," said a woman passing by on West 60th Street.
The band played for more than two hours. They — whoever they are — played that one and that one and that one. I’m sure there are people who know the names of the members and the pieces and their movements, and I dread that it’s all Googleable, but from the first GY!BE record I bought I’ve chosen to accept their liner notes less as code than as an opportunity to obscure players behind presentation and as a suggestion that there are more pressing facts to be found elsewhere.
(I haven’t seen so many books on a merch table since the Against Me!/Ted Leo + Rx/Future of the Left tour, and that happened just before an election.)
They played in the dark — helpful when you’re eager to mistake alchemy for magic — in front of a screen on which two sets of mostly grey images — funnels of fleeing birds, multilingual texts slipping into puddles of emulsion, urgent refineries — were projected side-by-side. The music this band makes describes a snowglobe landscape where apocalypse is a constant concern. It stares anxious at dark-clouded approach over stretches of exhausted loam; it gnashes and pulverizes and incinerates; it watches with twisted regret as a satisfied Doom moves on elsewhere, then turns its head and waits for more. There’s a section where they play the world’s most lost-sounding found-sound radio sermon, and there it was hard not to feel like the church setting was too appropriate. Like we were huddled in refuge, like at the end of the George Pal version of War of the Worlds, waiting for the world to end while the world itself is busy ending would-be world-enders. The end is nigh, it’s all around us all the time, it’s not going away any time soon.
(A probably incomplete list of bands I have seen perform in a church, not including church basements but including the old Limelight: This one, Stars of the Lid, Mono, Pelican, The Polyphonic Spree, Rollins Band.)
The end is also LOUD, as you probably would have guessed. My half-plugged head leapt from convincing circumstance (rumbling pews) to imagined atmospherics (explosions of stained glass, chunks of falling plaster) to neighborly concern (in which I rechristened GY!BE as N!MBY). When all the instruments were silent, the buzz through the speakers was as loud enough to be an instrument under normal circumstances.
(I don’t think I’ve been to a concert since… Orchestre Poly-Rythmo? Last July? That can’t be right.)
No horns, unfortunately. (How do you end the world without at least one trumpet?) There were eight people, down there in the dark. There was a guy on the right who started the night messing around on the floor and ended up with a guitar; from my angle, in the middle of show, it looked like he held a gadget that I thought might have controlled playback or maybe just a game of Angry Birds (but I had a bad angle). Two guitarists on the left. Two percussionists, who switched off on the kit and the assorted pile of other clatter (their glockenspiel at first sounded way too happy to be here, later found its place; everything that could be bowed got bowed). Bass player, electric; bass player, upright, bowed (who sometimes switched to either an electric bass or guitar); violin (bowed, banged). When they first filed out, they played a song that sounded like they were tuning for ten minutes. Behind them the word “HOPE” shivered on the screen.
“They say that I have no hits and I’m difficult to work with,” Mr. Waits said as he accepted the award, “and they say that like it’s a bad thing.” He added, “Songs are really just interesting things to be doing with the air.”
“So tired, tired of my dreams.” We need less music from people who used to write for Pitchfork, more music from people who used to play in Pitchfork. There are songs on the new Obits record — out on the 29th, order yourself up a gaggle of ‘em to tumble around in — that instantly went on repeat. “I Want Results,” “No Fly List,” aural turpentine air-punch stuff.
But doing laps last night with the album in my ‘buds it was the straight shot of “New August” that knocked the wind out, buckled me over. Just two verses, one chorus, a guitar part you can’t hide from. Stucco-voiced, stucco-faced Rick Froberg’s never had a problem making things necessary.
“By my standards Super is way, way better than Kick-Ass because the latter was made with an underlying affection for superhero movies & mythology while Super mostly feels contempt for it. It’s the closest approximation I’ve ever seen of my own view of superhero films and fans of same.”—
Seventy-six cents to go: Blue Valentine's Oscar season run finally brought the name of one of the people behind “You and Me” to light. Numero Group has released two more songs from Penny et al. No mention whether the weird monster voice on “I Cried a Tear” is a flaw in the master or some digitizing hiccup, but I’m a sucker for the emphatics at the end.
And now, a scene from the 2007 made-for-Syfy Channel movie Ice Spiders:
Dr. April Sommers (as played by former Melrose Place actress Vanessa Williams): “A few years ago, the Department of Defense confiscated the fossilized remains of a prehistoric arachnae they found in Afghanistan. They sent the remains to us for further study.”
Dan “Dash” Dashiell (as played by former Melrose Place actor Patrick Muldoon): “So you thawed these things out from a Himalayan glacier?”
Fantastic film, finally something from last year I can say I liked without reservation. There’s so much Polanski in this, not just the recognizable echoes of The Tenant and Frantic or his standard fears of paranoia and awkward powerlessness. The espionage part could only matter to non-Americans (Brits - we consider you one of our colonies, now, anyway); “thrills” are downplayed in favor of a leisurely, jet-lagged conscience-and-identity-suck. Folks looking for those things aren’t listening to the film or its nameless protagonist. Enjoy instead the almost poetic observation and the sly craftsmanship and the humor and the intelligence and that set (!) and the satisfactory fruits of the wonky casting (Brosnan and Williams are perfect, sure, but hello Kim Cattrall and Jim Belushi and Eli Wallach). A movie for grown-ups, right down to its inevitable grey sky shrug.
Shiina Ringo, “Toki ga Bousou Suru (Time Runs Reckless)”
One of her B-sides. She wrangled a genius career’s worth of them together in 2008 on Watashi to Hōden and hoo boy that is not where you want to go to introduce yourself to her work. It’s a maddening two discs because it’s both all over the place and alarmingly cohesive. White dwarf dense with one-offs and elaborations of songs found elsewhere, ridiculously exact (did x track really need like seven different types of xylophones?) unless it’s being purposefully inexact, without the context of the rest of her catalog it can be like staring into a star without sensing any of its light or heat, just blindness and gravity.
But this one, a simple limping waltz that stumbles through Mozart and military snare and dissonant rumbles, felt right today.