Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Go! Team Live at the Apollo

Nice review over at Music For Robots (scroll down a bit) of the first of three nights of The Go! Team shows in NYC. I can't remember the last time a spankin-new band took hold so instantly as a fave. Here's obviously why: "...the sheer joyous energy the band put out onstage really effected the crowd in a way I've only seen a few times in a New York City club ..."

I'm re-reading Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music right now. It always slightly turned me off by its extremely white-60s-hippie view of soul music: Otis and Rufus and such as musical descendents of the blues tradition; Motown as a purely commercial affair (whatever the hell that means - as one jazz player said, "that's why they call it the 'music business', not the 'music friends'"). But I s'pose I've grown up or somesuch shit, because this thing's really meshing with my music thoughts these days. And this passage, where Guralnick relates his own come-to-Jesus moment re: soul music, stuck out - I've got the page dog-eared, but reading that Go Team thing seemed to spark it all on its own. He's discussing a revue he went to in Boston as a young man, which featured (get this!) Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Garnet Mimms, Rufus Thomas, Joe Tex, The Tams, Sugar Pie DeSanto, and more:

I don't think Rufus Thomas or Joe Tex even showed up for that evening's performance, but that, I soon came to realize, was par for the course, and , so far as I can recall, their absence was never even announced from the stage or remarked upon by the cheerful, well-dressed, and enthusiastic audience which seemed to saunter in and out of the theater in waves, with many missing the opening act, some leaving before the closing act was done. It was the occasion, I came to understand, that was of consequence as much as the show itself. There was a spirit of community in that packed theater, encouraged, certainly, by the performers but springing from a common experience, an openly shared perception of reality, that was both palpable and infectious. New York Times reporter Clayton Riley has described his childhood memories of the Apollo in a somewhat earlier, more decorous era, how "folks just showed out, as the saying went, came gliding through the Apollo lobby with with proud, confident grace, wearing the best clothes and finest manners ..."

What I think Guralnick, and through him Riley, is describing, is exactly what rock music lost at some point to the tyranny of genius. 'Rockism' often gets tied into this idea of genius - the idea that someone like Bob Dylan or Radiohead is this incomparably brilliant creator of music who must be listened to and appreciated and studied. The idea that the body of work is more important than any single aspect, single moment, single performance (live or on record) - and therefore a band that has one truly great song is considered disposable.

That's, I suppose, what puts my thought in line with the anti-rockists, the pop-ists, whatever the fuck people on blogs call 'em. Because it seems to me that if you can create that experience that Guralnick is describing - the communal sharing of a set of ideas, or at least a set of drinks, for a little while, then you've succeeded in ways that a thousand people sitting still and quiet in a theater listening to whatever can never succeed in, right?

Hell, I dunno quite what I'm getting at - just, perhaps, that the tyranny of the tortured genius has been temporarily suspended by the likes of The Go! Team, who'd rather have you buy into the team for a moment than spend ten years figuring out what it means to place that comma there.

That's all a little ridiculous for a Wednesday morning, eh? Shut up. It's spring.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

DC Kevin rules earth

The greatest post-gig story in rock-music history. DC Kevin, of The Bolophonics (who, by the way, do not rock), tells the tale of his post-Grog & Tankard gig experiences, on his birthday no less, in our nation's capitol. Bless him. Bless Claudia, Mrs. Kevin.

Myles and Myles of na gCopaleen

Nice piece on about Flann O'Brien, maybe my favorite of the early 20th century Irish writers. His At Swim-Two-Birds was one of those magnificent moments when a book and your life intersect at exactly the right place and time - like On The Road is for almost everyone who reads it. (As long as you read it before turning 20.) I liked it enough to steal copies of one or two more of O'Brien's books - the Myles na gCopaleen collection of his Irish Times columns; The Poor Mouth - in a fit of springtime manic youthfulness.

I've forgotten how good it feels to shoplift arcane items - Flann O'Brien books, cassettes of old radio serial dramas, that Godfathers album I almost got busted for a Boscov's. And for the first time in I'm-not-sure-how-long I'm glad for St. Patrick's Day, all of a sudden. Because it's reminded me of At Swim-Two-Birds and the legacy of silliness and satire, the Shakespearian qualities of drink, and the gorgeous siphoned youth of spring.

Shit, that's almost poetry, and you know what O'Brien says about poetry (quoted in the Salon piece):

"Having considered the matter in -- of course -- all its aspects, I have
decided that there is no excuse for poetry. Poetry gives no adequate return in
money, it is expensive to print by reason of the waste of space occasioned by
its form, and nearly always promulgates illusory concepts of life. But a better
case for the banning of all poetry is the simple fact that most of it is bad.
Nobody is going to manufacture a thousand tons of jam in the expectation that
five tons may be eatable."

Pittsburgh Makes the Headlines Again

Usually when Pittsburgh makes the news, it's because we've been declared something: Most Liveable, Most Rockin', Worst for Singles, Worst for Jobs, Worst for Football (compared to the damnable Pat's)...

Now, Twinkies have been news around here since their inception. And considered GOOD news, no doubt! Fry 'em, or just eat 'em raw - the little cream-filled devils make everything better, even if your entire city is being decimated by 40 years of poor political and economic leadership! Through this AP wire story, the rest of the nation - and the world - can share in Pittsburgh's own ongoing struggle; we don't deny that we've secretly sought to acquire yellow-cake!

In Caliban bookshop the other day, I heard a San Fran psych-garage radio show, and the the DJ played the Swamp Rats, commenting afterwards that he had been to Pittsburgh, and that the Swamp Rats were definitely the only worthwhile thing that ever happened there. Well, move over ancient garage rock - and watch out for photos of famous art works remade using Twinkies!

As a child, my best friend's mother, Pat Roberts, published The Twinky Cookbook - which must be a kitsch collector's item by now. She, too, was a photographer working in the cream-filled yellow cake medium. Her followup, The International Twinky Cookbook - I recall helping her flesh out the recipe for Twinky Haggis - was dropped by the publisher, and never did see the light of day. That's what you get for being ahead of your time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Footie Crap

What am I supposed to say to the household Magpie (not to mention the far more taunting ones over here) when this sort of thing happens, on the same day that this sort of thing happens, a day after this sort of thing happens.

On the other hand, here's some good news from Pipers Pub: Monday, March 21, 2:45pm, Brighton vs. Reading on TV. Yes, I know, it's Reading - yer man from The Office's team. Still, worth a laugh or two to watch Albion, eh?

Veksing Questions...

It's not often - at this stage - I get to feel really, truly, on top of things musically. Yeah, ahead of 99% of the population, but that other 1% all seem to be full-time bloggers. (They probably are. Hell, I don't have a JOB and I blog FAR less than a lot of these music geeks.) But this time, it just feels so freakin' on-the-verge with Tom Vek. I can't get over this song - "I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes" (Check out the video here) - that I heard on some internet radio show based out of Brighton*, center of the hedonist's universe. Reminds me of a pesky British Rapture or, what we've all been looking for, Le Tigre for blokes. Plus, he's ugly. That's a BIG plus.

Speaking of Brit-Shit, check out MySpace's webcast of the American version of "The Office" tonight at 8pm - if you dare. Anyone who's seen "Men Behaving Badly" or "Coupling" in their American forms will know to watch out. Fact is, it ought to work, right? It's such an American show. But I have faith in U.S. network TV's ability to destroy the soul of any comedy.


(* By the way: What's up with losing to Plymouth and now Wigan in the same week? Is it beat up on your betters week in the Championship? Now the lads are in relegation danger, which is ridiculous if you notice that, for example, Reading ISN'T. Okay, I know nobody cares, but it helps to vent.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lukewarm Lukewarm Heat

I know I'm kinda late on this, but - Anybody hear this new Hot Hot Heat single, "Goodnight Goodnight"? If not, you can check it out on the front page of their website, or from Warner Bros.

I'm not a particular fan of the band - there's some good stuff on that thar Make Up the Breakdown thingy, but mostly they sound like a one-hit-wonder that hasn't had its hit yet. But this song's got a couple things that I haven't heard out of them before - maybe it's the one:

1) It's catchy in an entirely new way for them; catchy in the "memorable" way, as opposed to the "pop hooks are always catchy" way. Like Black Tie Revue (Pittsburghers), or Snuff maybe. (Or maybe I'm just thinking of them because they have a new singles collection coming out...)

2) It's stunningly commercial. Like, this song is already both a radio hit and the end-credits tune on a teen movie. It's already getting ugly guys laid and making the uncool think they're hip.

3) This one's got Warner behind it, rather than Subpop. A band like this was born to be on a major label (and to be dropped by said label immediately upon underselling expectations). Instantly, we've got video airplay, bigger mag stories, and radio airwaves cooking with Hot Hot expectations.

Thing is, it's not really that great a song - but I feel for these guys. I'm gonna listen to it 1,000 times a day (for free) for one week, out of sympathy. Bless 'em.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Andaman's Going Back to Normal

A flurry of wire service activity about the Andaman Islands, like this story about how the Onge tribe not only survived 100% intact but grew their numbers by one when a woman gave birth days after the disaster struck, and this story about the potential positive effects of the tsunami, which could find the Onge returning to their traditional hunter-gatherer way of life.

Interesting to read that even the Onge can trace great big chunks of misery back to the British rule. Brits brought them penal colonies, transplanted mainlanders, alcohol, and - as always - dependence on the British. Yikes!

The Onge now are apparently interested in going back to the way they lived before intrusion, before their gov't-built housing plans, etc. It's thought it might help the widespread depression amongst the people that's deeper and deeper amongst the tiny population (97, I believe). It reminds me so much of the theory that Stonehenge was a monument built by a prehistoric British leader to show the SUN to be on equal footing (gods-wise) with the MOON; that sun life, agrarian farming, was equally worthy as moon-life, night-time hunting. According to the theory, the people were deeply depressed by the cultural memories of what you might call night life - the excitement of the hunting life; the pride of it. And agrarian life made more sense logically, but had no religious/ceremonial backing to it: Thus Stonehenge, a monument to the moon (at least in this theory).

Kind of horrible to think that maybe our whole problem as a human race is that we should be wearing loincloths and spearing deer rather than blogging. Yet so obviously true.

Back in the Saddle

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm pretty bad at this.

Back at it, as of RIGHT NOW. I mean, look above this post, eh??