Archive for the ‘The Clean’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE-“Complications” from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers (2009).

I liked Broken Social Scene’s first album quite a lot.  This is their cover of a song by The Clean.  I know of The Clean from the Topless Women Talk about Their Lives soundtrack although not this particular song.  (What’s with all these New Zealand bands being on Merge?)  I found the original song online.  Interestingly, the original version is only 2 minutes long.  But Broken Social Scene always does things by double, so their version is 4 minutes long.

The cover version opens with a young person saying “This song was written before ‘Born to Run,'” although as far as I can tell “Complications” was written in 2001. So who knows.

The cover is a fuzzy, ramshackle mess of a song, which is not to say that it isn’t good (the original is kind of ramshackle, too).  The prominent melody doesn’t exactly remind me of “Born to Run” but I can see the connection.  The big question is, what does BSS do with the extra two minutes?  Well, mostly they jam, with some wild soloing–but it’s all mixed just under the fuzz of the noise.

This is another strangely faithful cover (5 in a row so far) for this covers album.  And once again, I think I like the cover a little better.

[READ: April 1, 2012] “Once an Empire”

Clearly I wasn’t reading every story that came in Harper’s back in 2010, because I know I skipped this one.  But now that I’m quite fond of Rivka Galchen, I decided it was time to go back and check it out.

How can you not like a story that starts out: “I’m a pretty normal woman, maybe even an extremely normal one.”  You know that normal things will not be afoot by the end of the story, right?  And so it is, by the second paragraph: “I never thought I’d be the victim of an especially unusual crime.  Or of any crime, really.”

You’re totally hooked, right? Me too!

The narrator takes her wonderfully sweet time getting to the crime: dithering over whether or not it was Tuesday night (“Every Tuesday night I go and see whatever is playing at the movie theater nearby.  I’m not choosy.  I’m happy to see what everyone else is going to see.”) or Wednesday morning. Talking about the giant clock/thermometer on the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower that keeps her company.  And then describing her walk home.

She notices that her windows are dark–she always leaves her lights on.  And then, she notices that some thing–not something, some thing–is emerging from one of her windows.  And as she focuses, she realizes it is her ironing board. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The Believer July/August 2009 Music Issue Compilation CD: “Fantastic and Spectacular” (2009).

After the globe-spanning CD in last year’s issue, the 2009 Believer CD returns to the dominant musical style of the first few.  This disc is a collection of unreleased, acoustic songs from the editors’ favorite singer-songwriters.

And, wow, check out the bands that are represented here: Sam Phillips, The Clean, The Waterboys, Lloyd Cole, Young Marble Giants, The English Beat, Lisa Germano, Unrest, Suddenly, Tammy!, The Lilac Time and Mary Margaret O’Hara.  It’s an amazing collection of artists who agreed to release these songs only to this Believer compilation.

The liner notes ask a few questions of each artist so you get a nice peek into their working styles.  And for a few of them you find out what they’ve been up to for the last few years.  Although, sadly Mary Margaret O’Hara (sister of actress Catherine O’Hara!) only mentions that you can get a copy of her only released album Miss America directly from her.  And since I thin it’s a great album, I’ll pass along her email for ordering purposes only: m2oh8 @ hotmail.com.

So, what do we get in this collection?  Sam Phillips provides a fantastic drum-heavy, 90 second song.  Robert Scott’s song is a delightful, simple acoustic track.  I’ve always liked The Waterboys, but Mike Scott tends to go on and on, and this track is no exception.  It’s very very catchy but it’s over 10  minutes long!  The consistently excellent Lloyd Cole doesn’t disappoint.  Phil Wilson’s poppy number is very good.

I’m surprised that I don’t have any Young Marble Giants in my collection, and Stuart Moxham’s song here makes me want to see what I’m missing.  I swore that Dave Wakeling of The English Beat was Bob Mould on this song, but as soon as I saw who he was I recognized that English Beat voice in a more intimate setting.

Mark Robinson of Unrest also records as Cotton Candy, and this absurdly poppy ditty (the only duet on the disc) provides the title of the disc and one of the truly happiest moments. Except, of course, for Beth Sorrentino from Suddenly, Tammy! whose song “Such a Beautiful Day” is absolutely wonderful.  And if it is any indication of the greatness of Suddenly , Tammy!  then their absence from the msuicial scene is a real shame.

Stephen Duffy who records as Tin Tin and The Lilac Time writes songs that are instantly memorable and catchy as anything.  This one is no exception. And the Mary Margaret O’Hara song is not quite as out there as you might expect from her, but it’s really quite good.  I wonder what she has been up to for decades now.

There’s a secret bonus track from a brand new New Zealand band called Haunted Love.  When this issue went to print they were about to release their first EP, and this track doesn’t even appear on that (it’s THAT secret!).  It’s a great song and I hope good things come to them.  It is also not acoustic, but everyone can break their own rules once in a while right?

This is another string compilation from The Believer.  The track listing is here.

[READ: December 16, 2009] “Diary of an Interesting Year”

So this story is, indeed, a diary.  It is written in several entrees.  And, as we learn from the first entry, the diary itself was a gift to the writer from G. for her 30th birthday.  And, although we don’t learn it from the first entry, we quickly discover that global warming predictions were accurate and, basically the earth as we know it is no more.

But what I liked about the writing was that it revealed this global catastrophe somewhat subtly.


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topI learned about this soundtrack from a very cool article in The Believer (the beginning of which is online here).  In the piece, the author claims to have never seen the film (he was given the soundtrack by a friend) and he doesn’t want  to change his associations with the music by watching the film.  And now, I too can say I have never seen the film, and likely never will.  And I really enjoy the soundtrack too.

The soundtrack is sort of an excuse to showcase a bunch of bands from New Zealand’s Flying Nun record label.  Featured artists are The 3DS, The Bats, The Clean, Superette, Snapper, The Chills, Straightjacket Fits, and Chris Knox.

It’s nigh impossible to give an overarching style to these songs.  Even when the bands have multiple songs on the soundtrack, they are not repetitive at all.  Even trying to represent a genre would be difficult.  The opener “Hey Suess” is almost a surf-punk song, while Chris Knox’s gorgeous “Not Given Lightly” is a stunning ballad.  There’s a cool shoe-gazer song “Saskatchewan,” and some great simple indie rock (a bunch of other tracks).

The only thing these bands have in common is that they’re all from New Zealand.  And as with any large body of land, no two bands are going to sound alike.  Nevertheless, all of the bands fall under the indie rock umbrella.  It’s a great collection of songs that many people probably haven’t heard.  It’s worth tracking down for the great collection of tunes and, if all you know about New Zealand is The Flight of the Conchords.

[READ: September 24, 2009] Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

After finishing Infinite Jest I wasn’t sure just how much more DFW I would want to read right away (of course, seeing as how I have now read almost all of his uncollected work, that is a rather moot point).  But when I saw that John Krasinski (of TV’s The Office) was making a film of this book, I had to jump in and read it again.

Obviously, there are many questions to be asked about this film ().  Is it going to be based on all the stories in the book?  (Surely not, some are completely unrelated).  Is it going to be just the interviews? (Probably, and yet there’s no overall narrative structure there).  And, having seen the trailer, I know structure is present.  I’m quite interested in the film.  In part because I didn’t LOVE the stories.  Well, that’s not quite right.  I enjoyed them very much, but since they weren’t stories per se, just dialogue, I’m not afraid of the stories getting turned into something else.  The text isn’t sacred to me, which may indeed make for the perfect set-up for a film.

Anyhow, onto the stories.

The obvious joke is that the author of Infinite Jest has created a book with “Brief” in the title!  But indeed, many of these stories are quite brief.  Some are only a couple of paragraphs (which true, from DFW that could still be ten pages).  But, indeed, most of the interviews in the book are brief too (except the final one in the book, which is nearly 30 pages).   (more…)

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