Tuesday, November 18, 2008
so I was following the threads of a forum, and came across a site with archives of mountain goats shows. omg. i have spent the last twelve hours rabidly going through them. ain't even done yet. more tomorrow. oh holy shit, you guys, have i told you how much i love the variation and subtle nuance of live shows? fuck, it's all so cool. i'm peeing my pants in all the right ways right now.
OH AND SORRY--I'M NOT GONNA TELL YOU WHERE IT'S AT. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
for the longest time, i would mention one of my favortie bands, and people would say who? luck-whats? i would go to their rare shows at small sardine-packed clubs full of twee kids from portland and vancouver who'd come the distance to hear melbourne's finest LUCKSMITHS play a little set for them. these were fans who knew all the words, and jumped around (danced! in seattle!--if you don't know why this is strange, DO NOT move here). finally, people are slowly coming around, and apparently the boys are enjoying some well-earned love back home in 'oz, but they are still a long ways from belle & sebastian levels. which is far from coldplay levels. which is far from rolling stone levels. and, urm, all of that is good for me, i'd say... selfish bastard, me.
so the lucksmiths started out back in 199(3?) when one of them was the age i was then, one was a year younger, and one a year older. they're of my generation, is what i'm sayin, and back then i was not savvy enough to have my own band, thank you. nor was i savvy enought to pick up vinyl from an obscure australian trio on a label that you couldn't get over here.
in '98 i heard a track on seattle's kexp (was it still kcmu then? i don't remember...), but it sounded great--chamber-pop, twee, whatever you wanted to call it. and then when 'why that doesn't surprise me' came out in 2001, i was onboard for the haul. in short order, i hooked up with their indie label (the late candle records, run by chris crouch, was home to a host of massively talented antipodean acts, like darren hanlon, the girls from the clouds, richard easton, ruck rover (now fred astereo) and a bunch of others-it was one of those watershed labels that opens up a whole genre for an entire scene *sigh* i miss them) and ordered the back catalogue, and quickly became very expert on them (interviewing main writer marty donald several years ago for now-defunct 'rivet magazine'), and bugging all but three of my friends about them. the three in question became fans as well.
anyways, the lucksmiths are a blend of jonathan richman-esque self-deprecating humour, smart, clever and touching lyrics, and twangy jangly guitars, set up by frontman tali white's stand-up drumkit and velvety falsetto. mark monnone sets the bass down and all three have written songs for the duration, though donald has written the lion's share. mid state orange's louis richter joined the band for the tour supporting 2005's 'warmer corners' and he has become, after more than a decade member number four. his first song for the band leads off the newest release, 'FIRST FROST,' which just came out last month. the boys went down to a rickety little cabin in tasmania, were tormented by local mice, failed to see a thylacine, and made a beautiful little record which their new label (owned in part by monnone, by the way) describes as being a record for those who "think the lucksmiths sound too much like the lucksmiths." i don't actually get that. 'first frost' sounds EXACTLY like the lucksmiths, and i do mean that as a good thing. the lyrics have the same gentle humour and sweetness, and the quality of the music is as high as ever. it's a little fuller with a fourth guitarist, especially one so good at embroidering hooks and driving riffs through donald's kinks-y jangle, but that hasn't been new for more than three years. whatever. if that gets the punters in the door, then well done. monnone has some real gems in there, and donald's tone is pitch-perfect in sweetly articulated numbers like "good light" and "california in poular song." donald and monnone rarely, if ever, sing lead vocals, and i consider a rare gift for a band to have such synergy between a dynamic singer and other writing band members--with tali white, the lucksmiths have carried it off with aplomb for years. every song sounds naturally organic and well-fitted to its components. my only complaint is that white, who is capable of some great emotionally cutting songs like "sunlight in a jar," here only contributes a track ("up with the sun"). hopefully this means he's been writing for his other project, the guild league. never a prolific contributor to the lucksmiths, white has a slightly different tone to his writing (whereas monnone and donald, while slightly discernable to the connoisseur, are fairly complimentary) and i always want to hear what's rattling around in his brain. espaecially since he's singing...
if well-crafted little love songs are your cup of tea (i ain't talking angsty emo here, by the way--just real good aussie indie-pop), check out the lucksmiths. you may have a little trouble right now getting ahold of 'first frost' (unless you order from their label, lost and lonesome, in 'oz), but it'll come (hopefully the band will be back through again soon--last time they were here they played the croc' and it was a little sparse; i mean granted, it was a cold wintery monday, but I WAS THERE, and i almost never go out). in the meantime, catch up. then come dance with me.
so i spent about an hour or so, earlier in the week, writing this really long, drawn-out post about the mountain goatsand kaki king12" black pear tree e.p. oh man, i worked on that for a wahile, checking all fucking sorts of facts and shit, and sticking in this and that hyperlink, and would you know it? this fucking platform screwed me over on it, and i seriously considered smashing the shit out of my screen, but thankfully i did not, i cannot afford to spend another 2K right now, thank you. but now, i'm logging on the write this new post and the stupid shit has changed the formatting tool selection, SO, is this in the font i prefer? who knows! is it in italics? bold-face? zapf-dingbats? how the hell would i know?
pretty damned irritating.
so, i meant to write this stuff earlier. i was all poetic before, but fuck it at this point. get on the mac train, blogger. i mean seriously. i only know two people who use PCs. one of them is very attractive. one of them, not so pretty, works for microsoft. but he runs vista on his macbook pro.
john darnielle of the mountain goats uses a mac.
and he also works with people like scott solter who "committed" bpt to tape in north carolina this summer. those who visit mr darnielle's flickr page have ben tormented with the existence of this record because of one tantalizing, teasing picture. i am not going to hyperlink to it. look it up if you want to. i am feeling nasty tonight, sorry.
so the mountain goats used to put out shitloads of stuff in small tasty packages, like eps and singles and splits and comps and all this shit. sometimes, things like jack and faye wouldn't even be released, but dammit, you knew they were out there somewhere (like online). sometimes they would ave etchings by nikki mcclure, like new asian cinema and sometimes they would be in elaborate little sacks, like on juhu beach. and then, of course, sometimes there are only 666 of them, like the ep mentioned below. black pear tree is not quite so elaborately manufactured. it has a simple, classy cover. there were some pretty swirly vinyl copies (200) distributed randomly amongst the edition, but the music is the same, and the selection of who got the swirlies was random, as i say, so it was fair. the only thing that freaked me the fuck out, was that, like satanic messiah, bpt was a tour-only type deal. fortunately, john gave some copies to various distributors, and peole like me were able to get copies (i couldn't make it to the last show here, because i am a mess--it is a long story, we ain't going there). so thank you (again) three beads of sweat. and also for the other stuff i will mention another time *cough-cough*.
oh, wait, there's music in this ep. i should mention that, right? so, it's good, i think i mentioned that already. i was not before, and am not intimately now, familiar with kaki king's oeuvre, but i checked out a video of her on letterman doing ridiculous things with (to?) a guitar, and it's fairly obvious why on the liner noted to bpt she's credited with "greater guitars," whereas jd is credited, somewhat self-dis-servingly, i will say, with "lesser guitars." king is also credited with music credits for tracks 2 and 5 (mosquito repellent and roger patterson van respectively), but the overall tone of the album is far from broken by any disparity. it sounds like king and darnielle have been a band for yonks, although, as the story goes, jd's been a fan for a while, but kk was unaware of who tmg was. lol. anyway, king does vocal service on the opening title track to darnielle's lyrics (he wrote 'em all, goats fans) and sings them as if they were her own. so if anyone ever ascribed a gender bias to tmg's lyrics that conceit could easily be overturned in this one song.
the record is pretty spare, going the opposite direction from the rockiness superchunk drummer jon wurster has lately brought to the band (king does percussion, and it's subtle and rasping)--much like the sm ep. it would maybe be ineffective, stylistically over the length of an lp, but in this form, the atitude, the sounds and the words all come together beautifully to form a very authentic and organic whole.
special shout out to supergenesis, the first track on side b. it's a miltonian tale of failure in the diabolical vein, and of the rueful lust for retribution. analogic and quietly vicious, it slides comfortably into the ranks of jd's great pissed-off-and-gonna-cut-yer-nuts-off songs. which is one of the reasons we're all here, i suppose.
i've been thinking a lot about the vinyl situation lately, by the way. especially as i've been buying a lot of vinyl. i read something recently by damon krukowski about victrolas and old wax, and it seems like that's all anyone's talking about on the mg forum, and i have mentioned its merits myself in relation to boyracer and k records and stuff. but (and this will be the focus of its own post soonish) i keep thinking, well, if you can hear the music and the music's goo, does it REALLY matter what format it's in? i mean, it's nice, and i would not part with my special records--or any album art or notes or whatever, but it seems like this schism between the vinyl-fetishists' totems on one side, and the vapid itunes download on the other, and a wide gulch between that threatens to engulf other options. that's the part that worries me. opinions on this welcome. i'll be writing more about it later.
so to sum up: black pear tree=so good. jd assures the people (many of whom are highly anxious wanting this record) that it is not meant to be unattainable, and that somehow people will be able to get hold of it. maybe not on vinyl (lol). probably not on tape thought, thank goodness (hold on, carlos! i got no hate for the cassette, but my deck ain't worked for about eleven years, and i want those damned daniel johnson tapes (not to mention tmg stuff!!!)--i just want options, alright?).
in the meantime, go download satanic messiah. don't be a baby, it sounds just fine. of course, it may sound amazing on vinyl. i wouldn't know...
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I am sitting here on my couch watching the election results. There are tears rolling down my cheeks, and I am an unsentimental man. The war is finally over. It's time for a change, and to quote the catalyst:
Yes we can.
What a birthday present...