Archive for the ‘King Missile’ 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: ART BRUT-It’s a Bit Complicated (2007).

Art Brut is a really great punky band from England. Their first album contained two great singles: “Formed a Band” and “My Little Brother.” The premise of the band is that they play fast but melodic songs–they’re punk, but not thrash, and the songs are crisp. But the really unique aspect is the singer, Eddie Argos, who basically talks rather than sings, in his strong London accent. In fact, in “Formed a Band” he states: “And yes, this is my singing voice; It’s not irony; And it’s not rock and roll; I’m just talking; To the kids.”

This sets the stage for the rest of that album and this, the successor. Now, a band like this is stuck with two options: continue with this style of speaking/singing and possibly become a novelty or move on to a new style, thereby belying the lyrics from their manifesto. They chose option one. And the good news is that, while not making a better album that the first one–which is pretty fantastic–they come up with a slightly more mature album, which is still pretty great.

When your style of music is almost a gimmick, it’s not easy to get past that. The first two or three times you listen to the record, you are totally sucked in by Argos talking to you. Sometimes he’s yelling, sometimes he’s almost singing, and most of the time he’s being cockily self-deprecating (how you do that, I’m not sure). And you start to think of the band as little more than a spoken word record with backing music. Until you start to listen to the music. Then you gain a fuller appreciation for the band. The musicians are all top notch, playing rhythmic and catchy punk. Some songs have great chugga chugga riffs, others have really catchy guitar soloing type riffs, and all the time, the songs maintain a verse/chorus structure that keeps the songs from being simply rants set to music.

The album is fast and furious. The songs are funny without being twee, or tiring themselves out. The closest band I could compare them to is King Missile. Those of you who remember “Detachable Penis” from the 90s know King Missile. (more…)

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