I love, love, love 70’s NYC underground music–Suicide, DNA, James Chance, etc. Yeah, you know that already (oh but I found a nice No Wave Primer if you are still curious)
Despite my No Wave comp cds galore, I had never, until recently, knew much about Glenn Branca or his music, even though he was a key player in the scene. A few months ago, Bryan played me Branca’s “Lesson No 1 for Electric Guitar” after we saw some posters Branca had made for his late 70’s No Wave band The Theoretical Girls at a gallery. I’ve been digging his work since–from the “maximalist” guitar music (or, rather, minimalist rock music) to his newer experimental classical music–symphonies that are slightly less abrasive than his no wave work, but still deeply avant garde and primarily guitar-based. Also, it is noteworthy that he looks like he could be David Lynch mad brother, which is a plus if you are working outside the mainstream, yes?
Here’s Branca thrashing guitar at a Soho Loft in 78
Theoretical Girls: “You Got Me” (dig that industrial-before-industrial style percussion)
Branca’s solo masterpiece “Lesson no. 1 for electric guitar” (1983)
Branca conducting like “a frenzied goat” with his orchestra at alt performance space the Kitchen, sometime in the 80s
At All Tomorrow’s Parties fest, 2007
So I don’t mean to make SNOB all about Sarah Palin, because it certainly should not focus on her. However, there is so much culturally one can tie to her! Wolf shooting jokes aside, her latest critic is Brigitte Bardot, the sex symbol of 1960’s French Cinema turned animal activist/loony toons racist.
“By denying the responsibility of man in global warming, by advocating gun rights and making statements that are disconcertingly stupid, you are a disgrace to women and you alone represent a terrible threat, a true environmental catastrophe,” wrote the one-time screen legend.”
Well, I have to agree with Bardot. Too bad she also believes Muslims are ruining France…and that she was kind of the singing Franco-Pam Anderson of her day. Anyhow, I like to see the bright side of one’s life, so here’s a clip of Bardot in her heyday singing on French TV one of her pop hits: l´appareil a sous.” I have no small spot in my heart for Alaka’s governor, but I do love me some French 60’s pop from time to time.
Were the 80’s really that bad? Good question. I, of course, would say no no no no….but then again I was 3 in 1985. I also dressed like Cyndi Lauper with an Emily Dickinson fetish, uh, so there again, I am not the most unbiased candidate for this question.
Why then do I ask? Well, I ask this question after listening to the All Music Considered’s excellent “The 80 ‘s: Were They Really that Bad?” show from Tuesday featuring Sleater-Kinney genious guitarist/smart NPR blogger/the only girl I’d leave my boyfriend for CARRIE BROWNSTEIN. Now I’ve got big hair on my mind and the lady question thanks to Palin (see post below), so Carrie Brownstein talking about the 80’s (and namechecking New Zealand bands like The Bats and The Clean) is kinda all I need. Oh yes, this easily downloadable goodie might be the RNC antidote I need today.
Also I’m feeling analogy-centric, so I’ve created an analogy list of 80’s to 00’s music.
1. New still-under-the-radar Brooklyn band Crystal Stilts is to (brilliantly underrated) Chameleons UK as maudlin is to monotone (singing, that is).
2. Fey gay cellist Arthur Russell’s 80’s art disco is to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) singing with neo-disco band Hercules & Love Affair as lost dreams is to body glitter on a dancing man at the Cock on a friday night.
3. Siouxsie and the Banshees is to new electro Manchesterites the Tings Tings as Sofia Coppola film soundtracks are to iPod commercials.
4. Screamadelica-era Primal Scream is to MGMT as vintage is to H&M knockoffs.
5. Love & Rockets is to Yeasayer as big hair is to beards.
6. New Order is to Sebastian Tellier as Less than Zero is to Gossip Girl.
To listen to this audio analogy course, go here.
I guess somebody–major labels perhaps–thought the Walkman would be the next U2, like a WIlliamsburg-based, used to be Jonathanfireater-kind of U2. Alas no. But their new album YOU & ME may not be released by their former major label parent; however it’s really fucking good. Reminds of me of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone, that excellent early 00’s indie label debut delight that came out under the radar during the Brooklyn-scene music hype of the time. So stream You & Me for free here. Official release date is, oh yes, TODAY! And apparently the Walkman appeared yesterday on…Fox News? (Quick backstory–once my friend Sonia and I semi-stalked the Walkman when they played SUNY Purchase in 2004. I tried to get my friend to lure lead singer Hamilton to our dorms because, well, uh, she’s Asian and wears vintage clothing and they looked like they would be into girls like that. Alas, it did not work.)
This weekend I said fuck you to All Points West and Jersey and Jack Johnson and that stupid 30 dollar ferry ride. I stayed in the city, which was peaceful and quiet and blessed with gorgeous weather up until Sunday afternoon.
I am glad I stayed as Friday night I got to see a rare screening of a little-known film called Little Murders, an Absurdist black comedy with Eliot Gould, directed by Alan Arkin. Gould spoke after the film (he does not, apparently, look like he did in M.A.S.H anymore). If you are a fan of Gould’s check out this interview on Leonard Lopate and the retrospective at BAM. And then rent Little Murders:
Saturday night I went to go see my favorite live band touring right now: Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear manages to put on a completely different show each time I see them. Their songs are simple and intimate (especially those off Horn of Plenty, which was recorded entirely by originator/leader Ed Droste) but when they perform, the work is both cleaner and more elaborate, showcasing Droste’s singing, Daniel Rossen’s stunning guitar and Chris Bear’s unrelenting percussion.
Stopping off their tour with Radiohead, Grizzly Bear returned home to Brooklyn to Music Hall of Williamsburg for a benefit show. It was as mesmerizing as the first time I saw them, if not more. They played a great deal of new material and went on for over an hour and a half. Clearly the Radiohead experience has tightened them even more.
I guess I should add that although I love my manfriend dearly, Ed Droste might be my soulmate (Oh I love Ed’s blog–he posts pictures of his garden!). However, Ed is a gay boy…anyhow, also Grizzly Bear are big proponents of something integral in my world: Neti Pots. Yes, nasal irrigation, like shoegaze and harmony, is a good thing. Watch the video from last year of them demonstrating the neti pot on Much Music here.
It’s been too long since the brilliant MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS. David, you’ve been doing your piano as room as art thing and that’s cool, but I have been thinking for awhile that it’s time to get back to working with someone who makes all your wackiness/brilliance come together so it’s pure genius. Thankfully you realized that too and you are giving me the most exciting album in uh, like 20 years: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today . Ah, just the name gives me tingles.
You’re even giving us a free song! Perhaps Eno took to heart that letter from Trent I posted on this blog a few months ago.