Dude. Dude. If there’s an album for the mists of a verdurous green jungle, it’s Creature Comforts. This is the music for neon-pink gorillas idly eating polka-dotted fruit. Flamingos, oddly, live in this jungle, and they keep an eye on their heart rates with their Apple watches. It rains from clouds that live four feet off the forest floor. The jungle jungles, the fauna hoots and hollers, the leaves and vines stretch and tingle and suspire.
The Avalanches have been out of the spotlight for much, much longer than they were ever in the spotlight. But let's try to remember that they were capable of creating moments of magic, on a pretty consistent basis, and that they can still do so, when they want to. This is an edit they released two years ago that I only just discovered, and it's disgustingly good. Whatever talents they have, the passage of time and an unwillingness to exhibit them in public has not dulled them at all.
Other Lives are kind of like a rustic little Radiohead Jr. (this is especially evident in their arrangements--just the way their songs flow is reminiscent of calmer/statelier RH), but that's merely what's on the surface. Imitation of a certain form, well, that's one of the ways to build your own thing. Rituals as an album ebbs and flows, one minute a slantwise companion to something like All Tiny Creatures' Harbors and another a continuation of Midlake's "Young Bride" (amazing song). Not really music that comforts or soothes, but music that you put on for a specific feeling: low-key drama, solving a case for household internal affairs (why are the towels in the bathroom still wet?), etc.
It might be true that Jacco Gardner was present for the filming of Zabriskie Point, but maybe only in spirit--he was not a second assistant grip on the film, nor a production assistant, and he did not fetch coffee for Antonioni or anyone else while filming long scenes in the desert. Perhaps Gardner was observing the shoot from his place in the ether, as a -18 year-old soul. Gardner's music has that feeling, that yearning for a different era, one that's way gone. "Find Yourself" is like the scene in Blow-Up when the Yardbirds are playing in a secret little backroom and David Hemmings wanders through on his search. Gardner's made an album that's like that--a hidden thing that you stumble upon and become enchanted by.
This is urgent music. HUGE breaths and strong arms. Colin Stetson, a man born with a saxophone, a kind of Hercules of the woodwinds + Sarah Neufeld, who plays the violin with hard determination, with grace, imposes structure and adds filigree to the songs. This is what you want in your ears when you need a restorative dose of beauty, something that is definitively contra all the horrible stuff that's been going on the past few days. This is music that will produce feelings of awe, and that's kind of wonderful, kind of rare.
We marched up Broadway in one breath. Traffic lights blinked weakly in greeting. We said their names together. People stepped out of bars to watch us, extinguish cigarettes. A father and his daughter stepped into the crowd and everyone clapped. The cops stopped us at College. That’s where people shop. You can buy a set of mid-century modern stools in an antique shop there; you can buy books, burritos, and spicy chocolate drinks. The cops stood there just radiating disgust. They said, “Go another way.” We did.
[BUY All Are Saved]
Cymbals Eat Guitars' album LOSE is a rich document of suburban Midatlantic existence. The kind of thing that's a web of place names and local local local descriptions. So, you know, unbeatable if you're from the place that's under discussion, and probably only mildly interesting if you're not. But these songs are so good. Jackson, Warning, Child Bride, Laramie, 2 Hip Soul, all classics. That's more than half the album--and the other songs are just as strong, but they don't stick with me as closely as those five. In Child Bride, D'Agostino sings "Skeletor/of the liquor store," about a character's mother, and good lord isn't that at once such a ridiculously sweet rhyme and shattering lyric.
You can never sleep because you are a haunted man, someone who sees beyond this world into the next. You're a writer, naturally, of disturbing--some might say 'disturbed'--fiction. You live in Atlanta, which is itself a pretty haunted city. Full of the spiced ghosts of old barbecue sauces abandoned in municipal parking lots. You talk about language and the creatures that live behind and within language. People are like, okay, we get it, you're weird. You talk about how there's a serial killer inside every breath you take and Arby's is a monument to sin, and people are like, jeeze, man, just, you know, take a vacation or maybe watch TV for a little bit or something. You raise a small garden of syntaxgrass on languageground in your back yard and then the neighborhood association tells you to get your shit together and plant some sunflowers or kale or rosemary, yikes.
He was an artisan, there was no mistaking that. He had those little glasses that artisans wore, perched right up on his nose in a wise, knowing way. You could just tell that this dude could carve cool little things out of wood. And he could probably bake a loaf of bread that would make your grandmother weep. Nothing that came from this man, this master of crafts and practical arts, would resemble the cheap industrial simulacra that most people purchased, ate, drank, lied upon, or respired within. This was a man for our times, a man who could produce artisanal dips, whips, sauces, and waters on command. A true human, in other words, and not just a wet sack of sorrowful hot breath.
The last of the new interns had run far far away, leaping over the hedge and across the stream to the bright green freedom of the forest, and beyond there to the mountains studded with the wrecks of old planes, the accidental ruins of the time before the time before. Huddled in the soft metal shelter of the relics, the interns rub their hands above an impromptu fire, lit no doubt when one of them shot a flare gun into a pile of paper, and shout to each other above the wind about their plans to live fresh lives without the strictures of any program, guide, or government, their eyes at wide aperture to take in every prospect, their voices garbled by desire, statements distorted by words formerly only thought and not spoken. I imagine the tales they told and tell each other, here and on the mountain, and I construct the diorama of their escape with the aid of mental condensation of thought and the manipulation of the flattened pulp of extinct trees, a scene of overjoy before the catastrophe, before the mountain battens down its hatches with its thick wind and snow blight, a fluttering of moths before the crackle of the lamplight. I put the box on its side and install the figures. We later take turns with the telescope, spying on their progress, those young dumb pioneers who know nothing of climbing, cold, ice, or how to build a fire, but yearn without saying to stand on the peak, they will walk through cold as thick and present as clear jello to their tombs at the top, where they’ll look down through the valley at us, gazing back up.