The second in my once-every-three-years series of posts about the Sound
The Sound were a band that did not make it, and possibly could not have made it under any circumstances. They belonged to that group of early 80s post-punkers who aren't referenced very often: Comsat Angels, House of Love, The Chameleons, et al. The Sound owned their sound: all their songs were sharply dressed, exhibiting such sad elan, desperate in their own ways, song to song.
"Jeopardy" is my favorite song by the Sound. This is the one with which I first felt a connection, and so much of that initial attraction had to do with the bass and the guitar. The first 30 seconds of "Jeopardy" is the fucking louchest music I've ever heard. It's the sonic representation of Matthew McConaughey's character in "Dazed and Confused." It is music that seems like the most masculine male gaze, which doesn't even make sense. But when Adrian Borland's voice comes in, the rough aggression of the song is stripped away, and you are left with something that feels like a pose, all bark and no fight, a studded leather jacket slung over bony shoulders.
"Jeopardy" is the title track on the Sound's debut album, which is pretty incredible, first track to last. BUY it, before it goes out of print again. (Also, that cover art? It's arresting, to say the least)
While moving from Pennsylvania to California, I heard this song 20+ times on the radio, and began to love it, after perhaps the 5th or 6th listen. There is an echo in it of other songs I loved when I was 19, 20, 21. Aggressive use of guitars. Lyrics in direct address, most likely to someone who isn't listening, who won't ever be listening. I think a lot about this type of song that seems intended for a certain person, more specifically about the effectiveness of song-delivered messages. What if the lyrically addressed party never hears the song? Or, if they do, what is their initial reaction? Do they feel flattered or simply freaked out? How often do songwriters just send the song as an attachment to the addressee and say, like, 'THIS IS ABOUT YOU.'
Natural hives. Do you desire an apian sense of community? or direction? Feltbattery works with what's outside--out there--to make songs. There is an element of early Microphones to this, in the fascination with nature, but it is less didactic. This is your music for early spring: the weather does not, and will not, make sense; animals and insects are waking up and bumping into trees again; the winter was miserable, and now it's gone, but that's just one more thing that's left you behind; unrecognizable sounds blend together at night. It's getting warmer. Where do you go?
You can see the ice cream man’s truck before you hear it, due to the quickness of light and the slowness of sound. Also due to the fact that you’re in the attic, sweating as you wrestle with the cotton candy spools of insulation. This ice cream man has a beard that reminds you of the beards of yesteryear, when it seemed the growing of facial hair was not only fashionable but a competitive art, or perhaps a lost language, like the language of flowers. How much of his beard is eaten accidentally everyday by the patrons of his ice cream truck? He does not wear--and why would he--one of those inane hairnets for the chin, a chinnet. Just as there is gold dust in so much of the water from the west, so must there be beard hair in the ice cream in the east. A fable for living, you think. The particulate nature of Vicissitude permeates every aspect of our lives.
(I did not like Wavves for a long time. But I do like this song, it makes more sense than his other stuff.)
There are five photographs on my wall: one of a street in Memphis, one of the Grand Canyon, one of the ocean next to the Pacific Coast Highway, one of a man's arm silhouetted by the fireworks at a Metallica concert in San Francisco, and one of a woman in a blue dress, crouching, embracing a yellow lab in the parking lot of a cafe in the middle of Texas. With good luck and some planning, I'll be able to revisit the first three of these scenes, but no amount of either effort or fortune will allow me to re-experience the latter two. If I were able to interrogate the photos themselves, I'd ask those last two: who is the man on the other end of that arm? And I'd ask: what is the woman looking at? And: where is that dog now?
What do you miss about it most? There is a qualitative difference between the air there and the air here, no doubt. That air is thicker, more sustaining. This air here is easy for the wind to move through. Kites get cut by gusts here, not so there. While it's not true that I ever took a bite out of the actual air there, I can say it also did taste better on the tongue.
These two are from Gold Panda's debut album, "Lucky Shiner," which is now almost three years old. But I wanted to write about 'You' especially because I have come back to it so many times. There is something siren-ish about that song. It's catchy, but that's not all there is--plenty of songs are catchy. What's weird and cool and maybe illusory or maybe essential about Gold Panda's music is that it feels very rhythmically complete (to use a poetry word--it's like it's acatalectic). 'You' makes sense on a level that I might not be 100% aware of consciously or explicitly, and I enjoy that. 'Rush Job' too, is a wonder; it's controlled, it unfolds in strange ways, it plays like a movie. Sort of unbelievable that this was relegated to the status of 'bonus track' on the album, but I guess that speaks more to the quality of the main tracks on Lucky Shiner. GP just released a new EP, Trust, the other day, and it's good, but I'm very much looking forward to the full-on follow-up to his first album.
Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was born at some point, and, presumably, it will disappear at some other point. Maybe when the Rappahannock breaches its banks and declares riparian law? I would like to be there to see it. Maybe when Carl's Ice Cream melts forever--that will be the sign that things are going to end badly. Fredericksburg seems like parts of 50 other towns pasted together. I did hear this song for the first time there, though.
This is from the soundtrack to The Fountain. I found myself humming it out of nowhere the other day, or a version of the main theme that's found in "Tree of Life." In a better world, this soundtrack and this song would be just as popular as Clint Mansell's oft and weirdly deployed Requiem for a Dream soundtrack. The Fountain, too, deserves better recognition (for the chemical reactions-as-nebulae
micro macrophotography alone, you should watch this movie).
[Note on the image: I love this still life. Georg Flegel]
All the metal we have in our cars, in our calculators, in our watches, and in our kitchens longs to return home; all the ore sitting in cash registers, or covering carious teeth, or lying in teak boxes will move back to the mountains from which it was ripped. There's no stopping it, so enjoy the aura of metal while it lasts.