Von Hayes, a tough man to know. Maybe one of the saddest baseball players to ever step into the batter’s box. We used to call him “Von the Mon” in Philly, and that nickname may have had something to do with his persistently dour attitude. Once had a mustache which quickly disappeared, my theory at the time (when I was eight) being that it had leapt off his face to get away from him and was living the good life in Manayunk. Von, the Burgomaster of Bunts. He would bunt just to annoy a pitcher. He would bunt when he was scared. There were, as you can imagine, many grudging bunts, when he was forced to do so even though he didn’t feel inspired. More than a few angry bunts, where you could tell on the replay–by his grimace–that he was punishing the ball for some perceived slight, say, for zigging in the previous inning when he thought it would zag (Von didn’t realize, and no one had the heart to tell him, that they changed the balls frequently during the game). The best long-tosser I’ve ever seen. Von Hayes, you have a band named after you now.
Herodotus’s apocrypha include a hallucinatory tale of what seems to be the great plains. He heard tell, from a traveler who had been there, of a land that was populated mostly by bulls and cows. Where the bovine domination stopped, the human settlements began. The tribes of the plains, according to the traveler, were a pale and weak people. Eating and praying at dawn, they would retreat to bed for the daylight hours and emerge at sunset to light their fires. They drank only from standing–never flowing–water, and were frequently very ill because of this. The men would clamber up the backs of their enormous women and direct them in a ritual dance by pulling on their pigtails to steer them this way and that. The women engaged in a game called ‘moon chase’ where they walked at night until their legs gave out, and where they collapsed was where they were destined to settle once married. The traveler said he had traded a single potsherd for 10,000 furs, which had been carried over land and portaged over rivers to the long shore by the intrepid and gigantic women of the plains. He said they did not know how to return home, so they played moon chase and settled themselves all over the east coast. It turns out they were the first supermodels.
Here is Phil Elverum on Cock and Bull TV, playing the song “Ocean Roar,” which one presumes will appear on the LP with that title, which is possibly coming out in September, after Clear Moon is released this May. The general feel of both “House Shape” and “Ocean Roar” (even though it’s in acoustic form) make me think these two new Mount Eerie albums will be a blend of some of the highly polished, drone-centric soundscapes of Wind’s Poem with the straightforward songwriting of Dawn, with that lovely everyday hum-drum atmosphere (like “Small House” from last year’s Song Islands pt. 2).
A long while back, there was a piece in the Believer about the strange but compelling aesthetic appeal of abandoned, crumbling factories (n.b. it was in Believer 11, and the piece was called The Acropolis of Northern New Jersey, by Angela Starita), and the industrial archeologists who do not just appreciate but cherish these structures. Ray Raposa, the talent behind the Castanets, seems like he could be one of those people for whom an old, semi-windowless tire factory would be a thing of beauty.
The song starts off quietly, just Raposa and his guitar: “all buried in the industry and snow I saw you/they’re breathing down the backs of all those hills.” He sings very matter-of-factly, as if he were stating a case to the crickets outside his porch. Then there’s a small and awesome interlude with a toy piano, which gives the song a weird, delicate, missing-tooth feel. The ending of ‘Industry and Snow’ is bracing- like a bucket of cold water dumped over your head unexpectedly (slide guitars, squealing static, revelrous drums).
Boof, also known as Maurice Fulton, the man behind MU. Fulton made a comment in Bassfretters (the bass player’s version of Prevention magazine) that what he was aiming for with this album was a conceptual journey into the heart of Martin Mull’s character in Mr. Mom, a movie he considers one of the finest American comedies of the last forty years. “Looking Around In 5c” is the first track on the album, and you can hear the swagger of Martin Mull’s “Ron” in the play of that bass, and the unrestrained sexiness (symbolizing Ron’s feathered hair) of those synth squeals. The 5c of the title refers to the five standard colors used in printing, cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and feldgrau. The Ron character was an advertising executive, and was always looking at the world in full color, with all his perceptive powers trained on the task of marketing things like canned tuna. The concept of the album gets a little rough, especially in the middle-going, but the music stands up.
He said he knew when his grandfather died, because he felt a stiff breeze blow through the house. He said to his mother, “That was grandfather, just now.” His mother told him he was an idiot. Wind was wind, and never came from people, even if they were sick and dying. “No,” he told her, “that was definitely him. It had the same temperament. That was a mean old bastard wind, and it felt like it needed a drink.” His grandfather had once, earlier that year, pulled him away from pouring concrete in a neighbor’s backyard to drive him to a bar. “Gerald,” his grandfather said, always using his full first name, “you need to drive me there or I will push you in that concrete.” So he had, against the wishes of his own father, who was there pouring concrete with him. “He just wants to tie one on,” his dad had said. And his grandfather did tie one on, but did so in a way that the grandson never forgot. “That was my grandfather,” he later told his own grandsons, “in that weird wind.”
“You Still” is a miniature, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sharply detailed. You can derive a lot of pleasure from this song, but the difference between this and one double its length is that you only get that swell of emotion once, instead of three or four times. You have to come back to it again and again. There is something from the Kinks in here, maybe some Tigermilk-era Belle & Sebastian (the guitars, I think), and Spoon–the last because of the song structure, and that ending. Going out on a little riff like that reminds me of Series of Sneaks. This is a great short song. Put it in your pocket.
What are the notes you’ve most often hit with your speech? C#? The impossible E#? What is your mean mean tone, when you’re irritated or perturbed? There are some speakers who regularly dispense mellifluous arguments. It’s not so much the reasoning that gets you as it is the melody. Later on, you find yourself nodding along to the ring of their premises. On the other hand, there are–we all know this–cacophonous lovers, who whisper discordant nothings in our ears. Last words of the famous in chronicles, first words for everyone in baby books, where’s the box set of all words, the deluxe edition, 3,000 LPs, with a free download?
Jane is Noah Lennox and Scott Mou. The first minute or so of ‘Berserker’ is vinyl-esque clicks and pops, coupled with some Cocteau-Twins-at-the-wrong-speed percussion. That changes quickly though, when Mou brings in a soft drone and what sounds like a bushel of tinsel to accompany Noah’s formless vocals. There are short and ethereal jet engine sounds occuring intermittently. I feel like this song is what it would sound like to listen (over a walkie-talkie) to someone singing to themselves over top of very pleasant television static. The production on ‘Berserker’ is so deep and dense that there are dozens of fleeting ribbony drones that slip quickly back into the mix before you can really get a handle on what’s happening (i.e. make sure you listen to this at a high volume, or on headphones). These two were anticipating musical trends that wouldn’t come to fruition for another 6 or 7 years after this record was released.
Porter, who sometimes posts here (last mix here), pointed out to me that Liars have posted a teaser for their new album, which seems like it’s coming out in June, over on their tumblr. Sounds amazing. Lots of sound searching (a mic in a jar of LA Looks hair gel?! Attached to a broom? close in on a rogue electric shaver?), Los Angeles, & one shot of Angus holding what looks like an assault rifle.
This song is from their 2002 Peel Session. When Pat and Ron were still in the band. That initial set of harmonics still reminds me of the Cars’ “Let’s Go.”