New Music (Well, New To Me)

Here are some of the things I’m listening to these days which are new to me, or else which have reappeared in my life again, after a long absence:

  • The Smiths. Myoung Jae loaned me a copy of the CD that collected their singles and it was funny, the conversation that he and Mer and I had about it.

    “When Myoung told me he’d loaned you the Smiths, I was surprised you hadn’t heard it.”

    “Yeah,” I said, sometimes it sounds like something coming from me myself, the lyrics feel like they’re coming from inside me.”

    “Yeah,” Mer replies. “I couldn’t believe you hadn’t heard them before. I mean, they were so miserable, and you were so miserable.”
    “I’m not so miserable anymore, though!” I said, halfway between insistence and joyful declaration.

    “I know. It kind of foils the point,” she said, or something like that. And Myoung Jae just chuckled.

    That’s kind of paraphrased, apologies to Mer. Anyway, it’s true, the Smiths is wonderfully miserable music, quite awfully unhappy and somehow they made something beautiful out of bitterness and loneliness and celibacy and all. I probably wouldn’t have quite understood back in the old blackhearted days, but now I see what they were up to. There’s something I totally relate to in the lines:

    I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
    But heaven knows I’m miserable now
    I was looking for a job and then I found a job
    And heaven knows I’m miserable now
    In my life, why do I give valuable time
    To people who don’t care if I live or die?

    sung crooningly over such a sweet, quasi-80s accompaniment. Let alone, “I’ve Started Something I Can’t Finish”.

  • The Flaming Lips, especially the album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots which I think is the most original of the “narrative” rock albums I’ve heard; it makes not just Roger Waters’ The Pros and Cons of Hitch-hiking but even David Bowie‘s efforts (such as Outside) look like evolutionary predecessors.

    I am also enjoying songs from their album Transmissions from a Satellite Heart (especially the song “She Uses Vaseline”) but it’s my opinion that they got truly, incredibly interesting with Yoshimi. Before that they were merely a really good rock band, but with that album, they became truly outstanding. That’s just my opinion, though, and my bandmates seem to think otherwise. So, apparently, do the guys at the studio who are handling all the sound work for our CD: they recommended some of the Flaming Lips’ sound as a model to how our own sound could be handled, a kind of precedent-setter for our album. Apparently, though, Myoung and Mer and Thai have all been into this album for months, and I never noticed or picked up on it.

  • Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In The Aeroplane, Over The Sea. These guys are friends with Apples in Stereo, whom Thai got me into, and I quite like the poignant brashness. But unlike with The Apples In Stereo, Thai didn’t get me into these guys: it was John Wendel who loaned me their CD, and I still really enjoy it. The instrumentation (including accordion and theremin), the crazy lyrics about love and adolescence and ironic reincarnation and the King of Carrot Flowers. It’s really good stuff.

I wish I could say I’ve also discovered some newfangled jazz stuff that I’ve never heard of, or that I’d come across some composer that I’ve been hearing about but not gotten anything by before now, but the truth is that I’m trying to figure out what makes the rock music I like work, what it is in this stuff that I am connecting to. So I’m listening to rock music of some form or another almost all the time now, delving into it and trying to see through the (relatively simple) forms to what it is that is engaging me there. Strange, I know, but it’s fascinating for me, for now anyway.

Probably just as well, as we’re making a rock CD now. So it’s only right to have my head full of this stuff.

9 thoughts on “New Music (Well, New To Me)

  1. if the the wheels of the universe move in mysterious ways gord and our paths cross i’ll take you out for a beer or nine (maybe we could do an imperial) sing smiths tunes and wander around london ’till the pubs round the meat market’s open, catch a full english a list pint and call it a day.
    another compilation you may want to get hold of is ‘louder than bombs’ – stuff from a bit earlier in their days. sing me to sleep, jesus the pathos.

  2. Rob,

    That sounds like a hell of a night. I shall have to practice. The other day, Myoung was singing “William It Was Really Nothing” and I could only remember the “William” croon. Actually, Myoung ended up going, “Da da da da…” through a good bit of it.

    I hope that by “an imperial” you mean some sort of drink, or drinking combination, or drinking practice… and I rather hope that’s not some kind of Morrisey-esque nuance, because I would prefer, if I am to “do an imperial” in London in all of my own “colonial” glory, to do her alone. ;)

    Thanks for the recommendation, I shall search for “Louder Than Bombs” on Emule and see what I can find… oooh, found it! Thanks, man!

  3. fear not good man…
    an imperial is thirteen pints – a mythical sum i’ve seen drunk but never done myself. i never had a hayday and usually started ‘plaiting my legs’ around six – six and a half each maybe ;-)
    the smiths – soundtracks of our lives or what…
    ‘how soon is now’ is perhaps my favourite but is on another (they had a few) compilation – hatful of hollow.

  4. Have you heard the Flaming Lips’ _The Soft Bulletin_? I think it’s about as good as Yoshimi. Their _Clouds Taste Metallic_ I don’t like as much.

  5. Rob,

    “How soon is now” is on the Singles collection I’ve been listening to, as well. Very good song.

    I’ve gotten to about 7 or 8 pints, but last night at the bar they had a drinking contest and the winner had 152 2-ounce shots in 152 minutes. I missed that freak show, of course, but I was at the bar later and saw at least one instance of the aftermath: a girl had to be hoisted and taken home, her weak and ill-directed struggles to the contrary only being soothed once I talked her into going to her house, in Korean. (I couldn’t lift her, though, given my messed up back, so I let another decent-seeming chap take her.)

    Rich: I don’t know those albums but thank goodness for Emule. Thai disagrees with you, though, and says they’re both good, and he thinks that _Clouds Taste Metallic_ is the turning point for that band, where they began to become so much more than what they were before. *shrug* Thanks for the heads up, in any case… so much to check out…

  6. as i mentioned gord i was never a big drinker now and since a pact with mother of pip during pregnancy to not imbibe i’ve become a virtual tea totaller (or to be more exact coffee totaller – it is sweden after all). 152 shots in 152 mins is i think the clinical definition of attempted suicide ;-)
    been listening to the smiths a lot over the weekend and wodner at the power of music to waken fallow memory fields – if i can dig it out of my boxes out at the country gaf i’ll post a rail pass picture of me at the hight of smiths adoration and compare it with a picture of on my recent id card. changed yet unchanged.

  7. “foils the point” ??!? I didn’t! But that’s OK, I’m just happy you’ve found the flaming lips.

    The very first song of theirs I ever heard was You Have to be Joking (Autopsy of the Devil’s Brain) from the album Hit To Death In The Future Head, and it pained me deliciously.

    From that same album, Felt Good to Burn was the next song I loved, cause I thought he was singing “that night in Cairns when that guy ripped us off” and I thought how cool it was that they’d written a song about getting revenge on someone in Cairns. Turned out he was singing “I didn’t care” not “that night in Cairns”, but by then it was too late anyway.

    I could have told you this in 10 seconds if I’d gone to the office. Oh well.

  8. Mer,

    I’d SWEAR you said something that is at least transliteratable as that? Something about it being too late, or it should have been before, something roughly like what I wrote! I swear! Or was it your husband? You Oceanians all sound the same to me, I swear. ;)

    Wait… I know. It was Thai. Always blame the drummer. What’s that? Shhh. It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t there. It’s his fault anyway.

    I’m trying to download more Flaming Lips but of course it’s slow going. As for the not being in the office, I suppose there is a remedy to that, if you can bear the occasional HOUR LONG BUS RIDE. Because that’s how EFFING long it took for me to get to Jung Hwa San Dong from work tonight. No kidding. ARGH. (Granted, with that road, timing is everything. But from now on, I’m friggin’ cycling…)

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