Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Should Point Out That The Last Post Was Written Two Years Ago

Grab That Gun

Spleen! Eheheh, I'm funny. Speaking of guns, I love the concept of Chekhov's Gun. It goes something like this: if you're going to have a gun in a story, someone had better fire it by the end. This may sound useless, but it comes up more often than you might think. Every time there's a seemingly useless detail in a movie or somesuch that you just know will come up at the end, that's Chekhov's Gun. For example, in a whodunnit, when they introduce someone's uncle or family friend for no good reason you can be sure that they'll turn out to be the murderer, or at least cannon fodder, because if it's a character it must have a reason to be such. Or, for another example, it's how you just know that at the end of Sex and the City Carrie will get married in her vintage dress mentioned about ten minutes into the movie. Speaking of which, here are some things I learned from that movie:

1. Things with brand names on them genuinely make you happy.
2. Friends are nice too, but secondary.

Now, I don't really object to being made happy by things - I LOVE my Ipod, flatscreen monitor, orange shoes etc etc but! I love them for their functional reasons. I feel as though liking a Louis Vuitton bag not because it's sleek but because of its name is somehow a symptom of a rotten obsession with oneupmanship and commodities, and while it's perhaps unavoidable because we all need to be better than those around us, it shouldn't be flouted as a positive onvention by a movie that will be viewed by millions and millions of people, particularly young women who should be judged on how much they weigh, not what they're carrying. Furthermoresomely, I'd always thought, through the series, that part of the point of the clothes was that the characters were expressing themselves through what they wore. Ditching that aesthetic in favour of idle brand name clothing (aside from the cheesy last scene) is Liz Phair-level abandonment of ideals. Also, Charlotte's the only hot one - it must suck to be an aging woman!

But seriously, the movie had too few charming moments, and far too many disappointing missteps: namely, the puns were excruciating, the token subaltern minority character a joke of a storyline idea (and wasn't her subplot sure resolved quickly), the deus ex machina style of resolution - whence the camaraderie among the main characters seeing them through difficult times? what happened to the actually funny dialogue? why did they include "There Is Nothing I Can Do" again? The first lines of it are "My neck hurts / 'cause I've been cutting moons / My hands hurt / 'cause I cut them from you" for fucking out loud! Oh, but now they give it "moody" production in the intro, so we can feel their pain! woooo!

But really, that's the only bad song here, which is good because there are only ten others, only three of which crack three minutes, and one of which is a thirty second organ solo. It's generally very good shoegaz-y, Smithsy pop, with only the odd terrible, and a nice air of love-obsessed sadness. It's repetitive in tone and gist, but the organ and delivery give it a vaguely church-y hopeless feel that stops it from getting too tiresome. The best songs are the war-inspired "Brother," home to the album's first and best hook, "Love Love Love," home to the album's best love-obsessed hopelessness, and "Memorize The City," home to the album's paean to my dear home city, although I suppose it could apply to your stupid city too. "Sinking Hearts" is still good, but you knew that because you read my classy "Sinking Hearts EP" review that featured my memorable "Jann Arden is fat" line that got so much good press on my recent trip to New York City.

Best of all, they broke up in 2006, so this review is completely behind the times and pointless! Somewhat highly recommended!


The Organ

Sinking Hearts EP

So, I was on the Queen streetcar riding home last night, and the streetcar at 9:30 on a Tuesday night is always a fairly somber place, filled with people who look like they'd rather be dead or sleeping, and around Yonge street these six fairly attractive (except for the one fattie who was, of course, the one who revealed the most skin), young (I'd peg them at 18 average), somewhat sluttily dressed, very drunk girls filed on and spent the next ten minutes laughing loudly, talking loudly, stealing each other's chairs loudly, and announcing to everyone that it was one of their birthdays. Around Psdina they got off, yelling at everyone "bye" and to have a great night. After they left the car was completely silent until, oddly enough, I shrugged and laughed in the direction of the British guy sitting next to me. And this set off a torrent of insults from the other passengers, who oviously felt a little less ugly and depressed for having someone to hate besides themselves again. "Their IQs together are less than 100" added one man who looked like a cross between Albert Einstein and Ron Jeremy with two extra shots of disgruntled. Whatever, you know where this is going: I think the real stupidity here is in those who're so pathetic they have to resent others being young and enjoying themselves. These girls weren't bitchy, they were just really happy to be going wherever they were going. I don't fault them for it, and maybe three years ago I would have, but now that I'm older but not yet old I can this and smile at it, because the world needs more people to be out enjoying their lives. And the streetcar is filled with bastards who would ruin that because they're bitter they'll never get to fuck any of them (not even the fat one) and I think they should be ashamed.

So The Organ is a group of five girls from Vancouver Canada that sound like this: wah-wah-menstruation-wah-wah-men-wah-wah-wah. Sometimes in between they play a few notes when they're not too busy washing the glass ceili-

So The Organ are a group of four Canadian girls who basically sounds like everyone's favourite mope-gaze 80s group The Smiths but!

a) The lead singer is a female, though still Morrissey.
b) There's an organ (surprise!) somewhere in the middle-range production of every song.
c) This EP is produced horribly, so it's much harder to notice when they actually come up with a good riff or riddim.
d) Morrissey was sometimes, you know, poetic, whereas a typical lyric from here goes "oh I think I'm falling / oh I think I'm fine / our hearts didn't come together / But I saw the two collide"

The good news is that the organ (instrument, not band) works really well with the whole aesthetic (especialy in "No One Has Ever Looked So Dead). The bad news is that the production somewhat ruins it, and four of these six songs can be found in better form on the album. The other two are "We Have Got To Meet" which I can't remember even though I just heard it but
only has one line in the whole song, so I'm guessing it can be described as a "repetitive, Smiths-y drone", and "It's Time To Go", which features an actual catchy guitar riff but never really gets going past it's dreariness.

Similarly, no song on this EP gets going at all, preferring to stay in the same slow-tempo mildly-depressed-o-land, and that really prevents any of the songs from becoming memorable (aside from the title track), but also stops any of them from being really bad. Aside, of course, from the hilarious "There Is Nothing I Can Do", which I really have to reproduce in lyrical form:

"My neck hurts, 'cause I've been cutting moons
My hands hurt, 'cause I cut them from you
So someone snuck into your room
And it got back to me
Now, I lie here in my room
And there is nothing I can do
But cut and think about you"

HAHA! LOSERS! We laugh because we're not 16 anymore. Hey, remember Jann Arden, who had a single called "Insensitive", but was fat? yeah, why do you think he was insensitive, you overweight waste of (a lot of) space? What about being sensitive to his need to have a girlfriend, not some beast buried beneath layers of awful fat?


Friday, April 06, 2007


Soviet Kitsch

Centuries ago, in time I am happy not to be living in even though being rich back then would've been pretty sweet (it would now too), dying people were exhibited in wide-open drawing rooms for their final days alive. Family members brough food and tended to the patient's needs, and stern men (who didn't bathe very often) would congregate and discuss the gravity of the situation and help arrange personal and business affairs. The death room was a social place, and the dying person had a big role in the scene. He or she was expected to expected and encouraged to put affairs in order, lament past mistakes, forgive enemies, plead for God's mercy, etc.

Around 1850ish, the focus of death shifted from the dying person to the dying person's family. Instead of the dying person dictating the circumstances of death, the family became the supported unit, the sufferers, the focal point. Death was considered primarily in terms of its effects upon the bereaved. Shortly after this shift, the tendency towards withholding the gravity of the situation from the dying became prevalent. The practice probably originated from a family's desire to spare the dying person distress, but it also led to the practice of not discussing it at all.

Now, of course, the venue for dying is different; people are meant to go to hospitals to die, and medical practitioners, the warriors fighting to save lives are the centre of the event. Unfortunately, along with the idea of death as a matter of fact becoming more of a Final Destination-esque fight between Death and doctors, a lot of the ritualistic sadness and mourning has become a period of solitary, shameful mourning. Public sorrow doesn't inspire pity; it inspires repugnance - it's a sign of mental instability and bad manners. One only has the right to cry if nobody else can see or hear.

That's neither entirely good or bad, but, like a lot of modern mannerisms (and I love the modern world), the focus is entirely on the wrong people. While it used to be on the dying (a good idea) and then the family of the dying (also a good idea), the focus of the scene, the link between the dying and the living is the physician. We can't feel sorry for the physician, because dude deals with it every day, so now the people cared about most are not the dying, not the bereaved, but the dozens of random men and women in black clothing who feel more awkwardness than sadness. One has to be ashamed of breaking down even at a funeral so that they won't feel even more like they're in an episode of Frasier. The event is sterilized so they can walk in and out and get back to their jobs without missing a day of work. Afterward, showing emotion in public, even a day later is anti-social and shameful to protect the awkwardness-o-meters of people who weren't involved at all.

Now, I'm not saying the bystanders and acquiantances shouldn't be considered at all. It really sucks to be around someone crying when you're not. It's uncomfortable and uneasy, and uncalled-for outbursts (like lengthy blog posts) should probably be looked down on. However, when someone bereaved at a funeral feels more shame than mourning (and believe me, that's a fuckload of mourning) there's a fucking problem, and the death system needs some sort of correction.

What a shitty fucking day. I might be stuck in this shitty fucking town for the entire motherfucking summer.

Good album, though.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Frankly Jeff, Our Mother Should Have Just Named You Laika

Live at Bull Moose
Pink sunglasses! I want pink sunglasses! I am referencing the pink sunglasses Regina's wearing on the cover of this EP. I've had a few pairs of them, but they have all met tragic ends. This quick (16 minute) EP featuring one (1) to-be album track and four (4) non-albumers recorded live at some New England indie record store. It's more or less the same as the last album, just Regina and her piani (unless you count her tapping her foot during "Ain't No Cover"), with audience noise at the end but no audience noise during the songs somehow. It almost sounds fake, but I wouldn't want to equate Regina's live EP with 9/11. Throwing dummies out of 80th floor windows! Tee-hee! What a stunt!

Hi! I'm Roland Barthes!
To give a text an author is to impose a limit on that text!
I obviously think I'm pretty smarthes!

Nah, that's not going to work. "Carbon Monoxide," the sole album track on this EP, is sadly underdeveloped, not yet the waltzy goodtime downer it will become, but it's still a solid slice of urban bitterness. "Pound of Flesh" references Ezra Pound (get it?) and is a solid tap-tapper, while "The Noise" is a kinda boring classical-ish bit. The EP's also bookended with blues-influenced a capella love songs. "My Man" is the better one bec

"Mirror mirror on the wall / Tell me where the bombs will fall"? That's a TERRIBLE line!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Horry for the Win


PrettyGirl KnobShiner (NOT HER REAL NAME) is back with a new album, and now she's fired her electric drummer, who apparently went and committed suicide like in that incredibly terrifying new GM commercial I now see when I watch Fox News, which is every day. Have you saw it? It features robot workers building cars, then one drops a part, and in the next scene it's jumping off a bridge. Haha! Ha ha? So the implication is that workers are going to be replaced by robots? Or are effectively robots? Or that they kill themselves when they get fired? Which is funny because some do? What?

Anyway, PGKS (get some fucking vowels, Regina) is back with a new album, and it features only Regina's incredibly wonderful voice and somewhat less inspiring (but still inspiring) piani playing, and it just generally makes me really wish I lived in New York City and was dating Regina Spektor. Or a younger version of her, anyway. If you're a girl this should still apply, we should make concessions, like that one time I kissed a man in drag on my back porch - look, I had an audience that I didn't want to let down, okay? Yes, that is a true story. He kissed me first! It wasn't like we made out or anything! Fuck you!

Here are my song notes:

Samson - wonderful tearjerker - great lyrics - except for fucking wonderbread
Oedipus - Beautiful "thirty-two-AH" (not like Metallica though) - the play from oedipus' perspective-woo! - Great "Oedipus x 4" hook
Prisoner - A little nondescript, nonhooky - "yo mamma was heee-uh" - annoying idiosyncracies - my momma thinks i'm grown but i'm really just little" - still a heartfelt
moment even in this fairly throwawayish song!
Reading Time With Pickle - again nonhooky - greatly analyses pickles - hee! - ingredient list = lyric
Consequence of Sounds - This album's "Pavlov's Daughter" but with no annoying beatbox, and
reliably good lyrics - haha, ani difranco! - "cubicle" line canceled out by "hippie shit" line - jerky, catchy piano melody and eggslant "ahhh" bit
Daniel Cowman - a man sentenced to death reflecting in his last moments on earth about
bathing and advice a heroin addict gave him
bon idee - "Don’t tell your secrets to anyone Because ideas are vulnerable As soon as you say your idea out loud Then it can go and live on its ow And you will miss it oh so much And you will wait for it’s return And you will wish it were your own But ideas that left never come back home" - voice melds with boring melody so fucking well! - anti-expression! - my computer is convinced it's 18:59 long - all vocal hook
aching to pupate - "Grifeichadam on 03-19-2006 @ 03:51:22 PM Obviously it's a sad story about an ugly hooker. " (Editor's note: The above is a guy on "interpretation" of this song. It's the first comment and so out of nowhere that I found it hilarious) - interesting vocal tricks, but like most of her vocal tricks, less
interesting than her actual "making songs good" - nostalgia for 17-year old girl-hood - A capella
Lounge - even the boring songs have something great to them! - slow-paced, but great lyrics agaaaain
Lacrimosa - Nah, nothing really going on here, but still some good words about how the
dead stay dead, and dr. icarus the cliche monster
Lulliby - Nice little lovelorn NYC paean, very sleep-inducing
Ne Me Quitte Pas - Catchy mcvocal hook city -

- constant discontent without being whiny - fantasmic tone- only vocals and piani and all produced the same because Regina was still poor. - story idea: hipster ordering a drink and falling to his doom - everything's great except for her vocal "ticks" which pop up a lot even if it's
worth it in the end, like dating a girl with arm hair who's otherwise hot. - "for a lady"- THE HUNGER INSIDE US ALL SHALL PREVAIL


The hunger inside us all shall prevail? More like "I wish I was drinking!"


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

From the STM


hey, I'll give you five dollars to add Barack Obama on Facebook and post a comment saying "God doesn't want us to elect black people." Come on! It's free money! But really, how about them black people? It reminds me of this time I walked through the SOuth Bronx at night on principle and nothing happened because it's not like they want to cause any trouble; don't bother anyone and odds are they won't bother you, even in a bad area of a big city.

Speaking of New York (link), Regina Spektor is from there, and this goes to prove that people from cities are better than people who aren't. It's piano-led pop music with jazz influences with lyrics that read like she has a good reason to get up in the morning when she's not being overly cutesy. Regina sounds like a bohemian Ani DiFranco without the self-important rage raging against the dying of the light, though she would become more singular later on. Slightly lost but smarter than you and you want to hang out with her after the show even if she does over-emote at times. I get the urge while listening to use the adjective "classical," but I don't feel justified using that about any particular songs.

There aren't fantastic musical hooks - she was 21, younger than me for fuck's sakes - when she made this, and I'm deeply in admiration of her ability to complete something artistic at that age...She doesn't have the lyrical immaturity that marks a lot of other young artists, though there is some knee-jerk tee-hee "humour" that might bother you if you're thoughtful. Other wacky nadirs include:

- The inexcusable "her do[w]g DEE OH DOUBLEYOU GEE" in "Back of a Truck."
- The "freestyling" on "Pavlov's Daughter." Also the fake drum beat...Yeah, nice try, maybe you should try again in a couple years and call it "Consequence of Sounds." Also WHY IS THIS SONG EIGHT MINUTES LONG.
- "Flyin'" - go back to self-liberaton camp.
- "Braille," which is SO American Idol, especially its constant reference to "cold Campbell's in a can" - THAT'S NOT POIGNANT.
- "I Want to Sing," for being a song that I can only tolerate if someone sings it to me, and nobody is.

And some highlights include:

- Andrea Bargnani's four-point play with 9.3 seconds left to put us up two - he's gonna be good! really really good!- "Thought I'd cry for you forever / But I couldn't so I didn't /People's children die and they don't even cry forever Thought I'd see your face in my mind for all time / But I don't even remember what your ears looked like" from "Rejazz."
- The power and glory of being from New York and writing songs about New York with names like "Buildings."
- Note that the whole "My Name is Lucille" part of "Pavlov's Daughter" has some creepy falsetto and first person stalking with a third person's knowledge that's so cool, it really bothers me that the rest of the song isn't any good. I like dogs named Boots, for example this dog named Boots right here. She's old but she's just a puppy with little lypomas. One of her lypomas has a lypoma and it's SO ADORABLE.


Anyway, this is a good chance to hear genres you don't listen to very often, like anything approaching Norah Jones, and have it still be cool. Not to mention good. Unless you really hate pianies and slow-paced young singer-songwriters you'll like most of this anyway. Play it for your frat boy friends and see just how well adjusted they are to the idea that millions of people are gay! (hint: not) By which I mean, she's good enough to make you like chick singers.
Man, so I was at a show last week, and a random guy came up to me and said "that's a pretty scene shirt, man." It was like...awesome, I am exactly one year and four months behind the times! And that's pretty much where things stand today.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Neon Sign McFly

If Fight Club was a mass of concepts we abandoned in our late teenhood, like "smash the state," like "Where Is My Mind?" Like "Embrace the lack of romance," like "Ikea is not beautiful," it left us with one glowing word construction we carry into our early-twentysomethings: "tourist."

It's a word that sums up everything wrong with so many of us. It sums up the boys and girls on "Next" we can't even stand to watch, visitors to Manhattan Island, the heartbroken who only feel after a breakup, the grievers who only mourn after a death, those who only feel the wind when the wind blows, who only hear thunder when there's lightning. Our lives are continual condemnations of the tourist, because they offend us with their transience, their lack of belief, their populism. They see themselves as casual explorers, plumbing the depths of the psyche through occasional experience and coincidental exposure. In reality, they're continual visitors to used car lots. They buy whatever experience is thrust on them and act as though it belongs to them because they forked out their time, their money, their emotions. The greatest we are not customers, we live in the same used cars all the time. Our shows transcend reality because we really are not in reality when we hear our eardrums strain, because we feel real shame at our erections, we could not be apart from our shame and our world dyslexia and our diamond headlights. Our sadness, our heartbreak, our grief, our wine glasses and thin friends are our indulgences in what we have, in knowing we live here and were born here. The wind blows at all times because we are thoughtful. Anything less than causing the sun to rise for those around us is a failure. We are lanterns and the cities we were born in are the light. Toronto is New York is Decatur iff you were truly born there instead of in yourself. We know the alleys, the rooftops, and we walk through the areas that cabs refuse to go. Our depression when we're not touching breasts is complete, and our happiness when we are is absolute. I currently have three ambitions: one to be a homewrecker, two to touch a fake breast, three to be a house husband.

I will miss dearly one thing about winter, and that is the synesthesia of extremely cold nights. Nights where it's minus thirty-two with the wind chill and nobody else ventures outside of their homes. The bitter taste of cold, the cacophonic wind, the angry sound, the ice stirred up by nature, the stinging skin. All become one glorious sense that somewhat resembles beauty, although I'll admit I like the sight of it the most. It's fucking pretty, you have to admit.

Friday, March 02, 2007

On New York

A few good-timey stories:

1. I was fined $50 for lying down in a subway, an incident report filed at 5:05 AM. I have a court date for March 17th in Manhattan...when the police came on the subway I would have been worried but I was literally too busy thinking there was no way I'd done anything.

2. I left my wallet in an upper-west side bar nicknamed The Abbey one Saturday night. An hour later I realized my wallet was gone, and while resigned to figuring it was gone I figured it would be good to check out where I had gone. Sure enough, there it was on the bar exactly where I'd left it.

3. Toronto is nothing, in terms of cities. New Yorkers seem happy with how their place is a tourist trap; I can't imagine living there are not being endlessly irritated by the constant stream of uninitiated.

4. Staten Island is the greatest. One time I was going to a party there from Manhattan so I had to take a ferry then a bus then walk and it was so not NYC and then I wrote a story about it.

5. I'll be a stock broker and I'll get me a wife, are you living in the same society I am? Tonight they left me to take a cab because they chose to walk despite the storm...have they lost their obsession with radical Islam? Strings are a girl's best friends; they can be spatially extended yet explained within the context of quantum mechanics, I miss you string theory. I was born in an unremarkable birth with a white hospital room and white sheets and they brightest thing I wore was grey and it still stands only today it says Sleepwear on it but I'm as dead as I was then, I'm reading too much Sylvia Plath, I'm listening to too much early Manic Street Preachers, I'm looking up to them; I'm viewing their deaths as admirable and I'm twenty-two years olds, I'm too old to not be responsible for myself and that makes my resolve more exact it's a brick wall it's a lead plate it's rejection it's friends telling me about rejection. When I was a teenager I never cried, now I cry thinking about my mom, I cry visiting ground zero, I cry over mice fed to snakes, I cry about all past mass extinctions except this current one.
hey I'm just a wannabe drunk hey Mike I'm not a leader hey Kit I'm not a lover hey Bonnie I'm not a good friend. Ask someone who knows better, I've forgotten what concrete ability feels like.