Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Made You A Tape: Boil It First 001

I find it hard to reconcile myself to making any kind of year-end list. Pop music is so temporary that I barely remember anything week-to-week or month-to-month. It has me and it's gone. I won't really have a handle on the historical 2009 until 2012 at the earliest, if ever.

Okay, maybe 2011.

Wouldn't it be better to know what's rocking my soul right now? Sure it would. Here, I made you a tape.

01. Best Coast - "When I'm With You"

Best Coast keeps getting better with every 7" it floats out into the world. Masterminded by the female parts that are/were behind Pocahaunted, the most listenable, if not best, drone/noise/freeform thing that's happened maybe ever. Usually, the noise gets all in my craw, but I dig 'em. They're one of those shit-ton-of-limited-release bands, but it's most all worthwhile. I recommend a blog search before cleaning your house next weekend. It'll give you the good time.

Best Coast keeps some of the lo-fi/drone aspects of Pocahaunted, but wraps them around a surf-pop structure, which takes them into a bit of JAMC territory, which can't be a bad thing. "When I'm With You" is the B-side of the new Black Iris single. It starts slowly, so I was hesitant to put it as the lead-off track, but when it kicks in, it's pure pop bliss. Patience pays, little lambs.

02. Hüsker Dü - "I Apologize"

Zen Arcade gets all of the critical hype, but, for my dollar, it's all about New Day Rising. I blew the dust off of it again this week, and it's still a beast. Bob Mould and Grant Hart were battling back and forth to trying top each other, bustling with jealousy and - it's been theorized - sexual tension. As good as "Books About UFOs" and "The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill" are, I've got to give the gold to Mould, if not for the brutal "59 Times The Pain" or the intense Zen of the title track, then definitely for "I Apologize", the least sorry "sorry" in the history of "sorry"s.

03. Space Opera - "Country Max"

I don't know anything about this band, and I'm not gonna bother looking. There are some things out there that I don't need to know. I like a little mystery in my life.

Zach Braun brought this to my attention last week, when I was claiming boredom with everything I had ever heard and needed to hear something great that I had never heard of.

I feel a little badly about putting this song out there as an example, as the rest of the album goes off the country-rock space-train rails, where this is far more middle of the road. The thing is, it's a premier example of early-70s country rock, what with it's easy-breezy harmonies blowing tumbleweeds across the radio waves of W-L-U-V FM in some imaginary '73 Chevy Nova. This is the kind of song that makes one wonder why so many people put up with The Eagles, when there are so many better, similar bands out there. The natural sexual magnetism of Joe Walsh? Don Henley's hypnotic afro? The world may never know.

04. Heavenly - "Cool Guitar Boy"
05. J Church - "Cool Guitar Girl"

I have a problem with artists covering songs originally by members of the opposite sex and simply flipping the pronouns. Why change the song? Would it be so fearsome to inhabit the other point of view for a minute or three? Are you that uncomfortable in your sexuality? You're not clever.

You know who was clever? Lance Hahn (RIP). That's why he gets a pass here.

See, J Church's version of Heavenly's "Cool Guitar Boy/Girl" doesn't merely pull the old flapjack maneuver on a few pronouns, it completely rewrites it. Heavenly's songs, with their fey pre-twee twee-ness often have a veneer of simplicity, though they were far from the Generic Love Songs, so for Hahn to sing it from the perspective of a man looking at a woman in San Francisco, as opposed to a lady looking at a lad in England, it would require radically different lyrics and a more manic musical take.

It ends up functioning like an answer song from the 50s, rather than a straightforward cover.

06. The Mantles - "Disappearing Act"

I guess I'm feeling pretty tame this week, what with all the indie-pop and love songs; picking the accessible tracks from the albums. Maybe I'm trying to date you. I like to imagine Boil It First readers as being insanely intelligent and attractive, so that's not so far off-base.

Keeping with that theme are The Mantles, who, with their self-titled LP, have released what is probably the most accessible piece of vinyl to bear the Siltbreeze Records label. That's not saying that it's gonna be popping up on the radio anytime soon.

It's like a strobe light wrapped in gauze; muffled, but with streaks of light breaking out here and there. I think that gauziness work to its detriment, as it's hard for a song to stand out, specifically, and this is a song-based band. If you really want to hear, though, it makes you listen more carefully to pick out what would normally be immediately obvious. I like that mystery, but I wonder if it isn't too deep.

I picture The Mantles playing shows on horseback; the minor-key soundscapes with the spaghetti leads must be bringing that to mind. I'm sure I'd be sorely disappointed to find out they were just an average band of garage revival miscreants, merely standing on a stage.

07. Mirah - "Cold, Cold Water"

Advisory Committee, the finest work ever of both Mirah and producer Phil Elverum (The Microphones/Mt. Eerie), has slipped back into rotation lately. When I bought the single for this, my roommate and I listened to it about five-thousand times in a row. Maybe we were smoking too much weed, yeah, but "Cold, Cold Water" stands up, holds up, and continues to impress. Shit, no one has ever done something as impressive with a 4-track, and without an orchestra, since The Beatles.

If the Mantles evoke spaghetti westerns, then this cut is Clint Eastwood with a shotgun in your face. It's a Morricone pastiche functioning as a relationship travelogue and it's a goddamn Grade A work of genius. That, I'll fight you on.

08. The Green Windows - "The Gardener"

And this is just plain weird. There is very little information available on this album, which dribbled out in an edition of 299 in the mid-90s. Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what's going on here. I think he's supposed to be Frank Sinatra's gardener, who needs to record an album with somebody and Brian Wilson, who's now too stoned to help. Let me know if you figure it out. I'm pretty sure Peter Sellers is in there, too.

09. The Go-Go's - "How Much More" (Stiff Records Version)

Back to reality, or an alternate version in any event. Pre-fame, a more punk-rockin' Go-Go's recorded "We Got The Beat" and "How Much More" for Stiff Records in England. I would pay good money to here their entire catalog filtered through this lens, instead of the polished-to-perfection versions that we're all used to.

My goodness.

10. Wizard Smoke - "I"

I picked up on this Atlantan psych-metal album via Chunklet's year-end list, which is an embarrassment of riches, especially if you're looking for the good, heavy shit. While I don't always see eye-to-eye with Henry et al's view of the indie-rock universe, it is true that the things he/they come out in favor of are always excellent, if not up your alley. This is fucking rad. Thanks, Chunklet.

Note: We encourage everybody to buy this stuff in its true form if you like it. Musicians need money. If you own the copyrights to anything you'd like taken down, let us know, and it's done.

Dan Majesky is the big boss man of this corner of the internet. He has been devouring popular culture like it's going out of style, and then yelling at people about it, for thirty-one years. Now he's just typing it up and resting his voice.


No comments:

Post a Comment