There’s something to be said for making masks or heavy makeup part of your performing persona, especially if you aren’t blessed with an outstanding physiognomy. Paul Hammer of Savoir Adore is not as strikingly handsome as his dreamy vocals lead me to visualize, though he ain’t bad and the dissonance is not as strong as with, just for example, Future Islands. What I’m saying is, this kind of strongly atmospheric, evocative music deserves equally compelling visuals, and no, I don’t mean a Tide Pod commercial. I would love to see Savoir Adore’s songs incorporated into a vividly drawn Studio Ghibli-style animated film, or at the very least, some visually creative music videos, because it’s honestly very transporting music. I understand, of course, that not everybody can be as physically exceptional as they are talented, but come on, kids, put a little effort into your presentation. Give me something to look at.
Portugal. The Man has quickly become one of my favorite currently active pop groups. Because they play with pop templates in a cheeky way, while still producing ridiculously catchy music. It’s all about euphoric hooks with a lyrical dark side and a little humor. Then, cheekiness and hooks aside, there are some straight-up earnest songs that, unbelievably in this age of irony, are kind of really uplifting. You could never accuse these guys of being schmaltzy, but I can see an army of overly-sincere open-mic troubadours tuning up for their weepy acoustic interpretation of this song. It’s not quite a power ballad, but it builds up for that emotional climax. And I’ll admit that maybe it makes me feel a little twinge of the positive feels, which honestly is nice and kind of hard to come by.
Any excuse to just listen to Roxy Music for the rest of the day. Starting with the incomparable first album, of course. What a powerful introduction, from the winking, gaudy throwback aesthetics to the off-kilter romanticism within. I’ve been listening to this record all my life and I’m still not sure what it’s saying. It may be saying that every love affair is like a suit you step in and out of, and life is a series of impressions to write about. Or it could be saying that glamour is a cheap salve that barely covers your wounds and does nothing to protect your vulnerable heart. You can be walking around bleeding on the inside, but at least you look – and sound – great doing so. Or it may be that there is nothing underneath the lace and velour and the poses you strike are everything you are and all of your feelings are just a performance. It may be all of the above, if you’re truly versed in camp and irony.
Tyrannosaurus Rex is, apparently, not a universal taste. Later-era T. Rex is highly accessible and well known, but those pre-name change early records mostly elicit confusion. Maybe listeners are put off by Marc Bolan’s mushy mouthed delivery, or, if they can get past that, the odd subject matter. You’re just not high enough to really dig the bongos and children’s lit references, my friends. Listening to Tyrannosaurus Rex is like being absorbed in another world – you have to surrender to it and accept its weird rules.
It seems like everybody kind of stopped paying attention to Moby after he hit peak saturation with 18 in 2002. Maybe it’s because he allowed to many of his songs to be licensed for too many commercials. Maybe we got tired of hearing about his self-righteous-white-guy vegan lifestyle. Maybe his particular brand of dreamy electronic soundscapes became passe as the console-music scene embraced the convulsive sounds of dubstep and other, more aggressive forms of EDM. Whatever it was, Moby enjoyed his allotted however-many-minutes as a major pop culture figure, and then went back to noodling on his console in relative obscurity. Which is to say, he’s been consistently making music in much the same vein, and it’s been consistently high-quality and rewarding, if not exactly ‘trending’. He’s still delivering those dreamy soundscapes, for those of us who still want them – and with increasing finesse. None of his post-18 albums have been mainstream phenomenons, but they’ve been beautiful and affecting. Moby was never well suited for major stardom, not in personality, lifestyle, looks or musical aesthetic. He’s just a dweeb who wants to compose beautiful melodies, who happened to hit it big through some alchemy of zeitgeist and luck.
I rarely look at other people’s blogs. I had to confess that but I think that most people don’t look anybody’s blog except their own. Anyway, I rarely read others’ blogs and I rarely take others’ recommendations. But sometimes I do and I discover weird and awesome things. Such as this. I discovered Kirin J Callinan browsing a music blog out of Australia, which is very worth looking at because a lot of Australian artists never make the leap over to this side of the equator. Callinan has been famous/notorious ( he’s famous enough to have his own meme, and is frequently photographed in his underwear) in his homeland since 2005 or so, with not so much a squeak in American markets. His style is vaguely reminiscent of Nick Cave; moody, dark and theatrical, because apparently there’s something about all that sun-parched outback that turns people morbid. This song isn’t overly dramatic, but it’s deeply atmospheric and sounds like a cut from a very gloomy and depressing Off-Broadway musical. Imagine the hero contemplating some wicked crime to salve his broken heart. That kind of a mood, which I find compelling. Enough to make me want to go check out the scene in New South Wales.
First of all, Courtney Barnett is seriously very cute. She may be like one of the foremost songwriters of her generation and whatnot, but she’s also like your super chill best friend who’s always down to hang out and gives really good advice. She looks like somebody you would totally want to have in your life. Well, thanks to the magic of technology, you can always have Courtney in your life, or at least her wise and clever songs. The poetry of mundane thoughts is Courtney Barnett’s talent, and wow, that’s a major gift, because most people’s mundane thoughts are, pretty much by definition, stupid and boring. A clever and cool person, though, would have clever and cool thoughts, ones that we find entertaining and enjoy being privy to. And relate to, of course. When you listen to Courtney Barnett you recognize some of your own everyday musings, but funnier and more interesting and clever.