Amen. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (FFFRV hereafter) is not only a powerful, visceral album, it’s also an important one. And not just in the abstract, critical way of being influential, but also in the more personal way of “this album might just change or even save your life.”
I think I first heard FFFRV in probably my Junior or Senior year of high school. This was a period of my life when I desperately want to look like, think like, act like, feel like, be like Sid Vicious. Now, any of you who know me, know that I will never be Sid Vicious. I’m too large and too gentle, for two things. But I wanted to be punk. Which, in retrospect, is patently absurd, but human desires are nothing if not absurd.
But FFFRV spoke to me. “Holiday in Cambodia” put a big, fat finger on … something that bothered me that I still couldn’t even put into words and wouldn’t for years yet. “California Über Alles” spoke to the sort of hormonal anti-establishment streak in me that’s only possible at seventeen. “Viva Las Vegas” made me feel irony long before I actually ever understood it.
So go read what Merlin has to say. Then go and find a copy of FFFRV. Listen, dance your arse off, and understand that no matter how alone you feel, you never are.
I’m a huge fan of a lot of the work that Conor Oberst has been doing in the past few years. And while I don’t always agree with the mans politics, I really admire what he’s trying to do with supporting immigration reform. I’m cynical about his chances for success, but I profoundly admire the effort.
Here’s his new single, “Coyote Song”. Whatever your feelings about the implied political message, I think it’s a damn fine tune:
It is a matter of established public record that I’m a fan of both John Darnielle and wombats. So please forgive this non-musical divergence, but it has come to my attention (via my friend Ann’s twitter feed) that there exists a picture of John Darnielle holding an adorable wombat.
I am convinced that this picture could end war. Seriously. There’s John Darnielle, looking as if to say:
“Why, yes, I’m John Darnielle and this is my wombat. I have no time for you.”
And there’s the wombat looking like:
“‘Sup, bitches? I’m a chubby, adorable wombat.”
Net result? Perfection.
Okay, okay, if you insist on a musical connection, here’s the thinnest and most tenuous one possible. The Wombats, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”:
Happy now? No? I refer you to the picture above.
Better? I thought so…
Superchunk + John Darnielle = oh. Hells. Yesssssss.
(Via the inimitable Merlin Mann)
So one of the major flaws with “I like all music but X and Y” thinking, is that one genuinely never knows where a really awesome song will come from. I can totally understand that some genres might not to speak to a listener as much as others. Others might have a remarkably low signal-to-noise ratio. Others may be full of gimmicky bands whose premise is so ridiculous that it’s hard to take them seriously.
But see, then one of those ridiculous bands makes a song like this:
The Protomen write and record songs (two full albums of them so far) based entirely on the old Megaman series of games. Is that kind of absurd? Well yeah, it is. But is this tune (“Act II: Breaking Out”) an awesome, well-crafted, poignant rock tune? I contend that yes. Yes it is. That it’s also a well-crafted, poignant rock tune about Megaman is entirely beside the point. It still totally rocks.
So next time you hear yourself saying “I like all music but X and Y” know that yes, Virginia, X and Y do have some really awesome tunes. You just haven’t found them yet.
Maybe because you’re not looking.
Pete Yorn’s got a new single out. It’s called “Precious Stone” and I’m pretty sure it’s already my favorite Yorn tune:
Groovy, eh? It’d produced by Frank Black, though listening to it, it sounds like Black treated it with a pretty light hand. Which is good, because Yorn’s definitely written and recorded a hell of a single.
So lately, I’ve been really into the Mountain Goats. I’d always sort of liked what I’d heard (I, like any warm blooded creature, love singing along at the end of “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”), but for whatever reason hadn’t ever listened much past the singles and best-known Mountain Goats tunes. But recently, after seeing them play at Sasquatch, I started tracking down more of their stuff.
Easily my favorite of the tunes I’ve stumbled across is “Lovecraft in Brooklyn”, which is as good an expression of all-consuming terror as has ever been put into music. H. P. Lovecraft found himself out of work, separated from his beloved wife, and surrounded by strange, foreign cultures the likes of which his New England upbringing had not prepared him for. His sense of helplessness, fear, and xenophobia is often credited (probably rightly) with being a significant force in developing his unique writing style.
But for all of John Darnielle’s writing about fear and self-destruction (two topics he explores frequently), the man writes some of the most life-affirming songs I’ve ever heard. At his best, though, he manages to combine the two, and conjure strange joy out of some really dark places. Probably my favorite example of this is “This Year”:
And then there are some tunes that are just pure distillations of perfect little moments, as in “Jenny”. “We were the one thing in the galaxy God didn’t have his eyes on” is one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever heard. I also like the pure, simply joy Darnielle evokes when he says “900 ccs of raw, whining power, no outstanding warrants for my arrest”. Perfect.
This is what’s keeping me going.
Hells yes. Crank it. Crank it and dance, bitches!