Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Orras- Skaing

(The title is a joke based upon the first time I heard of The Horrors- that's my best attempt at a Surrey accent. Normally, I'm good with accents, of various stripes, as I've got an accent myself- I speak with a bit of an American Southwestern accent, a bit cowboy, a bit surfer- mixed with my Mum's strong Saskatoon accent, and a little bit of my Dad's Dutch accent, but the Southern English accent defies me. Hell, I'm good to go in Edinburgh, and Cork, equally- but in Surrey everyone has to say everything twice to me. So, the guy is listening to this ungodly noise, and I ask him what is that crap, and he says "Tha Orras" and I ask "The Oreos?" he replies "Na, mate, tha Orras" so I ask him to spell it. He's frustrated but he does, and I realize the silent Haitch. I find my stupidity funny.)
So, have you seen High Fidelity? With Cusack, doing his best to make Chicago seem like London, and breaking down the fourth wall every chance he gets? Yeah, I thought you had. So, you know that scene where they're listening to Kinky Wizards for the first time, and Jack Black sorrowfully says that they're good? Well, that's how I feel about the Horrors' new one "Skying". I hated the Horrors. But this record? It's pretty good. It's not excellent, change your life great, but it is pretty good. Which means, if you're so inclined, give it a shot. It's got a 4AD/Shoegaze type of feel, with slightly more pop songwriting. Reminds me of when Bassman from Spaceman 3 formed the Darkside, mixed with latter day Chameleons. So, yeah, good stuff. Very odd that they kept the name with that sound, and with the improvement in songwriting. I'd think they'd change the name and distance themselves from the garbage on their first record- and yes, it was pure garbage. I think part of the enjoyment, though, is hearing a truly wretched band find something good. That might be related to why I find my stupidity funny- I rather like reversals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wild Flag? Really, you're going with "Wild Flag"?

Again proving the dictum about bad band name equals good band, I've been listening to Wild Flag. Yup, it's good. Former members of Helium, Sleater Kinney , the Minders and Quasi type good.
How to describe it? Well, I've been listening to The Knux, as well. The best metaophor for them, in my mind is the dude you meet at a party on coke. (As in, the dude is on coke. You don't really know him, but you meet him at a party, and you can just observe him, knowing that his problems are his own, but the entertainment belongs to you) The Knux try to mix really raw garagey kind of post punk guitars, with rap and Pop choruses, with the end result sounding like a good New Wave band, but nothing so deep that I can truly relate to it. It's basically entertainment, and nothing more.
Wild Flag, meanwhile is much more like hanging out with a few friends and some beers. I know that there are some issues there, and that makes hearing them have some fun all the better- just like when you can have a drink or two with friends. It's not as tied to amusement, but the enjoyment is more satisfying. They play Indie rock (big surprise, there, huh?) but they do this really neat thing where the guitars and keyboards lock up just slightly behind the beat- it means that they sounds relaxed, no matter how energetic the tempo might be, but they also sound like they're tied in together- again, like hanging out with friends. I'm becoming a really big fan of Carrie Brownstein, though- between her no-nonsense interview persona, her work on Portlandia, and this? It seems like maybe it was good that Sleater Kinney is gone...
I only wish I didn't have to work, and so, will not be able to see them play the Black Cat on the 20th. Hopefully, they stick around long enough to tour again, sometime....

Steve Jobs is Dead

I just heard that it happened. I don't think it was any great shock to anyone, but it is sad, nonetheless. I'm sure the Pancreatic cancer had something to do with it., but I knew on a slightly more personal level that he was going. See, I worked for him, just a little. I knew that I was making arrangement to take him to medical facilities, and most of them were on the "hospice" end of the spectrum, as opposed to the treatment and curative end of the spectrum. So, no we weren't close in any way, but I felt bad for the guy- having to project strength, and command, all the while trying to make one last comfortable bed to lie down and die in.
Of course, his contributions are many, and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone in the western world entirely untouched by the things Steve Jobs brought in to our lives.
I hope that whatever else, the man came to peace with his life. I happen to believe that this is the goal for all of us, and so, I hope he met that. I hope that his family was ready, and can deal with what comes next. I hope that all of us can have some goodwill thrown our way, when we need it. I don't think he needs it, now, but it's there nonetheless. It's sad that the man needs nothing, now, but the comfort is that he didn't seem to waste a second of his time here, so hopefully he got a few minutes or hours of that time without the burden of conflict.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Whacha doin'?

So, I talk a lot about music, a little about TV and books, and the occaisional book on here, right? But, culture isn't that. These are all artifacts, objects, things. Culture is what people do between them. So, what have I been doing, culturally?
Well, Most recently, yesterday I went to Crafty Bastards. For those not in the area, it's a large craft show, based around the fact that those of us in the DC area are so behind the times, that we didn't get the memo that crafting is over. Heck, we're so out of the loop we didn't even know that it's not subversive anymore.
No, what's hip and happening is what I blundered into right next to Crafty Bastards- auditions to be on the 27th season of MTV's Real World.
For those not culturally aware enough to remember the 1990's, I'm deeply sarcastic, because someone named Douglas Coupland put a big X on my forehead, ands I thought that made me a follower of Charles Manson, so I've been bitter ever since.
Much more seriously, I really like Crafty Bastards, as an event. I'm friends with some of the folks involved, and I always make new friends when I go. I think that some of the motivations for it are pure- sustainability, recycling, etc. However, the event is held in one of places I dislike. The Adams Morgan area of DC. Yes, I was in the same area a few scant weeks ago for You Am I ( which was good, but not awesome, unfortunately, so no talking about it from me) , and yes, I do end up there from time to time, but I hate the fake hipsterism that goes with areas like it. I dislike rude people in ironic costume, I don't like having to suffer for fashion- parking is awful, and the response I get from my friends- "I'm sorry, that's why I'm glad I don't live here anymore"- is miles away from the response of the locals, who were telling me to get a bike or get out. Real nice, huh? I live 50 miles away, and they won't let me take my bike on the train.
That's the heart of the cultural matter. Heart. The culture I want to support, and the engine that drives things like Crafty Bastards is a generosity of spirit, a joy in mindset, and a warmth of heart that you will not find in the so-called mass culture. Sure, we might dress it up is sarcasm, and parade it down into the cool,cool depths of hipsterville, but that heart is at the center of what my friends, and I hope I am all about.
So, whether it's fashionable or not (I'm thinking Not) and whether it's your exact Taste, or not- please check out my friends- because they're better people than I am. There's Tina Seamonster and Saul Bare Tree and Jessee and , of Course, Jon Wye ( I think about 1/3 of my T shirts come from that studio.) Go through my blog roll, and you'll find others, as well. The point isn't about style so much as good people. These are all good people. That's something that won't fit into a hipster neighborhood.
However, I am still into blatant localism. So, another set of things I've been doing centers around Frederick. I went to the county fair, which is a really big deal. I ate a poor boy sandwich, drank some beer, watched some kids, and saw a friend play his guitar. He's onto something interesting, I think- do folk music that's tied heavily into genre fiction. Specifically, he's getting tied into Science Fiction, but not in a jokey-reference material way. More in a story type of way. So, yeah, Check out Jonah Knight, too. Now, unlike some of the friends I might mention, Jonah's a really close friend, so sorry no detailed explication on his music- I don't want to discuss it. I like his music, and I like Jonah, and I don't want to potentially argue with anyone over it. But, back to Frederick County-
Later today, I'm probably hitting up Oktoberfest. Like I need an excuse for beer and sausage?
So, if Culture is what you do, that's what I am, lately.