Friday, February 10, 2012
This will be a relatively short review. These guys are bleak. Have been, and will be. They can make Joy Division seem like a party band. However, it's not bleak for bleakness' sake. It's not like Nine Inch Nails where the depression becomes a weird fetish of some kind of tough-guy stance. They're open and honest sounding. It's the sadness of growing into being cynical and bitter, not a pose. So, what's new on this one? Their sound, which was a variation on post-rock, like Aerogramme, is now like a post-punk/early industrial Shoegazer/post rock hybrid. It's like Caberet Voltaire running headlong into the Catherine Wheel, to play pages from a teenage suicide's diary set to music. Uniquely beautiful. This is something new under the sun. I think the bleakness, and chilly cynicism will scare off listeners, which is too bad, because this is some of the best new music I've heard.
That might be why it's called "No One Can Ever Know"
I'm going to talk about the new Mark Lanegan LP "Blues Funeral". Please note the phrasing. I don't want anyone to think this is a review. I cannot "review" this- I'm not qualified.
I can talk about it, though. Firstly, I can mention how little objectivity I've got. Lanegan could croon an LP of him singing the Universal Building Code, accompanied by a kazoo, and I'd be all about it.
But, immediately afterwards, I can mention that I'm unafraid of electronics. I remember being 8 and getting into an argument with a friend about Queen. He liked them, and thought it was cool that they put a "no synthesizers" tag on their record. I thought it was stupid-to me, it was an artificial and hypocritical self-limitation- they still plugged in guitars, and microphones, and used multi-tracking in the studio, right? So, it seemed dumb to me- like saying "We play basketball without shoes"- sure you can do it, but you'll just play crappier. So, without insulting Queen further, let me just say that from an early age, my stance has been- use every tool you need to get across your point. So, I've got less than no problem with the beatboxes and loops, and synths on this. For those in the "no synths" camp, I'd like to point out that I'm hearing a lot of electric guitars, too, so you won't be missing your favorite sounds, here.
I'm a pretty idiosyncratic listener. I know this, and if you read through my blog, you'll know that , too. In a way, this stuff reminds me of Iggy's post-Stooges work- it's the sound of a guy trying to see how he fits into the brave New world that he helped to usher in. So, just like The Idiot isn't exactly a Punk record, but isn't exactly not a punk record, this isn't exactly a grunge record, but it's not exactly not a grunge record. It's full of strange musings following personal obessessions, like Iggy did, too. I really like that quality- I don't want a singer to try to sound like how they think I want them to sound- that quickly devolves into Nickelback. I want them to have a muse, and to follow it, so's I can listen and expand my world a bit.
Still, I have to go back to that voice. Mark Lanegan could sing just about anything in that sandpaper worn smooth gritty voice of his, and you'll hear oceans of experience and misadventure in it. It's easily my favorite voice in Rocknroll.
I'll tell you another thing you won't hear in a review- this also reminds me of the Butthole Surfers. What I mean is that it smells of "studio psychedelia"- setting some creative people into a room with studio equipment that they don't fully understand, let 'em get ripped, and then let 'em rip on that gear- jarring effects, only some of which work, abound.
So, yes, this is objectively a great new record, but I think it may take a few years for fans' subjective take to catch up to what's there. I love it on an instinctual level, but I think I'll be able to appreciate it in a few months or years.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Lots of really good music out today. I've bought Die Antwoord's "Ten$ion", Mark Lanegan's "Blues Funeral" and The Twilight Sad's " No one can Ever Know" just today, and there are other things to buy. Very Nice. So, of all these things, why am I spotlighting Die Antwoord? Because, outside of MIA at the Superbowl, nothing was more "rocknroll" than Die Antwoord on Letterman? Nope. Because I really think, as far as dance music goes, they're at the top of the game, at this moment in time. Listen loud, and it will make sense....