Tag Archives: Rawk
After the remarkable efforts of Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, Zach Condon’s offbeat hybridization of traditional Eastern European motifs and Western indie pop reached a glorious pinnacle. But where take things from there? Rather than resting on his laurels, the 23-year-old Santa Fe native packed his bags, hopped on a plane to the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and began recording a selection of new material with local 19-piece collective the Jimenez Band. Aided by a translator to help communicate their compositional ideas, Condon and his cohorts worked tirelessly on March of the Zapotec, a slew of songs composed in the small weaver village of Teotitlan del Valle during the spring of 2008.
Now, I enjoy Beirut, having listened to and enjoyed both of their first two albums. I also think our own artistic traditions would be greatly impoverished absent some sort of cultural cross-pollination. But there’s something vaguely unsettling about a Western artist – however talented – air-dropping into some remote Mexican village, hiring a translator, and promptly appropriating the locals’ music for his own purposes. It’s not that collaboration is bad per se – I just feel that this sort of thing should take place on a more or less equal footing. Now that I’m done sounding like a dirty fair trader, here’s an excellent live version of “Scenic World” (via TAS):
Here’s a provocative point from Helen Rittelmeyer:
None of that was especially clear, perhaps because my take on Pulp is sadly un-British and therefore weak. Maybe the American translation would have something to do with Neutral Milk Hotel, the band that led a generation into thinking that the ideal love affair would be one between a two-headed boy and the ghost of a teenager fifty years dead. In each case, the effect is to make real life seem tawdry compared with our more and more stylized expectations, even as our public fantasies get more and more tawdry (and this is where Elvis Costello’s second album comes in). Fairy tales are “erotic novels for children”—hear that, Jeff Mangum? For children.
Badmouthing Pulp, the Soft Boys, and Neutral Milk Hotel in one blog post is quite a feat – my teen-aged soul cries out in anguish. Having had a few otherwise promising dates ruined by the colossal weight of “There is a light that never goes out,” I’m inclined to agree with Ms. Rittelmeyer, though that’s not going to stop me from wearing out my (third) copy of “The Queen is Dead.”
I’m also struck by the parallels between her argument and Naomi Wolf’s take on pornography, another medium that makes real life seem tawdry and unsatisfying in comparison. But unlike porn, good music is more of a complement than a replacement for real interaction. Maybe “There is a light” is silly and melodramatic, but I don’t think anything does a better job of capturing that elusive sense of anticipation felt right before knocking on her door than “Ask Me.”
I’m not in a very bloggish mood, so here’s a great song from Radical Face to tide you over. I can’t claim any intimate knowledge of the band – I recently stumbled across this track on a friend’s graduation mixtape – but it’s a pretty good song nonetheless:
Tonight’s outing was pretty rough for the Boss: long on rehearsed stage banter, short on any spark of musical spontaneity. He can still write great music, but this Washington Post article on one fan coming to terms with Springsteen’s halftime appearance seems apt:
I had covered three Super Bowls in nearly 20 years as a sportswriter. Each time, it marked a low ebb in my feeling about my work, with reporters crammed elbow to elbow frantically filing identical stories about a steroid-fed circus masquerading as a sporting event. The only reason anyone in the press box ever glanced at the field during halftime was to mock the lip-syncing artifice being passed off as entertainment as cheerleaders gyrated in unison and hordes of preselected teens rushed the stage on cue.
Surely, Bruce wouldn’t play the Super Bowl. Then again, I had stopped counting the times he had let me down over the years. Slumped in front of my laptop in Beijing, I let out a groan from the depths of my soul.
The only decent halftime show I can remember is Prince’s epic rendition of “Purple Rain.” I suspect this is because the Super Bowl’s glam rock stylings are a pretty great match for his extravagant weirdness.
As for the game itself, I was pretty disappointed until the fourth quarter. My initial reaction is that Santonio Holmes deserves the MVP – Harrison’s interception return was clutch, but I think his egregious unnecessary roughness foul disqualifies him from consideration.