andrew on animatronics

31 03 2008

Via bee enthusiast Andrew Hall.

Concerning the Rock-Afire Explosion:

Throughout the 1980s, before Chuck E. Cheese took control of the remaining restaurants, ultimately more successful, there was Showbiz Pizza, which delivered much of what Chuck E. Cheese did: pizza, arcade games, screaming children, probably a ball pit, and horrifying animatronic bands. I’d write about the band from Chuck E. Cheese, but I haven’t felt any need to yet. On Why?’s excellent new record Alopecia, Yoni Wolf makes mention of his “fear of the bear at Showbiz Pizza when [he] was six.” Given that I’m a tremendous nerd, I decided to see what exactly he was talking about, and the two most reliable sources available to us as users of the internet – YouTube and Wikipedia – provided me with more than enough information.

The bear from Showbiz Pizza is called Billy Bob Brockali. He plays the bass guitar, as seen here most clearly at about the 2:25 mark. If nothing else, seeing the assembly process, as well as watching five bears moving completely in unison, has certainly left me frightened. Unfortunately, it took quite a while to find a video to provide me with adequate evidence that the bear from Showbiz Pizza was frightening. Perhaps this video, showcasing only Billy Bob and one additional member of the group in a more intimate house show environment, is a bit more convincing. If nothing else, it leaves me wondering what one would do with a bunch of terrifying animatronic animals occupying so much space in one’s living room.

This is maybe part of a Rock-Afire Explosion show from 1983. I don’t really know. According to a rather thorough resource on the band, Looney Bird “was a notorious drunk and was always getting into Billy Bob’s ‘gasahol.'” While I really did want to find footage of Looney Bird being drunk on gasahol, I failed, so there’s just this baffling exchange in which he learns that there was no one named Frank in the Beatles.

Speaking of the Beatles, there’s also this five-minute tribute to the best-promoted rock band of the twentieth century. I think this is made by the Showbiz Pizza people, given that it involves people in costumes in addition to the animatronics. Between the footage of a mouse in a cheerleader costume mowing a lawn to win a bear’s affections, along with the segue into “A Hard Day’s Night,” which appears to have a member of the band wearing a hand puppet, in addition to comments from YouTube users like mic1ne, who state “that gorilla freaked me out when I was about 5,” it would really seem as if people were genuinely frightened by the Rock-Afire Explosion.

The sentiment seems pretty similar on the commentary on “Showbiz Pizza Wolfpack 5 – Part 1“, which gives off a nearly Lynchian vibe for some reason. I blame it on the big curtain behind the band, the close-ups on the animals’ faces, the hellish organ music, as well as the wolf, who can’t stop shaking. YouTube users are also concerned, as evidenced by “ru4ru486” who asks “Of all things, why did hte company invest money into those weird machines? Where the h*ll did they buy them from, who made them?” and “unbornkourt,” who tells us “When I was a kid this scared me so freakin’ bad I ran out of the place screaming and crying and begged my mom with my life not to make me go back into that room that warped me…” Perhaps the best summary comes from “synthwerk,” who says that “it looks like some sort of sex crime will take place here.” The camera pan to a nearly-empty room isn’t helping much, either.

Things came to an end with the band’s tragic breakup in the early nineties, as Chuck E. Cheese absorbed Showbiz Pizza. There’s a three-part, 24-minute video explaining how to transform one animatronic rock band into another in the name of “Concept Unification.” Part one opens with preparations atop overwrought piano music and slowly moves through which props need to be removed and destroyed. Parts two and three, sporting straight-up unbearable early nineties smooth jazz, move through the reassembly process, ultimately resulting in a new group called Munch’s Make-Believe Band, as shown here. As much as I don’t really like these things, there is something rather depressing about watching this equipment as it’s torn to pieces in real-time, particularly when their faces are taken away or when the narrator mentions to “be sure to destroy [this stage part] when you’re done,” leaving the discarded robots naked, with rectangular mouths stuck wearing an expression a little bit like a scream, for all of eternity.

Of course, there are also enthusiasts. As shown by the video consisting of bear and bird in someone’s living room, many people have taken it upon themselves to preserve and reprogram surviving Rock-Afire Explosions, as evidenced by this video from a place called Odyssey Fun World in Naperville, IL, preserving the same basic idea despite twenty years of declining relevance. Unfortunately, this also meant that someone had to go and make the fucking things play an Evanescence single, as shown here, reminding me simultaneously that these things were in fact terrifying, Evanescence is still bad music, and Daredevil is still a terrible movie. And at that point, I’m finding myself rather comfortable with the fact that these things have all but disappeared from the world.

However, I do rather like this video, simply titled “The King,” which consists of a character from the Chuck E. Cheese band and a child who seemed to be more than a little enthusiastic about him. This becomes clear as he stands in the seemingly empty room at the edge of the stage holding two flags, waving them and screaming, perhaps out of excitement, as if he were seeing his actual favorite band and they were actually playing a high-energy set of his favorite songs, his love of the performer fueling it rather than electricity, the idea of concept unification, pizza, tickets, or children’s tears.

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missing in action

28 03 2008

I kind of dropped the ball last week, and I’m sorry. There are many perfectly good reasons for it, though, and I thought I might detail them for you so you can feel like you’re more involved in my life.

news.
My life mentor, Salim Muwakkil, came to speak at Whitman this week, which was a big deal for me. Sometimes I wonder if I have opinions of my own or if I just steal all of my ideas from Salim’s columns. Here are a few of my favorites:

+ Nas: Whose Word Is This?: I think the best articles Salim writes are about hip-hop. Here, he writes about Nas’s crusade to reclaim the n-word, which Salim backs up:

Those who use the word with malicious intent may still be able to inflict pain, but they are brandishing a weakening weapon. The word is being so relentlessly denuded it may one day be effectively defused. Nas’ album continues that process.

+ Throwing Away the Key: Perhaps Salim’s biggest crusade is the institutionalized racism inherent within the American criminal justice system. The insane disproportion of African-American men in American prisons (when compared with the racial demographics of the population as a whole) is, as Salim pointed out many times, something the United States will one day look back on with shame. Although many political writers touch on this subject, none do it with Salim’s passion.

+ Paying Back The Slavery Debt: This is the most compelling argument I’ve ever read in favor of slavery reparations, which was a hot topic almost a decade ago. Unfortunately, the conversation has practically become extinct, despite the coherent reasoning backing the idea (Salim wrote about it again in 2006 as a means to fund the horrific disrepair left by Hurricane Katrina, but to little dispute or rise.)

+ Katrina’s Racial Wake: Written in the direct aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Salim tells us what we all know now about race in America. If only it hadn’t taken a devastating storm to teach us that. Almost three years later, we still haven’t rebuilt what was once one of America’s greatest cities; FEMA continues to screw up, lacking any real or drastic solutions; and so many people who lived in The Big Easy have not moved back home.

Salim’s talk last week was about Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia, which Salim pointed out was probably the most groundbreaking speech on race made in the last century (John Stewart said as much when he told his audience in a state of make-believe shock that a politician had spoken to the American people about race as if they were adults). For those of us who had felt Obama had grown perhaps a bit spineless in the bright lights of the presidential election, the speech was a breath of fresh air which addressed the racial purple elephant legitimately for the first time. Finally, we can take a step back and recognize that a black candidate for president does not mean we leave in a post-racial society.

music.
You Ain’t No Picasso posted a link to the entire downloadable Ghostface Killah remix album. And it’s sick.

MP3: Ghostface Killah: Charlie Brown (DJ Medhi Remix)


quotes.
I don’t know if you know this, but I’m the president of the Whitman branch of Action for Animals. I know. I’m a pretty big deal. And this week, adding to the excitement of Mr. Muwakkil’s visit, was Veggie Week. So here is a veg-friendly Albert Einstein quote (he was vegetarian btw) and a recipe you might want to try out.

Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.

RECIPE:
If you haven’t visited the Post-Punk Kitchen online yet, you have to. It’s really, really good. The writer, Isa Chandra Moskowitz should probably be enshrined for proving that vegan food is often better than non-vegan food. If you don’t believe me, check out this cupcake recipe. I’m not kidding when I say that you will have a food-related orgasm (FRO).

RECIPE: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Frosting


more quotes.
ALSO this week, my boyfriend Alex Kerr turned 21 this week. So in honor of the biggest Rolling Stones fan I know (Alex), an excerpt from Wednesday’s interview with Keith Richards posted on golden fiddle. It’s one of the best interviews I’ve ever read.

Q: You should sell your body on eBay.
Yeah, I think so. Apparently, I do have an incredible immune system. I had hepatitis C and cured it by myself.

Q: How?
Just by being me.

Q: Do you regret not moisturizing your face?
No. I leave that up to other people.

Q: Ever think about getting Botox?
No one’s ever talked me into doing that. You’re lucky if you walk out of there alive. God bless you.

Q: Are you still cutting your own hair? You’ve done that all your life, right?
Yes. I did this bit here yesterday. [holds up a few strands on the side of his head] Also, I’m letting the dye grow out, since I’m not on the road. If the wife likes it, I’ll keep it.

miscellaneous.

Photobucket





super monta bros.

25 03 2008

Last night, the Golden State Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Lakers as at least the partial result of a blown call with four seconds left in the game. Monta Ellis was hooked on the shoulder by Lakers guard Derek Fisher and pulled to the ground. Referee Bob Delaney whistled Ellis for an offensive foul that gave the Lakers the ball up two points, essentially awarding them the game. While it was visibly a bad call, and at a time in the game when refs historically become tight with their whistles for fear of handing one team a win, it was perhaps not as flagrant as Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald made it out to be, who called it a “pathetic” end, and railed for a solid three to four minutes of airtime that Fisher had “tackled” Ellis to the floor.

 

His frustration was probably more inspired by the journey than the fizzle at the end. The Warriors have had terrible problems with the Lakers over the last several years, and were poised to win both ends of a back-to-back with a three pointer in overtime, or at least force a second overtime. It was a long and very taxing game to watch, and the Warriors had played hard minutes. Baron Davis played fifty-three (the whole game plus overtime) only never to get a shot at the hoop to end it. The highlight show that followed didn’t even bother to make note of the late foul that sent the Lakers home happy, and maybe in some respects that was why Fitzgerald was so passionate in his condemnation; it sometimes seems that the media will revise history a bit to enhance the Laker good vibrations.

 

It’s not unlike the Super Mario Bros. Sure, we’ve all played the game, or at least seen others play it, the diminutive plumber leaping and soaring above Koopa Troopas, Bullet Bills, and indeed, the stoic and tragically flawed Goomba. Children and adults alike have had great fun attempting to thwart the evil despot Bowser (although I still prefer to call him his classic name, King Koopa), so of course, they all loved the movie, right?

 

The movie, for those who don’t remember, was a bit of a disaster. Released in 1993, it starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, respectively. The film was rife with bizarre choices, perhaps not glaring flaws in an original screenplay, but irrefutably strange in the context of the bright, fun video game. The world Mario and Luigi find themselves in is not vibrant, pretty, or even kitsch. Instead, the duo found themselves in an industrial, post-apocalyptic slum smack in the middle of an endless desert. Gross looking fungus hangs from every conceivable surface, the simple and tiny Goombas are hulking dinosaurs stuffed into bulky overcoats, lovable sidekick Yoshi gets stabbed in the throat, and King Koopa clumsily attempts to seduce/force/pester Princess Daisy into a sexual foray.

 

It’s dirty and unpleasant, and it’s completely unlike it’s own source material. One notable aspect is that the famous jumping power the brothers have at their disposal in the games is absent in the film. Instead, they equip themselves with mechanized boots called Stompers, and use them to blast themselves into the air. This bothered me, because it struck me that the movie, already a film about two guys who trip through a dimension to fight a super-evolved dinosaur, was not willing to indulge in anything that might be considered silly or illogical.

 

There’s a similar childlike instinct regarding basketball that makes me want to remember certain games and moments in exaggeratedly epic terms, and whether you agree with Delaney’s call on Monta Ellis or not (I don’t), there’s nothing epic or fulfilling about watching a referee, essentially the bureaucrat of the hardwood, decide a game. It shakes and shatters in some way the nostalgia and love for the sport that has built up in me slowly over time. Not unlike a plumber wearing hydraulic shoes, Bob Delaney has killed my spirit.





ninja typeface

20 03 2008

Today I bring you just a few unrelated items for easy consumption.

1. Woman with ninja turtle poodle:

So I guess the story here is that there’s some contest out there called the SuperGroom, and in this contest you’re supposed to maim style your dog to look like something else. This colorfully-dressed woman (comically named Myra Macia — 4real)  won first place with (and you’re going the think I’m joking) Leonardoodle.  

… 

It’s a sickness. 

2. MTV’s Multiplayer Blog posted an item yesterday about 80 people who dressed up like video game players (rather convincingly, I’d say — I’m especially impressed with the band of little Marios that leads the pack) and then congregated. They did this, apparently, to set a new world record: Largest Gathering of Game Heroes. This is apparently for the Guinness World Record Gamer’s Edition 2008. And it’s about time they published one of those, don’t you think?

[Read the whole story and check out the pictures here

3. I probably only found this interesting because I’m writing my thesis right now and it’s a 2800-line 52-part poem (this is turning out to be more work than I bargained for, but I digress…), but the Virginia Quarterly Review recently analyzed all the poetry submissions they receive against the submissions  they actually publish, and found that they are more likely to publish poems with poetical cliches than without. For example, 19.9 percent of the poems they receive have the word “water” in them, while 24.8 percent of the poems they actually publish contain “water.” The big moneymaker, however, appears to be “darkness:” While only 3.9 percent of all submitted poems contain the word, 17.0 percent of all published poems contain it. Luckily, my thesis contains “darkness” six times already. And it’s not even done yet. So I’m a shoe-in.

[See all cliches and percentages]

And for those of us who obsess over this stuff, Virginia Quarterly has also released the top ten most common poetry titles they receive. “Remember” tops the list. Don’t forget. 

4. Web nerds are annoyingly obsessed with typefaces and fonts. I am no exception.

[Typographia’s Top Fonts of 2007]





hardware

19 03 2008

New music Wednesday comes with a decided pout, whereas every music blog out there has been posting live photos from SXSW — which, by the way, looks like it kicks fucking ass this year.But I’ve got two nice tracks for you and a video I’m obsessed with. So enjoy!

She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here”

The exciting collaboration between world’s-best-guitar-picker M. Ward and world’s-sexiest-female Zooey Deschanel was released yesterday, and I think it’s incredibly interesting. The songs are all Deschanel’s own, and the record was recorded in Portland just this last year (I can’t believe Zooey could have been just chillin’ at the Doug Fir and I was completely unaware… but I would have pulled a Jack-McFarland-meets-Broadway-diva and that would have been embarrassing). The music itself is surprisingly upbeat but definitely quirky, and hearkens to mid-’50s big-hair doo-wop music (I hear an early Linda Rondstadt in Deschanel’s voice, which surprises me because she was almost husky [but hot] when she sang her big solo in the ever-brilliant “Elf”).

MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here”   

Rilo Kiley – “Let My Love Open The Door”

 This is a live cut via You Ain’t No Picasso from SXSW, but don’t you feel like Rilo Kiley was always intended to perform this song? Kind of like when Sheryl Crow covered “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” and you didn’t want to admit it, but her version was better than Cat Stevens’? Okay. Not exactly. But anyway, this cover is not extraordinary, nor does it take any major risks, but it’s a perfect choice for the band. You listen to it and you think, “Huh. That makes sense.”

MP3: Rilo Kiley – “Let My Love Open The Door” live  

 Video: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – “Bag of Hammers”

Thao, aka Thao Nguyen, has released two provocative-but-decidedly poppy albums in the last two years: The brilliant but virtually critically ignored “Like The Linen” and this year’s incredible and explosive “We Brave Bee Stings and All.” Hailed by Laura Viers and others, Thao is growing into a regular indie darling, and for good reason: Her vocals are always careful and her lyrics have that rare quality of being able to stand on their own two feet. She’s my latest obsession. Last week, her perfect stop-motion animation video for “Bag of Hammers” (the first single off “We Brave”) dropped, and it has like 250 hits from me alone. 





dmx, xxl

19 03 2008

[EDIT: There are links throughout this, but I had a lot of difficulty formatting this piece for some reason, so the links are just showing up black. But there are three or so opportunities to read the whole interview in XXL.] Today’s quote comes from a really lovely little interview in XXL magazine published last Friday with DMX. The infamous, brilliant, hardcore street rapper is famous for being having the perfect mix of image, edge and indisputable talent (I think allmusic.com puts it well in saying he’s “sort of like a hip-hop Johnny Cash”); now he’s slated to release two albums in the next year, including a gospel record called You’ll Fly With Me Later. The interesting part of the interview, though, comes when XXL is asked to weigh in on the upcoming presidential election: 

 

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

 

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.
Barack?!

Barack.
What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

 

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

 

Yeah.
What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

 

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

 

I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.

When I first saw this excerpt on 23-6 and kottke, I thought it was a joke. I mean, I guess I though DMX was being funny. Because seriously: He’s Barack O-mother-fucking-bama. The “I Have A Crush On Obama” video by the she-got-her-15-minutes-ObamaGirl has over 7 million views on YouTube; DMX’s “X Gon Give It To Ya” video doesn’t even boast half that.But it appears DMX actually doesn’t open the newspaper anymore. Some may call him disillusioned. If you read on: 

So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?
Nope.

 

Is that why you’re not following it?
No, because it’s just—it doesn’t matter. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. It doesn’t really make a difference. These are the last years.

 

But it would be pretty big if we had a first Black president. That would be huge.
I mean, I guess…. What, they gon’ give a dog a bone? There you go. Ooh, we have a Black president now. They should’ve done that shit a long time ago, we wouldn’t be in the fuckin’ position we in now. With world war coming up right now. They done fucked this shit up then give it to the Black people, “Here you take it. Take my mess.”

 

The rest of the interview is actually pretty interesting. Although DMX may appear a cynic and perhaps even ignorant, his assertion that the president is essentially a “puppet” rings true for many who have given up on the bipartisan American system altogether.Ah, but we keep on trying, don’t we? 





andrew on music

18 03 2008

My close friend and audiophile Andrew Hall compiled a beautiful annotated list of spring break music, and graciously gave upside down again permission to print it. So for your amusement and enjoyment:

samamidon – sugar baby

[Here’s a video, I think]I’d listened to this once or twice before I think it and the rest of its accompanying record, all is well, finally hit me. I was flying back here and had to turn my iPod off after playing the first track, what with impending descent and all, and Sam Amidon’s vocals, which convey some sense of longing that I just can’t shake, especially on this song, threw me the hell off. The arrangement – the sparse strings, the electric/acoustic split by channel that somehow doesn’t come across as a dumb gimmick, and just about everything else – is stunning. 

There’s something about Iceland that just gives everything that comes from it – even traditional Appalachian folk songs reinterpreted by a 26-year-old from Vermont – this sound. Maybe I’m giving the country too much credit, given that I’ve heard it’s more than a little overpriced and Sigur Rós are supposedly dicks (see that disastrous NPR interview for evidence), though they do have striking volcanoes and attractive women, and I’m okay with that. And it could be just the fact that this record was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson, who also did a Bonnie ‘prince’ Billy record called the letting go, also in Iceland, that this reminds me of. The fact that Amidon sounds a little like Will Oldham probably has something to do with it, too.

the magnetic fields – california girls

The trick to distortion is that that the distortion is a gimmick. The songs have pretty straightforward acoustic arrangements buried beneath sheets of noise because Stephin Merritt has some idea about psychocandy by the Jesus and Mary Chain being the last significant event in pop music. I’d ask him to explain himself, but I’ve already read a whole lot about how Stephin Merritt is a terrifying interview and I do enough heavy sighing by myself, making his presence on the other side of a phone line unnecessary. 
The other trick to distortion is the fact that none of these songs make even the slightest first good impression. I fell hard for 69 love songs almost immediately, as I did holiday and the charm of the highway strip. Parts of get lost don’t click for me, but I think enough of both “When You’re Old and Lonely” and “All the Umbrellas In London” that I’ll probably buy it if and when it gets a vinyl repress. Butdistortion forces one to meet it on its terms, which is tough, since it’s neither noise nor pop but it isn’t the best noise-pop record, either. Hearing these songs performed live confirmed it, since “California Girls” performed with acoustic instruments and the unnecessary laughter of a bunch of Seattlites, mostly couples, was completely and totally irresistible. I even kind of like the studio version now, though this was best presented with Shirley Simms reproducing the song’s fade-out by whispering the chorus’s final repetition to a silent, adoring audience before it bursts into applause, prompting hyperacusis sufferer Merritt to frown and cover his ear. 
 

studio – no comply

There was nothing Swedish on this list, it wasn’t long enough because I write too much, and this list needed some very serious Swedish music with very serious Swedish guitar solos and very serious Swedish vocals. If it wasn’t so good it’d be filler.
 

the mountain goats – autoclave

In the heretic pride press kit drawn by Jeffrey Lewis and written by John Darnielle, he describes this song as being the product of his thinking about “people whose hearts involuntarily pulverize any good feelings that come within a city block of them.” He also makes mention of the fact that the song came to shape while he was in Alaska, and this does feel like a strikingly Alaskan song to me, even though all I remember about Alaska was the fact that everyone seemed to die really young for some reason. 
When I was five, I remember being in a car with a friend of mine I haven’t seen in something like seven years and probably won’t ever see again. We drove by the Dimond Center, and he told me it was the dying center, since a man died there. He actually died from inhaling toxic fumes from the machinery that kept the ice rink in the basement cold, but I came to mythologize him for years as the guy who got hit by the zamboni. Note that to my knowledge, no one was ever hit or killed by a zamboni on the ice rink at the Dimond Center, and if I have cost them any business by perpetuating this lie, I am sorry.
 

neon neon – steel your girl

Gruff Rhys has always been obsessed with puns. Apparently his first solo record, the all-Welsh yr atal genhedlaeth, is titled after a terrible pun, as are all of the songs. That’s the best justification for the title I can give, but it really doesn’t need one, since the Neon Neon record has the best pop songs Gruff Rhys has been involved with since two or three Super Furry Animals albums ago. It reminds me of something that band would’ve done on guerrilla, which is easily my favorite Furries record and probably one of my favorite records of all time. It’s heavier on synths than anything else, but it maintains the same sense of sparkling production and Rhys can make something sound massive without the heavy-handedness that’s made me dislike the Flaming Lips so much in the last few years. But I guess my summary could be reduced to something like “It’s really good” and I don’t say that very often, since I’m kind of tired.

sm & jicks – gardenia

This is the only song on real emotional trash that doesn’t break the three-minute mark. I told people that the record was really jammy, because it is, given that over 60% of the album’s songs break the six-minute mark, and that it wasn’t as fun as face the truth, because it isn’t. 
This one’s great, though. It’s weird to hear female harmonies backing Malkmus given that there were never any women in Pavement and I still think of Pavement or the Christmas party at which I met SM’s parents more than I do his solo records, but they’re there, as is Janet Weiss, who, given that she is Janet Weiss, is all sorts of excellent. There’s also some line in the chorus about a freeway and rejection, but I gave up on trying to figure that out pretty quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets heavier rotation in the middle of the summer, though I have no idea where I’ll be or if there’ll be a pair of shitty speakers to blast this through there. 
 

los campesinos! – knee deep at ATP

The easiest way to win over lovelorn music nerds is to write songs about being lovelorn music nerds. This is one of them, given that the song’s entirely about a music festival that happens a couple times each year in the UK, meeting a girl there, and the inevitable complications. Gareth Campesinos! says it’s about how he makes himself expendable by valuing people based on the bands they like. I’m not quite willing to admit it yet, but I’m also more likely than not completely and totally guilty of this.
It also has music nerd appeal because it makes mention of things like correctly-used apostrophes, ellipses, and K records T-shirts. It’s also over in under three minutes, which is a plus, given both that the whole record’s mixed way too loud and that it covers a whole lot of territory given how short it is. It’s quite the buildup going on in that last 40 seconds or so. 

beach house – home again

Probably chosen just because of where I happen to be. I don’t know if this is home anymore, or if I’m comfortable calling anything home right now, but that’s not important. What’s important is that Beach House should’ve released this in November when it wasn’t sunny outside every other day, since the only beachlike imagery I could even begin to associate with this record is a vision of a single house on some coast, either near a dying city or a dead town, early in the morning, surrounded by fog in the dead of winter. Twice a day someone emerges, realizes they’re still alone, and goes back to sleep. On the weekends they visit a grave, but nothing encouraging comes of that, either. 
I don’t know why it is that I actually like devotion given that beach house did nothing for me. I’ll admit that I was, more than anything else, taken by the cover, a photo of band members Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally eyeing a cake with the album’s title written in icing across the front. Then there was the realization that everyone who compared this band to Low, easily among my favorite bands, Galaxie 500, who I love, Mazzy Star, who are responsible for the single sexiest pop song I have ever heard, and Slowdive, who I don’t think of much right now, were completely and totally wrong. This is a particularly warped take on girl group music that sounds nothing like proto-shoegaze or slowcore or whatever and everyone who says otherwise is lying. Once I realized that, it started to click, and then I fell hard.

semi-irrelevant additional material: 

A few nights ago Peter, Nadim and I were driving around Seattle. We were blasting singles from dear catastrophe waitress by Belle and Sebastian. Peter heard “Your Cover’s Blown” for the first time and we all agreed that it was still pretty great, and we listened to “If You Find Yourself Caught In Love” and “If She Wants Me” before we got back to his house. I said I wanted to listen to the life pursuit as we drove to the airport the next morning, hoping for a sunny day, but it was pouring, so devotion won, Seattle weather once again victorious.

why? – good friday

If elephant eyelash was Yoni Wolf falling in love and the inevitable breaking up, as well as  contemplating suicide, alopecia is the sound of him documenting the fallout (and, yes, contemplating suicide). This one reads like a straight-up confession with such specificity that in a world where Yoni Wolf wasn’t so much a songwriter as he was a compulsive Livejournal updater, the material would transition almost effortlessly. I, for one, am pleased that it took shape like this. And yes, for the record, the bear from Showbiz Pizza does look pretty scary