Well first off, I guess I got added to the hype machine.
Second, I left new jersey, but I think every time I try to leave, I have to convince myself that it’s for real this time; that I’m gone, that this year it’s to Ann Arbor, but after that I will look up directions to Tuscon or Pittsburgh or Calgary or Charleston (those are the ones on the list for now) and not sleepwalk back to the Garden State Parkway. It’s not easy to not look back, not easy for me, at least.
But at least I’m not a sucker. I tried to listen to Springsteen twice as I drove out of town for the last time. First “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd street” because it has one of my favorite collection of words to ever appear in pop music (“bless your children, give them names”) but that one fell out the back after about a minute, and so I tried Thunder Road, but it never got off the ground. So I laughed, realized that a hungover 8:30 drive is to symbolism what a bicycle handlebar is to a crashing plane, and put on some Blur, a band who probably hated America about as much as every one of those guys on the terrorist playing cards they used to hand out to soldiers.
Continuing (inadvertently) with the britpop vibe of my last post, I present the obnoxious genius of Blur, a band who make me want to bang my head against a wall more than just bang my head. Guitarist Graham Coxon, vocalist Damon Albarn and the rhythm section I can’t remember were absolutely convinced they were the smartest band in the world for the length of their career. Sometimes they were. Most of the time, they were not.
“Hey,” they said after a few Guinesses at the soccer game, “why don’t we go to Africa and make an album that ROCKS. I mean, nobody’s made AFRICA rock before, right?,” and suddenly the world had to listen (or ignore) to the group’s final last album, Think Tank, yet another piece of proof that colonialism will never break the top 40. Or the time when they said “oi, catchy songs are what people like. And we hate people. So let’s release an album of the least compelling, more bored sounding songs we can” and suddenly their bloated, termite infested, album, 13, came out.
Enough shit talking, because when Blur got it right, they got it RIGHT. They took a chainsaw to their homebase of London on Parklife, taking all the fun (and with it, any remaining purpose) out of the self-centered, sardonic, upper middle class city lifestyle that the band members themselves probably lived through. And then they looked across the ocean to bigger, easier targets on their next self titled album.
“Good Morning!” Albarn cowls on one of the album’s best track, “Look Into America,” but seconds later he’s telling you “drink Pepsi,” and it comes to you that this is Blur putting a gun to Springsteen’s head just so they have a grave to piss on. If Springsteen is about discovering dreams and magic in small town America, Blur are the next guys to come along, to tell you that same magic has now been marketed by Huffy to sell bicycles that are made halfway around the world by people who will never own bicycles, then sold to kids who will abandon them the moment they get a drivers lisence, leaving a dull rusting reminder next to the shed in the backyard. It’s rare for me to call music snarky, but that’s what this is. It is an album that runs down the idea of romance (or, at least, love songs) saying it is as episodic as american sitcoms (“M.O.R”), and even has the gall to rip apart Leadbelly, Dylan, and probably preemptively the felice brothers on the genius “Sad Country Balad Man.” Punk Rock for guys who spend their time making fun of Punk Rock, this album is even more of a fuck-all than that guy from the Verve walking down the street running into people in that music video. The rare moments of genuine care emanate far beyond their running length, so you get one of those, too.
Speaking of America, the best name for a label I can come up with is American Dust. Unfortunately, I didn’t come up with it. But if you’re in the mood for a barn full of singalongs, rusty drumsets, amps being dunked into melting sugarcane and then kicked around like cobblestones, and three quarters of Grizzly Bear (and, c’mon, when are you not in the mood for those things), I’d strongly suggest looking into their goddamn fine looking starting lineup.
Oh, and I’m landing in Ann Arbor on Friday, so until I get internet up, this might be my last post for a whiles. Now that i’m living in Michigan, I guess i’ll have to drive my Subaru with a bit more shame and devote every third post on this thing to the unending perfection of Detroit Motown or the cotton fiber gutter genius of Warn Defever.
Because I only posted 2 mp3’s in this post, and because i just mentioned Defever, here’s my favorite His Name is Alive song of all time.
New Marnie Stern song up at pitchfork. Fuck. Yeah.