Wanna know what moment bugs the living daylights out of me whenever I hear it? That Bright Eyes song, I always forget which one, it’s on Lifted thousgh, where he sing some line about, I don’t know, giving it your all and being ok with all the mistakes, and just then, the tuba player or something insignificant but loud MAKES A MISTAKE. And then Conor, in his smirkingly wristlashing nature says “oh, no. it’s cool. keep playing 1 2 3” and the band starts playing again. I hate it because it’s a moment where he basically yelling at the listener “look at how smart we are. We’re so smart that even being self referential is too passe for us, so we’ll inside-joke about it and make you listen.” I like a lot of Bright Eyes songs, and I like Lifted as an album, but I groan and groan and groan whenever I hear that stupid song.
THEN WHY DO I LIKE THIS ONE? Broken Records are a Scottish band who signed to 4AD just two days ago, who I found out about because, well, I don’t know how, late nights and mp3blogs lead to some pretty random music on your hard drive. They use string and horns and accordion, and so people will compare them to other bands, but if they can produce more songs that are as good as “The Slow Parade,” I will feed those comparisons to goldfish at Walmart and toss them into the fine print of cellphone advertisements. This song is so entirely intent on being epic, that it made itself a waltz.
Waltzing, at this point in our society, isn’t thought of as much, or thought of very often. So I need you to think of waltzing back in 1920s Russia, back to Czars in houses that were coated in gold and mirrors and glass, where if one olive was in the wrong place someone might’ve gotten shot. Waltzing, at least in my image of this totally imaginary era in history, was brutal, violent, love. It was those dresses that were bigger than the bodies they covered and those impeccable tuxes and and that music, slapping down in 1,2,3. This song has that tension and that passion, it has violins that seem to hate the bows that are playing them, and horns that sound military. But getting back to the Bright Eyes thing…
In this song, the lyrics are the chain and the music is the spokes, and unlike the Bright Eyes song, here, I love it. “The slow parade trudges on…” and the song sounds foggy, a love song but not to anyone particular enough for us to care yet. And then “HERE COME THE DRUMS” (pause) “AND THE BEAT” and, on cue, the drums drop from the sky and the song starts laying bricks. And it keeps building up, you start to see the faces of the singer and the one he loves, you can see them dancing, waltzing, really is what they’re doing, not missing any steps. And he sings “she stays with me, ’till the music stops,” and at that moment she breaks away, and the music stops. And then starts up again, but without words, just the band playing to an empty dancefloor now, still playing that waltz.
and because I’ve been meaning to post it for a while, here’s a list of album i’m betting my favorite dollar bills will be of a very very high quality, on that’ll be released at some point in ’09:
The Wrens- TBA
Will Johnson/Jason Molina- TBA
Harlem Shakes- Technicolor Health
Broken Records- TBA
Dalek- Gutter Tactics
NASA- The Spirit of Appolo
Doves- Kingdoms of Rust
Neko Case- Middle Cyclone
(among many, many others)