Despite the fact that a fair amount of new albums recently came out which I’ve wanted to hear (the new Doveman, the new Spoon, the new Owen Pallett) I haven’t been listening to any of them. Instead, I’ve been catching up on other people’s end of year list, (including and especially this list from The Quietus, which manages to be smart and compelling without verging into non-descriptive hoo-haa.) and listening to the loudest music I own.
In a pretty broad post on this site near the end of last winter, I spoke about what kind of music helps you transition from thin, high-tension winter back into muddy, windy spring. Now here I’ll tell you what defrosts my ears when I’m stuck in the thick of winter (despite the fact that’s its been a timid, third string winter here in Brooklyn; more rain than snow, more hands in pockets than hands in gloves). It’s the loud stuff, so today, I tell you, who probably already know about both Parts &nLabor and Isis, about both Parts & Labor and Isis.
What’s funny about these groups is how they approach making loud music so entirely different. Parts & Labor are frenzied, short circuited and urgent; if they were even a bit worse instrumentalists their songs would be second rate noise punk snotrockets, but those drums never falter and those keyboards/samplers never jump, they just explode like well placed firecrackers. Isis are slow, 15 miles per gallon big, and solar eclipse dark. If they were any worse instrumentalists, their songs would sound like stoned metalheads who are all waiting for each other to stop playing, but those guitars never quiver, and singer Aaron Turner never sounds anything but intentional.
Why do people rewatch movies or TV shows? Seriously. Why buy something on DVD? Why fill a Saturday night with an ending you already see coming? Why does my mom re-watch episodes of the West Wing when she’s feeling stressed, and why do I rewatch episodes of the simpsons I can practically recite line-by-line at this point when I’m feeling blue? I think it’s got something to do with an invented nostalgia, or something that resembles the feeling of nostalgia, but not for places that we went or conversations we had or touches we felt, but for characters we pretend that we know. At least for that hour or two, the pretending works. Think back to your favorite scene in your favorite movie, and then think back to a real memory, something tangible, a really good one. Now ignore the voice in your head telling you you should privilege the real over the movie, and, at least allow yourself the possibility that the feeling you have for both is the same. I don’t think I’m getting this across very well. Put simply: I’ve heard this song before, and will hear it again after Shrag does it, but that doesn’t diminish the precocious joy I get every time i listen to it.
Next post’ll probably focus on how good the Doveman album is, and how Cheap Girls are basically the best punk Big Star I’ve ever heard.