Sunday, March 9, 2014

Laura Marling, the Victoria of Mitchells

I know that's very 'inside' as in my own mind - not even sure why Victoria but the Mitchell is Joni Mitchell, of which the great Laura Marling, singer-songwriter 20-something Brit of immense talent, is a direct descendant, not an imitator, but because her voice has that deep mellow wood feel where it can drop vast octaves down without seeming to try, and can stir the lion heart without losing a tossed-off conversational tone, all much harder to achieve than one would think; she gets a sweet conversational tone between herself and her guitar, and our lovesick souls. I listen to her a lot on the bus to work in the morning and together we mourn for all my exes, my sad sick soul, the lifetime prison sentence of an 8:30 AM wake-up. What an ungodly hour, but dreams carry through - what else can one do on a bus?

I fell in love long ago with what past dismayed girlfriends and abashed flatmates have called 'sad chick music' - it began with my mess of an emotional catharsis driving around Seattle listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue, which I got on cassette after being charmed by her "Harry" on a UW college station. An extraordinary thing happened - I began to cry - this being 1989, a time right before the dawn of PC thuggery and modern sensitive male nonsense - it felt forbidden, like my little secret.

What a release! I felt emboldened and spiritually awakened by a kind of pure floating love; like in the movie Her - I was in love with a disembodied voice, but it was purer, no sordid sex, only a kind of courtly Jungian grace. My unconscious feminine anima was using Joni Mitchell to speak directly to my conscious male self.

But Joni only has a few really great, sad albums, by the gorgeous but much poppier Court and Spark she's moving into jazz explorations, with Jaco Pastorious' fretless bass setting a show-offy slick mix of key changes and vocal acrobatics that were trippy and impressive, but also a little square.

So much sad female vocal music in the interim has either been to mopey, too electronic, too shoegaze echo-drenched, or ala Sarah McLachlan too overproduced and manipulative, or too jazzy too singer-songwriterly diva-esque--so packed with esoteric abrasions that only die-hard fans don't feel like they're listening to an overly confident girl pacing her bedroom on the phone with her grand piano and a doting father's financial protection. Or if they're more austere, it's still with this jazzy breathing technique and slick production.

But gifted youth Laura Marling is far different. I treasure her, and most of her songs. I've even assembled a perfect hour or so of my favourites to mope in a half-asleep revery to. And I present it here now via Spotify. And LM, thanks.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lucretia Martel's Insectoid Supermodel Short:

Argentina's greatest living film director (and that includes the brilliant Adri├ín Caetano (Bolivia - my 2003 popmatters review here) and Diego Lerman (Suddenly - my 2005 popmatters review here), Lucretia Martel has been quiet on the feature front since 2008's The Headless Woman (my 2011 review on Acidemic here). So many reviews! Ay! Ay!

But hey, when moseying around the web for signs of life from this lady who, like Paul Thomas Anderson and Michel Gondry actually had two films that made my ten best of the decade (00-09) list, I found this very weird, wordless short, made as--apparently--part of a fashion show hatchery. I'm not sure what I think of it, but the effects are no worse than those in Corman's '57 Wasp Woman, so.... well, 'enjoy' -- and Lucretia, if you're listening (escuchar, eh?), have your agent call Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman, and get them to back your next film in exchange for a meaty role for an aging glamorous acting warrior!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rockin' Carino

Paula Carino sings in a creamy mid-belt that recalls Natalie Merchant and Chrissie Hynde and as far as cool rocking chops she's about the same midway point between Merchant's upstate decency and Hynde's maternal yet street savvy sexual yearning. In other words, kinda like her friend Renee Lobue from Elk City, whom I also adore, i.e. awesome. 

Check out some stuff here! What? You don't go to myspace anymore? You know it's still a good place for UTR bands and talents, so don't get coy, Gus.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More Lou Reed Remembrance - March 2nd - Now

See: The Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography from House Next Door (11/10/13)

(From Acidemic): When I first started hunting down his canon in local used punk rock record shops as a snotty 17 year-old I didn't even know we had the same birthday (March 2nd), we both wear glasses and we both majored in English Lit and Syracuse University. He supposedly stayed in my same dorm (Flint Hall), and like him I moved off campus soon after and formed a band. It was before the internet, or any bio on him, so one couldn't just know all these things. All I knew is, I had been adrift in a myopic solipsistic tweenage alienation for years, and Lou came along and said, "hey kid, don't settle for walking." He didn't lead me out of the abyss, but he helped me contextualize the pain into a grand artistic persona, a blue mask to reflect the glare of a hostile world back into its own eyes. He wasn't singing about love me do / you know I love you, he was singing about the agonizing pain of coming home from a dark and dirty fun party and instantly feeling paralyzingly lonely.

I saw him play, twice, at the Ritz, in '85, at the start of, and end of, his tour supporting Mistrial. Disappointing, since Robert Quine wasn't there, but Fernando Saunders was on fretless bass and I knew then I had to become a bassist. I finally joined a band sophomore year, when I was already on my way to becoming an acid rock hippie freak, but I still sang "Sweet Jane" and "I'm Waiting for My Man" and sometimes "Heroin" during the third set, and I was already making token struggles against my burgeoning alcoholism, again not knowing Lou was a drunk, too, and wrote "The Power of Positive Drinking," the sweetest justification for not getting sober when you know you need to, and then "Underneath the Bottle" an album or so later when he realized hey, sooner or later you're going to have terrible DTs, so why not get out in front of that, too?

In my late 20s living in a midtown loft with my lead guitarist, I would spent hours and hours hyperventilating over the toilet from 2-6 AM, nonstop, trying to keep down enough vodka to stop dry heaving. I was so sick from alcohol poisoning I couldn't hold down the liquor I needed to not suffer the horrors of alcoholic convulsions. I was caught in a vicious circle. My only company were Lou Reed in everything and Nic Cage in LEAVING LAS VEGAS. Sometimes I had a stolen-from-my-girlfriend Librium to help me come down but more often than not I'd drop it and be crawling around for hours in panicked desperation. But Lou had a song for that too: "Waves of fear, squat on the floor looking for some pill, the liquor is gone... " My decision to be so open about all my drug and alcohol use, to be blunt about my divorce, band difficulties, emotional rises and falls, losses and regrets, and ambivalence, the courage to let it all hang the stuff most people hide come out in the open, crafting art (or art criticism) from the medium of my own guts, it all comes from him.

None of that means I knew him personally, but I felt like I did. A lot of us did, it was a personal thing. We didn't even mind he could be a total shit some of the time, to his fans, to his world. He never tried to hide his venom, if he had he wouldn't have been him anymore. "Give me an issue, I'll give you a tissue," Lou snarls on Take No Prisoners. "And you can wipe my ass with it."

Sometimes, like after I read one of his unauthorized bios, I began to hate him, but I always came back, because he never sold out or got repetitive. Suddenly after a slump or two there was New York, a new classic, and one of my favorites, the Warhol eulogy record with John Cale Songs for Drella -so perfect and simple with Lou's guitar and Cale's viola never sounding clearer or better together, as if Warhol's spirit buried the hatchet and brought out a playful reverence that they never seemed to share before or since.

But he could be a shit. Maybe it was because he let us all feel like we knew him, and that level of broad openness in one's art is always going to have drawbacks, like finding out the most fun and awesome guy you ever dated is a thief and junkie, and so what, are you going to walk out on him? Lou never stole from us, and he gave so so much of himself that a lot of us freaks, who have never felt this way about any other artist before or since, could forgive his insecure lash-outs. He was the cool older brother who brought us to all the dangerous places most young suburban kids never see. He didn't leave us at home with mom, afraid we'd cramp his style. He didn't abandon us.

So I'm not going to cry this time. I'm just going to make a spotify mix and take a look back at the 30 odd years I've been a Lou Reed disciple, and realize if I'm anything, or anyone, or have any sense of belonging to the gritty New York streets I haunted for the past 20 years (before moving to goddamned Brooklyn) it's because of Lou. Lou, I swear I'd give the whole thing up for you. And I did.

"When Lou sang of the “whiplash girl-child in the dark” who said things like “taste the whip, / now bleed for me,” suddenly I could take the violent reproach of my aching hormones and twist it like a sword until I disemboweled the old me. The result was like dropping nitroglycerin on an oil fire, an alchemical reaction that set me free. I knew that I was, at heart, a sadomasochist."

"Death has brought you close to art as we know it today," says Lou, to Max Wolf, ailing manager of the film's equivalent of Bill Graham's Fillmore East. The film starts rough but develops a sweaty-palmed rock intensity that might recall the best rock movies and rock shows and flashbacks of any drug-fueled moments of transcendental pagan abandon, the wild fury of the mosh pit, and onwards.

King Blues sings "Mannish Boy!" Malcolm McDowell plays a T. Rex / Mick Jagger hybrid. There's a great Iggy Pop-ish animal man, a scabby punk rock poetess, a flooded bathroom with a shark swimming around it, a giant hypo, and Daniel Stern pausing to inhale some smoke from a $1 hookah hit-sellin' Rastafarian in one of the stalls... Iggy prompting people to jump off the balcony, including Paul Bartel. There's a Satanic pimp alien coke dealer, magical LSD in the water cooler, a crowd-surfing refrigerator, acid rock hippy freaks, a twitchy fire inspector, and that's just the tip of Malcolm's talking penis. It's the beginning / of a new age.

Here's my Lou Reed Spotify Mix, adjusted to reflect a tribute / eulogy / farewell / ode I think Lou would like. He loved assembling new CDs from his old catalog, and he has a flock of cool Spotify mixes himself, that he made, of other musicians he likes. My Lou Mix has no "Sweet Jane" or "Walk on the Wild Side." Too easy. This is the stuff I loved at the time, me alone, in my room, with headphones, blotting out the parents and the world outside the New York Streets. This is the weird stuff no one else would know, lada lie... RIP Lou Reed. xo

And lastly, his Warhol "Screen Test." Goodnight, ladies

Sunday, October 27, 2013

GET CRAZY (1983) - FInally Avail... on Youtube. Lou Reed's Dead. Long live Auden!

"Death is just another step on the journey, man.... The end is always a new beginning."

At last... Been waiting for this movie to come to DVD in forever. Sure it's a bit dumb and crude and confusing, but so are the Ramones. The late great Lou Reed plays great late scenes as a mercurial brooder rock star, seen above in an apartment meant to resemble Dylan's album cover for "Bringing it all Back Home." There's a sort of version of The Runaways, the Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Blind Luther Washington, BB King, who delivers a great funeral oration for Howlin' Blind Luther Washington, which could surely apply to Lou:

He was the greatest guitar player,
the greatest driver,
the greatest manager,
Lover of women,
Drinker of whiskey,

God, this here is my man
and you better take care of him,
or I will wax

For fans of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, and hey, THE APPLE... and lovers of the Lou, who will be missed.

"Screw stadiums!"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Demonic Soundtracks from Beyond the Grave - A Spotify Mix to Creep out the very fall itself

Fall, and its bite-size candy trick-or-treat assortments, pumpkin guts still on your fingers,
the slowly spiraling colored dry leaves, the darkness and the chill each
with its own rooted mental associations, the crisp new school year already darkening into sinister homework maze snaggles, girls and/or guys gone wild... with other people, you left alone with the Hardy Boys inside Smuggler's Coven,
but then the movies, that autumnal chill in the creeping tick-tockable momentum of HALLOWEEN, PHANTASM, SUSPIRIA, PHENOMENA, and so forth
they're coming to get you Barbara,
but then they leave without you,
curling up under the watchful eye of your dozing big daddy, the heater coming on for the first time since May...
mom in the kitchen, or out at church,
and then when they leave for bridge... you're barely old enough to be without a babysitter.
And the chill in the leaf-swirling wind seems like a personal threat.

I feel it all whenever I hear one of those great horror soundtracks from the 70s-80s, the time when simplicity and synthesizers and eerie time signatures left an uncanny mark that no amount of Williams, Goldsmith, Shore, or Elfman-style orchestral themes could or will ever match. Less is more and the more instruments and elocution you stuff the music with the less we care. We're not idiots. Imagine HALLOWEEN if scored by John Williams. Yiick!

Yeah, he got lucky with JAWS, which is mainly a rip of the rip of Les Baxter's MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 'initiation ceremony / shamanic dream' ritual music which itself is lifted from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But then, all you need to hear is that ridiculous jaunty pirate music when the boys go out on the Orca to know that shark cue was a bleedin' fluke. Less is more. Les Baxter rules! But also rules, Goblin, John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and of course the ones that started it all, the creepy sing-song theme of ROSEMARY'S BABY and the moody keyboards of "Tubular Bells."

And a special shout out to the groups/composers Zombi and Umberto, who make music for 70s-80s movies that never existed! They use the Italian / American drive-in synth score format as a jumping off point, into the dark spooky heart of the creepiness that is the fall we love, remember, and chill to, so come along, or you might get left behind... in the dark!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

OVER THE EDGE sountrack (1979) + Other Anthems of Middle School late 70s (Spotify Mix)

Someone had to do make one - there was a soundtrack for ahwile on vinyl, but you knew that. And nothing on Spotify, so here it is. I cobbled the original songs in the order I remember them, and put on some songs that either could, should, or would have been on there, as they were/are a part of my life in one way or the other, and from the approx. same time and capture the same theme of wild rebellion.

If you have Spotify or something like it - enjoy whilst kicking back with a lil' hash, a 1.75 of Old Crow, some acid, and a brick to throw through the school window. If not, well, you can read my handy rant on this, the greatest youth film of all time aside from Dazed and Confused. Think of it as Dazed's little brother, who never got the chances to be crazy provided the Dazed crew.

Man oh man. Some day....
 In AA there's a saying "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." The ultimate factor that destroys New Grenada is the refusal of the parents to admit that the base of their pyramid will probably not widen, and that their kids aren't going to just stop growing just because the town isn't. Kids can't slow their maturation to suit your dowdy suburban growth schedule! Nowadays kids don't blow up their schools and the result is micro-managing parents breathing down their necks and ransacking their sock drawers at will. But today's kids are fighting back, finally. It's Wall Street they're going after now... where the money from Middle America flows and drops like a giant Coinstar. I watch these protesters on the news and for the first time in awhile I have hope. One day, we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun, but first, I guess, the darkness... like homework, must be endured. Give the darkness to Claude, let him smoke it; Matt Dillon, go on and create modern indie junkie comovage cinema with Gus Van and Francis Ford. Motorcycle Boy, YOU Live! We... we belong dead. We will go now, into the beyond. Never before has a bus ride to juvenile hall seemed like such a triumph, a march into Valhalla, on the rays of a beautiful sun, one day, when the world is much righter.