On My Mother-Bourne Swedish Genes

New release coverage, and — surprise! Not much hate. Most are Crotchfork’s latest loves, which surprises me even more.

Herbert’s Scale is simply Wendy-and-Lisa-era Prince. Which isn’t a bad thing. At all. It might even be my favorite Prince period. Always loved the “Waterfalls” single.

The new Camera Obscura album, Let’s Get Out of this Country is pretty damn good; hooray for Merge. I’ve never been what you can call a ‘fan’ of the Concretes or the Cardigans, more like an admirer, and will probably remain the same for the similar Camera Obscura, although name checking Lloyd Cole gets my attention. No wonder they had to go to Sweden to get it right. And jettisoning the Belle and Sebastien likeness was a great thing. There can only be One.

Futureheads’ new one is worth your dollar. All the way through. They play like the Jam, sing like the Damned, and produce like Kate Bush. They almost write as well as the Jam, although it’s unfair to compare anyone in such a light. Even solo Paul Weller. Especially him.

Looking forward to hearing more from the new Hidden Cameras album, Awoo; liked them from the “Ban Marriage” single I used to spin so successfully in my DJ days. Their song “Smells Like Happiness,” from their debut, might be the most beautiful song with explicit lyrics about wearing blindfolds and deflowering a young man “who behaves himself in department stores.” Great line. Take that, Morrissey.

Trying to like the Duke Spirit. Not sure if they do , any better, what thousands have done before. I would see them live, though, because the garage rock man-band vs woman-singer is always a good thing. But I need only one album of this stuff, and it’s Knock Loud (2002) by the Paybacks.

Dirty on Purpose’s new one won’t set anyone on fire, but it will make a nice drive better, or especially improve an airplane flight. They’re taking a deeper look at that territory that Yo La Tengo discarded around When the Heart Beats as One or whatever it was called.

Moving onto Lost Oughts:

Aerial Love Feed released a self titled EP in 2000. I first heard selections played on WNYU’s New Afternoon Show. ALF might have been among the first to resurrect eighties shoegazers so unapologetically. They do an ok job, despite thin songwriting, of getting the atmospherics right. They’re now called Rockethouse. I’m staying away.

Aerial Love Feed –My Clock is Always Five Minutes Weirder

Aerial Love Feed — Angelika

Which brought me to finding an old Portastatic EP, bought when I first realized Mac from Superchunk had been recording other things (his Bricks project is ok, for Chunk fans, at least) unbeknownst to moi. The Scrapbook EP is mostly underwhelming save a heavens-aligned cover of Brian Eno’s “St Elmo’s Fire” with Ira and Georgia from Yo La Tengo.

Portastatic – St. Elmo’s Fire

Around the same time I bought the Portastatic EP, I was sent, for review, a nifty little record, Bear Catching Fish, by Engine Kid, now long defunct. Recorded by some asshole named Albini and released in 1993, it’s an interesting collision of Slint-esque math rock and pure metal; “Rockford Files” evokes both Sonic Youth, Slint, and Iron Maiden (wait for the rhtyhm section to kick in) and their cover of “Rocky Mountain High” makes so much sense with their particular sound that it’s another moment where the heavens were in the right position for once.

Engine Kid – Rockford Files

Engine Kid – Rocky Mountain High

Enjoy the weakend (sic). I’m definitely going to activate my mother-bourne Swedish genes and get sunburned in Prospect Park. Just try and stop me.


13 thoughts on “On My Mother-Bourne Swedish Genes

  1. Excuse me Mr. Parnell for grandstanding, but Portastatic and bands of their ilk strike me as all that is wrong with indie pop. Portastatic is a B or B- level band. Other B minus bands, in my humble opinion, are:SuperchunkDeath Cab for CutieCalexicoPolvo (c minus)Most everything blogged these daysB minus bands from back in the day:LoopWeather ProphetsPrimal Scream Charlatans UK ……..


  2. Very B minus. Loving the grading idea, a la sr.Christgau:Loop: DWeather Prophets: C+Primal Scream: FCharlatans Uk: B- or maybe a B on the strength of <>Between 10th and 11th<> alone, which was an ok album. And their strongest member, their keyboardist, was killed in a car accident or something, no?


  3. As for Portastatic, I concur. Please do not think it is grandstanding to slag a band whom I post a song by -posting an mp3 does not mean I am said artist’s champion: Portastatic’s 1st album is garbage, their second interesting, the rest boring, and the track I posted is the best thing they’ve done. And will be.As for Superchunk: Tossing Seeds, and then wait for the next ‘greatest hits’ when Mac needs money. Which won’t be for a while – Arcade Fire is/was on Merge. Death Cab for Cutie: Grade F. Please read previous posts.Calexico: Grade C. Please read previous posts.Polvo (c minus): Why even bring them up? They did a nice cover once. But so inconsequential I can’t even remember waht it was. Sub-F.Most everything blogged these days: I hear ya. Just make sure you download enough Deerhoof.And let me add a few:Wilco – pretentious bullshit. F, ‘cept the first album.Iron and Wine: one amazing EP (Woman King) does not make me happy to buy your albums or whack EPs with Calexico.The new Thom Yorke: D-. Electro bloopy boulderdash. Juana Molina: Poop. Poopy poop.Bjork: has she made a good album since the Sugarcubes’ true 1st? Survey says: nope.Steve Malkmus: go back to school.


  4. Mr. Parnell, I agree on almost all counts. I would say however, that in Wilco’s case, their two albums with Billy Bragg were real nice. At least, they would have made one fine album if ya put em together. I brought up Polvo merely as an example of minus band.Other b minus bands are:Pedro the LionSleater K. (yes, I said it, they just really aren’t that good)99% of Guided By VoicesA Level Bands:Stone RosesEarly Teenage Fanclub Smithsyou know the rest.


  5. Ah – thanks for the reminder of the Guthrie work – the 1st with Bragg is quite good, and the second can be recommended, although I don’t love or need it as much. But I must disagree on some fronts.Pedro the Lion — not even a CSleater K. — I’d say a B+. They’ll make a hell of a grestest hits, and their drummer – oh. Oh. 99% of Guided By Voices –I disagree. It’s 64% sub B-, 36% excellent. I think you’re thinking of Pollard’s solo work. As for A level bands:Stone Roses – no way. I give them a C-. They made one (great) album, were terrible live, and totally blew it, on all fronts, as far as success and following through on it. They pissed me off forever. And their solo shit is garbage shit.Early Teenage Fanclub – but just early? Why not Man Made too? I give them an A-, just for Grand Prix.Smiths – ok, maybe an A. They broke up right in time. But Golden Lights is still an awful, awful song.


  6. Mr. Parnell:By B minus, I am really saying they just stink. In my eyes, music is either A or b minus with very little in between. There is very little B level music. Heck, perhaps it is time to list for true B level bands, those bands that are just inbetween good and bad. Here are a few:The Timesold House of Love (new HOL just sucks)Ultra Vivid Scene (B level, but still better then Super Flubber Chunk)All Buffalo Tom after their firstGet the idea?The stone roses really had two great albums. Their first, and all of those gorgeous b sides and singles. Remember, the roses were recording when singles still counted. They easily have 25 of the great British guitar pop songs ever. That means a lot. What other band would have had the guts to release Sally Cinnamon, What the World Is Waiting For, and all those other great singles without putting them on an album?The Smiths – are we really arguing about this one? Heck, I would put the Smiths in the top 5 rock bands of all time. This is a band that records a song like Jeane and basically forgets about it. Most bands will never even get close to one Jeane. The Smiths simply had no weak links. Take a band like the Kinks. Guitar and bass, and arguablably the drums as well were weak, weak, weak. My god, a monkey could play better guitar. Hmm, I think I am defining A level bands by how much enjoyment they give me. Sleater K. gets NO ipod time at all, but the Stone Roses, Replacements, Beatles, Smiths, get tons of ipod time. I actually give Sleater K. an F because I just never want to listen to them, ever, regardless of how great they may play. Heck, if I am in the mood for Sleater K. that just means I am really in the mood for Husker Du. GBV – they may, and just may, have a greatest hits that extends to over ten songs, but man, even that is pushing it. Little known fact, GBV is actually Robyn Hitchcok playing his alubms through a busted amp. It is all just repackaging Mr. Parnell.


  7. Not sure I understand your grading system – are you using a sliding scale? Why bother? Just give Fs. Or maybe we could do Pass/Fail.Ultra Vivid Scene: The “Special One” single, and nothing else. Saw them open for Black Sheets of Bob Mould once, and I know someone who knows Ralske. But that’s it. Around a C.There’s no Buffalo Tom. Not even their first. Not even the Mascis solo on that one song. F, F, and more F. They’re dead to me.The Smiths were so good I don’t even care that Morrissey was only posing as gay/celibate and instead regularly snorting coke while schtupping sixteen-year-old twin girls.I guess we’ll never come to a Sleater Konsensus. I’m a fan of ‘Call the Doctor,” & maybe some selected songs on a few others (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”). The Woods was probably their last gasp. Or should be. As for the Stone Roses, I love the first album, and the singles collection(s) are ok, some things even great, but a statement like —<>They easily have 25 of the great British guitar pop songs ever<>–makes me realize you’re losing your mind. I can think of 25 Smiths songs that are better. Or 25 better teenage fanclub songs, or Beatles’ songs, or even Kinks songs. The Clash was better. Elvis Costello, even now, is better. The Pogues before Shane left, part one, were better. Again, GBV’s ‘Bee Thousand’ is a better record than most greatest hits albums. Granted, they gussy-up their songs in lo-fi tansvestism, but pop songs are rarely written as well.And Robyn Hitchcock is awful. Don’t bring him up again, here, if you want to stay anonymous. He ought to be subjected to testicle-eating hamsters for ‘Balloon Man’ alone. And he needs to repackage his whole career.


  8. Oh and — The Duke Spirit. Worth seeing live for the spectacle of Leila humping everyone/thing in sight. Also, she has perfect pitch, and doesn’t let the band forget it.


  9. Janet Weiss is shzzzzzzit. She’s the only reason to listen to Sleater Kinney since Slant 6. And I’ll try to catch the Duke Spirit. I only live in the midst of live music overkill, so it’ll be soon.


  10. …which is why I’m extra sad that Quasi is no longer one of my favorite bands in the whole wide world. Their recent direction has completely lost me.BTW, I would like to marry the Herbert record. Seriously. It’s amazing, first time in about a year and a half that I’ve agreed with The Pitchfork of Doom on anything.


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