Feeling Like an Old Fart in the Face of New Faces

Saw a Real Fight in Manhattan this morning, although nothing came of it, no knockdown, just the spectacle of one Lost Soul wildly high-kicking another Lost Soul who, after throwing a few punches,( one landing) gave up in face of effective self defense and some gigantic dude who broke it up. Best was the looks from concerned commuters & tourists, and especially the anti-terrorism checkpoint cops, complete with bomb sniffing dog, who did absolutely nothing about it.

So let’s start some fights.

Still can’t get the Ratatat — but I’ve made progress – “Gettysburg” has me enjoying with pleasure. Trusted experts cite Brian Eno influence, but I didn’t hear it until this track’s reconfiguring of noise and texture from Eno’s Another Green World. I always went to Eno for tone and production first, songwriting second, although at justified times in reverse order; Ratatat strikes me as having neither of these as notable highlights, or not frequently enough. Over the course of their career, I don’t see them ever dropping anything as diverse as Another Green World and then following it with something like Apollo. Aphex Twin is the real updater, marrying Eno’s ambient or non-ambient electronic sounds with complex, bloopy bleepy rhythms. Ratatat reminds me of the first RJD2 record, but with less soul. Or DJ Shadow without the hooks.

Ratatat – Gettysburg

Brian Eno – Sky Saw

Don’t know why anyone’s worked up about Kite Flying Society. Not crazy enough to sound like Danielson Familie, they end up sounding like a Coke commercial. Which means they sound like Polyphonic Spree, which means they sound like bats mating with hyenas. Maybe not even that good.

The Pipettes? If their name stems from a vulgar euph for sex, as in how my pre-chastised students will say I piped her, I might have more respect for their soon-to-be forgotten update of Thee Headcoatees, who I never cared for anyway. Prince covers do not make a band.

The Bicycles are inoffensive enough, breaking no new ground by aping the garage rock stomp of Dirtbombs, et al, with barely memorable melodies. Some of it sounds like inexpert Sloan. Please give me reasons to find them significant.

The new Chad Van Gaalen track – is that demo? That sucks.

Stuff by The Organ intrigues J Frank, slightly. Like a mopey Blondie. I liked Blondie when they got mopey. “Union City Blues” always sounds stunning, coming from a band like Blondie, best known for danceable, hyper-cool club rock, aside from their early-career, fifties garage rock fetish. But I still hold off on the Organ; Electrelane comparisons spring to mind, but fall short, since something about the Organ seems so amateurish, and I easily fall for the amateur stuff (heheheheh — context is everything, no? Especially after age 30 …say ewwwww here) and shouldn’t, cause it breaks my heart so often; but there’s room to grow, and some grow-bands are fun to watch grow. I think the Organ will grow and we’ll all like how they do so.

From Grab That Gun:
The Organ – Steven Smith

From the 2005 Sinking Hearts EP
The Organ –I Am Not Surprised

Against better judgement of folkies, am also digging Marissa Nadler. She’s using her stupendous voice for all the right weirdness, the latest being a sufficiently hair-raising track posted by Gorilla Vs. Bear narrating the tale of real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton.

They were no Chang and Eng Bunker.

The Editors hype is ramping up again, as they hit NYC, and I can’t get out of my head how exact their vocalist achieves an impression of Dead Can Dance singer Brendan Perry.

Bitchfucker has jean-creamed themselves over Viva Voce’s “We Do Not Fuck Around” track, but Quasi, before they sucked, (see 1st two albums -ed), did this better and with less repetitive choruses.

What’s an old fart to do? Wallow in the old quality material no one seems to be getting these days? Of course.

A few years back, the Dirtbombs heard the genius in the following song, written and performed by the man whom Bob Dylan once named as the best American songwriter (who told me this? Mr. Tapeworm?):

Smokey Robinson – If you Can Want

All the Marissa Nadler enjoyment had me slipping out my battered copy of Kate Bush’s The Dreaming. Not her best, but excellent all the same, and not often discussed. There’s no discussion, just this monster, in case you don’t own:

Kate Bush – Suspended in Gaffa

And just because it makes me so giddy I can’t wait until tomorrow, here’s something from a current fave, the Aussue compilation Tales from the Australian Underground – Singles 1976-1989, which I’ll now be forcing you to purchase. It contains the usual suspects, like the Scientists, pre-Hoodoos the Eastern Dark, the Celibate Rifles, and the very decent Australian, non-Doe band known as ‘X.’ But I’m posting the just as quality unknowns, at least to most people. If you know ’em already, swell for you, music geek. Cause that’s what you are if you read this far.

Venom P. Stinger – Walking About

This here features a baby version of the Dirty Three, namely a Warren Ellis-less version, which might strike many as neutered, but imagine D3’s guitarist Mick Turner and uber-drummer Jim White, he of Cat Power’s “Cross Bones Style” et al, playing something hard and loud and metal, and you have the late and forgotten Venom P. Stinger. We weren’t worthy.

Mark of Cain – Lords of Summer

Stunning Joy Division impression from the eighties by Mark of Cain; check out that wonderful bass riff. They existed into the nineties, with little reaosn to persist, running trhough Albini and using a Helmet drummer.

God – My Pal

God: 17 year olds who made just one album, rare as shit, I have it, and the single, yeah, listen once and know basic indie rock never got much better. They went on to other things we don’t need to hear.

Ups and Downs – The Living Kind

This one reminds me of much of what came after from Aussie rock, especially the chorus, which redeems all the dismissable REM-isms of the verse arrangements.

Let the beatdown begin.


15 thoughts on “Feeling Like an Old Fart in the Face of New Faces

  1. Ok, well. If you’re comparing Ratatat to Another Green World, there’s your trouble. That was like, the ‘funky’ album. It is true that though Ratatat bring the ‘funk,’ they do not bring it in the same way Brian does. To me, Ratatat are clearly taking influence from the guitar tones mostly, and the ones on Here Come the Warm Jets, mostly, on top of that. Maybe I’m being too specific? At any rate, I won’t argue that Ratatat is strangely devoid of soul, but for some reason, that doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s the mathrockiness massaging the non-sensual part of my brain that makes me not care.That’s who Viva Voce remind me of! That explains everything, Viva Voce had something I liked, but not enough. (Sidebar: have you heard Matt + Kim?) Man, I’m still depressed that Quasi got shitty, they were one of my fave bands. Now they make me cry. Loudly. Unceasingly. I walked out of their recent show at the Knit even though I got in for free and had VIP privledges. That’s how bad it was.I really like The Organ, I wouldn’t listen to them all the time, though, unless I was 16 again, and then I would listen to them CONSTANTLY. Did you know Interpol used to open for THEM back in the day? True story! Puts some things in perspective, huh? Anyway, I actually wanted these nice ladies to play our SXSW party, but they were travelling such a long way and couldn’t make it in time.I think that’s all I have to say — I know the editors dude sounds just like the Brendan Perry, but I totally don’t care. Because they’re adorable!Oh dear, I’d better stop now.


  2. Nice to hear Sky Sawagain. i was reminded of it recently while listening to the guitar in Mazarin’s “I’m With You and Constellations”.great post, thanks.


  3. A Celibate Rifles mention?! Now I’m hooked on your blog. You had me with all of the Long Blondes postings but that’s the clincher.Keepo up the good work!


  4. Wow. I’m feeling the love. What happended to the hatred? Who’s paying you people? Kidding the word is thanks, and the words are my pleasure. Mazarin interests me. There will be further investigation. There will be a celibate rifles post in the future. Keep reading. Ms. Hotpoint – your words on the Organ are Truth. As for the Editors, ye are excused and sympathized with; in my universe, Neko Case could record the sound of wind through her armpit stubble, and I’d still blush. There is power in appearance.


  5. You totally need to hit the Mazarin, Frank! Listen to it all!I kept seeing the Editors everywhere during SXSW — they travelled in a well-groomed, nattily-dressed four-pack. And they totally made me feel like a dirty old lady. *giggle*


  6. Oh! I keep forgetting to tell you. I can’t agree that KFS sounds like the hideous Danielson Famile — I don’t hear that at all…but then again, I don’t want to listen to any of their crappy music just to make sure. I might go on a murderous rampage.


  7. You’re definitely right – I suppose a better way of saying what I mean (story of my life) is to say KFS sounds like a way subdued Danielson Family with a conventional singer, at least DF’s less skittish stuff, which they recorded early on, say, 10 years ago. And they have like 40 musicans. Doesn’t KFS?


  8. Ahh, well, yes. And KFS have an undeniable Elephant6-ishness about them as well.And, well, I’m not sure, but it looks like KFS only have like, 5 members — not inordinately huge…


  9. Hey Folks —Dustin from kfs here. I enjoyed your write up Mr. Parnell. 🙂 If you’ve only heard Love + Seagulls, I can understand why you might think we sound like “a coke commercial” (a little reductive but understandable I suppose). There is plenty on the album that differentiates us from other bands (I actually can’t stand the Spree) — meaning, we’re not entirely ecstatic pop. Ah well.Also, cindy is correct, we have 5 members. Thanks for the write up, good or bad.– dustin/kfs


  10. My apologies on the member # mistake. You’re all so good you can sound like many more. Nice that you can’t stand the Spree – maybe one less track would convince me more. I’ll go back to the rest of the album, which didn’t strike me as all that much different, but hey. It’s worth a try.Your goodnatured response is surprising and novel, but I can’t apologize for being reductive. I promised myself I wouldn’t play nice, since I always liked the writers who didn’t. Of course I’d love to be an ad-supported blog, but that’ll probably lead to becoming a planting ground for labels and publicists, and I’ve already got money and a life.


  11. hi J Frank Arnell…Kelly here from KFS.Suspended in Gaffa is glorious. You seem to be aware that this woman was already going off wayyyy before Hounds of Love. Now I’m thinking about “Pulling Out The Pin”….So what do you think was her best?


  12. Her best? Tough call for me. Here’s why. I think <>The Dreaming<>, from where ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ and ‘Pulling out the Pin’ come from, ranks highly – it’s a dynamite record. But I can’t pretend to have critical distance with Ms. Bush, and must abstain a formal vote; upon its release in 1985, I listened to <>The Hounds of Love<> so many times I can recall it, note for note, in its entirety, in my head to this day — still do sometimes before I sleep. I played it all of 1986, and it comforted me in a awful time of my young life, specifically the fall of 86. Yeah, one of those records. And, of course, she was pioneering the use of a few synth keyboard do-hickeys and writing some of her best and most accessible stuff since her debut. To its discredit, it quotes and relies on Longfellow, a hack poet if there ever was one. And “Waking the Witch” always seemed out of place and contrived. Otherwise, not a song I don’t still love.If I had to vote, the heart says <>The Hounds of Love<>, and the wallet/critic says the hits collection, what was it, <>The Whole Story<>?More importantly, why is there no Kate Bush karaoke?


  13. Frank — You, me, Kate Bush karaoke. Seriously, you dig that place on 3rd Ave right before Cooper Square? (;And, it’s kind of embarassing, but I didn’t have my bonding moment with Hounds of Love until a few months ago — sometimes I get a little bummed out the things I missed out on in my youth because I was being a plodding, pedantic weirdo listening to classical music and Broadway musicals all the goddamn time. I mean, I would be a totally different person if I’d hear HoL when I was 14 or 16 instead of when I was 30… Then again, maybe I wasn’t ready for it back then.


  14. That karaoke place? geez, the crowd there is so young I could run into my daughter. If it’s the place I think you’re mentioning.Don’t worry about when you come to HoL – it stands up. Want your mind blown, get the Dreaming. That album invents Marissa Nadler, Joanna Newsome, etc.


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