Monday 13 April 2009

So there's more to it than that

You know it's true I do more stuff than I said a few days ago in a post about how I don't do much other than stare into space while "working on a song" and tend to the menagerie around here, lately. I mean, mostly I do those things. Those things take up most of my day. But also, I fuck around on the internet for 15 hours a day like everybody else, and that includes looking at some interesting stuff. So at the very least, I could hit you up with some of that stuff. But you know, I suppose I think if I post something here I want to be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it, rather than, uh, not being wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it. And yet...

Yesterday I discovered Jeffrey Lewis and Janelle Monae and returned again to Jamie Livingstone's daily polaroids. I can't describe what it is that I love about these pictures, so many of which are unremarkable, or badly exposed, polaroids, but the textures of them renew my love for film far more rawly than some gorgeous clean beautiful pictures I've also been looking at elsewhere. There is something so roughly gorgeous about Jamie Livingstone's lifelong daily shot project that takes my breath away.

Jeffrey Lewis? Sidewalk cafe guy, plays that folky sixties style guitar with a kind of maniacally dense lyrical style, ripped off melodies (Suzanne Vega's Luka for one, and a Blind Faith song, "You can all join in" -- though in fairness the BF song goes "Make up your own words up if you want to, any old words that you think will do" -- and somewhere else a paraphrased Leonard Cohen quote that is magnificent in its original), but he does it interestingly and he clearly loves music and it's playful and depending on your mood, listenable stuff. He's on tour right now, seems to spend a lot of time on tour generally. But basically, he's very new york, which is kind of comforting. You know? When what is considered new york these days is so fucking bland, it's nice to hear this and recognise it, to know that this is Typical L train Rider and hear his thoughts. Also makes comics.

The other gal? Kinda fun. Listen for yourself.

So here's a thing that bothers me intermittently, lately. This is the first time in popular music history when vast swathes of the people who are arriving on the scene and making music are largely rehashing-without-reinventing earlier periods of music, whipped entire from 1982 electronica or 1964 Motown, and literally just mimicked to the last detail with cut and pasted new lyrics onto them. This has never happened before in this way, and the entire music firmament from labels to magazines is lapping this shit up wholesale, and encouraging it, calling it genius. This bothers me.

It also bothers me to see people walking around in eighties drag. It's weird shit, man. Why would you want to do that? It's not everybody who is doing this of course, and there is interesting music being made nonetheless, and it isn't as if music has not historically been endlessly appropriated and appropriated again. But the history of pop and rock music has up until very recently, gotten forged by those who reinvent what came before, rather than literally literally mimic the exactly approximated and carefully studied mannerisms and tropes of what came before. This creeps me out. It's like music stalking. It's like identity theft. And it's being done by 20 year olds with talent. And it is what is, if anything, getting hoisted and Grammied™ and lauded and sold sold sold sold sold. And, of course, even more depressingly, bought bought bought bought bought.

I was also looking at some highly improbable, fun stuff yesterday.

Bright, pretty New Orleans-based Swedish one woman band.

We really have a lot of hissy fitters living in the house this week and it is beginning to get on my one remaining nerve.

Oh, and this is a wordcloud of my um, followers, over at twitter. It's clear and kinda nice.

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