Friday, April 06, 2007

we've got ourselves a free-rider problem here

Well, well, well, another day, another post from j0np0lk. Phew, it's hard breaking all these rocks out here in the hot sun. Anyway, I've got no mp3s for you today. But c'mon, yesterday, I pointed you to a full album download for crying out loud. So, what you get today are a few of my random musings on various things.

Deerhunter - I really like this band, a lot. I feel extremely fortunate to live relatively close to this band since their live shows are always a bit different, and consistently impressive. The last time I saw them, Shil and I both just kind of stood there watching them for the entire show, not really talking to anyone, just watching them play. I know that this should not merit any particular mention, but I'll be honest, that doesn't happen very often here. The town is small, the show going community even smaller, and it's almost an inevitability that you'll get caught up in at least a brief interchange at some point in the show. I'm also the first to admit, that I often get bored by at least some aspect of most shows I see. With Deerhunter this is never the case.

Another nice aspect of this last show was that they had copies of their most recent LP, Cryptograms, packaged as a 2xLP with their soon to be released EP, Flourescent Grey. Having recently returned to the vinyl population with the purchase of this turntable - which I highly recommend for the casual vinyl listener - I scooped up the LP. Here's what I like most about the 2xLP, it splits Cryptograms into three sides. For all the talk I've heard about their being two parts to Cryptograms, I've always felt that it worked better as three. The last four songs, starting with "Springhall Convert" are decidedly more poppy than the first part of the record, but I think that, as is pretty clear in the 2xLP format, the first part of the record can be divided relatively easily as well. Side two features the bulk of the more spacious tracks, the songs that for lack of a better term, seem to be more stereotypically Kranky in their sound. They're all songs I really like, and I think they hang together quite well. Long story short, I definitely recommend the 2xLP format. If you're a fan of what you've heard from the band up to this point, I definitely think it's the way to go. I don't know what they'll charge for it in stores, but I bought mine for $15 at the show, making it a relatively economical move as well.

Next up, Midlake. I'm not gonna bother digging for the links to back this up, but I hope you'll trust me when I tell you that a number of the reviews I saw for their most recent album, The Trials of Van Occupanther, made mention of the radical departure in the band's sound from their last full-length, Bamnan and Slivercork. It usually ran something like, whereas B&S trucked in spacey synths remiscent of Grandaddy or the Flaming Lips, Van Occ draws from the canon of 1970s FM, folk rock in the style of Fleetwood Mac, etc. Now, I'll be the first to admit that there's something to that - matter of fact, it's just pretty darn close to the truth of the matter. What I was a little bit more disappointed about was the lack of people writing on what I see as a consistent lyrical arch that runs through both albums.

It's not as if there's absolutely nothing similar about the Midlake of their most recent record, and the album that came before it, and I found it to be somewhat lazy of people to stick to describing how different the new album was from the last one. How's about looking for some similarities. Now, while I'm no writer, and far from being able to articulate this in any stunning detail, I'd suggest that the place to look is in both record's emphasis on the 19th century. Lyrically, B&S came from a distinctly Dickensian disenfranchisement with urban life, see "Kingfish Pies" and others. There's an overarching unhappiness with the toil, dirt, and inescapability of an industrializing city and a longing to escape, see the emphasis on balloons. Van Occ, on the other hand, is decidedly pastoral in its lyrics, but pointedly, I'd argue, still placed squarely in the 19th century. I haven't, up to this point, been able to pinpoint whether or not the world sung about in Van Occ is supposed to be the solution to the problems depicted in B&S. Perhaps, this is the very life envisioned from afar by the various characters of B&S that were trapped in their urban blight, but I don't think it's as easy as all that. If I had access to Tim, who writes all the lyrics and a lion's share of the music, these are the things I'd like to speak with him about. While I can't credibly make the case for a thematic consistency in terms of the actual protagonists of the two records, the themes do appear to be fundamentally interconnected in a way that I have not, as of yet, seen explored.

I had planned on writing more in this post, a little somethin' somethin' on the color palette (spelling?) of Jean Pierre Melville, but frankly I've run out of patience and space. I'm sure you're very upset about that. And, if any of you other 'Cropper 'posters' thing I'm getting too long-winded, feel free to freakin' post whenever you'd like!

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