Posting has been spotty for a few months now, so weekly round ups of music haven’t made sense. Nevertheless, browsing the back catalogue is one of the simple pleasures of The Marcus Reader, so here’s the music we’ve highlighted since the last weekly round up.
Virgilio Villoresi | Vimeo
This is the music video to the song “Submarine Test January 1967” by John Mayer. I used a pre-cinema technique called ombro cinema to animate the drawings made by Virginia Mori. Everything was filmed in live-action, no post production effects were employed.
Hazel Sheffield | NME
It’s a record of rare precision; the kind that comes from figuring out exactly what you want. The kind that comes from being all grown up.
One of the weirdest things about growing up is that the person you used to be starts to seem like a stranger. The only way to look back at that person is to look for little clues from the past that might tell you how things came to be. When Fink, now 26, sings “I was looking for ‘Harvest’, but I only found ‘Silver & Gold'” on ‘Silver And Gold’ in the middle of the album, he finds one such clue. It’s the story of a 15-year-old Fink trying to get his hands on Neil Young’s classic album from the ’70s, but discovering instead the thoughtful acoustic album Young released at the age of 55. Fink decides you might not always get what you’re expecting, but sometimes it can work out for the best anyway. The song itself, ‘Silver And Gold’, feels like the older cousin to that other old Noah And The Whale singalong, ‘Give A Little Love’ from their first album. Back then the band were writing big, plodding anthems full of promises – “I will always be the sun and moon to you” – that grown-up Noah And The Whale knows it can’t keep. Fink has stopped asking for love, and started asking for the truth. “Love may not always be the cure,” he sings, “so just show a little faith in me”.
There’s not an ounce of the band’s early plod on this album, and none of the glassy studio production that made ‘Last Night On Earth’ sound like it was made to be played on a long drive down Highway 101. Instead, ‘Heart Of Nowhere’ is full of space created less by production and more by expert playing – from the clean, bone-like tapping of xylophone keys in the intro, to the strings behind Anna Calvi’s vocal in the triumphant title track. Calvi sings like she’s got four lungs, and Noah And The Whale are writing songs that stand up to the sound.
Bill Wyman | The New Yorker
There were still LPs back then, and “Exile” was designed as a double album—it was, the young singer-songwriter claimed, a song-by-song counterpart to the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main St.,” designed to be consumed in 5-4-5-4 bursts matching the sides of the original two records of the Stones’ dense classic. Thus fortified, the songs jump out at the listener. They are built around Phair’s distinctive style, and the guitar lines that mark so many of her compositions display a musicality that is still underappreciated (“Strange Loop,” “Explain It to Me,” “Gunshy”). One of the unexpected signifiers of “Exile” was the sound of a diminutive woman sometimes straining to accomplish the guitar part that she’d written. This was paralleled by Phair’s melody lines, which forced her voice, which was not innately strong, to attempt everything from an almost guttural throatiness to a thin soprano. Part of the point of the record was that Phair (a) had written the songs and (b) was going to sing them, no matter the damage.
AMAZON: Autographed copy of Exile in Guyville CD $129.99
Liz performing Polyester Bride and 6’1″at Sessions at West 54th. Also includes a short segment of David Byrne interviewing Liz.
Evan Minsker | Pitchfork
“Do I shout it out?/ Do I let it go?/ Do I even know what I’m waiting for?/ No, I want it now/ Do I need it, though?” Throughout MCII, Mikal Cronin gets in these ruts. His lyrics are delivered as someone who’s never fully sure of his next move and who’s completely unclear about his ambitions. He’s sure that he’s in love, but he keeps letting it slip away. Somehow, he keeps mucking up his day-to-day communication. It never used to be like this. He keeps talking about how time is getting away from him, which might be his way of acknowledging a crisis about getting older, though it’s just as likely that he’s accidentally spending hours clicking on YouTube videos. He wonders if he’s wrong. (He doesn’t think so.) He consistently has good intentions, but he’s inadvertently prone to choking on the follow-through. He sums up his turmoil pretty well in “See It My Way”: “I hear the song– I wanna sing along with you/ But when I try I’m out of tune/ I turn and walk away.” It’s a sweet and snappy sentiment from someone who’s ultimately out of sync. This is Cronin’s pop poetry for the aloof.
So it’s somewhat ironic that MCII is also his most fully realized, beautifully arranged, and well-crafted work to date.
Dan Colman | Open Culture
Jorge Luis Borges had many fascinations—detective novels, gauchos, libraries, and labyrinths. Two prominent figures that occupied his mind, the tango and mythical monsters, appear in drawings Borges made in his manuscripts. Of the tango, Borges did much to spread the idea that the sensual Argentine dance originated in brothels. In his drawing above of a tango-ing couple, he writes at the top (in Spanish): “The tango is a brothel dance. Of this I have no doubt.”
The drawing appears in a manuscript titled “The Old Argentine Habit,” penned in 1946 and published (as “Our Poor Individualism”) in Borges’ 1952 essay collection Other Inquisitions. According to C. Jared Lowenstein, the drawing is titled in German, “Die Hydra der Diktator” (“The Hydra of the Dictators”) and depicts Rosas, Peron, Mussolini, Hitler, and Marx and is signed “Jorge Luis Borges 46.”
Sara Gunnarsgottir | Vimeo
The Pirate of Love is an animated documentary about an outsider musician, Daniel C.
A CD filled with love songs was circulating in my hometown Reykjavik, Iceland. The story goes that it was stolen from a man by the name of Daniel C, out of his locker by four co-workers who liked the music and made copies for themselves. Nobody really knows who he is. This is an oral history that follows one mans soulful songs of love, pride and loneliness.
On May 13th 2013 I recieved a message about Daniel C´s whereabouts.
The Pirate of Love Vol. II is in the making. Here you can buy a DVD of the films and in the way help me out a bit making the second part, where we get to know the real man behind the legend!
Jenn Pelly | Pitchfork
Living as city dwellers has Gun Outfit dreaming harder of the countryside, a sentiment Keith directly articulates with gentle, monotone rasp and gorgeous imagery on “My Love is Wanting Me”. Throughout the record, she sounds like a young Courtney Love covering weary, heartfelt country tunes. “The load you’re towing/ Is draggin’ you around,” Keith sings with sensitive perception on “High Price to Pay”. “Why don’t you unhitch it/ And find another way?” Even the choices of vocabulary are wonderfully evocative, channeling a line of road-worn blues that exudes Zen-like calm and collectedness, anchoring what much of this record is about.
At times, Keith and Sharp sing with gospel and blues-inflected twang and moan, conveying notions of gratitude and sorrow, strength and desperation, pride and confused paranoia. There’s more Lee Hazlewood than Calvin Johnson in Sharp’s straight-talking baritone, which fans of Silver Jews or Pavement will enjoy. One of Sharp’s most recurring topics– questioning the prevailing notions and worth of ambition, money, success, and work in general– are visited often on Hard Coming Down. As “Lau Blues” unfurls, Sharp’s stepping away from a hard situation and resisting those who suggest he get a job: “Gonna cast a download glance and/ Take a backward step,” he sings, “And I’ll call that dignity/ But you know what I mean.” This smart brand of cerebral slackerism is rare in guitar rock today, and refreshing.
Jobs, Joris & Marieke | Vimeo
A snowy forest. Two wild creatures. A domestic fight in slow motion. We’re delighted to share with you our latest music video for ‘Been too Long’ by Dutch hip-hop artist Fit, a song about a relationship that’s been going on far too long.
Michael Cragg | The Guardian
Two weeks after announcing the departure of bassist Kim Deal, Pixies have taken a step closer to fulfilling the promise of releasing their first album since 1991’s patchy Trompe le Monde with the appearance of the excellent Bagboy. The song is the band’s – now featuring, on this song at least, Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago and bass from Francis associate Jeremy Dubs – first new material since 2004’s Bam Thwok, which was released to coincide with their reunion shows in 2004. According to a statement released alongside the song on the band’s website last Friday, Bagboy was written by Francis in a Starbucks “about a hundred feet from where, 25 years ago, I composed some of the lyrics to an old Pixies song called Break My Body” and was originally started a few years ago. “There are some demos I made with Joey and David a few years ago in Los Angeles, related to a film idea that still has yet to see the light of day, although work on the music continued,” he explains. Opening with an electronic drum pulse and Francis’ half-spoken, half-sung drawl, it’s a brilliantly scratchy, sporadically ferocious reminder that few bands know how to play about with a song’s dynamic quite like the Pixies. There are even reminders of their past in the Kim Dealesque backing vocals that arrive a third of the way through. There’s also a video, which features the titular boy popping off to the shops before returning home to have a bath in a load of cereal and enjoy what looks like the best solo house party ever.
Mike Wolf | Boomkat
Peter Jefferies’s extraordinary debut solo album, The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World, first saw life as a cassette via the Xpressway label of Port Chalmers, New Zealand, in 1990. As a result of some international underground acclaim in fanzines and mailorder catalogs – for both the album and a striking 7-inch, “The Fate of the Human Carbine,” released around the same time – it soon appeared on LP and CD as well, through the Ajax label of Chicago. Within a handful of years it slipped out of print and out of sight. Roughly 20 years later that situation is being amended by De Stijl with a vinyl reissue that includes the songs from the attendant single and no amount of remastering whatsoever. Though no one’s gotten around to writing a book on it yet, The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World nonetheless stands as one of the singular singer-songwriter albums of all time, existing on a sparsely populated plane with Pink Moon, I Often Dream of Trains, Blues Run the Game, Our Mother the Mountain and not many others.