Well, I had big bright plans for a lengthy feature about Bruce Springsteen this week, involving such disparate threads as covers of his songs, the layers of irony in both himself and his songs, and my musical coming of age and how Bruce fits into it repeatedly.
But then I had a misadventure of colossal proportions today that involved a hike that went horribly awry and me getting home several hours later than planned. (Memo to self: read hike descriptions before going on them. Go on hikes with people with more common sense than you, not alone. Tell people what hike you’re going on. Figure out beforehand whether or not the hike will end before or after dark. And if the beginning of the hike seems horribly steep and slippery, don’t assume it’s magically going to get better.)
So that will have to wait. Instead I’ll be incredibly lazy and introduce another feature, which is iPod roulette. Basically, hit shuffle and write about what comes up until you’re sick of it. (The music group that I did it on would do ten, but after my hot bath I don’t think I’ll make it past five.)
1. At The Drive-In, “Ursa Minor” (from VAYA) – I like IN/CASINO/OUT a shitload, and a couple bits of RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND, but I’ve never quite dug the rest of their discography. As far as I know, I’ve never heard this song before, which over-relies on its stereo mixing of the guitars and under-relies on making its verse rocking. There is a rocking chorus, but it’s brief. In conclusion, it’s no “Invalid Litter Dept.” or “Pickpocket”.
2. Robyn Hitchcock, “Maria Lyn” (from LUXOR) – not sure how I wound up with this album (probably Conor’s doing) or what it represents in Hitchcock’s discography (I think it’s somewhere in the early 2000’s) or what it has to do with the rather astonishing Luxor casino (if anything). Anyway, this song, which again I think I’m hearing for the first time, is sort of Hitchcock beige, which is to say that it has a pleasant Hitchcock vibe but doesn’t particularly distinguish itself out of the rest of his song catalog. I do like the guitar/harmonica instrumentation.
3. Rilo Kiley, “Variations on a Theme (Science and Romance)” (from TAKE OFFS AND LANDINGS) – what the fuck is this? This is terrible. 37 seconds of a synth demo. I assume I have this whole album on here and this is the bonus track or some shit, but I don’t trust any band that would put this anywhere near their album. Suck. Pass.
4. Immortal Technique, “Battle vs. Flow” (from PORTABLE IMMORTAL) – 28 seconds of live dissing from this hip-hoppity guy that my friend Alastair hipped me to. Too insubstantial to stand on its own. Although there is a funny bit about how the only projects the recipient of the dissing had seen were in high school science class.
5. The Rapture, “Heaven” (from ECHOES) – definitely the standout from this album and their discography thus far as far as I’m concerned. If all dance punk was this unfussy sounding (not talking about the vocal breaks here, which are admittedly quite polished, but the instrumental chunks, which are sloppy noisy fun and jagged) it would be my favorite genre ever, instead of having worn out its welcome in my life.
6. Billie Holiday, “Summertime” – I LOVE the trumpet playing in the intro to this, down and dirty and messy. What can you say otherwise, really? There’s a reason her music has endured when so little from her era has. I am noticing her scansion is a bit aggressively on the beat near the end of the song, which is slightly offputting. Like anybody cares.
7. Dirty Three, “Flutter” (from CINDER) – The Dirty Three put out so many good records, it’s easy to overlook one here or there, and I never spent the quality time with CINDER when I got it that I should have. (A recurring problem I have, apparently, but I digress.) Anyway, this is a particularly fantastic track, there must be some effects pedal looping the shimmering strings sound at the start which combined with the percussion assault is evocative in a distinct way from a lot of their other tracks.
Okay, that’s me.