Friday Endorsements 05.16.14
Hey, you. Whatcha doin’ Saturday, May 24th? Oh yeah, that sounds boring. I mean, that sounds cool.
A humble suggestion:
Come to our neighborhood!
Come to our street!
Play with us!
We’ve got music!
255 McKibbin St. BK, NY 11206 (Between Montrose and Morgan L stops). That’s our former home and our current road. Actually, entrance for this show will be via Boerum Street, the next over. Get it.
We’ll be shaking the stage with Stonehenge Parnashnakovsky, Meridian, and Heeney! Maybe you dig that?
5.24.14 // 9:00pm we roll //
NOW WE ENDORSE!
RICK AND MORTY
I heard terrible sad news recently that Community has been cancelled. This isn’t too surprising, as I suppose the show was “past its prime” what with the loss of Chevy Gambino and everybody, but damn, we’d just got Dan Harmon back! For barely a season! The world needs Dan Harmon. Many of my colleagues believe this and one consoled me this week by turning me on to Rick and Morty, a new gem on Adult Swim created by Harmon and Justin Roiland.
Rick’s an old, drunk super-scientist who lives with his daughter’s family in suburbia. He takes his nervous grandson Morty on adventures through time and space, drinking and stuttering and saving the world/ putting the world in danger, etc. The best part is that Rick’s expanded view of existence results in impatience or ambivalence toward regular human life on earth, and he sort of drunkenly abuses Morty and his family throughout.
The voice acting is superb and the humor is twelve steps ahead of convention. You can watch all episodes on adultswim.com
, and because you can you should.
More Than Any Other Day – Ought
The spirit of Post-Punk. Does this mean anything to you?
I want to invoke the spirit of Post-Punk at the beginning of an endorsement about an album of music by a band called Ought for a number of reasons. First, this is my attempt to address and circumnavigate a major issue I have with most writing about music these days – crrrritic! – in that it has reduced itself to a litany of genre and personality signifiers, as if this in itself were some sort of service worthy of performing. Is it a worthy office to liaison between musician and listener and essentially inform the latter that any inner value their listening experience may appear to offer is illusory because the music is only composed of and made quantifiable by its list of signifiers? Instead of offering a box of tools useful for orienting oneself to and investigating an experience, the crrrritic! hands us a cabinet of #badges. This type of thinking and writing about music confuses quality and quantity. It robs us of experience, obscures the spirit of the work, and judges that work summarily – a lazy damnation, a bored death sentence.
No content, no transmutation of information, no experience, and no point. Music is essentially only useful as a cosmetic status symbol or cultural signifier. Personality botox!
How does it feel? “Feelings” should be dulled for such an endeavor. They are a strange and silly nuisance.
These sound a lot like the conditions that brought about Punk, actually. The unfettered impulse to destruction. Fuck the man becomes “fuck it!” Chaos reigns. Passion for chaos, a real passion that erupts to consume the edifice that sought to smash it. No point? No boundary, then. All gets smashed.
In addition to wanting to avoid “judgement by signifier” type writing about music that I appreciate, I invoke the spirit of Post-Punk in talking about More Than Any Other Day because in this music I recognize the spirit of that which sometimes comes after the impulse to destruction. This is the impulse to synthesis of experience (conscious//unconscious, fact//idea, that which was//that which is to be) wherein one “rips it up and starts again”. This is the creative impulse springing from the depths of despair.
“Everything is fucked, and what does it mean?”
That’s the spirit of Post-Punk to me. There’s work involved, but it is possible for the work to be joyful. Ought is radiant with this energy. I had to break down some obstacles for me to be able to recognize it, but now this music is living with me. I haven’t consumed it. It walks with me. I don’t know where we’ll go next. Here’s how it started:
I listened to the above track, embedded in a music blog that told me a few things about which singers the lead singer sounds like, what genres and/or subgenres the band is using, where they are from, and their general age. Ok, fine.
I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I was excited that the lead singer sounded like _____, who is one of my musical heroes, so I peeled back another listen. Ok, this time I’m hearing the words and my focus shifts there.
There is something
something you believe in
but you can’t touch it and you can’t hold it
There is something
Something you believe in
and you can’t wait for it to take away a bit of time
Wow. So now, I’m intrigued. I listen to the whole album and a similar process as the above happens on the macro level. Now the music sounds like _____ and _______ and, ooooh, that’s just like ______.
Peel back again, those lyrics speak up. The music hasn’t truly soaked in. It feels obscured, hazy, sketch-like: exultant bliss one moment, huge earworm moment, then a stretch where I zone out and lose the tension.
Turn your light on, off again
you know you shouldn’t, but then again
Peel back another layer, and I’m finally free of the signifiers. No more passive listening. I start to sing along, I start to think with the singer. I’m through the door.
We have reached the intermission
and the Lord is in attendance
we can ask him all our questions
I know I will…
Suddenly everything inverts and the music WAKES UP! It vibrates with tension, free to do whatever it wants, no gloss or presentation. It reveals itself as the predecessor to the formation of words. The musicians are its vessels, and they feel each other.
Now the lyrics feel like an investigation of the meaning of the music itself, which simply DOES without fear. The words penetrate from every angle - floating above, drowning within, swimming against. It’s thrilling! I’m laughing, I’m dancing, theatrical gestures everywhere.
I’m not bored, I’m not afraid. I’m open and ready for anything. Today, more than any other day.
I almost dismissed this music. I’m happy that the music was gracious with me through my initial stiffness. Instead of a presentation of a body of facts and a pronouncement of judgment, it feels like we agreed to an adventure that is ongoing.