Music

The Yodel that Ate Celluloid:

Yodeling as Secret Weapon Tim Burton’s over-the-top 1996 film Mars Attacks, about menacing Martians conquering a globe of naïve earthlings, features the yodel as the vocal equivalent of a secret PsyOps weapon that ultimately saves the earth from Martian domination. At a climactic instant, the headphones of an eccentric old lady who’s always listening to her favorite yodeler, Slim Whitman, suddenly slip off her head, exposing the Martians to Whitman’s histrionic yodeling-crooning: "When I’m calling you-oo-oo…" Yodeling’s high notes shatter the Martians’ helmets and their heads explode in great bursts of green cerebral goo.

The Essex Green

The Long Goodbye Merge Records I never knew exactly who the Essex Green were. I think for a while I had them confused with Ladybug Transistor (with whom they shared members). I knew they lived in a big house in Kensington (Brooklyn) and recorded in the basement—or was that Ladybug Transistor? And this guy I know played with them on occasion—or was it with Ladybug Transistor? Since they were affiliated with the Elephant Six label, I assumed they purveyed a lite, melodic brand of neo-psych-pop not readily distinguishable from Of Montreal, Elf Power, or Apples in Stereo.

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man

Out of Season Sanctuary Records On the evocative album Out Of Season, the first sound one hears is a rising gust of wind. Those familiar with Beth Gibbons’s work with Bristol’s trip-hop pioneers Portishead won’t interpret this as a gentle, summer breeze but rather as an ominous sign of things to come.

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NOV 2003

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