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 basementor was that Ladybug Transistor? And this guy I know played with them on occasionor 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.
I discovered Eddie Durham one night not long ago, as I tuned up my radio to the marvelously pedantic Phil Schaap on WKCR-FM.
The toxicity of indie rock hypedom is so extreme that sometimes I feel like turning my back on the whole furshlugginer mess: the uncomfortable clubs with wretched acoustics, the zines brimming with smug orthodoxies, the buzz around gimmicky bands-of-the-moment.
Its easy to forget that popular music has the capacity to subvert. Thankfully, Ive been reminded of the fact lately by a trio of insightful books, which, by chance (or unconscious design) all point to two particular flash points: Central Avenue and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.
Bryan Watermans Marquee Moon and Cyrus R. K. Patells Some Girls were conceived in tandem: The authors, both humanities professors at N.Y.U., are friends who share a personal/professional fascination with New York punk/street culture of the 1970s. This twin portrait of New Yorks halcyon rock era represents the fruit of their efforts.
The cover of Peter Doyles Echo and Reverb is promising as hella red-rock mesa (New Mexico?) into which intrudes a vintage Shure microphone, next to an intriguing subtitle: Fabricating Space in Popular Music Recording, 19001960. Im a sucker for such oblique, scholarly tomes; I mean, now that the Beatles story has been told a hundred times over, whats left? Auspicously, theres a university-press logo on the spine and, of course, no illustrations. Plus, very small type.
Living up to its back-of-jacket testimonials (from no less than Eno, Kate Bush, and Nick Kent), Joe Boyds new memoir White Bicycles is indeed a must-read, especially for those in need of a hype-free perspective on an over-discussed, over-analyzed, and over-sentimentalized era.
Conlon Nancarrow is very much in fashion at the moment. The late composer has been referenced in The Wire magazine, Columbia Universitys Miller Theatre is presenting a Nancarrow festival this season, and new-music critic Kyle Gann has come out with a full-length study (available only at Lincoln Center, and priced at $90; you can bet its jumping off the shelves).
Ive been a fan of Chad and Jeremys The Ark for some time. I discovered the album after hearing Rest in Peace, from their previous release (1967s Of Cabbages and Kings), on the radio.
There is nothing as strange as that which is absolutely ordinary. Yep. It’s a lesson I learned long ago from Eraserhead, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, and the motel portraits of Ed Ruscha.
At 25 minutes and change, Neblung Prices latest CD is the approximate duration of one of those early-60s Beach Boys offeringsShut Down Vol. 2 maybe.