Friday, June 30, 2006


Hearing: Split Enz, "Hello Sandy Allen"; Espers, II; Beauty Pill, The Cigarette Girl From the Future.

Reading: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Riding: Fuji Finest and Trek Antelope

Looking: For an apartment. My landlord has sold my current building and everything, and everyone, must go. Any leads?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dory Previn: Going Home is Such a Low and Lonely Ride

I'm still a little wary about proffering Wikipedia as a source, so I'll give my Google search results.

Cherry-picking some interesting facts -- Previn was married to Andre Previn; he left her for Mia Farrow. Also, the Previns wrote together, most notably perhaps the songs from The Valley of the Dolls.

Probably the best song on Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey's The Trip compilation, Dory Previn's "The Lady with the Braid" hitches its pretty country-rock groove to a lyric that is witty, knowing, disarming and a little unnerving too. (As the reviewer on Pitchfork suggests, astutely for a change, it's not unlike a Jarvis Cocker lyric.)

The lyric skips from detail to detail in a manner that is almost stream-of-conscious -- my favorite is the "cup of homemade coffee" with honey in it. Most songs that get described as "conversational" never come close to real conversation like this does.

The more I listen to "The Lady with the Braid," the more elusive the narrator/Previn seems, making my reactions all the more complex. Frankly, the narrator comes off pretty neurotic -- intentionally, I think. But because the song is so carefully composed, you are just drawn in further. Ultimately, the song is a tender but knowing tribute to human fraility.

Just as my obsession with this song was reaching its peak, I discovered that Camera Obscura have a song on their new album called "Dory Previn." The mind boggles. It's a nice song, with a similar but slower soft-rock sound to "The Lady with the Braid." (Actually, it sounds more like Wilco's "Far, Far Away.") But the lyric, in which the singer listens to Previn in the wake of a break-up, is way more prosaic.

Also, I learned today that "The Lady with the Braid" is one of Stuart Murdoch's favorite lyrics.

It looks like Previn's albums are not impossible to find, but they're not cheap on Amazon either. Here's hoping I'll be able to track some down for a sensible price.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Here is the latest column. I went for a slightly different approach this time; it's just three CD reviews. I needed a break from using too many words to pretend to grok some meaningless topic. Lately, I've been feeling that think piece = wank piece.

That said, sometime before the end of the week, I hope to present here some interesting findings regarding one of the songs mentioned in said column.

Monday, June 19, 2006

1) Is Scott Ian on the VH1 payroll yet? He really ought to be.

2) How come no one told me that David Patrick Kelly performs on this?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Regarding the new Sonic Youth album, Rather Ripped, Part 1

1) Steve Shelley is the current finest practitioner of a style of rock drumming that I greatly enjoy. Less bashing, more motoring (not to be confused with motorin').

2) At this point in my life, I'd rather listen to music that makes me think of New York City than actually be in New York City.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pick here. It appears that I've got a thing for the word "epic" these days.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Crystal and I stayed at her parents’ house in upstate New York. They graciously allowed me to raid their considerable vinyl collection for anything I fancied. Here now is the first group of reviews of selections from the big cardboard box that made the trip back to Philly with us.

Patti Smith Group, Wave: Only got through side one. Am I the only person who kinda digs her version of “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”?

Herbie Hancock, Headhunters: Gave up during the early part of side two. The jittery funk – all those squeaky synths and hyper congas – got the better of my nerves at that point.

The Monkees, More of The Monkees: I grabbed this because it has the song “She.” This is a mighty song, even better than I remember. Big, booming harmonies and a strutting, martial beat. The chorus – “Why am I standing here/Missing her, and wishing she were here” – is epic. The narrator is a paranoid, masochistic creep; Elvis Costello or Thom Yorke can only wish they could conjure him up. All in all, L.A.-bred garage rock at its finest. My fourth-grade memories of the rest of the tracks scared me off most of them. Even a song I used to like, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),” became intolerable once Davy Jones’ lead vocal entered; who let him in front of a microphone? As a science experiment in terror, I’d like to arrange a DJ night in which only “Your Auntie Grizelda” is played.

The Band, The Last Waltz: I never get tired of watching the film, but on record the performances really pale in comparison to their other, less-heralded live album, Rock of Ages.

Talking Heads,
Fear of Music: Good, but not as good as More Songs about Buildings and Food. Does “Drugs” creep you out too?

Paul McCartney, McCartney II: Again, only listened to side one, but that’s not really the album’s fault. Everything on here sounds bizarre and ingenious and lo-fi, even the big hit “Coming Up.” (He really did have a shitload of hits the first fifteen years after The Beatles broke up and some of them are pretty bad songs. Did people just buy his stuff out of habit? What ultimately broke that habit?) I’ve been acquainted with this album since sometime around 7th grade, and that explains why I never found Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk all that outré. Let us consider that he released McCartney right after the Fabs split, and McCartney II right after his drug bust in Japan. Now that he’s back in the tabloids, the timing couldn’t be better.

The Who, Tommy: Overrated, like it’s always been. Don’t think of it as the dawning of a new day for the ‘Orrible ‘Oo. Think of it as an awkward transitional album. They weren’t Mod dandies, not yet lords of the arenas. You could probably fit the truly great songs on an EP. (That last sentence is a covert shout-out.)

The Who, Who’s Next: I previously only owned this on cassette, which is noteworthy because the track listing is slightly different. I feel like I’ve been hearing this Classic AlbumTM all wrong all this time. Anyway, sometime I’ll to write a essay on the immense influence “Baba O’Reilly” had on my adolescence, and my mostly ill-fated attempts to repay that debt. It will be very cathartic, I’m sure.

Bobby Womack, Bobby Womack’s Greatest Hits: I kinda had this one playing in the background and it didn’t really register, but it’s definitely worth another spin or two.

Al Green, I’m Still In Love with You: Buy this album now, please. The hits are hits. Everything else is equal, be it the funky drumming and swooping strings on “I’m Glad You're Mine” or the Roy Orbison and Kris Kristofferson covers. My find of the year, so far.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Seperated at Birth?

Henry Gale and Thom Yorke.