Jan 272013

Earlier this week, Mr. Moderator admitted to a musical version of beer goggles: listening with his groin. On the thread, I reminded him of a conversation we had been having about an artist, and he responded,

The woman who’s videos you were sending me looked like jailbait. And I don’t like spiders and snakes! The music that woman was doing had some merit, as I worked to get myself back into my 22-year-old Kate Bush appreciating self, but there was a troubling line for me to get past.

Gentlemen and Ladies, I now admit to you my girl crush: Grimes.

I first heard about Grimes from Simon Reynolds. Mr. Royale and I had gone to hear him discuss his 2011 book, Retromania. Audience discussion led to questions about the future direction of popular music, and one of the artists he mentioned was Grimes and her “post-internet” music of a multitude of references.

I wasn’t swayed by the first few singles (to quote another wag, “Cranes with a laptop”). But then came the new album, Visions and this video:

Move over, Bjork, there’s another beautiful weirdo out there! Lady Gaga, here comes another stylista! She is a Mark Ryden painting brought to flesh.

Mr. Royale and I purchased Visions, and it’s been on constant play. While Mr. Moderator referenced Kate Bush, I don’t find Grimes’ vocals quite as histrionic as that other musical temptress. I’m reminded more of the vocal experimentation of Jane Siberry, Liz Frasier, Laurie Anderson, Minnie Ripperton, and Hello Kitty (if she had a mouth). She doesn’t just always sing in that “little girl lost” vocal style, and I’m mesmerized by the different ways she alters and layers her vocals.

And then there is the music. I hear Depeche Mode, OMD, Aphex Twin, Heaven 17, Dead Can Dance, Kraftwerk, and other industrial and Warp artists. The music is mostly synthesizer/electronic, but with some guitars, sirens, bells, and Medieval instrumentation thrown in for good measure. I like a great deal of dance music and electronica, so Grimes’ beats and sounds make me feel very happy. (“Visions” has become my go-to album for when I’m having a bad day.)

Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) is also interesting to listen in interview. Here she is in a 2012 interview with ABC:

She has a dance background. She is also a creator of visual art. And other interviews indicate she is trying to address some deeper issues.

Here’s another track off of Visions. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:


  24 Responses to “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful”

  1. 2000 Man

    I watched the first video, and the Dungeons and Dragons geek in me figures that flaming sword is a Plus 2, and the flail may have special properties too, since a small woman can wield it so easily. That silver suit may ward off magic attacks, too.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    Do strippers have magical powers, too? The Lady of the Silver Suit and Pink Dreads is LA Rapper/Stripper Brooke Candy. She is reported to be magical to Grimes.

    2000 Man, perhaps you will help organize the first RTH D and D Fest?!

  3. She truly is catchy, and I don’t feel the nagging sense I’d get if I found myself singing Christina Aguilera in my head. Listening, I feel supported by the fact that I hear Depeche Mode, and that Grimes is a bit scary and forward. It makes me sorta feel like I’m participating in the future.

    Certainly, listening to some of her music brings forth all kinds of touchpoints, and it becomes evident that there are artists working today who have only known a world of internet access. Brian Eno made a statement recently, something to the effect (I’ll paraphrase) that we have this faucet we can turn on, called the internet, and we have instant and free access to almost anything that has been documented.

    This is music that is not informed by a small body of influences, but is the product of an artist surrounded by a bouillabaisse of recorded sounds and information. Grimes has stated in a New York Times interview that she is “really impressionable and have no sense of consistency in anything I do.”

    So, I guess we can add “post-internet” to our lexicon, standing as a term for a schizophrenic kind of diversity not seen in our pre-web times.

  4. trigmogigmo

    I like the tracks. The analog synth stuff — without being typical “techno” — is appealing to me. The Depeche Mode link is one I hear, too.

    I am more interested in, and have more respect for, artists like this that are (apparently) expressing their own voice and vision rather than being a conduit for some “producer”s work. E.g., Kate Bush, Björk, Juliana Hatfield, Fiona Apple, Tegan & Sara — vs. — the dime-a-dozen latest thing singer.

  5. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m disappointed LMK. I thought for sure you would have described her as a Blythe doll come to life and the voice if she could talk.
    This is not something I could listen to in my car, but rather if it was on the stereo on a Sunday afternoon while I was scrubbing the tub. That’s a compliment actually.

  6. She’s the answer to the question what if Lady Gaga was into Depeche Mode and Yaz more than Madonna and disco. I kind of liked this – it fills a space in the things I generally listen to.

    She looks VERY young on the 1st video, younger than that LA Stripper you mention in the 1st response, that’sOK but it leaves a 1st impression.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Ah, cliff, you caught me out. I SHOULD have thought of a Blythe reference as Mr. Royale has painted quite a few in his day: http://www.laluzdejesus.com/shows/previousshows/2006/gleason1.htm

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    Here’s Grimes as a brunette hanging out with some chums and playing with music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-aWEYezEMk

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    I meant playing with makeup.

  10. misterioso

    Mod, I can’t believe you didn’t go for this, man. This seems right in your wheelhouse.

  11. Ladymiss, I really wish I didn’t watch the interview atop the music videos you sent me a few weeks ago. Really, her music doesn’t sound bad when I’m not watching her or, worse, hearing her talk like a self-absorbed 14-year-old. I don’t hate her because she’s beautiful. I am bugged by her because her entire involvement with music and the way she expresses herself is so far removed from my interest in music. It’s hard to believe we both love music – me and “Grimes.” It’s a wonderful world, but it’s hard to feel a part of it some days.

    This all gets back to my problems with Bowie, my problems with people blatantly performing their music. Music itself and the people playing the music mean something to me that I want to engage in. I don’t want to be ENTERTAINED or DAZZLED by some AMAZING ARTIST who is PLAYING A CHARACTER. Not very often, at least. I love music because it is a venue for people to be in the moment, to some extent. These artists who actually consider themselves visual or performance artists as much as they do musicians are challenging for me. I’m not saying it’s WRONG or anything like that, but I feel uncomfortable and incapable of communing with such musicians.

    This girl – and maybe she’s 28 or whatever, but she presents herself like a precocious teenage girl – is projecting an entire world that I really shouldn’t be part of. It’s as if I started becoming Facebook friends with my son’s friends. I just don’t want to be that Dad. I love my boys’ friends. I care about them and look forward to seeing them on the street, but I need to show better judgment than think I can buddy up to them in a medium that was not exactly made for me.

    In terms of her performance/visual skills, which do seem well conceived and executed, I would feel equally invasive letting myself be dazzled by her snake dance or whatnot. I can allow myself some dazzlement, if that’s a word, while watching the hot, hip 20-some actress in an “edgy” role, like Rooney Mara in Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. That’s a movie. That’s nothing but a distanced, controlled performance meant to dazzle me. Rock ‘n roll, for me, has to be about people, to some extent. I would feel like a fucking perv sitting in an audience while this girl played on her laptop and did snake dances. I’m not saying I’m particularly turned on by her and feel pervy in that way, but her entire art seems to be targeting a demographic so far removed from me that I would feel like I’m invading her and her audience’s space.

    Does that make any sense? It’s a bitch getting old, especially when you don’t want to start getting into “age-appropriate” AAA radio artists.

  12. trigmogigmo

    I get what you’re saying about the “performance” part, or “playing a character”. But couldn’t you apply this to, say, Angus Young? His schtick in no way lessens my ability to just enjoy rocking out listening/watching him play guitar.

  13. His schtick annoys me too, but at least he’s not a third my age – he just acts so, even when he was twice my age.

  14. Grimes #9 in 2012 Pazz & Jop poll!

    In an earlier comment I dissed Iris DeMent but she comes in higher than my hero Dwight Yoakam. Curses!

  15. ladymisskirroyale

    Interesting. But both Tame Impala and Beach House ended up on my “meh” list.

  16. ladymisskirroyale

    Thanks for watching my back, trig.

  17. ladymisskirroyale

    Well, I appreciate your honesty and your attempts at listening to the new artists I foist in your direction.

    I hear what you say about Performance, but I guess it doesn’t bother me as much as it does you. Isn’t all Rock and Roll just a big Performance? We have our ideas of cool, especially Cool Rockers. Is PJHarvey’s Cool Performance more acceptable? Is there a male/female difference going on where women feel they need to perform to be noticed?

    Grimes is young and trying on different identities; I like that about her. I’ll be interested in what direction she goes in next and the sources she pulls from. I think her videos are interesting (generally). It would be nice to see her pick up a guitar and what she does with that. Maybe her next video will have her wearing a flannel shirt…

  18. Sure, performance is necessary. I’m the person constantly espousing the virtues of Rock Superpowers, cool sideburns, wide leg stances, and whatnot. I’m as turned on by certain performance/stage presence traits as anyone. It’s these artists who perform as if they are part of something separate from rock ‘n roll that trouble me. I like the “sport” of music: the interplay of musicians, the sweat, the knowing glances, the struggles… The Bowie school (and over the years I’ve come to dig Bowie for all the things I initially dug about him when I bought the Changesone hits LP in 8th grade or so and only had the silly photo of him gazing off into the distance to bother me) is distanced from the freak show that I love about music. Artists can try to act as cool as they want, but what really excites me, sometimes, is seeing what they can’t cover with performance tricks and ticks.

  19. PS – This opinion and my numerous beefs are on me. I can understand how others might dig the performance stuff and not need all the stuff I ask for out of a performer.

  20. jeangray

    Grimes is soooooooooo 2010!


  21. jeangray

    Am not hearing the Kate Bush aspect of which you speak.

  22. ladymisskirroyale

    Great. Even my current tastes are retro.

  23. I keep asking myself.. when is someone mining this “sound” going to name drop Toyah.

  24. Sound and look.

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