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Jun 022014

So last night, Mr. Royale and I got our aging butts out of suburbia and headed into San Francisco to the new San Francisco Jazz Center. Marc Ribot was performing there for four nights, with each night highlighting one of his different styles; we chose to see him in his Los Cubanos Postizos incarnation. The band did not disappoint: Marc and the other three original members were in amazing form, and it was a pleasure to watch their interactions, their nods, their signals to each other. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen or heard such fluid intra-band communication.

But there was something really wrong about the night: the venue. The show started at 7:30 (not the doors, the music), and we got there late (early? at 6:30) and hadn’t eaten dinner, so decided to grab a quick bite in the Jazz Center’s restaurant, “South.” Inside the white and glass interior, we were able to eat healthier, more expensive versions of classic Southern cuisine. I love me some biscuits and collard greens, but Ouch! the price tag was a bit rich. After rapidly making our way through our meal, we dashed inside just in time to catch the start. We sat in amphitheater-style seating (noting the plastic armrests and drink holders that could hold $12 plastic cups of wine), in an air-conditioned, large, battle-ship grey room. Our fellow music appreciators were seated around the small stage, but when the tempo sped up, folks got up and politely went to the back of the room to dance. The one act of debauchery I saw during the two-and-a-half-hour show was a woman skipping up to sit in a vacant seat in the front row. She lasted about 25 seconds before a clean-cut middle-aged man escorted her out. We were done, walking out the door, by 10 pm. All in all, it felt like a Disney Theme Park, an IMAX theater, a cleaned up, safe-for-aging-beatnik fans experience. I have seen the future and it is me?

I don’t know what I was expecting. I was happy that I wasn’t surrounded by jerks holding their phones up to take pictures or video, and this was certainly the first show in recent memory that I didn’t want to yell at some nearby couple, “Get a room!” But something was really missing. Fast-tempo latin music seems to need more than such a slick, comfortable venue. Where was the funk?

I could continue ranting about these weird juxtapositions of band and venue. I’ve seen plenty of bands in crappy music halls, beer-stinking bars, high school gyms, and hangar-like arenas. Sometimes the space was too small for the loudness of the band (I’m talking to you, Moon Duo). Sometimes a horrible show was redeemed when I heard the same set in a different space (Hello, My Bloody Valentine). Sometimes the smell of weed heightened the experience (Tame Impala!) and sometimes I thought, WTF (Arcade Fire?).

Please join me in my further understanding of how a band’s venue heightens or detracts from the musical experience.

Feb 052013

UnknownAs an offshoot to the whole MBV thing, and the relationship between (bear with me) masterpiece and follow-up, I got to thinking of analogous album pairs.

On the color wheel, we have groups of color arranged next to each other, with a dominant color (such as red, at let’s say 12:00), and then adjacent colors (orange-red at 1:00, orange at 2:00, red-violet at 11:00, and so forth).

I’m curious to know of such pairings with essential albums, and their follow-up or predecessor (as in the case of Sticky Fingers:Exile on Main Street). Are there pairs of albums, released in consecutive order, where one is the “acknowledged masterpiece” and the other is just as good, if not better, and you always listen to that one more often anyway.

Does this make sense? Give me a red, and an orange-red. I’ll give another example. OK Computer (yes, watershed, that is known and accepted,and I love it) to Kid A (not as critically lauded, but damn, that’s the one for me!).

Feb 032013


So it happened. It really happened. After a 22-year wait My Bloody Valentine has released its follow-up to Loveless. Take that, The La’s!

As I admitted last week, MBV totally passed me by. I was one of those people Slim Jade suspected knew more about the bands they influenced than the band themselves. I have not yet heard the new album. I can’t imagine what a next album by that band would sound like. Where does a band go with that sound…after 22 years?

Fans of My Bloody Valentine, as you get your head around this thing, was it worth the wait?

My friend Jonathan Valania at Phawker is getting enough satisfaction. The following sequence of observations from his Insta-Review may say it all:

…[the] album craps out midway (tracks 4-6) when they peel back the wall of noise to reveal that there ain’t that much there there. It’s like seeing your mom naked. I don’t need to see that. But it picks up again…

The FAQ page on the band’s new website ignores the most obvious question:

Continue reading »

Jan 282013

My Bloody Valentine collect an award for their album Loveless in 2008

Honestly, what are the chances? I’ve been asking this question of My Bloody Valentine for some 22 years now. I love everything Kevin Shields has ever touched, but seriously, the man has a skewed sense of time. Brian Wilson comes off with a train conductor’s punctuality compared to this.

Pitchfork has been claiming that MBV have the follow-up to Loveless in the can, and today they report that they have a video of a new song, and that Shields promises a new record “in two or three days.”

The video has apparently been revoked already.

Realistically, folks, should we look for this on Tuesday? Don’t break my heart again.


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