Friday, April 29, 2005

Jandek, III

Somebody In The Snow (757)

More of the same thematic stuff that was on ‘Living End’- the electric blues-y solos, drums, Nancy (or someone like her, anyway.) Towards the end of the record, the vocals tend to be a few notches away from being a whisper, the kinda drawn out breathiness that sounds wistful. Plenty of cymbal hits, too. The harmonica on ‘Sing A Song’ sounds like a kid has thrown a piece of wax paper over a comb.

The record ends with ‘Walking Home,’ which doesn’t sound at all like the blues- it’s a racket, once again, with typically slapdash drums and guitar. The ‘ba ba ba ba’ bit reminds me of Stephen Malkmus, of all people- it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if S.M. had some Jandek records in his collection, now that I think about it.

Sample lyric: “You can’t call it Monday. You can’t call it Friday. You can’t call it anything at all.”

Lost Cause (759)

What’s this- a chord? An actual chord?

I wasn’t yet into Jandek when ‘Lost Cause’ came out in 1992, but I can imagine what it was like: the record comes in the mail, right, and it’s got a color cover that depicts Jandek wearing plaid, looking, well…..pretty normal. And the music itself is as straight-forward as he’s ever released, at least to start- there are actual chords being played, finger picking of a guitar that is in tune (‘Cellar’!) This is music, for real- even more musical than ‘You Walk Alone.’ It’s almost like his particular brand of art has run its course, and he’s giving up, trying to be more normal, more traditional. You know, the whole thing is a lost cause.

Then ‘God Came Between Us’ comes on, and all the normalcy is shot to hell- the guitar is high and trebly, a precursor to the jarring sounds of ‘Humility Of Pain,’ though with vocals that aren’t as deep or drunk as that record’s. ‘The Electric End’ finishes the album- twenty minutes of total freakout and feedback that sounds like electric mice being slowly squeezed to death as Jandek yodels in the background. The next few records find our boy back to his stylistic square one, just a voice and acoustic. It’s shit like this that makes Jandek so endlessly fascinating to me- there are times where he telegraphs, lets the listener know in cryptic fashion what he’s up to, what’s next in his ever-changing bag of tricks. Other times, though, you think that he’s wrapping something up or starting something new only to find that you’ve been eating off of a big plate of red herring.

Sample lyric: “The paper doesn’t mind that little Randy died.”

Graven Image (761)

Stripped down and destructured- this is back to the rambling, stream-of-conscious style. There are some changes, though- the playing is more forceful, less of the finger picking anchored by the low notes, more weird chords being strummed. And the vocals are stronger, too- more sung than mumbled or yowled.

Accentuated occasionally by harmonica (or, in the case of ‘A Real Number’, the accordion! Damn!)

Sample lyric: “Best you forget me- I talk too much.”

Glad To Get Away (762)

As cohesive and singular of an album as the man has put out- more of the voice/guitar stuff that doesn’t draw on any recognizable stylistic influence. There’s a little bit (okay, a lot) of echo on the vocals of a few numbers towards the end, but with those aside, there’s little of the confounding switches in tone and style that are so common on the other stuff. Hell, even those vocals and the harmonica fit in- less jagged and schizophrenic, more constant in mood.

Sample lyric: “Hey mister, can you tell me why you have a knife stuck in your face?”

White Box Requiem (763)

Plenty of moments which sound like the last two (this period, for the record, is some of my favorite stuff of the catalogue,) but not quite as focused. The vocals sound about the same, that kinda sing-songy amped-up whisper that has shown up a good bit. There are some passages, though, some instrumentals that take the general stripped down tone of the prior two and get even starker, more minimalist- these songs that are composed of runs of single picked notes, reminding me of Greg Ginn in their ability to hit just the wrong one over and again in a completely organic and original fashion. Plus, this is the record cover which features the craziest sideburns of the entire catalogue.

Sample lyric: “I believe you and I don’t. But I believe you.”

10 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

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12:27 AM  
Blogger hplauze said...

Hey this blog is not about online guitar. Silly internet bringing me here :-) Funny I have been doing hours of research on online guitar and it brought me to your blog on Jandek, III. The web plays funny games sometimes. Anyways, I was reading your blog Mike and I think it is really cool. Keep up the great work.
If you do not mind I may snag your blog and put it in my favorites. I read a ton of stuff that interested me. Keep blogging away :-)

7:13 AM  
Blogger Rebek said...

Sad to say I just got back from a bowling tournament and decided to log in and do some websurfing. Mike I love your blog. I had some very good laughs. I am doing a paper on guitar lyric and have been downloading information for the last hour. I don’t know how I came across Jandek, III but I am glad I did. It has set me back a little because I have spent the last hour reading your archives. If you don’t mind I would like to add you to my favorites so I can back again and read some more. Well I need to get back to guitar lyric. I am almost finished with it. Great job.
p.s some very good points on your blog

9:04 PM  
Blogger Rebek said...

Hi Mike your blog is really great! Wow :-) As I was out blog surfing and surfing the web for detailed info on online guitar I stumbled across your blog. Obviously my search landed me here and it is a little off subject compared to Jandek, III, but I am certainly glad I did come across your blog. Did I already tell you I like it! If you would not mind, I would like to add your link to my "favorites" page to come back and read again sometime. Should you ever need it, there's lots of information on this site about online guitar. Again, great blog and keep up the great work!
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9:16 PM  
Blogger cmeltifa said...

I love your blog Mike. How long has it been on-line? Reason I ask is I am doing a ton of work in the area of and will probably end up starting a blog of my own. Funny how the internet brought me here when I was doing searches on . Oh well, I am glad it did. Keep up the great blogging and I am sure I will visit Jandek, III again!!

6:47 AM  
Blogger cmeltifa said...

All I can say is WOW Mike. The other half and I just got back from our friends house (well her friends house) and I needed a huge break. I am working on a project right now that is based on christian guitar. I have literally been on-line for 2-3 hours doing research. Even though Jandek, III really isn’t on the same page as christian guitar I am certainly glad I came across your blog. There are a ton of great view points on this blog. Well I think I can here the kids screaming in the background. I put you in my internet favorites and I will certainly come back and visit. If you want to take a peek at my site you can find me here at christian guitar. I update my site very frequently. Again, great job blogging and I will be back again soon!

7:01 AM  
Blogger cmeltifa said...

What up Mike! I just finished up a ten hour work day and decided to kick back and do some surfing. So I grabbed myself a drink and stumbled across your blog while doing some research on christian guitar for a upcoming project I am doing. Well even though Jandek, III isn’t what I was looking for I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your doing a great job and please keep up the good work. Lots of people do not keep their blogs up to date :0) There are some very interesting view points stated here. Anyways I am going to grab the bull by the horns and continue to plug away at christian guitar. I have already bookmarked your blog. You many want to visit me at christian guitar. You never know you might see something you like! Again great job.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hey Mike. Very nice blog :0) I just got inside from washing and waxing my truck. It is my baby. Took me 2 hours though. So I settled down into my basement and started doing some web surfing. Anyways I am in the process of grabbing my masters degree and have spent the last 6 months researching christian guitar. In the midst of my surfing I landed smack dab in the middle of your blog. I hope you do not think I am intruding but I must say it is great blog. Even though Jandek, III is way off base from christian guitar I found myself cruising through your blog archives for the last half hour :0) You have some nice blogging friends. Anyways, I need to get back to my mission. I wrote don’t your url and feel free to visit me here at christian guitar. I am so busy so I can only update my site monthly. Keep up the great work.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Sad to say I just got back from a bowling tournament and decided to log in and do some websurfing. Mike I love your blog. I had some very good laughs. I am doing a paper on guitar lyric and have been downloading information for the last hour. I don’t know how I came across Jandek, III but I am glad I did. It has set me back a little because I have spent the last hour reading your archives. If you don’t mind I would like to add you to my favorites so I can back again and read some more. Well I need to get back to guitar lyric. I am almost finished with it. Great job.
p.s some very good points on your blog

10:37 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Mike your blog is really great! Wow :-) As I was out blog surfing and surfing the web for detailed info on christian guitar I stumbled across your blog. Obviously my search landed me here and it is a little off subject compared to Jandek, III, but I am certainly glad I did come across your blog. Did I already tell you I like it! If you would not mind, I would like to add your link to my "favorites" page to come back and read again sometime. Should you ever need it, there's lots of information on this site about christian guitar. Again, great blog and keep up the great work!
P.S.S If you want to bookmark my site I am at christian guitar. You never know you may find some good deals!

6:26 PM  

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