Monday, June 13, 2005


Morphine- Cure For Pain

I remember making passionate arguments a few years back against the then-looming ban on smoking indoors in the city of Boston. It’s going to hit me in the pocketbook, I’d explain to whoever would listen- the service industry is going to get fucked.

Within the space of a week, though, I loved it. The hardcore smokers were going outside, the fair-weather ones were quitting in the dead of winter. I’d get up the morning after a grueling night shift and watch in amazement as clear water would sluice between my bare feet into the drain, barely believing that I thought sheets of grey water normal for all those years.

Mark Sandman’s sudden death was a punch in the stomach to the Boston scene- here was this guy who had been around for years, had done well for himself without losing a shred of integrity, and, just like that, was gone. Since then, he’s missed some crazy stuff in our fair city- the DNC, Super Bowls, the Sox finally winning the series. In my mind, though, the biggest thing is the smoking ban. Can you imagine Morphine playing in a smoke-free club? Jesus, listening to the band’s smooth sax-bass-drums interplay makes me want to lose my edge and light one up every time, maybe go recline on a couch and think lazily about having a martini at some basement speakeasy. Wouldn’t smoke with my hands, though- one of those long cigarette holders that just screams class, stylish dignity.

Morrissey- Bona Drag

Morrissey, you cad! You rapscallion! Will you ever win? Life is awful, life is cruel, and man, does it ever suck not being able to get laid. The battery on your hearing aid is dead. You wear black on the outside because that’s how you feel on the inside. You live in a factory town. Every time you play all these fucking teenagers with flowers bum rush the stage and get in the way of your art. Oh, Morrissey!

You’ve made yourself such a target over the years, but we love you for it- in fact, we love you MORE for it, for putting it all out there. Every day is like Sunday when I put your singles on- the comfort, dear chap, of knowing that we’re being alone together, sharing our misery over Yeats and tea before we walk down to the county fair to watch the fabulously miserable dramas unfold. Thank you, Morrissey! Thank you!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go fill the tub with hot water.

Moss Icon- Lyburnum

A bunch of songs written just a few years after the Revolution Summer of 1985, less than a hundred miles from Washington D.C., the epicenter. All the glossies give the props and shoutouts to Rites of Spring and Embrace, amazing bands both, for starting the emo ‘movement’, while Moss Icon languishes in obscurity. Sure, the Fagen geeks still whisper Tonie Joy’s name with hushed awe, reverence, but don’t think for a second that it’s anywhere near the same.

The D.C. stuff continues to be awesome, don’t get me wrong. Moss Icon, though, were the first ones to do it differently. They’ve got the epic songs, the ones that stray outside of the loose formula of standard rock songwriting, and they’ve got the dynamism. Rites of Spring and Embrace both tend to be shot out of cannons- they get where they’re going pretty fast, for the most part, and then sustain until the song ends. Moss Icon builds, rolling along, gaining momentum until they hit the climax, like seven minutes after they start. Screaming yr. head off for emphasis is an elementary notion here in 2005, but way back in ’88 it wasn’t a foregone conclusion because no one did it. Not a bad little footnote for a band, is it? “First band to scream heads off, helping to bring about emo as we know it.” (Or maybe it is, come to think of it.)


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