Saturday, August 13, 2005

S, V

Smart Went Crazy- Now We’re Even

Some of my favorite Dischord stuff has fallen through the cracks. It was nice to see the amazingly underrated Warmers get a little bit recent more attention as a result of Amy Farina’s involvement with Ian MacKaye in the Evens. I’m still waiting for the listening public to catch onto the fact that Trusty’s “Goodbye, Doctor Fate” is a complete gem of a pop album, that Faraquet could beat up Don Cab, and, most importantly, that Smart Went Crazy are completely overlooked.

The tricks used by the band aren’t new, by any means- you know, the whole lurching Louisville-influenced series of off-kilter rock equations calculated to make listeners jerk their bodies around predictably for a while before tossing in some hitch or stop or pause to throw the whole thing off. Crazy percussion, weird chords. Thing about the band is the way they use the tricks, make ‘em manage to sound new.

The distinction comes in many forms. First, Chad Clark’s lyrics are hilariously scathing and dry, delivered matter-of-factly with devastating effect. Second, the musical chops of the band’s calculus are augmented by Hilary Soldati’s cello, which adds depth and dimension to songs that were already quite good- the extra oomph needed to graduate the band from very good to awesome (speaking of graduating, Ms. Soldati and David Souter both graduated from the same high school as me. Crazy!) And all this on a debut CD- I’m a bigger fan of ‘Con Art’, the band’s second/final disc.

Elliott Smith- xo

We have tendencies.

We feel like we must have some stake in things.

Such was the case with Elliott Smith- an insane amount of ink was spilled following his murder/suicide. His final LP, released posthumously, yielded another expansive wave of laudatory criticism, from the glossies all the way down the foodchain to the cruddiest photocopied one-sheets.

Beyond a certain point, though, the plaudits fell on deaf ears. Artists dies, press presses, readers look for the next thing after being saturated. Happens all the time. Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone, Jeff Buckley- all three yielded write-ups which, due to the lag of print media, didn’t show up in some cases until a year after the sad fact. By then, it’s like whatever, no matter how noble the intention.

We resort to hyperbole.

Artist dies, stock goes up. The need, again, to feel connected, mixed with the coulda-shoulda of tragedy equals a distorted prism through which to filter merit, importance. I’m used to it by this point, brace myself for the inevitable avalanche of short-sighted deadline-oriented good intentions.

I mention all of these things, these tendencies to let you know that I’m fully aware of them all before I say how sad I am that Elliott Smith is gone.

Prior to tonight, I hadn’t heard a note of the man’s music since his death.

It’s like all roads lead in that direction, signals and marches toward the inevitability that none of us thought about because we were all so happy to finally have someone to identify with, someone who cut through all the bullshit and just KNEW.

Never thought about the man because we were too busy feeling the solace of aches ebbing, wondering how it was that he managed to say it just so.

And it’s because it was killing him.


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