Friday, October 21, 2005


(I'll be wrapping up on Monday- please stop by.)

Young Marble Giants- Colossal Youth

Total cult record, one that’s revered by a small but fervent group of loyalists. It took me a little while to get into, and the reasons for the lag time are among those that elevated the band to their minor altar: clean, trebly guitars (or sometimes organs) cut precise juts just large enough to allow bass guitar to weave in counterpoint. A female vocalist with a pretty voice sings lyrics with a slight accent, adding to the feel that everything has been translated from a different language. The band is sleek, elegantly rolling out a few songs as you, the listener, wait for the rest to kick in, whatever that might be- some drums, maybe, a distortion pedal. A trick, some deviation from the formula. Ain’t gonna happen, though- it’s all there right away, graceful in muted minimalism. Young Marble Giants make listeners reassess the notion of pop music by stripping it down. I don’t think they were doing it in some lofty, arty way, though, like any number of bands who try and be way different for the sake of it- it feels authentic and downright charming, with ripples that have touched any number of twee indie bands.

Thalia Zedek- Been Here And Gone

This is it. The last one. Can you believe it?

I’ve been dragging my ass since I got back from Texas, admittedly- my three-a-day pace slackened down to two as I did other things- uploaded music into iTunes, mostly. I haven’t been writing so much. I was in this amazing groove for months where I’d come home and get so much done after work every night- didn’t think much of it at the time because it was going well. Such a mental space is fragile, and much as I hate to throw out the sports lingo, when you’re there, in ‘the zone’, you’re not thinking about what you’re doing. You’re just doing it. Since my return, I have been making mental adjustments, trying to get back into the swing of things, but something or other has come up every week that has knocked me off track.

The inherent structure- listen to a bunch of records, then write about them- has been great for me. The writing has improved; the work under pressure/dealines has gotten better. I’m going to take a little bit of time to work on some odds n’ ends projects that are currently cluttering the mental junk drawer before getting back to writing short stories and my goddamn novel (again). The structure of the writing isn’t enough, though. I need to make the writing more the day’s work and less something I do after coming home from an evening at the restaurant. To that end, once daylight savings rolls around I’m going to be changing my sleep schedule, getting up early and writing before clocking in (hopefully afterwards, too, if only a few nights a week).

I can feel myself beginning to occupy a new space, one that’s come after months of self-evaluation (and improvement). It’s been a brutally hard couple of months for me, though I seldom show it- wracked with self-analysis and doubt, mental paralysis. I’m finally starting to come through, though. Making changes to help myself out, my work habits and confidence. The last such period, I think, was when I moved back here, to Wadsworth, around four years ago. It’s funny- Thalia Zedek was my neighbor back then. Right after I moved, her record came out, a collection of raspily gorgeous love songs that owe as much to Leonard Cohen as they do to Tom Waits. I knew what Thalia was singing about just from being around at the time, neighborly osmosis. Bleak, yet hopeful, that second after the door slams behind you before you look to see what’s ahead. Moving. You know. You’ve been there. Then you’re gone.


Blogger cellos-20748B said...

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3:46 PM  
Blogger howie said...

I found an old feature from Stylus magazine where a writer attempts to listen to and review all 50 cds in the Merzbox over a semester break. It's fairly entertaining.

7:48 PM  

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