But music can save your life sometimes. It probably saved me from working in a bank or something. That's a kind of salvation right there. // Richard ThompsonHot Chip -- Laws of Salvation
Blur -- Tender
Richard & Linda Thompson -- I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (repost)
I have something to confess: I'm afraid I just don't care for Gnarls Barkley; or rather, it's not that I hate the project, it's that it just doesn't move me. (Does this make me racist? I kid, I kid. Sort of.) Seriously, though -- I've been thinking on this for months, pretty much since the online buzz started. "Crazy" is an interesting song, but ultimately devoid of that which it purports to be full of -- soul. For some reason, the part of my brain that loves classic R'n'B and soul (Irma. Thomas. Forever.) shrivels up and rejects Gnarls Barkley. It's a very strange feeling, and I can't explain it, other than that it's just too perfect. Yes, that's right. Cee-lo Green's voice is the perfect point between Nina Simone and Al Green; and Danger Mouse's beats have always seemed sort of mathematically perfect to me; which is to say they don't feel organic -- if that's the right term. I always thought his Grey Album was an interesting project, and his production with Gorillaz is neat, but both ultimately fell flat over the long run for me because of that lack of spontaneousness and yeah -- I'll say it -- funk. Which yes, is kind of the key to that missing soulfulness. But how can you tell Brian Burton not to be perfect, as well as weirdly anonymous (sometimes I wonder if he's a fan of Jerzy Kosiński's Pinball; I mean, he loves the 13th Floor Elevators and Morricone, so maybe, right?)? You can't, really. And we wouldn't want him that way either. So I'll just appreciate Gnarls Barkley, but I can't love it.
Then again, I have the same problem with a little indie power pop outfit called Irving, who also seem to be missing one key thing that would make them power pop perfection (a la Sloan or Teenage Fanclub or Matthew Sweet), but it's just not there. Mr. Perpetua and I usually agree on things, but I can't share his enthusiasm for Irving. Sure, we could talk influences, and execution, but in the end, it's that near-mechanical songwriting and execution (you know, OK GO and We Are Scientists and Phantom Planet kind of succumbed to this as well: Boring Power Pop Syndrome, as popularized by The Posies. Zzzzz.) that ends up sucking the life out of a genre that's supposed to be a little bit scrappy and messy and adorable. Isn't it?
Then again, you could just argue that that's what good pop music has become in the digital age. Perfectly cranked-out and sterile beats, perfectly filtered vocals. But you know, it's never that simple. I mean, how exactly do you live with yourself after writing these paragraphs and then have a sudden desire to listen to Girls Aloud? Well, you're screwed, I'll tell you that much. Maybe I'll listen to The Carpenters instead. Will it help if I go AM gold and analog? Wait, don't answer that.
Girls Aloud -- The Show
The Carpenters -- Superstar
Anyway, this is not to say that a band that performs like a well-oiled machine isn't a joy and a pleasure to watch; I enjoy the stark precision of Interpol as much as I do the unpredictable shambles of a band like Okkervil River or The Wrens.
Interpol -- NYC (repost)
Okkervil River -- Okkervil River Song (live at Emo's)
The Wrens -- Everyone Chooses Sides (live on WOXY)
So wow, I've totally argued myself back around to the beginning of my thought process, which means this post was apparently a written for the sole purpose of linking to that definitive Slate article that should really shut the door on the utterly ridiculous Stephen Merritt IS A RACIST! debacle. Clearly. Oh, and I forgot to post a Sloan song. Oops.
Sloan -- Losing California
ps -- I finally got that Celebration interview uploaded and Pinkie provided the text.