The Rich Girls Are Weeping

01 June 2006

I spent last night listening to a portion of Pinkie's Italo disco collection. (Oh, 1983!) No, really! And believe me, it takes constitution to survive something like that. We were sewing again (and I really must thank her for letting me sew on her big dining room table, there's no room for that kind of thing in my little garage apartment), and though there were a few times when the music almost drove me to distraction, I rather liked it. It's cheezy and shallow and oh-so-gay in that too much cologne, Continenal European kind of way. Pinkie's promised to post some of her favorite tracks some time in the future, so that you too can learn that Italo disco is so, so much more than anything touched by hand of Giorgio Moroder and Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy."

In the meantime, here's one of my favorite things ever, Jodie Foster's French disco track "La Vie C'est Chouette" from 1977 (it was the b-side to two of her singles, "When I See Your Face" and "Je T'Attends Depuis La Nuit Des Temps"). I heard this on the 365 Days blog a few years ago, and still think it's utterly fantastic. The fifteen-year-old Foster chews it up here, sounding like a cross between Rex Harrison and Jane Birkin, with a whole lot of sassy sexpot attitude.

Jodie Foster -- La Vie C'est Chouette (hosted at UBUWEB, right-click and save)

I'm home from work today; I woke up feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to take it easy. As a result, I've had some time to sit around and listen to a few records that I've been avoiding, most especially local fellows SOUNDteam's major label debut Movie Monster. I saw SOUNDteam once in like 2002, or something, and wasn't that impressed -- as a matter of fact, I kind of went out of my way to avoid seeing them again. Amongst my friends and accquaintances, they were generally disparaged for blowing a lot of money on a big studio (named Big Orange, in respectable homage) and for, well, being more than competent, but just not very interesting. Then, all of a sudden, a few months ago, everyone was talking about how they'd signed with Capitol and how they'd made Movie Monster for an obscene amount of money. Then, naturally, pre-SXSW, they became a major blogger buzz band (for instance, just check out the coverage when they recently toured with Elefant -- scroll down in the linked entry). As such, I was really ready to hate Movie Monster, but it has some redeeming qualities, namely in that it's really listenable, even if at their best, SOUNDTeam uh, sound like you threw Spoon, The Faint, and The Walkmen in a blender after removing all the thorny, difficult parts and added a dash of U2 (natch, if you're going for big epic sound, the U2 influence is always there). As a result, none of the songs really sick with you or grab you emotionally, but they make great, inoffensive background noise. It tempts me to quote another critic friend here: "I just don't hear any songs there..." -- there's hooks and choruses, but they just don't go anywhere, there's lots of pent-up velocity that just sort of spins in place, resulting in a serious case of musical intertia. Anyway, I'm of the opinion that if this is marketed experly (and I really don't know how it's being marketed at all, other than with great expense in regards to the packaging), this could bubble up from under and be a nice, solid semi-mainstream success for SOUNDteam, like I dunno, on the level of Stellastarr* or something?

So yes, if you haven't heard them on one of the other mp3 blogs, check out the SOUNDteam webpage and MySpace page. Yeah. Movie Monster will be released on 6/6/06, a date that surely will be overcrowded with releases just for the effect.

What seems to be turning into the daily Shearwater and
Palo Santo
update: Other Music (scroll down for review) declares "Red Sea, Black Sea" (formerly known as "Turn Your Transmitters Off," and an official TRGAW anthem) "the best song The National never wrote." Which sounds about right to me, and outside of some of the factual errors in the review (uh, Sheff's break from Shearwater was eventually amenable, but at times kind of rocky -- just ask me about that Shearwater show on Nov. 2, 2004 sometime...), it's exactly the kind of thing I'm hoping to read more of in future.

Also, I wish Rip It Up and Start Again author Simon Reynolds' blog was easier to read. I'm interested in what he has to say (even if I don't agree with his assesment of Paul Morley's Words and Music...), but it makes my eyes and brain hurt to read black on an OD background. Ick! (Thx to Miss Meow Meow Susan Meow Meow for the previous two links!)

[Sidebar: I was scooped today by Fluxblog and GoodHodgkins -- I was going to have little writeups of Blackbright Morning Light and The Longcut, but I guess that's what I get for dawdling this morning!]

12 Comments:

Blogger kathryn said...

"The best song the National never wrote"? I do not see that at all! Shearwater's sound is more ethereal, more spooky, more tribal in comparison to the National's urbane witticisms, polished guitars, and tortured delivery. Berninger and Meiburg may be haunted by the same demons, but express it in completely different ways.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger Pinkie von Bloom said...

kathryn, you must be hearing a different national than cindy and i do. the band i hear is a lot like shearwater (and okkervil river)...at their best and tightest they shamble along, a hairsbreadth from falling utterly apart. i'd agree that berninger--to a degree--is haunted, but "urbane witticisms [and] polished guitars" makes the national sound like something stodgy, boxed, and passionless, while it's passion unhinged that hold them apart from disaster. i think the same applies to shearwater.

but still nothing, but nothing, is like watching howard ride off into the denton night on his bicycle.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 5:21:00 PM  
Blogger kathryn said...

What I find interesting in the National is that there's often a sense of sarcasm, a sense of humor, with off-the-cuff one-liners which is what I meant by "urbane witticisms" -- the music is very intelligent but in a sly fashion.

Even if both bands often find themselves teetering on the edge (and I feel that Shearwater have lessened this tendency over the years, but you may feel differently), I still don't see how the song in question is the "best song the National never wrote," when the sound is both bands is incredibly distinct.

And yes, Howard! Most definitely.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 5:44:00 PM  
Anonymous lalitree said...

It's star-turn worthy.

Ooooh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger essteeyou said...

that's a pretty good description of SOUNDteam. They're a band that are sonically pleasing, but most of the songs I've heard are somewhat forgetable.

Don't get me wrong though; they're still a band I'm upset that I missed live and have one or two faves that would have made seeing them totally worth it.

(pardon the poorly written/thought out comment)

Friday, June 02, 2006 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger FiL said...

Mesdames, have you seen Mad John's "Stars on 45" post at http://lostinthe80s.blogspot.com/?? A true tour de force that I humbly suggest you might relish, if you've not already done so...

FiL

Friday, June 02, 2006 3:27:00 AM  
Blogger J Frank Parnell said...

Yeah. This is the Finally! Shearwater, & the realdeal pipes. And another thing about the Othermusic write up, which was nice enough: but annoying for yet another mention of Jeff Buckley (see emusic) as comparison: no, no, and no. Buckley's pipes were too often about being a lead instrument, about soprano notes and Robert Plant, about Nina Simone and hokey classic rockism. Different tone, too. Meibuirg's got the first voice since Talk Talk's Mark Hollis to sound just like ... Mark Hollis. Not a bad thing, because a science fiction alt-country album is like nothing Hollis can/would/will do.

But othermusic gets the Cale thing right. Meiburg's got that Cale timbre, and the piano style.

Friday, June 02, 2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

So much to respond to here! Ok, here we go.

Kathryn: I feel like the 'tribal' 'spooky' Shearwater was the transitional Shearwater of last year, the one that led to the 'persona' they have as a band now (Jonathan and His Evil Cloud, perhaps?), which is something a little more refinied and intense. There's something really 1970-4 (Eno/Cale/Nico) about it all, which I don't think is accidental. I definitely think that they have more in common with The National than any other band currently out there, especially with the increased emphasis on the rhythm section, which really is the concrete core of both bands.

Pinkie: Girl, you always got my back. Thank you. And, HOWARD RULES!

L-train: I KNOW. And you know how the Other Music-ans are kind of loath to give out gushy compliments.

Essteeyou: I really need to try and see SOUNDteam again, but I do remember that they put on a very energetic and exciting live show.

fil: OMG! Stars on 45! (Look, Susan and Karen: STARS ON 45!!!) Thank you for the heads-up, you are currently my favorite person in the whole world.

Mr Parnell: Yet again, you encapsulate everything I forgot to say so eloquently. You know, I really hate when people compare Mr. Meiburg to Jeff Buckley; I've been on a fruitless crusade to get people to stop framing him that way for years it seems. I've also argued with people who complain that Meiburg is too much like Hollis, but I agree -- though some Talk Talk stuff is really organic (for lack of a better term) -- Shearwater is totally uh, rootsy (I can't believe I said that), totally of the earth, much more than Hollis could ever be, he's always seemed focused on a certain kind of clean-edged production whilst Meiburg is not afraid to color outside the lines, as it were. Cale is a much, much better comparison, which is maybe why I've been listening to those great records (Fear, Paris 1919, etc.) hand in hand with Palo Santo. "Johnny Viola," indeed!

Friday, June 02, 2006 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think Simon Reynold's blog isn't very readable, just spend some time over at k-punk and then go back to Blissblog and it'll be like reading Pat the Bunny.

;)

-sb

Friday, June 02, 2006 3:03:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

AUGH! My eyeballs. That is some serious contrast, I suppose -- the words float off the screen!

Friday, June 02, 2006 3:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Cindy — how do you feel about the album version of "Red Sea, Black Sea" as opposed to the demo version? After falling madly in love with Shearwater thanks to the demo version (when it was still "Turn Your Transmitters Off"), I've found it pretty difficult to enjoy the new version; it seems all computerized and sterile (and wrong) to me. What happened to the wind chimes at the beginning? And why are the instruments so far back in the mix?

Is the lesson here to never fall in love with demo versions of anything?

Monday, June 05, 2006 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger A certain slant of Kate said...

Wow this ones my favorite so far!
10 points for mentioning 'I love you but I have chosen darkness', the Deers and Mr mountain goat doing a version of no surprises all in one blog...Wonderful stuff

:-)

PS: I'm new here...wanna be my partner in the line to get on the bus ?

Monday, March 19, 2007 11:04:00 AM  

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