So we didn't get down to J&R Computer/Music World on Park Row (place of all things wonderful that plug into an outlet, where I bought my computer and my window unit...) this afternoon to have our Dylanesque CDs (yeah, yeah, we know the cover's super ugly) signed by Bryan Ferry himself. Instead, I had to interview potential assistants -- one of whom came in dressed in all in black with pinstripes and a vest (yes, in this heat!); if only his samples had been as impressive as his attire. Anyway, I totally wanted a fangirl picture with Mr. Ferry (probably the only one I'd ever stand for!), but I would have been too hot and sweaty -- the weather has finally turned muggy -- and I would have wanted to look more, well, pulled together, so maybe the fact that we missed the big event was for the best.
Still, we caught him, accidentally, really, on Letterman last night, doing his cover of Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" -- all uh, Roxy-fied. Check the castanets and the harmonica!
Dang it! When we heard E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire, a few Marilyn Manson videos) was directing the video for Interpol's first single, "The Heinrich Maneuver" we thought, "Woo! Paul Banks dressed as Nosferatu? Carlos D. in a cassock for the first time this century?" Instead, this right here is some fucked up, bitter shit. Well, come on, now -- were you expecting something soft and foofy?
(in the event this is taken down from YouTube, the 'official' premiere is on the MTV site)
We were kind of busy doing other stuff on Friday and didn't get to our usual trawl of daily reads, which means we totally missed the kerfuffle over The National (via Pageblank) and the posting of former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghy's "Ghosts."
The Amazon.co.uk reviews of her album of the same name are a near-riot of people up in arms over the fact that she's "ripping off" an array of sources from Kate Bush to the Cocteau Twins to Tori Amos. Upon further listening, we agreed, to a point. Ms. Donaghy's definitely influenced by Liz Fraser's vocal stylings -- but not from her time with the Cocteau Twins that spanned a good part of the 80's into the early 90's; instead, she's clearly more influenced by Fraser's mid-90's guest turns with Future Sound of London and Massive Attack. Indeed, one song in particular on Ghosts, "Halcyon Days" samples Massive Attack's "Teardrop," better known in this day and age as the theme to "House, MD."
Did we mention it's hot here? Well, the Bermuda High finally broke and it's raining now, but ... we were inspired to make one concession to all this "Summmer of Love" 40th anniversary hoo-ha with the following video:
Variation Three of A Prelude to Interpol's Our Love To Admire: Waving, Not Drowning (the final installment, see Tuesday's post for the (cranky) introduction).
[There's a poem, by Stevie Smith, about a man, far from shore -- the spectators on the beach think he's waving, when he is in fact drowning: 'I was much too far out all my life/And not waving but drowning.' What's presented here means to convey the inverse of that melancholy statement. ]
[Public Service Announcement: Hey, New York area readers! I know a lot of you are in bands -- our lovely pals The Bellmer Dolls need to go pick up a new board for their studio and their transport plans just fell through this morning. The catch is, it's out in Iowa! Have a van you're not using right now and would like to hire out for a side trip in return for some quality studio time? (Secret Machines used the Dolls' facility to record and mix their latest effort.) It'll be your good deed for the dayweekmonth year! Drop them a line (bellmerdolls AT yahoo DOT com) if you can be of assistance. Thank you!!!]
Variation Two of A Prelude to Interpol's Our Love To Admire: No Trendy Réchauffé (see yesterday's post for the (cranky) introduction).
[ré·chauf·fé -- n. 1. Warmed leftover food; 2.Old material reworked or rehashed. [French, past participle of réchauffer, to reheat, warm over, from Old French rechaufer : re-, re- + echaufer, to warm (from Vulgar Latin *excalefāre : Latin ex-, intensive pref.; see ex- + Latin calefacere, to warm; see chafe).] The Velvet Underground -- Venus in Furs from The Velvet Underground and Nico The Velvets set the aesthetic imperative.
Look, y'all -- We hate to quibble the point, but posting cruddy, "leaked" mp3s of Interpol's Our Love To Admire to raise your profile on The Hype Machine is really, really lame. So is posting track-by-track "reviews" based on the snippets from the website, hoping to imply that you're rad enough to have received a promo. I mean, it's people like you that make record labels paranoid about sending out promos in the first place. Seriously.
Furthermore, while I'm being crabby, you know we've flogged the "stop comparing Interpol to Joy Division" line long enough. Can we ban the use of that tired analogy in reviews of Our Love To Admire? Please?
Anyway, we can't post a review proper, as yet. You know. One of the conditions of getting to sit in a Capitol conference room guarded by junior staffers to have a listen on iPods and Bose headphones. (We don't mind, really -- more time to perfect it.)
So, we're killing two-point-five birds with one stone here. Quit listening to the grainy clips on your headphones and wait for the bona fide release; you need to listen to Our Love to Admire properly -- at home, on your stereo -- in the order intended. Trust us, it will be worth the wait.
And to further the joy of anticipation, we've prepared this little primer for you. We're running it over several days in three parts: Wait for the Elephants, No Trendy Réchauffé, and Not waving but drowning/Not drowning but waving. It's half a handbook to influences, half a little tour through our respective CD collections -- 'cause you know we didn't even get to the vinyl!
Variation One of A Prelude to Interpol's Our Love To Admire: Wait for the Elephants
[Deep, wide songs that threaten to swallow you whole somewhere in the middle -- when the elephants, dinosaurs and goblins come tromping through. NB: Please listen in order, would ya?]
The Walkmen -- We've Been Had from Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone First we need to pick up the stowaways. Is there room in the back seat? Just move the cooler.
Sinéad O'Connor -- Troy from The Lion And The Cobra Rhetorical question: Is there anything more loaded, metaphorically, than relating the Fall of Troy to the death of a relationship? Thanatos and eros, kiddies. Siouxsie & The Banshees -- Party's Fall from Tinderbox Everyone at this party has dead eyes. I want to go home.
Voxtrot June 15, 2007 Webster Hall, 13th St., NYC.
(Clearly, we're as good as The New York Times -- if not better! Thanks for the exclusive images, Kathryn!)
What can we say? The Voxtrot show last Friday is a memory we'll cherish always.
Give Pinkie a moment, and she'll remind you that there was a time, very, very early in Voxtrot's history, that I wasn't exactly kind to them (a truism for which I've done my penance) and a time that she saw them play for maybe ten people at Habana Calle Six at SXSW 2005. She was one of the first (if not the first) people to write about Voxtrot on the interwebs -- but she's super-modest about that fact. Later, they were our best Valentine's date ever in 2006, and showed us a dang good time at the Mercury Lounge a few months later.
From our perch in VIP (yeah, yeah), we were positively moved to (very happy) tears at the sight of the kids -- about 1,500 of 'em -- dancing and singing along. The bouncing young man in the fedora and suspenders; the two drunk BFF, arms draped around each other blissfully singing along; the tiny little girl on the front row pumping her fist with the beat as if her life depended on it.
And the boys were dazzling. With the Tosca String Quartet (and vibraphone!) in tow, they glittered on the new songs and brought a patina of road-weary wisdom to old favorites. It was a glorious sight. Our favorite little Austin band is no longer just "local music for local people" -- they're a bona fide phenomenon. And Ramesh's songs just keep getting bigger, tighter, angrier -- as demonstrated by the anti-hits of Voxtrot -- yet each is practically overflowing with a pop sensibility you can't find anywhere else these days. (Except maybe in Spoon -- and Voxtrot are certainly the worthy heirs to Austin's elder statesmen of indie rock.)
(And I admit, I was totally chuffed by the shout-out, Jared -- even though I wasn't at that Magnetic Fields show -- Kathryn was! But I'll pretend, for you, that I was in attendance!)
Two: Brooklyn's best AM gold tunesmiths The Silent League (think Todd Rungren meets ELO meets mushy 80's Roxy Music, tied up with what made Beulah awesome -- swingin' horns!) play the Annex on Wednesday, before heading off for their festival stint in the UK. The Silent League -- Breathe
Four: Just so you know that we're not totally biased towards one party in the matters of bespoke suiting, check out the work of tailor-to-rockstars Craig Robinson in photos by Rudy Archuleta at The Gallery at the Soho Grand (310 W. Broadway), through August 31.
Devastatingly sexy: Mr. Robinson at Work. (directed by Robinson and Archuleta, edited by Aurelio Valle, music by The Secret Machines)
As noted elsewhere, it's a totally Austin-tastic weekend in NYC.
A quick reminder that darling Voxtrot plays the grand, mold-infested Webster Hall tonight (Friday) early with the assistance of the Tosca String Quartet -- doors are at 6, and they play at 9:15. It's the ADORABLE BOYS vs ADORABLE GIRLS bill -- similarly sweet Brooklynites Au Revoir Simone also play. (Here's hoping the uh, less adorable Favourite Sons' live set has improved (or something) since we saw them last on a bitter winter night earlier this year @ Joe's Pub. ) Anyway, look for the girls in pretty dresses glowing like proud indie rock den mothers -- that'll totally be us. (MySpace)
Elsewhere in the city, raucous geek popsters Peel are invading!!!! Our former favorite band to spot at the grocery store -- it's true, frontman Dakota Smith and I shopped for groceries at the same hours of the night, and we'd meet in frozen foods, or on the shampoo aisle -- is blazing through town, with stops at Matchless Friday (with That Charles Bissell Guy from That Wrens Band, The Antlers, and Cinema, Cinema) and a two-night stand at Piano's Saturday and Sunday. Be there or be quadrilateral, with sides of equal length. (MySpace) Peel -- Moxy Blues
ps -- Latest addition to the Rich Girls Awesometastic Summer Jams list: Eve's "Tambourine" -- featuring Swizz Beats, and costumed, it seems, entirely by the fine people at American Apparel.
Interpol. June 5, 2007. Bowery Ballroom, Delancey Street, NYC.
The woman to my left was texting Kenna, the kids on right were clandestinely taping the proceedings. I suppose it's to be expected when you basically crash (ok, legitimately, but still) an event that was thick with Capitol Music Group staffers and rabid superfans, as we did last night at Interpol's appearance at Bowery Ballroom.
Every time I see Interpol, I'm reminded of a line from The Commitments -- "All the Motown brothers wore suits -- it's neat, dignified. You play better in your suit." (In that film, of course, the downfall of The Commitments' unity is presaged by the fact that they don't play their best-attended gig in said suits...)
And Interpol is, above all else, a neat and dignified band. And I've always felt, even in the face of Carlos' more outrageous accessories (or any other article of clothing created for him by Craig Robinson), that it wasn't ever pretension or a pose that drove Messrs. Banks, Kessler, Fogarino, and Dengler to take the stage in suits. (Because, naturally, they played better in their suits -- and they knew it.) It was, instead, their signal to us, the audience, that they were playing serious music. Indeed, Interpol is the closest thing to high art currently residing in the indie rock pantheon.
If you're from Austin you probably have a personal apocryphal story about how you totally meant to go to the time they played outside at Emo's on the Bright Lights tour, the night of the big ice storm in 2003. But, like me and Pinkie, you were trapped at the top of a steep driveway (yes, really) or were too skittish to try driving again after a stressful trip home from work, so you didn't make it. I remember sitting in my apartment wondering if it would be foolish to walk the mile or so to town in my thin coat and stupid shoes. I decided it was too cold, even though I was secretly obsessed with Turn on The Bright Lights and was too embarrassed to tell my indie-pop loving friends about it -- that I had a crush on these sharp men from NYC and their driving, embittered and mournful songs.
I didn't have a chance to see them again until the spring of 2005. When they played outside at Stubb's on Election Night 2004, on the first leg of the Antics tour, Pinkie was in attendance (we didn't know each other all that well then); I hate seeing bands in Stubb's outdoor amphitheater, always have. I went to see our pals Cue over at Beerland (it was actually the first time I saw them live) instead and then attended the strangest, most painful Shearwater show on record at the late show inside at Stubb's. I was a little giddy though, over the fact that Carlos and Paul were shooting pool in the room adjacent. I remember stopping to watch them -- all name-calling and long fingers and clinking beer bottles -- and marveling at the sight. There were no men like that in Austin -- not that I knew, anyway. They were rarefied, unreal. Real glittering and hard rock stars, not a thing like my sweet friends in bands I'd seen earlier in the evening, or who were on the stage at that time. And oh, the irony that Shearwater eventually ended up on Matador, Interpol's indie home!
What I didn't know then was how much harder and more glittering that facade would get over the next few years. (For it was, after all, just a facade, but even the wisest can be fooled -- because as we discovered later, yes, really, they were as sweet and unassuming as our friends in Cue and Shearwater.) They seemed always to be on the road, touring first with the Cure, then circling the globe on the strength of Antics and its pumping, danceable singles "Evil" and "Slow Hands" -- with proper videos and everything! They were famous; the suits went from vintage or serviceable, solid brands to better, sharper, bespoke. The hard sparkle was on. By the time I did finally did manage to see Interpol live at the Austin Music Hall in February 2005, they were razor sharp and deadly sexy. Sleek and almost a horrible, terrible force to be reckoned with. Watching them was like watching "porn directed by Leni Riefenstahl," I famously quipped after the encore. Offensive yes, but it was all I could manage to stammer out in response to what I'd just seen. I was shell-shocked by the white-hot light rig; the blistering, textured guitars; the relentless, hypnotic rhythm section; Paul's dour vocals.
That fall, Pinkie and I drove all over east and north Texas to see shows on multiple nights as our favorite bands rolled through our corner of the world, running ourselves ragged -- unhappy women recently extricated from painful relationships, fleeing from the reality of adulthood. We bonded on those long drives, became fast friends, learned each other's favorite songs, cursed the men who'd betrayed us. We drove to Dallas, where we interviewed our friends The Double when they opened for Interpol. We drove to Tulsa to see them too, just because they played, much to our collective delight, at the venerable, old ballroom that was home to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
Lots of things have changed for both of us in the past year and a half, but not our deep admiration for this band. So, when we had the chance to see them play that holy grail of NYC venues -- the beautiful Bowery Ballroom, last night -- we couldn't stay away. How could we? (It was impossible to turn back time all the way -- Brownies is now the Hi-Fi and home to El DJ instead of a grotty stage frequented by up-and-coming baby bands.)
We'd already heard the new record, Our Love to Admire, last week at the Capitol offices (no, it won't leak -- we had to listen on iPod with headphones). We knew things were different. And it wasn't just that Carlos and Sam were almost exclusively wearing suits onstage made by our friend Anthony S. Malat at Sinner/Saint, looking like the spiritual son of Johnny Cash and a Five Points pugilist, respectively. It wasn't the rumors that Paul had been to rehab. It wasn't the fact that Daniel was insisting in interviews that listeners shouldn't look for too much meaning in the songs, despite the fact that there was clearly meaning to be mined. It wasn't that they were playing small, sometimes seated venues to mixed reviews in old theaters and ballrooms across Canada, Europe, and the US in between festival gigs. And it wasn't about the dog, either.
Forget the rumors you've heard -- maybe some were true, maybe some weren't, but that's in the past. Give up complaining about the suits, or that they're a Joy Division ripoff. This is a band that's very sorry if your relationship with them started out on the wrong foot, and would you mind very much starting over from square one? Because they'd like to try again too.
Last night, some things were immediately evident: Gone are the sharp edges, the things that made you want to hold them at arm's length. Think the eeriness of the Marfa lights, the loneliness of long nighttime drives on lost highways. The flashy, bitchy Carlos D. has most definitely been usurped by Carlos Dengler, part-time film composer, who smiles when he plays now. Paul's heart may or may not have been broken -- in any case, his voice is improved and comes from a shadowed depth only previously hinted at. Daniel still skitters around in his version of the Chuck Berry/Elvis Costello box step, ever more convinced that he can turn a guitar into a percussion instrument, perhaps by sheer will alone. And Sam's still calmly driving the boys to town, the band's elder statesman, but by no means too old to understand that a good rock show is good for the soul.
And the utterly deafening roar of the crowd as they wrapped up the first part of the set with the killer, underrated "Not Even Jail," cemented it all. The new songs are still a little weak and may not even play out well in the live setting, and they're clearly sick of playing their 'hit' "Evil" -- but that's no matter. These are men don't just enjoy playing music, they enjoy playing it together, with a common aim. It may not always be entertaining, or easy to watch -- but it is almost always something beautiful to behold.
The Rich Girls Are Weeping is curated by super best friends Cindy Hotpoint & Pinkie Von Bloom. (And yes, they took the name from the Brian Eno song "Cindy Tells Me.") They formerly lived in Austin, Texas but are now based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Almost all of the content contained herein is dependent the vagaries of your hostess' weird tastes and whatever they're really into these days. As such, The Rich Girls Are Weeping does not focus as strongly on flavor-of-the-instant acts as some mp3 blogs; however, if you are in a band or with artist or label management and would like to send promotional materials to Cindy and Pinkie, drop an email to elegantfaker AT gmail DOT com. (NB: We receive a lot of email -- please don't fret if we don't get back with you right away! Urgent messages & mashnotes can be directed to cindy.hotpoint AT gmail DOT com)
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