27 January 2010

realism contra transference: full steam ahead into 2010

yé-yé! now that that's done, i'm so hyped about digging into this new decade we've got laid out in front of us... (ok, yeah, i still want to list my best of the '00s... look out for some sidebar action on that front, hopefully soon.)

i bought these cds yesterday:

realism! contra! transference! single word titles! single-human-figure cover images! something about new albums always seems so edgy. even if, really, there's nothing very edgy about any of these things. (except maybe the word "transference"? i dunno. and spoon's use of // always feels edgy too. i like how the words match the lampshade.)

i listened to realism and gosh it sounds so much like the magnetic fields it kinda hurts... thing is i'm not even sure i like the way the magnetic fields sound anymore. i need more listens to figure out what's going on here, but this review tells me it's about subverting sincerity (also, "a slight record, and often so chintzy it's obtuse"...yikes!) at this point the mag-fields catalog is roughly balanced with 69 love songs in the middle, and three albums on either side (let's call that oft-overlooked susan amway-era first pair - which i'll admit i've never really heard - balanced out by the two or three merritt-solo), and things look a bit different. 69ls is obviously a lot more than the one-off diversion it seemed at the time; supposedly realism marks the end of a "no-synths" trilogy, but i'll be extremely (pleasantly) surprised if t/he/y really return to making records like the mid-90s "synths trilogy"...

i'm trying to put my finger on what sets those apart. it's hardly as though sincerity has ever been a magfields hallmark, but it does feel like the balance has shifted from clever to clever-clever; at least holiday/charm/get lost had a distinct and consistent mood/mode which felt sincere in tone even if it was necessarily a deliberate construction. more, even if the songs and characters were in some sense "types," they were still imbued with real feeling: something like "all the umbrellas in london" is as emotionally sincere as you could want. that was still true for much of 69LS (even if, e.g. "yeah! oh yeah!" plays as a jokey parody of the kind of biting sentiment in, say, "the desperate things you made me do") but it was dubious even by i (although it does sound pretty good now. "it's only time" is convincingly tender, true, but otherwise "i don't believe you" pretty much summed it up.) the only songs that really made an impression from distortion (which i found pretty hard to take) were outright jokes, albeit pretty funny ones ("the nun's litany," "too drunk to dream," and especially "california girls.") and new one comes off as just woefully glib. but perhaps that's just on the surface... as i say, i need more listens.

contra (roughly two listens in) is a blast, with the initially sore-thumby "horchata" making good as a bouncy funburst of a lead-off, and the much-remarked refrain fading towards amiably insouciant rather than truly irksome inanity. dunno if i can buy matt's contention that it's "brilliant" (though it occurs to me that someone could get away with those lines much more easily - and possibly be hailed for them - if this were hip-hop), or that this is "the first album of the new decade." but, there it is.

haven't heard transference yet. should i be scared? anyhoo. going out and buying cds doesn't seem very 2010s of me, does it? (at least i went out and bought them? and got the contramelt bonus disc for my biking trubblz) buying spoon and magnetic fields cds seems practically 1990s. to say nothing of "steam"? yeesh.

never fear, for i have also downloaded: albums by hot chip and charlotte gainsbourg (illegally) and by rjd2, surfer blood, four tet, owen pallett, and beach house (legally! but haven't heard them yet), and by retribution gospel choir (rockin!!), everybody wants to be in the french resistance...now! (silly!!) and even better, got promos (in the mail) of new
eluvium, fredrik, yeasayer (!), pantha du prince (!!), and jj (!?!) jawnz, plus other bands i don't even know if i like. and, downloaded this mixtape by yelawolf, who i have not even heard of except he was on bedbugs' last.fm page, and it's pretty dope, i think.

(i have a new year's/decade's resolution to start listening to rap again, f'realz, partly fired up by all of the amazing early '00s hip-hop i re-heard for the mixburst cycle, partly by having some actual friends to maybe get excited about lil wayne with, and by wanting in on the gucci mane hype/debate, and by a newfound contention that maybe i can actually deal with mixtapes after all...i guess we'll see?)

plus....many other new and old faves with discs in the pipeline... like tunng and ted leo (seeing him friday!) and sharon jones and jason falkner (domestic release) and david byrne vs. fatboy slim vs. imelda marcos (should be brilliance or a trainwreck, i can't remember) and big-star capital-a number-one top-priority hype-prospect monster-mofo joanna newsom who is crazy and is releasing a triple album, and i have tickets to see twice in march, and this time nobody better hit me with their car mere hours before the concert !!! and also is wearing an awesome dress. oh my my.

so, duh, i've got my listening cut out for me. and my writing, getting cut out and out too, sooner or later. no, sooner. now. now.

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