Monday, July 14, 2008

Up on Jerk Mountain

Babyshambles - Shotter's Nation
Much is made of the reprehensible character of rock stars lately, of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty's respective whirlpools of mayhem, but er, is this a new development? Haven't rockstars always been kind of, you know, terrible people? Isn't that part of the Olympian charm, tsk-tsking at their antics as we bask in their glory. You prefer Chris Martin or Dave Matthews - dull people making dull music? If so, you can stay on the valley of the inoffensive while I climb Jerk Mountain.

What separates Pete Doherty from the rest of the pack is that he's rather awesome at this rock 'n' roll business. This album has The Jam, The Kinks, The Beatles, Badly Drawn Boy, et centera upon well-crafted English cetera written all over it, but those are great things to have written upon you.

Luna - Bewitched
This is one of my all-time favorites, but it has unfortunate connotations for me. The first time I listened to it in its entirety was when I was working a late night contract job in New Orleans. I borrowed it from my friend with whom I was staying, and let it blare out in the empty office as I pecked away at automating bills of lading for an import company. Dean Wareham was my constant companion those evenings as I made some extra money for our ill-fated move to the Pacific NW and times like now, when I find myself up late alone chiseling away at a sticky computer job, Bewitched is the album to which I gravitate.

One of the things I like about Luna is that their albums are fraught with love songs where the narrator is kind of a jerk, but in his admissions of exasperation, the love here seems all the more real. I suppose Dean Wareham is that jerk in real life, since he just published Black Postcards a book detailing how he left his wife for his band mate Britta Phillips. I'm sure its a great read if it bears the same frankness found in his lyrics, but dude, rub it in why don't ya.

But goddamn I love this record.

Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Maybe not so much explicitly, but implicitly this has always struck me as YLT's "apology" record. With the exception of "Cherry Chapstick" this is a melancholy, vulnerable record from what I think of as a rather cuddly band. Maybe its the icy expanse of the opening track "Everyday" where everything is tense and drawn out, a background hum only getting louder as you try to whisper through it. I get the feeling that Ira fucked-up big with Georgia, and the songs here are his way of patching things up. And she is the star here - And Then Nothing is an album led primarily by her brushed drums and the quiet thud of her presence, and the lyrics and guitars and everything glide in low orbits around her.

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