Talking Movies

February 28, 2021

Any Other Business: Part LXVI

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Sound of 2001…

I recently rediscovered a cassette tape from the 2004/5 academic year, and what a nostalgic blast it was listening to it. But along with the expected Morrissey, Killers, Franz Ferdinand, U2, Auf Der Maur, and Gwen Stefani tracks there was also a clutch of Smiths songs and Simon & Garfunkel. Because discovering those albums were equally a part of my experience musically speaking of that year. Which led me to thinking about 2001, and how my musical memories of that year are largely the latter kind of listening: the Pixies B-Sides being released was really the only ‘new’ music that connected. The rest was finally listening to Bowie’s Scary Monsters and U2’s Rattle and Hum, rediscovering Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, David Byrne’s Uh-Oh and the Doors’ first album. Because… in a world of Limp Bizkit were rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, where the White Stripes and the Strokes were being feted for doing not very much at all, it has to be said that 2001 was a pretty bad year for music. As it was, as has been noted previously hereabouts, also a pretty bad year for film. 2001 – what the hell was that all about? Some sort of psychic collapse or exhaustion from the anticipation of the new millennium?

St Vincent: Fear the Producer

Only three months to go until St Vincent releases a new album! And yet I am not doing the dance of joy, because I fear that bad production may have mangled outstanding songs. Listening to Masseduction and MassEducation in the last few days, along with a YouTube performance of ‘Savior’ and my DVR recordings of her appearances on Later…with Jools Holland with piano and band for ‘Los Ageless’ ‘New York’, ‘Masseduction’, and ‘Slow Fast Disco’, it has become apparent to me that the finest version of all of these twice-recorded tracks are actually the live ones. Annie Clark had produced Masseduction alongside Jack Antonoff, and MassEducation alongside pianist Thomas Bartlett, so I am at a loss to what exactly went on that allowed drama and emotion to be swamped. But I still remember the dismay and shock I had when, after her appearance on Later… in late 2017 I heard ‘Los Ageless’ on the car radio, and didn’t recognise it till I made out familiar words in the chorus.

June 29, 2020

Any Other Business: Part LVI

As the title suggests, so forth.

“The new orders say we’re all to wear masks now. My world is collapsing…”

Status Crimson Tide

Well, today is the first day of Status Crimson Tide. And basically everything is good to go: pubs are open with provisos, churches are open with crowd control, cinemas are open with clearances, barbers are open with bookings, galleries are open with guidance, and countrywide drives can be conducted with caution. There was meant to be Status Captain Scarlet on July 20th, and then the all clear on August 10th, but things got …accelerated. It was obvious that public compliance with social distance, especially among young people, wasn’t just fraying but had completely broken down, so the government was just making official what had become obvious. I’m inclined to think that the blame can be laid largely on the government itself. Leo’s little picnic was the kibosh on people inconveniencing themselves for the sake of others when the unelected and in fact rejected Taoiseach would have no such sacrifices for himself. The complete failure of voluntary mask-wearing is a corollary of this decline of moral authority. Leo and Simon Harris did photo-ops of themselves wearing masks and nobody cared. After all they had been disparaging masks for nearly four months. Were they lying then or lying now? So now we have a new law to force mask-wearing on buses, and HSE ads have begun to run on TV extolling the joys of mask-wearing: it’s to protect others from you spreading the disease. NO DUH! That was obvious in March. But from March onwards all the government wanted to talk about was how masks would encourage bad behaviour and the science was uncertain. The science wasn’t uncertain, the bad behaviour argument was idiotic, and the upshot is that masks are unlikely to take off here which will hurt us all in the long run in trying to get back to a functioning society.

Christophe Beck and the Buffy sound

Crashing thru Buffy on E4’s late-night re-runs, almost from the first few minutes of episode of season 2 it was obvious that something had changed, and that change was confirmed when the credits rolled: Christophe Beck had entered the recording studio.  If season 1 was scored in a surprisingly straightforward spooky music for horror set-ups way then season 2 was when Beck, and almost by implication the other composers working around him, realised that this series was not an out and out horror show and should be scored as such. Instead it should be set with an emphasis on melancholy and romance as well as stirring action and jump scares.

Jools and the Jazz Trance

Well, now. So Jools Holland was allowed to present Later…with Jools Holland solo again as I had wished for before Christmas, and it only took a global pandemic to stop the middle-management meddling… It was nice, if curious, to have a featured guest interviewed and curate archive performances interspersed with the odd musical guest in the curious Zoom fashion of the times. And damn if Jools didn’t regale Gregory Porter, to Porter’s obvious delight, with the tale of the jazz trance mentioned hereabouts last year. It was a 2010 live episode of Later…with Jools Holland and Jools was trying in his inimitably (and endearing) ramshackle way to keep the show on track for time given that Newsnight was prepping to air live too once his show stopped. And standing waiting in the shadows was a large choir ready to join Elbow, but unfortunately he’d put on the McCoy Tyner Trio just before, and all four of them had gone into a proper eyes closed working out their harmonies by feel jazz trance. The camera captured a nervous looking Jools, baffled at how to get them to stop as he couldn’t make eye contact with any of the players: a moment of panic that reduced Dad and I to helpless laughter. At last one musician opened his eyes and Jools was able to flag him down. He stopped, and Jools initiated a round of applause. Only for McCoy Tyner to misinterpret this, in his jazz trance, as a groovy audience’s enthusiasm, and so into another chorus, only for Jools to foil him by asserting his authority as MC to insist that this had now gone on long enough and it was time for Elbow to get a look in.

St Vincent: one more tune

I didn’t want to put a cover version into the selection of 10 of her best songs the other day, but you should check out St Vincent’s performance of ‘Lithium’ with the surviving members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 because what a cover version it is.

June 26, 2020

St Vincent: 10 Songs

Paris is Burning

Cruel

Cheerleader

Year of the Tiger

I Should Watch TV

Prince Johnny

Digital Witness

Huey Newton

New York

Los Ageless

July 11, 2015

St Vincent at Iveagh Gardens

St Vincent arrived in the Iveagh Gardens on the back of the deluxe reissue of fourth album St Vincent, and played nearly all of it.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Striding out onstage with slicked-back raven hair she was as alien a presence as David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, and began with ‘Birth in Reverse’ with choreographed dance movements (courtesy of Annie-B Parson) with her bassist Toko Yasuda, that only added to the otherworldly aura if you were far enough from the stage to not be able see her feet as she and Yasuda moved forward and back as if standing on treadmills. Climbing the large three step podium to deliver a triptych of songs before falling down into an inverse crucifixion pose there was also something of Gozer the Destroyer about the stage-craft, something that might please an artist who referenced Edward Scissorhands as an inspiration for the codpiece-flaunting black outfit with touches of grey, often bathed in red or green lights as it was for ‘Cruel’.

After the opening salvo of ‘Birth in Reverse’, ‘Regret’, ‘Marrow’ and a vocally soaring rendition of ‘Cruel’ it was time for the first trademark rambling monologue, dismissing James Joyce as long-winded. And before she could be accused of the same crime she launched into her biggest hit ‘Digital Witness’, followed by ‘Year of the Tiger’, and then three songs delivered in a haze of dry ice from atop the podium – ‘Severed Crossed Fingers’, ‘Cheerleader’, and ‘Prince Johnny’. Standing near the speakers on the right of the stage it was noticeable from the off just how crisp and crunchy the sound was, rendering St Vincent’s material more electro-clash than you’d think. This was perhaps a pity for some of the quieter songs, but it rendered the opening of ‘Rattlesnake’, repeated over again while St Vincent danced, an unexpectedly juddering dance riff.

After ‘Every Tear Disappears’ and ‘Chloe in the Afternoon’ St Vincent delivered another monologue, with a huge pause after talking about how much she shared with Dubliners, like her favourite Yeats quote, before deadpanning ‘There’s … so many, too many to pick just one…’ and launching into ‘Actor Out of Work’. ‘Teenage Talk’, ‘Bring Me Your Loves’, and a rousing ‘Huey Newton’ closed the set. Returning for an encore laid out like a body in repose she delivered ‘The Party’ lying down, before utilising the full depth of the stage and the front row for ‘Your Lips Are Red’ which turned into a full-on Led Zeppelin ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ solo-tastic improv-jamming freak-out. St Vincent played 9 songs from her newest album, all effective, and the two most reflective and subdued of them, played atop the podium, were highlights.

St Vincent might have been better served venue-wise by a brace of Olympia dates, but she’s an artist at the height of performing confidence promoting an equally strong record.

4/5

 

 

 

 

*Nothing to do with the gig proper, but this was the worst crowd I’ve suffered through a concert with; not for setting fire to tents, but for talking. Talking, and talking, and talking… When St Vincent and her bassist stripped ‘Your Lips Are Red’ down to just vocals I could barely hear them above the hubbub of six different group conversations. Throughout the gig when she played louder, people shouted louder, to continue their *deep and meaningful* dialogues. I saw one woman’s face almost as much as St Vincent’s throughout the show because no matter how much I moved she always ended up in my line of sight as her group moved, and she was always facing me because she was nearly always turning her back on St Vincent to talk to her friends instead. People, just go to Starbucks…

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