A mix of songs for the post-holidays life.- almostaghost
I’m digging on this one–usually I try to dig a little bit deep, but this week I needed to include a bunch of my all-time favorite songs and artists. So yea.- almostaghost
A busy packed week leads to a spotty mix of songs…. or maybe it was the solar eclipse.- almostaghost
Most of this week’s songs seem nicely slightly off-center, I’m digging it. Have a good weekend!- almostaghost
1994: a surreal, but actually somewhat factual, interview between Thurston Moore and Beck, which ends with the greatest missed high-5 in the history of high-5′s.
1994-2010: not much
2011: Thurston Moore creates, with Beck’s help, a raw, but somewhat biographical, album of soul-bearing songs called Demolished Thoughts.
Demolished Thoughts very easily could have been Thurston Moore’s folk album, as he hypnotically strums his alternately-tuned acoustic guitars and sings his Beat-poet lyrics. Beck, as the producer, keeps that simple set-up, expanding it only with cello/harp and light rhythm sections.
I think a lot of this atmosphere comes from the space Beck gives each part. The cry of the cello on “Benediction,” the swirling harp on “Illuminine,” the flow of “In Silver Rain With Paper Key,” it never feels like too much. Even when some sounds come of as more experimental, like the end of “January,” it feels just right, and never strays from Moore’s core. The songs are allowed to be what they are, which is exactly what songs like this need. The frantic but quiet storm of “Circulation” or the mournful feel of “Blood Never Lies,” for example, develop so naturally that you cannot help but feel the songs. There is no artifice on this record.
I do not want to get into the biographical angle, as Moore keeps it all distant from his songs. If the news of his separation with Kim Gordon (and perhaps, Sonic Youth?) had not been made public, I doubt Demolished Thoughts would be looked at through such a lens. Thurston Moore has never been an explicit songwriter, and he does not start here. But the words do reflect a tumultuous world, an inner turmoil, that it is hard not to mention. “Where did you disappear today? / I turn the corner and I see you fade / In silver rain with a paper key / You lost your lover,” Moore sings on one song. “I know better than to let her go” ends “Benediction.” “It was only a matter of time / Before the space police discovered my crime,” he regrets on “Space,” “Hearts get broken every day / Your undying lover is here and gone.”
Moore’s songs explore turmoil and sadness, which in turn, Beck helped mirror in its music and sound. They make a particularly affecting album, difficult at times in its rawness, but still gorgeous in its own way. Like a missed high-5.almostaghost
I was noticing some recurring threads throughout my top-20 list, in anticipation of future reviews. One thing I liked this year seems to be energetic, one-dimensional rock bands, who perhaps have some hidden, deeper dimensions. Disappears is one of these bands.
But I should be upfront here: Guider is not a particularly popular record. A few sites I looked at had it rated pretty poor (though some do love it). And even I, with the album sitting strong at #17 on my list here, cannot imagine recommending Disappears to a whole lot of people. Whether those hidden dimensions reveal themselves probably depends a lot on each individual listener, and perhaps with a band like this, they can easily stay hidden.
First of all, the 30-minute album contains only five short songs, and a fifteen-minute one. The singer blurts or groans out near-indecipherable vocals, like they were an afterthought. The guitar tones never seem to change from song to song. Instead of solos, the guitarist just strangles chords for atmosphere. And the whole thing has a distant, muffled feel, like you’re listening to a garage band, but with the garage door closed in front of you. These are not criticisms. Guider is not as difficult as that sounds, but to show how Disappears totally deconstruct the normal rock music angles.
Further, and perhaps most of all, the relentless driving beat of every track, provided by their new drummer, Steve Shelley (from Sonic Youth) impresses me.* That high-tempo mechanical repetition, borrowed from krautrock, is one of my favorite things. I find it totally addicting! “Halo” has one of the more intense rhythm sections, and it is a good example here. No matter what kind of stuff is going on above it, that backbone is momentous.
But most of all, the album refuses to stray. Often I prefer an album that wanders and explores a bit, but Disappears stick close to their own method for the entire time. This is the right choice for a band like this; one misplaced ballad, rude synthesizer sound, or something out-of-place like that would probably ruin everything. Instead, little short bursts of songs keep showing you the template, repeating it, over and over (just like the krautrock beat, come to think of it). And so by the time Guider arrives at the 15-minute “Revisiting,” you know what to expect. Those hidden dimensions, the intense grooves and deconstructed rock and roll, have shown themselves, completely drawing me in, allowing “Revisiting” to be the perfect epic closer. And by the time “Revisiting” ends, you’re ready to go again.
*UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER: I have since read that Shelley is not on this album, though he is in the band and will be on their upcoming 3rd album. The drumming here is still bad-ass.
Spotify playlist here!- almostaghost
Hrm just home from a tiring concert (the 8th artist on this mix) and in putting this together, I have a feeling that these 8 tracks may be a kind of jarring mix of styles. Maybe not though, sometimes divergent things end up sounding good together. I look forward to listening to this tomorrow too and seeing which way it goes.- almostaghost
This week was musically highlighted by a Thurston Moore concert, which was wonderful. His new album is an acoustic album, basically. It was a blast to hear him stripped back–two acoustic guitars, a harpist, a violinist, drummer. And among this, his voice really stood out; he’s a great singer! Usually, it’s easier to focus on his electric guitar freakout amazingness, or his poetic lyrics, I’ve never really thought of his voice before like that. Dude is a legend for a reason.
Anyway enjoy the mix; there’s an older Thurston song on there, which he did play at the show (and acoustic too).- almostaghost