Lost In Time

There have been a couple new CDs that have come my way that I’ve been spinning, but haven’t had a chance to tell y’all about.

Rehearsing My ChoirFirst one up is the new Fiery Furnaces album, Rehearsing My Choir, which will be released at the end of October. Here’s a summary of the LP: RMC is an full-length album collaboration of music and singing by the Furnaces and spoken-to-music prose and poetry performed by their grandmother, Olga Sarantos. The album is the first part of a two-disc project. In other words, it’s a totally weird concept, and an even weirder album.

Here’s what you’ll need in order to listen to this album: a white steno pad, a pencil, some graph paper, flow chart stencils, a calendar, a dictionary, a rewind button on your CD player, access to Google, a map of the continental United States, a color wheel, and a public library card. Ok, you don’t really need all these things to listen to the album, but trust me, it sure feels like it. I’d equate listening to Rehearsing My Choir with trying to write your senior year college thesis paper. You’re trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, but even though you’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time working on it, it still makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it feels as though you may have wasted 4 years of your life on something you may never understand and may never master.

The album is 59 minutes of complicated, noise-funk gobbly gook at best. There is nary a song to be found on the album, most of it is storytelling set to background music. We learn all about little snippets of Olga’s life and times, from how she used to write letters every day to her soldier husband during the war, to her conflict with the bishop, to her time as a candymaker (with a knife in her handbag)…which is all wonderful, but it also makes me wonder, why didn’t they just write a book instead of creating a somewhat unlistenable piece of recorded performance art?

Needless to say, you will probably never hear any of these songs played at a dance party…nor can I imagine any other time in which you’d hear this album in public–unless of course it were during some kind of interpretive dance recital which utilizes silk scarves as props. I’m not sure who would actually ever listen to this album besides hard-core Fiery Furnace fans. It’s a very inaccessible album that will annoy and confuse anyone who has a low tolerance for “think art.” In fact, it may make your head hurt. Out of the 10 times or so that I’ve listened to it, I still can’t figure how on earth poor Rough Trade will attempt to sell more than 2,000 copies of this album.

In my opinion, there is only one entirely listenable “song” on the album–the second track, “The Wayward Granddaughter.” It starts off with a sexy synth-dance sound with a great beat before it morphs into a warped tango/ spoken word section midway through as Olga talks about how devastated she was when her granddaughter died her brown hair black. It then morphs into a song about “two Kevins,” who Eleanor sings about during an acoustic guitar interlude, before it returns back to the sexy-dance sound.

Something I have also realized about this album is that this exactly the type of obtuse recording that some dude from your local snotty record store (Other Music, Sound Fix, Ameoba, Newberry Comics, etc.) is going to list on his Top 10 of 2005 album list at the end of the year, and it’s going to make you scratch your head. You’re going to think, “Woah, maybe it is kinda good.” Don’t do that. That Dude is wrong. He just likes it percisely because you and your normal friends don’t like it. He’s gonna explain to you in some esoteric way how the album is an homage to great spoken word albums of the past and how it honors the tradition of storytelling. He’s going to make you feel like you’re too stupid to figure out this clearly great piece of musical experimentation and that you “just don’t get it.” Do not be fooled. That Dude is an a**hole.

Harmonies for the hauntedUuugghhh…My head hurts from writing about that album so I’m going to switch over to something a little lighter and easier on my ears–the new Stellastarr* album, Harmonies for the Haunted. It’s the sophomore album of the local NYC favorites.

This album was a pleasant surprise. It has a distinctively more layered and complex sound when compared to their debut. The songs are upbeat, but elements of a more somber, subtle sensibility are overwhelmingly present. I’ve already heard the song “Sweet Troubled Souls” spun up and down the lower east side of NYC to enthusiastic response this entire month.

A true-life example of how popular this song played out right before my very eyes last night at The Skinny on Orchard Street. I was there to see Nora do her DJ thing. Early on in the set I heard her play the aforementioned “Sweet Troubled Souls” over the soundsystem. Fast forward to about 2 hours later when Matt from GoStation arrived only moments before making like a fill-in DJ while Nora made a bathroom/pick-up-new-drink run. Before you could say “holy repeat, Batman!” Matt was soon playing “Sweet Troubled Souls”–a deadly DJ mistake. When Joc and I waved him down shouting, “SHE ALREADY PLAYED THIS!,” Matt responded with a shout back of, “SH*T!” So the moral of this story is, when filling in for another DJ who’s set you haven’t heard, don’t play something that you think they might have already spun. The other moral is, NYCers love Stellastarr*.

I think people who like Stellastarr* and/or slightly mopey pop rock will be very pleased with this album. It would be a great album to play at a party with all of your friends as you take turns dying your hair black and practicing pouty faces in the mirror.

French Karaoke Night

Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague at Joe’s Pub. September 10, 2005.

Right at the end of Nouvelle Vague‘s poptastic performance at Joe’s Pub last night I found myself thinking, “Dear lord, I now know what it’s like to watch karaoke in France!” (Do they even allow karaoke in France?)

Highlights worthy of jazz lounge finger snaps included whatever white furry scarf/ top/ roadkill thing one of the vocalists was wearing (see above) and a rousing rendition of “Too Drunk to F-ck” which included impromptu lyrics that listed out all the words you’re not allowed to say on the radio (examples- “too drunk to c-nt,” “too drunk to sh-t,” “too drunk to t-t, t-t, t-t”).

The absolute non-highlight of the evening was Joe’s Pub‘s two drink minimum rule…especially because it wasn’t a free show and the drinks were all at least 12 dollars.

Featuring the Gayest Track Ever Recorded?

The new Help: A Day In the Life charity War Child album is now available for download. The star-studded lineup includes Radiohead, Coldplay, Maximo Park, The Coral, Belle and Sebastian, Kaiser Chiefs, Babyshambles, Bloc Party, Damien Rice, among many many others. It also features a cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas, War Is Over” sung by Boy George and Antony of Anthony and the Johnsons, which makes it possibly one of the gayest tracks ever recorded.

What? Gay Men Love Opera?! Never!

Older ladies look frightened of meLast night I went to the New York City Opera‘s “Opera-For-All” Celebration Concert at Lincoln Center. It was a preview of a handful of the operas they are performing this season. But of course it wouldn’t be a hipster event (and therefore something I’d attend) if it didn’t include some relevance to the pop world. Rufus Wainwright was on hand at the event and performed three songs (“Damned Ladies,” “Little Sister,” and “Vibrate”).

As an introduction to the first song he performed, “Damned Ladies,” the conductor George Manahan revealed that Rufus loves opera, as if it were some sort of secret that gay men love opera…let alone flamboyant gay men who make music videos in which they prance around with great opera heroines. After that startling introduction, Rufus came out from behind the stage wings wearing a Labor Day-be-damned all-white suit. As he sang and played a black grand piano, little old men and ladies cringed at the sound of his grating voice, prompting one man near my friend Ginny to comment, “Ugh, that was awful.” However, the gay men and fangirls squealed with approval as he returned backstage.

Later Rufus emerged once again to strut his stuff…but this time when he came on stage he was not wearing the aforementioned white suit. Instead he was wearing the most ridiculous black and red beaded matador outfit–fully equipped with a glittery cap and hat. I watched him walk across the stage, mouth agape, only able to mutter the words, “Oh My God.” He proceeded to sing “Little Sister” and then “Vibrate,” which made me giggle because how many time do you think the name “Britney Spears” has been sung on the stage of the New York City Opera?

After all of the opera was sung for the night (with a rousing finale of the Act I Finale of Puccini’s “Turandot”), everyone was invited down to the promenade to consume cheap wine and deli meat and fruit plates while the East Village Opera Company performed live. A gay ol’ time was had by all.

Clap Your Hands Say Everywhere

I know I’m kinda late to this party (sorry, I don’t read Bitchfork), but I really feel that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one of the best things going on in the New York music scene. They make perfectly enjoyable pop songs that are ridiculously (and perhaps annoyingly) catchy. Lead singer Alec Ounsworth has one of the most irritating, yet somehow appealing voices to emerge in the last 5 years. (He’s right up there with Rufus Wainwright–who I’m seeing tonight at a NY Opera event–and Stellastarr*‘s Shawn Christensen).

I know a lot of people have taken to slagging them off as a bad Talking Heads rip-off (because what’s cooler than hating something everyone else likes?) but on the other hand a lot of people really like them. I know this is far from a scientific study on how popular stuff is, but 2 restaurants (Brown and Bubby’s I went to in the last few days were both playing the CYHSY cd while I ate. Can a car commercial deal be far behind?

None of this is earth-shattering news to you, my web savvy-friends, but I just thought I’d take a moment and express my fondness for the band everyone loves to hate.

TV On the Radio’s Hurricane Katrina Track

Fresh from the press release machine:

TV On The Radio has recorded a song expressing their thoughts and feelings regarding Hurricane Katrina.

The track entitled “Dry Drunk Emperor” is available as a free MP3, along with the lyrics, the Touch and Go/ Quarterstick Records Web site.

Writes the band:

“we ( tvotr ) were back in the studio thinking and
feeling again and made this song for all our
everybody… in the absence of a true leader we must
not forget that we are still together…. hearts are
sick … minds must change … it is our hope that
this song inspires, comforts, fosters courage,and
reminds us… this darkness cannot last if we work
together. let us help each other… heal each other
…. look after one another … the human heart is our
new capitol…. this song is for you….
us…..we….them…
it is free. pass it on.

TO THOSE AFFECTED BY HURRICANE KATRINA : NEW YORK
CITY’S HEART IS WITH YOU… STAY STRONG !
WE LOVE YOU . -tvotr”

Toni Collette Discovers New Coldplay CD Is Crap

Toni Collette says crap to ColdplayThis made me giggle:

“One lucky Confidential reader was treated to a Collette castoff when he pulled up next to the Aussie actor at the lights on Pacific Highway, Chatswood, at the weekend.

“This woman was waving at me, so I wound the window down,” he said.

She’d just bought the new Coldplay X&Y CD, thought it was crap and asked me if I wanted it.

“I said, ‘Sure’, and she threw it across to me. I asked her if she was Toni Collette–she said, ‘Yes’, smiled, and drove off.”

Celine Dion: Crazy Woman Extraordinaire

Many people have been disturbed and angered by the situation in Louisiana, but none so much in a warped “what were they thinking?” way as pop singer Celine Dion. Her impassioned rant on Larry King Live on September 3rd left many scratching their heads in confusion:

You know, some people are stealing and they’re making a big deal out of it. Oh, they’re stealing 20 pair of jeans or they’re stealing television sets. Who cares? They’re not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they’re so poor they’ve never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once.