Thursday, June 24, 2010

'darling i want to take you by the hand...'

these are odd times.
i had a fantastic time in kansas city for mike's wedding. truly wonderful. if this is what it's going to be like when my friends get married, then bring the weddings on! i played 'blind willie' by sonny sharrock at the end of the ceremony. twas glorious! i even got to know a bunch of people that i hadn't really known before out of mike's new circle of friends. it was very emotional as well- i almost cried during the ceremony a few times. that's about as much as can be asked of me- there seems to be something bred into my dna that forbids me from crying in public.
in addition to the wedding my trip to kc was very relaxing. i did lose my ipod on the train on the way there, but that hasn't been too big of a deal so far. i'm probably going to buy a new one on ebay right now. i've called the lost and found at amtrak to no avail. i'm pretty sure it just got picked up and now is gone. not sure what whoever grabbed it is going to do with all of that weird shit that i listen. kind of a bummer as all of the 'chinese blue' demos were on it and i don't really have those readily- they're spread out over several discs that are all over the place. i went through them all looking for a song a while ago and it was pretty scary- and also discovered that my cd burner is slowly dying.
while i was in town i went to the filling station and winstead's every day- pretty much the sure mark of a great visit. also hung out with billy a ton, which i'm glad i did as he's moving to florida in less than a month meaning i probably won't see him for an obscenely long period of time. it was good that we all had this final hurrah. it could be the last time for a very long time.
i'm not sure what else to say here- the dynamics in the band are changing and people are becoming tight. when you have males and females in a band this can tend to mean that people become attracted to each other. this becomes what we call sexual tension eventually. i guess it'll feed the intensity. i'm just painfully aware of everything that's happening, has happened and (in some cases) what will eventually happen. when we played at the empty bottle together i think that this is why i got so sullen- i realised that everything was changing. not that it was a bad thing, but that what had started out as such a small and intimate thing had expanded past a point i'd never thought was possible. we'd played a few shows with the strings, but it was always kind of viewed as a special, infrequent thing. now it's more of a permanent thing. as soon as brandon came around everyone got very tight and friendly very quickly as well- it banded us all together very suddenly. it kind of overwhelmed me and i didn't know how to react to it. now we've been hanging out together more often and it's a bit easier for me to relax. what's more the recording sessions have retained the same feel. they've also gone back to more of a solitary format. all of the 'field of flowers' songs have been built piece by piece by me mostly- i've called on stefanie to add a few things (she's been very busy lately) and we did one live track together ('i am') but everything else is pretty much built off of whatever was around and too good to pass up.
it's kind of a period of change right now. i noticed that i've been feeling everything so intensely the last month. it seems like the stakes are so high in every realm. don't know what's up with that... i just noticed it mostly right after the mortville show back on my birthday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

'disintegration' at last

i've finally listened to enough of the extras on the 'disintegration' reissue to put my 'review' of it here. every review i've read has ragged on the extras- sort of written them off. i haven't listened to all of disc 2 (i'm listening to it right now) but what i'm hearing is incredibly fascinating- definitely more interesting than the extras on other cure reissues i've heard so far. i particularly liked the studio rough versions that are included- the shorter versions of the songs. 'delirious night' is a beautiful song and i am personally delighted to have 'pirate ships' in a format besides a crappy mp3. i even like a lot of the home demo versions. i'd have to say that the 'ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space' extras blow these extras out of the water- listening to those flows so beautifully i don't think anyone has ever done a better job of stringing their demos and different versions/mixes together in such a breathtaking way. it's setting the bar a bit high. this comes the closest. after reading so much about the making of 'disintegration'- both on roger o'donnell's memory blog about the time period (a very fascinating read/take- very refreshingly frank and heartfelt) and the liner notes included with this release- i think that these extras definitely do what they're supposed to- they capture the spirit and progression of how all of the disparate elements that make up the album came together over time. it's certainly a more engaging listen than the 'pornography' demos and such were. i particularly like the early band rehearsal recordings and the instrumental band demo versions of the records' tracks- robert smith compiled another twenty extra tracks and posted them on the 'disintegration' minisite, which is worth a visit (there's also an american version of 'entreat' which was recorded in dallas). i was thinking of compiling all of them and listening to the album as a purely instrumental piece.
'entreat plus'- i am shocked at how cavalier and dismissive reviewers have been of the third disc. 'entreat' was such a promising package that i always felt was severely lacking and 'entreat plus' is what i was most excited about hearing in the reissue. when i heard the bootleg recordings of the wembley shows (and i've heard all four nights) i was always confounded that they didn't just go ahead and put versions of every 'disintegration' song on 'entreat' as there were plenty of deeply profound readings of the new songs. it seemed odd to only put eight on of the twelve and to cut out 'plainsong' and 'the same deep water as you' just seemed silly. robert smith also very wisely took the time to remix the 'entreat' tracks. i know from hearing the bootlegs of these concerts that overdubbing cannot be ruled out, although the only track it appears to be on is 'prayers for rain' (the six-string bass part on the bootleg has a few glaring mistakes- total butterfingers moments). i suspect that the guitar solo on 'lovesong' on 'entreat plus' has been overdubbed as well since the only version of the song was on the final wembley night and ends on that out-of-key note that is in the solo for a split second (when it's hit quickly it's charming- as the ending note it's kind of painful). the vocal performances, i am most certain, were not overdubbed after the fact- they are the gritty, raw real deal. the bass on the original mixes always sounded very dry and dull to me and that problem has been fixed on this version. i read one review that claimed the set sounded more like an album recorded live in the studio than in front of 10,000 people. personally i was on pins and needles while i was listening to it the other day. i think it does a great job of capturing the energy of these songs performed in a live setting. fucking excellent!
of the demo and unreleased tracks the previously unissued songs ('noheart,' 'esten,' 'delirious night' and 'pirate ships') are sublime i have to say. i'm a bit sad that 'noheart' and 'esten' were never fleshed out and sung as i feel like they would've been beautiful songs. they almost sound like some of the better guitar-driven and sadder songs on 'wish.' 'delirious night' is easy to recognize as the odd one out and not a good candidate for an album track or even a b-side, but it's a surprisingly distinctive cure song- there really isn't another track like it. it sounds to me like what robert smith was going for with some of his latest singles on the last two cure albums- sadly on those he misses by miles, but this one is fantastic- extremely psychedelic. i love that robert smith is able to play the sitar so well and tastefully.
and now, the final piece of the puzzle- the remaster. did what was not really broken really need to be fixed? no, probably not, but the original does have some of the more negative hallmarks of the way that records were mastered in the 80's. it doesn't have as many as the original cd versions of the old albums, which sounded pitifully awful, but it has a few. it's definitely a bit overcompressed and at times a touch trebly. the last listen i took of it was surprisingly good and i was a bit worried that i would be disappointed with this newest remaster. i have very strong opinions of remasters- cds are put through the wringer when they are remastered these days. i'd say that the best mastering was done during the late 90's/early 00's. in the last handful of years they've gotten dreadful- wayyyy too loud, way too smooshed, completely tinny and robbed of nearly all of their analog character and life. i was worried that this would be the case with this remaster, but as it turns out robert smith didn't sacrifice all of the breathing room of the original version in order to raise the volume to ungodly heights (this is the most common mistake made in moder-day record mastering). the breathing room is crucial to these songs- what gives them their sense of space- and since it has not been sacrificed here in favor of higher volume i feel that this makes it a very good remaster. that said i've only listened to the cd through my stereo and not on my ipod yet. that, i always feel, is the truest test of a mastering or remastering job. on the whole i think that robert smith has done a great job remastering the old albums. that said, i've found that i prefer almost all of the old vinyl versions to the new cd versions. i didn't even bother buying the 'kiss me...' reissue mainly for this reason- i picked it up on vinyl and it sounded so perfect i couldn't even imagine bothering with a cd copy of it. that said the remaster sounds better than the first cd version (which was also the first cure cd i ever bought) which sounds abyssmal.
what can i say about the music that hasn't already been said- it's still one of my favourite records ever and probably will be until i die. it transports me back to so many places that are so far away now. each song is practically a bookmark for my life in some way. listening to the album as a whole piece is like an incredibly odyssey- it's so rich, cinematic and windswept. my favourite part of the album is from 'the same deep water as you' through the end of the album- the intensity just continues to build to that point and then 'the same deep water as you' takes you into its own very dense world until you don't remember where you are, 'disintegration' would be a perfectly fitting ending track with it's perfectly orchestrated catharsis that breaks into the bleary-eyed, hungover feeling of 'homesick,' then into 'untitled' which i've always equated with the point at which you're feeling better enough to walk home and as you're walking you're taken in by wistful thoughts and old memories very suddenly. it's contentment, sort of the musical equivalent of what kurt cobain coined- 'the comfort of being sad.' it's a very resigned and beautiful sadness that isn't debilitating or paralyzing- it's almost more liberating to embrace it and know that the fact that you'll never lose it can be a beautiful thing. if you don't know what i'm talking about here you've obviously never loved something that was just slightly out of your reach or that circumstance or luck has placed it in the 'what if...' pile. this doesn't have to be a bad thing- it almost makes it more unique and special and can be enriching and transformative. i love the way the album is structured so much that i think that i've almost used it as a template for most of the records that i've made- 'petals' is a good example of this- the flow of 'disintegration' was what i'd always had in mind for that album. it's a sad thing, but i almost feel like creating something in such a long form is almost a completely lost art these days- who's bold enough to bother with it any more? i felt the same about 'ladies and gentlemen...' as well, which is why it continues to be one of my favourite albums as well. i've always thought that the dark side of the vinyl resurgence is that it's also indicative of the fact that peoples' attention spans have shrunk to the point where they don't have time for full albums unless they're done with in under 45 minutes. this is an album that is worth investing in the 72 minutes it takes to unfold. i love that pitchfork gave it a perfect 10 for its score- if it came through their mailbox from an unsigned artist or even from pretty much any zipcode that wasn't brooklyn they would pan it flat on its ass for being too self-indulgent.
i would be buying the vinyl tomorrow if i didn't have a trip to go on on wednesday. if i have any money left over when i get back, you can be assured that i will be going out to buy it straightaway. we'll see, i guess. i feel very good about buying it for the eighth time. i haven't been this excited about much of anything for far too long. totally worth the wait! bravo, robert smith! no wonder all of the cure's output has paled in comparison- who could possibly follow something like this up?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


i'm not sure where i am with my stuff right now. i think i've lost all perspective. i go from loving to hating stuff that i've been/am working on etc. just finished a few tracks for the 7" series. i just wrote a new song called 'breathe' that i just got the idea to turn into a two-part song for the final 7" because the first part is short enough to fit on a 7". wrote out some tabs last night for the 2nd part as well. it'd be something that we could spread out and extend whenever we played it live and end with. sort of a one-chord droney melodic song that i've been trying to write for years. i guess it'd be along the lines of 'petals in a rainstorm' but faster and more driving.
not much else to report besides that- i'm going to kansas city in two weeks for mike's wedding. i'm very excited to be getting out of town and away from all of my crap for a little while. so excited for that... haven't been out of town since christmas and i've been dying to get out of town since at least march. the repetitiveness of my life is starting to really get to me. weeks go by without my hardly noticing at all. a lot of this has to do with my job- which is getting steadily more annoying. i'm just beyond burned out. i'm hoping being away for five days will help this. i don't normally stay put for this long and i think that might be a lot of the problem.
the brian jonestown massacre played at the metro on sunday night. it was really great (as usual) but the experience we had at the metro was enough to turn me off of the concept of ever going to another show there. the staff there are just becoming increasingly arrogant, rude and jerky. i'd say this is a trend that started about two years ago- first noticed this when we went to see spiritualized there. also noticed that the sound has started to suck- during the first part of the set the sound was so loud and muddy you could barely recognize a melody. total bullshit. it seemed to get better as the night went on, but the sound was almost as bad as it was at the black lips show (which was the worst-sounding show i've probably ever been to). to add to that there was a problem with kylie and brandon's tickets (which were bought from the metro's storefront box office with cash by myself back in january). apparently their tickets had already been scanned in and the door guy refused to let them in. kind of ridiculous. how could this have been possible? when i went down to talk this out with the staff (since our tickets had been bought at the same time and we had no problems getting in) they couldn't've been bigger jerks. one woman accused me of giving the tickets to someone else, they got in with them, i took them back and then somehow went outside to give the tickets to kylie and brandon, even though they have a very strict policy forbidding one to walk out the doors and then come back in later. kylie just said, 'no, these tickets have been sitting in my pocketbook since january.' fun stuff. one of the guys from the opening band, elephant stone, even tried to get us in since he hadn't used his guest list spots, but the door guy wouldn't allow that either. power tripping. i guess they don't even care about the bands there either (at least not the opening bands). finally stefanie came down and knocked that fucking front door guy down a few pegs (she's a master at doing this with people that deserve it). she wasn't rude to him at all- she just laid out the facts very forcefully (i think she said something along the lines of, 'the bottom line here is that you're not letting these two people into a show that they paid to get into and that's completely ridiculous.') it was kind of fun to watch him squirm. it worked too- he finally let them in after this 20 minute long ordeal. we probably should've had her come down to begin with.
the music was fantastic, of course. we got in just in time and watched from the balcony- hardly anyone was up there. i have no idea if the show was sold out, but i wish that i'd known of this miracle before as i'm a bit too old to milling about amongst the crowd. i don't know why this is- a long-term buildup of annoyance with the ways that people act at crowded shows like that. i'm a fan of personal space at those things- it gets difficult to enjoy a show when people are always pushing in front of you to get back to the bar to get another drink. at the last bjm show there was a guy who pushed past me at least five time to get another drink. at the fifth time he looked me right in the eye and i shot him my death glare (i have a really good one). i almost told him, 'the next time you try to push through here i'm punching you in the face.' i often wonder what it's like to be capable of not giving a shit about anyone else to that extent- it's quite a bit of effort to push through a gigantic crowd of people who are already cramped in so tight just to get yourself a beer at a show. i can see doing it once, maybe twice, third- you're pushing it, four- seriously? but five is just a giant middle finger to everyone in the place.
i would take to a vip box very easily at this point in my life. it's a shame i don't have the means. it's not because i think i'm better than anyone else- i just get sick of dealing with inconsiderate jerks at these things because i've been to so many shows at this point that it's just too much. i didn't have many problems at shows in london like this- usually it was just people talking.
also i didn't bother to try and record the show. it's probably better since it sounded so crappy in there.
ah, shows. i feel like i need to get more shalloboi shows booked. i felt like those last two falling into my lap were sort of a way of getting thrown a bone and i should get off of my whiny baby horse and try to figure something out. the band's gelling quite nicely and we sound quite good live. it would be a shame to let us languish. transportation isn't such a problem any more, either.
i'm obsessed with the new beach house record as well. i've listened to it about three times a day since i got it. 'real love' is my favourite song on it. beautiful record- probably going in the top of my little top five list. i'm pretty sure it was released in march. is that correct? i should go ahead and get their other stuff too since anthony used to play it at work a lot. the new oh sees album is also quite excellent. fantastic stuff.