T'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #11.5
The All-Expense Paid J Church Newsletter
We've got a couple of shows coming up before the year's end. First off,
thanks to everyone that came to our show with I Farm and the Winks. Good
times at Rounders. Hopefully we'll be doing more local stuff with the
Winks. We're also playing that December show at Emo's with From Ashes
Rise, Bread and Water and more. Send me an e-mail if you need more info.
We may be doing another December show. But it's hard to say.
There are a few new things worth mentioning. First of all, there is the
soundtrack to Jon Moritsugu's latest flick, Scum Rock.
Those of you who have had the chance to see it know that it is a great
film; Jon at his most witty. For better or for worse, I've got a small
part in the film and J Church contributed an alternative "noise"
version of Stars Are Exploding to the soundtrack. You
can buy the soundtrack at http://home.mindspring.com/~mgolonka/.
Also, we're on the latest Chicken Katsu compilation titled World
Famous Kintama Boxers. Our song is a really weird demo version
of a song called Clean And Obscene. For some reason,
this version uses an acoustic guitar making it sound less like the Cure
and more like… I don't know what. Maybe like an Aztec Camera demo
or something. You can get that crazy comp at www.chickenkatsu.com.
Also, we're now being booked by the affable Brian Peterson. So all roads
will now go through Chicago. Got an all-ages venue for us to play? E-mail
Brian over at the Fireside in Chicago.
Lots of death since the last newsletter. I'm sure you've all read as
much as you can stand about poor Elliott Smith. I'll just add that I was
surprised how many friends who never knew the guy (myself included) felt
really sad by this. We all must have thought that his music was our private
little thing. But he affected a lot of people.
Edward Said (1935-2003)
For those of you who have read any of my rants about the Palestinian
cause, you'll know what a huge impact the writings of Edward Said has
had on me. A post-structuralist leftist, his secular analysis of the conflict
in Palestine was consistently lucid and well-researched. Along with Chomsky,
I've always thought of him as one of the few great American thinkers of
Probably his most famous book, "Orientalism", best sums this
up calling the "orient" a Western concept and way of dealing
with a region. "Orientalism" therefore is a means of both stereotyping
and defining with Western political intent. Therefore, "orientalism"
is a critical part of colonialism. In contemporary terms, it's modern
colonial depictions of Arab culture as backwards and menacing. While the
book is used in academic resources, it's well-worth reading to anyone.
While this may seem like a cliché, it seems more relevant today
than in the past decade.
Beyond his public speaking and his work as an essayist (most often dealing
with the never-ending nightmare of Israeli human rights violations) he
was both a music critic and performer, know both for his opera review
and piano concerts.
He had been struggling with leukemia when he published his autobiography,
Out of Place in 1999.
George Plimpton (1927-2003)
It's funny that I've read more than one obituary for the great George
Plimpton comparing him to Zelig. Intellectual, literary critic and best-selling
sports writer, he was founder and for 50 years co-editor of the Paris
Review. Dedicated the creative writing, the literary magazine featured
essential interviews with Hemmingway, Nabokov, Iris Murdoch and more.
In the `50s he was largely responsible with helping make sports writing
a legitimate journalistic field by becoming a regular contributor to Sports
Illustrated. His famous sports writing included sparring with then light-heavyweight
champion Archie Moore for three rounds, pitching during major league exhibition
games and posing as a rookie quarterback at summer training camp with
the Detroit Lions.
A lifetime progressive and Democrat, he was apparently at the White
House in 1961 for the famous fight between Robert Kennedy and Gore Vidal.
Swiping Vidal's hand from Jackie Kennedy's back, the Senator said, "Fuck
off, buddy boy". Vidal responded, "You fuck off, too."
In 1973, he relocated the Paris Review to New York where his offices
became renowned for debauched, albeit intellectual, alcoholic parties.
Sporadically, Plimpton had done some acting since the late `60s. But
in 1981, he starred in one of my favorite movies of all time, Reds,
as the sleazy Horace Wigham.
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
CAUSE FOR APPLAUSE - s/t CD
New York makes you wanna be Richard Hell. Maybe New York makes you wanna
be what you assume Richard Hell is. Shit, what boy doesn't wanna look
like Richard Hell on the cover of Blank Generation…
or even Destiny Street…
Cause For Applause have married the Quine-like riffs and Hell-like phrasings
with a chaotic mix of early Bad Seeds ramshackle. They make you feel like
they're about the joyfully (and artfully) fall off the stage in a Dionysian
Five songs here and you may even get a little bit of a Psycho Mafia
here and there. It may not be enough for your teenage lust. But it'll
help to ease your pain. Ease your bray-yay-yain.
JULIE DOIRON - Broken Girl CD
Julie Doiron is a lot of why I loved Eric's Trip despite the terrible
nature of their band name (I still can't bring myself to like any Sister
Ray or Deacon Blue… thankfully).
This is Jagjaguwar's reissue of her first post ET solo album and a hushed
beauty. I keep hearing people describe her music as Autumnal like she's
Thoreau or something. Even with the understated nature of home recordings,
I find these to be fine pop songs. You could surely blast Soon,
Coming Closer or Happy Lucky Girl with
the top down cruising down the PCH on a Summer afternoon.
But, of course, you can also meditate on the pain and suffering presented
as a time capsule of a woman in flux. With the band and other break-ups
and complications, this record is as much a concept record as it is a
series of diary entries.
The disc also includes some earlier material with `93's Dog Love
Part II and `94's Nora. Both are full of songs
worth having easily accessible on the digital format (not to mention the
OG version of Dance Music).
HAPPENING, THE - Shit Happens… CD
Kaori is the girl behind so many great, underrated Japanese power pop
/ punk bands like Tami, My Winter Jane and Grace. Her latest three piece
is far and away the most powerful with a giant guitar sound and one of
her most accommodating rhythm sections.
The songs are rockin' relying far less on standard pop punk hooks than
in the past. The range of musical ideas encompasses everything from `70s
rock to `80s power pop to `90s Jawbreaker / Discount type structure. Brick
Boy even has bits of the Jam or more likely the Who.
The Happening are one of the few bands in Japan trying to do their own
thing without living in the shadow of Snuff or American music for that
matter. Great production doesn't hurt either. They even sing in English
for you philistines that can't have it any other way. This is the kind
of Japanese band that could be poised to break in America. But I don't
see why that would be their (or anyone's) ambition.
MOVIES, THE - In One Era Out The Other CD
So Manchester is the new capitol of America. While I take issue with
the nostalgia, I love this music and don't have the heart to attack its
sentimentality. Nope. I'm not the mean punk rocker I was a decade ago.
Now I can just let these waves rush over me. I'm not even stoned.
Instead I'll say that I resent Ben Kweller, I have some serious problems
with Bright Eyes and I can't allow Ben Folds Five in my apartment. These
are the rules and the fine line between these groups and, say, Sentridoh
is a full Los Angeles city block.
The Movies: they're pretty. I'm gonna guess it's pretty music made by
a bunch of waif-y, good-looking 25 year olds. Hopefully, they'll grow
up to be the Bevis Frond or some other fat, old, hairy dudes making pretty
music (what the hell are YOU lookin' at?). In the meantime, this sublime
pop is irresistible. Every note and snare pop seems deliberate and organic
at the same time creating the kind of friction that makes records like
this challenging. The songs are pretty enough that with the wrong approach,
you could be stuck with another group of Coldplays faking to the throne.
The Movies: They're not really the Wake. But they're not Hefner either.
But there are distinct (though sure inadvertent) elements of both in this
WATCHERS - To The Rooftops CD
Not that funk is the new punk or that punk was ever the new funk, but
Gern Blandsten is a label with some vision. Either that or if the Radio
4 axel ain't broken, don't fix it. But that's not fair to Watchers. This
ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no Squat or Rot show.
Seems like anything related to punk rock with a funky vibe gets the
Gang of Four toe tag and there are definitely moments where I'm thinking
that over these nine songs. But we're not talking about "Entertainment"
skronk. This is more along the lines of the criminally underrated Songs
of the Free. In fact, rather than taking the easy way out and diving for
the Pop Group / Au Pairs brass ring as sublimated by the likes of so many
so-called No Wave revivalists, this in fact reminds me of some of the
Style Councils funkier grooves with affectations of, and this is a compliment,
A Certain Ratio.
Now they're also apparently James Chance's backing band. It looks like
the promise of Trenchmouth and other pathfinders has reached fruition.
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