Hey, you. Yes, you!
Want to know every band we’ve been compared to in print?
Can I shock you? I like Sun Kil Moon.*
Ever since hearing Red House Painters after being dumped by my first serious girlfriend I have been a huge Mark Kozelek fan. The lyrics were mopey, heartbroken, and the mood was introspective. Winner! I’ve bought live albums, I’ve bought T-shirts to get “exclusive” live albums, I’ve even bought a hardback book of lyrics. Fandom!
Mark Kozelek is known for album’s that as, Amazon put it, are “like an hourlong microscopic dissection of a broken heart”. What he’s not so known for is his humour. There’s evidence here and there; a downbeat folky album of Modest Mouse covers (actually excellent); almost calling the best of Red House Painters “Redtrospective”; the lyric “Scenesters with their beards and tennis shoes/Skinny and pudgy ugly dudes on “Third and Seneca” from Admiral Fell Promises, SKM’s last-but-one album.
In fact, to garble the above quoted lyric, “pudgy ugly dudes in tennis shoes” could be the key to Mark Kozelek’s new album (as Sun Kil Moon) , “Among The Leaves”.
To step back a little, I went to see Mark Kozelek play in Manchester way back in 2007. I remember thinking
a) “Hey he’s pretty funny”
b) “Hey he’s kind of an asshole”
He went on about Ricky Hatton (he’s a massive boxing fan), grumbled at the audience a bit, made a few lame jokes, played some beautiful songs. He came across as a someone who was not the introspective balladeer of his songs, in fact it would be a surprise if he was.
It seems that, on Among The Leaves, Mark Kozelek is trying to show himself as he actually is – or at least a different side to him – compared to the melancholic man that usually comes out when he writes his songs.
In an interview on http://sunkilmoon.com/hearsay2012.pdf they state the album is “melancholy” and “somber”. Whilst it’s true all the songs aren’t sunshine and light, it’s clear from song titles “The Moderately Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man” and “Not Much Rhymes with Everything’s Awesome at All Times” that Kozelek’s tongue is not a million miles away from his cheek. I think Kozelek is giveing a much truer, less melodramatic, image of his life than the narrow focus of previous SKM/RHP albums. He sings on (two) songs of getting the clap (“a little sting”), being bored, not liking the UK all that much (a common American musician complaint) and the man who fixed his guitars….
Previously, he has put women on a pedestal – I’m thinking of the whole of April (about his recently deceased ex) and old songs like “Sumemr Dress” – but on this album a different picture emerges. There’s the “moderately talented young woman” and also the “woman dressed like a witch” he “picked up at 12 and she was gone by 2”.
So as this is an album, what’s the music like? Mainly acoustic, nothing ornately arranged, just guitar and voice. This is similar to “Admiral Fell Promises” but that album was intricate, even ornate, and the songs felt hugely crafted – on this one there’s a sense of things being a bit more tossed off, most definitely looser. Kozelek says in his interview with Hearsay, “I don’t writer bad songs but some of these are pretty bad. I just wanted to show some vunerability and not care.”
This is particularly clear on tracks such as “Track number 8” -“I wrote this one and I know it aint great – I’ll probably sequence it track number 8”. The song, naturally, appears, on track number 11.
So this isn’t a great album. But I think it is a good one. It’s fun to listen to mainly because it’s Mark Kozelek telling the story of his life at the moment, and, you know what, he’s a pretty entertaining guy.
*To avoid confusion Mark Kozelek is a singer songwriter who is the main man behind Sun Kil Moon and previously The Red House Painters.
Pop music. We enjoy it. We dance to it. It infects our brains as earworms. But how seriously do we take it? Do we engage with the serious questions it throws up?
Yes, some songs that raise serious questions in their titles and these are answered as a matter of course, e.g;
Travis – Q: “Why does it always rain on me?” A:”because you lack an umbrella”.
Bob Dylan – Q: “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?” A: 42 (as any fan of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy knows)
The Smiths – Q: How Soon is Now? A: Now.
The KLF – Q: What Time is Love? A: 12.23am
Rod Stewart – Q: Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? A: For a period in the 70’s, sadly, yes.
and so and so forth.
But what about the questions implicit in songs? These are the one’s that go unanswered. For example the Hollies sang, “He aint heavy, he’s my brother.” Yet we still do not know how heavy (or light) the brother in question was.
What does Lady Gaga’s poker face look like?
Who shot the Deputy?
Which leads me to The Lonely Island’s pop opus “Motherlover”.
Please take a second to familiarise yourself with our source material by clicking the link below, before we continue.
We know the boys are going to sleep with each others mothers. In fact they further this with the aim of impregnating each other’s respective mothers. All well and good. But the implicit question remains: What will the genealogical connection of these theoretical children be?
Let’s find out.
Firstly, we should set out the relationship between Andy Samberg, Justin Timberlake and their respective mothers.
We can clearly see that Mother Samberg and Mother Timberlake are Andy and Justin’s mothers, respectively.
Now if Andy and Justin were to mate with each other’s mothers and produce offspring our diagram would look a little like this.
Here it might be useful to define to our symbols: A downward arrow denotes parentage. A horizontal line with a heart denotes a sexual relationship that produced offspring.
Now, whilst technically accurate, Fig 2. does not really help us determine relationship. We must therefore, look at the cases of Baby Samberg and Baby Timberlake separately.
From Fig 3. and Fig 4. we can see the following
i) Andy and Baby Timberlake would be half siblings; Justin and Baby Samberg would be half siblings.
Assuming marriage between a) Mother Samberg and Justin and b) Mother Timberlake and Andy we would have:
ii) Justin and Andy would be each other’s respective Father in Laws.
iii) Mother Samberg and Mother Timberlake would be each other’s Mother in Law and Daughter in Law.
But what about Baby Timberlake and Baby Samberg. Combing Fig 4. and Fig 5., with Baby Timberlake as the end product and avoiding any unnecessary repetition of participants, we have the following:
and if we take Baby Samberg as the end product we have:
From Fig 5. and Fig 6. we see that Baby Samberg and Baby Timberlake are each others half-uncles and half-nephews; One’s mother being the other’s grandmother and vice-versa.
We can extend this further by considering both Mother Samberg and Mother Timberlake’s parentage and comparing these directly for both Baby Samberg and Baby Timberlake:
Finally, we may ask ourselves, what is the genetic relationship between Baby Samberg and Baby Timberlake. Assuming we share 50% unique DNA with our full siblings (receiving 50% of our father’s DNA and 50% of our mother’s with the DNA given being normally distributed), then a child will share 25% of the DNA of one of it’s parents.
Andy Samberg has 50% of Mother Samberg’s DNA; Baby Samberg has 50% of this DNA; Therefore Baby Samberg has 25% of Mother Samberg’s DNA. Baby Timberlake has 50% of Mother Samberg’s DNA of which half can be expected to be the same as that received by Andy Samberg. Therefore Baby Timberlake and Baby Samberg share 12.5% through Mother Samberg.
Justin Timberlake has 50% of Mother Timberlake’s DNA; Baby Timberlake has 50% of this DNA; Therefore Baby Timberlake has 25% of Mother Timberlake’s DNA. Baby samberg has 50% of Mother Timberlake’s DNA of which half can be expected to be the same as that received by Justin Timberlake. Therefore Baby Timberlake and Baby Samberg share 12.5% through Mother Timberlake.
In response to my Music Mountain, the enigmatic Adam John Miller has done his first piece for the ‘Club site.
“So, this is my “Music Mountain” The idea: Pick your favourite band that has released 1 album, 2 albums, 3 albums etc. I got to 18. I tried to ignore Live albums and Compilations and stick to Original Studio Albums. Make your own!”
According to some anthropologists, it is our ability to group things that makes us human. We can differentiate and distinguish things not only by a single feature (“a cat”, say) but by many. We can even group disparate things. Both a bear and a chocolate bar are brown; a steak and a chocolate bar are both foods. Apparently this gives us a massive evolutionary advantage over the other animals, the poor saps, as we can then use this information to make well informed decisions.
With this in mind I am exercising my humanity by pointlessly cataloguing bands I like! Woo!
I’ve made a “Music Mountain” (patent pending).. – where I’ve put my favourite band who’ve made one album* on the top, favourite band who made 2 albums second and so on.
I did nine bands originally and then I thought, “that’s not enough, there’s barely even insane.” So I upped it to 17. And yes there are some shitty albums in there. Out of the 153 albums….
*by album I mean studio or all live album with previously unrecorded music on it.
The bands in order are:
1 album – Young Marble Giants
2 albums – Neutral Milk Hotel
3 albums – Boards Of Canada
4 albums – The Smiths
5 albums – Pavement
6 albums – Red House Painters
7 albums – Husker Du
8 albums – Radiohead
9 albums – Dinosaur Jr.
10 albums – The Magnetic Fields
11 albums – The Beatles
12 albums – Captain Beefheart
13 albums – The Flaming Lips
14 albums – The Mountain Goats
15 albums – R.E.M.
16 albums – Sonic Youth
17 albums – Guided By Voices
R.E.M. are dead. Some people said R.E.M. died when he joined the army… no wait that was Elvis … some people say R.E.M died when Bill Berry left. I disagree with those people. I like Up (the first post Berry album) as well…
Anyways, I wanted to talk about “Out Of Time” rather than their recentish break up. As I am now reduced to listening to music through a discman, my music has been limited to the few CDs I have left. One of these is “Out Of Time” R.E.M’s 1991 album.
I hadn’t listened to it in about a decade. I have two main memories of it. The first when I was 8 and it’s songs were ubiquitous on the radio (strange to think now) – i liked them but claimed not to to annoy my sister – and the next when I was 16 and decided to rediscover it’s music. I remember loving the album at 16 butwith some reservations. Listening again has been a mixture of nostalgia and reappraisal for me.
The first thing that struck me about the album as a whole was how, ummm, unconfident it sounded. The majority of the songs were gorgeous but they really struck me as the sound of a band trying to work out what it took to be a commercial success. It took me days to work out why this was, and it might be more down to me than them.
Reason a) This is the record that sounds most like Idlewild wanted to be circa “The Remote Part”. as an 18 year old I loved that album but always new it to be minor league aping. So maybe I’m associating Out Of Time with that.
Reason b) This literally is the album that was their big commercial breakthrough. Not that they were small before but this, via “Losing My Religion”, made them megastars.
Reason the c) I realised that I had literally taken the way R.E.M. wrote songs and internalised it. I kept on thinking “that’s the kind of melody/harmony I’d write! And the off key high bits! and the panned bongos!”. As I am an unconfident songwriter, I assume them to be.
Back in 2001 (when I listened to it the most) I always thought Out Of Time sounded a million miles away from what came before it in The R.E.M. catalogue. Now I can see a lot of Green, the previous R.E.M. album, in it. Green, funnily enough, does sound like a band trying really hard to be pop (including “Pop Song 89” as it does) but is a lot of fun so I never considered it to be tryin too hard. The song I see the most of Green in is, errrrrrgggg, “Radio Song”
Radio Song. It’s like they took all the worst bits of Green and made a song out of them. Erstatz funk guitar, crappy keyboards, incongrous middle 8… then they asked KRS-One to phone in the worst rap ever. I can imagine the scene:
Michael Stipe: “That take was ok, KRS but could you make it more ‘uncle at a wedding'”
KRS: “hmmm how about ‘baby, baby, baby'”
Michael Stipe: “Yes! Now add some ‘toddler who’s had too many e-number’s and we’re there!”
So I skip the first track. And the second. “Losing My Religion” is a brilliant song. A brilliant song that I’ve heard a million times.
So the rest of the album? I’ll just write a list of words then put up a link to “Near Wild Heaven” .
Whistful, gorgeous, hopeful, yearning, introspective…
I like Shiny Happy People.
The Wednesday Club doesn’t exist in a band vacuum, oh no. We have lots and lots of bands we love in our local area and some of these we’ve been in. Or been in a band with someone who’s in that band. Or been in band with someone who’s been in a band with someone who’s been in that band…With this in mind, and to stave off my upcoming breakdown, I’ve made a map of all these (which is nowhere near al- inclusive…). Enjoy!
The Acutes – two piece Davecore band
All My Friends Are Dead – Now defunct post rock band
Anderson Congress – Now defunct psychogaze band
Bear Driver – melodic dream pop
Biscuit Head and The Biscuit Badgers – many instrumented funny band
The Blanche Hudson Weekend – a more restrained Manhattans
Boy Racer – indiepop band from der 90s
Broken Chairs – on hiatus spazzcore band
Crayon – Now defunct up tempo 3 piece Glaciers
The Contortionist – rigid beautiful indiepop – see also Japanese Sleepers
Downdime – Leeds’ premier indiepop band
Folk Theatre Partisans – Now defunct folk supergroup formed of David Broad, Fran Rodgers, Mike Rossiter and Ben Weatherhill
Fonda 500 – Hull indie electro legends
Glaciers – yearning downtempocore ish
The Half Hour Skiffle Hour – On hiatus skiffle
Hawk Eyes – Capital M metal band, formerly Chicken Hawk, fairly successful
HOTMIM (Heroes of The Mexican Independence Movement) – 3 piece indiepop with a side line in hilarious banter
Hookworms – noisy melodic stuff
Ian Williams – broken/delicate alt country
Leo Trout – Mine and Adam’s first band, sloppy indiepop
Manhattan Love Suicides – Now defunct Jesus and Mary Chain influenced indiepop, fairly successful
The Medusa Snare – Millercore
Nir Death Experience – Lemonheadsy wonderfulness
Nir (Vana) – folk/electro rap project
Olfar – mid rocking alt country
Pulled Apart By Horses – Capital R rock band, fairly successful
The Rocky Nest – Now defunct brass heavy Indietracks fave
Samsa – Now defunct rock 3 piece
Sky Larkin – noisy guitar three piece, fairly successful
The Stay At Homes – 2 piece blues-pop
The Seven Inches – Leeds legends, once and future kings
T.O.Y.S – 3 piece power kraut
Ten – Avante-laptop post rock
Vest For Tysso – On hiatus indie folk
Wallaby Willington – now defunct avante-folk band
The Wednesday Club – pretentious talent wasters
Wonderswan – awesome lofi slackpop
John, Dec 11