Randy Nordschow asks "How long has it been since you've been completely blown away by a new piece?"
9 PM - Cornelia St.: Gnu Vox triple-bill with Julie Hardy, Dave Devoe and Jo Lawry. The band is Sam Sadigursky (tenor sax), Randy Ingram (piano), Matt Clohesy (bass) [Matt, you have a website now? You need to tell me these things... ] and Ferenc Nemeth (drums).
I had my first lesson with John Hollenbeck yesterday. We got to talking about hooks -- not necessarily hooks in the pop sense, but in the sense of powerful and memorable musical ideas that are also a wellspring of related material for your piece. A hook is what you hang your piece from. For instance, the hook in Hollenbeck's "Abstinence" is the 10-note bass line generated from the pattern of letters in the word "Abstinence." The pitches and intervals in that bass line serve as generative material for the austere initial melody, and for every other element in the piece.
Finding a good hook, especially one that lends itself to transformation, often unleashes a torrent of compositional activity. One hook-related idea leads to another and you start to think, "Hey, I've really got something here." But when it comes to structuring the material, there's a strong tendency to want to present the initial "pure" version of the hook first, or at least very early in the tune. It's very tempting to make the order of events in your piece reflective of your compositional process. Sometimes, this is a good thing, as you want a clear initial presentation of your hook so you can guide the listener through the subsequent transformations. (In fact, this is exactly how "Abstience" works.) But, as John pointed out, the initial version of the hook is also often the strongest and most dramatic musical idea in the piece, and by placing the hook up front, you risk making everything that comes afterwards feel anticlimactic.
All of this reminded me of the famous Orson Welles entrance in Carol Reed's The Third Man. Welles's character, the notorious black marketeer Harry Lime, is the fillm's hook. Everything about the film revolves around him -- indeed, he seems to be all any of the other characters can talk about, despite the fact that he apparently died 10 minutes before the main action of the film begins.
Of course, as you know if you read the opening credits, Lime won't be staying dead the whole movie. But he doesn't appear onscreen until over an hour into the 104-minute film. Even then, the first thing we see of Harry Lime is his shoes -- he's standing in a darkened stone doorway, with a cat licking at his feet.
At this point, the audience doesn't know it's Lime in that doorway, and neither does the protagonist, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), who's alerted to the presence of the man in the doorway by the cat's mewling. The big reveal comes later in the scene, when Harry's face is illuminated by the light from an upstairs window snapping on, and we finally get our first look at the infamous Mr. Lime.
Now that's the way to introduce your hook!
Jerry Bowles of Sequenza 21 reviews last night's Capital M hit at the Cutting Room, which I enjoyed tremendously. I should add that while all the players turned in outstanding performances of some fiendishly difficult material, drummer John Hadfield's powerful command of the groove ensured that the rock-oriented pieces actually, you know, rocked. This is how it's done.
Anyway, big ups to Ian Moss & the Capital M gang for a successful and very entertaining gig.
[xposted at Pulse]
Tomorrow (Tuesday) night, Ian Moss's artrock/new music ensemble Capital M will present new and newish works by Moss, David Claman, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Monika Heidemann, Bradley Kemp, NewMusicBox's Frank J. Oteri, and the Bowery Poetry Club's Open Ear curator, Stefan Zeniuk.
The band includes Secret Society co-conspirators Sebastian Noelle (guitar) and Josh Sinton (saxophones), plus Trey Files, marimba; John Hadfield, drums; David Hanlon, piano; Bradley Kemp, bass and cello; Grey McMurray, guitar; Ian Moss, vocals; Kyle Sanna, guitars; and Stefan Zeniuk, saxophones.
8:30 PM at The Cutting Room. $10.
More info here.
[xposted at Pulse]
Okay, so I've spent the past couple of days going back and re-listening to every recording I own of Miles Davis, '71-'75, and am now suitably prepped for the ongoing discussion of this era of Miles's music that started over at Do The Math.
First, though, I want to say how refreshing it is that we're now at the point where we can finally have a real, substantive discussion of this period of Miles's musical output, instead of getting hung up on tiresome knee-jerk reactions to the music's surface qualities. (But just in case anyone out there still thinks that the electric instrumentation, rock-informed beats, and pedal effects automatically invalidate all of Miles's music after 1968, or that he "sold out" by releasing a bunch of dissonant, austere 30-minute epics, well, you might as well stop reading right now.)
I also think it's great that the guys from The Bad Plus are willing to throw the discussion open like this. They gain nothing from taking the stand they did other than the meager pleasures of honest debate, and it's not like they don't already have their fill of controversy as it is. But one of the most interesting aspects of reading of their thoughts on Miles (and of Do The Math generally) is the way TBP's commentary illuminates their own music. Before this, I would have bet you any money that Ethan, Reid, and Dave were huge fans of 1970's-era Miles. The fact that they are not is fascinating, and certainly makes me see their music in a different light. (Not a worse light, I hasten to add. But certainly different.) This is exactly the kind of discussion I think the music blogosphere ought to be all about (he said, without a trace of self-importance).
I might as well lay my cards on the table: I absolutely love Miles's 1970's recordings. I still have vivid memories of the night I first heard Jack Johnson as a young teenager, on CITR's jazz show -- it blew my head wide open. I love all the subsequent 70's records -- Live-Evil (and the Cellar Door sessions), Big Fun, On The Corner, Get Up With It, Dark Magus, Agharta, Pangaea. I love the rich textures, the dark atmosphere, the cinematic scope, the long slow burn, the delayed gratification. Probably my favorite sensation in listening to music is the moment where you stop and think back to how the tune began and go: "Wait a minute... how did we get here from there?" This period of Miles is rich with those moments. I love that this music is uncategorizable -- it's not quite jazz (at least, not by the definitions of the day), but it's sure as hell not rock. Miles's bands also sound utterly unlike any of the fusion outfits founded by his alumni -- not the bombastic prog of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, not the breezy weightlessness of Return to Forever, not the infectious hook-based funk of Headhunters, not the synth-pop sophistication of Weather Report. And while all of these offshoot groups have their moments, as far as I'm concerned, Miles's groups were the only 1970's bands to consistently pull off the jazz+rock alchemy. Most of all, I love that 70's Miles is so weird. There's so little genuine weirdness in the jazz canon (Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, some Ornette, some early Monk) that anything that defies expectations as completely as Miles's early electric output deserves a great deal of credit on that basis alone.
As Pat obverved, Miles's music in the 1970's has a lot of affinities with early minimalism. It unfolds slowly, requiring a lot of patience from both the players and the listener. (It also requires a lot of patience for scratchy wah-wah guitars and wall-to-wall congas, which is admittedly not everyone's bag.) The music certainly isn't static -- the grooves do evolve over time, and don't (usually) lack for direction. It's just that the changes are subtle and often take a long time to accumulate. The solos -- including Miles's solos -- tend to be more ornamental than developmental. This is something a lot of people, including TBP (if I read them correctly) object to in this music. It's a fair objection. But like it or not, the idea that front-and-center improvised solos aren't the only way of advancing the musical narrative is becoming increasingly accepted in contemporary jazz. For instance, as great as the players are on John Hollenbeck's A Blessing -- and that band includes some of the very best improvisers on the scene today -- it's not the solos that stand out in my mind when I think of that record. It's the musicians' selfless contribution to the music itself that makes it such a success. "Okay fine, that's a big band," I hear you saying -- sure, but I could say much the same thing about the Claudia Quintet, or Ben Monder's band, or Kneebody. (Or, I daresay, The Bad Plus.)
This issue of expressive individuality vs. sublimation of individuality into the greater needs of the music is something Dave Douglas blogged about recently. I would love it if Dave saw fit to contribute to this discussion -- especially since he too is a huge fan of 70's Miles, and it would be interesting to see how he squares his commitment to individual expression with the ego-suppressing demands Miles often made of his sidemen during this period.
The challlenge set by TBP is essentially this:
Of all those great players [who played with Miles '71-'75], which of them contributes their BEST PLAYING on any of those sessions?
My response would be that Miles's music in the 1970's wasn't about showstopping individual performances. It's about mood, atmosphere, color, texture, groove, long slow shifts, making you wait for it, and then making you wait some more. (Isn't this what Miles's music has always been about?)
By 1971, Miles had abandoned not only traditional jazz instrumentation, the traditional jazz time feel, and the requirement that everyone in the band have an acoustic jazz pedigree, but he had also let go of the usual head-solo-head framework, replacing it with a minimalist, additive, groove-based method of moving the music forward. This shift requires a radically different approach from everyone in the band. So when TBP ask you to rate Dave Liebman's and Al Foster's work with Miles against their virtuso turns in a more traditional acoustic jazz setting, it seems like they are shifting the goalposts a little. The more important question to my mind isn't whether Miles's sidemen are expressing their individuality, it's whether they are advancing the music. If the music sometimes calls for 20 minutes of snare rustles from Al Foster, so be it.
That said... even though I don't feel the music from this period in Miles's career is primarily about solos or individualistic playing, I'm still up for pointing out some of the outstanding individual performances and great moments to be found in Miles's music circa '71-'75. And though I love the long atmospheric pieces like "He Loved Him Madly" and "Great Expectations" best, I will try to concentrate here on short(-ish) tracks and musical events that pay off even without the benefit of a 23-minute leadup.
To begin, two contrasting, back-to-back tracks from Get Up With It -- "Honky Tonk" and "Rated X":
"Honky Tonk" -- the skittish groove starts in Herbie's clavinet, and he's quickly joined by Keith Jarrett (on a distorted Rhodes) and John McLaughlin. This funky three-way dialogue goes on for the first minute until Keith plays the three-chord theme. Then the bass and drums join in, but Billy Cobham only plays the barest skeleton of a beat, just some stop-go figures on the hihat. You're dying for the full groove, but when it hits -- almost two minutes into the six-minute tune -- it's actually a different feel (an almost comically downhome blues shuffle) in a different tempo, thanks to a clever metric modulation -- the old quarter note becomes a quarter-note triplet in the new tempo.
Click here to listen to an excerpt from "Honky Tonk"
"Rated X" -- Miles lays down some bitingly dissonant organ chords (that only intensify over the course of the piece), then Al Foster launches into one of the fiercest beats ever played. Okay, so I feel kind of retarded trying to talk authoritatively about the history of drumming while addressing a band that includes Dave King, but seriously -- is that not the genesis of drum'n'bass, right there? Especially with the way Teo brings the band abruptly in and out via his magic "mute" button?
Click here to listen to an excerpt from "Rated X"
"Black Satin" from On The Corner -- this tune has it all: a spacey tabla-and-sitar intro and outro, handclaps, sleighbells, someone whistling in unison with Miles's wah-trumpet, and Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart on dueling R-L channel hihats -- how can you not love something this aggressively weird? The groove continues on "One and One" with some great wah-wah bass from Michael Henderson.
Click here to listen to an excerpt from "Black Satin"
Al Foster's Bonhamesque four-bar drum intro to "Moja" from Dark Magus -- welcome to Carnegie Hall, y'all. Also, check out Dave Liebman's tenor solo on Part 2 of this track -- incredibly heartfelt and beautifully paced. And Al Foster is on fire behind him! I only wish the recorded sound were better.
Click here to listen to the beginning of "Moja"
Click here to listen to Dave Liebman's solo on "Moja"
Check out Pete Cosey's space-age shredding on "Prelude, Part 1" from Agharta, especially the stuff in the breaks. Also, Miles's heartbreakingly fragile entrance at 5:52 of "Maiysha". His wah-wah pedal never sounded more tender than it does here. Sonny Fortune plays some really good flute on this tune as well. Again, though, this is a live concert in dire need of remastering.
Click here to listen to part of Pete Cosey's solo on "Prelude, Part 1"
Click here to listen to Miles's entrance on "Maiysha"
I hope I've at least done a reasonable job of explaining how and why this period of Miles resonates for me. If nothing else, it's been fun to go back into my collection and immerse myself in this music once again.
1. I can even pinpoint the exact moment when my brains hit the wall -- it's early in "Right Off" where John McLaughlin drops to Bb, but Michael Henderson keeps going in E, and Miles decides this bitonal no-man's land would be the perfect spot for him to make his entrance. And it is.
Click here to listen to Miles's entrance in "Right Off"
2. Well, to be perfectly honest, not so much Pangaea. The incredibly halfhearted swing groove at the end of Disc 2 is a definite low point in Miles's recorded output.
3. Okay, I'm cheating a bit already -- while the record wasn't released until 1974, this track was recorded in May of 1970. But it's too good not to mention. The tune also features prominently in the Cellar Door sessions, albeit in a radically stripped-down version with the metric modulation excised.
Tomorrow (Sunday, March 19), Matana Roberts plays a solo saxophone gig on the Gowanus Canal -- literally in a boat floating on the Gowanus, "the only body of water in the world that is 90 percent guns" (-J. Lethem). The boat in question is the Empty Vessel, a WWII Navy Rescue boat transformed into a art space. Boarding is from the west side of 1st Street, one block south of the Carroll Street Bridge (see here).
Matana will be playing improvised music based on her favorite Baroque composers. She hits at 3 PM Sunday - admission is by donation.
Saxophonist Pat Donaher enters the fray and says a bunch of stuff I'd planned on saying RE: Miles '71-'75 -- especially the comparison to minimalism, which is absolutely correct.
On the other hand, I hope to persuade him that he's badly underestimated TBP, but that's a discussion for another day.
[I have also added Pat to the blogroll, something I would have done some time ago except that I've only just now figured out how to link directly to those %#$!& MySpace blogs.]
Tuesday, 18 April, 10 PM, Bowery Poetry Club. $12 cover.
It seems the Bad Plus have thrown down the gauntlet. (We're finally in a blogwar -- does that mean this blog has truly arrived?)
I will attempt to muster a suitable reply. This may take some time -- I've got to prepare for my first lesson with Hollenbeck on Tuesday, amongst other things that need doing. In the meanwhile, why don't you pass the time by playing a few clips from Bob Belden's video collection? Some amazing stuff, including relevant footage of '70s Miles gigs.
[N.B. For some reason, Paul's video file has an extra ".txt" extension at the end, which makes things go all pear-shaped -- but if you download the file to your HD first, then remove the ".txt" from the filename, all is well.]
Aaron Parks is a textbook wunderkind -- started at the University of Washington at 14, transfered to the Manhattan School of Music to study with Kenny Barron at 16, began touring with Terrance Blanchard at 19. Now, at the ripe old age of 22, he's grown into a mature voice at the piano. He spurns the kind of young lion clichés you might expect from someone with his pedigree, playing with more substance than flash. He takes a reflective, compositional approach to the instrument, often coming at the music from initially unexpected angles (e.g., Mike Garson playing Coltrane changes?) that, in retrospect, feel just right.
Tonight, he brings his quintet to the Jazz Gallery, including John Ellis (reeds), Lage Lund (guitar), Derrick Hodge (bass) and Jochen Rueckert (drums). Sets at 9 PM and 10:30 PM - $12.
Like Mwanji, I can't bring myself to care much about Miles being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and What It All Means. But Mwanji, more motivated than I am, has at least collected various responses from around the internet for your reading pleasure. And, like him, I am... puzzled by this post from Do The Math.
Their thesis is this: "The success of Miles Davis records and Davis’ resultant stardom is based on the strength of the musicians he played with, not his own trumpet playing or composing."
Well, okay. This true enough, on the surface, although I think it seriously understates the tremendous creative influence Miles exerted on his band. (I also think it sells Miles awfully short as a player, although they go on to praise selected solos.) Obvious points of comparison would be Wayne's recording of "Footprints," or Herbie's recording of "Riot," "Little One," "The Sorcerer," etc, versus the versions they cut with Miles. And as good as those '60s Shorter and Hancock Blue Notes are, do any of them have the unity and well, vibe of a record like Miles Smiles?
The Bad Plus go on to call Miles "the hippest music director in history," which is not a bad way of putting it -- except, I don't think that appellation diminishes his artistry in the slightest! (You could say much the same thing about James Brown, for instance.)
But these are all relatively minor quibbles. As Mwanji notes, the real fighting words are these:
During the ‘70’s, he seemed to lose interest in having the best bands and instead concentrated on becoming a rock star personality.
B'wha? TBP are willing to spot him up until Live-Evil. Of course, there are four different bands represented on that record, but the last one, chronologically, is the Cellar Door lineup -- Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, and Airto -- one of the greatest Miles bands ever, with a group dynamic remarkably similar to the classic 60's quintet (especially in terms of the role assigned to each instrument). But is the drop-off in the quality of his bands from 1971-1975 really as dire as they say? And if so, is it due to Miles's ego finally getting the better of his musicianship? Finally, even if we grant, for the sake of argument, less-than-genius sidemen and an increase in rockstar posturing, do the 1970's records stand up regardless?
Secret Society readers are invited to check the session index and judge for themselves, but here's a summarized version:
• Gigs with the Cellar Door lineup, but Leon "Ndugu" Chancler replaces DeJohnette, and Don Alias and Mtume replace Airto.
• Get Up With It sessions with Wally Chambers (harmonica), Cornell Dupree, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Bernard Purdie, Mtume.
• On The Corner sessions with Dave Liebman, Harold Williams, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Collin Walcott (sitar), John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Al Foster, Billy Hart, Badal Roy (tabla).
• Big Fun sessions with Bennie Maupin, Carlos Garnett, Sonny Fortune, Lonnie Liston Smith, Harold Williams, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Billy Hart, Badal Roy, Mtume.
• Black Satin etc with Dave Liebman, Reggie Lucas, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Mtume.
• Get Up With It sessions with the above players plus John Stubblefield.
• Dark Magus gig at Carnegie Hall with Dave Liebman, Azar Lawrence, Pete Cosey, Dominique Gaumont, Reggie Lucas, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Mtume.
• Get Up With It sessions - Sonny Fortune, Pete Cosey, Reggie Lucas, Dominique Gaumont, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Mtume.
• Agharta and Pangaea with Sonny Fortune, Reggie Lucas, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, Mtume.
The 80's are another story, of course, but I don't think that decade is quite as dire ("records that ranged from OK to unlistenable") as TBP would have it, either. I'll step up for Live Around The World anytime -- windchimes and all.
This is priceless:
It happened in 1969 at Berkeley. The campus was roiled by the Vietnam era's antiwar unrest, but that made little difference in my anti-counterculture counterpoint and fugue class. Even if we walked in coughing from the tear gas canisters that the National Guard had exploded outside to disperse demonstrators on Sproul Plaza, the atmosphere in the music building was monkishly directed toward another time and place.
The textbook we used was "Treatise on the Fugue" by André Gedalge, who had taught at the Paris Conservatory in the early 20th century. Absorb it all and you too could write like 19th century French opera composer Gounod. Our professor had been glazing over the eyes of uninterested little Gounods with the confining rules of species counterpoint for far too many years. We knew enough to take classes from him in the afternoon, after he had had a leisurely lunch at the local watering hole.
Then one day I walked into class ostentatiously carrying the new Columbia LP of Terry Riley's "In C." The jacket opened up to reveal the score of 53 short, melodic modules meant to be freely repeated against a continual pulse, defying every law of counterpoint ever concocted. When I showed that to the genially aristocratic professor, he went uncharacteristically ballistic.
Riley had studied in the department a decade earlier, and it was there that he and his classmate La Monte Young first began exploring the conceptual ideas that led to the rebellious, repetitive, nondirectional music that would ultimately be dubbed — because of what it seemed to have in common with the art movement of the '60s — Minimalism. Three years after Riley got his master's in composition from Berkeley in 1961, he put Minimalism on the musical map when he premiered "In C" in San Francisco.
"He betrayed Berkeley," my red-faced professor shouted. "He betrayed music. He betrayed Gedalge. He betrayed everything this department stands for. I will not allow that album to be brought into my classroom. This has nothing to do with Vietnam. It is about preserving civilization."
Via Alex Ross.
Since it ain't no music blog without regular "What I'm Listening To Now" posts, I thought I'd list my most recent CD acquisitions here. Many of these were catch-up purchases -- records I'd intended to buy when they were first released, but for various reasons (usually a lack of funds) passed on. Some are from bands I've heard live but never checked out their studio output. Some are "legitimizing" purchases of albums where I've already heard most of the tracks at a friend's apartment, or on Pandora, or through [ahem] "other means." And one was me finally caving to overwhelming peer pressure, online and off -- "No, no, the record's genius, you have to check it out... " See if you can guess which.
If anyone has any particular desire to know what I think of any of these records, let me know in comments. And, yes, I know I'm long overdue for a review of The Cellar Door, but that's an intense and time-consuming project, and I know y'all don't want me to do it half-assed. (Also, I vaguely recall that I'm supposed to be writing music at some point, not just blogging...) But it's coming, I swear.
I also really need to devote some pixels to the Complete Mumbles and Grumbles set, 2005's most overlooked reissue.
Well, as you may already have heard, Ran Blake's performance at the Stone last night was cut short by an asthma attack. He made it about 15 minutes into his intended program before it became impossible for him to continue. (I hope he's okay -- I'll report back when I hear more.) What he did play was breathtaking, and the Stone was set up just the way Ran likes it -- piano keyboard facing away from the audience, and all the lights down low. The performance was unusual for Ran in that the set was almost entirely his own compositions, all drawn from his recent solo recording All That Is Tied.
Here is the intended setlist. As you know if you've ever heard Ran play, he moves seamlessly from one tune to the next, without pausing. The breaks in the program are thematic breaks, not necessarily musical ones.
1. Field Cry (dedicated to Willis Laurence James)
2. How 'Bout That
5. Impressario of Death
7. Shostavkovich No. 9
8. All That Is Tied (comp. Jonah Kraut)
9. Birmingham, USA (This piece concerns bombing of 16th Street Church of Birmingham where four girls were killed in 1963.)
Charles Gayle stepped in for the second half of the set. Gayle is, of course, known primarily as a tenor player, but he too has recently recorded a solo piano record for Tomkins Square Records. And in one of the most surreal moments in my NYC concertgoing experience so far, he played the last fifteen minutes of his set blindfolded, but with a plastic clown mask on top of the blindfold. (Gayle explained that with all the kidnappings and hostages these past few years, he thought the sight of the blindfold alone might be traumatic for some people.)
Neil Young doesn’t do stuff like that. I have nothing against epileptics but come on. Neil Young once drew 80,000 people in Italy and he doesn’t speak a word of Italian.
My father once had dinner with the family and my son Eric brought his girlfriend, Megan. He was meeting her for the first time. After dinner, when Eric left, of course we talked about her. I commented on what a nice girl she was. My dad said he hated her. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him why he felt that way he said that she looked exactly like the kids in this Irish family he knew who were the biggest Jew haters in Elmhurst, Long Island fifty years ago. I thought that was fair.
And I have to agree, his nominee for Worst. Record. Ever. is a strong contender.
Ran Blake is beyond superlatives. His musical language -- a patois of dream-logic, fragmented narratives, and brilliantly strange juxtapositions of character and setting, -- is rich, evocative, and utterly unique. He has built an unconventional but stunning technique tailored the precise demands of his music. Nobody uses the pedals like he does, nobody responds to the sound in the room like he does, nobody has the sonic palette he does. While Ran loves to engage people in musical dialogue, he's at his very best when playing solo, and notwithstanding his many excellent recordings, they are wispy shadows of his inspired live playing.
Ran appears Friday night in a rare and all-too-brief NYC appearance at The Stone -- 8 PM.
ALSO: Tompkins Square Records offers a free download of the title track from Ran's latest disc -- his first solo piano recording in 20 years.
So, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced their 2006-07 season:
The "Fusion Revolution" program, scheduled for October, will feature keyboardist Joe Zawinul, a member of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew ensemble and the fusion supergroup Weather Report. "Outer Limits!" in March 2007, will include saxophonist John Zorn, a stalwart of the Downtown scene of the 1980s and '90s, and pianist Cecil Taylor, one of the pioneers of the free jazz movement of the 1960s.
I like how the article casually mentions that these two programs are "unusual for an organization that has focused on the jazz mainstream."
Just back from Rachel Boynton's documentary Our Brand Is Crisis (currently at Film Forum). The film gives us a look behind the scenes of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada's 2002 run for the Bolivian presidency, wherein the unpopular "Goni" tries to rescue his floundering campaign by bringing in the American consulting firm Greenberg Carville Shrum (who have since rebranded themselves [ahem] "Democracy Corps").
In other words, sort of like Some Kind of Monster, but for political junkies. Highly recommended.
Check out reviews by David Edelstein, Chris Barsanti, The Onion A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin, and Salon.com's Andrew O'Hehir for more... (yes, it's Salon, so you have to watch an ad first, but as of this writing, it's a fairly painless spot for Season 6 of The Sopranos).
I didn't move fast enough to get tickets to the (long sold-out) New Pornographers+Belle and Sebastian gigs in NY tonight and tomorrow, but jds has a review of their Montreal hit from a few nights ago. He also brings us the very good news that their March 6 gig in D.C. will be webcast (and later, downloadable... [EDIT: maybe not?] [EDIT 2: Mais oui! Le MP3!]) thanks to NPR's excellent and surprisingly non-NPR-ish live concert series.
I love this quote from Pornographers architect A.C. Newman:
"Various unintentional influences have crept into our work, some of which were quickly removed: The Moody Blues, Tubeway Army, Wings, always Wings, never The Beatles, Eno of course, you can't play ebow (a bow for electric guitars) without sounding like Eno, Modern English, middle period post-Gabriel Genesis, The Stranglers, 10CC. We're still trying to find a way to insert some dub/white reggae in the mix, just as an intellectual exercise, to see if we can do it without being dropped from the label. I know it sounds awful but it will all work out."
jds also writes:
I assume they get a fair amount of radio play up there, given the whole 30% native artist rule for Canadian radio and federal grants for music videos, etc.
I'd have thought that too. What with the wave of unshitty Canadian bands breaking in the past few years, I was actually looking forward to listening to Vancouver rock radio when I was home for the holidays. I mean, they would have to be serving up a steady stream of New Pornographers / Neko Case / Destroyer / Broken Social Scene & co, right?
Turns out, not so much. Apparently, Vancouver's favorite hometown band is still, um... Nickelback.