Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cat Powers My Desktop

Although I could really care less about her personal struggle with demons unless she wants to whisper it in my ear, the picture accompanying the major PR-coup New York Times Chan Marshall article makes for a stunning and work-neutral screen background, doncha think? There's a regrettable video accompanying the article, if you dare. But I'm glad she's overcome whatever it was ailing her.

Speaking of booze and tortured singers, here's a picture of David Yow tending bar in Seattle.

Speaking of Matador and coups, this probably says as much about Yo La Tengo as it does the state of the "recording industry"

I went to the Catfish Haven / Shearwater / Magnolia Electric Company. I "won" a free ticket from Insound because the show was in DC and, well, I live in DC. And I figure I'm probably they're only customer in DC.

Catfish Haven are bluesy, loud, brash and pretty damn Suthr'n for a bunch of Chicago boys. The singer was almost a parody of incoherent between song rambling. "Mmmrf nnff grrp nkk sllkr? Mrrf? Nffd wrrd nnrd frmm urr fiisstellbum. Trhrnkju." Pretty cool songs that don't overstay their welcome (no guitar solos either). Anyway, good band but they sounded better in the studio.

Shearwater were, in a word, incredible and exceed my expectations. I liked some of the songs of their recent CD but kinda shruged off the others. Almost all those songs I liked improved 100% in concert and the songs I didn't care for are now being reassessed. Love the drummer's set up - a bassdrum, floor tom, beautiful-sounding large cymbal and a waist-high vibraphone. The bassist has one of those extra special large upright basses, they have the now-obligatory Rhodes and the singer switches off between a beat-up banjo (that required pre-set tape repairs) and several guitars -- but the instrumentation isn't the band's gimmicks. The center of the band's energy is their singer (and songwriter) and his, well, masturbatory songs -- and I don't mean that in a bad way - it's just that each song is about him, sung only by him, starts out quiet, builds up into a climax, joyfully splatters all over the stage and crowd and then, um, peters out. He might be really interesting as a songwriter when he gets a girlfriend.

Finally, Magnolia Electric Company - the Songs:Ohia guy. But DCist reviewed it. Not sure I agree about Jason Molina being sad. He looked just fine by me. Maybe even happy -- I didn't stay for the whole set. Much as I like the emo-revival of Crazy Horse, I was tired by about their fifth song and I'm not too crazed about their new album like I was about their last one. Not sad enough, I guess.

My favorite think-read of the day, la Paglia reviews a documentary on Marie Antionette and wonders why the French Revolution is supposedly of such interest these days:

Has representative democracy, paralyzed by rancorous partisanship and bureaucratic incompetence, become the waning ancien régime assailed by hordes at the gates? There is an uneasy sense of siege in Europe and the United States from restive immigrant minorities who have taken to the streets or bred saboteurs. The intelligentsia seem fatigued, sapped by pointless theory, and impotent to affect events. Fervor has shifted to religious fundamentalists in both Christianity and Islam. Materialism and status anxiety (evident even in higher education, with its brand-name snobbery) have come to the fore in the glitteringly high-tech West. Yet the turbulent third world offers agonizingly stark contrasts. The Marie Antoinette story, with its premonitions of doom amid a giddy fatalism, seems to signal a pervasive guilt about near-intractable social inequities.


After 9/11 — when great towers fell, like the Bastille, in a day — coping for the professional class has required cognitive dissonance. Life's routine goes on amid a surreal bombardment of bulletins about mutilations and massacres. When since the Reign of Terror has ritual decapitation become such a constant? The fury and cruelty of the French mob were strangely mixed with laughter — as when the severed head of Marie Antoinette's friend, the Princesse de Lamballe, was spruced up by a hairdresser and waved on a pike outside the royal family's window. These are the grisly surprises that now greet us every day through our own windows — the glass monitors of TV's and PC's. The return of Marie Antoinette suggests that there are political forces at work in the world that Western humanism does not fully understand and that it may not be able to control.

Dept of Number Twos and Bestiality Department.

And finally, this will warm the hearts of vinyl junkies.


Mai of The Fake Accents said...

Hey Jim,
I've been checking your blog regularly for over a year now, and I guess I don't read carefully enough, I didn't realize you were from DC too! Really love what you're doing here, if it weren't for your blog I wouldn't have gotten into the Butthole Surfers as much as I have.
So yeah, thanks for the keeping the indie rock alive.
Would love to know what you'd think of my band's CD. If you're interested, drop us a line at the band website or grudgingly, myspace and we'll work something out. (Alternatively come out to a show!)
But yeah, awesome blog. Makes the deskjob more tolerable.

German Ra said...


Can you put another version of the Cat Power image, this whithout the icons of your desktop?
In fact I found the picture amazing...
and i may as well turn it into my wallpaper.
If you dont want to post it here,
send to my email


ps: love your blog!

Jim H said...

Mai - good to hear from you. I'll try to come out to hear you'all.

German Ra - click on the New York Times link in posting. The picture is still on the NY Times page. Do the click right save thingie and it's all yours.

german ra said...

oh yeah...
i thought the site was only viewed by subscribers.
thank you, i got it now.