tremble clef

Friday, June 30, 2006

Lemon Jelly, "Soft" (2003)

"But-but-but," I hear my two readers cry, "where in the world is Brittle-Lemon? Where has he gallivanted off to?" To which I say, first of all, that you shouldn't end a sentence or even a question with a preposition. Second, here's a hint: I'm in the city that gives its name to the band who recorded the song that this track samples, which is connected to the thigh bone which is connected to the cat that swallowed the fly. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Whitest Boy Alive, "All Ears" (2006)

Erlend Øye's new project is called Whitest Boy Alive, and their forthcoming album, Dreams, which was recorded live in the studio, is comprised of ten gentle rock tracks. I feel like Erlend, usually a good comedian, has blown the punchline here. I mean, if you're going to call a band "Whitest Boy Alive," shouldn't you have made an album of, say, gospel or hip-hop songs? Yes, I see you in the corner there, Bloc Party, but indie is already the whitest genre alive. It's like Death Cab For Cutie renaming themselves "So Emotional."

Since I'm not the biggest fan of that genre, the project is less exciting to me than Erlend's day job, or his electronic solo work. The singles "Burning" and "Inflation" are fine, I guess, and I also quite like this song, a bluesy ballad that comes closest to Kings Of Convenience's work. I once made a compilation for some friends; the cover for the CD featured a picture of their dog, who was well-known for being one of the greatest canines in history, and for having asymmetrical ears, since one was perpetually folded over. The title I gave that CD was All Ears. Ha! I slay myself. There are two things, however, I regret about that mix CD. One: this song was not around to act as a title track. Two: its cover subject left us a few months ago, and consequently a huge hole in the hearts of the many people who loved him.

On a happier note, I am taking the rest of the week off to go visit that dog's parents. There'll probably be a post the next few days, but full service will only resume early next week.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mara Carlyle, "I Blame You Not" (2005)

"I blame you not/Although my heaaaaart is breaking/Love, ever lost to me/Love's lost for good/I blame you not, I blame you not."

For this modern day torch song, Mara Carlyle -- a ukulele-playing chanteuse who's worked with Plaid, Jamie Lidell, and Matthew Herbert (to whose label she's signed) -- we are in a smoky bar, in the time after the breakup. A time for self-examination, for deciding what went wrong when.

So: "I blame you not/I blame you not/Although you shine like a diamond/There's no light to your heart/I've known so long." In other words, it's not me, it's you. Not me. You. But I don't blame you.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Handsomeboy Technique, "A Walk Across The Rooftops" (2005)

Tee woke me early yesterday, telling me there's something in his backyard I needed to see. Groggily and grudgingly I stumbled to the sliding glass door, where he indicated to me, through a series of complicated hand gestures and base-stealing signals, the need for us to be cautious and tip-toey. I stuck my sleepy head a couple of inches out the door, and turned it to the left. I heard it before I saw it: a series of high-pitched squeaking, wailing sounds, all emitting from a raccoon.

He was not exactly a baby, but certainly a youngster -- only slightly longer than a foot -- and he was hurdled in a corner of the deck. We immediately named him Zorro. Zorro kept up his whimpers, and showed no inclination to move, even though by this time we had inched closer to him.

Actually, Tee and I had to take turns inching closer: a concern was that Heather, Tee's dog, not catch wind of what was going, so one of us had to guard the back door at all times. Heather usually bolts to the rear of the house the moment she hears the click of the glass door opening; but at that moment she was in a lazy Sunday kinda mood, perhaps nursing a Saturday night hangover, and thus napping on the couch. But, like any good dog, she normally loves the backyard and being in it. Maybe more than what is normal: a couple of days ago I had dropped a container of shredded cheese in the kitchen. Between curses, I cleaned up the stuff that had fallen on the floor, and then shook out the rug, on which the rest had landed, in the backyard. Heather loves cheese (along with peanuts and popcorn), so the next time she went outside she immediately picked up the scent and headed straight for the relevant flowerbed, where she proceeded to do some serious hoovering. With the result that Heather now thinks that cheese magically grows in the garden, which further cements her love of the backyard.

Anyway, we didn't want Heather running out to the deck and yard and tussling with Zorro. She's a small little Westie, but labors under the illusion that she's a strapping heroic dog. Except when there is thunder, but that's another story.

We watched Zorro for a while, and started to think that he was hurt. Yeah, the crying tipped us off. These suspicions were confirmed when Zorro finally moved around on the deck -- slowly, and with a noticeable limp. Tee now remembered that he had heard a thud right before Zorro started crying; his theory was therefore that Zorro's mom had taken the family out for a walk on his rooftop, and poor Zorro had fallen and broken his leg. I had no theory of my own, and I didn't like Tee's, but it certainly seem like it might be what happened.

Tee has always been convinced that his backyard is like the Garden Of Death. Oh, the plants and flowers are all fine -- Tee has green fingers -- but it seems that animals who visit are accident-prone. Numerous birds, it hardly needs to be said, have flown into the glass door. Though I think the neon sign we have put up on it, saying "SEEDS AND FREE BEER HERE!" doesn't help. Then there was the time Tee discovered (and thankfully freed) a feathered friend with his head somehow stuck in the feeder. Not so lucky were the birds -- six or eight of them over the years -- that Tee has found drowned in his fountain. They lean in for a drink of water, ignoring the perfectly good bird bath that's been set up elsewhere in the yard, underestimate the depth of the water, and fall in. If the birds had only read their Greek classics carefully in school, they would have avoided their grisly fate. (I asked Tee what he does with the bodies, and he said that he throws them over the fence he shares with his neighbor; I'm not sure if he's kidding.) By way of comfort, I pointed out that the garden has played host to new life too -- there was the baby kitten he found in it one time and thus had to place with a good home. Later, an adult cat, whom he nicknamed Kitty Carlisle, who may be the mother, started coming around, and recently has in fact looked threateningly pregnant. I reminded Tee of these, and then did my best Jennifer Hudson and launched into a verse of "Circle Of Life," but Tee remained a bit glum.

With good reason. Even as I was singing "Siyo Nqoba!" Zorro had continued -- or possibly increased, go figure -- his crying. And even while singing, I was thinking about some story I once read, by either David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, in which he had to drown a rabbit to put it out of its misery. Zorro at least had, by this time, made his slow, crippled way across the deck and tucked himself into a crevice formed by the edge of that deck and a flowerbed. He put his little snout on the deck, and the crying became much softer.

Tee and I decided that we couldn't watch any more, closed the door, and went back to the living room to sit down. Tee begun to talk himself into believing that perhaps Zorro's leg wasn't broken after all. "Maybe," he said hopefully, "he fell and was just dazed, and crying more because he was out exposed in the open." "He did stop crying, more or less, once he managed to take cover in the flowerbed," I added and abetted.

To not do a good job off taking our minds off Zorro, Tee talked about another raccoon that he misguidedly tried to have as a pet as a kid. He also told me about the time when a very young him found some birds that had landed on a freshly paved road. The tar stuck to their feet, and they couldn't fly away, and instead flailed about helplessly and in great agony on the ground. Tee tried to get most of the tar off, but too much of it had dried. Tee's mother took him aside, and explained how the thing they needed to do was put the birds out of their pain. Which she did, making sure that Tee went with her to watch her do so. "And I was very grateful she did," Tee said. There are so many lessons we learn from our mothers, not least the difficult and essential one about compassion, and at that moment Tee was thinking, as I was, of his late mom. Later we went back out to the yard, and Zorro was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was indeed merely dazed, and once he shook it off, was able to scamper away. Perhaps he had crawled under the deck, where he would get better, and then eventually crawl away. In my mind, of course, perhaps he even finds his mother again.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Scritti Politti, "The Boom Boom Bap"/"Locked" (2006)

Even on Scritti Politti's most successful 80s albums, Cupid & Psyche 85 and Provision, the songs for which I had a soft spot were the ballads. On the former, for instance, was "A Little Knowledge." To this day, the chorus couplet -- "There'll be a day, lovers away/You can call me, and mend a broken heart/There'll be a time, long after mine/He will call you, and mend a broken heart," which then boggled my mind with the brilliantly pathetic notion that time could be measured in terms of spurning lovers (especially since it was followed by a gorgeous keyboard part) -- still reduces me to a blubbering mess. On the latter album, we have "Overnite": although its chorus ("Overnite, and while your trouble's away/Under the stars up above, I'll build you another day/Close your eyes, I'll be home before it's light/And all the tears you cry, will dry in the dead of night") wasn't quite as devastating, it still had the ability to inflict flesh wounds on my pussy of a soul. And even on Anomie and Bonhomie, there was the lush "Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder," and that's not even to go into the better-known singles like "Oh Patti" or "The Word Girl."

Those ballads provide the idiom for much of White Bread Black Beer, Green Gartside's first new album, discounting last year's Early compilation, since 1999. That is: it's generally a quiet affair, mostly devoid of the punk energies of his early work, the funk of his 80s output, or the hip-hop sounds of Anomie. (Even a track like "Dr. Abernathy," which concludes with some lively guitars, starts as a gentle ballad, while "Robin Hood," which begins and is interspersed with beatboxing, is largely a lolling number.) Green, it would seem, is in a mellow mood.

On this album, that mellowness doesn't find expression in especially instant pop melodies, so it will take more plays before the album becomes more substantial. But I'm willing to award the album those repeated plays, and there are already some standouts to tide me over until the whole record clicks. Foremost among these is the lead single, "The Boom Boom Bap." The title refers to the drum sound on early hip-hop records; that and the fact that Green caressingly sings all nine track titles from Run-DMC's debut album towards the end confirms that the song is a nostalgic tribute to hip-hop. Indeed, the track takes the vocabulary and rhythms of hip-hop ("singing dollar dollar bill") and recasts them as a love song, so that, at its close, Green's declaration -- "I love you still/I always will") -- is both specific and general in its ardor.

Bonus: on promo copies of White Bread Black Beer, track 12 was titled "Kylie Ballad." It's since been renamed "Locked," but my guess is that, apart from contributing vocals to Ms. Minogue's "Someday" on her Body Language album, Green also offered her this song. You can see why it didn't make the cut: although it starts with some beautiful instrumentation, it also gets a little messy and unfocused by the end, and is in general too subtle to costar on a pop princess's album. But listen more, and you might hear the loveliness that Kylie missed out on. That guitar. Typically spine-tingling multi-tracked vocals. A cryptically beautiful line: "I'll close and lock the door/If you'll be there."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shout Out Louds, "The Comeback (Tommie Sunshine Radio Edit)" (2005)

You're in a restaurant with your unruly brood. The boy is in an especially bad mood, and although he picked out his own lunch, is finding it categorically not to his liking. He bitches and whines, and the battle to get him to eat culminates, as we all know it must, with him screaming, "I HATE YOU!!!"

Do you say:
1. "Tough. I love you, and always will, no matter what"?
2. "I hate you too"?
3. "Great. Now I can stop putting money into your fucking college fund"?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ane Brun, "Temporary Dive" (2005)

"I fell down in that hole again/I am a lump of jelly, I am a dead fish/I look up at the blue sky/And I know it's just a temporary dive."

In this sparse, chilly, and beautiful song -- think Suzanne Vega in her "Cracking" or "Small Blue Thing" moments -- Norwegian folkster Ane Brun sings of the "holes" that we fall into. Despite the arctic bleakness of the melody, the lyric speaks with a voice of hope: such holes, she tells us with faith, are merely "temporary dives." Somewhat worringly, it's not the first time she has fallen: "again." If, on the one hand, the repeated nature of these setbacks gives the lie to her certainty (if she is falling habitually, is each fall as much "temporary" as they are part of a serial failure?), it paradoxically also provides the proof to that faith (since she must have had the experience of getting out, again and again).

Faith and blue skies only go so far, though. The holes, they are everywhere. "And even though I read maps to avoid them, they change locations everyday/And somehow, all of my traces, they vanish." Still, one carries on, because the alternatives are untenable. "But shall one stay put? Shall one stay low? Shall one not go? Just to avoid this hole?"

Friday, June 16, 2006

Heaven 17, "Come Live With Me" (1983)

I feel like I'm reliving my past. I have a current summer reading list filled with a number of works by gay male writers, all of whom published their first books in the late 80s. Joe Keenan. John Weir. Stephen McCauley.

In the last writer's Alternatives To Sex, I read a line that makes me grimace and laugh, because it is sadly and hilariously true: "Going out with significantly younger lovers does wonders for a man's confidence, physique, and complexion, but it's always a disaster for his wardrobe."

Somewhere, sometime ago, two men are lying in bed, as you do. They may be more than a little drunk, or certainly very giddy. The younger one is regaling the other with a rambling but majestic, and slightly funny, dissertation about what he calls the greatest hits of pedophilia. He sings selections from that imaginary Rick Dees countdown. I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine. Young girl, get out of my mind! My love for you is way out of line! Pretty young thing, repeat after me, say na-na-na!

And: "I was thirty-seven, you were seventeen/You were half my age, the youth I never seen. Scandalous! But, you know, actually it's oddly touching. A plea. A lament, if you will. It's not like the singer is clueless. My friends began to talk, I began to realize/If half the things they say are quarter true of me/Then how can I eclipse the youth you gave to set me free? He's asking his younger lover to leave freedom behind. Stop playing the field! Commit! Be with me. Come live with me. Kiss the boys goodbye. Come live with me. Kiss the boys gooooodbyyyeeeee, kiss the boys goodbye."

The then younger man sings a few more verses; almost the entire song, and his voice suddenly seems like it cannot be hushed enough for the still night. The men are quiet for a moment. Giggled out, perhaps, but one of them might be thinking about how those roles don't always line up that neatly. Then, eventually, they both drift off.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lily Allen, "Everything's Just Wonderful" (2006)

It's probably too early -- or perhaps I haven't kept up enough, despite her status as the internet's new music phenomenon, with all the press and debates -- to tell if Lily Allen's persona is close to who she is, or a put-on or even a parody (cockney? Mockney? Or mocking mockney?). And perhaps it's not all that interesting a question or dichotomy, except that it affects, to some extent, the point of "Everything's Just Wonderful."

The most energetic and snazziest thing on her forthcoming album Alright, Still -- with its rolling breakbeat and funky drummeresque rhythms, the track strikes me as not a million miles away from the Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man" -- "Everything's Just Wonderful" sees Lily detail the wonky state of the world today. "Everything, everything, everyone, is goin' mental/It seems to me, we're spiralling out of control." She is up against "bureaucrats, who won't give [her] a mortage," body fascists in the media, who make her feel guilty for eating spaghetti bolognese, and imply that if she would only "buy those jeans [she] could look like Kate Moss." (Compare Skye Edwards, who on the song "What's Wrong With Me" has a few similar problems.)

But she doesn't see much she can do, though. "Oh well, I guess I mustn't grumble/I suppose it's just the way the cookie crumbles/Oh yes, I'm fine, everything's just wonderful/I'm having the time of my life." Are such lines, and the overall sentiment of the song, a realistic portrayal of how difficult it is to fight against the system? Or a satire of the way some people, such as the narrator who inhabits the song, fall prey way too easily to apathy, resignation, and acceptance, when they should be more proactive about breaking out of a rut? Not easy to tell, but I guess that's one thing that keeps us listening.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Eileen Wilson (for Susan Hayward, playing Helen Lawson), "I'll Plant My Own Tree" (1967)

O glorious day: at long last the DVD of The Greatest Movie Ever Made is released in North America today. A movie that made me the man I am today: namely, someone who knows, mother, to do his bust exercises every day, and always holds on tight to his wig when in the powder room. I can only be talking, of course, about Valley Of The Dolls.

It seems like only yesterday, as opposed to at least ten years ago, when I was scurrying around the video stores of Washington DC searching for a VHS copy of the film to present as a gift to the best friend who first introduced me to the movie. At one branch of Capitol Video they only had a copy to rent, but the clerk offered to call their other store, where, lo and behold, they did have one to sell. When I made it into that store, I barely got my "I think you have a video on hold --" sentence out before the man behind the counter, other customers and security cameras be damned, shrieked, "I'M NEEEELY O'HAAARRRAAAAA!!!" I was so excited, Jen, I couldn't feel my legs.

What's so great about this movie? Hello, what's not great about it? A tale of three young ingenues who go to Hollywood and tragically descend into drugs, nervous breakdowns, and unflattering special effects montages, Valley Of The Dolls, as another good friend believed, holds all the answers to life. Such as:

1. Sanitariums (which are emphatically not nuthouses) are very expensive.

2. You can always do the second act before the first.

3. Little whores make you feel nine feet tall.

4. Never swallow one pill -- or, for that mater, an M&M -- calmly when you could grab a handful and violently shove them into your mouth like you're discovering your orifices for the first time.

5. In the final reckoning, just let them droop.

That so many of these life lessons are contained in song is only the icing on the cake. When Tony Scotti's Tony sings "Come Live With Me," it's touching enough the first time, when he is onstage mouthing it "flirtatously" to Sharon Tate's Jennifer in the audience, her eyes darting about nervously, coyly, and incompetently until she realizes that the boyfriend by her side in the club is oblivious to the shenanigans anyway, what with being a million years old and in a waking coma. But when poor Tony reprises the song later in the film -- oh. My. God. Neely, in the sanitarium to dry out, gets the piano player (present at every recreation hour in sanitariums across America, apparently) to play Tony's hit, and the strains awakens some memory in a slumbering man with a degenerative disease in a wheelchair. Look, it's Tony! What a convenient coincidence! He pipes up, joins Neely in a verse, and then drifts off again and is wheeled off for the rest of his lobotomy. How can anyone not be in tears by this point, I don't know.

And then there is the showstopping "I'll Plant My Own Tree," as lovingly rendered, complete with awkward shoulder thrusts and bizarre vocal emphases, by Susan Hayward's Helen "The Only Hit" Lawson on stage while, as many other wags have noticed, trying to avoid being decapitated by a random giant mobile.

"I'll PLANT! My own tree. And I'll MAKE! IT! GROW! My TREE! Will not be! Just ONE in A ROW!" Yes! Her tree really really really wanna zigazig ha.

"My tree will offer shade, when strangers go by! If you're a stranger, brother, well so am I." A deep existential dilemma, this. Her tree is there to offer shade to strangers; it's a friendly, welcoming, non-discriminating tree. But -- ah, who is the stranger, really? Maybe we are all strangers to ourselves. (Spoooooky music.)

"Come tomorrow all that I see is my tree, oh, Lord, what a sight! Let someone stop me and I will put up a fight!" It's a day later, and the tree has been snacking on some serious Miracle Growth. It's completely taken over her ocular world. So let someone stop me...from what? From seeing the tree? If someone is trying to gouge out her eyes, you can believe Helen Lawson ain't gonna stand for that. As well she shouldn't.

"It's MY YARD! So I will TRY HARD! To welcome friends I have yet to know!" Ever the constant gardener of hospitality, Helen teaches us to take pride in our flowers and weeds. This should be adopted as the manifesto for the National Gardening Association. Or maybe an advertising jingle. It's MY TOOL! And I am NO FOOL! It's MY PLOW! And boy do I KNOW HOW! It's MY RAKE! And it's not HALF-BAKED! It's MY HOE! So STEP OFF, YO!

"Oh, I'll plant my own tree, my own tree, and I'll! Make! It! GROW!!" Now get out of my way, I've got a man waiting for me, etc..

Monday, June 12, 2006

Junior Boys, "In The Morning"/"The Equalizer" (2006)

There are, for me, two standout tracks on Junior Boys' So This Is Goodbye -- the most interesting electronic album, Hot Chip's -- but I enjoy them for quite different reasons. One is relentlessly unstoppable; the other stops and changes direction. (Actually, a third track, "Count Souvenirs," is also very striking to me, but mostly because I can't stop singing the melody of Depeche Mode's "Strangelove" over the verses.)

The lead single from the album, "In The Morning" (a collaboration with Mouse On Mars' Andi Toma, a fact I state as if it means anything or makes any difference to me) is the most immediate track, and it's remarkably unlike much of the band's output. I didn't really notice this at first, because Jeremy Greenspan's mopey voice is so distinct that any record with his vocals feels like it is at least part of the same spectrum. But "In The Morning" is funkier than any Junior Boys record has been up to this point: with its stuttering beat, arpeggiated synth riff, squelchy acid noises, and a vocal track consisting of sharp huffs and puffs and even some hiccups, the song recalls, weirdly enough, Prince and Michael Jackson (even more specifically: The Jacksons' "State Of Shock").

Although "In The Morning" grooves and struts like nobody's business, Jeremy's voice, the thudding bass and, let's face it, the lack of melodic variation -- which the Boys have turned into a strength, building lots of rhythmic modulations around that melodic stillness -- means that the song retains a kind of gloomy heaviness. As funky as it is, "In The Morning" is never going to be described as light on its feet. "The Equalizer" begins like it wouldn't dream of bucking that trend: the bass is not quite as heavy, but the rhythm is singlemindedly grinding and the ominous squelches are again present. But then: we go into the chorus with a killer chord change, and the effect is that of a dense fog suddenly and miraculously lifting. "Springtime, you're gonna wish that we were friends/Then we talk; you'll never feel so sure again/So now, there'll be no lessons, no more cures/Till you get yours, baby, in the end." Strange how a threat can sound so sweet. That chorus may or may not be a meta comment, but in that moment it does feel like springtime, and I'm so enjoying getting mine.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tennishero, "Alone" (2006)

Since a rule of business is that small companies need to specialize to survive, I've decided that Tremble Clef, fighting for life in a crowded blog market, will now only post tracks by male Swedish duos.

Mmmm. Not really. But for today, we have Tennishero, made up of Jens Andersson and Alex Berg from Gothenberg. Their similarity to the Le Sports and Lo-Fi-Fnks of the world, however, begins and ends with their nationality, the band composition, and the need of today's entry to begin with an untrue gag. For sonically Tennishero belongs more in a category with Röyksopp or Bent or Air, being more electronica than electropop.

Of course, this is based on my hearing just one of their songs. "Alone" is quite a corker, though: a dreamy and swooping track that's mostly made up of a gliding keyboard riff that rises and falls. The riff sounds a bit like the lovechild of Xploding Plastix's "Sunset Spirals," perhaps with a dash of The Radio Dept's "We Climb The Wired Fences" tossed in (and if you know those tracks and references, then we should join forces and conquer the world). There's a bit of a bounce to "Alone," one that Morgan Geist or Alan Braxe might be proud of. And the track also has a wisp of a vocal -- though that mainly consists of a line about, wahey, feeling all alone -- provided by Chelonis R. Jones, the Get Physical singer who's guested on Röyksopp records. Well done, everyone concerned.

I heard this track on the current Hedkandi compilation Serve Chilled, which collects music for those lazy beach days. Which will hopefully describe the rest of my week, as I head off for some sun, surf, sand. Be back Thursday or Friday (probably).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nouvelle Vague, "Don't Go" (2006)

Once, years ago, complaining about my life, I misspoke and said that I had "so much work, it was coming out my yazoo."

That yazoo was firmly planted, for much of yesterday, on three long flights. Aside from the screaming baby on one of them -- I don't know why they can't make infants travel in cargo -- it wasn't too bad. Exit row seats are great: no one in front of you to cramp your style. However, the people behind you can be a problem, such as the woman who kept poking me in the lower back. Moreover, she felt compelled to keep going through the seat pocket in front of her. What was she expecting to find every few minutes? There're no magical first class upgrades stashed away in there. It felt like she was sticking her hands down my pants and fingering my ass every few minutes. I contemplated turning around and, in an effort to shame her into stopping, shriek, "LADY!! Stop with the prostate massages already! I DON'T LIKE YOU THAT WAY!!!" Instead, I just passively-aggressively reclined my seat further. Maybe I even learned to like it.

On the original version of "Don't Go" by Yazoo -- called "Yaz" in the US, and if this had happened all over the world I would have been spared my wazoo humiliation -- Alison Moyet sung with a kind of desperate, anguished hysteria. Frenchmen Marc Collins and Olivier Libaux's group, after one album on which they reinterpreted new wave classics in bossa nova style, has already become a bit of a predictable proposition by this point. Yet, their cover of Yazoo, on the second album Bande à Part, is surprising and not unrevelatory. Choosing to use a male vocalist -- Gerald Toto -- instead of drawing from their usual stable of sweet-voiced and intentionally vapid female singers, Nouvelle Vague tweaks "Don't Go" so that it sounds more hopeless. "Don't go," but she may already have left. Gerald's voice is imploring, but bruised and resigned; accordingly, unlike Alison, who alternates between singing the title phrase by ascending and descending the notes, Gerald sticks to the latter. Indeed, he only goes up the scale exactly once, at what is almost the precise mid-point of the song; his voice turns more tremulous, and sounds like it would break with the effort. Almost all of Nouvelle Vague's tracks have struck me as enjoyable but, yes, kitschy and thus fairly disposable; but this, in packing an emotional punch, is likely to be something I'll listen to and treasure for a while.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Actual Tigers, "End Of May" (2001)

I am so literal.

(Except that Blogger defeats me by being inaccessible all through the day this post was supposed to go up.)

The Actual Tigers: a Seattle-based quintet, now defunct, who released one album Gravelled and Green. It wasn't especially outstanding, but does include this pretty chamber pop number -- acoustic guitars, oboe, violin, whistling -- that owes something, melodically, to the Beatles. It even sounds like it could be sung by Paul McCartney, though it's really Tim Seely, who now performs solo. The song mourns a relationship's end. "Thinking about you is the icing on the cake/Makes me realize the fact you're gone for good/For goodness sake." "Golden haze, another morning feels like yesterday/End of May, a year is gone and I still feel this way/And when we meet again I'll ask you how you're doing/And you'll say fine and ask me how I'm doing/And then I'll lie and I'll say ordinary, it's just an ordinary day."

Same time next year: Keren Ann's "End Of May."