Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Birthday

So, on this day, I thought I would post one of my favorite songs from last year. For a few minutes, life becomes exciting, dreamy, endless, mobile, full of possibility.

The song is "Quick Canal," the band is Atlas Sound, the album is Logos, and the woman's voice is that of Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. Atlas Sound is the 'side' project of Bradford Cox, he of the band Deerhunter, another one of my favorite bands of the last few years. Turn it up.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Joy Division's Pop Moment

For some reason, people consider Joy Division above criticism... in the same way that for baby boomers, Jimi Hendrix is beyond criticism. They are artists who share similar trajectories and legacies, death punctuating their careers (I say "punctuated" because their careers have continued long after the deaths of Hendrix and Curtis). I'm not a terribly big fan of either, but I do understand why people tend to eulogize and worship them.

My discovery of Joy Division came with their compilation album Substance, which was basically a collection of random songs and singles which had not been featured on their two proper albums, Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980). I loved Substance, partly because it had a clear arc from its punk-ish first song ("Warsaw") to the inevitable and obvious concluding song "Love Will Tear Us Apart." People not into Joy Division but who are somewhat familiar with the name will know the latter song. It is famous for many reasons. The singer, Ian Curtis, after all, committed suicide only weeks after recording the song which ostensibly captured some inescapably poignant moment in his descent into desperation. But the song is also hummable, with a melancholy and maddeningly catchy melody, not difficult to dance to, aided by a propulsive drum beat advancing the minutes along. It's first and foremost a pop song, even if it emerged from the heart of the post-punk moment when discord and dissonance were the central aesthetics. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was for people who didn't really like or take to punk (or post-punk) but who could claim some modicum of hipness. Sort of like when liking R.E.M. in the eighties made you "edgy," you know, so you didn't actually have to listen to Husker Du or Mission of Burma. The song was made for a movie featuring John Cusack.

Yet, yet, yet, the song is undeniably beautiful and brilliant. It's not the best Joy Division song (probably "She's Lost Control" or "Isolation") but it may be the only song they ever recorded which had an emotionally vulnerable center. Ineffably sad. Like Polka dot sounded on the phone.

Here, then, is Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" followed by a version by (the?) Swans. The latter has been completely disavowed by Michael Gira as a horrible misstep but I find it strangely poignant in itself. Maybe it's because I know Gira's story too, which while not as terminally dramatic as that of Ian Curtis is still a story of sadness.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Joy Of Speed EP (song 1)


In my first science fiction novel
I wrote myself cartwheeling over a deserted highway
In a brand new spaceship
That flew over my father's car

He drove for miles past the lights
In the backseat I rolled down the window just a little
Pushed my nose against the glass
But I couldn't make out any stars

And then the boy left his home
He grew arms as big as his memories
But they never could reach far enough
when he looked down from his spaceship
He was now invisible

I need to get up, I need to wash my face
I need to make constant plans to travel from place to place
Arriving and departing all at once
I fall asleep the moment I wake up

And in my dreams, I'm with my dad again
Packed into the backseat on a trip across the state
I'm blowing air on the window
Blotting out the sky outside up above

And then the boy left his home
He grew arms as big as his memories
But they never could reach far enough
As he looked down from his spaceship
I was now invisible

Joy -- Invisible [mp3]

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Top 10 Movies of the '00s

My Top 10 Movies of the '00s

10. The Family Man (2000)
9. The Wicker Man (2006)
8. National Treasure (2004)
7. Ghost Rider (2007)
6. Knowing (2009)
5. Next (2007)
4. Lord Of War (2005)
3. Matchstick Men (2003)
2. The Weather Man (2005)
1. Adaptation (2002)

Am excitedly waiting for Season of the Witch (2010).

Life is good.