Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Besnard Lakes

Well, it's my last night in Moscow. Goodbye to Russia and all that. For some reason, Moscow makes me tired in a way that New York doesn't. I've been here a week and I feel exhausted. Walking the streets of Moscow, you see posters for lots of shows coming up: System of a Down, Roger Waters (doing The Wall!), Whitesnake, and Shakira. Yes, I have now mentioned both System of a Down and Whitesnake in my blog, and I did not do that out of irony. I took the picture on the left on Wednesday, walking near the U.S. embassy on my way to the nearest subway station (Smolenskaya). Whitesnake is playing Moscow on June 2. I would imagine that the guy in Whitesnake is, like 70 years old. But that seems like a small obstacle to be able to do "Here We Go Again" in Moscow, right?

Like any major big city outside the West that is caught in the whirlwind of swift-paced 'modernization,' Moscow is a bundle of contradictions. But I think, more than any other place I've been to, it thrives on kitsch but without the self-consciousness of knowing that it's kitsch. In other words, there's lots of bad taste in Moscow. That doesn't mean that people don't do haute culture or whatever you wanna call it. There's an abundance of that. But once you get below the radar level of say, a Mozart opera or a exhibit about Suprematism, it's pretty much a straight nose dive to, um, the Black Eyed Peas or Talo Cruz or whatever. Or the exhumed corpse of bad Whitesnake (yes, back in the mid-1970s, there was a brief moment---mind you, a very brief moment---when it was thought possible that Whitesnake might be a respectable band, having emerged out of the cadaver of Deep Purple, an actually good band; but alas Whitesnake's future hand in single handedly inventing hair metal has made us all forget that moment).

But there are, of course, people who like decent pop culture here. I remember that Laika played here back many years ago. I think the reunited Swans played here recently. I see that a lot of bands/musicians go through here, tap into the subculture, and then leave. There's cool stuff going on in Moscow but it's a bit difficult to track down.

One of my favorite tracks on the iPod here in Moscow was the Besnard Lakes' "Albatross.' This is a band that plays big music. They are the bastard progeny of My Bloody Valentine crossed with circa 1966 Beach Boys. Based in Canada, they put out one of my favorite albums from last year, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night. Apparently a husband-and-wife team affair, kinda like Thurston and Kim. Or Bert and Ernie. Crank it up and get washed over by the wash of candy fuzz distortion. Goodbye Moscow. Enjoy