Wednesday, June 16, 2004

bits 'n' bots

The Veils - "Lavinia"
I'd already heard and liked the single version of this song, but hearing the lead singer sing it accompanied only by an acoustic guitar brought it to another level, for me. I still don't have much of a clue of what he's talking about (whatever it is, it sounds Important!), but the cracked, leaping emotion in his voice more than made up for it, carrying enough meaning for anybody to grasp. It's kind of like the pain of slithering over broken glass. What really struck me, though, is how much he sounded like Archie Shepp's saxophone in his ability to transcend a melody with a splintered tone. It might get over-bearing if he does it for every song (I haven't heard any others), but it works very well here. Speaking of acoustic versions...

Phoenix - "Everything Is Everything"
Caught the last minute or so of a voice + acoustic guitar version of this while shopping for a clothesline. While you'd guess such a version would involve high-energy staccato strumming, this was a slow and somber rendition that eliminated the original version's tension between bubbling rhythm and downcast lyrics. Very weird, but not in a good way, unfortunately.

Take your time
Listening to Hail To The Thief (remember that album?), I found myself wishing that writers could wait 3, 6 or 9 months before reviewing an album. Let it sink into your subconcious rather than force 10 listens into a week. A high-school french teacher once compared cramming for an exam to splashing water into a glass, as opposed to slowly pouring it in. In which case does more water end up in the glass? I find that even when I haven't listened to something for a month or more, it has discretely worked its way around my mind. Maybe I have a more time-elastic reaction to music than up-to-the-zeitgeist music journalism demands. A blogger who shall remain nameless because I can't remember who it was described situations in which the reviewer is aloud one listen, supervised by label employees, before writing the article. Good enough reason to remain an amateur.

Lenny Kravitz - "Where Are We Runnin'?"
Have you seen the video to this? It's kind of like an art-house-meets-Led Zeppelin version of Britney's "Everytime" video, isn't it? For Lenny, even debauchery is done in a 70s style. As for the song, well, you think it's going to get good when Kravitz shouts "Where you runnin', girl?" to kick off the drum breakdown, but then, instead of a Polaroid picture moment, all we get a short guitar solo. My screen is congenitally dark, I can't make out the last scene, when Lenny is looking at himself in the mirror. Does anything interesting happen?

Candi Staton
I checked out the Candi Staton reissue after hearing so much raving about it, only to find it rather predictable. I'm glad to see that I'm no longer in a minority of one, even though I'm far from [fretting] sometimes that I've probably heard all the great early-'70s deep Southern-soul records already. Of course, the album is also totally irresistable, if only because the soul music template is coming from is totally timeless (check out those quietly hopping trumpets on "He Called Me Baby").