June 5, 2005

Loud redefined [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at June 5, 2005 5:39 PM

This week has had quite an impact on my Audioscrobbler charts. Besides the Sleater-Kinney album, I've been listening to a new compliation of Belle & Sebsastian songs, Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, which collects their older EP releases into one set. It would be tough to put together 25 Belle & Sebastian songs and not end up with something excellent, so it probably goes without saying that this is a really good collection. If my neighbors can hear my music, they may be sick of "String Bean Jean" by now (but I'm not).

Sleater-Kinney: The Woods: If you've been reading here for the past week you've figured out that I really like this album. It's very different from their previous record (One Beat), with a sound that's very dense and loud, even for this band. The songs are less political as well, drawing considerable emotional impact from the personal realm. This is the sort of album that doesn't work for background music; it demands your complete attention. "Let's Call It Love" is amazing, an 11-minute track recorded in one take, whose second half is an improvised guitar solo. I'm also very fond of "Rollercoaster", which was the song that ended up playing in my head after the concert last night.

Seeing them live, I realized that I hadn't been playing Sleater-Kinney at the appropriate volume: namely, the volume at which "Combat Rock" threatens to implode your skull. It was a lot of fun just to watch them: drummer Janet Weiss was a continuous blur of motion, like a cartoon drummer hitting everything at once, Carrie Brownstein wrestled her guitar around the stage as if it were trying to escape, and Corin Tucker just stood at the microphone in an apparent attempt to level the building with the raw power of her voice. Some notes:

I think they played all of The Woods, along with a mixture of older songs. The latter got more crowd response, I assume because the album hasn't been out long enough for people to be familiar with the new songs.

Of the older songs that they played, I was particularly glad they chose "Turn It On", which was the first Sleater-Kinney song I heard. At the time I heard it, I had recently started a major search for new music, and "Turn It On" was the first thing I heard that I really liked, so much so that there was a familiarity to it: "This is what I've been looking for."

The song I most wish they had played was "The End of You", which I think would have fit really well with the rest of the set.

It's impossible to take the cowbell seriously after that Saturday Night Live sketch, so when Janet brought it out for "Sympathy" I just started laughing. The way she just flings it aside when the cowbell part ends was also inexplicably funny.

The opening band was Mary Timony, whose latest album I now plan to buy on the strength of her guitar work. Apparently she went through something of a Dungeons and Dragons period in her musical themes, but by now has returned to more standard subjects. (As much of a fantasy geek as I am, I'm skeptical of rock songs about fantasy... I will probably investigate her earlier work out of sheer curiosity, though.)

Next week, I promise to blog about something other than music!


There's nothing wrong with overplaying songs... :)

When do you come into town?

And can I have a ride on Friday to the wedding?

One of my goals this week is to figure out how to successfully navigate Sloan Annex. It's basically a small rat maze of corridors.

Posted by: Mason | June 5, 2005 10:55 PM

I intend to get to Pasadena mid-afternoonish on Wednesday. I can give you a ride to the wedding, but I'm going early so they can take photos of the wedding party before the ceremony. So, you'd have to sit around for two hours.

Ah, I remember trying to navigate Sloan Annex. At least it's a small rat's maze (compared to say Dwinelle Hall in Berkeley). If you see Nai-Chang Yeh in your wanderings, say hi for me. :)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 5, 2005 11:35 PM

Dude, what are you, a self-respecting scientist, doing getting lost in Dwinelle? They do fuzzy thinking over there, which is why their hallways are so twisted.

Posted by: Wren | June 6, 2005 9:35 PM

Ah, I better find out who else has a car. I'd rather not sit around for 2 hours if I can avoid it.

Nai-Chang is two offices away and I have to pass her office to get to mine, so I'm pretty much going to see her every day she's in town. I wonder if she remembers me from frosh year?

Posted by: Mason | June 6, 2005 11:06 PM

Oh, and perhaps there should be dinner on Wednesday night...

Posted by: Mason | June 6, 2005 11:07 PM

Wren: I did have some physics classes in Dwinelle, possibly as a test of the mental acuity of the first-years. Those who don't make the cut wander the halls of the building forever...

Mason: Wednesday night is the rehearsal, so I am unavailable.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 7, 2005 11:09 AM

OK, Thursday night then? I have no idea when anything is. I suppose D & D is still slated for Saturday?

Posted by: Mason | June 7, 2005 3:15 PM

As I understand it, "gaming" (unclear what system) and the Beach are both slated for Saturday. "Why is my bag of holding full of *sand*?"

On a complete tangent...

I started reading _Latter Days_ today, the second to last cerebus book. It's surprisingly entertaining. There is a fair-share of Sim-Drivel, mind you. At times, I feel like I'm reading _Lord of the Flies_, but with the author having flipped around right and wrong. I can read stuff by, say, Jhonen Vasquez and laugh my ass off. I read work by Dave Sim and I am, on occasion, genuinely scared (not, mind you, regarding the story itself). On the other hand, for every bit that Dave Sim is crazy, he's also f-ing brilliant. I think I disturbed Mikemike last night by how hard I was laughing.

If you've ever read any Cerebus, I'd highly recommend giving it a read. Of course, that means wading through the previous ~20 years of comics. At times it doesn't seem like it *coughREADScoughcough*, but in retrospect the entire work is really enjoyable (well, I still have 1.1 books to go).

Gazebo, I think you have a few of the older books? Mind bringing them down with you? I think Mikemike was interested in reading some. I think he's only read Flight-Women-Reads, so I think he could really use a proper aardvark edjucation.

I'll leave you with this little "moment of zen" (spoiler free, but a little snippet from the book):

Can you imagine Cerebus discussing the finer points of pronoun selection in selected passages from the Torah?

Posted by: Lemming | June 7, 2005 4:23 PM

Oh, and the answer is that Nai-Chang does _not_ remember me, though she said (after the fact) that I looked familiar. She also thought I looked like a student, so I have now been confused for a student (including by people younger than me) something like 6 times since I got here. I need to enjoy this while this lasts... (The best one, though, is when I was introduced to a couple grad students in the same group and one of them asked me if I was a SURF student. I told them that I was about 9 years ago...)

Posted by: Mason | June 7, 2005 4:56 PM
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