Get this now.
Who can possibly top a gay porn actor costar? Mom.
Here, Put Your Back N 2 It tear-jerker “Dark Parts” is put to video, starring Mike Hadreas and his mother doing normal family things – playing scrabble, climbing trees, and doing a choreographed dance around a fire pit.
Take Messina: you’d be impressed and even sad
that I remember. The crag of mottled faces
the rocks made like old pensioners in back pages
of a magazine. The light as bright as dentistry.
In Messina you’re alone‚ available‚ the youth
in your face still rising. As if there’ll be no end
to youth and solitude‚ the sea below Messina
answers: solitude is beauty‚ even after you
get cold‚ go back to the hotel‚ and light
begins to change‚ to fade‚ at each stage resonant.
Messina? I have never been. You told the story
quickly when I loved you; now here it is
exactly as you left it‚ its old stone faces
alternately old and then like children‚ elated by a fallen tooth.
The newest video from Computer Magic, shot entirely on an iphone.
It’s not news to anyone that there is and always has been a debate going on in all art forms between the experimentalist, boundary pushers, and the tried-and-true realists. I like to think about Lambchop’s new album Mr. M in this context. Originally called a country band, and now thought of as a sort of minimalist, lounge-singing, alt-country collective, Lambchop have always been tagged with the hackneyed phrase, “genre-defying.” And with their new album, that label is as pervasive as ever.
Kurt Wagner and co. aren’t reinventing the game here; that’s not their point. But I don’t want to say that they are going back to basics either – there’s nothing basic about this music. In fact, one of the album’s biggest successes lies in its ability to at first come off as being simple, until, after multiple listens, it reveals itself to be anything but. One can go crazy thinking about what category this album fits into. Some of the best albums ever made can stake claim to this same idea. But Kurt Wagner and his band aren’t concerned with inscrutability. They simply don’t care.
Like Tom Wait’s early albums, Mr. M sounds like the late-night, lovelorn laments of a man who’s had too many drinks at a bar. It’s humble. It’s sad. The band, who at any given time is comprised of somewhere between seven and, I don’t know, twenty-something members, manages to fit their dense instrumentation into a small box of sound. In fact, this box is often so small that it can be shocking to hear just how many people are actually playing at once. But this is not the less-is-more ideology at work. No, it’s the more-is-more ideology. It’s the we’re-all-in-this-together ideology. And with the band’s vision as well-developed as it is on this album, who cares how many people are playing guitar?
That said, Wagner’s lyrics are the stand-out here. They are completely in tune with the music behind him. Lines like “Don’t know what the fuck they talk about,” or “It was good to talk to you while we’re cooking. Sounds like we’re making the same thing,” are more affecting than other bands’ entire careers. There’s a wise, almost lamenting, nostalgia to the album, like an old man on a porch talking about the way things used to be and the mistakes he made (which I suspect is not far off). The seven minute long poem-put-to-music, “Mr. Met”, is maybe the best example of this. Take this stanza:
Sound makes us visual,
Life made you beautiful,
Hate makes us powerless,
Turn on a radio.
These lines epitomize what the entire album is all about: it’s about trying to make sense of the past, and ultimately forgetting it, through music.
And then there’s the line in “Kind Of,” where Wagner says in an all-too-familiar way: “It’s not how much you make, but what you earn.” This line is frustratingly relatable, upsettingly insightful; it symbolizes what’s going on in the world right now. Coming from a country band helmed by a fifty-something chain smoker, this seems like quite the feat. And it is. Mr. M is so well-realized, it’s hard to imagine it not touching everyone who listens to it.
And here’s the equally-evocative video for album standout “2B2”:
Photos from the Memoryhouse show at Cargo in London, March 28, 2012.
Pictures from the Oberhofer and Zulu Winter show at Cargo in London, February 27, 2012.
All pictures by Taylor Dafoe.