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Listening

Mp3 Digest: August 1, 2007

Pop music is at it’s best when it’s not actually pop music, but a teeming, cacophonous, and experimental diversion from pop book-ended by an otherwise unassuming, jaunty indie-pop song. Or so out-of-and-back-into-nowhere Danish band Kirsten Ketsjer makes me believe. The song is moving along innocently enough, sounding something like a more easy-going Television with vocals by a talk-singing Dane woman who has a remarkably similar cadence to Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces. Then they go all noise-core, spend some time dwelling in that, and, attendant bird sounds and all, come crawling back out into a fiddle-fueled jig before wrapping up with a maudlin string ensemble. It’s 11 minutes of genre-defying nonsense, meta (I happen to love it when songs are self-referential about song structure, in this case naming the song that has a heavily tripped out bridge “The Bridge”) and delightful.

» Listen to Kirsten Ketsjer’s “The Bridge” at Paper Thin Walls


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Fjords don’t get enough credit. As Slartibartfast informed Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, they’re one of the most often overlooked and beautiful aspects of a rather nice place to live, that place being Earth. Even when Speck Mountain’s Marie-Claire Balabanian sweetly croons about a young girl getting stood up (a metaphorical “fjord turned into a lake” that she “will not swim in”), it still sounds like paradise. The band has a plinky-plunk thing I associate with Grandaddy for some reason, and equally distorted guitars, but a mellow dreaminess that’s far more comforting.

» Listen to Speck Mountain’s “Stockholm” at Stereogum


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I found this oddity and couldn’t help but post it. Robyn Hitchcock has been one of my favorite singer-songwriters ever since I first heard the opening strains of the Soft Boys’s Underwater Moonlight, where he informed me in his sneering, thickly accented voice that “[He] Wanna Destroy [Me].” It seems he recently played a benefit/auction where he covered Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety. Then he threw in a couple of other Beatles songs for good measure. Most striking is how Hitchcock-like this song sounds now that I hear him perform it: It’s vaguely about food, it doesn’t really make concrete sense, it has jangly, scale-running guitars, and, well, it’s inescapably British.

» Listen to Robyn Hitchcock’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” at Largehearted Boy


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So, I laughed, cringed, and felt justified as I read this article about the apparent return of shoegazing music, once quasi-popularized by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Unfortunately, every remotely ascendant popularity or re-branding in the music world comes with its attendant neologisms, and some assclown out there felt the need to characterize this all as “nu-gazing.” Ugh. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the actual sound of the bands bringing it back, though, I’ll learn to live with it. And as long as it sounds like the new Blonde Redhead album (which, like MBV’s best work, was produced by Alan Moulder), I’m happy.

» Listen to Blonde Redhead’s “23” at Merry Swankster


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Of course, there’s always a place for sex, horns, and Marvin Gaye. Hot 8 Brass Band does a bang-up job of turning Gaye’s classic R&B seduction piece into a hot-and-horn-heavy, nine-minute, second-line accompaniment. God, I miss New Orleans.

» Listen to Hot 8 Brass Band’s “Sexual Healing” at Said the Gramophone

biopic

TMN Editor Erik Bryan is living the dream. He grew up in Florida, but he’s from all over. He likes playing chess, making cocktails, smarting off, and not freezing to death in Brooklyn, where he currently resides. More by Erik Bryan

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