Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Two Guys Discuss Deerhoof’s New Album

M: I hate to say I'm over it, but I've listened to ‘Friend Opportunity’ I think 5 times in the past 24 hours.

Moderator: Oh mah lawd. Better than ‘Runners Four’?

M: It's proggier.

I feel like I'm 14 and listening to ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ on headphones for
the first time. I'm giddy. I really can't explain it, it covers so much
ground it's like I'm on the TGV or something. As soon as you're dumbstruck
by one moment, the song bolts off in some other direction, but it's exciting
natural rather than jarring. It's really left me spinning.

You know when you hear something for the first time and it makes you jump
outta your chair and look around to see if anyone else heard it, although
you know nobodies there? It's like that.

I'm surreptitiously listening to 'Matchbook Seeks Maniac' on my Ipod at work right now.

H: I have listened to ‘Friend Opportunity’ twice. I would agree with Matt in its proggy, aural/oral? textures. Don't worry Shane it has enough leftfield feral cats being thrown from a bridge guitar squiggles to continually
please. A mash up of ‘Runners Four’ and ‘Apple O'.

This morning I asked Elizah if she wanted to hear the good news or the bad
news just before we went to work: the bad news is that Jackson just shit his
pants, the good news is that Pitchfork gave the new Deerhoof an 8.9. She was
not amused.

M: You just saved a bunch of money on your car insurance.

Seriously though, did you notice this morning's review took about ten words to mention Yes (teases mullet lovingly)? Again, Shane, don't worry too much, the atonal aural nonsequiters are still there, but man so are those gigantic prehistoric riffs. Reference Believe E.S.P. Also, Jerrell, how about Cast Off Crown? That just freaks me out. It's got maybe 7 different suites (Yes displayed ultimate pretension by listing these on their records, continues teasing) within 3 minutes. WTF?

Two hours later, H has a final thought…

I think what really pissed Elizah off was that I let Jackson wallow in his shit for 5 minutes as I read the review.

Friday, January 19, 2007

why i'm jazz fusion today

1. What shirt are you wearing?

Baby blue short-sleeve under an argyle v-neck. I'm overdressed.

2. Name the brand of your shoes you're currently wearing?

Jack Purcell (no relation to the terrier).

3. Bright or Dark Room?

Bright enough. Still in the orifice.

4. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?

Foxy brown!

5. Where is your nearest 7-11?

North of the Glenferrie underpass. I buy edible underpants there.

6. Who told you he/she loved you last?

De Campo did. She be honeybunny-ish.

7. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?

None. Seriously.

8. How many rolls of film do you need developed?


9. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?

Walk away anticipating the good fortune that’s about to come my way.

10. Are you touchy feely?

Crazy, Madly, Deepak Chakra.

11. Name three things that you have on you at all times.

Watch, belt, pack a chewie (Extra White).

12. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?


13. Does anything hurt on your body right now?

Throat does a bit.

14. How much cash do you have on you?

Five and some change.

15. What's a word that rhymes with “DOOR?”


Big Day Out

On the eve of the Big Day Out, here’s a piece I wrote about last year’s debacle that strangely didn’t run…

Two sniffer dogs ejaculated on the Chuck Taylorss of two unlucky lads in Dallas Crane t-shirts. Iggy Pop ejaculated on two sniffer dogs.

Stage right Jack White ghoulishly grinned behind his ghoulish garb as Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein conjured some shivery Hendrix voodoo. To my left spittle formed in the corner of Harry Dean Stanton’s mouth. “Sleater my peter,” he murmured, causing a tiny spit-bubble to burst on his chapped lips.

A soft place to fall was beer garden grass. Damn it was hot as hell. Toohey’s Extra Dry put Big Day Out acts on beer tins. Hundreds of fans given Gerling tins immediately demanded refunds, or failing that, exchanges for Ghetto Fabulous ones.

The competition for the most louche member of the Bumhead Orchestra was a close one, but it surely must go to Greg Wadley for his unwitting impersonation of Porn Gil (Gil has a secret for sexual endurance and it’s not dissimilar to his recipe for mango chutney).

At the Kings of Leon show latent homoeroticism was prevalent. Bare-chested stumpy guys in designer shades lassoing their t-shirts, straddling the shoulders of their shirtless buddies, sporting droopy breasts no doubt triggered by a reliance on estrogen-friendly health drinks like Soy Plus. Both arms raised, fists pumped, lyrics howled, commotion incited, fun spoiled. Kings of Leon will never sound the same again.

There was an SMS facility in the Virgin Mobile tent, where people could send instant messages direct to the big screen. Other than a good Vin Diesel joke (“When Vin Diesel was born the nurse went oh, my God, that’s Vin Diesel, then he had sex with her”) it was a witless affair in complete poor taste that will probably require policing in the future.

Media tarts notwithstanding, Franz Ferdinand were handsome, charming and smoothly electrifying; a joy to behold, pushing two minute pop songs into voluptuous pop epics.

Due to the heat and humidity and also the presence of The Stooges, the crowd was one of the most clapped-out in the history of rock festivals. Didn’t see any celebrities besides Harry Dean, but then again the eyes wandered timidly, afraid of what it might see. Jaundiced faces, skanky hair, exposed bum cracks and serpentine tattoos on repugnant parade. There were some crazy dudes on ugly trips too, wastee weasels, no sense of grace or decorum whatsoever, all sweating, spastic limbs disjointed and freakish eyeballs lurching from their sockets. A syphillitic guy in a “syphilis is the new black” t-shirt was there. Some other dude had Rip Curl underwear hanging out of his denim shorts and eagle wings tattooed on his abs in dive mode like its beak was preying on his wee wee. “When you’re up, you’re the shit, when you’re down, you’re dirt.”

You said it Iggy.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tales of the Brave Shannanes!

When I graduated from college my brother Dirk threw a party for me on his acreage, a brilliant spot on a wild peak where elk and coyote still hang out on a regular basis. A fair amount of preparation was involved, shuffling the cows out to pasture, stocking the stable full of bleacher seats and parking a keg in there and hiring Gaston’s finest guitar troupe, The Fender Benders, to celebrate my freshly-inked diploma.

A whole galleon of liquored cousins, cronies and Uncle Bruce’s showed up and immediately started getting loose. We played horseshoes in the horseshoe pit and roasted a pig in the pig pit. Post-collegiate life so clearly not agreeing with me as my face developed a chemical reaction turning an alarming shade of fuchsia. I twisted my goddamn ankle too at one stage — holding my second cousin, five year-old Samantha, who was deeply besotted with me at the time— yet somehow managed to not feel a thing.

After dark the Bender’s busted out Riders on the Storm and I attacked the microphone like a monitor lizard, erupting in a profane stew of no good. My grandmother was thrilled. The show was apparently recorded and my brother valiantly tried to obtain a copy for several months. However The Benders refused to acknowledge the tapes existence and many believe they document was fried in an incinerator of fiery hell.

Ten years go by…Portland, London, Launceston, Melbourne, now Bendigo on Saturday night…

The Surrender Monkeys open for The Cannanes at the Newmarket Hotel and catapult pet monkeys with rubber arms into the audiences lap. The Cannanes take the stage and wow the crowd with every rock strength imaginable to the human ear. By the end, the front wave were armed with maracas and tambourines, and after that, everyone tried to guess what my two favourite Cyndi Lauper songs were, and in what order…

…they failed!

The after party was jamming inside the jam room Frances and Stephen converted from an old ballet studio back in 2003. Ten of us — perhaps more, David and Mia headed back to Melbourne at 3am and De Campo crashed having picked up whatever I have had inside my system since 2006 that still hasn’t worked its way out— totally jammed. Toby said it was better than the Hi-God People and I am inclined to agree. There were flute solos, melodica solos, recorder solos, bassliness like Sasquatch, riffs that were ocean-sized, riffs that were thin and wild, drum beats that marshalled crazy rhythms. Once the inhibitions were gone that’s when the fun started. It was important to not use bad language and I succeeded for the most part.

Working the MIC for the second time in ten years, I summarised the contents of a book I recently read, I ripped off Beat Happening, I shamed Morrissey, I tapped into some serious thirtysomething angst in a duet with Gavin as my father; Toby, Suze and Mia, before she departed, laid waste to so many freestyle raps your head would spin, I bled my aching heart on the floor and subsequently left my voice shredded inside the old ballet studio where it still lay to this day. We jammed for three and a half hours. Compared to us, The E Street Band are paste!

Stephen sat Hugh and I down afterwards to excitedly discuss our future. “I want to manage you. It’s something I need to do,” he said. Indeed his rates seemed very good. He obviously had thought them through.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Old, Worn-out Joy

I’ve been hurting for certain.

Other than the two nights where I tied one on (Modest Mouse on Dec. 30 and NYE) and the two days I was at work last week, I have been hermetically sealed inside our Victorian cottage with a bastard cold since Christmas Day.

I did manage to waltz into the hot city last night and see Old Joy accompanied by my luminous lady friend De Campo. The movie didn’t suck, nor did it make me cry, but it did make me feel beautiful and that’s no lie.

Old Joy is about a guy who’s name I forget and his friend Kurt. Kurt is played by singing sensation Will Oldham. He’s heavily forested about the face (beards are, if not his raison d’etre, they’re at least his thing) with muscular legs and a small penis.

It's adapted from a short story about two interesting men, who, like most young people, were chaotic back in their early twenties and now one has his life in order (wife is expecting) while the other remains dishevelled (Kurt). The two guys go on a trip into the woods looking for some elusive hot springs when the reality is, Kurt is trying to reclaim a part of their friendship that’s been lost and cannot be reclaimed.

Set in a Van Sant-poetic Portland, Oregon, and its wilderness beyond, OJ is an indie gem made to look like it’s 1979, which is totally effin’ sweet. The entire movie reminded me of what it was like growing up there. Passenger side tracking shots passing by clapboard bungalows, mud puddles, silos, power stations set to mellow jams by Yo La Tengo, capturing the sun peeking through rain clouds and sights around North Portland where my Dad worked for 40 years, and, and, and trees, yards and fences so familiar to me they had me wondering if I played there once and obtained grass stains on my knees of which I got in trouble for (they were my good jeans after all and I needed them for school the next day).

There are many beautiful shots of birds and bridges. One bridge in particular, the St John’s Bridge (pictured above), used to be crossed in a blue Mitsubishi hatchback on the way to the University of Portland where I used to watch basketball games with my best friend Mike, his dad Big Mike and Big Mike’s best friend Mike. Big Mike once bought Mike and I a huge packet of Hot Tamales, which were these red hot chewy candies, at a game we ate the whole box and experienced severe sugar damage. We were so totally wired, Mark E. Smith wrote a song about us.

Prior to US indie rock bands, my favourite underdog took the form of Jarvis Helaire, a thuggish power forward for the Portland Pilots who wasn’t very well coordinated. Once he picked up three quick fouls and was quickly benched. “DAT’S OTAY JAH’VIS!” I blurted out. A white boy from the white suburbs, imitating a black supporter from Alabama was a grave error in judgment to myself (what was I thinking) and my Caucasian compatriots. I received several mean looks from the brown-skinned crowd seated in rows 6-9 and quickly began fearing for my safety and imagining the worst consequences. To comprehend how this felt to a 12 year-old you must refer to Saul Bellow’s Mr. Sammler’s Planet where Sammler, an elderly Jewish intellectual catches a beguiling black pickpocket in the act, they make eye contact, cold, hard stares, and the pickpocket pursues Sammler through the NYC streets, finally catching him inside the stairwell of an anonymous apartment complex. Sammler, out of breath and practically dialling death’s number, watches fearfully as the black man pulls out his big dick and shows it to him. And that’s pretty much how I felt that night.

What most impressed me about Old Joy was its beauty.

I don’t mean it simply looked good. I mean it has a beautiful, visual language. If the sound was muted, you would still enjoy the story and feel its emotional tension. The upside is you would miss out on a script that is for the most part patchy, and the downside is you would miss out on a few lovely Yo La Tengo instrumentals and a few inspired scenes from Oldham, that like a lot of Van Sant, feel snatched from true life.

At its best, Old Joy manages to achieve powerful abstractions that resonant like literature or poetry.

There’s a scene in the diner that does for off-the-cuff charm what riotous indignation did for Five Easy Pieces. I really hope this indie inspires a renaissance of more movies like it, like the halcyon 90s, which I have been meaning to write about sometime.