Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy birthday to Bree! (She doesn't read this; I'm just saying.)


Heard Petra Haden and The Sell-Outs last night at the John Anson Ford. Lovely: 10 women (one pregrant), with PH singing lead and sort-of-conducting, reproducing the solo arrangements of the record, pretty much flawlessly and with greater sonic clarity. (Nice acoustics, that venue.) The record was one sort of feat, this was another -- one you almost wouldn't think her capable of bringing off, given how nervous and scattered (but good-humored) she seemed in the breaks. Highlights: What the gender switch does to "Tattoo," the changes to the original phrasing in "Maryanne with the Shaky Hands," the finger-to-the-lips wah-wah "guitar" solo, the fact that PH picks her spots instead of singing flat-out gorgeously all the time. As silly as this project is, it's also musically thoughful and detailed -- it's fun somebody cared about, which is hardly the worst thing art can be. Sat w/ Steve Cronk, who else -- but I had to move back somewhere around side 2 because we were in front of the one guy who decided that an a cappella show would be a good opportunity to drink 8 beers and keep up a running commentary.

(By the way, though I've come to realize that, for good or ill, that there was more Who [via Minutemen] in 0PB than either Beatles or Stones, Sells Out isn't an album I'm especially invested in -- I think Kyle and I were more Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy types. But when I listened to it for the first time in years to write about PH's record, I was impressed by how little it conforms to what "powerful" rock is supposed to sound like. The expanded CD has unusually strong extras -- how had I never heard "Glow Girl" before?)

Opened by Stephen Prina, who's teaching at Harvard now (I hadn't known this) but was back for the summer, resembling both Lenin and Peter Yarrow in a plaid suit. His acoustic set, roughy: Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Want To Get Over You," Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," Anthony & The Johnsons' "You Are My Sister" (I had to have this i.d.'s for me), Loudon Wainwright's "One Man Guy," Carole King's "It's Too Late," "All The Young Dudes," and three songs from Push Comes To Love. (I may be forgetting one or two.) This set seemed less in-quotation-marks than some of his other musical performances -- I've heard about one, in a gallery context, consisting of piano/vocal versions of alternating songs from each Sonic Youth and Steely Dan album up to that time, with "Whipping Post" in the middle -- but still more distant than (to make the obvious comparison) Rodney Graham's. Prina's deal is that he's not so much covering the song as treating the original record as though it was a text that might be transcribed and reproduced by other instruments -- notably, his voice, as became obvious when he recited the spoken bit at the end of "Dudes" (which I'm not finding transcribed anywhere), deadpan, or did his best to catch every note of Joni's melismas. (The first was intentionally funny, the second, not so much -- I couldn't help notice that his vocal strengths and weaknesses are similar to my own.) Whatever this is, it's not a pop methodology.

Tenor of the whole affair was more art than alt -- it was promoted by SASSAS, the same people who put on events at Schindler House. Which isn't to say that the crowd wasn't genuinely enthusiastic -- no rock-show impress-me-ism. Nor backstaginess -- all the principals were out in front of the venue saying hi to friends w/in 10 minutes of the encore. Said hi to Prina, Weba Garretson, Ron Sures, Petra's sister Rachel, and Billboard writer Steven Mirkin, who has also been scripting voice-overs for an upcoming reality show in which the surviving members of INXS audition a new lead singer. [If you've mad it this far, this is what we call "burying the lead."] And on the way in, I was right in front of Miranda July, so I turned around and politely told her I'd enjoyed her movie (quite true, though it's the short version), which I'd just seen the night before.


Splurged on 2-disc reissue of ABC's The Lexicon of Love, which I'd only ever had on beat-up vinyl. You only need to hear about 40 seconds to realize that Trevor Horn napped his way through Dear Catastrophe Waitress, too bad. EC-isms in Fry's lyrics even more pronounced than I'd remembered. Haven't listened to the extras yet, but the booklet notes, frustratingly, the existence of early demos of songs called ""Surrender," "Do As I Say," and "Boomerang," "too rough for inclusion here." (Not to mention the prescient promo video that helped get them signed -- would have made a great enhanced CD.)


Well, just to register a mild defense of my supposed home discipline rather than cede the entire field to poetry -- philosophers, even analytic philosophers*, do come up with questions now and again. You know, "begins in wonder," all that.

*Rare, possibly mythical breed reputed to be found in the company of "indie-rockers" and "language poets."


I've finally gotten vinyl-to-mp3 worked out so that it's not a hassle to set up again every time, mostly because I keep coming across things from which I want to digitize a couple tracks as I sort and pack LPs for the move. (General plan to start posting some of these, though not until I've amassed 50 or 60.) Douglas and others have recommended the Griffin iMic, but I've bought and returned two in the last 6 months; they haven't worked correctly, and I don't think it's because I'm an idiot. It seems I'm getting a decent stereo track this way: Turntable-jacks --> 1/8" adapter --> line in to Mac --> Audacity, while monitoring as a Garageband track (which I don't save) --> edit** and export to .wav file --> drag that to iTunes and "convert to MP3" (b/c its easier than figuring out LameLib). Does the fact that this is working without the iMic have something to do with my turntable having a built-in pre-amp? (And even if it didn't, couldn't I just leave it connected to my stereo amp and go out to the computer for that?) Anyway, this works.


Deleted notes on about my packing/moving process; can't subject you to that. I haven't forgotten my promised to post something more general on covering/sampling (though the issues were on my mind re the show report above). But the week got away from me, and this entry has taken even longer than the loose time-limit I impose on myself. Tomorrow's light, so we'll see.

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