Wednesday, March 30, 2016

everything recycled, even if not green, but especially when green is part of the bargain

I'm predicting/guessing AC Newman listened to this song (and its album) many, many times in the period during or just prior to writing or thinking about songs, lyrics, tunes for Mass Romantic and Electric Version.

AC Newman using Neko Case on those two listed New Pornographers albums resembles Anton Fier using Syd Straw on the two Golden Palominos albums Visions of Excess and Blast of Silence.

The ways Syd Straw colored the two GP albums?  Hey it's right there again, with Neko Case on the two NP albums.


A lot of the music made in the early and mid 1980s got screwed by idiotic money-chasing record labels who hired "producers" to square-peg-into-round-hole whatever band was available to the $-grubber "band manager" or "promoter" with contacts to someone at some record label.  And to lesser degree, by bands being immature and unwilling to believe their own sound ideas were worth following.   But mostly, because it was so often done against artists' wills, we can blame the record labels and the other vampires who do not create anything themselves, but instead make money by taking others' creations and then repackaging those creations.

In the 1980s, what did record label idiots do to fuck with and perhaps even destroy the vibrant musical talent offered to them?

They were like Ron Bailey at the Silent T, and couldn't leave anything in its natural state, and had to create synthetic reality.

Therefore:  synthesizers were over-used and, for reasons I'll never understand, were treated through filters that killed everything below mid-range.  So the music was thin, shrill, tinny, and without any solid foundation.

Some bands managed to avoid getting tainted by the money-grubbing producers and record label promoters, and/or by lack of self-respect leading to following whatever seems like a popular trend of the moment, sonics/vibe wise, in whatever musical niche one occupies.  

These two GP albums are among the handful created in that decade which don't sound squashed like a bug, or like they're being rendered through a kazoo chorus.  I can see why Newman would want to emulate either of them, but especially the Blast of Silence one.  Visions of Excess was a bit too grindy, dour and visceral for an upbeat and only slightly sarcastic pop band like New Pornographers.

-- Karl Franz Ochstradt, who thinks you should own this album.


Chet Redweld said...

Hey Karl, I'm listening to the GP song now, sounds to me like it did have one of the classic 80s era flaws: too much snare presence, too much "snap" and foreground attention. It's more than snare tuning physically, it's more than drummer technique. It's post-capture processing. I'd love to know what, other than fad-following, made people think that effect is true to the music.

Chet Redweld said...

The Nicky Skopeleitis guitar solo is definitely 5/5 stars, though.

Chet Redweld said...

And damn, that's one somber set of lyrics about depression and suicide, isn't it?

I don't think the lyrics someone posted following the video on YT are accurate:

If you take the car, be prepared to take it far off.

I think Sweet actually sings,

If you take the call, be prepared to take a fall.

And I think

I’ve seen magic swimming burning in the air.

actually is

I’ve seen magic screaming burning in the air.

But I could be wrong because maybe Sweet mangles the words a bit as he sings them.

Chet Redweld said...

Also this:

Now I take the night with the risk in my eyes, there at the end she’ll appear from behind.

should be this:

Now I take the knife with the wrist in my eyes, there at the end she’ll appear from behind.

I think the song is about someone (maybe Sweet himself) who knew a girl or woman who killed herself, he's singing about it pushing him maybe toward the same end. For cultural reference it's a little like when Conrad Jarrett learns about Karen Aldrich's suicide in the novel and/or movie Ordinary People.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

record labels who hired "producers" to square-peg-into-round-hole whatever band was available

Just one example I remember: in the early 80s Martin Rushent's fingerprints were everywhere on records I browsed, bands from UK.

Did Brian Eno make the Talking Heads sound better, or did him make them sound like a particular thing, and if you paid enough attention you might see all Eno products are that thing? I don't see it, but maybe someone else does.

How about Steve Albini? Definitely a personal style/preference in his productions, but do they all sound the same no matter which band is in the studio?

Steve Lilywhite productions all seemed grandiose, like the movie Avatar and its slick blend of CGI and real people/things. Like a UK Phil Spector.

In more modern recordings, I've never heard anything done by Brian Paulson that wasn't a great sounding recording.