Monday, March 31, 2008

Please Stay Out of My Way

I almost got run over by a cab on my way home today. I know that the range of "almost" in this context can stretch from a couple of inches to a couple of blocks depending on the hyperbolic tendencies of its employer. In this case, I use "almost" in the sense that I left my palm print on the hood as the bumper was about to knock my legs out.

A typical reaction would've been to give a digital gesture and drop an expletive or two. But I just glared at the cabbie, who was likely more startled than I was. The first thought that ran through my mind after I regained my balance wasn't that I'd just dodged a close one but that I almost dropped my iPod. I suffered less from fright than annoyance that he'd disrupted my routine. (A trip to the hospitable would've been a real hassle.)

I can be so robotic during my commute.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Washing Away the Drone at the Bowery

Just got in from seeing The Raveonettes at Bowery Ballroom. For a show that I had thought about skipping -- as recently as today -- it was surprisingly enjoyable. Even after I decided to go, I'd expected to leave well before the encore. Figured I'd just stay long enough to add them to my "seen live" list. But they were so good that I stayed for the whole thing.

So why the hesitation? I committed to the show after seeing the video for "Dead Sound" but before their new album Lust Lust Lust came out.

It's not that Lust Lust Lust turned out to be a disappointing album. Well, actually ... it is. Quite difficult to listen to. Not because it's bad, but because there's little variation from track to track. The uninitiated would likely complain that all the songs sound the same, and they'd have a point. At times, it can seem as if The Raveonettes simply play different arrangements of the same song.

But that's not altogether a bad thing, because they definitely have a unique sound. Sort of like 60's surfer rock tossed into a heavy spin cycle of reverb and distortion followed by a slow tumble in psychedelia. But that same sound over and over again, especially when supported by metronomic rhythms, has a tendency to drone. As a live act, though, that sound washes over you and puts you in a forgiving mood. They may actually sound better on stage than in the studio.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bushwhacked in Texas

I'm watching Frontline's definitive episode on the Iraq War -- what it call's "Bush's War." And it's infuriating. Downright infuriating. I'm not so much upset because I'm learning things I didn't already know. Rather, this has the feel of watching a video recording of someone slapping you. You lived it. You felt it. But seeing it on film pisses you off that much more.

How could reasonable people not have the same reaction? Of course, I ask that in a rhetorical manner. I'm from Texas, after all.

I've always had a difficult relationship with Texas. It's like family. You think they're crazy, and they often get on your nerves. But if anyone were ever to say something bad about them, you wouldn't hesitate to say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." That's my crazy family.

Crazy as it is, and as much as it gets on my nerves, Texas has always been home ... until 2004. I'd never felt out of place in Texas until I went home for Thanksgiving that year. You see, GWB was re-elected president earlier that month, which was a devastating turn of events. But I was severely more dejected when I became aware that everyone in my family who was eligible to vote voted for Bush. For the first time, I felt like an outsider when I went home. Home was home no more.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Titles Are Really Hard

I just sent a message to a friend. Took much longer to come up with the subject line than the body. And that happens a lot here, too. I'd feel a burst of inspiration and fire off a quick entry, only to be stymied by that blank line for the title. I wonder if others suffer from the same neurosis? Sure, a simple "Hey" or "Titles Are Hard" would do, but that just seems such an affront to creative integrity.

Kylie? That's not my name.

It's interesting to see how long it takes for "the next big thing" to become the next big thing. I've just discovered The Ting Tings, who have apparently been cast as the "the next big" thing in the U.K. since last summer. They seem to be on the cusp of a breakthrough there, but they're probably still a ways off here in the States. My suspicion is that they won't catch on here. And I say that not because I find their talent lacking, but because I find American pop sensibilities lacking.

If all their songs were like "Great DJ" (above), then maybe they'd have a shot. The track has such a polished dance floor thump that I may have guessed it was a Kylie Minogue number (especially because of the "ah ah ah ah") had I not known any better. But most of their other songs are decidedly more lo-fi -- in a "we're young, and we're here to have fun" sort of way. Lots of exuberant yelps and vocals that seem more rapped than sung, like on "That's Not My Name."

Their album won't be out in the U.K. until May. That's going to be a trying wait.