Friday, September 21, 2007

The Week That Was (9/17 - 9/21)

Dylanology: "I have a major musical and cultural blindspot when it comes to Dylan. He's a legend, surely, but as he's important to musicians and music nuts, and less so as a pop culture figure (a la Elvis) a lot of Dylan has passed me by. No question it was great to see and hear him, but it didn't mean as much to me as other music nuts. I only knew half the songs, but I appreciated the show maybe more than really loving it." - The League, "ACL Fest Day 3," The League of Melbotis, 9/17/07. For some time, to me, listening to Bob Dylan was not unlike eating vegetables: I knew it was good for you, but I couldn't really garner any interest in the task. I could hear only so many accolades about the supposed spokesman of my parents' generation before I utterly lost interest in his body of work. Until about a decade ago, I knew the various singles and anthems, but I couldn't say I was familiar with his discography. But then, I discovered 1966's Blonde on Blonde and 1975's Blood on the Tracks, and well, I understood. For today's listeners, though, it probably doesn't help that today's Dylan is a parody of himself (and perhaps, over four and a half decades after his appearance on the scene, he is a parody of a former parody of himself.). But good things, and good records, lurk in the past, and Dylan's best efforts are among them. The League would do well to find them anon.

After Hours: "Because of my current bouts with melancholy, I’ve been listening to a lot - I mean a lot - of [Rilo Kiley's new album] Under the Blacklight lately (although the album isn’t necessarily a downer. I think it is because Jenny Lewis’s voice is so sad) . . . ." - Digital Boy, "Lyrical Nonsense XVII," Ramblings of a 21st Century Digital Boy, 9/20/07. As far as sad voices are concerned, I'm not certain Ms. Lewis can compete with the likes of Portishead's Beth Gibbons, the Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins, or Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval. Heck, Norah Jones' vocals on "Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get over You)", which appears on Lonesome, On'ry and Mean: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings, are far, far more somber than anything Lewis has ever committed to a recording. Rilo Kiley, and its lead singer, Lewis, seem to me, rather underwhelming. They earned no points with me when, in 2002, the band covered the Velvet Underground's "After Hours." (How can a light and poppy trendy-indie hipster band perform an upbeat version of that tune, especially when the original vocal performance, done by the sad, wistful, and wonderfully naive sounding Maureen Tucker, was just so darn perfect? That I know not.). I'm not certain I understand the appeal of Rilo Kiley and Ms. Lewis, other than they are, purportedly, the type of band and frontwoman I am supposed to like as a discerning listener of modern rock music in 2007. Perhaps the fact that she hangs out with the insufferably pretentious Conor Oberst infuses her with indie street cred. Really, I can describe Rilo Kiley's singles as mostly pleasant, slightly catchy, but almost always forgettable. Alas.

Really? "Dreams in which inanimate objects talk to one, urging one into nefarious exploits, are unsettling in the extreme." - horus kemwer, "dreams in which . . ." Against the Modern World, 9/17/07. Unsettling or no, I withhold judgment. After all, isn't the nefariousness of the exploit dependent upon the nature of the inanimate object making the recommendation? Doesn't motive matter? Intent? If I am the agent to the inanimate object's principal, then is not my duty of loyalty to it, and its grand scheme my purpose? Who am I to question?


The League said...

I shall commit myself to listening to one or both Dylan records before October is out. Thanks for the heads up.

That said, with no context with which to surround Rilo Kiley or Jenny Lewis, I am also a fan. For whatever reasons one subjectively enjoys a band.

T.S.T. said...

Better perhaps, whatever the accompanying ambivalence, to listen to Dylan himself than to resort to Bryan Ferry's newest album, "Dylanesque." Right?

The League said...

There's something positively abso-ludicrous about Ferry covering Dylan in his ultra-crooning way that makes me take my hat off to him. If Ferry wishes to enter rock's elder-statesman status by producing a completely self-indulgent piece of work (not that every Ferry or Roxy project isn't so), I can only support him in his endeavor. That support doesn't extend to actually paying for the album, but, you know..