Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Something I forgot to get at in that last post: the alternative to being so great at this style-clash problem solving is the bad kind of pastiche. Look! It's an indie rock band that does rap! Look! it's an indie rock band take on country-rock! Hey! Indie-funk!
So I guess what I'm saying is, one way to pastiche the bad way is to fail to solve those musical problems. Hopefully putting it that way will at least gesture at what I think is a technical way of thinking about this - nontechnically, the parts just don't fit together.
"But can't music where the parts don't fit together be valuable in its own right?" I don't see why not.
I've liked a lot of it before (I wonder how many of my entries start out that way), but today I felt like I'd actually started getting the Dismemberment Plan's second album, Is Terrified. I bought it last year at a show, so I came to it after falling under the spell of Emergency & I, which I think wasn't the best order to do things in. So I liked it some, more for certain spots ("The Ice of Boston", "Respect is Due", "Bra", u.s.w.) than overall. And then I mostly set it aside, listening to it occasionally to see if it would grow on me. For some reason coming to like it quickly wasn't really important to me, even as much as I loved Emergency & I even then.
I think the interview I linked to below said something about Is Terrified being their hip-hop album - I don't remember if it was the interviewer or Travis, but either way I think that's perceptive. It's not actually hard to see, I noticed it right away (perhaps being primed with at least the idea that the Plan had something to do with hip-hop on Emergency & I helped) - there are big fat beats, and some vaguely hip-hop synthesizer parts, and Travis sing-talks a lot. But hearing their other albums and reading that interview tonight have led me to think that they were doing something a lot more nuanced than just being a spastic post-hardcore indie rock band that rips off hip-hop on a surface level. No: the Plan are very aware that to incorporate all their various 'influences' (special quotes just for Mark Sinker) into their base sound (assuming for the minute that it's post-hardcore somethingorother) involves negotiating a bunch of different musical languages, and solving the problems that result when the languages bump up against each other. And they're not just aware of that, they're fucking great at it.
None of this is surprising based on listens to their last two albums. I think their attention to these kinds of problems shows up on Is Terrified, too, though, and I just hadn't ever appreciated it in that respect too well before.
Man, I don't really like those online someone-has-a-crush-on-you gadgets. I like email about josh blog much better.
This interview with Dismemberment Plan frontman Travis Morrison has a lot of interesting stuff in it. For example, the things about song and album construction.
Dismemberment Plan, Is Terrified. Dungeon Family, Even in Darkness. Laika, Silver Apples of the Moon. Shellac, 1000 Hurts. Jay-Z, Unplugged.
The Shellac sounds weak and tinny. And I haven't heard the Laika yet, I just found it used. The first time it came on was a lot more disturbing than I was expecting from hearing their second and third albums. Yet another role model for Radiohead.
Faust, Faust / So Far. Magnetic Fields, The Charm of the Highway Strip. Magnetic Fields, Holiday. Arab Strap, The Red Thread. Mogwai, Come On Die Young.
I thought having the Magnetic Fields discs in there would pick things up a bit. But they didn't seem to work at all. Until "Maybe I Was Born on a Train" or whatever came on, working better, they just seemed to be too dirgey or just... stick the sound somehow, in a big morass. Merritt would be pleased that when something from Holiday came on it sounded unbelievably skronky and mangled and the beginning.
Faust sounded a little dinky. I don't like their guitar sound. Plus I kept getting long songs and not "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl".
I thought also that this would be a nice chance to hear some of The Red Thread again, but it only came on twice before I stopped listening to the stereo. First, the long song (track 8?) with the sighing string sample and the booming drums. Whenever I hear that song, at first I'm a bit let down by how it doesn't seem to do something enough, I'm not sure what - maybe it doesn't sigh enough, or maybe the beat isn't tight enough. But by the end, everything has become chaotic and I'm happy. I'm reminded of a baloon that has trouble ascending, then finally flies away. The second song was the one where he reads his girlfriend's diary. It was pleasing too. Nice spy beat.
This review of Jay-Z's Unplugged appearance is about the lamest review I've read in a long time. I'm not sure I want to play with the reviewer's "interesting" / "novelty" / "essential" distinctions, so let's just say that I think these are some reasons to value the record:
I've heard Mark's story here before, from exchanging mail with him, and from the tape of the broadcast he was kind enough to send me. I like the way he tells it here. What I'd really like to see is a return, after the end, to talking about how the music affects him. I know I don't ask for much, ha.