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.
I always hate making ranked lists like Jess's, because I have so much trouble deciding after the first few, if I can even decide those. But I'm still very interested in trying them, just because it forces me to think differently about valuing things in ways that I suspect are wrong wrong wrong (no offense Jess, ha ha). But I think next time I do this (and I want to soon, because Jess has me thinking), I'll do it more "scientifically" so that I don't have to think as much about how to rank the entries, which usually makes me not rank them at all: I'll just get together a big list of albums, and do something so that I compare every single pair of them in combination, and and score them so that every time an album wins in a pair, it gets a point - and then score them by total points. Sure, it sounds like overkill, and it may not accurately represent what I think about them considered as a group, but I want to find out what happens when I do it. (Of course, to do it I'll write a computer program. The things I do for experimental aesthetics...)
Saw: The Plan. At: 400 Bar, Mpls. Now: Happy.
Openers were two DC bands, Diastemata and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The former are a two-person band, woman on guitar and vocals, guy on drums. And I wasn't sure but it seemed like the woman was playing something strung up with both bass and guitar strings, because at times it was nice and bassy. They played a kind of meandering alternate-tunings indie rock, sort of mathy, with vocals and lyrics that seemed to me to belong to less knotty music. The latter were four guys, a two-guitar band. Very high energy and very very loud; the singer (Ted, I think) said something about having put out a song on Lookout, so maybe they're on Lookout - too lazy to check. It would make a certain amount of sense given the way they sounded, though. But there was also an interesting soul (?) edge to lots of their songs, especially because of the singing, and the music often took turns into metal and noisy (but disciplined) improv sections. Ted Leo played (by himself) a nice cover of "Outdoor Miner" (earlier requested by the Plan's bassist from the audience, I think) when there was a technical problem with the other guy's guitar.
I'm pretty bad about remembering setlists, so now I don't even remember what the Plan opened with. "Back and Forth" was second, though. Oh, no, I do remember what was first - "Standing Still", which may be the third time I've heard them open with it. They were unable to guilt the Mpls crowd into dancing, for the most part.
Couple quibbles: as in the past, Travis has trouble controlling his voice in certain regions. That's too bad just because he sings a lot higher on record, and more carefully too, so sometimes live the vocals have trouble getting out until he really gets into it. Later on in the set he seemed warmed up, though, just like the last time I saw them (I don't recall any vocal problems the first time, but maybe I was just too stunned). Also, they keep mixing the sound funny. I'm probably just used to the way things sound coming out of my headphones, but the synths are usually too low at their shows, and Travis slightly too high (even when he's on point!). The guitars are a lot louder live, and noisier, which is fine, but it unbalances the sound a bit.
Some other songs they played: Gets Rich, Superpowers, Face of the Earth, City, Girl O'Clock, Ellen and Ben, What Do You Want Me To Say?, Other Side, Memory Machine, Timebomb, Ice of Boston, Onward Fat Girl, Gyroscope, and the first song of the encore that they usually do and extend but which I forget the name of and anyway it's off of ...Is Terrified.
The songs from Change were generally tighter than last time around, when I guess they were still testing them out. "The Other Side" lost some of its drum-and-bass flavor because Joe was playing something a lot more muscular (and, it sounded like, a lot more cymbals). I've been thinking that the drums on that track are turned down a lot on the record anyway, so that may have something to do with it. But it was still astounding, especially Eric's bass. I missed the multitracked harmony on "Timebomb" after the quiet part, but hey, what are you gonna do. P.O.P.! hits of the year (in the first encore song) included "Bootylicious", "Back That Azz Up", and uh something else that I forgot (compare to last year's "What A Girl Wants").
Hmm, no "Following Through". I guess I should've yelled out a request after all.
Sheesh, I think "Do Fries Go With That Shake!?" is 20 minutes long.
I mean that in a good way.
It's kind of a pain to find lyrics for "Uptown" because Prince sued a fanzine by the same name as part of his ligation kick, but then again I guess finding them doesn't help me because they leave vague what exactly the connection is supposed to be between the song and the section of Minneapolis, which is also where the album (Dirty Mind) was recorded. I was hoping for some more definite clue - as it currently stands, Uptown seems a little too safe-boho gentrified to exemplify the kind of open place the lyrics celebrate. But it's been twenty years. And despite the local connection, "Uptown" as a name has all kinds of other associations Prince may have been relying on anyway.
Partial list of things I reckon I might include on a year-end list if I make one. (If it's not on here, maybe I just forgot I liked it.)
Mogwai, Rock Action. Avalanches, Since I Left You. Miles Davis, The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions. Jay-Z, The Blueprint. Bonny 'Prince' Billy, Ease On Down the Road. Radiohead, Amnesiac. Low, "Laser Beam". Dave Holland, Not for Nothin'. Spiritualized, just one song maybe. Burning Airlines, "The Surgeon's House". Thelonious Monk, Live at the Jazz Workshop. Shipping News, "Actual Blood". American Analog Set, "Two-Way Diamond I / II / Don't Wake Me (live)". Kardinal Offishall, "Maxine" and maybe some more. Roots Manuva, a song or two. Basement Jaxx, Rooty. Labradford, Fixed::Context.
See, this is why I hate year-end lists. Where is Kompakt Total 3 supposed to go? Or Beethoven's Op. 132?
More pointlessness, less pointlessnesslessness.
Things I played for my parents while driving around the Twin Cities in their car:
Coltrane, Ole. Mouse on Mars, Niun Niggung. Beta Band, s/t. Al Green, Greatest Hits.
Things I did not play:
Jay-Z. Dr. Dre. Fugazi. The Magnetic Fields. The Dismemberment Plan.
Blankness. Maybe that's a suitable subject for something about "Twenty". In truth there's a lot going on, even from the beginning if the first five minutes of burbling and bass thumping counts as the "beginning". But let's gloss over that. "Twenty" drifts along on slowly evolving burbling and bass thumping and then watery digital-clear Morricone guitars and twwzrrrtchchrrrp and woosh noises, and because it's slowly evolving (if that's even the right word: maybe better - things happen, and then other things happen; sometimes some of the things keep happening when other things happen, and sometimes they don't - this remains to be seen though) it's like blankness, like when you're laying on the couch, not sleeping, no TV, just laying, your mind drifts slowly, sometimes thinking about the same thing for three minutes, sometimes having a new thought.
No no no no no. There's a difference between boring and blank.
And anyway the bass thumps (what a terrible word for them, they don't especially thump, but they're so measured and low that they need a special name, and not "pulses") are propulsive enough that if nothing's happening, it feels like it's happening fast. Relatively speaking.
I'm trying to write about at least one song every day now.
So, here it goes.