by carl wilson

Avant-Rock the Vote


All right, the time has come! For the next week you can vote to keep Destroyer's Painter in Your Pocket on CBC's National Playlist, as nominated by me and voted on to the list (unanimously!) by this week's panel. It's currently floating at No. 8. You can vote once a day from any given computer. (Have access to more than one computer? Hint, hint.) Hear the song via Merge's streaming Destroyer's Rubies Jukebox. You can also listen to my out-of-breath pitch for the song on the show's homepage, tho unfortunately only by RealAudio. Alternately, read a rough transcription of said pitch in yesterday's comment box, about halfway down, before it all tangentializes into a (worthwhile!) debate about Lester Bangs. Or you could preview the song via the CBC's slightly unholy alliance with iTunes. Anyway, it's a way to spread the Destroyerality to the unsuspecting citizenry, so your support would be virtuous. (Despite, for instance, today's Globe review by Robert Everett-Green - which isn't that negative, if you bypass the star rating and stop before the final zinger. ... Again, I'm left wondering, why can't "school" be one of the things pop "should" feel like? Studying philosophy, a knife fight, sex, a marathon run, carving soapstone, yelling at your dad, the sight of a Van Gogh, the sour-sweet smell of a baby's blanket, examining dinosaur bones - why should any sensation be alien to it?)

In other news I've also got a piece in today's Globe myself, about the upcoming show at the Boat with the Psychic Ills and Ariel Pink. I was going to write about Pink's touring plan to be backed up by a different local band in every town, but it seems that in Toronto he couldn't get anybody to take up his challenge on such short notice. Toronto! You disappoint us!

I also have a mini-review of the new CD on Rat-drifting records by Saint Dirt Elementary School, called Fall (in love) by April: Toronto! I take it back! You're fantastic! I didn't have space to say much about the musicians on that record besides leader Myk Freedman, but I should note that it includes some terrific keyboard work by Tania Gill and Ryan Driver, who are each in a host of other groups (Deep Dark United, Runcible Spoon, the Reveries, the Silt, etc. etc. etc.). And sax player Rob Mosher particularly shines in his couple of guest appearances. Not quite as zany as the band's first outing, I think it has a much longer potential shelf life, especially to those with a taste for Tiki-room outre hi-fi (gone lo-fi here) as well as country'n'eastern tinged free (or at least cheap!) jazz.

Elsewhere: I highly recommend reading Brian Joseph Davis's Books column in eye every week, but the latest, on a new book on urban neo-bohemias, is essential: The right riposte to all the Richard Florida "creative city" hype (some of which I buy, some of which I don't) as well as the long, long, long awaited followup to C. Carr's classic Village Voice "Bohemian Diaspora" piece, a huge influence on my thinking about culture. Switch off your own would-be-boho defense system and have a think. It all relates to the "what is indie?" questions that came up last week at Wavelength and to which I'm going to return in an imminent post (along with a belated discussion of the Gogol Bordello show on Wednesday night, from which I was a bit too hungover to fashion a coherent report yesterday).

Also in eye, don't miss the (kinda buried) profile of poet/conceptual-artist Kenneth Goldsmith. I find Goldsmith's stuff as fascinating as it is boring, and while I'm skeptical that it satisfies any of the demands of poetry as I intuit them, that's ultimately not as good a question as the ones his books ask, about how language functions and doesn't and how daily life is experienced or isn't. Not to mention what a book is: Can you say a book is good, even great, if the book can't really be read in the conventional sense? Because that's how I feel about Goldsmith's Soliloquy, in particular.

And finally, there's the very impressive Writers' Week over at Moistworks, featuring various artists of prose posting MP3s and waxing variously lyrical or batshit-crazy about their musical fixations. Victim/victimizers include Benjamin Anastas, Emily Barton, Harry Conklin, Geoff Dyer, Ivan Felt, Samantha Gillison, David Knowles, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte & Christopher Sorrentino.... Hmm, where the fuck's Ben Marcus? (Thanks to StG for the tip.)

| Posted by zoilus on Friday, February 17 at 04:08 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (8)



Yeah, Graham, I wasn't arguing w/ you, just with the syndrome you were identifying. Which brings me back to last year's "lit-rock" argument - I continue to think that after being a subculture, wanting to be somehow a part of literature isn't a bad choice for a musical genre - even though the people who do that best are songwriters (Mntn Gts, Dstryr, Jn Nwsm) rather than book writers (Rck Mdy, 1 Rng Zro, Micl Chbn).

Posted by zoilus on February 21, 2006 04:30 AM



i hope it came through in my above comment that i find the rock vs. school dichotomy to be pretty stupid. if anything, rock has become the realm of everything that you said it encompasses now. in addition to your radiohead example, i would say that almost all of indie rock itself (whatever fits into that nebulous genre) has turned towards a more scholastic approach. perhaps the last real rock movement which dealt in the school-vs.-rock thingamajig might be punk (which has been dead since 1980 probably) though hip-hop has indeed been much better at being anti-school. come to think about it, though it is mostly anti-school, hip-hop has a way of being super-lyrical, intertextual, postmodern, in its nearly constant allusions (both in the form and content) not to mention the whole reliance on sampling.

i think i'll have much more on the destroyer record tomorrow or sometime soon in my own blogospheric organ...

Posted by Graham on February 20, 2006 05:42 PM



Well, first of all, the "School Versus Rock" equation feels like something out of the leather jacket pocket of some greaser with a ducktail. Totally antiquated rockism. And selectively applied: To my ears, Radiohead are more like school than Destroyer is, in their emotional mutedness and thematic cohesion. But more importantly at this point rock's palette has gotta be more diverse than that, if it's to mean anything, because hip-hop is so much better at being anti-school. If rock can't be nerdy, studious, bookwormy and sarcastic, and all the while have its libido making it squirm in its desk with the desire to go out dancing in the greasepits and fucking in the woods, then it misses out on a lot. But I don't really see how Destroyer is more scholastic than the Smiths or a million other bands anyway, so the "school" thing just seems like an unconsidered slap.

Posted by zoilus on February 20, 2006 12:52 PM



Your colleague lost me for good with his props to Live it Out and Elevator last week ...

As for Ariel Pink, he's got one of Montreal best (relatively) unknown talents backing him here on Tuesday night.

Posted by Andrew Rose on February 20, 2006 11:47 AM



to answer your destroyer school question, i think the point being made here is that if your rock is like school then it must be tedious, overly academic and um kinda boring. rock can never be like school because that's what it has been, at least in popular conceptions, rallying against since its inception (see: blackboard jungle in the 50s for a very real and explicit rock versus school duality playing itself out/being established, encoded). rock is meant to be fun ... something which, following the logic, school could/should never be. when the fun is taken out of rock, we are led to the serious tedium of prog like YES and so on and so forth.

I don't believe this is true for Bejar though. That is, i don't think that he's actually really all that academic just hyper-intertextual. Like when was the last time you were in class and your prof did "la la la"s for like 5 minutes? this is not meant to be a slight to Bejar at all but just that some people seem to conflate intertextuality with intelligence...

Posted by Graham on February 20, 2006 08:40 AM



Bill Wyman's tenure at the Chicago Reader coincided with mine (I was a proofreader and wrote a handful of theater reviews); he was -- presumably still is -- a heckuva nice guy. Thanks for another stroll down memory lane, Brian.

Posted by john on February 20, 2006 04:02 AM



Thanks for the link Carl. Here's a link that somehow resonates with this post and the Destroyer-arama going on below:

A real blast from the past. Perhaps the most unintentionally drop dead funny line is:

"In ten years, when some band you really love cites Liz, Urge, and/or the Pumpkins as major influences, you're gonna feel low, man. Really low. Just remember that."

Posted by Brian on February 19, 2006 10:21 PM



Thanks, I think, for the link to the Brian Joseph Davis column. I lived in Wicker Park from '88 to '91. All that stuff is all too -- sickeningly -- true. I'll be posting on it.

Some Wicker Parkers I knew resented Liz Phair's immediate boomlet of success. Nobody had heard of her -- she hadn't been gigging. I had met the producer of her first album (Brad Wood?) when I was scoping studios to make a demo for my band. He struck me as a lowkey depressive nice guy type (but who knows for sure, it was a one-time encounter); we ended up recording somewhere in Evanston, where the bass player had recorded before. By the time Liz Phair hit I was living in Seattle. I went to see her when she came to town. Brad Wood was drumming for her, and he looked so happy, seemingly transformed by success.

Posted by john on February 18, 2006 02:07 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson