Miscellaneous Musical Update

Sorry for the sparse blogging as of late; I’ve been visiting the grandparents on Maui, and funnily enough the beaches at Wailea have a tendency to drag one away from his RSS reader. Anyway, apparently the Pipettes have broken up for all intents and purposes, which sucks pretty bad. Rosay (the “folksy” brunette) and RiotBecki (the riot grrl blonde) have left, meaning that none of the original members, and only one of the We Are the Pipettes-era members (Gwenno, the Monroe-esque blonde) remain. Rosay and RiotBecki were my first and second favorite members, respectively, so between their absence and the traditional awfulness of sophomore records I’m not so sure that I’ll shell out for the band’s second album, which they’re recording currently. I appreciate Monster Bobby‘s concept of a girl group he can direct and engineer, just like the Phil Spector days (the name is a reference to the idea that the band’s a lab experiment under Bobby’s control), but it’s hard to believe that he’s not making a mistake.
In all my beach frolicking, I also missed Ross Douthat’s unbelievable dismissal of rap as a genre, because it’ll never become high-brow, and that if it does it’ll be a true signal of cultural decline. My generational cohorts Zeitlin and Reskinoff do a pretty good job on this one, but I think the most damning counterpoint is that rap, especially indie rap, is already high-brow. I first heard about M.I.A. by listening to an All Things Considered review of Arular. I first heard about Clipse by reading the New Yorker review of Hell Hath No Fury – and that’s a coke-rap album. Ross’ point about the implausibility of “N.W.A. in the Park” is well-taken, but would anyone be shocked about “Mos Def in the Park” or “Common in the Park” or even “Jay-Z in the Park”? When the presumptive Democratic nominee can brush the dirt off his shoulders at a rally in front of a crowd that knows exactly what he’s referencing, without any real fear of negative political ramifications, I think that signals that the genre, even in its more risqué forms, is part of the mainstream, and not confined to any low-class cultural ghetto. Also, it was really, really awesome.
Lastly, Nick Beaudrot’s posting of an absolutely horrific Paul Anka cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” reminds me of one of the best parts of this vacation. When my family was eating at a pretty fancy Italian place by the beach, there was this guitar & violin duo playing various classical and traditional Italian tunes as background music. Right before our appetizers came, the violinist walked over and warned us that he was about to play “a loud song”. We laughed, figuring he meant Vivaldi’s “Spring” or something, but then the guitar launched into that I-IV-III-VI chord progression we all love so much and the violin followed with what sounded like “load up on guns, and bring your friends” and we realized that they were playing Nirvana. It took the table behind us a little longer to get it, but once they did they were as excited as us. It was a great reminder of just what a perfect song that is, and how long it’s been since I’ve listened to either it or Nevermind:

One thought on “Miscellaneous Musical Update

  1. I’ve had my own musical discovery this week. For several years we have enjoyed a collection 1000 classical CD’s, mostly inherited from my grandfather-in-law. So I looked over parts of the collection that we hadn’t heard much, and I picked the Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach, played on the piano by Andras Schiff. I had listened to a bit of the Well-Tempered Clavier now and then, but somehow it hadn’t registered all that much before. This time it blew me away.

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