feist

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Discover magazine profiles the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, who buy their delicious instruments fresh every night and make soup with them after the concert.

Nerve and IFC.com profile 50 great moments in comedy. My favorite: #29, “Argument to Beethoven’s 5th,” the beautifully choreographed argument between Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray.

New video for Vanessa Paradis’s song “L’incendie.” Curse you, woman, how can you have had two children and look like that?

At Muzzle of Bees, Steve Earle joined by the angelic Emmylou Harris singing “Goodbye.”

Via Chromewaves, the video for the band of scottish awesomeness: Sons & Daughters’ “Gilt Complex.”

And via Catbirdseat, a nice little article from the NY Press about how indie is the new adult contemporary. Psh, guys, seriously, Scott beat you to that like 8 months ago. And since you’re so cool with Feist being mainstream and stuff, you can join the club. K? K. (I’ll leave the Soof half-insults to any reader who can stand the guy.)

And to back that premise up, you can now stream Feist and Constantines singing “Islands In the Stream,” and it’s perfectly lo-fi adult contemporary whitebread country and it’s AWESOME, and I say that with no shame whatsoever, because the Bee Gees and Dolly Parton are also awesome. (Kenny Rogers is not awesome, but he knows when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, and I respect that.)

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05.
Feist
The Reminder
Cherrytree
The Park

[ed. note — my sense of humor being what it was, I oversimplified Wilmoth’s argument a bit (just a smidge! uh huh!) and he responded in the comments. Since I am unused to people actually reading this site, I usually just say what comes into my head and in this case Wilmoth came by and called me out, and he was right. So besides noting that point 4 is meant purely for humorous purposes of satire, I encourage you to read the comments and see what Wilmoth says in defense of himself.]

So… Feist, huh? Heard about it enough, right? Let me come at it from another angle. Consider a post from June, at Pretty Goes With Pretty, entitled “Just Gimme Indie Wha??.” Scott Tennent semi-lampoons the Dusted review of Feist by Charlie Wilmoth, which pegs Ms. F in a category Wilmoth likes to call “Adult Alternative.” Oh dear, says Wilmoth, the lo-fi cracks have all been erased in big indie artists and all we’re left with is smooth contemporary pap. His biggest critique of Feist is that it’s not messy enough, and “what you see is what you get.” So Tennent then asks, “Have we been snookered? How can I read Pitchfork every morning and enjoy an album so palatable my mother-in-law might even like it?”

Tennent’s response is, “ultimately … so what?… overcoming one’s inner college rock snob is a personal battle.” Touché! Well said, and I applauded silently. Here are my responses to the conundrum:

1) I won that battle a long time ago, back when I was dancing in my room to my dad’s ABBA cds. In fact, I grew up listening to my parents’ music, and had no real musical taste of my own until much later. I was as at-home with the Carpenters as I was with Nirvana, and happy to make a mix tape with Mary Chapin Carpenter alongside Depeche Mode. I never read a rock magazine; sifted through radio play and finally abandoned it altogether; relied on my friends and my folks. I came out liking just about everything.

2) Oh, the Golden Age of Indie ! How wonderful everything was then! I really, really, REALLY hate comparisons based on nostalgia. Tennent skewers that pretty well, so I won’t go too far with it, but suffice it to say that 10 years ago, someone was probably talking about how the Cure was getting so smooth, and how they missed the old days, when Robert Smith hadn’t sold out his image to Kodak. It’s the oldest critique in the book, and therefore is always a failure.

3) Wilmoth avers that art “struggles. It makes messes.” Not always true. I am almost all the way through reading “Warhol: 365 Takes,” put out by the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. Though Warhol had his messy moments, I was struck by this quote from his book From A to B and back again: “You see, I think every painting should be the same size and the same color so they’re all interchangeable and nobody thinks they have a better painting or a worse painting…. Besides, even when the subject is different, people always paint the same painting” (283).1 Consider that for a minute; if Feist and Norah Jones sound interchangeable, then are they simply fulfilling their Warholian purpose? Or can we simply say that Art is not confined to the Messy box or the Smooth box, but can be found in many styles and sounds, some of which sound quite similar?

4) Or is Wilmoth just angry because Norah Jones is a hiss and a byword in indie culture, and now he’s afraid that if he puts Feist on the car stereo, someone might say, “Hey, I didn’t know Norah Jones had a new album!”. My stars and garters! He might be taken for one of those … those people that like Adult Contemporary! His life will be ruined!

5) My mother-in-law listens to everything, from opera on down. Musically, I aspire to be like my mother-in-law. So there :D

All this is to say, yeah, Feist is smooth. She’s no CTFPA, that’s for sure, but in a genre that embraces Sharon Jones, can we have no niche for adult alternative? And are we Not Allowed to like it because it has flow? Dude, I’m tired of listening to crappy albums that everyone genuflects in front of. I don’t want everything to be Art. I want to hear something that’s smooth, that I like and that I can talk about to people that have never heard of Joanna freaking Newsom. So what if it’s popular? So what if, oh my gosh, my mother-in-law would like it? I like what I like, be it Art or cornerless consumerist treacle.

Therefore, let me say: “The Reminder” is chock full of stellarly smooth songs. “Honey Honey” and “1 2 3 4,” with their choral backgrounds; the clappy, poppy cover of Nina Simone’s “See-Line Woman” (just as poppy, by the way, as the original); “The Water,” which is jazzy and tinkly and does indeed sound like something that could be sung in the background at a restaurant. I don’t call this the best album of the year, and I don’t call it particularly influential or Artistic. I do call it something I enjoyed very much this year; something that is beautiful for its own sake and not because it has to be compared to every foremother it had. Here ends the diatribe. Give Feist a listen.

1: Andy Warhol: 365 Takes. ed. Deborah Aaronson. New York: HN Abrams Inc, 2004.

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Video hookup

M. Perpetua from Fluxblog comments briefly on the hype; his point is well made, that the hype (and its bedfellow, backlash) has always existed in some form, but that in recent years its wheel has sped up, grinding everything even more exceeding fine. But interestingly enough, the article ends with a quote (and accompanying video) from Fall Out Boy. I had never heard a Fall Out Boy song before. But the video was darned amusing. Sort of like “Fight For Your Right To Party” in reverse. And thus your massive video hookup begins.

Not really video, but Culture Bully has three awesome Halloween mashup compilations going:
Son Of Monster Mashup
Mashing Pumpkins
Bride of Monster Mashup + Evil Twin of Monster Mashup

LAist has a bunch of Regina Spektor videos up in honor of her appearances in our neck of the woods this week. See you at the El Rey Wiltern if you’re going on Tuesday! Wooo!

Via Electroqueer, new video by Valeria. If you like a lot of leg, the French Revolution, and girls sneaking out with each other for smooches, this is the video for you.

Fabulist found an old video of Skip James from 1966 — Devil’s Got My Woman.

Muzzle of Bees proves that even in 2000, when Ry Ry wore very unfortunate sunglasses and looked like he was gonna fall over, he was still a musician right to his bones. MOB also has a very nice Q&A with the 1900s!

Stereogum has new video for Mary J Blige’s song “Just Fine.” Work it, girl!

Muzzle of Bees links to the Takeaway show concert of St Vincent singing “Paris Is Burning.” At the same time, GvsB links to video of Amanda Palmer covering “Marry Me.” Dude, I am so in love with Amanda Palmer’s voice. Who sings St Vincent better? I can’t decide!! So watch a video of Ms. Palmer covering “Patience,” via Muruch. And wave your lighters!

Via Fabulist, Sony paints the pyramids, sort of, in a crazy new Bravia ad.

And sweet Colin and friends put on a nice performance of “Yankee Bayonet” at ACL. Via Stereogum.

Ferraby Lionheart is growing on me, so I’m liking this video up at ECEU — “The Ballad of Gus and Sam.”

Here’s one for all you Icelandic hipsters (James, I’m looking at you) — “Rhubarbidoo,” by Múm, via Idolator. Er … not sure what’s going on … delicious rhubarb popping up all over the place! Is this a metaphor? Or is a rhubarb sometimes just a rhubarb?

Via Sixeyes, Feist plays drums for her opener, Bob Wiseman, and his song “You Don’t Love Me.”

Via ECEU, Okkervil River, “A Stone.” What really gets me about this is the complete silence of the crowd. No drunk guy screaming “I LOVE YOU WILL!” In the continuing saga of Do I Like Okkervil River, I think this song is too emo for me. But still, that silent crowd.

A ton of links from the Music Slut, a’course:

“Teardrop” (Massive Attack cover) by Jose Gonzalez. Moral of the story … er… don’t get on the wrong side of a guy with a crown?

Sea Wolf! Winter Windows! Video! Did I already link to this? Too bad! Watch it again!

Conor + M. Ward = OTP. At least on stage. No, I don’t want to hear from the Bright Eyes bandom writers. Check out Bright Eyes at the Hollywood Bowl.

And PJ Harvey on Leno — man, she makes younger folks look like mumbling amateurs. Oh, PJ, if only I could have afforded tickets to see you.

And if you got to the bottom, here’s a fun link from Freakonomics: “The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions.” What I wouldn’t give to be on an episode of Mythbusters.

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Isn’t it weird that in spite of all the fun YouTube videos I watch, that I don’t like embedding them in my own blog? I think it’s so ugly to scroll down past a ton of mini-tvs … they all look the same when nothing’s playing. Nonetheless, I have found some wicked good videos, so open ’em all in a new tab (you are using Firefox, right? RIGHT?).

Before I start, for those of you who hate videos, don’t scroll away yet! Nerd Litter interviewed Greg Goldberg of The Ballet (almost a month ago, but it’s still great!). This interview is so interesting and Goldberg just seems so smart and likeable. And oh, the Ballet has, you know, some awesome music too. (part 2 of the interview is slightly NSFW (text, no photos).)

And a little bit of the delicious eye candy! At I Am Fuel, Heather posted up the new Easy Tiger cover art. Oh Ryan, why do you have to be so hot? It makes it very difficult to stay mad at you.

OK, on to the brain melting video goodness.

01. The jammin’ video for “Bathtime in Clerkenwell,” by the Real Tuesday Weld. This is the kind of song that was made for Monday mornings. Or Friday afternoons. So get jamming with the cute cartoon birds! Jam, I tell you! Jam!

02. In case you haven’t seen them in a million other places, the new Feist videos – starting with 1,2,3,4. That pantsuit is so very very … unfortunate. Because Feist is awesome (that’s “My Moon, My Man”).

03. Jackie Greene, “I’m So Gone.” It’s like Ryan Adams lite, but I do love the first lines.

04. Snow Patrol, “Signal Fire,” for Spiderman 3. Love the cute li’l evil spiderman.

05. Air, “Once Upon A Time” from “Pocket Symphony.” Speaking of slick and sophisticated, check out those red drums.

06. The Go! Team, “Junior Kickstart,” a nice little instrumental. This sort of video is why I could waste all day on YouTube. Run, Ms. Pacman, run!

07. Dawn Landes & the WST Band, “Young Folks” (Peter, Bjorn & John). I like the whistling original better, but bluegrass, played by real people and not the wretched beauties of VH-1, is also completely awesome.

08. And speaking of wretched beauties … Beyonce ft. Shakira, “Beautiful Liar.” Don’t know where this came from or how old it is, but in my opinion it’s a comedown for Shakira to be in a Beyonce vid. Shakira is like Beyonce to the 10,000,000th power. But of course they both look fabulous, and I approve of the sentiment :D

09. The Bees, “Who Cares What the Question Is” — the Magical Mystery Tour meets, I don’t know, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I bet the Beatles wish they’d thought of this song. It’s awesome! Listen to it right now right now!

10. The Zimmers, “My Generation.” I don’t know where Some Velvet Blog found this, but I love it. It speaks directly to my disgust for how our culture casts off its elderly and acts like life ends as soon as you get a wrinkle. We are self-absorbed, we get more and more silicon injected into our bodies in hopes that we’ll live forever, and we scorn the people that gave us birth. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

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Two more albums that are forthcoming from the female staples of indie rock:

01. Maria Taylor, “Lynn Teeter Flower” — Ms Taylor is the author of one of my favorite songs of 2005, “Song Beneath the Song.” Her voice is so distinctive that you can’t mistake it for anyone else’s, and “Lynn Teeter Flower” starts out with the really gorgeous song “A Good Start.” By the end of the album she suffers from Jenny Lewis syndrome (all the songs kind of blend together), but as far as a sonic assault, you can’t go wrong. You can download “A Good Start” at the Saddle Creek website.

02. Feist, “The Reminder” — Feist is a master of all genres. She goes from ethereal electronica to rock to country and back again; her songs contain multitudes. Her albums are endlessly intriguing, because no two songs are the same, but they are all tied together by her voice. Maybe I should just insert the word “slaver” somewhere, because that’s what I’m doing over this album. *wipes up the puddle of drool* You can listen to Feist at her Myspace or snag Honey Honey, which is just gorgeous and starts out totally minimalist and then adds just enough instrumentation so that it’s perfectly put together.

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