For all you skinny jeans wearing folks out there — you know who you are, but you’re probably over at Catbirdseat right now — Threadless has reprinted your shirt. I know, true coolness doesn’t advertise, but if you don’t apprise the hoi polloi, no one will be able to figure it out. Xref the Simpsons:
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart & Lisa: No.
Marge: Good. I’m glad. And that’s what makes me cool, not caring, right?
Bart & Lisa: No.
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we’ve tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you’re truly cool, you don’t need to be told you’re cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?
Being pretty hoi in the polloi myself, I’m gonna just talk about some things I like.
01. According to La Onda Tropical, my faithful reference for what’s cool on the Latin front, the new hot beat is called New Cumbia (aka Kumbia), and it’s based on Colombian folk dance. Me, I was still grooving to reggaeton, but I like the cumbia too; faithful readers will know I’m a sucker for anything with a good beat. You can preview the nueva cumbia at La Onda or check out some stuff I snagged off the Hype Machine:
MIA — Paper Planes (Sonido Martines Guacharaca remix)
El Trip Selector — Cumbiancherita
Oro 11 — Que Calor (Pibes Chorros vs DJ Unh)
02. Gvs.B had a link to this Swedish dude who emanates a serious folk sound Ã¡ la Donovan or similar — The Tallest Man On Earth. I can’t vouch for the veracity of his tallness, but the music is a major throwback to a certain time when American music was in thrall to a certain kinky-haired folk poet whose name shall go unmentioned. With a nice Swedish twist. Me likey.
The Tallest Man On Earth — I Won’t Be Found
03. Did I mention there was this disc out called “Heretic Pride”? I must have mentioned it. Ahaha. Well, so, yes. I like it very much, although what’s coming out later this year is stiff competition for best album. I am truly amazed by the jewelboxes of stories that Darnielle weaves — you open them up and look inside and it’s this itty bitty story with these amazing facets. One of the best and most detailed is the song “So Desperate,” which contains the best couplet on the whole album: We were parked near some trees; and the moonlight soaked the branches in ever-deepening degrees.
Not to mention (as many have already, so let me be brief) the song “Autoclave,” which presents love in a whole new scientifically toxic way. An autoclave is a sterilizing pressurizing unit, and Darnielle manages to put an entirely new twist on an age-old genre by simply saying, “My heart is an autoclave.” Talk about defeating anxiety of influence, folks. The song is kind of a love song (Darnielle said so at the gig I attended) but it’s also about being so toxic that no one can get near you: direct your attention, if you please, to the final stanza of the song.
I dreamt that I was perched atop a throne of human skulls
on a cliff above the ocean; howling wind and shrieking seagulls.
And the dream went on forever, one single static frame –
sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
Gorgeous use of a pop culture phrase to mean its exact opposite. In “Cheers,” they meant that you go to where your friends are. This guy in this song, though, he goes to notoriety a whole different way. If you’re sitting on a throne made of human skulls, you can be sure that everyone knows your name.
I shan’t go on. Suffice to say, I’m in love all over again.
The Mountain Goats — Autoclave
04. New Old 97s album coming out in May! I have such a girly crush on these guys and their sound — proof that alt-country is still kicking its heels up somewhere in Texas, so ha ha, Aquarium Drunkard, take that. And the new song sounds great; I’m really excited to hear the rest.
The Old 97s — Dance With Me
05. Another great record that will be out in 8 short days is DeVotchKa’s “A Mad & Faithful Telling.” It continues DeVotchKa’s gypsy rock folk tradition; and though I can’t say that I’m their biggest fan, in small doses I really love the brass-and-dance sound. DeVotchKa is also going on tour in Europe and the US.
DeVotchKa — Comrade Z
06. And something I’ve forgotten to mention for a month, but it’s still awesome: The Rich Girls Are Weeping has returned to us. Frabjuous day! Calloo callay! (I’m chortling in my joy, all right? Geez.)