First I’d like to again recommend another blog: www.searchanddelete.com
They added a new writer, DJ Scenius he calls himself, and he writes really cool brainy pieces on pop music, and at the moment there’s also a four-track-mp3-e.p. of him online.
Music and Religion – a combination that usually makes me run and hide, but there are exceptions. What, for example, would a Will Oldham howl be without the tortured suffering cause he’s awaiting the punishment for his sins in the afterworld? But would that stop him from sinning? Never! ;-)
There are two new albums that I’d like to recommend and both have there own way of taking up a lose end of the ugly ball of wool that religion is and they weave it into their very own context: Black Eyes’ ‘Cough’ and The Hidden Cameras’ ‘Mississauga Goddam’.
Black Eyes have sadly split up but delivered a really great second album named ‘Cough’ to console us. Their music is based on the same dub roots as that of so many bands of the Washington DC posthardcore scene around Dischord records. Black Eyes dare a more experimental approach than most, hecticly drawing in influences from jazz to klezmer, but always keeping the focus on rhythm driven post punk. No matter how chaotic a part may seem, they never leave you without something to hold on to, be it a melody or a rhythmic pattern, or a screamed line – somehow this music never really lets go. Two drummers and two vocalists add to the very special sound that makes Black Eyes a band I will miss. The two singers often sing parallel, but not the same words, it’s like a weirdly knotted talk that mirrors the music on a language level.
In their lyrics a multitude of subjects appear, e.g. the angry desperation about the cruel God of the old testament, or the war waging USA – “as oil drums carry our nation’s blood, blackened by too much summer fun and offshore spills, the time to chill has passed because soon we will feel the effects of our warring globe warming up to suicide”, discontent with a queer scene that only seems to be about fashion -“kissing clones disowns, disowns your personality // kissing clones is fake substitute authenticity // kissing clones is volunatary ghettoization”, or wrapping up the love for a androgynous / gendercrossing scene in the song of songs (biblical poems about love and sex) -“kiss me with your mouth your love sweeter than wine // honey and milk are under your tongue /…/ looking at the girls with boys’ hands // and the boys with girls’ hips // I never wanted to go home”. It’s great how they have a really poetic way of using language, their lyrics are so full of meanings to discover – or rather not to ‘dis-cover’ but to add something by whatever the music sets free in you.
Here’s a link to a song: “False Positive” mp3
A couple of days ago I had a phone call of a very enthusiastic booker. Now that’s nothing new that bookers are enthusiastic about whichever crappy band they try to make you put up a show for – excuse me for getting a bit acidic but lately I also had some phone calls of that kind by bookers who refuse to understand that you are not interested in their band even though ‘it sounds exactly like band x and paper x wrote such a great review about them’, oh my: some of those people really remind me of a bad doormat insurance agent cliche – but back to this guy: it was actually someone who gave me the feeling that he was really personally excited about this band, The Hidden Cameras, and so I gave them a listen.
Shame on me that I missed their last year’s 7″ hit “Ban Marriage”, a little ditty against marriage (especially in a queer context, cause there’s no reason to come out of the closet to get yourself into another prison), but at least now I got their album ‘Mississauga Goddam’. The Hidden Cameras (Rough Trade Rec.) manage to get an ear-to-ear-smile on my face from the very first song on. Their music reminds of folkier Beach Boys tunes, and also of songs like Cat Stevens’ “I’m gonna get me a gun”, or 50s bubblegum music, classically armed with drum machine, acoustic and electric guitars, glockenspiel, bass, guiro, tambourine, church bells, jaw harp, and organ.
Joel Gibb, singer and founder of this musical art collective, labelled his brainchild “gay church music” and indeed he sings about gay sex using church metaphors, just like a carnivalisation of the so-called ‘holy’; for example in “Music is my boyfriend” you get him singing lines like “I washed his dirty underwear, he made me toast // Music filled my mug with Vaseline, I gave him a choke // We could be happy, we could be free // If we don’t make out or fall in love /…/ I found music and he found me: // a balding head-banging pre-teen // so he seduced me in a dream: // I kissed his ugly gangly greens // he swallowed my pee”. Still you shouldn’t think that The Hidden Cameras are just great for this little ‘choc’ effect – their beautiful folk pop works on it’s own, but they also add great live shows, preferrably at special locations, and with dancers and costumes, sometimes with videos or whatever comes to their minds.
Sadly I don’t have a link to a brandnew mp3, but there’s lots of downloadable songs at their website: http://www.musicismyboyfriend.com
Somewhere I read The Hidden Cameras took their name from Foucault’s writing on the panopticum, an idea for a perfect prison (that never was built) by Jeremy Bentham in the 19th century: a building like a star with the warden in its centre, the warden thus being able to look into any prison cell at any time, while the prisoners don’t know if they are being watched or not – it’s supposed to work by giving the prisoners the feeling of being watched all the time, like a little child with a christian education is brought to behave by thinking Mr. Omnipresent Know-It-All God sees every sin. Foucault – correct me if I get it wrong or simplify it too much – takes the idea of the panopticum and transfers it to the structure of the western liberal societies: we discipline ourselves because we could be watched all the time, that’s why we only need a minimum of supervision. Big Brother of course also is a voluntary version of this idea, with less stress on the ‘educational’, people in there rather concentrate on 24/7 entertaining self-promotion. Papers had it this week that Big Brother 6 on German RTL2 tries to reach Truman Show qualities: it will be a small town located in an amusement park and the inhabitants will work and live there ‘forever’ – no time limit. I won’t go into this now, I already wrote far too much today..