Today’s Tracks

"How We Operate"
Gomez

I hope there’s not a video for this.  That’s what fucked up this business.  When you started selling bands via image instead of music.  When you heard them out of the speakers of your FM rig, in your bedroom, or at the gig, opening for one of your favorite acts, back when you went early to SEE the opening act, that’s the way you discovered music.

Gomez has been around for a while.  I’ll admit that I liked their sound when they were on Virgin.  But they never broke through here in the States.  There wasn’t that specific track, that hook.

And now they’re on ATO.

Give Dave and Coran credit.  Everybody who was abused by the system, who couldn’t get a toehold in the major label world, has been picked up by their label.  Everybody from Patty Griffin to the now-deceased Chris Whitley to finally, this band, Gomez.

This is the kind of music that we USED to sell.  Not the easy tripe that people can lick up like supermarket vanilla and forget almost immediately thereafter.  It sounds like nothing on terrestrial radio.  You know the people who made it took time to create it.  That it’s about art more than fame.

I have no idea why Gomez doesn’t at least stream "How We Operate" on its Website, never mind give it away.  If your main profit center is your recordings, you’re fucked.  In a world where it’s almost impossible to get noticed, you’ve got to give the public every chance to become a fan.  If someone actually is interested enough to FIND you on the Web, make them an instant fan, give them something to remember you by, give them something they can pass on to others.

The future is bands like Radiohead.  Who find their own way.  Who don’t seem to operate in the same world as the rest of the acts.  Sure, Radiohead was broken with a hit, "Creep", but that was a different era.  And, at the height of the band’s success, they released music so left field it challenged their fans to come along, stay with them.  That’s what art is.  Not giving the people what they want, but going on your own journey and seeing if they come along.  That’s where truth lies, out on the fringe, not in the mainstream.  The artist is not supposed to be part of the group.  That’s not the mentality.  If the artist wants to go clubbing at night, chances are he’s not that much of an artist to begin with.  An artist tends to be an introspective loner who CAN’T play by the conventional rules and ends up nakedly exposing himself.  And we say EUREKA!  That’s IT!

"How We Operate" is how it used to be.  It’s not conventional.  It’s like being on a roller coaster and not being able to see the track.  Your hair is blown back, you’re holding on for dear life.  And when the ride is over, you want to go AGAIN!

(P.S. Upon further, deep investigation, it turns out there IS a video, regrettably.  Insanely, the music doesn’t begin until 50 seconds in!  And it’s located at the bottom of the band’s Webpage, not showing in the window unless you’ve got a monitor the size of Connecticut.  And, although it IS a performance video, it DOES rob the act and song of all charisma.  But, you can just listen to a stream.  Shoot all Web-designers on sight.  Fuck the money for a video director, spend it on a Web-designer who knows that simpler is better, that it’s all about UTILITY!)

"It’s Love"
King’s X

I remember Lea Pisacane telling me she loved this band.  But they were on her label.  I take that shit with a grain of salt.  Listen to your own crap long enough and you learn to love it.

Maybe it was just too tough a sell.  A black man in a hard rock band.  Or maybe the sound was just not conventional enough.

"It’s Love" is a weird concoction of changes and sounds.  It’s like being in a funhouse.  Everywhere you turn there’s something that titillates you.  You’re constantly being confronted with stimuli.  You just FEEL good!

Then, three quarters of the way through, there’s the majesty of a Queen record, or a latter-period Beatle album.  And just like with "Bohemian Rhapsody", it’s the completely unexpected that enraptures you.

"It’s Love" is not a tour-de-force.  King’s X isn’t trying to blow you away.  It’s more like hearing music coming out of your next door neighbor’s garage and deciding to saunter over and check it out.  And, when you get there, you find guys in sneakers and jeans, in a circle, looking at each other, pounding it out, locked on to a groove.  And you’re standing there in the now nonexistent fourth wall, the garage door being open, and you can feel the sun behind you, and the darkness in front of you, and you suddenly feel like this is the best day of your life, that it’s so fucking great to be alive, you don’t want the music to end.

Music used to be a solo affair.  Instead of group sex.  Something you felt alone.  Rather than something you experienced as a dancer in a disco, or even banging into other patrons in a mosh pit.  I lament the elimination of seats at all venues.  The seats gave RESPECT to the music.  You were alone, in your bubble, just you and the sound, not some sweating overweight bozo next to you, encroaching on your space.  Music was best when it existed in your mind, when it wasn’t a mass ritual experienced with thousands of others.  Festivals are about the audience, not the performer.  Which may be why my best listening is now done at home, in front of my computer, or wandering around my house with my iPod.

Thank god for the digital era.  Where we can be exposed to SO MUCH!

At one point I had every King’s X CD ever recorded.  But I never listened to them.  But now I’ve got this MP3 and I’m a fan.

Let’s hope the future brings back some more overlooked acts from the past.

There’s a joy in "It’s Love" that’s absent from too much of today’s music.  This was the elation that was in the tunes of the seventies.  When music ruled, and we couldn’t devour enough of it.

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