The Art of Soullessness

Last night was the PJ Harvey show at Terminal 5, and it was a fantastic night – with the one small exception of the actual show. That coupled with my little trip to the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles1 today has me thinking about people who seem to lack soul, humanity even, and those who seem to have hidden it somewhere, or maybe even lost it. As has been established here and here Ms. Harvey and I have been carrying on a torrid2 love affair for about 20 years now. Her music is deeply ingrained into my cerebral cortex, to the point where I hear her singing and it sounds like it’s coming from within myself. It’s a cellular bond. Plus, she’s hot. That said, the past two, maybe three albums haven’t really rung my bell, but I still deeply admire her talent and her constant growth and change as an artist. I went into this show knowing I was going to be disappointed, just because who I really love is the PJ Harvey of Dry, Rid of Me, and Is This Desire: that strong, take no prisoners, angry, rocking PJ. Lately, I guess as she’s matured as a person and musician, the albums have been more reflective, quiet and experimental. Not rocking. Not really all that intimately emotional. Weirdly focused on England, even for an Anglophile like me. PJ Harvey is known for her ability to command a stage with nothing but her guitar and some red lipstick. Last night she had presence3, but it felt too practiced to me. The friend I was with (visit him...

Shut Up and Watch The Band

Listening to Dandy Warhols (Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia) Have a listen: Boys Better I’m not the type of person who wishes people dead.* I’m more the “live and let live” sort. To get Gandalfian about it, you can’t know a person’s full purpose in life, and I’d not want to bear the responsibility of deciding when a person’s path ends, no matter how harmful that path seems to be. HOWEVER, if I were someone who wished people dead, and had the power to make it happen, Maxwell’s on Friday night would have been a bloodbath. Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ has a long, storied history of hosting some of the greatest bands on their music industry ascent (and sometimes descent), and a lot of bands like to play there just for the cachet. That was certainly the case Friday night, when Freelance Whales started their first North American tour. Up to this point they’ve been the darlings of New York City, and have done well at music orgies such as SXSW. They’ve finally gotten enough press and support for a tour, and said it was an honor to be playing at Maxwell’s. Sadly, the crowd had no honor to return. It was like being thrown into the middle of a fraternity party hosted by the frat you most despise. I was penned in by a mass of 19 year olds drunk on illicit PBRs, dancing around like hippies, texting, talking loudly to their friends, and taking high-voltage flash self-portraits. I literally could not hear the band. I certainly couldn’t see the band because of the 300 pound knucklehead in...

Inert

Listening to Tame Impala (InnerSpeaker) Have a listen: Tame Impala – It Is Not Meant to Be Eels – Fresh Blood Was feeling crap on Saturday. The old bod just doesn’t bounce back from gin the way it used to. Nor is it as indulgent as it once was when I don’t get to bed until 2p. So I spent most of Saturday in the fetal position on my couch, feeling sorry for myself, and making up lame justifications for my inert state. I believe Newton had a formula for my condition, where F=the chance of me ever getting up, d=ounces of gin I consumed, over dt=the fact the F train wasn’t running uptown from Delancy Street at 1am, and mv being heinous cramps in my lady parts (m) times no good food in the house (v). It’s his Second Law, and my Saturday Fate. At around 4p I was talking to my dad, who had just the day before broken his wrist golfing. This man lives to golf, so breaking his wrist will cause a major disruption in his happiness equilibrium. In spite of his bleak, golfless near-future, he was what can only be described as ebullient. He had just gotten back from a wedding where he’d danced himself into a heavy sweat, removing the sling (which was holding his wrist in an unbroken position) for maximum dancability. I’m assuming painkillers were involved. In any case, this man should have been on the couch, too. But he got his broken self up and out, and had a great time regardless. I decided my self-pity binge needed to stop....

So happy I’m slightly depressed by it

Listening to Surfer Rosa followed by Doolittle (The Pixes) If I were a different person, or maybe the same person but a version who had evolved into a disciplined state of being, I’d be unveiling my Best of 2009 in this post. HOWEVER, the type of evolution required to transform me into a life form that obeys her own rules has eluded me, or (really) I have eluded it (I may not be disciplined but I’m wily). (And fond of parenthetical statements). I must therefore bring you back in time to The Second Best Night of My Life (speaking of live music nights only), the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Actually, no. I need to bring you back farther, to the afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History – North American Mammal Wing – when my friend M_ turned to me as casual as you please and blew my head off the top of my neck. “Oh, by the way, did I mention I have an extra ticket to see the Pixies do Doolittle?” This is a show that had sold out within about 45 seconds of going on sale. Needless to say, I hadn’t been among the fortunate with either industry connections or fate on my side – until that glorious moment at the AMNH, in front of a stuffed antelope in its fake natural environment, when my brain comprehended what my ears had heard. I am a grown woman who jumped up and down, clapped my hands and squealed, for maybe a minute straight. Passing toddlers were embarrassed by the outburst. “Such lack of self-control,” they muttered through...

Inexplicably upbeat

Listening to: AIR (Moon Safari) Before I launch into my usual self-involved review (Vampire Weekend, with my vote for best album of the year), I feel compelled to share a bit about my parents latest visit. First off, they kicked some IKEA ass. My parents and I carried about 600 pounds of painted wood pieces into my house and voila! two days, a mild fainting spell, several forceful streams of profanity, and some impromptu marriage counseling later, a kitchen table and chairs. I couldn’t even stay in the room while they were putting this stuff together, mostly out of guilt and a strong work aversion. If it had been me on my own I would have unpacked the box, looked at the piles of wood, the millions of screws and bits, and that damn allen wrench, poured myself a large glass of bourbon, cried, and then just used the box as a table. But, they are sports, or maybe just crazily resolved. Either way, the table and chairs look great! And so sturdy! This in spite of all the extra pieces left over after the assembly. I’m afraid to look too closely in case the whole thing’s being held together by tape or gum or bitter determination. So in between avoiding the furniture assembly and cooking large, pacifying meals, I unpacked boxes from my recent move, and as I did I collapsed them into piles which my dad would then carry down to the basement. By Day Three of our super fun weekend my dad’s good humor was beginning to slip, and the grumbling and muttering became increasingly audible...