Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's better that way.

Another post rescued from the obscurity of my drafts...unfinished, but better to put it out there than just delete.  We caught Jandek at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA on October 1, 2011.

You May Not Get All The Answers You Want.
It's Better That Way.

The tail end of a rainstorm was lingering over Amherst when we arrived.  It was after noon on a Saturday, overcast and wet but not really raining anymore, so there was a bustle about town as people were starting to emerge and run errands.  As Sarah and I meandered around the region we noticed a buzz.  This is a small enough metropolis that nothing goes unreported on the gossip line and being out on the town is all it takes to be in the loop.  Over the last few days, we heard, The Representative From Corwood Industries1 was seen at Whole Foods, eating in Amherst, and as we made our rounds he was currently in the middle of an extended rehearsal. Every few minutes, it seemed, we overheard yet another update as someone onsite made a call out to the world, or ventured in with word from the rehearsal. 

During the week leading up to Jandek's performance at the Flywheel, we'd theorized that we could be in store for anything.  Considering Western Mass has a population of local musicians into noise, experimental, and avante garde, it would most likely be some sort of loose jam.  Massive weirdness; formless songs.  We thought we'd figured out the mystery.

The band made their way to the stage at the exact time the show was advertised to start.  Each musician walked to their instruments, quietly fiddling with their gear for a moment before beginning as a unit.  Instantly, our expectations were shattered.  Jandek, it seems, was a more fluid and interesting project than we'd given credit. The Man in Black pounded away on a fretless bass.  He was accompanied by a pedal steel guitar, banjo, violin, and, on a few songs, female vocal counterpart.  Tonight's performance was good ol' country music.

Of course, Jandek playing country is still Jandek.  For two hours, the band played a set of structured, memorable songs full of distinct melodies, yet it was absolutely within the Jandek canon.  The sound was eerie, like a warbly, well-worn cassette of country tunes.  TRFCI's bangs on the bass provided a humming buzz. The band seemed to speed up or slow down unpredictably at times; displayed a surprising tenderness, especially when joined by Betsy Nichols on vocals; even showed a touch of humor, as when TRFCI (already wearing a Stetson) put on his glasses and sang, "A cowboy doesn't wear glasses"2.

The set was mesmerizing and the mysterious loner at the center let on, just a bit, that after 30 years and twice as many albums, he may not provide any answers, but his vision is as robust and fascinating as ever.  Since emerging from the shadows he has performed a stunningly diverse series, approaching many genres with his distinct aesthetic voice.  And in doing so, his story has become more mysterious.  It's better that way.

1Herein known as TRFCI.
2Or whatever the exact lyrics were...this is ballpark.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Play ball.

To celebrate the start of the baseball season I picked up four packs of Left Field Cards.  Beautiful and clever, these are ideal for folks trying to reconcile their inner seven year old baseball card obsessions with later in life design interests.  Besting Topps and Upper Deck in style, Left Field has thus far released two series thus far - the first depicting bizarre player injuries, the second players with edible names.  Brilliant.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rid the Home.

A find among the many poison bottles at a recent antique mall trip.

A quick one to prove that I'm still alive at this late date. I'd had a couple of posts drafted last fall that never got finished and had the bright idea 'round January that they could be consolidated into some sorta year end yee-ha.  Now that the calendar has flipped into April I think it's 'bout time to clear the docket, quality be damned, in bullet point form:

  • The Sex Bomb Archive, just one of the many endeavors that I procrastinate working on, had a string of daily updates during the recent advent season.  I'd love for the updates to run continuously, but my supply was exhausted and am currently in reload if you know of a Sex Bomb Sleeve, please send over to the address on that site.

  • Listened to Vile "Solutions" LP last night.  I suppose the band's schtick has nagged me over the years, and where it was once a regular listen it has become harder to be enthusiastic about in my old age.  "They're just trying to piss people off" doesn't win me over quite the way it once did1 but it didn't take more than a couple of revolutions to be instantly reminded just how impressive this is.  A seriously top tier HC gem from a group who by all accounts did not belong to any scene and existed in the margins...but they bested most of their scene contemporaries.

  • Last summer's big reveal of the second section of The Highline was an overcrowded, well vendored2, architectural delight. But to say that this particular park is worth a stroll is analogous to saying DiFaras3 is worth the trip: obvious. More interesting to me was the decision to leave--and prominently feature--this Revs/Cost piece.  With a small meadow and seating below, this is one of the few places to congregate without feeling pressure to keep up the pace.  It is, of course, the highlight of the park.
  • Have you heard Tyvek yet?  The kids are raving.
  • There's this, too.  I can't wait for out trip our to Detroit this summer.
  • I've mentioned before that I adore ESPO so I will not belabor other than to say we swung by his beautiful Love Letter to Brooklyn and would encourage all to do likewise.

  • Richard Serra's sculptures are miraculous, among the most impressive structures I've caressed.  His most recent entanglement, which ran last fall at Gagosian, may have been the most impressive that I've seen.  
  • Like I said, quality be damned...another docket clearing post coming tomorrow, then back (beginning?) to business.

1The number one google search of this album returns a page with a review that sums up how I felt about the record when it was still new to me.  I'm conflicted these days, but I think I stand by much of what I wrote then (aside from the writing itself, which is tough to read ten years later without the opportunity to edit mightily).
2 Seriously, only the finest NYC food carts are featured but I do believe Blue Bottle Coffee ought to double their operation as the wait on the day of our visit was excruciating, and it would be just plain wrong to be within 10 blocks of a Blue Bottle operation without indulging.