Monday, September 17, 2007
Just a short stab of randomness to follow, covering Film School, Pinback, Adam Franklin, the Descendants, and regrettably, author Robert Jordan.
From here on out, I'm hoping to make these miscellaneous posts shorter but more frequent... although I may have made that vow before. We'll see how the plan pans out soon enough...
I can't help but loudly declare my infinitely growing love for Film School's just-released third album, "Hideout", to anyone that'll listen. I snagged it on a trip to my local disc shop last Tuesday (along with the new Pinback, but more on them next), and as much as I dug their 2006 self-titled sophomore effort, this one is just leaps and bounds above it. They may wear their influences on their sleeves (MBV, Swervedriver, Swirlies, even early pre-programming New Order), but those influences are so right in my wheelhouse, and so masterfully incorporated into these new songs, that I cannot resist instant obsession. It feels not at all like an appropriation of a sound, but a love letter to it; not derivative, but instead a logical extension of what was going on 15 years or so ago. Hasn't left my car cd player since I unwrapped it, and I find myself, for the first time ever, wishing my commute was a little longer. Whatever trials and changes the band has gone through over the past couple years (a mugging, stolen equipment, a major lineup overhaul), it has resulted in one hell of an album.
Here's a taste, track two from "Hideout", just one of many great songs to be had there...here for just ten bucks. Film School plays TT the Bears in Cambridge on Wednesday, October 24th. Get your tickets here, and do it quick.
As Pinback fans know, their latest Touch & Go full-lengther, "Autumn of the Seraphs", also came out last week (pre-orders got a bonus EP), and its fantasy-flavored artwork is either a "love it or hate it" kind of a thing. Me, I'm into it, but that's probably my old D&D characters talking. Anyone who knows much about singer/guitarist Rob Crow will find it unsurprising that the cover art was drawn by fantasy artist Michael Sutfin, who's done a bunch of work for Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft trading cards.
As for the songs found inside said packaging, well, after my effusive praise of that Film School disc, this is going to sound repetitive: I think it's Pinback's best. I may have said exactly the same thing when 2004's "Summer In Abbadon" came out, and I was as sure of that as I am that this one's even better. They've both expanded their sound and retained whatever makes them Pinback: The restrained energy, the percussive bass/guitar interplay, the vocal tradeoffs and overlaps, the warm production, the undeniable catchiness. It's all there, and while a clunker or two has traditionally marred their previous discs, I haven't found one here yet. Hell, even the three songs on the bonus EP, which surprisingly came with the copy I bought at Newbury Comics, are keepers (and in the fine tradition of Ride's "Going Blank Again" and Ted Leo's "Living With The Living", the album's title track is not on the disc itself, but instead on the EP).
"From Nothing to Nowhere", the lead-off track, was the first song to hit the web in advance of the album, courtesy of Touch & Go...video for it. More newness: The excellent Pinbackfreak fansite has pulled together a Pinback FAQ, so check it out or add to it if you're able.
The band will be touring extensively in support "AotS", hitting the Roxy in Boston on October 10th, with, amazingly, MC Chris opening up. Yes, MC Chris, frequent Adult Swim/ATHF collaborator and all around geek-rap genius. A reason to get there early, if ever, if ever a reason there was.
Oh, and by the way, the Touch & Go Anniversary video clip featured Pinback a few weeks back, with Rob doing the (modest and reverent) interview thing and the band performing "Non-Photo Blue" and "Syracuse". Go watch. 3,4, cha-cha-cha.
And, most importantly: Rob Crow cut off his mighty beard. Total transformation, back to the Crow of olde.
I'm still kicking myself for missing former Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin's show here in town a few weeks back, which launched a short tour with Hopewell. Check out BV for many more of his dates to come in October.
Something that made Mr. Franklin even more admirable in my eyes: Billy Corgan asked him to be play guitar in the so-called Smashing Pumpkins "reunion" earlier this year, and Adam declined. Proving both that Corgan has good taste in co-guitarists, and that Adam is a very wise man to stay away from that mess.
Idolator tipped me to CMJ tipping us to the fact that Descendents/ALL bassist Karl Alvarez suffered a heart attack last month, and while he's recovering, the bills are mounting. There's a Kyle Alvarez Benefit Page set up at MySpace, where you can donate or get details on upcoming benefit shows (including one in Colorado on September 29th) that'll also raise funds to help the man out.
And because I don't think I've ever shared it on the 'Nac, here's a band I used to be in covering a Descendents song, which originally appeared on the Coolidge Records "Homage" compilation...
Aside from the Pinback and Film School dates mentioned about, here are a few Boston-area shows you'd be wise to pick up tickets for soon-ish...
Lastly, I was both completely shocked and deeply saddened to wake up this morning and learn that author James Rigney, known to readers as Robert Jordan, passed away yesterday at the too-young age of 58 after a battle with cardiac amyloidosis. I first read the news on fellow fantasy author George RR Martin's blog, and it has since spread across the web like balefire. The server that hosts Jordan's own blog is buckling under the weight of commiserating fans, but you can read how his cousin announced his passing here.
I've been reading his "Wheel of Time" fantasy series since the first book, "The Eye of the World", was published in 1990 (on the recommendation of a wise college professor at UVM), and while I was often frustrated by the ever-lengthening story (it was originally supposed to be 6 or 7 books, I believe, but number 11 came out in 2005), the overwhelming number of characters, and the infrequency of new volumes, I never expected we'd lose the man before he could finish off his life's masterwork. I honestly looked forward to the day, whenever it would come, that I could read the entire tale, start-to-finish (and while speculation is that we may still get that chance, it does nothing to lessen the blow). But what I really looked forward to was what might come next, with new tales on a clean slate, if he ever chose to do that. He provided my imagination with so many hours and hours of escape... I owe the man a great debt. Such a huge loss to fans of truly epic storytelling, and such sad day.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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