Happy new year. And welcome to the first segment of “Friday [insert number between one and 10],” my new weekly roundup of stuff I’ve been listening to, watching, thinking about, etc. It is by no means limited to stuff I actually enjoy (it’s an inventory as much as a hit list), and I will try to include at least one new, or recent, piece of music each time around.
1. Minutemen, “Cohesion” (1984) – From Double Nickels on the Dime, which I try to get into once every two years and usually only half-succeed with (I dig them best when they’re lyrical and non-descript; it’s their jagged funk riffs that lose me), but this faux-classical-gas instrumental caught me off guard in shuffle play the other day because I thought for a few seconds I’d stumbled onto one of the prettier Leonard Cohen songs from McCabe and Mrs. Miller, best movie-as-music movie (not to mention best November-through-February movie) ever.
2. James Wolcott, Critical Mass – Have only read the music section thus far; great on CBGBs and Lou Reed, not entirely convincing on (or by the sounds of it, convinced by) Albert Goldman, somewhere in the middle on “the noise boys.”
3. Frozen (Disney movie) – We took our daughter on New Years day, which means we’ve already seen as many movies in the theatre in 2014 as we did in 2013 (our lone 2013 outing? Superman: Man of Steel — hysterically loud and demoralizing “annihilation porn“). Some of the animation in Frozen is stunning (and there’s at least one unmistakable nod to The Searchers, which makes some sense thematically), but one aspect I could not get past: the characters’ freakishly large, alien-bug eyes. I found them unsettling to look at, frankly.
4. Bruce Springsteen, “High Hopes” – Even as someone who recognized that its faults overwhelmed its strengths, I thought Wrecking Ball (the Bruce version, not the Miley version) was a fairly compelling record, carried by a few really strong tracks and an unrelentingly humongous beat. This just sounds like gospel-rock chest-pounding to me, though, barely fit for a Springsteen b-side, never mind a lead-off single (and come to think of it, the corny gospel-sounding stuff on WB is the stuff I usually flip right past).
5. Rob O’Connor, formerly of Throat Culture and Yahoo’s ‘List of the Day,’ has a new blog which you should check out, and though not every line in this Greil Marcus parody (which, note, he penned when he was still in his teens) rings true, the opening line made me laugh: “There is a moment so true, so naked and revealing on Miracle Legion’s The Backyard EP that to play it repeatedly is to bleed oneself dry.”