They Might Be Giants – I Like Fun

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in The Dispossessed that you can go home again—because home is a place you have never been. I hone in on the significance on home here because, in a manner of speaking, They Might Be Giants have come home with their latest album, I Like Fun, recorded in the same space they recorded Flood. Not entirely the same though. Back in the day it was Skyline Studios. Now it’s Reservoir Studios, following a renovation in 2015-16. Stuff has changed in the interval; likewise with TMBG in-between Flood … Read More

scallops hotel – sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face

“I am emptying the sea into this hole.” So said a little boy to St. Augustine, when the Church Father asked why he was scooping seawater with a scallop shell into a little hole on the beach. Reportedly, this episode led Augustine to conclude that man could never understand God’s entirety. Apropos of this review, “I am emptying the sea into this hole” sounds like a line Milo—or, in this case, his alter ego Scallops Hotel—would rap, one of many he would rap, being such a profuse gentleman. This is not a putdown. Milo/Scallops Hotel has always had a way … Read More

Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno – Finding Shore

I must admit, as someone who values texture in music, how the right tone or recording setting fleshes out and contextualizes the ideas in the music (the notes, the lyrics, the keys and tonal modalities, and so on). I have never been one for ambient music, which approaches, in as pure a manner as I surmise, texture qua texture. This isn’t to say that I hate ambient music, or practitioners of ambient music, but it’s a rare occasion these days when I find myself compelled to put on an ambient album. Why does one play ambient music? Is it a … Read More

Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes

The music I grew up with is a decade old now and that terrifies me. In my mind the late 2000s were a beautiful period of experimentation and growth and honest, unabashed wonder. I was swept up in the pitchfork content mill and every major release felt like an event and another bud on these vast musical branches I was incredibly eager to claim as my own. I jumped from Yo La Tengo into Animal Collective into Deerhunter and beyond. Everything felt and still feels like it was contributing to a staggering musical epoch that ended, coincidentally, once I grew … Read More

B/W: XTC – “This is Pop?”

I wrote earlier that XTC embodied a certain strain of Discomfit Pop; this song could very well be its manifesto. I have also written that Chalkhills.org will be, throughout this series, an invaluable resource. Indeed, in this case, it’s provided an incomparable cipher to the origins of “This is Pop?” It came to pass that Partridge—Swindon lad, New York Dolls aficionado—heard the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” (“It just sounds like a slower version of The Ramones,” he confessed to Todd Bernhardt) and decided he wanted none of it, the compartmentalization, the hemming in. He relates to Bernhardt: I … Read More

B/W: XTC – “Statue of Liberty”

There’s a rather vivid scene in Günter Grass’ (at times unbearably) phantasmagoric novel The Tin Drum where a museum guard named Herbert Truczinski (an associate of the narrator, Oskar Matzerath) falls in love with a statue, “Niobe” or “the green maiden.” Although, it is more accurate to say that Herbert is possessed to ravish the statue: I had to laugh when I saw Herbert. He was hanging from the front of Niobe, he had tried to mount the wooden statue. His head covered hers. His arms clung to her raised, crossed arms. He had no shirt on. It was later … Read More