Hey! Let’s talk.
Ok, back in 2003 there was this band called Poison the Well. Right now we’d call them screamo, or ~post-hardcore~, or whatever, but in 2003 we called it emotional hardcore (which might be the actual worst, but screamo felt like a loaded word with super negative connotations in 2003–in fact, in my ~scene~ it was only used for derision).
So they released this album on Atlantic Records, and it was on the endcap at Target, and I bought it with my allowance, and I listened to it a lot. And here’s why it matters: it was produced by the same guy (Eskil Lövström) who produced all of those great Refused albums that are super influential on ~post-hardcore~ and other snobby forms of emo/punk/metal/whatever, and it’s got these superb, spacy interstitial bits that were unlike anything I had heard before and they rocked my Slipknot/Misfits-loving mall-goth heart.
Derek Miller from Poison the Well also went on to be 1/2 of Sleigh Bells, so that’s cool, too.
So, anyway, I was on Facebook this morning, and a high school friend reminded me of the Refused, which reminded me of this album, and I fell into a YouTube hole and thought I’d tell you about it. IDK, some of Poison the Well’s songs still sort of hold up… and at the very least they’re a good document of their time.
This has been fun! Let’s do it again soon.
“I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman. I’m living on.”
Is it not the way of the shaman to sing of things we cannot see? You put in headphones, retreat into a cave of sound and the visions are there. We hear him slip away. There can be no replacement, but our shaman has left us with a thousand incantations to bring him back, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Perhaps not all the villagers believed in his magic, but it was ubiquitous nonetheless.
David Bowie was the kind of man about whom prophecies are written. Whose coming was drawn onto cave walls in flickering firelight. We had decades with our shaman, his words echoing in all corners, sliding in and out of our consciousness. His words were prayers and salutations and his final prophecies revealed his end. He would be the black star, whisking away in the night. He will take the place of Polaris.
“Time may change me, but you can’t trace time.”
Art has no need for transparency. The translation changes. The drawings on the cave wall become the written word, become the song, the painting, the film. The shaman has no need and every need for these mediums. It is through art that we interpret the world around us and ideas of what else lurks beyond our understanding.
David Bowie breathed art. He let art become his very life right down to the persona, crafted yet so wholly true. Even when he was someone else he was himself. Perhaps that is the very definition of a shaman, one who can take different forms to be a medium between the real and what cannot be comprehended. The shaman is a messenger, is a rebel, is an ageless wonder whose existence is as transitory as it is permanent.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
Our shaman will be ours for eons to come. To share a time with his earthly life is to be unwittingly crafted and inspired by his existence. The shaman is fiction and nonfiction. Fantasy, science fiction, romance, and thriller. History, biography, and religion. How do you mourn the expanse of such a life?
David Bowie is singular, yet innumerable. A truth and a contradiction. To see him in his element, performing, practicing his art was like watching electricity form from thin air. There will be no second coming. We will shed our tears, beat our chests, and we will listen to his voice again and again.
We will look to the heavens, into the dark night, and we will see him there. He will be pointing us beyond North, beyond Earth. He will be pointing toward our souls and inviting us to go there.
Less than a week (four days to be exact) until Divers is released and tensions are high. Two-minute clips of each song from the record briefly surfaced (and then disappeared) last week; I listened to them twice and then put them away, sating my impatience but unwilling to spend much time with only a portion of the far surperior whole. Meanwhile, more interviews keep popping up online as Oct. 23rd approaches; The Guardian, Stereogum, and Rolling Stone both feature pretty great ones.
The P.T. Anderson-directed music video for the title track, “Divers,” is playing at independent movie theaters around the country through the 22nd; I’ve seen it twice already at my local indie movie theater Ciné and plan on at least one more viewing; truly gorgeous and spooky, the video features Newsom immersed in the surrealist pastoral artwork of Kim Keever, whose art is featured on the cover of the record.
Life keeps fumbling blissfully towards death, as Newsom sang on Ys, and as such here are some reviews of the record for those who like to read before they listen: Pitchfork, The New Yorker, The Times, NME, Chicago Tribune, The L.A. Times, NPR, (by the great critic Ann Powers, who co-wrote Tori Amos’ Piece by Piece), The Line of Best Fit, and Loud and Quiet.
Bonus: a bingo sheet for the often lazy/sexist music journalism created by Joseph Harmer just for reviews of Divers.
Joanna Newsom just announced the first round of her U.S. tour dates! Rejoice, rejoice, all of us who can make it to one of these shows. If you’ve ever seen Newsom live (I’ve seen her seven times and would follow her like a Deadhead if I could) you know it is transformative, magical (not like witches or fairies but like Emily Dickinson or the best dreams), heart aching, and joyful. Feelings-church to the max. In addition to these tour dates, there will be theatrical-only screenings of the video for the album’s title track, “Divers.” Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed the video for “Sapokanikan,” directs this one as well, with art/landscapes by Kim Keever, whose art is featured on the cover of the record. Dates for those screenings below as well; information gleaned from Brooklyn Vegan.
U.S. tour dates:
12-06 Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre *
12-07 Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre *
12-09 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer *
12-10 Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre *
12-12 Munhall, PA – Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall *
12-13 Buffalo, NY – Asbury Hall – Babeville *
12-14 Toronto, Ontario – Queen Elizabeth Theatre *
12-15 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre *
12-16 Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre *
12-17 St. Paul, MN – The Fitzgerald Theater *
12-18 Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre *
*=Ryan Francesconi & Alela Diane opening
“Divers” video screenings:
New York, NY @ IFC Center
Yonkers, NY@ Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers
Huntington, NY@ Cinema Arts Centre
Los Angeles, CA @ The Cinefamily
Los Angeles, CA @ Ahrya Fine Arts
Pasadena, CA @ Laemmie Playouse 7
San Jose, CA @ Camera Cinemas
San Francisco, CA @ Castro Theatre
San Luis Obispo, CA @ Palm Theatre
Grass Valley, CA @ Sutton Cinema
Grass Valley, CA @ Sierra Cinemas
Grass Valley, CA @ Del Oro Theatre
Nevada City, CA @ Magic Theatrea
Tucson, AZ @ Loft Cinema
Denver, CO @ Alamo Drafthouse Littleton
Boulder, CO @ International Film Series, UC Boulder
Miami, FL @ O-Cinema
Boston, MA @ Coolidge Corner
Seattle, WA @ SIFF – Egyptian Theater
Bellingham, WA @ Pickford Film Center[INFO]
Portland, OR @ Cinema 21
Eugene, OR @ Bijou Cinemas
Pittsburgh, PA @ Regency Square Theater
Ashburn, VA @ Alamo Drafthouse One Loudon
Winchester, VA @ Alamo Drafthouse Winchester
Austin, TX@ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Austin, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline
Austin, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Village
Austin, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
Austin, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar
Dallas, TX @ Texas Theatre
Dallas, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Richardson
Houston, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park
Houston, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park
Laredo, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Laredo
Lubbock, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Lubbock
New Braunfels, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Marketplace
San Antonio, TX@ Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes
San Antonio, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Park North
San Antonio, TX @ Alamo Drafthouse Stone Oak
Kansas City, MO @ Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet
Ann Arbor, MI @ Michigan Theater
Kalamazoo, MI @Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo
Columbia, SC @Nickelodeon Theatre
Nashville, TN @ Belcourt Theatre
Salt Lake City, UT @Salt Lake Film Society[INFO]
Tulsa, OK @ Circle Cinema
Scottsbluff, NE @ Midwest Theater
Raleigh, NC @ Colony Theater
Winston-Salem, NC @ a/perture Cinema
Columbus, OH @ Gateway Film Center
Chicago, IL @ Music Box Theatre
Champaign, IL @ Art Theatre Co-Op
Paducah, KY @ Maiden Alley Cinema
Arhus, Denmark @ Øst For Paradis
London, UK @ Rio Cinema
Munich, Germany @ Monopol
London, UK @ Clapham Picturehouse
London, UK @ East Dulwich Picturehouse and Cafe
London, UK @Greenwich Picturehouse
London, UK @ Hackney Picturehouse
London, UK @ Picturehouse Central
London, UK @ Ritzy Brixton
London, UK @ Stratford East Picturehouse
Bath, UK @ The Little Theatre Cinema
Bradford, UK @ Picturehouse at National Media Museum
Brighton, UK @ Duke’s at Komedia
Edinburgh, UK @ Cameo
Exeter, UK @ Exeter Picturehouse
Henley, UK @ Regal Picturehouse
Norwich, UK @ Cinema City
Liverpool, UK @ Picturehouse at FACT
Oxford, UK @ Phoenix Picturehouse
Southampton, UK @ Harbour Lights Picturehouse
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK @ Stratford-Upon-Avon Picturehouse
York, UK @ City Screen
People are counting down the days ’til Divers. By people I mean the diehard, swooning fans. Here are some reviews, interviews, art, and various other medias that might sate you ’til 10/23. I’d like to give a shoutout to the JN community I’m a member of on FB, which provided many of these links:
–Newsom is interviewed in the new issue of Uncut Magazine (the first interview for the new album cycle!)
Ya’ll, I’m super #LatetotheParty but this Blank Banshee album is just so superb.
In 2010 Joanna Newsom gave us Have One On Me, and it was glorious. Three discs of baroque, meticulous tunes, all but one of which are now permanent residents of my bloodstream (“No Provenance”, your time will come eventually, I suspect). Newsom fans have been waiting ardently for a new record for five years, and in 26 days that record, Divers, will begin its public life and quick entry into my already-crowded (yet never crowded enough!) veins. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
In the weeks leading up to the record’s release I will be posting tidbits here so I can vent some of my excitement in a public forum and not drive everyone in my life crazy. If you follow me on social media, though, I am 26 days away from being insufferably obsessed with Divers for the forseeable future. In the meantime, here are some live performances of songs that will be on the record:
an ambient work came on the radio…driving my dying old car up the crest of the hill that at one time led seemingly to nowhere…then to a job in polyester bell bottoms manning a cash register at magic mountain..then cal arts as a dream and one wild party…then as a student…….then this night….3 days after my mom passed on after so many years bedridden and unable to speak…….a kind of water began to pour…..floods and dams failing …..something inside eroding in the spaces and analog pads…….it felt for a second as though my car was to fly away deconstructed and winged away….every bit of geometry…every screw and material…..to just become a swarm and things in exploded view like the books of planes……..and she was gone……..and she was free from this…..and a horn honked…..a car passed……
.and it was as though there was no earth at all for a few seconds….no need ..no gravity…and no weight…..she was at peace now
“It was almost like I had been burdened by something my whole life and then suddenly that went away…” she explains. “I can’t even describe how amazing it is… you suddenly realize why people are happy and why people enjoy things. I think I used to believe that being depressed was part of my personality or that I was born like that, but it’s quite shocking to realize that perhaps that isn’t the case.” –Marina Diamandis in an interview with The Line of Best Fit
Marina Diamandis introduces us to her new album, Froot, with an interview that includes the above snippet, but then shares with us songs that include lines like “Nature ain’t a fruit machine/She’s gotta keep her credits clean” and “Leave it too long I’ll go rot/Like an apple you forgot/Birds and worms will come for me/the cycle of life is incomplete” and “everybody dies (dies)” trilled in a high, shiny, minor key (which reminds me of the totally sick and funny “Super! Super! Super! Suicidal” cheerleader-chant from her last album, Electra Heart). Which is not to say that Marina has not actually experienced a profound change in way she moves through the world, but instead sneakily highlights the idea that newly-felt states of understanding/living do not necessitate one forgetting or disregarding our mortality, fear, sadness, desolation, anger, etc. Pop music is such a perfect way to play in all this big-time glitter and death muck, particularly the kind of pop music Marina makes which is majorly baroque, rococo, melodramatic, theatric, and glam, not to mention extremely beautiful and playful and sly, uniquely binding those qualities together and then giving them classic singer/songwriter-y outlines. That pop star’s magic ability to sing out an abundance of feeling in a way that cuts right through you every single time, even though you “know” it’s “just a pop song.” (You indignantly do NOT know and there’s no “just” about it.) See: Kylie Minogue’s “The One” or the entirety of Beyoncé’s B’Day, to start.
Two night after beginning this piece of writing I’m feeling some basic hysteria-lite after a few days off meds (by accident) and dealing with a year-long skin condition that is making me want to slice off my own face with a kitchen knife. Today an interview with Lana Del Rey was posted online in which she talks about a new song titled “Music to Watch Boys to” which made me think of that old “I’m a girl watcher/watching girls go by/my my my” song, the horror-accompaniment to every woman’s walk down any street lined by men (though if we’re talking about structurally perfect pop songs, it is a good one). I like the idea of Lana writing this song that flips that, that puts the leering men on the other end of the story, though I don’t think that’s how the song will actually be, will it– usually I find myself transferring my own desires onto Lana’s songs, in terms of what I want them to mean, and I’m also usually wrong. I thought “Brooklyn Baby” was totally funny and mean and sassy but then in an interview she said it was a pretty straightforward narrative of a time in her life and I was like, oh. But that didn’t make me love the song any less and I certainly didn’t lose any respect for her; she is making the art she wants to make, without me and my feminism/misandrism in mind, as everyone and anyone should. It just added to the feeling that I don’t understand who she is yet, and usually when I love a pop star it is because I think I know them, the core of them, and I love that core. But not with Lana. But also she doesn’t care.
That Diana Vreeland quote about women not owing anyone prettiness was on my twitter feed the other night and I can’t stop thinking about it, as I look at my face in the mirror each morning and feel I owe it to the entire world (as if the entire world cares; but aren’t we told it does?) to make myself look as little grotesque as possible (shades of TLC’s “Unpretty”?). Lana and Kylie and Beyoncé and Marina are all so, so pretty and I’m sure they feel like they owe it to us. The thing is I like to look at them, too.
I’m nauseous and light-headed and deep in the Tuesday night hysteria-lite zone and there’s not a thing in this entire world that sounds good to me tonight so I’m writing this. I am missing my friend Keith’s cheerful sensory-deprivation machine which would require that you to put on glasses and headphones which then pulsed out weird frequencies and patterns that temporarily engaged you in a weird-nothing world, so I guess there is one thing that sounds good tonight. There is a lot to be grateful for, pop music being amongst that “a lot,” and I want to mainline the essence of that, I want that perfect note sung just right over a good dance beat perma-playing in my ear, I want every new record NOW and I want my pop stars carefully considering life and death and despair and joy all in the course of three-and-a-half minutes and I want it now, now now now.