The Gentleman Loser

Thoughts and Musings of a Loser

SamJoshLouis2 - 2This film was created in April for the Wis-Kino 2008 Spring Kabaret. The theme (drawn out of a hat two nights beforehand) was “Prop: Ice Cream Cones”. It’s called “RASHnotes: 1984″ and it’s a kickoff of a new series. Basically the premise goes like this: Sam and I pick a book we have never read, we go to the mall’s Barnes and Nobel, grab the Cliff’s Notes for the book, sit in the attached Starbucks and drink overpriced coffee while we read the two page summary, then make a movie with minimal costumes and props. (NOTE that this is the rush-cut version, a reshoot is planned to fix some of the audio issues and tighten the script.)

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img237-795035Last Saturday, May 9th, I went to see Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s at The Orpheum Stagedoor. I had first discovered the band a little over a year ago when I saw their video for “Quiet as a Mouse” on a DVD sampler. I loved the video and immediately went to the video store and bought the CD, every song was a gem. Quiet, emotional folk-tinged music.

Starting out their live show were some newer songs. If they are any indication, you can expect their next CD to be a less quiet affair. Electric guitar seems to have been heavily added to the mix even in the performances of tracks from “The Dust of Retreat.”

Did I mention that this was a big band? It really is. We are talking about an 8-piece band with two guitarist’s, two bassists, two drummers (okay, one plays drums, the other bangs on a wide assortment of things while performing other strange rites), a violinist/lap steal guitarist, a keyboardist and a brass player. Stealing the show, for me at least, were Hubert Glover (the brass player) and Casey Tennis (the aforementioned jack-of-all-trade’s percussionist). Not only does the brass give the band a sound that is often looked over by today’s bands, but Glover’s collection of instruments lent a distinct visual flair to the performance. Mr. Tennis…well he seems like a strange, squirrelly fellow. He had some sort of design written on his face, and the strange bravado the went into each often overexaggerated swing of the mallet or shake of the…shaker commanded attention. Did I mention that the entire band came on stage wearing animal mask’s, with Richard Edwards (the singer and guitarist) dressed as an expeditionist (not exhibitionist)? They did, but it didn’t take long for the masks (including Glover’s cigarette-enhanced white tiger mask) to come off. It was then that I took note that the memebers of this band looked nothing like I had envisioned them to. I expected some sort of well dressed band with trendy haircuts, instead I was pleasantly surprised to see a group of gangly fellows (and one lady) with the half-strung-out look of a grunge band.

There was a good blend of new and old material, jumping back and forth between the two in a bi-polar spree. At the end of the show, Edwards simply got up onto the mic with an acoustic guitar and kept on doing songs as much of the rest of the band quietly took apart and put away the stage. Tennis would occasionally shake a cymbal or something to the beat of the music as he packed away his playpen of toys, occasionally joining Edwards. One of the last songs played was a tribute cover of “He’s on drugs again” by LonPaul, a fellow musician and friend that had died a few days prior. Footage of the song is viewable on the YouTube clip below.

Some bands are better live. Some bands are worse. In the case of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, they are a completely different animal altogether.

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French-Kicks-746788French Kicks take the stage and the crowd rushes to the front to…stand there and look too cool. Fear not, however, later in the show, with an adjustment of his belt and a sway of his hips, Matt Stinchcomb turns the crowd all the way up to listliss swaying and half-hearted swing dancing. To the right of me, Ryan attempts to break the mold with a brief burst of The Roboto.

Their music is conducive to this behavior, it’s the sonic equivalent to Quaaludes. Matt alternates between guitar, and running over to the left side of the stage to play keyboards. The guitar buzzes into the type of haze one associates with Sonic Youth. however, out of the haze, the bass player chimes in precisely accented notes that cut through like church bells.

Vocals seem to be a mash-up of The Appleseed Cast and M83 with the enunciation of The Twighlight Singers, though their world-weary, raspy voice is replaced by youthful energy.

The music follows the indie post-Radiohead stuff most of the time, but occasionally takes a dive to some more classical styles that almost seem reminiscent of the 1950′s. The vaguely retro-stylings suit the band well and leave the listener with a non-specific nostalgia. The feeling that we can remember when there was a better time, when things were okay, if only we can concentrate hard enough.

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The SlipSo yeah, late last night, only a few months after releasing an expansive instrumental double album for just a $5 download, nine inch nails releases a new 10-track/43 min album completely for free. Not instrumentals this time, but a more standard album called “the slip” and available for download in many different audio formats. And it ain’t a bad album either. Don’t really know where this one falls sonically or thematically in relation to other releases, it’s a somewhat hard to classify album. Tracks are as follows:

  1. 999,999
  2. 1,000,000
  3. letting you
  4. discipline
  5. echoplex
  6. head down
  7. lights in the sky
  8. corona radiata
  9. the four of us are dying
  10. demon seed

The first track is a weird glitchy intro to the album. The four tacks that follow sound like they could be at home with the 2005 release [with_teeth], except done better, louder, harder. In fact, the songs “1,000,000″ and especially “letting you” are about as loud and angry as I have ever heard nine inch nails. The song “Discipline,” which was released a few weeks ago as a radio single, sounds like Trent said “Okay, lets make a dancy song like ‘Only‘, except this time not so silly sounding.”

“Head Down” is immediately my favorite of the album. Doesn’t really sound like anything else I have heard by nin, the chorus is warm lush all while glitch and distortion rule the background. “Lights in the Sky” is your nin-standard quiet song that every album seems to have. “Corona Radiata” and “The Four of Us Are Dying” are instrumentals that sounds like they would be at home on The Fragile, aside from the layers, note the signature guitar stylings. The last track, “Demon Seed” is another one that is hard to place, some of the synth sounds are reminiscent of the Reznor-produced Saul Williams album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, regardless, it’s probably my second favorite song on the album and has some unique lyrical progression.

I also find it interesting that I noted a trend on nine inch nails discussion boards where fans were wishing they could have the option to pay for this release. Like some sort of strange Stockholm’s syndrome, once released from the captivity of the status quo for record releases, they try to go running back to something more familiar.

Below I have set up a playlist with the entire album, so you can just go ahead and check it out now if you like:

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Here is your present. I put together a playlist of what I have been listening to as of late when I’m not in the mood for EBM. A lot of the stuff on this list was music my friend Phil turned me on to.

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