Sunday, July 09, 2006

Kottke, Gondry, Grizzly, Comedy

Jason Kottke helps spread the word that the trailer for the new Michel Gondry film The Science of Sleep is bopping around online now. Too much hype, too much anticipation, and too much familiarity with a director's previous work can be a dangerous thing (and I am nothing if not if not overly familiar with Eternal Sunshine), but damn if I'm not already guessing that it's going to end up on my top ten movie list at the end of the year. According to the IMDB, we're looking at a late September release date. Get excited.

Via Stereogum, check out La Blogotheque's videos of the Grizzly Bear boys singing two of their songs in Paris on the street and in the bathroom. The band is new to me, but I really like the sound of what they've got going on here. Bonus points for their apparently close musical friendship with Owen Pallett, who remixed their song "Don't Ask" for last year's rerelease of debut full-length Horn of Plenty and arranged some strings for their upcoming album Yellow House.

Pitchfork gives an almost-perfect 4.5 star score to The Divine Comedy's "A Lady of a Certain Age" (off recently released ninth album Victory for the Comic Muse) in one of the worst descriptive write-ups of a song I've ever read on the site. The Scott Walker comparisions are apt (even though, ahem, "Mathilde" is technically a Jacques Brel composition), but the writer ends up with a mouthful of mush as he (perhaps?) tries to reflect the richness of Hannon's best work by turning his prose-hose on full gush and then manages to flatten the poignancy of the thrice repeated "no, you couldn't be" line by overexplaining it. I know I probably sound like a jet black pot criticizing the Fork's kettle over here, as my own piled on superlatives have occasionally been known to crumble under the weight of their own floridity when I get excited about something, but I just want the music bloggers to do right by Neil, especially now that he seems to be getting more attention than ever on this side of the pond. Whatevs. At least it was the last track they reviewed at the end of the day on Friday, so Neil's pensive, black and white visage has been left up on the front page of the site all weekend (right underneath Sufjan!), which hopefully has led the indie kids over to The Hype Machine or elbo.ws looking for some downloady goodness. I hope they like what they find.

Apropos of the new DC album, I finally had a chance to listen to it in its entirety a few times over the course of this past week, and I'm absolutely tickled with it so far. It feels the closest of any of his recent work to merging the epic sweep of the big orchestra albums like Fin de Siecle and A Short Album About Love with the fanciful eccentricity of early classics Liberation and Promenade. "The Light of Day" is a sappy, adult-contemporary snoozer and album-closer "Snowball in Negative" succumbs to the dreaded musician-singing-about-the-process-of-
recording-the-song-you're-listening-to faux pas with the line "smoking my six-hundredth last cigarette out of the studio skylight," but those are relatively minor quibbles. Neil's growing into the lusciousness of his voice with sure, steady grace, the wit is as sharp and subtle as ever (the "oh, did I tell you I love you?" in "To Die a Virgin" never fails to kill me), and he's grown bolder with the funkiness of his grooves (again, "To Die a Virgin" stands out with that leisure-suit lecherous bass, and the oh-oh-oh bongo/bell interludes in "Diva Lady" just make me grin). Old fans will also love the reemergence of familiar DC tropes like the horse's gallop rhythm in his cover of the Associates' "Party Fears Two" (on the special edition DVD that came with the version of the album I purchased, Neil sheepishly suggests that that rhythmic pattern should be carved on his gravestone) and the overlapping voices playing cat and mouse as they narrate and sing the same lines in personal favorite "Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont." I love that Neil still has the ability to make records under the Divine Comedy moniker and that they're still artistically sophisticated endeavors. I could get quite sappy now about how much this band and its body of work means to me, but if that's not already abundantly clear, anything else I might attempt to say at this point would probably sound disingenous.

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