Saturday, November 04, 2006

Can Joann's Weekend Mutiny: Andrew

Editor's Note: This post was written by Andrew Bernish, bassist for Chapel Hill, NC band can joann. It is part of a series of posts that you can link to below.

Indie Elevator Music by Andrew Bernish

God, I love these songs. Those interesting additions that select bands quietly place among their staple rock sound. The oft-overlooked juicy nugget. The more-than-you bargained for pleasantry. I’m writing of the reflective instrumental pieces dropped amid the otherwise classic ‘indie rock’ (for lack of a better term) album. I’m not talking about the rocking number that sounds like the other tracks from the album (albeit sans vocal) such as Fugazi’s Arpeggiator. And no I’m not talking exclusively instrumental outfits a la Tortoise. I’m talking about the single tracks that don’t quite sound like they fit on the album yet add so much flavor and let albums breathe. The songs made by otherwise ‘traditional’ rock bands that occur after exploration of the more pensive nature within. I have found that when extracted from the album as a whole and blended together amidst like-minded tunes, these tracks make an excellent mix for lounging in the cocoon of headphones.

Shit - these types of songs should be their own genre: Reflection rock. Lounge Rock. Stoner walking music. Indie elevator. I don’t care, I just want to see it continue. If you enjoy this stuff or have some you like, please lemme hear them! Comment away. And Thanks!

So yes, disclaimer out of the way first, we made one of these on our latest album with the track Endure En Vogue, but this writing isn’t here for self-promotion (I’m seriously being serious here). No, I’m writing this in hopes that someone reading this will provide me with some great examples I may have missed. That’s best-case scenario. If not, well, I just gathered my thoughts about some music that I love.

The casual listener (and I know you’re not one) sometimes shuns these tracks for various reasons which I will not discuss here. Personally, these tracks quite often become my favorite additions to the album. I don’t think I’m alone here, but hell - maybe I am. I’m not worried about that now. What I do worry about is that these types of tracks are slowly becoming extinct. As I provide examples below, I realized that most of my best examples are from the Clinton era. I don’t want this to be a dying breed, but the evidence is mounting.

Okay, yes – some examples. Well when has this happened recently? I’ll start with that omnipresent album of last year by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Yeah, you’ve heard of them and yeah you like them even if you’re thinking right now that you don’t. And if you really don’t think you like them and find yourself feeling defensive by the last statement, you need to check yourself and question what makes you angry. But I digress. The ‘other’ song on that CYHSY album (no, not the title track) is that drifting track Blue Turning Gray. It’s about a minute long and it’s stunningly beautiful. And for what it’s worth, I believe it was the only track not written by Alec. So there is your recent example.

One of my personal favorites is Innerspace from The Apples In Stereo’s 1995 album Fun Trick Noise Maker (which was their best album non-coincidentally). It’s a dizzying mix of plucked strings and shimmering synths.

The Sea & Cake were quite fond of these types of tracks during their heyday (and what a wonderful heyday it was). For whatever reason, The Sea & Cake always remained adamant about only having 10 songs per album, yet they would typically spend at least one of these tracks on an instrumental beauty. Yes, The Sea & Cake have a handful of these pieces from which to choose, but my personal favorite is Rossignol, from their 1997 album The Fawn. There’s even an ocean wave inserted during at the halfway point of this track as if the song’s soothing intentions weren’t apparent enough.

And my local band example, is Polvo’s track The Secret’s Secret from the 1996 album Exploded Drawing. This song has the best use of sleigh bells ever. Again I’m being serious. And, well – I can’t leave just one local example – how about a track by a band called The Honored Guests, who gave us the pensive track 1.12 from their debut Iawokeinacityasleep.

From here, I’ll just list some more of my favorite examples rather than go on with longer dialogue. If you think you may dig these types of tracks, or if you have found yourself enjoying these as much as I have, check out some of the following examples & lemme hear your favorites.

Reprise by Air Miami from the 1995 album Me Me Me.
Acromegaly by Archers of Loaf from the 1996 album All the Nations Airports – another local example.
Again by Lambchop from their 1996 album How I Quit Smoking.
Dustbowl by Magnetic Fields from the 1994 album The Charm of The Highway Strip.
The Reprimand by Midlake from their 1994 debut Bamnan & Silvercork.
Our Man In Bombay by The Minders from their 1998 album Hooray for Tuesday.
Fracture by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (remember them?) from their 1992 album Are You Normal?
We Don’t Like Romance by The Promise Ring from their 1996 album 30 Degrees Everywhere.
Mirrored Palm by Wilderness from their 2005 self-titled debut album (another more recent example. So there’s hope).

Editor's Note: Andrew, I have three for you off the top of my head. My classic example is Louder Than Bombs track Oscillate Wildly by The Smiths. My recent local example is Pure by Hershey, PA's The April Skies, off of their new How It All Played Out disc. My recent national example is Springboard by former mutiny band, Saturna.

Now, for my local tribute...

Archers of Loaf - Wrong

“Do you like to crowd surf?”
“Well, why not?”
(Because it’s so stupid).
Alright I hear you – so crowd surfing is a dying (or dead) celebratory ritual of rock. But not too long ago, it was alive and thriving. No really, it was. At least here in Chapel Hill. The best ride above hands I ever experienced was undoubtedly at the Cat’s Cradle back in 1997. The band was Archers of Loaf – those pre-Crooked Fingers Chapel Hill icons. You know – “stick a pin in your backbone!” – Yeah, them. Well before crowd surfing was too cool for school, the Chapel Hill scene was ripe with this ritual; The most thrilling way to experience live music. Back at that Archers show in ’97, I remember drinking and screaming with my new college friends. The rawk was making us rowdy and the alcohol was making us crazy. When Archers came back out for their 1st encore (shit, back then, bands always did two encores), I leapt onto stage only to turn and throw myself head-first into the waving sea of white pasty hands. I had no doubt that the crowd of drunken intellectual horn-rimmed weaklings could hold me high above their heads. Nope – no fear here. Christ, we’d been holding up kids all night long with this. Why shouldn’t I have a turn? But the thing I remember most was the pure adrenaline I had as I leapt out precisely when Bachmann yelled “You’ve got it all wrong!” The sentence of anger & pride comes full on after a brief mid-song silence and the ironic meaning of the lyrics juxtaposed with my naïve late-teenage mind is not lost upon me. That lyric at the midway point in that song, is one of the most energizing moments in all of rock for me. Now it also served as an anthem for one of the best rides I’ve ever experienced. And shit, maybe the tradition will come back. Hey just last month, I saw Mike Stroud of Ratatat leap out into a very surprised crowd of pasty whites and HE came out okay…

Can Joann's Weekend Mutiny:
Band's Intro


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