At the Boathouse, 2000 maybe?

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Ramona Falls - 'I Say Fever'

 "I Say Fever" is one of my favorite videos in a very long time. To be fair, I rarely see videos anymore, but even when I do I rarely enjoy or take much note of them. This is definitely noteworthy. When I first saw it early in the year I focused pretty strictly on the music and just let the images sort of go by without attaching any context or looking for any meaning. Of course it was so visually interesting that I watched it several more times, paying attention to the story as well as the subtleties of the art. On all levels I find it thoroughly enjoyable. I'd be remiss if I didn't credit Mitchell Bratton of Pleasure Void for bringing it to my attention via a post of his own.
     Ramona Falls , named for a waterfall near Mt. Hood in Oregon, is another project of Brent Knopf of Menomena. Menomena is hardly a side project. That three piece came first and just released their fourth album, Mines. But with four years without a release from Menomena, you can't really say that the Ramona Falls album Intuit (2009) was a side project either. Rather the projects exist independently while at the same time seeming to inform one another. Nor is Ramona Falls fairly characterized as a solo project. While it's true that Ramona Falls is the product of Knopf's vision and solo songwriting he seized upon the opportunity to bring 35 guest musicians into the studio in order to bring the album to life. It is an excellent effort that both stands on it's own and shares a sensibility with Menomena.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nero and The Plebians

This is about 10 years old and is a side project from Jon Boone of Pleasure Void and the Tellers. Jon  put it up on Facebook earlier this year and I wanted to spread it around. He has a terrific You Tube Channel under the name Nero 54 AD that contains many performances from his iluustrious career as well as many others he encountered along the way. The artists run the gamut from young amateurs all the way up to polished professionals on the verge of a breakout, and they're sometimes the same groups at differeent moments in time. Some of it feels a lot like traditional rock, some of it sounds contemporary (although it didn't when recorded) and some of it, like this one, is still wonderfully outside the mainstream. It really is a gem of a repository of truly underground music from the late 80s through the 90s. The quality of the video and audio are not always the best but there is a lot of good and unique stuff. It's fun to pick through and find the real treasures like this one. I'd say it's PG 13 if that's a concern. Nero & the Plebians, "Masterplan"

Check This Out...Again

I was working on my book in my office earlier when one of my kids pulled The Pixies' Bossa nova off the CD shelf and asked me to pop it in. That was two hours ago and I'm still spinning it. When I first got this album as a new or pre-release in 1990 (I think), I fell in love with it. I remember playing "Is She Weird" over and over to the point that there may have been the serious possibility of my roommates kicking me out. I just ran it about ten times in a row again; almost drove my wife out of the room.

Over the years I didn't exactly forget about it, but there's just so much music that it slipped out of my personal Top-However-Many. What a shame. I feel like I've cheated me of this great album for all these years.

Bossanova has so much to offer. The lyrics are quirky, thoughtful, and somehow say the things you wanted to say but didn't know you wanted to. The music is variably sparse and lush in all the right places and mixes a range of influences that are recognizable but clearly appropriated to a higher purpose. The album also clearly presages so much of the alternative movement that followed within the next couple of years after its release; presages but in most cases overshadows in musical quality, emotive power, and intellectual depth. It's hard to name more than a couple of other albums that have held up this well over the years.

I don't know how this classic has eluded my MP3 player for so long but I'll remedy that shortly. Join me, won't you?