Music and Sex #3: Cat Power.

I know, I know. You see those words in the title and most guys will agree she not only has a sexy voice, but she is easy on the eyes too. Ladies? Any thoughts? It makes it a complicated call for me. But here goes.

Sure I think she has used her looks to get her places in the business. But let’s face it folks, it is an ugly business. I say anyone brave enough to try and make a living for themselves making music should use any and everything in their arsenal to take that hill. There’s not much room (in the music business) for dabblers and half steppers I think everyone can agree.

Let’s talk ‘HOT mess in a dress.’ I have no illusions. I’m a family man. I love my wife and I enjoy the steadiness and comfort that married life allows. I have no desire to participate in anyone else’s drama ‘cause there’s plenty of sugar in my bowl.

But just for a second let us entertain a certain notion: that somehow a voice could separate itself from someone’s body, which is kind of one of the magic tricks of pop music for me. It is an escape into someone else’s psyche and their worldview; a way to access that which you might not normally be able to access; a means of revisiting a time and place where a song was discovered, understood and absorbed into your personal history. That disembodied voice speaks to you directly like the voice of a close friend over the phone, or a photograph that reminds you about a corner of your life that exists mostly in flimsy little artifacts now.

I remember the first time I heard Chan Marshall’s voice. The song, “American Flag,” was piping through the speakers of an off-the-beaten-path café called the Atlas.

It was a tenuous time in my existence in the Bay Area. I was missing old friends and searching for an identifiable raison d‘etre in a city that was feeling a little colder than I expected.

The Atlas was a bastion of slackerdom in a quickly changing neighborhood on the cusp of Dot Com excess. Musicians and people who appreciated music staffed the Atlas. They had their own open mic’ nights and afternoon shows on the weekends. It was a little piece of Austin for me that did not require buying a plane ticket to access. It was just a short bike ride from my flat.

Later I lost interest in Cat Power for a while, only to regain it when I heard her album, “the Greatest.” Which I think is an accurate descriptor for it considering the whole of her output. Her voice had matured a little, gotten a little raspier, mellowed. I found myself searching through web content trying to view live performances to get a greater sense of this enigmatic voice.

Well here’s where I lay it on the line. I think if I could have sex with a disembodied voice this would be it, o.k.?

I’m sure there are some guys out there to back me up on this. My adult existence is littered with voice crushes: Kim Deal, Hope Sandoval, Pj Harvey, Amy Boone and Deborah Kelly, Rachel Nagy, Karen Dalton, Margot Timmins, Irma Thomas, Stevie Nicks, Holly Golightly, Sam Phillips, and a young Emmylou Harris, and the list goes on and on.

But for the moment Chan Marshall’s voice will get the bottle of wine over an expensive restaurant dinner, and then afterwards???

Kris Kristofferson | Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends

Kris Kristofferson is incredibly cool. So cool that, as the story goes, he once landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s yard and hand delivered a demo recording. Now, from Light in the Attic Records, comes the chance to hear what that song might have sounded like when they release Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72. Out May 11, this album compiles early, previously unreleased versions of some classic Kristofferson songs. For the eager listener, such as myself, NPR is streaming the album in its entirety until May 4. Listen here.

The Fall | Your Future Our Clutter

The Fall have a new record, Your Future Our Clutter, out on May 4–the first on Domino for Mark E. Smith and his ever-changing cast of musicians. Turns out it sounds like The Fall–it feeds on propulsive, repetitive rhythms. It’s dissonant, layered and loud. And until May 4, it’s streaming in its entirety on NPR. Check it out here.

Your Future Our Clutter

1. O.F.Y.C. Showcase
2. Bury Pts. 1 + 3
3. Mexico Wax Solvent
4. Cowboy George
5. Hot Cake
6. Y.F.O.C / Slippy Floor
7. Chino
8. Funnel Of Love
9. Weather Report 2

 

 

 

Sweet Apple | Love & Desperation

When I see the Roxy Music-referencing cover, I wanna buy the record–even before I know that it’s John Petkovic of Cobra Verde hanging out with J. Mascis and bashing out some no-frills, turn it up man classic rock. Mascis is credited on drums, vocals, and guitar, and though there are plenty of big, catchy-as-shit riffs, his trademark soaring solos mostly take a backseat, allowing tight melodies and Petkovic’s tough-as-shit lyrics like, “I wasn’t born, I was detached” to drive the album. “We’re dying,” Petkovic sings at one point, “so let’s fuck, fuck, fuck till we die.” Sounds like a plan–I’m in.

A look at John Petkovic’s bio on Cobra Verde’s website reveals that his “best concert” is Gang of Four vs. Cheap Trick. When I hear this record, I know exactly what he means.

music and sex #2

4/21/2010

Music and Sex: S.F., the early aughts, the Mission. A Bar.

Pink glow of neon bathes the bar in a warm seductive glow. One enters it through a set of double doors off the putrid, security-gated corridor of Mission Street that during the day is a miraculously dislocated swath of central America, southeast Asia, and dislocated urban America amid the victorians in the flats of America’s Favorite City. By night amid the cabs and the gypsy fixers of street society, an uncharacteristically large sign dazzlingly encrusted with colored neon lights silently beckons a loyal contingent of the lonely and somehow disaffected with its morris code blinking, “come on in, have a seat down toward the end of the bar….”

But to get to that preciously positioned stool one had to walk the entire length of the bar, which could have doubled as a fashion runway if the owner’s ambitions strayed from the comforting confines of low-level alcoholism. The walk inevitably caught the almost imperceptible circumspection of those early squatters who would probably be there even after you left. The mirror that ran the length of the place behind the bar made the room seem twice as big as it was and facilitated a not completely obvious means of checking out the latest contestant on “Is your drink choice going to impress me or not?”

A weeknight was the beating heart of the place – essential voices chimed in the chorus of revelry that belied its inherent escapism. If we were all passengers on this ship in its voyage across the black sea of night, our captain was the one who dispensed rations of amnesia to a motley crew of damaged goods. And from behind the long wooden raft of countertop, her deliberation over these glasses, that bottle, and this garnish formed the ballet that we had all come to collaboratively choreograph.

Some nights were like being on some sort of weird sports team where the core talent of the crew urged everyone to greater heights with their collective endorsement of a single beverage. Other nights were like trying to play golf in the forest with everyone swinging at different colored balls with clubs, sticks, or whatever was available.

Tonight I brought my most trusty #3 wood and swung with indifference at the little ‘t’s, blades of grass, rocks, etc. Then an old friend walks in off the street bearing the dulcet scented air of coastal fog, sits down at the bar at the empty stool to my right, slipping directly into an unfinished conversation from years back and orders what I’m having. We slide down a muddy slope into a wading pool of desire and keep swimming.