Sex and Music #7: the Early Years

…several thousand years after the “ape” throws the bone into the air.

Scene: Camera opens with the image of flickering firelight reflected off of the wall of a darkened cave. The camera pans right towards the source of the light and the frame settles on a small group of people clothed in thick furs, eating around a fire where pieces of meat are hung above the flames in a makeshift fashion. One “caveman” rises from his seat and, as he bites off the last shred of meat from his favorite cut of antelope, he stumbles a bit and the bone flies from his hand as he moves to steady himself. The bone lands squarely in another pile of bones, making a woody tap that reverberates against the cave walls. Some of the others look up from their meal, acknowledging the sound. The caveman sees a few people looking up and a burning ember flickers on in his mind. He goes over to the pile to retrieve the bone and picks another similarly sized bone from the pile. He begins to tap them together, listening to the playful notes reverberating around him in the cave. The rest of his group now ignores him, angling to eat his remaining share of the meat while he is distracted with the bones.

SCENE FADES.

Scene opens to the caveman sitting on a hillside in the sun by himself. He has the set of bones that he previously chose from the pile in the cave, and the environment around him is rocky and sparsely wooded. He practices hitting the bones on different things around him to gain an understanding of their responses to his tapping. The stone gives a deadened plink. The recently fallen tree branch elicits a barely audible thud. The older, partially hollowed out log evokes a rich thwok.

The caveman puts the bones in a pouch that he now carries with him at all times, applying them to all manner of things he encounters to further enrich his understanding of the world.

SCENE FADES.

Scene opens again in the cave, with the flickering firelight reflected off the cave walls. The camera pans right to the familiar group huddled around a fire eating. This time the man is sitting in his normal spot and after eating to his satisfaction, begins playing several items he has assembled with the bones. The playing provokes various reactions from his cohorts. Some react angrily, beating their own fists on the ground. Others respond favorably and call back to him in agreement. Others appear indifferent and resume their eating. A general disorder descends on the group, though no one attempts to stop the caveman from his playing.

SCENE FADES.

Scene opens: The man is sitting in the sun alone practicing the bones on a favorite log. A female member of the group appears in the periphery, not wanting to interrupt his playing. After a few moments the caveman realizes he is not alone and ceases to play, looking in her direction. She timidly approaches him and offers him a bundle of leaves. The caveman takes the bundle and opens the leaves revealing a bunch of ripe berries. The female turns and leaves quickly, and the caveman watches her navigating her way from the clearing towards the cave. He looks down at the berries.  He looks at the bones he placed on the log.  He looks up in the direction the woman is traveling. Another burning ember ignites in the caveman’s mind.

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

Holy hemp rope, Batman! Willie Nelson lopped off those famous locks! In a move described on his official website as the “Haircut Heard Around the World” and reportedly inspired by a desire to pass through customs without the risk of a drug dog using his ropy braids as a chew toy, Ol’ Willie has trimmed his THC storage unit from the waist to the chin. 

Having gone under the scissors a time or two myself, I know this can be a traumatic experience, but hopefully it wasn’t as traumatic for Willie as it was for Kurt Cobain when he met “Floyd the Barber”.

Arcade Fire | The Suburbs

Arcade Fire, those emotive indie megastars, are gearing up to release their new album, The Suburbs, August 3rd on Merge Records. In anticipation of that release the band has released a couple of tracks from the album–title track “The Suburbs” b/w “The Month of May” (just under the wire on that one!)–to both whet fan’s appetites and quench fan’s thirsts.

Check out the Merge website for pre-order information and deals. Check out the new tracks along with a band interview on npr music.

Or check out the tracks, sans interview, at One Thirty BPM.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I first heard b-side “Month of May” I suddenly and uncontrollably started singing oh my my my my my mo my mother/I would love to love you lover…give it a listen and add it up.

Futurebirds | EP & Hampton’s Lullaby

Futurebirds, out of Athens, GA, play the kind of languid, lo-fi, psych-tinged tunes I love to hear when I’m relaxin’ on a porch or a patio, just rolling lazy through a sweaty summer day with a late afternoon buzz and no greater plans than to finish my gin and tonic before all the ice cubes melt. Their 2009 eponymous EP reminds me a bit of a country Dr. Dog and is available for a name-your-price download here.

I was first turned on to Futurebirds by the fine folks at Aquarium Drunkard who described the band as “reminiscent of Tennessee Fire era My Morning Jacket”. Now Aquarium Drunkard offshoot label Autumn Tone Records is set to release the debut LP from Futurebirds, Hampton’s Lullaby, on July 13. For a preview of the hazy psych-folk that album promises to deliver check out single “Johnny Utah” at the music blog HearYa. Read the Aquarium Drunkard Futurebirds interview here.

And catch ’em on the road if you can…

June 10  Schroeder’s – Rome, GA
June 11  Harvest Moon – Albany, GA
June 12  Big Gun’s BBQ – Thomasville, GA
June 18  The Earl – Atlanta, GA
June 26  AthFest – Athens, GA
July 1     Pour House – Charleston, SC
July 3     Gnat’s Landing – St. Simons, GA
July 14   Music City Roots – Nashville, TN
July 15   Bottletree – Birmingham, AL
July 16   One Eyed Jack’s – New Orleans, LA
July 17   Chelsea’s – Baton Rouge, LA
July 18   Emo’s (Inside) – Austin, TX

Metal-Phor | Testament “Into the Pit”

*metal-phor is a recurring feature on los grillos that explores moments when masters of heavy metal music, a traditionally very literal art form, buck tradition and use metaphor to enhance a song’s meaning.

Metaphor, and by extension, metal-phor, is generally a bottom up construct, which is to say that a metaphor often exists as a way of describing plot in order to evoke theme. Metal-phor tends to use physical comparisons to illuminate more abstract concepts. For example, Metallica’s song “Master of Puppets” describes a master of puppets pulling someone’s strings in order to describe the physical hold that addiction, and in this case cocaine addiction, can have over a person. The tangible, plot-based construct of someone actually pulling strings to work a puppet paints a vivid picture of the type of addiction that might lead you, the listener, to “chop your breakfast on a mirror.” Similarly, AC/DC’s song about a sexy little minx who will lure you to the bedroom and leave you with a bit more than you came for, “The Jack”, uses the tangible, plot-based construct of a poker game to tell a story about the dangers of playing the game of love without a glove. There are, however, some exceptions to the bottom up rule when it comes to metal-phor.

One notable exception to the bottom up rule of metal-phor construction is Testament’s “Into the Pit”. This thrash masterpiece talks about fiery damnation not to evoke some abstract concept of sin and retribution but to portray a good old fashioned afternoon barbecue–a chicken barbecue, to be exact, as evidenced by the telling line “Fo[w]l plays of passion/At twilight’s dim”. If the song had followed a traditional bottom up construct then it might have described a barbecue in order to evoke fiery damnation, but Testament chose to make the bold move of employing a top down construct in which a larger abstraction is used to describe how “The mass production/And the killing of all [chickens]” makes for a great time on a Sunday afternoon. “The world tomorrow/Will it die for today?”–you bet it will, and it’ll taste hella good!