Not in My Airforce (October 1996) Robert Pollard is the Anglo-Daytonian Minstrel of Guided By Voices, alone possessing the breaths of epic love remaining inside the Pop Machine, a distant call to remember a lost sense of our tangible wealth. Relax, forgive yourself, sing along. The fear of criminality cannot make its way into these rings of real soap opera. It is a firm counting of troglodyte fire cries. The white man as post Roman aborigine, the German's Insel Affen, but the joke is on you drunken German, because the aborigine is freed from Romans by you and from you by Romans, painted blue and screaming epithets. - P. FENN
(September 1996) The new Sebadoh album " Harmacy " is a wonderful eulogy to the male soul. The title is taken from "Pharmacy" with the "P" missing. The album is not as consistent as the previous record, "Bakesale"; but has moments that make you ache. Lou Barlow has the unique ability to make a minor moment in a man's lovelife hurt just as it did the split second you felt it years, months or just moments ago. Critics accuse him of wallowing in his own misery and not "growing up." To them I say "Fuck You, you Sting loving assholes." Lou received some recognition for his Folk Implosion work on the Kids soundtrack and it was well deserved. It is his Sebadoh work, however, that deserves attention. It is poetic and unnerving, a musical expression of pain.
Listen to "Freed Pig" on Sebadoh 3, you may bite your cheek. - L. BAJAJ
The Cult of Ray
With Jonny Polonsky, Fillmore, San Francisco April 26, 1996
This show was disarming to everyone present, particularly the moshers, who are unaccustomed to being tamed. Frank Black has defeated our initial and sour judgement of this new work, The Cult of Ray, which, carrying an interest intrinsic to the remotest sort of fiction - science fiction, Ray Bradbury, creatures from outer space and so on - which we anti-fictionists of DEEP STYLE could not countenance. We have recently realized that Frank is making a CLAIM, however improbable, that earth is already visited by aliens. At least this seems the premise of "Men in Black," although I first thought it a portrayal of the emergent American Police State in Los Angeles. Alas!
A baffling fellow, really, Frank prevailed over all doubt at the Fillmore, in muscular fashion. Frank is a great guitar and soulful singer with amphibious race and sexuality, and a big shaved fellow of great sensuality and violent potential: a vortex, whose name will change again. Who is Charles Thompson? This is an absent author in some way, indeed, yet the figure of Frank is substantial. Very confusing. The only moment of dramaturgic lapse into the META is "Two Reelers," which identifies the author in generic cohoots with the Three Stooges:
"IF ALL YOU SEE IS VIOLENCE
THEN I MAKE A PLEA IN MY DEFENSE,
DON'T YOU KNOW I SPEAK VAUDVILLIAN"
Frank is exiting pop, a slow exit. When you see this guy singing a song you see duplicity; Frank is the vision of the circassian horseman changing horses. The doubled figure must sustain his balance. Frank is a very idealistic man, his style receives him rather than presenting him. For style-addicts who keep close to the hearth of their stylistic unconscious: this is disquieting. It is for me, to some extent. I get lost in it. It takes time to hear this stuff, lots of time actually. I am amazed I gave it. It is hard to support anything that is not reproductive. P.FENN.
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
I Hope It Lands
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco April 13, 1996
Thinking Fellers Union are entering pop from without, a ten year destructured venture through aural abstractions, through matters as foreign to the Western (or perhaps any) sensibility. Pop pidgeon-translates them in I HOPE IT LANDS, introducing the consciousness of global possibility in the cultural expansion of popular music beyond the pale of africans and cowboys.
This aspect renewal in TFUL is accompanied by an unnervingly genuine and unjaded dystopian apprehension. It makes you want to cry unsentimentally, for fear itself. P.FENN.
60 Watt Silver Lining
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
April 16, 1996
I have heard people make fun of Mark Eitzel for being depressing or feeling sorry for himself. This is an irresponsible and mean way to exorcise more complex and painful feelings that his great effort in life happens to invoke. Eitzel has rid himself of his band, and is doing what he wants to do. A woman in the balcony shouted "We love you Mark," who responded, "so?" Eitzel has removed the aspect of band from his act. His old band was pretty disspirited, so in a way this is a good idea. I kind of wanted them to break up just to get some relief. Eitzel already dominated the group too much, and the talent in Vudi the guitarist stopped growing. I wonder what he was doing. Anyway, Eitzel is alone now with a lounge act behind him that obeys him. There is something lost in this new purity, however. Eitzel has consuming sentiments that translate poorly into a character that is present. In isolation with its ass kissed too much, these sentiments are prone to decadence. If Eitzel's confessions are bogus, and if his judgements of strangers (to us) are false, we need to know. And this new band is like a lawyer that defends its client no matter what. As a result, Eitzels audience is growing slowly dumber every year, I think. Perhaps it is the same but just getting older and less ambitious in its redemptive impulses; now it just wants a good soundtrack for its romancing and divorcement. Eitzel should try singing to other existing bands, country bands perhaps, or rap acts if he is so disposed. This would likely bring his fashion back from fiction. P.FENN.
Guided By Voices Under the Bushes, Under the Stars Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, April 5 1996 This band is the only rock and roll band worth listening to. It is impossible to know what they mean by anything they say, a mistake, actually, to ask for meaning. Good will, there yes. The rythm is equisite, the structures produce great joy. The mental space is English, rational, however twisted or defiant. It is civilized music really, permuting mirrored halls of empty values to black fat gas in monumental progressions that, however dark or criminal, leave one feeling improved afterwards. One can have bad thoughts and remain one's integrity. This is proof. P. FENN
Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness
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