Wussy - Attica! (Shake It Records) & Webster Hall, 4/4/14
Emerson and Thoreau are for good reason our American definition of pedagogy: the visionary inspires a youth to conflict. Imagine then my rotten luck as Odyshape’s hack green sage to Cam’s thoughtful man of action. The relationship is flipped: all his concerts, all his vinyls, all his stories. While all I can do is talk shit in bad puns from the view of my overpriced apartment. So, when he goes metaphysical on me, like he did Tuesday, I’m left with genuinely nothing to add.
I make the lit comparison not for the two of us (who don’t deserve it) but for Wussy (who do), our American definition of a great band. Five and a half marvelous albums in nine years transcends the possibility of misjudgement - which all of us in Wussy’s exponentially-too-small circle of fans have felt at least once: “If they’re as good as I believe they are, then why…?” I could try to explain the disconnect with more historical comparisons, but Wussy’s already reached higher than Big Star, than Pavement and, yes, than the Velvet Underground - definitions each of a great American band discovered far too late. Attica!, founded as it may be in time-honored American traditions (the working class, the midwest, the rockist, the literary, the provocatively bearded) is nevertheless hinting at the unprecedented.
Maybe their luck to date is a consequence of late American capitalism. ”The market’s saturated, pal. Keep grinding.” I feel it, too. Only a handful of my bright millennial friends can boast solid employ (want a link to my resume?). Like us, it could be that Wussy’s the right thing at the wrong time. Anyway, whatever my job should be, it certainly isn’t describing this record to you. You should already know how it sounds, dammit. Watch this video I shot instead.
Sisyphus - Sisyphus (Asthmatic Kitty / Joyful Noise)
While we’re on the topic of tradition - if some of you brats continue to insist on a legacy for Kid A, we’ll keep having one. I’d ask “What about Confessions, In the Zone, Rappa Ternt Sanga and 808s & Heartbreak?” but I'm afraid to hear how you poptimists might respond. But nevermind that - if we can’t escape from Thom Yorke, we should learn how to ❤ Thom Yorke. Consider starting here, with Son Lux and Serengeti - two guys who don’t need a CT scan to tell you the lifeblood of IDM beats from Prince toward your dick. Yes, Sufjan Stevens is partly responsible for, uh, orchestrating the synthesizers - so this record's a bit of a downer. But it’s happy to put four on the floor while it’s down there. “Rhythm of Devotion” and “Lion’s Share” are two of the better songs I've heard this year, and by no coincidence they're the two funkiest. Fuck SSRIs. Here’s some molly.
EMA - The Future’s Void (Matador)
You’ll read that new star Erika M. Anderson heads a claque of drone rockers, which is apparently the same thing Lisa Walker does. Stop reading. This is the 21st century. Gaze instead at the album art, which tells you exactly how these bands differ. Championing a crazy handful of crudely sketched snakes betrays Wussy’s channel zero naturalism: guitar death survived by the living pulse of melody. On the other side, EMA The Woman is lost to us behind Facebook’s newest acquisition, the Oculus Rift - which aptly projects matters at a remove: all things meta, ironic, and unapologetically modern. And don’t forget potentially immortal. It’s fair game to guess which virtual world Erika's chosen to inhabit, but if the album title or its death-on-death-of-death philosophy offer any clues, that place is most likely the inside of her ass. The good news is her ass is slowly trending more fun and less pretentious - evinced by a damn fine drummer and, uh, hooks I thought too quaint for her in “So Blonde” and “Neuromancer.” Since she’s still in beta, there’s hope yet Anderson will stop confusing monotonous dread for, like, beguiling satire. Or maybe monotonous dread's just who she is. If the latter's the case, I’d like to tell her she’ll live through this. But I’m not sure we agree on the definition of #live.
I’ve set myself up quite nicely here with playful reference to asses, holes, Live Through This, the unappreciated American band, Nevermind, voids, and - oh, isn’t this meta? - opportunism. And now I’m spelling it out for you like a self-important jackass because it’s good to be honest about our little schemes. Schemes like coupling rumors of a comeback to the 20th anniversary of your husband blowing his head off. God isn't gay. God is dead. Stick to planes, love.
Todd Terje - It’s Album Time (Olsen)
This is the closest we’ll ever come to a Being John Malkovich sequel. But instead of slinking through a crawlspace, Todd gets stuck in an elevator. The lights short out, black. He emerges to face himself at a piano, rosy and ironic in an open lounge suit. Rather than press the keys, his double shrieks “It’s album time!” for an eternity. Coming soon to the Oculus Rift.
The Chainsmokers - “#SELFIE”
These two aren’t EMA, who’s willfully donned the void, and now thinks she’s got a kickstart on the inevitable. They also aren’t Todd Terje, who’s only pretending to be an idiot. The Chainsmokers are frat bros preening in front of a mirror before a Wednesday kegger. And God, don’t ask me how it happened, but it did: one of them found something worth looking at. “#SELFIE” reflects in perfect resolution the life and times of trust fund ravers: the sorry-not-sorry brostep, the inane monologues (“What should my caption be? I want it to be clever. How about ‘Living with my bitches, #live’?”), the fish tank memory spans (“That girl is such a fake model, she definitely bought all her Instagram followers. Who goes out on Mondays? Okay, let’s go take some shots. Ugh, I feel like I’m gonna throw up… Oh wait. Nevermind, I’m fine!”), the unchecked materialism, the wasted tax dollars, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria! The list goes on forever. Take your pic. But trust the, erm, narrator is insufferable for the right artful purposes. In the laudable tradition of DJ Shadow, dubs tell the story better than the words. Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall fuck with “selfie” until the waif antagonist sounds more like a horrible little monster (with hooks!), or until she recedes backwards into infinity… almost like a simulacra or something, dude. It defines the obvious: that the selfie face is self effacing. Yet, all you miserable little shits continue dancing to it.
Hmmm... I'll concede that might be the point. Whatever! Big hair, don’t care if this is an accident - it’s also the best song of the year.