Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Elated When Friends Excel?

You should be.



(AWK's Close Calls with Brick Walls.)

Yes, I'm excited beyond rational limits of joy when compañeros shove the known or expected to the Oort Cloud and redefine and extend those qualities I initially admired in them. Andrew's new album, Close Calls with Brick Walls, straps an ion engine to the sagging fanny pack of perceived knowledge... It's been a boundless leap from the whacked-out noise cassettes I first heard in Ann Arbor way back in '95 to the stunning vistas of "The Moving Room," "This Is My World," "Hand on the Place" (with its truly spectacular vocal), "One Brother," or "Can You Dance with Me?" I'm extraordinarily proud of Andrew's achievements (Hell, I'm old enough to have fathered his rangy ass, so my semi-paternal chest-thumping ought necessarily be excused), and honored to confront, destroy, and transmute limitations beside he and our other maniacal fellows in the contemporary edition of TLASILA.

Just last week I remember becoming terribly annoyed after reading a Canadian blog entry (forwarded to me by Rat's lovely girlfriend Veronica) which distilled the whole of Andrew's career and his contribution to To Live and Shave as "shtick." Of course, AWK would have been annoyed as well, but that irritation would quickly be released through an absurd, throwaway comment or nonchalant shrug. He understands, perhaps more than anyone I've ever worked with, that the harshest critique often says as much about the veiled desires (and roiling disquiets) of its author as it does the shortcomings of its intended target. Such awareness in someone so young is genuinely rare. (Graham Moore is another early 20s dude who seems far wiser than his years.) Regardless of all that, I was fucking PISSED after reading the post. (Oh well, I'm an emo cripple...)

Distillation: Walls is an insane advance from the much-loved but perhaps too familiar sonic tropes of Wet and Wolf. From this rarified remove (a cluttered office in a small town at the bottom of a third-rate state), it screams.

"Las Vegas, Nevada"! "I Want to See You Go Wild"! The sick, sick intro to "When I'm High." I'm laughing now just thinking about them. A cardiac needle, filled with JOY, rammed right into my one good blood-flecked eye. "Mark My Grace" (another lacerating vocal perfomance), "Into the Clear"... "Slam John"'s perfect instrumental break... YEAH!

You gotta get those four Korean bonus tracks... Too good to be true. Cherie's fantastic vocal on "I Want Your Face"... Oh my God! What an evisceration! Andrew's songwriting is easily on par with Ron Mael's. Can't believe I'm writing this, and I know it may strike some as over-the-top, but fuck it. With Close Calls, AWK seems to have utterly cracked the Sparks code, and raised it several orders of intricacy. (Minus the dopey, post-Indiscreet punning, that is.)

You think This Heat is badass? John Fucking Fahey? Are you mad?

Consume and EXPLODE, because this is the real Avant-Garde.

Can't reiterate this mantra enough. Mere rigor is insufficient. One must create a SYNTHESIS...

Kudos to AWK, our own Don Fleming, and everyone else who worked on the album. No bullshit (it's not in my character to lie to friends about their work), no sucking up (no need to), nothing but unadorned delight.

Awesome job, Andy! ;)



(Andrew and company backage at the Hard Rock, Orlando, approx. 25 minutes before showtime. "Jazz hands!")

TS

Squeezed...

Crazed momentum... I feel like a pasty fanboy about to botch a Videodrome reference. Fifty emails a minute, eight hundred eighty-six albums owed, one Pro Tools convolution per seat shift. Oh well, better to have to rush everything than be friendless and weeping over a Coil compilation in one's basement pity bunker... (Wait a minute - I am friendless! And how the Hell do you get out of this goddamned mausoleum? John Balance died?)

TLASILA's new publicist has been cracking the whip, and as a consequence our MySpace remix strategy (creating a continual flow of deformations rather than post previously released tracks) is now being expanded to include requests from online zines, offshore banking consortia, etc. In the next week (or perhaps sooner) you can listen to newly forged (long-form) Noon mashups at both Pitchfork and PaperThinWalls. Whether the effort will bear any but the bitterest of fruit remains to be serialized.

Glory Be Dept: Chuck Roberts apologized to Ned Lamont - on air, even, with actual semi-humility, even! Consult Crooks and Liars for the citation. Color me agape.

Canadian woe foreshadowed? We've had to shrink the group from septet to quintet for the forthcoming series of dates up north. It stinks, but we've no choice. (Time to put that "collective" spittle into action.) Rat, Ben, Chris, Andrew and I will be dropping in on Montreal, Toronto, and Hamilton; Mark and Rich will be sipping lattes and resting up for November. The former colossus is hardly a third wheel, and after recently seeing the latter in full flail with AWK in Orlando I can readily vouch for his indispensability. Alas, the logistics are all fouled... As for Don, some may recall he's been busy on an archival restoration project (transferring Hunter S. Thompson's original reel-to-reel interview/research tapes from Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas! - how the f#%$ does he land such plum gigs?), and will only be available for the NYC dates. Graham Moore from Blossoming Moore, no stranger to this blog, will be along for the ride as our merch overlord. He'll likely be armed with the bulk of his label catalogue, so hit those ABMs, dear droogs. You might even wish to purchase items from the TLASILA buffet... As always, free beverage with church bulletin.

Bummed, but with no real right to complain, I remain,

TS

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(A Razr phonecam framegrab from Turk Pipkin's superb documentary Willie Nelson: Still Is Still Moving. It aired on the local PBS station over the weekend.)