Sammy the Seal

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

“I want a new détente, it might be worth a try”

In vinyl on Monday, 19 November, 2012 at 0:59

Song: Spy Vs. Spy
Artist: The Mr. T Experience
Album: The Miracle Of Shame EP

I listened to this and “Fake Plastic Trees” back and forth today. I opted for lighter. With so many smarty-pants lines (naturally, it is Dr. Frank), what to use for the title? There’s nothing too special here, just a nicely crafted, hooky little nugget of slightly jangly guitar pop backing a cute, clever lyrical conceit. There’s a slight throwback tone I’m getting, the subtle, sparse harmonies might have a hand in that. All simply and deftly executed to light-as-a-breeze perfection.

“I know you’ve been going through my pockets whenever you can
At least I understand what you’ve been going through
But I wonder if it’s understanding we’re short of
Is it love or Mission Impossible?

Ooh baby, what are you looking for?
What do you do with all the evidence?

We’re in a state of stalemate
which no one can deny
It makes our love a matter of
Spy vs. spy

Sometimes bizarre promises are whispered in your ear
Does that interfere with your investigation?
Yeah I thought so, we are not so different, you and me
Insecurity leads to aggression

Ooh baby, what are we gonna do?
We’re on the brink of conflagration

I want a new détente
it might be worth a try
But you’re aiming for a colder war
Spy vs. spy
And we need some new ways to do
the calculations by
when me plus you goes into two
Spy vs. spy

Ooh baby, what are we headed for?
I have a feeling, but it’s classified”


“All my love, I’ve always found, it returns to sound”

In vinyl on Tuesday, 6 November, 2012 at 21:30

Song: No Feelings
Artist: Handsome Furs
Album: Sound Kapital

Nope, not a Sex Pistols cover. The last track on the album wasn’t an immediate standout. The more up-tempo, anthemic, immediately melodic songs like “When I Get Back” and “Memories Of The Future” hit me first. I admit, ashamedly, that it took the news that this would be the Furs’ final album to re-visit the ultimate song in their canon. And then, almost instantly, I realized that, while not a banger closer like “Radio Kaliningrad”, it has a rock-steady clapping beat and a simple, strong melody. It first appears with Dan’s first “ooh” (I love those) at 0:39, and at the end of each verse, and each time I hear it, I join in unison as I wonder how in the hell I missed it.

Every time I hear the opening strains and thumps, I feel sad and a little stupid. What a dumb sucker. It’s likely that I was slightly put off by the presence of less guitar and more synths and keys on the album as a whole, as well as the fact that the track is seven minutes long. Now, I hang on to every one of them. I won’t break it down so much as prattle on more abstractly about the music, as this song is a perfect encapsulation of everything Dan Boecker and of everything Handsome Furs. Understated as it is in comparison to much of the album, it has the unmistakable immediacy and heart of a Dan Boeckner song. It doesn’t flame, but it still simmers. His songwriting is pretty classic, straightforward, with time-tested chord progressions and resolutions, but there’s always been something about his music that I could never pin down.The last paragraph from this blog post take the words right out of my brain, and expresses them more succinctly and perfectly than I ever could:

“As brilliant as Spencer Krug is with his fantastical vision, it’s almost always been the grittiness of Boeckner’s writing, voice and vision that’s really intrigued me. It’s the conflict he seems to be continually trying to work through of compromising life in the modern world of technology and materialism with the inner world of emotion and the soul. Read his lyrics, you’ll see what I mean.”

However, quite obviously, the music completely belies the song title. You’d think the themes of emotional desolation and malaise throughout much of his songwriting would get depressing, but it’s the way he deals so honestly and, in my opinion, nobly with his confusion and doubt that inspires me and keeps me coming back. The melancholy is deep and sometimes palpable, but the amount of energy and fire that’s put in is never less than full, even when the music is melancholy and down-tempo (best examples: “What We Had”, “Snakes On The Ladder”.) It never gets mired in its own distress, it keeps searching for a way out. There’s likely no answer nor end to it, but that search is liberation enough. You got heart, you’ll be fine.