TGW spins: Todd Terje

Hi, friends. This has been thoroughly pimped on Pitchfork for a couple weeks, including a Best New Album nod and review by Mike Powell, but it’s deliriously enjoyable and I wouldn’t mind knowing we were all giving it a spin. Count this as virtual record club, then. I hope you have something to say.

Here’s the full album:

And here’s a nice little video that may make you laugh, cry, and dance, possibly in that order but maybe in another, depending on your mood.

And here’s the track that hooked me, uncharacteristic of the rest of the album but home there nonetheless. With vocals by Bryan Ferry, it’s a Robert Palmer cover.

A little more background here.

No reservations

After several mediocre haircuts, I’ve finally found a place in town that cuts my hair the way I ask them to. Problem: it is apparently so targeted to a certain demographic — dudes (and women who want a more masculine haircut) who are fighting (fighting!) a losing battle against age and cultural irrelevance, generally at least one tattoo, often facial hair, frequently a classic bicycle, or substitute in various similar signifiers as you like, and don’t get me started about the narcissism of small differences and how annoyed I get at some of these people as I sit there waiting, probably indistinguishable from them to an outside observer —

So I was saying, this barber shop is targeted to a clientele that is so fucking numerous around here that the place is packed. Well, not literally packed. Because they only have a few places to sit inside and wait. And here’s the thing, they don’t take reservations at all. I think they like to think of themselves as the kind of place that doesn’t take reservations. So you go over there, put your name on a chalkboard at the bottom of the list, and when they get to your name they call you. Meanwhile, you’re waiting outside, which is generally fine because the weather is always pretty good, except the time it was raining.

But like I said, they appeal to a fucking numerous clientele in this town. So the three times I’ve been there, the wait has never been less than two hours.

Saturday, I got there and they said it would probably be about three. But then they said a lot of people on the list had maybe left, so stick around and they might call me sooner. This meant I couldn’t go home and come back at a set time, or go have lunch. Total wait time was about 2:45.

I liked my haircut, and the prices are reasonable. But I’m beginning to feel like a chump. Mostly, I’m getting angry that this place won’t switch to some other system for doling out haircuts. The thing that would make sense would be to make appointments. But if that’s too uncool or whatever, they could think of some other system, like texting you ten minutes before you’re up. I dunno. The problem is, everyone who works there is genuinely nice and attitude free once you’re inside and finally getting your haircut. Otherwise I’d suspect they were all engaged in an elaborate scheme of mockery and subtle psychological abuse.

In Praise of Ugly Singing

Throughout grad school I sang in a choir that performed Siberian folk songs that were basically impossible to describe without using the word “shouty.” We worked hard on the songs, and there was a kind of precision that was important to them, but at the end of phrases, the idiomatic delivery was for everyone to do a sort of glissando into a grunt, and for that not to be synchronized, and that was secretly everyone’s favorite part.

[Here’s an example but it’s from years and years later and I feel like kids these days have taken the edge out of Siberian folk music]

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To my delight, there was such a choir here in the Bay Area, but it turned out to be 1) terribly inconveniently located and 2) filled with people enough older than me that it didn’t feel much like a social thing. I mean yeah from here it’s basically one undifferentiated slide into the grave and all, but like they were retired and stuff.

So I talked Dave into going to a Sacred Harp Singing. If you’re not familiar, it’s an American protestant vocal tradition now enthusiastically taken up by a set of dorks who are about my speed. It has its own folkways, to say the least. And the performance aesthetic is one of loudness, also to say the least. Actually the director of the Siberian choir use to tell us that Sacred Harp alto parts sounded much like what we were doing. It’s shouty.

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The title of the posting is of course wildly overstated. I don’t think any of this stuff is ugly. But it hits the same pleasurable nerve for me as some singing that verges further into the realm of the more undeniably ugly. Oh here’s a thing.

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I can seriously watch that over and over. That is million-year-old Slovak soprano Edita Gruberova singing with the remains of a once rock solid but, to my ear, always ugly voice. The great thing about opera from this period is that it’s written as a showcase for beautiful singing (“bel canto” is the name of the style) but the only way to make it truly enjoyable is to gild it with ugliness. Callas, who had a hand in bringing these operas back from obscurity, had an undeniable curdle in her voice that made these roles tragic and real instead of sounding like conservatory exercises.

It would be easy to do a million more operatic examples, but also dull.

I don’t need to speak to you people of Dylan.

21 from 2013

21 from 2013 from _waterman on 8tracks Radio.

Some songs that were published in 2013. Mood: laid back, late night.

Most of these come from albums that were also favorites, so you may as well count this as a top 21 list too, though these tracks were picked for the mix, not necessarily because I think they were the best tracks of the year. Make sense? Let me know if something tickled your fancy, was new, or sounded new in a new context. Cheers.

Side A

“Let’s Play”/Statue of a Man — Mutual Benefit
Quantum — Pantha du Prince and the Bell Laboratory
Cornelia and Jane — Yo La Tengo
Honest — Heavenly Beat
Data World — Wild Nothing
Protogenesis — Grumbling Fur
This Is a True Heart — Julia Holter
Among the Sef — Colin Stetson
Still Life — Oneohtrix Point Never
This Island Earth — The Bryan Ferry Orchestra

Side B

Bye Bye — Destroyer
Infinite Power — Krill
Glare of the Sun — Swearin’
In Vertigo — Beach Fossils
Rebirth — Yuck
Snowflakes are Dancing — Kurt Vile
Swan Dive — Waxahatchee
So Good at Being in Trouble — Unknown Mortal Orchestra
T.H.M. — Deerhunter
She Found Now — My Bloody Valentine
Krill Cover (“Solitaire”) — Frankie Cosmos

How to spend a Thursday downtown

First, you go see the Angels Flight Railway, the shortest railroad in the world (and probably the steepest). It’s not functioning right now, so you can’t take a ride, but you can look at it.



Then, you walk across the street to the Grand Central Market. You poke around at the various stalls, looking at all the food and weird stuff.









You didn’t even realize you were hungry, but now you’re starved! So you get some tamales and plantains and chicken stew at the Salvadoran stall.



Properly fortified, you head out of the market and go next door, to a place that sells candles, votives, sacred objects and Santeria stuff.










Then, you stroll down Broadway, gawking at all the amazing old theaters, most of which still have their marquees even though they aren’t in business anymore. You pop in and out of stores along the way, checking out the goods from rows of candy-colored accordions to rainbow-bright quincanera dresses.


















You kind of start to feel like you’re in New York.









And then you end up at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. High tea, anyone? Or perhaps a martini?






And that is how you spend a Thursday downtown.