Weekend recs

bedsit disco queen

Tracey Thorn, Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star (Virago UK, 2013)

Tracey Thorn’s voice: simply sublime. It evokes salted caramels, rainy English afternoons, Dusty Springfield 45s. It can do anything: orchestral pop, trip-hop, house music for grown-ups. So what a treat to discover that she can write, too. As half of Everything But The Girl, Thorn sailed the music industry’s rocky seas for decades. Bedsit Disco Queen traces her teenage beginnings in the postpunk scene with Marine Girls, examines her brushes with fame like an anthropologist in the jungle, and considers what it means to be a woman and a musician in the 21st century. Rarely has someone with such a divine gift seemed so down-to earth. — Rachel Berkowitz

The Rock-N-Roll Farmers: Donnie and Joe Emerson, dir. Matt Sullivan and Michelle M. Witten (2012)

This 7-minute doc tells the story of two brothers from rural Washington who set out to make it in the music industry in the late 1970s. Their 1979 LP, Dreamin’ Wild, was home recorded and hand distributed, and though it didn’t bring them the wide recognition they craved, it did result eventually in a cult following. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti covered “Baby” on Mature Themes (2012). (It sticks pretty close to the sublime original, rendered with the slightest rasp.) Dreamin’ Wild, for those who like a little late-summer yacht in their rock, got the full remastered treatment last year as well. — BW

    4 responses to “Weekend recs”

    1. Bryan says:

      I should give a h/t to Farrell and Nathan and WFMU for sending me down the Google rabbit hole that resulted in me stumbling across this video a few days ago.

      Anyone who’s ever tempted to sign on to the #nodads thing really should watch that film. That’s a pretty great dad. (Not sure why the mom isn’t in the video, though, or what her role was along the way.)

      Donnie and Joe Emerson were featured on Michael Shelley’s WFMU show around the time the Dreamin’ Wild reissue came out. Pitchfork reviewed the reissue. And I’m pretty bummed to learn that I actually missed them performing at Mercury Lounge this summer, while I was still in town.

    2. Bryan says:

      Oh, and Rach — I always wonder how I managed to miss Everything But the Girl in real time. How did that happen? And where do I start if I want to fix that problem?

    3. Rachel says:

      Opinions will differ, of course–Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (1986) and Walking Wounded (1996) are their masterpieces, in my opinion. Yes, you’ll probably be hearing “Missing” in the supermarket for the next 20 years, but please don’t hold that against them! WW definitely sounds mid-90s (Portishead, Tricky, etc.) but it holds up nicely, I think. & as w/ Ira and Georgia, it’s fun to like Ben and Tracey because they seem like genuinely Good People…they make longevity sexy.

    4. Bryan says:

      I’m on it!