IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #7.2
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We're still in the studio. We're taking our sweet time with this record. I just finished the guitars for the 28th song last night. After this awful holiday known as Thanksgiving, I'll start up with vocals. We're gonna use the same sort of vocal harmonizer that a lot of Fat bands are using these days. Teen Idols? I don't have the record, but I'm told they used it. I don't even really know what that means. But I assume that it's a positive thing.
MORE NEW STUFF...
Our SoCal re-mix of Disappear is out on a comp called Songs For The Broken Hearted or something like that. I haven't even gotten a copy of it, so who knows? I can't really tell you who's keyboard part we used. But I'll give you a hint: he plays keys for the Beastie Boys and his name rhymes with Funny Fark.
I heard that we're in two new indie films. One is by our friend Sue Chen. I haven't seen it yet, but it's supposed to be pretty cool. She went to NYU and used to do a zine called Big Duck.
Another is a documentary about Tommy Strange. I don't really know what that's all about. But there's footage of us playing at the Cocodrie from a recent gig we did with Songs For Emma. Someone should really do a film about Mike Millett. Not that Tommy doesn't deserve a documentary. But Tommy would be better served with a Being John Malkovich type of vehicle...
EULOGY FOR A BAND THAT DIED UN-NOTICED
Earlier this year, PEE played their final gig at the Bottom Of The Hill. The four members vowed to re-configure and continue playing music. It's been six months with no signs of life so I feel a eulogy is now appropriate...
PEE were one of my favorite Bay Area bands to see live. While reaching for something more complex and textured than simple indie or pop punk they set ambitious goals in aural aesthetics in world of bad rock bands happy to play their most worn out progressions over and over. It's not enough to talk about the songs and the music. The local shows were something special. When they were great, it was exciting and awe-inspiring in it's layers. When they stunk, it was still fun. They knew when they were bad but also were aware of their past accomplishments. Sometimes they could step back from a wrong note or sloppy transition and laugh. It's rare when a band so musically aware can also be conscious of their audience and the desire for inclusion.
It's not enough to say that they had male and female vocals. The harmonies were structured un-like most in rock music. Keeping in key, the notes were placed without random in the most un-travelled lengths of the scale. While experimenting with new ideas and tones, the vocals were never actually discordant or atonal. The hardest thing to do is work with existing structure and make THAT something new.
In this way, I feel that they were similar to CAN and maybe NEU. Unlike Stereolab who mimick those groups, PEE followed the theory. Those bands took the simple rock structures of the time and created something unique. The quirkiest rhythm and stranges noise still usually wound up somewhere in the 4/4 beat.
The bass and drum arrangements, while in many ways structurally like progressive music and some '70s jazz, existed in it's own propelling atmosphere. It was then taken completely out of context by the vocal/guitar harmonizing.
As "musical" as it was, there were always tunes. With all that going on, PEE could always come up with a catchy tune in the middle of the pathologically complex songwriting.
PEE started catching on right when they split. They did three US tours (one with J Church) and put out two albums. Nobody got it. They may never be remembered. The records are still there, but the indie kids move through a bands corpse like piranhas in the Amazon. PEE were our TELEVISION. I don't know if that explains everything. But that's how I feel today...
J CHURCH READING ROOM
Most Art Sucks - A collection of the early issues of Coagula fanzine. Coagula is/was an art fanzine with a punk attitude. Imagine the snotty attitude of punk rock with it's anti-authoritarian ethos and free thought / anti-conformity state of being un-leashed on the LA and New York gallery scenes. Absolutely flawless.
Ecology Of Fear by Mike Davis - Finally, a new book from he author of City Of Quartz. Totally essential reading especially for those who have spent time in SoCal. Analysis of the political structure of Los Angeles (like in City...) this time from the angle of ecological impact. Not only as a trumpet for the cyclical disaster lifestyle, but a critique of the Apocalypse / Biblical condemnation of the area (both left and right). A must.
J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - I listen to this almost everyday. All the best stuff on one disc. When you get caught up in the full lengths (they're so cohesive you would think that they were all concept records) and their density, you forget that the guys come up with some pretty wonderful singles. Catchy hits many of which are surprisingly moving even on a greatest hits collection. I feel like shouting when I hear The Mercy Seat. I feel like dancing when I hear Deanna. I feel like crying when I hear Straight To You (which is my absolute favorite Nick Cave song of all time). Really great, and the video collection that's been released in conjunection with this is also cricitcal viewing.
Jawbreaker Live 4/30/96 - I know, I'm a bit biased. I saw them more times than you and we had the good fortune to play most of our early gigs with them as well. A really nice souveneir that, if nothing else, reminds me of the good times. I really like the between song banter. I had forgotten that Blake was really happy most of the time (I say that like he's dead or something). A really uplifting live record that allows for the Jawbreaker "legend" (if there has to be one) live on in a happy light.
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