I don’t feel much like doing one of these today.
When I was in the Czech Republic, I happened to wander into Europe’s largest music store, just down the block from our hotel. Actually, that’s a lie. I did everything in my limited, weak-assed power to stay away from Europe’s largest music store, because I knew that what fragile hold I had been keeping on my finances would evaporate upon contact with such a place. You know that scene in Clerks where Randal goes to the real video store and falls to his knees in worship? That was me.
Anyway, while in Europe’s largest music store, I happened across a record by Devin Townsend called Infinity. I mention this just to show the anal-retentive attention to detail I can muster when music is involved. Townsend is the sole member of Strapping Young Lad, and under that guise he produces the loudest and most spine-shattering noise you’re likely to come across. His one and only solo record under his name, however, was never released in the U.S., and finding it in Europe was a thrill. Of course, I bought it.
While checking out, I tried to convey my excitement to the poor register girl, who of course spoke no English. “Not available in the U.S.,” I said triumphantly. “I’m so happy I found this.”
The girl hit me with a look of bewildered disdain and muttered something annoyed-sounding in Czech. She then doubled her speed in the hopes of booting my sad American carcass out of her store as quickly as possible.
And that, my fine friends, is how I’ve been feeling lately, writing this column. I seem to be singularly unable to communicate my excitement about music as an expressive and beautiful art form in any real and meaningful way. When I steer clear of musical topics, the column’s a hit. When I write about one of the real passions of my life, which I love to do, I get a look of bewildered disdain and occasionally a mutter of something annoyed-sounding in some other language. So to speak.
The thing is, I really enjoy dancing about architecture. I started this column for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted an outlet for the tintinabulating din of musical thoughts that fill my skull at any given time. Second, though, and more important, I wanted a way to share and communicate the wonder, joy and heartbreak of truly great music with people. More than just a way of recommending tunes, I wanted Tuesday Morning to be a conduit for the almost unbearable excitement of new music, of the chance to discover the soundtrack to your own life.
I find myself in a bizarre position. I’ve somehow managed to sustain this excitement for new music through the years, and yet I feel I’ve become less adept at communicating it. I’ll gladly keep doing it, of course, but any sign that I’m not shouting into a vacuum here would be most appreciated. I love this stuff, and it’s my everlasting goal to get some of that love across. If by some chance a glimmer slips through the words here, let me know.
I’m going to bypass the every-four-months format of upcoming hype and insert a fifth one this year, because September and October simply rock. There’s so much great stuff coming out that it makes me wish I had a job. Here’s what to look out for in the upcoming two months:
September starts off with a new Orbital record, the long-awaited Altogether, and then kicks into high gear on the 11th with Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs. It’s his first record without the Five, and it looks surprisingly serious in nature. None of the song titles contain that immediate Ben Folds Five sophomoric humor (“One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” “Your Redneck Past,” etc.). This looks like it may be (shudder) a true artistic statement. Fingers crossed so tightly that they’re turning purple.
Also on the 11th, Bob Dylan officially wins the Grammy award for Album of the Year, no matter how bad Love and Theft turns out to be. Mark my words. They Might Be Giants kick back with Mink Car, and the Verve Pipe hope for another commercial go-round with Underneath. Jude, he of the astonishing falsetto and former residence in Jamaica Plain, returns with King of Yesterday. Finally, former Tears for Fears main man Roland Orzabal sees the stateside release of his Tomcats Screaming Outside. If it’s anything like “Ticket to the World,” the first song, it’s a heavier piece of work than anything TFF.
The following week, of course, is Tori Amos’ Strange Little Girls, a cover album that lays bare the misogyny in today’s popular music. Or so the press material would have us believe. The more I think about this, though, the more I like the idea. Here’s hoping she pulled it off.
Also rocking your world on the 18th is Curve’s fourth record, Gift, and Live’s fifth, which they’ve helpfully titled V. The big expense, however, comes at the hands of Phish, who will be following Pearl Jam’s example and releasing six multi-disc live sets. In Phish’s case, though, the songs are never played the same way twice. They’re the one band I know of who could release an interesting slate of six three-disc live albums every six months and never run out of ideas. It’s no surprise, then, that that’s exactly what they’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. Phish Live is the unimaginative name of the series of consecutively numbered live records, released six at a time. Each will cover three discs and retail for 20 bucks or so, a great deal. If you dug the Hampton Comes Alive set from a few years ago, you’ll go apeshit over this.
The 25th sees Zach de la Rocha, former lead screamer for Rage Against the Machine, striking out on his own. By the way, as a side note, Chris Cornell has been tapped to replace de la Rocha in Rage, which is kind of like if the Sex Pistols asked Paul McCartney to cover for Sid. It won’t work.
Anyway, also on the 25th is a new Days of the New, a highly underrated band, and the debut record from Tenacious D, a satirical folk-rock duo that contains actor Jack Black (High Fidelity). Somebody convinced Michael Jackson that the world could use two more CDs of his crap, so we get Invincible on the 25th as well. Dream Theater will check in with a three-CD live album called Live Scenes in San Francisco. It contains the whole of their latest and greatest album, Scenes from a Memory, as well as two more discs packed to the gills with impossible musicianship. Finally, Suzanne Vega returns (after the critical darling and commercial crapnapkin Nine Objects of Desire) with Songs in Red and Gray.
October gives us (deep breath) a new double-disc Aphex Twin called Drukgz, a new and hopefully improved Bad Religion called The Process of Belief, a new John Mellencamp called Cuttin’ Heads, the third Garbage album beautifulgarbage, a new Lenny Kravitz called simply Lenny, and the debut bow from super-jam-group Oysterhead (featuring Phish’s Trey Anastasio, Primus’ Les Claypool and the Police’s Stewart Copeland) called The Grand Pecking Order. Take that, Mr. Monkeywrench.
Okay, I’m all out. I should have a real column next time discussing any of the following records: Built to Spill’s Ancient Melodies of the Future, Cake’s Comfort Eagle or Bjork’s Vespertine.
See you in line Tuesday morning.