Blog Posts by David Marchese

  • Childlike Genius: Deerhunter Live In New York City

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    Maybea third of the way into Deerhunter's fantastic set fifteen-song at a sold outWebster Hall in Manhattan last Friday, one of the friends I was with leanedover and said, "I don't think the singer gets what happens between boys andgirls."

    I'm fairly certain the fellow in question,Deerhunter singer-guitarist-mainman Bradford Cox, does, indeed, understand thatcertain physical interactions take place between the male and female of ourspecies, but my friend has a point-there's something compellingly virginalabout Cox's music. Even when his heavily processed music scrapes and blares, asit did at many thrilling moments during Friday's show, there's never any senseof malice. Instead, woolly, woozy songs like the propulsive "Nothing EverHappened," which climaxed in a cascade of finger-tapped guitar, and theswirling, ascending "Little Kids," evoke feelings that, at their darkest, arecloser to confused wonder than aggression, like a child confronting somethinghe doesn't understand, rather than

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  • The Best Song Titles (That Feature Parentheses)

    So the new My Chemical Romance single is called--and this is no joke--"Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)." Well, there's probably a joke in there somewhere, but that is the song's actual title. Of course, the history of rock'n'roll is full of strange, wonderful, and almost always unnecessary usages of parentheses in song titles. My faves are below. Share yours in the comments section.

    1. "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)," The Crystals: Written by Gerry Goffin and Carol King, produced by Phil Spector, this 1962 classic gains some emotional complexity from its titular deployment of parentheses, as if the song's protagonist had to think for a moment before deciding how to process the hit. Or perhaps she hid the kiss bit in brackets out of shame? Either way, a rare poetic example.

    2. "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)," The Beastie Boys: I love this one for its complete and utter pointlessness. If you were to write the title as a sentence, you wouldn't include brackets.

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  • Chilly Gonzales: Chess Tunes And IPad Ads

    Whether it's challenging Andrew W.K. to a piano duel, breaking the record for longest solo piano concert, or, more recently, masterminding Ivory Tower, a film about rival chess-playing Torontonian brothers, Chilly Gonzales has a knack for the quirky grand gesture. He's hardworking, too. In addition to pulling double-duty as the movie's star and writer, the erstwhile Feist and Jamie Lidell producer composed the Ivory Tower soundtrack, an idiosyncratically funky blend of European harmony and hip-hop beats. (The album's pointillist piano jam "Never Stop" was deemed sufficiently sleek and finger-snapping to accompany Apple's latest series of televised iPad ads.)

    I called Gonzales (whose real name is Jason Beck) at his apartment in Paris to discuss the film, its music, and what it means to have a song in an Apple ad.

    Why the decision to make a film? I've always had a Hollywood approach to music, which I don't think is always welcome. In music the audience needs more than what they see on

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  • Let’s Hear It For The Girls–Especially Glasser

    This has been a great year for women in music. Lady Gaga has continued her curious run as the pop star of the moment. M.I.A. crossed over from hipster hero to become an object of fascination for the mainstream media. Arcade Fire, which draws so much of its charm from Regine Chassagne's winsome presence, hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart with The Suburbs. On the margins, too, women have been bringing it. Just to name a couple, Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino delivered Crazy For You, an album of moving girl group-inspired fuzz pop and Tamaryn, whom I wrote about in this space a few weeks back, put out a trippy, dreamy debut, The Waves.

    But I've got a new musical crush: Glasser. That's the stage name of L.A. singer Cameron Mesirow, whose upcoming album, Ring due out October 4 on True Panther contains some wonderfully fresh music. Her majestic swooping melodies, sung in a clear high voice, are a bit reminiscent of those of Kate Bush or, to cite a more recent example, Bat For

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  • Goodbye To A Great Band

    I hate it when this happens. I read recently that The Constantines, one of my very favorite bands, are splitting up. I hate it even more than usual, though, because I have a history with these guys.

    By way of background, though, singer-guitarists Bryan Webb and Steve Lambke formed the band with drummer Doug MacGregor and bassist Dallas Wehrle in Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1999. (Keyboardist Evan Parker joined in 2002, and was later replaced by Will Goodman.) You should also know that they made some of the most intense and big-hearted rock of the last ten years. All their albums are excellent, but 2005's Tournament Of Hearts is where I think the quintet's mix of jagged, pulsing rockers and questioning ballads came closest to perfect. Check out that album's "Working Full-Time" and "Soon Enough."

    Live, the Constantines were a beast. Onstage the bandmembers seemed like they were trying their best, all the time. That sounds simple, I guess, but it's also rare. Webb would shout himself

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  • Tamaryn’s Blissful Bummers

    The Waves, the upcoming debut album from my current obsession, San Francisco duo Tamaryn, opens with the title track. Rex John Shelverton's dank and heavily echoed overdubbed guitar lines majestically roll across the audioscape. The bass throbs. Drums pound a simple hypnotic beat from unusually deep in the mix. Then Tamaryn herself arrives, singing coolly, seductively, inviting the listener to "come down to the surface." She gently compels you further, "down to the shallows... Wait for the water to claim you...into the waves." A fuzzy guitar crests, then crashes. The Sirens had nothing on this.

    Epic and emotionally desolate pop music is nothing new. The Cure built a massively successful career on it. But this band makes it sound fresh and counterintuitively life affirming. The vocals feel so impassive, as if Tamaryn has moved past remorse or pain, and the intricate guitar and synth washes come across so much like the result of inexorable processes, that the sneakily melodic music ends

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  • Arcade Fire Humbly Goes Huge At Madison Square Garden

    There's something comforting about Arcade Fire's ascent. A critically acclaimed first album, 2004's Funeral; greater popular success and still more press hosannas with the follow-up, 2007's Neon Bible; headlining arenas by album three, The Suburbs, released August 3. See, this is how things are supposed to go!

    The implicit question of Arcade Fire's two-night stand at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, though, was whether or not they could own their newfound stardom. Could they comfortably make the leap from indie darlings to massive success? Judging from Thursday night's show, the answer is an unqualified yes.

    Perhaps the most thrilling revelation was how well songs from each of the band's albums played in the cavernous space, as if frontman Win Butler and his gang of Canadian multi-instrumentalists had all along been creating music designed to be heard by tens of thousands at a single shot. Funeral's rollicking "Neighborhoood #3 (Power Out)" was equally as rafter-rattling as Bible's

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  • Spaced Rituals–An Interview With Hawkwind’s Dave Brock

    Maybe five years ago, I was driving with a friend from Detroit to Toronto. It was late, well past midnight, we were tired, and my mind was being blown by the pummeling guitars and searing sax and wiggy electronic noises oozing out of the car's speakers. "What is this?" I asked groggily.

    "Hawkwind. They rule," said my friend.

    He's right. Since 1970, the English group has functioned as sort of a nastier, heavier, dirtier, more sci-fi version of the Grateful Dead, playing long trippy guitar jams for a traveling audience of diehards. I'm not gonna lie--it probably requires a certain familiarity with, um, psychedelic inebriation to truly grok the band's cosmic approach, but if you're willing to soar with them, there are few things as thrilling as the sound of Hawkwind in full flight. (Newbies should seek out 1973's live Space Ritual, featuring future Motörhead majordomo Lemmy Kilmister on bass, but Blood Of The Earth, out August 10, does no disservice to the band's legacy.)

    I caught up with

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  • Musical Hangover Medicine

    Back in my guitar magazine-reading, everything louder than everything else days, soft rock was something I equated with boiled broccoli and greeting card poetry--so bland and boring as to be distasteful. When you're younger, you want indignation, you want volume, you want to be bowled over, bloodied, and blown away.

    At some point, though, I realized that aggression isn't the only path to intensity, and that acts such Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Webb, and others were powerful in their own right. Lately, a few albums by younger musicians have come across my desk that reminded me of soft rock's strengths. And to be perfectly frank, today, when the residue of too many drinks from the night before is still muddying my neural networks, the music mentioned below is about all I can handle. Let me know what you think.

    Phosphorescent, Here's To Taking It Easy: On his fifth album, Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck takes cues from the righteously laidback corners of the Wilco and Byrds

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  • A Salute To The Dean Of American Rock Critics

    Yesterday I learned that music critic Robert Christgau has written the last of his Consumer Guides, which have appeared, first in The Village Voice and then on MSN.com, for 41 years.

    Other, better writers than the one you're reading have already explained why this is a loss for fans of both rock writing and writing in general, so rather than offer inadequate and redundant praise for Christgau's long-running project, I'd like to share a related personal story.

    In 2005, I was employed writing sales training manuals for a company in suburban Toronto. I didn't like the job. I was often soul-crushingly bored, and passed time in the office by reading and re-reading the archived reviews on Christgau's website. The writing was smart. It was funny. It compelled me seek out new albums and reconsider old ones. It made me want to be a rock writer.

    One spring afternoon, I decided to email Christgau, who was still at The Voice, a review of a Brian Jonestown Massacre concert that I'd written for my

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Pagination

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