Tonight in Seattle:  

Grimes — Visions



What's up, haterade-makers? Are you ready for the next Wavves or Coco Rosie to dump "comments" scorn on in this city of ciphers? Well, Claire Boucher (who is Grimes) sees herself as Phil Spector per Pitchfork, and the multiple internal personalities she evokes through her Nylon magazine collage of fashion-friendly-but-flirting with sounding roguishly ugly, J-Pop and K-Pop, and astrology-reading cassette-funk, is prime target for chillwave lads imagining their jittery jams have some sort of deeper meaning. (You can start that process by comparing yourself to Phil Spector and not sounding anything like Ronnie.)

I don't know if any in the bloggy woggy boy glitchy gang has any scholarly Scott Walkers (crazy cosmopolitan craftsmen) compared to this expressionist Nico (who used cigarette-scarred vocals to paint romantic distance as Grimes uses sugar-stuffed pixie-sticks from-the-diaphragm sprays). I don't listen to their mates closely enough. I do know Visions is a very pleasant trip through Asian pop plagiarism meets Flying Lizards novelty rock, and if the deeper ideas Boucher espouses in interviews don't seem to quite make it into the sequence, there is historical precidence for enjoying weird stuff for just being weird stuff. Grimes for me falls somewhere far away from Tuneyards' ecstatic, erotic, energizing DIY cosmic body rock, and maybe a little closer to Amy Grant's cute, pure odes to some theocratic order based on a monotheistic editor. 

My utterly reductivist wife, walking through the living room while this played, was like "Oh, the new Cocteau Twins." That's a little shorthanded, but my wife really likes the Cocteau Twins, so you know -- so what? (Her tone was pretty whelmed.) I enjoy young people making sonic kipple with machines and piling their shrieking and swooning vocals all over the heap, and in certain cases, if they're all Manic Pixie Dream Elf about it, I'm happily entertained. In the 80s we called this fashion-victim shiny-slaughter "grebo" -- every generation has its urgent pop overkill from the glossy trenches.

I am a little weirded out how much Boucher sounds like Robert Palmer on "Oblivion" and Stacey Q ("Two Of Hearts") on "Circumambient" and "Be A Body" though. (A sweet dose of Robyn echoes througout, and she says her brother is a fan of hers, so I think a bit seeped in through their adjoining bedroom walls or something.) Also, I have to recommend the latest n+1, possibly the nation's best literary magazine now, which has an excellent article from James Franco (writing with Deenah Vollmer) about how he would spend two hundred grand on horse riding training, horribly blowing out his knee learning fencing skills, just to star in a shitty version of Tristan and Isolde that insantly bombed. For several pages he details how overpreparation never really paid off for him as an actor, and when it comes right down to it (*spoiler alert*) "if you have a part, all you have to do is learn your character's lines."

Because I know I'm going to keep playing this for a little while, but then probably delete it from my stream, maybe next time out an actual Phil Spector type could be brought in, to either allow Boucher to become all the actors she wants to be in her songs, or at least to scare her into being more compelling ones. Because though I often play a couple of songs several times in a row, I know there's not much to hear a year from now.

Got into Grimes just a week or so too late since I missed out on that sold out show at the Sunset last week. I settled for getting the album based mostly on the strength of "Genesis" and "Oblivion", two of my favorite songs on the album which are even getting a little better with time.

The rest of the album for me (so far at least) has been pretty good but not quite as amazing as the internet hype lead me to believe it would be. I do like "Eight" for all it's weirdness, and "Be A Body" is a pretty solid track. The album is still growing on me though, so in another week or two, who knows.

I really like "Genesis" and "Oblivion" a lot too, John. I wonder if I would be much more into the album if I'd been able to see her live at the Sunset. I have the feeling it would have opened up the album more for me (some of my favorite music is difficult in recorded form, the key being to imagine them performing it as you listen to it. I'd name names but a lot of those types are friends' bands!).

Yeah I can see how it could be a totally different experience live. Especially with bands like this that rely on a lot of programmed and computer based sounds, it's interesting to see how they do that live.

Reminds me of when I saw Crystal Castles a few years ago, another Canadian electronic based group (although the sound is certainly different than Grimes' is), they had a drummer playing with them and I thought it really added a lot of energy and added a whole new dynamic having a live drummer instead of a programmed one.

I caught some of her KEXP in-studio performance when she was here, and it sounded like she geared it a little more towards the trippy/spacy/electronic sound a bit less towards the poppy sound.

Just did a little youtube search and Seattle Show Gal has some videos up from the Sunset show. From what I can tell there were 3 other people on stage with her. One guy at a drum pad, and the other two on either keyboards or something electronic. Looks like a fun show though.

I'll have to check out those KEXP performances, John. I have the feeling when she's not trying to keep it together with the "proper" drum machine sounds matched to overt hooks, or using a live drummer, it can be really inspiring. (I'll have to check out those videos on SSG.) There's so many issues with things like live drums versus electronic ones, that seem deeper than what's "appropriate" for a band's sound. For example, in Mike Doughty's recent autbio, Book Of Drugs, the sampler player in his band Soul Coughing took credit for the band's songs because of his keyboards -- but all the samples he played were provided to him from CDs Mike had given him. Or as Ben Marcus (author of "The Flame Alphabet") said in a recent interview at Salon, "From what I can tell, what you call digital culture is itself in love with analog materials, or with aping an analog sensibility, exploring the accidental, the random, the lo-fi, the warm spontaneity of earlier times." Thus, there are lots of electronic bands that might very well sound better recreating things with analog instruments, depending on what actually influences them (I think the best parts of Grimes are the human elements, like her voice and actual skill with rhythm, is sort of what I'm driving at.)

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