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Glyph

Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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  1. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    Very nice. Very 90s.

    I hear a little bit of Modest Mouse, if I’m trying to find 21st century threads in there. Less dirty, but equally… deliberate.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      says:

      As the King of College Breakups, you missed out by not having some Seam in your life.

      What’s weird is that a lot of the music I listen to, I know is a niche thing. You’re just not going to get a lot of people past *that* voice, or *this* noise/dissonance, or *the other* weird lyrical or structural aspect.

      But Seam? I really, truly, honestly do not understand why they were not a bigger deal*, at least in the circles I traveled in**, where they are STILL fairly obscure (you’re more likely to run into a Low or Bedhead or Codeine fan – hell, there’re more online encomiums to Slint, a band I find far easier to respect than love like I do Seam).

      There’s nothing, to me, potentially off-putting about any of it to any rock fan – the lyrics are good, yet universal; there’s grit & crunch to the guitars without veering off into painful noise; it’s melodic; it’s got sweep and ambition in the arrangements without disappearing up its own rear. I just don’t get it.***

      * Though AFAIK their albums have never gone entirely out of print either, so they either sell a reliable amount, or Touch & Go really likes them.

      **One of my few friends who also likes/knows the band went to the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary bash, largely to see Seam, and he said when they started playing, a bunch of Asian-American kids all rushed up to the front; I guess Seam has a sizeable following there (Park helped create Foundation of Asian American Independent Media, an art festival dedicated to showcasing Asian-American culture.)

      ***Though, in writing this, I discovered the flipside of there being no annoying features of Seam – it can be equally hard to explain what makes them so great. Look at the number of edits on this post. They are so resolutely un-flashy, that it can be difficult to explain why they aren’t “boring”.****

      ****They are not boring, and I hope I got across why.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Oh, I definitely didn’t find them boring, and I definitely feel like I missed out. I listened to Low and Codeine, but if I’d ever heard of Seam, I don’t remember it now. This could be a result of the fact that there were so many band like this at the time, that is guitar rock that’s a bit brooding, technically proficient or better, clean, and melodic (you mentioned math rock, and there were a few dozen other subgenres all centered around a common “We’re good at guitar and possibly drums, and we write good songs” from back then) that I’ve got too much proactive and retroactive interference to remember hearing them on college radio, which I imagine is where I would have heard them.

        Plus, while they are clearly good, and not boring, they’re a band that someone would have had to tell me about, because, at least from the selection here, their sound doesn’t stand out (it almost seems designed not to stand out), by which I mean I wouldn’t have heard a song on the radio and thought, “Holy shit, who is that by and when can I get to the record store to buy the album it’s on?” So maybe that’s why I didn’t hear about them.Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Speaking of Low, I enjoy this story about them doing a one-song 27 minute long set at a music festival:

        http://blog.thecurrent.org/2013/06/the-audacity-of-low-what-does-a-band-owe-us-when-we-pay-to-see-them-perform/

        But I guess I would love that, wouldn’t I? (And I can understand why other people might be less enthused.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        In ’94 (or maybe ’93… or maybe ’95… man, I’m getting old), I went to see a show at Nashville’s giant Amphitheater, with White Zombie as the headliner, and the Melvins and Reverend Horton Heat as the opening acts. The Melvins did about 45 minutes, which consisted of, as far as I could tell, 1 song, which itself primarily consisted of feedback. Basically all I saw was two guys with their heads down holding guitars and letting them crackle. If I were guessing, I’d say they had no desire to be there.

        Fortunately, this was Nashville, the 90s, and Starwood, so even though The Melvins were the first act, almost everyone was too drunk by that point to care.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        RE: that Low thing; it’s a tricky question. (I’m reminded, as I often am, of the early JAMC riot-causing sets; 20 minutes of feedback, backs to the audience, sounds genius to me today, but if I was some punter on my only night out back then, I might be pissed).

        I might have loved the Low thing, because I like the drone, and I like seeing something different.

        I might have hated it, depending on the amount of $ I shelled out, for 27 minutes of “entertainment”.

        Two similarly memorably “bad” concert experiences:

        In college, I saw Morrissey and it was a fustercluck – I won’t go into the extra-musical bits of what happened, because I think I have before, and anyway they are beside this point, but his set was under an hour, and IIRC the tickets had been somewhere around $45.

        I felt ripped off, DESPITE the fact that, evaluated on its own merits, it was a cracking show! The band was *tight*, and Morrissey is a hell of a performer, and it was hit after hit.

        So why did I feel ripped off?

        Well, because as a working college student, I felt I was owed “more” for all that cash I shelled out. More length, more songs, more something.

        Was I? Isn’t a really solid 45 minutes worth as much as 90 minutes with lulls?

        My other memorably bad concert was the White Stripes. White Blood Cells was just blowing up, and so the show that I had bought tickets to (in a smaller venue) got moved last-minute to a larger venue, with known reliably-shitty sound and ambiance. I would not have bought tickets to see the band in this larger venue, ESPECIALLY as I already felt the tickets had been priced too high, but as the concert was not cancelled, I could not get a refund, so we went.

        Then, the band again proceeded to play a short set, maybe 45 minutes or so (remember, WBC was their third album, so it’s not like they had no material to work with at that point).

        And on the one hand, I should have been happy it was over so quickly, because the sound was AWFUL, ear-piercing crap.

        But I was also mad that it was so short, for what I had paid (“The food here is awful! And such small portions!”)

        Anyway, I emailed the band, complaining about the last-minute venue change, and the sound, and the short set, and their manager actually responded with a “la-de-dah, shut up, whiner”.

        In conclusion: the White Stripes can go fish themselves.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        re: that low story – people are babies.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        My favorite comments from the Low article (I am such a child):

        Mark James • 9 months ago

        Perhaps you should get to know the band before vouching for them. You don’t know Low.

        OscarBones • 9 months ago

        No but I know Low Momma!Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        RE: people are babies.

        Having listened to the Low performance now, a few thoughts, from someone who would have loved to have been present at the recording of Spacemen 3’s Dreamweapon: An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music, which is to say, I have no inherent bias against the drooooooooonnnneee:

        1.) From the comfort of my chair, and presumably listening to the performance as recorded from the board, I enjoyed it.

        2.) This might not have been the case live, where I might be standing, tired, hungry, hot, crowded; and where depending on the venue acoustics and amplification, the sound might have been indistinguishable from 27 minutes of the band tuning up.

        3.) Continuing from #2, drone is all about the subtle modulations and harmonics – if I am not in a location, or mindstate where that appreciation can be had, it mayn’t be enjoyable.

        4.) That said, an artist has no implicit obligation for me to enjoy the art.

        5.) That said, I still might have been annoyed if I was there & spent $; if I went to the movie theater to see (artistic film Y), and the projection was out of focus the whole time, and when I complained, I was told by theater management that the film’s director had requested that every third showing be made out of focus, I might be ticked off.Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Yeah, I get how people can have grievances against certain live performances. I think these tend to be more legitimate if it’s a case of the venue/sound/whatever being crap (and/or possibly unsuitable for the act). But I also don’t think that’s necessarily a complaint against the artist.

        For this set, it was during a festival. I imagine people who liked Low coming in probably appreciated the set (I know I would have), and those who didn’t wouldn’t have, but that’s kind of just the nature of festivals. Some acts suck for you and some acts don’t (and some acts suck for other people, but those are different acts than the ones that suck for you).

        I’d be more annoyed at a half-hearted or un-representative effort from a band. Low covers Raffi songs straight? I’d probably be pissed.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        I’d be more annoyed at a half-hearted or un-representative effort from a band.

        I guess that’s the million-dollar question, festival or no – how unrepresentative was this for Low? Have they ever done this before? If they’d never done it before, maybe a heads-up to ticketbuyers might have been appreciated (though by no means required…if Low showed up and plugged in and felt like droning, they should drone).

        For dance/electronic acts, it’s often stipulated whether they are appearing in a performance or DJ capacity, so ticketbuyers know what to expect and don’t get angry at the event (I once went to see Juan MacLean expecting his own music and got him doing a DJ set instead, and while it was OK, I was still annoyed that the flyer hadn’t made that clear).

        This is a little different, since Low is still performing their own music; but it’s possible some people bought tickets to the event primarily or solely to see Low play Low songs, and if Low has never done this before and no heads-up was provided, I can see people getting annoyed.

        And venue and audience intersect in a way here too – if Low is the only band on the bill, so everyone is there to see them only, and the venue has good acoustics and comfy couches, then the audience might be more forgiving – even those caught by surprise, might still be converted by the experience.

        A festival almost seems like the worst place to do this; it seems like it has the most potential to both disappoint the fans AND turn off casual observers.

        God, if I’d gone to Chicago to the Touch & Go shindig to see Seam, and they just played a 27-minute drone, I’d probably riot.

        That said, I’ve seen YLT shows where they give the people what they want; and ones where they drone away to their hearts’ content; and ones that are a mix of the two; and the fact that no two shows are ever alike and they play what they feel like playing that night (and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t), is part of why they are such a great live band.Report

  2. Avatar Jonathan McLeod
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    says:

    Regarding just wanting a Pepsi, the Repo Man soundtrack is fantastic.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    Also, for anyone that watched the “Gator” video: tell me the camera angle is making that jump at 0:40 look closer than it was? Because that looked dangerous as hell, like he barely cleared the car.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      My first thought was, “Insurance would never let them do that today.”

      It’s an insane stunt, and I’d love to read an account of how they pulled it off without killing the first 2 or 3 guys who tried it.Report

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