Monday, January 25, 2010

California Dreamin'

The other day I dreamed about Jack White. We weren't doing what I'd thought we'd be doing if I dreamed about Jack White. In the dream, we were at a beautiful modern house, but a huge one - a sort of Fallingwater-as-a-condo - with his cronies (whom I didn't recognize).

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Someone asked me something about becoming an American, and I said, "I've learned so much about California from songs."

Dream Jack White said, "Who gave you permission to learn history from music?"

I said, "Learning is enhanced when you utilize multiple modalities. A song is as legitimate as a text.'

Dream Jack White retorted, "It's totally illegitimate!" And walked out.

I'm still trying to work out why anyone might feel that way. I've forgotten what I had in mind in the dream - something obscure and pointless, I'm sure - but the Beach Boys, the Eagles and Frank Zappa were my foundation in understanding California and even after more than twenty years here, I still find myself going back to their frames of references to understand what I'm seeing.

A day later, Aquarium Drunkard offered a download of their Companion Mix 1 and I was delighted to learn the first part of it seemed to be from bands whose esthetic hailed from Manchester but whose aspirations were to enjoy the California surf. (I come from Leeds, not Manchester, but despite our 500 years or so at war with each other, as far as the rest of the world cares, we're indistinguishable, so I count this as a close enough match.) The similarity to my dream is quite uncanny.

I liked many of the tunes. A bunch struck me, old person that I am, as Joy Division taking on the surf scene. (e.g. Daydream by the Beach Fossils.) Or Annette Funicello singing with the Jesus and Mary Chain. I loved the sampler.. at least until the later stages when it seemed to veer into the mild, hopeless and shapeless folk music that American bands seem to hit upon as default, as though tuneless folk was the sticky-backed plastic drawer-lining in the brain of the average teen American.

Love Catholic Pagans' Surfer Blood, a Weezer-style work out that begins, "Never could/be still for long/and I could never hold a job/coupled with a weakness for cocaine/and liquor..."

How can you not love that?

Honorable mention to Fake Blues, by Real Estate, the answer to the question, "What would the Blues sound like to someone who only knows how to play Chopsticks on piano?" The answer is a chart hit.

More than honorable mention to the Condo Fucks, who take on one of my fave tracks, The Beach Boys' 'Shut Down'. Execution gets three out of ten (seems to be a real garage band in a real garage) but 10/10 in attitude and 13/10 in in-your-faceness.

There's a second sampler here, but I haven't listened to it yet.


Bruv said...

Hi Sis

Got to disagree on this one, there was nothing on the sampler that would make me dash out and buy the album relating to any of the track. Agree Daydream could be JD with an overtone of the Beachboys, but doesn't quite get you going. Shut Down might get me boogeying, but I would have to have a few beers in the right atmosphere to set it off. Mega Secrets has something, good picking in the middle, but again needs a bit more Umph. They all sound like good "Pub" bands, but some sound as if they should be playing at funerals (Nicotine fairies, Beach Town or Imagine part 3).

Does get a bit folksie towards the end, but the version of Wild Mountain Thyme is one of the best I have heard recently and took me back to the 70's and the folk club in Wakefield we used to go to with Mum and Dad.

But what do I know it took me at least 6 plays of Horehound before I got turned on to it.


Peromyscus said...

All American rock music needs more Umph - it's a known bug. That's why I didn't listen to any for the first fifteen years here, and why the Raconteurs were such a delightful surprise. I don't know what it is, because the country can produce some on occasion, like Nirvana or MC5, but generally there's a strange attractor that leads to acoustic guitars and three-part harmony whenever concentration drifts.

So I always give American music 50 free Umph bonus points or I'd never get around to listening to any.

KaliDurga said...

1) How can you California dream in a house that's in PA? And Fallingwater's not so huge, it's actually kind of cramped. But still amazing.

2) Jack of all people should love the idea of learning history from music. What on earth did you eat for dinner before having this dream?

Peromyscus said...

2. Cheese, almost certainly. My dream self may be misrepresenting Jack White, but that's par for the course for my dreams. They're rarely factual.

1. Ah, but I was in California when I dreamed it, which is the point. (The house in the dream was a huge condo, four floors of at least ten units each. It looked like Fallingwater, but it was much bigger, and more public.)


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