Thursday, September 27, 2007

Music outlook and Rilo Kiley

My hubby didn't change his mind about Wilco when we saw them live. He's not a fan and neither does he care for Jeff Tweedy's hat. I did enjoy the show, though. Maybe it was the happy location of our seats in the outdoor venue, but the sound was really excellent. Kudos to the sound dude. We were going to go see Kelly Willis this weekend, but she's added a date even closer to us in November, so we're going to wait until then.

My musical obsession of the week is the new Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight. I've heard some of the earlier stuff and cuts from Jenny Lewis' solo album, but nothing really hooked me until I listened to the new one on Rhapsody, then had to go out and buy it. It's one of those rare CDs that every track is really appealing. Of course, the fans of previous RK are apparently all het up that it's a "sellout" because it doesn't sound just like the first one, which was nice but more mellow and sounded similar to every other emo group providing a soundtrack to Grey's Anatomy. If this one provided a soundtrack to a show, it would have to be something on HBO, considering the subject matter and racy lyrics. That being said, I'll probably go back to the first one for more attentive listening now.

Lewis has a great voice and it's very versatile. I get everything from Cher to Liz Phair to Madonna from her songs. There is also something to be said for a really good beat, which most of these songs have. I read a Guardian review of this CD, which was mostly positive, but the reviewer thought they went terribly wrong on a song called "Breaking Up;" he thought the closing refrain sounded frightfully like a jingle for a tampon advert! That's why I like the Guardian. While I might not agree, I can see what he means, and it's pretty funny.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Joe Henry, Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo

I won tickets to go see Wilco next Friday, which is cool since I probably wouldn't have gone to the show otherwise. I like some of their stuff, but their more "experimental" mode leaves me a little cold. I was not a big fan, unlike the rest of the musical universe, of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Sky Blue Sky seems more my style though. I hope it's a good show.

I also just bought Joe Henry's new CD Civilians. On only a few listens, I really like it a lot. He writes really intricate, beautiful lyrics. I love the rumination that he puts in the mouth of Willie Mays (standing in a Home Depot -- a bit of reality?) in "Our Song." He's a true original, much like Tom Waits. I think he' d be really great to see live too.

I saw another fantastic Alejandro show that was all electric -- no cellos or violins. It was rocking! His cover of "Beast of Burden" was a lot of fun, too.

Next up, I hope, is Kelly Willis in Lexington. No tickets yet, but it's on my calendar. And thank goodness I saw the White Stripes in July -- looks like Meg is having some major troubles and the remaining tour is canceled, both in the States and the UK. Bummer for those folks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On Chesil Beach

I just read On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, which is on the Booker short list. I'm a big fan, and though I liked this one, I wouldn't count it among my favorites. It really is more of a novella -- I read it in a sitting. It had the feeling of an exercise -- a working out of a writing challenge. Certainly, in lesser hands, such delicate and intimate subject matter could turn out all wrong and end up a candidate for the infamous Bad Sex Award. McEwan is deft where his sadly matched protagonists are clumsy, however. He takes us back to the days when men and women could still be hopelessly uninformed and reticent about sex (early 60s in Britain, just on the cusp of the sexual revolution) and explores the repercussions on an idealistic young couple who have a very bad wedding night.

But it seems to me that he tips the scales a bit. It's not just that they're "virginal" and nervous. and that it's a "different time." He suggests that there is something much darker going on. Unless I misread, the woman Florence has a (repressed) history of being sexually abused by her father. That fact, to me, turns it then into rather old territory of McEwan's, where such themes of incest and sexual transgression recur. Maybe I just had other expectations for it from what I had already read and heard about this book. I guess I'm just left wondering what his point was -- and if I missed it entirely.