You know, I really wish there’d been as much readily available music flying around when I was in college as there is now. You know who’s glad that wasn’t the case? Several credit card companies.
Anyway, they’re long since paid off, but the problem with free mp3s (and virtually free ones) is that there are just way too many of them. Really: sometimes I feel like I should just resolve to take in no new music for some period of time – say, six months – and content myself entirely with my existing, rather-too-large collection. But I never do.
My name is Jeff, and I’m a musicoholic.
One result is that sometimes I’ll hear a song I really like (I mean one actually in my collection) but will forget to take note of whose song it is…which often means it fades back into obscurity, with its hook occasionally popping into my head to say to me, ha, you don’t know my name, but here I am all the same! like some sort of musical Rumplestiltskin. (There’s probably a band called that. They’re probably terrible.)
So it’s great when I actually rediscover a song, and realize hey – that’s that track that’s been rattling around my head in fragments for a while – I’d wondered where I’d left it. One such example (which – ssshhh! don’t wanna ruin my cred – apparently was featured on The O.C. – not that I’d know, since I’ve never seen even a second of the show) is “Beretta” by Chicago-based band Manishevitz. I’d run into their first CD back in my days reviewing music for the late and lamented Milk magazine, and even before I’d listened to the CD, it had made my top-tier pile, based on the excellent font-geek -based artwork: the back cover track listing crunched the titles into a cube made up of six or seven fonts running everywhich way. (My surprisingly reliable CD-triage technique in those days involved sorting CDs into three piles: the top tier was for discs by people I’d heard of and discs with interesting artwork, the bottom tier was stuff with crap artwork or dumb band names or poorly written one-sheets, everything else ended up in the middle.)
Nothing on that first album Grammar Bell and the All Fall Down (an intriguing title put review discs in the top tier as well) really sounds much like “Beretta” (although it’s not a bad record either). Vocalist Adam Busch has an instantly classic voice and delivery – a roundabout road from Buddy Holly by way of Lou Reed, with a lengthy layover at Bryan Ferry and maybe a brief stop at Lloyd Cole – such that it hardly matters what he’s singing, or singing about. (The entire lyric of this song that I can remember? “hiccupHere she comes again…”) That Bryan Ferry influence is even more audible in the arrangement, which begins with a spare guitar and handclaps rhythm, over which Busch drapes his nervous but somehow langourous vocal, but which gradually develops into a sort of arch, stylized rock’n’roll number, beginning with a reserved, architectural guitar figure and gradually building with Frippy sustained guitar, glockenspiel, synths, and a honking saxophone. My ears desperately want this to have been an enormous hit that everyone in the world knows and loves. Didn’t work that way.
The band is apparently recording a new CD, and judging from the tracks debuted in live-in-studio recordings at the wonderful Daytrotter site (which also featured a nice take on “Beretta”), they’re working similar territory this time round. Aside from two new tracks, there’s also a cover of Eno’s “Kings Lead Hat” – quite an appropriate choice. (You can hear all four tracks at the Daytrotter site.) The tootling bit at the beginning, though, reminds me of a particular song by the Fall…but I can’t call it to mind right now. Something from the (first) Brix era, though…anyone help me out?