Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Featuring no songs from the new Damon & Naomi CD

...because they've been teetering on the edge of becoming one of those Art institutions for a long time. Their new album is plenty listenable, in a tasteful sort of a way, and if I were planning to make out with the NY Times Arts Section I would totally put The Earth Is Blue on in the background. It's much like a psych-folk David Byrne, if you will. Some people are gonna love it, and I wouldn't want to put much effort into standing in their way. Despite the fact that D&N came off as preciously off-putting on the DVD that came with Song To The Siren, I'd guess that they're probably basically good folk.

I'm sure that some other blog will post something from The Earth Is Blue soon (if it hasn't already happened), like their cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps which seems to be going for "Ha ha, we've done obscure covers, but look what we can do with the hits." It was never my favorite Beatles song, and I'm not sure that slowing it down and prettying it up was what was called for, and they've removed the only truly exciting bit from the original (the guitar solo on the new version isn't anything to write home about).

Leaving others to embrace the dubious present, let's go back to Damon & Naomi's first full length album More Sad Hits, produced by Kramer. Back when they were a little loopier and less formally proficient (though more melodically adventurous) and writing incredible songs like Little Red Record Co.. Aaaah. And I'm not just saying that because I write Mystical Beast while looking up at a portrait of Chairman Mao. Maybe Kramer just got them stoned all the time. Seems like it might have been the right idea.

Just for a little excitement, here's D&N's cover of Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, which came out on a single wherein they collaborated with Masaki Batoh and Michio Kurihara (of Ghost) with the b-side being a sort-of cover of Can's Yoo Doo Right (my favorite Can song -- kind of their version of Sister Ray -- which doesn't sound much like this cover). Here's that b-side.

And here's more of D&N's early flirtation with Ghost, Awake In A Muddle from their 1998 Sub Pop release Playback Singers. This one's a cover of a track from Ghost's Second Time Around album.

Meanwhile, in the Dean Wareham camp, I notice that he and Britta were recently working on the soundtrack for the new movie by that hack Noah Baumbach. Sigh. Hope it's good. If you're one of the large number of people wondering why Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic was...somehow unsatisfying, you might want to rent co-writer Baumbach's Kicking And Screaming wherein we discover the answer to the question "What if Whit Stillman were less intelligent but better connected."

On the other hand, Dean & Britta's Christmas song is nice enough.

(Disclaimer: I went to college with Noah Baumbach, though we didn't know each other. I think we were in one class together. He never struck me as a writer with much to say, but I have no particular axe to grind, other than the axe that dislikes lousy movies. It could very well be that his new one is dandy, though the fact that it's set in Park Slope doesn't bode well.)

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