Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fall

Your Future, Our Clutter

Okay here's what I like. I like Fall vocalist/leader Mark E Smith because he triumphantly proclaims that he's gotten rid of all of the “old saddoes” that used to frequent Fall gigs in favor of a younger audience. I like Mark E. Smith because he recently heckled and threw beer bottles at Mumford & Sons. I like Mark E Smith because there's a story that he caught some (soon to be ex-) bandmates dancing in a club to the Clash's “Rock The Casbah” and slapped each and every one of them. I like Mark E Smith because he lives by a dictum that creative application of tension fuels creativity, and as much as that might frustrate audiences and hapless musicians, horrified at the sight of amps unplugged, mics knocked over, keyboard settings erased mid-song, in that particular momen, the fact is that his methods have yielded the desired dividends. For instance, the Infotainment Scam (1993) is every bit as good Hex Induction Hour (1982), and the Fall’s non-system continues to yield dividends on “Your Future, Our Clutter.” Leading a band or relative newcomers (save the steadying presence of wife Elena on keyboards), Smith presides over disjointed rockabilly, alien funk, and razor bursts of minimalist motorik-punk. Every track is wholly other, and thoroughly enjoyable. “You don’t deserve rock n’ roll,” Smith slurs at the very end. He might be right.

- Matthew Moyer

T Rex

The Slider
Fat Possum

Still fearlessly freaked-out and ahead of their time! From the first notes of "Metal Guru," with a thuggish rockabilly beat and an effete scream fading into a Wildean swoon, it's immediately clear that "The Slider" is total generation gap music. Either you're on the side of proper, denim-clad blues rockers or you're on the side of Marc Bolan and his long-haired, glitter-eyed, swan-riding legions. Thirty-something years on, not a note of this near-perfect album has aged, and with everyone from David Bowie (one who appropriated most of his pansexual vibe and elfin good lucks) to Siouxsie and the Banshees to Ariel Pink, it's clear who won the war. And yet, playing this album is still, in a way, drawing a line in the sand; a matter of glamour vs. technique, teenage kicks vs. corporate sponsorships, the joy of strumming your first barre chord vs. endless scales and solos. Ex-Mod and ex-Hippie Marc Bolan was already a counterculture favorite with his Tyranossaurus Rex and their fey, blissed out tales of "children with sky in their hair" but it was only when he donned a top hat and discovered his latent rock god that he really caught fire. Bolan created rock that was so defiantly dumb and hamfisted while simultaneously femme that it bordered on total mad genius. Marc Bolan would run with this idea for the rest of his too-short life, giving birth to glam rock, punk rock and pretty much any underground, guitar-based music that would follow. And what an idea! An identical, pounding, four-to-the-floor drumbeat on ever single song, and minimal variations on the same simple, slashing, one-maybe-two chord rifferema that pillaged Sun Records and Bo Diddley recasted it in glittering golds and silvers all lorded over by an almost impossibly dandified Marc Bolan, whose orgasmic, falsetto vocals were dripping with so much affectation that they make Quentin Crisp look like Bob Seegar. "The Slider" is not as over-the-top RAWK as the equally timeless "Electric Warrior," but this is silken caveman jive of the highest order. Listen to this, memorize it like a holy text. Trust me, homework will never be this fun.

- Matthew Moyer