Friday, March 13, 2009

#20 (Get Your Face Outta My PROG Edition)

Four Score and 20 blog posts ago, I kicked off a weekly email to friends with a sip from the golden chalice of classic prog. Today we answer the question, who is progging with the proglords these days? Hmmmmm? Who is?


Late Of The Pier are a four-piece from England who have the most befuddling band name I've heard since '89. Then again, they also title a song "Bathroom Gurgle." Maybe naming just isn't their thing. Their thing is writing exquisitely fun and consistently dancey progressive rock songs heavy on bass, percussion, and synths. Their 2008 album "Fantasy Black Channel" was on many critics' top albums of the year lists. It's understandable why. The band is rare in that they create sonically and rythmically complex music that still manages to be danceable. You don't usually think of proggers getting the dance floor moving. Late Of The Pier pulls it off somehow. Take their song "The Enemy Are The Future." It's almost inconceivable that this could be a dance song, but it is...particularly when you have The bassist and drummer taking the time signature hostage at 1:32...but then 2:30 hits and zoinks, uncontrollable head nodding action! It's dancey prog! Beware the bass sound at 3:30! And somehow we come out of this crazy acid trip with the band sounding like Franz Ferdinand at 4:57. Awesome.

If you don't mind, I'm going to go listen to this song on repeat while watching Bowie's performance in Labyrinth on mute.

Late Of The Pier, "The Enemy Are The Future"

Too much hard work. Not enough easy life.

Friday, March 6, 2009

#19 (Strum Once, Land; Strum Twice, Sea Edition)

There's urgency in your voice, friend, and it's wrought with anguish, and it's imbued with inspiration.

You sound like you're choking on words because you want to get them out so bad. They (the words) fight to be released roundabout your adam's apple, creating a bottleneck (in your neck) of intensely built pressure. When the words do squeeze free they are shot like a musket ball at unsuspecting ears. Much like old guns, the word projectiles lack precision but carry the threat of bayonet incision.

Joe Pug was a playwriting student at UNC about to enter his senior year when he moved to Chicago to try his hand at songwriting. He tried his hand, and the glove fit. His 7 song EP "Nation of Heat" crackles with the raw tenacity of a songwriter freshly unchained. Speaking in the wide strokes of nation, hope, destiny, sin, and spiritual reclamation, Pug is a natural and I wait in anticipation to see what he does next.

Someone once said of Bob Dylan that he used to strum his guitar with such abandon that it would "startle" the audience because it looked and felt like he was attacking the instrument. Mr. Pug lives in that camp as well. Acoustic guitar is not from the string family, he says, it's from the percussion family, and I will beat the crap out of that percussion instrument. Please enjoy two of the better songs I've heard in years.

Joe Pug, "Nation of Heat"

Joe Pug, "Hymn #101"

Songwriterly Yours,

PS. Thanks to Pujam and Earl for today's selections