Monday, November 24, 2014

The Rock Song of J. Alfred Pruflove: Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Then: I think I was introduced to this by DJ Candice Cameron of Freestyle Kill. Despite the fact that it's treated as gospel by many in the 'indie' community, it took me a long time to get into...I was more into Jeff Mangum's first album, On Avery Island, and to this day I'm still a much bigger Olivia Tremor Control fan. But grow on me it did, and I felt that Mangum was the Dylan to The Beach Boys of Olivia Tremor Control, or The Beatles of The Apples in Stereo.

Now That's not to say that people don't overblow this one. I hear people having weird religious experiences listening to Aeroplane, and bursting into uncontrollable tears. No wonder the guy got weirded out by his fanbase and quit soon after its release. For being so revered, Aeroplane actually has a fair bit of filler on it, as well: after a rock-solid first four songs, the album gets lazy, with numerous needless instrumentals or fluff to pad out the lackluster second half, which is surprising since the best song the man ever wrote wasn't included on ANY of his albums. Aeroplane redeems itself with the killer 'Oh Comely' and the astoundingly gorgeous 'Two-Headed Boy Part II' which really is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard, but I still suspect that most peoples obsessions come from the album''s first third.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Rock Song of J. Alfred Pruflove: Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson: Portrait of an American Family

Then: I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but I was a huge Marilyn Manson fan for a while. I went and saw him live in 1998, the show at the Great Western Forum where he twisted his ankle and stopped the show after 6 songs, I dubbed my own tapes with all the tracks from The Spooky Kids, the original incarnation of the group. I lost interest around the new millennium, but Marilyn's first three albums were huge for me for a time.

Now: After giving this another spin, I'm surprised that Trent Reznor didn't produce more guitar-oriented rock albums, because he's really quite good at it. The production on Portrait is crystal-clean, the bass and guitar are big and meaty, and it's an anomaly in both Reznor and Manson's respective oeuvre that was never really visited again; both band and producer abandoned guitar rock for the more well-known industrial of "Closer" and "The Beautiful People" pretty soon after. Marilyn displays a humor on this first album that he pretty much gave up on after this as well; everything from Antichrist Superstar on is dour and humorless, whereas buried among the swearing and purposely shocking turns of phrase on Portrait, he allows himself to have a little fun. If you just want a good beefy mid '90s slice of rock, you could do worse than Portrait of an American Family. Way, way worse.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Rock Song of J. Alfred Pruflove: LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver

Then: This was right at the tail end of my flirtation with 'college rock' before I discovered Foetus and things really got interesting. I had been a big fan of James Murphy, aka LCD Soundsystem, from his first album, which was typical 2004 synth-driven indie rock blended with an awareness of weird '70s fringe stuff, a la Can, Brian Eno, This Heat, etc. I snatched up Sound of Silver pretty quickly and was impressed at how much more mature it was; not really any party anthems like 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House' and more longform, squelchy meditations of how much it sucks becoming old and miserable, probably the closest thing to a modern Talking Heads album as we're likely to get.

Now: James Murphy is a pretty bad singer, but unlike most of the others I've checked out since starting this, he's a really excellent lyricist. His flat, limited range almost works to enhance his poetry, which is beautifully despondent and still makes me feel rushes of emotion, especially the jaw-dropping one-two punch of 'Someone Great' and 'All my Friends' in the middle of the album, which so captures the essence of being a male approaching your 30s and realizing that things aren't going to work out the way everyone had told you they would growing up. He has a line in 'All my Friends', "We set the controls for the heart of the sun/One of the ways that we show our age" which is so short and so simple and yet so affecting, as great poetry tends to be. The album isn't perfect, there's a slump after track 6 (the title track is distressingly dull) but Sound of Silver is impressively one-of-a-kind.