Thursday, July 1, 2010

The New Pornographers - What's Known and Not Known

Through at least three albums (that I own, that is), I'm still unsure of what I think about the New Pornographers. On one hand, Neko Case is one of their vocalists, and that alone justifies the band's existence and edges its quality dramatically upward. On the other hand, many of their songs are, well, not so great. Mind you, they have some really fine songs in their oeuvre as well -- "Challengers," "Myriad Harbor," and the one song that probably did the most to make me consider the solo work of Neko Case, "Mass Romantic" -- but their albums have never managed to survive long on my current rotation.

In support of their latest album, Together, they appeared on Letterman last night and played a New Pornographers-y song -- up-tempo, lots of instruments, lyrics that are not-insulting or better, etc.

I report, you decide:

(via Brad)


Anonymous said...

Your precious precious blog is my first exposure to the New Pornographers. I listened to this a couple of times and I'm going to have to give it a thumbs up. Lyrics I liked: "Where things were simpler then,/You ask exactly when???" (I always have to fight the urge to roll my eyes when someone talks about how great the good old days were -- back when things were simpler, etc. -- especially when referring to moral questions, etc.) More lyrics I liked: "Amnesia becomes ambition". This calls to my mind the recurring theme of human optimism and hope even after setbacks which make optimism only marginally rational -- this is part of what makes us great. Vocals I liked: "Silhouette tell me a tall tale, go shout it out, etc." Now don't take this wrong -- I'm certainly no musicologist -- but this song kind of has an ABBA feel to it at points. But, I actually like ABBA so that's okay -- upbeat pop-like rhythm, simlar vocal harmony. This is certainly no "Magpie to the Morning", but what is? Other random thoughts: those guys up-stage, stage right whose only contriution seems to be slapping their knees and clapping a few times -- um, how do I get that gig? Oh yeah, one last thing, I like guitar guy who starts at 1:34.

Dale said...

Anon, all good points - you've clearly listened more closely and given this song a fairer hearing than I have so far.

You're right about all those band members -- what, exactly, are they supposed to be doing? They sing a little, but do some of them only play on the songs where they have a triangle, banjo, or french horn part?

It is sometimes called a "Canadian Super-Group," so I think this means it can get touchy if you start excluding people. Maybe it has become: anyone who isn't a member of Rush or Triumph but is a Canadian musician is automatically a member.

Really, I sound like I'm trashing them, but they're better than 98% of the crap out there.

Thanks for the comment.

Jeff Goob said...

One word: