I didn’t pay attention to many new records this week. I did, however, revisit the Talking Heads’ Fear of Music. Hear me out.
Like many a literate music listener, I’ve read a number of books from Bloomsbury Academic’s 33 1/3 series. I listened to Fear of Music in preparation for when I’ll inevitably procrastinate an evening away reading Jonathan Lethem’s take on David Byrne and co.’s paranoid peak, the newest entry in the ongoing series that pairs an author with an iconic album. More interesting on a wide scale, however, are the results of the series’ most recent public call for book pitches. A list of albums from 471 received book pitches was recently posted on the 33 1/3 blog. (Somehow, I don’t think Lethem had to go through the same submission process.)
Statistically, the list is intriguing. For example, the most-submitted band/artist was The Mountain Goats, beating out Bob Dylan 6-5. At least four people still want to write about The Beatles, plus another three for John and Yoko. Fugazi, Fiona Apple, Jandek: three pitches each. The list is really worth a gander, as it presents a broad and interesting selection of what a heavily engaged contemporary audience wants to write about. Which albums will be beatified? I don’t know, but I sincerely hope those books on dcTalk’s Jesus Freak and Half Japanese’s ½ Gentlemen Not Beasts materialize.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: cram it! Enough with the books! You want some guitar solos? Check this: J Mascis, along with his high school stoner buddies “Pete Cougar” and “Johnny Pancake,” have just released Heavy Blanket, an instrumental stoner sludge romp — and guess what? It’s packed to the bowl’s edge with Mascis’ burly guitar solos! That’s probably all one needs to figure out if they need this or not, right? The band’s press bio is worth searching out, regardless of your interest in fan service: mythologizing its members as high school stoners who were “kicked out of marching band for smoking weed out of a tuba” only scratches the surface.
If you’re feeling particularly miserable, however, you might find solace in this week’s reissues: first, Numero Group is taking a break from their fantastic Eccentric Soul series to reissue the discography of slowcore pioneers Codeine. Frigid Stars, The White Birch and the Barely Real EP have all been remastered and, given Numero Group’s reputation for lavish and in-depth liner notes, fitfully recontextualized. Of course, if your misery is more outwardly visceral — or if you’ve ever referred someone to Fourfa.com — then Temporary Residence’s unexpected triple-vinyl reissue of Moss Icon’s discography might do the trick. The pioneering emo group is a band that’s generally referenced more often than actually heard, so pick this up and you’ll be the most savvy recovering swoophair or increasingly sensitive punk kid at your school.