Friday, June 23, 2006

The Manichaean Candidates

From All The King’s Men. Willie Stark, the corrupt (but essentially good) governor is addressing Adam Stanton, the young idealistic patrician doctor.

“You can’t inherit [plain, simple goodness] from anybody. You got to make it, Doc. If you want it. And you got to make it out of badness. Badness. And you know why, Doc?” He raised his bulk up in the broken-down wreck of an overstuffed chair he was in, and leaned, forward, his hands on his knees, elbows cocked out, his head out-thrust and the hair coming down to his eyes, and stared into Adam’s face. “Out of badness,” he repeated. “And you know why? Because there isn’t anything else to make it out of.”

I heeeeaared that.

Here are two bands that took the badness and made good.

It’s not exactly overwhelming praise to say that a record reminds you of the Grateful Dead’s “Blues For Allah,” an album that marked the Dead’s studio slide into delusional disco, symphonic frippery, distended suites and a generally soggy sound. Still, that’s what the Court and Spark’s “Hearts” reminds me of. There are the same meandering baked quasi-fusionistic soundtrack-worthy instrumentals. But, like “Blues For Allah” (and way more frequently) occasional moments of brilliance force you to stop shaking your head in bemused derision. The Court and Spark are songwriters of the MFA school; there are clever narrative nuggets, odd bits of dialogue, and a general feeling of smarts at work. “Let’s Get High” is a good example. Check out the sort of subverted reggae of the keyboard pulse and the Jacques Cousteau guitar effects. I also love that you can always count on the weed heads to know when and when not to use the accusative case.

And then there’s Priestess. Entirely unrelated except that I think both of their records came out in the past month or so. And somehow, too, they transmute an essential wrong (pop metal) into good. After listening to the new Wolfmother, Ladyhawk and this, a coworker commented that there was some sort of “White Goddess” thing going on with bands these days. Priestess is from Montreal and they have got persuasively catchy and explosive pop-metal choruses. They make me think of the Darkness, minus the codpieces, the bad teeth and the irony. “Two Kids” won me over because there’s a slight “River’s Edge” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” factor to it. The singer can do Diamond Dave and the band can do Motorhead.

The Court and Spark – “Let’s Get High”

The Court and Spark on MySpace

Priestess – “Two Kids”

Priestess on MySpace

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool mention of Priestess. I've seen them live. They're incredible. Too real for words.