Assumer Guide: Vacation Pictures And Life-Sized Action Figures
As Consumer Guide creator Robert Christgau once noted, there is so much recorded media coming forth every day, the idea that one would be able to listen to all of it is physically impossible. So we’ve taken the sage advice of gonzo rock writer Richard Meltzer to heart. Meltzer, ever the curmudgeon, considered promo albums precious commodities–provided you didn’t break the shrinkwrap on ’em, as doing so reduced their resale value. After the click-through, SXSW outlaw Andy Beta judges four new albums without even cracking open their covers.
PICK–Jandek: Austin Sunday (Corwood Industries) With his 48th record, Texas troubadour Jandek nears his goal of releasing a record for every state–being but two in, his son Sufjandek has his work cut out for him. His progeny may have a better grasp of geography, though, in that there is no ocean view in the state capital. Rather than order his vacation Polaroids, paterfamilias Jandek instead continues his obsession with mysterious bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughn and putting his dream on this planet; these two discs recorded in a Texan Scottish temple are chock-full of extended blues workouts on clichéd topics: “The Police,” “Ugly Man,” “Wine You Devil.” A-
Air: Pocket Symphony (Astralwerks) A decade on, it’s obvious that the tousle-haired Parisians Nicolas Godard and Jean-Luc Dunckel are this century’s version of Gilbert & George. This duo, when not cutting ditties for Volkswagen or foreign movies that get lost in translation, do incredibly elaborate conceptual art installations that merge modern global commerce with ancient synthesizers. For Pocket Symphony, they combine both disciplines. A soundtrack for the launch of their action figure toy line, both in life-sized polyurethane casts and pocket-sized versions, the disc provides wireless ambience for iMac users not unlike Eno’s Music for AirPorts. A-
Gruff Rhys: Candylion (Team Love) When not fronting Super Furry Animals (the Teletubbies of Wales), Gruff Rhys still has scads of fun, creative, and educational rainy-day activities for ankle-biters ages 3-10, which he documents on his solo albums. Candylion, comprised entirely of dinky glockenspiel themes, teaches kids how to make funny shapes out of construction paper using a pair of safety scissors. Parents beware: The nefarious Welshman subversively sneaks in songs about so-called “artist” degenerates like Francis Bacon (“Cycle of Violence”), Yves Klein (“Painting People Blue”), and Dadaist Hugo Ball (“Ffrwydriad yn y Ffurfafen”). B
DUD–The Eternals: Heavy International (Aesthetics) It’s eerie how PR people can get inside a writer’s mind. Who else would know how much I was into the Body Glove Rock Coalition of Living Colour but Biz 3 PR’s own Damon Locks? When he’s not mandating as the Original Blipster, Locks eschews Common talk to do punk-funk as a member of the Eternals. Like roaches, their electroclash keybs outlast both Chi-town and Berlinsburg. Post-apocalypse, they’ll prowl the streets in hybrid cars alongside chimpeetahs, barking magic Marxist-Communist slogans that echo those of beloved mutant leader Professor Terminator X: “Time’s Up.” B-
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