Notes on Assorted College Rock

Pavement Pavement strikes me as a prefab cult band, two parts Fall, one part Camper Van Beethoven. Since the lyrics are often verbose and the music deliberately but carefully tossed off, Pavement is model college rock. As slacker-dandies given to lo-fi snobbery, the band were clever, very clever. I used to hate them. Today, though,… Continue reading Notes on Assorted College Rock


Station to Station

A perfectly blended, idiosyncratic parceling of Bowie's love of rock, soul, and theater. It's fresh, deft, clean, definitive, and straight-ahead. Station To Station is a blues-funk "Changes." For sheer vagueness, it beats Ziggy's rise and fall. Lyrics paint how fascist and exhausting life can be when career is conceit (i.e., decadence, or pretty passing care); how self-negation… Continue reading Station to Station

Young Americans

Bowie the fakir -- black-faced, bland, and coming on like kid Bacall, smolder-husk and all -- never gets on top of his soul move. The problem is slack execution of slickness. Almost unrelievedly passive in its expressionism, Young Americans is a con. The man's trademark cursory conviction (the articulation of a perfectly alienated soul) is nearly absent. Except… Continue reading Young Americans

The Deer Hunter

Tense and sweet, Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter seeks to be his own invincible god without having to confront any unforeseen circumstance. Until he can put aside ego and say "I love you" to near-and-dears, his world continues to break. Though the film's subjectivity strains the use of symbolic devices (e.g., spilt wine), the epic sensibility dovetails… Continue reading The Deer Hunter

The Days of Wine and Roses

A fixture on the Paisley Underground scene of the early 80s, this band got the quasi-quintessence of the Velvet Underground. Since they'd rather risk attitude than sound, though, the Dream Syndicate fail for lack of fire, and the record campaigns for somebody else's wider triumph: The nettle-drones are as affected as the Lou Reed-ing of… Continue reading The Days of Wine and Roses

The Movie Brats: John Carpenter

John Carpenter is a simple director. That is why he is revered, and why some people write him off. His films don't apologize for themselves, and they don't fall back on weak-ass metaphor. They are what they are, and that is enough. Looking at the man's career, you see a shift from the concise to… Continue reading The Movie Brats: John Carpenter