The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Trying Not to Be Evil Week, Day 3: I Likes Sunset Rubdown (Wait...That Came Out Wrong)

Out of the 700 or so CD’s that I own, there are only a handful that have ever really mattered to me. Bob Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde,” The Smith’s “The Queen is Dead,” The White Stripes “White Blood Cells,” The Doors first album, Love’s “Forever Changes,” Aesop Rock’s “Labor Days,” Outkast’s “ATLiens,” and Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”

This is not to say that there aren’t other albums that I don’t cherish and love. Nor is this a way of saying that these are the best albums of all time. But in my little world, these albums have meant more to me than anything I’ve ever learned at school or at work. These are the albums that if I were trapped on a televised desert island soap opera, I would need to have by my side.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to an album worthy of being added to that list: Sunset Rubdown’s “Shut Up I Am Dreaming” These are big words and I actually didn’t want to write about it on Trying Not to Be Evil Week because this album is so good that writing about it seems like an exercise in futility. I could spend a lifetime trying to the capture the brilliance of the deranged symphony that Krug has created. A dense maze of beautiful symbolist poems, haunting organ licks and raw visceral emotion that explodes in every note.

I knew that I sure as well didn’t want to sound like the Pitchfork review of the album, spewing its typical smart rock critic gibberish. I get it dude, you’re a fan of post-modernism. Do you want a ribbon?

“In his more fleshed-out, metaphysically epic form, Krug consistently finds ways to yoke disparate parts; there's so much inventive stitching, in fact, it makes it tempting to offer a play-by-play with color commentary for every song. Beyond writing catchy tunes and packing them with whispers, mallets, harpsichord, and patches of cheapskate drum machines, he's an intriguing presence. Instead of bubbling along at one level, he roller coasters and raves, mixing nonsense with sharp observations and sadness with puns

Needless to say, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a cheapskate drum machine.

The description that made the most sense about the album came from Skeet On Mischa:

I'd love to say something about Sunset Rubdown, but I can't get past the fourth song on the album; it's just too good. Very haunting and reminds me of that song on that Air album, "10,000 Hz legend" with Buffalo Daughter on it.”

It’s one of those CDs that you put in your car and immediately have to turn off because it’s way way too much to handle when you’re sitting on traffic on a freeway. Too intense. It certain doesn’t bear well to casual listening.

That was exactly how I felt about the album until last week, when I was finally able got past the fourth song. And what I heard is pure unfiltered genius.

Like any great album, it ends perfectly. The last song of the album, “Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Loves Have Wings,” is a seven and a half minute symphony, a song almost too powerful to want to listen to. It forces you to stop everything you’re doing and just listen.

This album isn’t for everyone. It’s strange unique and weird. As though it would be the perfect soundtrack for a Tim Burton film. The first four or five times I heard it, it didn’t sink. But now it has. I like Arcade Fire and Sufjan Steven’s as much as the next guy, but while I admire the brilliance of those two musicians, nothing they’ve done can match the blistering and savage emotion, pain and beauty wrapped up in “Shut Up I Am Dreaming.” I can’t recommend an album more.


At 1:08 PM, Blogger CrimeNotes said...

Since I started reading 6-8 weeks ago, you've been batting 1.000. Everything you've praised, liked or bashed, I've strongly agreed with. Duly intrigued, I downloaded Sunset Rubdown on iTunes. After two listenings, the best I can say is that the album will help me fall asleep. Self-consciously arty in a way that reminds me of The Fiery Furnaces. With a David Bowie sound-alike and syrup on top.

The lessons: 1.) You've influenced my purchasing choices, 2.) you're now batting something like .975, and 3.) apostles sometimes disagree.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Dont' worry. It takes a while to sink in. I probably wasn't clear enough on how long. This is like the CD that you don't like until the 7th listen than it becomes genius. You're just gonna' have to give it time. Trust'll like it more than the Fiery Furnaces...that CD never sunk in at all with me.It's pretty much unlistenable.

If there was ever a time to smoke and put on a big pair of headphones this is the CD. But it's a bit too intense for the night, maybe during the day. It's strengths are it's weaknesses in that it's a lot to handle and doesn't bear well to a casual listening. You sort of have to be alone to really appreciate it. But give it a chance. I got the album the week it came out. It wasn't until last week when it finally hit me. Then again, if you can't get past the voice than I understand. I don't really like Destroyer's voice and have trouble getting past that it his music. But others don't. I happen to like Spencer Krug's voice, but I do ackowledge that a lot of people prolly find it very annoying.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger CrimeNotes said...

It'll get some re-listenings. I'm scared that you'll turn out to be right and go back to 1.000, in which case, you are the one true prophet.

Interesting that you mentioned Destroyer because Dan Bejar came to mind while I was listening. Destroyer sounds more natural to me. I like Dan's voice, though, and didn't mind Krug's. For lack of a better word, "cluttered" might be my description of the album. I'll let you know if I convert.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Douglas Reinhardt said...

I agree with you on the Sunset Rubdown album, but with me, the more and more I listen to it, the more I get frustrated with the lo-fi quality to it. I wish that Spencer Krug would do something with Jon Brion and have lots of instruments and it sound really clean and nice.

On "The Ben Stiller Show," I once told a comic that show taught me how to be funny and he gave me a weird look.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

You're prolly right, I dig the lo-fi ness of it all but cleaning up would probably make it make a lot better. I actually just bought their first album, Snake's Got a Leg and that one actually deeply deeply suffers from the lack of production. He's come a long way for sure, but something tells me that absolutely kosher records' recording budget isn't that crazy large. I guess Kanye can keep Jon Brion all to himself now.

That's pretty much the best way to describe the Stiller Show. I've never actually seen Mr. Show (so I might not be in a good state to compare) but I think the Ben Stiller Show might just be my favorite sketch comedy show of all time. I'm a big Chapelle guy but "U2 the Early Years" that's just brilliant.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger CrimeNotes said...

I haven't jumped on board completely (it's not a candidate for my list of the all-time greats) but I now like it much more than I did the first couple of times, and am glad that I stuck it out. I do think the second track sucks, though.


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