Smart ladies love lists, Pop-culture-a-go-go, July 31, 2015

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Every week, I will post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately (& maybe an “other”).

Listening

I had another spell where I only listened to The Hollies, which led me to this, a Village Voice article from 1976 where Robert Christgau looks back at records from 1967, considered to be a seminal year for music, even just nine years later. I’m in the middle of doing my own look-back (maybe for next week), but I wanted to first talk about a lost classic I discovered from Christgau’s article (which I keep wanting to call a post… GRRR INTERNET)… The Beach Boys’ Wild Honey.

Released a year after Pet Sounds, widely considered to be the band’s best work, and shortly after Brian Wilson abandoned the full, lush Smile (released in a different format as Smiley Smile in 1967), Wild Honey is clearly the band’s nod to the R&B and rock sounds they love. It’s not as well-remembered as Pet Sounds, which had a bit of a revival fifteen years ago when it was re-released on CD with the mono and stereo versions on one disc. I was obsessed with Pet Sounds in college, and even though I wanted more Beach Boys, I assumed everything else was surfer music and Mike Love’s soulful lead vocals. I wish someone had told me about Wild Honey, it is the perfect follow-up for someone yearning for the Wilson brothers after fully digesting their more famous record.

I think Pitchfork’s Spencer Owen was as enamored of Pet Sounds as much as the rest of us in 2001, as he gave the similar Smiley Smile reissue a 9.5, but Wild Honey (a definite shift in sound from the previous two LPs) was only awarded a 3.5. I want everyone to rediscover Wild Honey’s set of very short R&B-tinged pop songs, some of which featured amazing, pleading singing from Carl Wilson that doesn’t sound like any Beach Boys vocals that came before.

After you’re full of Wild Honey, I recommend picking up Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue. It absolutely started me on that long dark road of 70s singer songwriters.

Quick Picks…

I often read Pitchfork and add things I find interesting to a Spotify playlist. Here’s what I’ve added this week.

The noisey keyboard really brightens up J Fernandez’ Many Levels of Laughter.

I need to spend more time with the 25-song Tenement opus Predatory Headlights, but it is trying to fill my “rock song” quota this month, along with:

I don’t get excited about Titus Andronicus (minus The Monitor), but I love rock operas and concept albums, which is how 3XLP (!!!) The Most Lamentable Tragedy is described.

While their name is unfortunate, Bad Bad Hats’ Psychic Reader is a fantastic pop record with songs that swirl around in my head and get stuck. Oh, and Afternoon Records has their records for free here. You have no excuse now!

Watching

While I wish I could have saved it for my next visit with Katie, I saw Appropriate Behavior was onDemand on Cinemax and watched it IMMEDIATELY. I love little movies where not much happens except character growth. The humor is dark and self-deprecating (think Woody Allen in the 70s) and it never felt like a cheaply made indie. Desiree Akhavan is extremely talented, and I appreciated her skill with abandoning exposition in favor of showing character-based situations.

Her webseries The Slope, about “superficial, homophobic lesbians” (doesn’t that make you want to watch it?) which I also recommend, can be found here.

Also: still not done with season 2 of Vikings; my husband and I have two episodes to go on this season of The Americans (poor Martha!); I’m rewatching Justified but also throwing in some Deadwood when I want extra Timothy Olyphant; finally, I’m greatly enjoying Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall. God damn, he deserves that Emmy. I want to finish SOMETHING so I can move on to the next show but I can’t binge, especially with these heavy dramas that require my full attention.

I can’t decide if my husband would prefer Rectify, Mr. Robot or Halt and Catch Fire, but once The Americans is done, we need a drama in between Louie viewings. Admittedly, PJ is really busy with his band and other projects and doesn’t watch much TV. He’s recording this weekend so I’m going to test myself to see how many more times I can watch Going Clear–just kidding, Tim Olyphant isn’t in that!

Someone on fb posted about Caitlin Moran, and I found myself searching for her on youtube–she’s a celebrity, in addition to being a kick-ass writer, so she’s pretty visible, what with the UK’s obsession with all things celebrity (seriously, the Mirror writes five posts about five different Geordie Shore and TOWIE “stars” a day). Anyhoo, I landed on this beauty video, where her friend (and makeup guru of England, I later find out), Sali Hughes interviews her in her bathroom about beauty products. I’m addicted to skincare lately so I watched it…

And because she’s so cute and British, I watched a twenty minute video of her going through her perfume collection. I wear two perfumes: a discontinued one I bought from Anthro for cheeep and a one that a friend got from her mother-in-law and didn’t want. But Sali just knows so much about scents! I love the way she describes them. I don’t think I could ever be that articulate talking about chypre, which I only know how to spell because I’ve read eighteen Dorothy Parker biographies and EVERYONE knows it was her favorite. In any case, I hope I don’t become obsessed with makeup and beauty tutorials because mama ain’t got time for that, but I will be following Sali on youtube, her blog, and her columns in The Guardian (ugh, that’s a lot! SLOW DOWN SAL!).

Reading

Honestly, the reading has gone by the wayside this week, what with all the beauty videos and Timothy Olyphant. But I plan to finish Between the World and Me before book club tomorrow before moving on to The Royal We audiobook.

My husband record shopping at Steady Sounds. Taken by me on my Olympus XA2.

My husband record shopping at Steady Sounds. Taken by me on my Olympus XA2.

Have We Reached Peak Vinyl? My biggest complaint about this story is the layout and how it doesn’t seem to allow for photo credits. I want to know what record stores are pictured! This says a lot of the things about why I both hate and love the vinyl revival: it’s much easier to find things, and selling records helps support indie artists, but everything has gotten super expensive and the (also pricey) re-releases of things you can find in the $3 bin are clogging up all the vinyl presses. It makes sense that record labels and artists want to chase the money because of sluggish sales elsewhere, but massive delays (probably by big labels paying extra to put their releases ahead of indies) are causing my friends that run smaller labels to look to releasing music digitally, on cassette, or (gasp!) CD. Sadly, as someone who has collected records for 20 years, I’m actually looking forward to vinyl’s demise, as it means more stuff in the used bins for me!
What pop culture have you been getting into this week?

2 Comments

  1. I think you can safely cross Rectify off your list or at least move it down. It’s good, but just gets very repetitive and boring after a while.

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