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I make Colin Meloy sound like Norman Mailer…

August 1, 2008

…according to a review in Exclaim! magazine, that is. Not sure who the boy in the picture is, though.
For the record, I’m collecting links to reviews and other such matters in the “Other people’s opinions” page, clickable above. At the risk of sounding like some kind of no-good narcissist, I do find the collection of reviews of The Spirit Salon quite interesting. I’ve certainly got a much better idea of what that record’s about, now that a bit of time has passed since its completion (which should leave me well-placed to write the inevitable review of my reviews, in a couple of months’ time). The main point on which reviewers seem to disagree is whether my “literary airiness” (as Exclaim! call it) is a good thing or not. Toronto’s Eye Weekly, for instance, found the album to be far too much of a mannered performance, which is strange, because my one great regret about The Spirit Salon is that it’s perhaps not quite mannered enough.

I’ll save my most obscene affectations, then, for my end-of-summer (and pre-birthday) performance at The Drake. I’m playing with Olenka & the Autumn Lovers, on the 28th of August. I saw Olenka play with her large surporting cast of brass and string and percussion-players a few months ago, and I enjoyed her Polish emigre folk songs very much.

And I have to confess, another thing that I’m looking forward to is the venue itself — at least, the large uncluttered stage and the loud, reliable sound system. I make a point of mentioning this because you’ll find plenty of suspicion or outright hostility directed at the Drake from certain sections of Toronto’s music community. Leaving aside the accompanying issues of gentrification and drink prices, I’ll just say this: that on the whole I find “hip” North American types to be completely class-unconcious. This is in equal parts a relief and a frustration. It does mean, though, that any notions of “class” in relation to art (grungy, scruffy, hipster garage-rock bands, dressed as blue-collar workers from the American 70s) are mistakenly concerned with the entirely meaningless idea of aesthetic “authenticity”. Working class music halls didn’t aspire to be dingy, grotty little holes, did they? They were made to look as falsely splendid, as splendidly false, as possible. Because any history of working class art will be, by and large, a story of self-elevation, not self-denigration. The whole confusion over “authenticity” only happens when the majority of people making who make up an artistic community are (and with shame and shyness I include myself in this) worryingly classless.

What do I do with that shame? I create a music as mannered as possible, believing this to be the only honest thing to do. And a venue like the Drake, for better or worse, is as mannered as I am. So come see me celebrate my birthday by refining myself to death onstage, leaving only thin air and a lingering sense of public dishonesty.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Virginia permalink
    August 1, 2008 7:21 pm

    Dear Idle Tigers,

    I’ve contacted Exclaim! and they will be changing the photo of “girl with guitar” with a press photo I sent them (album cover without text). I hope this doesn’t cause any identity issues… I more so hope it resolves them.

    Fondest regards,
    Virginia

  2. August 2, 2008 10:22 am

    Continuing on the topic of photos, how very strange it was to read the scenepointblank review and find one of my photos right in the middle of it! A bit thrown, a bit flattered. How did the reviewer get it? (I thought I had only posted it on my photo journal. But perhaps I gave you a copy … ?)

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