Saturday, February 11, 2006

Every Time You Close Your Eyes

Calum Marsh

Sometimes you have to work hard to get the most out of music. There are artists who strive to make interesting and dynamic music artfully, and that often implies a certain degree of work on the part of the listener. Most music, though, doesn't require this kind of challenge - 95% of indie is on cruise control, doing the majority of the work for you. Sure, it can sound weird, but it's still generally pleasurable. As much as general indie music is independent from mainstream pop, it's built on the same premise: listen and enjoy. That's not to say that easily-enjoyed music is simple or in any way less important - art doesn't necessarily imply difficulty - but the kind of enjoyment you get from hearing indie rock compared to say, Noisecore, is considerably different.

It's all too easy to neglect challenging music, which may be why so many do. Perhaps part of the reason people are so often apprehensive is the degree of attention required: ideally when listening to a record, you're just listening to that record, nothing else. Unfortunately this isn't always possible - people have things to do, and finding the time (or space, if you live with loud roommates or just plain don't have a private spot for listening) to sit down and devote an hour to an album just can't happen often, if at all. A lot of music doesn't require total devotion, and though it might be a better experience to be fully attentive, it works quite well as a soundtrack to whatever it is you're doing. For instance, Le Tigre or The Go! Team would sound great over drinks with friends, and driving home to Broken Social Scene would sound just fine.

The same can't be said for more difficult material. You can't exactly throw on a Sunn-0))) record and expect instant satisfaction. There are no sing-along choruses or danceable rhythm sections. There are no clever lyrics or tracks built as singles. Your friends would probably think you're insane if you tried scoring your parties with The Black Dice, and you would surely cause a car accident if you drove home to Wolf Eyes. That kind of music requires 100% attention and devotion, preferably in an otherwise silent place (or with high-quality headphones) where you won't be easily distracted. If you really let yourself in to these albums - like really let yourself devour the music - there's a hell of a lot you can get out of it.

As much as people comfortable with "normal" music steer clear of dangerous new territory, those completely immersed in the heavier stuff tend to blow off anything that isn't weird as too easy to bother with. This is a mistake, too, because even the most straight-forward indie rock can be (and often is) rich and rewarding in its own way. The pretentions that develop as a result of understanding and appreciating difficult music keep the two types of listeners seperate and allientated from one another - those who listen to one style avoid the other, and vice versa. But the sides don't need to be so far apart. Both styles of music have much to offer, and though the way in which the music is rewarding differs depending on the artistic style, the degree to which the listener is rewarded is frequently the same.

To distinguish between these artistic styles, I've chosen two artists who fairly-accurately represent the two sides. The Lovely Feathers, a light indie rock group from Montreal, and Liars, a...well, you have to hear them.Metric might have been a better choice for the easy-pop style. Their music isn't challenging or difficult, but it's frequently rewarding despite being immediately pleasurable. Of course, there are a million and one artists making incredible music that fits the bill, but I chose The Lovely Feathers specifically because, while they're fun and enjoyable at first, they don't particularly stand up to multiple listening or careful digesting. Mind you, they don't need to stand strong in that sense: they're not trying to make deep and profound music, just fun indie rock. They do that well, and there's certainly nothing wrong with aiming for something and pulling it off. Remember, I'm not trying to advocate that difficult music is better music, just that it can be just as rewarding but in different ways.

I first heard The Lovely Feathers at a disappointing Metric concert in the fall, but I enjoyed their set enough to pursue an album. The recordings felt a bit watered down in comparisson to their live show, but for the most part it was still pretty enjoyable. The album is fairly old, which leads me to believe (hope?) that their live show is a more accurate indication of where their music is going - if this is in fact the case, their next album might be fairly solid.

As for Liars, you may well have already heard of them. They're gaining the same kind of infamous reputation that Xiu Xiu did a few years ago - releasing, um, interesting music that is too alternative for even the alternative crowd, generally acting mysterious or obnoxious or just plain weird, that sort of thing. And, like Xiu Xiu, critics aren't really sure what to think. Some people say "genius", others say "boring". It's your call, I guess. I personally like it a lot, but my stance on weird music has already been made clear.

The Lovely Feathers - Orchids
The Lovely Feathers - Photocorners
The Lovely Feathers - Icebergs
The Lovely Feathers - Force Fire Force
Liars - It Fit When I Was A Kid
Liars - The Wrong Coat For You, Mt. Heart Attack
Liars - Be Quiet, Mt. Heart Attack!
Liars - It Fit When I Was A Kid (Don't Techno For An Answer Remix)

The Lovely Feathers - My Best Friend Daniel
Liars - They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top
Liars It Fit When I Was A Kid EP

Comments on "Every Time You Close Your Eyes"


Anonymous rollins said ... (13/2/06 8:54 am) : 

this makes me laugh


Blogger jspaceman said ... (14/2/06 2:46 pm) : 

Thanks for that remix! I've been loving the new album and posted about it myself today on my blog. Good stuff.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (15/2/06 12:01 am) : 

I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's not everyone's cup of tea, apparently (cough, casey, cough).


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (17/2/06 4:11 pm) : 

Godspeed, Rollins.


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