Sunday, November 29, 2009

Have you heard the new Robyn Hitchcock?

It’s called Goodnight Oslo. I’ve been listening to it a little bit over the weekend. I’m by no means a strict proponent of skill and craft in popular music, this one is so beautifully, intelligently made that it makes you wonder about all that substandard dreck floating around in the blogosphere.

You know about Hitchcock from the Soft Boys, but you might not know that his band, the Venus 3, is made up of Scott MacCaughey, Peter Buck and Bill Rieflen…all serious musical threats on their own terms (except, perhaps, for MacCaughey, who is very good, but hardly ever serious about anything).

Here’s a video of the title track, performed at the Austin City Limits Festival this fall.

Oh, I never closed the loop on Jay Reatard, but he was very, very good – in fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone who was so completely out there. He’s also, in some way, really reserved, I don’t think you could see more than a fifth of his face the whole show because of the hair in it, and he doesn’t banter at all. But the songs were totally intense, one after another, no breaks (like the Ramones), starting with material from Blood Visions and proceeding more or less chronologically through the In the Red singles, the Matador singles and finally this year’s Watch Me Fall. He had three different guitars, which seemed to be matched to three different sets of songs, a flying wedge electric for the Blood Visions stuff, a plugged in acoustic for the Matador singles and another electric for the end. The crowd was really, really young because Who Shot Hollywood had opened (average age maybe 17?) and brought all their friends, so it was very high energy down near the stage and absolutely exhilarating. If you get a chance, go see him. This was one of the best concerts I’ve been to all year.

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