Friday, July 11, 2008

WHAT'S NEW IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

In an effort to entertain myself -- and hopefully keep y'all remotely interested as well -- I'm gonna try something new here. I'd like to say this'll be a new running entry, but let's be honest. After the frequency of posting the last year or so I'm in no position to promise any entries at all, let alone those that "run." Nevertheless, the combination of a slightly-lessened workload and that summertime groove has me ready-to-write some days. So . . .

. . . in the effort to make like a blogger and put my thoughts down in the most random, disorganized style possible, I present The Big Threeâ„¢. Just three things, in the loosest sense of "things" possible, that I'm currently digging. That's it. You were expecting more? Sorry. Anyhow, let's get to it:

1. Kings Of Leon, Youth & Young Manhood: Now if this one doesn't mark forever just how disgracefully out-of-it and unhip I am, I'm not sure what will. This one came out in 2003 and, yes, I've just discovered it. But I like it, so that should give me some street cred, right?

No?

Whatever. So Neighborhood regular (and cranky & cantankerous commenter) Applesaucer has lent me a bunch of CDs over the last year, that I rip and load onto I-Tunes.

(See that? "Rip." "Load." "I-Tunes." I'm not as old & out-of-it as you thought. I'm with it, man. I even know what "e-mail" is.)

He's insisted that he's loaning me these discs in an effort to bring my musical tastes "into the 21st Century." Hey, fine by me. I've discovered some good stuff through this effort. Outrageous as it sounds, I owned no White Stripes, no Strokes, no Of Montreal, no Wolfmother, nor any of the other white boy music I've loaded up on lately.

So . . . I must have gotten Kings Of Leon onto the I-Pod months ago, but with over 6,000 songs on the contraption I can't really listen to everything. But I often listen to shuffle, and eventually I'll hear something new. And the other day I heard a kickin' little number, with a sharp, almost staccato guitar riff. Nice. But the groove was loose, almost sloppy. Got me shaking. And the singer's voice was shambolic, scratchy, nearly incomprehensible. But what I understood was wild. Stuff about dancing around in high heels, something about "your daughter." Vaguely transgressive, certainly "dirty."

And I liked it.

The name of the song is "Happy Alone," and the lyrics to the chorus go this way:
I'm gonna tangle my face hair, it's gonna tickle your daughter
3 o'clock and the moaning, they all cry to me,
I'll be prancin' around in my high heels, and your cherry red lipstick,
Look out your window I'm on your street.
Not really sure what that means exactly, but not too hard to get the general idea, in an impressionistic sense. And the song has exactly the sloppy-but-hard groove you'd expect from a band made up of three sons of a Southern preacher . . . and their cousin. Somehow, it's as if Faulkner's or Flannery O'Connor's vision of the South was distilled into a rock band. Let's put it this way, if the three "Kings" had a sister, she'd be a groupie in the band.

(Yes, that kinda groupie.)

They manage to sound salacious and shady, but there's a hint of the poetic. There's depth there. And since we're talking about sleazy rock n' roll, I have to add that they rock. Some have called them the Southern Strokes, ostensibly because of that sharp, thin guitar sound backing a charismatic, mumbling singer. That said, the Strokes wish they could rock this hard. Kings Of Leon have balls. Big balls.

In a way, they sound like what The Black Crowes are supposed to sound like. If the Brothers Robinson shaved off their shaggy hippy beards and drank Jack Daniels instead smoking weed, they might sound like the Kings Of Leon.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to checking out their next two albums. Which came out in 2005 & 2007, respectively. Hey, I'm old. I do things slower than "the kids." Moving along . . .

2. I've decided, after a year of respecting the twin constraints of monogomy & heterosexuality, to once again give in to the temptations of 2006 & early 2007. Yes, those of who who are longtime readers know of what I speak.

I've once again decided to ask Jose Reyes to marry me.

Look, I love Mrs. Mike very dearly, but despite important attributes & talents such as a loving heart, wicked cooking skills, and a vagina, she's terribly lacking in range up-the-middle, stolen base percentage, batting average with runners in scoring position, and triples as a left-handed hitter. Not to mention, her silly homerun dance flat-out sucks.

So even though Jose and I have been on the rocks for nearly a year now, I simply can't deny that underneath it all, I love him. Let the others say his "attitude" sucks. Let them say he makes too many errors. Let them say, goddamn it, that he hits too many fly balls. I say you don't deserve Jose!

And I also say: 319/385/505 with 53 runs and 30 RBI since the end of April (66 games). I also say 17 2B, 7 3B, and 7 HR with 30 BB in those 66 games. With 26 SB versus only 5 CS.

So I say, "Jose, will you marry me?" Let them scoff at me. Let them laugh at the guy who's married to a Korean woman and a Dominican man. Let them says I'm a polygamist, bisexual miscegenist. Let them say I'm little more than an online stalker. I don't care. My love is like teflon.

3. Prince Edward Island, Canada: As you may know, Mrs Mike and I recently vaca'd in Nova Scotia, aka, "The Whitest Place On Earth."

(That's why I didn't invite Jose.)

Anyhow, it's a cool place and we enjoyed ourselves, but the weather was pretty crappy and I don't have any good stories to tell. But . . . for two days in the middle of the trip we took the ferry to Prince Edward Island. It's a very beautiful place, with rolling farmland. Very green, and because it's an island (and a small one) you're always close to the water. Also, seems that in the early days the settlers cleared a lot of the forest, giving it some wonderful panoramas you don't otherwise get in Maine or Nova Scotia because there are so many trees.

Charlottetown, the capital "city" of PEI is a great little place. The area down by the harbor has a large number of old, red brick buildings that date from at least the early 19th century city, giving it the appearence that the oldest parts of NY or Boston have. Some nice bars and restaurants and damn-fresh seafood. I'm not a huge scallop fan, but the scallops in the Maritime Provinces are amazing -- sweet, tender, with no fishy smell whatsoever.

And, the most unexpected and possibly insane thing about PEI: the hoardes (and I'm not exaggerating) of Japanese tourists. Mostly female tourists, from young girls, through middle-aged women. Dozens and dozens and dozens. All over the island.

Seems that the Japanese are obsessed with the early 20th century novel, "Anne Of Green Gables." A novel written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, who grew up and wrote the book on Prince Edward Island. And on the north shore of the island, just down the road from Montgomery's grave sits . . . Green Gables. A small white house with . . . Green Gables.

(Whatever the fuck a gable is.)

And every year, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Japanese folk come to Prince Edward Island to visit Green Gables. I tell you, it's the damnest thing you've ever seen.

Anyhoo, we enjoyed the PEI leg of the trip very much. I recommend a visit for any of you who were thinking of taking some time to visit the cold, cloudy coasts of Canada's Atlantic shore.

And that's what I've been digging lately.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Applesaucer said...

"That said, the Strokes wish they could rock this hard. Kings Of Leon have balls. Big balls."

Hey now! That's uncalled for. Fighting words.

Applesaucer

8:42 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Ahhh, stop yer' moanin'. Julian will forgive you if you don't defend his honor.

And speaking of Big Balls, Caleb Followill sounds like Bon Scott on a few of the songs.

8:48 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Nova Scotia is on the list of places Mrs. DED and I are considering vacationing at for our 10th anniversary. So, thanks for sharing. :) I can add this bit of info into the decision making process.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Angelos said...

KoL are an astoundingly good band.

Do, do, DO get the other two, and absorb them into your system. You will become an addict.

And from what I've heard, the upcoming 4th album will put them to shame.

I am geeked beyond words.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

From what I've read, the 3rd album really seems like the one to get.

And the 4th album is coming soon, no?

3:22 PM  
Blogger Angelos said...

I think the third, Because of the Times, is the best by a small margin, but don't ignore Aha Shake Heartbreak in the middle there.

The new album is scheduled for 9/23.

Here are two songs:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=6SMQL233_sE
http://youtube.com/watch?v=uv1mspN7_IA

Holy fuck I can't wait two months. Talk about blue balls.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I like the second song quite a bit.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I am inspired to try this Kings of Leon of which you speak. I have never heard of them before...not unusual for a midwest dweller. We seem to get our music a few eyars late out here. So my lateness is compounded: you go into it late, wrote about it yet later, and now here I am finally reading this.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Angelos said...

Mike, I agree.

If 'Manhattan' sounds that good live of some guy's phone or some shit like that, I can't imagine what the "real" version would sound like.

Now, I'm a live music guy in a BIG way, but I also need the context. I mostly don't like hearing a song live first. I want to know what the song is. I want to know it inside and out. Then I want to experience the live, rough, balls-out interpretation.

I have to say though, Caleb sounds feee-fucking-nomenal live. That's some passion right there. I bet he has a tough time scoring groupies...

7:17 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

tough time scoring groupies

I'm sure there are a few Harems Of Leon around the world.

6:38 AM  
Blogger fridge said...

I fucking love Kings of Leon. They'd been on the outer edges of my music radar for a couple years. I think what finally urged me to try it was actually an angelos comment on a Toast poddery barn where he was orgasmic over them. I one-clicked them in iTunes on a whim.

Angelos is right, for my money, Kings of Leon are one of the best American Bands in YEARS. And the trajectory of the albums shows a lot of growth. The first is raw and energetic. By the third, there's a lot more polish to the sound. They're doing a good job of staying true to their sound and also not just putting out the same record. If you like the first, you'll like them all.

Didn't know about 9/23. it's on my calendar now.

11:14 AM  

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