Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Chapter 1: Self-Titled

I would start this whole thing off with "The other day I..." but it wouldn't be anywhere near accurate, and precision is something I'm very serious about. Instead, I'll officially start my blog with the following:

Almost every time I leave my house, I walk. There are a handful of things I always keep in the pockets of my jeans. My phone is one of those things. I would estimate that roughly 85 percent of the times that I am walking the sidewalks of this giant city, the following phenomenon strikes with maximum confusion following in its wake:

Powering along, weaving in and out of the pedestrian traffic as if running a gnarly set of moguls, all the while building up a perilously high body temperature that will ensure a just-showered look as soon as I enter a building, I am most often completely oblivious to just about everything around me. That's the way I like it while walking the neighbourhoods I most often traverse in this city.

Wait! Something invades my banal glaze! Suddenly a vibration emanates from my left pocket. 'Tis some caller,' I mutter, 'buzzing at my pocket's core - Only this and nothing more.' I slow my upsettingly stormy gait in order to feed my hand to my pocket - something like forcing a triangle into a circle (no I don't wear girls jeans). Once inside, the activity turns to more of a dangle as I fish for my phone. I grasp it and obstetrically bare it to the bright gray of London. I feel it shudder.

But what's this? No caller, no text...not even a low battery! Sonofabitch! I've been Ghost Buzzed!

It must be some blend of psychotic power walk, construction activity, passing vehicles and the jarring pavement tactics of charity workers with terrifying and fake pot-of-coffee sized smiles. Either that, or it's a supernatural event unknowable to modern science and sadly commonplace to this young gentleman - Just a confusing though unremarkable mark on the timeline of his day.

Ghost Buzz was a short lived experiment in what was deemed the Alternative scene of the mid to late 1990s. Hailing from St Paul, Minnesota, they bridged the weird, undefinable and shitty musical gap between Sonic Youth and Hootie and the Blowfish but curiously managed to push the fashion envelope first opened by The Cure. For them, struggle was the watchword of their career but not because they were super hardcore or way before their time. Instead, it was due to constant derision by critics and fans alike who could never get on board with Ghost Buzz's bizarre alienesque mélange of 90s post punk and never appropriate but righteously hopeful jock-folk-rock. No one bought it, which didn't matter because lead singer (with lead charisma), Zap, funded the entire enterprise with his stepfather's fortune. The garbage just kept coming and coming somehow even regardless of label sabotage and numerous assassination attempts.

Finally, in 1998, the group disbanded amidst controversy that no one cared about and no one can remember now - Controversy can be strange that way. Like anything Courtney Love does.

Back in reality, it seems apropos to include in my first post a song that, while not currently responsible for the tinnitic buzz in my ears, is one I consider to be my favourite of all time. "Feel the Pain" by Dinosaur Jr. from their album Without a Sound

It may come as a surprise that Dinosaur Jr are the perpetrators of piece of recording I consider my all-time favourite. They aren't a band that I hold in particularly high esteem. I like some of their stuff - Probably a small percentage of their output. Still, their canon isn't what I'm interested in here. This song sums up so much of what I think is great about music and I suppose it's that talking to me when I hear it.

It's a simple tune - check. It's got an attitude problem - check. It laments both an acute awareness (doesn't really matter of what) and a sad numbness - check. It freaks out in spasms of choral frustration - check. J. Mascis can't sing to save his life but he does it anyway and the results are...awesome. He plays guitar like a video game freak who can get from A to B with gentle ease but who, when it comes to the Big Boss Man mashes the buttons and wins every time. The bass is perfectly distorted and every time the pick falls I confuse it for my heartbeat. In fact, I think that might be it. When I listen to this song, my heartbeat changes to its rhythm. You can't argue with that kind of effect.

My Friend Gordo (the Patron Saint of Patron Saints, as he's been called) after first hearing this song, said with a voice robbed of its characteristic timbre but flecked with a hushed respect, "this guy must be ugly as hell and fat as fuck." And he was right - Can't you hear it? Only the ugliest dudes make rock this willing to embrace sadness and toughness in one badly sung breath.

Plus, the song starts with the sound of a cork being pulled from a bottle - Probably a garbage red that tastes a bit going down like it would coming back up. Come on...too good.

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