Day 243: The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

29 Oct

The Bleeding Heart Show

Sometimes, rarely, every now and then, infrequently, Canadians get something right.

I’ve got no excuse for not having listened to a New Pornos record before this.  They’ve played both Lollapalooza and three blocks from my house at a Northwestern University concert, released a couple of well-received records, and been the subject of all kinds of hype since I first really got into music.  It’s just a slip-up on my part, for which I apologize.  Hey, it’s not all bad, though—if I had done my indie homework in the past, you might very well be reading about some other band that only ten people and a few dogs have heard of, with songs that make you understand why.  Things could be much worse.

Twin Cinema is an all-around solid record.  Does it make any greatest-of-all-time lists of mine? Nein.  Will it receive any future spins from me?  Fer shizzle.  We all need some good old conventional indie pop in our lives, even if it is coming from north of the border.  Plus, Neko Case is in the band.  Considering that she has one of the greatest album covers in history, the Pornos get some major brownie points on that front.  No, the lyrics aren’t exactly what I’d call coherent, but as one astute Swole reader points out, lyrics can sometimes be “aesthetic,” and still “good.”  So no, I don’t really go “after picking the glass off the ground” or “after shaking the thing for a sound” (Sing Me Spanish Techno), but hey, it sounds cool.  Who am I to hate?


11 Responses to “Day 243: The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema”

  1. True Chops Strong and Free October 31, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Mr. Ear,

    Though I know that this post will cause your Uncle B. to leave his cave and unleash a stream of references to Anne Murray, Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé and perhaps (nuclear option) Céline Dion, I respectfully submit (we Canadians like to be polite) that overall Canada has been a force for musical good. As Exhibit “A” I present the CDs by Canadians about which you have blogged in your year-long voyage to boldly listen to CDs you had not listened to before (to paraphrase distinguished Canadian W. Shatner):

    – Braids
    – Chilly Gonzales
    – Crystal Castles (2x)
    – Fucked Up
    – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    – New Pornographers
    – Rural Alberta Advantage
    – Tegan and Sara
    – (sort of) tUnE-yArDs – the band was nurtured in Montreal. Doubts? Merrill Garbus: “I wouldn’t have a career if it weren’t for Montreal. I was a truly depressed 26-year-old living with my parents, and the light at the end of the tunnel was going to Montreal to play small shows at [places like] Café Dépanneur on Bernard. They were really moments of magic and beauty, I could cry just thinking about it. It’s been really hard for me to leave Montreal because I’ve had so much incredible support from people there. The creative scene is so alive all the time and that was really amazing.”

    Any of those CDs that you did not like? I think not.

    So enough with the knee-jerk diss Canada stuff. It is so South Park 2007. Beneath you. Wake up and smell the maple syrup.

  2. Yuanny Dollar October 31, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I think Mr. Ear is experimenting with his inner provocateur. He can’t really mean it. This post rips the Great White North and the next post rips the charming South, so Mr. Ear isn’t really leaving himself too many places to go.

    You are right. Many fine bands. Combined, they almost make up for Rush, but not quite.

    Like Mr. Ear, I would get a kick out of another Uncle B./Chopsy cross-border battle royale. And I still like Michael Buble’.

    As for The New Pornos, I think they’re a tad overrated, but I liked their set at Lollapalooza. The most overrated however is band member N. Case. She was brilliant, but began to believe her own hype and that was it. She needs a good, disciplined producer. Kelly Hogan 4ever.

  3. B. Frank October 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    The best thing ever to come out of Canadia is that game where bald toothless men slide on ice while whacking each other with sticks (sounds like gay porno). And, yeah, even #99 doesn’t make up for Rush. I DO love the national anthem, though: The Maple Leaf Rag. Of course, Scott Joplin was from Texas. Oh well…

  4. Yuanny Dollar November 1, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Some of those toothless men aren’t bald, they have really nice mullets. And you forgot to mention that a lot of them are named Renee.

    • Great White Chops November 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

      Are those the toothless men who chased B and J$ around the poutine stand in rural Québec? Remember, get the jersey over the guy’s head so you can pummel the midsection until the ref steps in.

  5. Yuanny Dollar November 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    I believe those gentlemen had mullets.

  6. Alex November 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I don’t need to say more than that Canada is big enough in the international music scene that bands from the Southern US and Northern Europe that see fit to name themselves after this country (Of Montreal and Boards of Canada respectively).

  7. Alex November 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    On a less defensive note, I’m glad you picked this album. “Use It” opens with my favourite lines ever and keeps the fantastic lyrics going for the whole song. Something about the words “Cat calls, through the night / and two chicks in the parking lot crack wise on the price of fame” gets me every time.

    Incidentally, if you enjoyed and do get a chance to see these guys, I highly recommend it. I saw them in April 2010 when they were touring Together and they put on a killer show. Opened with “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” a song I’d never appreciated enough till I found myself part of a jumping, elated crowd hearing it.

  8. Alex November 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Sorry to wreck your wall, but I keep seeing things to respond to. I have to agree that Neko, while talented, is probably the least interesting thing the band has to offer. Sure, her voice is gorgeous. But Carl has a modest charm when he sings and Dan’s slippery vocals are a delightful acquired taste. The band’s true gem, though, is the chronically underheard Catherine Caulder (better known as the girl singing Neko’s backup). She gets a lot more voice time in their first album, Mass Romantic, which is enough reason on its own to check that one out.

    I’d like to take you out of your indie-hate bubble. Having been a self-professed “Indie Kid” from the ninth grade onward, I hurt to see a genre that used to be so amazing reduced to a pejorative buzzword. Indie has suffered the fate of every good thing bold enough to rise up and be noticed: Mainstream attention, followed by catastrophic crap-dilution. It seems that every asshole with a guitar and three friends and his grandmother is out to put out the latest forgettable, snobbishly-titled Band of Horses ripoff album. Yet let’s not forget that Earworm “Pumped Up Kicks” takes a lot of its best queues from the Indie bands of the mid-2000s. Indie no longer means “underground” – it’s a genre, a distinctive sound, like Metal, Rock, Jazz or what have you. Though, as in any mainstreamed genre, it takes a lot of digging to find the bands worth noticing.

    The New Pornographers are one of a wealth of indie gems. You’ve positively reviewed a number of others, including Beach House, who have some very distinct indie sensibilities, Cut Copy, Metronomy, Beirut and the Flaming Lips. Modest Mouse and The Strokes, who you also liked, are probably the fathers of the indie rock of the 2000s. The Shins, with whom they’ve collaborated a lot (and who are, incidentally, my favourite band of all time), could be paired with Death Cab for Cutie as the parents of this generation of indie pop. Though they have their similarities, all of these bands are distinct and have put out excellent albums. Other notable include Fleet Foxes, whose self-titled LP is folk-inspired genius, and Wolf Parade, some home-grown Montreal talent whose unique vocalists and rocking electro sensibilities shatter the notion that indie is necessarily “boring”. I can’t forgo the obvious mention of Arcade Fire, who are the veritable kings of indie music right now.

    Finally, the Canadian government has issued multiple apologies for Rush.

  9. Yuanny Dollar November 2, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    I don’t really mind Neko as part of an ensemble, ala NP, but her solo albums are, at best, self-indulgent MOR dressed up as something more profound. She peaked with Tacoma on Furnace Room Lullaby, and then started believing what complete buffoons like Esquire Magazine and Sasha Frere-Jones (some day, look up his piece on Taylor Swift where he compares her songwriting to Bob Dylan and you will know a man who has lost any integrity and good sense) had to say about her. I once saw her play a bar in Chicago, completely drunk and with total disregard for her audience. Kelly Hogan came over to sing backup and it was pretty clear who had the talent and who had the hair and legs.

  10. B. Frank November 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Hair and legs. How’s bout them humps? She’s Fergalicious. Argument over. Go back to Canadia.

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