of the Week [Recordings
of Indeterminate Origin]
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The New Pornographers
are a Vancouver group made up of A.C. Newman and a group of musicians
which include Neko Case and Destroyer's Dan Bejar. Their 2000 debut, "Mass
Romantic," and 2003's "Electric Version" (as well as Newman's 2004 solo
debut "The Slow Wonder") enjoyed wild critical and public acclaim.
Here are the songs played:
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Here are some comments on the new album by vocalist A. C. Newman:
"Twin Cinema": Vocalist A. C. Newman updated this Electric Version-era tune with new lyrics referencing his part-time home San Francisco, hoping that "San Franciscans will hoot and holler at the '16th and Valencia' line when we play it live."
"The Bones Of An Idol": This song originated as a result of a studio accident, in which MIDI drum sounds were replaced with piano notes. Newman started writing the song using the dissonant piano music as the bed, but when they didn't mesh, he dropped the original music and "started going in a pseudo John Cale-Eno direction, with the insistent piano and the man chorus at the end, though we later chickened out and added ladies."
"Use It": Newman points out that drummer Dahle used beats from Iron Maiden, Kiss's "Detroit Rock City", and Zep's "Fool In The Rain" to create this "Frankensteins monster". Lyric of the week: "Two sips from the cup of human kindness and I'm shitfaced."
"The Bleeding Heart Show": The coda of this song, which confirms Newmans long-suspected interest in the Zulu choral music Isicathamiya, is something he "had around for a while, and just needed a great song to go with it."
"The Jessica Numbers": Possibly Newman's favorite song on the album, as "it doesn't sound like any song I can think of, though Dan compared it to 'Jesus Christ Superstar', which is of course an incredible compliment."
"These Are The Fables": Newman says, "This one I like 'cause it's got, unintentionally, a little Jimmy Webb in it. It wouldn't have been that out of place on Thelma Houston's Sunshower or that Supremes album he wrote. It's also cool to have Neko sing something not like her previous lead vocals." Note the groovy piano/drum jam toward the end.
"Sing Me Spanish Techno": In which Newman tries to write a song with a ton of parts and an asymmetrical structure but still a pop song through and through. And succeeds. Title inspired by his girlfriend Amy, and, as he was reading Joseph Campbell's "Hero With A Thousand Faces" while writing it, "there are some veiled references about the hero's journey and different myths, bullshit like that."
"Falling Through Your Clothes": Newman and Collins (who Newman calls "the quiet backbone of the whole operation") found a shred of music from the Electric Version sessions - deemed too weird to develop for that album - and added some verses and gave it its own song. Newman thinks it sounds like proto-minimalist freak icon Moondog, but Newman is also stoned out of his gourd.
"Three Or Four": The length of this song is 3:04. Accidentally. Newman says that since recording the song, "3 or 4" has shown up everywhere: When do you want to meet? 3 or 4. How many days were you there? 3 or 4. He says, "This song started as a call to arms for some personal revolution, then it became a kind of drinking song." This is a Neko/Kathryn double lead vocal.
"Star Bodies": "Every album needs a song that's based on another one of our songs backwards," says Newman.
Originally the opening track, Newman felt it worked better as a closer:
"It had to be one or the other - it's too epic and strange to fit
anywhere else." He fears he cribbed the verse from that "Wars
Or Hands Of Time" song by '60s Aussie psych-rockers Masters Apprentices,
which is such an A.C. Newman thing to fear.
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