14 June, 2009

Just a quick thing on The Afghan Whigs.

You know who I still love? The Afghan Whigs.
Now you're going to have to bear with me here because insomnia has my ass wolloped. Last I saw the clock it was close to 0400 and after that I was waking up in fifteen to thirty minute intervals until I had to get up at 0700. Wonderfreakinful.
Anyhow, throughout the waking portions of the night, ye olde mental jukebox is playing one song on a constant loop, and that song was The Afghan Whigs' "Debonair". Holy hot tuna melt, is that ever a great song. Released on the Gentleman LP, there were only two other singles from that record, the oft-heard brain-shattering title track and another song called "What Jail Is Like" that I've never heard.
The point is, though, that these guys were nucking futs. Just from the two singles that I did hear when I was thirteen, I could sense that there was something darker going on than in most of the so-called alternative rock that was making its way onto the FM stations. Sure you had (Can we not bring them up again?) Nirvana and Pearl Jam who were kind of dark and Nine Inch Nails who were not fucking around with the whole dark thing but The Afghan Whigs were playing almost completely in romance, psychosis, R&B music, and what sounds to me like elements of Arthur Rimbaud's poetry.
The Afghan Whigs - Black LoveEventually, I wound up with a copy of Black Love which, according to Wikipedia (bastion of knowledge that is), was supposedly Greg Dulli's attempt at writing the soundtrack for a film noir flick. (Wait. Is that redundant?) The movie fell through and Dulli still had all the songs so he took 'em to the band and that's (apparently) the story behind this record.
Black Love is not at all a straight-forward record in terms of genre, instead it's a sweeping testament to love and loneliness, anger and violence hidden inside. "Crime Scene, Part One" starts the record with slow build up rather than a blasting kick off. With barely audible strains of organ that increase in volume until a the big moment where everything just comes in with what can only fittingly be described as a feminine ferocity in the context of a hymn.
Later on the record, "Step Into The Light" is a quiet moment among the ruckus created on the rest of the LP, the kind of love song you sing to a burn victim. The kind of things you say to cajole your lover to come to you, to dance, not so much for lusting reasons. It's a song of devotion. Gentle moments created with a memorable melody and a tasteful amount of echo, a guitar and a voice not belting it out or crooning the words, but nearly whispering them, a lullaby. OK, you know Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You"? Yeah, that's kind of the right direction but it still has nothing on "Step Into The Light".
Has Charlie gone a big soft one on y'all? What happened to all the vicious, noisy clamor he normally tells you to listen to? Lately it's all about this romantic junk.
Well, my little illiterati, one can not divine sustenance from noxious noise and atonal caterwauling alone, musical tastes flux like ebb and tide. Think of how boring it would be if all I ever wrote about was how great Oxbow is. (Still awesome.)
Lately, I swear I don't know what's wrong with me. But I get to thinking about all of the love that I've lost and there are records that mark these points. The initiations, the commencements, the romances that are gone and I'm sorry to have seen go, the ones I regret letting go of and the ones that I understand weren't ever meant to happen. I can think back to pathetic fifteen year old foul ups, drunken twenty one year old one night stands, misguided mid twenties stabs at domesticity. It's been on my mind, lately, OK? Look, I told you from the get-go that I'm running on less than three hours of sleep and anybody who reads this blog can tell you that my life is in shambles. Right now, I reserve the right wax reminiscent about some great old record from 1996 that inexplicably fits my mood.

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