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September 22, 2004

MethFM: The New Rock Alternative.

And Loftus smiled ruefully as the boundaries of his fief grew bigger.

I've started writing for the Detroit alt weekly Metro Times. This week is my big debut, with pieces on Björk's Medúlla and Manson's greatest hits thing. Guðmundsdóttir and Manson - big time s&msuality.


Over at Pitchfork, there's reviews of Har Mar Superstar's Handler, as well as When I Said I Wanted to be Your Dog by Jens Lekman. "Do you miss the maudlin keyboard pacing and foofy harmonica sound of 1985 soft-rock, best typified by "That's What Friends Are For"? Then by all means, invest some time in The Handler's "Sugar Pie"." Needless to say, I didn't like Har Mar's album. It just irritated me. The kid's got some talent, as "Back the Camel Up" and some eariler efforts have proved. But he can't keep releasing the same jokey album year after year and not expect to be called on it. Har Mar's guest shot on Northern State's All City was one of the best things about the album, no question. But it was also only for three minutes.

"Apparently Canada is full of spunky teenage girls with kicky names and brash fashion sense, ready and waiting to trick out their diary entries with professional mixing and the ragged ring of loud guitars..."[But] instead of playing rebel, [Skye Sweetnam] wants a widescreen teen movie rewrite of 21st century real life." This is the abstract of how I feel about the moppetish Sweetnam, who despite the suspect back story and cows to Sassy Teen Singer brand positioning (read: everyone from Katy Rose to Katie Melua) has made a record that's fun, relentlessly melodic, and even - goddamnit - reassuring. "Feel for once what it's like to rebel now", Sweetnam sings in the irrepressibly hooky "Billy S." It's a generic teenage daydream, a squeaky clean take on the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right". But "Billy" allows for the same rush of what-the-fuck hedonism, that flush of endorphins that encourages the tagging of park benches and skipping of shifts or school. For Sweetnam and her principal demographic, the song encapsulates adolescence in a cheeril-colored teen comedy storyboard. ("And suddenly Amanda Bynes is signing on to star...") But for all of us out of school and grazing the cube farm pastures, it offers a glimmer of winking rebelliousness on a cloudy monday morning. Put "Billy S." on your iPod, and try to resist pantsing the uptight attorney next to you on the train.


"Gary Wilson is a geek-funk lethario...a lonely guy busting snarky, R-rated pickup lines on a cardboard cutout of Joan Crawford in his parents' basement." Mary Had Brown Hair, his first all-new material since an all-hipster-hands-on-deck search in the early 2000s (Beck, Peanut Butter Wolf, etc.), is really no different than his late seventies output. Really - it's no different. It's tarnished chintz-funk, fantasy-pop made by a man bursting with ideas and an embattled libido relationship. "Mary Had Brown Hair is an unpredictable and thrilling teeter of nightmare and wet dream. It might be Gary Wilson's official return to our world, but it's clear he's still living deep inside his own."

Life can still be a chromium bitch. But it's nice to think about a phantom juice bar floating in the sixth dimension, accessed through a fireplace passageway in Marilyn Manson's study. He invites Björk, Sweetnam, and Wilson over for fondu, the flaming cheese goes to their heads, and before we know it they're all flying past Zog and through the front door of Space Julius. There they speak candidly about life and love. Wilson looks over his glasses at Skye, but one smoldering glance from Marilyn and he behaves himself. Meanwhile Sweetnam feeds Björk some mangos, and the beautiful enigma smiles from where she sits under the table. All is right with the world. It's fall, better records are here, and we can use them for brief escapes to a world without bullshit. And feel for once what it's like to rebel now.

I'm Johnny Loftus and I approved this sandwich.


Posted by Johnny Loftus at September 22, 2004 10:42 AM

Comments (1)

Although I'm sure you're well adjusted to it by now, Pitchfork inspires so much hatred. Heaven forbid you ever have anything meaningful to say about a genre. It's a damn shame.

Bear in mind though that the nearly 100% writer turnover since March is somewhat foreboding, and folks may begin to find chinks in the 'armor'.

But nevermind that: if you really want to laugh at my expense, search "batshit" and "pitchfork" and there you'll find the response to my Kevin Blechdom review.