Songs of the Week 08/12/2022 (Coming to you from 08/19/2022)

Hey everyone, it’s me, back at it with the time travel. Sorry again for the inconsistency— I think I made a New Year’s resolution to not be like this at some point, maybe a couple resolutions ago, but I’m still working on it. Life has been unexpectedly hectic this week and it may continue to be for as long as the next two months, but I will try to return to regular posting as soon as I can— I want to, but there isn’t always time. Anyways, blah blah blah, songs, here we go:

ONE RAINY WISH | The Jimi Hendrix Experience Jimi Hendrix, right? Like, I mean, what else is there to say?

….

Okay, so I do have things to say, my opinions are unbridled, unbound, and just as pretentious, but it’s called Max Todd Dot Com for a reason. Nobody has to brace this time, though, because like all of Jimi’s discography, I have nothing but praise for this song. I think despite the sweeping emotion behind all of his work, some of his (incredible) harder rock shares space on the Venn diagram with a lot of other macho classic rock, where it’s just about wild and loud and crunchy guitar riffs, which I think can be a little reductive. Again, don’t get me wrong, the wild and loud and crunchy guitar doesn’t get any better than when Jimi does it, but I can imagine fans of something like his “All Along the Watchtower” cover being a bit put off by the slower, sweeter start of this song. While he pulls this off on its own, if you keep listening past the first minute, a triumphant chorus kicks in— a real knock-your-socks-off declaration that never fails to surprise me. As is par for the course, “One Rainy Wish” is a beautiful experience that’s always worth coming back too.

NOT A LOT, JUST FOREVER | Adrianne Lenker Once again, the brain pinball that lead to this choice is pretty clearly transparent, but I want to give my girlfriend credit for this one once again. Last week’s Big Thief pick sent her into an Adrianne Lenker solo music rabbit hole, which sent me into an Adrianne Lenker solo music rabbit hole, and if you’re not already taking shots every time I say “Adrianne Lenker,” then you absolutely should be to get through this song. Remember how I said the sadness of Big Thief’s earlier albums makes them difficult to listen to? Well, so, yea, that’s actually just Adrianne (Lenker, for those taking shots), but damn, she’s good at sad folk songs. It’s not often that a wavering voice and a sad acoustic guitar can carry a song in my experience, but the poeticism of this song alone could lift it above the crowd— and that’s not even mentioning Adrianne Lenker’s one-of-a-kind voice, which can only be described as Adrianne Lenkeresque. In all seriousness, though, this song already packs a punch for how soft it sounds, which only hits harder on repeat listens. Like much of Adrianne Lenker’s work with Big Thief, it’s carried by deceptively simple lyrics that convey both deeply personal and almost dreamlike imagery. It’s wonderfully emotional music, but if you’re not in a spot to process that sort of thing (I know I frequently am not), then thankfully, the next song on the album is a lot more fun.

FIGHT | The Cure By the internet’s diagnosis, just letting my love for The Cure slip through the cracks makes me a male manipulator— and that’s before I’ve even talked about Radiohead or Car Seat Headrest or Tame Impala yet (I’m really rolling belly up here)— but they don’t call it Max Todd Dot Com for no reason. So, I’m just gonna say it: the Cure is just the best, full stop. Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is one of my undisputed favorite albums of all time easily— top 20 for me (and that’s saying something with the kind of indecision I bring to the table)— in part because of the incredible range it displays, all while remaining undeniably the Cure. It’s full of bittersweet yearning, rumbling despair, and ecstatic pop, and every song in this symphony is a heavy hitter. I’d be sultan of the snobs if I labeled this a criticism, but as crazy as it sounds, the album is almost too good. Jumbled between back-to-back icons (The Kiss, Catch, Why Can’t I Be You?, Like Cockatoos, to name just a few), some songs that would be standouts in any other context just sink into the crowd. This week’s pick, “Fight,” is one such drowned gem— a grim, synth-y march that closes the album. It’s a militant punctuation that stands out from other of the Cure’s last songs— it’s somewhat more defiant, and defies the standard feeling that something is still swimming beneath the surface. And at the risk of closing this review with something unnervingly hokey, I can’t help but think of reexamining albums as a reminder to value the little things in life. Our experience of the world is complex, and while some bright and beautiful things receive ample fanfare, I’ve found lately that just light, or temperature, or the smell of the air does just as much of the heavy lifting. Don’t be afraid to try the songs you’ve forgotten, and don’t be so cynical about smelling the flowers.

DIGGING IN THE DIRT | Peter Gabriel Speaking of art that can be many things, Peter Gabriel’s masterful “Digging in the Dirt” is a powerhouse in that department. I’m man enough to admit I’m fully in my Peter Gabriel era, but I’ll stand by this being some of his best work: it’s a pop song, it’s poetry, it’s an examination of psychoanalysis that doesn’t stray away from the ugly; it’s all this and so much more. Having been raised by a Jungian Analyst, I’ve resonated with this way of thinking since I could first talk about my dreams, and as I grow, so does this resonance. Maybe that’s why such a deceptively simple image— “digging in the dirt / to find the places we got hurt”— packs such a potent punch. While it first evokes the emotional drudgery in the thick of analysis, knee-deep in the muck of tangled trauma, it could just as harmoniously be describing running your fingers through the soil in which you first grew, reconnecting with your roots, and perhaps even brushing up against some deeper, fossilized truth buried beneath the boundary between individuals. Anyone can go wild with interpretations (I think it’s encouraged), but ultimately, this song brushes up against something deep within me, and it hits differently with each listen. One day it’s a catchy, funky rock song with an ear worm baseline, the next it’s a wakeup call that moves me to tears with powerful imagery like “don’t talk back / just drive the car / shut your mouth / I know what you are” (I’m having a moment, okay?). No matter how it resonates with you, this song is worth feeling.

PONDEROSA | Tricky For as much as I’m a Massive Attack fan, I’m actually a total trip-hop amateur, so when I first heard Tricky, I couldn’t help compare the two. The similarities are undeniable— their hip-hop influences are both twisted into something delightfully more discordant, and the nasally, cockney vocals certainly don’t hurt either. When it comes to being Massive Attack, Tricky just doesn’t make the cut— to me, nothing I’ve heard in his discography can match the moody, rich atmosphere that seems to follow Massive Attack wherever they go. But this is no way to listen to music, and I realized embarrassingly recently that judging Tricky only by his ability to be Tricky would probably be a much more enjoyable experience for all parties involved (not to scare any of you foaming Max Todd Dot Com fans, but he’s one of my most aggressive groupies). What I first interpreted as sparseness appears to actually be Tricky’s signature, skeletal sound, evocative of rotting, stripped-down machinery still churning away in some old, autumnal factory (that may just be the album art seeping into my listening experience, but I like to think the two sound and look alike). “Ponderosa” captures this perfectly, and stood out as my undisputed favorite from the classic album Maxinquaye. My girlfriend always says I like clunky noises, and I’d say I’m guilty as charged, especially after noticing the huge smile I get every time this song starts. Between discordant piano, tv squealing, slurred vocalists, and an almost marimba-esque percussion that I can’t totally place, this song is a perfect, stoned collage of industrial and and wooden sounds. Re-reading all of this purple prose, none of it sounds all that flattering, but it’s genuinely one of my favorite sounds— successfully experimental, unlike my writing.

Gotta say, I’m nailing the transitions this week, because this is not only successfully experimental, but it’s also, um, dark red? Yang Shaobin’s Untitled (1999-4), once again from the Denver Art Museum’s excellent Disruption exhibit (which I cannot speak highly enough about), depicts… well, something? Arguably five figures span this piece, all sewn together like some tumorous, biological mistake— a bleeding, biting, worm of flesh that may hate itself, but may not even understand its own agony. Ideally, this shouldn’t be a vibe-setter for the coming week, but I’ll do my best and you do yours. See you hopefully next week, my human centipedes.

3 comments

  1. emilyclaireynolds · August 19

    Senpai noticed me twice in one post uwu

    • maxtodd · August 19

      This isn’t just my reputation on the line with this comment… it’s ours

  2. peter gabriel summer

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