For the week of 4/15/2013…

“Moves” by the New Pornographers

So earlier this week a friend and I paid a late-night visit to our campus’s student-run coffee house.  The folks behind the counter were playing a mix which featured a lot of music from around the time of our senior year in high school, including songs from Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca,* Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, as well as stuff Hillary was into at the time (e.g. Beirut).  Hearing such things made me a bit nostalgic and inspired me to revisit one of my own touchstones from that time, the New Pornographers’ underrated 2010 album, Together.  My first encounter with this celebrated Canadian band’s excellent power-pop came in 2005, when I heard the then-new Twin Cinema for the first time.  I was impressed with the distinctive sound of the New Pornographers’ harmonies and the instant accessibility of their songs.

(To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I got into my first indie bands, as a middle-school kid whose music taste largely skewed towards the ’50s and ’60s, with early rebelliousness translating into adoration of Audioslave, Green Day, the Killers, Velvet Revolver, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium.**  I have some idea of how I got into grunge music for the first time:  After first rocking out to Audioslave’s Out of Exile, Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor, and Pearl Jam’s 2006 self-titled album, I followed the obvious threads deep into the catalogues of Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and a host of other grunge bands.  But indie music?  I bought Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous and Arcade Fire’s Funeral in 2004, and heard Twin Cinema in 2005.  I genuinely cannot remember how that came about.  I do recall reading some dumb magazine article around that time which tried to conflate a whole bunch of bands from all over Canada into some kind of a scene, the New Pornographers and Arcade Fire included.  Then again, Hot Hot Heat was also featured in that article, and I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything by them, so….)

Anyway, at this point please allow me to end my digression, and to apologize for spending this post about the New Pornographers by primarily writing about irrelevant quasi-nostalgia.  The point is that the New Pornographers’ Together is a great indie-rock album which makes terrific use of the band’s harmonies, hooks, and musical talent.  The rich-sounding “Moves,” which leads off the album, is driven by a slicing cello and remains one of my favorite songs that came out while we were in high school.  Until this week, however, I hadn’t seen the amusing and fairly star-studded music video, which doubles as a faux trailer for a fake movie called Moves:  The Rise and Rise of the New Pornographers.  Check it out.

*Regarding Bitte Orca, somehow I was exposed to that album in high school, but never followed up on it.  I basically forgot that the Dirty Projectors existed until Chris showed me Swing Lo Magellan last fall, and I’ve subsequently revisited “Stillness Is the Move” et al. to find them more familiar than anticipated.

**I don’t mean to imply that those music choices are, you know, total garbage.  I still like Stadium Arcadium better than any other RHCP album; I still listen to Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town without a trace of irony; and while I no longer adore Audioslave, I still think that they get a bad rap and ultimately have a superior body of work compared to Rage Against the Machine.  As for Green Day, well, American Idiot was one of the biggest albums of the 2000s, whether you like it or not; and, through their earlier work, they served as a gateway band for me as I proceeded to dive into a world of better punk rock and better alternative rock.  However, stepping out of the apologist role, I am mildly embarrassed to own both Velvet Revolver albums but only one by G’n’R, that the first concert film I bought was Audioslave Live in Cuba, and that I followed up my purchase of Dookie with Warning instead of Insomniac.  What was I thinking?!

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