!!!, “Louden Up Now”
While tales of how she and her MG terrorized Benny Profane piqued my interest in the first chapter, my fascination with Rachel Owlglass began in the second sentence of the second chapter of V:
An hour or so later, Rachel Owlglass, Profane’s Rachel, passed by the spot they’d abandoned, on her way home. There is no way to describe the way she walked except as a kind of brave sensual trudging: as if she were nose-deep in snowdrifts, and yet on route to meet a lover. She came up the dead center of the mall, her gray coat fluttering a little in a breeze off the Jersey coast. Her high heels hit precise and neat each time on the X’s of the grating in the middle of the mall. Half a year in thei scity and at least she had learned to do that. Had lost heels, and once in a while composure, in the process; but now could do it blindfolded. She kept on the grating just to show off. To herself.
Whoah. Trucking down the street, heels hitting the X’s of the grating perfectly with every step. That image really stuck with me, and once I found out that Ms. Owlglass was 4’10”, I became obsessed with meeting a 4 foot 10 person, just to get an idea of exactly how small that is (I’ve yet to really meet a Four Tenner, though I think I saw one at a bar once. If you know anyone that short, please let me know.) Anyway, this weekend I realized what it sounds like when Rachel Owlglass performs her sensual trudge, it sounds like !!!’s album “Louden Up Now”, particularly, it sounds like the intro to their “hit” “Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard (A True Story)”—all throb and pulse and struggle and get down now.
Typically, nothing can make me less interested in a band than hearing high praise for their bassist or their level of “funk” especially if I’m being told it’s some sort of post-punk band that’s “teaching kids to dance again” with their funky sound—and that’s exactly the sort of press !!! gets. (Oh yeah, the sticker on the CD and the articles on the internet all say !!! is pronounced “chk chk chk”, but the important thing about their name is that it is un-Googleable, and that trips up the internet research a bit.) But life has thrown me stranger curveballs than the discovery that I dig !!! and that “Louden Up Now” makes great headphone adventure music, a perfect library stack or supermarket aisle browsing soundtrack. As the tracks of the disc go by, the strum and thunk of the band and the cooing and purring of the singer all blend together into one viscous, well, punk-funk success story that I can’t be mad at, so, hey, maybe you won’t hate it either.
But, seriously, earlier I would have wagered it was as likely that I would like !!! as I would like an Eddie Vedder side project.
The Fall, “50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong”
I became aware of the Fall back in 1996 when a Maximum RocknRoll writer praised Thee Headcoats’ “In Tweed We Trust” for sounding like them. Well, as I’m an unconditional devotee of Thee Headcoats (and anything else Billy Childish has had anything to do with), I made it a point to get my hands on something by this “Fall” and find out about them right away. Well, just eight short years later I scored a copy of their new double-disc “Greatest Hits” type of compilation, “50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong” (I scored a copy, sans-packaging, for $3.99 at Other Music—and they say there aren’t any deals to be had in New York City) and here’s the verdict: Thee Headcoats don’t sound like the Fall and the Fall don’t sound like Thee Headcoats, but forilla gorilla, this record kicks. How many bands must there be out in the world that I continue to neglect (or not even know about) who have been around for ages and rock so hard? It’s like how I only just found out about the Modern Lovers back in January and now I need them like I need the Velvet Underground or the Slits, or, yes, Billy Childish.
But anyway, after spending a weekend listening to the Fall, it feels like I’ve been listening to them for my entire life. And I’ll tell you the astounding thing about this compilation: typically, when you deal with compilations from bands who have been together for decades, it’s safe to expect their “later years” stuff to be crap (consider your 2Tone records compilations or your Beach Boys Greatest Hits stuff)—but here’s the thing, the back end of the second disc of this set is as hot as the front end of the first disc and both discs just get better and better as I listen to them more and more. I hope I secretly have had a friend who knows lots about the Fall and can tell me which one of their records I need to fill out my Fall experience, because these guys are prolific—stepping into them is like discovering you like a fellow named Tom Waits and heading to the music store to pick up one or two records to know everything about him.
Could Rachel Owlglass be the reason behind my fascination with Sarah Lewitinn? Probably.