A little New Age rock criticism on a Sunday
Bebe likes to dance in the living room with us in the morning, and today we put on the new Broken Social Scene record. As we're headbanging, I say, "Bebe, mama likes this because it reminds me of the Afghan Whigs." Eric says, "But the song is named after Pavement." And I think about the boyish rock that travels the channel between head and groin, in one direction or another, and how the chakra from which an artist's music emanates (to use a metaphor Paul Williams would enjoy) defines his place in history. Pavement got to the power chakra by way of the throat. Call it mining the mind of the gut. The Whigs bounced between the root chakra and the water chakra -- between survival and sex. BSS, at first listen, seems to be going from brow to heart and back, believing in romantic compassion as a source of vision. Love us, their music says, and we'll save you.
For those of you not totally repulsed by my playing around with spiritual language, let me elaborate and clarify. Music is movement, right? It vibrates from instrument to air to body and shakes the molecules along the way. The whole chakra thing is just a way to talk about where in his body/mind a person might feel confident and expressive. White-boy groove, I think, is vertical: there's an urge to ascend, to intellectualize maybe or to gain power, that makes this music flow in an upward direction. (Stop with the viagra jokes please.) Another word for this might be GRANDIOSITY, which we think of as a bad thing but which in fact can be quite magical when made musical. So Pavement was slyly grand, heady as hell but with an repulsive/irresistible sense of self-assurance; the Whigs were, in fact, all about that buzz in the groin, but they rode it into abstraction. BSS -- are they trying to be prophets? Is that rush I feel when I put on the new record their arrogance? Or have they really opened something up in themselves, and in their audience?