Once, you and Tom Phillips, the painter, found some pianos. No one knows where they came from. Maybe you stole them. Maybe you conjured them. Maybe they were left in disgust by some rogue classicists fed up with diner food and the high price of what they called “petrol,” at least in Ipswich, England. You hauled these great wooden vessels up the dusty staircase of the school and you set them on their edge. You stared at them through the day, pondering. You stared at them through the evening, pondering some more. Then, you thought: “No, that’s not it.” READ MORE:natpo.st/YjxH06
Used to be bigger: They Might Be Giants They Might be Giants’ trademark sound was a bellwether of toy box rock, moving the yardage posts of cool music to include string quartets, vari-speed vocals, saxophones and children’s melodies. The great triumph of 1992’s Apollo 11, for instance, is the song Fingertips, which pastes together two dozen or so choruses to create an epic Frankensong, defying everything anyone ever learned in songwriting school. Part of the band’s charm was in marrying abstract art with a real sense of fun, pushing electronic Dadaism face-first into the playground sand.
But times change, and sounds change with the times. Brooklyn, for instance, was once the spiritual home of They Might be Giants, and if you haven’t been there in years, you wouldn’t recognize America’s largest borough, now latted with hipster parents and miles of restaurants too sparkly to enter. (Illustration by Jori Bolton)
Rock of Aged: Can Whitesnake push the embattled genre forward? Dave Bidini’s Record of the Month Club: Rock is very old. It is grey-bearded and doddering. Palsied. Broken out in sores. Rock — not to be confused with rock ’n’ roll, which is alive evermore — has largely descended into heart-sinking concert revues like the upcoming Frampton Comes Alive wheeze-bag, dodgy reunions and CD reissues of classic albums, not forgetting the “Classic Albums Live” racket, where identikit bands approximate live renderings of ancient records at $40 a ticket to young men and women whose taste is the same as their parents’.
Perhaps I’m being cynical — A Night at the Opera is, after all, a fabulous record, however played — but unless Rock looks forward and not back, it’s destined to become to future generations what rugby and debate clubs were to varsity kids in the ’50s. It’s no wonder that the best rock ’n’ roll isn’t even found in Rock, but in Hard Disco or Electro-Thrash or New Wave Cool. Recent albums by The Strokes, Peter, John and Bjorn and TV on the Radio evince this. They are all very rock ’n’ roll, but none of them are actually very Rock.