Justify My Love: Guys with Plinking Things Edition

It’s tough to keep the momentum going, you know? Back when this website started,  I was going to have a full-fledged column, and it was going to be called Justify My Love, and I was going to post 3 or so mp3s and talk about music I like and stuff.  That happened exactly once.  Luckily, some of my colleagues kept things afloat, but alas: Justify My Love has sat dormant for some time. Well, I want to bring it back, starting now.  Expect the next one in a year or so.

Things going plink in music is probably “so 2003″ or something, when twee was back in a big way and every aspiring band went out to buy a glockenspiel.  Today’s critical obsession with low-fi recording techniques and brutal electronic noise could potentially be seen as a response to a moment when the melodica was threatening to oust the electric guitar as the instrument of choice in most bands.  So yeah, you might be over it, and you could describe the songs here as “delicate,” but I also think that they avoid the pitfalls of some of the overly-dramatic or tender songs that erupted in the post-Sufjan era.  These are guys with plinking things, and for whatever reason, I’ve been listening to them a lot lately.  I hope you like it, but if you don’t, or have better suggestions of things that go plink in the night, let me know in the comments. (The song title is the download link.)

Adem - Hotellounge (from Takes, 2008)

This one takes some time to unfold, so give it a chance. Adem blew my mind with 2004’s Homesongs, a quirky and unexpected collection of interesting acoustic music by a guy known at that point as the bass player for Fridge.  While the follow-up was largely a let-down, he’s back to form by tackling a covers record.  Covers records are tricky, but the best songwriters always seem to nail it (Cat Power, Mark Kozelek).  I think this Deus cover is honest and moving, even with one lyric change (”Ricki Lee Jones” to “Emmylou Harris.” You’ll hear it.)

Shugo Tokumaru - Button (from Exit, 2007 [Japan] / 2008 [US])

I’m a disciple of Shugo.  For real: I love him and would follow him anywhere, though I’ve never met him.  His music ranges from fuzzed-out abstract soundscapes to straight-ahead pop, but usually it’s a combination of both those elements.  Each of his three albums (Night Piece, L.S.T., and Exit ) are absolutely essential.  Button has a great music video, which says things much better than I could.

Paul Hogan - Sale (from Frances, 2004)

Frances is a 6-piece band that I know almost nothing about (does anyone?), which makes their lead-singer’s 2004 foray into a solo album fly even lower under the radar.  This is one of the first songs I picked up from the great Music For Robots blog, and it’s a pretty guilty pleasure, mostly because it’s so obviously an Elliott Smith rip. Still: it might be the best Elliott Smith song not actually written and performed by Elliott Smith.  The album is out-of-print and hard to find (via torrent or physical disc), but it is still available from the iTunes store for interested parties.

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2 Responses to “ Justify My Love: Guys with Plinking Things Edition ”

  1. in an amazingly weird bit of symmetry, the aforementioned band Frances will be performing at PS1 on March 16 with La Strada and Twelve Canons. I don’t even know if you realized that when you wrote this.

  2. I did not realize that. Someone knows something about Frances! I actually listened to their 2008 record, All the While, last night, and it’s really nice.

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