Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lisa Germano Redux/Jager Shots Live

The Secret Museum
Michael Mooney & Jim Webb

Lisa Germano: Magic Neighbor, In The Maybe World, Lullaby For Liquid Pig

I was wrong. A few issues back, a particularly nasty review of Lisa Germano’s (somewhat) recent recordings appeared in this column. Actually, one recording: Lullaby For Liquid Pig, from 2003 (I’d never gotten around to listening to 2006’s In The Maybe World, and wasn’t even aware of last year’s Magic Neighbor.) I made a big deal about why I couldn’t relate to Lisa’s newer music, how her self-pity bored me, and that she seemed stuck in a self-created rut only she could wallow in. Exceedingly boorish accusations, I’m ashamed to admit. The fact of the matter is that I hadn’t truly listened to Lullaby For Liquid Pig. But now I have, and I was wrong.

Jim has a rule, which demands that one listen to a recording at least three times before consigning lesser works to eBay (or wherever those thousands of CDs go each year.) I’m impulsive. If something doesn’t grab me immediately, I’ve been known to hit the eject button and move on to something else. Lullaby For Liquid Pig is not an easy first listen. Maybe it’s the sequencing, but the three initial songs killed the album for me the first time around. And while it picks up considerably from there, I didn’t give the record a chance. That’s a shameful admission, particularly from someone who prides himself on his musical tastes, because LFLP is a pretty good disc. While not quite approaching the caliber of Lisa’s groundbreaking 4AD LPs, it does maintain an appealing unsteady quality throughout, and the tunes are definitely there, although she occasionally buries her hooks beneath provisional-sounding—and surely intentional—home-studio dissonance (especially on those first three tracks, which are, of course, my favorites now.) Another thing I was wrong about: Lisa’s still self-deprecating (a rare quality in the overweening world of Pop,) and she’s still, at times, terribly funny.

There’s nothing humorous about In The Maybe World. This album ranks right up there with Berlin, The Painted Word, and Germano’s own Geek The Girl as one of Rock’s classic works of introspective sadness. The theme is loss. These are the lyrics to Too Much Space:

In the morning without a sound
And the stirring of dreams around
Then you wake up
He wasn’t there again

On the way home you feel it there
Cause your heart needs to be somewhere
But you wake up
To too much space again
An illusion it’s just not true
We’ve always been me and you

But I wake up
And you’re not here again
You never know
You wait too long
You need a fire
It’s all gone wrong

He gave it up he hit the dust
And now your heart is made of rust

You dig a plant
And put it there
And hope and hope
And swear and swear
One of us.

Lisa Germano has the rare ability to render complex emotional states into deceptively astute and intelligible lyricism. The music on this brief record (34 minutes) is equally beautiful, at times heartbreakingly so. That it’s taken me four years to discover the album is regrettable. In The Maybe World is a small masterpiece.

So is Magic Neighbor. The fact that an artist can produce her best work nearly 20 years into a solo career that hasn’t exactly set the world on fire is (may I say?) remarkable. That the same artist only got started well into her fourth decade proves that Pop is not exclusively a young (or someone pretending to be a young) person’s game, and that creativity need not diminish with age. It’s inspiring that a musician as distinctive as Lisa Germano continues to remain true to her own musical intuition while expanding its possibilities. Magic Neighbor is a little more impressionistic than most Germano recordings (French Impressionistic to be exact). Not as tranquil-sounding as In The Maybe World, though every bit as melodic, there’s also a degree of luminousness in the subject matter here that is not usually found on a Lisa Germano album. That may bode well for those of you who are unwilling to hang tough with Lisa for fear of reaching for the stop button (or the razor blade), just like me several months ago. I won’t make that mistake again.

Lisa Germano Top Ten:
In The Maybe World (2006)
Geek The Girl (1995)
Magic Neighbor (2009)
Happiness (1994 version)
Inconsiderate Bitch EP (1994)
Slide (1998)
Happiness (1993 version)
Excerpts From A Love Circus (1996)
OP8: Slush (L.G. and Giant Sand- 1997)
On The Way Don From The Moon Palace (1991)
-Michael Mooney

Drunk on Profits: Jagermeister, Live Nation & Rush

The Canadian Rock band Rush recently played the Hard Rock Casino Pavilion in Albuquerque. This year’s main outdoor summer concert series in the Duke City is again being handled primarily by Live Nation, who earlier this year merged with Ticketmaster to create an entertainment powerhouse called Live Nation Entertainment. Live Nation signs bands to long term deals where they become the exclusive promoter for all of their live concerts. Madonna, U2 and Jay-Z are just a few of the big names that have been locked up with huge guarantees from the deep financial pockets of Live Nation. As the traditional market for CD sales keeps shrinking, bands are relying even more on concert revenue as their biggest source of income. Ticketmaster was the largest company that handled ticket sales for hundreds of main venues throughout the Unites States before joining up with Live Nation in 2010. We all know them for the service charges, facility and shipping charges that are added to the base price of the tickets we purchase either online or by phone. As I drove into the parking lot at the Pavilion, nothing was outwardly different since Live Nation and Ticketmaster joined forces. The same hassle getting into the venue off of Rio Bravo Boulevard occurred—you’d think one day they would realize 10,000 plus concert goers were coming and would have a better traffic pattern in place. Rush came out promptly at 7:45 p.m.—this was the opening North American concert on their 2010 Time Machine Tour. The band sounded good as they opened with “The Spirit of Radio” and played a couple of unrecorded new songs in the first set as well, but I kept getting distracted by the young women constantly selling Jagermeister shots.

A recent phenomenon in outdoor beverage concession sales is roving sales teams of ladies bringing “Jager Shots” to your seat. At first it seemed as normal as the beer and soda sellers, employees wading through the crowds to save you from having to wait in line. But the frequency of seeing them pass by with trays of test-tube size shots was surprising. There will be no moralizing from me on people who choose to get high or feelin’ good on beer, wine or pot at concerts. I personally enjoy a few beers as much as anyone, but the constant effort Pavilion employees were involved in to sell as much “Jager”as possible seems to me to have crossed the line. No one forces you to buy shots at a concert, but this easy access “service” just seems potentially dangerous for others. Let’s see, tickets ranging from $49.00 to $150.00, $25.00 T-Shirts, $8.50 beers, $13.00 hamburgers with chips and a soda is not enough profit from 10,000 people? Why don’t we all tip the Jager ladies $1.00, BUT DON’T BUY THE JAGER SHOTS. I contacted the Pavilion management office and they refused to answer any questions or comment on their concession/alcohol policies.

Rush has created a unique sound where hard rock and progressive rock have blended together. Some people are there for the radio hits like “Tom Sawyer” or “Freewill”; others like me enjoyed the longer instrumental pieces. They played the entirety of their 1981 “Moving Pictures” album in the second set, but they aren’t just a nostalgia band like ’70s stalwarts Crosby Steals the Cash or Chicago. Rush has been rewarded with one of the most loyal followings in Rock history by continuing to release new CDs and always introducing new songs to their performances. After 36 years of being onstage together, these three musicians show no signs of slowing down. As much as I liked what Rush was playing, I decided not to fight the crowds back to I-25 and left near the end of the concert. I’d also had my fill of Jagermeister, without ever buying a shot.
-Jim Webb
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