Weird At My School: Dear Diary, Week 3

Ula Dudziak

Tuesday, April 7
“Delving into research for my Pop Conference presentation on Urszula Dudziak and the Papaya Dance. I’m not mad for the Papaya Dance, I’m mad at it. It should’ve made Urszula famous, at least for 15 minutes. Instead, all the attention went to the TV game show host who invented the dance, and all the people who made YouTube videos. You’re looking at the wrong target, world! Look at Urszula! And her five octave range and crazy electronics and wordless singing. She’s been hiding in plain sight for years. Why won’t you notice her? Sting noticed her, for God’s sake!”

Wednesday, April 8
“M_ is watching the documentary Lagerfeld Confidential. The theme music over the opening credits was “Pure” by the Lightning Seeds, which seems awfully sweet for a film about Lagerfeld. Future Bible Heroes’ “I’m A Vampire” would’ve been a better choice. Then again, I’m still reeling from Viktor & Rolf using what I swear was a cover of Kate Bush’s “The Red Shoes” as runway music, too. I guess they can’t all fall back on Bowie’s “Fashion,” right?

(later) By the end of the movie, I liked Lagerfeld better than I anticipated. Maybe I shouldn’t let Margaret Cho influence my opinions quite so much.”

Thursday, April 9
“The McGarrigle sisters first album is heartbreakingly gorgeous. I wish I’d known about it in high school. I can totally picture my friends and me, enthralled by these songs, and those trembling yet sure voices, the same way we responded to the Roches and Kate Bush. Where were the McGarrigles in the mid-’80s? What channel might they have reached me through? It really does my head in, how much talent runs in the Wainwright dynasty (and through all its extended, um, branches -- like the Thompson clan, Antony, etc.).”

Friday, April 10
Listening to II, the new Lindstrom & Prins Thomas album. I played it yesterday and just thought it was a good album to nap to -- which I did. Not that that’s a bad thing, being a nap soundtrack. It joins the ranks alongside the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Psychocandy and Yo La Tengo’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. But this morning, I want to dig into it deeper. This record’s not as immediately hooky as its predecessor, but the textures and timbres are blowing my mind -- elements of it remind me of the arrangements on Robert Wyatt’s albums, and early Roxy Music, albeit more spaced-out. I wonder if they’ve been listening to a lot of old Eno? And here comes a Tangerine Dream bit...”

Saturday, April 11
“M_ and I listened to the most recent Martha Wainwright yesterday. I’d forgotten how much I cotton to the way MW sings. She sounds unhinged. She’s got that weird woman-child quality, a la Victoria Williams or the lass from Life Without Buildings. And she’s fearless about prostituting her emotions, like she deliberately wants to come off as a crazy lady. (Think a more musical version of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.) An interesting contrast with Rufus, who is just as mannered, yet in a wildly different fashion, all swooping and operatic and theatrical. He’s more West Side Story, while she’s Ubu Roi, something like that.”

Sunday, April 12
“Still not sure how to describe the Other Girls record, without referencing the Shins and Band of Horses. Do I have to form a succinct critical opinion? Isn’t it enough to just enjoy the album? Especially “White Rabbit,” which as a hook almost identical to the riff in A Flock of Seagulls’ “The More You Live The More You Love,” and the closer, “Last Day,” a piano ballad from the bottom of the ocean. The vocals have that “recorded in a tunnel” quality I get tired of, but regardless, I want to spend more time with this one.”

Monday, April 13
“The big surprise of last night’s [Junior Boys] show was Max Tundra. I wasn’t sure what his live set would look like. Then again, I couldn’t imagine what a Final Fantasy live gig would look like before I saw one either, and Owen [Pallett aka Final Fantasy] -- who is a big Max Tundra booster -- pulls it off. Since the show was all-ages, T_ and I watched Max’s first two songs from the balcony which we had beers. “Watched” isn’t the right word. T_ is tall enough he could see over the folks clustered around the rail, but I only caught the occasional glimpse of a dude behind a bank of keyboards. That got me thinking re/ that Laurie Anderson interview, on the Home of the Brave radio promo LP, where she talks about how important it was for her as a performer/entertainer to get out from behind the keyboard.

But when we went down on the showroom floor, my whole opinion changed. Tundra was running around like a character out of a silent slapstick comedy. He played melodica and kalimba, which meant I could be a showoff/geek and flex my vocabulary for T_ (“what’s a seven letter word for African thumb piano?”). There was a completely over-the-top, full-on early ’90s rave track, featuring toy xylophone, and he closed with “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music (which T_ caught before my colleagues from The Stranger.) Never underestimate the pervasive cultural influence of Rodgers & Hammerstein.”

DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog. You can now follow DJ El Toro on Twitter!

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