Wednesday, October 07, 2009

things to do

So what are you going to do tomorrow night? Will you go see the opening of Andrew Wodzianski’s new horror movie-themed show at Flashpoint, House? It’s a tribute to director William Castle and his audience participation gimmicks; gallerygoers can participate in a scavenger hunt via twitter, and will be treated to a haunting performance by the artist himself. Oh, and I hear there will be some paintings on view, too.

Or maybe you’ll go to the Anne Truitt panel discussion moderated by…Tim Gunn? Yes, that Tim Gunn. Who knew he studied under Truitt? Well, I didn't. The show opens to the public tomorrow; the panel discussion follows at 7:00 pm. Tickets are free, and are available first-come-first-serve starting at 5:45. Featuring sculptor Martin Puryear, filmmaker Jem Cohen, and soon-to-be-former (but still fabulous) Hirshhorn curator Kristen Hileman.

Or maybe you’ll say to heck with the art and go see the reconstituted indie band with the Very Loud Guitarist--Dinosaur, Jr.--play at the 9:30 club.

I’ve been really excited about former bassist Lou Barlow’s return to the band—an unlikely turn of events, given the ill will surrounding his firing back in 1989:

Toward the end of the original trio's time together, bassist Lou Barlow and lead singer-guitarist J Mascis had stopped talking. To make matters worse, Mascis hit Barlow with his guitar during a live show. (Barlow later admitted to having fantasies of returning the act on Saturday Night Live, had the band ever been invited to play.) And then, just as grunge was about to explode, Mascis and drummer Murph informed Barlow that the band was breaking up, only to re-form the group the next day with a new bass player—Barlow found out the truth while watching MTV News.

Ouch. J Mascis continued through the ‘90s with a band that was called Dinosaur Jr., and that occasionally included his drummer, Murph…but that more often, on records, was basically just him playing all the instruments, overdubbing the occasional timpani and/or church bells, and mumbling the same ten or twelve words in various combinations, over and over again. (I could be wrong, but it seems like the number of Mascis tunes that prominently feature the line “I don’t know why,” or rhyme “make it” with “fake it” must be staggering.)

My one disappointment with Barlow’s return: Dinosaur’s latest album, Farm—the second since 2005 to include the original rhythm section--has been praised by a bunch of folks, but seems crippled by bad production decisions.

Great, Lou Barlow is back on bass! Wait…where is the bass? Oh, it’s that mass of buzzing, undefined murk floating somewhere in the margins of the stereo field.

Maybe it’s just my speakers, but the bass guitar on this record sounds to me like it’s been completely squashed by compression and distortion, until it’s basically just a mid-range-y wash with no dynamics. If I strain and pay very close attention, I can make out individual notes being played…but it certainly requires an effort. At least Barlow is doing some singing again…on two of the twelve tracks, anyway.

Below: Lou’s great 1991 song about getting fired.


Anonymous Ben said...

Sorry I missed the panel discussion for Anne, did anybody video the talk? thanks...

8:23 AM  
Blogger jhcudlin said...

I don't know about video, but the audio is available on the Hirshhorn site as of today.

11:41 AM  

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