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Deaf Spot - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Deaf Spot
I've been trying for well over a decade to like the music of American Music Club and its mastermind Mark Eitzel. But I can still barely listen to it. Were I less self-conscious about the force in declarations of taste, I might label them "overrated." I guess this is proof that, despite the excessive influence that music critics have exerted on me since I was a teenager, there are limits to my capacity for self-refashioning. I mean, I must have read a hundred tributes to the wonders of Eitzel's songwriting over the years, written by people whose writing I respect, yet still, like the grown-ups in Polar Express, I just can't hear it. Then again, I still hear Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" without the distortion of irony, so I suppose my intransigence, however limited in scope, must have two sides. Anybody want to enjoy me in a marathon bout of listening to Asia albums for the pure joy they bring?

Mode: nauseous
Muse: Russia - Severed Heads - OP

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Comments
amnesiascope From: amnesiascope Date: January 11th, 2005 04:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I bear a prog rock and metal past, myself, so I know all about liking things the critics say one shouldn't.

Nonetheless, I am a complete and total AMC fan.

BTW, I really liked your post on Butler. I have some stuff to say, but I'm currently overwhelmed with figuring out how to transplant myself to Chicago in less than a month.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 11th, 2005 04:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I can't believe how busy you've been with the job stuff. Wow. Congratulations on finally getting something you like.

Don't know why AMC doesn't work for me. I like other stuff of that nature. Weird. But it doesn't. Maybe Freud would be instructive here. . . :-)

Thanks for the kind words re: the Butler entry.
tpratt From: tpratt Date: January 11th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Eitzel is the guy with the big drinking problem who endears himself to critics (almost) without exception, right? I saw his band AMC open for Bob Mould back in 1989, I think. They were boring as hell. I stood and watched their entire set because I didn't want to lose my place on the floor. They weren't so much bad as just kind of nothing. You'd think a band known for substance abuse would be more interesting, if nothing else.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 11th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The Libertines leave me underwhelmed too. But I'm enjoying the Nirvana box set more than I thought I would. Of course, it's not substance abuse that's the issue there.
From: sittinginaroom Date: January 12th, 2005 01:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm so-so on AMC, but I do enjoy some of Eitzel's solo stuff, particularly "The Invisible Man" and the one with the really long title ("Caught in a Trap That I Can't Get Out of Because I Love You Too Much" or something like that).

"The Invisible Man" also features a song written about one of my guilty pleasures, Jeff Buckley. Unfortunately, Eitzel's occasionally moving lyrics are tempered by the weight of a thousand bad high school poems, a bad hangover from a stupid, stupid death interpreted as romantic. The new AMC record unfortunately takes the same road, Eitzel creating succinct metaphors, only to return to them over and over until what could have been a poignant one-liner stretches into song after song about a point we got about two minutes into the record. America is beautiful, but depraved, alluring but ultimately a vortex of sorrow. Thanks, I get it.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 12th, 2005 03:37 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's real nicely put. It's the sense of monotony that has always turned me off to AMC and Eitzel. I'll like a minute here or there, but rarely make it through a whole song still satisfied.

For a point of comparison from more or less the same generation, I love Bob Mould -- when he's in guitar mode -- because he manages to capture a lot more complexity in his lyrics despite the similarity of his approach on lots of tunes. And he's as good an emoter live, when he wants to be, as the Eitzel of legend.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 12th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

try again.

I think Eitzel's solo work approaches montony (and mediocrity) really quickly, but the band has a bizarro "we're roots rock without really giving you reason to think we're roots rock" vibe (much like the Shins' relationship to 60s pop) that reigns in his earnest over-the-top tendencies and that I'm surprised you don't find anything in. You've tried "California"? That album's non-stop heartbreak, a masterpiece I don't think I could live without and certainly in the same universe as albums like "Summerteeth" and "Gilded Palace of Sin." I'd burn you a copy if you want, it's out of print now, but I'm guessing that living in the Bay area for so long...you've had your exposure.

I saw them on their reunion tour, and while I was sorta sad to see them mold their old standards to the lugubrious pace and style of the new album they were still pretty magical. I know one fence-sitter who made the jump to fan that night, sucked in by Eitzel's non-stop self-deprecation and Vudi's countering self-effacement and outerspace guitarwork.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 12th, 2005 02:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: try again.

OK, I'm willing. What should I listen to? I had access to all their stuff back in the day, but only own the album with the airplane on the cover now. I'll gladly do an exchange of CDs with you. Write me at my LJ user ID at livejournal.com and we'll exchange addresses!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 12th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: try again.

ah, this is Fredoluv, i forgot to include that tidbit in my original post. I honestly think you'd love "California," I could burn that and their internet-only "Best of" (which indeed has a ton of their best work removed a bit from the lesser material which I don't think any of their albums is without).

I'm pretty used to the binary relationship people have to AMC, especially because Eitzel's overwrought vocals either hook you or raise bile into your throat (I'd say he's even more polarizing than Morrissey, if the latter didn't freak so many people out sexually). But I'm surprised you don't like them since all the indications are there that you might...

sincerely,
Fredoluv
Ringing in Fredoluv Time in 2005
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 13th, 2005 04:03 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: try again.

Took me awhile to unscreen this. Sorry! I actually have California as part of my copy of United Kingdom. I'll try again tonight. You're right that it would make sense for me to like AMC, given my fondness for similar music. BTW, do you like Game Theory at all?
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