Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I've Heard of Them but I Haven't Heard Them, aka an indie music post.

I'm not going to write a long review of Juno, for a lot of reasons. Someone spoiled some key scenes for me, which really took a lot out of my first viewing (I've seen it twice, and will probably see it at least once more, thank you student discount). Please, if you see a good movie, don't try to tell other people what parts made it such a good movie. You are ruining a good movie. This shit should be right after "turn off your cellphones" and "visit our concession stand". "The exits are in the front to the left, and also, don't describe the best scenes to people who would rather watch them."

I'm also not writing a long review because it's been reviewed to death, with either crazy high praise or great irritation. I think most of the irritation comes from the unbelievable sharp-tonguedness and cheesey slang packed into the first thirty minutes, which was not my favorite part of the film by far, but I accept as important to the overall arch. I've come to learn that the more witty things a character has to say in the beginning, the more meaningful does their silence become. Juno's speechlessness would not be important if she wasn't such a vocal smartass.

I'm also not writing a long review because watching it get this famous- and of course, watching the soundtrack get this famous- has been a completely bizarre experience for me, and I think that's more interesting than anything I could say about anything that happened on the screen.

I've been a fan of Kimya Dawson for three years. That's an understatement: I've been totally stupid for Kimya for three years, one month and twenty three days(ish). Now she's on The View, and in Entertainment Weekly, and it's a little freaky. I knew if Juno got wide release then KD would get some more recognition, but it's a phenomenon. It's up for an Oscar (Jennifer Garner, however, totally snubbed for best supporting actress). Kimya Dawson is number one on the charts. I've read some articles questioning just what the heck is so appealing about her. I think a lot of people don't understand the possibility of being silly and sincere at the same time- "I Will Never Forget" starts with the line I sat in the swamp with the little pink piggy who loved roller skating and playing pretend, but the song is about death, suicide and bullying. Listen to it sometime, it is one of those songs that invariably makes me cry.

This got me upset- I read someone somewhere criticizing the lines if you want to kill yourself, remember that I love you, call me up before you're dead, we can make some plans instead, send me an IM I'll be your friend, and the writer said that this is mocking of suicide or something, that this is a display that Kimya doesn't really understand the youths as much as she pretends she does. (This is also a common criticism of Juno, and a stupid one, because- duh- just because you're a middle-aged journalist or critic that knows some teens does not mean you understand all teens or the experience of teendom, and young Kimya/Juno fans would likely beg to differ.) It's really upsetting because Kimya Dawson's music changed my life, and changed a lot of lives, and probably saved a lot of lives, too. That song, Loose Lips, was the first song I ever heard from her, and call me sentimental or tell me I'm "mocking depression" or whatever, but those words made me feel like I wasn't alone. They're not empty promises, either- she really will talk to you, hug you, play a show at your house- being a Kimya fan is being a friend of Kimya, which is why her sudden fame is, to me, so bizarre. She's got millions of friends now, but they don't know that, and the media doesn't really understand that.

Anyway, that needed to get off my chest, but this was really intended to be me suggesting music to the masses, since the nation seems so strangely in tune to my sensibilities at the moment. Sort of. While it's totally outside my scope that people don't like Kimya's lyrics, I can understand not liking the lo-fi folk-punk aesthetic. (I can also understand being in love with it, because I am.) Since KD is so darned famous, my suggestions are in "You like Kimya Dawson, but you don't get..." format. Or maybe it should be "You don't really get Kimya, but you do like..." Oh well, here goes.

If you like Kimya Dawson's folky-punky sound and rapid-fire lyrics but wish the sound was a little more polished and the lyrics a little less cryptic, you might like:

Jeffrey Lewis.
Check out the "I spooned Kiyma Dawson" hat around 57 seconds in. Jeff and Kimya have collaborated, which produced one of my favorite songs ever, "A Common Chorus". He's really brilliant, and not in an overused brilliant-is-the-new-awesome kind of way.

If you like Kimya Dawson's absurdness and the lo-fi vibe, but wish it was less cutesy and folksy (or, if you like The Moldy Peaches but not Kimya Dawson) you might like:

Adam Green.
He was the other major component of The Moldy Peaches, and now has a solo career also. I prefer Kimya by far far far, but if you're not the pink kitties and yellow doggies kind of person, Adam might be more your style.

If you like Kimya Dawson's delightful weirdness but would like the whole sound to be more elegant and professional (or, if you like Kimya Dawson but want to be able to find your CDs in mainstream stores), you might like:

Regina Spektor.
Ok, so everyone knows who Regina Spektor is by now. I think. I can't keep up with the kids these days. I hate the radio. However, I don't think people know she's classified as anti-folk, the genre of which Kimya Dawson is currently the poster child. Also, if you've only heard "Fidelty" and don't see the delightful weirdness I attribute to her, I advise you to delve into "Reading Time with Pickle".

If you like Kimya's quirky sweetness (or just like K Records) but want something a little more pop, you might like:


The Blow.
I guess I automatically associate these two because I saw them play together. Oh well. I'm running out of steam, here. These are not the best recordings, obviously. They're surely worth looking into further.

If you like Kimya Dawson but wish she was like eleven or twelve people and sounded slightly more unhinged you might like (or, if you don't get Kimya, you seriously will not get):

I saw them play with Kimya once, and the experience was sort of amazing. It's like they create their own universe on stage. Of course, it was different people when I saw them. They morph a lot. I like to describe them as "orchestrated chaos".

If you like Kimya's... um... people she's played with, but uh... oh shit, I don't even know how to describe:

Daniel Johnston.
Just go rent The Devil and Daniel Johnston, for goodness' sake.

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