Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Elated When Friends Excel?

You should be.

(AWK's Close Calls with Brick Walls.)

Yes, I'm excited beyond rational limits of joy when compañeros shove the known or expected to the Oort Cloud and redefine and extend those qualities I initially admired in them. Andrew's new album, Close Calls with Brick Walls, straps an ion engine to the sagging fanny pack of perceived knowledge... It's been a boundless leap from the whacked-out noise cassettes I first heard in Ann Arbor way back in '95 to the stunning vistas of "The Moving Room," "This Is My World," "Hand on the Place" (with its truly spectacular vocal), "One Brother," or "Can You Dance with Me?" I'm extraordinarily proud of Andrew's achievements (Hell, I'm old enough to have fathered his rangy ass, so my semi-paternal chest-thumping ought necessarily be excused), and honored to confront, destroy, and transmute limitations beside he and our other maniacal fellows in the contemporary edition of TLASILA.

Just last week I remember becoming terribly annoyed after reading a Canadian blog entry (forwarded to me by Rat's lovely girlfriend Veronica) which distilled the whole of Andrew's career and his contribution to To Live and Shave as "shtick." Of course, AWK would have been annoyed as well, but that irritation would quickly be released through an absurd, throwaway comment or nonchalant shrug. He understands, perhaps more than anyone I've ever worked with, that the harshest critique often says as much about the veiled desires (and roiling disquiets) of its author as it does the shortcomings of its intended target. Such awareness in someone so young is genuinely rare. (Graham Moore is another early 20s dude who seems far wiser than his years.) Regardless of all that, I was fucking PISSED after reading the post. (Oh well, I'm an emo cripple...)

Distillation: Walls is an insane advance from the much-loved but perhaps too familiar sonic tropes of Wet and Wolf. From this rarified remove (a cluttered office in a small town at the bottom of a third-rate state), it screams.

"Las Vegas, Nevada"! "I Want to See You Go Wild"! The sick, sick intro to "When I'm High." I'm laughing now just thinking about them. A cardiac needle, filled with JOY, rammed right into my one good blood-flecked eye. "Mark My Grace" (another lacerating vocal perfomance), "Into the Clear"... "Slam John"'s perfect instrumental break... YEAH!

You gotta get those four Korean bonus tracks... Too good to be true. Cherie's fantastic vocal on "I Want Your Face"... Oh my God! What an evisceration! Andrew's songwriting is easily on par with Ron Mael's. Can't believe I'm writing this, and I know it may strike some as over-the-top, but fuck it. With Close Calls, AWK seems to have utterly cracked the Sparks code, and raised it several orders of intricacy. (Minus the dopey, post-Indiscreet punning, that is.)

You think This Heat is badass? John Fucking Fahey? Are you mad?

Consume and EXPLODE, because this is the real Avant-Garde.

Can't reiterate this mantra enough. Mere rigor is insufficient. One must create a SYNTHESIS...

Kudos to AWK, our own Don Fleming, and everyone else who worked on the album. No bullshit (it's not in my character to lie to friends about their work), no sucking up (no need to), nothing but unadorned delight.

Awesome job, Andy! ;)

(Andrew and company backage at the Hard Rock, Orlando, approx. 25 minutes before showtime. "Jazz hands!")



Roe said...

Most definitely..
But don't ever call him Andy!!


ommyth said...

Nor, And!


Becky said...

It is indeed an honour to have been a fan of Andrew's from the beginning and see an already amazing musician evolve into such magnificence.

And meeting new people thru the mutual admiration and respect of the music is always a bonus ;0)


ommyth said...

Agreed, Becky. I'm completely overjoyed by Close Calls... It's a great time to be alive.



Bruno B said...

Alright... so where can we get the Korean version of the alb?

ommyth said...

Bruno - tilt your head upward and act f-f-f-fast.

Reggie Queequeg said...

Yeah, that album rules, I illegally downloaded it cause I'm broke...

I thought it went "Don't call me Andy/and don't call me ANNE", not "and"!

Roe said...

The cd insert has the words to Andy's songs, and it actually does say Anne!

mode7 said...


ommyth said...

Actually, the booklet has a mis-print. The correct line is: "Don't call me Andy"/"And don't call me Andamanese..." In the next instance, the second line is "And don't call me anabasine..."

Ask the man when you next have brunch with him. He'll tell you, straight up.

Not lyin'!!!


S. Mike

Spaulding007 said...

I've fallen so far behind with my "Andrew W.K. fandom"... I have yet to write a review of Close Calls, but after all the other reviews out there, and especially after reading this post... I really just don't know that there's much more to be said.

Thanks for this post, Tom. A good time to be alive, indeed! I wish I was as close to the excitement as you!


ommyth said...

Hey 00,

I briefly spoke with Andrew about an hour ago; he's back from the Asian tour...

You should definitely write about the album, especially if it's affected you in a noticable or appreciable way. (For instance, have you developed pink eye? Have you lost any teeth?)

My favorite song shifted last night from "Hand on the Place" to "Let's Go on a Date"...

Having AWK kick such a quantity of ass with the alb just makes me want to elevate my own game. That's the greatest perk of all - being in a group with such talented guys really puts the kibosh on your egomaniacal tendencies and keeps you grounded, humble, and excited! The bar always needs to be raised higher...



To Live and Shave in L.A. 25th Anniversary Tour: Updated Poster

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