Beer and Pavement

The Matador 100 Project: Mark Eitzel & Circle X (Olé 016-017)

Posted in Challenge, Matador 100, Records, Review by SM on July 25, 2017

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Mark Eitzel is a legend few know. You may have heard of American Music Club and it’s doubtful you knew about Toiling Midgets. Still, Eitzel’s been around even if most are unaware. He’s the kind of poetic genius who won’t be remembered until he gets Nick Drake-like attention with a Volkswagen ad and smartly-released greatest hits comp sometime in the future.

That said, Mark Eitzel released an often ignored single on Matador called Take Courage. It’s so misplaced that Wikipedia thinks it’s a big Christian radio hit, not a key part of Eitzel’s discography. But I know it exists as I own a copy and am glad I do.

The first side features “On the Emblematic Use of Jewelry as a Metaphor for the Dissolution of Our Hopes and Dreams,” a simple track of nothing more than acoustic guitar and voice. This would the “Pink Moon” track for that hypothetical VW ad. The guitar picking is clear and true as a keyboard fills some space 2/3 the way through the track. The existential lyrics make this track a hidden gem a songwriter like Eitzel specializes in. Jason Ankeny’s AllMusic review describes it succinctly, stating, “…its lyrics traffic in stream-of-consciousness wordplay that nevertheless resonates on a profoundly emotional level.”

The reverse side features the similarly loquaciously-titled “The Ecstatic Epiphany: A Celebration of Youth and Beauty Past, Present and Future.” Side 2 is a slow, quiet, stream-of-consciousness track that demonstrates restraint and grandeur simultaneously. In a whisper-y drawl similar to Evan Dando or Tim Kasher, Eitzel delivers his continuous thoughts over some impressive instrumentation that climbs just beneath his low murmur. It’s hard for such a somber, quiet song to soar and comfort the listener, but for a master like Eitzel, it’s just another forgotten b-side.

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Circle X were Louisville, Kentucky’s contribution to the No Wave scene of New York City just before and after 1980. The band bounced around a bit before releasing three singles with three different labels, “Compression of the Species” being the 7″ released by Matador.

On what appears to be the first non-black vinyl release by the label, “Compression…” is perfectly described as “menacing, sample-driven sludge” on their Louisville Hardcore page. The “other side” features similar pulsating drumming and shredding guitar riffs, but the vocals spoken much in the same way Slint delivers the words on “Good Morning, Captain.” Both tracks are challenging mind fucks that fit somewhere in the progression of No Wave’s never-ending story.

A note about the series and this blog…

I am going to do my best to keep both this series and the blog going. I don’t want to start over someplace else, because who starts a blog in 2017? However, I committed to the first 100 releases and it seems weak to stop without even making it a fourth of the way. So, with this post, I should get out three posts this week and/or next week that will cover about six releases. The next covers two 7″ records followed by an LP post. After that, we’ll see. I believe I may have to start buying some expensive records. So, stay tuned.

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The Sessions I’ve Missed

Posted in The Session by SM on April 10, 2012

During my recent hiatus/momentary lack of inspiration[1], I missed some opportunities to participate in sessions of different sorts. I had contributed to several monthly Session posts before running out of ideas a month or two ago. One of those missed sessions happened on Friday. The topic revolved around what drives beer bloggers, something I’ve struggled with in recent weeks. In an effort to keep things fresh around here, I’ll attempt to respond (albeit late) as briefly as I can[2].

What drives us to blog about beer – or at least what drives me – is the quest to promote beer (especially of the artisinal variety[3]) to the masses. We do this because we feel a specific perspective has yet to be shared, a perspective that will make it clear to skeptics why craft beer really is as amazing as we all think it is. And if we’re successful at making our case, the craft beer boom will continue, insuring that there is quality craft beer selections in every bar, restaurant, grocery, bus station, and elementary school to quench our undying thirst for the sweet, dank, pucker-inducing, bubbly, good stuff we crave.

Of course, this is what drives most bloggers who write about any product. We want what we love to succeed and feel we can make the case for said success through promotion via social media, in this case, the blog. Maybe it’s more narcissistic than that[4], but I believe that the motivation behind beer blogging is a good one that goes beyond “look what I got to drink.” The same goes for film, music, about whatever one blogs.

Still, maybe what really drives us to blog about beer is the excuse to drink more beer. There’s nothing wrong with that.

1 Call it an existential crisis or whatever. I was beginning to both feel the pressure to post as well as the the fact that not too many people really care about what I think.
2 This is part of my new strategy to keep posting. Maybe if I go back to shorter posts, I’ll get more content out there, stuff I can develop down the line. Plus, I often over-think my posts and that’s not possible if I keep them short.
3 I interchange “artisanal” and “craft” all the time. Let’s not get hung up on the labels. I get that for some, these two terms are not the same. Additionally, “craft” beer has a very different meaning in the UK. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll stick to the American definition, in case that wasn’t clear before.
4 Who am I kidding? Blogging is an exercise in narcissism. It’s better that we acknowledge this and move on.

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