Dad-Pop? : Where do you stand on Crowded House?

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Classic or Dud? Search and Destroy if you like.

High quality songcraft or dull dad-pop?

Dr. C, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Where do I stand? On their collective heads wearing some big-ass boots with nifty nails on them. Fuck them and their duller than FC Liverpool's game dad-pop crap.

Erm, you wouldn't per chance rate them Dr.C? ;)

Omar, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Truthfully, I was a bit of a Split Enz fan, so I picked up the first Crowded House album. A fair song here and there ("Mean to Me," "World Where You Live,") but largely pretty dreary by comparison to some of Split Enz's more energetic moments, so I left it at that.

alex in nyc, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ask me when I'm 40.

No, honestly. Crowded House strike me as the kind of band I will end up liking for their high quality song craft (incidentally high quality song craft and dull dad-pop seems like a non-choice to me, har). At the moment I don't like them one bit.

Tom, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Crowded House have merely mastered the semblance of craft.

Scott, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Pre-match needle like that isn't going to distract the mighty reds from their task of crushing the puny Basque potato aphids this evening, Omar : )

stevie t, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

What has being 40 got to do with dad-rock/dad-hood etc...? I can hate the Finns bros better, because I've been at it longer.

Split Enz: if you're not severe metal (Krokus) or cult soul (Klymaxx), please spell your name correctly. Dud.

mark s, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

No implication intended. It's just a reasonable span of years from my current age and time enough for my tastes to shift towards high- quality song craft.

Tom, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Crowded House is my guilty pleasure. I love their first three albums, although I've often felt I would be better served by making one long CD that combines the best songs and leaves out the couple painfully self-consciously cheese-pop ones. Still, I refuse to skip the songs I don't like, probably as some kind of self-flagellation for liking Crowded House in the first place.

I most often listen to them when I write. Unobtrusive, yet catchy, their songs make perfect pleasant background music that you might want to sing along to occasionally.

I would never force anybody else to listen to them, and honestly, I don't know I would want to spend time with some one who considered Crowded House their favorite band. But try to take them away from me and you'll draw back a bloody stump.

Jenny, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

First album fun and catchy, everything I've heard after that = blah.

Patrick, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

To open up the issue a little more (and atone for my barely-provoked soccerism earlier), I wonder is 'dad pop' or adult pop a completely irredeemable genre? I mean, I love the Blue Nile, and there are songs by Crowded House (eg '4 Seasons in One Day') that are sweet. I quite like the idea of an adult pop song, along the lines of Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart etc for the twenty first century. Maybe Stephin Merritt is adult pop, I dunno. But come on, I don't want to have to start listening to *jazz* when I get older!

stevie t, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Stevie forget about Crowed Fart. You'll probably right about The Red Scare winning tonight, dullness always wins against beauty (witness Bayern's frustating ascent in the C.L.). Footie fans all over Europe are still stroking their chins trying to figure out how such a shite team as LFC beat the mighty AS Roma. Mark probably has some nice insights in the matter ;) Where's DJ Martian when you need him! :)

Omar, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Mark S: The name was spelled Enz to reflect the fact that they were from New Zealand. But you probably knew that. Anyhow.

Crowded House was hit and miss for me. Together Alone was a really nice album, I thought, but no one else seemed to like it. The rest I can take or leave, but make sure you keep the abyssmal "Chocolate Cake" single the hell away from me.

Sean Carruthers, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Actually I liked Together Alone as well at the time. Not so much now, but parts of it are still pretty. Basically, lots of dirge and a small number of very good (really) songs sum up their career as a whole for me.

Ally C, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I don't understand this rep Liverpool seem to have got all of a sudden for being the new Arsenal/boredom merchants, Omar. I blame the Cruyff dynasty mouthing off in the press at every opportunity! I think Owen, Fowler, Heskey, Smicer, Berger, Gerard, Litmanen etc are some of the craftiest, most skilful attacking players in Europe. And they beat Roma by scoring two goals in Italy! Plus I don't think facing the Valenica forward line is the right time to think about playing fancy football, or in the words of my flatmate 'too much fannydangle'. So there!

stevie t, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the Barca-away game had something to do with it ;) But maybe it's has to do that I'm from the House-that-Cruyff-built. To be fair I don't understand why LFC plays the way it does, and of course it would help if Litmanen, Berger, Owen and Gerard would play at the same time, too bad they don't synchronize their injuries.

Now on-topic: erm...nothing to add.

Omar, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

bought the best of ... didn't like .. too much like squeeze....esp. awful when youth did his shitty production thang to make them more 'earthy' in that shit '90s fashion - ... high quality songcraft - in this case = painting by numbers - very sterile knobless stuff for people who find the beautiful south too sarcastic.

search - 'four seasons in one day'

Peter Andre, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

A great moment in life: Smash Hits, 1992. Review of "Four Seasons In One Day". Singles reviewer says it's the sort of thing that "Radio 1 DJs will play a lot because it reminds them of their youth". A year later, somebody called Matthew Bannister arrives.

What can I say? He got it right first time. A real Johnnie Walker / Richard Skinner / Roger Scott / Bob Harris band. Now quintessential boomerised Radio 2 fodder. Henceforth, dud, but not offensively so, just boringly so; they don't bring forward any opinion from me. But, yeah, dud.

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Where do I stand on Crowded House. Well, lemme get a map and see where Britain is?

K-reg, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Funnily enough Omar, I don't like 'em - in fact I don't have an opinion about them either way. I just threw them to the wolves to see what would happen as I happened to hear a track of theirs in a shop this morning. 'Instinct' I think.

Tom is right : hi-quality songcraft and dull dad-pop are indeed the same. although it's funny how 'craft' is sneered at when applied to song-writing, but is OK when it means layering up samples or slaving over a hot turntable. Hardly any good music comes effortlessly, although it sometimes sounds that way. I don't mean Crowded house are any good, by the way.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Forget Crowded House, let's talk the game. Which, logically enough, is not even being offered here on pay-per-view, much to my annoyance.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The Scousers to win tonight of course. Hyppia, Henchoz and Carragher are the foundation along with Gerrard. Forget the likes of Smicer (lightweight)and Berger (not fit yet). Owen's useful too, and Heskey is due a big game.! If they get a keeper they'll win the league next year. I'm a Chelsea supporter by the way.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Indeed? So what happens if Vialli swipes some of your guys for Watford? ;-)

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ned - you even follow UK football (if that's indeed what's being discussed here) ?!? Damn, that's anglophile and a half.

Patrick, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'll take their kind over the American-rules football served up here. No commercial breaks for a start.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

They always struck me as a less wild Bufallo Tom. That's saying something. The songs are okay, I liked "Weather With You" and that one about 4 seasons in one day, the dude digs the weather! They aren't really dad-rock, that's Paul Weller isn't it?

My football prediction: Sol Campbell to stay at Tottenham, to be joined by Teddy Sheringham, but not Petit. And Spurs to finish about 7th next season. I've a feeling there could be a shock result tonight.

james e l, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

So what happens if Vialli swipes some of your guys for Watford? ;-)

Fulham will be pretty active in the transfer market as well. ;)

scott p., Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Vialli IS going to swipe some of our boys - Wise, Lambourde and a couple of reserves. I wish someone would swipe most of the rest actually - specifically Leboeuf, Desailly, Bogaarde, Babayaro, Stanic, Jokanovic, and De Goey. We'd be better off without all of them.Looks like Petit is coming our way though, andI reckon they'll bid for Fowler again if he doesn't start tonight. Not long to go, better go and warm up the set.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ask me when I'm 40. No, honestly. Crowded House strike me as the kind of band I will end up liking for their high quality song craft (Tom)

But don't you already like 'high quality song craft' (if not the Crowded House variety)? But seriously, won't you still like the things you like now when you're 40? And if not, why not?

David, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

And in conclusion of the other subject, Liverpool 5-4. Cruyff hangs head in shame at his team's giving the cup to the Reds and apologizes to everyone for being a mouthy idiot. Well, that's the headline that would be nice to see.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

It was a good match mind, and Jordi did score the last equaliser. It was kind of a shock result.

james e l, Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Goddammit does every place frequented by the English eventually end up discussing soccer??

I blame Ned. Even if he didn't start it. I know him. He has powers.

Josh (not acting as ILM moderator), Wednesday, 16 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm very glad you have acknowledged my abilities. Give in to the love.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

What is soccer? ;)

Great game. I went for a walk with my daughter when L*****l went up 2- 0 came back it's 3-1, I sit down and before I know it's 3-3. Nice to know there are still games like this one. LFC would have won on penalties anyhow, only the Dutch are worse penalty-takers than the Spanish.

Omar, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

It would make a good dissertation subject "an analysis of the discussion of football, in non-football related websites".

james e l, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Somehow I always associate futbol with dads. So perhaps the degeneration here is apt.

Sean Carruthers, Thursday, 17 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

split enz were crap after phil judd left. then the finns moved the band to australia and they were even more crap. neil finn does say andrew brough is the best songwriter ever oit of new zealand though and that is kinda cool.

keith, Friday, 18 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

First up, congratulations to Stevie - again.

Second up: Tom E, you are wrong to equate 'finely-honed song-craft' with 'dull dad pop'. OK, we could take a detour into Stevie's very good, well-put, and largely unexplored, point about how 'adult pop' might be a good thing - we really ought to take that detour soon. But for the meantime, I'm going to put that aside, assume that we are talking denigration, and say, Tom, for heaven's sake, you are really out of order here. Why is it OK to slag off - en masse, and with no discrimination - songwriters who think for 5 minutes about what they're doing and are interested in how melodies work, when anyone who slagged off DJs, hip-hop producers, Geri Halliwell's publicists, or whatever, would be machine-gunned at 200 paces? And how would you like it if I said something like 'All computer programmers from Oxford are boring bastards?'

the pinefox, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Is that congatulations for sticking up for Crowded House, or congratulations of a more vicarious, red nature?

Nick, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Guilty as charged, Pinefox. I stand by my comments on Crowded House but there's nothing wrong with songwriters. I was just being arsey cause I was having a bad day.

OK, refinement of my comments - drawing attention to 'songcraft' is perhaps the parallel of what I was talking about in the pop thread i.e. drawing attention to producercraft. Whether this is a reason to talk more about songcraft or less about producercraft is up to the individual reader.

I've now even written about Lloyd Cole on FT to assuage your ire.

And while I'm not exactly happy with my job, I'm not a computer programmer, so you can abuse Oxford computer programmers as much as you like.

Tom, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm not a computer programmer, so you can abuse Oxford computer programmers as much as you like.

Shocking attitude Tom. First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I said nothing. Then they came for the freemasons, but I was not a freemason so I said nothing. Then they came for the trade unionists, so I said nothing. Then they came for Dani Behr, and said 'She's over there, hiding in the cupboard'. etc.

Not, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm not quite sure why I called myself 'Not' there.

Nick, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Nick: it was footy, naturally. I think Stevie's suffered enough. It's a false dawn anyway. That's what my crafty producer tells me.

Tom:

>>> drawing attention to 'songcraft' is perhaps the parallel of what I was talking about in the pop thread i.e. drawing attention to producercraft.

I think I understand this - in the pop thread you were saying it was maybe a (slightly) bad thing for people to do that, right? In fact, if memory serves, you were saying that it was a way of denying emotion (or rather, a way of talking that didn't really do justice to emotion); so you're saying that talking about song-craft has roughly the same effect?

But then this -

>>> Whether this is a reason to talk more about songcraft or less about producercraft is up to the individual reader

- has me a tad stumped.

Naturally and predictably, I would rather talk more about the former and less about the latter, at least insofar as the latter means the kind of producers that interest you. But to be honest I'm still not sure I understand this comment.

>>> I've now even written about Lloyd Cole on FT to assuage your ire.

You mean FT exists?

>>> And while I'm not exactly happy with my job, I'm not a computer programmer, so you can abuse Oxford computer programmers as much as you like.

Hey, everybody! We can abuse Oxford computer programmers as much as we like! Who wants to start?

There is a bigger issue here, somewhere, about the way that certain ways of talking about music - which concern sound, texture, atmosphere, rhythm, technology, plus contexts and reception - have, on one hand, provided a tremendous enrichment of the critical vocabulary (visible, I guess, in a lot of what people write on FT / ILM), but have also displaced a sense of 'the song' as a unit of attention, or even a belief in 'the song' as an autonomous entity (I think I mean: analytically relatively autonomous from the other things I just mentioned). While I think the enrichment is (like I just said) terrific, I feel out on a limb in terms of conceptions of the song, because in my world 'the song' is still the primary unit of thought about music, and I have what might - probably pejoratively - be called a 'Platonic' sense of it. As I have in part said before, the only alternatives are musicology proper (to which I am inadequate) and earnest lyrical analysis (which I have argued in the past is largely inappropriate and should, indeed, be integrated into a more holistic sense of what's going on in a musical track or situation). So I still think that something is missing from the critical vocabulary.

the pinefox, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Pinefox has articulated some ideas which I've been struggling with for a while. But where are the songs today? In the charts? Yes, but we often get sidetracked by the latest ear-catching production tricks, and miss the rest.

I need to think this through more.

Dr. C, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

In an age where the majority of recorded music is made by people who can't read a stave, or know a G7 from the Tokyo Global Pollution Accords, you can't separate "song" from "production trick". Nobody (not even the Pinefox) could notate "Get Ur Freak On": that doesn't stop it being a song.

mark s, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

*genuflects before Mark Sinker*

Robin Carmody, Monday, 21 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I find Mark S to be very intelligent and richly insightful, and I don't want to seem to disagree strongly with such a person. But I think I do disagree, for roughly the reasons I gave above. Possibly the reasons I gave above (the 'ideas' I tried to discuss above) won't quite do as 'reasons' in an 'argument', but they do give you an idea of where I'm coming from, which happens to be different from where Mark S is coming from. We could persist in a 'debate' about it, or at least continue to elaborate differing ideas; but maybe we should just accept that we are, in this instance, coming from different places.

Mark S, and everybody else, will be unsurprised to hear that I don't know what 'Get Your (Ur, was it?) Freak On' (?) is.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 22 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

By the way, we never did pursue Stevie T's very serious and good point about 'adult pop' as a long-term historical phenomenon (I think that he means 'adult pop' as exemplified by Ella Fitzgerald).

the pinefox, Tuesday, 22 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think you are, Pinefox ... :).

Robin Carmody, Tuesday, 22 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Pinefox has put a finger on a weird articulation in the joints of the pop body.

Two phenomena have recently violated the wholeness of the Song. Dance music and DJing is one. DJs generally playing tracks that are explicitly meant to be shut off well before the song ends, and begun well after it's started. The songs are relational, and not sufficient unto themselves. Pop songs, especially those that rub shoulders with club music, are inevitably incorporating some of those sonic strategies - wandering instruments almost disembodied from the melody, appearing, disappearing of the course of the track.

The second 'ting, which is still as yet a bit unformed in my mind (so take me apart please) -- is that clearly, somewhere along the line, most pop artists have REALLY started paying attention to production detail. Which at its most extreme one could see as just decadence, a kind of vice, or a way to avoid saying what's on your mind. I think this begins roughly when pop artists became expected to write their own songs, be "original." Not everybody's capable of stunning insight over the course of an album, but get the right producer and everything can sound... shiny. Or scratchy. Or etc. Take even an old "bass-heavy" Led Zeppelin track and put it side by side with any current pop-tune. Both CDs will probably fall over on your table, but the Zep track will fall first. No bass. (tha-dump)

(Commence arm-twisting) -- I guess what I'm proposing is that once the expectation was set that studio recordings of pop musicians were to be original, authentic, sui generis, it stood to reason that the sonic texture (which people were just starting to notice as hi-fis and headphones became more common) must be as well.

None of this really argues that the sonics and lyric significance of a song can't be holistically balanced. I think Get Ur Freak On does this very well, actually. But I think the historical moment when a song could be complete in and of itself (am I demagoguing you pf? or not understanding?) has passed, and the body really is violated with all kinds of glitter paint and textural nipple-piercings.

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 22 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I changed my mind but didn't edit the post.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 December 2016 21:04 (four years ago) link

if earnest, sincere & heartfelt = "boring" then all aboard the boring train to dadtown

Flamenco Drop (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:20 (four years ago) link

plenty of mystery and danger on Together Alone, to my ears, but that's not really why I love Crowded House, or that album most of all theirs.

Herpes Bizarre (stevie), Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:38 (four years ago) link

Just put Woodface on and skipped straight to... 'Whispers and Moans'! I get this song in my head quite a lot whenever I think of this LP... this and 'Tall Trees', for some reason. What's with the shouting part at the end, though!?

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:46 (four years ago) link

"She Goes On"!

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 December 2016 23:05 (four years ago) link

Man, 'Chocolate Cake' surely must rank as one of the worst things they ever did. Still, even now, I can't believe that of all the songs on Woodface, they somehow decides that 'Chocolate Cake' should be the fucking lead single. I heard that 'It's Only Natural' was originally slated as the lead single but they changed their minds (or lost their minds, IMO) ... and to put it as the opening track, too!

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 17:43 (four years ago) link

*decided

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 17:43 (four years ago) link

"Chocolate Cake" must surely reek.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 19:32 (four years ago) link

I never heard "Chocolate Cake" on college radio even though it climbed to #2 on the modern rock chart. I did hear "It's Only Natural" a lot that early fall though.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 19:33 (four years ago) link

'Weather With You' was probably the biggest hit off the record here... I don't recall seeing the video to 'Chocolate Cake' until well after it was released. I don't think I ever heard it on the radio.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 19:38 (four years ago) link

It couldn't have done 'em much favours in the US, either ("and the excess of fat on your Anerican bones/will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone" ... ouch!)

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 19:39 (four years ago) link

I'm guessing that Tim was mostly the driving force behind 'Chocolate Cake' ... it doesn't feel like a Neil song to me at all.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Tuesday, 13 December 2016 19:55 (four years ago) link

Saw Chocolate Cake on the Chart Show when it was released, memorable song but no hit. Never understood all the hate it gets

PaulTMA, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 00:10 (four years ago) link

Love "Chocolate Cake." Could have done with more of that darkness & spikiness resulting from Tim's sojourn in the band. (Given how that silly vs sardonic vibe fit Hessie's personality, it would have been interesting if a Tim / Paul cowriting element had sprung up, should Tim have been able to stay: the two were roommates during their overlap in Split Enz, I just remembered while typing this sentence.)

sad, hombres (sic), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 02:31 (four years ago) link

I like/love all Crowded House and Finn solo to varying degrees, but the other day I was reminded of Christgau's massive antipathy toward the group and I was trying to figure out why. The conclusion I came to is that Neil Finn is a great melody guy, good with hooks and gorgeous stuff, but maaaaaaybe not the best songwriter, in the total package sense. Hmm, that's harsher than I mean, since I love his songs. Maybe it's that he's not a particularly memorable lyricist, there's no wit or smarts or much more beyond the most general of things going on with his words. Which is not a problem, really - again, I like/love all Crowded House and Finn solo to varying degrees - but it helped me understand how someone might not like them so much, or how one might approach them as a cult act rather than a proper pop act. Back to Christgau, he mentions pretension, iirc, but that's actually something I think Neil Finn lacks, and, ironically, what maybe makes him fall short for some (but not me).

Anyway, in some ways the first 7 Worlds Collide live album is a great entree. It's a sign of his respect from fellow musicians that he could get Johnny Marr, a chunk of Radiohead, and Eddie Vedder, among others, as his support band. Lately I like his first two solo albums best. For CH, for some reason I've always gravitated toward Temple of Low Men.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 03:57 (four years ago) link

One of my faves of his:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN8lJmZpZYA

Another:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVoNbOJpIYU

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 03:58 (four years ago) link

I like/love all Crowded House and Finn solo to varying degrees, but the other day I was reminded of Christgau's massive antipathy toward the group and I was trying to figure out why. The conclusion I came to is that Neil Finn is a great melody guy, good with hooks and gorgeous stuff, but maaaaaaybe not the best songwriter, in the total package sense. Hmm, that's harsher than I mean, since I love his songs. Maybe it's that he's not a particularly memorable lyricist, there's no wit or smarts or much more beyond the most general of things going on with his words. Which is not a problem, really - again, I like/love all Crowded House and Finn solo to varying degrees - but it helped me understand how someone might not like them so much, or how one might approach them as a cult act rather than a proper pop act. Back to Christgau, he mentions pretension, iirc, but that's actually something I think Neil Finn lacks, and, ironically, what maybe makes him fall short for some (but not me).

idk "Can't Carry On," "Don't Dream It's Over," lots of stuff on Woodface -- good words. Christgau's rancor is overwrought.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 04:06 (four years ago) link

Maybe it's that he's not a particularly memorable lyricist, there's no wit or smarts or much more beyond the most general of things going on with his words.

Distant Sun is a great lyric. A lot of the stuff on Together Alone is really memorable and thoughtful to me. Christgau dislike a lot of great stuff.

There shouldn't be a thread for Dennis Perrin tweets (stevie), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 11:11 (four years ago) link

It's weird, I think a lot of his lyrics work, and I like a lot of them, but I'm not sure how many of them are more than just kind of vague place holders. Honestly, when it comes to Neil Finn I have trouble balancing my own fandom with anything close to objectivity. As far as I'm concerned all his lyrics are memorable, because I remember them.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 12:35 (four years ago) link

But, like, take Neil Finn buddy and frequent tourmate Paul Kelly. I think Paul Kelly is a brilliant lyricist, but a lot more meat and potatoes when it comes to melodies and songs.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 12:36 (four years ago) link

I should stress that I find the vague elusiveness of many of Finn's lyrics appealing myself. They don't get in the way, and in a general sense help him convey his particularly brilliant brand of melancholy, especially in songs like "Don't Dream It's Over," or "Four Seasons in One Day," or "Distant Sun," that sort of thing. But when I think back to his several albums with Split Enz, several albums with Crowded House, several solo albums and side projects, dozens of dozens of great songs, there are only a few lines that ever jump out at me. Even then, "My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof" is a great but meaningless line, imo. Of all his stuff the opening couplet of deep cut "In The Lowlands" always stands out: "Oh hell, trouble is coming/Out here in panic and alarm." That's a great start, very evocative, but I'm not sure it ever pays off. Not that it needs to! But if the (to me) prima facia pleasures of his voice and melodies don't do it for you, I don't think there's much else to convince the unconvinced. Which iirc was Christgau's argument: hooks are easy. Not coincidentally, I've heard Finn say the same thing, that the tunes and melodies come easy, but that he struggles with the words.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 13:44 (four years ago) link

Most lyrics by anybody are vague place holders!

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 13:49 (four years ago) link

Of all his stuff the opening couplet of deep cut "In The Lowlands" always stands out: "Oh hell, trouble is coming/Out here in panic and alarm."

I'm glad you like this one too; I find myself humming it every few months. But it wouldn't stand out without his singing or the arrangement.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 13:51 (four years ago) link

I've always really loved Distant Sun because of the way he seems to balance mulling over the challenge of keeping a long-term relationship strong and resonant with this chorus that evokes the idea of romantic love as larger-than-life rapture or magic - to go from "Tell me all the things you would change / I don't pretend to know what you want... No fire where I lit my spark / I am not afraid of the dark" to "Seven worlds will collide / whenever I am by your side / And dust from a distant sun / Will shower over everyone" is just brilliant to me, and very affecting.

I am soppy as all get-out though, so.

There shouldn't be a thread for Dennis Perrin tweets (stevie), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 13:55 (four years ago) link

Nobody's mentioned "Fall At Your Feet" -- this is definitely their POO moment. The harmonies on the chorus are just sublime. It's the type of thing that catches the attention of people who are only passively listening to the song.

Mind you, this is coming from an admitted fan of dull dad-pop. And even I lost a lot of respect for the band after I recently watched the video for "Something So Strong".

enochroot, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 17:38 (four years ago) link

I love when the harmonies go faaaalllll and Froom (or Tim Finn?) play that simple keyboard part.

And even I lost a lot of respect for the band after I recently watched the video for "Something So Strong".

aww they're adorable

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:11 (four years ago) link

Directed by Alex Proyas, said video.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:13 (four years ago) link

I said in the Paul Hester RIP thread a decade ago that this video is one of the few convincing period depictions of guys in videos who look like they genuinely love each other.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:14 (four years ago) link

Christgau's argument: hooks are easy.

I'd like to thank hit songwriter and the Dean Ween of music critics - Robert Christgau - for this observation.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:27 (four years ago) link

From "Crowded House: Something So Strong", By Chris Bourke:


'Something So Strong' was also directed by an Australian, Evan English, but the band have mixed feelings about the excruciatingly wholesome clip. 'It ended up looking like a commercial for margarine,' says Nick...
The intention of English, a left-winger, was to 'tap into the soft, white underbelly of middle America,' says Neil... 'I think it looked a bit much like a toothpaste commercial myself.'

enochroot, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:28 (four years ago) link

Ah, thanks for that. Proyas directed at least one early video IIRC.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:29 (four years ago) link

Hester's backflip is a bit much. Remind see of that Greil Marcus line about Terence Trent D'Arby's deeply rehearsed laugh in "Wishing Well."

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:30 (four years ago) link

Nobody's mentioned "Fall At Your Feet" -- this is definitely their POO moment. The harmonies on the chorus are just sublime. It's the type of thing that catches the attention of people who are only passively listening to the song.

Yeah, the harmonies on that song are sublime, but the strange thing about that song is the middle eight, where if you listen closely to the backing vocal, you realise it's shouting along with the lead vocal but mixed so it sits behind the lead.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:31 (four years ago) link

Yeah, Fall At Your Feet is another winner. Finn is just such a great singer. His voice suits his material perfectly.

A keeper from the comeback record:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vto40GYUNY8

Excellent Johnny Marr co-write off the comeback:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Oi9w7DgDiY

Just for fun - funn - Finn and Marr doing "There is a Light:"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNYL1gitgm8

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 19:47 (four years ago) link

jesus why does Marr insist on cutting his hair in the least flattering manner

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 December 2016 20:18 (four years ago) link

See: this thread: T/S: Aging Mod Dudes vs Aging Punk Dudes

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 20:31 (four years ago) link

Neil Finn buddy and frequent tourmate Paul Kelly.

"frequent" if you mean "they played together on all 21 dates of a month-long collaborative tour, once"

sad, hombres (sic), Monday, 26 December 2016 04:01 (four years ago) link

Dude, when Crowded House toured America behind Woodface I'm pretty sure Paul Kelly opened up on every date. They've been sympatico and in sync for a long time.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 26 December 2016 14:35 (four years ago) link

Actually, maybe it was around the time of the first Crowded House LP, which is more or less when Gossip was released. Anyway, they played together plenty of times.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 26 December 2016 14:38 (four years ago) link

^^^ Johnny Marr was still in his "I invented Oasis" phase which affected his hairstyles and dress sense for an agonisingly long duration

PaulTMA, Monday, 26 December 2016 18:28 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

I rank those albums.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 31 December 2018 04:12 (two years ago) link

really smart likening of Dream to Live to Tell! worth posting from a tent in the middle of the Serengeti.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 31 December 2018 10:59 (two years ago) link

he's just so damn good

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 31 December 2018 13:15 (two years ago) link

Shoutout for 'Private Universe' — I approve.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Monday, 31 December 2018 17:21 (two years ago) link

LOL re "Chocolate Cake". Such a mess.

I really liked Temple of Low Men as a tween (premature Dad-ish tastes?) but the likes of "Mansion in the Slums" and "Sister Madly" (a big hit on radio locally) got old quickly. Perhaps I preferred the lyrical "vague placeholders" elsewhere. I'd definitely add "In the Lowlands" to the "keeper" column, at the very least.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 1 January 2019 05:45 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZggTaHMoQYs

This is pretty hip stuff for Crowded House, closer to the spirit of Split Enz in some ways. I've gotta assume Neil was nudged a bit by his two sons, who are both in the band, as well as the return of Froom.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 1 November 2020 14:36 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

Another good new one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HGjvQxGxNQ

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 18 February 2021 03:22 (two weeks ago) link

They're really flaunting the lack of social distancing they need to do in NZ :)

New songs are much in the vein of the Pajama Club album:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDff0Mjvij8

PaulTMA, Thursday, 18 February 2021 13:15 (two weeks ago) link

Both points make sense, given more than half of the band is Finn and his family! But yeah, Australia and NZ seem to be pretty good, strict travel restrictions aside. Even Froom is out there, iirc I remember reading about him flying over and quarantining in advance of a series of live dates.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 18 February 2021 13:47 (two weeks ago) link

"come to the Island, where we can save our souls"

This is a good news day for us in Crowded House. Following a move of alert level 3 to level 2 last night, we are now free to gather in a room here at Roundhead Studios and play music, what a joy! Mitchell Froom and Nick Seymour have been released from 2 weeks’ quarantine this morning (after multiple negative swabs) and both are now present in this very room. We are together again.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 18 February 2021 14:34 (two weeks ago) link


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