Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two States

According to Wikipedia, there have been 27 separate attempts to split California into multiple states since 1850, the year California earned statehood. Most of these actions attempted to split the state in half, dividing the Golden State between the north and south.

Two states!
We want two states!
North and south
Two, two states
A couple of times, the northern portions of the state were nearly renamed the Colorado, either as a territory or another state entirely. Portions of other states were also considered in California secession plans, like Oregon and Arizona. Mountain Ranges were often considered when determining where to draw the borders. In the late 19th century, the building of the Ridge Route as a way to cross the Tehachapi Mountains helped thwart talk of splitting the state.

The last attempt to split the state came in 1992. State Senator Stan Statham was able to pass a proposal in the House to put the issue of state secession on the ballot in 58 counties. The proposal didn't survive the Senate.
Forty million daggers
Two states
We want two states
There's no culture
There's no spies
When one travels to California, it becomes rather apparent that the state is already very divided. The southern portion is sunny and generally very conservative, especially in Orange County. The north has the very liberal bay area and touches California's hippie cousin, Oregon. The temperatures also tend to be cooler and rainier than the south.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Date w/ IKEA

Jingle-jangle goes the opening guitar chords of "Date w/IKEA," one of two contributions by Scott Kannberg to Brighten the Corners. This might be the poppiest song Spiral Stairs ever wrote. It's certainly the jangliest.

This was something new for Kannberg. He was generally shut out in previous Pavement albums. He'd fool around on the guitar before the band met to record, and Malkmus would show up with demos and nearly complete songs ready to go. Kannberg came prepared to the BtC sessions with some songs ready for production. Of course, by this time, it was Malkmus' show. Kannberg was somehow able to sneak in two songs. This was one of them.

Even though he was unable to contribute many songs to the catalog, Pavement was good to Kannberg. Much like the situation he describes in the song, Kannberg realized he needed to stay around and stick it out. The song specifically describes a guy staying with his overly dramatic girlfriend despite her wild outbursts. He just joins her on a trip to IKEA for some new furniture when things go awry. It's easier that way.

The jangle mentioned before is something different for the band. The pep of the song actually picks up the album full of mid-tempo SM laments. This track, as well as "Passat Dream," kept BtC from wallowing in the mid-tempo mire. These songs gave the album some balance, cementing Kannberg's value to the band as a secondary songwriter.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Newark Wilder

Cryptic is a love song for polygamists. Malkmus begins the story with a passionate courtship. A brand new era is about to commence for our hero. However, there's the sticky situation with the spouse already in place and not willing to give up her partner...

She won't let you know that I need a right to touch her
She won't let you wait for me
For me to touch you
A once happy marriage is tangled in the mire of a threesome and possible divorce.
Crowds of the people and voices and steeples and wedding rings
Wild are the horses and break-up divorces and separate rooms from
In the end, compromise is found. The first wife keeps the new one hidden, cut out of pictures. The man's needs are met. He's satisfied.
Three of us is enough.
The song, despite the strange, jazzy rhythms, would fit nicely in an episode of Big Love. Its groove is sleepy, almost lazy, but it fills in the slot right behind the radio-ready poppiness of "Cut Your Hair" just before it leads into the raucous "Unfair." "Newark Wilder" is the perfect segue on a perfect album.