Sunday, May 21, 2006

Moxy Fruvous and The Present Tense Tureen …

There are many different things I look for when i listen to music. In some cases, songs or bands I like are for very specific reasons … ZZ Top is perhaps a good example here. If you're drinking beer with your on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and you need some high energy tunes to crank up on the stereo, you can do a lot worse than ZZ Top. Every song they recorded is hard fast-paced, tight, bluesy pap with enough variation to be mildly interesting, but enough sameness to be perfect background music. Listen closely to 3 or 4 ZZ Top hits and you'll quickly realize they recorded the same song a few dozen times with small changes to lyric and rhythm.

But occasionally, you find a band that appeals to all senses, as I like to say, and Moxy Fruvous is one such band. I bring this up today because I recently blogged on a current project of one of the former members, Jian Ghomeshi, and I wanted to comment a bit on a couple of the songs I like of theirs. First of all, there's no way you can say they recorded the same song over and over … the variation of theme, of genre, of instrumentation, of rhythm, across just the 2 albums I own (Bargainville and Wood) is remarkable for any group of musicians, and it shows a grasp of music and theory that goes well beyond the norm these days.

There is one specific song that I think has always been my favorite of theirs, though I suspect it may not be the one most people would pick. Its a rather strange little tune from the album Wood called The Present Tense Tureen. Musically, its a very folksy tune, light and fun, and at first glance the lyrics seem light and playful as well, but a close listen shows some extra layers, IMO. Catching a line in a song like "Not a fictional device, we sail ravines, and give advice" coming from a real live Elf standing in a boat leads you into a lovely fun house of recursive reference. When the song ends with the Elf making a tureen (go ahead and look it up … I had to the first time I heard the song, lol) of soup for answers, its equally wonderful.

Then he giggled in french - that's what he did
Like a kid at Christmas, as he opened the lid
"Help yourself" he beamed with pride
But there was no sweet soup inside.

The other song I wanted to highlight was "Horseshoes" also from Wood, oddly enough. I'm not gonna wax poetic much on this one, but the chorus represents an excellent way to view life and the world, IMO.

Look straight at the coming disaster
Realize what you've lost
You keep handing out horseshoes
Horseshoes have gotta be tossed.

Be careful who you hand out horseshoes too … they WILL be tossed.

Just wanted to share my thoughts with you … I hadn't thought much about them as a band until I saw Jian on The Hour awhile back with his new series, and I realized that although they likely didn't get the commercial success they deserved, they definitely deserve a place in music history, IMO.


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