Hey all! Thanks for tuning in for week #65 (!) of One Week // One Band, and thanks a lot to Hendrik for letting me take the reigns (and congrats on hitting 25k followers, of course). As he mentioned, I’m a freelancer who writes for Pitchfork, the Village Voice and Paper magazine. I’m currently based in Washington, D.C., and live with my dog Ike and my beautiful fiance Allie.
As he also mentioned: Liars. I obviously wouldn’t be talking about them if they weren’t a favorite of mine, but they also seemed like a perfect fit for a project like One Week. From their punk-funk beginnings to druggy experimental records like Drum’s Not Dead to the more straightforward, kraut-y thrash of their self-titled fourth album to the dirge-y dread of Sisterworld, this band has been all over the goddamn place. So it’s in that same kind of spirit that I’ll be jumping around all over the place this week too, from offering the requisite photos and videos and tracks and interviews, but also essays, personal experiences, talk about the new album WIXIW and maybe even a guest or two.
Really looking forward to this! Let’s get started.
“Plaster Casts of Everything” is probably (maybe) my favorite Liars song of all time. It’s perfectly relentless, not to mention an insane way to kick off an album (Liars). The video for “Plaster Casts of Everything” (above) is, uh… not my favorite Liars video of all time. I wish I could’ve sat in on the treatment for this one. “And then, what if while I’m driving, a light comes out of my mouth?” Enjoy the low-budget (and predictably NSFW) camp. Or better yet, just enjoy the song.
Musically, Liars aren’t a terribly funny band. They can be obtuse, often absurd, but rarely ever flat-out funny. But humor always seemed to play a big role in the band. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Angus, Aaron or Julian, but poke around any interview or video, and the three come off not only as affable guys, but often genuinely funny ones. For people who make music that is often angular, visceral, challenging, etc., they’re a really charming band in a lot of ways. I’ve always respected artists whose personalities reflect the music they make, but more often am I heartened to find out that people who make the most complex and engaging art are the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously. Because, after all, here’s a band that released this:
“I sought legal advise, and out solicitor classified the content of the artwork to be “Hardcore gay porn”…In order to sell hardcore porn in the UK one is required to obtain a license and in addition the content of the material sold must be approved/ certified by the censors. If we allow the band to sell on tour then we may effectively be in a situation of supplying them with uncensored pornographic material for further resale, this in itself may be a criminal offense, any action to be taken would be against the directors of Mute. If the band want to sell at gigs it may be a requirement for the venue to have a license to sell pornographic material, how do we ensure that all sales of the sleeves at venues and/or Mute Bank shall not be to minors?”
Not a bad marketing ploy. Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page for “It Fit When I Was a Kid” features the uncensored image, which I find awfully strange. Not everyone is going to find this humorous, most probably think it’s simply juvenile (who could blame them), but there’s a really interesting juxtaposition between that goofy-as-hell sleeve and the actual music (“Slammin’ beats!”) contained within.
And hey, while we’re at it, more Liars laffs, in which the band plays with an electrified version of the Operation! board game.
We’re going to be talking more about Drum’s Not Dead later on in the week, but I wanted to close the day on a high note. I was a sophomore in college when this record came out, which is kind of a perfect time to be introduced to something like “A Visit From Drum”. It’s deceptively simple, but there’s real alchemy at work. Very few songs can hypnotize so effortlessly and so immediately.
So yesterday I gave you an example of a great Liars song with a pretty terrible video, so let’s cleanse our collective palette with a great Liars song with a great video. Directed by Andy Bruntel (probably best known for this awesome clip), the video for “Scissor” (the first single from the band’s fifth album Sisterworld) is surprisingly simple, but still pretty harrowing in that “I just had the weirdest dream,” kind of way. Bonus: Here is a little something I wrote about the track back in 2010.
Aside from the really incredible Sisterworld packaging (there’s the how-to visual aid above, and here is a more detailed look over at Drowned In Sound), I’ve never been a huge fan of the artwork that has graced most of their LPs. Their singles and EPs, on the other hand, are a different story. Usually much creepier, here are a few of my favorites:
Note: Is that the same burnt-out chapel on the cover of “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” and the Oneida split? Hmmmm…