Friday, November 17, 2023

Metrical feet/anapests/that indie rock band that blew up

Every year or so I find myself going through the Wikipedia pages on metrical feet after I forget what an amphibrach is. I studied both phonology and poetry in college, so this is where they come together, right? And this is why I make the big bucks [citation needed]. Anyway, in any case today I forgot what a spondee was, and that led me to the page on anapests (or, if you prefer, anap├Žsts, or if you prefer, antidactylus).

I like the fact that one of the examples they include is "A Visit from St. Nicholas", in anapestic tetrameter:

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

But then a few paragraphs later someone launches into the fact that the title track of a certain album by N**tr*l M*lk H*t*l is in anapestic heptameter (say that seven times fast):

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all 'round the sun

So you can basically sing one to the tune of the other (with some creative license). I like it.

So baffling to me that, for some reason, that second/final album was the one that blew up. I remember strongly disliking the obviousness of their first single when I was a poisonous undergraduate music snob, but their debut album was pretty good and I had some good moments rolling around Southern California in my deathtrap Datsun with their fuzzed-out rambles and wild lyrics and left-field fake-gamelan moments warbling on a C-74 in the tape deck. I even saw the last few minutes of their opening set at Spaceland (I think Brian M. wanted to see the headliners and convinced me to drive up to LA). I then promptly fell asleep when the headliners (Trans Am? Was that even a band?) played. "Sir, you can't fall asleep here," they said, but in my defense that venue was awfully dark and the band was not very interesting.

Then that second album came out and I think I may have acquired it via Nappstyrrr. It was OK, kind of a return to the obvious I-IV-Visms of the debut single. The lyrics seemed to be trying too hard (that bit about semen and the mountaintops) or not hard enough (that bit about Jesus Christ). But then I kept hearing it in the cool kid places and then the less cool kid places and now it's everywhere. What a world.