Everything this person has written for TUNETHEPROLETARIAT


Written by

Pela – Waiting On The Stairs

You feel the wind before you see the light. In some stations — depending on the curve of the tunnel that disappears into the darkness to your right — the white light appears before the blast of hot, stagnant air collides with your cheek. But if you’ve been waiting for the subway long enough to notice the gust, you’ve given up on peering into the dark, searching for the train. You know where that leads: Looking for the light at the beginning of the tunnel is worst than standing still. You’re focusing on your book, glancing at the beautiful girl down the platform, skimming the 6,000-word New Yorker article you put on your iPhone for these moments. The train will arrive; it always does. You can disappear from the present.

The wind, pushed in front of the speeding hunk of metal designed to move you forward, brings you back. The people on the platform perk up, knowing this moment is the next step.

If not already visible, the light arrives, followed, undoggedly, inevitably, by the first car, the second, the third, the fourth, slowing, ever slowing until a full stop.

The doors open with a blast of cold air. You walk on, turn left, and through unfocused eyes gaze lazily into the future. [Buy.]

I’ll end up winning

Written by

The National – Karen

References to a woman named Karen wind their way through The National’s catalogue, most notably in Alligator. She shows up in “Karen” (obviously), but also “City Middle” (“Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle / where they hang the lights”) and “Looking for Astronauts” (“You know you have a permanent piece / of my medium-sized American heart”), a song whose title is a phrase she uttered.

The woman in question is Carin Besser, lead singer Matt Berninger’s then girlfriend, now wife. The former The New Yorker fiction editor contributed lyrics to “Brainy, “Ada,” and “Gospel” on 2007’s Boxer, but two years prior, she was serving as an inspiration rather than a named co-conspirator. (While she doesn’t make an appearance in the liner notes until the band’s fourth studio album, she deserves credit for influencing her future husband sooner. The poet’s appreciation for words prompted Beringer’s lyrical improvement — better vocabulary, stronger imagery, deeper metaphors — between Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers and Alligator.)

Like so many modern couples, the pair broke up, reunited, and repeated the process before finally figuring out they should be together. Today, they live a near perfect existence. They are filled with love or whatever you call it. They drink wine with their friends while enjoying singalongs in dungeons in the south of France. Now, their young child inspires songs (High Violet‘s “Afraid of Everybody.”).

The only difference between us and them is a couple hundred thousand people purchased their story. But basically, they seem like a happy, fulfilled couple. Still, do you think Carin ever turns to her husband, smiles and says, “Hey Matt, you spelled my name wrong. Fuck you. And make me a drink.” [Buy Alligator.]

It’s been a while

Written by

The Strokes – Taken For A Fool

What if the statement lyric on the best song off your most critical album — Dare we call it a comeback? We dare. — was a lie?

“It’s so early I don’t want to wake up./We’re so lucky because we never grow up,” Julian Casablancas sings 105 seconds into “Taken For A Fool.”

Which: fine and inspiring and let’s go drink on the LES until well past 12:51. Etc.

But also: totally, completely, and most importantly, obviously untrue.

Grown up problems defined the making of “Angles.” I know this. You know this. Anyone with a passing interest in the state of Music White People Like knows this. The spider web fractures that extended during the post Is This It years finally broke. Four out of five Strokes recorded the album while Casablancas filled in his parts from afar.

Put the feelings of the group on a scale between love and hate, and you’ll find the weight tilting toward the latter.

A line from 2001: “The Strokes, even on their debut album, sound like experienced professionals for whom mastering the form seems only an album away.”

Three albums later, the existence of Angles indicates the professionalism remains but simultaneously demonstrates how unmastered the form is.

A decade ago — which, you know, sometimes seems like it was only last night — Casablancas knew for sure he was walking out that door.

To where never really mattered.

He knows now where the exit leads. Occasionally, you get the impression he wishes it was all just a dream.

Or maybe just a lie.


The way we get by

Written by

We Have Band – How To Make Friends

The cab leaves me at the corner of Union and Bond. I’m tired. I’m drunk. I’m pretty sure my friend is hanging onto the back of the car, ready to jump off and berate me for leaving the bar early. (It’s 1 a.m.) I look back; he’s not. I reach into my pocket to get my phone and read the text messages he’s sent.

It’s not there. It’s on the backseat of the cab, having slipped out of my pocket for the second time tonight. The cab is a block and a half down the street, picking up speed. Without thinking, I take off running.

I have two chances to catch him: The light seven blocks away and the one two blocks further. Once he takes a left onto Atlantic, It’s “hey AT&T, here’s $500.”

I’m sprinting. I am Jason Bourne. I know I can run for half a mile, flat out, without getting tired. I don’t know how I know this, I just do. I am flying. I’m catching this cab.

Except I’m not. I am Matt Damon playing Jason Bourne, if Matt Damon were a drunk kid, running in skinny pants and skate shoes, rapidly losing wind. There’s no way I’m catching this cab.

I reassess the situation. The cab, now three blocks ahead, looks like it will get stuck at one, if not both, lights. That’s a positive. There’s a kid lazily riding his bike 10 feet behind me. I gasp: “My phone’s in that cab. Can you try to catch it?”

He looks at me. He considers my plea.

He takes off down the street.

I am excited. I sprint faster in solidarity with my new friend and his rusting mountain bike. I’m running fast; he’s riding much, much faster. Both he and the yellow vehicle are disappearing in the distance.

Fatigue sets in. I can barely see. I just focus on sprinting. I don’t know why I’m still running; it just seems important. I’m not paying attention to what’s happening ahead of me. There’s just the pavement and my increasing urge to vomit.

My compromised senses note an object winding its way towards me. I look up. It’s the kid and his bike, riding uncommitted s-curves in my direction. The cab is nowhere to be seen.

He gets closer. Something in his hand is forcing him to ride erratically. My phone.

He hands it over, and I try to give him some money from my wallet. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “That was amazing,” I pant with far too much enthusiasm. “I kind of lost my car,” he says. “Well, I don’t know if it got lost or towed. I parked it on Union and Bond.” “Can I help with that?” I ask. “Don’t worry about it,” he says, and rides off.

When I finally make it back to the corner, he’s there, riding slowly around searching for his car. He nods at me and shrugs. I nod back, then walk into my apartment. He continues looking.


By the time we met the times had already changed

Written by

Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains

Soon after Garbage broke through in the United States, fire-haired frontwoman Shirley Manson mentioned to Spin that she joined a rock band for the sex. For some reason likely related to minor teenage rebellion, I relayed this fact to my mother one afternoon. In a teachable moment she said that was nice for Shirley, you know if that was the kind of sex she wanted to be having.

I listened, then ignored. Manson was famous, beautiful, and outwardly sexually aggressive; I was 14, shy, and in love with a woman on the cover of a magazine. Teenage boys can dream, can’t they?

Nothing happened, obviously. The singer married and then divorced a Scottish sculptor best known as the “ex-husband of Shirley Manson.” I grew up, wandered happily single around New York, and learned I wouldn’t want to date a rock star even if I could.

We both ended up in the right place. But the antiquated part of me can’t help wondering whether Manson would be happy during other weather patterns as well if she found herself in a committed relationship.

[Spend your money on Garbage.]

Maybe you shouldn’t be entertained

Written by

Okkervil River – Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe

In “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe,” Will Robinson Sheff’s lyrics saunter aimlessly around the absurd. It’s wordplay for the sole sake of wordplay, acoustically pleasing phrases devoid of any meaning. “Where the lock that you locked in the suite says there’s no prying / When the breath that you breathed in the street screams there’s no science.” Lovely. Empty.

During the four-minute and 26 second song, Sheff sings 216 words. Only nine of them matter.

The line “It’s just a life story, so there’s no climax” enters right before the minute mark and disappears before sixty seconds end. It is, fittingly, not the pinnacle of the song or even the verse. It’s not the climax of anything, really; more a vital observation masquerading in the place where a throwaway remark should go. A wandering mind will miss Sheff’s best insight. (The following line, “No more new territory, so pull away the IMAX,” returns immediately to light, airy, ridiculous tricks with rhyme schemes.)

“Our Life” eventually peaks, hitting its highest note as pounded chords and a cacophony of noise explode behind Sheff’s silly simile: “Like a pro at his editing suite takes two weeks stitching / up some bad movie.

The man in question is bored, but he’ll be fine; we don’t live movies. Nor should we. How simultaneously tiring and overwhelming would that get, spending our days trapped along a plot-line that’s crescendo-ing and descending rapidly enough to keep an audience happy? [Buy.]

Snow angels

Written by

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Stamp

On Monday, a blizzard debilitated New York. Three-foot drifts cover the street outside my window; a desolate area of Brooklyn scheduled to be plowed eventually, days after commerce resumes elsewhere in this great city. Some kind soul shoveled a path to the next street over, one deemed important enough to merit a halfhearted pass from an overworked plow.

Last night, we stumbled through the snow banks to a normally packed restaurant where we were seated immediately. The waiter apologized for the lack of specials, saying the delivery trucks never arrived that morning. For that matter, neither did my mail. Not that I can blame the postman. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat…” never was the official motto, anyway.

The MTA, citing the “unprecedented severity of this storm,” feels it cannot be blamed for service interruptions. Which is fine, except that Monday’s affair was only the sixth-worst in history. In February 2006, we walked through tunnels to work after 27 inches fell from the sky. Neither the storm nor the MTA’s incompetence is unprecedented; one, however, is predictable.

In Alberta, they worry about Chinook winds, a warm breeze that blows off the Rocky Mountains. The temperature once rose from -2 to 38 in an hour at Pincher Creek. First Nations people called Chinook “Snow Eater.” We sure could use one of those right about now.

[MySpace / Departing releases on the third of January]

I could really use some caffeine…

Written by

Pearl Jam – Lukin

…but this will have to do. [No Code.]

The cities we live in could be distant stars

Written by

Arcade Fire – We Used To Wait

When I graduated from college, my friend’s mother gave me a pen, 10 monogrammed cards, and the advice that a handwritten message was the most important form of communication. At the time, I nodded in that way you do when you’re 21 and too overwhelmed by the future to comprehend any significance in the moment. Now, however, I’m inclined to agree with her even though I posses the penmanship of a sugar-bombed toddler.

I suspect Win Butler would also nod, but in a genuine way. He overstates the case – “Now it seems strange / How we used to wait for letters to arrive / But what’s stronger still / is how something small could keep you alive” – but less so than you might think. Think of the emails you could whip off in the time it takes to relay a charming anecdote or express sincere appreciation, then to track down an envelope, a stamp, a physical address. Love in $.44.

This isn’t a rant against technology or the pace of life or alienation in the time of Wikileaks. Electronic communication works wonders; I’d rather run than walk; transparency is vital. But Arcade Fire wrote the best album everyone heard in 2010 (sorry, Kanye) because they set out to achieve simple goal. “2009 / 2010 / I want to make a record for how I felt then,” Butler sings on “Month of May.” They succeeded in taking What It Means To Be Alive Today and transferring that onto a record that’s desperately urgent.

“We Used To Wait” is a vital track in the persuasive appeal of the 16-song whole. But when taken in a vacuum, it’s much closer to timeless. It’s a letter that reaches you eventually, not a time-stamped packet of zeros and ones that demands an immediate response. Take a second, uncross your arms, and write back. [Happy Holidays!]

Sparkle and fade

Written by

Everclear – Nervous And Weird (Live)

Everclear first tasted true fame and the fortune that came with record sales in the mid-1990s by convincing waves of disaffected teenagers it would be romantic to swim out past the breakers and watch the world die.

But in 1993, Art Alexakis wasn’t there yet.

“Nervous and Weird” finds band’s lead singer having kicked heroin and departed San Francisco for Portland, Oregon. He’s broke, married, and trying to support an infant daughter. He’s paranoid, scared, and lonely. He’s struggling to take control after a life spent rolling with the tide.

Alexakis prepares for the confrontation by looking inward, able to do so because he’s anchored by “his blind Electra in drag.” He’s okay without her, but only just. Now I sit alone when you’re not around / I’m breathing loud just to hear a friendly noise. New Art is bracingly honest, self-aware, and facing his flaws with the help of his future ex-wife.

He’s started down the right road after a quarter-life of false beginnings. I think it’s better here / than where we used to be sounds positive until you realize it doesn’t mean that life is good, only that it’s improving.

You can’t see the view from inside the break. But sometimes all you need is to know it exists. [Buy.]