Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: The Remembrance of Hawaii Because of the Coffee and the Coincidence of Fiona Apple and Art Gallery Dude Through The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Fiona Apple

BENNINGTON -- Art Gallery Dude remembers why he thought of Hawaii yesterday, minutes before a Hawaiian angel Chalked It Up! in Fiddlehead's Graffiti Vault.

The Mahalo Connection began when Hawaiian java arrived for AGD ...

... so he was thinking of how good today's first cup of Volcano Blend would taste when Anela walked into the gallery with a woman who looked like her adoptive mother.

This is Anela's chalky contribution to the Graffiti Vault ...

... excitement consumed her soon as she exited the vault. "I'm coming back here again!"

Exit stage left ...

... Enter stage right ...

"The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do" is Fiona Apple's fourth album that debuted June 19 at No. 3 on the Billboard chart and sold 72,000 copies the first week.

And why not? Fans had to wait 7 years for a new album.

The Idler Wheel wins more battles than it loses.

On one hand Fiona continues to sing from her famed cottage industry of "Woe is me, I have no heart, I hate life, Don't cry for me because I'm just some broken misery chick" -- but don't get AGD wrong, he loves the heavy and vivid lyrics Fiona drops like emotional bombs.

On the other hand, the 2 best songs on the album -- "Anything We Want" and "Hot Knife" -- let her fans see a different side of Fiona, the type of Fiona who sings about the excitement and thrill of courting and kissing and cutting through the cold butter of loneliness.

It's a side of Fiona you hardly ever hear because she'd rather be the broken chick.

"Every Single Night" is the first song, a combination of tribal and tingly, with lyrics such as "that's when the pain comes in like a second skeleton" and "just made a meal for both of us to choke on" and here we go again, Fiona.

But something interesting happens at the 42-second mark, and it explains how the feminine world of music has changed since Fiona's last album "Extraordinary Machine" in 2005.

Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) and Adele have electrified the world with their golden pipes, so Fiona tries to keep pace with Florenceian chanting from her gutty-wut ...

"Daredevil" is the second song and sounds like something out of the Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons. It has a tiptoe'y feel yet could work for a Tim Burton movie -- a theme throughout The Idler Wheel. Fiona screams about being all the fishes in the sea.

"Valentine" is the third song -- one of the 3 best on The Idler Wheel. It almost seems like a fun and silly song dedicated to Janet. At the same time, Misery Chick emerges early with lines such as "I'm amorous but out of reach, a still life drawing of a peach" and "I'm a tulip in a cup, I stand no chance of growing up" -- but what's cool here is that you hear the piano connection between Fiona and one of her influences, Carole King ...

The other weird thing about Valentine (if you listen toward the end of that Soundcloud embed) is that the "You, You, You, You" is the goofy part of a song AGD wrote and loosely recorded one night two years ago in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pee-Ay.

"That part sounded so familiar," AGD told The Incredible Kulk today, "I remember recording myself singing that song on Audioboo or YouTube and having a good time laughing at how silly I sounded. But at some point I must have deleted those recordings because they are nowhere to be found."

The ex-newspaper editor left his notebook of lyrics in Trenton and fears they're gone.

"If they are lost," he said, "I'll be totally bummed, but I'll have no one to blame but myself."

By the way, some of the best lyrics in Valentine are "I made it to a dinner date, my teardrops seasoned every plate" -- which spawned this Twitter exchange ...

"Jonathan" is the fourth song on The Idler Wheel. Fiona wants Jonathan to go on a choo-choo ride to Coney Island, and the song begins with sounds of wheel and steel. AGD made a short movie of a train ride to Coney Island with a loved one in 2009. It had similar train sounds.

That said, "Jonathan" is one two weak songs on The Idler Wheel.

"Left Alone" is the fifth song and sounds like something you might hear in a summer stock play. In this one Fiona sings "Oh, God, what a good guy" but makes herself unavailable emotionally because her "ills are articulate" and "woes are granular" and "ants weigh more than elephants" and she just wants to be left alone, dammit!

"Werewolf" is the sixth song, and it's a great song that uses beautiful imagery and similies to explain why she drives men off time and again: "I can liken you to a werewolf, the way you left me for dead, but I forgot I provided a full moon /// and I can liken you to a shark, the way you bit off my head, but then again I was waving around a bleeding open wound" ... and it's another example of Fiona's minstrel-cabaret music that could score a Tim Burton flick.

"Periphery" and "Regret" are the seventh and eighth songs and are OK.

Songs 9 ("Anything We Want") and 10 ("Hot Knife") are excellent.

In Anything We Want, Fiona sings about being kissed on the neck when she and he can find some time alone ...

"and then
we can
do anything
we want"

... and it's at the 2:35 mark (the 13-second mark of the Soundcloud embed below) where AGD notices a similarity to Billy Joel's "Dont Ask Why" ...

Hot Knife is the best song on The Idler Wheel because 1) it's tribalistic with the Bjork-like "Human Behavior" jungle pounding of the congas, 2) it sounds like Nelly Furtado is singing in the background ...

... and 3) for the first time AGD hears Fiona without that awful baggage of childhood.

"He EXCITES! me" is something you just haven't heard Fiona exclaim, blurt, chant or scream during her first three albums. So for all of her "I'm Broken" mantras, there's a real woman, now in her 30s, begging to love -- and to be loved. It would be wonderful to hear an entire album when Fiona isn't miserable, angry, sullen, sad, raging or mad. 

Seriously, Fiona, think about it. Thanks, kid.

For a ton of reviews of The Idler Wheel click HERE.

AGD gives The Idler Wheel 4.25 chalk marks. He's also written about her HERE.

UPDATE: The " ... you can play UFC rookie" line in Anything We Want is very funny.