-->
Music

Aqueduct: I Sold Gold

Justin Cober-Lake

With its smart (self-conscious but not clever) lyrics, catchy music, and quality production, Aqueduct's I Sold Gold has all the makings of a hit indie record.


Aqueduct

I Sold Gold

Label: Barsuk
US Release Date: 2005-01-25
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

With its smart (self-conscious but not clever) lyrics, catchy music, and quality production, Aqueduct's I Sold Gold has all the makings of a hit indie record, and it might have enough Ben Gibbardry and OC-ability to get David Terry, the act's sole full member, wider attention. After one self-released full-length recording, Terry signed to Barsuk for an EP, and now an album that's a fun personal showcase.

For this effort, Terry has kept two tracks from that EP, Pistols at Dawn, and they're both winners. "Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights" satirically depicts the secretive stance of a tough-guy. After a steady keys intro and some heavy drums, Terry intones, "Don't ever ask me where I go / Last man who asked me had to go," and later threatens to "pull this heat [he's] packing". The solo consists of the still-steady keys playing a one-note-at-a-time melody while the programmed drums kick it up a notch. The song is ridiculous and infectious but, like the best of mouth-off pop, has something to say. With club-lite beats and a bouncy synth, Terry's menacing falls silly, making a comment on the unflinching poise of the badass.

The other re-run, "Tension" opens with piano and effects that would do Grandaddy proud. The lyrics sound like an answer to the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights", indicated by the opening, "You've got a set of starry eyes / A pair that could make me realize..." However, instead of two lovers staying above the melee of life, we see that only our narrator is "in the sky", and he's "waiting patiently for" his beloved. His beloved, sadly enough, wants nothing to do with him, and we slowly learn that the object of affection ("object" being the key word here) feels "a little paranoid" around our narrator, refusing to speak to him on the phone and letting her anger grow. Rather than the lover- looking-to-help that we anticipate from the opening two stanzas, we get the semi-psycho stalker singer. Where "Such Great Heights" takes us on a vertical escape in union, "Tension" reveals a cold distance, from which an untrustworthy figure can pull us into a less comfortable reality.

As on "Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights", Terry gives us characters who don't seem to be what they should be, or who seem stuck in an awkward situation. In some ways, these songs are reminiscent of labelmate John Vanderslice, but the comparison works better in terms of production. The engineering -- aided by Matt Pence (who's worked with Jay Farrar and Deathray Davies) and Jason Holstrom of United State of Electronica -- lacks the utter hi-fi nature of Vanderslice's Cellar Door but it nearly matches the separation and precision. I Sold Gold, despite its lack of crisp tones, has clearly seen plenty of production fussiness, leading to a great sounding record that would fit in a lineup of Tiny Telephone productions, like Death Cab for Cutie in particular.

Fortunately, Aqueduct doesn't rely on its production values; placing even greater emphasis on songwriting. Terry's a witty lyricist, but one of his best tracks comes when he keeps the words to a minimum. "The Suggestion Box" begins with some electro-screech and a stirring piano line (yes, setting the tone for what is to come). The lyrics consist entirely of six similar lines based on an "instead of / you should" structure before closing on the two lines that reveal why the suggestion box needed to be put up: "I'd never leave you there / Screaming for my love." Even when he seems more lighthearted, Terry never loses the intensity. "Growing Up With GNR" reveals heartbreak through the lens of nostalgia and Guns 'n' Roses fandom. He sings, "I was only 12, dammit all to hell / I was feeling fine / Hearing Axl Rose on the radio / Singing 'Sweet Child o' Mine.'" It sounds like the simple lost love of early adolescence, with its "dammit all to hell" outburst, but it's actually a serious reflection on the past, escape from a fantasy, and the source of solace.

With these kinds of songs, Aqueduct should be starting off 2005 in the right way. Terry's produced a unique sound, but one with references to his more successful peers. He claims that he's "sold gold," but that's not the metaphor that people are going to use to describe this album; it's a struggle for me to resist it, but Terry the lyricist deserves better.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock each did their stint as a lonely Mexican cowboy, it seems. These and other things you didn't know about A Charlie Brown Christmas.

How Would You Like to Be the Director of Our Christmas Play?

It's really a beautiful little movie and has affected my life in numerous ways. For years, especially when we were poor, we always tried to find the littlest saddest Christmas tree possible. In fact, my son Eli has a Christmas tree set up right now that is just one single branch propped up in a juice bottle. And just a couple weeks ago we were at a wedding, everyone was dancing, and me and my wife Amy and my friend Garth started dancing like the Peanuts characters do in the Christmas special. -- Comic artist James Kochalka.

Bill Melendez answers questions with the sort of vigor that men a third his age invest thousands in herbal supplements to achieve. He punctuates his speech with belly chuckles and comic strip taglines like "Oh, boy!" and "I tell 'ya!" With the reckless abandon that Melendez tosses out words like pleasure, it's clear that 41 years after its premiere, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of his favorite topics of conversation. "It changed my life," he states simply, "being involved with this silly little project."

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image