Monday, August 9, 2010

Jim Murdoch's "This Is Not About What You Think"

This is Jim Murdoch.  He's Scottish. He's intelligent. When you read stuff he's written and understand it, you feel intelligent too.

I can't even begin to pretend that I know how to review a book, but what I can tell you is why I enjoyed this collection of poems.

Jim writes how you wish you could write, but not so much that the jealousy prevents you from laughing at the things you wish you'd said, like, "I'd give my childhood a three. That's me being generous." This is from his poem, "Marks."

His poems follow a thoughtful progression with "Advice to Children" interspersed throughout - things you probably are happy to read now, but glad you didn't have to hear when you were a child. This, from "Imaginary Friends: "People leave; it's what they do..."
As you read along, you will be struck by his wit and adeptness. You'll be thinking, "Oh, there's so much humor here. This is a fun book." But at page 39, your breath will catch in your throat. The poem "Still Birth" will make you realize this man can not only be glib, but he has a depth of feeling that transcends gender barriers. Then you will go back and reread his poems with new eyes.

A major theme in Jim's life is THE TRUTH. You will see it here. In his poem "Shadowplay," he says, "What are lies but truths gone rotten and secrets lie in that no man's land between the two." Man, I wish I'd written that, because I think it's so true.  The major theme of his blog and novel, Living with the Truth is found in "Old Flames In the Rain."   
"...and the truth about lies
is we can't live without them.
Not even the white ones."
The title of this collection is ironic because Jim gives you permission right away to make of these poems something he never intended or imagined so it pretty much is about what you think.
 Click HERE to order
to read excerpts -

Monday, August 2, 2010

Update on My Neice's Band: Neon Trees and "Animal" Climbing the Charts

Utah synth-pop band scores Hot 100 hit and love from the Killers 

Who: Provo, Utah synth-pop revivalists Neon Trees. The all-Mormon band started up in Southern California in 2004 when frontman Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen's fathers suggested the two play together. "They both thought we were deadbeats," says Glenn. The band migrated to Utah separately and made fans in the Killers, who helped them score a record deal.
Sounds Like: Their debut Habits is filled with Eighties pop meshed with bombastic alt-rock choruses — like the Killers playing backup for Duran Duran. "Your Surrender" is a U2-style singalong, "1983" is a bratty dose of keyboard-driven pop punk and Hot 100 single "Animal" is an irresistibly catchy lovesick dance tune. The band's is pretty clear about its inspiration: "New Wave is basically all I listen to," says Glenn.
Killer Instinct: After playing clubs for a few years, the band got its break in 2008 when Killers drummer Ronnie Vanucci Jr. dropped in to see a Vegas gig. The drummer was so impressed, he offered the band a few opening slots on the Killers massive Day & Age tour. "We've always played like we play in front of thousands of people anyway," says Glenn. But the band hasn't rested on its connection to Brandon Flowers and Co. "We've made a conscious effort to not always associate with the Killers," says Glenn. "Ronnie even said, "I think you guys can stand on your own.' "
Clean Team: The band doesn't preach their Mormon teachings in their songs, but none of them drink or party. "It's funny how backstage, if you say you're doing it for God or doing it for morals or for health, people say, 'That's stupid' or 'lame.' But if you say you've been sober for 10 years, they respect you because you've been through AA," Glenn says. "Half the people think I'm on drugs anyway, I've always had a drone-y southern California voice and worn sunglasses in an airport when I shouldn't."
Bad Romance: Glenn's favorite track on Habits is "Our War," a heartbreaking plea to a girl he dated for two years. He even prepared for marriage by asking his aunt for a family heirloom ring. The song traces the day things started to fall apart, when the couple were supposed to take a trip to Salt Lake City. "I was at a bus stop waiting in the rain all day," he says. "I walked all day in the rain. Looking back on it, it felt cinematic. But since then it's bottled up and made me not trust. Maybe the whole next Neon Trees album will be more angry."