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Profile for Gordon Hilgers > Reviews


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Gordon Hilgers RSS Feed (Dallas, Texas, USA)

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Paging Mr. Proust
Paging Mr. Proust
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Original Expections By Far, June 3, 2016
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This review is from: Paging Mr. Proust (Audio CD)
This recording surpassed my expectations, and I am happy indeed Gary Louris is taking a prominent lead here. I more than enjoyed his solo, "Vagabonds", and also quite like both early and late Jayhawks recordings.

High Places Vs Mankind
High Places Vs Mankind
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5.0 out of 5 stars High Places Vs Mankind Is Not The Oil Industry, March 13, 2015
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This review is from: High Places Vs Mankind (Audio CD)
High Places Vs Mankind is an interesting recording. It's not as heavy-handed in terms of electronic gee-gaws as is, say, Panda Bear, but it lurks in the same territory--quasi psychedelic and somewhat ambient. What is nice is how smoothly the recording comes off. It's a whimsical album with some neat lyrics.

My Parents Open Carry
My Parents Open Carry
by Brian Jeffs
Edition: Paperback
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18 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Parents Drive an Urban Assault Vehicle, August 12, 2014
This review is from: My Parents Open Carry (Paperback)
So remember kiddos, if mommy disobeys, think "gun cabinet".

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recording Problems?, June 19, 2014
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This review is from: Tempest (Audio CD)
I am a real fan of noise rock, and Broken Water's "Tempest", in carrying out that tradition, succeeds on many levels, the sheer force of the combination of heavy guitars, odd chord changes and a wall of sound startling the listener out of the dream pop hegemony that seems to pervade indie music right now.

I would have enjoyed the album more had the producers chosen to bring-forward the vocals. As it stands, the vocals are hidden in that wall of DIY, low-fi sound, and while I do like the low-fi effect here, bands like Yuck do a better job of mixing the sounds into a more coherent whole. Were the guitars a little more in sharp relief and were the vocals right up front, I think "Tempest" would have been a better recording for these young wonders.

Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (20/21)
Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (20/21)
by Oren Izenberg
Edition: Paperback
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The We-Intention In Many Permutations, April 17, 2014
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Those of us who have finished our typically frustrating stints with the know-it-alls of poetry in the United States, particularly those of the spoken word variety, some of us are curious enough to investigate what leading literary and linguistic thinkers and intellectuals have to add to our experience in both the craft and comprehension of verse. The typical and by far most common route to this is, of course, that of discovering how to better craft poetry and to examine various theories of the actual dynamic between worker and product. Oren Izenberg's "Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life" takes another, equally important dynamic: the social, writer/reader dynamic of poetry as he studies the phenomenon of audience and how a variety of poets from Yeats to O'Hara to Oppen to Ammons and beyond have discovered new, less-traveled pathways where shadows slant in ways that indeed will spark the sort of argument with oneself Keats once described as poetry's main theme.

In such a sharply-divided ideological landscape within the United States, particularly in terms of politics, it seems odd but also heartening Izenberg would begin with that rarest of political poets, George Oppen, openly a Communist, and one who ceased writing throughout the crisis between the liberal democratic tradition and the four major totalitarian tyrannies that beset the world for a number of decades. Izenberg deftly digs deeply into the finest and most miniscule aspects of Oppen's vision that it is impossible for the individual to exist in terms of either poet-poetry or reader-poem, and that there is indeed a collective, social grounding to even the most personal of poems.

As for Yeats, considered by many to be by far the greatest poet of the 20th Century, Izenberg's explorations seem familiar territory--especially when we consider how an intellectual is going to try and deal with the Yeatsean vision of a collective soul or mind, a sort of meeting of minds facilitated by a special reading and understanding of metaphor, some of it veering dangerously into ethnic identity politics and nationalism, something Izenberg attests Yeats never intended to do. Is there a "spiritual us" to which Yeats points? Who really knows? There are some advocates of what might be called a "universal metaphorical standard language usage" who seem to believe that metaphor does not change from language to language or from culture to culture, something I'd be glad to dub the "Pentecostal approach to poetics", even if that seems a little lame, walking on a crusty old crutch as it does so errantly.

Izenberg slowly uncovers some of the answers to questions raised by Yeats' theorizing when he begins to delve into the subjective phenomenology of Ludwig Wittgenstein's linguistic theories and the amplifications thereof by Saul Kripke (not to be confused with the Kripke character of television's "The Big Bang Theory") and begins to paint a more advanced picture of what happens to a poem read by many. There are as many meanings to a poem as there are readers.

Then comes what I'd call the "comics section" in which Izenberg delves into the seemingly mysterious throwaway gambits and shticks of New York School master Frank O'Hara. O'Hara has always struck me as quite funny, heading as he does straight for the most sensitive marrow of society and poetry's relation. And to watch intellectuals try to figure-out O'Hara's often comical results is quite entertaining.

Is there a "we intention" anywhere left in our mutual response to poetry? When are the poet and the reader ever really together? This examination is of how poet and audience and poet and society all together relate, sometimes almost as lovers, oftentimes as adversaries. While this is a difficult task of a book, those who choose to examine deeply and sensitively will be rewarded.

This book is not for the lazy by any means. Carefree and poetry may seem to go together, but if we are serious with it, we must indeed take care in examining our relations to ourselves as poets and ourselves as audiences. That seems to be the upshot of this unique and important contribution to an increasingly scattered and entropic field of understanding what the ever-widening field of poetics strives to achieve.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Interesting Album With Real Depth, April 6, 2014
This review is from: Reflektor (Audio CD)
When first choosing "Neon Bible" on a lark a few years ago, I took it home but didn't quite "grok" its significance. Now that indie music has wended its way out of the No Depression and alt country direction, many groups are experimenting with new ideas, and Arcade Fire is perhaps the most successful of many trendsetter bands since mid-decade.

The band's sound hearkens back to the late 1970s to a degree, the era of more operatic and romantic sounding contributions, but distinctly Arcade Fire is a product of the present, the 21st Century, and "Reflektor" is by no means an exception to the rules the fire sets. "Reflektor" is not as stripped-down as was "Suburbs" and not quite as histrionic as "Neon Bible", and what is especially refreshing is the lead singer's departure from his unconscious Elvis impressions and is breaking into a new style of his own. His voice tones nicely, and the mix of this album is quite fine.

I have a lot of listens to go before I really begin to understand the underpinning "meaning" of "Reflektor", but I am really enjoying this lush, vibrant and multidimensional sound. It is odd that sometimes a recording hits you just right, points to issues to which you can relate or are trying to relate. I am now officially an Arcade Fire fan.

Wise Up Ghost (Deluxe)
Wise Up Ghost (Deluxe)
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5.0 out of 5 stars One Fine Mashup With The Roots--A Perfect Match, April 4, 2014
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This review is from: Wise Up Ghost (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
Early in the 1980s, while I enjoyed Elvis Costello and the Attractions' "Alison" and the one about peace, love and understanding, my mind was scrambled eggs for a number of reasons and I never really focused on Costello's saturnine lyrics and prescient observations that tend to slam that nail into the beam far more often than the tyros ever could. Simply a little working-class machismo blended with the penultimate expressions of a sensitive man (the two often tend to mix together because sensitive people have to get tough to defend their vulnerability and openness to life), Elvis Costello has knocked one right out of Wembley--even though I think he lives in California.

Now, with a clear mind and a yen for effective lyrics combined with expressive and passionate music, I wait for Costello's more pop-oriented material. His more "ambitious" forays into making statements to impress, say, the classical crowd I find unnecessary, mainly because the madrigal or pop song is his forte. Times 423,987.

I like "Wise Up Ghost" and its City Lights pocketbook styling, and while the neo-Beats are not always all-that-beaten, I appreciate the tip of the Homburg to those folks, and the fact Costello has teamed with The Roots is an excellent expression of the politically slanted but often unrecognized contribution of the Beats to things as far-flung as civil rights and nuclear disarmament. Here, however, the songs concentrate on religion as another cage to be pried open and left behind. We are our own moral compasses, and even though suggested rules help us navigate and compare, the totalitarianism of politicized religion is no laughing matter.

I appreciate Costello's concise and appropriately cool contribution to that debate very much.

The music? Nice, funky, streetwise charm that is itself sublime while pretending the profane.

All in all, Costello's best since 2003's "When I Was Cruel". I once wrote a poem about taking the head off a Ken doll, putting it back on, taking it off, putting it back on and then adding some menthol cream to help it slide better. Costello's "Tear Off Your Own Head" is a close call to that, and I enjoy the relation, man.

Lesser Evil
Lesser Evil
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music To Count On, March 6, 2014
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This review is from: Lesser Evil (Audio CD)
So far, this year, "Lesser Evil", possibly a tiny, electronic masterpiece by Doldrums, has lifted me up and has allowed me to transcend one crazy mess of a woman that had decided it was much more happy for her to become a plastic fashion model on a box in a basement, with tennis shoes over tan carpet, her words as usual drowned-out by ineffective sound system maintenance, the trumpet more a matter of sketchy sound-effects, echo technique, and altogether a dirty martini of what I laughingly dubbed Tijuana Brass on Acid, the drummer far too advanced to be lowered to such a regime--but who am I actually comment regarding proto-jazz of the insectile variety? Rather, I choose "Lesser Evil" as solace for an unsolicited and failed attack, nothing but a big tease bent upon quieting me and keeping my mouth shut.

Oftentimes, in Texas at least, promises of Heaven are nothing but purloined letters of admonition and shame by conservatives more interested in profits from the drug trade than actual police actions designed to halt the "doping of the citizenry". Now that in a sense the return of high-technique electronic music is beginning to splash as at the same time a return to a more pleasant version of punk is beginning to take the East Coast, I choose Doldrums as one of my favorites this year.

This is not soda pop, nor is it too affected as some pretenders of poppy and overly-sunny music tend to take the radio these days. Rather, Doldrums, as exemplified in "Lesser Evil", has just the right "veer" to it to keep us from skidding on the hard dirt of plastic reality and movies entertained by conservative know-nothings who have little to say and want to force the rest of us into silence. This is why I personally champion indie music at its best--mainly because silver-haired corporate zombies in Los Angeles seem bent on offering the United States no alternative to pap and pleasantries provided a little too profusely in a pretense of what could be called "smother culture".

Here in Dallas, Texas, as usual, the party boys are still stuck on The Grateful Dead and alt-country, something that left this human's purview of nothing new after the Jayhawks released their greatest hits a few years ago and Gary Louris brought truly authentic post-folk into focus.

The recent release of Depeche Mode's "The Delta Machine" reveals as well that what could be called post-New Wave is in for a revival of sorts, and my strongest hope is that Doldrums do not fall for the pap machine that always follows behind new developments and postmodern blendings of both blues and electricity.

Keep it pure, Doldrums. I like the spooky strangeness of this recording and definitely enjoy the slightly off-kilter approach to both vocalizations and mixtures of sound in "Lesser Evil". The greater evil is nothing but a barbeque and a barn-burning, but advance all of us will regardless of what those intent upon holding-down and dividing-and-conquering of various genres designed to split truly individual statements such as this.

As Paul Kantner says in "Saturday Afternoon (Won't You Try), "Keep going."

Machine Dreams
Machine Dreams
by Jayne Anne Phillips
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.83
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book About Dallas's Failed Attempt to Recreate Hitler, February 19, 2014
This review is from: Machine Dreams (Paperback)
I have loved this book since I first read it in the Eighties. Phllips is not only an excellent novelist and short story writer, but her reporting of certain facts surrounding Dallas, Texas, is astounding.

In Highland and University Parks, a schizoid red-light, green-light slavemaster for a huge metropolitan area like Sodom and Gomorrah, the Old Confederacy will not rest until they either get their own yellow Hitler or learn the hard way with a hydrogen bomb.

What can I say? I have been saying this for years. Listen up: Those eight-balls lost. I won. The end.

Who Needs You (10")
Who Needs You (10")
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5.0 out of 5 stars Something To Save From Oblivion, February 5, 2014
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This review is from: Who Needs You (10") (Vinyl)
Mistakenly, I ordered a vinyl pancake in a paper box rather than a disc bearing music, but hey, no problem goblin. Orwell is a fine musical phenomenon that needs much more attention that it seems to be getting, probably because silver-haired devils in Hollywood want to crush the entire world with objects like Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus. The really fine music is, as usual, living like the proverbial candle under a barrel.

I'm keeping this 10 inch, not because it is a pretty possession but that it will more than likely grow exponentially in value in the oncoming future. I've got "Who Needs You" backed-up against the shelf, ostensibly for safekeeping, not merely because I like to look at it under cellophane, but because I prize true music that needs much more attention than it receives from the money-panderers and greed-heads of LA--chumpy old guys who think they're better than Pee Wee Herman on a bicycle.

I'm not listening to those idiots; I am listening to "Orwell", and plan to keep the music both to listen-to and to cherish. Orwell and I seem to make a great match.

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