Glorious Noise is happy to introduce a new member to the team. Kristy Eldredge is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her new feature article reports from New York on her finding true love in the arms of Quasi. Be sure to welcome her to the group and post your thoughts in the discussion section.
The Beatles are a sterling example of the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
It came as something of a surprise to me—a pleasant surprise, I must say—that there was no blow-by-blow breakdown of the “tribute” to John Lennon that appeared on cable earlier this week. Although I still remember where I was when I heard that Lennon had been shot (for some reason, remembrances of such things are supposed to signify an import beyond the norm, which I’m not so sure about, as it could simply be a function of difference, not significance), it has always seemed to me that his post-Beatles career with such things as “Instant Karma,” wasn’t much more than a variant of a Ray Stevens novelty act.
The whole veneration of Lennon goes back to something that happened during my generation, when The Beatles were new and we were children. Everyone had their “favorite” Beatle. Although they were considered as individuals (e.g., “Paul is the cute one”; “George is the shy one”), the band members were inextricably tied to the band as a whole; there was no notion that there could be solos. Of course, the main dichotomy was between John and Paul for the simple reason that they were the two up front: No one—at least no one at age 10—was pouring over the small type on the label on the vinyl to see who was responsible for what. Even on the Saturday morning cartoon of the band there were obvious differences between the two. John was the guy who made the most cracks while Paul evinced a certain niceness. And so it has remained ever since.
But let’s face it: for every “Mind Games” or “Maybe I’m Amazed,” there has been a whole lot of post-Beatles dreck. Not that I think that those guys should have stopped working after the band broke up, but it does seem to me that there should have been a bit of critical distance applied to their subsequent music. Less fawning. More listening.
For some reason, musicians who have gained success, recognition and popularity through their membership in a band almost never (I really can’t think of a good counter example, but I’m keeping my options open) do as well solo. Think, for example, of all of the albums released by Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Pete Townshend and on and on and on. How many of these are better than the Stones, Zeppelin, Who, or Whomever?
Note how the Patron Musician of this site, Neil Young, has been a part of many bands but has always been apart from them. In my argument, Buffalo Springfield been successful, we would probably not be giving Neil quite as many props today—if any at all.
Further Probing the Link Between Fashion and Rock — Is Fashion Only Clothes Deep?
Recently on Glorious Noise, in an article discussing Hollywood’s propensity to favor the underdog as the perfect paramour for the straightlaced overachiever, I made the point that said overachiever — at least in the context of the Teen Comedy — is usually the cheerleading captain (Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On) or at least rich and popular (Freddie Prinze, Jr in She’s All That). And — whether they be male or female — that Cool Kid’s true love usually turns out to be a punk rocker or an intellectual or an amalgam of both, either way decidedly not someone who dates the preps. This seemingly innocuous article developed into a fascinating conversation string debating the interrelated topics of rock, fashion, self-identity, motivation, and feminism. Taking one part of that discussion, it’s interesting to look at Fashion’s role in Rock, and vice versa.
Rock and Fashion, Fashion and Rock. To which side of this dichotomy do those who consider themselves rockers — and concurrently those who consider themselves fashionistas — align themselves? And does that line blur continually between the two camps, with the hardliners in both staying as far away from the other as possible? Glorious Noise is currently interviewing for a fashion editor, who will then cover the Fashion side of the equation. In the meantime…
In Rock at least, fashion — or at least what one wears — has always been a signifier of music style. The Greasers and the Preps, the Mods and the Rockers, and Steve Dahl’s infamous Disco Demolition — these battles were all based on a demarcation of style and music. But even the 70s heavy metal dudes drunk on suds tearing up Comiskey Park’s infield while burning millions of disco records had a look that defined them. It wasn’t a pair of pink sidewinders or a bright orange pair of pants, but hell, you knew them when you saw them coming. Nowadays, musical genres still spawn their own fashion. There’s the club kids with their giant jeans and florescent T’s. In another corner are the neo-Goths, who’ve updated the 80s Robert Smith look with piercings, vinyl pants and hair dye. And there’s the indie rockers, whose style has always revolved closely to that of the Fashion world, if only because the genre’s fans have those skinny hips that haute couture adores so much. Natch.
If someone tells you that they don’t care about fashion, they’re usually lying. Unless they’re a drummer, and that’s a whole different article. Anyway, it’s true that the two are linked, whether the Rockers or the Fashion kids like it or not. But how? In obvious ways, like Steven Tyler or Shirley Manson sitting stage-side at Fashion Week in Milan? Or is it something deeper, something that somehow plays back into the vibe of my article about Bring It On‘s guitar-playing, Clash T-shirt wearing lovable loser, who wins the sunlit love of his school’s fashion maven?
I’m afraid I can’t go any further with this point until some input arrives from all of you GloNo readers, who were so gracious as to write in your thoughts about the other article. What do YOU think?
Okay, that’s a lie. We don’t have anything to do with the Great Radio Satan. But we did dump a bunch of tracks from our playlist, most of which happened to be rap tunes. (This struck me as decidedly KKKorporate, hence the phony headline.)
But there was actually a good reason, three good ones in fact. First, rap sounds like shit over the Internet due to the inherent lack of fidelity. Second, well, we are trying to keep the music mix a bit more focused on rock, alternative, non-mainstream, punk, indie, alt-country, and roots music. Why? I don’t know, that’s what most of us here seem to be into. So as much as I love Ice Cube and Eminem, they’re 5000. Go ahead and criticize me in the comments if you want.
The third, and most important reason, is that we’ve got new material! GSV has submitted about 10 new tracks, including songs from the always amazing Jack Bruce, heavy pioneers Spooky Tooth, and a great number from, get this, Daryl Hall.
Check out the radio station with those handy links on the right, and go attack the bulletin board for suggestions, requests, comments, and criticism.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world,
Jeff Sab, GloNo Radio co-station manager
[We’ll be updating the radio playlist about every two weeks, so keep tuning in to let us know what you think – ed.]
Glorious Noise’s very own Phil Wise reviews Built to Spill’s latest offering over on NeuMu. Check it out and congratulate the old boy for spreading his love out into the world a little more! Here, here.
RUDIE CAN’T FAIL
The Punk Rocker Gets The Girl!
Now, don’t come kvetching to me about why I’m watching Bring It On months after its theatrical release. Let’s just say – ahem — that it’s for context, and leave it at that. Just like The Clash covering Vince Taylor & His Playboys on London Calling. And that leads to the point. In Bring It On, Our Heroine (Kirsten Dunst) not only befriends the punk rock chick who tries out for her elite cheerleading squad. She also falls for her new friend’s brother, a Clash-loving psuedo-intellectual who shreds a Dan-O-Lectro in his spare time and tries to teach his new girl about punk rock. There’s even a reference to his past in a Detroit high school. (See? Even Hollywood realizes Detroit is the new Seattle…). But here’s the funny part. Dunst is the head of the toniest cheer squad this side of Clueless. And here’s the blonde, bouncy cheerleading captain falling – for all practical purposes and Hollywood’s characterization amalgam theorems appreciated – for the local Indie Rocker. In his first scene, the kid sports beat up Chuck Taylors, the Ramones on his headphones, and a T-Shirt featuring Mick Jones and the boys. He promptly shows up the jocks with his smirky cool, and is immediately put in the good graces of Ms Dunst’s character, who in real life just might drop a quarter in the kid’s coffee cup, mistaking him for those less fortunate.
Which suggests the opening scenes of Gia, Angelina Jolie’s 1998 star vehicle that featured her as the doomed model whose innocence was corrupted by the Me Generation and her own excess. In the film, Gia waits outside the hoity-toity modeling agency for her photo shoot, only to have some of the more mamby pamby girls drop some loose change in her morning coffee. Ever the rebel, Gia struts into the agency and, staring down the smarmy receptionist, carves her name into the mahogany with her stiletto. That’s so PUNK, man. And that’s exactly the problem.
What is it about film that places the modicum of cool upon a genre that – in real life – is grudgingly respected at best? In the movies, the girls always go for the bad boy rocker/intellectual. Likewise, the girl who eats nails for breakfast – like Jolie’s Gia or Eliza Dukshu’s Missy in Bring It On – is met with hostility, then fear, and finally respect by those that would normally shun her. What it may come down to is this: The star of the movie cannot date his or her self. If the star in question is blonde, chiseled, or pretty, said star cannot date a similarly cheekbone’d or likewise coif’d individual. And in Hollywood’s streamlined view of Generation Y, there really are only two kinds of kids: Cool/Beautiful, and Cool/Intellectual. And in the latter archetype, musical taste always seems to be the way to display the difference.
THE RIGHT PROFILE
And in this bizarro Tinsel Town view of the world, the cool kid who digs The Clash, Iggy Pop, and Phillip K Dick is written like the punk rock Navy S.E.A.L. You know – in Baywatch, it’s his S.E.A.L. pedigree that gives Hasselhoff’s character his street –er, beach — cred. Spend any weeknight watching bad basic cable and you’ll come across an action move featuring a conflicted hero who harbors a black bag past as a demolition expert with the US Navy’s elite fighting force. Yeah, yeah, yeah — next. It’s the same thing with the rocker/intellectual archetype. If you need to make your star’s love interest cool, make him/her a rebel. The kind with a wallet chain, leather, and a tough attitude derived from the rebellious band T-shirts s/he wears to homeroom. Alicia Silverstone, aka the Kirsten Dunst of 3 years ago, made a similar move in Clueless. By finally falling for her nerdy, college-thinker stepbrother, Cher was simply following the Hollywood formula. And in last year’s Drive Me Crazy, Kirsten Dunst doppelganger and cool chick Melissa Joan Hart fell for her next door neighbor, a withdrawn misanthrope who nevertheless portrayed – In Hollywood’s eyes – the smart, sensitive rocker. In many ways Drive Me Crazy was a remake of She’s All That, starring Rachel Leigh Cook as the artistic geek who woos the class Cool despite her best efforts to remain a mousy painter. Which was in turn a remake of 1987’s Can’t Buy Me Love, which followed the transition of a smart-yet-dopey kid into the true love of his class’s dream girl.
So what’s with this punk rocker/geek/rebel/intellectual archetype that keeps showing up in movies as the love interest? We’ve all seen where it ends. Thanks to real-life misanthrope John Cusack and his source material from Nick Hornby, America has seen what real Indie Rockers/Punks/psuedo-intellectuals tend to grow up to be: Frustrated record store owners who spend too much brain power on compilation CDs and not enough on personal hygiene. And yet, in the view of Hollywood, it’s this character set that presents the most pratfalls/romance for Gen Y movies being written at this moment. In real life, would the average impossibly attractive high school senior, who happens to be captain of her school’s cheerleading squad, go for, let’s say, Jack White of White Stripes? Or, to only add to their impossibly attractive hype machine, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes? Chances are – barring the millions that Casablancas and his mates will make in the next year on RCA – that it won’t happen. And yet, in the movies, composites of these guys are shitting on the captain of the football team and getting the girl in the process.
The guys I knew in high school who looked and acted like Dunst’s love interest in Bring It On usually got feces smeared on their car door handles at lunch. But for whatever reason, it’s these brave souls whose punk rock, book-reading lifestyles are perpetually eulogized on the big screen. What does this mean for all those skinny, burgeoning Indie Rockers out there in the Gen Y land? Well, probably not much. But at least they can take solace in the fact that they’ll grow up to be the guy with the coolest record collection. I’ll never understand Hollywood, but I’m glad that they think I’m the kind of guy that deserves the love of a starlet.
The Push and Pull of Celebrity, Art, Acting, and Musicianship
Friday evening’s America: A Tribute To Heroes was the entertainment industry’s way of helping out the nation’s physical and emotional recovery effort, in the wake of September 11’s terrorist attacks. Musicians and actors – luxurious celebrities all – came together in a live event simulcast on multiple networks, and in the process raised hundreds of millions of dollars, by early estimates. Make no mistake: It’s a great and wonderful thing that they did, these entertainers who our culture treasures so dearly, selflessly offering up their talent to aid in the nation’s grief. But in its execution, the telethon was a study in Celebrity itself. What do musicians and actors offer us? Is a musician’s song more tangible than the appearance of a famous actor reading a vignette? Are both entertainers present more for their sheer celebrity-ness, than any level of talent that they may possess?
The telethon greeted the world with a somber Bruce Springsteen, performing his heartbreakingly appropriate new song, “My City’s In Ruins.” After the song’s nadir – a pronouncement imploring us all to “rise up” – Tom Hanks appeared from the darkness. An actor’s actor and undoubtedly the single most respected person working in Hollywood today, Hanks was pressed into service to introduce the evening. “We are not healers,” he said senatorially. “We are not protectors of this great nation. We are merely artists, entertainers, here to raise spirits and, we hope, a great deal of money.” Hanks’ entreaty was followed immediately by Bono and U2, who like Hanks are famous for their conviction.
But there’s a difference.
For all of their melodic genius and anthemic choruses, U2 have become international heroes for tempering their music with fiery passion. “Seconds,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” “Pride (In The Name of Love),” “Mothers Of The Disappeared,” “One,” “Walk On” – all of these songs were musical highlights, and many were smash hits. But they are also testaments to the group’s beliefs – human freedom, equality, and peace. We know this about U2, and we accept it as part of their being. No one will ever accuse the band of being superficial, because they’ve never had just one level to anything that they do. Even the Achtung, Baby years, with their media-savvy indulgence and stage show bombast, were meant on some level as a critique of the very components involved in the music and subsequent touring. So for U2 to appear on A Tribute To Heroes performing “Walk On,” the parallel is obvious. What isn’t as clear cut is the roles of the actor/celebrities who appeared. Tom Hanks is respected within and without the industry not only for his ability as a thespian, but also because he’s, well, a real stand-up guy. Taking on roles with meat on their bones, Hanks since the early 90s has also worked exclusively within projects that have only solidified his stance as the Face of America. This positioning has been performed so flawlessly that, now, Hanks the celebrity and man cannot be separated from Hanks the actor in respected, feelgood roles. One begets the other and vice versa. Indeed, during his introductory speech Friday night, a friend remarked “I’d vote for Tom Hanks,” not even mentioning what was implicit: Hanks will run for office in the future, and win handily. But will we vote for Tom Hanks, or Forrest Gump? A smart, respected individual, or the image of that individual battling Nazis and giving his life for his country?
Other actors appeared on A Tribute To Heroes. Jim Carrey didn’t talk out of his ass. Robert DeNiro didn’t threaten Osama bin Laden with severe bodily harm. And Cameron Diaz looked very pretty as she read copy. At the same time, a sage-like, bearded Tom Petty performed “I Won’t Back Down,” staring into the camera with an eagle’s eye. Billy Joel gave new life to “New York State of Mind,” reminding everyone of the vitality and diversity inherent within his hometown. And Wyclef Jean trotted out his uncanny Bob Marley impersonation, re-working “Redemption Song” as a heartfelt shout-out to all the burrows of NYC. It was important for the viewing audience to hear the stories of true heroism related by the actors and actresses present. And thankfully, no one appearing on the telethon used it as a Macy Gray-like moment to promote a project or album. But eventually, it became more interesting to see which actor would be next chosen to read. There was something sickeningly voyeuristic about George Clooney introducing some “friends” he had with him, the camera panning to take in a phone bank staffed by Jack Nicholson, Goldie Hawn, Tom Cruise, and Al Pacino, among other boffo stars. Was the move intended as a reason for people to call? The average American, sitting in his doublewide munching Bugles…”Well, I wasn’t going to contribute, but if I know I can get that Penelope Cruz on the line, whew. She’s a stone fox!”
Some musicians are more Celebrity than Artist. Enrique Iglesias’ disturbing good looks and his nauseous over-emoting make him a candidate for the Just Appearing For Face-Time Sweepstakes, even if that isn’t the case. Celine Dion performing “America The Beautiful” screams of CD single sales. But barring these unfortunate intrusions, the majority of musicians that contributed to the telethon – Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Eddie Vedder, even Fred Durst – were giving something of themselves and their talent, beyond the simple fact of Celebrity for Celebrity’s sake. Put another way, the actors who appeared – despite the many strong performances among them — have all become Famous for being Famous. It’s true that, for example, Bono is famous for being famous. But his celebrity does not taint his passion for music, for his art. Conversely, no matter how sincerely he delivers his heroic vignette, Jim Carrey cannot be separated from his talking ass. Making a few critically acclaimed commercial failures does not a true actor make.
It’s a tough thing. Many of the actors who were part of America: A Tribute To Heroes are true icons, having through their roles become part of the fabric of our culture. That’s why it’s a bit humorous to think of Clint Eastwood drawing his .44 and warning terrorists across the globe, “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.” At the same time, the musicians who appeared Friday evening have become stars, but still remain vessels for their art, which is music, and which can outlive them. Towards the middle of the show, the lights came up to reveal a cowboy-hatted Neil Young sitting at a grand piano, looking ever bit the surly rock statesman that he has become. And without ado, Young performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Here was a musician, famous in his own right for an illustrious career of music, performing a song by an artist who was taken from the world too early. An artist who’s music has come to define him, his previous band, and all the passion, conviction, and peace that he desired for the world so much. Actors can be defined by their famous roles, and become celebrities for the same reason. Musicians can become celebrities, but if their music truly matters, it’s what people really remember them for. It’s not a question of who’s better, musicians or actors. Maybe they’re the same, in that they are all entertainers. But what’s clear is that music is a more direct medium of expression, and in the context of recent events, has the power to heal us more than Ace Ventura 3 ever will.
I’ve posted something new in our Features section, an interview with multi-talented Cherielynn Westrich, who is most famous for playing Moog and singing with the Rentals. She also writes, sings and plays guitar with her new band, the Slow Signal Fade, and before the Rentals, she had a band called Supersport 2000.
It’s no secret that I absolutely love the first Rentals album. I like the second one too, but it suffers from a lack of focus and the lack of Cherie’s vocals. She rules, so check out the interview and check out the Slow Signal Fade.
Brown dwarfs are objects in the universe that are smaller than normal stars, bigger than planets. These objects are incapable of sustaining stable nuclear fission like ordinary stars do. So what happens is that they slowly but surely contract. Their light dims.
Last week, sab mentioned how many rock stars of days gone buy are still working it, yet are becoming embarrassments. He cited Lou Reed. Pete Townshend. Bob Dylan (aptly noting that the picture on the new disc makes him appear to be the reincarnation of Vincent Price). And others. So far as he’s concerned, one of the fortunate few who is maintains relevance is Neil Young. (As I watched/listened to Young perform “Imagine” in last night’s “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” it occurred to me that he is probably the only artist living who can actually do the song.)
So a question that arises is whether some of the people whom we blithely designated as being “stars” are really no more than brown dwarfs: Bigger than many, but with an inability to really sustain a shine. Certainly, to stick with this whole astrophysics metaphor, it is true that all stars eventually burn out. But when a star goes, it goes big: It gets extremely hot before it collapses into a black hole.
Related to all of this (funny how things come together) is an ad that I encountered in the October, 2001, issue of Wired for the Toyota Camry. As a bit of background: Toyota is undertaking its biggest marketing campaign in its history. For one thing, it has the all-new Camry, a car that has been the best-seller in the U.S. for years running, a position for the car that the company wants to keep. For another, the managers at the company know that “Toyota” has become synonymous with “quality” and “reliability.” While those are certainly good attributes to have for a vehicle, they think that it is important that people associate the brand with emotion, too. So the new tagline for the company is “Get the Feeling. Toyota.” (Similarly, Lexus, Toyota’s luxo marquee, has gone from “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” to the “The Relentless Pursuit of Passion.”)
One of the things that all of us associate with emotion (and all too rarely for some people, I’m afraid, passion) is music. So in the multipage gatefold add, the new Camry, tagged “Number 1. With a Bullet”, is associated with musicians, two solo artists and two bands.
The first solo is Kina, a musician from Detroit whose music I am entirely unfamiliar with, so I must, fairly, leave her out of all musings to follow.
But the next one is, surprisingly, Lyle Lovett. Surprisingly, because although I admire the Camry from a technical standpoint, I must admit that the last car that I can imagine Lovett rolling in is a Camry. Something old. Something beat up. Something with, well, character.
Then there are the Go-Go’s. OK. The band has a relatively new album. It is attempting to make a comeback. The band has a certain nostalgic freshness for people who followed its music through the ’80s. Perhaps in an effort not to fade, Belinda Carlisle, arguably the front woman of the band, recently appeared in Playboy. One of my office colleagues brought in the issue (note: there are four males in the office). The photos were examined as though we were the “Lone Gunmen” of X-Files fame. And we became convinced that while the noggin was Belinda’s the remaining, ah, attributes had to be those of another. In an earlier time, when wearing fur was something that was still acceptable, there was a series of ads with the line “What Becomes a Legend”—a.k.a. a bona-fide “Star”—”Most?” and the payoff was Blackgama furs. The photo in the ad was an actress or singer wearing, ostensibly, nothing but the fur coat. Now, evidently, what is imagined to be becoming is nothing. (Apologies to Sartre.)
The final band in the Toyota ad is Earth, Wind & Fire. As I have already dealt with their Pfizer-powered comeback in a previous post, I’ll let them go at the moment (although the relationship of the photo of the Go-Go’s and EW&F is somewhat amusing: Belinda is the closest member of the band to the Viagra-sponsored).
So I wonder: Are Lovett, the Go-Go’s, and Earth, Wind & Fire stars or brown dwarfs? The first has never really made it “big.” Perhaps by design. But maybe a performer doesn’t get to make the choice of big or not: the public makes that decision. The Go-Go’s and Earth, Wind & Fire, by the measure of recordings sold, certainly are star material, but just as the astral brown dwarf is incapable of sustaining stable fission, there was an apparent diminution of their luster over the years, and I doubt that appearing in a Toyota ad is going to help generate the flare that would be characteristic of a real star.
But maybe there is another consideration that has to be made. Few besides astronomers are familiar with things like brown dwarfs. Most of us live our lives without having the slightest idea of where the nearest celestial object is located (hint: you’re on it right now). Perhaps breaking down Camry ads is as curious a pursuit as gazing at the real stars in our universe.
(Shine on, Neil.)
Norway’s Kings of Convenience Sing Me To Sleep
America revels in sameness. Freeway exits, waffle houses, and hemmed jean shorts on overweight men – The USA is easily categorized. In a location-based Pepsi Challenge-style competition, it’s a sure bet that most wouldn’t confuse Paris, Texas with Paris, France. That said, sometimes you see a photo. Maybe it’s cropped strangely, or the focus is off. But for whatever reason, you can discern from the scant details present that the shot is distinctly European. Sometimes, you can even posit a theory of actual location. (Even without using your broad knowledge of Teutonic street signs.) In the slightly-off architecture of a parking garage in the background, the particular hue of a painted wall, the nuances of Europe make themselves clear.
It’s in the details that The Kings of Convenience dwell. And, like looking at old issues of National Geographic in your basement, a quick scan of Quiet Is The New Loud ‘s cover art reveals that the Kings of Convenience don’t hail from Topeka. Upon a blue stone sits Erland Oye and Eirik Giambek Boe, the duo that make up the Kings. Boe comforts a female friend; Oye gazes into the camera with a look of bemused intelligence. I’ve never been to Norway. But if I ever go, I expect it to look much like this album cover. In fact, I expect the country to sound like Quiet Is The New Loud.
The title is no joke. The material never seems to go above a lover’s whisper, as cryptic tales of love, loss, and realization unfold. “I realized that the one you were before,” sings Boe in “I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From,” “had changed into somebody for whom I wouldn’t mind to put the kettle on.” His voice, resonating off the speaker cabinets in your living room, imparts the knowledge gained from a difficult relationship. Like a nicer, Scandinavian Joe Pernice, the embers glowing within the song give off its true warmth, even in pain. Conversely Pernice, the infamously sad troubadour of Scud Mountain Boys and The Pernice Brothers, never takes his knee off his audience’s chest. You smell the liquor on his breath as his songs of love, heartbreak, and drug use crash into ditches off US 131.
The Kings of Convenience give one the impression of getting up early…and liking it.
Is tea and clean living better than cloudy weather, crumpled cigarettes and Old Grandad? Will a new movement of Scandanavian Hug-Core save the world? Not necessarily. But listening to Kings of Convenience and their astute pop music, it’s almost like receiving an aural detox. Quiet Is The New Loud features a centerfold in its booklet – a panoramic view of a pristine Norwegian lake at daybreak. The shot is evocative of the album’s peaceful moments. The plunking of nylon strings, quietly harmonized vocals that revel in the endings of words – these are the details that define the music of the Kings of Convenience, just as the curious idiosyncrasies in an aging, yellowed photo on the wall of a booth at Waffle House can give away its European locale.