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Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)

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Wild Flag

By Brigette Herron

I had the pleasure of chatting with this fella in Cleveland about Wild Flag back in March. They were little more than a rumor at this point. We were killing time standing around the merch table while no more than 15 slack-jawed, apathetic yet immaculately dressed individuals sat and pretended to have thoughts about this band that was just dithering right along on a piano or a ukulele or something. They were called the Modern Railroad, or the Modern World, or a Different World, or something else that I can’t be bothered to remember, but we didn’t care — we were ripping our eyes out about Wild Flag. He had seen them at SXSW. I had seen a YouTube video of a particularly energetic performance. So there we were, two human beings, hopping up and down, smiling, and gesticulating, our eyes becoming larger and wider until they resembled a Margaret Keane painting.

M Keane

All of this because we LOVED Wild Flag! Well, we at least loved the idea of them.

It’s like when you have been working at your shit job for eight hours with no break and you finally get home and you are STARVING and you lock eyes with your boyfriend just hoping, with all of your tiny over-worked heart, that MAYBE he has an idea for dinner but instead all you see in his face is a look of manic blood-sugar plummet psychosis because apparently he hasn’t eaten either, because he was editing some 22,000 word article for COLLAPSE BOARD. [Oops. Sorry – Ed] And in that moment you just look deep inside of yourself and say, “Fuck it! Let’s go out to eat!” So you get in the car and you drive to the WAFFLE HOUSE, which is a shitty diner that most people in the United States would ridicule you for eating at in a non-intoxicated state, but we don’t care because we know that it’s a bastion of affordable, consistent breakfast food at any hour, which means YES you CAN have breakfast for dinner! And it will be delicious with free coffee refills and a waitress who will call you “baby” or “honey” and soothe certain subconscious heartstrings which were unceremoniously cut when your parent(s) no longer made you breakfast anymore (if they ever made it for you to begin with!). But now you are in a red booth, freezing your ass off because they crank the air-conditioning in the summertime, gazing deeply into a laminated menu that is covered in the most appetizing “not actual pictures of food”-food that you have ever seen. AND THEN your eyes lock with what you have been waiting for. It’s called the All-Star Special. You just look at the picture and think, “GOD DAMN that looks good! I have to get some of that!” It’s got everything, a waffle, hashbrowns, two eggs, toast, a side of bacon or sausage and a drink. AND A DRINK for $6.50! This is the Wild Flag of the food world.

All-Star Special

OK, calm down already. I know what you are thinking my little stud-puppets. I know what you want. You want me to get to the point here — to start “reviewing” this album, you know, concrete observations, like in those real reviews you like to read.

JESUS, aren’t you paying attention? You are starving for Wild Flag! Just the image, the ephemeral concept of what they might be, not unlike a picture of delicious food on a menu, makes you positive that Wild Flag is what you want! This is what you have always wanted.

Well, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

It has been a week since I first listened to Wild Flag-Wild Flag, and I’m not so sure if this is what I ordered.

This is not what I ordered.

I’m reminded of my conversation with that fella in Cleveland. At one point he looked at me and said cautiously, “This is gonna sound weird, but they’re kinda like, cock-rock, you know what I mean?”

Now don’t get the wrong idea about our fella here.  He wasn’t saying that they have cocks, or that they play like men, or that they are less feminine. I think what he was referring to was the confidence, the rock moves, and oh yeah, this atrocious number.

Are you fucking kidding me? Beast of FUCKING Burden?! Not ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’, not ‘Stray Cat Blues’. ‘Beast Of Burden’? That’s what we’re gonna cover here? It’s the most half-assed version of one of the most half-assed Rolling Stones’ songs I have ever heard. The only way I am going to listen to ‘Beast Of Burden’, which up until very recently I thought was called ‘Big Suburban’, is if Bette Midler is singing it.

Yeah I said it! Eat your heart out. At least Bette knows how to sell it! At least it has that David Lynch-ian quality of everyday life as freak show/dream sequence.

(continues overleaf)

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5 Responses to Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)

  1. mmc August 31, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Love your honesty. I am an equally huge Mary Timony fan, and was a huge fan of Quasi (missed the boat on S-K; maybe I’ll eventually check them out). It’s not enjoyable to criticize your own heroes, inspirations and biggest influences, but at a certain point, when dealing with art, honesty trumps loyalty.

  2. Joseph August 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I think Wild Flag’s hype has outshone the final result. This is a band that was hyping its players before they even stepped into the studio. It just…misses, and I think you captured brilliantly the reasons why. If it accomplishes anything, it’ll probably be to a Sleater-Kinney reunion.

  3. Everett True August 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I haven’t watched the online interview, but in fairness to anyone who talks to Wild Flag … I was literally tongue-tied when I first met Janet Weiss (with Quasi, in Brighton) I was so in awe of her. She was so nice, though …

    A couple of years later, when The Legend! was supporting Sleater-Kinney in London, she actually offered to drum with us on stage “if I get back from dinner in time”. The fact she didn’t remains one of the hugest disappointments of my musical career.

  4. Joseph August 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Just watched the interview: the interviewer? Ted Leo. Great talk.

  5. Deanna August 31, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    They were so focused on being WILD FLAG! that they forgot to write songs. For shame.

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