Besides If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I will, the Pairs record that was reviewed yesterday, Layabozi got a hold of another Pairs record, Grandparent. Wait, it’s not a record. Let’s try this again. Layabozi got a hold of another Pairs CD. Hold it, it’s not a CD. What is it?
After I finally gathered together enough wits to be able to open the damn thing, I realized it is an ingenious USB card. That’s right, it looks like a regular business card, except it’s a bit thicker and heavier, made of plastic. There is some minimal art on the card. A little USB receptacle tip folds out and you plug it into your computer to enjoy…well, enjoy might be a bit of a strong word. Endure, maybe? Just kidding, Pairs. In any case, you get a folder on your computer with lots of Pairs-related stuff inside.
What is this Pairs-related stuff, you ask? Well, there are credits, for one. That’s pretty standard.
There’s a 12-track pack of demos, kind of like a set of extras from a deluxe edition of an album. Nothing major, but a nice touch.
There’s a grainy making-of video that is a pretty fun watch. It’s like a Blair Witch Project for punk rockers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Lays potato chips figure prominently. Mmm, barbecue. My favorite line from this movie comes from Xiao Zhong: “I should have written my lyrics beforehand. Rookie mistake.”
There’s a note from Manny Nieto, the producer, lauding his experience in the “shack in Yangpu.” At least, I think that’s what it said.
Then you get to the meat of the package, so to speak. There are eight audio tracks and eight corresponding video tracks. Redscale Studios did all of the videos.
The videos follow the track order. The first video, for “Gig of the Week”, is pretty straightforward Pairs: Xiao Zhong freaking out and F smiling sweetly while shredding, probably in their practice space. Why mess with a winning formula?
“Loose Strings” is Redscale’s ode to Tron with music by Daft Pairs.
The next one, “LV Farmer Gangster”, is a very explosive video. You’ll fully understand that seemingly banal comment’s wittiness when you watch the video. Two more words and I’m done with this one: Backwards. Fireworks. OK, two more: Are. Awesome.
The people at Redscale are amazing. Somehow they constructed a time machine, went into the future, found Xiao Zhong singing in public, recorded it, and then came back and put the video together. Oh, and they also killed John Connor and picked up a sports almanac. Not bad.
The video for “Take it Off” is pretty trippy. It’s like Stan Brakhage if Brakhage was bad at what he did. Ooh, experimental film burn! That was really mean.
“Regional Victorian Lover” Are we reaching a bit here? Who am I to say? I will say, however, if someone wants to get that perfect Xiao Zhong look, just study this video carefully.
The video for “Hotel” is like Motel 168: Spare, a bit impersonal, monochromatic, but generally serviceable, aside from the cigarette burn in your pillow case and the shower that for some god forsaken reason sprays water all over the bathroom floor, instead of just staying in a neat little corner with a raised ridge built into the floor.
Ooh, for the last video, “New Blowjob” (not to be confused with “Old Blowjob” from the first Pairs record) they discovered my family’s favorite space at the Pu Dong Aquarium, the Jellyfish Room. Someday I’m going to set up my living room in that place and just chill until they kick me out. But this video is basically just F and XZ staring wistfully at the jelly guys floating magisterially and (in my mind) having a discussion comparing their existence to the existence of a lo-fi-inclined post-punk band. Nice vid. I think I’ll go to the aquarium now.
But that will be right after I dutifully finish this review of the Pairs “Grandparent” USB package. The last thing on here for you to enjoy/endure is the straight-up mp3s. We haven’t really talked about the music yet. If If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I Will is Pairs’ attempt at a more polished sound, then this is the opposite side of that spectrum. As I said before, it was recorded in a shack in Yangpu. And it’s terrific. The sound is so abrasive it makes your fingernails itch. I like most of the melodies that F puts forth and XZ’s drumming is wonderfully spastic, as usual. It’s all nicely summed up in a 23-minute package that suits the band perfectly. This is the Pairs we have come to know and love.
All in all, this Pairs “Grandparent” USB package is a cunning design and should be considered in the future by bands who are looking to break out of the dying CD mold. Music fans that are looking to break out of that mold themselves will also find this package a refreshing blast of good old rock vigor.
At the very least, you get a USB drive out of the deal.
This weekend Pairs is releasing If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I will vinyl with a listening party at Inferno today Friday, and a concert at 696 Live on Saturday.