29 October 2009

News

Raekwon, Ghostface, and Method Man are releasing an album on December 22. There had been talk all summer long about the project, and in the last few weeks all three have confirmed it in one capacity or another. Ghostface told Pitchfork that he was down, and Method Man was interviewed on his way to the VH1 Hip Honors and he said that it was a go. Raekwon released Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2 back on September 8, and on September 29 Ghostface put out Ghostdini the Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City so it appears that they room on their plate to for a new record. Raekwon gave an interview, and he basically said that it was just a matter of sitting down and deciding what to do, and then getting into the booth and making it happen. It's safe to say that the fans definitely want this to happen, and it's hard to believe that these three would disappoint. Without sounding hyperbolic, this is what hip hop needs at the moment.

(Information via Nah Right)
Two of my more favorite bands both have new videos on the internets. Once, I was so fortunate that I saw both of these groups perform at the same time.
This video for Deerhunter's "Famous Last Words" is a fan-made video, and it's kind of artsy but it's also pretty rad.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS - DEERHUNTER from Cove Entertainment on Vimeo.

The other video comes from No Age, a band that I have really taken a shining to in the last few months. The name of the song is "Losing Feeling", which is off the EP of the same name. There's a mouse in this video. Observant eyes will also notice a glimpse of the brand new No Age skate shoes, which are 100% vegan which makes them 100% more awesome than they already were.

28 October 2009

Rangers is a band from San Francisco by way of Dallas.  
And, it's not like of these Rangers.

or one of these kinds of Rangers.

Actually, it's just one guy who goes by the name Joe Knight. He has an album coming out in the future called Suburban Tours, which will be released by Olde English Spelling Bee. The song below is called "Deerfield Village", and it's pretty rad. For lack of a better descriptor, this is chillwave but it has an extra dose of chill to it. 

RANGERS - "DEERFIELD VILLAGE" from OESB // FUTURE SOUND on Vimeo.

Is "chillwave", a term that is being used too much? I see it on the internets, and then for whatever reason assume that it can be used by anyone. Maybe Rangers isn't chillwave, although I'm fairly certain it is. According to my research, I think Wavves might be also be "chillwave", but not in the same way. His is chill because he seems like a chill bro, as opposed to making music for chill bros. I think that's how it works, but I'm never sure. Video for "No Hope Kids" below.

Zola Jesus is actually Nika Roza Danilova, a 20 year old from Wisconsin who makes music that the internets categorize as "lo-fi goth." A music video was posted on P4K today, and was then viewed by this writer for whatever reason. At first, it almost seemed like it was something that was striving to duplicate the Bat for Lashes aesthetic, but upon viewing and listening that's not the case. It's a little darker, and the video is pretty strange. It has a funeral parlor vibe to it, and a strip of lace is featured prominently in the video. If anything, it can set the mood for Halloween this weekend. Additionally, this isn't just some ambient, bedroom project. It's much more interesting. This is not a voice that can be ignored. Wonder if this is the type of act that played a ton of showcases at CMJ last week, and is now about to 'blow up' via the internets.

The Early 00s

2009 is coming to a close, and with comes the end of the decade. Other websites and blogs are starting to release these best of the decade lists in order to review what has happened in the last ten years. While, I have no say when it comes to taste-making and being relevant, I figured that I too could look back on the past, and wax on events that did something to me. There will be news, and opinions will be voiced. The tentative plan is do this is three installments: The Early 00s, The Middle 00s, and The End of the 00s. 
The Early 00s
For the sake of full-disclosure, I was starting high school when the new millennium was beginning. MTV still played videos, and the radio played shit by Limp Bizkit and Korn, and sometimes Rage Against the Machine. It wasn't all bad, though. WHFS was this radio station that used to broadcast out of D.C., and they always seemed to some sort of an idea of what they were doing. They used to do this thing called the HFStival, and it was a one day concert in the same vein an Lollapalooza. It was kind of a big deal, in the sense that people always wanted to go and get wasted and groove out to the latest in popular alternative music. I went one year, and I remember seeing two things: Eminem, which I'll talk about now, and The Strokes, who I'll get to after that. 
Eminem was insanely popular when I was in these years. I remember being in seventh grade when "My Name Is" started to get played on the radio. In eighth grade, it was "Forgot About Dre" that was all the rave. That was always the game. You get a partner, and see if you both know all the words to "Forgot About Dre". You didn't really need to know the Dre part because everyone always wanted to be Eminem. Literally, when I was 14 everyone wanted to be Eminem. Not me. I was too oblivious to be angry or angst-y about anything, and besides, my mother wouldn't let me dye my hair blonde. It seemed like every day he was more popular than he was the day before. The reason I mention most of this is, because the year I went to the HFStival, Eminem was the headliner. 
The HFStival of 2002 was my first live concert experience. It was the first show, and is being mentioned solely for that reason. In addition to Eminem and the Strokes, the line-up included Our Lady Peace and Good Charlotte. Historians have since determined that this was the worst line-up in the the 14 year history of the festival. That might be a bit harsh, but it's not an exaggeration. The thing about the HFStival was that it was a concert whose line-up was comprised of whatever was popular on HFS that year. So in 2000, they had Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, Cypress Hill, Deftones, and the Blue Man Group. The headliners for 1995 were the Ramones and Tony Bennett. Jay-Z performed in '04, and Kanye did it in '06. None of this is terribly exciting, but it's worth noting that the '94 line-up included Pavement and the Meat Puppets. 
Anyway, the events leading up to the show are all pretty pedestrian. Scalping tickets in the parking lot. Gawking at breasts. Going to Section 420. Taking unattended beers from the railing. Gawking at more breasts. Crowd surfing. More gawking, and et cetera, et cetera. However, the good times would soon come to a halt. The crowd started becoming violent all of the sudden, and I'm fairly certain that it had nothing to do with the fact that Hoobastank was performing on stage. Eminem was coming up next. I remember having to move off of the field, and on to the bleachers because of the elbows being thrown. Eminem came out on stage, and the crowd moved forward which was unfortunate for the people already in the front because they got trampled. When that happened, Eminem became incensed and started demanding that the crowd back up, and if they didn't he would leave. I'm pretty sure someone died as a result of the crowd's insatiable desire to get closer to the blonde one. 
Eminem came out on stage in a suit, and there was a podium and the whole thing was supposed to have the vibe of a politician giving a speech. Eminem asked the crowd to put both their middle fingers in the air, and yell "Fuck You". I remember looking around, and seeing children and adults all with their fingers in the air. I saw entire families participating, and while I didn't dwell too much as to why you would take a nine year old to the show, it still struck me as odd. I hadn't become cynical at this age, so I blocked this event out for many years. But later on, I became disenfranchised with just about everything and then I remembered this. I was in the middle of White America. This is what the people had come to represent. Most wouldn't want to admit this because it's not exactly the most flattering portrait, but it was accurate. This was the people, in their realest form. They were seeing their favorite performer live in concert, and they were acting accordingly. I still remember that moment to this day. I don't remember all the sex. There were people having sex in the lawn, and there were people having sex in the bleachers. They were in the bathrooms, and at one point I saw coitus done on a couch in Absolut Vodka DJ tent. Those are all just flashes, but every single one of those faces with accompanying middle finger is as a clear as watching a hockey game in high-definition. 
It wasn't all bad, though. Earlier in the day, I saw the New York rock and roll band, The Strokes. This band left an indelible mark on me. It was almost June, but here were these five guys decked out in leather jackets, skinny jeans, and boots. This was the first time in my life that I saw bros. I didn't know it then, but upon reflection I know this was the case. When they came out on stage, they started playing. Everyone except lead singer Julian Casablancas. He stood motionless for a minute, and then there was this rotating camera that circled the stage. And, Julian went after it. Once it came within reach, he grasped for it and hung on it for a second before letting go. Then there was some mild swearing, and after that he picked up the microphone and started singing. At that moment, I determined this was rock and I wanted to hear more of it. 
Predictably, I bought This Is It the next day. And I bought Room On Fire the day it came out. I was hooked. I couldn't believe that a band could sound like this, and still get played on the radio. I didn't have the internet in this day, so I didn't know any better and it would have blown my mind to learn that online people were hating on this band because they weren't cool. I didn't know any of this. I only knew my radio, and shortly after it started playing The Hives, The Vines, and The White Stripes. I started believing that any band worth a damn had a "The" in their name. I liked each one more than the one before, which explains why I flipped for The Vines. They were the last ones to arrive, so I was the most ready to embrace them. I didn't know where these bands were coming from, and I didn't really care. One night, my younger cousin brought his guitar over, and I got my bass out, and my brother did the drums, and the three of us covered "Last Nite" three or four times and we were convinced that it was epic. In a way, it was. 
I didn't have the slightest idea of how to find more music like this, but I stuck by the radio. Eventually, I gave up because HFS went off the air and DC 101, the other "alt" station, still played the same corporate playlist from 1996. With few options, I turned to "classic" rock because it was all new to me at the time and I eventually determined that the best way to get over The Strokes was to get into Pink Floyd. This actually worked for a few years.
My teenage years showed great promise given my initial fervor for The Strokes, and for having the vision to be wary of Eminem. However, in this same time I became dumb and susceptible to anything so I started listening to older music because it was easier. How can you argue with what's easy. A few years later this would change, but at that juncture of my life, which now works as the end of this article, this was the case. 

27 October 2009


Dum Dum Girls is a band. There's one girl, who goes by Dee Dee, and technically she's the whole band, but there are other cats who play the instruments and what not. For instance, when I saw Dum Dum Girls in Brooklyn over the summer while at Woodsist/Captured Tracks, the band was made up of members from the Crystal Stilts, Blank Dogs, and Crocodiles. That wasn't a completely random group because I think the member of the Crystal Stilts that is being referenced is Frankie Rose, who used to be in the Vivian Girls and is also responsible for "Where Do You Run To", which for a few months there back in the spring, was my most favorite song. And, apparently, Dee Dee is actually Kristen Gundred who is in Grand Ole Party, and she's also married to one of the guys in Crocodiles, which would explain why a member of Crocodiles was a part of the set. And, Mike Sniper is the man behind Blank Dogs, and he also runs Captured Tracks, and he does lot of other rad stuff, so it would make sense for him to throw down with a fresh band on a Saturday in July.
That July 4 show in Brooklyn, was apparently the live debut of Dum Dum Girls. Being there, I had no idea that this was the case. I dug this.

Sub Pop Records signed Dee Dee/the group over the summer, and a full-length is supposed to drop some time in 2010. Already out in circulation, there's an EP on Captured Tracks, a 7-inch on Hozac, and a CD EP on Zoo Music. The cover for the Captured Tracks EP is featured at the top of the page. 
There are only four tracks on the Captured Tracks EP, and they all rule. "Catholicked" should played loud all the time. "Hey Sis" has that hallway vocal feel to it, where it sounds like the singing is being done in a room down the hall as opposed to being done with the band in the same room, but regardless it sounds cool. That might be tricky ground because if it sounds cool then there could be a backlash. While I'm not certain, it could still happen. Dum Dum Girls might be the kind of band that is going to get hated on by the sensitive internet types. It happened to Wavves, and every time it happens it's just because the band is making the right sound but because it's so great, certain pockets of the internets panic and immediately dismiss the band for some bullshit reason. It's like they want it all for themselves, which is kind of ridiculous. That would pretty much make music blogs useless, and if that became the case then I would have to find a new hobby. Perhaps, reviewing books?
"Put a Sock in It", in addition to being exactly the same length as "Hey Sis", is a choice cut to have on the back-burner. The guitar almost sounds limited to one tiny space, but regardless of that it churns out sound that is simultaneously fuzzy and sharp. Actually, instead of "sharp" let's go with "tight". It's a tight song. "Yours Alone" is strangely endearing in a good way. 
Despite being months behind on this reporting, this still could qualify as relevant. CMJ was last week, and the internets covered it, and Dum Dum Girls played and blew lots of minds. This writer caught them over the summer and drank the kool-aid then, but either way, this is music that should be listened to. 

26 October 2009

Album Review

Atlas Sound, Logos
Back in July, the tracklist for Logos was mailed out to the internets and with the news came a note from Bradford Cox, who shared his thoughts on the upcoming album. Back in August of 2008, some asshole found an unfinished copy of the album and leaked it on the internets. In the note from July, Bradford says that he considered "abandoning the project."
Fortunately, the awesomeness of Animal Collective saved Bradford from the pit of despair because, they went on tour together in Europe and Bradford said that "the band dynamic was very inspirational to be around." Noah Lennox, a.k.a Panda Bear, also taught Bradford how to sample while on the road. That last tidbit is important because a few months back, the internets went bananas when "Walkabout" surfaced on the web. The collaboration yielded possibly the best song of the year, and definitely the most blithe. 
Probably, the most telling excerpt from the July note is when Bradford says, "There is no 'filler'", while talking about Logos. And, he's right. From start to finish, this is album, out now via Kranky, is rad. The end of the note said that almost everything on the album was recorded on its first take, and it's "like a 'live album' where a band sets up in a studio and just rolls tape." (Excerpts from note via Stereogum
The band atmosphere is an interesting vibe that springs from the album, mainly because in a past interview Bradford has said that Atlas Sound was a vessel for ideas he had that wouldn't necessarily work in Deerhunter, but Deerhunter is still his main cup of tea. This writer knows this to be certain, because he spoke to Bradford after the Deerhunter show in Baltimore this past summer. And during the brief exchange, a woman approached the stage, and said, "Yo, Atlas Sound. I saw you in Cheee-cago. That shit was dope. You should just do that, man."
And Bradford responded, "Well, no. I like my band." At and at that point, this writer realized two things. First, Bradford Cox is probably my most favorite person in indie music at the moment based on his tunes and because he is super friendly in person, but I also realized that Deerhunter and Atlas Sound really are separate entities, not to be confused with one another. 
 Back to the album, which is quite rad. One of the tracks,"Quick Canal", was recorded with Sterelab's Laetitia Sadier, and is eight and a half minutes long. This fact was not apparent to this writer until after five or six listens. It's so breezy and pleasant, it's like time has stood still and we're on an ephemeral journey to a land far away from douche bags and reality television awards shows. 
Not very often, are albums this effortlessly incorporating, from a mental standpoint at least. When the opener "The Light That Failed" begins, it's like there's a rapping at the chamber door because that's when it begins. You get a tiny sliver of something, you're not quite sure what, but you keep listening, and the record keeps on playing. The next track,"An Orchid", follows with its lyrics about orchids dying, children crying, and lying. The lyrics aren't autobiographical, but lying and crying can happen to anyone so it's like we've all been there, and now at this point, you start to feel a little bit more familiar with the record, and then "Walkabout" comes on, and that's it. See you in an hour or so because you'll be occupied until then.
"Attic Lights" implores paradise, and after that comes "Shelia", a song about growing old and burying ourselves together, and it's gorgeous and sad at the same time. It's a standout track now, and probably on countless mixtapes that haven't been made yet. 
At the end of the day, when the mustard has been made, Logos is an album. It's a pretty great album, but most importantly it's an album. No skipping from track to track or anything like that. (Well, maybe once or twice. There may be a Friday or Saturday night, where playing "Walkabout" is necessary to get moving. And you might make a mixtape one day, and to do it, you might want to jump around to find that perfect opening/closing track. There will be instances, of course, but when possible just let this album play from the beginning and ideally listen to it with headphones on.) This is an album for Sunday mornings, and Tuesday afternoons. And if that's not the case for you, then.... "look at it from another way".

23 October 2009

Dirty Projectors, Black Cat, Washington, DC, 10/22/09

A band called GIVERS were the opening act, and they featured two percussionists which is always awesome and one of them was a woman who was quite attractive, and that's always a plus. According to the internets, they are from Louisiana. They were pretty tight live, and a whole lot of fun. 
I have a small confession in regards to the Dirty Projectors. Up until this morning, I didn't own any of their albums and been subsisting on what I could find on the internets, which isn't necessarily terrible, but nonetheless I went into the show not knowing as much as I should have. Outside the club before the show, a food critic came up to us and asked who was playing tonight. The next question, she asked was the inevitable "What do they sound like?" Some bro, who was looking for scalpers, said they sounded like Grizzly Bear if they were fronted by Mariah Carey. I couldn't help but think that he was slightly off in this assessment, and furthermore I don't think that sort of description is going to help a 56 year old woman deduce what the music is going to sound like. Unless, older women listen to Grizzly Bear, and while that may be possible, somehow I don't think that is the case. Personally, I think the Dirty Projectors have a vibe that is akin to a new millennium version of the Talking Heads.
The whole "What do the Dirty Projectors sound like" topic is one of the more bandied about discussions that circulate on the internets. The AV Club did an interview with frontman David Longstreth yesterday, and the entire interview revolved around the comparisons that critics have made in regards to the band. It was quite the illuminating conversation, and highlights include Longstreth calling a Pitchfork quote slightly hyperbolic and how comparing them to the Beach Boys is pretty lazy. 
The show itself was quite rad. The only problem, and this is 100% a personal thing, is that it was pretty packed inside the club. And that's not really a bad thing, but I'm claustrobrobic. I can't be around that many bros. Tons and tons of bros, all sweating and lusting and cramming their way through, spilling beer in the process. It gets to a point where it feels like the walls are caving in, and I'm going to drown in a sea of flannel and oversized glasses. 
As far as the show went, I'm working under the impression that the band's set was comprised of all the tracks off of Bitte Orca, the latest album from the group and the one that is getting the kind of love that puts it on the same level as Merriweather Post Pavilion and Veckatimest in terms of amazing albums for 2009. The songs performed live sounded slightly different than they do on record, but if anything I thought they just sounded more ballsy. I suppose I could talk about the complex time signatures that were employed and the key changes, but I don't understand any of that shit and chances are I never will. 
This show wasn't that loud in terms of volume, but the songs still managed to remain in my head. It was all just so damn likable, like menthol cigarettes. Looking at the crowd, it became apparent that there are some people who absolutely love this band, which a wonderful thing to witness. I had a foggy idea of what was going on and what I was hearing, but I dug it. I know that much. I still may not "get" it, but I was still there. I heard it. I saw it. The internets makes mention of these pop sensibilities and attempts at R&B, but I've yet to actually hear that. The whole thing seemed to hit a much more primal nature, in that music is good and live music is better. Oh, and before I forget. The encore was terrific. And while the crowd didn't dance, they all left grinning. 

21 October 2009

A few weeks back, Gary and I went to a show and saw this band. While the set was somewhat shocking, it still never got weird enough for me. I know that's a stolen line, and forgive me for it, but at this very moment it is still a very apt description for what we saw on that night. It was just different but not in a bad way, and if anything that stark contrast just prevented the music from shining through. This band's tunes are great. Damn catchy. Below there is a video, and its a fun song and there is a part where two bros are kissin' but that's neither here nor there, and there's also a taco that walks and talks. The band is Hunx & His Punx, and the song is called "Good Kisser".

20 October 2009

Last video for awhile, or at least for a few days. Should probably be writing, but I liked this video. It's Gary's birthday today, which might hinder writing later on but may not. It's all very up in the air.

19 October 2009

Probably too many videos lately, but these things tend to happen from time to time. This song has been stuck in my head for the past several days. 
Mika Miko is a rad band from California. The internets reported today that they are breaking up for a number of reasons. This is unfortunate, but not necessarily bad news because the people in the band probably have lots of other things they want to accomplish in their lifetime so maybe they will be able to achieve even more now that they have extra time on their hands. Kind of a bummer, though. 


Slow News Day

I generally don't watch music videos like this one, but it was posted on Stereogum so I figured that it must have some sort of artistic merit to it. Also, I used to fancy Lily Allen a good deal so that made this seem even more worthwhile. 
Last year, the GQ Men of the Year Awards were held in London and were co-hosted by Lily Allen and Sir Elton John. Apparently, Lily was hammered drunk, which is kind of what she does, but reports say that Sir Elton was having none of it. Supposedly, they were arguing onstage about the boozing. None of this really matters, but the dispute did yield two fantastic quotes from the parties involved. The first one comes from Sir Elton, and goes as follows. When Elton told Lily to put the bottle down, she said, "Fuck off. I am 40 years younger than you and have my whole life ahead of me." and Elton responded with, "I could still snort you under the table." 
While an aging, piano man challenging a young, British upstart to an illicit drug sniffing contest is quite the premise, it still doesn't bring out the laughs like Allen's quote does. At the same awards show, 82 year old Tony Bennett was about to receive an award and Elton was talking about how classy Bennett was and prattling on like everyone does at awards shows when all of the sudden Lily grabbed the mic and said, "I'd still fuck him." Granted, Tony Bennett does look pretty good for his age but an awards show platform probably isn't the place to announce intentions to sleep with him. 
This awards show incident still doesn't have anything to do with anything, but it does set up the premise for this video. In the video, Lily kidnaps a guy who looks like Elton John and holds him hostage and then forces him to hold a press conference where he professes his love for her. It's kind of humorous, and at the very least it's ten times better than whatever shit videos they play on MTV these days. 

18 October 2009

Built to Spill, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC. 10/17/09

This show was such a no-brainer that I should have thought twice. I had intended on going down to Baltimore to see Sunset Rubdown, but at the last minute decided to see Doug Martsch and crew. Violent Soho and Disco Doom were the two opening bands, but truth be told I don't remember a whole lot from either of their sets. I remember Violent Soho being louder than I expected, and I remember telling a girl outside the club that I thought they were pretty good but that's about all that I remember. I'm pretty sure that I dug Disco Doom as a band, but to be fair I was also drinking a cold, frosty Boddington's at the same time so it's entirely possible that I was just enjoying that. 
The crowd at the 9:30 club can be split up into two classifications. There were bros there who had nothing better to do so they went to a show, and then there were creepy bros who were there trying to find women to sleep with them. Unfortunately, the area that we were standing in was occupied by the creepy bros. 
This show was my first opportunity to see Built to Spill. They came to town last year with the Meat Puppets, but I missed the show because I was still in school and had no way of making the trek. With that being said, it would be fairly easy and definitely lazy to say that the show was really good and that I had an awesome time. The only problem with this is the previous sentence isn't entirely true. I was incredibly pumped about seeing BTS, but that didn't necessarily guarantee that the show would be great.
Call me naive or a douchebag or an asshole, but I thought that if a band can release a spectacular live album like BTS did then that means that the band in question is going to be truly impressive in concert. However, since I am a naive, douchebag-asshole this is not what happened. Built to Spill played for two hours, but it was a very nondescript set. I know that they played "The Plan", but for the life of me I can't name another song from the set. At one point, they told the crowd that there was no set list for the evening and that they would play whatever came to them. I know that as a fan, this is supposed to be really exciting because it seems to suggest endless possibilities. But, it ended up yielding a very unfocused and somewhat scatter shot performance. Judging by the sounds that were filling the room, I may as well have been seeing Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. (Writer's Note: Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were the band from The Muppets that featured Animal on drums.)
If someone had never heard Built to Spill before, and they saw last night's show then they would probably think that Built to Spill are awesome. Built to Spill is awesome, and last night was probably really awesome for lots of people in attendance. However, because of my hang-ups this wasn't the case for me. Now, I'm not going to go and do something stupid like say that seeing Wavves a few weeks back was better than seeing BTS, but Wavves was a lot more fun. And I'm not going to say that Gang Gang Dance is a better live band than BTS, although GGD were way more captivating live. I certainly wouldn't say that Jay Reatard's guitar work was better than BTS, but it was super rad to see in person. I would, however, compare seeing Dinosaur Jr to seeing Built to Spill. This is a pretty apt comparison since both of these bands come from the same era, and for the most part have the same fans. They both tend to occupy the same space in discussions about the forefathers of ass-kicking independent music. Dinosaur Jr is tremendous live, and a real marvel to behold. Each time I've seen Dino live, I leave the club on cloud nine because there's always part of me that can't believe what I just saw. Generally speaking, Gary and I exchange several enthusiastic high fives during the set and we don't move until it's over. Last night, there were no high fives and we stepped outside at least once to smoke a cigarette while BTS played. On the drive home from last night's show, I found myself wondering what the score from the hockey game was. 
Built to Spill had just finished playing four straight nights in New York to sold out crowds, so it's possible that they may have been slightly drained by the time they got to Washington. And, that's fine. Completely understandable. And, this isn't me sitting in a tower hating. This is me, a bro, feeling kinda bummed.

17 October 2009

Some time has passed since Pavement has been mentioned in any capacity, so it only seems fair that they occupy some space on here today. Spiral Stairs, a.k.a Scott Kannberg a.k.a Pavement co-founder a.k.a the other guitarist in Pavement, has a new album coming out. The new record is called The Real Feel, and it will be released by Matador on October 20, which is also Gary's birthday. (Writer's Note: If you want to show Gary some love, you can check out his blog, http://glassyeyeddesigns.blogspot.com/). The new Atlas Sound album also comes out on this day, but that will be mentioned more in-depth when the day arrives. 
This video is for the track "Stolen Pills". Pretty sure that it's about taking pills, and the various ups and downs of taking said pills. There is also a raccoon in the video, just like there is a raccoon on the cover of the album. 
The Real Feel
The album is currently streaming over at ThinkIndie.com
All information from this post comes from Stereogum and Matador.


Bonus awesomeness.
From the Matador Records YouTube page, Pavement performing "Grounded" live in Manchester. 


And while we're at it. Here's a Kurt Vile video for the song "Freak Train", off the album Childish Prodigy out now on Matador.



No sense in stopping now. Here' s Stephen Malkmus' video for "Gardenia", off of the Jicks' last album Real Emotional Trash.



This may come across as excessive, but in all seriousness Matador is truly the greatest record label in the history of man. The roster of bands that have come through this label is extraordinary. Notables include: Pavement, Guided By Voices, Yo La Tengo, Belle & Sebastian, Mission of Burma, The Ponys, Times New Viking, Sonic Youth, Jay Reatard, Cat Power, Interpol, Spoon, Dead Meadow, and Fucked Up. They also are responsible for the distributing the latest from Kurt Vile, Girls, Blank Dogs, Nodzzz, The Big Pink, and Dum Dum Girls. They even released a Lou Reed live album last year.

16 October 2009

One of these is the greatest music video of the decade.

#1


#2



#3

13 October 2009

This video won the 2001 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video.



And this video was the first runner-up at the Soho Shorts Film Festival in the UK.



Both of these songs are off of the album, Since I Left You, by The Avalanches. 

For the sake of full disclosure, this album was purchased because it was listed as the 10th best album of the decade by Pitchfork Media. While perusing that list, and having a working familiarity with most of the records on there, this one is particular stood out. And while this has nothing to do with anything, "Avalanche" is this writer's favorite word to be shown in print. This word in Helvetica typeface would be a dream come true.
Based on absolutely nothing, production is probably the single most important aspect of any good record. Especially, if the album in question is hip hop or electronic. Since I Left You is one of the smoothest, grooviest albums in existence. Again, this is based on absolutely nothing other than my general ignorance. 
Everyone has their weaknesses. For example, this writer is susceptible to electro music. Last year, Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours got major spin in the jukebox for quite some time, and would have lasted longer until this writer played the album for some friends and they told him that the disc was no good and "kind of weird/lame". They were wrong, and if anything this writer listens to Cut Copy even more because there is a perverse satisfaction that comes from digging something that the masses hate. Coincidentally, The Avalanches and Cut Copy are both from Australia , and both are signed to the record label, Modular Recordings.
The internets report that Since I Left You contains roughly 3,500 vinyl samples on it, but that number may suffer from hyperbole and chances are the real number is probably closer to 1,000. When this album was released, it received critical love by the truck load. Alternative Press gave it an 8 out of 10, while NME gave it a 9 out of 10, and Pitchfork gave it a 9.5 out 10. To drum up buzz for the album, The Avalanches hit the road and ended up opening for acts such as the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and Beck. This eventually led to headlining tours all over the globe, and somewhere along the way one of the members of the band broke both of his legs in two separate incidents. The remaining shows became DJ sets, and presumably were really dope.
Apparently, this album was almost never released because the band members were concerned that with so many samples it would never be cleared and approved. Artists sampled on Since I Left You, range from Raekwon to Madonna. John Cale, a former member of the Velvet Underground, also has his work sampled on the record, and this is being mentioned because he used to be in the Velvet Underground.
In an interview, it is stated that this album was originally supposed to be some sort of concept album about chasing love all around the world. "The idea of a guy following a girl around the world, and always being one port behind. And that was just because we had all these records from all over the world, we'd like to use all that stuff," said Ronnie Chater, founding member of The Avalanches and producer on Since I Left You.
Without beating the drum for too long, this album is completely different from anything else ever put on wax. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this album is definitely one of the most original things to come out in the last ten years. It jumps all over the place, yet it stays on course the whole time. So fresh, that it is actually refreshing. 

12 October 2009

I started watching this video for no particular reason. I saw it advertised, and I clicked on it. I noticed that there was potentially a woman wearing a fake mustache so I was intrigued to say the least. I'm not familiar with this band in any capacity. I recognize the name, but I don't think that counts for much. I think the band is from Glasgow, which I believe is in Scotland. I don't know much about this particular area, but I do know that it is also the home of The Vaselines, a band that Kurt Cobain allegedly loved and a band that I really, really love. The Jesus and Mary Chain are from Glasgow as well. Belle & Sebastian hail from this area as well. There's also this band called Eugenius, who were formed by the guy in The Vaselines after they broke up and they hung around for a few years in the early '90s and they, too, are from Glasgow. They also went by the moniker Captain America, but that was only for a minute. (Writer's Note: This band is pretty rad, and if you have a minute you should check them out.) 
The name of this band in Camera Obscura, and the song is called "The Sweetest Thing". After watching this video, my only question is "Why don't I get invited to rock and roll costume parties like this?" The mustached lady is actually supposed to be Paul Simon, and then there's someone dressed like Art Garfunkel and there's someone else dressed like David Bowie and there are even people dressed like members of Fleetwood Mac. 
I wouldn't necessarily put this song on at a party, but then again I tend to play really awful music at parties. This song is very pleasant on the ears, and I feel like if I heard it on a more regular basis then I would be much more cheery when hanging out and interacting with people. This song also makes me curious of what the rest of the album sounds like. 

07 October 2009

I Bought This on Amazon for less than a Pack of Cigarettes

This album enters with quite a bit of hype. Pitchfork called this record the best album of 2002, the third best album of the half-decade, and the 20th best of the decade. Even NME, a UK tastemaker magazine, named this the 10th best album of 02. It was also nominated for the 2003 Shortlist Prize, the American equivalent to the the UK's Mercury Prize. Which is all the more impressive, considering that at the time The Strokes were becoming hugely popular, and similarly named acts like The White Stripes, The Libertines, The Hives, and The Vines were all on their way up. And then, there's this. The band is called Interpol, and the album is called Turn On the Bright Lights. And while introductions are being made, two things should be made clear. First, this band doesn't really sound that much like any of the other bands that were just mentioned. At least, no more than The Walkmen do. Secondly, Interpol doesn't really sound that much like Joy Division, but that will be touched on later and in more depth. 
If Patrick Bateman, the main character in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, were a real person living in the 2000s then chances are Interpol would be his favorite band, as opposed to the Talking Heads like in the book. Even on the surface this conceivable given the band's penchant for sharp haircuts and designer suits. While Bateman worked as an investment banker, Interpol seem to have ties to the PR sector with lines like, "Friends don't waste wine, when there's words to sell." But there's another level, where this comparison works as well.
In American Psycho, Bateman isn't always cool, calm, and collected. There are times where he is shook and losing his grip. As a reader, this is easy to identify because he, as the narrator, begins to report falsehoods. Or he will state things that directly contradict other things that he said earlier. The point being, Bateman had his hang-ups. He was ultimately, lonely and confused. He was never sure if he wanted sex or not, but he ran wild with it just to make sure. He was a fucked up individual, and as a result he rode off the rails. Interpol ride off the rails as well. They give off the appearance of what is supposed to be cool, but beneath things may not be as smooth as the black Italian suits suggest.  Like on "NYC", where the speaker confesses to miming his way through the daily routine but who is "sick of spending these lonely nights/Training myself not to care." Or on "Roland", where the speaker talks about his friend, the butcher, and how he has a beard which this writer can only imagine is some sort of grave offense in the NYC fashion circles. 
And then there's "Obstacle 1" which has the most Joy Division-y line on the whole album. "And you go stabbing yourself in the neck." Yeah, it's true. Lead singer, Paul Banks, does at times sound like someone who went to the Ian Curtis School for Vocalizing, at least in terms of delivery and only at times. "Obstacle 1" has a companion at least in name with the track, "Obstacle 2" where the speaker asks doesn't ask for self-inflicted injury, but rather for someone to help because "If you can fix me up, we'll go a long way." And to be fair, hope is never completely lost on this record. On "Untitled", we are told that we will be surprised sometimes. And there's "Sheila Was a Diver and She Was Always Down", which tells the tale of a lady who for lack of a better term, was always down to go down. 
Suppose, only one question remains. "Is this album as good as advertised?" The answer is probably. This is a consistent record that plays strongly from start to finish. Interpol have a certain sound, and they work well with it. In the past, Interpol was recommended to me. They said, I would probably like it. They were right, but truth be told the reason is still somewhat unclear. 

06 October 2009

When thinking about the follow-up to Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, it would be best to look at it like The Walkmen have built a house. Bows + Arrows is a house built by The Walkmen, two years after their first album. It got even more love from music critics than the first album, and records indicate that the songs were so buzzworthy that they were used in an episode of the overly-dramatic yet inexplicably popular teenage soap, The O.C.
This entire record boils down to "The Rat". The second track on the album, and quite possibly the best rock song of the last ten years. Seriously, this song is tremendous. In a nutshell, it's what the last ten years have sounded like. The drums are relentless, and the rest of the band never quits either. There are multiple walls of sound, yet the vocals are completely stripped. From a vocal stand point, it's totally bare bones. Maybe this is too self-revealing on my part, but the lyrics accurately pinpoint the feelings of disenfranchisement, confusion, and hopelessness that come with being at a certain age in a town you don't want to be in. This song comes through the speakers with a rush that rattles this house down to its foundation. Everything else is slightly off and shook because of this song. 

This idea comes from the internets, but the whole album may be a narrative of night out in New York City. It kind of bounces around. There are moments of more introspective thought, but there's also times when things are popping off. There's a reason that this band has managed to hang around. They have crafted a sound that gets people through rainy days and boring Saturday nights. But maybe, it's not for everyone. And that's fine, too.

I Bought This on Amazon for less than a Pack of Cigarettes

Wait. Stop the presses. There's been a mix-up. These days, if you read Rolling Stone or watch MTV you invariably end up hearing about this band, Kings of Leon. And then, you think for a minute and then you remember. "Ah, yes," you say. "They were that band that wrote the dirty, scuzzy rock ditties while endorsing a life experience of debauchery and what have you." And then you think about how much they changed up their sound while not changing the lyrics in order to achieve this stardom. If the music matures, then shouldn't the lyrics take on a more critical eye approach in order to represent fully-realized art? The reason I say this is because when you listen to the first Kings of Leon album, they don't exactly sound like a band that is supposed to be adored years down the road. It's kind of haphazard, and sounds like its just happening in the moment. This writer didn't sit down and listen to the Kings of Leon because there's no need for that, but rather he procured a copy of The Walkmen's Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone. And this band, on their 2002 debut sound like a band with a plan. 
There's a deliberateness on each song that hits you like a kiss when this record is on. Bad Grizzly Bear joke aside, this album is one tight package. According to the internets, back when this album was about to be released, The Walkmen were being shown on MTV. However, this is back when The Strokes were first starting out and it seems a safe bet to think that MTV was just scrambling to get their hands on any New York City rock band with "The" in their title. This is right before the rug got pulled from underneath all major music outlets. First, it was The Strokes, and then it was The White Stripes, and so on and on. These bands started getting played on the radio, and shortly thereafter people started realizing that there were more fresh sounds to be found on the internet and underground. The Walkmen kind of got lost in the shuffle, but not because they're shitty but rather because their sound doesn't hit you over the head. It takes time for it to grow. Kind of like Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 which lacks a "Wow" factor on first listen, but eventually one realizes that they are listening to a really great record. 
I didn't fully realize that I liked this album, until last night. I was pretty sure I did, but the fuse hadn't been lit yet. I was thinking about what this album reminded me of, and I was coming up with answers like "kinda-sorta similar to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah" and "like Dr. Dog except with more instruments". While in hindsight, those are pretty shitty comparisons what struck me about them was the fact that both of those bands started releasing materials after The Walkmen. This disc has a familiar sound to it in a way, and it's just one of those things. Not to go on too long, but it's like The Walkmen nailed a particular brand and as time progressed others have been able to duplicate a similar aesthetic. There's a slight smudge of pastiche in the music as well, which also probably contributes to its ability to be duplicated yet still enjoyed. Want to know something embarrassing? When I bought Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and I heard Pavement for the first time and was then in total awe and wonder, someone asked me what the band sounded like. And I told him that I thought it sounded like a cross between Weezer-style melodies and Modest Mouse-like vocalizing. It was later that I conducted some internet research and discovered that Pavement was way, way ahead of the curve. Lesson learned, but it also goes a step further. I would like to propose a theory in which if a band's sound reminds you of other, newer bands' sounds, then the initial band in question is probably pretty good. This theory can now be set on the shelf next to my other theory that any movie worth a damn has shit that blows up in it. 

05 October 2009

Representation in Doctorow's Ragtime

When the walls have come crashing down, and there is little that remains of the structure that once stood there are two courses of action available: Either one stays in place terrified of the destruction caused thus far, or the individual celebrates because of the newfound freedom that the catastrophe has provided. The idea of the former is seen as an anxiety that freezes one in place. Part of what fuels this anxiety is the question of how one represents themselves to the general public. The anxiety of representation is undeniably clear in E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. The character of Younger Brother wrestles with this as he searches for a cause to rally behind and believe in. He attempts to align himself with the wronged Coalhouse Walker and his crusade against Willie Conklin, the racist town fire chief. Younger Brother shaves his head, and attempts to dress in blackface. Later on, Younger Brother has surfaced in Mexico and has joined Emilio Zapata's fight. However, it is the character of Tateh that most accurately grapples with representation. Tateh is not so much concerned with how he is seen, but rather he is motivated by his daughter and he works in effort to provide for her. In Doctorow's Ragtime, Tateh tweaks his representation of himself only for his daughter so that he can improve the quality of her life, and the consequences of his actions show that only the outward physical self needs to be represented because that is only what the majority care to see.
The American indie rock band Sebadoh has a song entitled "The Freed Pig", and the song seems to describe the same problem that was tormenting Tateh. If the song can be understood in the sense that the speaker is talking to himself, and that the speaker is attempting to explain why he has been unable to portray himself outwardly as he feels on the inside like this other self that he is talking to. "You were right/I was battling you, trying to prove myself". Tateh first appears as a Jewish immigrant socialist, and it's these convictions that keep him and his daughter confined to the slums of the streets. It is not until he reappears in Chapter 33 that the audience sees his transformation. Tateh has now become the Baron Ashkenazy and his new reincarnation is described as "ebullient" and "excited". (255). No longer is he the thirty-two year old white-haired peasant artist. While living in the slums, Tateh creates portraits for Evelyn Nesbit: "He was a proud man...Over a period of two weeks the old man executed a hundred and forty silhouette portraits of Evelyn. After each one she would hand him fifteen cents." (44). This is Evelyn Nesbit, who could certainly rescue Tateh and his daughter from the life they are living. But by accepting her help, this would mean that someone else other than Tateh would be constructing their experience. As Lou Barlow muses on "The Freed Pig": "I tried to bury you with guilt; I wanted to prove you wrong." These lines from the Sebadoh song represent the internal divide that is going on within Tateh. Tateh is too proud to accept handouts from Evelyn or anyone else for that matter. He wants to work for what is his because when he succeeds he wants to enjoy the victory for himself. He wanted it to be a personal victory. He was a socialist who believed that hard work would be recognized eventually, and that was the best way for him and his daughter in America. But this is not to say that he was not rational. Surely, Tateh knew that Evelyn could rescue him and his daughter. He just refused her help. He tried to prove everyone wrong by showing that a Jewish immigrant could thrive in America. He ends up thriving in America, but it is not until after his transformation. This is when he has finally captured what he had been seeking: "He felt he deserved his happiness. He'd constructed it without help." (258). Tateh had beaten the system. He had endured the lows for as long as he could, but he had finally come to a point where he was conceding that his daughter deserved more, and he felt obligated to provide it for her. The reader learns that Evelyn Nesbit is willing to steal the young girl away from her father, and this knowledge makes Tateh's transformation seem all the more necessary. 

(Writer's Note: I wrote this a long time ago, and I think it shows. I put it on here because I'm under the misguided impression that it displays a different side of my writing, and focuses more on my analytical capabilities. I'm probably wrong. Open thought: Should more writing be presented like this? Is this effective? Is this readable? Is this worth reading?)

04 October 2009

Useless Eaters/Box Elders/Hunx & His Punx/Nobunny/Jay Reatard, Ottobar, Batlimore, 10/3/09

I try to avoid talking about stuff like this, but in the interest of full disclosure I think it may be necessary for this post. As I've mentioned before, I don't know very much about anything. A good bulk of what I experience is brand new to me. This is especially obvious when it comes to music. As recently as two years ago, I was still attending hippie, jam band music festivals. In the summer of 2007, I had dreadlocks and went to the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia and then cut off the locks and went to the Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut. I didn't have a reliable internet connection in those days so it was slightly harder for me to find worthwhile music. At that time, I knew I like band like Pavement and the Pixies but anything new was completely lost on me. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Last night, Gary and I ventured out to Baltimore to bear witness to the Shattered Records tour.

 Gary and I got distracted drinking beer out of camouflage cans, and ended up leaving for the show a bit later than we had planned. By the time we got to the Ottobar, we had totally missed Useless Eaters. From what the internets report, Useless Eaters are fronted by a 19 year old kid and they're from Memphis. They have released some vinyl for Shattered Records, and later on this year they will release some more under the Goner Records label.

 Box Elders were pretty cool. I had a good feeling about them from the beginning because I was pretty sure that their name came from the Pavement song of the same title. 

They played a pretty standard brand of garage rock, but they were damn enthusiastic about it. Their guitarist played a sweet double-necked guitar. This band made me very thirsty. 

 Gary and I mingled near the bar while we waited for the next act. I glanced towards the stage, and I noticed a man standing there adjusting the equipment. 

The man wore no shirt, and had on striking black and white hot pants a la Van Halen in the '80s. He also had a large bow-tie. Then another man came out on stage in the same outfit. Then there was a female bass player who had lots of glitter smeared on her face, and a drummer with big hair who was really, really cute. 

There was also this thing on stage that was wrapped up in a big white flag. The flag dropped to thefloor, and surprise, it was yet another dude in hot pants and a bow-tie. 

Yes, this was my  introduction to Hunx & His Punx. If I weren't lazy and hungover then I would come up with a clever way of describing the band, but that just won't happen today. Gary called them Ramones Revivalists, and I agree. Actually, to be precise they sounded like the Ramones if the Ramones were fronted

by a past contestant on Project Runway. Their set had something for everyone in it. The songs were fun, and the band was relentless in their march as they tore through each cut. There was also simulated oral sex on stage, as well as fervent discussion about penises. The lead singer pulled a boy on stage, and then gave him a spanking. The lead singer also took his pants off, to reveal not only bikini-styled underwear but an erection as well. 

 Nobunny was the next band on. Their lead singer wore a bunny mask, and ate carrots. And not to be outdone, there were two members of this band who abstained from pants. 

Definitely, the most pants-less show I've ever seen. I thought Nobunny was awesome while Gary was less enthused. The frontman was all over the stage, and repeatedly climbed the walls so that even the fans in the balcony got their money's worth. There was lots of beer being thrown around, but no one seemed to mind.

 What really separated Jay Reatard from the other bands on the bill was how Reatard's set was completely gimmick-free. He didn't coordinate outfits with the other guys in the band, and they didn't use any props. In fact, he didn't really talk to the audience at all except to announce the next song. And, that was it. Song after song after song with no breaks in between. Jay Reatard owned the stage, and managed to kick every single person's ass without even lifting his head up. Performed live, the tracks posses a rawer quality to them as opposed to hearing them on wax.There was never a question of what song it was, though, because the words were still the same.

 Once, when talking about something Hunter S. Thompson said "It never got weird enough for me." I feel the same way when thinking about this show. Sure, things seemed strange at times but it never swelled to a point where I thought I was in the wrong place. I loved the aesthetics involved with this show. If I spent every Saturday night like this, then I would think that I was doing something right. Good times.

01 October 2009

Ganglians/Wavves, Ottobar, Baltimore. 9/30/09

Several factors had to be considered before I finally decided to attend this show. I had been doing some math in my head at work the other day, and I determined that internets have been discussing Wavves for about as long as I have been a blog, which is roughly about 7-8 months. I started thinking that this cosmic connection was enough of a reason to make the trip to the city. Then I started thinking about the music, and I figured I dug the songs enough to merit the trek. It also occurred to me that I did, in fact, attend Woodsist/Captured Tracks where most of the acts there kind of sort of sounded like Wavves in some capacity or another. In fact, I remember seeing that line-up for the first time, and saying to myself, "What? No Wavves?" It was starting to look like the facts were stacked in the direction of going. But then, I thought about all the bad press. The concert meltdowns, and fisticuffs with other artists. I began to fear that if I did go the show then I would be pelted with potatoes by diehard Black Lips, who would have lined the streets leading up to the bar in order to send a message that there was a Wavves backlash. Eventually citing boredom as the main motivation, I went to the show.
When I first got to the Ottobar, it seemed like there actually was a Wavves resistance movement. The bar was empty. The opening band, POPO, had cancelled, but I couldn't imagine that this was the sole reason for the scant crowd. Then I thought about it, and eventually determined that the haters were winning. 
Ganglians started the show off, and were pretty great at doing it. They sound like the Beach Boys sorta, but its more like they sound like the Beach Boys if the Beach Boys had been the founding members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Just a good time. 
More people started to file in, but there was still some waiting to be had. I stayed seated at the bar because I figured that way I could avoid the risk of being the only jackass that was lined up at the front of the stage. The bartender asked me if I had seen either of these bands before, and I told her that I had seen Ganglians before, and then she asked where because she said she had never heard of them playing Baltimore before, and then I had to tell her that it was in Brooklyn, and then she nodded slightly indicating that she could see how that was possible. Then we started talking about Wavves, and I ended up admitting that I was concerned to how this show was going to go. But she said that she had seen Wavves before, and that it was good and then she nodded slightly indicating that the show should turn out pretty well. 
Finally, Nathan Williams descended upon the stage and began tinkering with his guitar. With each strum, he asked for the sound to be turned up louder and louder. He said that he wanted everything to be so loud that it would make people's heads hurt. His drummer was a massive, hulking dude who kept banging on what looked like the smallest drum set in the world. 
Wavves started the show off with "So Bored", and away we went. The small room filled with noise, and I realized something. Wavves is just a bro. Forget all of the internet bullshit. This is a regular guy. He wore a hat, and a sweet flannel that also had a hood. Coincidentally, I once knew a girl who had a sweet flannel hoodie, but that really has nothing to do with any of this. 
As the show progressed, there was one thing that kept jumping out. This is a regular guy. Presumably, he has parents and perhaps brothers and sisters. On stage, he looks like a bro who one day started recording music in his bedroom, and it works because that's who he's supposed to be. He definitely wasn't a dick. The only dick that was there was this one guy who kept requesting "Poker Face" at the end of every song. "I remember you from last time", Williams said to the guy. "It was kind of funny the first time, but it's not anymore," he added. That wasn't a dick move, but rather he was just managing his crowd so that he could have their undivided attention while he did his thing. At one point, someone yelled "Fuck Jared Swilley" and Williams said, "Don't say that." Again, not a dick. In that issued apology from the other day, Williams said all he wanted to do was play music and have fun. Judging by his behavior at this show, it seems like that is really his sole aim. 
Wavves' set was totally rad. The new drummer may just be my most favorite drummer in any band. He beat the living shit out of that kit for the entire show. When a song ended, he just kept hammering away until Williams started up the next song. It was quite the visceral experience, and at points it seemed like it could have lasted all night. What once seemed like a great risk had slowly evolved into a surprisingly kick-ass time. (Writer's Note: Was that a limp-wrist ending? I hope not, but I can't really tell. The show was seriously a good time.)