This show was announced mere weeks ago, which left virtually no time to contemplate attendance. It was of Montreal, though, so it was a bit of a no-brainer anyway. Not to mention, that this was one of the rare instances where a tour was starting in Baltimore as opposed to ending in Charm City. At first, I kind of scoffed at the notion of seeing Kevin Barnes & Co. at Ram's Head since it seems like just yesterday I was in high school seeing Dark Star Orchestra there or the Bridge or some other jam band related act. However, I also realized that I had seen both the Black Keys and the Hold Steady there which equaled two great times, and Gary has been there way more times than I have. He saw Built to Spill and the Meat Puppets on the same bill once, and he caught Blitzen Trapper this one other time. So with all factors considered, a trek to the city was made.
James Husband opened the show, but the show started at 8 while I was under the impression that it started at 9. The instant that I wrapped my hand around my first beer, the lights went dim and there was mild hoopla because everyone could see the shadowy figures that were gathering on stage. Then the lights went up and there was a band on stage, but it didn't look like of Montreal. It was four dudes with animal masks on. The one who held the microphone had white suit on and wore a fairly realistic looking tiger mask. They started playing instruments, but since they're animals all they could do was make noise. Then the real band came out on stage, and someone said "Enemy Gene" or something like that over the microphone. There were enormous screens hanging on the left and right sides of the stage behind the band. I sipped my beer.
There was so much guitar! They left the computers at home, and put on a rock and roll show. I was bowled over by the glam rock sound that was coming out of the speakers. It was glam rock for sure, and it was glam rock done properly. In 2010, it's damn near impossible to pull off glam when you have Lady Gaga to compete with. That's what people think of when you say 'glam' in this day and age. They either think of that, or Adam Lambert. And all that is really more 'glam pop' than anything else, regular people can't tell the fucking difference. T. Rex is a mere memory. (Writer's Note: That is a reference to '70s glam rock standard T. Rex a.k.a. Marc Bolan, and not the other kind of T. Rex. I'm aware that dinosaurs have been extinct for a long time.) However, the band from Georgia pulled it off last night. Kevin Barnes has a beard now, and on stage he looked like an amalgamation of Shaggy and Daphne from Scooby Doo. There wasn't a whole lot of stage banter, but at one point he said, "Dottie got a new vest, and Jamey got brand new shorts....and I got a new attitude." Cue next song.
In addition to the wild images being projected on screen, which at one point included an animated man and woman whose heads kept morphing into different animals while her jacket and his crudely drawn dick flashed different colors, there were roadies dressed like ninjas who had strobe lights and pictures glued on sticks and they kind of crawled all over the stage and at one point they wrapped Kevin in a green sheet so when you saw it on the screens it appeared that was being consumed by colors and swirls spiraling in formation.
I want to say that they played a new song, but the stage show had my mind in different places for long stretches. I was conscious the whole time, it's not like I was slanted or anything like that. There was a lot going on, and it may just be me, but the opening chords of the rock and roll version of "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse" sounds striking similar to the beginning of the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" which is pretty rad. They also covered the Jackson 5 to end the night. So, rad and awesome. "ABC" was a part of the encore, though. Before that happened, there was mock crucifixion. At least, I think that's what happened. Gary said that he thought it was just some S&M shit since they had him on an 'X' instead of a cross, but as some who survived the bizarre and debilitating world that is private school I happen to know that back in the day most people were done in on 'X's. None of that really matters now, but it was a pretty kick ass way to end a show.
I have to come clean. The sole purpose of that last post was just to post something so it would be post number 13 for the month which would allow for this post to be number 14. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that number freaks me out. Fortunately, that last post segues nicely into this post.
On March 9th, Matador Records will be releasing a compilation of Pavement songs entitled Quarantine the Past. It's a best-of collection for the best band ever, basically. The track listing for the album was released this morning, and it looks incredibly solid. It's got tracks from just about every Pavement record that exists, and while many of us probably already own all these recordings anyway it's still pretty rad that an album like is coming out. The Matador website also said that there will be more Pavement related releases to come in '10. Track listing below with the original album of origin in ( ).
Quarantine the Past (Available March 9 via Matador Records)
Gil Scott-Heron is a poet, musician, and author who has been doing his thing since the '60s. Not to discount his career or anything like that, but he may be best known known as the man who said, "the revolution will not be televised". He has a new album entitled I'm New Here which is slated to be released on February 8th by XL Recordings. Below is the video for a new song called "Me and the Devil".
There are some strange images in this video, but this video is entirely too interesting to get held up on that. If I were lazy I could call it 'impressive', but it would also be important to mention that it is 'striking'. In short, it pretty much blows my mind. It has skateboarding and body painted people in it.
The xx are a band from southern London, who managed to garner some serious acclaim in 2009. They started out with four members, but then someone left due to exhaustion. They didn't replace this character though, and now the xx are a three person outfit. P4K rated their first album as the third best of the year, and even clueless Rolling Stone put it in their top ten. Unfortunately, No Gift for the Gab is not a very relevant web log and as a result nothing on about this band has been reported on this site. Part of the reason for that is this writer's fear of buying in to hype, and the other explanation involves the fact that presently the financial situation at No Gift for the Gab is less than ideal and some sacrifices have to be made from time to time.
The lineup for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival was announced yesterday, and the xx are on the bill. Other notable acts include Jay-Z, Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, Spoon, Baroness, Dirty Projectors, and Beach House. Oh, and PAVEMENT!!!
Back to the xx. The band debuted a new video on P4K TV today. The song is called "VCR", and the moving images can be seen below.
And since we're all playing catch up, here are a few choice cuts off of the album.
For the record, I still haven't listened to this album in its entirety but so far it seems promising.
I enjoyed the other surfing video more, but I find myself mildly hypnotized by the images in this one. This doesn't even really sound like surfing music. It's pretty chill, but it's so chill that it almost sounds like after surfing music. I also like how a lot of the people in this video don't look necessarily 'cool', but still appear to be quite happy.
Toro Y Moi: "Blessa"
How come I'm never at parties like this? Truth be told, it's entirely possible that I have been to similar shindigs but because of excessive good times I don't quite remember. The one part where the dude seems to be moving in slow motion while drinking from the large pitcher of beer? Yeah, I've been in those shoes before.
tUnE yArDs: "Real Live Flesh"
I've read about this band on the internets before. I think they opened for the Dirty Projectors on a tour or something. Or maybe, they just played somewhere where a bunch of people were and those people then went home and logged on and started talking about them on the hype machine. Either seems plausible. I really dug the flow of this video. If MTV still played videos, then I would wish that they would play this one. They don't play videos anymore, so I'm going to wish for more rainbows instead.
Vampire Weekend: "Cousins"
The new Vampire Weekend album came out last week. I didn't buy it, but I'm sure others did. Halfway through watching this video, I realized that I had seen it before. I saw it the other night on MTV because while they don't play videos during normal business hours, they play them at 3 in the morning before the sun comes out. I'm hesitant to place too much stock on this song and video since I'm afraid it might cloud my judgment regarding the record. I hear it's kind of good, though.
The Drums: "I Felt Stupid"
I read on the internets that this is the band to watch out for in 2010. They pretty much sound like the Cure except it's not all gloom and doom. With that being said, if you don't want a song stuck in your head then don't watch this video because the chorus to this song will absolutely move in there for days. Also, I probably won't be looking out for this band in '10. It might be me, but there is something about this song that doesn't connect.
Dan Deacon: "Woof Woof"
In this eleven minute video for the Bromst standout, Dan Deacon plays a cat who is adopted by a guy who lives with two puppets. Somehow, the cat manages to tie all three characters up. Then more people come over, and the cat ties them up too. However, it's one of the puppets' birthday and the puppet in question used to be in a band and with his birthday wish he asks for the band to come back, and they come just in time, but then the cat gets growing powder and becomes bigger than the planets. Then the guy absorbs the puppets, and becomes as big as the cat. This is was just a brief overview, but all of these things actually happen in the video. (all videos via P4K)
I'm not sure if I have mentioned this already, but the record store in my town is going out of business. The place had started to go downhill years ago, but now they are being forced to vacate the premises. The selection there was pretty shitty and not very relevant, and the prices were always going up. Anyway, I went there today to see if it was still standing.
The rock albums used to occupy three-fourths of the store, but now it only spans one row. Hip hop, blues, jazz, and reggae all used to have their own section, but now there are no records in any of those genres. Almost everything is gone. Almost.
Bargain bin albums occupy most of the shelf space right now, and as a result they are mostly ignored. Scanning through these racks one finds albums by random boy bands as well as latin dance CDs and the occasional country western collection. Despite the prospects, I mined through the shit and I ended up going home with two new albums.
Getting new records is always cool, but it's how I got these that have me feeling so satisfied. I bought albums by Eugenius and the Folk Implosion, and the only reason that I know about either band is because Esther told me about them. (Writer's Note: Thanks Esther!)
Folk Implosion is a Lou Barlow side project, and predictably it is quite awesome. Eugenius is a band that used to be called Captain America, and it has the one guy from The Vaselines in it. Both records are pretty rad, so much so that I felt compelled to mention them.
I fucked up pretty bad the last time this blog had to deal with death. (Writer's Note: Seriously, it was atrocious. A proper Michael Jackson send-off looks like this.) I just got home from work not too long ago so this is still setting in, but Jay Reatard died this morning. Details are pretty scarce at this point, and the only thing that looks certain is that they found him dead in bed at about 3:30 this morning. Needless to say, this is a blower.
Last summer, Gary and I were in Chicago for Pitchfork and we had planned on seeing Jay but we drank two cases of Old Style the night before which led to our oversleeping. This past summer when word came out that Jay was coming to Baltimore, I bought tickets the morning they went on sale which turned out to be kind of laughable months later when we got to the Ottobar and presented our fresh-from-the-printer tickets only to walk inside and while it was packed, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was the kind of show where you just kind of roll up and buy your ticket at the door like you are in the know and if tickets are sold then that's ok too because when you're cool you don't care. That show was really kick-ass, by the way.
I don't want to belabor the point because I feel like in doing so I would be missing the point. Jay did a lot of things really well, and now he's gone and it bums me out just like I imagine it bums lots of other people. I feel awful for his family and people who actually knew him. I started listening to Jay because I liked the Black Lips, but wanted something a little more intense. I really really dug what I heard, and to promote enthusiasm I always put him in my top 8 on Myspace. (Writer's Note: Myspace reference shows that clearly I was listening to this shit years ago.) I liked the attitude that I heard on the records, and I always enjoyed logging on to the internets and reading about how Jay spouted off about this, that, or the other. I watched that 20 minute documentary on him, and besides agreeing that clapping was utterly unnecessary at shows, I was kind of enamored listening to this dude talk. When he signed with Matador, I felt like I hit the fucking lotto. The home to my most favorite band signing one of my most favorite current artists. I realize that's selfish, but when I like bands I really like them.
According to the internets, there is a new Joanna Newsom album coming out. Visitors to the Drag City website this morning were greeted with a cartoon that seems to indicate that a new record is coming out on February 23, and it may contain a song called "Have One on Me". Either there new music is on the way, or Ms. Newsom has grown tired of making music for Victoria's Secret commercials and appearing in music videos and will now try her hand at making subtle comic strip illustrations.
I've never been quite sure how to feel about Joanna Newsom. I know that some people really love her, and I know that some people loathe her but personally I have never had to take a stance on the subject. Someone burned me a copy of Ys, and I dug parts of that. I also know that I definitely enjoy that one song, "Peach, Plum, Pear". However, there was a point in time when I was in university where I used to constantly name-drop whatever bands I was listening to. Aside from being mildly-irritating, I also got a stink face once because I said I was going home to listen to Joanna Newsom. (Writer's Note: There was definitely alcohol involved in making that last statement.)
So if it interests you, there is a new Joanna Newsom album on the way. If this isn't your thing, then sorry and hopefully you can forget about what just happened.
A few month's back, I attempted to review D.C. rapper Wale's debut album Attention Deficit. For reasons that I'm not quite clear on, I panned the song "Pretty Girls" and questioned why Gucci Mane was involved with the album. Without checking, I'm fairly certain that there have been other instances when I have expressed disdain for Radric Davis, publicly known as Gucci Mane. With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly change my stance on Gucci.
2010 may only be eleven days old, but personally it's been going quite well so far. And after racking my brain, it has become clear that the year has been going so swimmingly because of Gucci. I have accepted it into my life, and so far I'm really enjoying it. It's kind of dumb or whatever, but it's fun to listen to. There's a lot of mumbling going on, but there are jokes underneath. There's part of me that believes that even Gucci doesn't know what his best lines are, but that's beside the point. All my life, I have listened to hip hop in hopes of one day finding an artist who oozed with swagger but maintained an everyman like quality in his work to which I could relate. And, I may have found it. Because of various prison stints, Gucci was only a free man for about 70% of 2009 but he cranked out records like he was Ryan Adams.
It pretty much started on New Year's Day. I woke up, and it was in my head. The minimalist piano that sounded like it was made of icicles plays for a few seconds, and then it hits. "GUCCI!" The opening bars of "Lemonade" remained in my head all through the night, and eventually I tracked it down on the internets and downloaded it, thinking that if I heard it one more time then I could be done with it. It didn't work. Now, the chorus was stuck in my head. The children singing about the iced out lemons had me captivated. In fact, I wanted to hear more about Gucci's jewelry collection. I've been hearing about Lil' Wayne's desire to eat rappers and then crap them out for quite some time, so in a way I was kind of ready for something new.
There's something about Gucci's voice. That delivery. Has to be. How else to explain the Salem remix tracks? It's just so low yet steady, and he's not trying to change his delivery or mess with word pronunciations like Wayne. So consistent, similar to a mailman.
Things are kind of reaching a tipping point today with the release of Diplo's newest mixtape, entitled Free Gucci (Best of the Cold War Mixtapes). On Halloween, Gucci released three different mixtapes at the same time. They were called Guccimerica, Brrrrussia, and Great Brrrritain. It's all because Gucci has so much ice that it makes you shiver, or something like that.
Anyway, the Diplo tape dropped this morning and it's definitely worth mentioning. In addition to work by Diplo, it also has remixes by Memory Tapes, Flying Lotus, Zomby, and tons others. The whole thing is courtesy of Mad Decent.
What better way to kickoff '10 than with a list? Lots and lots of beloved bands are releasing new records in the next 12 months. This is just a short list of some choice cuts, but this year has potential. Call it blind January optimism, but things may be on the upswing. (Writer's Note: I'm not saying '09 was shitty or anything, but there's a possibility that some big albums are going to drop in 2k10.)
UPCOMING RELEASES FOR JANUARY-MARCH
Beach House: Teen Dream (out January 26)
Midlake: The Courage of Others (out February 1)
Yeasayer: Odd Blood (out February 9)
Toro Y Moi: Causers of This (out February 23)
Xiu Xiu: Dear God, I Hate Myself (out February 23)
LCD Soundsystem: TBA (out sometime in March)
Liars: Sisterworld (out March 8)
Dum Dum Girls: I Will Be (out March 30)
RECORDS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN '10
and also Spoon, The National, of Montreal, and the Hold Steady
This morning while I was at work, Animal Collective blessed the internets with a new music video. It goes without saying that this video is slightly strange, but it is worth mentioning that the song performed is "Brother Sport" which was my absolute favorite song off of Merriweather Post Pavilion.
This is a fairly recent interview with J Mascis where he talks about some records that he bought at a store. With belaboring the point too much, J is the man. I could easily listen to him talk about music for hours.
Extremely grainy footage of Dinosaur Jr performing on Letterman without Lou.
This video worked on a few different levels. It renewed my interest in Islands, whose 2006 record Return to the Sea is one of my all-time favorites. I still remember the first time I heard it. I was with Gary at his folks' house, to be more accurate we were in the shed. Gary said he was going to get a weird album out of his brother's room, and he brought Islands out with him. After about two minutes all I could say was, "This isn't that bad, but it's damn good."
Oddly enough, I didn't like the second album nearly as much despite the ambitious cover art.
This video is for a song called "No You Don't" which is off Vapours which came out back in September. The song itself reminds me of the vibe on Return to the Sea, and without thinking too much that leads me to believe that the whole album might be pretty rad.
I was also unsure whether I wanted to see the new Michael Cera movie, but after seeing him act in this video I think I could definitely get talked into seeing it.
I'm slightly frustrated by this, so I guess I'll talk about it. This morning, I got the craving for a new album but I lacked the initiative to get in the car and drive to the store. Out of convenience, I wandered over to the iTunes store. I was clicking through potential discs like a drunk person goes through cigarettes. It even got to a point, where I was going to start a new series on here called "I spent an hour and a half agonizing on iTunes, and this is what I bought". I finally settled on Donuts by the late J Dilla, after debating the merits of Fever Ray, Kurt Vile, and Bill Callahan.
Things were going swimmingly. I confirmed the purchase, and the songs started downloading. All of the sudden they stopped, and an error message appeared. It said that the connection dropped, and that I needed to try again. I attempted to resume the download several times. I watched several episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia while I continued to click on the download button. Every time it was the same thing. It would start to work for a second, and then it would stop.
I began to ask myself, "Why?". It wasn't some sort of philosophical inquiry or anything like that. I merely wanted to now why my album wouldn't download. I started thinking about it, and I came up with two possible explanations. The first one I came up with is that the album not downloading is some sort of weird, karma payback for times in the past when I haven't exactly paid for my music. Not to say that I do this often, but in the past there have been moments of indiscretion. With that being said, I still kind of doubt that the internet would do that to a loyal user.
The other interpretation that I came up with is a bit more of a stretch. Yesterday, I saw the new Jay-Z video and then I ended up reading this article about how the imagery that Jay-Z uses in his videos is all in effort to promote the Illuminati message. The Illuminati is the idea that behind the scenes of everything there is this elite group who control it all. They select whose voices are heard, and shit like that. Part of this theory involves the notion that the Illuminati decides who our musicians are, and after they are chosen these performers must dedicate their art to promoting the message of the new world order. I got all of this out of the same article, and then I read further down and learned that apparently Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Kanye, and Rihanna are all members of the Illuminati. Today, I started thinking that perhaps the Illuminati found out that I had been reading about them and are now preventing me from buying this Dilla record. I was also talking about them at the bar last night. Maybe, they heard? Dilla probably wasn't Illumi approved anyway. If I tried to buy the new Rihanna, I bet the download would have gone through.
By the way, this isn't what No Gift for the Gab is going to look like in 2010. The posts won't all be like this one, where this is just me rambling. There will be substance. There will also be art by Gary. It will be very meaningful.