Thursday, November 30, 2006
Here. There. Neither of those.
Born Ruffians have a kind of raw popness that Arctic Monkeys have, except with a little more brains and a little more red maple leaf. These guys spin the galloping one-chord-for-ten-bars style into a spirograph of sped up and slowed down beats and maybe a little in between. And it helps that they have a fucking sense of humor about their music or else they'd just end up sounding like Aneuretical: all that talent. all that emo. all that squandered.
"Piecing It Together" is a transitory feller, a lil shapeshifter of a pop song. It starts out with a dancy pop chord over and overing until they get bored of yelping and funk into slick little pinky finger chords, then a tiny sounding little breakdown, and back together with a nice poppy ribbon.
I'm interested to see what these gentlemen are doing in the future, . They could lose it or they could create a clever little pop album. I'm not expecting it to be brilliant, but I'd have a nice little glint in my eyes if these boys produced something that was. Warp has picked them up, which is kinda weird, right?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Andrew Bird new tour dates!!!
DECEMBER 1 // Middlebury, VT
Sepomania Festival @ Middlebury College
DECEMBER 30 & 31 // Denver, CO
** 2007 **
JANUARY 13 // Chicago, IL
JANUARY 17 // New York, NY
The Bowery Ballroom
JANUARY 24 // Melbourne, Australia
Northcote Social Club
JANUARY 27 // Sydney, Australia
MARCH 22 // London, England
MARCH 23 // Brussels, Belgium
MARCH 29 // Paris, France
MARCH 30 // Amiens, France
Musique de Jazz et d'Ailleurs Festival
The Pittman Theatre @ Alverno College
More commentary on how much Andrew Bird is probably Jesus or a direct descendant of Jesus to come.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
So On my trip to Richmond I was awarded with a little gem of a musical game. My dear friend Jackie found this amazing game called "Ball Droppings" which sounds distantly sexual but I assure is only sexual in the soothing, post-coital haze you will encounter while playing it. and god knows you all need some post-coitus going on, you ugly fucks.
The idea is this: a ball drops, you draw a line as in windows paint lines, with the clicking and the dragging and such. The ball will hit the line (unless you're a moron and just want to draw lines where the ball doesn't hit) and play a tone. The tone's pitch depends upon how fast the ball is falling.
For example: the ball is falling like a shot-put on an idiot and you draw a line far below in its path. The ball is falling fast at the bottom where you drew the line so, when it hits, it plays a high pitch. visa versa too. You got slow balls? its got low notes. draw as many lines as you'd like, too, they're free!
My ultimate brass ring is to get so good at this game that I can create a series of lines that will play "Blister in the Sun." but, thats a bit lofty I think. Regardless, its hours of fun at work where I don't care anymore.
Additionally: the new Of Montreal album "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" is being streamed by their label polyvinyl here.
It sounds like the lush, dark, orchestral arrangements of the second half of The Sunlandic Twins, except a bit more attractive in the face. In other words, you don't feel like you're trapped in a synth organ pipe in a Norwegian cathedral. In more other words, its much more likeable. Its pretty raw lyrically too, more so than usual. Don't expect the perfection of Lysergic Bliss, though, nothing comes near that on this album.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The idea behind it is that each dot represents a note on the chromatic scale and the line represents the string that they "pluck" or, rather, "plucks" them. It's not that simple though, each dot spins at a different speed. The smaller the dot, the higher the note, the faster the speed. So, if the big bass dot on the outside goes around the circle once every three minutes, the next largest dot goes around the circle twice every three minutes, the next largest three every three minutes, and so on ad nauseum.
and naseuated you will be. This seriously breaks your mind the first time and then over and over again when they fuck with the timbre or tone or speed. My favorite is either the ethereal microtones or the prime numbers that look (and sound) like broken teeth. ooh ooh, or stereo 210 that just sounds like the inside of Stephen Hawking's brains.
holy shit, hours of wonderful goddamn zombification.
Just to further prove that I am not even in the Solar System when it comes to Hip-Hop news. Clipse has dropped an album that has apparently been in the waits for two years now. From the three tracks I've heard I'm sold like a baby on Ebay, which is very sold.
The production, done by Pharrell, is brilliant. All box-cutter-in-the-dark-alley like. Pharrell has always had it, we all knew that, but he never really flashed it too hard, dropping something smart from time to time but ending up sounding like the straight A student who dumbed himself down to hang out with the cool kids. The drumbeats are skipping and flighty but still manage to keep their clubability, and if not clubability then window blasting it with it's thick thumps down below.
Check out the single Mr. Me too ft. Pharrell, allegedly about Lil'
We cloud hoppers, tailor suits like we mobsters/ Break down keys into dimes and sell 'em like Gobstoppers/Who gon' stop us, not a goddamn one of ya
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The video below is Alien Ant Farm playing atop a building outside of the BET awards. I think Alien Ant Farm shouts for themselves when they drivel some sort of drivel about people playing instruments and then promptly begin to not play theirs very well.
Truth is I'm sick of this garbage. It's really just ignorant and not that racist until they put it into a racial setting like say...ah... the BLACK FUCKING ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS. There is another video of them at a Justin Timberlake concert and a Gay Rights parade, but nothing really hits as hard as seeing a whole red carpet of people confronted with the proposition that their music that they have slaved over is inferior to Alien Ant Farm, that bastion of musical innovention.
I'm not a big black metal guy but I had heard about this Agalloch band and decided to check them out. So far I'm digging the axes, but black metal vocals have always sounded like ... one of those highschool kids who thinks that drinking stuff out of novelty Halloween skull mugs is always fucking awesome. I can't really take it seriously all the time. We'll see. I'll take my patience out of its holster, use it like a shotgun on this album.
I picked it up at Plan-9 down here in Richmond, a pantry of delicious music. My friend Jackie got the new Christmasjan Stevens box set. I listened to it for a hot minute. actually a cold minute of annoyance. If I wanted to hear Sufjan jam out Christmas songs with his buddies... I wouldn't. Mitch Miller is the only bad sweatered christmas caroler I'll have in my life, and don't you forget it Mr. Stevens. and trying to cram your extra songs into the christmas canon is like plugging your christmas tree into too many outlets. Stick to the damn states man!
I also managed to pick up a (fucking) edited version of Enter the 36 Chambers because I felt bad about only owning a burned copy of such an incredible album. I will never do that shit again. Seriously "Shame on a Nuh" ? "Wu Tang Clan Aint"? What the fuck? Its like listening to Wu Tang play Taboo, except the buzzer sound is in my brains.
On the upside I got Fear of a Black Planet and a copy of Animal Collective's "People EP" as I've dubbed it (I think its actually called Tour EP) I'll come back with some more in depth sounds for you to read, my friend. All I know now is that Public Enemy makes me feel unconstitutionally white and Animal Collective makes me feel swelteringly punchy.
Here I come on the 1 AM chinatown careening back to E Broadway in the NYC. Yikes.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Anyway, this E.P. called "The Rescue" came out in 2005 and is an attempt by the band to prove that they sometimes umm... suck? I don't think they were very successful at it. The worst of the album sounds like Sigur Ros at their most meandering on Takk or ... well pretty much any Sigur Ros track ever. Most of the ka-ka is pretty forgiveable too because they admit to coming into the album as an experiment and not as a real studio album, let alone a plain and simple and clean artistic statement.
Actually, I find the experiment quite refreshing from a band that has a tendency to sound frigid and ... falsely icelandic. Still, there is sometimes not very much room to breathe from the gorgeous imagery and snowy landscapes that each song depicts even when their initial mission statement for a song is to have it sound like "A fast rock song, maybe with a punk rock beat."
It really makes me wonder about EITS's ability to create music that doesn't sound like reeeeeally reeeeally slowed down versions of Don Caballero. Its pretty and pretty and pretty, all the time pretty, but nothing has really captured the fire and grit of their second album for me. Even though Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die dot dot dot has some real duds, I enjoyed the growling it had underlying and threatening each song's structure.
Don't expect any growling on this; it's mostly purring. It's great, but someone forgot that they were recording every song in a cathedral on top of a mountain in the snow with bunnies made out of cotton balls pasted to reverb pedals. It starts to kinda all sound the same.
Eat a damn quesadilla dudes, you're from Austin, not Reykjavik. Also, where can I get a damn copy because its damn good. Oh, you're not selling it at anywhere but shows these days? Count me in then.
Also this: new album Feb 20th, 2007 called "All Of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" and they'll be playing in Brooklyn on 2/19/07. Expect to see me at that show picking up a copy of the new one and the EP because I need new stuff to smoke pot to and say shit like "dude, why is this song so long?"
(props to Liz Hall)
Friday, November 24, 2006
Well, fine readers, here I am in the old VA cause thats how I do. I suppose I don't have much to say because I sit, now, at my friend Sarah's computer enjoying these days of homeslice fun.
I just wanted to let all (two) of you know that I have succesfully jumped from the world of corporate into the world of not job, aka permanent blogdom aka eating nothing but grilled cheeses aka near constant, self-loathing induced, tearful, spectacular craigslist browsing. I will lay prostrate before my shrine I intend to build around this website consisting of mostly tattered remnants of my self-esteem and poorly conceived trinkets cut from tin cans and shards of bazooka joe comics.
In other words I've gone freelance. freelance! never a finer word was sweet-nothinged into my ear by T-Ball of Parcell Press and never a finer word was created to rob me of any sort of ties to down-to-earthedness, reality that is.
Nevertheless, I supplicate myself before the God of the List of Craig and you, avid readers, to GET ME A FUCKING DOLLAR, or two. Actually, its not so bad, my job that I quit has offered me freelance work with their marketing department, so don't worry too hard I'll be able to afford rent and a beer or two (or three [or four]) .
I'll try and keep up w/ the music over the next few days but computers and internets are in short supply when I travel so... hopefully I'll get to it in Richmond, VA.
By the way, if you were wondering, The Letting Go by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is probably the best thing to listen to when you're driving from DC to Fredericksburg with one of your best friends.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Jody Rosen was a graduate student of Jewish History at University College London when he discovered and compiled a tad of early twentieth/late nineteenth century ephemera that parallels, and further complicates, an era of popular music that looms like...well... like blackface. That toxic style of music and entertainment from the primordial soup days of pop music that academia so loves to explore, albeit with tweezers at the end of a twelve foot pole, was called minstrel music. And it apparently stood aside another fierce pillar of racial prejudism: Jewish Minstrel shows. It's a strange testament to our great American culture. You know, the xenophobic one?
All the usual Vaudevillian suspects are here: Al Jolson of The Jazz Singer(whose parents were Jewish immigrants), Sophie Tucker (also a Jewish immigrant), Belle Baker, Fanny Brice (the Streisand's Funny Girl and daughter of, guess what?! Jewish immigrants), and countless other Jewish or non-Jewish actors and actresses. They would don their Jew apparel to appear like a Jewish man or Woman, with large nose and jutting ears, and play " a hodgepodge of Jewish stereotypes old and new, both a crafty grasper and a bumbling immigrant greenhorn" says Rosen in the liner notes.
Irving Berlin, the penner of "God Bless America" and "White Christmas," was the prince of Tin Pan Alley, and a Jew like many of the other Tin Pan Alley ragtimers. He wrote this shining piece of brilliance: "Cohen Owes Me 97 Dollars" about an old Jewish man that tries to collect all of the debts owed him before he dies. A real "Highway to the Danger Zone" of Jewish Minstrel music, a crowd favorite.
It is pretty well known that there were numerous black men and women performing in minstrel shows, but probably not to the same extent that there were white men (sometimes women) painting rouge lips, shining shoe-polish faces, spouting out a series of racially charged jokes on stage to not-shoe-polish-faced audiences. However, the racially charged Jewface (probably done less because shoe-polish was cheaper than prosthetic noses and beards) seems like it was ubiquitously written and performed by Jews themselves. Why?
Its a fascinating testament to the importance of the American music machine (versificator?) that Jews were making names for themselves while writing and performing prejudist songs about themselves. It appears a moment of simultaneous self-parody and a declaration of a unified "here"-ness. Was it perhaps because of a unified lack of Jewish cultural identification with America that these new Americans felt the need to resort to self-parody, self-deprecation to survive? Its obvious that blackface minstrelsy was so much harder to forget because it was much more widespread, but how is it that "Jewface" has utterly escaped 99% of our radars until 2006?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions that I have neither the gall, nor the research to answer in my humble music blog. (Pittman, you're in the bullpen for this one)
However, after exploring the awesome Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project based from UC Santa Barbara, I managed to find a couple of these for you to hear and ... enjoy?
When Mose With his Nose Leads the Band
This one is about a conductor named "Mose" who literally conducts a band with his humongous Jewish nose, because, you know, Jews have big noses. All of them.
My Friends, Morris and Max
Apparently Jews playing Pinochle is a stereotype that I have yet to use on a Jew. I can't wait.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
George Harrison's first post-Beatles album was All Things Must Pass, which was a collection of music he had composed to be used as Beatles songs and released in 1970. A three disc album of nearly perfect song after perfect song. I'd label this one of my favorite finds of 2006 (thanks, as usual, to APitty).
There is, of course, the single "My Sweet Lord", a jovial little track about Harrison's maybe not-so-subtle but easy-to-swallow Christianity. It sounds like one of those moments when your head spins at the awful enormity of everything; except with autoharps, hawaii dripping guitars, and cathedral echo hallelujahs. And its not written in a Sufjan Stevens kinda showoffy, I-heart-christ bumper stickery way but in a healthy, Jesus-and-me-on-a-road-trip-smokin-ciggas kinda way. I've been stabbing the repeat button over and over on this one.
I Live For You is only available on the reissue of the album that came out in 2000. The clincher for me on this song is the steel guitar that bends and bows around the lazystrummed hallways of this song. He recorded this one in 2000 and you can really hear his threadbare vocals about to snap in pieces at any moment, which lends itself to the song itself which just sounds so... weary. Its a great testament to his talents right up until his death. Why he didn't include it on the original is a mystery, its better than a lot of the other tracks (especially the jam sessions at the very end).
It just goes to show that Harrison was the cool beatle, the Beatle you'd want as your cool older brother that was in a band and drank YooHoo.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
However! Finding this video was like stepping onto a landmine that, instead of blowing up and relieving me of this life, spewed shit all up in my pants and shirt. Even beneath my eyelids. I can't stop staring at it even when my eyes are closed. It stings. It stings.
I must share my pain with you, fanciful readers, because I hate all of you. But instead I mean the opposite of that, I love you all and I want you to see what this YouTube has wrought.
I don't claim to understand these strange people who bump and/or grind to the hip-hops on YouTube.com but I have always looked at them as if peering through a portal of stupidity; as if I, in some life, could have been one of those gentlemen shuffling and mouthing the words to Sexyback and imagining that I were, in fact, bringing the sexy back to our physical plane from an alternate dimension it was trapped in because it played ouija board and Magic Cards at the same time. These people I have always bemusedly viewed as absurd but harmless because their music tastes were like the jingling of keys to my jangling of chains. Chains made of out metal.
In other words, their apple shaped music tastes were so unlike my orange shaped music tastes that I was able to distance myself. but no more. The music I love has been pillaged, razed, raped, murdered, and, worst of all, forced to watch a non-stop marathon of That's so Raven.
An adolescent tribal dance to "Peach, Plum, Pear", verging on homosexual experimentation, awaits you behind that oh-so-familiar sideways isosceles. These girls know how to shimmy, hop, play patty cake, and wear their grandmother's jewelry!
Actually, I shouldn't be such an asshole. They're showing their appreciation for the music through meticulously crafted choreography. Plus Kitsch and I are going to do our own dance to Wolf Eyes.
Edit: Soon after posting:
~Binarynatalie: ps you're completely and hopelessly obsessed with newsom
clevabeans: I know
clevabeans: I know
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Alright. I broke down. I purchased it. $9.99
Poor James Murphy. His fingers getting stuck in those knobs and sliders and the Nike representatives lashing and lashing him until his tiny knuckles break and he cries because he just wants to go home but all they've been giving him are Peaches and Herb records and Fruity loops
to work with.
Also the thought of it being advertised to the pilates inclined kind of makes me sick. Like listening to the swish swish swish of thousands of Aunt Peggy polyester tracksuits cry out all at once.
Another day, another oter musica spree. As you may or may not know there is a Junior Boys show occuring on Dec. 7 with Morgan Geist at Studio B in Brooklyn, NY. After plundering the used section, two Pavement CD's! two!, I realized tickets were being sold there. "Why not?" I said to myself "I like Junior Boys, I like to drink things, I like shakin' my tight little butt." No seriously, I said this out loud.
The lady behind the counter was surprised I think but sold the ticket to me and handed me a clever morsel of 12" single. She also checked out my butt as I retreated, my ticket clasped between sweaty fingers and 12" being held soft, carefully, like a half melted stick of butter, hot and sticky.
but really none of that is true. If I could squelch sex out of my pores like that in Other Music, I would. Most of the time I'm silent. Contemplative. Terrified that someone will jab a Can CD in my face, thrust a scantron sheet in my hand, and point to a little desk in the corner. " I ... I don't listen to krautrock...."
I would emerge, shamefully, with the collective auralgasms of several patrons and employees oozing down my face, a music snob bukkake.
The 12" single I recieved from the pretty lady behind the counter was "In the Morning" one of our favorite little fingersnappin' beats on "So this is Goodbye." An Alex Smoke remix of "In the Morning," the B-side is "The Equalizer", and a remix of "The Equalizer" by Morgan Geist. It was like going to the rich kid's birthday party and getting the goody bag with tiger electronics and andes chocolates instead of plastic clown heads and loose Mike N' Ikes thrown in all higgledy piggledy.
I, of course, have no end of praise for the new Junior Boys album. It might not be as interesting as the last one, but there sure as hell are a lot more tracks I don't have to sit and wince through. "In the Morning" is a classic with its descending pinpricks in quintuplets being thrown off kilter with a 4/4 beat, fuckin hott. and "The Equalizer" second track on the new album, Bootyliciouser than anything off of their last album (I mean, come on, dancing to "High Come Down" would look like a cat trying to jerk its way out of a coke machine).
The remixes on the two songs are growing on me. Alex Smoke's rethinking of "In the Morning" is a lot more subdued than the original. Mostly constructed of beats, the song takes my favorite hooks (ie. the hacksaw bass and the descending pinpricks) and softens them into a scavenger hunt for similarities. I didnt like that at first. I was expecting a bigger, more booming remix; this sounds like the original song heard from the bathroom in a club. Its subtleties won me over though; I was just looking at it from the wrong angle.
The Morgan Geist remix of "The Equalizer" I like a bit less, simply because it reinvents the melody into something a little less catchy and a lot more note-octave, note-octave, note-octave. Its the oldest trick in the electrobook and the same one that The Faint has made a career out of. Also this: the "you'll never feel so sure again" sped up like a squirrel, or (the obvious simile) a chipmunk, is rediculousy. I don't hate this remix; the toothbrushing-in-a-can sound at the end is pretty sweet. Its passable but lags behind the other remix by quite a bit.
There aren't any MUST HAVE remixes on here. Stick to the album, the single is a rental.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I feel a bit uncomfortable in my knowledge of the DC punk scene. Though I was in close proximity for years I never really "got it" because of DC's impenetrable wall of politics that bundles the music in sharp turns, stop and go traffic, and dissonance dissonance dissonance. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Black Eyes, but the scene there is so prickly with politics that, like the city, its hard to crack open and taste it's gooey, delicious, punky marrow.
But this washington post.com article makes me feel even more uncomfortable. I'm all about documentation, as this blog proves, especially documentation of a scene that flourished, flourishes, flourishing. Something about a documentation that takes the form of a tour, an inscribing of memories into a cellphone into the earth into a tourist into a Starbucks, seems to be adverse to something, something...something.... in my brain.
There is a plaque in Zurich that says, and I paraphrase "the cabaret voltaire was here." An example of contemporary labors to wikipedialize or charge for everything of importance and less than important importance. Guy Debord would call it the Spectacle. Contemporary Marxist critics would call it reification.
I feel the same way about historicizing Dada, punk's granddaddy, as I do about historicizing the DC punk scene. Though Dada is dead (to a certain extent) the historicizing of it's accomplishments was inevitable, flawed. Dada was meant to destroy the gallery, the inherent classist politics of sheeny marble buildings with gilt and security guards and baby-strollers out front. Plaqueing it and stamping it and rolling it in a bun is not what Hugo Ball or Tristen Tzara wanted for their actions. Actually, saying they wanted anything at all is a kind of heresy to the house of Dada.
So flash forward to 2006 where the sheeny marble building has been squished into a couple of zeros and ones. The notion is still the same but it is a dissapearing of walls; the museum has dissapeared and covers all the ground that Cell Phone signals can cover. It is an attempt by businesses to reify an event, a culture, by tricking people to think that they are not actually bourgeoise, but hey, while you're at this trip down history lane why don't you stop in at Starbucks for a cup of punk rock coffee! I'm being facetious and contrived but the point is this: memorialization of the DC punk scene like this effectively "ghost towns" the musicianship still occuring there today (as emily so adroitly put it). Its not about remembering what was once in that storefront where a hip seagreen Starbucks now resides, it is about proactively seeking new sites of progress.
Coupling this phone phenomenon with memorializing films will ultimately make the groundspace into a kind of sculpture, indecipherable from the thousands of other sculptures in the city. But this memorialization is an avatar reserved only for the community of those people who look and pass. Turning the sites into factoids removes them of their political importance at the same time it "celebrates" their musical importance.
If there is one thing DC punk is about it is political discourse. Inscribing a site into a digital medium neuters the potential discourse one might find in a band that once existed there and, because of the incestous nature of music, neuters the current bands that exist there.
The music happening in DC has always been about community. A distinct community that, unlike most music scenes around the country, has been outspoken in its attempts to include potential audiences in a dialog rather than exclude. Fugazi regularly plays free or cheap as free shows, Q and Not U would play political festivals when they were together, a majority of the music orbits the political climate; not always moonly orbiting like McKaye's The Evens, but cometing around issues of importance with bands like Del Cielo or Beauty Pill or The Paper Dolls (there ya go Talia) .
One thing's for certain, I'm going to have to check out this album if any of the rest of the songs are as cute as this.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Kitsch and I got in a brief and recurring argument at work to day over Springsteen's Nebraska. He says he wants to feel like hes getting, and I paraphrase, oiled up for some dirty and manly and grunting sex. but Nebraska doesn't do that for him. I thought that Springsteen only did that to dirty, oily, manly New Jersy-ites. I suppose a state's border does not necessarily divide the genes that would lead one to plant one's home beneath a cloud of stench bigger than the one that followed Marlon Brando in his fat, final days.
Actually, New Jersey is very pretty, and my immediate, typical, writerly response to any mention of it was to be rude to it for being industrial and gritty when, in places, it is lush and leagreen. This, my dear Alex Kitsch, is why I love Nebraska over Springsteen's other work: it is not about the New Jersey we all hate like an annoying cousin.
Nebraska is about New Jersey in the off-the-turnpike places. The places that aren't covered in brown. The people that aren't covered in Axe body spray and pookah shells (jab number 2). But theres grit there, its the tinysoft Tallahasee kind of grit; the stuff that gets in your hair and won't come out in the shower.
Its about as blue collar that the boss gets. stripped of a band and a recording studio. recorded in his basement. Softstrummed with a sense of urgency.
I can't really think of an album that has the same reddish feel to it. Gang of Four captured the grit a few times, but they're an entirely different genre (freakin' entirely). Sometimes Will Oldham comes close in his many iterations, but his flavor of intensity leans more towards soothing and underhanded. Smog comes pretty close in his earlier, lo-fi kind of stuff, but he doesn't have the same blue-collared feel to it.
Regardless of pointless and failed allusions to others, I've found that Nebraska beats out most albums on the record player. Something about listening to it with as many pops and sizzles as possible (I have an old copy) makes it that much more attractive of an album.
Anyway I'm not about to go put Nebraska on when I feel like getting all sexed up, I have Purple Rain for that. I will, however, put Nebraska on when I want to have a gritty, sloppy, but endearing make out session with a lady. The kind where my fingers get tangled in the bra strap and we both giggle in appreciation. The kind that actually is more appropriate in the back seat of a car looking over top of an oil refinery, or in a New Brunswick parking lot.
I've been to Other Music about four times within the past two weeks because I am an idiot who dislikes money and would prefer it to fall out of his pocket to anything else and if that doesn't happen he'd be okay with just wasting it on music.
Fortunately, Other Music likes to give things away. When I purchased Be He Me by Annuals I recieved a cute and tiny version of a 12" vinyl, I believe the cute and tiny vendor called it a forty...five? Pish posh. Who ever heard of such a thing? Tiny records. Next they'll be making DVD's with only music on them!
A side: Brother
The first track on Be He Me and definitely my favorite on the album. It's an unfortunate thing that the album starts to turn into a big brown ball of play-doh towards the middle, Annuals have a good thing going for a couple of songs. This one in particular is a pretty little pastoral walk through violins and crunchy falltime until it turns into, wow! an open meadow filled with guitar n' roll. I love this song.
B side: Ease My mind
This starts as a strummed acoustic into Adam Baker's vocals for a few rounds about the versey tree, then a splash down into the sequencers. It ends with a repeated harmony about Gods or making gods or something and turns into an outright hoedown up until the end. My biggest complaint about this b-side, although its better than a lot of the Dorm-steps strummed garabage in the middle of the album, is its song structure is exactly the same as all of the songs they've written. It seems like they're trying to pull a fasty on us by telling us they have non-linear song structures.
Its true that instruments and melodies will poke their heads through the window to say hi, but most of the time its the same instruments at the same time in every song. The Unicorns did the non-linear thing better. Animal Collective who, for some reason I cannot decipher at all (other than the general lack of ingenuity that most reviewers have) are compared to this band left and right, but their genius when it comes to destructure of music blows these guys into The Arcade Fire territory. I suppose thats not a bad territory for some bands to be in, but I'm not going to flip over backwards like one of those little mechanical doggies for ya.
Expect their next album to flop or be as big as The Arcade Fire. Right now they're in between and still reveling in their beginner's luck, but as soon as they begin to be noticed by anyone but music critics there will be hell to pay. No more fountain of youth and beauty brigade.
Regardless, this is the handsome packaging the tiny 12" came in:
I also purchased tickets to the Junior Boys show in Brooklyn on December 6th! If you're going hit me up with an email or something and we'll all be one big happy family!
Also: I'm posting on this blog these days. Check my YouTube reviews out under Cap'n Guthrie.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Chris Ott, a much hated jerk, uses his Village Voiceiness to be a prick and turn The Decemberists into a helipad for all kinds of self-loathing and actually pretty funny zingers.
I'd pay more attention to this if I thought anyone cared besides Colin Meloy's girlfriend(!) who tries to break Ott like a bundle of spaghetti and get's annoyed when she realizes he's been boiled before by people with much more resonance than her.
Why is this review so spiteful and weirdly personal? You're lucky nobody wants to write a piece about you and the inferiority complex/unrequited romantic obsessions/high school ass-kickings/unrealized dreams that undoubtedly led you, presumably a music fan, to make a career writing bitterly hateful music reviews. I'm sure every other time you write one, the girlfriend of a band member sends a disgusted letter to your editor. Hopefully this letter will be the one that finally makes you realize you suck.
Carson Ellis, Colin Meloy's girlfriend
But you can't hate her for trying can you?
I want to know how Colin Meloy got to read the article before Ott published it. Did he send it to the publicists?
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Well I just can't shut up about Ms. Newsom, can I?
Last night I stepped out with bestfriend Emily to the 9:30 Joanna Newsom Webster Hall show on Eleventh Street. Between the muscles at the door and the skinnies smoking on the street there was a little room for us to push through.
Inside proved to be a jamboree of dudes, whose huge beards were still wet with tears from hearing Newsom's new album, and their tiny little girlfriends, who all wore their teal screenprint t-shirt and horsing boots so that Joanna would notice them. Emily and I looked no different (me with a much less manly and much more patchy beard, she with a fashion sense that looked like it went through a meat grinder) and both secretly hoped that Joanna would peek at us from behind her giant musical contraption.
and giant it was. You really don't get the sense of how impressive this woman is until you see her tiny frame flickering back and forth across strings the size of my forearm. Nor do you get the sense of how delicate and sharp the tiny pinprick notes must be on her digits until you see her hands undulating across them.
and undulate they did, her digits. Buried beneath the orchestration of Ys there is a sheer brilliance of style and technique I've rarely seen at a show. In particular during "Only Skin" there are moments where, on the album, one can hear a shimmering playfulness at times and a booming resonation at others. As Emily pointed out to me, that shimmering playfulness is most likely an intricate weaving of two different time signatures. And the booming resonance was a great lean and pull of a bowstring.
She opened with "Bridges and Baloons", "book of right on", and a Scottish folk tune that I didn't catch the name of but was a perfect intro to her new music. Pastoral, lush, and a brief respite from lengthiness before the heavy Ys lumbered onto the scene.
She played her new album in its entirety with a backing band. The band was a bit dissapointing to me, they had arranged bits and pieces of Van Dyke Park's arrangements for the album but kind of plinked their way through it only to occasionally come strong and really support the girth of certain songs. The final moments of "Monkey and Bear" were backed by a rumbling bass drum, alien to the album but welcome to the song. The end of "Cosmia", her final song of the night, ended strong with an incredible four or five minute fermata of jamming (?). The backing band really flexed their muscles here and Newsom let them have their moment as she washed her hands across the repeated notes of the song.
But Newsom was the star of the show, and she delivered. The first thing I noted was the drastic maturation of her wind pipe. She swam across her old material's screechy memories with easy strokes of vocal depth. Newsom has learned how to tame those little rubber bands in her throat not to mention play cats cradle with them. Second was her initial nervousness. The first two songs she played were rushed and a little (more) warbly (than usual). I don't think anyone noticed it because they were all too busy crying or proposing to her. Regardless, her nervousness was endearing and shrugged off as soon as she began the new material and as soon as she realized that everyone there was on her side.
Finally, I began to see the sheer breadth of talent and style she breathed with these opuses. The songs weave and waltz and frolick at the speed of her hands, which is an entertaining thing to watch to someone who is used to watching tearing and crunching and fucking with a pick between thumb and forefinger. So the length of her songs really shoot you in the face, thwip, like an arrow. These songs are twelve and sixteen minutes long, I didn't even think about that when I saw Slint or Explosion in the Sky. Not to say the songs were boring, but, like I say in my Ys review, the songs paralyze. They Paralyze time. Newsom's power and talent really shine when she wills them into nine minute operas and cantatas, and she unfolds them before you with nimble fingers and a really, really, really fucking pretty face.
conclusion: The threads of time and fashion are no match for a poet with a harp.
(image: blatantly stolen from Alice)
Monday, November 13, 2006
Surely by now most people with any sort of ear to the air have heard about, listened to, or at least seen the cover of, Joanna Newsom's new album: Ys. I wrote about it several days ago with watering mouth, or more like dripping fangs. I have been eager to bite into this album for months now. Newsom's first album, The Milk Eyed Mender, has very special meaning to me.
I dilly dallyed her first album for a while. I had heard about it, knew it had topped (hundreds of) lists, and knew that it was one of the most divisive albums that I had heard of since Blueberry Boat. Typically, divisive albums attract me like bathtubs do spiders, but this time I would look at the woven and burlapish textured cover and continue to say "I'll get to it. I'll get to it." I wouldn't get to it until the summer of 2005, a time of various transitions and discoveries.
I have three specific memories trailing certain songs on the album like translucent thought clouds, attached by little poofy and diminishing dots. I remember walking into Riverby used bookstore in Fredericksburg VA, my collegetown, and visiting a crush. She played "Peach, Plum, Pear" on the old record player and I was stricken with horror and amazement. What audacity to use a harpsichord with that voice! Possibly the most potentially annoying instrument ever invented besides the guitar, and she made me believe her.
The second memory trails along behind me, a little stormier, a little more intentionally distanced. I stole Kitsch's copy of the album and listened to it non-stop on the way up to visit an old friend in New York City. The night before, through a huge fight, I had realized that I was unadulteratedly still in love with my ex-girlfriend. "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" drifts over the Verazzano bridge, hazening, like the thundercloud there that turned my vision grey and mirrored the thoughts of the past five driven hours.
Three weeks later I found myself driving again, this time in a more Southy direction toward Kitty Hawk and toward family. I had just met a beautiful, artistic, brilliant, earthy-toned seventeen year old. I was five months into twenty-one and one month away from my Senior year of College. I had some things to think about. "En Gallop" is North Carolina's beach at night, extending and extending into brambles and sandy houses, wild horses. I alternated that with Nick Drake's Pink Moon for the entire trip.
Newsom's detractors are guerrilla warfarer's. I am consistently surprised by those who hate her and those who love her. My friends Sarah and Taylor, who turned down the safer, more accessible Shins, once clamored through my CD case in search of "The Milk Eyed Mender" on the way to a Page France show in Baltimore. It repeated several times as cigarette explosions trailed my Hyundai Elantra. And my adventurous friend, Jackie, with a penchant for women singers, will break into shrill and obnoxious parody at any mention of Newsom's wiles. and that brings me to Ys.
Ys is theatric. Ys is bloated. Ys is exhausting. Ys is paralyzing.
Ys is going to be the most divisive album this year, I guarantee it. It is by far the most anticipated, most buzzing(with the leak and all), has the best cast (Van Dyke Parks did the strings, Jim O'Rourke did the mixing, Steve Albini engineered, Nick Webb at Abbey Road Mastered, Bill Callahan of smog sings on it) and has, far and away, the worst album art. But beneath this scrum of orchestra, knobs and sliders, and bass-voiced boyfriends there is Newsom.
Her debut, a wide-eyed bare-footed trek through cold mountain springs and log cabins, was simple. Not base, but simple. It was Newsom when Newsom knew Newsom. and we knew Newsom too. She sat us down on a rock, made us look up, and plucked out cassiopeia with her forefinger. She put our feet in snowycold water with Swansea. She killed her dinner with karate. Simple.
Ys is complex. When Newsom invited all of us to her cabin she didn't anticipate the numbpiercing fear that humans have when we are around each other. This album is, both intentionally and unintenionally, the most comprehensive exploration of social anxiety I have ever heard. Anxiety about the necessity of work over play in Monkey and Bear. Anxiety about distance and proximity in Cosmia. Anxiety about Love in all of them. Every song on this album hurts to listen to because it hits so close to home. It is the deforestation of her whimsy.
And yet, it still manages to not be cynical, not by any means, she has just cupped her hands around her quirkiness and held it a bit closer to her chest to protect it from rushing cars and falling trees. In place of her forest is Van Dyke Park's orchestration, a mere hologram of her former home.
Parks jams in every instrument he can from the croaktwang of Jew's Harps to the pastoral hills of strings to the lowbuzzing oboe. A majority of the time these instruments are gorgeous and a majority of the time these instruments are unnecessary. O'Rourke pushes Park's orchestration above, or at least to the same level as, Newsom's harp. He never loses sight of the fact that Ys belongs to her voice and her words, but there are countless moments where I want to hear the interweaving of Newsom's knotfingers and am accosted by a cello zipping back and forth, over my head, from ear to ear.
However, and this is key, the overwrought, bloated, smoggy (no pun intended) cellulite that drips from this album accidentally makes it better. Newsom's anxieties and fears are magnified by her seeming lack of control over the thick symphonics and pushed syrup of airs over Ys. I don't mean to say that the orchestrations are bad, there are moments of perfection where her harp and the strings decide to run parallel to each other, each complimenting the other like a dirt road next to a stream. Sometimes, though, the orchestrations hijack the song and frustrate the lyrics and the harp into the background. but the intrepid Newsom plucks on and consistently squeezes us through these quarter sized holes in the music to the other side where a moment of shivering perfection waits.
I work at a data-entry job. I sit at a desk all day long and take parts of the internet and put it on other parts of the internet. Yet listening to "Ys" at my desk evokes more emotion in me than listening to "The Milk Eyed Mender." Many people have no patience for emotion like this, they listen to Autechre probably, where synapses firing mean more than the pumping of blood. Thats fine, I'll enjoy that some other time. Many people have no patience for her voice, there is no accounting for taste. But I've always been more intrigued by the people who compose the A minus than the people who compose the A plus. And this album might be flawed in countless ways, but so are people, and so is Joanna Newsom.
Actually I'm watching it now and seeing them create it is making my head spin a little bit. I wonder if they're going to do the looping drum bit at the end. Regardless, that drummer is one of the best w/ the fills since the guy from The Appleseed Cast (on LLO 1&2)
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Unfortunately I, being the baby New Yorker that I am, did not know that there were in fact TWO bergen stops, one on the lime green G train (yes the very same crosstown Brooklyn train of ill-repute) and one on the 1,2,3 near flatbush. I emerged from the stop and found that the once drizzle was now made out of cats and dogs. So there I stood beneath an awning of a Dunkin' Donuts, miserable, wet, cold, waiting. Thinking and thinking that Liz would materialize like extra bars on my dying cellphone. Neither would come to pass.
We discovered my blunder and realized that the fastest way for me to get to her was to walk seven blocks. I purchased an umbrella from a tiny asian lady in a shop smothered in dollarful junk. She laughed at my dripping hairs, I grimaced at the prices of all but one umbrella. Having purchased it, I emerged onto the road and into my slushy expedition through Park Slope.
Three quarters of the way to Liz I was pleasantly surprised by this:
It was, yes, a piece of paper pasted to a tiny metal door that maybe went to Narnia (hmm two mentions of narnia in as many days...) but probably went to some industrialated parking lot. I swept my brains aside and sloshstepped in front of several moving vehicles to see if I was correct in my assumptions. It was a piece by swoon(!!!) the cutout artist who wheatpastes her work all over Brooklyn not to mention has a piece in the MoMA and an exhibit in the Brooklyn Gallery.
I blithered my way down the street to meet Liz and brought her back to appreciate what I'd found. we fixed the piece's face and got a close up. She looked like this:
It was too close to swoon to not be. The smudged outlines and sepia paper. The tight persepectives. The intricate cuts. I was, and still am, buzzing with static.
As a baby New Yorker I've been determined to frown the bricks and avoid the blathering crowds and crowds. And yet moments like this occur, in which I step down from my Virginian high horse and taste the grit and gumption of this city made out of drear and nightlife. It was as enlightening as it was frustrating to my determination to snoot my nose at this place.
The rain stopped and I folded my umbrella to hook it to my jeansloop. Somewhere between swoon and Liz it fell out, and I didn't care.
Lets ponder my metaphor for a moment. A sea of shit. An entire sea of shit crashing against, lets say, the pure white cliffs of dover. Brown, smelly, squishing in and out of crags in the rocks, perhaps urine pooling at the surface. And this is not your shit that you like the smell of, this is your dad's shit that you must endure immediately after him, perhaps flush a second time?
Sexyback can eat a bag of dicks, Tim fucked that one up. I'm sorry, you can't play two chords and expect me to bring any sexy out of its cupboard in my booty. my bootycupboard.
Snow Patrol (who's entire album sounds like one power chord played ad naseum) is worse. and who the fuck is hinder at number five? I don't know where they came from but they look and sound like something that Bon Jovi crapped out after eating a Nickleback burrito.
Akon, who is no longer takin' it easy with young Jeezy but rather with Eminem, has always sounded like Shaggy's younger, less cool, brother. and when did Eminem start thinking that rapping like his crank-yanker counterpart was fine with us?
and fergie. you can't just add -licious to the end of anything and make it sound appealing. DMVlicious sounds as good or better than Fergielicious, I mean I'd rather participate in something that is DMVlicious, at least the DMV knows when it smells like urine. I must admit, though, the production by Will I Am is alright. I went back and trudged through Fergie's awfulicious words to make sure of it, so that must say something. Although Will I Am should have his tongue removed for some of the things he says.
"My Love" on the other hand is the return of the king. Tim's production is from space like it used to be when Missy was still queen (actually the track he did on the cookbook is pretty fucking incredible) and Mr. Timberlake sounds like he's found out how to masturbate. T.I.'s part kinda blows a little (Candle Guy? are you fucking serious?) but we'll let that slide.
I wish they'd left the cowbell driven beginning attached to the second half in the album, its a fucking sweet juxtaposition: first fast then supper drippy slow. oh well, I'm not the artist here, and I'm not trying to sell a million records. Good going Tim and Tim.
I'd say something like The Avalanches but that usually occurs at the beginning of the night rather than the end. Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska is a good album to make out to, so I guess I've put that on during several of my attempts at removing shirt and brazierre. attempts. Nothing like the boss to make you feel even more drunk than you should be, or to make your fingers have the nimbleness of toes.
Also this: Winger Good job God, you really knew what you were doing on this one.
Apparently the cover is one of our young men over in Iraq surrounded by tiny Carrie Bradshaw's whispering things like "I turned down a road and suddenly found myself in a part of Fallujah I'd never seen before!" (big up yo'self, Emily).
Bless Kip's heart, he really wants a come-back so he is supplicating himself before the wallets of middle America and blonde dudes at bars who talk about their tanning salon.
Still working on those albums, will report back, but so far not a dud.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I bought six (dammit) CD's today:
Freckle Wars by Ecstatic Sunshine (I've listened a glance and they sounds like The Oxes of folk, not too shabby)
Body Riddle by Clark - glitchy electro pop, I think? haven't had a chance to yet, although Herr Bar on their myspace page is a great song. What is he playing, coke bottle marimbas? sounds like it might be a headphones album, (unlike this awful subdued indie-folk song by a band also named Clark: headphone day. Stop saying headphone day like you're trying to prove that you're happy dammit!!!!)
Hollinndagain by Animal Collective - formerly rare live LP by Animal Collective released to no doubt subdue the whining of fans clamboring for more of Panda Bear's loopy vocals on his next solo release. Hell, I bought it. I actually heard "Pride and Fight" on Salon.com of all places. A zany squiggle of yelping and a hefty dose of extatic stupidity. Love it.
Ambient 4/ on land - Brian Eno - too good to pass up in the used section.
Steady diet of nothing by Fugazi - Maybe my favorite.
The Letting Go by Bonnie 'prince' Billy - whose voice, to me, sounds like a damnable old crazy man who mumbles to himself as he stokes a fire in a log cabin. I'll see if this one changes my mind, from what I've heard, it will.
So heres the shit: Joanna Newsom’s new album, Ys, to the sheer delight of girls and boys who have read the Chronicles of Narnia too many times (like me), was leaked this past August. Pitchforkmedia.com, the simultaneous wicker-man and holy shrine of all that is indie as you may know, allegedly allowed a folder full of unreleased music to sit, steaming, on a windowsill of their message board for any red-handed yokel or internet hobohemian to steal.
Inevitably, Pitchforkmedia.com removed the folder, but the penchant for internet music geeks to act like plump german children in a lederhosen factory whenever album leaks occur led to the burgle of hundreds of unreleased albums. Some of the most notable albums were by Newsom, The Decemberists, and TV on the Radio. Newsom’s album is most notable because it was looted in late August when it was not set to be released by Newsom’s label, Drag City, until mid November; a full three months later.
The new album, called Ys after a mythical city featured in ancient folk of the Breton culture, features five songs, each clocking in at no less than nine minutes. Regardless of the leak, come November 14 every disciple of the recent freak-folk trend will be unbearable in their shrilly defense of the harpist’s shrilly vocals and every Newsom detractor will be unbearable in his or her analogies to toddlers being beaten in burlap sacks, or Lisa Simpson.By the way, I'm going to her release party on monday night at 9:30, throw me a few furtive glances if you're there too.
Drag City Website
It swirls and swelters its way through your stereo like steam in a forest after warm rain. This is incredible considering they are a
Like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear has a penchant for drifting, non-linear songs. But where Animal Collective fails to provide a compass and map on songs like “bees” and we are ultimately lost in a dense fog, Grizzly Bear revels in the burrs in their socks and the fascinating-but-quickly-disposed-of walking sticks they pick up along the way. They stomp-clap you to your senses from the airy flutes and ambulatory banjo twangs in the song “Little Brother,” then immediately drift away into an echoing valley of incredible harmonies.
Underlying the entire album is a computerization that would never sound right juxtaposing the music but is, rather, woven into each song like metal strands in a reed basket. One can hear the clicks and beeps of sequencers in every song, but they rarely, if ever, slap you across the face with technology. The song plans starts with a minor progression and sounds like it might turn into a trudging, soldiers in the mud kind of ballad. Until you realize that it is a trudging, soldiers in the mud kind of ballad inside the internet. The zero's and one's kick in and the song turns into a glitchy clip-clopping harmony that echos and weaves through different channels. It builds and builds until there is piles of constructed noise until Grizzly Bear plink a resonating piano chord, bing, right in the middle and the whole song tumbles apart like building blocks.
And then there is On a Neck, On a Spit. Shrill chords on guitars begin with a descending sunlight melody that sheds light on the other guitars and the slide up, that takes you into the next line of singing. and the harmonies that mark the second movement of the song give one pause for reflection, float in the wind for a moment and descend. Bringing in the "each day I spend it with you now" repeating overtop of the best thunderstorm on the whole album.
The production is just as impeccable with low thumping bass drums, tinny banjoes, twinkling guitar strings and yet allows enough room for one to sit down on a log and marvel at the spaciousness of the whole thing. I do find the final track, Colorado, to be tiring sometimes. It sounds a bit too much like a gregorian chant at times, but it has its creaking, woody moments.
I haven't gotten a chance to listen to their earlier self-release called "Horn of Plenty" but I mean to track that
down and take a listen because its supposedly very good.
On a Neck, On a Spit