January 21, 2009

Song of the Day | Yeasayer | "Tightrope"

Makers of a Stadiums and Shrines highly ranked 2007 album, Yeasayer is no stranger to my love. But how many more times could I really burn "2080" on mix for someone? Things cooled off between us (even after seeing them live a few times). I guess that's how it works, otherwise news of "new" songs wouldn't be as exciting, now would it?

"Tightrope" is already on a mix of its own called Dark Was The Night, which benefits the Red Hot Charity (and features tracks from like, everyone). I heard an early version of the song back on a take away show they did for la blogotheque. At the time it was a gloriously communal piano-ditty about something happy (I haven't looked into lyrics yet). It made me feel good then, and it still does now on a beefed-up studio recording.

I'd post the track here but would surely feel the wrath of The Web Sheriff (not to mention we should support the charity). So go to
this page to stream it - *UPDATE* - That page is already featuring a different song from the compilation. If you snoozed, you...lost. I guess that's why we call it "song of the day." I'll post a new link if one surfaces, but security seems awfully tight on this rope. Overall point of this post now changes to: Yeasayer is good.

The raw version of "Tightrope" can be seen in the final minutes of said take away show below [recommended]. Or here.

which later became:

January 14, 2009

Headphones | New Animal Collective [With Tiny Breaks For Others]

This time last year, I digressed into a massive recovery phase (Talking Heads, The Beatles, Radiohead). This January though, is a musical hangover formula in itself. I’m awake, up to my neck in new releases, and utterly stoked. To be honest, the energy stems from one major happening. Scroll down (after getting your mind blown by that cover).

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

I’m trying not to exaggerate here.
This album is everything.

It’s everything the band’s history has hinted at and everything fans have hoped it would be. And it’s more. Personally, this is the biggest payoff for believing in a band that I can recall (at age 13, how much could I have invested in OK Computer?) Like Radiohead a decade ago, this represents a band fully realized, hitting a very, very sweet and rare spot in space. Radiohead propelled into experimentation to occupy that spot
(forever), whereas Animal Collective actually reeled back their weirdo quarks to rest right in it. Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in instant-classic territory.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is hardly pop music. Yet it is, and will continue to be ever so, popular. I’ve hesitated to recommend their past albums to just any fresh set of ears. But this, this is meant to be shared on a mass scale in the same way you might…Pet Sounds (*red flag* I just referenced Radiohead and The Beach Boys in the same write-up). What I’m trying to say: this is one of those moments where acclaim meets accessibility, and everybody wins.

It is thrilling and flagrantly original (these are “movie review” words I’ve never really associated with music before). Animal Collective have nine studio albums under their belt, ranging from raw to revolutionary. This is something else.

Reason #1: The newfound alignment of two vocalists, Panda Bear and Avey Tare.

Reason #2: The lack of anything remotely close to filler. Every single song resonates and has it’s own identity. A collection of standouts (is that possible?).

Reason #3: The unexpected role of lyrics. These are pretty songs. The band has always favored a sound-oriented structure, rather than lyric. They’ve shined a light on tangible notions before, but not like this. Each 5-minute track here is shaped by verse and hooks (hooks!). This suddenly poetic mood not only works, it makes the album. Avey sings about his wife. Panda sings about his daughter.

“The lyrics focus on the body, basic human connection, the need to take care of oneself, the puzzle of existence. Where the churning electronic sound, with its fizzes and echoes and underwater cast, brings to mind altered states and the confusing gap between the familiar and the strange, the words seem like a running commentary on the essential mystery of being alive.” - from Pitchfork’s 9.6 review 

Reason #4: You can enjoy finding your own reasons to love it.

Stream it all here.


Antony and The Johnsons - The Crying Light (2009)

Peaking from the large shadow cast (above),
The Crying Light is another big deal in 2009. After 2005's I am Bird Now, Antony Hegarty can do whatever he wants (he did: Hercules and Love Affair). But on this long awaited follow-up, he continues to pull at the heart with his surreal voice. (streaming full on their myspace right now)

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast (2009)

3 o'clock in the afternoon, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Noble Beast. Try it.

Bird is super confident on this. It's lighter than his last album, in a good way. His signature moves are present (plucking strings, whistles, smart words), but they're used more sparingly. It runs long, but if you like flying with Bird, this shouldn't disappoint.
Stream it all on his mypace.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray (2009)

This is Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife. If you like The Knife's slower, moodier tracks, you'll like this. I'm basically scared of that video below.

And that song has already been remixed and cranked up by our favorite tribal liaisons to the sky, Fuck Buttons. Download.

Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP (2009)

He's back. I got this right when I started working on his end-of-year blurb and was about to type "where does a guy go after For Emma...?"

Well, he went here. These 4 tracks (also streaming full on his myspace) are a tad sunnier than his debut. And with the exception of the closer, they remain under-produced to satisfaction. God bless that falsetto.

Hauschka - Ferndorf (2008)

From the first urgent strokes of "Blue Bicycle", Fernorf puts me in a productivity montage, covering 50 minutes in what feels like 5. Saying this is
perfect music for writing might be missing the fact that this is moving and intricate too.

The basics: classical piano surrounded by strings with some electronic tinkering.

Wavves - Wavves (2008)

I don't know what this is, aside from rad. Let's call it "Slacker Beach Punk" since everyone else is. Wavves sounds like messy noise from a 22 year old cutting 4 track cassettes in his bedroom, at first. Give it a chance and it starts clearing up, leaving an ode to youth and California.

Sun Araw - Beach Head (2008)

Look at that cover! It sounds like that. Now let's look at some blog love:

"Measured, hypnotic and ideal for travelling, even if your ultimate destination is the office rather than the Heart Of Darkness or whatever." - Uncut

"Beach Head is one spaced out tropical adventure into the jellyfish fields of your mind" - some blogspot kid named Henry

"Sunrise drones, tonnes of reverb, elephant-plodding rhythms, widdly widdly guitar, chiming bells, waves crashing etc etc)" - this dude Nick

"like the last notes of Person Pitch escaping from Earth and traveling through Space Forever." - blogger Patrick, you know, Patrick (Person Pitch in space sounds ridiculous. But not as ridiculous after listening).

"Blisssssss" - me

And check out this video. I've never seen space shuttle take offs/mushroom clouds juxtaposed over beach volleyball (1:30 mark).

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christms, Mr. Lawrence (1983)

Another thing I've never seen: this movie. It stars David Bowie but he has nothing to do with the music. The soundtrack feels like some sort of Japanese western, put to synth-piano and horns. So good.

As always, contact me for some sharing of thoughts and files.