May 29, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Road to Nowhere

David Byrne's "Road to Nowhere" feels right to start the weekend:

Talking Heads - Little Creatures (1985)

I simply prefer that back-cover artwork.

Sure, they were edgier and weirder (and arguably better) on earlier efforts, but
Little Creatures shows a seasoned band in high gear, having a good time, content with full songs and fun hooks. Closer, "Road to Nowhere" remains the end all groove, but the journey there is nice ("Stay Up All Night", "Television Man").

The opportunity to quote Patrick Bateman here is hard to pass up. He was referring to a Huey Lewis album, regardless, this works:

"I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost."

Have fun. Be safe. Get weird.

Grizzly Bear @ Town Hall [NYC; 05/28/09, in photos]

In honor of Grizzly Bear week, here's a little coverage of last night's show at Manhattan's Town Hall. On hand was the lovely, Victoria, with her camera (photographer friends are the best). From a rather glowing account, let's paste:
"It was like the guys just showed up from 9 to 5s, unbuttoned their collars, and put on this perfect performance."
Nice. They were joined by the Brooklyn Youth Choir on a few songs. I'm envious to say the least.

(via BrooklynVegan):
Southern Point
Cheerleader (w/ Brooklyn Youth Choir)
Fine For Now (w/ BYC)
Service Bell
Little Brother
Two Weeks
Ready, Able (video)
I Live With You (w/ BYC)
Foreground (w/ BYC)
While You Wait for the Others
He Hit Me
On a Spit, On a Neck

And her shots can do the rest...

Thanks Vic!

May 27, 2009

Headphones | May

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)

Hard to believe it was back in March when the world first got its greedy hands on a low quality leak of Veckatimest. I'll look back at the past two 128k-tinged months as a lesson learned: great things come to those who wait. Grizzly Bear considered every sharp nuance on the album, and we should have as well. That strangled rip was the equivalent to listening through one very waterlogged, RadioShack earphone.

2006's Yellow House sent their delicate, slow-hitting chamber rock to the sky. You may read that its proper follow-up, Veckahoweverthehellyousayit, is a more inviting pop record. Maybe so, but it's still Grizzly Bear, and everything still weaves along like a leaf in wind. For every major gust ("While You Wait For The Others") there's a minor whirl (the beautiful, "Foreground"). One of the year's best.

And just when you thought the blogosphere had enough Grizzly Bear for one month, in comes the bizarre video for "Two Weeks":

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer (2009)

Spencer Krug has a lot of music to give. Either he's one of the hardest working dudes in music right now, or this stuff just strikes him too easily. It's safe to say the Sunset Rubdown brand is well established, and it's not for everyone - sort of the nerdy/sci-fi/mythological side of Wolf Parade. Lyrically, he's in a world all his own.

Dragonslayer does little to branch out (neither in accessibility or experimentally), but will likely keep his indie-rock-god torch raised quite high (among the niche, TEST: if this gets you excited, you are part of the niche). Prior to recording, he said that they intended to use more "live" instruments (vs. studio tricks). He, and his now official band, followed through on that. Might be a grower (like the 10+ minute closer, "Dragon's Lair").

Passion Pit - Manners (2009)

A much bigger production than last year's EP.
Little kids are chanting everywhere. "Sleepyhead" is still THE JAM. "Moth's Wings", "The Reeling", "Little Secrets" are all radio-friendly. Undeniably fun. I don't know. Friday's show will hopefully seal the deal (more to come). Gotta hype the Boston bands.

White Rabbits - It's Frightening (2009)

Somewhere between 2007's stellar debut, Fort Nightly, and now, the White Rabbits turned into Spoon. Britt Daniel producing It's Frightening can explain for that. To be fair, the result is still original and enjoyable (otherwise, why would we be talking about it). The opener,
"Percussion Gun" (recently performed on Letterman), features some cool drums (go figure!).

Wilco - Wilco (The Album) - 2009

God I missed Wilco.

"Wilco will love you, baby." - "Wilco (The Song)"

 Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (2000)

Sometimes something comes along that should have been huge and...wasn't. Or maybe it was and I just wasn't privy back then. Either way, this album is special.

Life Without Buildings was some Glasgow art school kids that started post-punk revivalist band and then disappeared. Internet tells me the singer pursued visual art instead (which, who knows, might have been as unfortunate as like, if Bjork decided to just go paint after The Sugarcubes).

This was their only LP. It lives on in cult classic land (thanks pandorockers).

Download | Life Without Buildings | Any Other City (full album)

The others are a bit ripe to share on this platform, so as always, just a

May 22, 2009

Friday Send-Off | So Cosmic Mixtape

So how is everyone spending their holiday weekend? Sleeping? Partying? Traveling? Working? (sorry), Studying? (sorry), Jitterbugging? Gasoline Fighting? I'm getting all jazz hands about the three days off here. Is this part of being a working professional in adult society? People have plans. Emails have exclamation points. Tuesday might as well be 2010.

I need a meaningful road trip. Or at least a mixtape by Cut Copy.

I know (to all you informed), this made a splash in the blog pond over a year ago (and there's no reason why it can't serve you well right now). Since then it has complimented most of the activities listed above (aside from sleeping and the flammable one). Seriously, So Cosmic is on the mind because I did P90-X to it last night (is this part of being a working professional in adult society?). What? It runs a perfect hour, practically tailored for exercise DVDs.

Download | Cut Copy | So Cosmic Mixtape

Most mixes have short lives. Their surprises wear off after a few listens and the collection usually fades from 'sequenced experience' to 'host of a few keepers.' That is unless the sequence is so masterfully thought out and constructed to the point that it takes new form, as one entity, of, in this case, bliss. From Italian disco, to Panda Bear, to decades old soul, So Cosmic has the ability to morph but not once lose the dance-crazed fingerprint of Cut Copy.

It's clear Dan Whitford knows what he's doing. If you haven't clicked download yet, may this excerpt help. Full tracklist with blurbs from Dan here.

Have fun. Be safe. Get weird.

May 19, 2009

Pretty Excited About | Future Islands

A few posts back, I spoke of a 2008 situation where an MP3 graced my computer, made an appearance on some mixes, and then sat alone as life proceeded. You could say "Beach Foam", a raspy ballad (I'm still not sick of) from Future Islands, had a similar fate. Eventually these parent albums turn up and here we are...

Future Islands - Wave Like Home (2008)

Originally from North Carolina, the 3-piece now resides in the Wham City-city itself, Baltimore, Maryland. As a new wave/dance/synth-punk/whatever rock band, Future Islands may not sound a whole lot like their local friend, Dan Deacon, but they do reflect the same fun, raw spirit evidently seeping out of Baltimore.

At 29 minutes, Wave Like Home doesn't stick around for breakfast. "Pangea" starts it off shy; sort of fixing its hair in the mirror and playing with the radio. We hear Sam Herring for the first time on track two, and he's happy (if not swooning) to meet us (like Glenn Danzig reading Shakespeare). He steamrolls through up-tempto town until "Beach Foam" slows things down, taking a corner towards serenade city. Population: the rather sweet closing number, "Little Dreamer." One hell of a little ride, better repeated.

More on the song's inspiration here. And a new 7", Feathers and Hallways, is out now.

In related (in every sense of the word) news, Pictureplane remixed "Little Dreamer" and "Old Friend" in one track, appropriately titled "Old Dreamer." You can get that here.

May 18, 2009

Classic | Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

As a kid, if I saw someone in a music video, that became who they were, as if they existed only in that suspended reality. It's strange to think about how much larger and more isolated fame was then. All we had were these five minute windows of calculated flash to work with. Truth is, most of that perceived mystique stems from the innocent age of the viewer (me), even so, the machine really did operate differently with MTV. The medium made perfect sense for fashionable newcomers like say, Madonna. It was the previous era's artists that perhaps had a harder choice: adapt (cash in) or resist (ride off into the classic rock sunset). Robert Palmer adapted and won, big time.

But you know, there is a downside to his success story. Our generation may only know Robert Palmer as the slick dude responsible for such 80s hits as "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible." And that's a real shame.

I should have figured that this guy didn't just come out of nowhere. He earned the right to repeatedly surround himself with dancing models and make catchy Huey Lewis-gone-R&B singles...

Robert Palmer - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley (1974)

In a great exchange of music during college (circa 2003? Thanks, Ian), Palmer's 1974 debut solo album entered my mix and never left. If I ever accept the challenge of making an all-time top....25, this makes it.

Like the cover suggests, this is Robert Palmer with his shirt blown wide open.
He's soulful, he's loose, he's funky. The grouping to lead off ("Sailin' Shoes," Hey Julia," and "Sneakin' Sally...") is a seductive first act. It then grooves steady until Palmer goes nuts on the 12-minute finale, "Through It All There's You." Legendary and absolutely underrated.

The vibe is totally 70s, but not the least bit dated. In other words, blast it proudly with company (or in the bedroom, you dog!).

May 14, 2009

Destroyer @ The Echoplex [LA; 05/10/09]

Dan Bejar has released work under the name Destroyer in practically every year since 1996. Though each album lives in its own frame, one mark remains undeniably consistent: you’ll know it’s Destroyer within 10 seconds. That may seem like an obvious observation about style, but try giving yourself an ipod shuffle test sometime, you’re bound to peg some song as The Shins when it isn't.  

Crediting his voice is too easy (still true). This is the obligatory mention of David Bowie. Bejar does sound retro-British at times (at least for a Canadian), yet there’s something else going on that makes a Destroyer song, a Destroyer song: lyrics. I take for granted how smart and poetic and enigmatic they are (because at this point such eccentricities are his brand). You could enjoy his music just based on the pretty pictures (melody or instrumentation or that scat-delivery thing he does), without ever choosing to read the articles. A bonus comes when you indulge in the words a bit (you’re left smiling at how fucking clever that verse was, etc). 

He gave us a chance to study them on Sunday with a completely solo, completely acoustic set (“Destroyer Unplugged” if you will).  Fold-out chairs covered the venue's floor - a great idea appreciated even more by my jet-lag. Dimly lit at center stage, Bejar (and his trademark giant hair) strummed through the set like a wizard doing a monologue.

This was a show for the cult fans. Even with songs in skeletal form, the layers were there in our heads. Hearing them stripped invited an urge to fill in the gaps (mentally) and for some, physically (as displayed by the pantomiming air-drum kid in front of me). I can't speak for everyone, but I was having my own little brain symphony. 

Bejar reached back to 2000’s Thief (”Destroyer’s The Temple”), and 2001’s masterpiece, Streethawk (”Beggars Might Ride,” “Helena,” “Virgin with a Memory”). Anything from 2006’s Rubies saw this unique interactive relationship at its finest (”Watercolours Into The Ocean,” “Painter in Your Pocket,” and especially “European Oils”, during which he hummed an electric guitar solo). You had to admire these these versions.

Exactly what a sleepy Sunday night in LA called for.

Essential albums:

This sat somewhere in the high teens on my 06' list and has since migrated towards the top. I doubt there's anything else from that year that I still listen to more. An all-time favorite.  

The one that got me on board, viewed by many as his best. Note the epic Joy Division reference in "The Bad Arts." 

As for 2009, Dan is also a member of the supergroup Swan Lake. Enemy Mine is out, and my initial thoughts still stand. Pretty good. 

May 5, 2009

Catching Up On | Chromatics

Sometime ago, a song called "In The City" sprinkled onto my computer. From there it latched itself to a number of mixes for friends and late night writing trances (with yours truly). For whatever reason (I'll blame the overwhelming nature of new music), a proper delve into the song's origin never took place. Here's an understatement: I've been missing out.

Download | Chromatics | "In The City"

It seems the timeline for large-scale Chromatic converting starts at 2007's Night Drive.

Initial thoughts: that is a damn accurate album title. Neo-disco meets this melancholy whispering right in a place that
feels like night-driving; staring into the dark, almost forgetting you're on a road entirely (I wouldn't advise this for actual behind-the-wheel-dosing). They also cover Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", which is reason enough to...

Download | Chromatics | Night Drive (full album)

Furthermore, they covered Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" (download) which is the greatest night-driving music video of all time.

So Chromatics have been at it since 2002. If you like what you hear, there's more digging to be had. And that digging was just made a lot easier by Contradefacto on Blast blog, who, with the band's approval, dumped all of their previous tour CD-Rs into one giant zip file.

Download | Chromatics | Said Giant Zip File

That'll do.

May 1, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Flaming Lips | "Borderline" (Madonna cover)

Everything a weekend starter should have: psychedelic triumph and Madonna songs:

Here's the MP3.
I recommend hitting play every 2-3 hours. Just to maintain.