July 31, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Deadbeat Summer

I have another 'headphones' post cued up, but time only permits for today's away message. And wouldn't you rather dive into one of those 8-album deep lineups on a Monday morning? Get out there people, get off the internet (after listening), and spearhead this weekend.

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms (2009)

Might not change your life, but will improve your day. Neon Indian is the new outfit of Texan Alan Palomo (Ghosthustler, VEGA). Their presence on the blogfront as of late, along with other summery electronic hazy laser gazer shite (see also: Washed Out), has caused a mass scrambling (bickering) as to what we should finally label this stuff since it's arriving by the flock daily (Chill-wave? Glo-fi? My favorite is "GorillavsBearCore").

Anyway, genre talk aside, this is a 30-minute serotonin splurge.
"Deadbeat Summer" is on course to make every mix in August. "Should Have Taken Acid With You" (yup) is on course to go skinny dipping every night this week. Psychic Chasms is on course...for some other very positive visual about summer and 80s teen love, this side of Psychic City.

A fan-made video:



Came across this gem in the process. A VEGA song, so it's somewhat relevant. And these are clips of Josh Brolin from 1986's skate classic Thrashin' so when would it not be relevant.



Have fun. Be safe. Get weird. See some of you at 6-man.

July 29, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part Seven]

Hot damn.

Per usual, Ian words are in brown.


Song: "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield
Skater: Lewis Marnell
Video: Almost; Cheese and Crackers (2006)

I would not be surprised if Lewis Marnell becomes the first Australian skater to get Thrasher's Skater of the Year. He is completely under-rated. He goes bigger and more technical over gaps than just about any pro right now. He consistently skates regular and switch [see 1:45] where he duplicates his "line" both ways. And he innovates, my personal favorite being the heelflip wall-ride (2:45). Plus, he earns bonus points for putting it all to a Curtis Mayfield jam.


When Mayfield yells “Just Move On Up,” in his high-pitched voice, it makes me feel like I just took a time machine back to a smoky, neon-lit, afro-puff funk joint circa 1970. The bongo drums in the background are sharp and used effectively, just one of the many African influences throughout Curtis, his debut album. The rest of the album chooses not to match the upbeat “Move on Up,” but instead brings us through a slower and more soulful R&B, with political and socially charged themes on the mind. It was groundbreaking. Mayfield spoke and the rest of the music industry stopped, listened, and took notes. A critic once revered Curtis as the "Sgt. Peppers of 70’s soul", because it too signaled an entire genre to begin experimenting and expanding to bolder and broader styles.

The word that comes to mind when I think of Curtis Mayfield is 'visionary'. The scope of influence his work extends to is astounding considering musicians from literally every genre still list Mayfield as heavy influence. With his first group “The Impressions,” he composed the song “People Get Ready,” which Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson famously put on their personal top ten songs of all time lists. His popularity stays high over 40 years later, in fact if this rhythm sounds familiar, its because Kanye West sampled it for “Touch the Sky.”

Download | Curtis Mayfield | Curtis (1970)

This album has so much soul, it makes me blush. Or maybe it's the civil rights matter Mayfield so openly explores on Curtis. That fusion is what makes it a must-have for any music person. And like Ian stated, its legacy has spread to unlimited, if not unexpected, places (see: Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes).

From strings (even harp) to brass, Curtis has it all yet never falls out of focus. "Move On Up" might groove on the highest level, but the trumpeted, rallying opener, "(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go" shocks like no other. Horns return in their fullest form on "Wild And Free", a joyous declaration that should be universally blasted out mankind's car windows. The message was and continues to be ever so important, but if its carrier weren't so unique and enjoyable, it would have failed to expose and enlighten like it has.

July 24, 2009

Friday Send-Off | High Surf Alert

You may have heard (we literally did from our windows last night) that the mighty Pacific is crashing down hard this weekend. We're talking consistent 5 to 10 foot waves, with a chance of 20 foot sets (by the Wedge). The shoreline nearly met us half way up the beach when we last checked at midnight. It also happens to be the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Game on.

Song below (and picture above, there for no reason other than me liking it) is from Best Coast. Our main figure here knows something's up with the conditions:



And this one from
HEALTH applies:



And what's a waves-related post without an official video from that damn kid, Wavves.

Have Fun. BE SAFE. Get Weird. See you at the Wedge (at, not on, that's crazy).

July 22, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part 6.5]

Ian and I are rocking busy weeks, leaving this feature in danger of no-showing if there hadn't been a protocol in place. It's not our style to dial one in (there are currently two albums under review and we'd rather not wing em'). Instead, let's dip into the badass bin for a clip that needs no fluffy analysis.

Ladies and gentlemen, my personal favorite since 6th grade:



Song: "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden

Skater: Jamie Thomas

Video: Toy Machine; Welcome To Hell (1996)

Welcome To Hell changed my life (and surely skateboarding forever).

With huge gaps and rails (even barefoot), Thomas's part set the bar high at a time that saw the sport's most progressive comeback. And no song could have worked any better.

Shoutout to Matt L, Justin B, and Nat C, wherever you guys are, I hope this triggers as many childhood memories for you as it does for me. "Team Vantage" should have stuck it out.

July 20, 2009

Dirty Projectors @ Williamsburg Waterfront [NYC; 7/19/09]


Our Brooklyn eyes and ears, the wonderful team of Victoria and Blaire, were on the waterfront last night - JellyNYC's new home for Pool Parties. Turnout was what you'd expect for a free show in the capital of hip. Especially for a band that's very much on a victory lap with one of this year's finest records (I love a thing or ten about Bitte Orca). Even without stellar use of llamas and choreography (see: "Stillness is The Move", bottom of post), they managed to amaze. Blaire's account:
"I hadn't given the Dirty Projectors much of a chance before yesterday, and eager to learn what all the fuss is about. If i'm going to endure four blocks worth of foot traffic in the middle of summer, it had better be worth it. Standing behind 1000 hipsters to watch a band that I'm less than enthusiastic about seemed easy to turn down. But I was in good company and was in a glass-half-full kind of a mood. We made it in just in time for sound check, and as soon as band hit the stage they had everyone in a trance. It can't be easy to belt out an album's worth of music against a liquid soundboard that is the East River, but they did it and everyone left elated. They are original, and beautiful, and timeless. Nothing dirty about this band."
Victoria added:
"That girl with the long hair in braids (Amber Coffman) - she can sing man. She kinda blew me away."
And her usual visual accompaniment, coming after the setlist.
Two Doves
Cannibal Resource
Remade Horizon
Ascending Melody
No Intention
Fucked for Life
Gimme Gimme
Thirsty and Miserable
Rise Above
Stillness is the Move
Useful Chamber
Temecula Sunrise

Fluorescent Half Dome
Knotty Pine







And now, llamas. Actually, llama-expert Vic says it's an alpaca.


July 17, 2009

Headphones | More


If this pace seems unusual, I'm with you. We'll make sense of it come December. Until then, keep it coming class of 09'.

The Dodos - Time To Die (2009)

I wasn't ready for the early leak of Time To Die or its actual tracks. They're more conventional and less sweaty than past work, which will inevitably cause some fans to claim The Dodos lost their psych-folk edge. I was one of those up until yesterday when this thing finally clicked. Dangerous but natural to compare (especially when our beloved Visiter follows in iTunes order). So naysers: let the explosive "Longform" lead into smile inducing "Fables" and accept the new Dodos for what they are: growing songwriters (and excellent percussionists) making a run at the big album.

The San Francisco duo (now trio) has handled all premature internet circulation well (you can stream the whole record here), which leaves me feeling a tad guilty for partaking. So they get my money via ticketmaster (9/27 in LA).


Cass McCombs - Catacombs (2009)

I don't know, there's something about this guy.




Suckers - Daytrotter Sessions (2009)

I'm burning out on the 20 minute EP from Brooklyn's rookie of the year act. So part of my love here is having a few more songs to hang with. And also, this is a particularly well recorded daytrotter session. You can download all 4 tracks with a nice little write-up here.





Night Control - Death Control (2009)

An 80 minute, bedroom fuzz-pop orchestra conducted by one Christopher Curtis Smith. How he made it all himself is beyond me.

Spot on from Pitchfork: "white-boy bluesy 'Star 131' sounds like a 3 a.m. cover of a lost Led Zeppelin ballad, replete with drunk, heartsick Robert Plant impersonation."



Clues - Clues (2009)

Getting this out of the way: Alden Penner (ex-Unicorn) and Brandan Reed (ex-Arcade Fire).

With too much to listen to these days, this was perhaps dismissed without my fairest shot. Then this kid's painfully earnest gushing actually pulled it from the path of recycling bin. Claiming it sounds like nothing anyone's ever heard, as he did, is an overstatement. Still, this is good.


Download | Karen Dalton - In My Own Time (1971)

Where's this voice been my whole life?
"Another case where everyone, this time including me, will tell you that she sounds like Billie Holiday. She does, but the reason that she can withstand this comparison is because her voice is self possessed and of itself. . . . Dalton’s voice sounds like it could sound no other way, slipping always just beyond her control, like there’s a rupture between ‘her’ and her ‘voice.’" Stylus
A folk blues singer of Cherokee decent, Dalton made these covers all her own. Highly recommended. Thanks for the heads up Brett.

July 15, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part Six]

It's too fun to stop now. Part six of TBD.

Ian's back, brown, and bringing the classics, below.




Song: "Some Weird Sin" by Iggy Pop
Skater: James Brockman
Video: Zero; New Blood (2005)

James Brockman, raw dog handrail destroyer. The man has a rock star skate status so it’s no surprise that Iggy Pop fits well. Very few skaters would step up to the bigger rails towards the end of this part. Many would just be happy to land any trick here. While the big stuff earned him magazine cover shots, he still managed to do some pretty technical skating too.
That 6 foot high ledge in downtown Oceanside (1:53 in) is one of the most career-defining obstacles around, and Brockman took a frontside noseslide to it.

Despite Brockman’s impressive efforts, it was the song that kept me coming back to this part. With the riff, the lyrics, the tone, “Some Weird Sin” inspired me to buy Lust For Life. It’s good all the way through and noticeably takes a turn into David Bowie-ville (who produced the album) from track 5 on. Bowie’s influence as the producer was so strong on Pop’s previous release, The Idiot, that there was discussion that it actually could be considered a Bowie album. On this one, Iggy’s harder punk approach meshes better with Bowie’s style, proving a dynamic duo.

Iggy Pop’s stage persona is what really drives his reputation. Having modeled himself after Jim Morrison’s antics, it seems that he started in the business with wild as priority number one. He’s credited as the first person to stage-dive and god-father of punk rock. His mainstream success on a songwriting level is very limited. You’ve heard “Lust For Life.” And “The Passenger,” an interesting song with cool lyrics. “Neighborhood Threat” is a sleeper and should be noted. “Some Weird Sin” (for a while anyway) possibly describes what Iggy Pop is looking for in life….(does letting a chick lick peanut butter off his chest after stage-diving qualify as some weird sin?!?)

We've had a good week with Lust For Life, each of us finding different angles on digging it. Being a Bowie guy, I'm hit by the haunting intro of "Tonight" and the trippy-funk synths that wander around "Fall in Love With Me." Ian's drawn more to the stretches of raw Iggy rock. It's practically vice-versa as well, still an interesting taste contrast there.

Download | Iggy Pop | Lust For Life (1977)

David Bowie's "Berlin Period" owned the late 70s and pushed a dark, futuristic wave across rock. His own album, Low (which I've been dying to write about), was released in the same year as both this and The Idiot. Although Lust For Life is very much an Iggy Pop accomplishment (more so than the latter), Low-like studio sounds are still everywhere. And it works.

Iggy Pop is the craziest human being I've ever seen perform live. He's never struck me as a studio rat, you know, not someone to tinker with effects and such. Regardless of who is responsible for what (after all, we're talking about two of the biggest rock icons at their creative peaks, living together in an apartment in Schoneberg, cranking out an album in 8 days), t
his exercise has given me a new respect for Iggy Pop as a musician. And another boner for Bowie.

July 14, 2009

Enter | Universal Studios Florida [the band]

This one would have felt right at home on that Summer Jams Edition, but it took a bit longer to tan over. I didn't want to like Universal Studios Florida, with the tropical electronic trend one 'High Places Remix' away from saturation and, of course, them having the most ungoogleable band name since Women. Turns out their airy debut LP, Ocean Sunbirds, earns USF both a respectable place within their genre and the right to call themselves whatever lawsuit-welcoming, blog-provoking name they please.

Download | Universal Studios Florida - Ocean Sunbirds (2009)

The beach is a common destination for electronic music these days. As are the stars. More rare though, is landing in a sunny, spacey hybrid of the two. The beats are soft and often buried beneath echo, to the point that this collection registers as ambient. With repeat listens, its climate shifts become more apparent and the brighter moments get an extra push.

Who knows, I could be praising the shit out this in a month or two (or downloading the High Places Remix).

July 9, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Dylan And Donovan

Here's a shoutout to the high music IQ-ed Mark D from pando, and one of the coolest history lessons anyone's ever passed along. I'll walk through this series of events every now and then (since his sharing of it over a year ago) for a dose of amazing.

The setting: 1965, a London hotel room, Bob Dylan and friends are hanging out. A young, up and coming singer-songwriter, Donovan (who the press had been comparing to Dylan) is present. All clips are from the Don't Look Back documentary. The rest is in Mark's words:

Sorry for everyone who's already seen this (it's pretty famous), but those 
that haven't are in for a treat. It's split into several youtubes.

1. Some Scottish dude is telling Dylan how good Donovan is. Dylan talks a little shit.

Act One

2. Dylan gets really pissed when someone in the hotel room next door throws a "glass" in the street. Dylan later implores everyone to "just be
groovy."

Act Two

3. Some balding poet tells Dylan that he'll "turn him on to some things."
Dylan requests Ginsberg ("Get me Ginsberg!"). Then Donovan decides to 
regale the group with a song about giving a flower to his love. Then Dylan borrows a guitar and rips into "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", which would
 become the closer on his next album, Bringing It All Back Home.

4. Dylan then adds insult to injury and goes into "Love Minus Zero/No Limit"
 from the same album. The camera perfectly captures Donovan's realization
 that he will never be as good as Dylan.


Half electric, half acoustic, every bit one of the greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone put it at #31 to be exact:
"By fusing the Chuck Berry beat of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles with the leftist, folk tradition of the folk revival, Dylan really had brought it back home, creating a new kind of rock & roll [...] that made every type of artistic tradition available to rock."

Well then. Have Fun. Be Safe. Get Weird.

July 8, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part Five]

When Ian told me who he wanted to feature on this week's piece, I was all smiles. Revisiting something like this is like being assigned a field study on Disneyworld. There are only a handful of modern bands that he and I meet right in the middle on, and Modest Mouse is one of them. Ian's thoughts are brown and below.



Song: “Paper Thin Walls” by Modest Mouse

Skater: Stefan Janoski
Video: Transworld; Subtleties (2004)

Let's get right into the song since that intro summed up Janoski, one of the style gods of skating, rather well. And good thing, since discussing 2000's The Moon and Antarctica could take some time. Modest Mouse deserves your respect as a band who's in it for the love, not the money. If actions speak louder than words, then this fact may help my point along: they didn’t receive any significant fame until 2001, after 8 years of touring and living the stereotypical lifestyle of (financially) struggling musicians. And even then, it wasn't until "Float On" years later, that they finally got their due. I like to see when a band truly stands by their work so authentically regardless of how it's received.

In fact, Isaac Brock’s distaste for conformity inspired this album.
“These walls are paper thin and everyone hears every little sound.”
His social commentary here and throughout is that
people's projected judgment on anything and everything often strangles originality. The album's name suggests the last remaining places where this influence does not exist.

I challenge anyone to spend some time with The Moon & Antarctica. Careful, this track's catchiness is not a great indicator of the rest of the album. But the lyrics are and that's where this album really gets me. One night I read the lyrics to "3rd Planet" for a good hour and came up potential meanings involving Adam & Eve, fate, abortion, religion, lies, deceit, and karma. And that’s just the opening song. "Gravity Rides Everything" is an amazing track. "The Stars are Projectors"' has a set of discordant verses that make you wait for their melodic choruses. The whole damn feature is Modest Mouse at their best, mysterious and esoteric.

Download | Modest Mouse | The Moon & Antarctica (2000*)

The end of 2009 will invite a plethora of "best of the decade" lists, and I'll nod in agreement at any mention of this record. Like Ian touched upon, it comes with a statement; one they never lose sight of among some of the most varied yet flowing tracks I've ever heard in sequence. It's a songwriting landmark and an indie blueprint for crossing abstract with precise.

Great video by the way. Monster switch flip at the end.

*
this version is actually the reissued bonus track one from from 2004

July 2, 2009

Headphones | Summer Jams Edition


The season of summer in our neck of the woods (beach) means an additional 10 degrees tacked on to the typical Southern Californian day. While in the northeast lately, according to a few accounts, it has meant an unfortunate and funky shade of gray. So whether you're here or there (sorry, I hope July is better) or somewhere in between, we can agree, summertime is less a weather and more a state of mind. That's why we have music. Ideal setting for anything below might be a lazy afternoon or in some cases the free-spirited nights that follow, but don't think you can't simulate the experience via computer speaker.

Ganglians - Monster Head Room (2009)

You know scenes in movies where a character is in some state of bliss but then suddenly falls unconscious and the happy music starts to warp and muffle around? The first half of Monster Head Room has you living in Brian Wilson's Smile. Then your vision starts to go, your equilibrium gets twisted, and everything goes fuzzy. By "To June" you're on your back in a field, half wondering if someone will find you before dark, half not caring at all.


Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue (2009)

Put this next to 2004's delicate (and excellent) Fi, and you'll think Stephen Wilkinson, aka Bibio, is a changed man, if not a different one altogether. Some of his signatures are still there (hazy, languid, minimalistic ambiance) but they're accompanied by some new players: synth pop falsettos and hip hop (!) beats. Can Bibio now be bumped? Yes.



YACHT - See Mystery Lights (2009)

There's a track on this called "Summer Song" but I'll be damned if "Psychic City" isn't the song of the summer. All we wanna do is know all the words right away and jump around. "Psychic City" gives us that. When Claire L. Evans (new addition to the band) chants "I told you your dreams will come true", I believe her (her magic is real).

Download the track here.


Discovery - LP (2009)

Keyboardist/producer from Vampire Weekend and the singer from Ra Ra Riot do something that sounds nothing like either of their bands and everything like that time your little brother begged you to let him DJ your party with his laptop programs, so you did, and it was way better than ever expected, and John Cusack's character from High Fidelity was there and signed him on the spot and your bro spent the rest of the night on a city train making out with an older chick to a Phil Collins song.

Sun Araw - Heavy Deeds (2009)

I have a soft spot for experimental dub-droning when it's as sunburnt and visual as Sun Araw. Heavy Deeds continues where Beach Head left off - held captive by an island tribe who lets their witch doctors test potions on you.


Not from the current album, but I'll embed this video at any given chance:



Prins Thomas - Live at Robert Johnson Vol. 2

I always picture throwing these really hip disco-dancefloor parties where everyone is totally down with a playlist of songs they've never heard before, where totally unanticipated beat changes incite totally unpredictable reactions. In reality, someone would wait for me to go to the bathroom and cue up the next hit on YouTube. That's fine too. I'll at least have these 27 tracks (from 25 various artists, none of which I've really heard of) to do work to. Listen here.

Gorillavsbear's Summer Mix

One of our favorite blogs put together a stellar mix of sleepy, sunny unknowns, at a quality you might expect from a tastemaker like GvsB. Always a great way to learn of what's hot right now, but even more, this thing flows and has a collective vibe to it. Our pretty excited about-buddy HIGHLIFE made the cut.

The free download and tracklisting can be found here.


White Denim - Fits (2009)

So fresh I have no take on it yet (well, already good enough to blog about). Going into it we know there's a funny music video and that White Denim makes authentic rock music. And there's an instrumental song titled "Sex Prayer." How could we lose?





Download | Scientist - Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires (1981)

I feel like I put this up once before, which means I really think you should own it. I'm no reggae guy, and this floors me. I'm no dub guy, and this floors me. Considered a masterpiece in its own right, read more about it here. Works oddly well in social settings like cookouts, if you hang with rad people.


Weekend starts now. Happy 4th!

Have fun. Be Safe. Get Weird.

July 1, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part Four]

Song choice is everything.

Without further ado, here's our old prospector, Ian, in the brown.



Song: "Face It" by Old Canes
Skater: Dennis Busenitz
Video: Real Skateboards; Roll Forever (2005)

Dennis Busenitz is known for speed. His hill-bombs down San Francisco’s long and treacherous streets have become an industry staple along with his easily recognized style. On film, it's been hard for viewers to get a true sense of his maniac approach while those who have witnessed him at contests regard his performances as legendary. So it was surprising when the uptempo guitars and pulsing percussion here actually brought his bat out hell urban assault to life.

Skate videos have always unearthed random bands for me, and here is a great example. Old Canes had one album in 2004. It appears that the record came about when a collection of already established musicians, including Appleseed Cast singer Christopher Crisci
, decided to record a set of songs more acoustic and folk-oriented than their current bands. They experienced some buzz, but never got around to that much-anticipated second album, scheduled for 07’.

I like a few of the songs on Early Morning Hymns (“Blue Eleanor,” Life is Grand,” “Early Morning Hymns”). It’s worth checking out, or at least streaming here. “Face It” is the only track carrying that fast pace. But fans of chill folk rock might still find a few favorites throughout the album.

Thanks Ian, this might be my favorite video yet. A great pairing.
Having taken a few hills in my day (with scars to prove it), I can't believe someone not only can do tricks at that speed, they prefer to. What a nut.

Early Morning Hymns was a departure for the Appleseed Cast front man. We'll let this interview explain more origins. To be honest, I'm slightly bored with the album as a whole (and I am of the demographic Ian speaks of), but "Face It" remains triumphant, as do some previously mentioned moments. Also, Appleseed Cast's contribution to the early 2000s indie rock world (specifically Low Level Owl Volumes 1 & 2) deserves a mention here too. They did just put something out this year too.

It's interesting to see a band like Old Canes briefly strike a style and then set it aside. Meanwhile, it's been a good couple of years for those who have stuck with it (see: The Dodos, Mount Eerie, Devendra Banhart, the list goes on). Whether it's Appleseed Cast or Old Canes, it's all pretty good, so let's just give props to
Christopher Crisci.