August 28, 2009
At their most melodic, Deerhunter can send you floating down a stream of colors. At their fullest, they can drown you. Let's just say the sound at Detroit Bar does little to save you from the latter. Lack of earplugs aside, catching an act of this magnitude in our neighborhood was special.
Songs from last year's Microcastle got the warmest response from a very full house. Ever-bloggable frontman, Bradford Cox, stayed relatively quiet, for his standards, but it was a friendly quiet (full-disclosure: we left just before they finished, so he could very well have dawned a dress or simulated sex during the finale). "Operation", from the sometimes overlooked 08' sister album Weird Era Cont., felt just right, alternating between an up-tempo bop and dreamy collapse.
LA's Pocahaunted opened, and this is really what I'd like to talk about. Facepainted, howling, and backed by a tribe of drum and drone, these two girls channeled all sorts of spirits on stage. Enchanting really.
Download | Pocahaunted | Island Diamonds (2008)
In line with Sun Araw's recent work (and at times, early Animal Collective), Island Diamonds plays like a dub seance. It meanders around with the same vocal improvisation displayed last night. The 5 tracks run about 8 minutes each, so it's not mix-tape ready, but it is chill.
Also, related by members, Best Coast, a former Friday Send-Off, is also something to be talking about.
And look at that, today's Send-Off:
August 26, 2009
Song: “One Rainy Wish” by Jimi Hendrix
Skater: Tony Cervantes
Video: Fallen; Ride the Sky (2008)
Tony Cervantes seems like he’s having a really good time as an up and coming skater. He manages to stay on top of the curve with current tricks, while still innovating with some of his own creative flair. Shown best here with the airwalk frontside boardslide (1:15) - an upgrade on a trick he first unveiled on Zero’s 2004 video, New Blood. The big wallride over the stairs is incredible and looks a lot more like what snowboarders are doing right now, than skateboarders. My personal favorite though is when he airs out of the bowl (0:54), such a great shot. Keeping with the Zero/Fallen teams trend of riding to classic rock I was really impressed with his song choice here. I have always considered this one of the more unique and often over-looked Hendrix songs. Cervantes even pays tribute by rocking a drug-rug. Hiiiiiiiipy.
Hendrix was such a monster on the guitar that his lyrics might be under-appreciated. He was a phenomenal songwriter and used images from dreams and other “experiences,” as inspiration. This song displays his lyrical freedom and attention to detail. Just look at the typically misunderstood opening line “Gold and rose, the color of a dream I had.” How often do you hear someone describe a dream solely by its colors? Also interesting is the song's structure. Jimi uses a ballad-like ¾ time signature during the verse’s and a straight-forward rock 4/4 during the chorus, creating a really nice contrast and beautiful song.
As a very young kid with open access to his father’s vinyl collection, I was immediately drawn to this album mainly because of its cover art. It remained among my favorites from an early age and still resides in my top ten albums of all time. If only “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Red House” were on this, it would be number 1. Like all 4 of his original albums (if you include Band of Gypsies), Axis is good all the way through. Highlights include the instrumentation and backwards guitar of “Castles Made of Sand”, the message of “If 6 was 9”, and possibly Hendrix best work, “Little Wing”.
Download | The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Axis: Bold as Love (1967)
Jimi's mountainous legend along with a long list of accolades will help you assume how good everything on Axis: Bold as Love is. I doubt we need to help there. Then again, Ian did put it on my radar. And now I'm dying to listen on vinyl (Johnny?). Psychedelia is back in a big way. Let's make sure albums like this are credited for the sound. Albums. This can't be stressed enough. Albums.
August 24, 2009
Long time favorite, Dan Bejar aka Destroyer, is back with 21 minutes of the wordplay we've come to love, this time over ambient, dare we say it, space-disco. 13 of those minutes belong to epic "Bay of Pigs", which recently sent every common music blog into a frenzy. So here's that and the remaining 8, "Ravers" - just as bare, almost as adventurous.
I've seen it all ... I've seen it all. Magnolia's a girl. Her heart's made of wood. As apocalypses go that's pretty good, Sha la la, wouldn't you say? ...Guilt-free-stream the title track while you read the rest of those lyrics over at almighty stereogum. More on my love for Dan here, from an LA show last spring.
August 21, 2009
San Francisco's Girls have some good, meaningful music videos.
Download | Girls | 9 various songs (including that one)
They're yet to release the full Album LP (see: September). Until then, tracks continue to orbit the blogosphere.
Each standout might be best summarized by my friend, Brett:
"'Lust for life' is a lo-fi pop throwback. 'Morning Light' is 'You Made Me Realise'-era My Bloody Valentine. 'Hellhole Ratrace' is a four-a.m. bleary-eyed comedown. And Stereogum called "Solitude" a 'prom-y two-step,' which is true."There you have it.
Have fun. Be safe. Get weird.
August 20, 2009
First things got a little loopy at Prospect Park, now camera batteries are dying at The Bell House (next, 'our pet's heads are falling off!')?
Four shows in one week might be catching up to Brooklyn Vic, or more likely, she's just having too much fun. And Victoria's review of last night glowed brighter than Nick Diamond's studded cape, so why not post some iPhone shots. Looks like the best was saved for last, as she gave top honors to Islands. Here's an assortment of text messages:
"First night they're playing anything form their new album."That's a lot of 'best' in one entry, folks. Take notice.
"Band was dressed so crooner-esque...I loved it. Nick came out in a white studded cape and looked like Don Johnson with a British do. That guy is a talent. He's a babe. Very Elvis."
"Bellhouse rules. Hands down one of the best places to see a show."
"Swans" encore! Best rendition - so awesome. Best show I saw all week."
Islands are busy. Their 3rd studio album, Vapours, drops at the end of September (unless you find it earlier on the C train). Most exciting, Nick has welcomed back Jamie Thompson on drum machine/sequencer, so this could be a Return To Sea-like, return to form (nothing against last year's ambitious Arm's Way). Stereogum gives us track details, tour dates, and a free song here.
August 19, 2009
Song: “Close To Me (Closer Mix)” by The Cure
Skater: Kevin “Spanky” Long
Video: Emerica; This is Skateboarding (2003)
When this video was released, Kevin Long’s 180 down the 16-stair (1:05) was one of the biggest tricks anyone had ever pulled off. He was a front-runner in the new era of young kids who were causing veterans to wonder just how far their sport would progress. This part is comprised almost entirely of stairs, handrails, and ledges. Parts like these were compelling proof that the sport was embracing new and more dangerous standards. And interesting then that the younger, crazier generation was putting their hardcore moves to softer music. I remember naively wondering if all the new skaters were gravitating to this sound - one I had no way else to describe but “emo.”
Misprinted song credits led me to The Cure’s Greatest Hits double-disc, which had the original version of “Close To Me.” Years later I stumbled upon Mixed Up, a 1990 album of self-remixed Cure songs, where the actual slowed-down version that I prefer, comes from. Its use of melodic fills over simple chord progression is effective, both rhythmically and harmonically. The backing fills create the interesting moments as they counter play with the drums. The bluesy-funk jazz horn improvisations (cut-off in the skate part) at the end of the song give it a lot of maturity and sound along the lines of something Van Morrison might use. The lyrics take us through the head of Robert Smith as he waits in a state of pure anxiety and faithlessness, anticipating some event, possibly a stage performance. It could fit with the thoughts of the skater before throwing his carcass down a handrail, where either instant rock-star status or severe injury awaits.
Download | The Cure | Mixed Up (1990, .rar)
The remix was a different beast in 1990. Props to Robert Smith for embracing something that seemed more a DJ thing at the time. It's pretty cool to think of a band of that stature, at that point in their career, feeling strongly enough about their own re-cut twisting of hits, to formally release them. The tweaks are fairly subtle by today's standards. And to be honest, might best be appreciated by loyal fans. I'd have to agree with Ian though, that version of "Close To Me" somehow improves on the original.
Ian also mentioned in conversation that he felt that The Cure's distinct "goth image" might make it easy to overlook their musical contributions. Agreed. I see Smith's experimentation with a full remix album as prime example of putting songs first. That and the 150,000 on hand at Coachella 2009 who knew 'all the words' to an impressive amount of them.
August 17, 2009
OK, so our photographer ate mushrooms on Saturday.
This was Animal Collective's second night of a two show stint at the Bandshell over the weekend. You can imagine the turnout.
I guess Avey's sister did the special stage design. Which looked trippier, if not busier, than usual.
Setlist (pretty much identical to our February show):
01 - Grace
02 - Summertime Clothes
03 - Leaf House
04 - Guys Eyes
05 - Slippi
06 - #1
07 - Also Frightened
08 - What Would I Want Sky
09 - My Girls
10 - Fireworks
11 - Brother Sport
12 - In The Flowers
13 - Comfy In Nautica
14 - Lion in a Coma
August 14, 2009
(worth watching in HQ)
Last night, once again, Victoria and Blaire teamed up, to dance off. And I get all the details (without any of the fun!). I guess this is what it's like to read these show reviews without actually going. I'm on your side now folks. Their music week continued with Friendly Fires, which to no one's surprise, set the Hall aflame. This act had arguably the hottest set at Coachella. They're just one of those bands best experienced live (seriously, I rarely listen to the album, but their live show is untouchable). In Blaire's words:
"Friendly Fires pulled it off last night, not that I doubted they would. Each member was dressed in belted khaki pants, shirts tucked in. Their attire was conservative, but their performance was anything but. Everyone lost their shit within seconds of the opening song, "Jump in the Pool." One by one, crazed girls from the crowd would jump on stage only to be carried off by security guards. By the end of the show, the band was playing down below while the crowd danced around them, all over them, on their stage. They kept it going until the end, closing with "Paris." Dance party plus!"And Vic brings the color:
August 12, 2009
Song: "Son of a Sam" by Elliott Smith
Skater: John White
Video: Powell; FUN! (2009)
"Son of a Sam" is the opening song on Elliott Smith's fifth studio album, Figure 8, which features a more electric sound compared to his previous works and was the last album released while Smith was still living. A compelling choice for the background of a skate video considering the majority of the man's work is defined by its melancholy sound but the song makes sense here with the piano giving way to big guitar and reverting back to piano, which picks through every note and seems to hang in the air like a huge trick.
Smith's approach to music was stylistically on a par with a skateboarder's approach to athletics in that they are both inherently unorthodox and focus on the efforts of the individual rather than those of a team. Alternate tunings fused with chord progressions uncommonly used in Western music were the staple of a man's sound who preferred to stay off the radar (when "Miss Misery" was up for Best Song in 1998 Smith was reluctant to perform live at the Oscars) not unlike the counter culture of skateboarding that awards creativity and originality over ability without substance.
"I'm not uncomfortable feeling weird / long revered options disappear"
These two lines best convey the journey and struggles of anyone seeking creative / artistic success. The guarantee of lifelong security is left behind in the search of creating a singular, timeless catalog, too often unrecognized until that creator has left this world.
Download | Elliott Smith | Figure 8 (2000)
Like last week's post on John Lennon's final release, Double Fantasy, Figure 8 might not be Elliot Smith's best album, but it was (technically) his last and remains immensely interesting. At the time, I could see folks growing impatient with Smith's perennial misery (sort of the 'law of Trent Reznor', "just lighten up buddy"). But let's face it, that was his muse. Now we see, with tales of his final years all over the internet, that it was more than art, it was his life. Speaking of which, I just drove by his memorial on Sunset Blvd (the wall he stands in front of, on that cover).
Figure 8 is a detailed and diverse album. Lyrically, Smith was darker than ever, yet his studio exploration (not as available to him in the early days) offered more active textures, resulting in some of his most uptempo (a stretch) tracks ever.
If Ian wasn't half way to Boston right now, he'd talk about how sweet that skate part is for a number of reasons. And I'd agree. I'm drawn to the nollie 360 flip (?) at the 2:18 mark, and how it was shot. (Update: Ian confirmed, but says that kids today call them 'nollie tre's. And adds: "This guy throws some pretty bad ass nollie tricks and shows hints of a young Eric Koston or Guy Mariano with his tech handrail approach. 1:07 Nollie shuv-it crooks and 2:12 nollie shuv-it frontside feeble. The trick at 2:12 is really innovative....definitely worth mentioning"). These newer videos are really well produced.
Victoria, our 'Brooklyn eyes and ears', has quite the musical week on deck. First up was last night's TV on the Radio show with Gang Gang Dance and Chin Chin. New York City's pride and joy has been touring steadily (for obvious reasons) and gave their birthplace a performance to be expected. Sound concerns have been following TVOTR around all year (last visit to LA was oddly mixed) and chatter consensus seems to be about the same here. But like then (and Coachella), a wall of bass can't muffle the presence and mood these guys bring every night.
And damn, nice shots Vic.
Also, look for Kyp Malone's new solo project called Rain Machine (personally I would have gone with "Power Beard"). The self-titled release is due out next month.
August 11, 2009
With Monday's reality on the horizon (Sunday, 9:00PM), Santa Barbara's weekend inflow was now collectively heading out. The 101 South splits with Coast Highway about an hour north of Los Angeles, and on impulse, I bared right. It was a long-cut, but the prospect of an open road beat a definite inland traffic. The sunset opportunity had passed, so only black awaited at the guardrail. While scrolling down the audio options, I remembered a recent addition which had yet to really find its night to shine. For 50 miles, momentary headlight diamonds across the water served as the only reminder that the Pacific still existed, or even that I was, in fact, still driving. Otherwise, my car was gone, utterly swept away by:
The Antlers - Hospice (2009)
These days, the earnest, 'heavyweight' album battles an exceptionally low attention span. Maybe we're jaded with overtly emotional music, or simply prefer our current soundtracks sweetly caffeinated and instant. Shying away from symbolic downers makes sense right now. Not to say there isn't some hope in Hospice. Its general vibe, though, is one of isolation, and its narrative is one of hopelessness (a man's hospital relationship with a terminally ill child). But like the family deaths that lead to Arcade Fire's Funeral or more recently, the log cabin-ed soul search documented on Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, the human spirit can find beautiful ways to cope. And we don't need theatrical ice storms or woodsy remoteness or coastal highways to understand and be affected by their...weight (a solo drive in winter 2005 did assist in the realization of Funeral).
The Antlers (somehow refreshing despite the deer-related name), started two years ago under the intimate recordings of Peter Silberman, and (as they often do) have blossomed into a 3-piece, with one of the year's most powerful records on their hands. Anything with a "Prologue" and "Epilogue" device generally asks to be taken seriously. Hospice supports that request with tracks that can both scratch the cold floor of a deserted hospital and soar atop 'letting it all go' crescendos. To an almost disorienting degree, a familiar melody is repositioned throughout, sometimes hummed over piercing feedback ("Atrophy"), sometimes shouted over marching percussion ("Wake", "Two"), and sometimes, everything all at once ("Bear"). There's no video or mp3 to be posted that could get across what a front-to-back listen can. So, highly recommended.
Solo Drive might be a new feature. If it doesn't feel too forced. And I'm OK with (and you're OK with) getting a little more personal/dangerously review-like than usual.
August 7, 2009
Banjo or Freakout – Upside Down EP (2009)
In comes more stoned-out bedroom reverb preaching, this time from London (and to his credit, he's been at it for a few years). “Upside Down” opens the EP on an optimistic note. Alesso Natalizia then dreams his way through white wash afro-beat until finally shaking free from REM sleep on near club-ready closer, “Mr. No”.
Santa Barbara this weekend. A reenactment of above might be called for.
Have fun. Be safe. Get weird.
August 6, 2009
Download | Butter x Face's | Chum Onah
BxF celebrate the music of M. Jackson.The girls over at BxF went to great lengths to assemble a King of Pop tribute, lo-fi style. They finally set it free yesterday and I'll say it's both done tastefully and slightly ridiculous (the cover may have given that away). Tiny glitch in track 9 (update: here), otherwise, 'hee-hee, chum onah!'
"The music of a post-consumer-pop-icon as translated, sampled, rerecorded and conveyed through the voice of modern music's finest bedroom savants."
If free isn't appealing enough, you can try it, and learn more about it, here.
Download | Pictureplane | Creep 5
Man of the hour, Mr. Travis Egedy, was asked by Fadar to give a mix of what he's into. Lucky for them, he already does that, and is on his 5th installment of Creep mixes. From the interview:
"'Creep' was an attempt at creating a conceptual cultural catchphrase, similar to 'hyphy' or 'crunk'. It was a philosophical way of 'being,' but it was more of just a fun joke that never caught on. But I am still making the creep mixes. CREEP 5 is full of ’90s house and jungle. Tracks that I love. A lot of vocal house, some funky and bassline, house, and some dark synth pop."Whether the creep movement caught on or not (I personally am down with his manifesto), the mixes are quite hot. And speaking of MJ, get ready for Uproot Andy's "smooth criminal rmx" on the final stretch.
Download | Pictureplane's Denver 2009 Sampler
He chose to showcase his Denver friends on the other mix (because that's the kind of guy he is).
This is packed. And very educational. Good to see Milton Melvon Croissant III on there. Swell guy.
Download | Bradford Cox | Micromix 21
This man never stops.
On his 21st generous micromix, Bradford Cox (Atlas Sound, Deerhunter) dips into the past for the likes of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt, and pours them through a psychedelic strainer.
Download | Underwater Peoples' Summertime Showcase
Delightful, breezy, and cohesive. On first listen, you might assume it all comes from one little fuzzy band that likes to roam about a genre. Rewarding then to learn that you now have 13 bands to look into. One of them being Real Estate:
August 5, 2009
He writes in brown, below.
"People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin"
Trapasso's intro gives a bit of insight as to what skaters deal with all day long. Despite skateboarding's surge in popularity, skateboarding in most areas is still considered a crime. Law makers argue that it damages public property, creates a nuisance, and contributes very little to society. That being said, one can only imagine the constant uphill battle aspiring skaters face against against condemnation and the law, not to mention financial instability and injury. Even those who do fall into the .01% who actually “make it,” staying ahead of the curve where tricks and trends consistently evolve is near impossible. Starting to sound like a pretty unrealistic career path? Lets just say it takes an incredibly resilient and determined spirit to take it to this level.
To me, this song is about precisely that. You could draw a number of parallels between the life of a skateboarder and the feelings John Lennon is expressing here, during his self imposed exile from the music industry in the late 70s. People have a hard time understanding when someone chooses to reject the mold that they saw fit for them. For John it was sitting inactive on his talent while for a skater, maybe it’s not conforming to “normal” goals. Great fit.
Double Fantasy recast a reborn Lennon - professing to be more content than ever, loving family life, and overflowing with creativity, making John's death three weeks after its release all the more tragic. One can only imagine the pressure and scrutiny Lennon was hit with in the post-Beatles years, amplified by his own outspokenness. On his first record in over 5 years, he silenced naysayers by way of the high road. Gone were the personal attacks (see: "How Do You Sleep?") and controversial claims (see: "God" among others) found in his previous solo work (though that energy did lead to some of his finest, like those). Bitterness was replaced with middle aged happiness, shown best in "Watching The Wheels", but also in the sweet "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" and charming "(Just Like) Starting Over".
His love for Yoko Ono was so strong, that he handed nearly half the songwriting over to her and that's unfortunately where Double Fantasy feels disjointed. Interesting at times for adding a progressive edge to that late 70s over-gloss, Ono's tracks still do little more than act as weirdo transitions to John's singles. Like last week's post of Curtis, this is a necessary addition to your collection, for the sake of music history.
PS - That is the best part I've seen in years, too.
August 3, 2009
Pictureplane - Dark Rift (2009)
"Brilliant? Yes. The guy has true production and compositional skills and has found a uniquely compelling way to merge a deep blend house, noise, synth pop, darkwave, psychedelia, world music, and trippy new age space-time theories into emotionally compelling soundscapes."Elsewhere today, Pitchfork premiered the "Trance Doll" video. Shot at epic Denver venue/gallery, Rhinoceropolis (which doubles as his home), and directed by a friend, Thomas Stemrich, it captures the inexplicable energy within both his music and perhaps a creative catalyst, his environment. That and it cracks me up. We first saw a cut last spring and have been waiting for the beast to be released ever since. Enjoy (updated with YouTube - takes less time to load):
"Once every 26,000 years our planet crosses through the elliptical plane at the center of our galaxy known as the dark rift. The songs on dark rift lyrically deal with humanity entering a new age or next phase of our existence..."
09/10 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
09/11 - Portland, OR @ The Works (Time-Based Art Festival)
09/12 - Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
09/17 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
09/18 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
09/19 - Toronto, ON @ Wrong Bar
09/20 - Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
09/21 - Providence, RI @ Club Hell
09/22 - Allston, MA @ Harper's Ferry
09/24 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
09/25 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
09/26 - Baltimore, MD @ Sonar