Friday, September 28, 2007
Love Is Simple
(09.2007, Young God)
Akron/Family has set a ridiculously high bar for themselves. In 2005 Akron/Family released their debut self-titled full length album; a beautiful blend of gorgeous outsider folk with light prog/electronic tendencies that instantly proved their ability to craft timeless songs. Shortly thereafter, in that same year, Akron/Family dropped what is for me the defining moment of their career so far: split full length with Michael Gira of Angels of Light. The seven songs that the band contributed to the first half of this split are flawless, careening through, possibly, the most imaginative and energetic set of songs I have ever heard. Akron/Family juggled so many different styles with such an imaginative reckless abandon and were so successful doing so that they instantly earned themselves a permanent spot in my heart and have become a band that I have continually watched since. 2006 saw the "not bad" release of Meek Warrior, an EP length disc that failed to approach the consistency or vision of the bands' previous releases, but still provided undeniable evidence of their talent. It is not hard to see why Love Is Simple, the true follow up to their debut and the possible realization of what they accomplished on their Angels of Light split, has been such an anticipated event for me. However, with anticipation comes the almost inevitable let down – whatever the degree. It has happened plenty this year with similarly adored musicians like Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird and Liars. Each produced albums that are well above the average but undeniably lesser accomplishments to the release that directly proceeded it, creating an unfortunate yet unavoidable slight let down. Oh Akron/Family, my sweet sweet Akron/Family, I’m sorry, I just can’t help but listen to Love Is Simple with the same disposition. It just has to be said. Beyond this point there is much to rejoice about in Akron/Family's most recent opus. Akron/Family has always had too many ideas for their own good and Love Is Simple is no different, scattering itself in all directions and exploring every possible option. Somehow, on Love Is Simple, Akron/Family has become even more rooted in the already evident hippie leanings of their past releases. For honest listeners this should be a refreshing and slightly humorous twist on the largely cynical lyrics of the most modern indie music. Love Is Simple is still one of the top albums of this year and is just as good an entry point to the bands gloriously indefinable musical aesthetic as anything. A must listen for every spectrum of the indie world. (oh yeah, and you get an excellent Akron/Family DVD to boot!)
Akron/Family - "Don't Be Afraid, You're Already Dead"
Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy
(09.2007, Fat Cat)
For Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy Mum found themselves paired down to only two of the original founding members. Kristin Anna Valtysdottir (aka Kria Brekken) finally followed her twin sister Gyoa's (who left the band in 2004) footsteps. Mum fixed the problem by recruiting five new members. I'm not sure such a large number was necessary for an album that still feels slightly minimalist at times, but I'm not complaining since Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy is an absolute charmer and a great addition to 2007's amazingly large list of great releases by already established bands. Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy is a warmer, more playful side of Mum. Male vocals have been added to the mix as well as a new female vocalist. Most songs have multiple vocals happening simultaneously, a stark contrast from earlier Mum work which was haunted by Kristin's ghostly whisper. Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy sounds like the soundtrack to a miniature French cirque. It's childish and innocent, gentle and mellow, reminiscent of the bands first introduction of meeting while working on a children's play. The tracks are so delicate its feels like you would break them if you could hold them in your hand. This is Mum's funnest album to date. It's delightful right down to the creative packaging. This is an album that you will definitely want to physically purchase.
Mum - "Dancing Behind My Eyelids"
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Jumping ahead, about three quarters of the way through The Arcade Fire’s set they played “My Body is a Cage”, with Win Butler singing “My body is a cage, that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key.” I’m sure these lyrics resonate with many risk averse people who just can’t bring themselves to drop all pretenses and dance. In fact it wasn’t long ago that I had such an aversion, skeptically scanning a dancing concert crowd, wondering if I was missing something, or if they were just more easily duped into having fun than I was. Either way, if James Murphy ever lamented in this way, he found the key long ago. I didn’t expect Murphy’s drums and sound loops to translate as well as they did on stage, but live, his songs are infused with a vitality that is lacking from the already energetic album versions. And even though dance music is generally most at home in a dark, strobe lit room, Murphy’s songs felt as if they were meant for the outdoor stage at thanksgiving point. His voice had a freedom that isn’t as present on the albums. And the atmosphere and energy of live instruments playing dance rock held the key for most of the crowd to dance with the one they loved, or whoever was standing next to them.
As LCD finished with one of my favorites, “New York, I Love You…” I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the show, and how quickly I had forgotten about the $52 I had just shelled out. I thought to myself that there was no way The Arcade Fire was going to top them. They didn’t, but they came close.
The Arcade Fire emerged. Four small circular screens played different clips of old 70’s religious sermons or infomercials. And there they were, dressed like some gothic troupe from the hills of Austria, ready to play nearly every song into a frenzy. And they did. Cameras placed in various spots on stage projected different members of the band on the four circular screens. By design the images were grainy and often black and white, giving the whole band an appearance of a gothic Bible belt revival. It was an odd presentation, especially with Win’s wife Regine Chasagne creepily peering into the crowd as if she were possessed (kinda freaked me out). Each of the ten members rearranged themselves throughout the set, playing different instruments and livening up their stage presence. The sound was typical for an outdoor venue, with much of the instrumentation getting lost in the mix, but The Arcade Fire effectively played their songs into their hallmark crescendo, and the crowd followed. And although there is much to be said for the intimate nature of many indie shows, of which this wasn’t one, there is also much to be said for a large crowd resonating the energy of a band on stage.
Michael Scott once said that presents were great because they were an opportunity to tell someone you like them a certain amount of dollars worth. I can now say that although I wasn’t initially happy with spending $52 dollars on a concert, I left the show liking it at least $52 dollars worth. Though I still would have preferred to have only paid $36.
(06.2007, Amish Records)
Mike Wexler, New York's frog-voiced wonder, has finally followed up his superb self titled EP with a full length debut: Sun Wheel. Continuing on his unique strain of outsider folk, Sun Wheel is a seasoned accomplishment filled with genuine songwriting genius. Wexler's heroics lie in his simplicity. Stripped down to guitar, piano and drums, Sun Wheel allows nothing to obstruct the heart of its songs – except perhaps Wexler's voice. Yet, even with his vocal eccentricities there is really nothing overtly bizarre about these recordings. The songs on Sun Wheel could have easily and happily been released along side Nick Drake. Nick Drake is actually a good reference point here. Sun Wheel, while maintain its own distinctness is on par with the mood and feel of Drake's Five Leaves Left. With eight songs filling out the whole of Sun Wheel, Wexler seems to have made a deliberate case to control his efforts into a singular statement. Sun Wheel is the most successful when Wexler allows himself to up the tempo slightly and employ drums, which that were mostly absent on his debut EP. Songs like "Cipher", "Southern Cross" and "Pneuma" accomplish this well. With Sun Wheel, Wexler has created an amiable cult classic of soft natured October folk that deserves plenty of attention.
Mike Wexler - "Cipher"
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The Boggs have come a long long way from their debut bluegrass charmer, We Are The Boggs We Are. After releasing the virtually invisible Stitches in 2003, the band spent an additional 4 years before releasing Forts. There seems to be a definite change in direction here with The Boggs' Myspace page naming Blood On The Walls, Animal Collective and Liars as musical compatriots. Where We Are The Boggs We Are harkened O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Forts is a punk pop foray similar to the Liars' debut or the criminally overlooked Je Ne Sais Quoi. The Boggs aren't the same Boggs they aren't. On Forts, The Boggs have upped their production values approximately 1,000,000 percent. The heavy-handed album opener and title track, "Forts", is a testament to their meticulous mixing for its effective kitchen sink rumble. This is possibly the most notable change in The Boggs repertoire, window shaking rhythms. The Boggs don't just ride this gimmick, however, and reducing the punk rhythms for highlight tracks like "Little Windows," "One Year On" and "The Passage". The Boggs have retained some of the inconsistencies that plagued their debut but these are fewer and farther between. Forts is a healthy improvement and exciting new direction for a band worth keeping an eye on.
The Boggs - "Forts"
The Shepherd's Dog
(09.2007, Sub Pop)
I've met many skeptics of Iron and Wine, mostly complaining that every song sounds the same, and I always tell them it's because they don't know the songs well enough and to listen a few more times until they are familiar with the individual melodies, but now I can just say "then listen to Shepherd's Dog." Sam Beam's newest release contains all the beauty that you have come to expect from him bundled in his most definitive album yet. It proves most satisfying. The tracks are most distinct this time around, but the diversity is not separative. The calm steady percussion with it's accompanied musical flourishes is sure to charm your socks clean off. One thing I have always loved about Iron and Wine is the lyrics, which are always feel intimately reflective. My favorite track is "House By The Sea," which takes about a minute to build up into Iron and Wine style. Sam Beam is the master of build-ups and you will severely be cheating yourself if you don't listen to all the tracks all the way through. "Boy With A Coin" is a definite charmer. Each track has a grace that you are sure to discover and fall head-over-heels with while inspecting The Shepherd's Dog. This album is here to prove all Iron and Wine critics of their folly.
Sorry Sub Pop is not allowing mp3 hosting for this album but you can stream a few tracks on the Iron and Wine website.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Pink Lightnin' is here to cleanse you of your sins! Preaching a searing sermon via scorching lofi guitars, rollicking drums and a reverberated cleric, Pink Lightnin's discourse is breathing new life into the hearts of men. Enhancing the list of musical projects Eli Morrison is involved in, (Wolfs, Vile Blue Shades) Pink Lightnin' is the absolute best thing he has set his hand to yet. Additionally employing the heart of Bad Brad Wheeler's blues and the sharp blistered drums of Joshua Belka, the allstar collective has created a monster prepped to swallow its listener's whole. It's not all hellfire and damnation though as with instrumental tracks like "Welcome To Pink Lightnin'" and "I'm Comin On" serve of slices of redemptive bliss before the utterly merciful choir of the album closer "Thank You For Enjoying Pink Lightnin'". Morrison, Wheeler and Belka share vocal duties while pounding through the 10 tracks of pure energy on their admittedly cheaply recorded debut. It seems that this recording method is the only way the true, beaten glory of Pink Lightnin' could be represented. It has been far too long since I have heard an honest attempt to create gritty, barn-burning rock. It has been even longer since I have heard this done this successfully. Thank you Pink Lightnin' for restoring my faith in rock n' roll.
Pink Lightnin' on Myspace
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tuesday (9/25), The New Pornographers will be spreading their new filth classily at The Depot along with Lavender Diamond and The Awkward Stage.
Wednesday (9/26), Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem will be inflating ticket prices and teaching a lesson on what a marketing monster indie rock is becoming as they infiltrate Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. I hope they have big TV screens so everyone can make out their faces.
Friday (9/28), Black Mountain will set Kilby Court ablaze with their sleazy awesomeness along with The Cave Singers who share members with the now defunct Pretty Girls Make Graves. Live pick for the week!
Friday (9/28), in further overpriced yet potentially entertaining rock, Smashing Pumpkins and The Bravery will be appeasing musical taste that didn’t advance post jr. high…buts what’s wrong with that?
Saturday (9/29), Redman at Harry O’s in Park City – word.
Behold Secret Kingdom
(05.2007, Release the Bats)
Behold Secret Kingdom will drive you nuts. This is jungle fever music if I've ever heard it. Like a pack of hallucinogenic shaman driving away evil spirits, Raccoo-oo-oon embrace a primitive tribalism set to obliterate your sense of gravity. Avoiding almost any reference points, it can be difficult to describe the tangled forest of sound that these Iowa City upstarts have grown. Partially comparable to Here Comes The Indian era Animal Collective but with much more bite - perhaps a hellishly possessed Akron/Family on the brink of a sweaty spontaneous combustion might offer up a hint. Upping the production efforts of previous releases, Behold Secret Kingdom is the CD debut (if you don't count CDRs that were reissued on CD format) for the infinitesimal awesomeness that is Raccoo-oo-oon. The new level of production fits the band well; magnifying its ferociousness. And that name! I don't know how to get around how ridiculously terrific it is. On a logical scale two o's would seem to be enough for any band, but after one dip in the fiery swamps of Behold Secret Kingdom two o's seems far too few and six a perfectly necessary amount. This is serious backwoods psychedelics of the sort that you might find in the swamps of a Louisiana witch doctor community. Behold Secret Kingdom destroys rock aesthetics and conjures the most terribly wonderful noise rock you never knew that you absolutely needed. Well, you do - this is a record for surviving zombie attacks and braving cannibalistic tribesman – you need this album, just in case. A serious contender for album of the year.
Raccoo-oo-oon – "Mirror Blanket"
Friday, September 21, 2007
North Star Deserter
This review is mostly for those new to Vic Chesnutt. The reason being is that this is my first Vic Chesnutt record though I have known of his prowess. I always cautiously avoid listening to artists who, if they are as good as their resume, require wandering decades into the past to fill a discography. That is exactly what I have feared with Chesnutt of whom his latest, North Star Deserter, is now the thirteenth release. Chesnutt's lyrics trench through similarly poetic and gruff vocal territory as Leonard Cohen, Howe Gelb or Michael Gira; joining him to a cast of characters equally prolific in their output. So now, just as I had to bite the bullet with each of these previously mentioned artists, Chesnutt has provided the impassable North Star Deserter. Employing almost the entire Constellation imprint, Chesnutt is backed here by the entire Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Hangedup, Frankie Sparo and even Guy Picciotto from Fugazi on the record. The results transition between sparsely plucked ballads to thickly orchestrated scorchers; laying the ground work for an album of epic scope. However, even with an all star cast of characters, Chesnutt’s seasoned vocals and tremendous lyrics are always at the forefront, driving each song home. Assuming that such a magnanimous production has not accompanied Chesnutt in the past (and seems to be true from what I have read), it is hard to imagine an alternate accompaniment for North Star Deserter. A solid vision brought to glorious fruitation; on North Star Deserter Chesnutt creates its own definition of beauty.
Vic Chesnutt on myspace
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Broken Social Scene Present: Kevin Drew
(09.2007, Arts & Crafts)
I think the members of Broken Social scene have decided that their solo projects will receive more attention if they slap their old band name on the cover of the albums, thus creating the "Broken Social Scene Presents" label. Kevin Drew's Spirit If... is the first of what is said to be a string of such presented projects. Each member is going solo, (sort of) receiving help in the endeavour from BSS bandmates. Thus making it difficult for you to decide what to name it in your itunes. Kevin Drew was one of the two founders of Broken Social Scene as well as the Arts & Crafts Label. Spirit If... was recorded in a hotel room in Norway. It's indie charmers feel slightly like lullabyes, washing stacked guitars and sounds over you. It's a peaceful album with non-peaceful quirky lyrics. It's laid back and charming. The songs just sort of lackadaisically float out from your speakers and into your ears. It's one of my favorite "new artists" of the year. It's appeal is broad and I doubt that anyone could really be disappointed by the album, maybe not blown away, but never disappointed.
Kevin Drew - "TBTF"
(08.2007, Paw Tracks)
Eric Copeland makes weird music. This has probably already been evidenced with his membership in NY experimental bands Black Dice and Terrestrial Tones; so, yeah, unarguably weird. On his horrifically packaged solo debut, Hermaphrodite, Copeland employs familiar freak-fest electronic soundscapes that fit snuggly between the works of his other bands. The "music" tends to disorient, confuse, excite, baffle, belittle, question, confuse again and then oddly satisfy (albeit confusingly). Hermaphrodite stays true to its title and cover art: never betraying a particular gender and most commonly achieving a whole new alien sexuality in its meanderings. Outer-space synthesizers, deep jungle percussion, manipulated vocal chants; these, among various other unidentifiable components, structure the looping madness. It all reminds me of the kind of music you might find at a rave in Mos Eisley (of Star Wars, duh). Copeland manages to avoid the potential pitfalls of the boredom/insanity that his experiments could potentially inhabit by packaging them in happy pop-sized scoops. Hermaphrodite is a terrific debut and deserves attention for its individual merits and not just for its musical relatives.
Eric Copeland - "Hermaphrodite"
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Definitive Jux is making a comeback in Hip Hop. While the rest of the world is clamoring over Kanye and 50 Def Jux has already quietly dropped 2007’s best two hip hop albums. Aesop Rock and El-P have both orchestrated legitimate comebacks in their respective albums. Below are videos from each – hip hop minus the booty shaking and plus FG-pleasing animation. Sucka what? (we are so white…)
El-P "Flyentology" featuring none other than The Trent Reznor
Aesop Rock's "None Shall Pass" paired with the stunning visuals of Jeremy Fish
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Adrian Orange has put out several releases under the moniker Thanksgiving, all of which have neither disappointed me, or blown me away. His music generally consists of untrained vocals, introspective lyrics, and simple guitar. On his latest release Adrian Orange & Her Band, he maintains the vocals and lyrics that you would come to expect, but bags the acoustic campfire strumming for as K records describes "Rogue West African prison-funk". On this outing Adrian is backed by a never ending ensemble of horn players, beat makers and backing vocalists. The result is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. The album starts out with "Window (mirror) Shadow", the songs carries an almost dance-hall feel which he maintains throughout the album. Highlights of the album are the upbeat anthem "Give to love what's love's" and "Question love answer" which finds Adrian occasionally letting out tuneless yelps over a mellow dub track. I know the combo of Adrian's harsh vocals with afro/dub music sounds about as good as peanut butter and pickles, but it works, and it works well. Adrian Orange & Her Band is one of the best albums to come out of K Records in a long while and is an amazingly solid release for such a young musician (Adrian is 21). How Adrian went from barely managing to lead himself to being able to command a full on afro-beat orchestra is beyond me. But he did it, and I'm glad he did.
(09.2007, Social Registry)
Rawwar is a diversionary tactic. Anyone as impressed as I was by Gang Gang Dance's 2005 release God's Money has been eagerly awaiting the purported full length follow up that was supposed to drop this year. And now this, Rawwar, a three song ep that just breaks twenty minute mark for length. The first track, "Nicoman," revisits the glory of God's Money but is followed by a ho-hum instrumental track and an extendedly boring mix of ambience and samples that harkens, most closely, this year’s earlier GGD diversion: Retina Riddim. I can't help but get anxious at what is going on. While the wait between album releases can give the necessary time to digest previous material and prepare for more, Gang Gang Dance is pushing the limits to forgetability. I actually spoke with Gang Gang’s drummer earlier this year about their forthcoming album when they played the Urban Lounge and he sounded pretty frustrated with their current process. Struggling with the funds necessary to record the album they wanted, they find themselves currently standing in the monetary shadows of good friends Animal Collective and Black Dice. I personally hate this stance because their production is lacking in no degree when filtered through my speakers. While Rawwar isn’t the death of Gang Gang Dance it is a serious speed bump and at $10, it is a pretty pricy fundraiser for a full length album that seems to be fading further into the horizon.
Gang Gang Dance - "The Earthquake That Frees Prisoners"
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thursday, (9/20) I thought I would put this up because there is a good chance you may have missed this: Sinead O'Connor at the Capitol Theatre. You the Pope shredding, shaved head singing Sinead that hip kids have been crushing on since ’94 (or so).
Friday, (9/21) Two Gallants brings their swaggering folk-punk tunes to Kilby Court along with another SLC visit from the wonderfully grood (good & great) Blitzen Trapper. So grood!
Saturday, (9/22) K Records compatriot, Karl Blau, will be delivering glorious experimental indie pop along with local upstart Navigator. My pick for show of the week!
9/25 – Lavender Diamond, The New Pornographers – The Depot
9/26 – Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem – Thanksgiving Point
9/28 – Black Mountain, The Cave Singers (w/ members of PGMG) – Kilby Court
9/28 – The Smashing Pumpkins – McKay Events Center (Orem)
10/4 – The Cure – E Center
10/6 – Deerhoof! – In The Venue
10/8 – Magik Markers – Urban Lounge
10/11 – Atmosphere – In The Venue
10/13 – John Vanderslice, Bishop Allen - Kilby Court
10/14 – White Rabbits – Kilby Court
10/15 – Interpol, Liars – McKay Events Center
10/17 – Laura Gigson, Johanna Kunin, Musee Mecanique, Band of Annuals – Kilby
10/19 – Phosphorescent – Kilby Court
10/20 – Pinback – The Depot
10/22 – Aesop Rock, Black Moth Super Rainbow – In the Venue
10/24 – Caribou, Born Ruffians – Urban Lounge
10/26 – Busdriver, Daedelus – In the Venue
10/26 – Tiger Army – In the Venue
10/27 – Architecture In Helsinki - In the Venue
10/27 – Glass Candy, Panther – In the Venue
10/27 – Menomena! – Kilby Court
10/21 – Little Brother, Evidence – Big Deluxe Tattoos
11/2 – Regina Spektor – In the Venue
11/3 – Velella Velella – Kilby Court
10/4 – Cryptacize (ex Deerhoof) – Kilby Court
11/4 – Octopus Project – Urban Lounge
11/7 – Do Make Say Think, Apostle of Hustle – Urban Lounge
11/9 – De La Soul – The 23rd Floor
11/13 – The Velvet Teen – Kilby Court
11/15-18 – “High School Musical” on Ice Tour – Energy Solutions Arena
11/16 – Celebration – Kilby Court
11/16 – Of Montreal, Grand Buffet – In the Venue
11/16 – Fog – Urban Lounge
12/4 – Pedro the Lion – Kilby Court
(01.2007, Bedroom Community)
Nico Muhly's debut full length contains compositional amblings through various themes and motifs. Hinting at Steve Reich, what Muhly has done here is make an orchestral album with muscle. While much of the modern classical landscape of contemporaries like Max Richter and Johann Johannsson are filled with minor-chord sob compositions, Muhly has created a flexible and organic suite of music that is a breath of fresh air amongst the stagnating frost. Muhly isn’t new to the indie music world having previously worked with Philip Glass, Bjork and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. With a pedigree of top notch production credits to his name it’s no wonder that Speaks Volumes is masterfully recorded. Crisp and resonating, Muhly has crafted an effort that is equally playful, adventurous and emotional rich. The pieces swerve from eternally building string efforts of "It Goes Without Saying" to the contemplative piano of "Quite Music" to the robust frolicking arrangements of "Pillaging Music" and back again. Speaks Volumes ends with the intensely beautiful "Keep In Touch," bearing vocal instrumentation from Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) and cementing Muhly’s efforts as one of the most realized of the year. For the most profound effect; Speaks Volumes should be played on earmuff sized headphones and allowed to completely consume your attention. One of the most stunningly gorgeous and ambiguously narrative musical experiences I’ve heard in a long time.
Nico Muhly's website
Friday, September 14, 2007
(08.2007, Robotic Empire)
I have been rightly accused of being flippant in my use of the word pop; more specifically, the use of the term "pop gem". Sorry. However, with Pygmy Lush's debut (finally!), Bitter River, I won't have to stoop to such inane, useless terminology. Pygmy Lush is the most recent incarnation from a core of musicians that seem bent on cyclically creating forward thinking new bands and then quickly disbanding them. The band contains alumni from PG. 99, City of Caterpillar and Malady, among others. With each new band has come a new genre injected with the member's punk-hardcore roots. Pygmy Lush is no different, and, if anything, even more ambitious in its punk-hardcore experimentations than any of its predecessors. In fact, Bitter River may be the product of too many ideas. The debut sees the band mining dusty, outsider folk, grindcore, post-hardcore desert rock and even a foray into ambient drone. The wild part is that even with their suffocating ambition and inability to commit whole heartedly to any particular muse, the album somehow maintains its stitching and is quite enjoyable from beginning to end. It may not match the singular, life altering vision of some of their previous works, however, Bitter River contains a lo-brow glory that is as exciting as it is disjointed and shouldn't be missed.
Pygmy Lush - "Bitter River"
Forest Gospel has been obsessing over a few film clips lately. You may have noticed that we posted a few along with the new Dirty Projectors review. La Blogoteque is a music blog from somewhere that speaks in French (I can't read French so I'm not sure where), who makes short films of bands playing live in different quaint European cities, Brooklyn and elsewhere, sometimes walking through the streets, sometimes indoors. All the clips have amazing sound quality and beautiful colors. Some great ones are these two of Sufjan playing on a dilapidated rooftop and Arcade Fire playing in an elevator. GO HERE for the rest of the films. You could probably find them on Youtube, but I have noticed that the quality seems a bit better on their site. They really are beautiful and I definitely suggest that you waste the rest of your day watching them. They have clips from Beirut, The National, Grizzly Bear, The Islands, Liars, Of Montreal, Andrew Bird, The Shins, Voxtrot, Tapes & Tapes, Architecture In Helsinki, Menomena, Kria Brekken, Xiu Xiu, Okkervil River, Au Rivoir Simone, Jens Lekman and a TON more. Go there already!
In other Internet news: The Great Lake Swimmers just released a free Internet only EP recorded from their live show at Toronto's Church of the Redeemer. It's five songs zipped into a quick little push of a button. You can download the whole thing HERE.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Have you ever been attacked by an innumerable amount of deranged robotic humming birds? Well, the experience could probably be equated to MoHa!'s sophomore album Norwegianism. Bearing their citizenship proudly, one of the first things I noticed in Norwegianism’s obligatory production credits was the albums sponsorship by the Council of Arts Norway. Makes me want to move to Norway. MoHa! Spare no time in bursting through their first few tracks on Norwegianism. Before you even have time to recognize your jaw on the floor the zombie infected, jazz duo is already on track 5 and waits until track 10 to come up for air and begin steady breathing. Norwegianism is a compact field of cringing skree and agile drumming likely inspired by imaginations of dozens of trained monkey drummers on Ritalin. Think Lightning Bolt gone handicap and hopped up on Jolt Cola or a lighter, more acrobatic Aufgehoben. It's an abstract comparison but in line with Forest Gospel's dedication to constantly compare bands to other bands, resulting in their undoubted infuriation. Ah well, what can I say? It is supposed to be a compliment. MoHa! Are definitely in league with the formerly mentioned statesmen of experimental noise rock & and are well on their way to my top ten of 2007!
MoHa! on myspace
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Proof of Youth
(09.2007, Sub Pop)
I was having a really hard time getting through this album, but I was determined. This morning I decided to try donning my oversized speaker headphones to see if they could tame the messy sound of Proof of Youth that was coming out of my PowerBook. Much to my surprise, it worked wonderfully! This album is not meant for listening to on crappy speakers. It needs some quality in order to sort out the myriad of complexities happening in any given millisecond. Even with nice headphones, Proof of Youth is still hard to get all the way trough. It feels like drinking the syrup from an entire box of melted Otter Pops and then finishing that all off with some cream soda and a huge wad of Big League Chew. If you squeezed all the energy out of each spectator at a high school football game and topped that off with full marching band and pep squad it might equal the spastic marathon that is Proof Of Youth. There are a bunch of stand-out tracks that I love, its just really difficult to listen to them all back to back, unless you are the energizer bunny. It's a great album for working out to, having an improv dance party of epic proportions with your little sister, or possibly while cleaning your house. The album saw quite a few contributors including Chuck D, The Rapper's Delight Club, and Solex. It's an enjoyable album with each of the tracks sounding great in isolation, but I'm going to have to give it a 7.5 for being as overbearing as a mother-in-law.
(08.2007, Fat Cat)
There is something sublimely refreshing about the beach in the morning. The blissful rotation of the waves on the beach along with a pleasant morning chill is just invigorating. It provides the perfect start for one of those days where your optimism and sheer joy for life can't be tainted. That's why I wouldn't mind living on the Oregon coast. The first track on No Age's debut full length, Weirdo Rippers, captures this sentimentality with an extended intro of sampled waves doused with white noise; the careening water foreshadowing an album you just can't help but completely and joyfully embrace. A ramshackle duo of major-chord noise punk swimming in salty, ambient waves of fuzz, No Age is the perfect summer band for rejects. Despite their forays into extended avant-noise intros, No Age bustle through the 11 tracks on Weirdo Rippers in just over a half hour, leaving you salivating for more. Weirdo Rippers actually bears a lot of comparative elements to Deerhunter's Cryptograms, just with an increased playfulness and reckless abandon along with a much shorter attention span. The real secret to No Age's noisy onslaught is an unnerving penchant for spectacular hooks. Weirdo Rippers dishes them out continuously for its short duration, making them just off kilter enough to be endlessly playable. Pure sugary deliciousness that is wonderfully infectious.
No Age on Myspace
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
(01.2007, No Fun Productions)
Religious Knives is something of a experimental noise super group, pairing percussionist Nate Nelson of Mouthus with MikeBerstein and Maya Miller of Double Leopards. Remains, their first full length CD release, is an assemblage of previously released odds and ends from multiple formats similar to Axolotl's Chemical Theatre. The band's output equals out to a pretty straight forward amalgamation of their sister bands, mixing Double Leopards' heavy spectralisms with Mouthus' junky, trash-compactor delivery. The tracks play out like an ancient Mayan machine where the components don't quite mesh and the gears seem to grind. While this sounds all good for a noise/drone act, the allusion isn't completely favorable. There is something just slightly off that doesn't allow for another Halve Maen or Long Salt. The musical marriage isn't as awry as, say, late 90's rap-rock or anything, but for a genre teetering on a hit or miss aesthetic, a miss can be down right torturous to wade through. Fortunately, the pedigree of this faithful troupe isn't a fluke and Remains manages to keep its head above water. Constantly devious yet slightly apathetic, Remains is for noise enthusiasts only.
(09.2007, Dead Ocean)
I am reviewing this album in the wake of The Dirty Projectors super superb live show last week with supporter Yacht. Let me just preface this with my absolute adoration of that show. Dave Longstreth and Co. (two female backing vocalists and a nuts/incredible new drummer) absolutely tore the house down. The crew played mostly new songs from Rise Above while dipping into last years strong New Attitude EP. It is pretty hilarious that most of the people in attendance probably had little idea that most of the songs being played were, in fact, inspired by Black Flag. That’s right, I can't avoid mentioning it, Rise Above is a "re-imagination" of Black Flag's influential punk rock opus Damaged. For a band whose last full length album was an ode to Don Henley, the new inspiration is evidence of a new chapter to the Dirty Projector's sound (as is common of all of Longstreth's works). At the same time, for someone who translates Don Henley into hyper indie glitch opera, Longstreth's Rise Above isn't anything close to its originally imagined counterpart and still traceably The Dirty Projectors. Rise Above carries dueling choral acrobatics from the new Dirty Projector girls (who also handle bass and an additional guitar on the record) which wind around Dave Longstreth's signature elastic vocal chords. The instrumentation, though straight forward guitar-guitar-bass-drums, requires the standard string of abstract genre qualifiers that attend the description of any Dirty Projectors release. My personal equation goes something like this: soft baked seventies sleaze rock as served by a gypsy choral group with manic ADHD. Obviously there aren't enough good descriptors. Everything about this record is inherently 'Dirty Projectors' except two thing: accessibility and consistency. While past albums have been unquestionably ingenious none have transpired to be completely listenable from front to back. I can't even really identify why this was the case for previous albums and not Rise Above but it's the cold fact none the less. Rise Above is a peak among peaks and the perfect addition to an already beautiful back catalog. Dave Longstreth and The Dirty Projectors have gone the extra mile to make something truly essential in 2007. (Make sure to check the videos below. Absolutely beautiful!)
Monday, September 10, 2007
Wednesday (9/12) Okkervil River and Damien Jurado are most probably going to sell out Kilby Court so I would get your tickets early. This show will be the bees knees fo' sho'.
Okkervil River- Savannah Smiles
Thursday (9/13) the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will bring their fashionable black clad Los Angeles shoegazing rock worship to In The Venue. Prepare for some saucy, apathetic glamorousness. See this show… Unless you are going to see this show:
Thursday (9/13) at the Urban Lounge with Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dimmer. This one is too embarrassing to comment on. Sorry, again.
Brian Jonestown Massacre's Website
Friday (9/14) Casual and Pep Love of the seminal indie hip hop collective Hieroglyphics will be rocking Uprock. Essential show for hip hop heads.
Casual On Myspace
Pep Love on Myspace
Friday (9/14) SLUG's Localized series will host non-local Bob Log III along with Salt Lake City's newest phenom: Pink Lightnin'…seriously, these dudes bluesy noise rock is nuts (check the Myspace!). All this opened by Electric Space Jihad.
Bob Log III on Myspace
Pink Lightnin' on Myspace
Saturday (9/15) In The Venue will host watered down Interpol imitators Editors along with Biffy Clyro and Ra Ra Riot. Yes? No?
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
(07.2007, Merge Records)
It’s muggy. Cloudy, and yet still hot as all get out, and two lines from Spoon’s most recent album seem extremely apt. Brit Daniels sings in “Black Like Me” that “street tar and summer do a job on your sole” (soul? The preceding line of the verse refers to his walking boots, but either interpretation appears to be appropriate to me). I felt street tar and summer doing a job on my soul today as I walked home. However, before I long for cooler days, just remember, “the winter gets cold in ways you always forget.” This admonition from “Rhythm & Soul” couldn’t be truer. And so, we return to the album, and Spoon in general. As with the seasons, there is always the temptation to want an album to be other than what it is, all the while forgetting to appreciate what you actually have in front of you. It is easy to curse the sun for bearing down on the back of your neck, but keep in mind that “the winter is cold in ways you always forget.” And in that same vein, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga isn’t as inventive as Kill the Moonlight, or as catchy and cutting as Girls Can Tell, and if anything it is simply an extension of Gimmie Fiction, but don’t let that dissuade you from the fact that it is an excellent, while not great, album. Spoon has long become a catchall band, and by this I mean that they seemingly can catch all listeners, and this album is a good example. Though your indie purists may listen, and knowing all of the critical acclaim, wonder with a touch of resentment, what’s the big deal? And your teeny poppers may listen without finding that gem of a radio single, but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone with an out and out aversion to Spoon’s sound. When you’re going on a first date, carpooling with people you don’t know, riding with parents, or young kids, and aren’t certain of their musical preferences, Spoon is always appropriate. In a way, that makes this album unremarkable, but in another way, that is extremely remarkable, and possibly more difficult to accomplish than creating an envelope pushing, abstract, or pop culturally sensational album that goes ten times platinum. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is solid, and a paragon of quality production. What it lacks in standouts, it makes up for in consistency. Having pretty high expectations of Spoon it is easy to be disappointed with their most recent album, but taken on its own it is worth listening too, though not necessarily essential. “It can’t all be wedding cake”, but this album can be, and is, like those finger foods that everybody will eat but don’t usually crave.
- Spruce Lee
Friday, September 7, 2007
Let's Talk About It EP
(05.2007, Self Released)
GvB won't stop posting about White Denim. I listened to a posted track months ago and began harboring a mild interest. It seems that most Austin folk believe this to be their best local secret. So when I saw that Slowtrian had Let's Talk About It I decided to feed my curiosity. What I found was incessantly more charming and enthralling than I had originally believed was just going to be another collectors item. Let's Talk About It is five noisy layered garage tracks, with endless energy and reckless rhythm and blues. Its loud and rowdy punk infused indie rock, reminiscent of Salt Lake Cities own Vile Blue Shades. It's meant to be played loud so that the heaviness can really take effect. It's a really enjoyable EP with great art. It's only available in a delightful cd/7" combo package.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The Tenants of Balthazar’s Castle, AKA Michael Biggs, is Salt Lake City’s premiere avant-noise junky. As the purveyor of last years down right nuts release of Terror in Twelve Parts, Biggs ups the ante with an EP sized disc of preposterously high quality. True to its title, the whole of A Capella was created by loops of Biggs’ voice alone (including some seeming manipulation). Following in the tradition of similar vocal experiments by Lichens and Grouper, Biggs has built a haunting and wholly original piece of art that tattoo’s itself to your subconscious, twisting and turning like a dark, misty forest. Spanning three tracks titled numerically by order, A Capella stops at just over twenty minutes, leaving you drooling for more. In fact, you may as well burn A Capella repeatedly onto a new CDr (you can get it on there at least three times) to save you the time you are undoubtedly going to take going back to track one and pushing play. Biggs has turned The Tenants of Balthazar’s Castle from a ridiculously named novelty to an essential player in Salt Lake’s avant underground, and is currently boasting a perfect report card for his expanding discography.
The Stage Names
You know those people you seem to bump into everywhere you go but never really want to talk to. You know them too well to just walk by with a nod of acknowledgment, but not really well enough to have any interests in common, or points of conversation. And they ask a standard like, “How was your weekend?” And you say, “Good,” in that short, slightly higher pitched tone, that does not lend to any further explanation. That is about how I feel about the new Okkervil River album. You ask, “How is the new Okkervil River album?” And in that tone that doesn’t really lend to any further explanation, I say, “good,” and not because I don’t want to talk to you, but because I really don’t have anything to explain about my answer. Is The Stage Names bad? Not in the least. Is it great? Not nearly. It’s much better that mediocre, but not quite good enough to get really enthusiastic about. It’s just good, in a way that doesn’t lend to extensive explanation. The songs are nicely written and pleasantly sung, but there is nothing markedly exceptional about it. But that’s a cop out, so here comes a contrived examination of its merits, demerits, or full disadulations.The album is end heavy, with its best songs coming after the mid mark. The first few songs begin with promise, but generally don’t live up to initial hopes. They linger on the edge of reckless abandon, while never quite obtaining the energy such abandon would give them. The fourth track, “Savanna Smiles,” would be a nice instrumental segue into the second half of the album, were it instrumental, but its not. Too bad. And with track five, the energy emerges, and interestingly enough, it arrives in restraint. “The Plus Ones” succeeds in catching and holding your attention like a good movie, and it does so with an earnestness that is lacking from its energy infused predecessors on this album. The second half of The Stage Names rests more on melody and reveals more of the intricate lyrics that are lost on the frenetic first half. And in the final track, the album fittingly ends by converting into the melody of “Sloop John B.” And so there it is. The album is good.
Okkervil River - "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe"
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Scribble Mural Comic Journal
(02.2007, Notenuf Records)
So I have a million hokey comparative illustrations for this one so bare with me. A Sunny Day In Glasgow is the eventual teaming of Ben Daniels and his identical twin sisters Robin and Lauren. On their debut, Scribble Mural Comic Journal, the group has resurrected My Bloody Valentine's atmospherics into a ghostly, yet upbeat indie pop gem. This record really should be receiving a lot more attention. ASDIG is playing in the same ballpark of hype-hogs Deerhunter, but just without the punky, jagged edges (and bizarre stage presence). Scribble Mural Comic Journal contains is absorbing haze of carefree ambient pop songs that the band seems to have sent swimming in Christian Fennesz’s washing machine. The songs have incredible roaming room, wandering like phantoms underneath the shear weight of beautiful sound. It is as the songs peak through that you begin to realize just how stunning these deeply buried songs are. The album isn’t completely rooted in yesteryear apparitions, employing a healthy dose of upbeat electronics, I notices hints of Prefuse 73-like synths more than once. I really feel pretty bad about this review. If there is one thing that I want to resolve right here it is that ASDIG are far more than an accumulation of its influences and one of the most pleasant surprises of 2007 thus far.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow - The Best Summer Ever
An original skeptic of Caribou, (a.k.a. Manitoba, a.k.a. Dan V. Snaith) it took me a few weeks to finally listen to Andorra. Now I am wondering why I robbed myself of a few good weeks of listening to this enchanting album. In Andorra, Snaith has calmed the electronica, upped the pop, and perfected the full instrumentals. Violins, harps, triangles, and clangy percussion make the 60's drug psych-pop absolutely mesmerizing. It will soothe your cerebral cortex, put your cares to sleep, and cause you to dream of glistening lush organic shapes (especially "Irene".) Colorful magic is woven throughout these catchy melodies. It contains beauties that can easily be overlooked on first listen. Play this all the way through, twice, for a truly hypnotic and delightful experience.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above"
Thursday (9/6) The Depot is hosting Snoop Dogg. What more can be said?
Friday (9/7) Kilby Court is hosting a powerhouse local show with the return of Loom from their recent tour along with The Lionelle, InCamera and Chaz Prymek! This will be a really really good show.
Oh, and Friday's Kilby show will be competing with "Weird Al" Yankovic at the Utah State Fair. It's a toss up now. Seriously.
Saturday (9/8) Kilby will feature more locals including the Lionelle again playing a solo acoustic set along with Patter Stats, The Future of The Ghost, Standing Solo and Reubens Accomplice. Sounds like a full night…
(08.2007, Millpond Records)
Luke Temple's sophomore album Snowbeast is a measured change from his 2005 debut, marked by endless subtleties and approvingly distancing himself from Starbucks' CD racks. Continuing his streak for seering openers, Temple lets loose on his first track with the near-perfect "Saturday People" showing why he is such a unique voice in the current overflow of music's modern landscape. Temple quickly dips into his most comfortable space of slow motion minor chords on "Serious" before transitioning into a new quirkiness. The songs are obsessively layered with innumerable odds and ends adding up to minimalistic folk/pop gem. Temple's addition of all sorts of instrumental oddities to his repertoire on Snowbeast (including the introduction of some token electronics) pays off immensely. However, it is his restraint that takes center stage as he limits some of these instruments to a single staccato note, given the track. It is this attention to minute detail that makes Snowbeast a delicate grower that continues to charm on repeated listens. Snowbeast isn't one to wrangle in critical stargazing but is humble and dynamic enough to become an essential in any appreciator of music's collection.
Luke Temple - "Saturday People"