Monday, October 31, 2005
This feels like a million years after the fact but what can I say, I don’t get all the records I review for free and I can only afford to buy so many at a time. My second excuse is this: I like but don’t LOVE Bloc Party so the remix record wasn’t on my list to buy at all.
Despite all of these roadblocks “Silent Alarm Remixed” found its way into my home after a more recent trip to the record store and gosh darn it PFM was right.
It isn’t just good, it is REALLY good.
Bloc Party doesn’t need one more review to applaud them but for those of you who didn’t count yourself as a BP fan before, this cd might change your mind too.
Oh yeah...the secret bonus track on this US edition is of "Tulips " by Minotaur Shock.
***This comes from Dntel's my space page AKA Jimmy from Postal Service:
Saturday, September 10, 2005
hello again,oh before i begin, the postal service website is up: www.postalservicemusic.neti got a url for dntel but haven't worked on it yet. so the new dntel record is finally getting close to finished. if the last couple vocalists come through i think i could finish in the next couple months. it'll be called Dumb Luck and i have some paintings i had some chimpanzees paint which will probably make their way into the artwork. i think it will include 9 songs, all with vocals by different singers including me, andrew broder, jenny lewis, conor oberst, valerie trebeljahr and markus acher, and mia doi todd. there'll be a couple more singers but i don't want to say anything until i actually have their parts recorded.i'm also finishing up a James Figurine record (the working title is Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake but still not sure) which is sort of poppy techno stuff with some vocals (mostly by me). John Tejada's been helping me out with that one, mixing and adding sounds and stuff. i think david figurine will be providing the artwork and maybe some sounds and meredith figurine should be contributing some vocals, although she just moved to canada so we'll see if i can find her in time.there are also some other little things coming out: a dntel 7" on AIM records, a dntel instrumental on The Sound of LA comp from plug research, a James Figurine remix of Goldmine Gutted by Bright Eyes, a dntel remix of Merge by Grizzly Bear, and a Postal Service remix of Mushaboom by Feist. hmm i think that's it maybe. i feel like i'm forgetting something but i guess i can post another message here if i think of it...
***A friend tipped me off to this little bit:
Menomena "Under an Hour" is a soundtrack to modern dance. Menomena wrote and recorded 3 tracks for 3 modern dance pieces in conjunction with the T:BA Arts Festival 2004, Portland Oregon. Ships November 8 2005.
***From the Jagjaguwar site :
WILDERNESS are remaining extremely active, with shows throughout the east coast and the midwest in the next few months. Highlights include shows with CERBERUS SHOAL and EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY. Also, Wilderness are just now putting finishing touches on the second full-length album, not-yet-titled, to come out on Jagjaguwar in late spring. Being completed at Silver Sonya, Will Goode of Wilderness has reported the process so far has been "magical". Expect a full North American tour (as well as European tour) in proximity to its release date.
***Who are Head Wound City and why should I care?
Jordan does the singing. (blood brothers)
Gabe plays drums. (locust)
Cody does guitar stuff. (blood brothers)
So does Nick. (yeah yeah yeahs )
JP plays bass. ( Locust)Most everybody sings along.
An EP ( 7 songs = approx. 10 minutes) by this superstar side-project band will be coming out on Three Once G. Slated for November 8th.
***If you were wondering what Mark Robinson, Mr. Teen Beat himself was up to too:
Mmmm... Pop Musik
A brand new radio show hosted by DJ Mark Robinson.
New Wave and New Romantic, Punk and Rock and Roll.
From Altered Images to Zick Zack.
This hour-long program airs every Friday night at midnight (offically Saturday morning)
in the Boston area on WMBR 88.1 FM.
But wait! -- you say, Friday nights at midnight??!
1. out partying heartily.
2. I'm in bed by 9.
3. hey, I live in Saskatchewan!
Through the magic of modern technology you can listed to 'Mmm Pop Musik'
anytime and/or anywhere your heart desires.
*** I can hardly wait for the John Yoko 7" to hit American soil in December. This band combines the talented forces of Valerie from Lali Puna and Markus of Notwist. You can check it out here.
*** Posted today on FatCat's website:
Animal Collective fans should go check out the BBC Collective website, which has recently posted a filmed interview with the band, as well as a feature, and live footage of two tracks - 'Banshee Beat' and a new song that they've incorrectly titled as 'The Purple Bottle'. Both tracks and interview were filmed at last week's amazing sell-out show at London Scala. Head for the 'music section' of the site and you'll find it all.Whilst they were in London, the band also recorded a 'One World' session for BBC Radio One. The session will be aired tomorrow evening - November 1st - on Huw Stephens' show, and features 4 tracks - a radical reworking of Good Lovin Outside, from the 'Sung Tongs' album, plus three brand new tracks. The show goes out at 11:00 pm, on 97 - 99 FM.
*** I can't stop telling people how much I love this band. Bound Stems prove you don't need a kagillion members to sound like Broken Social Scene. I am going to let you in on a secret, I like this band better.
*** and one more thing, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I’ve kept records for worse reasons but my general rule is if there is even one track I like, I keep it. This is why I still have records by Daisy Chainsaw, The Rondelles, Hole, The Darling Buds, and The Primitives.
I will keep Metric’s Live It Out for two reasons; “Empty” and “Poster of a Girl.” The other songs are okay but if they didn’t come attached to the duo I like, I would have traded back the disc the same day I purchased it.
Its impossible to predict how a band or their records will stand the test of time but I suspect if you know anything about the bands I mentioned at the beginning of this review, you will understand a little more about Metric. Without sounding exactly like any of those bands I am willing to bet money that after 10 years Metric will be this generation’s answer to pseudo popular fringe girl fronted pop bands of yesteryear.
By mainstream standards Live It Out is a commercial radio friendly record which could easily appeal to the same people who love the little girl pouting vocals made so famous by No Doubt . The big difference there is Gwen Stefani writes lyrics that read like a page from a diary of a 5th grade girl while Emily Haines of Metric appears to be aiming for something closer to senior honor student looking to major in English next year.
As it stands now Metric will be a band that will end up on one of my DJ sets sandwiched between an obscure French pop 60’s song and something by Berlin and then will disappear in the black hole of my collection until a few years from now when another flashy alterna-pop girl fronted band falls into my hands and I need to find a band to compare them to. Metric is a happy addition to this cycle but groundbreakingearthshatteringawesome they are not.
PFM offers a harsh but not necessarily incorrect review of Live It Out and while I was originally going to offer a higher rating I then realized the grim ratio of 2 great songs on top of 8 so-so ones.
A 4.2 it is.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
The PFM negatives:
“Somewhere in the middle a lack of variety creates a dull patch, but even the more homogenized tracks slip by on the upped energy as well as subtle, virtuostic additions to the violence.”
“But even with added hooks and sharper flavors, LB's previous release, Wonderful Rainbow, still possesses more variety and a certain je nais se squall.”
The PFM positives
“most well-oiled album: song-by-song it chugs into rockier Van Halen, Fucking Champs, or Orthrelm territory”
“Hypermagic Mountain breathes like a battering ram: The drums are gargantuan and, conversely, the vocals fold nicely into the buzz.”
“Lightning Bolt make room for all their key ingredients: brief space excursions, lessons in dynamics, monster riffs, semi-humorous politicos, sugar-dosed energy. Everything you'd expect to find is here and in amped form-- festering bass (with that slippery balloon sound) and machete-slinging, crazy-climber drums.”
"Like the best of immediate-minded rockers, LB kindly deliver."
Does this = a 7.3 or should it be higher? I personally would have guessed something closer to an 8 or better but I suppose that is splitting hairs. It’s a damn fine record and rates in a test of strength not by ringing the bell but by blowing it to fucking bits.
This PFM review wins me over otherwise for a couple of reasons: The Small Factory shout out, the coterie of puppies line, and the Whitehouse reference, a band I know only one other person to be familiar with.
Ps: I have read several reviews that mistakenly call Lightning Bolt a doom band and this duo is WAY too spazzy and chaotic for such a label. Their Hello My Name Is tag should read electrostatic discharge. I wonder how I can turn that into a Halloween costume?
This is my very first non pitchfork review and my rating system will be simple. The review will be in RED if I love it. MUSTARD if it leaves me feeling luke warm. And BLUE if it leaves me cold.
I can’t explain why I am attracted to a record where 2/3 of it sounds like bees tossing and turning on an organ bed with a rattlesnake pacing before it. There is a new genre radiating from its core of repetitive drone, something lighter than the traditional sound of doom. Posi-doom? I don’t know what else to call it without sounding like a ridiculous description from a Relapse mail order catalog. Maybe it has something to do with my affinity for two-piece bands. Maybe it’s the melody and notes that aren’t really there but my imagination fills in the blanks with. I can’t tell if new layers of sound reveal themselves with each listen or if I am genuinely making them up. In fact after 6 listens, this record hasn’t sounded the same twice and at the same time I am certain many people would listen to this padded mattress of thick tones and hear something that irks them like a car alarm with no owner to silence it in sight.
A mere 3 tracks clocking in under 30 minutes, I believe it was “Freedom Towards Death” that helped be decide this is my favorite Growing release to date, continents (and contents) away anything they have done for Kranky Records. Vocals, vocals where there have been none before; there is a lovely sadness buried but evaporating upward that I can only compare to a more stripped down but no less sonic Jesu.
Posi-doom. I hold the rights to that name but you may borrow it at will, ha! And while the subject is still fresh, file this under a descendent of Earth.
Friday, October 28, 2005
*TONIGHT! FRI 10.28*
@ The Elston Loft [2252 N Elston @ Honore]
10 PM $5
Halloween Party / Legal Defense Fundraiser for Nate Kinsella of Make Believe
Birdshow [Ben Vida of Town & Country]
DJ Sets by Wayne Montana, Damon Locks & Major Taylor
Oh yeah: BYOB and costumes are encouraged.
I wrote myself a little note during the Death Cab show to look up the history of lighters being ignited and raised during a ballad and after a little searching around I found myself the answer on line as well as a little article about cell phones replacing the lighter at rock concerts.
Thank you Jewish World Review
Q: What's the significance of holding up lighters at concerts? I was reminiscing the other day about all the rock concerts I went to in the `70s. During certain songs, almost everyone in the audience held up a lighter. Why? — Beth King, Jacksonville, Fla.
A: Beth, it's entirely possible you and I crossed paths during that mellow period. Maybe it was at a concert featuring the Doobie Brothers or the Eagles or ... (I'm not really sure I should admit this, but) Styx.
A guy reading this on his deck in Florida is going, "Hey, I saw the Doobies!" And a Kentucky mom with two kids in high school is shouting from her kitchen table, "I went to three Eagles concerts in the `70s!" And a whole lotta hip young people having brunch on a patio in California are sputtering, "He paid MONEY to go to see STYX!?!"
Well, none of these acts — not even Styx — was responsible for showing rock's "lighter" side. (Get it?) And you kids can't get too cocky. It wasn't one of your newfangled acts of today like Sixty Cents, either.
It was Melanie, the huggable singer-songwriter from the `60s and `70s. She gave us the upheld lighter. Because of her, a disjointed concert crowd can be turned into one giant Bic clique. Every encore a butane refrain.
How it happened is a great story, which she told me recently on the phone. In 1969, Melanie Safka was a kid from Astoria, N.Y., who had been playing coffeehouses. But she had a hit with "Look What They Done To My Song Ma." And somehow, she managed to get invited to play Woodstock.
She was not exactly a top act.
She didn't even have a backstage pass. She had to hang out — WAY off in the mud — in a little tent. Now and then somebody would come by and yell "Melanie, you're on next!" And she'd get all fidgety. Then, they'd come back and say "Never mind. Someone else is next." This went on all day.
She developed a nervous cough. As she wondered if she'd ever go on, the sun went down. It began to rain.
THEN they sent her on.
To get to the stage, she had to walk across a plank. Like in a pirate movie. "I felt like I was going into a dark abyss," she told me.
She inched her way across the plank and found herself alone onstage in front of a half-million people. She was 22 years old.
"I was TERRIFIED," she said. Her fear was so palpable, she did the only thing she could do. She sat on a stool, and played.
And the most amazing thing happened.
The dark hillside in front of her began to slowly, elegantly light up. Tens of thousands of tiny flames began to appear.
"The announcer had said something — probably something dumb, maybe something inspirational — about how everyone should light a candle to keep away the rain," she said. "And they passed out candles. To me, it looked like the entire universe was lighting up."
The next day she wrote about the experience, composing her signature song, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)." It sold a million records and the candle ritual became a routine at her shows.
Except fire marshals didn't find this groovy. Sometimes she even had to sign a contract that she wouldn't sing the song. (So she'd sing "Brand New Key" instead.)
But the Woodstock moment had been established. It was "flame on!" as a concert standard. All that was needed to cement this scene into rock ritual was a few decades of guys with mullets holding up lighters and bellowing "FREEBIRD!"
Here is a little bit about the transition to cell phones.
Have a good weekend.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
"When one reads about Dylan Carlson and his Earth project, the signs point to him being an over-hyped amateur. Releasing albums consisting of repetitive riffs or tones with little or no drumming and being the former drug buddy of Kurt Cobain each register on my hack radar. Yet, over the years I've been pleasantly impressed with his minimalist sound sculptures-- none more so than on Hex, one of a pair of Earth releases this year."
I can't even dignify this review with a genuine response. In fact after I read the opening paragraph I stopped reading so I could type this. The over-hyped amateur comment proves who the real hack is here. Drug buddy of Kurt ? What a disgustingly trite throwaway jab. This isn't a Lemonheads song nor is it all Dylan should be remembered for.
Earth first formed in 1990, released its first record in 1991, and there was NOTHING around at the time to draw a comparison to beyond maybe the Melvins. Sorry but if it weren't for Earth labels like Southern Lord wouldn't exist or have a roster.
Ignorance is fucking bliss and is apparently trying to write reviews for Pitchfork.
Please Read this review instead. (Dusted)
Or this (Splendid)
Or this (lamgoat)
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
It only seems appropriate that the first and only time I met Cage ended in what I will politely call a crash and burn with a nightcap called blackout.
Cage in tow with El-P and I were probably not in need of more drinks but with ninja like moves I hijacked a full bottle of Jack Daniels for the three of us to privately consume at an industry party. My memory begins to splinter here but I recall being in awe of El-P collecting backgammon sets and feeling genuinely concerned about this very quiet large man who looked like he could play a bad guy on America’s Most Wanted or was in fact one of America’s Most Wanted. It is terrible to label a man I had only heard rumors of being beyond troubled but my first impression was indeed of the kind of darkness I associate with shadows. This wasn’t a ghost of a man; this was a black cloud of a man. (I will also add without revealing too much personal history and in character assassination fairness, it takes one to know one.) The party train burst into flames somewhere around here, we shared a car back to the hotel, went our separate ways, aaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddddddddd fade.
Black is mostly what I remember from there.
There were rumblings immediately upon Cage finishing his record for Definitive Jux that it was 100% the kind of masterpiece that defines definitive and would bring the label another best in show trophy for their record shelf. I was trying to imagine what this new Cage cd would sound like considering the special guests varied from Daryl Palumbo of Glass Jaw to Jello Biafra to James M. of Yo La Tengo but all I could be certain of was the themes would be dark as tar.
I realized today that my favorite records of 2005 pile doesn't feature one full length hip-hop release so it was about time I added one my collection.
Cage 2005 has slimmed down his husky thug appearance and adopted a indie rock shag cut which brings him closer to looking like Pete Dougherty's older brother than the dude your parents prayed you never associated with. Anyone can update a look but more importantly these changes coincide nicely with the man who has exorcized some of his demons and come out the other side with a record highlighting a serious metamorphous.
The combined skills of people like Shadow, RJD2, Camu, Blockhead, EL-P, and Aesop lay down a bed of remarkable talent behind Cage but what makes Hell’s Winter powerful is the one thing nobody but Cage can bring; the story of Cage as told by Cage. His decision to rap about his unbelievably grim past no less in a completely uncensored form, brings the idea of bloodletting to a whole new level. The Get Up Kids never had mysterious blood marks on their walls to emote about. That’s the kind of sickness and internal venom black metal bands pretend to experience. The real Cage, the one who I am not completely convinced has made it to the other side yet has survived to tell his story and has a creative audio outlet that also clearly doubles as a (his) life saving device. This kind of channeled productive rage is a therapists dream and should be the bible to every troubled kid who feels hate towards a life they are too young to help shape or control.
A ravaged personal history on display combined with Cage’s red carpet list of collaborators could have potentially equaled a massive hip-hop makeover, something the genre like any other could stand to have every now and then but as PFM points out the cliché themes of calling out enemies, money, violence, city shout outs, and crude sexual anecdotes take an otherwise daring record back a few steps. This is where I personally face a moral dilemma. Do I have the right to apply my PC indie rock lyric standards to a different genre that holds a totally different set standards? Probably not she says stepping off her high horse.
This may be a bizarre point of reference but I consider the new and improved Cage on par with filmmaker Lars Von Trier (I know from reading Cage interviews he would prefer I say Kubrick but I am sticking to Lars) Stylistically I know both artist’s work will suffocate me with images that leave nothing to the imagination. The picture keeps rolling, the words keep coming, the brutality of despicable moments is never softened. They both keep firing directly at you and the horrors of humanity unfold until the entire story is told.
Not only does this require a particular mind set for me to handle it, the real down side is I can’t take it in over and over again. I like both artist’s work but there are only so many times I can feel emotionally destroyed by Breaking the Waves or Hell’s Winter. As a person who pays close attention to lyrics it is nearly impossible for me to tune out Cage’s graphic stories. Exposing human nature at its most carnal doesn’t make for easy listening, I don’t care how interesting the beats and samples are. For those who aren’t as hyper-sensitive you can ignore my knee-jerk reaction but bring a flashlight, it’s good and dark in there.
I salute the 8.3 PFM rating but the bulk of their review skates over too many of Hell’s Winter stats for my taste rather than explaining the blood and guts of what really makes this record.
Cage and Hell's Winter is all about the blood and guts.
All you need to do to win is:
1) Be the first to post a comment in this comments section naming the cd you would like to win.
2) If your comment appears first then you are the winner of that cd.
3) Then email us at email@example.com your name and address as well as the cd you won.
4) We mail you the cd and a very special tuningforkmedia thank you membership card. This will totally get you laid or laughed at, hard to say. There is no cost or creepy catch. This is a straight up something for nothing.
All we ask is don't be selfish and pick just one title please. Oh and if you don't like the music pass it on to a friend. Selling it will cause you to go to indie rock hell which might equate to being a Pitchfork intern or something.
Up for grabs /format is all cds:
Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow - on XL Recordings - promo cd has no cover art and press quote on back WE HAVE A WINNER !!!
Franz Ferdinand - You could have it much better - Epic WE HAVE A WINNER !!! PLEASE EMAIL ME YOUR ADDRESS.
Acid mother temple & the cosmic inferno - Iao Chant from the cosmic inferno - Ace Fu Records WE HAVE A WINNER !!!
Chevreuil - Sport - Sickroom records - the label likens them to Hella or Don Cab. Um, you tell me if that's what you hear. WE HAVE A WINNER !!!
Thanks and good luck!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Pre Game Show: Rain and cold.
The show part 1: Stars
In Canada 6 members are the new power trio.
Seriously why does it take 6 members to sound more like a three piece?
I like the Sundays. I like The Wedding Present. I like the Smiths. I even like the Stars okay on record but live... not so much. There was a lot of PERSONALITY happening on stage all at once, almost too much. Imagine 4 people all trying to piss on the same fire hydrant to prove it’s their territory and two people standing more like bookends that occasionally hand gesture or bend at the knees. If they were age 12 – 16 I could imagine them being an awkward but cuddly house band on Nickelodeon. This might also be why the young Death Cab crowd also seemed to adore the Stars antics and music.
Thanking the audience often + saying your hometown, their hometown, the headliner’s band name or the state the venue resides in will gain wild applause each and every time.
Either the moniters on stage were giving them trouble, the sound man was sleeping on the job or the band doesn’t have great pitch and timing live.
Headlining band LOVING opening band coupled with opening band LOVING headlining band = a love fest on stage and that posi-connection is transferred to the audience. Everybody wins.
The show part 2: Death Cab For Cutie:
I have never seen bartenders looking so bored. Death Cab fans are not the drinking type and for the most part totally not old enough to imbibe.
The lighting crew for Death Cab need to reconsider the par can positions. Either Ben sweats A LOT or every time he sits at the keyboard the light behind him is slowly cooking him. I’ve been going to shows for 20 years and I have never seen a band member so drenched in sweat. The poor man looked like he had gone swimming.
Looking down from the balcony the sea of ignited cell phones looked a little something like massive fireflies hovering over the heads of the crowd.
Kudos to the 20 something year old dude with a well trimmed beard and smoking a pipe. Way to work the school teacher angle. You win.
Clove cigarettes are never a good idea, no less is public places where strangers will point and laugh at you for smoking them.
Here is the set list:
Marching Bands of Manhattan, We Laugh Indoors, The New Year, Title and Registration, Soul Meets Body, Summer Skin, Photobooth, President of What?, Crooked Teeth, Different Names for the Same Thing, A Movie Script Ending, Company Calls, Company Calls Epilogue, What Sarah Said, We Looked Like Giants, The Sound of Settling
Encore: I Will Follow You Into the Dark, 405, Prove My Hypotheses
You can listen to the show which was broadcasted live on NPR here.
Senators have VIP pull at the 9:30 club so their staff who don’t know the bands playing there but were looking for something do that night suddenly had something “cool” to do. (This was in fact a conversation happening next to me in the VIP section) When Senator's assts. weren’t doing shots and talking loudly over the music they were busy texting on their BlackBerrys. They did scream some clever comments showing interest and support for the drum techs and guitar techs but the show itself must have not been as captivating because they left about 4 songs in. I don't have friends in political circles so maybe they have to go be at work the next day at some ungodly hour. Does the goverment sleep? Wait, don't answer that.
Jason McGerr who looks like a little like Rob Corddry from the Daily Show plays like a drum machine with soul. Reliable, steady, and unbelievably just right. I am talking the kind of tasteful reserved drummering style typically found in a compact jazz ensemble. He wins best player on the stage all night.
Show highlight was the addition of Ben on a tiny jazz drum kit call and responding to Jason at the end of "We Looked Like Giants"
I have never seen a terrible Death Cab show. They charm the crowd, are sloppy in a way that always works for them and it’s as if their mistakes make the audience love them that much more. The less perfect they are the more the guy next door they become . Not only are they the kind of band you could take home to your liberal parents house for Thanksgiving but are so painfully down to earth that hating them feels like a crime.
One the flipside I have never seen a Death Cab show that has transformed me into a mega-fan. They just make me miss the early days of Built To Spill whose live shows always moved me deeply. Death Cab is the new puppy that will never quite replace my old one. I know I know, no two loves will ever be the same.
Tequila back stage is always a good idea.
Post show wrap up: More rain. More cold. An introduction to high winds.
ps: Don’t get your hopes up for a new Postal Service record any time soon. If it happens at all it doesn’t look like it will be 2006. Besides Jimmy T from PS needs to finish his DNTEL new release which doesn’t look like it will see the light of day until next year. I will post more about that later.
Monday, October 24, 2005
While the first paragraph appears to have wandered in from a cultural studies essay, the rest of PFM's review provides a balanced survey of Tanglewood Numbers with a rating squarely on the money. The connection between 19th century Paris and 21st century Louisville never really becomes clear. It must have something to do with both cities being on rivers and having bars.
My own repeated listens to the CD agree with PFM's and everyone else's reviews - this is a different, surprisingly polished record by Silver Jew standards. If you liked the previous albums by DCB/Silver Jews, you will probably like this record. However, it will violate the expectations of some fans enough to cause disapproval. If you haven't been exposed to the Silver Jews yet, this record will not prepare you to delve into their back catalog. However, this album may create more fans for the David Berman's music than before.
As pointed out in the Pitchfork interview with Berman, banjo and violin credits on the record go to Paz Lenchantin. While I realized that Lenchantin had studied violin and played it with both Zwan and Papa M, I had originally pegged her as the bassist. To my delight, Lenchantin makes solid contributions on the tracks Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed, K-Hole and How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down. Moreover, her banjo and fiddle tracks on Animal Shapes give that song a strong rollicking country feel. In short, that classically trained Argentine kicks ass playing country music.
By some accident, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Howl is in the slot after Tanglewood Numbers on my CD player. "There Is A Place" on Tanglewood Numbers segueways nicely into "Shuffle Your Feet", the first track on Howl. The juxtaposition of the line "I saw God's shadow on this world" to "Time won't save our souls" creates an illusory call and response between two very different sets of voices. However, that is another review for a later time.
How did I miss this??? More than a year has passed since this story first broke to press but since I began my research on the subject I haven’t found many national stories covering it nor were any of my friends local or otherwise aware of it. It was with all of these things in mind that I decided to mention it here. Hopefully for most of you this will be new old news rather than old old news.
The primary focus of Pancake Mountain is to bring great music to kids but every aspect of the show surprisingly presents itself without treating kids like mindless zombies.
Created by Washington DC filmmaker Scott Stuckey, Pancake Mountain is designed for children but doesn’t follow the traditional children’s show rules; there is no programming geared towards the big business ethos of selling commercial products first and educational value second. Pancake Mountain intelligently mocks the watered down kid’s entertainment found on TV today and offers social and political issues with a genuinely creative and comedic twist.
More specifically PM offers kids and us aging kid types cartoons, news, interviews with stars, a leading star puppet called Rufus Leaking and best of all live performances by an impressive list of artists like Teddy Leo, Weird War, Arcade Fire, Fiery Furnaces, Evens, Anti- Flag, Scissor Sisters, Thievery Corp., Vic Chesnut, Bob Mould, Shonen Knife, George Clinton, Henry Rollins, and The Rolling Stones to name a few.
All hipster references aside there is one valuable lesson that washes over the whole series; kids are being taught how to be an individual and that it is ok to have their very own opinions and tastes. If that doesn’t sound like a cleverly disguised Fugazi song I don’t know what does.
Now I am not a parent but I have always wondered why moms and dads direct kids toward dumbed-down terrible music when the world is filled with genuinely amazing music that doesn’t require any particular age to love or appreciate. Does good taste have a warning sign that says you must be this tall to ride? Pancake Mountain doesn't think so.
I highly recommend a visit to their site to watch first hand some of the clips from these live performances. They are shot like classic Sesame Street episodes where children (age 3-11) are on hand to watch the band play and dance all around them and interact in ways only kids would dare to. I was raised on DC hardcore but I certainly never dreamed of a day when the man who screamed about being a minor threat or seein’ red would one day be singing about vowels... but there it is in Technicolor glory. This brings whole new meaning to Ian MacKaye's lyrics from 1984 “I might be an adult, but I'm a minor at heart”
Pancake Mountain was originally only available for sale via their website on DVD but they began airing on DCTV Starpower channels 10 and ll / Comacast 5 and 6 in August of this year. The only other place you can catch this is on the Manhattan cable network; Time Warner channel 34 and RCN channel 10 on Saturday mornings at 11:30.
As I mentioned before you can sample many of the best moments on line for free but if that doesn’t satiate your DIY addiction, you can always buy the DVD.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Preface: I used to really like Boards of Canada, every single release up until now.
Boards of Canada could be positioned nicely in small new age kiosks nestled in airports, mega-marts, spas, juice joints, food co-ops, high-end gyms …you get the idea.
It is also very easy to imagine The Campfire Headphase on display with other titles such as:
Meditate Now! : Music to forget you are listing to music to.
Cosmic Lullabies: Chill Out Vol. 1 by DJ Alien Rainstick
Whales sing sunrise; bats sing sunset: A study in sonar accented by acoustic guitars
Koi Records presents: Drum machines blessed by Tibetan Monks (Not to be mistaken for K Records although the label is welcome to take the name if they so happen to start an ambient offshoot division)
If this stationary bike of a record required a kick stand AKA a leg to stand on, track 2 “chromakey dreamcoat” and track 7 “84’ pontiac dream” would be it.
Epilogue: If BOC is lucky and I don’t mean Blue Oyster Cult, perhaps those unfamiliar with the band will mistake them for an actual band from Canada; possibly one of the many Broken Social Scene or Arcade Fire side projects, and buy it.
PFM’s 7.6 rating is very decent of them but as for me I am bored of Canada.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
In the tradition of the Coolfer 4 word reviews: John Carpenter on Quaaludes.
"The project would seem stinky-ripe for a haha 'fork-tongued concept review -- quick, get me the top 10 PFM crits ever to give it to Kinsella with a sandpaper Durex-- but seriously, why do we hate this guy again? "
I read this and though "phew, thank God we dodged the concept review." But sadly this was not the case. I am not going to even critique the "concept" of this review, cause honestly i don't know what it is. Its haphazard and nothing more than filling space. If you have nothing to say dont say it. But there is a larger question here, and Marc Hogan poses it himself:
"More to the point: Why does anyone even care?"
Ok i get it. Pitchfork reviewers dont like Kinsella. But why do they care? Why keep going after them? They have reviewed 6 Joan of Arc albums, with none getting over a 5.0. Don't get me wrong; i have not enjoyed any JOA album (except, curiously, this Guitar Duets. It had some moments of real beauty, and was a perfect rainy day driving album), but i don't feel the need to continuously gripe about it. Nothing he does will ever get a fair shake at PFM (Along with this new one, the Make Believe ep was quite nice, better than the amazingly high for them 6.0 it recieved). If you could fill all these reviews with real critiques or some insight, then ok go for it. But this review demonstrates they have just run out of things to say about JOA.
Have you ever had a Tina Burrito? They are those little microwavable ones from the supermarket that cost 30 cents. I tried one once. I didnt like it. I tried another one. Didnt like it. Since i had already spent the dollar i went for the third. Nope, tasted horrible. So you know what? I don't eat Tina Burritos. I know people who love them, but i am not one. And more power to those who like them. Their taste buds are just attuned so that the can enjoy liquid chicken in a tortilla. It's just not for me. So come on PFM, you are never going to like anything Kinsella does, but just stop carring. He's is gonna keep making records, and people (admittedly a very small # of people) will buy them. Let it be and stop eating the burritos
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The couple seemed really stoked to there so I think am the biggest loser here.
Eh, what else is new.
This is officially my final word on Clap Your Say Yeah. Let us never speak of this average band again.
Pre game show:
Maybe you retired band people have had this happen to you? I pulled over at a rest stop and had a total sense of deja vu. The last time I was at this very same rest stop was in 1996 on the way to play a punk house with a skate ramp in the backyard somewhere in N.C. I can’t tell you what I wore yesterday yet I never forget a rest stop.
The total room capacity sold out is roughly 250. It was very sold out. One hundred some people had to wait in line for a venue membership and that means two things. 1) A private club membership card you have to purchase in advance to attend bars that serve hard liquor is totally nuts* and 2) Over half the crowd had never been to this venue to see a show before. It was obvious that once I stood among the crowd a good portion of them don’t attend shows with any regularity. How / why did they all find their way to this band over a million others? I think we are all sick of debating this particular subject.
I understand that all college communities have their share of hippies but Chapel Hill seems to have an extra dash. The last place I expected to smell even a hint of patchouli was at this show yet there it was lurking beneath the typical bar smog.
A packed show at Local 506 reminds me of a crowded L train at peak hours minus the smell of urine and people trying to read newspaper to create the façade of personal space.
The initial CYHSY pre show warm up noodle included bits from the movie Deliverance (Dueling Banjos) and The B52’s "Planet Claire". Color me intrigued.
By song 5 I was over the Peter Brady puberty stricken voice cracked over flavor of the year dance beats, the couple making out in front of me, the guy on his cell phone trying to share the moment with a friend who couldn’t be there, the older dudes who created a verbal thesis on why humans rely on scenes, the kids who weren’t happy standing in the mid to back of the room, who chose to ignore the properties of over saturation, and pressed forward regardless of there being nowhere to actually go, the girls who said they “would totally break curfew” if one of the band members wanted to hang out and lastly the digital camera people whose armpits happen to be at perfect level with my face. The bummer of going to a show alone is not having a person to distract you from this kind of show environment.
CYHSY’s affinity to David Bowie resonates loudly in a live situation but the true awakening for me came when the harmonica and harness was put into place. It all makes sense now! As a non Bob Dylan fan, this was the final straw. Harmonica plus marble mouth equaled time for me to stand in the other room at the bar. It was then, watching the band on a static filled TV that I noticed one last thing. Alec Ounsworth suffers from the same bobblehead issues that Anthony Roman the singer from Radio 4 does. Who are these boys shaking their heads at all set long???? Is there something in the Brooklyn water? Careful people, I hope whatever it is, that it isn’t contagious.
I spent the rest of the show discussing the grim similarities between Twin Peaks and the recent murder of a local college student with the bartender. He hated CYHSY more than I did so you know how the saying goes, misery loves company.
What I'm saying is:
This whole night felt like a blind date gone horribly wrong; the one where your date (in this case CYHSY) doesn’t just leave you cold but takes off with somebody else (in this case the rest of the room ) who fell head over heals for them the minute they walked in the room.
At least somebody went home happy.
Actually that isn’t true. I went home happy because I realized something; CYHSY is like a fly strip. They can distract, collect and trap all these diehard fans and this in turn will free up the rest of the scene for those of us with taste. Ba dum bump. (Thank you, I will be here all week.)
Post show wrap up:
The side of the road animal carcass extravaganza count was 1 deer, 3 raccoons, 2 possums, and 1 questionable.
I forgot all about shooting stars. It’s amazing what a little time on a road with no lights will do for you.
I finally had a chance to really listen to the new Ladytron and Boards of Canada so reviews of both of these records should be up by the end of the week / early next week.
* Could one of you NC locals tell me more about this private club membership phenomena?
I don't see it mentioned on the Matador site or any other US label list either so I am beginning to wonder.
I've heard bits of it on line and it stands to possibly be my favorite record by them yet but I don't feel right saying more until I have the record in my hands.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
It seems right to run this after the Clientele review with Grettir's mention of Hawley and all.
PFM says: "It's impossible to discuss Sheffield singer and songwriter Richard Hawley without a glance backward in the general direction of strong, dignified vocalists like Roy Orbison, Fred Neil, and Johnny Cash. Hawley himself, former touring guitarist for Pulp and member of the second-tier Britpop band Longpigs, is forthcoming about his music's origins. His influences are not only on his sleeve, they're reflected in his tour schedule and his choice of collaborators. Yes, he sounds like he's listened to a lot of Lee Hazlewood; he's also opening for Nancy Sinatra at a number of dates in England. And not only is the Scott Walker connection undeniable, Hawley has spent time in the studio with the man himself after meeting initially through the Pulp connection."
Also : "Coles Corner is unapologetically retro to the max but it works."
See, what did I tell you. According to PFM it’s ok for everybody else to live in the past, just not Neil Young. (sorry to bring this up again but I couldn’t resist.)
I didn’t have to think twice about this review. There is plenty of room to add onto my record collection but when I own much of the Roy Orbison, Lee Hazlewood, Johnny Cash and Scott Walker catalog there is little reason for me to feel doe-eyed in love with Hawley or for that matter feel desperate to hold onto any of his releases. I am sentimental for this sound, for Hawley’s influences, but playing musical dress up in shoes you don’t fill completely doesn’t earn a permanent spot in my collection.
I know there are plenty of you who feel very differently about his records so please feel free to balance out my disinterest with some positive comments. I don’t believe I have read one negative review of Coles Corner to date so I am prepared to standalone on this one. Even the local rockabilly record store clerk tried to convince me why this record was made for lovin’ but there aren’t enough creepers and Elvis Costello glasses in the world to convince me of this.
I am also not a giant Pulp fan so that is strike two against the artist or me depending on whose side you are on.
PFM neglects to mention the back story to Coles Corner (the title track) and the repeating theme Sheffield landmarks ( as well as being recorded there) but to me this is a more powerful hook than anything else found on this record.
Here is a little quote about it taken from the Mute website:
"The title track, a string-led, alone-in-a-crowd song, sees Hawley’s narrator walk the city at night and name checks an old meeting place for Sheffield, Coles Corner, on the site where John Lewis now stands. Says Hawley “Sheffield’s couples, lovers, friends, mums and dads or whatever, would meet [there]. I’ve always found it quite a romantic notion – how many kids in Sheffield are knocking about as a result of a meeting at Coles Corner?’ ‘I’ll meet you at Coles Corner…’ People still say it, even though it hasn’t existed for years. It only exists, really, in the ether.”
The romantic story behind Coles Corner and the hometown pride of Hawley is endearing but still not enough to keep these ballads haunted by tremelo in any long term rotation on my stereo.
I am a sentimental old fool but I am not falling for this record to prove it.
The track is featured in the "Alternative" section of the iTunes Music Store as well as the iTunes Exclusive section, so please show your support for the victims of these catastrophic events by downloading a very powerful and poignant selection from New Idea Society.
To purchase this track, simply click on the album cover or here:
For more information about ACORN, please visit their official website www.acorn.org
Monday, October 17, 2005
The name Mark's looking for is Felt. The Clientele sound a lot like Felt. Galaxie 500 would be fair game. For bonus points, you could add Aztec Camera.
I like the new Clientele record. I bought it and I listen to it. It's good company while driving on a sunny October day.
As PFM points out, the band has retreated from the relentless reverb that washed over the vocals in the previous recordings. Alasdair Maclean's vocals are now clearer and more expressive because of that clarity. Also, the rest of the band seems a little more energized. In particular, Mark Keen's drumming adds more to the songs, serving as an accent to the melody rather than merely keeping time. Both Keen and bassist James Hornsey add additional percussion to good effect along with strings arranged by Louis Phillippe.
Track by track, the record starts strong and only falters a little at the end. The opening track "Since K Got Over Me" immediate rewards the listener with its upbeat tempos and thoughtful changes. The early tracks "My Own Face Inside the Trees" and "E.M.P.T.Y." keep the listener's attention with their clarity and relatively upbeat tempos. I'm a sucker for waltz-time and "When I Came Home From the Party" completely satisfies that guilty pleasure for me. The band even rocks out in their manner, cutting into a fuzzy guitar solo towards the end of the track "Impossible" as well as "E.M.P.T.Y.". However, the last quarter of the records doesn't quite carry over the energy of the first half. From "Step Into The Light" to "Six of Spades", the energy level fades. The songs are pretty enough, just not quite as poignant. The next to last track, "Losing Haringey" is a journal entry spoken overtop a repetitive instrumental track; it starts up, rambles along directionless and ends abruptly. While similar artists have pulled this sort of thing off successfully (think "A Space Boy Dream" off of The Boy With The Arab Strap), neither the narrative nor the music is interesting enough to pull the piece off. However, one weak track is easily overcome in this era of digital music playback devices.
What puzzles me (as always) is is PFM's criteria for choosing Best New Music. The review doesn't sell me on the quality of the record (although I had to think about the last time I heard music on AM radio). Yet, this record has managed a higher rating than both Shins' records as well as the latest records from Richard Hawley and the Go-Betweens. While the Clientele's sound captivates and Mclean's song-writing charms, I can think of many other releases with song-writing craft equal to if not exceeding Mclean's. In a fall that is already full of strong releases and promises more to come, Strange Geometry has some tough competition for "Best".
I managed to dig up an old copy of Pitchfork's rating scale on archive.org to get some sense of consistency-
8.5-8.9: Exceptional; will likely rank among writer's top ten albums of the year
8.0-8.4: Very good
7.5-7.9: Above average; enjoyable
7.0-7.4: Not brilliant, but nice enough
6.0-6.9: Has its moments, but isn't strong
5.0-5.9: Mediocre; not good, but not awful
4.0-4.9: Just below average; bad outweighs good by just a little bit
3.0-3.9: Definitely below average, but a few redeeming qualities
2.0-2.9: Heard worse, but still pretty bad
1.0-1.9: Awful; not a single pleasant track
0.0-0.9: Breaks new ground for terrible
I don't think this record will make my top 10. It's good enough - I'm at pains to figure out which side of 7.5 it would land. I'd even would recommend it to a friend or two whose tastes run to more baroque pop - along with Richard Hawley's latest, the Lucksmiths and the Go-Betweens.
Don't get me wrong. I know a 9.1 rating is supermegaexpealidocious but couldn't PFM give this a higher rating than CYHSY????
Update. I am a jackass. (like we all didn't know that already) When I was typing this earlier I meant to actually use Arcade Fire who got a 9.7, not CYHSY which got a 9.0. Thank you Brian for correcting my foolish ways. My brain no worky so good today.
ps: happy birthday would be 80th pops.I miss you terribly.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Pre Game show:
SUVs w/ built-in overhead DVD players showcasing porn is distracting to drive behind. Plus with tinted side windows I can’t gawk at those getting their freak on I-95.
We ran into Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at a bar around the corner from the NP show. Rock against rock in pretty white petticoats, hair I’m pretty sure Marilyn Manson would make fun of, and a massive green bus Phish would covet: whatever the exact opposite of NP is, this is it.
Mostly 30 somethings bringing it to mostly 30 somethings was a feel good moment that reminded me of the look and reaction kids have at Christmas. The venue was 1300 filled to capacity and every adult looked like they believe in Santa Clause again. (thanks P for that wonderful reference) You don’t have to love the band to appreciate how ridiculously pleased they make their audience feel.
This was the first show since Gang of Four I didn’t feel ancient at. Borderline Gen Xers and Slackers unite!
Lesbians, Redheads, and people over the age of 35 all have a favorite band in common.
Playing guitar above your waste is the new playing guitar below your knee.
Canadian bands must have at least 6 members to really make it big. Pun intended. I blame Superconductor for starting this trend and Carl for continuing it. ( For those who don't know, Superconductor was the band NP's Carl was in back in the early to mid part of the 90's)
Dan Bejar from Destroyer joining NP on stage adds a nice touch of cigarette, beer, and Dean Martin swagger.
NP is a tambourine enthusiasts’ wet dream
Even without my glasses on I could tell from across the room that the woman dancing in the band balcony was Allison from Bratmobile. Oly, Wa. habits circa 1992 die hard. It’s okay to say this cause I am also guilty as charged.
Two encores hardly satiate the audience night after night.
New Pornographer's superstar sound guy is light rocking the AM Gold Hits to the people before and after the show and the people appear to be loving it . Adult contemp fans: if you ask nicely he may be available to DJ special events and parties. ( I watched like 90% of the crowd mouth the words to a Bee Gees song before the show so the AM radio vibe isn't something I am making up but then again NP's music isn't too far off that musical path.)
Neko Case couldn’t be releasing her next record and soon to be touring at a better time. I believe it will be on Anti, you know... the label PFM calls a major.
Is Brooklyn ready for Carl Newman and what will Vancouver do without him? Maybe this NY borough will be willing to trade out one of its many rockers to fill this soon to be Canadian pop gap?
Post show wrap up:
The drive home from DC never gets any easier. Maybe South of the Border could consider starting their billboard campaign a little farther up north? Pedro wants to visit our Nations Capitol, I’m sure of it.
Driving home listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle my favorite songs are the non- stonesdylanbeatleszep ones (Howl *great kettle drum and organ combo* and The Line) and is it just me or does Weight of the World and Sympathetic Noose sound like Turin Breaks' outtakes?
Thank you Magic P for the quality company and sound and Carl for aging better than gracefully.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Anyhow my goal is to still post a review a day but I don't want to make any promises I can't keep. All I'm saying is I am going to try my best. Maybe you handsome and charming other TFM writers might be willing to sneak one or two up for me??? Purdy please?
*For all you Boston types Stephen Brodsky of Cave In fame just got his permit to play the T stations so keep an eye out for him and request "Stolen Echoes" for me. I can't imagine PFM will review their new cd but Perfect Pitch Black is out now and sounds like a tender balance between the wicked (insert Boston accent here) old school metalic haaaaadcaw classic Cave In and the new school prog rock loving seven minute plus song writing Cave In.
*Efterklang makes me weak in the knees and their song "Step Aside" makes singing to glitch possible. Sweet.
* A Bjork white label 12” of "Who Is This" backed with "Where is the Line in You" is sure to clear the weak from a room but those who remain will gleefully buy you drinks all night out of respect for the daring display of gorgeous noise.
* I am still making way thru this collection of comics about the punk/harcore/metal/hipster bands (my old lady eyes curse the small print) but so far so good! Brian Walsby - Manchild : A Celebration of Twenty Years of Doodles.
* Thank you Mojo for turning me onto these two artists and their Mojo mix cd this issue makes for a fine driving companion.
I am a sucker for French pop. Benjamin Biolay is pretty, smokes, and Serge Gainsbourg might be collecting some sort of tax from this kid biting his style.(He also might be able to play a young Nick Cave stunt double) His songs make me think dirty things even if I have no idea what he is singing about. Oh la la.
While I am on this French thing, Coralie Clement happens to sing on Biolay’s cd but for all you yeah yeah girl fans, this is breathy sexy goodness all wrapped up in a pretty French girl package. I wonder if she gets dizzy singing like that? It makes me dizzy (in a good way) just listening to it)
*Breaking news: The Japanese trio Boris and everyone's favorite drone Gods Sunno))) will be collaborating / recording together in Seattle. This super-group will very likely also feature Dylan from Earth and possibly a very surprising vocal guest or two . The record will be part of the Southern Lord catalog in the first part of 2006.
* Rakes – Retreat – Dim Mak : I know PFM doesn’t like them much but there are quite a few songs from Retreat I find myself playing more than once a day . "Something Clicked" has a very borrowed riff from Joy Division's "Warsaw" and their drummer must take lessons from Franz but there is something catchy as heck about this new EP regardless. I know I should be over this angular Brit thing but what can I say, we all have our guilty pleasures.
* Vive le Calvin Johnson!!! Love him or hate him, the man stays true to his off key Lee Hazlewood lovin' cause. Before the Dream Faded (new solo record) carries the classic Calvinism of cuddle-core spooning with soft-core porn. "Rabbit Blood" has earned its place in my top ten CJ songs of all time, nestled somewhere between favorites like "Fuck Shit Up" and "Bewitched". He is on a massive U.S. tour right now which means I only have a few weeks to come up with the proper post riot grrrl "Rabbit Blood" hop to unveil at his show.
* This ain't new but it's new to me: a fantastic reissue lp by a N.Y. band called Gandalf. Originally released in 1969, if the Zombies dropped massive amounts of acid I am rather certain this is the record they would make. A great interview / background info on the band can be found here.
*Last but not least: Thank you to The Projects (who you might remember is a band I recently discovered and fell madly in love with) for emailing me. I am determined to find a way to host an mp3 for them because YOU NEED TO HEAR THEM!
Happiness is having a record player in every room.
Have a good weekend ya'll.
Friday, October 14, 2005
PFM says : “Tim Fite's second full-length album and his major-label debut, Gone Ain't Gone, liberally samples some of these dusty artifacts into his songs and sonic collages, making them virtually indistinguishable from the live instruments.”
Guess what: Anti is a subdivision of Epitaph which is owned by Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion. While Bad Religion has tread upon major label soil, Epitaph and its umbrella labels have nothing to do with it. Epitaph and Co. are huge as hell but alas they are NOT a major label IE tied into WEA, EMI, Sony or any other heavy hitter.
Thank you Coolfer for catching this first.
I don’t have this cd to review it but I wanted to throw a little fact checking at you regardless.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I’m working on a day two hangover so admittedly my capacity for understanding may be slightly hindered but no matter how many times I muddle though the PFM Neil Young review in my fuzzy but sober state, there is a disconnect. Logically speaking I associate the 5.8 rating to a slightly above average record but the 5 paragraphs making up the actual review hardly reflects a matching amount of actual criticism beyond a few vague points.
PFM states: “In the last year he's (N. Young) survived an aneurysm and a greatest hits album.”
I’ve checked a few medical textbooks and nowhere is a “greatest hits album” mentioned no less considered a life threatening condition. In some cultures this “Best Of” practice is held in high regards and is technically a celebration of ones life / career as an artist.
And these are compliments, right?
“he sounds remarkably preserved…. has held up surprisingly well, gaining gritty authority with age”
“Young has made this sort of no-surprises reliability a virtue”
“but his music, whether time-capsule folk like Prairie Wind or ragged-glory rock, remains the same size, exhibiting his confidence that a small voice can address enormous issues on a personal level.
“For such a seasoned band, though, they sound maybe a little too familiar: They tend to let the songs drag out, clocking in at five, six, or even seven minutes (the tiring title track) when three would work just fine.”
Maybe a little too familiar? I need help here. This line fails miserably to partner up with just the idea of long songs and the premise of a back up band roster of long time friends / players. Secondly, pretty much every N.Y. record has at least a couple tracks over 6 minutes long. The no-surprise reliability of Young’s habits were called a virtue by PFM just seconds before in the paragraph above it. Umm….I am so confused.
“Yet Young's music is so rooted in the past, specifically the spirit of the 60s, that his stabs at contemporary relevance sound awkward and even curmudgeonly, as on "No Wonder" when he refers to "America the Beautiful" as "that song from 9/11" and quotes Chris Rock. Prairie Wind tries to gauge the present via the past, but there's a profound disconnect.”
A friend and I emailed briefly about this last paragraph and we were both left with the same question. How many modern bands try to relive the spirit of the 60’s, no less when 85% of these people were born in the early part of the 80’s and PFM likes them just fine. Ryan Adams, Devendra Banhart, Dungen, Black Mountain, Chad VanGaalen, and Will Oldham (to just name a few) are all 60’s inspired rockers. Why is it okay for new artists to borrow the sound Neil Young helped to invent yet it’s not okay for that same founder who actually comes from the 60’s to keep some of his roots and practice it accordingly?
The PFM closing comment: “He sounds pretty frustrated, but Prairie Wind mostly is frustrating.”
Frustrating? I call a PFM review that doesn’t firmly back up its generalized theories frustrating… especially when the first half of the piece is ultimately positive. N.Y. has released over 40 solo records and instead of growing into a careless songwriter going though the songwriting motions at age 60 there is a lyrical care reaching deep into his pockets of personal experience and loss. To reflect inward and still allow others to relate to the image in the mirror is no easy task and Young does so with a masterful skill. Prairie Wind is an incredibly human record hanging memories and internal conversations out on a line for all to see. Well, hear.
It seems like PFM can’t make up its mind; they celebrate the wrinkles that distinguish Neil Young as a seasoned rock and roll veteran yet in the very same breath are looking to iron them out into something that simply isn’t (excuse the pun) Young anymore.
I give Prairie Wind a 3/4 of a full moon rating.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
This is bullet point review is written by a special guest. Why did I ask Snooks Badger to write this? First off I could use a little break. Secondly this friend was in one of my favorite bands from back in the day and they remain a highly influential band to all sorts indie types spanning from math metal to post hardcore and emo. Thirdly, some have hinted that his old band carries a similar weight to that of The Fall only they are American, slightly less inebriated and presented rage with more of a sneering clentched teeth approach. Lastly our guest writer has been a fan of The Fall for over 20 years and when I realized I hated the new Fall record, I turned to him for a second opinion.
Personally I wish I owned two more thumbs so I could give Fall Heads Roll 4 thumbs down.
Snooks Badger presents:
- When I saw the Fall was going to cover "I can hear the grass grow" (60's song from the Move) I was intrigued. When I put the album on I was less intrigued.
- The Shaggs with their drunk uncle on vocals anyone?
- I feel like the keyboard has been wired directly into my stereo or maybe my brain because they are so loud.
- The music is much more direct & one dimensional than I am used to from them.
- If I continue to listen to it I am afraid I might find something redeeming in it because I am such an admirer of Mark, but really there is little there.
- Remember the holiday season is fast approaching so the sound of drunk uncles will be widely available.
The Pros :
- The band pictures inside the cd packaging are first rate.
My own two cents :
PFM says : "For a band with such a devoted cult following, the Fall are rarely covered by other groups. "
This reviewer needs to check out Country Teasters who manage to take hate and alcohol to whole new levels of politically incorrect spew. The perfect cassette tape : A Side : The Fall / B Side : Country Teasers. Whiskey with beer chasers are a must.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
What happened? I feel like the new definition of indie means we have a slightly higher ratio of stupid haircuts and eat less meat then those top 40 loving types. The press… like every fucking magazine and website I read is interviewing and reviewing the same “underground” artists over and over again and these bands that once felt like the most awesome secret in the world now have equal billing to Demi and Ashtons' wedding on the page.
I actually asked my friend today what Justin Timberlake was up to tonight because if I read one more wee tale of Devendra's recording experience in a big studio or My Morning Jackets take on politics, I was going to poke my eyes out.
I knew this party was over when Kirsten Dunst proudly told a national TV host that she is listening to this little underground band called Postal Service. ( In the same breath she also dropped Maroon 5 and Rufus Wainwright who “is so under appreciated” as her other favorites) It can’t be long before E! tells the behind the scenes story of the Shins in the recording studio or has Arcade Fire offer Americans fashion tips for the Winter season.
Elija Wood has more obscure taste in music than half of the Pitchfork staff and while I am stoked to hear massive stars have great taste in music I think it isn’t the knowing part that upsets me. I always assumed there were all sorts of superstars out there with incredible taste in music but now there appears to be 1 million ways to exploit this information and turn it into a sales tool. Yes I want the bands I love to make money and live off their art by selling more records but do I want to see Bobby Hill wearing a Clap Your Hands shirt? I haven’t even seen that CYHSY live yet nor did I keep my copy of the record but I already don’t ever want to hear their name again. When I hear people use that band as an adjective I have to fight back the urge to point and laugh at them. There is such a thing as overkill and I am not talking about the awesome metal band either.
Isn’t anybody else mildly disturbed that there are records Pitchfork, The NY Times, US magazine, and Modern Bride all talk about? Are hipsters writing and picking music for ¾ of what’s on TV (commercials and actual programs), film, and are well positioned in the press or are we elite rockers the new prime target market and thanks to the internet anybody can tap into what’s new and cool and fake their way into insta-indie rocker?
All these overlapping strings of media hype is killing the mystery and allure of the bands I once enjoyed. I don’t want to know what kind of tooth paste the White Stripes use. I don’t want to know if Wolf Parade drinks Red Bull and vacations in Palm Springs.
I am learning everyday that there are press agents who shouldn’t allow their bands to speak to journalist at all because some artists really are only good at making music, not talking about making music. As fantastic as it might be for a band to be fueled by a political climate, the number of people who can actually articulate this without sounding like a complete twit is rather small.
The very definition of underground is being challenged or perhaps more correctly redefined with each passing day. New bands (as well as a few old ones) are caked with new layers of attitude, opinions, fashion, and all sorts of other nonsense that detracts (for me at least) from their music. Underground no longer means a band won’t be discovered by the mainstream, it just means their gift bags for playing the Carson Daily Show must include products that weren’t tested on animals.
Supermodels at a Melvins’ shows? The apocalypse is upon us.
If I have to weigh in on an absolute favorite over-hyped record I will say without hesitation Animal Collective. I never cared for their music much before but the new compac-tune edition of AC brings the band to a palatable level that no longer requires my patience to love and appreciate.
If there is a stronger word for love then please apply it to the first few tracks on Feels. That is devotion for life material.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Its nice to read a review of an artist from Iceland that doesn't beat the whole magical mystery country issue to death. PFM focuses on the music, the songs found on the record compared to his other releases and that's a lot more than I can say for most of the reviews I have come across for Mugimama. I know it seems like I have only unkind words for PFM (since the primary focus of TFM is PFM) but lately I have come across reviews on other music sites that are so utterly shameful that I am tempted to expand this blog's microscopic vision to a wider lens. Why do magazines, papers, and websites seem to think ANYONE can and should write about music??? I don't have enough hours in the day to tackle that enormous subject.
Sorry I digress.
I am starting to feel sorry for bands from Iceland because they are treated with the kind of alien commentary we normally reserve for PBS specials about glowing ghostly creatures living at the very bottom of the ocean and have never been seen before on camera. I've been to Iceland and Butte, Montana and trust me, Butte is totally out of this world too yet I have not uncovered a press frenzy hinting at D&D type folklore leaking from its barren landscape.
I stumbled across a great interview with Mugison where this very topic is brough to light.
Q: Icelandic artists are often sold to foreigners as something very exotic and strange, and when I read Nick Doherty' biography on your website, I also got this impression. He says you come from Iceland, "a land of magic and wonder where life means seabirds on rugged cliffs, Arctic foxes in lairs and little fishing villages nestled in coves." The same things are said about Mum and Bjork (and then they put in the word "elf" in as well...) and probably a lot of other artists too. Do you feel comfortable about being presented as an exotic artist? Is this Iceland as you see it?
A:"- yes and no, I come from Iceland and I'm a bit fucked up, but I've never really got into that elf business, I'm scared of ghosts though and lot's of stuff, but I'm more the fishing village and seaman as opposed to elf and landscape. I think all humans are exotic, everybody is fucked up and everybody is special."
Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? isn’t an easy record to describe in a few sentences and what better way to explore the music then to do so first hand. I found a site that has the entire cd available for your listening pleasure. While I am sure there are other sites that have this too, this is the one I found first. I am impatient and not internet savvy so when I found this link, I stopped hunting. (Just so ya know, I am not playing any favorites here.)
Anyhow, the songs will stop playing eventually but you can hit play to continue to listen to the whole song. Tracks I heart: #1 "I want You" (Beckish) , #4 "Birds" (slow boy/girl duet) and the best spoken word by a little girl ever (his sister I think) can be found on #10 "Salt".
The Mugi quote "fucked up and special" keeps swimming around in my brain. If I had to sticker this cd with a fast label, that would be it.
Fucked up and special.
It’s been quite a long and serious long love affair I’ve had. I fell hard for Echo & the Bunnymen almost two decades ago. I grew up listening to a radio station (which I think at the time called WLIR) that turned me onto entire genre that was still very new to me. At the same a local record shop (Crazy Eddie) had two employees who were kind enough to write on the back of one of their bags a must buy list which come hell or high water I purchased one at a time while my mom patiently waited in the car. (Thank you Mum) I should also add employee number one* was just the most beautiful goth boy with long black hair and chiseled features while employee number 2 was a real life version of Duckie from Pretty In Pink.
I still have the list on the tattered mustard colored paper bag and this is exactly how it appears on the bag in black marker.
New Order – Low Life
Ministry – With Sympathy
Colour Field – Virgins and Philistines
REM – Reckoning
Smiths – Queen is Dead
Psych Furs – Forever Now
Specials – First album
Gregory Issacs – Night Nurse
Siouxie – Ju Ju
Sex Pistols – Never Mind
PIL – First Ed.
Bowies – Diamond Dogs
Lou Reed – Transformer
Sisters Of Mercy – First and Last
Echo & the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain
Later add ons:
These two factors (radio and record store clerks) influenced me beyond anything I can share with simple words but I can tell you this, it changed my life and shaped the person I grew up to be. Pre computer age, pre cable TV, this word of mouth was all I had. I grew up in a small suburb where nobody looked slightly counter culture. I didn’t have access to zines nor did I know at the time they really existed. I couldn’t drive to find other people like me so it was easy to feel out of place and alone. This music was an instant best friend and offered me the comfort of knowing there were people like me out in the world somewhere. I can’t explain why The Steve Miller band and the Eagles didn’t offer me the same feeling of connection but all I knew was I has finally found something that best represented me at the time.
If music can play the role of a soul mate, that was it.
This concept, my attachment to music hasn’t really changed at all since the mid 80’s. My tastes have expanded from owning 20 or 30 records to more than 4,000 and I expect that number to keep growing. I love each record differently. No two loves are the same for me. Some remind me of a certain period of time, a person I once was, a place I once lived, people in my life now gone. The variety of reason why I hold onto records is long and while I understand why most people clean house every couple of years, I can’t. I don’t feel shame in owning records that are no longer cool or were never cool in the first place; they all played a roll in building the path to the me I am in present tense.
All of this back information leads me to my feelings about the new Echo & the Bunnymen cd. The music isn’t terrible and God knows even a bad Ian McCulloch release is better than much of the new music out there but this doesn’t mean I am in love all over again.
I explained it to a friend in these terms. Anybody who has been in a very long-term romance is probably familiar with the safe rut a couple can fall into. You’re in love but it feels like there is less to discover and learn about your partner. The surprise element dwindles down like a candle just about out of wax. The sex is just ok. All of their little tricks that once wowed you are familiar and par for coarse. You love this person so the act means something and it’s nice but it doesn’t have that same honeymoon feeling of electricity and passion. I don’t want to use the word boring here but the relationship can grow to feel stale, stagnant, and predictable.
No two people will have ever have the same chemistry exchange but for me E&TB’s Siberia offers an easy to predict / more of the same approach. It sounds tired to me. I don’t hear an ounce of daring change on one single track. I could have guessed an older and more-tame Ian would write songs like these. I love Echo so I can’t hate it but I have moved past them or at least a record that sounds like a poor Xerox of their better days.
I will keep Siberia, play “Stormy Weather” when I want to be reminded that there is still some connection between us but this is the audio equivalent to a cup of coffee with an ex. You know, “it’s nice to see you again and we should do this again real soon” but in all honesty seeing them again was weird and you won’t do it again any time soon.
Why should a relationship with an artist work any differently than any other kind of relationship. Some last the test of time and some don’t. Be it growing apart over time, creative differences, a shift in maturity…any of these can factor into a fall out. It doesn’t make me hate the other person or band. I don’t respect them any less. I have simply moved on and in a different direction. I won’t say the thrill is gone but I would like to see other people.
It’s not you baby, it’s me.
The PFM review is a less personal / more professional take on the release but we come up with the same basic rating. I might have been even tougher and offered a 5 something. I wholly agree with all the PFM technical more specific thumbs down to Siberia and I am now more inclined to say it just might you dear Echo after all.
It’s definitely not just me.
* A very cool side note to this story is I have run into the goth employee several times over the past 20 years and had a chance to say thank you for changing my life, that I still own every one of those records, and that he will forever remain classic crush material. If that doesn't make you record clerks out there understand your influence and potential power, I don't know what will, ha!
Friday, October 07, 2005
For a minute I thought I was losing my mind. Most of the time I am fairly convinced I am but the first time I played Field Music I thought it was a really cool youthful yet stuttered take on my ultimate guilty prog-rock pleasure, Yes. ( 100% ubsurdly tight but spectacular vocal harmonies)
About 3/4s into the PFM review there it was; a shout out to Yes. I am still short bus special but at least my ears aren’t totally making things up. Aces.
The next thing Field Music reminded me of was Montage, a late 60’s off shoot to the band The Left Banke, both bands I adore. I checked out the Memphis Industry page and discovered a list of Field Music’s admitted influences :
“Listing The Left Banke, My Bloody Valentine, Stravinsky, Thelonious Monk, Stax and Atlantic R&B, Big Star, Jimmy Smith, Serge Gainsbourg, The Neptunes and Duke Ellington among their influences, it's hardly surprising that Field Music's sound is like all of the best pop you ever heard it once, but distinctly British - and distinctly north-eastern - with it.”
Whoohoo ! I nailed the Left Banke thing but I am certain the band would be mortified to know at more than just one person hears a little Yes in there. Thelonious Monk? Ummm…..really ? Are you sure you know the difference between what’s in your stereo at the moment verse what makes it way into the music you make? Anyway…
Every review of this cd I find on line or in magazines harp on Beatles and Beach Boys reference but the last band / record I am obtusely reminded of is XTC’s Skylarking minus the depth of complex lyrical content. Art-pop pulled tightly like a well made bed, I swear you could bounce quarters off this record. I should also mention that the opening track entitled “If only the Moon Were Up” is a long lost sibling (the one lacking of sense of humor) to the Architecture in Helsinki’s track “Frenchy, I’m Faking.”
I am usually weary of side project bands and press releases that boldly highlight ex members of, but the truth is I madly admire both the Futureheads and Maximo Park and it was that very connection that led me to take an audio peak in the first place. You can do the same here: http://www.memphis-industries.com/
PFM's The Field Music S/T rating is kind but did not prepare me for all of its glistening listening pleasure. I’m talking 24k bling for your ears and a record destined to make my top 10 of the year. Damn those harmonies, I was hooked by the third track and fan for life by the last.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
To give you a better idea of the bands sales history, I reviewed scans for this record spanning back just about a year. I can confirm NMH has had an incredibly steady and also respectable number of sales from week to week but in this entire amount of time there has been only one remarkable sales spike. It’s no freak accident; PFM just happened to give this very same record a perfect 10 the week before.
All you non-believers who claim Pitchfork doesn't hold that much power and influence over their audience please take note of this: The proof is in the numbers. In Soundscan terms 52% isn't a super duper mega impressive leap forward, like a video in rotation on MTV hot poop of the week impressive but it is still pretty damn good for a record that is so old it's practically 1/3 the age of the average PFM reader.
On the flip side these very steady weekly sales to date reflect that of a classic hit record, not major label huge, but rarely seen in the temperamental and trendy indie market. These numbers were in place long before the PFM re-view and I expect now that the review is not a blaring front page feature NMH’s freshly packed snowball of popularity will melt back to the respectable weekly sales it has been maintaining all along.
Fifteen seconds of fame is fine and all but its clear to me now that Neutral Milk Hotel didn’t really need it. This is a great example of a quality record still finding it’s way to new fans the old fashioned way, on merit alone.
What I wonder now is how long it will take for a demos or some rarities NMH collection to make it’s way to the record racks by the Holiday season. All joking aside how far off could a reunion be… all the cool (and less talented) kids are doing it.
"If you're particularly web savvy, you may have seen the previous version of this review up on the site before its replacement with the edition you're reading right now. Here's the story: I crafted the original to be my most ambitious yet-- epic in scope, embellished with the richest prose I could possibly summon. But alas, the powers that be were not, as they say, feeling it, and sent me back to the drawing board to craft a review less eccentric and more crowd-friendly. Or actually, maybe I had second thoughts about the original review myself, choosing to self-regulate and take a mulligan. I don't know, it's very confusing; but know that all this vacillation was never for publicity's sake, no, never that.
So I can empathize with Fiona Apple, who has gone through a similarly arduous journey on the road to releasing her first album in six years. Earlier this year, Extraordinary Machine appeared destined for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot status, as the nearly-finished album Apple made with longtime collaborator Jon Brion was shelved, then surreptitiously leaked to the world's music thieves. But rather than graciously accepting a starring role in Fuck the Man Rock N' Roll Myth #67, Apple willingly did a do-over, this time working with Mike Elizondo, best known as right-hand man to the good Dr. Dre. "
The above paragraphs loosely imply that Miss Apple had her record shelved by the man AKA her big bad record label but in fact this is not the case. I can’t tell exactly if the "R and R myth" comment is an attempt to call out this widely believed false gossip but as posted in the Rolling Stone interview, it was not the label's decision at all.
I suspect many music journalist will take the same route as PFM and compare / contrast the two version so the logical question to ask next is this: Had the first version never been leaked would the new reviews be kinder and the ratings higher?
There are two lesson to learn here.
A: When you assume you make an ass out of u and me. ( I know this quote comes from a million places but I am proud to say I learned it from the TV show the Odd Couple as a kid)
B) When recording a record do whatever it takes to prevent the unfinished rough cuts from seeing daylight unless you want a fabulous press story to keep you in the news between those half a decade span of years between your releases.*
* I am not saying F.A. did this or her label premediatated this leak as a press stunt but God knows that rumor is out there too.
ps: What's the Bjork font from Vespertine doing on the cover of Extraodinary Machine?
Maybe I should start a writing campaign begging to have Ryan Dombal teach a music review and writing seminar to the rest of Pitchfork’s staff ASAP. Seriously, if all of the PFM reviews were as consistently decent as his work I wouldn’t feel the need to create and continue this site at all.
I here by consider Ryan Dombal Pitchfork’s one saving grace…a silver lining if you will and let his Broken Social Scene review be the shining example.
Sudanese Slave: I as one of the Dinkas of southern Sudan I may be the most horrific and well-known example of contemporary slavery. The U.S. State Department estimates, up to 90,000 blacks are owned by North African Arabs, and often sold as property in a thriving slave trade for as little as $15 per human being.
Audio Slave: So drown me slowly
Drown me slowly alright
Drown me slowly
Drown me slowly
SS: Um… well… Tribes in southern Sudan are frequently invaded by Arab militias from the North, who kill the men and enslave the women and children. The Arabs consider it a traditional right to enslave southerners, and to own chattel slaves (slaves owned as personal property).
AS: Beauty is what the eyes behold
And you burn brighter than most
I chased you thru the midnight streets
To be where I could speak freely
I didn't care what tomorrow held
I felt the world turning only for us
SS: Yes but Physical mutilation is practiced upon us slaves not only to prevent escape, but to enforce the owners' ideologies.
AS: Halo--I'm complete
Halo--with me underneath
Halo--I'm rebornI can do no wrong
SS: I’m not following.
AS: On my deathbed I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan to anyone
Who will take me to heaven
To a place I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on
SS: Anyway…well I… man, look at the time.
AS: Pearls and swine bereft of me,
Heaven waits for those who run down your winter and underneath your waves
Where you watch and wait
SS: Ok that doesn’t make any sense
AS: Black and blue, suffering fools
By the age of seventeen
Low and high, just one more time
Felt like an eternity
Right or wrong, never too strong
Friends became my enemies
God forsaken, never too late with my...
SS: Your what?
AS: Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live!
SS: Yeah sure but, hey there’s that damn cell phone again. Kinda silly to give a cell phone to a guy who lives his whole life in a mud hut, but we all know how those people at the American Embassy are.
AS: Roll me on your frozen fields
Break my bones to watch them heal
Drown me in your thirsty veins
Where I'll watch and I'll wait
And pray for the rain
SS: So I’ll totally call you when I get back in town.
AS: Ok, sounds good