Monday, July 31, 2006

Know Thy Enemy

Hello there,

This is Pitch Perfect checking in and letting you know I am still in computers are not my friend mode and still without my usual computer. Seriously people what is the point of downloading music when A) it often sounds like crap and B) your entire collection can be wiped out in a flash by a system crash? I was just telling Ghostbeard earlier today that the music industry should be running scare tactic TV and radio campaigns reminding people that CDs and LPs are forever while mp3s are more like a hit and run. Maybe external hardrive companies could cash in on this too?

I know this isn’t a review of a PFM review but the below list is chock-full of items I think are worth checking out or waiting for. Consider this my official what’s hot list for the summer of 2006.

later skaters,
pitchy p


* If Colbert’s speech at the White House press dinner was available as a record it would be my number one hit of the year. I am building a shrine to the man in my home as we speak.

* Chantal Goya – an ep of material from Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin Feminin. I am a French pop junkie and these tracks are top notch!

* New project for Erlend Oye - The Whitest Boy Alive

* Looking Forward to new music by Joanna Newsom in November and Yo La Tengo in September. What started as a weak year for new music took a serious turn for the better at the mid-year point.

* Final Fantasy - R-rated Charlie Brown meets Hitchcock score

* The White Birch – Come Up for Air – Glitterhouse. One of my top 5 favorite records of the year!!!!!!

* Chris Herbert – Mezzotint – Kranky. I have no idea why I like this actually. Soundscape journies usually bore me to tears but this study of white noise and static keeps me on the edge of my seat. Think jet planes humming a melody you can't quite make out over a bad phone connection to a lawn mower.

* Eye Hate God reissues - I have loved this part Melvins part Born Against band since I was in high school!

* Helen Love - Found an LP used in Chapel Hill

* Chapterhouse – Whirlpool - Classic.

* Hell Preachers Inc. – Supreme Psychedelic Underground - LP – wah wah records – I limit myself to once a month searches on Forced Exposure because I could easily spend a whole paycheck in just 10 minutes browsing time.

* Lucio Battisti – Amore E Non Amore – Water - The Caetano Veloso of Italy.

* Plocky’s Louisiana Peppa Red Beans ‘N Rice Tortilla Chips - Hot sauce + just like the name implies: Rice and Red Beans tortilla chips. Gods gift to snacks.

* The Science Of Sleep : A brand new Michel Gondry film.

* Au Revoir Simone – Versus of Comfort, Assurance, and Salvation hand screened and self released(?) cd. A darling all girl (3 to be exact) Fisher-Price version of Stereolab and I mean that as a genuine compliment. Thank you Other Music for picking this out for me!

* Darker My Love – S/T – Dangerbird records - Former Distillers and Nerve Agents members create something for Telescopes/Psychic Ills/Dedicated Records fans

* Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection - Sub Pop - And I thought I loved his last record. A modern day Roy Orbison with hints of Lou Barlow, this hasn't left my car stereo in a week straight. (and still counting)

* I think I might be the only person not excited about Grizzly Bear’s new record Yellow House on Warp. It sounds like a more orchestrated Animal Collective 45 played at 33 but with better harmonies. I’m not a fan but I am certain most of the indie community will name this a best of 2006 contender.

Film School Loses Drummer and Bass Player

I don't think this story has been reported on much ....taken from their MySpace blog:

"Film School status

Hi it's Krayg.

As some of you have noticed Justin (bass) and Donny (drums) have moved on. We're sad to see them go, but we also want everyone to know Film School is continuing on and is already in the process or working on the next record to be released on Beggars Banquet, date TBA.

Just to give a little history, over the years it hasn't been unusual for Film School to switch up members for each recording. Each release has had a slightly different lineup of musicians. We're excited about the upcoming record, the songs already being written and the special guest appearance from other bands.

In light of the current changes and the fact that we've been touring the world since October we've decided to move on to the next record and cancel the fall tour with Serena Maneesh. But, ... DEFINITELY GO SEE THIS BAND! This is one of my favorite bands right now and they put on a great live show. You will not be disappointed.

Thanks so much for your support and love this past year! It's been very appreciated.
Krayg

James Figurine / Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake / Rating 5.2

“Tamborello attempts to craft historically informed techno while recoiling from its unforgiving nudity, dressing it up in a variety of garish, mismatched costumes.”

Mistake 1: Oh Jimmy Strictly Ballroom DNTEL Postal Service (James) Figurine Tamborello (full name I think), shame on you for entitling a record that cruel music snobs like me could use against you in a review. Mistake X 4 is simply just asking for it.

Mistake 2: The press story might be (and as PFM retells) an ode to minimal techno but the lyrics dribbled out on most of these tracks spell out relationship troubles for the artist. These casual monologues using lingo normally shared between people who are friends really only works if the listener is a friend and well…gives a fuck. Sorry but a grown up (who I know is intelligent and clever normally) singing about cell phone pictures, text messages, charm bracelets, and driving out of town after a breakup teary eyed listening to a mixcd is something I would maybe expect from R Kelly or Kelly Clarkson but not this typically pseudo intellectual indietronic gentleman.

Mistake to the power of 4 would be a damn fine record had it been kept instrumental. The words should have been used for a good-bye letter to his ex rather than flashing us innocent bystanders via inarticulate song. Note to all artists: If you are not going to keep your personal sentiments to yourself (live journal / blog is okay too) or the person they are directed towards, at the very least try to make your thoughts a little more abstract and captivating. You know… something vaguely poetic. Anything that shows you care about lyrics and the vocals as much as you do about your meticulous electronic backdrop.

Mistake 3: I am not trying to be insensitive but it also sounds like Jimmy has been so focused on working out / flexing his glitchy electronic muscle that the talent once owned by the post hardcore emo kid who used to know how to write a good vocal pop numbers has diminished slightly. It makes sense, if you don’t practice something regularly it is very likely your skills or muscles in that area will soften.

If he wanted to write a genuine tribute to the artists on Kompakt why not focus on just that and leave the he said-she said in the dim den. (As described in the first track “5556668883”)

Mistake 4. PFM says: “Nuanced stasis proves a stretch for Tamborello's maximalist sensibility, and most of the tracks sound exactly like what they are: An apprentice's overwrought take on the stark, sublime depths of Isolée and Luomo, overloaded with guest vocals and concessions to hyperbole.”

I am not sure why Jimmy who has yet another vocal record in the works (not quite finished yet) via DNTEL decided he needed vocals on this record when clearly they didn’t need to be there...no less for the most part by a guy who doesn’t have a particularly interesting twist on the woes of dating. Sure there are well known guests who also share songwriting responsibilities and vocal duties on this record but they don’t add any new or tantalizing depth to the music itself. In fact you get so used to following the heartbreak bouncing ball it’s a tad interfering with the theme to have Erlend singing about digging holes in the yard for his Dad.

The problem with any collaborate effort is how to keep the entire record sounding cohesive and one solid unit and I am afraid James Figurine did not rise above this inherit team effort flaw.
Unlike Pitchfork I don’t have issues with the music itself. I like this bouncier pop version of streamlined micro-house and had it been vocal free I would have been willing to rate this a 7 something but with its mistakes x4 I am forced to give it rate an even 6.

PS: Besides the electronic canvas, I do like Jimmy T’s soft spoken singing/spoken voice (hence the higher rating than PFM)…just not the slang and half thought out hooks he muddies up his sentiments with.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Just Doing My Rock and Roll Duty...

Hey music fans...

It's hot where I am. I am tired. I have nothing really long and elaborate to write. But given the death of our fearless leaders laptop I feel I must keep up my end of things here. So with that... some thoughts for you to ponder over the weekend.

As the lovely Pitchy P pointed out, a lot of us got together for the first annual Tuningfork convention earlier this month. Conversation ranged from "why mistakenly making out with a girls eye in a dark room thinking it's her mouth won't get you a second date", "should we hunt down and punish the next person to refer to Loveless in a review", and most importantly "what album did you lose your virginity to?"

Actually let's make that last point interactive. All comments welcome. I'll get the ball rolling. Me = first Suicide record. You want to talk about not getting second dates... apparently girls think you're really fucked when going for it while singing along to Frankie Teardrop. "Oh yeah, baby, that's it.... Frankie put a gun to his head... yeah, baby right there...". You get the picture. Girl had a mo-hawk and Crass shirt, so I don't know what she was all uptight about. Perhaps long passionate foreplay to "Christ : The Album" was more her thing...

Speaking of Suicide. I worked with someone on an album recently who told me he got into Suicide when he was really young because he was a big Aldo Nova fan (what, he had big fans!), and someone told him Alan Vega & Aldo Nova were the same people. Awesome. I work with a guy who has a shirt that says "Life Is Just A Fantasy, Can You Live This Fantasy Life". Why does Aldo Nova keep coming up in conversation.

I was a big fan of Ted Nugent's "Wild Hunting Adventure" show on OLN a few years back. What wasn't to love? Ted takes some kids hunting and then roasts the kill while rocking out on Wang Bang Sweet Poontang on the acoustic guitar while sitting fireside. His line of beef jerky launched at the same time ruled. Without a trace of homo-erotic irony he was up on that buffalo on the packaging exclaiming "I test ride all my meat!". That leads me to recommending and endorsing the Nuge's new show "Ted Or Alive" (also on OLN) where Ted takes him some city slickers out to the ranch and runs them through the paces. Man, the Nuge. What an idiot. But so entertaining.

Anyone ever see the Styx behind the music where Ted is burning on Dennis DeYoung being to soft and then they cut to the clip of Damn Yankees "Can You Take Me Higher"? Yeah, Ted, "Babe" is for pussies, but Damn Yankees... they were tough as fuck. I mean how can anything involving members of Night Ranger not be... and can you still Rock In America? Remember in that episode when Dennis DeYoung is talking about developing light sensitivity partially due to rehearsing a musical adaptation of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame with Liza Minelli? What the fuck... did that ever happen?

Rock stars. Awesome.

SuperNova? Really? Like shit guys, how low can you go? I attended a live taping of a special on Voivod this week to launch their new record 'Katorz'. Jason Newstead... I'm sorry... Jasonic, called in for an interview. The best part of interview...'Working with Voivod was night and day to Metallica. They listened to me, they respected me, they liked my ideas, we got along great...". Geez, rough gig with Lars and the boys. But how's life with Gilby Clarke, and Tommy Lee in the mansion. I'm sorry but when I look at you all I can think is "fuck". Hands up everyone who rates that as their favorite line from "Some Kind Of Monster".

I saw Slayer a few weeks ago. They set up their Marshall stacks in 10 amp by 5 amp upside down crosses. Hot.
Children Of Bodom opened. Their singer had the best metal banter ever. An amazing grasp of all rock cliches. It led me to wonder what it would be like not growing up with English as a first language and being in some Scandinavian country with my only reference for English being on like Iron Maiden's 'Live After Death' record. And then you start a band and every night say "SCREAM FOR ME LONG BEACH" without realizing that Long Beach is a place. That's sort of how this dude came off... but it was highly entertaining. And a relief after being disappointed that Mastodon's set sounded like mud.

New Voivod album. Pretty damn good.

Getting a promo of The Best Of Cheap Trick seemed like a good way to start the day... but then the reality hit that it doesn't really rock as hard as I remembered 20 years ago.

Wouldn't it be awesome if John Carpenters "The Fog" was remade every year, but each year something different came out of the Fog. I mean shit, anything is better then Pirates... Pirates John...? 90 minutes later you give me pirates? Fucking Poltergeist was scarier dude.

Anyone else notice that new Wayans Brothers film "Little Man" is actually a plot line from a Flintstones episode.... seriously.

Okay then. How's that for 10 minutes of first thing that comes to mind writing. Wait, that's the shit that comes to my mind first. I'm feeling fear.

Hot Chip/The Warning/Rating:8.1

"The Warning is propulsion and power and punctuation rolled up into one, abandoning a lot of the graceful, delicate melodies of the debut for songs with more wallop. It was a necessary move-- a step forward-- and the results are mostly golden."

When you work retail the content of the store's cd changer is no small matter. At times it is your final defense in the lines of war with a brainless mob of American Shop-a-holic mediocrity trained somehow subliminally from birth to expect far too much and demand far more from a mere daytime/nighttime hawker of such and such a product. It's a wearying task of emotional acrobatics to pull a smile and a pleasant greeting out of your embittered shell of an existence for every mind vacuum with a mullet that makes that front door go ding just when you have finally recovered from the last stream of questions issued from the larger hole in the head of another PFC in the army of seekers with no intention to buy. In retail land the crashing wave of attack is unending and the war is never won. Morale gets low. The troops grow despondent and ineffectual. "On les aura!" starts to sound more like "screw this job, I can't wait to get home and cook up some candy in my meth lab, err.. damn I've already signed my name for one package of Sudafed this week..." It's low times like this that the parrumpapump of the little tin drummer boy squashed into the black box marked Sony becomes the necessary call to arms, the way to triumph, girding up the will and boosting the old esprit de corps where it was waning so very thin.
(True, unless of course you work corporate retail in which case you will certainly learn to hate music on the whole, having spent months of your life hearing the same volume of Verve Remixed with that endlessly plonking version of "Sinner Man" and whatever drippy Coldplay gem has oozed it's way into the hearts and minds of America via a Volkswagen commercial. Yeah in that case, you're pretty much a strip mall POW. Our hearts and prayers are with you. Learn to like the taste of rat and the thrill of Russian Roulette).
Well it was at that very moment of desperation several weeks ago that it came to my ears like an artillery barrage from allied forces. Emanating from the four stereoed corners of the store came sweetly the battle cry: "Hot Chip will break your legs, Snap off your head."
Yes, customer, yes I will do that. If only in my silent thoughts.
I'm not sure how this disc ended up in the work player but thankful, indeed, I was. I must admit that music associated with the work environment is not always met with instant approval and usually I will summarily reject new material with no further reasoning simply because it came to me while working. Hot Chip's The Warning, however, I could not discard according to this rule, no matter how hard I tried. The beats are too infectious, the silly percussive flourishes too novel, and the vocals just too darned comfy not to warrant at least a few selections entering the sanctum ipodium of the Top 25 Most Played playlist. The vast majority of the songs on this album sound like a group of underappreciated witty geeks with great record collections getting together and having some underappreciated witty geeks with great record collection fun with their guitars, pots, pans, whirly-gigs and um, microkorgs. According to the live videos I've peeked on YouTube, this isn't far from reality. It's amusing if somewhat quirky pop that, despite its numerous points of reference, actually sounds fresh and somewhat intelligent in a swelling market of wannabe tongue-in-cheeky retread dance shite that hasn't ceased to plague since Electric Six invited us all to the gay bar to start a fire or something. Haters.

Moment of Clarity: So yeah, I'm pretty much agreeing with the 'forkers here. The record is good and a well played departure from previous material. There are a few missteps but nothing quite worthy of serious admonition... wait no, the beat on "Careful" is unforgivably heinous and after the first listening finds itself permanently in the "ugh, I hate having to skip track one" club... but, yeah, otherwise good. As for numerical reviewing lets stick with a solid figure 8, shall we.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh the Horror. (Haaaw-rahhh for you Jersey types)

Well gang my hardrive is kappppoooootttttt and it is going to be another week before I find out for sure what, if anything, can be recovered. I will try to post when I can but it might still be a little shakey for the first half of next week.

Also would the winner of the Lovel Feathers cd please email me. In the crash I lost your mailing addy and still have this cd looking for a nice place to call home.

This also means my mixed cd is off the trade market since it was stored in my computer and at least half the tracks were things I transfered from LPs and 7"ers and only had saved in my computer. Sigh.

So it goes,
Pitch Perfect

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Pipettes/The Pipettes/Rating: 8.4

Last week I thought about posting a preemptive review that guessed what Pitchfork's rating on the Pipettes would be. I had a feeling it was going to be in the 8 range, though it's not a very strong album top to bottom and deserves something lower.

And then it came in yesterday: An 8.4.

Why would this album get such a high rating? There's nothing new about it, that's for sure. In fact, the Pipettes are decades late to the genre they've decided to take up. And they really borrow heavily from their chosen genre. Is being so unoriginal worthy of such high praise?

Oh....well this sentence explained it very well.

"It's a welcome reclamation of indie pop as the work of bright kids with more ideas than money at a time when the genre's reigning kings, Belle and Sebastian and the Decemberists, are embracing theater-sized, 1970s-aping rock."

I'm sorry, but when did the two above bands start sounding like Yes and E.L.P.? There's nothing wrong with sounding like those bands -- even though B&S and the Decemberists have nothing in common with the type of '70s rock that has got a bad reputation over the years.

Anybody who read the Sound Team review knows that certain reference points are good and some are off limits.

And why is it ripping off Yes is so bad, but ripping off the Shangri-Las is OK?

"That the Pipettes are doing Shangri-La's impersonations on stage is almost a moot point. The necessity and charm of the Pipettes could have just as easily manifested itself had they framed their approach around replicating any other dormant indie pop totem."

Oh, there it is. Because the Shangri-Las represent an acceptable "indie pop totem" and prog rock -- and that kind of bloated '70s rock thing that B&S is supposedly doing now -- does not. At least to young music critics who have been force fed a belief that any technically challenging song is to be termed "self-indulgent." Mine the correct vaults and you will be praised by Pitchfork. Mine the wrong vaults and you're a waste of time. This isn't just opinion. Any band that takes a prog route is, in Pitchfork's mind, standing on the wrong side of history.

So why they 8.4 rating? Plagenhoef puts more value on ripping off '60s girl bands than he does '70s bands. Which is a crazy premise, to say one genre of music is inherantly better than another. Then again, could you imagine if Pitchfork started giving props to Yes, or Gentle Giant? Could you imagine if they had the same hard on over Soft Machine that they do for Can? What if Pitchfork enlarged its pile of Cool Albums And Genres That Are To Be The Blueprint For All Hip New Music?

Dare to dream. But their record collections are just too small, their body of knowledge too thin, their self-awareness too high. Certain records will remain high upon their Pitchfork pedestals, and any group that imitates them will be complemented.

Then again, if Jeff Magnum says he's a big Yes fan then Pitchfork will change its tune in a heartbeat.

And you know what? If his album were released on an American major, it would have got a 5.2 because Plagenhoef would have gone into it looking for a bone to pick. The Pipettes enjoyed a Memphis Industries handicap of probably 1.5 points, I'd have to say.

Computers are stupid and lazy.

Apparently, Pitchperfect's computer ate something that it shouldn't have and is now misbehaving terribly. Things may be a little slow here at TFM until either her notebook gets fixed or our valiant cadre of contributors dive into our CD piles and scribble up something brilliant.

So in hommage to Linda Richman, "Tawk amongst yourselves… I’ll give you a topic...The Pipettes debut LP is neither 'Best' nor 'New' Music. Discuss."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Björk / Surrounded / Rating: 5.9

"It would have been faster just to burn my money."

It's true. It is all very true.

I know way too much about Björk so normally it is very hard for me to read any review and not pick it apart but Pitchfork got this one very right. In fact this is the first Björk release that actually makes me a little angry. Is it too much to ask for at least one brand new never heard before track? Something, anything fresh beyond the packaging and remastered versions?

Damn you Icelandic woman- have you gone mad? Money hungry? What is your reasoning behind all this?

I haven't read any interviews or articles explaining just why Surrounded needed to happen, no less smack in the middle of 2006 when not only is she still very much alive but certainly still making new music and miles from a serious gift giving season. I am assuming this box set will still be around for the holidays (which to me would have been a more appropriate time to release this in the first place) but this heat of the summer street date makes me wonder if the box is limited and if so, to how many. I couldn't find that info on line anywhere so maybe one of you kind readers knows the answer?

To put it mildly I am Björk fanatic and have been collecting her work obsessively since her Sugarcubes days. Once upon a time I was willing to purchase all of the hundreds of singles/dvds/ full lengths. I collected them in numerous formats and in multiple versions thanks to pressings from all over the world but a few years ago I finally got fed up and put an end to the madness. A new release a month (maybe not exactly but it certainly has felt like that) was / is plain overkill. Not only is it financially impossible for me to show that kind of support but who the hell has the time and energy to keep track of her massive ever expanding catalog?

Not only am I too broke right now to splurge on this box set but I also own this most of this material already. Oh and I also don't have Dolby 5.1. Don't get me wrong, if Santa left it under the tree this year I wouldn't complain but it is simply not in my budget any time soon nor do I expect to be upgrading my stereo system in the near future either. Besides there is already Bose 6.1 channel surround sound floating around out there so this collection is technically already outdated.

And just how many people listen to their cds in their dvd players anyhow?

It's not professional of me or very fair to rate a cd collection I don't own / have decided to boycott so I won't insult it / you with a number rating. Passing on this title as a mega-fan I think speaks louder than any rating in print form possibly could. Ultimately it is an artist's choice to do whatever the hell they want with their music but looking at the under 800 units (ouch) Surrounded has sold since its release nearly a month ago also leads me to believe that most of her public isn't buying what she is trying to sell...at least this time around.

There is surprisingly little information beyond the basic sale info about Surrounded on line but I do find these Amazon comments rather illuminating. I know I shouldn't be that surprised but it was still disturbing to discover that even this all inclusive box set varies depending on the country it comes from. (Insert wild cursing here.)

According to her MySpace site, Björk is working on a new record right now so we can expect a flurry of new titles to ponder purchasing but at least it won't be any time soon.

Be Your Own Pet/Be Your Own Pet/8.2

No, what BYOP does isn't exactly the most original thing in the world-- watch out for rampant Yeah Yeah Yeahs comparison-- but they do it with a flair and panache and enthusiasm that belies their youth.

Less Indie, more Rock.

That’s what’s crossed my mind at least a half dozen time listening to some recent CDs these past few weeks. I don’t want clever musical reference to Balkan folk music and Ian McCulloch. I don’t want analog modeled synth lines layered over a sample from a Brazilian pop record. This summer, I crave Rock – guitars, bass, drums and discontent.

Be Your Own Pet have provided me with relief for that craving so far this summer. There are no clever musical allusions, no winking nostalgia – just a singer, a bassist, a guitarist and a drummer playing straight ahead rock. Be Your Own Pet are following an old formula, as ancient and revered as Eddie Cochran, Iggy Pop, Joey Ramone and Feargal Sharkey. It’s also a formula as timeless and satisfying as the ones for bread, beer and barbeque. In terms of polish, the second half of the record has more developed songs – “We Will Vacation”, “October, First Account” and “Love Your Shotgun” show more polish than “Wildcat” or “Thresher’s Flail” earlier on the CD. Other songs like “Fuuuuun” and “Bicycle, Bicycle” survive on the band’s inexhaustible energy and youthful recklessness. I seldom say “Motherfucker” as an expression of joy – Pearl seems ecstatic blurting it out in the chorus of “Bunk Trunk Skunk.”

While there may not be much new to Be Your Own Pet’s songs, I especially liked the production on the record. The band’s exuberance come through clearly without being left too glossy. Fishing around online, I found a Popmatters interview with Be Your Own Pet where the band talked about their producer Steve McDonald of Redd Kross. BYOP spent three weeks in a Nashville studio recording with Steve McDonald (and engineer Jeremy Ferguson). According to Pearl, McDonald kept the band’s energy intact, coaxing them, encouraging them and guiding them through each song. To me, there’s something very right about Be Your Own Pet’s debut being ushered onto tape by a founding member of Redd Kross.

Redd Kross was a teen punk band before the members of Be Your Own Pet were born. On their debut LP, the main members of Redd Kross were even younger than Be Your Own Pet; Steve McDonald was only 14 and his big brother Jeff was 18. Redd Kross went on to explore various genres of garage rock and according to some critics were a predecessor of grunge. In the nineties, Steve McDonald and his brother produced the Donnas’ Get Skintight – another album of snotty, unabashed basic Rock.

If you listen to Redd Kross’s Born Innocent, there’s all the same ingredients as Be Your Own, but with rougher musicianship, more brazen lyrics and an average track length as short as Be Your Own Pet’s. “Self Respect” clocks in at seventeen seconds less than Be Your Own Pet’s “Get Sandy”. “St. Lita Ford Blues” is more raucous and cacophonous than anything on BYOP’s debut. Jeff McDonald’s songwriting is more direct that BYOP’s. However, both bands share the same energy, passion and naivete. They’re kids making Rock that captures what it’s like to feel like a teenager – not in words, but in the performance itself.

I started playing in a band late in my teens, buying a used guitar and amp the summer that I graduated from high school. Plugging in my 50-watt amp and just turning it up to three, I could make a sound loud enough to feel in my bones even when playing clean. Three friends and I spent that summer in a garage with the door up – making lousy music with only the quality of being loud; you could hear us at least three blocks away in our drummer’s subdivision. While we went our separate ways at the end of that summer, those memories of being sweaty and loud stay with me. Perspiration and volume are still cherished qualities in music to me, and bands like Redd Kross and Be Your Own Pet have them in bucketfuls.

The rating on the Pitchfork review didn't bother me too much. However, it would have been nice to see one review that didn't compare BYOP to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There's too long a line of teens making raucous primal Rock that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs need to be the touchstone for this band. I'm not even very comfortable slapping a number on Be Your Own Pet; a band just coming out of high school doesn't need one more grade. I'll just say that I think this record is wicked rad - kkthnx.

Listening to Be Your Own Pet, you can come to one of two conclusions – they’re not doing anything new or they’re continuing a long line of teen Rock that goes back to Ritchie Valens. You don’t need to have a large record collection to find bands that have done the same thing before. However, all record fans started out with a handful of cherished albums – each one representing hours spend at some dead-end job. And I suspect that anyone whose played in any band has experienced that rush of being young and loud with your friends around you, discovering that you can make those sounds you love, sounds that you’ve heard others make, sounds coming from your own hands, fingers, throats and lips. Be Your Own Pet are still discovering the sounds they can make and it’s a wonderful thing to witness.

BTW, if you don’t know Redd Kross and want to witness them in their teenage glory, you can catch this video of them on YouTube as a starter.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Flaming Lips, Thievery Corporation, Os Mutantes - Hollywood Bowl 7/23

I kid you not, it was 116 degrees where I live yesterday afternoon. I put my vinyl and my cats in front of a fan and prayed both would not melt. So going to an open aired venue at night seemed a bit risky, as in thousands of sweaty people in contained space risky, but it all worked out. Still its weird when 90 degrees feels like a cool down.

Ok so first thing I have to say about this show, other than I missed Mutantes due to some will-call shenanigans, is that I failed to consider one thing while attending: massive amounts of pot smoke. I don't know why this didn't occur to me given the line up and venue, but there was literally a cloud overhead. I don't smoke pot, and am not a real fan of the "aroma" so that was kind of lame. But honestly I should have known better, so no one to blame but myself.

Thievery Corporation was, well, Thievery Corporation. I have never minded the band, especially as something to have on in the background while at work, but I can not see how people are passionate about this band. It is downtempo, unobjectionable psuedo-world music. Neither here nor there. But as mentioned above there was a lot of pot going around so the crown loved them. Lots of aging hipsters working up a tremendous sweat. Wayne from the Lips joined them for their last song and as soon as he started singing I though 'uh oh'. His voice sounded horrible. I mean shredded vocal chords bad. I had noticed that the vocals on the new album were different, and figured he was changing things up, but now I am wondering if he seriously had ruined his voice before the album. It was that bad.

(Sidebar: Pacey from Dawson's Creek was sitting by us. Our seats were not good which led to this conversation.

Wife: Geez, couldn't he get better seats?
Me: What was the last thing you saw him in?
{Pause}
Wife: good point)

The Lips actual performance was good, if not really short. Headliners at the Bowl can go over two hours, but the Lips were gone after no more than an hour, maybe an hour fifteen. It was announced the show was being filmed for a live DVD, and the band was constantly asking the crowd to be louder or more active. That's no fun. It was like going to a Dodger came and having the scoreboard tell you to cheer. I was going to a concert, not attenting a taping of Letterman. Please don't prompt me.

The set was 60% new album, 39% Yoshimi, and one Soft Bulletin song thrown in. Expected, but i wish they had thrown some older stuff in. Wayne's voice got a little better as the night went on, but never sounded great. I would not be surprised if when the DVD comes out they lay better vocals over the whole thing.

As usual they had the dancers in Santa outfits, Martians, the giant screen, Wayne in a giant bubble; the usual Flaming Lips concert experience. Hilariously they handed out about 30,000 glow sticks to people before the show. Perhaps concerned that they would be thrown around the entire time, Wayne goaded the audience into throwing them forward at a particular point.

Thanks Wayne. Those fuckers hurt when they hit you in the back of your head. Plus the move backfired as instead of throwing them on the stage people just threw them in every direction for the rest of the show. I must say it was pretty fun to see a billion of them flying through the night.

Overall a good show, even if I felt a little short changed by the band pandering to the DVD audience instead of the crowd that paid to see them. At this point the Lips are showmen more than anything and they gave me what i expected: a warped broadway revue with better tunes.

The Worst Confirmed

Oh yeah. If my computer was any sicker I would shoot it to put it out of its misery. It looks like I will be sans laptop for about a week so my posts are likely to suffer to because of it. More accuratley, you will be hearing from me a little less than normal.

This also means I am sending out a TFM distress signal in the sky to the Tuning Fork staff or any folks who want to guest post over the next 7 days. I could most certainly use your collective help.

Thanks and again...SORRY!

Pitch Perfect

This just in: Lead Singer Victoria Bergsman Leaves The Concretes

The official word is:

"The Concretes have announced that lead singer Victoria Bergsman is departing the band to pursue a solo career. The band performed without Bergsman at last weekend's Summercase Festival in Spain but have cancelled their forthcoming V Festival appearances in the UK next month, as well as performances at the Hultsfred, Popoganda and Storsjoyran Festivals in Sweden. They apologise to fans who were hoping to see them perform together at these events and will have more news on the future of the band very soon.

Victoria Bergsman was an original member of the The Concretes, forming the band with Lisa Milberg (drums / vocals) and Maria Eriksson (guitar / vocals) in Stockholm in 1995. Since that time the band have released two albums, the eponymous debut from 2004 featuring the singles "You Can't Hurry Love", "Say Something New" and "Warm Night"; and this year's "In Colour". The Concretes' performance of recent single "On The Radio" on the last series of the Jonathan Ross TV Show is the last time the band will have played together prior to Bergsman's departure. "

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Hey gang,

Not sure when a proper review type post will happen as I am having massive computer issues AKA it might need to be sent in for repairs. As of right now, it ain't looking good.

SorrySorrySorry,
Pitch Perfect

Friday, July 21, 2006

Oneida/Happy New Year/7.2

Critics love to reach for multiple hyphens and obscure garage acts to namedrop when summing up Oneida's sound.


A few weeks ago Wired had an article about economist David Galenson and his research into creativity. Galenson studied various artists and which works from various parts of their careers commanded the greatest sums at auction. In his analysis, he found out that artists’ careers either peak early with a conceptual breakthrough or peak late after years of experimentation. In the visual arts, Galenson found that artists such as Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns created their most prized work early in their careers while others such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko peaked later in life after years of work. Galenson found a similar trend in literature with writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and T. S. Elliott peaking early in their careers and others like Mark Twain and William Carlos Williams creating their most respected works in the second halves of their lives.

Reading the article brought to mind many records I’ve heard over time – albums by bands that had one promising debut only to peter out by the third or fourth album. Rarer still are bands whose records gradually improve until a masterpiece comes through at the end of a string of intriguing and promising albums. The music scene favors the breakout type of genius – A & R reps seek out promising emerging artists, journalists hope to find the next break out act, fans seek new sounds and styles. However, as I think back on some of the favorite artists in my CDs and records, I treasure most those that have plugged away, trying something different, improving, growing, until something remarkable is created.

Oneida has changed a great deal since its garage rock origins in the last century. Happy New Year is a record of a band in a new practice space, with a new guitarist moving forward with its musical goals. If you look for genres to pin on Happy New Year, you can end up exhausting the glossary of the All Music Guide – there are traces of folk and medieval song in the opener “Distress”, freak folk label could be placed “Busy Little Bee”, a bosa nova beat drives “The Misfit” and dance track “Up With People” combines a disco drum line with dance punk keyboards. However, all of these labels assume that Oneida is trying to sound like anyone else. Instead, these tracks are the results of Oneida’s experiments in creating music with analog instruments and organic sounds. Ignoring genre labels, I find that the music straddles the line between music for trances and music for dancing. Oneida plays with the repetition of melodies and layers of sound overtop of Kid Millions beats. Each track is a new experiment in combining new elements of sound, but each seems to bring Oneida closer to a goal – some genre that doesn’t yet exists, a music that frees the mind and the body in a new way.

Many music fans and critics go looking for the immediate breakout, the band with a clear agenda and style. Oneida doesn’t have that a pre-planned agenda and isn’t trying to accomplish create a particular. After eight albums, Oneida is creating more interesting, more creative music with each song. To me, that progress pushes them closer to 8.0, but not quite all the way. If you’re willing to ride along on the journey, Happy New Year will take you to some interesting places. You may not end up where you expect, but as Buckaroo Banzai said, “no matter where you go, there you are.”

This just In!


Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
When: October 18 - 22, 2006
Info: Icelandairwaves 2006

Artists Include:
Brazilian Girls
Islands
Kaiser Chiefs
Love Is All
Mates of State
Metric
Tilly and the Wall
Wolf Parade
Ghostigital (Einar from the Sugarcubes new band on Ipecac)
Seabear
Mugison
Plus:
MOSHI MOSHI RECORDS NIGHT / Date: TBA / Venue: TBA
Artists: Tilly and the Wall (UK), Hot Club de Paris (UK), Mates of State (US), Semifinalists (UK) and Klaxons (UK). For more info visit: www.moshimoshimusic.com
And more! (check the website for all the details)
Please contact your local Icelandair branch for package deals to Iceland Airwaves 2006.
USA: To book please click here (deal #2)
UK: To book please click here.
Denmark: To book please click here.
Sweden: To book please click here.
Norway: To book please click here.
Finland: To book please click here.
Germany: To book please click here.
France: To book please click here
Belgium: To book please click here
Netherlands: To book please click here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Metallic Falcons / Desert Doughnuts / Rating: 7.4

“A luminous construction of blurred Medieval whispers, narcotic guitar figures, and thunderous percussion that reverberates like hoofbeats across the mesa, Desert Doughnuts appears above the dashboard like a mirage, the music's vaporous structure ready at any moment to dissolve into the twilight.”

I guess it should be expected that 4 out of 5 reviews for this band will try to match or surpass the great American desert experience as told by the band (and maybe one too many bong hits) on their MySpace page. It is all a matter of taste but I don’t like a review that attempts to one up the complexity of the music they are trying to describe. And just because a band doesn’t sound like Bloc Party doesn’t make a band instantly magically terrific. These days it appears the main thing not sounding like Talking Heads does is it makes a band more marketable to the elite. Throw on some crazy urban ghost of a Native American costume on top of some Nico / Bjork sounding spawn, dub it something catchy like “soft metal” and taaadaaa, you have insta-buzz. Add a side project angle from a band people sort of like and a few guest appearances by some top names in the gender bending freak-folk community and you have a record that is very tempting to buy. I mean if you are into that sort of thing.

Personally speaking I am seriously sick to death of the freak-folk thing and their ever growing circle of friends. What records aren’t Devendra and Antony guest appearing on or producing these days? Give it a rest already and let the public miss you for a few months.

Anyhow....

I purchased this Metallic Falcons record about a month back and after some 30 plus days I still don’t feel like I have something deeply illuminating to say about the music. I tried, I really tried, but you can’t force love. I like the band (love their name) but the record on the whole sounds more like a blue print to greatness. The icey (ironic since deserts do not lend itself towards anything frozen)) Zelda game music gone rock meets grieving goth choir of boys and girls directs the music towards something potentially perfect but then it kaleidoscopes out in too many clumsy art school girl having a bad trip directions. This lack of focus muddles the theme into a meandering garish production that sags around the middle. Metallic Falcons try too hard to smudge quality songwriting into a feathered other worldliness and this is exactly where my attention span for the music dies.

Only about 1/3 of Desert Doughnuts is devastatingly captivating and marvelously creepy (especially “Journey”, “Airsips”, and “Disparu”) but I can’t imagine that kind of ratio earning anything higher than 6.1 rating.

Posting troubles

Not sure what the problem is but my review won't post properly today. I will try again in a bit as I am too frustrated right now to re-post it for the 20th time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Table of the Elements Festival No. 4 "Bohrium"

This festival news has not been widely distributed...or at least I haven't seen much posted about it so here ya go:
_____________________________________________________________
August 31 - September 4, 2006 (Labor Day Weekend)
Eyedrum / 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE / Atlanta, Georgia / 30312 / USA

Day 1: Sea Changes and Coelacanths / Thursday, August 31
John Fahey Tribute/Record Release Concert
Loren Connors (New York)
San Agustin (New York/Atlanta)
John Fahey/Elizabeth Cotten video
Keenan Lawler (Lexington, KY)

Day 2: Carnivals of Ecstasy Friday, September 1 An Evening in the 1960s Underground Hosted by Tony Conrad (New York)
World Premiere, a film by Ira Cohen, "Brain Damage"
World Premiere, a film by Ira Cohen, "Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda" (Expanded Edition) Also featuring films by Jack Smith, Tony Conrad and Piero Heliczer Special guest: Hubcap City (Atlanta)

Day 3: The Thundergods Saturday, September 2
Rhys Chatham's Guitar Army (Paris)
Jonathan Kane's February (New York)
Special guest: Deerhunter (Atlanta)

Day 4: Propellers in Love Sunday, September 3
Arnold Dreyblatt and the Orchestra of Excited Strings (Berlin)
Film and video featuring Charlemagne Palestine Tony Conrad (New York)
Leif Inge (Oslo) "9 Beet Stretch" begin

Day 5: Slow Dazzles Monday. September 4 (Labor Day)
Fourth Annual Esplanade Memorial Goat Roast/Low Country Boil
Leif Inge "9 Beet Stretch" end
World Premiere, Rhys Chatham's Essentialist (Paris)
Festival Close

Additional acts to be announced.

Thom Yorke / The Eraser / Rating: 6.6

“On a smaller scale, the problems afflicting these tracks afflict the album as a whole; even allowing for the better-crafted songs, there's little-to-no dynamic range on The Eraser. As a listening experience, it's claustrophobic and compressed, and with rare exception, offers little in the way of wide open space.”

For some reason I had trouble opening the Pitchfork review of The Eraser so I began the review process without a hint of what was said by them. To my surprise the chemical reaction I had to Thom Yorke solo was accurately put into words by PFM. The difference is I don’t mind the closed space feeling of the record. In fact I relate to it intensely.

Let me get the rating out of way here and if you keep reading you will understand why I think this deserves the slightly higher rating of 7.6. It is a curious sensation to have an entire record reflect something I associate with mania / panic and while it’s not exactly like staring the beast in the eye, it’s comes pretty close. For this reason I can’t help but want to throw myself deeply into The Eraser just to see where I am spit out at the end of it all.

It has been stated here by me before but as a medicated manic person I still suffer from panic driven moments. I don’t have specific triggers nor are any two attacks the same but the general result is an assault on the brain that feels as if a tornado is striking my head. Words or full sentences, occasionally an event or a portion of a conversation will be repeated over and over again whipping in cycles around my mind at top speeds. When these seizures take place they reduce my sleep to practically nothing and my brain goes into a marathon mode of productivity. I know that doesn’t sound half bad but trust me, living as a restless individual around the clock is exhausting to the point of sickening. Internally speaking I become twitchy; suffocated by my endless freight train of thoughts and activity. Worst of all my more carefully paced spaced out thinking is erased and in its place is a tightly wound person desperately wanting to crawl out of their own skin just to have a rest.

Pitchfork’s use of “claustrophobic” and “compressed” very much hits the nail on the emotional head. It is painfully accurate to both myself and this Thom Yorke record.

Sorry to get so personal but my goal has always been to share my personal reactions to records rather than offer the same old review. I can’t get over just how close The Eraser is to a manic episode. More specifically its stuttered melodies, broken beats, and voice that never seems to come up for air. This particular combination has my breathing tripped up by track 4 and I wholly blame Black Swan’s “this is fucked up” echoed 14x for pushing me into a nearly asthmatic place.

Repetition for manics and OCD types is a wicked but affective tool that chips away at something that from the outside may appear to act as if a record skipping but is in fact is a path with a beginning, middle, and end. When you repeat something / practice an act or repeat a word enough, you will eventually master it and eventually be free to stop whatever it was you started. This is probably a ridiculously abstract way to explain this Thom Yorke record but I hear a similar glitchy pattern created by his relentless vocals. They tick away as if an ominous clock.


For those who have no idea what I mean- imagine the drawn out under water scene from The Poseidon Adventure with Gene Hackman. You are practically holding your breath for the actors as they swim under water for an inexplicably long amount of time; desperate to find a safe way of passage. This fight for life under suffocating conditions translates across the screen to the viewer as a high stress situation and at least for me, it makes me very aware of my breathing. I find myself struggling for air as if having cinematic sympathy pains.

Thom Yorke doesn’t just sing, he chants in an endless string of moody Morse Code-as if his lungs are tapping out serious messages to the listener. Running parallel to the perils of the Poseidon Adventure, I find myself holding my breath until the wrong is turned right side up.

By the end of The Eraser (and the song “Cymbal Rush”) I get a huge sense of relief; a genuine satisfactory feeling that I have been through something slightly exhausting; nerve wracking but strangely beautiful and very much worth the harrowing experience.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Espers / II / Rating: 7.9

“For the most part, freak-folk tends to eschew any clear genre parameters, but its participants-- willing or not-- are still blissfully united in an eyes-closed, drifting-to-the-strums adoration of ancient British folk tradition, while routinely pilfering from late-1960s/early-1970s folk-rock heroes Fairport Convention, Vashti Bunyan, Shirley Collins, the Strawbs, Pentangle, Comus, the Incredible String Band, and more.”

Ah freak-folk, we meet again. As if I wasn’t weary of this beaten to death trend already, Espers offers yet another strain of this genre. If I had to rely upon just my ears though (and not the piles of posi press), there really isn’t much freak about this Philidelphia band at all.

In fact all 6 players are so much a unit that rather than a group of people taking turns driving a music vehicle in wild and interesting directions, they are a polite train of pleasant gloom chugging in a circular motion. I have always imagined freak-folk to be an impulsive homespun craft rather than music heavily focused on a formula, no less following one so precisely yet Espers’ pattern of organized extended tones, finger picking, strings, and vocal melodies never climax in an unpredictable fashion.

Allow me to introduce a new genre. Ladies and gents: I give you frigid-folk.

Long repetitive songs drenched in drone and wispy vocals could have quite easily taken me on a meditative journey, a ride to remember but instead their brand of bruised baroque spread over 6 to 8 minutes per track is a non adventure that led me to dozing off with my headphones on. After just a few songs my body did the just fallen asleep jolt and I quickly snapped back into awake but still bored mode; although admittedly more relaxed than when I first hit play.

On a plus, if you like the current trend of folk revival and round 12 of stoner rock then Espers’ II will be your two for the price of one 2006 score. Not sure if this warrants a Pitchfork 7.9 rating but I am certain for many it will.

I can’t give a record that made me doze off anything higher than a 6.5 but more than anything I wish journalists when talking about this genre would avoid name dropping the same bands over and over again. My Bloody Valentine is to new-gaze what Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Comus, and the Incredible String Band is to freak-folk. Comus? Come on now. The only reason people are name dropping this band at all is thanks to a recent-ish reissue that places like Forced Exposure convinced you hippy-sters was a must own record.

Greetings from the first Tuning Fork Powwow

Greetings readers,

A few exciting things: Tuning Fork writers are spread out all over this country / Canada so this weekend was a treat because four of us were all in the same place not just once but twice! This is probably not too exciting to read about but it was a treat for me damn it.

Anyhow I wanted to let you all know we are going to try to make a bigger effort to show a little love to the bands Pitchfork has yet to review / rave about / introduce to the world. To further enhance this concept we have created a partnership with record stores from all over who will post via us about records PFM has ignored thus far but believe their readers AKA you will be into.

To kick this idea off I recently posted about The White Birch but here is another band you should check out: Annuals. http://www.myspace.com/annuals I can promise that you will be hearing more about this band in a big way soon. Like really really soon. This band proves that Canada doesn’t own the exclusive rights to having 6 members or more or ambitious grandiose pop.

For fun I am going to tag team post with TQT since the fine gentleman is sitting right beside me. Without further ado ….

________________________________________________________________

Hello. First off what a lovely room Pitch Perfect has. The 7 room suite is impressive. If you didn’t know Pitch Perfect makes a lot of money running the popular online clown supply discount store, http://www.Happyclownpants.com.

I have had a swell time seeing the other writers in person, letting them feed me, liquor me up and taking advantage of me.

On with the important business at hand. I too wholeheartedly endorse the Annuals. Young kids making epic sprawls? I’m sold. But the first person who says the words Arcade and Fire will get a punch in the nose.

Let me make my own recommendation to you fine readers. This one comes from the depths of Myspace as well, but this fellow has an album deal so I am sure you will be seeing the name soon. The name in question? Pop Levi. http://www.myspace.com/poplevi

His modus operandi: Freaked out glam-esque rock from LA via Liverpool. Check out the song ‘Blue Honey’, a herky jerky track that sounds like Marc Bolon on a lot of hallucinogenics. Do you feel that the whole ‘freak folk’ movement is played out? Then welcome to the next step.

Danielson, Vetiver, Neil Hamburger at the Satellite Ballroon, Charlottesville, VA 7/14

From Danielson's latest album, the phrase “step on your trumpet” means to offend some. People, please don’t step on Daniel Smith’s trumpet.

I got to the show for the last fifteen minutes of Neil Hamburger’s act – which was about fourteen minutes too early. Hamburger is a sort of masochists’ comic, spewing out a string of jokes written by twelve year old boys. I honestly can’t imagine a less complimentary opening act for Danielson. The comb over hair and Vegas affectations aren’t so bad; it’s just the material that’s abysmal. If you like gross middle school humor (or like remembering it), Hamburger should be your cup of tea. Personally, I recommend a pass.

I had decided to check this show out so I could catch both Vetiver and Danielson. Vetiver took the stage with six members –two guitars, bass and drums along with a cellist and violinist. When they sounded like a folk band (mostly on the songs from their first album), I liked them fine. On other cuts, Vetiver branches into a more Southern vibe, sounding more like The Band. They don’t quite swing enough to pull off that vibe. However, they put on a decent set for an opener.

Daniel Smith’s latest musical incarnation – Danielson – came on stage in blue uniforms with hearts sewn on the sleeves Conveniently for your correspondent, the members had their names sewn on their shirts – Evan was on keyboard and vocals, Jebediah on bass, David and Andrew on drums and Megan on glockenspiel, marimba and vocals. Each of the singers had a music stand with a binder and a light attached to it. Danielson kicked off with the lead track on Ships, but then played a mix of songs though focusing mostly on Ships. The live band doesn’t quite match the density of the album, but they make up for it in energy. The keyboardist Evan in particular played with the most gusto, hammering on his Hammond and singing wide-eyed into his mic. Aside from their energy, the group provided a tight backdrop for Daniel’s barking falsetto. Daniel tried to lead the small audience in clapping and snapping along, but the lack of air conditioning sapped most of the energy from the crowd. Nonetheless, the band came out for an encore with the same energy and enthusiasm as the main set.

What baffled me were the antics of a couple of drunks. The first guy was mid-twentish and wearing in a blazer (in July, go figure). He walked up to the stage telling Daniel to step on his trumpet then muttered some gibberish with the words “improvise” and “Anthony Braxton” in them. Trying to listen in, I’m thinking “What is this? Some guy trying to hold an academic debate?” Anyways, I’ve met Anthony Braxton and I don’t think he’d encourage folks to tread on brass instruments. The other was a drunk who just couldn’t contain his enthusiasm, hollering out boisterously after each song. I can’t fathom what makes someone decide to tie one on and get rowdy at a Danielson show. Shotgun a few beers and go to a metal show? Absolutely. Guzzle too much merlot and go see Danielson? I guess that’s what passes for fun in a college town in summer. However, Danielson’s summer tour should offer plenty of fun; I may even try to catch them in Falls Church in a week.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Feathers / Feathers / Rating: 7.7

“the music on Feathers exists largely in the bucolic countryside previously occupied by the Incredible String Band, Comus and their progressive brethren. This might lead skeptics to dismiss this spirited collective as just another escapist hippie revival.”

This track listing image is from a mixtape one of the members of Feathers made for me in my late teens- around 17 years ago.

The year was 1989 and I was starting my senior in high school. Before “punk broke” big thanks to bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana it was a lonely time to be a freaky girl music geek in grade 12. Luckily I had one year under my belt working at a ma and pa record store so by day I may have walked the halls alone but by evening and weekends (and a 40 minute commute) I was a part of a massive music loving community.

Every hour of every day I worked at this new and used store (5 years total) I was introduced to new music; new music meaning bands I had never heard of but was told for example, if I loved band A then I would HAVE to know about bands B, C, D, E, F that came before them. I was exposed to the idea that all bands come from a complex family tree of influences (be it the decade they are from, the region they are based out of, the bands they like or are friends with….) and there was no crime in this idea of a band having such influences. In fact the real crime was and still remains with the listener not taking the time (at least as a serious music fan) to investigate how the past influences the present. New music as it unfolds from month to month makes so much more sense when you actually have a decent sized context to place it in.

This record store job introduced me to a group of slightly older friends / fellow music fanatics that have remained life long friends of mine. These people also laid down a foundation of music knowledge that is so vast and varied that it continues to inspire me to this day. They opened up a world of music (punk, hardcore, noise, goth, experimental, oi, psyche, garage, folk, metal, rap… you name it) and it was their mixtapes and expertise that I can say without a doubt shaped the headstrong music nerd I am today.

You have to imagine my amazement when I discovered one of my core music heroes from nearly two decades ago (and briefly a high school boyfriend of sorts) shows up in a freak-folk band that people aren’t just talking about but seem to really dig. We fell out of touch in the early 90’s but holy crap there he is tucked among a group of people on the Feathers’ record cover.

Seriously if I could create a list of the ten most influential people in my life in relation to music, this guy ranks among the top five people I should thank.

The photo on the front of Feathers cd actually looks like a twisted communal version of how we once (about 6 to 10 of us) spent our summer evenings deep in the woods of Rockland County NY. We listened to cassettes on a battery powered boom box while some kids ate shrooms or acid tabs and the rest of us pounded shitty cheap beer while pillaging the forest floor for anything that might keep the campfire going all night. I passed on college to learn about music because I had some of the best teachers in the world sitting (and some occasionally passed out) around me. They supplied me with lists of records I NEEDED to own, played me their favorite artists night after night and shared stories about shows I kick myself for not being old enough to have seen first hand. (Swans/Sonic Youth - Pyramid Club or Bad Brains/ Minor Threat / Void - CBGBs for instance)

I can’t speak for all the members of Feathers because I only know this one fella but it isn’t often a person with impeccable taste in music goes on to form an incredible band that reflects one of the genres they practically have a PHD in. We all have friends with great taste in music but for some reason also happen to play in the worst sounding bands ever. I understand taste doesn’t equal talent so it is a truly pleasant surprise when a friend breaks this tradition.

Again, I can’t speak for the whole band but trust me when I say at least this one member isn’t just jumping on the psyche- rock / folk bandwagon. This friend of mine has had these songs in him all along; even if the music was only recorded in 2004 and 2005. This isn’t my favorite style of music- in fairness I only dabble in it but I am willing to swear that of all the new damaged folksters out there- a core member of Feathers had all these other artists beat by decades and I have this mixtape to prove it. Feathers aren’t flaunting a freaky psych-folk façade- this is as close to the real thing as it can get in 2006.

Promise.






Beauty Pill = Lazarus

Well, I initially refrained from posting this news report here, banking on a false assumption that surely Pitchfork's crack team of reporters would spy this rather exciting tidbit as they spider-crawl their weekly way through the vaults of myspace band pages but, alas, no banana. Perhaps this band represents too much musical validity and not quite enough hype for to grace the front page of the 'fork (I know, I know hundreds, nay thousands, would lose valuable sleep without a weekly Sufjan/Devandra/Thom update), or maybe it's just that Beauty Pill has been gone for so long that they fell off the PFM radar. I guess they never really liked them much anyway. At any rate, here's the juice:
Beauty Pill has emerged from well over a year long hiatus with a beautiful new single, several blog posts by Chad Clark himself, a 9 date U.S. Tour starting a week from today, and talk of a new album in the works. There have been a few line-up changes finding Devin Ocampo (Faraquet, Smart Went Crazy, Medicatons, Mary Timony, etc.) filling in for Ryan Nelson on Drums, multi-instrumentalist Jean Cook replacing Rachel Burke on vocals, and a whole slew of guest artists filling out the sonic space with instruments ranging from shamisen to electric harp. All the details and the new song are on the band's myspace page (linked above). In short, and consciously running the risk of over-doing this post, this is the best new music these ears have had the pleasure to hear (10 times a day) in quite some time. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche - 7.2

Call it burnout or backlash if you have to, but it's hard not to compare the two albums and find this one wanting

I'm Back. What? You didn't even notice I was gone? {Insert ironic foghorn sound here}

On with the business at hand, namely Sufjan Steven's album of odds and sods, The Avalanche. Chris Dahlen makes many good points about this collection in his review, the main being that it is the Danny Devito to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Twin. While slightly amusing, it pales in comparison to the bronzed Austrian god that is Illinois.

Unlike others here at Tuning Fork I am a Stevens fan and believe that Illinois contains some of the most beautiful music of the last couple years, Jesus references or not. And if those religious shout outs make you uncomfortable you can always change them in your head from God or Jesus to Krotog or Bentrak. That way you can avoid your discomfort, enjoy the songs and get the added bonus of being amused by pretty falsetto odes to outer space monsters.

Anyway, I am a fan, but an additional 75 minutes of material culled from the same sessions is the definition of overkill. This needed to be scaled back into a 4 or 5 track EP and left at that. Three versions of Chicago? Totally unnecessary, especially as each one pales in comparison to the album version (although I must say the Multiple Personality Disorder Version is strangely compelling). Yes it is interesting to hear the artist working his way to a final version, and I am sure hardcore (if that is the right word) fans of Stevens will be delighted to be able to put all four versions on their I Pods and play them all in a row. But for the vast majority of us this is just redundant, and diminishing returns are never something that is very endearing.

Apart from that there is a lot of filler here. Some of it is pretty, some of it is so same sounding to previous works as to become indistinguishable in my head.

I don't find the 50 states project to be as gimmicky as others seem to, as you need a jumping off point for any artistic endeavor and it just happens that Stevens uses this framework to make his music. I am jealous of any artist that can just jump right in and start, as i often need a push or gimmick to get myself started. I think a lot of people are like this. My wife is a painter, but she often starts off drawing crude stick figures to get herself going before moving on to the more complex areas. I love these stick figures as they show how her mind works, but to bring this analogy to port, i wouldnt pay $12.99 for them.

Bravo to Stevens for getting so much material from each state. But the original album was just at the limit of too much, so this pushes it over the edge. The final tally is two and a half hours of music. That is too much on this subject (full disclosure: I own the 3.5 hour cd set of the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, so my footing here may be a little too slippery). Dahlen acknowledges this is is lesser product of a greater work, yet the rating is still a healthy 7.2. I would place it more in the 4 or 5 range and sit quietly waiting for the next proper album: Dang, Its Delaware.

Eagles of Death Metal / Death by Sexy / Rating: 7.3

“Where Queens of the Stone Age have always explored the dark and dirty, the excess and the evil, the nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, and ecstasy, the Eagles of Death Metal crank up a cock-rock sound that's free of any danger or seriousness.”

I’m no expert on the subject but if you are going to make a record that almost exclusively is designed for strippers to pole and lap dance to, flimsy glam rock won’t do. (And I know I am not alone in this thinking.)

First of all you can’t even dry hump to anything with production this flaccid. I mean who likes limp cock-rock? (Maybe Pitchfork since they offered EODM a 7.3 rating?)

Secondly the silhouette of something meaty, naughty, and worthy of a serious grind is there but a full figured romp and stomp is never totally revealed. (What a tease!) Blame the less than virile song writing or the mildy macho mixing job but the end result no matter what is sad case of e-ROCK-tile dysfunction.

Thirdly and lastly it’s a damn shame. Eagles of Death Metal teeter (like double D cups supported by 6 inch heels) on the verge of the kind of sexy silly swagger mastered by T. Rex and The Cramps (with a dash of Rocket from the Crypt) but EODM’s songs never peak equally. This collection of barely legal psychobilly smokes like a dime bag of oregano and that doesn’t spell party, it spells amateur hour (37 minutes to be exact) and a 6.0 rating.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CONTEST NOW CLOSED

About once a month we here at Tuning Fork try to share the wealth and offer up a few promo cds to our nice readers. To win all you need to do is:

A) Check the comments section to see if anybody claimed the cd you want to win first.
B) If the cd you want has yet to be requested leave a comment saying your first name and the cd you want. This will let others know the cd has a new home.
C) Email us at tuningforkmedia@hotmail.com your name / address / and cd you want.

You can only win one cd per contest and only if you haven't won a cd from us in the past two months. It is as easy as that. There is no creepy catch. I don't email spam in the future or mail you adult catalogs three months from now. You get a cd (sometimes more cds if I have some extra stuff sitting around) and a DIY fold / cut / and fill out Tuningfork membership card that has zero meaning to about 99.9 % of the world but that .1 % who are record inter-web geeks too will totally be barely impressed. Awesome right?

The goods up for grabs:

Peeping Tom - S/T - Ipecac - cardboard sleeve promo WE HAVE A WINNER

The Lovely Feathers - Hind Hind Legs - Equator Records WE HAVE A WINNER

Six Organs of Admittance - The Sun Awakens - Drag City - WE HAVE A WINNER

Built to Spill - You in Reverse - WB - WE HAVE A WINNER

Wax Tailor - Tales of the... - Decon - WE HAVE A WINNER

Belle & Sebastian - LateNightTales - Azull -WE HAVE A WINNER

Witch - s/t - Tee Pee - not full art cd - WE HAVE A WINNER

Starlight Mints - Drowaton - Barsuk - not full art cd - WE HAVE A WINNER

Vetiver - To Find Me Gone - DiCristina - Not full art cd - WE HAVE A WINNER

Matmos - The Rose has Teeth - Matador - not full art cd - WE HAVE A WINNER

Good luck and yes I will mail cds to people living out of the USA. Non-American indie music fans deserve presents too!!! PS: Selling your prize to a local store makes you a bad bad person. If you don't like the music please pass it onto a friend who might.

Double Your Pleasure

At noon today (Tuesday, June 11th / Eastern timezone) we will be giving away TEN... you heard me... TEN different cds to our lucky readers. This means you are twice as likely to win something this time!

Check back then and bonne chance,
Pitch Perfect

Monday, July 10, 2006

Enough With The Adverbs

"It's also strikingly beautiful and thuddingly boring in maddeningly equal measure."

Look, Pitchfork writers. You're not in a contest with the movie critics who gets quoted in newspaper ads to see who can squeeze in more -- and more clever -- adverbs into a single sentence. Enough already. There are 11 words in the above sentence, and three of them are end in -ly. A 3/11 ratio is just too high. Nobody should break 20%. Ever.

Proxy Error

Okay tech people, please explain to me why half of the reviews on Pitcfork lately say this when I try to open them:

The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.The proxy server could not handle the request GET /article/record_review/37216/Thom_Yorke_The_Eraser.

Reason: Error reading from remote server

Some people might think just because I run a blog and stuff that I might know a little about this computer business but I don't. Ironically I lack patience for computers almost entirely and the recent outbreak of PFM error messages are enough to make me want to avoid their site all together. Hmmm, on second thought those Pitchforkers might be onto something there.....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Bloody Valentine / Loveless / Rating: 10.5


“Holy shit this is the best record of my life. I will never be able to listen to anything without hearing echoes of this opus in my now fixated to the point of musical-fetish pornography ears. I imagine myself decades from now attempting to review other records, at a loss for more appropriate comparisons, gushing about the album that once was, these glory days of shoegaze, echo haze, and MXR phase. I’ll whisper to the world MBV. And Kevin Sheilds will shed softly a soft tear. “

Yeah alright, I get it. This record seems pretty original. I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks despite my initial misgivings about all the hype that has surrounded its release. Everyone is describing it in such stratospherically stilted terms, praising its neo-pop pioneering, lush soundscaping, and soft contrasting violence juxtaposition of pushed guitars and breathy vocal delivery that I just couldn’t strain my ears past the critics’ din to hear the din that is this record. So now I’ve finally wrapped my head around this music and I must admit I’m just the slightest bit disappointed.
I mean, I understood what was going on with Isn’t Anything. The pop elements were there, though sharpened with a dagger edge of punk, and the words were discernibly visceral, in fact memorable. They were doing the spacey echo-plex thing but I could still here the blueprint of melodic structure, conceptually rich lyricism and instrumentation beneath the somewhat lo-fi fuzzed up guitar and vocal treatments. On Loveless, however, I feel like I’m being purposely impaired, blocked even, from hearing any of these elements. I want to turn down the gain, dry out the mix a bit, and get a little more click, clack, gutteral delivery out of Shields, and about half as much breath out of Belinda Butcher’s near-whisper on the likes of “Touched” and “Blown a Wish.” All this might be easier to forgive if there were other melodic elements to steer our listening experience away from the wash of at times pointless musings in one direction or another but they simply aren’t there. We are set adrift, in most cases, right from the start of each tune on a listless journey across an ocean of fluffy guitar synth, cotton candy vague words and anticeptic rhythmic drones without a map or final destination and the trips seem to leave us floating out in the middle of nothing, longing just to fall asleep. Which is precisely what I did.
I hate to start a trend of name-dropping here but it seems like the MBV crew might have made nod or two in the direction of current media-darlings Asobi Seksu who’s recent release Citrus earned an appropriately astounding 8.3 from PFM. These guys are doing a similar thing but with so much more clarity and focus. When they do gentle, they really captivate with pin-drop precision, holding your attention to every pillowy word that floats from singer Yuki Chikudate’s languid lips. When it comes time for sonic assault, they do it with the acumen of great war generals, launching attacks from each drum stroke, crush of strings, and synth wails. Hell, they even display well-honed pop sensibility when it comes to mixing in Phil Spectoresque sparkle, hook, and shine. Basically, if My Bloody Valentine expects to compete in this emerging genre of richly textural guitar and closely blended mushed-up pop they might consider mining this Asobi Seksu record for the kind of musical conducting and symphonic accuracy it takes to pull off such atmospherically ambitious music before attempting their next release.
In the end I guess I can’t dismiss this record entirely but I must say I’ll be looking forward to a third release from this band in hopes for something with a little more explicitly defined direction. The talent appears to be there but without the necessary follow through, Loveless is simply a soundtrack for dreamless sleep.

Asobi Seksu / Citrus / Rating: 8.3

"Contrary to what you may see written about them, Asobi Seksu aren't gazing at their shoes on their second album-- they're looking skyward the whole time. Yes, the guitar overload, massive reverb, and deceptively sweet vocals are all there, but this New York quartet is anything but a My Bloody Valentine retread."


Credit where credit is due: Dear Joe Tangari, thanks for the above statement in your review. I must, however, offer the following...

Moment of Clarity: Stop fucking name dropping My Bloody Valentine. NOTHING sounds like THAT band or THAT record excepting of course THAT band and THAT record. Undeniably, Asobi Seksu sounds like a lot of bands (not a plus) and if you want to get down to it there are certainly more accurate comparisons. Here’s an exercise for you:
Break out this record and listen to the track “New Years” (track 3 for you internet piracy folks). Then, listen to the song "99 Luftballons" by Nena and imagine M83 covering the song with a guest appearance by the singer from the Concretes. Then, listen to the rest of Citrus and find yourself wondering why you never thought to make a Garage Band mash-up of the Cocteau Twins vs. The Smiths vs. Joy Division (surely they'd post it on Puritan Blister). Yeah, that would sound pretty cool. There’s a guy at Columbia that came up with a program that could make an infinite number of songs out of one uploaded audio track by dividing it up according to it’s own time/tempo elements and randomly rearranging it. Looks like this band only had to run the program 12 times with 12 pre-pitchfork-approved tracks. The point on influences is not lost. They’re great. They’re unavoidable. But, ultimately, a band with so many of them worn on so many sleeves is simply not worth more than a handful of listens.

One last word for plagiarism patrol: swing on over to the Tiny Mix Tapes review of this record for a near identical discussion of “just how perfect Sean McCabe's cover art is.” This is either a case of “who posted that drivel first?” or “…minds think alike.” Either way. Cover art does not a record make. Ciao.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Brightblack Morning Light/S-T/8.2
Bardo Pond/Ticket Crystals/6.2

The repetitions feel like minimalism, but it unfurls like the sleepiest loner psych.

Bardo Pond have always been at their best when they allow themselves to collapse into their non-linear, highly improvised drone rock rather than put too much focus on compositional structure.

The past week on the East Coast has been hot and rainy. The week before the fourth was a mix of hot, humid days with intermittent downpours. The inescapable perspiration, prickly heat, and the long days drag along until a storm comes in, dropping the air temperature and breaking the still heat with a torrent of water and the rumble of thunder. A week or so ago, I wondered if this would be the summer of twee, but after last week’s heat and a quick stock of recent releases, I think 2006 is looking to be a summer of psychedelic rock.

Brightblack Morning Light may have connections to the freak-folk scene, but their self-titled Matador debut has a strong electric vibe. Stosuy sees a connection in their music to the Royal Trux, but really Brightblack Morning Light has soaked in a strong R&B vibe, making me think of Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis records played at a full speed too slow. The first track (and MP3 single) “Everybody Daylight” has drowsy vocals over a slow Rhodes piano groove, hand claps and funk drum line. It wonderfully combines soul and stoner rock. “Friend of Time” starts with percussion then rolls into boogie-woogie piano and slide guitar then vocals then a trombone solo. While Brightblack Morning Light may hand with Devendra and Joanna, they’re far more blues than folk. Their instrumentation also is more rock than folk; it’d take a mighty long power cord to drag that Rhodes and guitar amp next to a campfire.

Brightblack Morning Light carries out this vibe flawlessly. However, the ten tracks on the record quickly blend into each other. I actually started listening to the album on vinyl, playing two or three songs a side. Once I got all of the tracks on my digi-music-thingy, I found it hard to make it through all of them. The band is like a basketball player that flawlessly sinks a three point shot from the same place on the court again and again. The first time you see the ball drop through the net, you’re in awe. Seeing it happen three or four more times, your chin drops. But after an hour of watching the same shot made over and over, you wish for a slam-dunk or even a lay up. That sameness makes it hard for me to feel the same 8.1 that Stosuy feels. Brightblack Morning Light does what they do very well, but I’d shave a full point off the record for a lack of variety. Their record captures the slow, droning heat and humidity of a summer day but with no thunderstorm or rain to cut the heat.

On the other hand, Bardo Pond’s latest Ticket Crystals captures a thunderstorm and the quiet afterwards. The opening cut Destroying Angel starts with a few chords strummed on an acoustic guitar then bursts out in thunderclaps of distorted guitar. For folks who prefer the gentleness of Brightblack Morning Light’s vibe, Bardo Pond’s music is a much harsher buzz. However, I like my psychedelia with plenty of overdrive. I found the long tracks had enough storm and stillness to justify the length.

The tricky thing for me is slapping a number on Ticket Crystals. I like it better than Brightblack Morning Light’s record, but find it on par with their past releases. The previous albums rated around a 7, but this record feels a little more than that to me. I guess a 7.2ish would do okay. In any event, Bardo Pond delivers a summer storm of psychedelic music that rumbles, crashes and drones. For a sumer thunderstorm of rock, I recommend Ticket Crystals, through a few tracks from Brightblack Morning Light here and there will help you mellow out.

This just in: Celtic Frost on tour w/ 1349, Sahg, Goatwhore, and Sunno))),

Check out this sweet press release I just got:


"Celtic Frost are very proud to announce the following support billing for the group's fall 2006 North American tour:

For the first leg of the tour, from September 12 (Springfield,Virginia) to October 2, 2006 (Portland, Oregon), Celtic Frost will be joined by renown Norwegian black metal shooting stars 1349 as well as Norwegian doom supergroup Sahg (featuring some of the most distinguished musicians of Norway's effervescent metal scene, namely members of Manngard and 2005 Norwegian Grammy award winners Audrey Horne as well as former Gorgoroth members King and Kvitrafn). These will be the first North American shows for both 1349 and Sahg.

From October 3 (San Francisco, California) to the end of the tour, on November 11, 2006 (Johnson City, New York), Celtic Frost will be supported by eminent American black/death metal group Goatwhore.

Moreover, Celtic Frost are very proud to be able to announce the addition of American drone/doom stars sunn O))) to the billing for the shows from October 3 (San Francisco, California) to October 9 (Las Vegas, Nevada).

CELTIC FROST w/ SUNN O))) & GOATWHORE

October 3, 2006 San Francisco, California // Fillmore October 4, 2006 San Diego, California // House of Blues October 5, 2006 Anaheim, California // House of Blues October 7, 2006 Los Angeles, California // House of Blues October 8, 2006 Phoenix, Arizona // Marquee Theater October 9, 2006 Las Vegas, Nevada // House of Blues"

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sound Team / Movie Monster / Rating: 3.7

Hooray for guest reviews!!!!!
______________________________________________________



WORST REVIEW OF THE YEAR
written by Joaquin Stick



"Sound Team's first proper full-length Movie Monster tries hard to straddle between blockbuster and cult classic, flashing a dizzying array of instant-cred reference points like so much major-label bling and piling on rube-dazzling special effects."

In the review of Sound Team's Capitol Records debut, Marc Hogan gives a strong critique of the band's calculated influences and backroom strategizing. Like the blog frenzy surrounding Samuel L. Jackson's upcoming pièce de résistance, Snakes On A Plane, Hogan considers the band's internet buzz to be undeserved because they're merely a work of artifice. Lacking originality, they utilize "Wall-of-the-Edge guitars" and "blurry soundscapes" and a "hipster roll call of influences" to make you think they're good - or more importantly, cool.

Damn you Sound Team.

And damn your hipster roll call of influences that make us think you're good.

Except, of course, that all of this is absolute conjecture. There were no interviews. No candid morning talk show tell-alls. Marc Hogan based his entire review, not on evidence, but on what he imagined were the motivations of these six strangers from Austin when making music. And, in fact, he's not imagining some random set of motivations, he's laying his own extremely self-conscious worldview onto a band's completely unknowable intentions. Who knows if they studied pitchformula.com's findings and attempted to outsmart you? Who knows how many oblique strategies The Arcade Fire schemed up for Funeral? (obviously, with their attire, weeping violins and funeral invitation-style cd insert, a lot more.)

Speaking of The Arcade Fire, when discussing Win Butler's reasons for having Sound Team as support, Hogan presented blog gossip as fact to support his opinion, and I literally shit my pants. This hearsay is akin to me giving credence to one Gorilla vs. Bear commenter who claims Hogan had a "nasty and public spell of diarrhea" once at a party.

So, if we remove all the conjecture and isolate the actual review of the music, we're down to seven words:

"...a shortage of, like, actual decent songs."

Now that's a perfectly respectable opinion to hold. Expand on how these songs aren't decent. Examine their strengths and weaknesses.

Apparently, Hogan didn't trust his critical skills enough to use them, and instead engaged in a 500+ word personal attack on the band. Was it to boost his word-based paycheck? (And, speaking of money, is there a correlation between low-quality reviews and Pitchfork's abysmal rates?)

Let's see, we've got: -"adenoidal overemoting" -"marble-mouthed" (yeah marbles!)-The singer's "strangled Walkmen/Creed croak" and "screamo-wails"-They "hack together Yankee Kid A Foxtrot nonsense lyrics"

Wow, these guys just can't seem to do a thing right, can they?

Hogan's ridicule of a lyric mentioning Kafka ("Kafka on the shore...") actually ends up working against him, for it reveals his lazy, superficial approach to criticism. Kafka On The Shore is a book by Pitchperfect-fave Murakami. Now, as to the line's meaning, or any of Matt Oliver's songs, I can't make much sense out of it. Consequently, there aren't many emotionally-affecting moments coming from the lyrics. There are enough quotable ones to tell he's got talent, though: "Came home from work and your house was missing, Told ourselves but we weren't listening" (Born To Please), "You never died, But we had your funeral anyway" (You've Never Lived A Day), "Woke up one day I was seven years older" (Handful Of Billions).

Obvious hip flashword-bands and nonsense observations reveal a lack of actual critical listening. Loveless - Yeah, he went there. And I guess the title track's "ghostly harmonies [that resemble] a subpar TV on the Radio outtake" were pretty fucking ghostly, because a second listen revealed that there aren't any harmonies in the song!

He namedrops Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with the slight observation that both they and Sound Team start their albums with short songs; except, Sound Team is less-credible for sounding "With Or Without You"-like, versus the hipper "carny busk" of CYHSY. He also takes a moment to namedrop Tapes 'n Tapes because they both have a song that mentions a place. (?!) But, Sound Team's hip Portland reference is less credible than T 'n T's "endearing" Harvard Square/Good Will Hunting reference, which is actually hip because it's not hip. I'm just gonna go ahead and type hip one more time.

A few comparisons are right on. The best description of Movie Monster is Krautrock/Eno-inspired instrumentation, a forkful of Spoon, a spoonful of The Walkmen and maybe a small barrel of Hall & Oates vocals. Hogan's version: "there's the hipster roll call of influences: Stereolab and Low-era Bowie (and thus, Krautrock motorik)." Hmmm - such an odd, all-pervasive awareness of 'cool'.

Of course, the popular trends right now don't have much to do with those influences. If you look at the most popular bands of the moment, a large group of them fall into the loose movement of freak-folk (Devendra, Joanna, Beirut, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Arcade Fire), freak-pop (Animal Collective, Architecture In Helsinki, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Fiery Furnaces, Sufjan) or the all-encompassing Shambolica (Tapes 'n Tapes, Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade, Flaming Lips, Islands). It seems to be some sort of reaction against the reigning electro and post-punk/new wave revivals of the first half of the decade. Warmth versus cold. Thesis/Antithesis. Sixties versus eighties. Possibly a yearning for an idealized past in the midst of a harsh, Bushy present. I don't know - I ain't no psychologist.

So, one has to wonder where this animosity towards Sound Team comes from. Is Hogan just a mean fellow? I don't think so. In fact, he lets slip the source of all this contempt in one of his passing shots: "...flashing a dizzying array of instant-cred reference points like so much major-label bling." And two paragraphs later, "[the last song] unveils the Bono-sized ambitions lurking beneath the album's more fashionable style-shifting." Marc Hogan's resorting to the biggest copout-cliché in all of music journalism: major label = sellout.

Unfortunately, Sound Team have found themselves in a big Capitol Records-shaped pickle. Although they're on a major label, they aren't getting the benefits that can usually off-set the dreaded indie 'backlash'. No ads. Limited distribution. Some stores familiar with their Work EP had no idea Movie Monster was already out. No PR campaign. Less blog activity because being on a major kinda means you don't need breaking or discovering, plus, again, many people had no idea it was already out. An $18.98 retail price. Capitol has been on a signing binge, which has left many of their indie bands languishing in this kind of purgatory.

I'm willing to keep an open mind, but it'll be hard to write a worse review this year. I actually want to see someone try. There are also bigger ramifications for Pitchfork if it keeps allowing this lack of rigor to color its pages. It has the potential to be an esteemed publication like Allmusic or Rolling Stone a few decades ago, but at present it's only popular because it's popular - like all those major label bands they despise.

And as for the bigger ramifications for Mr. Hogan, it's not that he can't write a good review (see Cloud Cult's Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus review). But, I think the best conclusion can be found by quoting, well...you, Marc Hogan. The writing can drastically improve by resisting "a music scene fraught with carefully cultivated, ultimately unrevealing, laughably insecure projections of 'cool'."

Final ratings: review: 0.1 / album: 8.0 (sorry I forgot to post this with the review the 1st time!)