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Archives for 09/09/2007 - 09/15/2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Decibel Download of the Day - DJ Spinoza

posted by on September 15 at 2:34 PM

Yes, the “Go to Decibel” beat drumming continues even on the weekend. Today’s download is from New York’s DJ Spinoza.

If you’re a techno fan in New York, you’re probably familiar with DJ Spinoza (Bryan Kasenic), and if not him, you’re probably familiar with the Bunker, the weekly formerly held in the intimate basement space subtonic. The night built a reputation for bringing through some of the world’s finest underground talent, with a lot of techno, but extending beyond that as well. Lately Kasenic has focused his attention on Beyond Booking, the agency he set up to spread the techno gospel of himself, his friends, and his allies (he represents Seattle’s own Berlin-based expatriate Bruno Pronsato).

DJ Spinoza - Afterhours at Ari’s [mp3]

DJ Spinoza plays the Beyond Booking/NYC Showcase, Friday, September 21 @ The VIP Room. With Wolf + Lamb and Derek Plaslaiko.

Is Animal Collective Good Music?

posted by on September 15 at 11:31 AM

I’ve seen Animal Collective before. I listen to their albums, sporadically. There are a good number of people I like and respect who are very into their music. After last night’s show, I’m less convinced than I was before that what Animal Collective is doing can be considered “good music,” let alone great music as Pitchfork would argue.

Obviously, they are a band who embrace imperfection. There is something fundamentally real about Animal Collective that is intriguing and exciting, but that doesn’t carry them far enough as a band. They aren’t particularly great musicians, the singer can’t hit notes for the majority of their set, and as soon as something exciting happens, it keeps happening the same way for about six minutes before the band settles back into another long, reverb-ed out psychedelic jam. What their fan base seems to thrive on is the visceral rawness of the band; the fact that it doesn’t matter if Animal Collective is playing what is unilaterally construed as “a song.” Their sound is a highly refined version of therapeutic yelling - a natural release of the noises that seem to be brewing inside of them. For this I commend the band. I will not argue with the validity or the necessity of artists who choose this path to express their art.

However, these are rarely the traits I find appealing in my musical selections. When Animal Collective does it right, it’s brilliant: “Leaf House,” the opener off Sung Tongs, and even “Fireworks,” off their most recent release Strawberry Jam, frame the band in a context that makes sense to me. In these particular songs the band takes their guttural wailings, tribal tom drums, and effected, warping instrumentation and mold it into a structural, cohesive listening unit. The majority of their material though - specifically how they perform it live - is a sprawling, emotional free-for-all that can only truly relate to it’s audience on a primal, emotional level. The audience energy builds concurrent with the band - when the musicians decide to break out of their droning, hypnotic swells into their “poppier” tunes everyone’s head raises and the floor begins to bob with bodies. But these moments come few and far between in the set, especially last night’s set, which had even less dancing than their previous visit to Neumos.

The selling point for this band is their effectiveness in ensnaring the audience in a trance. For some people, Animal Collective’s music speaks on a fundamentally basic level, mimicking the undigested gibberish and pulsating beats that drive their basic motor functions, perhaps even their subconscious. The audience member is ready and willing to let the band guide them through some sort of aural spirit journey; whether or not actual drugs are involved in the process… well, they probably are. Animal Collective’s music (particularly their vocalizing) is rudimentary and emotive, and it was easy to see scanning the audience which people really understood it on a foundational level. These people danced and shook when everyone else stood transfixed, experiencing but not fully embracing. Though for every one person truly feeling the music I’m sure there were several posers who danced and shook because they thought they were supposed to, or felt obligated. I mean, you’re at an Animal Collective show, man, you gotta freak out! Right?

Maybe no one “really” gets Animal Collective at all, everyone’s just playing along because they think it’s cool to be really into a band that defies conventional “quality.” I think of this in the same vein as how I can only vouch for my own personal consciousness - I can’t guarantee anyone else in the world has the same capacity for free thought as I do. But for some reason I do believe all humans have free thought, and some people really, really like Animal Collective. I just have to take their word on it.

I don‘t “get“ Animal Collective most of the time, and I’m not sure what it is I should be getting. I will watch contently, intrigued by their musical decisions but never engrossed to the point of physical response through dance. On a fundamental level, I can’t really jive with what Animal Collective is spewing. I don’t forgive - let alone embrace - many of the misgivings that seem to fuel other listeners’ love for the band. In a way, the music is almost too real, but it’s not the kind of real I find myself drawn to. I have a hard time embracing a singer who can’t hit notes. I get bored when a band does the same thing over and over to the point of exhaustion. Seeing Animal Collective last night was like having a long, passionate one-sided conversation with someone I realized I had almost nothing in common with.

There is a thin line between “real” and just plain “bad.” Animal Collective are a good band because the “reality” their music portrays, regardless of it not being my reality, has been embraced wholeheartedly by such a large audience. Of course, this argument could also be made for someone who really “gets” what Nickleback has to say, but it’s completely different in this scenario. Animal Collective is not pushing anything that has been specifically designed to penetrate a target market. They are (or would appear to be) making bizarre sounds that emanate from their persons naturally, and as it happens those sounds have reached a large, sympathetic audience. Much in the way I would never dare to refute whether or not the session you had with your psychiatrist was a “good conversation,” I would never want to deny someone the emotions they experienced at an Animal Collective show. But the show for me was just that - listening in on someone else’s psychiatry, never being able to personalize it to a point of relevance, let alone actual enjoyment. Animal Collective are a pair of prescription glasses: pass them around in a large enough room and through them some people will see clearly. I think I can make the image out - but it’s way too blurry for me to keep staring at it.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Decibel Download of the Day - Diplo

posted by on September 14 at 4:30 PM

I thought I would go with something more minimal today, but then I remembered it’s Friday and I’d rather kick off the weekend with something more party-centric. So instead, today’s download is from masher-upper, party DJ and beat plunderer Diplo. It’s a recent mix that was done for Pitchfork. In expected Diplo fashion it’s all over the place, with little regard for genre.

Diplo: Pitchfork Mix 02 [mp3-zip - more info]

Diplo plays the Decibel Kick-off Party/Death of the Party Showcase Thursday, September 20 at Neumos. With Switch, Simian Mobile Disco, Pretty Titty and Fourcolorzack.

Go See Yo Majesty! @ Chop Suey Tomorrow

posted by on September 14 at 4:01 PM

This is a picture I took of Yo Majesty!:

Yo Majesty @ SXSW

Here’s what I wrote about them for the paper (regarding the show where the above was taken):

(Chop Suey) At this year’s SXSW, Tampa’s Yo Majesty interrogated their Beauty Bar audience, taunting that we weren’t nearly as ready as we claimed we were. They demanded their DJ strip down before starting, then tore into their own brand of electro-rap, a crunk, butch trio in the tradition of JJ Fad or Salt-N-Pepa. It was a few songs into the set and the crowd was already a sweaty mess when one of the MCs ripped off her wife-beater, leaving her titties a-flailing as she continued to perform. The energy level leaped from 11 to 15 as everyone understandably lost their damn minds. With surprises like that, only one thing is certain about this show—y’all ain’t ready.

Seriously, don’t miss this.

Hall & Oates & Chromeo

posted by on September 14 at 3:56 PM

It sounds too good to be true, but Pitchfork has the scoop:

“Indeed, Chromeo’s idols Hall and Oates have asked them to collaborate with them on their upcoming record! Needless to say, the gentlemen are giddy like schoolchildren to be given this opportunity.”

Oh shit!

European Travel Mix

posted by on September 14 at 3:40 PM

I’m back today from Italy and Germany, from a trip that included 13 trains, 8 flights, and about 50 miles of walking from one art show to the next.

With me through all this were the following:

Loretta Lynn’s “Family Tree”
Harry Nilsson’s “Take 54”
Queen’s “‘39”
Lily Allen’s “Not Big”
The Decemberists’s “O Valencia!”
Band of Horses’s “The Funeral”
and of course, They Might Be Giants, in the form of “The Mesopotamians”

I know very little about each of these artists (except Queen and TMBG). I do not know the correct lyrics. The mix was a gift. What I can’t get rid of in my post-travel haze is “The Funeral” and “O Valencia!” I keep hearing, “On every occasion, one-million day funeral.”

Doowutchyalike @ Nectar

posted by on September 14 at 3:14 PM

doob.jpg

Of course you’ve made the decidedly ingenious decision to see Velella Velella tonight at Seattle Public Library (which looks as funky and angular and intriguing as the band sounds) during The Stranger’s Genius Awards party. Way to go! The party ends at midnight, so if you’re looking for something to do afterwards—and you happen to be heading to Fremont—consider this classic backyard shindig.

Says DJ Marc Sense: “The idea for Doowutchyalike is to have a backyard BBQ-type jam with keg cups, hot dogs, and of course a crazy variety of dope music of all genres.”

Hot dogs!

Les Savy Fav - “The Equestrian”

posted by on September 14 at 2:58 PM

Les Savy Fav’s music video contest for new single “The Equestrian” from their forthcoming Let’s Stay Friends continues, with three new entries—a nice Beatles-ship Potemkin mashup, a timely if not “All Through The Night”-brilliant Britney Spears VMA overdub, and a second try from some goofball in a basement):

No Metal Men Tonight

posted by on September 14 at 2:56 PM

A correction to The Score this week: Tonight’s performance by the Metal Men - the duo of Eric Muhs and John Hawkley - slated for the Chapel Performance Space has been canceled due to a scheduling mix-up. Here are some classic Silver Age-era comic covers of the other Metal Men.


wrong Metal Men

The gig has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 27.

Best Song Ever (This Week)

posted by on September 14 at 2:35 PM

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Purists, nay-sayers, be damned. I love the Chromatics’ cover of Kate Bush’s “Running up That Hill” from their new album, Night Drive.

Chromatics - “Running up That Hill (Demo)” (Courtesy of 20JazzFunkGreats)

Appetite For Destruction

posted by on September 14 at 2:14 PM

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So, Rolling Stone is reporting that Anthony Bourdain, TV’s most charming ex-junkie chef is teaming up with Queens of the Stone Age for an upcoming holiday special. I’m not a big QOTSA fan, maybe a QOTSA well-wisher (in that I wish them no specific harm) but I’m a big fan of Bourdain and this sounds like a kickass time:

If you are Anthony Bourdain, the punk-rock-loving world-renowned chef and star of the hit Travel Channel show No Reservations, sometimes you find yourself in Berlin boozing with Queens of the Stone Age. As the cocktails flow, the conversation morphs from the Ramones to kitsch, and before you know it you’re talking about super-cheesy Christmas variety-show specials in the Bing Crosby-hosts-David Bowie tradition. The result? Last week QOTSA played “Silver Bells” (renamed “Turkey Bells”) for a holiday-themed episode of No Reservations. “We just got a call saying, ‘Hey, we have a weird idea,’” frontman Josh Homme told us. “So when people come to us with that sort of a statement we are all ears.”

The show will also feature Japanese businessmen, karaoke, and if past shows are any indication— lots of drinking and chain-smoking. And even though Bourdain himself is not a musician, even without any QOTSA connection it seems appropriate to talk about him on Lineout. A hardened NYC cook who makes as many drugged-out allusions to the Ramones as he does Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Bourdain has a manic passion for good food that matches the hedonistic excess of any rock band. If you’ve never read Bourdain’s account of his travels while working on a failed Food Network show, A Cook’s Tour, I highly recommend it. Never has eating the still-beating heart of a cobra sounded so vividly appetizing.

Iron Maiden, The Trooper?

posted by on September 14 at 1:58 PM

I can’t even describe why this is so funny… now I wish I could play a Slayer song in my armpit. I’m going to try. Practice makes perfect, right?

Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology Of Songs And Poems

posted by on September 14 at 1:25 PM

Ah lesbians!

What would the world be without ‘em.

DSC03326.JPG


We’d be missing these sweet tracks!

The sweet Laura Nyro-esque Bebe K’Roche - Kahlua Mama.

And the totally hilarious (read: terrible, bad, trainwreck) Sue Fink - Leaping Lesbians.


Ice Castles and Atomic Bombs

posted by on September 14 at 12:46 PM

Yesterday, in comments, “Spanky” wondered what Axl Rose’s larynx or voice box might look like. Enya’s too.

I have those images for you now:

Axl Rose’s larynx:

rebelb.jpg

Enya’s larynx:

design_fortress1.jpg

250px-Christopher_margot1.jpg

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AC/DC singer, Brian Johnson’s larynx:

atomic.jpg

Conspiracy Alert! Hall and Oates Defrauding Their Own Fans Over 20 Years Ago! (Possibly)

posted by on September 14 at 12:45 PM

So last night, I allowed my friend Merlin to come over and defile my record player with his new (to him) Hall & Oates Private Eyes vinyl. As he always does, he left some of his trash in my apartment.

But what magical, informative trash it turned out to be! As were found in many records of the day, this Hall & Oates composition contained an invitation to order a t-shirt and receive the Hall & Oates newsletter. The invitation looks like this:
orderform.jpg

The t-shirts cost $10, which was a lot for a t-shirt in those days. You had to be really committed to Hall & Oates. But you know what? Hall & Oates weren’t committed to you. They just wanted you to literally throw your money away. How do I know this?

On the opposing side of the order form, there is a pre-addressed envelope, presumably for you to remit your payment to the Hall & Oates empire. But it is false!
envelope1.jpg

The address, if you can’t see it, mails to P.O. Box 000!!! That can’t be the correct address! Hall & Oates was having their fans mail money to NO ONE!

I know this is a scathing accusation from which they will never recover, but we here at Line Out are committed to bringing you the truth. About Hall & Oates. Forever.

When Kanye West Says He’ll Do Anything for a Blonde Dyke, He Isn’t Kidding

posted by on September 14 at 12:00 PM

So Kanye West was just on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

After acknowledging West’s recent and abrupt absence from a number of scheduled media appearances (David Letterman, one or two others), Ellen offered Kanye sincere thanks for showing up for her show.

Kanye said, “Like I say in ‘Stronger,’ I’ll do anything for a…”

Ellen cracked up. Kanye smiled sweetly. Then he stood and did an allegedly impromptu performance of “Stronger” for the studio audience, a bunch of middle-aged white women outfitted with paper versions of the “Stronger” sunglasses.

When he was done, Ellen hugged him and said, “And I’ll do anything for you.”

It was all so terribly sweet. Really.

Then 50 Cent came out and punched Ellen in the face, then crapped on her chest.

Robert Smith-ra Descends Upon The Gorge

posted by on September 14 at 11:57 AM

smithra.jpg

Is Megan still out of town? The Cure’s rescheduled summer ‘08 tour was announced nearly four hours ago, and it’s still not posted on Line Out. Hope she’s okay.

The original tour dates scheduled for this October have been bumped all the way to May; Vancouver’s General Motors Arena still gets its fix on May 26, while Seattlites will have to drive to the Gorge for theirs, as The Cure joins the Sasquatch ‘08 lineup for May 25. Seems that the postponement excuse about recording a new record isn’t as fishy as I’d suspected; Reuters reports that Robert Smith is “struggling to come up with lyrics to some of the 33 new songs.”

Need some help climbing that 33-song hill? Howzabout a sequel to “Friday I’m In Love,” Rob? Just think: “Thursday’s Underrated.” Writes its fucking self. Any other suggestions?

The Terror

posted by on September 14 at 11:55 AM

Institubes Paris Terror Club Tour - Chop Suey

Ugh. Institubes beat the shit out of me last night. From about the second or third track of Orgasmic’s DJ set to the midpoint of Para One’s live PA when I finally left, exhausted, the music was relentless and punishing. I kept hydrated. I only had a couple drinks, but I couldn’t dance for more than five minutes to the 140bpm beat-down without feeling faint.

There were air-horns, animal masks, silly string, a shirtless Curses!, full-on neon-furred ravers, and a nail-painting booth presided over by our own DJ NAHA (sorry I never made it over). Curses!’s live PA was probably the highlight of the night, with Luca Venezia dropping live vocals over his hyper house cuts. Of the other three performers, it’s hard to pick out a second favorite. Orgasmic’s set was warm-up, but it was also the only forgiving 30 minutes of the night. Surkin’s classic rave revivalism and Para One’s blasting techno were both just exhausting. Everything was very loud. Like Dinosaur Jr loud. It may have all been a little too much for Seattle—or for me at least.

Thank god there’s no raves to go to tonight…

Smash Your Head, Pt. 3

posted by on September 14 at 11:45 AM

Seems fitting to end this week’s Band Of Horses blog trilogy with one last look at the colliding worlds of music and corporate sponsorship. Yesterday, Pitchfork Media asked the band to respond to reports about BoH tunes being used by Wal-Mart and Ford in advertising campaigns, and lead singer Ben Bridwell’s response is down-to-earth enough:

It beats the hell out of stealing batteries from Wal-Mart to sell them back for 8 bucks.

Attach a goofy yellow smiley face to that catch phrase, Waltons. This comes only two days after the former Seattle sextet rode neon-lit dromedaries into Neumo’s, where Bridwell was just as self-effacing. The only time he referred to the show’s overt sponsorship was when a guy in the crowd hollered a request—for a smoke. “Sorry, they didn’t give us any of those,” Bridwell responded. “But we’ve got plenty of Band of Horses to give away.”

I Seen It With My Very Own Eyes

posted by on September 14 at 9:05 AM

I knew it was imminent. Maybe some of you have been seeing this for weeks, or even months. I, however, had not encountered this inevitable phenomenon until the day before yesterday.

I was on Queen Anne with my fella Jake, heading across Queen Anne Avenue at Mercer toward Pagliacci, and we saw her simultaneously: a real-live person attempting a full-scale, non-Halloween approximation of Amy Winehouse.

scaled.SameyWinehouse.jpg

Sorry for the inherently cruddy cell phone photo, but it captures the general essence. She had the full beehive hair-do and heavy Cleopatra eyes, and carried it all with a glorious air of “What the fuck you looking at?” (Sadly missing: Ratty ballerina slippers, perhaps soaked with blood. But maybe those are saved for weekends.)

Now all I’ve got is questions: What happens when two or more Samey Winehouses go to the same place at the same time? Is there a struggle for dominance, or are they automatically sisters? Who knows, but I imagine they’re popping up on streets across the land. If so, please share photos.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pop Music (By the Numbers)

posted by on September 13 at 5:47 PM

In response to the other day’s post about the glut of “critically acclaimed” albums between ’67 and ’76, commenter Matthew suggests that:

There’s a simple explanation for the concentration of canonization between 1967 and 1976. Disco and singles. Disco was an exciting but financially risky hump for the music industry right after 1976. Since then, it’s been more about singles than albums since the rebound in 1983 or so. So obviously, the golden age of albums is going to be more concentrated in the ‘67 to ‘76 decade.

Good point. ‘67 to ‘76 was also the golden age of the AOR radio format — which played album cuts rather than singles, and exposed mainstream America to a much wider range of music than the rock and roll and R&B 45s on air in years prior. AOR made it easier for record companies to promote full-length albums, which were much more profitable than singles at the time. So yeah, it makes sense — more classic albums got made in a decade when it was really easy for record companies to sell them by the metric shitload. And fewer great albums got made in decades when radio, which was for a long time the only real way to market music to people, was all about hit singles.

But did the shift away from albums lead to more critically acclaimed singles after 1976? Let’s look at the numbers. (Acclaimed Music makes all their data available as Excel spreadsheets. Albums here, singles here.) Turns out it’s been even longer since critics thought singles were any good. More of those were produced between 1957 and 1966—31 of the top 100, in fact, and Elvis made six of them. Factor in the following decade, and 60% of the top 100 were produced between ’57 and ’76:

singles.JPG

We suck harder and harder every year. Twice as many great singles were made between 1954 and 1956 than in the past 10 years. We’ve got work to do. And here’s one place to start: if you want to crack the top 3,000, try adding a second title to your song (e.g. “Fight For Your Right (To Party)”), and keeping it kosher:

title_analysis.jpg


Cosmic Love Machine

posted by on September 13 at 5:21 PM

In 1977 Supermax released the solid cosmic disco LP World of Today. Supermax is a project put together by Kurt Hauenstein, who was also a member of Bamboo, a project that produced the classic italo disco club hit “Spaceship Crashing” in 1979. Much like the Bamboo LP, Supermax’s World of Today LP blurs the lines between cosmic and italo grooves to produce a solid blend of “hard edged” disco. Some of the solid tracks off this LP include “Musicexpress”, “Camillo”, and the much praised single “Lovemachine”. If your into the more cosmic side of disco, than World of Today is a “must-have” in your record collection.

Supermax - Musicexpress

Genius

posted by on September 13 at 3:17 PM

So…the Stranger’s Genius Awards Party is tomorrow night at the Downtown Library. It’s going to be awesome! The Blow is playing. So is Vellela Vellela. So is Nordic Soul (aka Decibel Festival’s Sean Horton).

The Blow and I had a little chat about the Genius Awards, her SAT scores, and why the Stranger doesn’t have a Genius Award for music:

Have you ever been recognized for genius before? Placed in a gifted program or anything like that?

When I was little, I remember my mom having a conversation with me. I was in kindergarten, and I was in the Zebras, and my mom asked me if I would like to stay a Zebra or if I would like to move up and become a Horse. Maybe it was the other way around. And I decided that I wanted to go up and be a Horse, which meant that I was smart enough to skip ahead a grade. So I was a Horse instead of a Zebra.

You can read the whole thing here.

The Genius Awards Party starts at 9:30pm, it’s free, and it’s 21+.

Decibel Download of the Day - Orac Records

posted by on September 13 at 2:01 PM

Decibel is but a week away(!), and in anticipation I’m planning to do at least a post a day with music from some artist or in today’s case, collection of artists, that are going to be playing. As with many of my posts, it’s really just an excuse to share some free music. At least now it’s free music with a greater purpose.

Today’s download is a mix put together by Minneapolis’ Jamespatrick. Featuring cuts from various Orac Records releases, the mix is a celebration of the Seattle-based label reaching the milestone of their 25th release (Quenum’s “Acalanto / Glasgow,” coming out September 17). In that time the label has earned itself a very good reputation as a home for experimental techno, from both new (Jon McMillion) and more established artists (Sutekh, Bruno Pronsato). It’s hard to get any release out the door so to do it repeatedly and with such a high quality bar is admirable. Congratulations Orac.

“Dance All Night, Ponies”— an Orac Megamix by JamesPatrick [mp3 - more info]

The Orac Records Label showcase is Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Baltic Room. Music provided by Strategy, Caro, Jon McMillion, and Konstantin Gabbro. Free with Db Pass, otherwise $7 adv. or $10 at the door.

Dept of Corrections

posted by on September 13 at 1:50 PM

In my column this week, I write about missing the Juan Maclean’s set at last Friday’s Sing Sing at the War Room and Juan’s apparent disappointment with the evening. But, Juan and I got a few things wrong, according to the night’s promoter Death of the Party’s Clayton Vomero:

[Juan] was booked to play an hour set. Which he did.

DJ Mel was considered the headliner for that event and played immediately after Juan with three songs played by Zack and I in between. We did not kick Juan off as your article implies and he did not “end his set early”. In all promotion leading up to the event it was made very clear that Juan was playing an early set. As for us asking if Barfly could “rap over his set”, that’s completely ridiculous. We asked Juan if he had any objections to Barfly announcing his name.

So, my mistake: I thought Juan Maclean was the headliner (as did everyone I was with that night, as Juan seemed to think), and I took him at his word re: his set time and the events of the evening.

Another error: In the print version of this preview of Decibel Festival, the Decibel Kick-Off Party/Death of the Party Showcase is incorrectly referred to as just the “Decibel Kick-Off Party.” I sincerely regret the omission.

Out Goes Alex Under, In Comes Claude VonStroke

posted by on September 13 at 1:24 PM

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Just got a call a few minutes ago informing me that tomorrow’s scheduled Broken Disco headliner, Spain’s Alex Under, has cancelled. After all the hype over Alex Under’s live performance (and listening to a recording from last year’s Mutek), I was pretty stoked to see him, but these things happen.

But don’t fret, the tireless Broken Disco promoters have filled in that slot with another favorite, San Francisco’s Claude VonStroke. I just saw him play last weekend in San Francisco, and I’m still jazzed to see him again. He played some tracks from his new label, Mothership, that completely kill (so Detroit-y!), so consider tomorrow’s set to be a preview of the label showcase he’ll be doing next week at the Decibel Festival.

Fantastic Larynges

posted by on September 13 at 12:56 PM

That cartilaginous thing behind your tongue is the larynx. Also known as the voice box and the reason we can speak and sing. Somewhere along the evolutionary way, the human larynx descended, and linguists say this was critical to the development of speech and language. Some aquatic mammals and large deer have descended larynges as well.

Say it with me – C-A-R-T-I-L-A-G-I-N-OUS

Let us shrink ourselves in a miniature submarine like Isaac Asimov characters in the Fantastic Voyage and journey inside to the fantastic throat area to see how singers can make such beautiful singing sounds.

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This is your captain speaking. Sit back, relax. Your tray tables are tarts, so nibble at will.

As we enter the larynx we see that it protects the trachea, houses vocal cords or folds, and is situated just below where the pharynx splits into the trachea and the esophagus.

Manipulation of the larynx is used to generate a source sound with a particular frequency or pitch. Based on position of the tongue, lips, and mouth, this source sound changes as it travels through the vocal tract. The process of altering a source sound as it passes through the filter of the vocal tract creates the many different vowel and consonant sounds.

throat4.jpgThe captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, because this throat is about to swallow, and that means turbulence. Just a little bump.

Now the captain has the scientific sign on -

A voice sound is produced when air expelled from the lungs causes the vocal cords to vibrate. This is called phonation. The muscles attached to the arytenoid cartilages control the degree of opening. They allow the vocal cords to be tensed and relaxed. Vocal cord tension is also controlled by rocking the thyroid cartilage forward and backward. This causes the pitch produced during phonation to rise or fall.

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. It causes hoarse voice or the complete loss of the voice because of irritation to the vocal cords.

And this concludes today’s submersion flight. The captain has turned on the thyroid cartilage rocking sign. You are free to tock that cartilage. Let it out. Set your larynx loose. Wail away.

Go To Bumrocks!

posted by on September 13 at 11:27 AM

Today’s post on Bumrocks is a brilliant Native American Electro Disco song by a group called Cherokee People. Red Man’s Land. Totally out there and cool.

If you don’t know about Bumrocks…. Hell, just go check it out!

Paris Terror Club Tour

posted by on September 13 at 11:05 AM

Once again:

Surkin - INS Minimix.mp3

The Paris Terror Club Tour

(Music)

The artists on Paris label Institubes mulch everything from funk to new jack to rock to house, producing gnarly distortion disco and trashed electro. The Paris Terror Club Tour features 21-year-old phenomenon Surkin, TTC rapper Orgasmic, NYC’s Curses! (aka Drop the Lime), and Para One. Surkin’s debut full-length, Action Replay, is a monster record, a relentless rush of huge beats, crushed samples, and low synths. Para One’s Epiphanie is less frantic but just as kinetic. Expect total dance-floor chaos. (Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000. 9 pm, $10, 18+.)

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 3

posted by on September 13 at 10:37 AM

Location: Greece

Eleni Karaindrou

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The first track in today’s post is from an amazing choral/theater piece by Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou. Notable not only for her dexterity in composing very slow odes on ancient instruments like the constaninople lyra, kanonaki, ney, santouri, outi, laouto, daires, and daouli, but also for the fact that this composer is, well, female. I honestly can’t name another Greek female composer who’s had a major release.

What Karaindrou brings to her work, a choral arrangement of Euripedes Trojan Women, is a genuine female understanding of hard work, domestic care and the grief and loss that goes into the family life of ancient times. Especially for women, who are so massively under-represented in the male dominated world of ancient Greek theater.

The plot of Trojan Women deals with the capturing and suffering of the women of Troy after thier men have all been captured and/or killed. As the women are divied up between the soldier/conquerers of Greece, the women’s suffering grows. They recollect on their past and future lives as intregral Greek drama unfolds. Cassandra is taken off to fulfill her role in the plot of The Oresteia, women are raped, killed and sacrificied, Helen begs for her life to Menelaus who takes her back to Greece. At the end there is a very mournful burial of the young girl Astyanax, made even more depressing as her mother can not bury her, for she has been taken back to Greece, for slavery, by Odysseus.

At the end the women who are left gather to watch Troy, and their lives and memories, burn.

The lyrics of this piece, An Ode Of Tears, are:

Sing, oh Muse, a new melody

a tune for the dead, an ode of tears

on Troy’s tomb,

for Troy I shall now wail a melancholy melody.

Karraindrou eloquently speaks of the night of the works premier at the ancient theater in Epidaurus, during a festival of Greek drama:

When the performance unfolded under the starry sky of Epidaurus, the music took its place, the womens voices joined in An Ode Of Tears and all became one: sounds, voices, colours, words, movement, light. In the holy area of Epidaaurus, the poet’s voice of transcendence, was raised once more, just as back in 415 BC when he was striving through Trojan Women to turn his fellow citizens away from the insanity of war, teaching the whole world now, just like then, that there are no winners or losers in wars, only horror and madness.

That was on August 31, 2001. Twelve days before the horrors of Sept. 11 and all that that day has wrought.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou aka Vangelis

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I knew I wanted to pair this piece with something from Vangelis, but what to chose? The man has so many albums, so many different sounds. At first I thought of using a piece from the album Odes which he produced and wrote for Greek actress Irene Papas. An album full of ancient greek poetry put to Vangelis singular style of new age music, and sung in throaty tones by Papas.

But I thought it would be too easy a pairing and kind of a cheat. After all, the piece was a lament, and I want to leave the listener on a more hopeful not. So I’ve decided to pair it with a piece from his 1988 album Direct. This album is really as “pop” as Vangelis gets. Even more so, I think, then his soundtrack music. The bonus track for the release of the CD was a song called Intergalactic Radio Station.

The thing I love about this track, and it’s musical relation to the above track is how precisely it matches the beats of Karaindrou’s work at the beginning. It also starts out in a minor key, seeming a bit ominous, then through a slight change the key is moved into a major and the tone of the song changes completely. At the end there is the voice of Casey Young, an L.A. studio musician who calls out:

Here comes the sun! Oh, and by the way… It’s been a beautiful morning. What a morning, A great morning. It’s a great morning now….
A breath of hope for the future.

Enjoy.

Eleni Karaindrou - An Ode To Tears from Trojan Women

Vangelis - Intergalactic Radio Station

Eureka!

posted by on September 13 at 10:01 AM

In reviewing the Cave Singers’ awesome debut, Invitation Songs, I was hard pressed to come up with any kind of musical comparison for their eerie, weary, Appalachian psychedelic dirge blues. The sound is simultaneously original and timeless, unprecedented and yet rooted in some sort of fantasy fiction history.

This morning I woke up with Led Zeppelin’s “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” running through my head and realized that, if anything, that’s the touchstone: the stomp/clap counter-rhythm; the linear, chorusless song structure; Page’s trance-like fingerpicking (a little snazzier than Derek Fudesco’s minimalism). This 1975 concert video even shows Robert Plant sitting on a stool to deliver his vocals, a la the Singers’ Pete Quirk. In both cases, the sound isn’t a direct conduit to forgotten folk music, it’s forgotten folk music as interpreted by rock guys used to volume and drama.

If you can’t tell, I’m totally taken by Invitation Songs, one of the most surprising and enthralling releases this year, and an absolutely stellar debut. The album drops September 25.

In other Led Zeppelin news, Pollstar reports that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones will reunite with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums for one show at London’s O2 on November 26. Tickets cost roughly $250, and proceeds from the show go to the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smash Your Head, Pt. 2

posted by on September 12 at 5:45 PM

Continuing where Grandy left off, as I attended the show as well:

I’m not sure how often former guitarist Mat Brooke shows up at Band of Horses concerts these days, but he watched this one at the very edge of the stage, seemingly poised to hop up at any point to make an amazing guest appearance. Didn’t happen. Oh well. I liked BoH better as a five-piece (if you’re gonna go with three guitars, Drive-By Truckers the hell out of it, I say), but their set last night was still solid. In particular, new song “Lamb of the Lam” was a poppy dandy, as Ben Bridwell slapped a tambourine while crooning to some uncharacteristic folk-jangle with pretty, plinking piano behind him. Seems like a much better pick for single to me, as “Is There A Ghost” is such a lyrically and constructively barren song compared to the high-octane material from the last LP; as a bonus, “Lamb” appears to take a dig at us music critic-ey types: “What the wri-ee-iters say / it means shit to me now.” Fans love that anti-press stuff, right?

Dino Jr’s set was an interesting balance of old and new; considering that their previous “comeback” tour was devoted entirely to the band’s first three records, it seems fair that they dedicated about half of last night’s setlist to Beyond. Sadly, Mascis suffered from at least one busted stack, as a Neumo’s soundguy was shining a flashlight on the band’s rig for the entire first third of the show. When this was fixed, they still stumbled, most evidently on the bummer of a guitar solo ending in “Pick Me Up”—you go to a Dino Jr show for Mascis’ masterful solos, and this one from the new record was the one I was most anxious to hear live, so its sloppiness was a pretty big setback.

But other badass moments made up for it, like the killer version of “Back To Your Heart” and the minutes-long ass-whipper of a solo that closed the band’s first set. Unlike your Malmsteens and Stevie Rays, Mascis gets the importance of the riff within the solo, fusing the best of both classic rock and metal guitar heroism. Shame they didn’t have someone up at the front of the stage to blow a fan at Mascis’ flowing, grey locks during said solo, but, hey…can’t win them all.

Shame about the show’s anti-camera policy, as I would’ve loved to film the dumbass who decided to try a stage-dive at the outset of the Dino encore. Again, can’t win ‘em all.

(If you’re intrigued by the Band of Horses cover song Grandy mentioned earlier, you’d be wise to point your browser this-a-ways for a free listen to the original song. BoH’s take on it was pretty awesome, but you just can’t be those Eccentric Soul compilations.)

Paris Terror Club Tour

posted by on September 12 at 4:48 PM

Tomorrow night at Chop Suey:

The Paris Terror Club Tour

(Music)

The artists on Paris label Institubes mulch everything from funk to new jack to rock to house, producing gnarly distortion disco and trashed electro. The Paris Terror Club Tour features 21-year-old phenomenon Surkin, TTC rapper Orgasmic, NYC’s Curses! (aka Drop the Lime), and Para One. Surkin’s debut full-length, Action Replay, is a monster record, a relentless rush of huge beats, crushed samples, and low synths. Para One’s Epiphanie is less frantic but just as kinetic. Expect total dance-floor chaos. (Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000. 9 pm, $10, 18+.)

Smash Your Head on the “Indie” Rock

posted by on September 12 at 4:12 PM

Dinosaur Jr, Band of Horses - Neumo’s

So, last night’s concert by indie rock elders Dinosaur Jr and rising stars Band of Horses was one of those cigarette company-produced affairs with free tickets (for some) and garish, tacky, overwhelming advertising for all. There were banners, illuminated logos, and projections everywhere. There were human spammers all over the venue shilling smokes and taking names. But, whatever, fine, I got in for free, right? Fair trade. But what about the 150 or so people who paid $20 a pop to be bombarded with all that shit?

Band of Horses played 11 songs, including old favorites “Wicked Gil,” “Our Swords,” “The Great Salt Lake,” new Wal*Mart anthem “The Funeral,” new single “Is There a Ghost,” a handful of other songs from the forthcoming Cease To Begin, and a cover of Them Two’s “Am I a Good Man.” The band performed as a six piece, and they sounded loud and triumphant as all hell, lending their already surging choruses even more power and (for better or worse) buffing up the band’s more trembling, quiet moments. I’d like to ID all the new songs, but I haven’t been able to stream the new album yet, so. I can say that out of all the new songs, only “Is There a Ghost” comes close to the epic pop moments Everything All The Time. The rest of the material sounds more “Southern” or country, more mellow jam, less tremendous indie pop. “Is There a Ghost” will be everywhere this fall, just watch, and that’s great—it’s a spine-tingling good song—but I’m still not sure about the rest of the record.

Dinosaur Jr were fucking loud! Well, loud/quiet/loud, really. But the loud parts, yikes! This may discredit me to admit, but I never really got into Dinosaur. I’m 27, my first exposure to them was that awesome Spike Jonze-directed golfing video for the sublime “Feel the Pain,” and that was about as deep as my relationship with the band ever got. For some reason, I got way more into Sebadoh and Folk Implosion (the reason for the latter would be “Natural One,” I guess) than I did Dinosaur. So there was no specific nostalgia for me, no idea which songs were the important ones, which were new, etc. But there was a kind of general nostalgia for the mumbled vocals, the violent, vestigial guitar solos that persisted in indie rock before the advent of “grunge“‘s anti-virtuoso riffs, and that loud/quiet/loud dynamic. The band suffered some brief technical difficulties, fielded some complaints about inaudible vocals, but mostly just shredded like a bunch of alternately spastic and autistic kids. They looked truly happy to be up there on stage together.

Disco Dancer

posted by on September 12 at 4:00 PM

In 1977, the legendary West End Records released the classic disco 12-inch Disco Dance by Michele. This Tom Moulton mixed single was the follow-up to her successful debut single Can’t You Feel It, which was released earlier that same year. Her second single, Disco Dance was a bit more upbeat, providing to be a “disco dancefloor stomper”. The 12-inch single was also presented with a thirteen-minute plus reworking by San Francisco’s finest, Patrick Cowley. West End Records liked Cowley’s mix so much that they decided to put it as the A Side of the single, while using the original mix as the B Side. Both singles were later released that year as a part of Michele’s debut full length Magic Love. The “Disco Dance” track has also recently resurfaced in West End Record’s ‘06 documentary, Gay Sex In The 70’s. A classic among disco classics.

Michelle - Disco Dance (Mega Mix)

That Jingling Sound You Hear is 50 Cent Cashing Out

posted by on September 12 at 4:00 PM

From the AP:

As of day one, Kanye had sold 437,000 copies to 50’s 310,000, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Girl Talk & Clipse @ Roseland Ballroom (Portland)

posted by on September 12 at 3:39 PM

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Girl Talk’s set at the Roseland Theater in Portland on Saturday (part of Musicfest Northwest) was like that first scene in The Lion King when Rafiki lifts the baby lion cub for the kingdom to see, and the animals all freak the fuck out. I don’t know if that analogy really works (I guess the music is Simba, but is Gregg Gillis Mufasa or the baboon?), but I think it’s safe to say that whatever the case, Girl Talk live is always insane.


I’d luckily bought a ticket to the show a week before, because gaggles of wristband-weilding festival-goers were stuck outside of the packed venue, waiting to be frisked. And oh my, what a frisking! The security guard had me walk through a metal detector before going through my bag, which involved opening every single crevice and compartment she could find (including but not limited to film canisters, a pack of gum, the pocket in the back of my moleskine?) and giving me an extremely scrutinizing twice-over, (she probably wasn’t allowed to frisk me too).

I missed Cool Kids and Lifesavas as I was trying to get into other shows, (ie YACHT @ Satyricon, the Brunettes @ Crystal Ballroom, both to no avail) but got there just in time, with pre-dance-frenzy tension hanging in the air . When Gillis finally ascended his pride rock, so did two venue security guards, and it became apparent to the crowd that no stage-rushing would be taking place. Things were looking grim, but alas! Gillis in his signature sweatsuit jumped down in front of the stage, the kids launched themselves over the barrier, the beats started, and the place exploded. Girl Talk does not disappoint. It was a limb-flailing, head-bobbing, fist-pumping mess and totally awesome. Probably even worth the twenty dollars (and countless other mysterious items I haven’t noticed missing) I lost when my bag was split open in the madness.

Half the crowd disappeared when the set was over, a shame considering Clipse was headlining; while the duo was charismatic and their performance totally on, the crowd was tuckered out from the Girl Talk insanity. Kids were dancing, maybe even awkwardly waving their hands around to the beat, but the only real enthusiasm exhibited (read: not primarily a hip-hop crowd) was for “Wamp Wamp (What It Do)”, a track Girl Talk samples in a mash-up of Grizzly Bear’s song “Knife”.

I confess I wasn’t really paying attention to Clipse, I was busy crawling around people’s feet collecting my scattered belongings.

Pampelmoose has some video footage of the show. Needless to say, unless you are totally square and hate dancing, Girl Talk shows are a blast.

Lupe Fiasco, “Superstar”

posted by on September 12 at 3:16 PM

Cagey move by Lupe’s handlers: “Superstar,” the first single from his upcoming The Cool, was leaked onto the ‘nets a few days ago, just in time to go toe-to-toe with Kanye’s Graduation.

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Lupe played this number at Bumbershoot and it gave me shivers. On closer listening, I’m loving it even more.

Metaphor. The best hiphop is all about deeper meaning through metaphor, a poetic tecnnique Kanye seems incapable of but Lupe masters like an old pro. Kanye raps about superstardom (“All That I Am,” “The Glory,” “Big Brother,” “The Good Life”—so much of Graduation is spent ruminating on success) and I can’t relate; it’s too clear that these songs are all about Kanye.

Lupe raps “Superstar” and I get the feeling the song is about me. Or at least experiences I’ve had in the past: “If you are what you say you are/A superstar/Then have no fear.” He raps about getting shut out of shows, about striving to meet expectations, about leaving the hype behind for more reliable things. Anybody can understand that, especially with Lupe’s midtempo, dude-next-door delivery.

Singer Matthew Santos weighs in on the hook with a Chris Martin-esque pop-soul voice that works beautifully. (A nod to Kanye’s superstar guest?) Listen closely and you’ll even hear one instance of the word “superstar” delivered with Mary Katherine Gallagher’s SNL inflection—slyly funny shit.

But the best part about the song is the metaphor leaves interpretation to the imagination. The listener is just as easily the superstar of the title as the narrator is. That gray area is crucial; it casts Lupe in a far more likable light than almost any of his peers. The song is abstract, artful in a way that so much mainstream rap never gets to. Kanye alienates, Lupe relates. “Superstar” is money.

Alexander Robotnick - My La(te)st Album

posted by on September 12 at 2:33 PM

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It must be hard to be a genius. Alexander Robotnick (neé Maurizio Dami) has been releasing music under various guises for more than 25 years. Yet in all that time, with all that has changed in technology, both in the studio and in our homes, he has managed to release song after song, album after album of very essential, up-to-date techno.

His career really took off in 1983 with the single Problemes D’Amour. It’s groudbreaking simplilcity tightened up a movement which until then had been loosely grouped with italo disco. But his tracks were simple, minimal, and largely computer and synth driven. As italo got more vapid (not a bad thing really…) Alexander and his followers started working like scientists, building the genetic code for what would come out of the rave generation. Acid beats, electro rythms, chilled out melodies: the blueprints all bear his fingerprints.

Throught the next couple of decades he would release single after single, whether in vogue or out, of high quality techno. His method of building melodies on top of eachother passed in, then out, of style. Thank god he’s stuck with us for all these years. There’s quite a few musicians who could/should take notes from him.

Hopefully with his new album, My La(te)st Album, he’ll get some recognition for what he’s brought to the musical landscape, and for the pictures he’s still painting with his gorgeous beat driven soundscapes. Yes you can here those hints of italo with gorgeous melodies and perfect bass lines, and even a little new wave thrown in. And hell, the vocoder, as far as I am concerned, will never go out of style, and Robotnicks use of it is perfect, just touching on the romance of the future.

A friend of mine in Glasgow recently saw Robotnick DJ/perform live and said it was absolutely incredible. He DJ’s with a laptop, a mini-keyboard and a microphone so he can experiment and play while he DJ’s.

This album manages to look forward while addressing the past which he had a huge hand in creating. For that alone I highly recommend you get this album, which is available at both iTunes and Beatport.

If your interest is peeked, check out a sample at my blog, T.M.L.

Pavlov’s Mattress

posted by on September 12 at 1:33 PM

hook2.jpgSleep Country USA, why buy a mattress anywhere else? – DING.”

You know that song, don’t you? I bet you do. I saw a Sleep Country recently and sang it, with the ding on the end. I was ashamed. I hung my head low. I don’t know how, but this tune, and these words will forever be buried in my brain.

If only I could have remembered pre-calculus this well.

I don’t watch much TV, and when commercials come on the radio, I change the channel. Still, somehow, this jingle infiltrated its way into my memory.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, the Sleep Country ad even has the bell. I hear it and instantly know the words, the company, and the tune.

Despite my best efforts, Sleep Country beat me. I’m a dog.

Are there any jingles you hate more?

Tom McGurk, from Bad Animals Studio says:

There are some secrets to coming up with a jingle that people remember, even if they don’t want to. Sometimes a commercial’s excitement will be juiced by an upward key change late in the ad. Some jingles work musically because they’re nothing more than a musical scale.

Dan Dean, who owns a Mercer Island-based production company, cites General Electric’s “we bring good things to life” melody:

Check it out — it’s a scale. The most successful jingles stick to a basic message. You only have 30 or 60 seconds to work with. Simplicity is kind of the key. And repetition.

Careful With That Axe, Zwickel

posted by on September 12 at 12:57 PM

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I’m at Cafe Vita right now finishing up next week’s features and getting totally weirded out by Pink Floyd’s Umma Gumma.

Funny story: I was in Israel for a study abroad program the year after I graduated high school. A couple friends and I went on a camping trip in the Judaean Hills outside Jerusalem—just the four of us, a few bottles of wine, a package of kosher hot dogs, and a thumb-size lump of Moroccan hash.

After night fell, we sat around the campfire, feasting on scorched weenies, guzzling cheap wine, and huffing hash from a homemade hookah (two-liter bottle, tin foil, pen tubes, plastic hose). Jackals roamed the darkness; feral howls echoed off the rocky hillsides all around us. We were drunk and stoned and totally freaked out until the animal noises finally faded away. After too much wine and hash I crawled into my sleeping bag with my headphones on, drifting off into an intoxicated half-sleep to Umma Gumma.

There’s a part in “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” where, after several minutes of early-Floydian psychedelic massage, all subtle undercurrents and gentle ebbs and flows, a maniac scream crashes through like a shrill, psychotic animal cry.

That scream cut in right as I was drifting off to sleep: “Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhrrrrg!”

I jolted bolt upright, my heart galloping, brain reeling from stoned to sober in a blink. Our camp was being raided by rabid jackals or killer owls, screaming their scream, making their move. I peered into the darkness, prepared to be mauled by Israeli wilderness beasts, but nothing happened except the fadeout of “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” It slowly dawned on me that I had been Floyded.

I clambered out of my sleeping bag, stumbled over to the bushes, nervously puked out a gutful of half-cooked hot dogs, and went back to sleep with the Walkman off.

September’s Thaumaturgical Releases

posted by on September 12 at 12:33 PM

September’s shaping up to be pretty good for new releases - there are more great albums coming out than there is room in the paper to review them. Here are my four favorites coming out this month:

Baroness – Red Album (Relapse, Sept. 4th)
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Easily one of the best metal albums to be released all year, Baroness have really stepped up their game on their first proper full length. It’s pretty easy to hear the similarities between Baroness and their fellow Georgia contemporaries Mastodon, but its never like they’re purposefully trying to rip Mastodon’s style. They take heavy riffs peppered with harmonized licks and throw in a touch of Southern familiarity, then match the tough stuff with Isis-esque droning and climaxes. Anyone who’s a fan of either of the aforementioned bands is definitely going to be into this.

Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature (Mute, Sept. 25th)
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This man’s voice is smooth like buttermilk. If you’re not already familiar, Gonzalez is an Argentinean-born Swede who plays slow, somber folk tunes that channel Nick Drake. His debut album, Veneer, was amazing, with a cover of the Knife’s “Heartbeats” that was better than the original. In Our Nature has Gonzalez moving away from the sentimentality of his first release and more into politically minded folk. His songs haven’t lost any of their beauty, but there is something emotional missing from the album that Veneer captured perfectly.

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog (Sup Pop, Sept. 25th)
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I really didn’t care much for Sam Beam’s split with Calexico – I’ll take his straightforward folk to his alt-cunch any day. The Shepherd’s Dog doesn’t bring Iron and Wine’s sound back to his first two releases – there’s still too much…flavor – but I like this incarnation better than In the Reins. The song structures feel trademark Beam; if you stripped away all the other instruments and percussion the songs could be acoustic gems. The tribal toms and hand drums, twangy strings and sparse keys he’s added give the songs a new nervous energy, which although not as transcendent as the breezy, summer afternoon anthems of The Creek Drank the Cradle and Our Endless Numbered Days, is still impressively ambitious.

Devendra Banhart – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL, Sept. 25th)
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Holy shit, what a great album. I can’t stop listening to this. After being thoroughly impressed by his performance at Bumbershoot I couldn’t wait to hear the album. At first I was like, “What the fuck is he doing?” but after a few listens I was hooked. Normally I don’t care for albums where the artist jumps around from genre to genre (read: Ween), but the way Banhart goes from acoustic Spanish ballad, to 70’s jam, to 50’s doo-wop and soul, however bizarre, is fantastic. The doo-wop song in particular, “Shabop Shalom,” is a hilarious rendering of the classic malt shop sound with lyrics about trying to snag a Jewess. “It was at this precise moment that he saw her, her walk was soft and delicate with a thaumaturgical touch that only a Rabbi’s daughter could have. Before their eyes had even met, her luminous lips had already lured him in. Salvation winked with the promise of a bris held at pinnacle, in a congregation of Sages bunny-hopping and chicken dancing to Yiddish minto.” I don’t know if that last word is right. It took me five minutes just to figure out what the word “thaumaturgical” was (thau·ma·tur·gy n. The working of miracles or magic feats). The album is hardly cohesive, but once the initial shock wears off, Banhart’s brilliance seeps through track by track, revealing a scatter-brained but remarkable songwriter.

Humpty Hump/Shock G @ Laff Hole!

posted by on September 12 at 10:52 AM

Tonight @ Chop Suey, 9pm, $5, 21, w/ Rory Scovel, Scott Moran, & Andy Haynes.

Also, Lindy West asks the question, Is there such a thing as too much Humpty?

The Mood Is Everything

posted by on September 12 at 10:38 AM

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Disconcerting in just the right way for the beginning of autumn, the eponymous new album by Portland’s Pseudosix has been my soundtrack of the past few weeks. The band plays a complex but catchy brand of orchestral indie rock with lyrics that get under your skin and stay there.

I had the chance to talk with lead singer and songwriter Tim Perry about the band’s new album, their menacing reputation, and full-on 8th-grade balls.


CHRIS MCCANN: How would you say the new album differs from [Pseudosix’s first album] Days of Delay?

TIM PERRY: I think the new album is more aggressive. Most of the songs on Days of Delay were written behind a closed bedroom door. I sang quiet so people in my house wouldn’t hear me. But the new album is a lot more confident. The arrangements are more ballsy. That’s what I’m trying to say: Balls. Days of Delay was like 7th grade balls. The new album is like full-on 8th-grade balls. Bigger. More pronounced.

CM: What was the recording process like?

TP: This album took a really long time to record. Mostly because we could only go into the studio as money permitted. We’d lay down the main tracks (at the studio) and then I’d transfer them onto my computer and do all the overdubs and vocals in my basement. This took the better part of a year, during which time I sank deeper and deeper into the darkness. Every once in a while, someone would come over and lay down their parts. Slowly but surely it all came together.

CM: It’s your first release on Sonic Boom Recordings. What kind of support have you received from Sonic Boom and how’d you get connected with them?

TP: Sonic Boom has been great to us! Jonathan [Rothman] from the Long Winters gave them some of our recordings, which is how we got hooked up with them. Jason [Hughes], the guy who owns the label and stores, has been very supportive, honest, and hardworking. He is in it for the love of music.

CM: Do you write as a band or are you the primary songwriter? What’s the process?

TP: The songwriting process generally starts with me. Sometimes I’ll record a demo and present it to the rest of the band so they can get a sense of the cadence or vibe of the song. But from there, anything can happen. We have different styles of writing and playing music. Mine is more crafty and exact. But Jake (drums) and Emil (guitar), for example, are more in the moment. This sort of dynamic creates tension. And tension makes for better music.

Continue reading "The Mood Is Everything" »

Slate Wonders, Why Do So Many Indie Rockers Live in Portland?

posted by on September 12 at 10:38 AM

“Why is Portland America’s Indie Rock Mecca?” (Slate)

Portland Median Home Price = $280,000

Seattle Median Home Price = $500,000

Hmmmm….

Graduation

posted by on September 12 at 10:27 AM

From this:

To this:

From this:

To this:


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Proven by Science: New Music Sucks

posted by on September 11 at 10:02 PM

Cyclopic blogger Momus, writing about the metacritical stat-porn over at Acclaimed Music, notes that half of the 100 most critically acclaimed LPs of the past 50 years were recorded between 1967 and 1976. Duh, say many of you, but it’s an interesting number. (Especially now that Pitchfork has passed its final judgment on the whole thing).

After tallying the usual list of inferences you could make from this — mostly of the everything sucks today / rock critics are old farts variety — he concludes instead that “the self-esteem of the music industry is currently at a fifty-year low.”

Yeah, maybe. But maybe not. In 2006, Randall Roberts gave a wonderful talk at the EMP Pop Conference that ran the numbers on the 10,000+ record reviews in the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide and found that:

Overall, their combined artistic merit was assessed by the Guide’s writers to be worthy of 2.518 stars. In other words, according to the Rolling Stone star system, the collected, complete American record collection circa 1983 ranked somewhere between “artistically insubstantial” and “of average worth.”

More after the jump.

Continue reading "Proven by Science: New Music Sucks" »

Kanye’s “The Good Life” Video

posted by on September 11 at 8:01 PM


“You’re Welcome! YOU’RE ALL WELCOME!”

White Stripes Cancel Tour

posted by on September 11 at 7:29 PM

From a band statement reported on Pitchfork:

“The White Stripes announced today that they are canceling their forthcoming tour due to health issues. Meg White is suffering from acute anxiety and is unable to travel at this time.

“The White Stripes sincerely apologize to their fans. ‘We hate to let people down and are very sorry.’

“Fans can obtain refunds for their tickets at point of purchase.”

Damn. If only there was any other drummer on the planet that could match Meg White’s chops…

In (Partial) Defense of Graduation

posted by on September 11 at 4:48 PM

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Jonah gives Kanye West’s latest a failing grade; I’d put the effort closer to B/B- territory. Graduation might be his weakest effort overall, but there are some compelling tracks here (as well as some total bombs). Here and elsewhere, Kanye’s production style is as forward-thinking as ever (see the jazzy, Moondance-like strings on the standout track on Talib Kweli’s latest). While Graduation is trebly and synth-heavy at times, it’s balanced by innovative beat structures and soulful string arrangements that make some of these numbers prime hip-pop (a term Jonah applies with implicit negatively, which is off-base).

Here’s the wonderful thing, people: Hiphop is big enough that you don’t have to love Graduation to love hiphop. You can get off the bus with Phat Kat and POS, Jonah, because there are plenty of other routes. The one that Kanye’s on isn’t gonna please everyone, especially purists. I’ll get to them in a minute.

The song “I Wonder” is the best example of everything Jonah hates about Graduation, the best place to start deciding whether you’re on the Kanye bus or not. That old soul vocal/piano sample (reminiscent, really, of Pete Rock’s sped-up soul samples), Kanye’s broken cadence and his relentless self-aggrandizement, the humming, New Wave synth lead that masks the beat, and that righteous, Matthew Herbert-esque bass-n-strings ride-out at the end… It’s a new sound, innovative, and not easily placed in the club or the Jeep. What it is is just a damn good song, flawlessly produced and arranged, mildly annoying in its subjectmatter. It’s lovable and hatable (kind of like you, Jonah), which I find fascinating. That’s Kanye at his best.

The same way that “Good Life”—the next track—is T-Pain at his best. Just when I thought I was beyond capacity to like the guy, Kanye coaches him into his coolest appearance in, like, ever. This is the only way T-Pain should be heard—on the hook, singing a deeply soulful chorus, before getting his ass kicked back to the strip club. It’s another amazing song, two in a row for Graduation. (Though Lupe Fiasco and Gemini do an even better take of the same anthemic hiphop/pop/soul song structure with vocalist Pooh Bear on “We On.”)

To say “it should be required by law that hiphop albums have some fucking bass” is basically to say that all hiphop albums should sound the same. Again, maybe purists would argue for some kinda Hiphop Code of Enforcement, but purists are idiots.

The reason you can’t get the Daft Punk sample from “Stronger” out of your head, Jonah, is because it’s a badass track and a brilliant use of a sample. The problem is, again, Kanye’s own ego. “You can be my black Kate Moss tonight…” “I’ll do anything for a blonde dyke…” Sheah, that’s not adding much substance to the hiphop canon. Neither is the atrocious “Drunk and Hot Girls,” which is the biggest mistake to end up on tape in a long time. If it was just one of these ego rants at a time, mitigated by something deeper, more conceptual, or funnier, they’d go down easier, they’d mean more in contrast.

Kanye nearly figures it out on “Everything I Am,” the album’s one slow jam, reminiscent of some No-I.D piano plaintiveness from One Day It’ll All Make Sense. Finally, a tiny crack in dude’s towering ego. There’s self-deprecating humor here (“People talk so much shit about me at barbershops they forget to get their hair cut”) and a passionately delivered vocal: “People talk shit but when the shit hit the fan, everything I’m not made me everything I am.” Points for this soulful, never-make-it-on-the-radio joint; wish Kanye wasn’t afraid to delve into bigger issues like he almost does here.

“The Glory” is maybe the most evenly balanced track on the album, banging and lyrically tolerable, but Kanye already produced it and Jay-Z already recorded it with “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).”

And herein lies the biggest problem with Kanye—despite all the progressive production, the well-placed Chris Martin cameos (really, it works—like T-Pain [am I comparing T-Pain to Chris Martin? The need for such a comparison is what makes this album discussion-worthy], Martin’s voice is more effective on a hook than over the course of a four-minute song), we only need one ego-exploded king of hiphop. Jay-Z already established his reign with a more interesting backstory, better flow, and stronger lyrics. Intriguingly, Kanye himself addresses this issue at the end of the record.

“Big Brother,” Graduation’s closer, is all about Kanye’s relationship with Jay-Z, Kanye comparing his career to Jay’s: “My big brother was B.I.G.’s brother…” “Big brother saw me at the bottom of the totem/Now I’m at the top, everybody on the scrotum…” “To be number one I’ma beat my brother…” “I told Jay I did a song with Coldplay/Next thing I know he got a song with Coldplay…”

The track—and the album in general—proves a few things: Kanye’s got guts. He’s got crazy talent behind the boards. He’s got charisma to spare. But he’s positioned himself as a cultural icon before his time—either you’re on the come-up with him, changing the game and taking over, or you’re ready to roll him down the mountain for good. It’s not a sustainable position to be in. It doesn’t allow for grey area; as fascinating as a character as Kanye West is, I can’t fully embrace him for that reason. But it definitely gets people talking, and maybe even sells a few records.

Got To Have Your Love

posted by on September 11 at 2:46 PM

A song that I’ve found myself listening to a lot lately is Fantastic Four’s disco gem “Got To Have Your Love”. This 1977 single came out on the legendary Soul/Disco label Westbound Records, based in Detroit. The song was also mixed by the legendary producer Tom Moulton. This song showcases a nice blend between early Detroit soul and late 70’s New York/ Philadelphia disco. If your a fan of “classic Salsoul” sounding disco, than this is definitely a track for you. Unfortunately right now, this 12-inch single is going for about $70-$100 online, so if you can get your hands on it for a decent price, I highly recommend it.

Fantastic Four - Got To Have Your Love

It’s 1982 And You’re At The Monastery….

posted by on September 11 at 2:22 PM

Remember The Monastery? You don’t?

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From 1978 through the mid ‘80’s The Monastery was Seattles premier gay disco/underground nightclub. It was hot. There were men. There were drugs. There was sex.

Very few women were allowed in the club at the beginning. So those that made it in had a special place in the hearts of the queer crowd who lived it up inside.

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The biggest memories I have of the club were the stories my friends would come back to Spokane and tell me after a weekend of debauchery in the ‘80’s. They were all about showing off the new music they heard and “recovering” from the strong drinks and smooth drugs (mdma seemed to be the drug of choice back then).

My good friend Sean Wolcott, who runs a fantastic blog about making, producing, recording and listening to music here in the NW called The Red Room, just uploaded this amazing mix from a party held at The Monastery in 1982. I have no idea how tapes like this can survive 25 years of storage and being moved around without getting lost or trashed in the mean time. However, each side of the 90 minute cassette is a fantastic overview of what club-goers in Seattle were dancing to in the early ‘80’s.

Listening through this mix brought back so many memories! It’s amazing how many of these tracks migrated over the pass to Spokane!

What’s also amazing is the amount of early 80’s disco that’s come back in vogue. You’ll notice tracks by Tantra, Kano, Madleen Kane and Cerrone that have all been mentioned on this very blog by me or TJ.

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The DJ for this mix was Dana Andrews, who was a staple in the Seattle club scene for years and years. I love his choices! And the primitive mixing and few glitches only make these live mixes that much more awesome!

So put on your red clothes, turn down the lights and take yourself back to Seattle’s most imfamous night spot circa 1982, The Monastery.

The Red Party (Live At The Monastery) Pt. 1

01. An American Dream (Medley) - Hot Posse
02. His Name Is Charlie -Laser
03. Dance - Night Force
04. Top Shot (Remix) - Tantra
05. Now Baby Now - Kano
06. [UNKNOWN]
07. Exotically - Peter Jacques Band
08. [UNKNOWN]
09. Walk Right Now (12-Inch Version) - The Jacksons)
10. Fire In My Heart (Remix) - Madleen Kane
11. Trippin’ On The Moon (Remix) - Cerrone
12. Tainted Love (12-Inch Version) - Soft Cell

The Red Party (Live At The Monastery) Pt. 2

01. Spirit Of The Dancer - Evelyn King
02. On The Beat - BB&Q Band
03. Me No Pop I - Kid Creole
04. Table Manners - Kid Creole
05. I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (12-Inch Version) - Hall & Oates
06. I’m In Love (Evelyn King)
07. Double Dutch Bus (Special Remix) - Frankie Smith
08. Hard Times/Love Action (12-Inch Version) - Human League
09. Step On Out - Companion
10. Disco Train (12-Inch Version) - Dance Reaction

Meanwhile…

posted by on September 11 at 2:19 PM

The jury is in day two of deliberations in the Phil Spector murder trial. NPR has a piece about why this trial isn’t getting the same attention that other celebrity trials have. The bottom line: Nobody cares about a producer. You can’t tell that to Kanye, though.

Never Forget

posted by on September 11 at 1:20 PM

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In the comments on this Slog post, Mahtli69 reminds us:

Nothing beats the original cover art for The Coup’s album Party Music.

Finished in June 2001, the album was originally scheduled for release in Sept 2001. For some reason, the label thought people would be offended, delaying the release and changing the cover.

I can’t help but wonder what Paul Constant’s 9/11 Truthers would make of this. I mean, if Boots Riley and DJ Pam Tha Funkstress weren’t responsible for the attacks themselves, then clearly they had forewarning and failed to act, right? And what about the lizard people?

Try to Remember What It’s Like in September

posted by on September 11 at 1:00 PM

Today, September 11, is such a huge day in album releases that we decided to expand our album review section this week to include extra reviews of important releases. Seems strange—and a little inspiring—that September 11 should end up being a day of such prolificacy and creativity.

Some of the biggies dropping this week:

Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam
Black Francis, Bluefinger
Black Lips, Good Bad Not Evil
Cinematic Orchestra, Breathe
50 Cent, Curtis
The Go! Team, Proof of Youth
Garbage, All Over But the Crying
Grand National, A Drink and a Quick Decision
Grayskul, Bloody Radio
Hot Hot Heat, Happiness Ltd.
Japanther, Skuffed Up My Huffy
Modeselektor, Happy Birthday!
Oakley Hall, I’ll Follow You
Pinback, Autumn of the Seraphs
Shout Out Louds, Further North
Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release
Wiley, Playtime is Over
Kanye West, Graduation
Bernie Worrell, Improviscario

It’s a much bigger week than usual, falling on September 11 as release day. Either we’re getting over PTSD or we’re using it as inspiration.

Illegal Leak of the Week: Iron & Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog

posted by on September 11 at 12:55 PM

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If this week’s leak is any indication, Sam Beam’s hi-fi awakening in 2005 won’t be crawling back into bed anytime soon. The man’s third long-player as Iron & Wine, The Shepherd’s King, will certainly surprise passive Garden State fans with its robust, full-band approach, but even those who’ve followed the “band” through two oustanding ’05 EPs will get their fair share of surprise.

Much like Devendra Banhart, the other high-profile indie-folk artist that shares Shepherd’s September 25 release date, Beam sips from the ‘70s classic-psych well with this one, made most evident on the bongos, claps, organs and wah-heavy guitars of “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog).” About three minutes into expectedly ethereal territory (“Wolves in the middle of town and the chapel bell ringing through the windblown trees / bay to the butcher’s boy with the parking lot music, everybody believes”), a two-minute, fireside acoustic/electric guitar combo jam kicks off, complete with an Indian rattle to act as the hippie “start your engines” gun.

And in what may be the closest Beam ever gets to Black Sabbath, Iron & Wine does its best impersonation of “Planet Caravan” on their own “Carousel,” a subdued guitar-and-vibraphone song with a heavy dependence on vocal flanging (though the female harmony vocals that poke in at song’s end aren’t all too Ozzy-ian). But fear not, 12-year-old girls, as album closer “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” has enough sap on the surface (“When the cops closed the fair, I cut my long baby hair / Stole me a dog-eared map and called for you everywhere”) and acoustic, major-key wistfulness to obscure its heavy-handed look at American culture (“Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean Blood of Christ mountain stream”). Something for everybody!

Ultimately, on first impression, the album is both rousing and comforting, as no backing band can change the fact that Beam remains the world’s best lullaby singer, Ozzy impression aside.

Japanther - Skuffed Up My Huffy

posted by on September 11 at 12:21 PM

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It may be time for Japanther to drop their Greatest Hits record. They could call it Louder than Louder than Bombs. Or not. Totally up to them. The Brooklyn fuzz-core duo—consisting of drummer/vocalist Ian Vanek and bassist/vocalist Matt Reilly—has released five or albums in about as many years, as well as a handful of EPs, singles, splits, and collaborations (such as the DVD puppet performance for Dump the Body in Rikki Lake and the soundtrack to Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30). There are a lot of great songs on those records, but there are also a lot of live takes, alternate versions, demo recordings, lo-fi sample interludes, and the like. That’s all part of Japanther’s charm—a new record from them could contain a new take on a five year old song and a bunch of tape collage; their new 7” could be three insane hits that won’t leave your head for days; their best songs might be obscured by garbage recordings. Amidst all that quality-uncontrolled chaos, Japanther are making some of the best punk rock on the planet right now.

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On their new album, Skuffed Up My Huffy (out today on Menlo Park/Tapes Records), Japanther revive some previously recorded tracks—“The Boss” (which appeared on Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30 and Yer Living Grave), “Mornings” (which appeared on Master of Pigeons)—and they lay down recent live favorites “River Phoenix,” “Challenge,” “Cable Babies,” and “Fuk Tha Prince A Pull Iz Dum.” It’s another too-brief shot of scuzzy sing-along brilliance, clocking in at only 26 minutes, but it’s also their most even record yet, boasting a totally solid ratio of hits to filler. But, still, maybe it’s time to compile a best of, to build the ultimate Japanther album. Here’s a go at it:

1. “Critical Circles” (Operating Manual For Life on Earth)
2. “Evil Earth” (Operating Manual For Life on Earth)
3. “Change Your Life” (Master of Pigeons)
4. “Midtown” (Master of Pigeons)
5. “1-10” (Master of Pigeons)
6. “16 Stories High” (Leather Wings)
7. “Pleased to Meet You” (Leather Wings)
8. “Symptoms (Vocal)” (Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30)
9. “Selfish Kids” (Yer Living Grave)
10. “The Gravy” (Yer Living Grave)
11. “Wolfenswan” (Wolfenswan)
12. “The Boss” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
13. “River Phoenix” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
14. “$100 Cover” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
15. “Challenge” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
16. “Fuk Tha Prince A Pull Iz Dum” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
17. “Cable Babies” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)
18. “Mornings” (Skuffed Up My Huffy)

That’s all probably incomplete and out of order and a lot of those tracks could be found on records besides the ones listed (it gets a bit complicated), and in seeking those tracks out I realized that I actually really like a lot of the demo versions and extras on all those original albums. But! That would be a hell of a record right there. Anyways, short of this imaginary best of, Skuffed Up My Huffy is a pretty good introduction to Japanther. Go buy it.

New York’s Soundtrack

posted by on September 11 at 12:15 PM

I’m currently on vacation in New York City. It’s the first time I’ve been here, and it’s completely amazing.

Because a friend of mine is here on business, I’m able to stay in a fancypants hotel room on her company dime—the Hudson Hotel. It’s near Central Park and Times Square and it’s gorgeous.

I’ve never ever stayed in a hotel like this, it’s painfully trendy. There’s no sign on the front. The escalators to the lobby are lit with pea yellow neon, the lobby is covered with ivy on the inside and everything’s dimly lit and “cool.” The hotel even has it’s own soundtrack, and for $23 you can take the two-disc Hudson CD home.

The tracklisting is as follows:

Disc One
1. The Kooks “Seaside”
2. El Perro Del Mar “God Knows (You’ve Got to Give to Get)”
3. Lay Low “Mojo Love”
4. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. “Oce More With Feeling”
5. The Shivers “New Direction”
6. Innaway “Tiny Brains”
7. Domino “Tropical Moonlight”
8. Andrew Bird “Imitosis”
9. Cocorosie “Rainbowwarriors”
10. The Veils “Advice for Young Mothers to Be”
11. Albert Hammond, Jr. “Hard to Live in the City”
12. Charlotte Gainsbourg “The Operation”

Disc Two
1. Scanners “Bombs” (Goulet’s Dollar-Slot Jackpot Mix)
2. Walter Meego “Hollywood”
3. Jamie T “Salvador”
4. The Rapture “Gon Don Do It”
5. New Young Pony Club “Descend”
6. Bugz in the Attic “Move Aside”
7. The Black Ghosts “Anyway You Choose to Give It” (Playgroup Remix)
8. The Loose Cannons “Girls in Hats” (Kissy Sell Out Mix)
9. The Lotterboys “Heroine”
10. Sons & Daughters “Dance Me In” (Optimo Remix)
11. The Futureheads “Let’s Dance”
12. The Sounds “Song With a Mission”

There’s also a bar with a DJ. I haven’t really checked it out, but when we got back after visiting Times Square and stalking Willie Nelson last night, they were blasting Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” “Odd choice when trying to whip up a Monday night dance party,” I thought. “Odd choice on the eve of 9/11.”

Sorry, Austin Travelers

posted by on September 11 at 11:42 AM

I already had enough problems with the Austin City Limits Music Festival schedule this year to forgo attending it this coming weekend—seriously, Wilco and My Morning Jacket are playing at the same time? What kind of neo-country riot are you trying to spark?

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Anyway, today’s news only affirms my previous apprehension. The Austin American-Statesman has confirmed that The White Stripes are skipping the fest altogether, bailing on their second concert appearance at nearby mega-venue Stubb’s as well. Not sure how that will affect the band’s two-night stand at Seattle’s Paramount later in September (or my second cousin’s Bat Mitzvah), but let’s hope the trouble isn’t particularly acute.

Modeselektor Coming To Broken Disco in October!

posted by on September 11 at 10:02 AM

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That’s what a little bit of loose chatter on the Division List seems to be hinting at. And it would make sense, since Shameless is a co-promoter of Broken Disco, and they’re who brought Modeselektor out for their sweat-on-the-walls hot set at ReBar last year.

It’s on their myspace: Fri, Oct 19th @ Broken Disco (Chop Suey)!

Also, Modeselektor’s sophomore full-length, Happy Birthday! is out today. Here’s my review from this week’s CD Reviews:

MODESELEKTOR

Happy Birthday!

(Bpitch Control)

***1/2

Modeselektor’s debut full-length, Hello Mom!, succeeded in part because of a certain element of surprise. For those not following the duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary’s odd 12-inch singles and compilation appearances, the album must have seemed to come out of nowhere. And its eclectic yet thoroughly synthesized mix of electro, dub, hiphop, breaks, and ambient kept the listener guessing from track to track, never sure what mode these selectors would land on next.

The duo’s sophomore effort, Happy Birthday! (both Bronsert and Szary are new fathers), may have fewer shocks in store—in fact, it sometimes feels like a retread—but this sequel more than makes up for the familiarity with Modeselektor’s signature, impeccable sound design. Synths bounce and squiggle, tones ping like sonar or bubble up and burst, beats and samples pulse and disintegrate.

Some guests from the first album return here—French rap crew TTC add their vocal charisma to digitally stuttered club creeper “2000007” and Rhythm & Sound crooner Paul St. Hilaire delivers the coolly Teutonic dub ballad “Let Your Love Grow.” Some new collaborators show up as well, notably a typically ethereal Thom Yorke (he’s a fan) on the dubstep-steeped “The White Flash,” Berlin-based hiphop puppetry troupe (seriously) Puppetmastaz on trunk-rattler “The Dark Side of the Sun,” and Otto von Schirach on the demented Miami bass of “Hyper Hyper.”

Even with such company, the star is always Bronsert and Szary’s productions. The album’s unabetted tracks—the playfully menacing “Happy Birthday,” with its loping guitar and deep, punchy bass; the ghostly, clave-driven “Godspeed;” the caustic arpeggios of “Sucker Pin” and “Black Block;” the soft-focus haze of “EM Ocean” and “Edgar”—only further cement Modeselektor’s place in 2000007 as producers of formidable breadth, depth, and skill. ERIC GRANDY

And here’s a radio mix they recorded recently (hat tip to Jeremy Grant):

http://www.bpitchcontrol.de/transfer/Modeselektor_RadioMix_0907.mp3

Tracklist:

modeselektor feat. puppetmastaz - the darkside of the sun
modeselektor feat. ttc - 200007
modeselektor feat. ninjaman - weed wid da macka
modeselektor - godspeed
thom yorke - skip devided (modeselektor rmx)
modeselektor - black block
grishlain proirier feat. face t - blazin (modeselektor rmx)

Kanye West’s Graduation Flunks

posted by on September 11 at 10:00 AM

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No one is as impressed with Kanye West’s skills on the mic, boards, and stage as he is, which is why it’s so easy to hate him. Kanye has singlehandedly brought the self-love braggadocio game to a whole new level, but despite his constant, obnoxious self promotion, I really dug most of his first album, College Dropout.

Kanye seemed hungry. Tracks like “Through the Wire” and “Two Words” had a bit of grime on ‘em but were balanced out by the crisp production and radio-friendliness of “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks.” But if Kanye was hungry on Dropout, he was full, bloated and ready to burst by the time he dropped Late Registration.

While Dropout wasn’t necessarily a gritty street album, the overproduction and overload of retarded guests (Paul Wall? Adam Levine? Really?) on Late Registration makes Dropout look like 36 Chambers.

Today, Kanye’s Graduation drops. Heads up: everything that was wrong with Late Registration is ten times worse on Graduation. The gratuitous guest appearances (Lil’ Wayne, T-Pain, Chris Martin, ugh) don’t do much to distract from the album’s tinny beats (it should be required by law that hiphop albums have some fucking bass) and obnoxious hooks. Mos Def pops in for one of the worst tracks on the album (“Drunk and Hot Girls”—really, that’s the name of the song) and the once-great DJ Premier pulls a production assist on “Everything I Am,” but neither Mos nor Primo do anything to make their respective tracks stand out from the rest of the garbage on the album.

“So the album sucks, but what does it sound like?” you ask. Well, remember when David Bowie discovered synthesizers and did too much coke with Brian Eno in the ’80s? It sounds like that. Graduation is experimentation gone wrong. Kanye still samples the living crap out of everyone from Michael Jackson to Jay-Z, but those samples get trampled under the moon boots of Graduation’s overly synthetic techno hip-pop. And not in a lovable Afrika Bambaataa-sampling-Kraftwerk kind of way.

In Kanye’s defense, it doesn’t appear he was out to make anything other than an album for club rats, which is exactly what Graduation is: bouncy, forgettable, and overly hook-y. It’s frighteningly radio friendly, and I’ve even had trouble get the obnoxious Daft Punk-sampling hook from “Stronger” out of my head. Still, I don’t think I could sit through Graduation again without a fistful pills.

When I told Jonathan Zwickel how much I hated Graduation’s clicks and whistles, he told me I was just a hater who couldn’t deal with the new direction Kanye’s pushing hiphop. Maybe he’s right, but if this is where hiphop is going, let me off at the next stop.

ABBA

posted by on September 11 at 9:52 AM

Yeah, yeah: I’m a ‘tard, no taste, prefer musicals to rawk. But my boyfriend put a bunch of ABBA albums on my iTunes last night, and I’m sitting here at Victrola having my usual inexplicable reaction to “Fernando.” It makes me tear up, every time. “Nina, Pretty Ballerina” doesn’t have that effect on me. What’s up with that?


Monday, September 10, 2007

RIP Algebra Suicide (updated)

posted by on September 10 at 6:23 PM

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Eli from the Crocodile just forwarded me this very sad post from the WFMU blog, about the passing of Lydia Tomkiw, who was the “words and voice” half of Midwestern ’80s act Algebra Suicide. In the Reagan years, when the world was smaller and cool bands (at least the ones we could learn about in the suburbs of Virginia) were thin on the ground, Algebra Suicide exerted a terrific influence over my friends and I. I’d stumbled across their track “True Romance At the World’s Fair” on a cassette-only compilation of regional bands, put together by Trouser Press. Lydia’s deadpan delivery resonated powerfully with our cynical clique, and within days, turns of phrase like “too many blondes spoil the crowd” and “the world? the world is not a wild place” had become integral to our common language.

In time, I found two 45s by the band, as well as a 1987 compilation LP, The Secret Like Crazy (which includes all but one of the eight tracks released on the 7-inches), and cuts like “In Bed With Boys” made their way on to many a mix tape, fitting perfectly as they did between Laurie Anderson and Book of Love. RIP Lydia, you made my adolescence a little less hellish.

Update: Tues. Sept. 11
From what little info I could find on the web, Lydia was apparently living in AZ at the end. Mike Appelstein, who published the excellent Caught In Flux fanzine in the ’90s (and oversaw the Seattle indie pop mailing list) e-mailed me a reminiscence about seeing Tomkiw sing “Dream Hat” (originally warbled by Mac McCaughan on Wasps’ Nests) at a 6ths show a few years ago: “Totally made it her own style.”

I’ve heard that sombody is born every eight seconds,
So I presume that somebody dies every eight seconds,
Just to keep things even; it makes me feel shortchanged
When I read the obituary page —
Somebody’s holding back information.

“Little Dead Bodies”

The Cave Singers Get Saved

posted by on September 10 at 6:14 PM

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The Cave Singers just returned from a weeklong trip to L.A. At a riverside landscape somewhere down there, in what looks like rolling desert hills, they recorded a video for the song “Dancing on Our Graves” from their upcoming album Invitation Songs.

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This looks like some freaky, holy-roller stuff: baptism, laying of hands, snake handlers, a white-robed choir, and a one-armed guitarist. Can’t wait to see what kind of Pentacostal gothic gospel the video will entail.

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Check out more photos on the band’s blog.

Muse @ Key Arena

posted by on September 10 at 5:00 PM

Photos by Morgan Keuler

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A Terrific Turangalîla

posted by on September 10 at 4:22 PM

Last night’s performance of the Turangalîla Symphony of Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) began with a welcome disaster: A long queue of ticketholders were still waiting in line for tickets 10 minutes before the concert. By the time I reached the front, the line still stretched almost the entire length of Benaroya Hall. Who would have thought so many people would turn up for a cult symphony that has never been performed in Seattle? But maybe that’s the point.


an ondes Martenot

The concert started late with Duke Ellington’s “Harlem.” This tone parallel - Ellington deliberately skirted the term “tone poem” - is an uproarious depiction of the neighborhood where Ellington first found fame. Yet it came off as an incongruous overture to Turangalîla. “Harlem” is not prime Ellington: the snoozy strings generally pad the rest of the music. I love Duke, but those in search of prime (as well as obscure) orchestral Ellington should investigate “Tymperturbably Blue” and “Tourist Point of View.” The sound was a bit muddy too. The relatively flat-plane layout of the orchestra masked some of the percussion parts. Big bands place percussion, reeds, and brass on raised tiers for a reason - not only to showcase the musicians but for greater projection and timbral clarity. At this gig, the drummer was buried behind the orchestra. Outside the hall, the line was backed up enough so that a slew of folks had to wait for entry after “Harlem” finished.

The Turangalîla Symphony sounded terrific, in spite of the erroneous and near-fatal decision to bisect the work with an intermission. The 80-minute Turangalîla, like one of the behemoth symphonies by Bruckner or Mahler, can easily carry an entire evening. A canny programmer would have skipped “Harlem” (which the band had already played in July). You just shouldn’t cut a massive, slightly crazed devotional hymn like Turangalîla in two. And though I appreciated conductor Geoffrey Simon’s intro to the various themes of the work, this well-meaning tutorial should have been scheduled as a pre-concert demo and when things started running late - overtime at Benaroya ain’t cheap - jettisoned altogether.

Nonetheless, Simon and the Northwest Mahler Orchestra, as well as soloists Thomas Bloch (ondes Martenot, similar model pictured above) and Jay Gottlieb (piano and a glittering silvery shirt) gave a heroic and impassioned performance of the Turangalîla. Composed in the late 1940s, the Gershwin-gone-gamelan of Turangalîla combines chugging jazzy harmonies, glittery orchestral textures, and the eerie wail of a seldom-seen electronic instrument, the ondes Martenot, into a massive ten-movement meditation on time, love, and rhythm.

“You certainly can’t fall asleep to it.” said one audience member to another as they exited. Nope. It was loud, blaring, and delirious - as it should be. The entire band was rhythmically tight, deftly managing Messiaen’s cut n’paste bloc structures, though the brass (understandably - Messiaen makes pitiless demands) showed a few signs of fatigue in the last two movements. And though I love intermissions, the break after the fifth movement sapped the initial momentum of the second half. Prayer must never be interrupted.

Anyway, I adored the sighing strings and ondes Martenot in “Joy in the Blood of the Stars,” as well as the clip-clop percussion and glowering brass of “Turangalîla 2.” “Song of Love 2” was simply beautiful.

Despite my kvetching, it was an unforgettable concert. An ideal follow-up? Karlheinz Stockhausen turns 80 next year. How about Gruppen or Inori?

Neil Young Hits Seattle

posted by on September 10 at 1:02 PM

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Neil Young just announced a U.S. tour in support of his upcoming album Chrome Dreams II. The album arrives October 16; Young and his band of Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar, dobro and other instruments), Ralph Molina (drums) and Rick Rosas (bass) arrive at the MooreWaMu Theather in Seattle on October 23.

Fans who buy tickets to any show on the tour through Young’s website will receive a free mail-order copy of Chrome Dreams II. That’s a pretty cool deal.

With Ben Keith on steel guitar and dobro, it sounds like both the album and the tour will be country-tinged affairs. When Young toured on his last album, Greendale, some fans were ticked that he only played songs off the new record and not past hits. Could be the same this time around. Still, seeing Young reading the phone book would be riveting, just so long as you don’t go in expecting Crazy Horse excess.

The Quotable Dave Grohl; or, Like a Roomba

posted by on September 10 at 12:55 PM

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I’ve gushed aplenty about last night’s professional disembowleling of Britney Spears at the VMAs over on Slog.

But thanks to the witty tongue of Dave Grohl, I have the opportunity to re-address the defining event of the 21st century here on Line Out.

Grohl’s golden quote, given to E! News:

“You know those things that you put batteries in and they just vacuum the floor without anyone touching them? That’s what I think of Britney Spears.”

Thanks to Mr. Grohl for recognizing the fundamental facts about Britney Spears: She’s designed to suck, and you don’t even have to pay attention anymore.

Brian Jonestown Massacre at Neumos

posted by on September 10 at 12:53 PM

OK, I don’t usually review shows, but something has got to be said about this.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre is a great band that has recorded a lot of great material, but has gotten sidelined by the reputation of Anton Newcombe, its crazy frontman (and only original remaining bandmember) who was featured in the film Dig!. Everyone knows that Newcombe is prone to attacks of the ragin’ crazies.

I can understand wanting to see a trainwreck perform (hell, if I had cable I would have watched the Spears Machine disintegrate last night). But is it really necessary to get ridiculously drunk and start egging on said trainwreck? Is it fucking necessary to throw cups and ice at said trainwreck? Anton Newcombe was totally wasted last night and getting very angry, but why bother making it worse? There were so many drunk assholes at that show last night it made me embarrassed for Seattle. And the band was playing very well, although if anything, they sounded too perfect.

Why would you pay $15 bucks to go see a person perform who you just want to fail?

Ricardo Villalobos - Fabric 36

posted by on September 10 at 12:41 PM

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I did not like the last Ricardo VIllalobos album Thé Au Harem D’Archimède.

After his glorious first outing, TAHDA (um… ta-dah!), was way to minimal for my taste. I got into a few arguments about it. Mostly with the old music editor Dave. He loved it. But to me it seemed neither here, nor there. It was so vapourous, it was basically an album that didn’t exist even though you were physically holding it in your hand.

So when rumours swirled online as to why his Fabric mix was being delayed (over and over again) most just assumed Fabric was just not into what he was giving them. Would Ricardo really turn in a mix CD as translucent as his last outing?

Well the wait is over, after nearly a year and a half of wondering what happened to this project, I hold it in my hands, and am, in fact, listening to it for the 3rd time through right now. I must say -

it gets better and better with each listen!

Damn! This is one fine mix. But guess what?!?! It’s not a mix!

Fabric 36 is a new and distinct album wholly comprised of new tracks by Mr. Villalobos. He has a few guest to sing and sample on some of the tracks, but this album stands alone as Ricardo’s best work since Alcachofa.

Starting out with Pole-esque scratches and burps, Ricardo lays out the base for what he will be building over the next 80 minutes. Layer upon layer is added. Song after song builds up his sound as the original scratches cease and real honest-to-god music (with integrity!) comes at you.

By the end you’re transported to a futuristic street fair in some crazy Latin American village, complete with singing and dancing and tribal drumming, but with Ricardo’s relentless beats simmering on top. I’m sweating just listening to it. Fantastic!

Welcome back Ricardo!

Blogging MP3’s. Does It Matter? Is It Stealing?

posted by on September 10 at 12:00 PM

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Last week, one of the best new electronic music blogs out there committed what one music blogger called “blog hari-kari”. Birth School Work Death basically shut himself down after getting some slack from various places about posting MP3s on his blog. (The good news is he’s recently announced he’s going to reformulate and go back up at the end of the year.)

I have always viewed his blog as an essential stop on my trip to experiencing new music. He often has stuff posted that I wouldn’t hear any other way, or from any other blog. So it came as quite a shock when he just decided to shut down.

This argument has been picking up steam lately, mostly due to a, now weeks old, debate on the british DJ Ewan Pearson’s blog about whether music blogs should be posting MP3s at all.

The argument is also of personal interest to me, as I write and operate my own blog, T.M.L. I’d like to think that I’m a little different, in that I post mostly out-of-print music, which would only be available on hard to find used medium in the first place. I tend to not post new stuff, and I have never posted a whole album, especially one which is commercially available.

But am I just parsing an argument to fit my own needs? I dunno. That’s just the way I’ve chosen to roll for now.

I’d like to know what readers here think of the argument. So I’ve set up a little poll for you to take. Just a couple of quick questions.

I know they’re pretty simplistic questions, but I just want to get an idea of how other people view music blogs with MP3’s for download.

Feel free to add comments on what you think more appropriate questions might be, and your thought on MP3 blogs in general.

Remember: MP3 blog is different than P2P, and I’ve tried to make the questions only about MP3 blogs. Not P2P sites.

Róisín Murphy Letting You Know

posted by on September 10 at 11:18 AM

After last night’s VMA filth, I was thrilled to wake up to this palate-cleansing new video from ex-Moloko vocalist Róisín Murphy (that’s /roh-SHEEN/), whose upcoming album Overpowered (out October 15) is my most-anticipated album of the year. It’s good to know that there’s someone out there that can pull together stunning pop production with a truly expressive, unique voice. And damn! she knows how to get dressed. Gareth Pugh, Sandra Backlund, Viktor & Rolf. Are y’all gagging yet? And these dance moves! Take some notes, Shitney Spears!

And if you haven’t seen the previous video, for “Overpowered”:

“Derivative of Pavement”

posted by on September 10 at 10:55 AM

Zing! Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8 (The Onion):

According to the review, authored by Pitchfork editor in chief Ryan Schreiber, the popular medium that predates the written word shows promise but nonetheless “leaves the listener wanting more.”

“Music’s first offering, an eclectic, disparate, but mostly functional compendium of influences from 5000 B.C. to present day, hints that this trend’s time may not only have fully arrived, but is already on the wane,” Schreiber wrote. “If music has any chance of keeping our interest, it’s going to have to move beyond the same palatable but predictable notes, meters, melodies, tonalities, atonalities, timbres, and harmonies.”

Schreiber’s semi-favorable review, which begins in earnest after a six-paragraph preamble comprising a long list of baroquely rendered, seemingly unrelated anecdotes peppered with obscure references, summarizes music as a “solid but uninspired effort.”

(Hat tip to Brooklyn Vegan)

Kid Rock vs. Tommy Lee

posted by on September 10 at 10:27 AM

It’s what you’ve always wanted. Tommy Lee vs. Kid Rock. A battle for the ages. It went down at the MTV Video Music Awards last night. Britney was fat and flailing, according to Mr. Schmader, but Lee vs. Rock was the real centerpiece of the evening.

Sure, Ali vs. Foreman and Sugar Ray vs. Hagler were great fights. But Lee vs. Rock is better. It’s like a Danielle Steel novel. There’s intrigue, passion, and Pamela, and passion.

From E! Online:

The tussle happened during Alicia Keys’ performance, shortly after Pamela Anderson appeared as a presenter. Rap producer Rich Nice, who had a front-row seat to the melee, told the Associated Press that the Mötley Crüe drummer was the instigator of the fight, though Rock landed the only connecting punch.

“It looked like Tommy Lee initiated it because Kid Rock was ignoring him,” he said. Security grabbed Lee in a headlock and pulled him off. After the fight, security allowed Kid Rock to remain in his seat for the remainder of the show, though Lee was thrown out of the ceremony and deposited in the hotel’s main casino amid a throng of fans.

Here’s a little video. Right at the beginning, you can see some action.

I don’t know, Rock has a beer gut, I think Tommy would take him:


Sunday, September 9, 2007

For Some Reason Everyone Is Talking About This Ad.

posted by on September 9 at 4:20 PM

Is Phil Collins an ape?