The spaceship is at the edge of the galaxy. It’s in hyper-drive. Stars and gas clouds appear, approach, and pass at the speed of light. Out here where no one can hear you scream, the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls, Michael Score, is suffering because he doesn’t have a photograph of the woman he loves and will never see again. She is on Earth; he is in deep space. And the deeper he flies into the great abyss, the harder it is for him to recall her face—the end of her nose, the lids of her eyes, the flesh of her lips, the whole frame of her beauty.
Desperate, Score uses a computer to reconstruct her image. He types in a few instructions, and on the screen appears what very much looks like his lost love; he gets excited, he presses the print button, the image stutters out of the printer—but it’s all wrong, this is not how she looks like, his memory is failing him. Score crumples the printout and leaves the computer room with a type of grief that only astronauts can understand. If he had just one photograph of her, something to remind him, he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life wishing, wishing—wishing he had, before departing Earth, packed a picture of her into his suitcase.
...Only a small number of emotional situations can be worse than this: As the ship passes the rings and moons of Saturn, heading toward the limits of the solar system, suddenly you realize—patting your pockets, searching your bags—you forgot to bring a photograph of the woman you love; the woman whose body, whose beating heart, whose life-breath will never be present to you again. And the space between you and her grows; and the stars are getting colder. [What sorrow can compare to] the galactic sorrow of a lovesick astronaut.
With "Wishing" in mind, I now want to consider not the video of the Cure's "Pictures of You"...
...but the lyrics, particularly its opening lines:
I've been looking so long at these pictures of
you that i almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you that
I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel
Robert Smith's sorrow in "Pictures" is the very opposite of Michael Score's sorrow in "Wishing"? Smith's problem is having too many pictures of the one he is missing. In space, Score is longing for just one photograph--even a snap shot, anything! On earth, Smith is tormented by an abundance of images.
What can we make of this? We can say that all the love-sick memory really needs is just one photo? Both Smith and Score would be happier if each had just one photo of the lover they've forever lost to time.
You know, what with Mercury Rev, Buffalo's long-running widescreen indie fantasists, recording one of the most pastoral and wondered albums of the late '90s in the form of Deserter's Songs, and then following it up with years of increasingly daft and unintentionally comic soft-rock cheese.
But Snowflake Midnight, which came out last month, is somewhat of a re-alignment of the band's lost ethereal strengths, built from songs like "Senses On Fire," which float and sparkle along like light on a lake.
It was released, incidentally, to the day, on the 10-year anniversary of Deserter's Songs.
What's even more interesting, though, is the all-instrumental bonus sister-album Strange Attractor, which Mercury Rev just put out for free on their web-site at the same time, and follows the best threads of the band's reboot.
Whole careers have been based on Deserter's Songs, a musical virus, from The Flaming Lips to The Polyphonic Spree to Of Montreal. Wayne Coyne, in fact, has, consciously or not, patterned the creative arc of The Flaming Lips on Mercury Rev's years-long progression from the busted squall of the early records to the lush, haunted, 'Wizard Of Oz'-styled surreal optimism of the subsequent ones, and it's been entertaining to watch the alternate realities swarm around the same idea.
Mercury Rev were first, of course. And first to become shit. So the fact that Strange Attractor is one of the best things the band has ever done, and free as well, suggests the parallel stories are not quite over.
Opening track "Love Is Pure" is a quiet rise of single-note pianos and small, steady waves of electronic South Asian sounds, gone before you know it, like a lost Brian Eno record, and it's a lovely little thing. Then, urgent and hypnotic, there's "Because Because Because," which shows an influence of mid-period "Hoops"/"The Sunshine Underground" Chemical Brothers, a hushed side-effect from their one-time collaborators. Some songs only last a minute or two. If bits like "Loop, Lisse, Loop" might sound like bad planetarium jazz, there are also loads that recall Cliff Martinez's soundtrack to 2002's 'Solaris,' but more innocent and old-fashioned, like a big wind-up toy.
That new Of Montreal album, Skeletal Lamping, is out today in a variety of whimsical formats. Pitchfork doesn't think much of it, giving it a 5.9/10 due in large part, it seems, to the album's unusual structure, in which some songs fragment into two or three distinct passages while others bleed into each other to create continuous suites. For me, that's not such an issue, and while I might not rate Skeletal Lamping as highly as Hissing Fauna when end-of-year list-making time rolls around, I'm still pretty enamored with it right now.
One thing's been bugging me though: there's an isolated vocal melody at 2:09 of "For Our Elegant Caste" (pitchfork: "one of the most annoying choruses of the year") that I swear is from some ELO number on the Xanadu soundtrack (I mean that as a compliment)—only, I can't find that melody anywhere. Am I just hallucinating? Or is it only kind of stylistically similar? (My hunch is that Georgie Fruit has at least watched Xanadu a time or two.)
Bonus: Stranger columnist Michaelangelo Matos gives the album a kinder consideration for Salon, despite the inevitable Flaming Lips comparison (I never made room for this argument in my review of their show, but here goes: Of Montreal > Flaming Lips [at least from the perspective of 2008]).
Good news for people who like excellent new psychedelia: The Social Registry label just announced that Brooklyn’s Psychic Ills will release their next album, Mirror Eye, January 20. You can preview some songs from it on the band’s MySpace.
Psychic Ill’s Dins (2006) is one of the best rock albums of recent years. Without being blatant about it, they update the expansive, heat-mirage psychedelia of Texan '60s legends Thirteenth Floor Elevators and the Red Krayola. “What made Dins revelatory,” I wrote in another publication, “was its adept alternation between disorienting atmospheric meandering and thrusting rock motion.”
From the few tracks I’ve sampled so far, Mirror Eye promises to be sublime, too.
Now enjoy some footage from last year’s PI show at the Funhouse.
Rap metal that doesn’t suck is rare. Outtasite—Seattle rapper Michael Singleton and guitarist Joel D. Davila—do a sound job of making the maligned genre seem worth not consigning to the scrap heap of history. Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Rhyme Cartel Records is releasing Outtasite’s Careful What You Wish For (the local rap legend appears on the title track). Back in July, Stranger hiphop columnist Larry Mizell Jr. wrote about Outtasite in his My Philosophy column:
Now I'm not mad at Outtasite the rapper, he's solid—but the "hard rock," guitar-laced jammy jams his group cranks, while mostly avoiding the easy trap of poorly conceived rap-funk-rock stuff by dint of his legitimate rhymes, still strike me as overly slick, dudebro X Games fare. But I've only seen the guy's name on the Showbox's marquee (featuring Sir Mix, just as of Friday), so there must be a number of folks that do vibe on it.
I can see Larry’s points, but my expectations for rap metal are so low, even an adequate version of it can sound all right. Davila flaunts some Tom Morello-like dexterity on his ax and Singleton flexes some above-average vocab and thoughts with a flow that splits the difference between street and backpack. If you can like only one Seattle rap-metal outfit, make it Outtasite. If you can’t, that’s okay, too.
Seattle label Light in the Attic is reissuing Karen Dalton’s 1971 sundown-shiver, folk-soul classic In My Own Time on 180-gram vinyl, with a bonus four-track 7” including “Something on Your Mind” and an unreleased alternate mix of “Katie Cruel.”Nick Cave, Devendra Banhart, and Lenny Kaye pen liner notes. You salivate.
Tonight, Olympia almost a cappella dream pop ensemble Lake play an all-ages show at 2020 Cycle with Desolation Wilderness and Hoquiam. I review their new K Records album, Oh, The Places We'll Go in this week's album reviews:
One of the distinguishing oddities of Olympia is Capitol Lake, a man-made reflecting puddle scenically situated between downtown and the Capitol Building up on the hill. It was immortalized in Beat Happening's "Our Secret," although you probably wouldn't want to go swimming in it, not even with Calvin Johnson. Young K Records ensemble Lake may not take their name from this particular body of water, but they certainly share some of its perfectly composed calm and antique charm.
Lake are a soft-rocking glee club whose cool, almost a cappella dream pop and lyrical doo-wop wouldn't sound entirely out of place in 1951, the year Capitol Lake was dredged out of some mudflats. They're also archetypically Olympian, a loose collective whose fluctuating membership draws from a pool of singers, songwriters, and musicians that includes members of Kickball and Swimming, and the prolific Karl Blau, who recorded Oh, the Places We'll Go at Anacortes's Department of Safety. (Speaking of prolific, Lake have supposedly recorded a dozen albums' worth of material, although this is only their third full-length.)
The album is book-ended by the title track and its sequel (as well as a brief instrumental coda), two placidly optimistic Seussian anthems whose coed vocal harmonies; swinging drumming; deep, bobbing bass; and accents of piano, guitar, horns, and hand percussion all pleasantly recall Vancouver, BC, contemporaries No Kids (both are fans of Fleetwood Mac). That resemblance is even clearer on the gorgeous "Blue Ocean Blue," with its airy female vocal lead and its spare rim shots, cowbells, and hand claps. Lake chart a fairly steady course across the album, trading off vocal duties, slowing down a bit for the dark, jazzy "Minor Trip" and the echoing, synth-inflected "On the Swing," picking up the tempo for the melancholy dance number "Counting." This Lake is as welcoming to dip into as it is postcard picturesque.
A correction: Lake's debut album, not Oh, The Places We'll Go, was recorded at the Department of Safety.
Thank Fuckin' A! "Every Stitch" and, to a less specific extent, every other song on this album was exactly the brain-flushing rock blast I needed this morning (granted, I'd heard it before). That's all.
In a short time, I’ll be heading overseas for a six-week European tour. One of my strongest survival skills is the ability to sleep comfortably just about anywhere. The only problem comes with the European time-zone change. Around 3pm, I become useless. Narcoleptic. No amount of caffeine can rouse me from my jet-lagged stupor. It’s 6am back in Seattle and my body is telling me that I’ve been up all night. And come 2am Euro-time, I’m wide-awake. Now my body is thinking it’s 5pm and I need to rally for the evening. So while I have no problem sleeping on the floor of a punk squat or on the bench seat of a van, I do have some trouble maintaining a normal sleep schedule with a 9-hour time difference.
The remedy is self-medication and a pair of headphones. If I’m gonna be staring at a pitch-black ceiling for a few hours, I might as well have a decent soundtrack and a healthy buzz. A hearty European beer, perhaps a cup of Calimucho, and a good record can expedite a solid night of sleep. Or at least make that darkness a little less lonely.
Some of my favorite sleepy time soundtracks after the jump… and feel free to suggest some of your own.
Who remembers the Telescopes? They put out some sweet psychedelic 12s for Creation Records in the 80s/90s, and then faded out, only to return to action to little fanfare about a decade later. Now the Mind Expansion label (run by Randall Niemann of Füxa) is going to issue Singles Compilation 1989-1991, which contains their finest material—and which will probably ruin all your plans to make a fortune selling the original vinyl releases on eBay.
The Telescopes kind of paled in comparison to contemporaries like Spacemen 3 and Loop, but they possessed some brilliant melodic charms of their own. This collection is a timepiece from an era that many bands are still trying to emulate (nu-gaze, anyone?).
The Telescopes’ “Flying” [see video below] embodies that much-used formula of the time: Beach Boys vocal harmonies + Byrds guitar jangle + UK twist on the “Funky Drummer” beat = first wave of British shoegazer rock (to grossly generalize). (For info on how to order the comp, see Niemann's MySpace bulletin after the cut.)
Death Cab's Something About Airplanes Being Re-Released Next Month
October 1 at
Just in time for the holidays!:
Barsuk Records is pleased to announce that we will be re-issuing Death Cab for Cutie’s classic 1998 debut album, Something About Airplanes, on November 25th. This limited deluxe 10-year anniversary CD edition will include a bonus disc featuring a recently-unearthed recording of the band’s first-ever Seattle show, a February 1998 set at the legendary venue The Crocodile Café. The reissue will also feature beautifully redesigned artwork, including extensive liner notes by noted musician and writer Sean Nelson (whose band Harvey Danger was the headliner of the bonus disc show, and who sings lead vocals on the DCfC set’s never-before-heard cover of The Smiths’ “Sweet and Tender Hooligan”).
I think this is awesome. Something About Airplanes, still, is one of my favorite Death Cab records, and I'm so glad that it will get a moment in spotlight now that the band has gone and gotten all famous. (For the record: We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes is my favorite DC record, and Something About Airplanes is a close second. Transatlanticism and Narrow Stairs each have really solid moments, and I will never, ever like Plans.)
New Señor Coconut Album to Latinize Club Hits by Daft Punk, Prince, Others
September 25 at
Señor Coconut, one of the many aliases held by the ridiculously chameleonic electronic-music producer producer Uwe Schmidt, is poised to release on Nov. 18 Around the World. On this album, Señor Coconut puts club hits by artists like Prince, Daft Punk, and, er, Trio, through the cha cha cha chingamajig. If past Schmidt Latinized cover-album concepts hold true, Around the World will be one of the few kitsch musical efforts worth a damn.
In other good news, Nacional Records will reissue the Chile-based German artist’s collection of clever, joyful, Kraftwerk covers en español, El Baile Alemán. Check out the sweet rendition of “Tour de France” below.
Sunn 0))) to Release Vinyl-Only Double Album
September 22 at
Throwing a middle-finger salute to the digital age, dramatic drone-dirge leviathans Sunn 0))) will issue the live double LP Dømkirke exclusively on vinyl. The four songs reportedly were inspired by Gothic Gregorian hymns from the late Middle Ages (I’m shocked, too). Orders ship Sept. 29 and 30.
In the liner notes for the album, Nicholas Mollerhaug writes: “The gregorian hymns of this time reflected the despair, the terrors and darkness of the world. Musically the hymns consisted of long slow lines of unison melodies.”
More info from the press release by Sunn 0)))’s label, Southern Lord:
Last year sunn 0))) was invited to perform at a ancient cathedral in Bergen Norway. The performance was captured via 24 track mobile recording and the results were pressed onto double 180 gram black vinyl. This recording will be available exclusively on vinyl only. There will not be a digital release (cd or downloads) - pure analog! The 0))) lineup for this performance includes Attila Csihar (Mayhem) on vocals, Steve Moore (Earth, Ascend) on the church's legendary pipe organ and Norwegian native Lasse Marhaug on electronics.
(Fortune Magazine) -- The recession is no doubt hurting you, perhaps badly. Your sales may well be down. Maybe you've even lost your job. Whatever your troubles, you may safely blame them on the recession.
After all, most of the CFOs questioned in a recent poll agree that the U.S. is in a recession; among the general public, 76% said the U.S. was in a recession six months ago, and other polling suggests most people believe things have grown worse since then.
The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, its rescue of insurance giant AIG (AIG, Fortune 500), the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and this week's hair-raising plunges in the Dow reinforce the sense of economic collapse. Even the No. 1 album on iTunes recently was Young Jeezy's The Recession.
After focusing on CD and digital releases for the past few years, Sony/Legacy has announced plans to begin releasing vinyl again. Beginning this month, the long-running major label will begin reissuing Columbia, Epic, and RCA releases.
The first batch of releases includes mainstream arists like Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Jefferson Starship and Cheap Trick, but also Lou Reed's classic, Berlin, and Social Distortion's 1990 album, Social Distortion.
What's the Most You've Ever Paid for a Record?
September 11 at
Okay, all this talk about collecting records and dealing records and spending millions of dollars for millions of records that may or may not be worth millions of dollars has got me thinking... I know that a lot of you out there are record collectors who would (and have) spent large sums of money on one very coveted album.
What I wanna know is, what's the most you've ever paid for a record, and what record was it? (The amount of money you would pay for a specific record, should you ever find it, is also an acceptable answer.)
I can't answer, as I'm not really one to spend much money on records since I don't own a record player (well, I do, but it's been collecting dust here at work since I bought it over a year ago). But I once spent all my allowance on a New Kids on the Block VHS tape for $20, if that counts for something. I was about 10-years old. It took me forever to save that $20 and about half of it was in change.
Paul Mawhinney was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the years he has amassed what has become the world’s largest record collection. Due to advancing age, financial issues, health issues and a struggling record industry Paul has been forced to sell his collection…. AGAIN.
With their new album, Night Terror, Helms Alee solidifies their place in the Northwest’s musical lineage. From an aural perspective, Helms Alee possesses all the traits of Seattle’s trademark bands. Their sound exploits the entire rock spectrum, but draws their primary inspiration from the less-refined and humble niches of pop culture. Like the grunge icons of the early ‘90s, the band displays both brain and brawn. Like our high profile indie bands of recent years, they understand the marriage of atypical songwriting and a good hook. The band’s raw and stripped down approach can even be traced all the way back to The Sonics. Despite our region’s diverse crop of musical heroes, there is a common thread that binds them together. And that same line runs through Helms Alee.
Until recent times, our geographical isolation from the national touring circuit kept this fair city somewhat out of the loop from the larger pop music world. Seattle was never the kind of destination that markets like LA, NYC or the Bay Area were. We’re not on the way to anywhere, except maybe Vancouver. Yet we’re a port town, a melting pot, a mish-mash of cultures with varied mores and traditions. We’ve always been equal parts rural and cosmopolitan. As Sub Pop’s Bruce Pavitt pointed out in Michael Azerrad’sOur Band Could Be Your Life, the “white trash aesthetic” of the label’s early roster was a defining element of Seattle. We’re not a city of Lou Reeds. This balance between city and country manifested itself in the local scene by creating a vibrant community with a disdain for pretension and rockstar aspirations. Musicians caught on to bits and pieces of what was going on in the outside world, but didn’t live in a larger creative hub with an accelerated notion of what qualified as “legitimate” art. Our interpretation of pop music came from an outsider’s perspective. Our music was always somewhat damaged and mashed up.
It’s no wonder that Kurt Cobain was so confused and bitter about success. Typically, the music produced in our lonesome corner isn’t really a part of the larger cultural landscape, and yet it’s crafted without contrarian intentions. Cobain’s creative output, like many of the other famed artists of the grunge era, was actually populist at its core. It was simple, easy to understand, unrefined, and brutally honest. It only made sense that “grunge” was such a short-lived phenomenon. The minute it became popular, it had contradicted itself and outlived its usefulness. Seattle dodged the bullet of becoming just another ‘biz town, a sister city to Nashville or Hollywood. Even current heavy-hitters like Modest Mouse and Death Cab For Cutie are industry anomalies. Neither fit the rock-star stereotypes. Both opt to dress down and focus on perfecting their art over their profitability.
So where does Helms Alee fit into all of this? Quite simply, they carry the torch of the Northwest underdog. They are veterans, having served time in an assortment of bands over the last ten years. They’ve taken it slow, opting to play every small show they can while passing on interviews with Clear Channel radio stations. But most importantly, their music strikes a perfect balance between creative ambition and the unapologetic desire to lay siege to their audience. Their unique sound is an amalgam of snatched ideas. Dissimilar bits and pieces pulled from outside sources. “New Roll” starts as a dark exercise in the classic quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula before shifting into a lush and airy melody. The song segues into the anthem-ready fist-pumping fuzz chords and shouted harmonies of “A Weirding Away.” The album closes with “Wild Notes,” a chilling piano ballad that stands out in terms of instrumentation, but perfectly encapsulates Helms Alee’s paradox of beauty and teeming disquiet.
Cobain confessed to lifting ideas from The Pixies, The Melvins, and Bikini Kill--three unrelated bands bound only by their outsider status. Coincidentally, Night Terror sounds as if it could have been drafted from a similar list of inspirations. The surf-guitar twang and male/female vocal trade-offs are reminiscent of The Pixies. The guitar-saturated stomp of The Melvins is mirrored in Helms Alee’s heavier moments. The women of Helms Alee opt to take the less traveled path in terms of acknowledging their gender status in a male-dominated scene. Where many other female artists capitalize on sex appeal, drummer Hozoji Annie Matheson-Margullis and bassist Dana James rarely acknowledge their minority status, except during moments where some asshole chooses to make it an issue. In those instances, the gloves come off. While these confrontations might not match the degree of feminist aggression displayed by Bikini Kill, the fierce rejection of the objectification of band members provides a strong link between the artists.
Helms Alee are not fashionable. They take the stage looking like they’re wearing the same clothes they wore to their day jobs. There performances are honest. Nothing comes across as staged, choreographed, or forced. The musicianship speaks of a band that pushes itself without showboating. There is no gloss. If mainstream success comes to Helms Alee, it will certainly be a shock. But stranger things have happened to Seattle.
Helms Alee play Hell's Kitchen in Tacoma on Saturday, September 13th.
One of my favorite records that I picked up over this past summer is David Mathews & Whirlwind's 1976 jazzy disco classic Shoogie Wanna Boogie. I heard of David Mathews (no, he's not the same guy that plays in that over-rated hippie jam band) through an older unreleased Rune Lindbæk re-edit, as well as his solid production work with jazz-funk artist Idris Muhammad. From that point I was excited to hear what else Mr. Mathews had in store. I must say after one listen of Shoogie Wanna Boogie, I was pretty blown away by entire record which features mostly disco and funk covers of popular known songs like "You Keep Me Hanging On", "California Dreaming", "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" and "My Girl". The record has all of those signature elements that exist on most of the great records released by the Kudu label, great production and solid jazz-infuenced instrumentation over a disco-funk groove. In my opinion, this record is definitely a true masterpiece, especially if your one of those people like me who enjoy disco cover versions of popular known songs. I definitely look forward in the future to hunting down some more of this legendary producer's work, however for now I'll sit back and enjoy this rare and collectable treasure.
DownloadDavid Mathews' 1976 disco-funk cover version of "You Keep Hanging On" and more by visiting this site.
Music industry executives are losing their jobs left and right these days, but you know who's probably not losing his job? The guy who came up with the idea for all these "play a classic album start to finish" tours. What a great pitch—fans can count on hearing their fav albums performed uninterrupted by untested or lesser material, and let's face it, gen-xers are at prime nostalgia age (cf, this year's Bumbershoot line-up). Last week it was GZA touring Liquid Swords. This week it's Built to Spill performing Perfect From Now On (tonight at the Showbox, sold out). (Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, and countless other venerable acts have been doing this lately as well). Anyway, it may be a gimmick, but it's not a bad one, and Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On is, well, perfect for this sort of treatment, an evenly sequenced album with both shining pop hits and stoner-riffic jam-outs and some of Doug Martsch and co's finest song-writing. But don't take just my word for it. Take it as well from Rebecca Brown, Tao Lin, David Shields, Everett True, Kathleen Wilson, Brendan Kiley, and Jeff Kirby':
"Randy Described Eternity" is a launching pad for the empty space between your body holding your guts (built to spill onto the pavement) and the vast cavern of forever-land eternity.
I can't get that sound you make out of my head. Nobody else can hear it, and you wouldn't want them to. The sound of you napping perfectly, content like nothing could ever happen to perfection.
I once thought if I tried I could be perfect. If I did what one should, was nice and good, worked very hard, one day I could become as pretty and perfect as you. But I was wrong.
It was an adolescent revelation, like finally figuring out what boners were good for—how had this amazing thing been in front of me all this time and I didn't know what to do with it until now?
Looking up lyrics is always a terrible idea.
Worst of all was Martsch telling me, in response to some dumb question about what some specific lyric meant, that he usually wrote melodies first and then just figured out whatever nonsense words fit them phonetically.
I think of seesaws—and children yelling, throwing Frisbees on a wide deck.
When he says, "Kicked it in the sun," I think, "Someone kicked someone in the crotch in a movie in slow motion with fireworks in the background at night, giving it a solar system–like tone."
As satisfying as it feels to sing out, "You don't like anything/'Cause you're unlikable," a modicum of self-awareness can set off a devastating case of the shudders as you wonder if Martsch's words might spell out the reason you feel like such an asshole all the time.
In a weird way, I'm kind of Sam Mickens' boss. (In another way, as a freelancer, he is a lone wolf, a loose canon, a vigilante, and I'm merely Commissioner Gordon to his Batman.) In any case, he had little choice but to consent for an interview for this week's music feature about the Dead Science's forthcoming album Villainaire, which is being celebrated with a "Week of Culture" starting on Monday and culminating with an album release show at Neumo's on Sunday September 7th.
As I make plain in the piece, Villainaire marks the first time the Dead Science has caught my ear more than merely in passing. It's lyrically dense (in the good way), musically deft, and conceptually ambitious—one of the most interesting albums to bubble up out of Seattle this year. I think a lot of people are going to hate it. There's a lot going on—you should just read the whole article—but here are a few highlights:
"I think a lot of my points of reference as a kid are kind of the same as [Wu-Tang Clan's]."
"I am sort of a classist dude. That's the one prejudice or unhealthy hatred that I've held throughout my life—I have real reflexive problems sometimes with rich people, and in some ways I think that's good. Those ideas are somewhat present on the record. But there's not a lot of content that's like, 'Being rich is evil,' even though I feel like that often may be the case."
"There are a million metaphorical things you can drape on [black and white] beyond good and evil, black and white in the Star Wars sense. There's the tension between ecstatic abandon—nightlife, being real fucking drunk and dancing at the party—and its aftermath. That's just real basic soul music stuff. Saturday night versus Sunday morning."
This is Jake One:
I have argued elsewhere that Jake One is one of the three producers behind Seattle's third and current wave of hiphop (the other two producers are Bean One and Vitamin D). Here is the new about Jake One:
G-Unit Producer Jake One Signs to Rhymesayers for LP
Debut album features MF DOOM, Busta Rhymes, Brother Ali, Young Buck, De La Soul's Posdnuos
Mainstream meets underground in a big way on White Van Music, the debut studio album from Jake One. The Seattle producer is part of G-Unit's production team, and in the past, he has worked with 50 Cent, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Young Buck, E-40, and Lil Scrappy, among other folks.
Suss the tracklist for White Van Music:
White Van Music:
01 I'm Coming [ft. Black Milk and Nottz]
02 Gangsta Boy [ft. M.O.P.]
03 The Truth [ft. Freeway and Brother Ali]
04 Turn It Down
05 God Like [ft. D. Black]
06 Bless the Child [ft. Little Brother]
07 Oh Really [ft. Posdnuos and Slug]
09 Trap Door [ft. MF DOOM]
10 Dead Wrong [ft. Young Buck]
11 Kissin the Curb [ft. Bishop and Busta Rhymes]
12 How We Ride [ft. Freeway]
13 White Van [ft. Alchemist, Evidence, and Prodigy]
14 Big Homie Style [ft. J Pinder, GMK, and Spaceman]
15 Scared [ft. Blueprint]
16 Great Sound
17 Get Er Done [ft. MF DOOM]
18 Feeling My Shit [ft. Casual]
19 Soil Raps [ft. Keak Da Sneak]
20 Glow [ft. eLZhi and Royce Da 5'9"]
22 Home [ft. Vitamin D, C-Note, Maneak B, and Ish]
The album is not just a mix of pop and indie rap, it's also a serious mix of local and national cats. D. Black, J Pinder, Vitamin D, and GMK? Jake One, our man of the moment, knows how to give back.
The Kane Hodder digital-only EP I mentioned a few issues ago is finally out. The band haven't officially released anything new since their 2005 full-length, The Pleasure to Remain So Heartless, so it's about fuckin' time!
I've been a Hodder fan for about as long as I've been writing for The Stranger--the band was the subject of my first lengthy music feature, we go way back. But after some shake-ups over the past couple years (member replacement, label replacement, and tour cancellations), Hodder has had a hard time regaining their footing.
It felt like forever for this EP to finally come out, and a few times it felt like it was going to never happen. But it's finally here, and it's a hell of an effort--a weirdo hardcore dance party that shifts speeds, moods, and genres quicker than Lindsay Lohan does sexual orientation. Vocalist Andrew Moore still croons and screams in the same breath, the guitar shreds and shimmers in the same riff. It's everything Hodder is best at being and it sounds like they're having a hell of a time doing it.
The Dead Science has posted a mixtape, School of Villainy on their website today in advance of their forthcoming album Villainaire (due out 9/2). I had some trouble downloading the first mixtape, but the "originals" have downloaded just fine; the excerpts of Sam Mickens' Stranger interview with the RZA are particularly curious.
School of Villainy (The Digga Crates Real Deal) Mixtape:
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
MAKE MINE MARVEL (CRAIG DUB PLATE) FEAT. CRAIG WEDREN
THRONE OF BLOOD RMX FEAT. ZAC PENNINGTON & KATRINA FORD
MAKE MINE MARVEL RMX FEAT. CARLA BOZULICH
HEAVEN ON THEIR MINDS (EXCERPT)
CLEMENCY (FREDDY RUPPERT HOUSE MIX)
IMPLIED VIOLENCE RADIO PLAY-"A GHOST ON THE BOAT"
MAKE MINE MARVEL (REMIX)
also available for free download:
School of Villainy (The Originals) Mixtape:
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
THRONE OF BLOOD RMX FEAT. ZAC PENNINGTON & KATRINA FORD
MAKE MINE MARVEL(CRAIG DUB PLATE) FEAT. CRAIG WEDREN
HEAVEN ON THEIR MINDS (EXCERPT)
MAKE MINE MARVEL RMX FEAT. CARLA BOZULICH
CLEMENCY (FREDDY RUPPERT HOUSE MIX)
IMPLIED VIOLENCE RADIO PLAY-"A GHOST ON THE BOAT"
MAKE MINE MARVEL (REMIX)
Occasionally, Paul Constant takes a book out for a lunch date on the Slog. Sometimes, I too read books. Frequently, while listening to music. Every once in a while, the book/record combo will just click. When that happens, and as the mood strikes me, I may make a point of letting Line Out know about it.
This weekend, I was finally reading The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields. I tore through it, but it still took the duration of several records. One record fit perfectly: Alopecia by Why? The obvious common thread here is, of course, death. Shields works out his morbid fixations with precise biological and biographical detail; Why?'s Yoni Wolf exorcises his using more oblique strategies—recurring poetic images and themes; cold, hollow tonal spaces. There are other connections—looming father figures (although that's more pronounced on Why?'s "Fall Saddles" from Elephant Eyelash than it is on Alopecia), sexual urges and their resulting moral conflicts, basketball courts, Judaica, atheism. Also, they're both excellent. Alopecia (and, really, everything by Why?) is pretty lyrically dense, which can sometimes make for a distracting reading soundtrack, but if you're already accustomed to its songs (as you should be), it's easy enough, and a fine pairing.
As often happens, a friend recently asked me if I'd heard any good music lately. (Sometimes I'm an asshole and say, "No, none at all. Why don't you be a dear and make some?") But this time I said, "Debashish Bhattacharya." He said, "Gesundheit." I said, "Ha," then punched him in the solar plexus, before explaining in tedious detail why Debashish Bhattacharya is the bomb—even if his name sounds like a rare wasting disease you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
I didn't know much at all about Indian slide guitar (to my ephemeral shame), but after listening to Calcutta Chronicles, I realize that you really haven't lived until you've heard a pandit (master) play Indian slide guitar. It is some the most beautiful music ever conceived. In fact, it may be too beautiful.
At times when listening to Calcutta Chronicles, I feel unworthy of being in the presence of such beauty. I feel as if I'm going to simply dissolve in my own tears. This feeling is akin to looking at a stunningly gorgeous person and realizing that you will never get within whiffing distance of him/her. A chronic ache in your marrow forms and you understand that frustration can infiltrate you like a toxic gas.
But back to Calcutta Chronicles. The nine ragas mostly move at a stately pace: Subhasis Bhattacharya’s leisurely tabla slaps buttress Debashish’s crystalline notes, which gently sob, sigh and then gracefully curve into the loving embrace of Swati Biswas and Sukanya Battacharya’s tamboura drones, spurring contemplation of humanity’s deepest emotions. (They may also provoke Pavlovian pangs for vegetable biryani.)
Debashish isn’t burning up his fret board on Calcutta Chronicles (except in the ravishing "Aviskaar" and "Maya"), but rather caressing it with tenderness and profound knowledge passed down from centuries of raga pandits. His playing is one of the purest manifestations of peace through sound I’ve ever heard.
Larry Mizell, Jr.
August 15 at
Light In The Attic has The Saturday Knights' debut Mingle up for free download, while supplies last.
The DL page has a headline: "Fuck! I'm confused, dude." Then it lists some of the press for Mingle- some very positive (such as the piece I wrote here), some dismissive. People can leave comments on the page as well.
I'm less than surprised people aren't getting it. The rap is not of the neon $300 shoes, vintage 80's Starter coat variety. The rock is not spazzy Gang Of Four-play nor is it softbeard folk shit.
What it is IMHO is a great record, and people should hear it and make up their own minds. Hopefully TSK is going to tour soon as well- their rep was made by their fun-on-fire live spectacle.
Totes! And Lanterns and Vinyl and Posters (Oh My)
August 14 at
Our apologies for the slump on Line Out this morning. We've all been a bit busy here getting shit together for a little thing called Bumbershoot (start relearning the lines to "Plush" now!). So, yes, this is yesterday's news, and yes, other mediaoutlets have mentioned it already, but how fucking stoked are you for the new Of Montreal album?! Minus the few stubbornly contrarian trolls out there (shorter version: "cheap beer sucks! sunglasses suck! anything popular sucks!"), you should all be very, very excited—trust. If not for the further trans-gendered/racial lyrical advenutres of Georgie Fruit, than for the bevy of merch formats in which Skeletal Lamping will be available, pictured above, which include: cd, vinyl, paper lantern, tote bag and t-shirt, buttons, and wall decals, with all the non-musical media coming with download codes for the mp3s of the album. Everything comes out Oct 7, 2008 on Polyvinyl (who might want to change their name to Polyvinyltotesshirtsdecalsbuttonsandpaperlanterns).
Portland’s 31Knots are one of those groups that had me hooked from the first time I heard them, which was about four years ago now. My introduction to the band was It Was High Time to Escape, released on the now virtually nonexistent 54º40' or Fight! label. Somewhere I read a review of the band that compared them to old Modest Mouse with Yes’ Rick Wakeman on guitar, and that struck me as a pretty apt comparison. Since that record, however, the band has been slowly moving away from proggy compositions and more toward theatrical numbers with loops and pianos. On their last record, The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere, the intricate back and forth riffing between the bass and guitar that made me love their early work was almost entirely absent. The record had a few worthwhile moments, but for the most part was a dud compared to the rest of their impressive catalog.
So hooray for 31Knots for straightening themselves out and writing the best record they’ve released since High Time. Worried Well manages to find the perfect balance between the intricate instrumentation and swaggering theatricality that have come to define their tenure as a band. “Strange Kicks” is built on a see-saw piano loop but breaks into guitar solos and a stomping chant-along. “Opaque/All White” has a guitar lick that would sound perfectly at home on the Yes album Relayer. The record is constantly turning, rising and falling, starting and stopping, each song unique from its counterparts. 31Knots are squarely back on the top of their game. Here’s to hoping they start receiving the attention they deserve for being one of the most intriguing bands in rock music.
Worried Well will be released 8/19 on Polyvinyl.
How can this be missed? Badu's "Master Teacher," which is on her superb new album New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), owes everything to Plato:
I am in the search of something new
(a beautiful world im trying to find)
Searching inside of you
And thats fo' real
What if it were no niggaz
Only master teachers?
I stay woke
What if there was no niggaz
Only master teachers?
I stay woke
What if it was no niggaz only master teachers now?
I stay woke
Searching for a "beautiful world" that's "hard to find"? What if there were only "master teachers" and "no niggaz"? "I stay woke"? Has Badu been reading The Republic? This tune is an R&B translation of Plato's chief concerns: the third wave (philosopher kings), the cave and ship allegory, and the establishment of a guardian class.
"What if it were no niggaz [hoi polli/doxa/commoners/common opinions]/Only master teachers [philosophers/truth/alitheia/forms]/I stay woke [I stay authentic/aware/in a state of thavmazo, philosophical wonder]." Badu's beautiful world is Plato's world of forms. Amazing.
If You Dismiss Santogold as an M.I.A. Knockoff, You're a Deaf Racist
August 6 at
Subject-line supporting fact #1: While Santogold definitely has a few M.I.A.-esque elements—the percussive synth-buzz beat and rap-chant brags of "bringing the explosion" on "Creator," the percussive synth-buzz beat and "eh eh eh AY!" exclamations on "Unstoppable"—such ostentatiously common ground is essentially restricted to these two tracks. (And what—only one brown woman's allowed to appropriate war lingo over clangy synth-beats? During a time of war?)
Everywhere else on Santogold, she's off on her own trip, through some incredibly attractive terrain that's much more Siouxsie-and-Shakira-molest-Missing Persons than M.I.A. The result is a fucking great record that I've been playing three or four times a day for the past week. (The last record in my life to hold up to this kind of intense prolonged exposure: Kala. Make of that what you will, but don't get stupid about it.)
Subject-line supporting fact #2: If Santogold looked like this, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Which brings up the ickiest element of the Santogold backlash—the sense that people are rushing to dismiss her out of something worse than laziness. "Didn't we pay attention to a stylishly confrontational brown woman last year?" seems to be the subtext of the anti-Santogold hipster whine. Fuck that shit. If you enjoy listening to music, you should hear Santogold.
Holy shit! Whoever was telling me about the Vivian Girls over the weekend, you get a gold start both for accuracy (they're fantastic) and timing (the promo cd just came in the mail today). I get a demerit for not remembering who you are (my guess: someone in a beer garden, somewhere.) The band is parts Vaselines, parts Aisler's Set, and, per their myspace, parts Black Tambourine, Wipers, and Shangri-Las. (Side note: does anyone actually listen to the Shangri-Las, or does everyone merely cite them as influences?) The band may already be old news, I don't know, but DAMN! Their self-titled album is sold-out of its original run but will be rereleased on In the Red on Oct 7th. It will, in the interim, be on heavy rotation on my various music playback devices. Sadly, the Brooklyn band has no Seattle dates scheduled for the time being. Someone here ought to do something about that...
Update: Mike points out that they were here two months ago. I missed them. I will now spend the time being kicking myself.
Today in the Stranger Suggests, resident vis arts critic/synchro freak Jen Graves recommends you go see Water Lillies a French film about "several sapphically oriented girls on the same synchro team." As if synchronized-swimming, saphically-oriented French girls isn't enough, the film's original soundtrack is composed by hot-shit French electro producer (and TTC-affiliate) Para One. It's a far cry from the glitzy club thump of his Institubes album Epiphanie—soft, gauzy synths and pianos that are more new age than nu rave, but it's always nice to see good producers getting good work. You can hear samples of the score at Institubes, and here's a trailer for the film featuring the song "Trahision" by fellow Frenchman Vitalic:
I know TJ's got the disco beat covered around these parts, but I just wanted to put in some short mentions of some disco-esque albums that I've had in rotation lately. Put these in your download queue, your wish list, or your torrent search site of choice, they're all worth your time, modern updates to the disco sound.
Studio - Yearbook 2
The followup to last year's West Coast (and Yearbook 1), Yearbook 2 is another compilation from the Swedish duo. While Yearbook 1 was a compilation of original productions, Yearbook 2 is a compilation of remixes, including tracks by Kylie Minogue and fellow Swedes the Shout Out Louds. Because the tracks are all remakes, it isn't quite as cohesive as their earlier compilations, but for me it's somehow more listenable, either because the additional vocals ground the songs in more traditional pop territory or because I listened to West Coast so much I just need a new fix. The former is most evident with the Shout Out Louds "Impossible," the album's easy standout, which optimistically turns the chorus of "impossible" into "it's possible." It's the kind of song (and the kind of album) that makes bad days better (except for the Kylie track, which I skip more often than not).
Here's the video:
(Note - this one's going to be pricey since it's only an import, but it's so very very worth it.)
How Stoked is Jonathan Golob About the New TV on the Radio Album?
July 21 at
TV on the Radio's new album, due out September 23rd on Interscope, will be called Dear Science,. Will there be songs about raw milk? Will the band appear on the Dear Science podcast? Will Golob finally explain why my radio doesn't get television signals? We'll see...