On Saturday, I caught a couple of bands I'd never seen before when Melody's Echo Chamber (Melody Prochet and associates) opened for the Raveonettes at Neumos. My friend and I got there a little late due to the Genius Awards beforehand. Plus, I also stopped off at home for a few minutes—it was on the way—and then we ran into a mutual friend outside the venue. I assumed he was there for the same show, but he was actually just leaving Barboza after a set from Curtains for You. Once I realized he wouldn't be joining us, we entered the club to find that Melody's Echo Chamber had already started. I don't think we missed much, though, since she played most every track off her new, self-titled album.
When the late Steven Jesse Bernstein requested "more noise please" on his Sub Pop album Prison, he sounded as excited about the prospect as Giles Corey in The Crucible, who asked for "more weight."
Then again, Bernstein once opened for Big Black, an incident recounted in I Am Secretly an Important Man, so I'll assume he had a tolerance for noise rock, even if wasn't to his personal taste (the documentary gives the impression that the poet preferred folk and blues).
So, I have no idea what he would've thought about Toronto trio METZ, and I would never presume to speak for the man, but I like the way his label mates are bringing his words to life (or keeping them alive, depending on your perspective).
For more info, I wrote about the band here and here (and I reviewed the SJB doc here). Drummer Hayden Menzies, in particular, brings the noise in a beautiful way.
Below: two new tracks, plus a couple of previously un-posted photographs.
Matador released Sun two weeks ago. Before that, it was available through NPR Music's handy First Listen program, which introduced me to Django Django's self-titled effort, one of the year's best debuts (and here's hoping they win the Mercury Prize for it; they made 2012's list of nominees).
But I had other things to do, and I didn't want to listen to Cat Power's new record until I had time to give it my undivided attention. I liked the songs I'd heard on KEXP, but there's nothing like listening to an album in full. And I often have to listen repeatedly before I know for sure what I think. And I think—I know—I love it.
I couldn't say whether the title means to indicate that Chan Marshall is in a good place or not. She's admitted that it's a break-up record, so she may be intending the word ironically (after the break-up, she impulsively cut her hair; hence the new "gamine" image). In any case, I kept my expectations somewhere in the middle, i.e. neither low nor high, since she's always been hit or almost-miss for me.
Plenty of female artists have released videos this year in which they plunge underwater, hair flowing out behind them—Frankie Rose ("Night Swim"), Mr. Little Jeans ("Runaway")—and now Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier enters the fray, except hers is a little different.
For one thing, she wears a jaunty red swim cap throughout the thing, making her look like the infamous Little Edie Beale. For another, Monade's Marie Merlet has given it the faded look of an old home movie or series of Polaroids. She even works in a few synchronized swimming moves (nothing Esther Williams will lose any sleep over, but dreamy nonetheless).
It's all very lovely, and even a little haunting, but the scenario didn't completely grab me until things take a louder, more psychedelic turn at the four-minute mark. At that point, the images split in two, and a cool kaleidoscopic effect takes over.
Someone call the doctor: Steven McDonald has Spider Fever!
It's a good thing Redd Kross opted to grace Seattle with a free show as I had exactly $3.50 in my pocket when they played Chop Suey this past Friday. As soon as I heard they were coming, I RSVP'ed through the Sailor Jerry website, and I was good to go, though Thee Oh Sees gig at AllSaints in July was an even better deal, since two drink tickets were part of the package. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth—au contraire!—it's just that when you're poor, every penny counts, so no drinks for me, which was just as well. I wasn't feeling all that great as I'd been up since 5:30am, worked till 7:30pm, and my eyes were bothering me. Fortunately, Redd Kross improved my mood considerably, so it's too bad some guy had to call me a "bitch" on the way home (he thought I looked like I could use some company; he was wrong). Oh well. Can't win 'em all!
More pics and blather below. Nice to see Travis Ritter, but I missed Kelly O...
Of the instrumental (or quasi-instrumental) outfits with which I've spent time this year—Blues Control, Shawn Lee, Chrome Canyon, etc.—the latest offering from Six Organs of Admittance rocks the hardest. Clearly, band leader Ben Chasny was on fire when he made this thing.
The guitars slash and burn while the bass and drums rumble like thunder. No doubt you've heard louder music, but it isn't always played with this much finesse, since Chasny's stuff isn't sludgy, but swift and even a little funky, at least on opening track "Waswasa," which comes on like a turbo-charged raga jam from peak-era Allman Brothers (sans Gregg on vocals).
Melody's Echo Chamber Melody's Echo Chamber Fat Possum Records
After hearing the first few singles from Melody Prochet's debut, including the hypnotic "Crystallized," I feared the whole thing might sound like a female-fronted Tame Impala.
Granted, that isn't the worst place in the world to be, but the record bears her name and not theirs. Tame Impala producer and band leader Kevin Parker loaned her his Perth studio and contributed a few guitar parts, but she penned the material (she also recorded some of it in France). And, fortunately, she does have her own thing going on.
As it turns out, Parker wasn't always even around. In the press notes, she says she often had his studio to herself. Since she didn't know exactly what she was doing, she experimented, made mistakes, and learned to work with those mistakes. The results are psychedelic, to be sure, but there's more shoegaze to her recipe; less Pink Floyd and Pretty Things, more Lush and My Bloody Valentine.
Speaking of psychedelic music, San Francisco's Sic Alps have just released a video for "Glyphs" off their fifth studio recording and 25th release altogether if you count all the singles, cassettes, compilations, EPs, and CD-Rs.
Visually, there's a scrappy Wizard of Oz meets Woodstock thing going on here—or maybe it's their interpretation of John Mellencamp's Scarecrow album (stranger things have been known to happen in the realm of psych rock). The band has also announced dates for their fall tour with Thee Oh Sees, a perfect pairing if I ever heard of one.
Drag City releases Sic Alps, which includes the excellently titled "See You on the Slopes," on Sept 18. They play the Neptune on Oct 7 (8pm, all ages, $15 adv).
Hot on the heels of their split 7" with Psychic Ills, Ripley and Sanae of Moon Duo have released "Sleepwalker," the first single off their new album, Circles, and it's a barn-burner (as opposed to a church-burner; no Norwegian black metal here).
They haven't changed their drone-oriented style, they've just amped it up a bit. And yet, there's something about the loping rhythm that recalls '60s beat-girl pop, specifically the Shangri-Las' "Walking in the Sand." The colorful cover also stands in contrast to the black and white design of Mazes, their full-length debut.
To be read in a New Jersey accent: All right listen up greaseball here's the deal: You like the Ramones right? RIIIIIGHT. You like the Stooges right? RIIIIIIGHT. You like pizza right? RIIIIGHT. Can you read? Kinda? Cool, then sit down, shut up, grab a slice and get your peepers ready to help your mind get blow by GENIUS. Seriously Beethoven, ROLLOVER ALREADY! COME ON MAN.....
Ladies and Germs....PERSONAL.
The Pizza Festival is on it's way and who better to headline this bad boy than the EXPERTS? So I sat down with the boss (Personal) to get some insight into each track on their LP, Raw Pie, for another installment of TRACK MEET! (More after the jump!)
Hey Kids! Do you like caaaaandy? FREECAAANDY? Well, pop on into this sketchball tour van and you can have some! Now, I know what you're thinking—you shouldn't get into strange vans, but don't worry I'm not gonna kill you or nothin'. You might get touched though... WITH MUSIC! Relax, I'm just going to take you to see a magical, goldeny-oldeny rock 'n' roll band in a magical, goldeny-oldeny cave made outta boogers. Hey, come back! Not boogers in a gross way! In a cool way! Like the way McDonald's hamburgers were the best food ever when you were a kid; salty and simple. And hey, get this, there's an elf drum circle. Wait, wait, wait, come back! Okay, not a drum circle—but picture a bunch of elves playing the same beat. Like twenty Gary Glitters pounding on coconuts. Okay, now picture John Waters possess the dead body of Buddy Holly... wait, what d'ya mean YOU DON'T WANNA SEE A DEAD BODY?!
Fine, I'll interview this guy MYSELF...
The King of Candy!
King Lollipop plays Pizza Fest 2012 at the Funhouse Friday, 8/3.
Merge doesn't release their label debut until next Tuesday, but you can listen to Rehearsing the Blues now at NPR Music. It's their first record in 15 years, and Redd Kross doesn't appear to have missed a step. I wrote about the title track in this post, and it was fun to read what others had to say about the band.
birdy num num: i must have seen them play neurotica a million times and let me tell you, that record just rules. they were doing 'grunge' way before grunge was uttered by those folks at sub pop.
In speaking with friends, I found that everyone has their own favorite album. As first-gen L.A. punks, there's a lot of material from which to choose, to say nothing of the Tater Totz alter-ego or their appearances in the films of Allison Anders.*
* Grace of My Heart (1996), Sugar Town (1999), and Things Behind the Sun (2001).
When Decibel announced their schedule for this year's festival, I was unfamiliar with Estonian-born, London-based Maria Minerva, but now that I've heard her latest single, I'd like to hear more. "The Sound" follows her 2011 two-LP release, Cabaret Cixous (in the past year, she's also released two EPs and a cassette).
John Dwyer, Miles Rozatti, and Mike Shoun's sleeve
I knew I wouldn't be going to this year's Capitol Hill Block Party, and I make an effort to catch Thee Oh Sees every time they come through town, so I decided to check out their AllSaints in-store performance on Thursday (to date, I haven't attended CHBP once, and I'm dedicated to maintaining that spotless record).
The sun rises everyday on the mistake by the lake. The murky waters of the Cuyahoga River ooze into Lake Erie, the shallowest and most dangerous of the Great Lakes. The waters mix and then Lake Erie vomits legions of dead carp and steelhead onto it's plastic garbage covered shores. It feels like heaven on the street where nobody lives.
Seattle's best (coffee) Tacocat is currently on a brief east coast tour with Philly's best (cheesesteak) Slutever. After stepping off of a plane into the clutches of the rest of the country's balmy weather, Emily could only remark, "...the hot Philly air makes me feel like I just peed my pants in the best possible way."
There's a pizza restaurant in Cleveland called Happy's, the Yelp reviews aren't exactly glowing. Yelp user Daniel B. ends his review, "VERY GHETTO and VERY HORRIBLE!!!! STAY AWAY!!!" Although I'm from Cleveland, I've never heard of the place until Emily Nokes brought it up over text message, "This Greek salad is mostly just fist sized chunks of feta cheese."
The new video from the Dirty Three (violinist Warren Ellis, guitarist Mick Turner, and drummer Jim White) is just as cool and as weird as you might expect from the Aussie instrumentalists, soundtrack composers, and Nick Cave associates (and I'm talking mostly about Ellis—not the comic-book guy!—whose scrip-scraping has graced such fine, noir-tinged westerns as John Hillcoat's The Proposition and Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).
With its septet of brightly costumed dancers, the Emma Watts-directed video plays more like a piece of filmed performance art than a conventional promo clip. The seated figures in masks appear to represent the three Melbourne musicians, though they don't actually play any instruments. Well, not until the very end.
According to Vice's music channel, Noisey, which posted it first, the new Black Bananas video is "based in part on real life experiences in cryptical accordance to The Patchwork Girl of Oz." Directed by Sasha Eisenman, it "follows Jennifer [Herrema] as she passes through a Super 8 painted heat-scape of boozey blues riffs and dirty western desert drifts all in one long take." Noisey also refers to Herrema as a "heroin chic poster girl," which is unfortunate. Near as I can tell, her main addictions these days are to denim, which she designs, and nicotine*, which isn't exactly the healthiest alternative, but it isn't smack, so...give it a rest, guys.
Since the Red Sox are in town I feel like it's appropriate to talk about this band I recently stumbled upon while working on the music calendar.
I have to confess that I made the obvious assumption that a band from Northampton, Massachusetts called Speedy Ortiz would be a reference to David Ortiz or "Papi" as Bostonians like to say. He's not quite the fastest of the bunch, hence the band name.
But after looking more into the group, I discovered that the band is named after an obscure comic book character, not the famous Red Sox designated hitter.
This group sounds as 90s as the sunflower dresses that Mayim Bialik used to wear as Blossom on her tv show. Recently the band was recorded by Paul Kolderie (Pixies and Hole), and when recording with Paul, of course you write a song titled "Taylor Swift."