Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gustav Klimt This

My art history teacher had a beautiful description for Gustav Klimt's, The Kiss: it's an overwhelming fusion of two bodies, a meeting so strong the bodies combine into one mosaic of sadness, subversion and disfigurement. It's a wonderful piece of artwork, and evokes MUCH more when you listen to beautiful folk.

It's a fleeting glimpse of The Middle East, but these guys play starry, firecracking stuff. Of course, this is from the lonely two songs and accompanying animated video on their Myspace. They're somewhere in there with Nick Drake & Stuart Murdoch's latest stuff, but have strong individuality. News and MP3s are leaking from Melbourne, but watch out for their new EP, Recordings of the Middle East, to hit on October 27th. Right in time for the golden pumpkins, same color as their Klimt-like album cover. (download the MP3s below)

The Middle East - Blood

The Middle East - The Darkest Side

Monday, September 28, 2009

Best Argument for Wish You Were Here

The award for best article saying "Wish You Were Here" without actually saying it goes to Pop & Hiss (click for the article), for the aching jealousy I got reading about Bon Iver's sunrise set at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday. Here's to me hoping someone posts the youtube video of "Re: Stacks" in the peach haze of the LA morning...

Randall Roberts at the LA Weekly said this:

"Bon Iver walked out into the darkness after a collection of Buddhist monks chanted a blessing, and the music began. "Sold my cold knot/A heavy stone,"* sang Vernon," and the thousands whispered silently along with words they'd long ago memorized. The sky seemed way too close. The palm trees looked Vaselined. Bon Iver appeared to be a dream."

Damn. Wish I was there.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Sur Don't Burn Down

Hosted in the piny woods, people with beards play good music. J. Tillman specifically, who's wintery album 2009 album, Vacilando Territory Blues, still aches to listen to (in a damn good way). This video, however, is from his newer album, Year in the Kingdom, that just hit stores with that fresh mint smell on Tuesday. From a first listen (thanks to Aquarium Drunkard), it sounds like another cut of stunning, Keatsian (O Romanticism!) lyrics and harmonies...dear GOD, the harmonies. Don't know about you, but my knees are all buttery.

J Tillman - Though I Have Wronged You

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Virtue and Wine

Sondre Lerche is humble and good at his job. Passion of the Weiss posted a cool article today on the subject of his wild, electric guitar playing and his new record - Heartbeat Radio. Check out the article, here, for a couple of new tracks. Lerche, to me, is one of those underrated pop stars who always finds a catchy beat, a good couplet and a can wail a guitar. I saw him play live a few years ago with Nada Surf, and the boy could play.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halloween Kick-Off, Scary Realism

SALEM Legend from SALEM on Vimeo.

GVB posted this freaky realism video from Salem, in conjunction with their new, limited 7": Frost. You might want to watch it in bursts because it's kind of Hellraiser-esque.

Hey It's a Andrew Bird Discussion! (That's hopefully about bigger things)

What do you think of Andrew Bird? Want to have a discussion? I've heard interesting arguments on both sides. He's a virtuoso; he's pretentious. He's intellectual; he's convoluted. His newest album, Noble Beast, gathered reviews from both sides:

Pitchfork said this: "The sound of the album is as important as the notes Bird plays, and this extends to the lyrics, where he's gradually gone from word-play to syllable-play, often choosing lines for their sounds and tonal quality more than for their meaning."

Paste said this: "Bird’s cutback in musical drama inadvertently begs for a sharper focus on individual parts, including the lyrics, their grandiosity making up for the music’s lack thereof—and then some. But listen too hard, and his words turn into flashing lights."

So there's two conflicting opinions on the subject of Andrew Bird's writing. I think Andrew Bird is a good musician to spur a few questions: Do people care about writing in music? Or more specifically, are people comfortable with only ONE type of writing?

There's poetry in some songwriters, and some are more straight forward. Brendan Benson's new song "Garbage Day" has strong, fun, straight-as-nails lyrics:

"Alone in my apartment / lights out / I'm in the dark again.../If she throws her heart away / I'll be there on garbage day / to sift through what's left I guess"

Then there's Neko Case, weaving webs of poetry:

"...retching pennies in a boiling well / in a dream that it once becomes
a foundry of mute and heavy bells / They shake me deaf and dumb"

Boiling water and hurling's surrealism and Dream Psychology in one minimalistic song (Middle Cyclone). Beautiful. Two songwriters, two different kinds of music in the same spectrum - but each is good. Is one more "approachable" than the other? Is one "better" than the other? Maybe; I don't think there is a "better."

Andrew Bird likes to experiment with words and syllables. If he didn't, his lyrics would be vexing and exciting at the same time. I think it's weird to narrow, whittle the spectrum of songwriting down so sharply that every line has to be the next Top Ten Indie Hit. Sometimes music can just be music to our ears, and that's one thing Andrew Bird does well:

"flailing fetal fleas / feeding from the arms of the master /burrow into me /and this is sure to misspell disaster / Oh and the young in the larval stage / orchestrating plays / in vestments of translucent alabaster"

"Vestments of translucent alabaster" fits like a puzzle piece into the song, but what does it mean? It's beautiful, that's a definite. Isn't that all it needs to be - part of a "song" - a lyrical work? Not every song has to tell a story. Not every song has to have a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes it can just be playful and be the higher aspects of improvisational music. Isn't that "jazz"?

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Blood Was a Rushing Tide

To put it simply, this video is the reason I love Neil Young inspired folk rock. From Everest's album Ghost Notes. I don't know what else to say besides: I love this (with that sound of rain and running and horses) and I need the record to spinning and crackling at all times. Lucky Los Angeles can see them at the Troubadour tonight with the Parson Red Heads.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1 From Austin, 1 From Brooklyn, Neon Indian Research

A timeline, as best as I can construct it, like some sort of movie P.I.:

4.2.2009 - Two acid washed tracks appears anonymously to Gorilla Vs Bear. Gorilla VS. Bear Posts. They are good.
4.16.2009 - GVB posts another song. Reports their EP coming soon. They're from Brooklyn and Austin. Not sure which is which. Details coming.
8.14.2009 - Pitchfork posts Rising Star review. Gives description including adjectives "gauzy" and "glossy."
9.16.2009 - "thefader" in Dallas posts a mini concert-cover on youtube. Neon Indian is featured. See above.

So that's where we're at now. Their new EP, Pyschic Chasms, is out Tuesday, Sept. 28th. Sounds like we should all buy it (check out their song below via Gorilla VS. Bear).

Neon Indian - 6669

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Night Swimmers

Recently signed Sub Poppers Death Vessel are touring the saloons. Death Vessel is baroque-ier and more ethereal though than, say, Great Lake Swimmers existential lushes. The lead singer, Joel Thibodeau, has a shockingly high voice, enough so that a Dallas Observer reporter had this to say of a recent concert, "a soaring soprano that sounds a hell of a lot like a female Appalachian folk singer; if you didn't look at the stage, you'd swear that sweet singing didn't belong to a person possessing family jewels." (Check out his article, here)

Have to be honest, I also was searching for the female singer pulling the Singing-In-the-Rain act in this video. Death Vessel's newest record, Stay Close, is out now on Sub Pop's shiny indie label. (MP3s are from DV's site.)

Death Vessel- Horchata

Monday, September 14, 2009

Division Day Head Wound

Like something from Hostel III: Los Angeles, Division Day is upside down and bleeding, you know, literally. In their new video. I'm new to these guys, first heard them from Passion of the Weiss's cool interview in Pop & Hiss. Their new album, Visitation, is out now on Dangerbird Records.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Song Replaying Right Now

Recently re-released in glorious new digital audio, Rodriguez's found treasure, Cold Fact, has fallen out of time. My first blind listen, I was rocket-shipped to my kid obsession with Buffalo Springfield's For What it's Worth. Go get Cold Fact (on record if possible), and pretend you were on the brilliant cusp of the 1970's.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hard to Find

Why is it so hard to find Roman Candle? Is it google's fault? A quick search in Youtube comes up with a variety of moronic entertainment (I found a video of a guy lighting a bottle rocket in his butt), and Google's search results reveal the band's website and a deconstructed pizza place.

This band is good. They have the glean of Whiskeytown and their new Elizabethan-titled album, Oh Tall Tree in the Ear is seriously fun rock. Tonight, Roman Candle is playing in Pennsylvania with Iron and Wine. So why are they not lighting up the indie music scene (besides Paste Magazine's dedication)? Where is that Pitchfork review with the modest .6 decimal placement indicating it's over half-way to the next good number?

Come Back Unchanged

The best Low Anthem song. Time to fight through heated crowds to Austin City Limits for a show with roots as deep as Barton Springs. Off Oh My God Charlie Darwin, which is so out now it hurts your teeth. I think it's the clarinet...

"To them ghosts in the train yard / All them ghosts in my drink / your money's no good here"

"Please take along all the best of my luck and come back unchanged"


Album Review: Time to Die - The Dodos

The Mayans believed the the sun visited the underworld when it set. If that's true, The Dodos are playing until the sun sets. It's beautiful and orange and ready for death (or at least a visit). Bring a thermos.

"Small Death" opens with a foot-stepper of a rhythm, ditching the kali sticks for some serious drums. Something about the Andrew Birdian guitar and the honeyed harmony made me think of fall. I half expected the sounds of papery leaves:

"Tell me glacier where you been / I hear the heat's been coming in / the sun is at your door"

The simplicity of The Beatles has been on my mind lately (maybe because of that ridiculous Guitar Hero commercial). What the Beatles did well they did simply. It's why Eleanor Rigby is brilliant - the harmony is good. When songs return to their rock and stone roots, and ditch the digital auxiliary processes, it's fascinating to hear when it's good. So kudos to The Dodos who use creative applications of a basic set of sounds: an electric guitar, a few snare drums and some liquor ready harmonies.

Longform, the Dodos second track, begs to heard live with its fast drum strokes and heavy beat. "Fables" is an elaboration on 2007's "Fools"; a song poached by the unmagnificent Miller Lite Lime commercial. "I don't want to go in the fires / I just want to stay home."The energy stays high throughout the album: "This is a Business" is a Buddy Holly-esque rock-n-roll piece with that little touch of rockabilly. "Two Medicines" begins like dark Queen riff (who can match Queen's brightness?) and the consensus theme is: The Dodos are ready for death. But it's a celebration, like an old faithful ritual. The sadness of our modern generation is fed into the album: the numbness of a Two Medicine world and the quiet death that follows malaise. I'm happy with the musical exploration on this album. Visiter became tedious and repetitive at times, occasionally exciting but never breaking the ceiling from song-to-song. Time to Die embraces their talents and needle-accuracy at finding a hot as hell rhythm; it's strong on the edges and more original then their previous album.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Just Saw a Shooting Star

"Last night I dreamt the whole night long / Woke with a head full of songs / I spent the whole day, I wrote them down but it's a shame / Tonight I'll burn the lyrics / Because every chorus was your name"

The Avett Brothers are GOOD country.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blood - The Middle East

'Blood' The Middle East

While GI Joe is touting it's Eiffel Tower meltings in Hostess wrapped CG, Indie music has been utilizing the old world of animation to make an impact. Recent animation users include Neko Case, Fleet Foxes, and this new beautiful video from The Middle East. They have a self-titled EP out now, and they're touring across Australia right now. Thanks to I Guess I'm Floating for posting the story.

The Middle East- Blood

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Division Day in the LA Times

Tonight: Division Day brings 'Visitation' to Spaceland

Posted using ShareThis

Good news! (For Los Angeles first) Division Day is kicking off their new tour, and doing so with a nice, meaty cross-section of their talents in the LA Times courtesy of the always good music journalist, Jeff Weiss.

I've just been introduced to Division Day, as I missed most of 2006's blog hype due to head trauma (just kidding, school). Prescription: Check out their interview, here, (or in that big ol' above link) and then go to Spaceland tonight, if you're in Los Angeles, and then buy their new LP - Visitation. Which you can buy now, as soon as you speed down to your local record store. The one that carries the good stuff.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Album Review: The Antlers Hospice & Brendan Benson

Two polar opposites. Brendan Benson has grace. It's alive and bright. The album opens with "A Whole Lot Better," a illuminated-blue Strokes-esque love song that introduces you (if you're unfamiliar with his waxings) to his Bowie sides, with that acid IV-drip guitar of the Who, and you know, The Killers or something (God, don't you hate Killers comparison's?).

According to Aquarium Drunkard's well-drawn interview, Brendan is keen on writing compulsively, and has no problems referring to his music as retro, power pop. Coming from the Raconteurs, "My Old Familiar Friend" is refreshing. "Garbage Day," one of the better tracks on the album, is succinct, sweet, and humble:

"If she throws her heart away / I'll be there on Garbage Day"

So maybe this is power pop. It definitely has a Jamie Lidell, I-became-a-twenty-something-in the-90's-vibe, but Benson explores more and is more adventurous than say, Filter (God, I hate Filter references). I wasn't a big fan of "Gonowhere"'s unsoaring melodies and the synth heavy "Feel like Take You Home." "You Make A Fool Out of Me" varies between minimalistic ballad and a interlude cut track from Moulin Rouge--which works well. It's pretty. As a whole the album has the confidence of an experienced songwriter and a good musician, but is weighted by tropes of the power pop or retro or rock genre. Benson, however, seems to know this and embraces it. Ten years from now, I envision cars on a southern highway, like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, slamming their steering wheel in pure song elation to "Poised and Ready," or anything Benson graces us with.

I'm biased - I have a proclivity for bizarre, dark-romance indie rock like The Antlers. It opens with a sound I imagined made to imitate the burst of light when you die (so it is read). "Prologue" is beautiful and scratchy, unlike it's poppy doppelganger: "Two" (which definitely is about death). Since Dark Side of the Moon, it's been easy and lovable to open an album with the sounds of quietly leaving your body. The Antlers love this. "Kettering" dances in ascension; a smoky and quiet tribute to the the thunderstorm -

"When they called you a hurricane thundercloud / When I was checking vitals / I suggested a smile / You didn't talk for a while"

The phrase "slow burn" comes to mind. And images of smoke. Unlike its smoke elements, Hospice has density and heart. "Two" has scintillating imagery and electricity even in it's uncharacteristic (from the rest of the album) emo-ness romanticism. Greatness is abound, Shelley or that curly haired freak Byron might say, and "Hospice" is pretty and dark.

The Antlers - Kettering

Brendan Benson- Garbage Day

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