So as every music geek on the planet falls deeper and deeper into the marvelous new My Bloody Valentine album, I’ve heard several comments from people saying they haven’t heard anything like it in 20 years. Well, that’s not exactly true people. Sure, nobody can touch MBV at being MBV, but the shoegaze genre of electric drone that they spawned has given way to some pretty fucking good bands over the years. In fact, the release of their new album reminded me about this record that landed on my desk lat year from San Francisco’s Echodrone. What initially caught my eye about this record, Bon Voyage, was the fact that it showed up in my mailbox one day with none of the postage stamped on it. Meaning one of two things – either it went through the entire postal system with nobody ever marking it official, or these guys just crept by my home one day and dropped it off. Either way, I considered its mysterious landing an omen of its potential awesomeness – let alone the fact that it had two bucks worth of unused stamps on it – WooHoo!
So…Echodrone – think the washed out guitar of My Bloody Valentine, but with somewhat of an overall mellower, dreamier vibe, the kind of female vocals that make your brain feel all squishy, and the explosive bouts of energy that come around towards the end of some huge Sigur Ros tunes. In other words, it’s ethereal power rock at its finest. Now these guys are in no way trying to write a hit or anything resembling something that any normal radio station would ever go near – rather they’re making massive movements of atmospheric growth. This is the kind of shit that would go over great late night at a music festival when you and your friends are just settling into the tail end of your mushroom trip and smoking the largest joint of all time. They like to label themselves as dream pop, but they definitely fall heavier on the dream than the pop.
If this was 1999, you and all your best friends would already be knee-deep into this record. But this is the future, and a time when it’s increasingly hard to find outlets for people to explore your music with no pre-referential cues. Especially when the band has a name that could potentially be the title of some horrid dub-step DJ – I was actually quite weary before I first gave it a spin. But here’s your chance to be cool for once, and be the one who introduces the hip new druggy, dreamy band to all your friends who love druggy and dreamy shit. You can stream and buy the whole record HERE, as well as check out their new album of covers which includes a surprisingly killer take on Christopher Cross’ “Sailing.”
When I first hear of Tame Impala last year a few years back, I presumed they were some electronica band from the Philly suburbs – I mean, who else would name their band after a Chevrolet sedan? Then I heard the single for “Solitude is Bliss” and instantaneously googled the fuck out of them. Ahh, an impala is a type of antelope form the band’s native Australia – Ok, now that aligns more with this ideal mesh of 70′s acid-trip and 90′s indie rock that I can’t stop playing on repeat. And while the accompanying 2010 album Innerpeaker was fantastic, 2012′s Lonerism is straight-up amazing. While I ranked it as #13 on my Top 50 list for 2012, I probably listened to that record more than anything else in the past few months. And again, while the “Solitude” video is great – witty, very Aussie, and a wonderful portrayal of the song – I’m more psyched that so far their video releases for Lonerism make you feel like you just ate a vintage black-light poster off the wall.
If you somehow haven’t yet seen the video for “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” then go watch it immediately, and prepare to combine your memories of your first time eating mushrooms with what you remember 3-2-1 Contact looking like as a child. The video posted a few days ago for “Mind Mischief” is even better. It’s essentially a complete contrast to Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall” – like you dove straight into the daydream imagination of one of those British kids getting screamed at to eat his pudding. It’s brilliant, and heartwarming. But careful if you wash it while at work, because it will make you instantly want to go rip a joint in the bathroom.
After my recent rant on the failed solo endeavors of one of my favorite modern artists, I thought I’d express my appreciation for another who is actually doing shit the right way. Last week, My Morning Jacket‘s front-man announced his solo debut Regions of Light and Sound of God will be coming out on February 5th. And even though he’s released solo projects before under the Yim Yames moniker with Monsters of Folk and his George Harrison tribute, this one gets the official debut of his real name. I presume that’s because it’s on MMJ’s same label, ATO Records, and they presumably have some contract with James where he can’t use his own real name on other labels. Either way, the first cut “Know Til Now” is already out, so take a listen:
So unless you’re breaking up your main band, let’s learn some key lessons here from James on how to make appropriate solo music. First off, highlight your greatest attribute, which in James’ case is his instantly recognized distant-space quasi-falsetto voice. Second, make the surrounding instrumentation sound well apart from your actual band. On this track, James uses a muted drum pattern that sounds far away from anything MMJ’s Patrick Hallahan would ever play, and the main riff is obviously looping like a sample of itself – almost like you expectHova to drop a verse any second. In other words, this song sounds instantly like Jim James, and equally as instantly not like My Morning Jacket. Oh, and it’s good too! I forgot about that, part three of the solo equation is to make sure your solo music is good, or else people will just think you’re a pretentious dick-fuck who’s wanking around in a studio and thinks he can make a couple extra nickels off of it.
I’d describe how I think the tune sounds but I think James says it best: “I wanted the album to sound like it came from a different place in time. Perhaps sounding as if it were the past of the future, if that makes any sense—like a hazy dream that a fully-realized android or humanoid capable of thought might have when it reminisces about the good old days of just being a simple robot.” I dig it, and I also like that he’s continuing the same theme of future projection that he brought in on my favorite cut off of the last MMJ Circuital album, “Slow Song.” It’s good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the full release which you can order now at www.jimjames.com.
Photo courtesy of dannyclinch.com.
If you missed the boat 2 years ago when Ariel Pink finally blew up and dropped many a critics’ Album of the Year with Before Today, don’t be too hard on yourself. At the time, it almost seemed too hip for its own good, and those smooth retro jams seemed slightly insincere at first listen to some folk. But now’s the time to go back and catch up, because if not, you’re falling behind on his latest release Mature Themes. Summing up his vibe perfectly in the latest Spin, Ariel claims that “I knew that I was doing something that sounded like the trace of a memory you can’t place.” To me it sounds like music from some parallel universe where 70′s yacht rock made a perfect transition into 80′s pop music – like if Michael McDonald had managed to still stay relevant.
Despite the jumbled ego that he can’t help but emit constantly, Pink really is crafting genius smooth-pop that transcends any and all genre-era constraints. Try to hate it, but the shit is just fucking fly as all hell. This new video for “Only in My Dreams” isn’t ground-breaking by any means, but it continues the low-fi dreamscape which he so embodies. Presumably shot on VHS, and not really following any interesting plot-line, the video is as relaxed and casual as his music – as it should be. He wants some girl, but it’s not really working out – that’s it. Track is great though, so is the album, and the video makes you want to go dig out your too-tight Vaurnet t-shirt and short-shorts, grab a 4-pack of Bartles and James and head for the community pool. Dig it.
Grimes – she’s so hot right now. There’s always been more than that Will Ferrel reference that’s made me somehow associate Grimes with Hansel from Zoolander though. It has something to do with the fact of how blurry her boundary lines are – with Visions playing in the background, your fat uncle drinking a Budweiser in his tighty-whiteys could sit side-by-side with twin Korean siblings performing S+M on one another. Everything goes, and her latest self-directed video for “Genesis” only furthers the vision of that absurd universe. There’s no way I’m gonna watch this video as much as I did the one for “Oblivion”, despite this being my favorite cut on the album. Maybe it has to do with the weird lazy-eye of the pink-haired space ninja at 5:09. Who knows? Either way, home-girl is staying on top of the game.
I have become completely enraptured by the new video for “Oblivion” by Grimes. I had never heard Claire Boucher’s earlier work from the past couple years, so this video was my direct stimuli overload intro of everything she represents. The tune starts off with an electronic beat similar to Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” while Claire stand in a men’s locker room full of towel-clad muscle-junkies. Upon first viewing, I stopped 20 seconds in – just as her voice starts. The beat, the visuals, and her soft-spoken voice just didn’t instinctually feel like a place I wanted to go. I felt uncomfortable, but then I remembered my vow to escape my comfort zones more often, so I reapplied myself to Grimes and now that shit is directly up my alley.
Her gentle lisp-ridden vocals bring to mind a few other acts, but she emits a quiet confidence that immediately rises her up and away from reference points. The video itself is a masterful vision of irony. Grimes rocks headphones and a boom-box so she can sing along to her tune in the midst of a high-school football game and a dirt-bike rally. The raging testosterone circling around her is a direct contrast to the music she’s making, but her comfort in the setting brings an eerie acceptance to the whole situation. I instantly realized where I had seen this trick used before, back in the 90′s on Pavement‘s video for “Major Leagues.”
Pavement actually made two videos for this song – perhaps because they thought the headphone concept wouldn’t work for everybody, they made a more straight forward, cliche 90′s video too. Personally though, this headphone one has always been one of my all-time favorite music videos. Filmed inside an amateur wrestling arena of some sort, the main character sings along while the rest of the crowd is completely oblivious to the fact that even a video is being filmed. For this song’s case, it highlighted the tune’s own pleading emotions of an outsider contemplating stepping up to another level of society. For the Grimes video, there is more of a focus on the periphery interactions of other people – highlighting her notion of being slightly outcast while yet not so isolated.
Anwyay, I think it’s a killer move for a music video, and frankly I think the whole concept should be considered as a regular alternative to the standard video. Couldn’t you picture a new video for Sleigh Bells coming out with Alexis Krauss singing by herself inside of a 100,000 person Nascar race? I could – it’d be fresh. They should do it. I’m telling them to right now… Do it. If anybody says you stole that idea from Grimes, you say fuck it – she stole that shit from Pavement.
Here’s Grimes in “Oblivion”
And here’s “Major Leagues”
And yeah – this kid’s got the right idea!
I know, 2 posts in a row about guys named Panda but whatever. Panda Bear(aka Noah Lennox), one of the key elements of Animal Collective is actually much more or a revolutionary force on his own than with his band-mates. Sure, AC is great, but they can be a little intense sometimes and not really crafters of fall-back albums to listen to regularly once you’ve gotten the idea. Noah solo though, melts this total Brian Wilson drift-off mentality with a new glitchy layering that is all-at-once beautiful, intense and soothing. 2007′s Person Pitch was one of my top 10 albums of the 20′Oughts, and is essential listening for a true understanding of where modern music has turned and is going. Tomboy isn’t quite as breathtaking, but it’s still amazing. Here’s a clip and link of my full album review, as well as a clip of Panda Bear performing one of my faves off the album “Last Night at The Jetty.” The video sucks, but the audio is amazing – there’s better videos to actually see how it pulls it all off live – basically runs a beat trackwhile he plays his guitar on crazy reverb wobble and runs the echo on his vocals to full overdrive.
”This quasi-organic‚ half-digitized self-layering pattern shouldn’t work anywhere near as well as he makes it‚ but again‚ that’s all part of the allure — embrace the escape. If you listen really closely to the ending growth-pocket of “Bracelet‚” there’s a moment where you completely forget who you are. Tomboy calls for the listener to lose themselves‚ and Lennox has proven again that you’re safe to do so in his hands.” http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1285/Panda-Bear—Tomboy/
Distant, loft-inducing vocals – a dull but warmly steady, pulsing snare – raw, simple, but synched guitar licks with alot of reverb. Those are essentially the 3 characteristics that have made the LP and EP releases from Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils so appealing and alt-critically adored over the past year. So their performance at Winooski, VT’s Monkey Bar the other night, which admittedly is a very tough room to play in as you are essentially crammed into a window by the front door, thus horrible acoustics…anyway, the best way to describe their performance at the Monkey on Monday night was whiny, forced vocals – a forgotten and off-tempo snare – sloppy, confused guitar licks lost in the vacuum of the ill-conceived stage. I’m not saying I necessarily blame the band, but that shit was really fucking bad. And I only say it, because I’ve enjoyed the band’s music before and hope they can understand my constructive criticism as a way to elevate them to superior athletes of their craft and contributors to the modern lexicon of our sacr-religious musical culture, but that shit friggin blew. When they busted into their most quasi-known song, “Daydream,” I headed for the door.
And you know…I’m sure any band based on echoey vocals like My Morning Jacket or something, would also sound horrible in the Monkey Bar, but they would be willing to adapt. And sometimes that’s what you gotta do, you need to be willing to change up the gameplan a little bit so it at least seems like you’re in control of the situation, and not just letting yourself accept an ass-raping from a stage not well constructed to your sound. If any bands out there are looking for lessons in constructive adaptation and communal interaction with surroundings, I’m available for a rather steep fee. Contact info can be found above.
And fans attending these shows need to realize that it is definitely in their place to acknowledge when the band you’ve been rocking on your iPod because Pitchfork gave their album a 7.8, are pulling off a rather wankerous and dodgy performance. If you just roll with it and put a fake smile on your face to pretend like the show is just as dreamy as you could imagine, then the next time they roll into town the band is going to be comfortable with just sonically pissing in your beer. I’m just saying, not to say anything about the Monkey, or MSR Presents with Matt Rogers and Nick Mavodones who fucking work their asses off to bring alternative music into our Northern Vermont community that otherwise would speed right by on their way to Canada. Nor against the hipsters of Burlington and Winooski, who really are very nice people when you get to know em, just a little shy and more full of Phish-angst than your regular Brooklynite. Anywho…here’s the studio cut of said track from before – good, summertime Joy Division-esque stuff.
I’ve fallen in love with the new short video released today by Todd Cole and Rodarte, The Curve of Forgotten Things. Featuring Elle Fanning and a clever way to showcase fashion, the 8 minute surrealist piece has her cycling through a house in a series of different dreamlike transitions, all set to an incredibly beautiful ambient soundtrack by Deerhunter. Definitely got a very Sigur Ros vibe to it, but either way the music goes elegantly with the video – when the drums kick in at the 6 minute park I get total goosebumps. Watch it here for the next week, then I think it disappears:
And just in case it does, here’s a killer vid of good ole’ Stevie Nicks crushing it back in the day. Only because I’d hate to put off the readers who didn’t appreciate the randomness of my Nicks bashing in my last post, so here’s random redemption points. She really does kill it here, you can see Lyndsey Buckingham loving it – probably because they were still banging hard in the dressing room every night with a pile of disheveled dashikis left in their wake.
While listening to Grizzly Bear‘s Yellow House from 2006 at work the other day, I had a young enthusiastic chap say “Oh, I love the Morning Benders” – mistaking the album for something from the young hip cats from Berkeley. And while I’m not a huuuge Grizzly Bear fan, the comment filled me with ire. I soon realized the anguish stemmed from the fact that however, I ama huuuuuuuge non-fan of The Morning Benders.
The band played up North here in Burlington a few months back, and while never having heard anything of there’s, I was drawn to attend due to my affinity for all things new and cool. My ability to not fall asleep on my feet during their set only stemmed from the rush I still had driving through me from hearing the killer opening band, Twin Sister. I mean, I get it… You know, it’s the new millennium, it’s America – you have the freedom to make any music you want. And sure, you can be mellow as all fuck, and sure you can act like you’re 47 when you’re only 19 – but for the love of everything holy, at least look like you’re having fun up there. They were easily one of the biggest drags I’ve ever seen in live music before…
And then they had to go bust a cover of “Dreams,” the Stevie Nicks disastrous hit for Fleetwood Mac. Ok here we go: “Thunder only happens when it’s raining”? Are you kidding me? We all know that line isn’t true at all, but Miss Nicks isn’t some deep swoonstress either. But that line is one my biggest gripes in popular music. It’s followed by, “Players only love you when they’re playing.” Now that line’s ok, but she’s obviously trying to make it sound like some universal truth equal to the natural flow of thunder. Now I feel she’s just an idiot, and was just writing whatever lines flowed well when someone is blowing coke up your ass through a straw. <<(That shit’s real, her nasal cavity collapsed in the 70′s – google it.) Either way, so to give her the benefit of the doubt, I considered the fact that maybe she is aware that thunder definitely happens when it’s not raining. So maybe she is likewise trying to make the divine statement hidden between the lines that perhaps players do definitely love you when they’re not playing – like love is something real that even players can’t hide. But that’s not true, and there’s no way she would try to go to a deeper second level in her dumb 70′s pop lines, (and coke lines). Thus obviously, while I was already turned off by The Morning Benders, this cover drove me away for life.
So in conclusion: The Morning Benders are a fucking drag man! Stevie Nicks is an over-hyped and delusional coke whore! Twin Sister is awesome – here’s a killer friggin’ cut and video: