It’s hard to keep track of everything The Flaming Lips put out these days. The last few years have been quite prolific – multiple singles and collaborations seemed to arise faster than most nerds like myself could even listen to. Let alone trying to eat through an entire Gummy Fetus to get to them. Thus it’s no surprise that with the release of their new album, The Terror, only weeks away, they suddenly decide to release an absurd video for “Ashes in the Air” – the collab they made last year with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. If you’ve never heard the song before, then quickly imagine The Lips and Bon Iver together, and say the first things that comes to your mind. If you said, “Oh, I don’t know… some spun-out noise shit with Wayne Coyne singing about getting fucked up while Vernon echoes him in that auto-tune voice he likes to use…” then Bingo – we have a winner! Of course that’s what the song sounds like. Nobody would have given it the time of day if it was anything different. If they released some sort of barber-shop track with a hip-hop beat, people would have considered it a complete waste of their personas.
Which leads me to my point… When you have become an established artist, and have thus crafted a definitive mold for who you are and what you sound like, you are then in some degree indebted to your fans and yourself to maintain that persona. Sure, musicians need to evolve, but you should never turn your back on who you are. When I hear the RZA is producing a new album, I’m gonna be seriously disappointed if there aren’t some dirty analog beats in there. Bruce Springsteen better include some commentary on the underbelly of America on his records. And again, this doesn’t mean you should pigeonhole yourself into one limited fabric of sound, but you should never intentionally run from who you are. There’s a reason Phish fans didn’t embrace the happy-and-you-know-it vibe that was embraced mightily on their last album – despite their hippie-ish connotations, their music is not happy-go-lucky stuff. There’s a reason nobody gave a fuck about Gene Ween‘s solo record as Aaron Freeman – nobody wants to hear a guy do an album that is nothing but covers of some forgotten 70′s crooner when that guy is known for being one of the most original and inventive songwriters on the planet. And sure this isn’t a golden rule of music, because there’s plenty of notable exceptions. Radiohead‘s constant desire to reinvent themselves is one of the greatest blessings ever given to the world of music, and MGMT‘s diversion from dance-pop brought us a new realm of dark introspective material that teeny-boppers desperately needed to be exposed to. So no, it’s not a rule, but it’s a lesson. It’s something an artist should always consider. If you’ve become well known for music that is most assuredly you being yourself, then are you staying true to yourself when you attempt to stray from your notoriety?
Which leads me back to the video for “Ashes in the Air” – again, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind after hearing the song. “Oh, I don’t know… maybe some alien-astronaut kind-of-guy puts a baby in a meat-grinder or something, and there’s like naked, bloody people lying around… Oh, and that dude from Bon Iver’s head keeps like statically flashing…” Bingo! Enjoy…
Two years ago, I fell in love with Youth Lagoon‘s debut album. It’s been in fairly regular rotation since then, but I think it’ll be a long time before I listen to it again – that’s how great this new record is. The kid laid down all his chips on this one, and such ambitious feats don’t usually result in such triumphant brilliance as this record. There’s a couple of songs on here that I plan on listening to for a long fucking time. Read the full review HERE at State of Mind. Here’s a snippet of the review and a clip of my favorite cut.
…The biggest improvement upon the last record though, is that you can actually understand the words Powers sings on Bughouse. No longer shyly hiding behind an ocean of reverb, he proudly sings his dogmatic epiphanies — at times sounding like a young kid explaining his first acid trip to his older brother, and at other times making some relatively poignant statements about temporal existence. “Dropla” may be the first time I’ve ever been genuinely moved by the existential statements of someone a decade my junior. The true moment of consummation appears in “Raspberry Cane.” The first two minutes are like being absorbed Tron-style into an Atari 2600, then it suddenly opens into a circular McCartney descension that you wish would never end. If this was the new David Bowie album, people would have called it one of the greatest records of all time, but Mr. Stardust hasn’t been this blown away by the universe in 40 years. These are the lofty dreams of a young kid from Boise, and that makes them far more relevant than the croons of a Brixton chap in his sixties…
After 15 years of making the most dreamy, ethereal music to ever grace the ears of the common masses, it looks like Sigur Rós are finally bringing some of their nightmare into the equation. Jónsi and his Icelandic cohorts have always made music that casts the listener into an internal and existential journey. When you take down all your walls and let their music consume you, it’s like being absorbed in the breath of the divine – a slow passage between rising and descent where the common laws of emotional response break down. It’s much like that first experience with some new drug where you’re not sure whether you’re laughing or you’re crying – rather you’re just responding to the convergence of all potential human response. Yet as much of a ride as their music will take you on, especially in a live setting, it has rarely been frightening. But with today’s release of their new track “Brennisteinn,” it seems like the fellas have finally realized there was a part of the human experience that they were neglecting to include.
Regardless of this video, which seems to be depicting some sort of human sacrifice during a solar eclipse and is reminiscent of something that Tool or Nine Inch Nails would have produced in the 90′s, this music itself is somewhat terrifying. The ethereal drift is still there, but it’s punctuated by insidious rupture. At times the melody is completely abandoned for static implosion, and there’s a very literal sense of what potential apocalyptic booms may ring of. There’s a touch of My Bloody Valentine quiver, and there’s a degree of forewarning much akin to God Speed! You Black Emperor, but there’s still no doubt that this is Sigur Rós, and to imagine how this new sound will fit into the live setting is a massive conjecture. I’ve personally witnessed complete emotional breakdowns at their concerts before, and adding this sensual flux into the equation will only make the ride all the more complex. There’s no doubt of its’ massive epic-ness.
The band announced today that their new album, Kveikur, will be released on June 17th. Could this be a sign of a new prolific age for the band? Previously there had never been anything shorter than a 3 year gap between albums, and now this dark warrior rises merely a year after their last masterpiece. Let’s hope so, as any new music from this band only makes the puzzle seem clearer.
Well, I’m about 14 listens into the new My Bloody Valentine album, and I can already feel it restructuring my genetic make-up. I’ve always adored Loveless, and as crazy as it seems to me that I may actually enjoy this record even more, I can’t deny it. Listening to mbv is like watching water rush down an empty riverbed – it works its way into every crack and fully consumes everything, creating a new unified entity with the previously dry ground beneath it. This is the first album I’ve ever tried to turn my Bose computer speakers all the way up for, and they totally had not a lick of balls to get to the point I needed. I need to drown in this shit – that’s the intention of the music, and not letting it fully wash over you is a complete disgrace and disregard to its power. You can read my full review of the album HERE at State of Mind, and here’s the last paragraph of it.
…Somehow, thank god, Bilinda Butcher’s vocals are still as ethereal and illusive as ever. After all this time, I still have no clue what one word of the lyrics she sings on Loveless is, and 22 years from now I’ll still have no clue what any of the words on mbv are. But complaining about that is like complaining about not properly knowing what hue of indigo lies within glacial ice — some things in life just are entities solely unto themselves. I could go on and on… how perfectly imperfect the guitar tone is in “Who Sees You”… how “New You” is the most eerily beautiful anything of the past decade… how the drums on “In Another Way” sound like a syncopated stampede of rabid yak… how “Wonder 2″ is most assuredly the sound of Neptune’s rings… To simply delineate the enormity of this music into something so trivial as “shoegazing” is like classifying your life with a haircut. mbv is not only a testament to the potential triumphs of great bands lost along the way, but an ode to the authenticity of rebirth in general….
The sudden arrival this weekend of the first My Bloody Valentine album in 22 years caused music-heads the world over to unexpectedly shoot their loads all over the goddamn place. Most indie-kids had gotten so used to living with the half-chubbed boner that Loveless left them with in 1991, that they had become completely oblivious to the fact that they had spent the past two decades in constant half-aroused anticipation. When Kevin Shields decided that the unannounced arrival of his band’s new record would be the ideal drop, tens of thousands of folks worldwide had an inner sonic explosion akin only to the greatest prepubescent ejaculation of their childhood years.
But seriously, the release of m b v is a huge fucking deal. Imagine if after The Beatles released Rubber Soul in 1965, they waited til 1987 to release Revolver. That’s the equivalent gap between moments of magic we’re currently experiencing here. And yes, believe it or not, this new record totally lives up to it’s long-lost father. If this record had come out in 1993, it would have been met with just as much equal praise as it is today – a worthy successor to a breakthrough moment in rock’s history. Sure, there’s a touch more sense of melodic flow to the new album, but it still quintessential My Bloody Valentine – quivering echoes of electric squeeze, and the definitive calling cards of everything we like to call shoegaze. What’s most impressive though, is that despite the hundreds if not thousands of indie-rock bands that have tried to sound like MBV over the years, this is the only time there has ever been new music that is unmistakeably this same band. Despite every hip girl on the planet wanting to, nobody has ever sounded like Bilinda Butcher, and amazingly her voice sounds just as ethereal, and spookily heartwarming here as it did half a lifetime ago. Most importantly though, this band has possible one of the greatest legacies in rock history. And to have the confidence and skill to not fuck that up is one of the greatest accomplishments any band has ever pulled off. Think about how much you hung your head in shame when Jane’s Addiction started recording horrid new music. And think about how stoked you were when Pavement returned and played nothing but their old shit. So hats go way the fuck off to Shields and company here – good to have you all back.
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.
This week M83 released the final video in their connected trilogy of epic mini-movies from tunes off last year’s brilliant Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. While the initial video for “Midnight City” was met with much acclaim from anyone who laid eyes on it, the follow-up video for “Reunion” sort of squeaked out with not much fanfare – probably because that tune isn’t nearly as epic as its predecessor. But now the 3rd installment has appeared with the tune “Wait,” which is the dreamiest cut off the album and probably my favorite, and most likely will reach the fame of the 1st video. But all 3 are brilliantly produced by the team of Fleur & Manum, and front-man Anthony Gonzales has claimed that the videos are somewhat of a tribute to Akira, Village of the Damned, and Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. The first 2 references make sense as the story line is about children with heightened powers rising up to a new age of human purpose, but I think the Close Encounters reference just has to do with the fact that he digs aliens and shit. All 3 videos remind me more of the Arthur C. Clarke masterpiece, Childhood’s End, which if you have yet to read – then go spend 8 bucks and read it today. Either way, here’s my interpretation of what’s going on with em. Here’s “Midnight City”.
Ok, so we’ve got this center where the government is collecting children who have exemplary powers of mental control and intellect – basically a more frightened version of the Xavier institute if you will. It’s not quiet a prison, but it definitely appears as if they’re held here against their will. So in comes this new little kid who seems to instantly be able to unify all the children in some sub-conscious mind-cloud. With the combined mental strength and motivation of the whole team, they are able to break free. Kids being kids, they make their way to an abandoned warehouse where they use their ESP to throw cars around and break shit. Then they go up on the rooftop and watch the sun set as they presumably haven’t had a chance to do that in a while and the sun seems to potentially provide the essence of their power. It’s also possible that they’re testing their true strength here and actually speeding up the rotation of the Earth and causing the sun to set earlier than usual, but that’s tough to determine. On to “Reunion”.
So one of the children didn’t escape with the others, and is now set up in a room where the evil government folk are manipulating her powers to use as a weapon for themselves. You can tell they’re using her for bad shit because her eyes go red here instead of that awesome stella blue. She locates the missing children and essentially explodes the inner divinity out of the youngest one to turn her into a homing beacon so that the bad folk can recapture them. This process kills the young girl, and the other kids are like “Fuck, we gotta get the fuck outta here.” They run away from their hunters til the one powerful kid from the beginning says, “Hold on, I think I got this shit.” At this point, the dark empowered child takes control of one of the hunter guys, and uses his body as a puppet for her own darkened attack. She lifts the SUV in the air and chucks it at the kids, but the little guy is able to stop it mid-flight. Then a few other super-kids show up, and with their combined power they are able to relaunch the SUV back at the hunters. This combined power of the enlightened children is enough to snap the darkened girl out of her manipulated trance. She takes off her wiring and gets out of there. The rest of the kids then go into a church and combine their sacred inner lights into one powerful force, and we see the sun rise. Perhaps insinuating again that they have this unified control of the sun or rotation of the Earth and that they are turning shit once more. To the conclusion – “Wait.”
All right, now shit gets really heavy. We’re in space and we see a mirrored pyramid shape floating around slightly reminiscent of the thing that held General Zod in Superman II, but more likely a reference to the monolith from 2001. With the faint image of one of the girls’ faces interspersed with shots of a galaxy in space, it appears that the children have now astrally projected themselves off of Earth, and thus perhaps they actually are the flying pyramid monoliths. Either way, we cut back down to a severely trashed city where the now lone girl who escaped from the last video is wandering past dead bodies and destruction. We see some guys brutally beating the fuck out of someone else and then we cut back to space where we see a massive explosion go off on Earth. This is the little girl exploding her powers out, destroying all the perceived evil of society around her and cleansing the Earth. We then see here walking the now completely barren world of nothingness where upon she extracts a drop of water from the land and begins the process of rebirth on the planet. Back in space, we see the true 2001 reference take place as the boy enters full Dave/Star Child mode – launching through the escalated motions of his existence as we see the DNA structure realigning. Cut back to Earth, where the young girl has now completely reformed things into a rain-forest paradise and has essentially become the new Mother Earth. She is the new creator and the new dawn of the next life of a cleansed world. At the same time, Star Child reaches his own next state of evolution, and in exhausted completion he and his monolithic pyramid self come crushing back into the Earth. The new age officially begins. Brilliant, beautiful stuff. Powerful sounds and imagery as we near the end of 2012 here. Kind makes you really want to hold tight to the people you love. And seriously, go read Childhood’s End right now – it’s essential for an understanding of modern human potentiality.
Ok, let’s get back into this. First off, let’s celebrate Mr. Aaron Freeman on 11 months of sobriety. Probably the longest he’s gone since 8th grade, so mad props unto you fine sir. However, I have some serious bones to pick with you my good man. Going solo is totally fine. And I understand that you needed to get away from Ween and that being Gener was keeping you on the eternal binge train. But here’s what really apes my butt-star…
After releasing this dumb album of Rod McKuen covers, you tried to do a solo tour. Only you very quickly realized that in the mass swashes of low IQ locales you had scheduled shows, (The South), nobody there realized that Aaron Freeman is Gene Ween. Thus, you had to cancel those shows. Then you realized that at the shows you actually played, nobody gave 1/2 a shit about hearing some pussy cover tunes off an album they had no interest in listening to in the first place. So you gradually worked more and more Ween cuts into your gigs until by the time you got out to Portland, nearly your entire set was Ween tracks. Deep tracks. You encored with “What Deaner Was Talking About”. Those are some really fucking poignant lyrics bud – “The sun comes up and I’m all washed out. Is this what Deaner was talkin’ about? I don’t think I will ever return again my friend.” And I know that shit has to hit home hard for you, let alone what Deaner friggin’ feels about his lifelong friend turning his back on him only to sing these songs that mean so much to the both of you without him.
So if you want to go solo, then go solo. Don’t play Ween tunes, just play your irrelevant cover songs. Right now you’re making yourself look no better than Axl Rose or even the dude from Asia who tours without Asia. I mean, what do you really need – a separate dressing room? You guys usually played venues that can accomodate that shit. If you don’t want to be around your boys drinking whiskey and blowing coke, then leave the fucking room. Don’t be a whiny brat about it – suck it up and get out there on the stage with them after they’ve gotten their buzz on without you. I assure you Deaner and the crew would be a lot happier with that, than with you playing all their songs with some other random cats. Sobriety’s tough – I get it, we all do. But what’s even tougher is turning your back on your boy and your legacy and your fans. I guarantee all of them are willing to support your decision to not be fucked up anymore if you’re willing to keep one of the greatest bands of all time together.
So in one month you’ll be a full year sober. That seems like a great time to apologize, say you needed to distance yourself from it for a year, and then set some new Ween tour dates for 2013. Open up the 1st show with “Stay Forever” and I guarantee you, Deaner, and all the fans will have tears of joy pouring down their face. Stop being a bitch.
Here’s a wicked early version of “What Deaner Was Talking About”
And here’s Cooley’s latest entry into the classic Hitler clip world.
So Brooklyn groove-freaksters Yeasayer have been prepping for the August 20th release of their highly anticipated 3rd album, Fragrant World. Today they announced that they got word their album was about to be leaked, and it really seems like it’s not their intention. I still have yet to fathom how this process actually works… I mean, you got your band and the dudes making your record…obviously one of them must have leaked it, right? It’s not like the pizza boy grabbed the master tapes off some shelf – hell, there’s a good chance that physical masters don’t even exist for this album. Can hackers hack right through to a studio’s computer now? Seriously, how the hell does that shit work? Either way, to thwart the invisible hands that are threatening to take the artistic control and power out of the band’s own hands, today Yeasayer announced PSCYVOTV – standing for PREEMPTIVE SELF-COMMISSIONED YEASAYER VORSTELLUNG or TRACK VISUALIZER.
Essentially, the band made 11 quasi-videos for each song on the album, hid them throughout the internet, and now pledges to only leave them up until 8Pm EST this Friday, August 3rd. So basically they’ve put the whole album out there, but in a really hard to access formula, and set to videos that will sound really shitty if someone tries to make mp3s out of them. So you know, you rock your book-faces and your twitter-bombs and these things pop up I guess.
My only question is of when this idea actually came into play. Did they throw this shit together all last night in a quick attempt to take control of their own music, or was this some planned out thing? If it was a sudden move, then I applaud them. If it was planned, then I applaud them for making me think it’s a sudden move. Either way, I’m not that great with secret internet shit so I’ve only found a few. Here’s one – I can’t even tell what the track is called, and I suppose this video will disappear in 53 hours but here it is… I love it actually, super trippy ambient for the 1st half, and then the subtle digi-tribal beat kicks in. It sounds like Yeasayer for sure, but it’s also massively fresh and unique for them. And unlike the new Animal Collective tracks, this shit sounds like nothing Ive ever heard before. Dig it, I’m definitely on board.
I’ve been thinking lately about how the world continues to downward spiral into more and more fucked up shit, and how the sacred and the divine are being fully trampled upon by ever expanding piles of crap. And it’s all this idiotic intention that’s fucking it up – not random shit. People are consciously just becoming stupider and meaner as they get preoccupied with utter bullshit that they claim is relevant. Thus the obvious counter of that is the idea that now when you make something completely nonsensical with no real message or intention behind it, you are actually forging true beauty. Yes, we have now entered a time when having no reasoning behind your actions is the purest you can be.
And so we turn to the master of obscure beauty, Dan Deacon, to bring us yet another moment of “I don’t know what it means, but it makes me happy.” Possibly the most important mantra of the 21st century. Deacon’s new album, America, doesn’t get released for another month (8/27) but he has just released this awesome video for “True Thrush.” Using members of his Baltimore Wham City collective, the video is essentially a visual re-examination of the “telephone” game. You know, one person says something, the other person tries to repeat it and so on. So they did that with a 15-second video clip – it’s fun and pointless and that’s the whole idea. Randomonia at its finest.
So what is a true thrush… an actual songbird of the family Turdidae, or a real disease on a horse’s foot? Probably neither, and again…that’s the whole idea. Most likely, Deacon probably just thought the words sounded cool together. God’s speed, my idol.