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…
Here’s the start of my review of the new Dan Deacon album - Sometimes trying to describe a Dan Deacon song is like trying to explain color to a blind person — rather frustrating and most likely doted with grandiose metaphors. So let’s just start with this: I’m fairly certain that after my first headphone session with America, the molecular structure of my brain completely realigned itself. Combining the ferocity of 2007′s Spiderman of the Rings with the majesty of 2009′s Bromst, this latest release from Deacon is an album that you can do nothing but completely succumb to. Don’t try to wash the dishes to it — don’t try to throw it on at a bar — just sit back and let this motherfucker consume you.
The whole review is HERE at State of Mind.
Here’s the whole USA Suite – it’s rather fucking incredible.
While this Brooklyn noise-pop band is only a couple years old, they are seriously lacking the one element that could make this band one of the bands to see – they need a fucking drummer. So initially, Sleigh Bells was Derek Miller writing some really loud pop-rock guitar songs with Alexis Krauss providing bad-ass sultry vocals on top. The booming drum-beats are all prerecorded, and for their inception this was a fine structure for the band. But for their recently released sophomore album, Reign of Terror, Sleigh Bells have proved that they are much more than a one-shot album and also shown that they have a fully envisioned game plan for themselves.
The duo has always projected a dark sub-text from their music, touching on spatters of warped imagery usually found in doodles on high-school algebra notebooks. But while The White Stripes came across as the rock music that comes from the quiet kids in the back of the classroom, Sleigh Bells are crafting the rock music that comes from the really popular kids that force their parents to supply alcohol for their parties and call other kids pussies for not wanting to try the Ouija board. Jean-jackets and blood-dotted Converses are now the definitive image for this band, and since they have claimed that, now is the time for them to fully claim their sound.
The band has quietly added a second guitarist to their live performances, and it’s time they very loudly added an actual drummer. I can understand the idea that the simplicity of having prerecorded drums adds to their concept of the modern-American dogma “I don’t give a fuck how it’s normally done, I’m doing it my own way.” But right now, as much as I love these guys and their music, their live show still seems like an act. And if they had a drummer, they would be an insanely huge band. It seems like such the right and natural move for them, and I’m sure there’s a solid list of drummers out there who would love to be in this band. Perhaps they feel that such a big alteration would then cast a lack of significance on their earlier work, but whatever the hold-up is, it’s time to flip the script. They’ve got 12 Marshall Cabinets on the stage, I think they could move em to the sides a little and fit a kit in between. Here’s “A/B Machines” from last week’s gig at Terminal 5 – it’s huge, but just imagine how much huger it could be with an actual bass-kick getting attacked behind them.
Oh, and here’s the new video for “Comeback Kid” while we’re at it.
Photo by Chris La Putt courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan.
The twisted electro-folk noise-rock sing-along squad adored by both The Hipster and The Hippie alike, Akron/Family have just recently posted a handful of live audience recordings from some of last month’s tour. You gotta admire a band that not only encourages folks to record the show, but also goes so far as to post them on their own website. It’s definitely a move much akin to the rest of their game-plan and their music, which is to combine the DIY mentality of modern indie-bands with the “we’re all in this together” vibe of the Grateful Dead or Phish.
When I first got into this band several years ago, I dug what they were doing but was slightly turned off by a tinge of the “Holier Than Thou” syndrome. It seems a few years of not blowing up has potentially humbled them a bit, and I’ve allowed them back into my life. All the albums are fantastic, but I’d start with Set Em Wild, Set Em Free if you need to start somewhere.
Here’s the link to their download page – I haven’t checked them all out but I did download the Brooklyn show and the sound quality is quite good.But be minded, shit does get insane at some parts – so while you might be able to get your girlfriend into the more song-oriented portions, make sure she doesn’t hear the noise explosions, or else she’ll never want to go with you to see the band.
And here’s a clip of “Silly Bears” from the Raleigh show on January 7th.
All right, I live in a new corner of the country, and after a few weeks of being attacked by the collective, neuro-waves of slow-motion that exist West of the Rockies, and my body’s inert realization that this voyage is far more than temporary, I’m ready to start shitting some fucking music here again. I’m back, I’m angry on Tuesdays, and let’s kill it. What better synonymous re-entry could I ask for than the badd-fucking-ass promo video that Sleigh Bells just released today for their February 2012 sophomore release, Reign of Terror. I hate to say it, but with The White Stripes officially done, the Sleigh Duo has to be the most awesomely evil, Bro and Fly-girl act out there.
When I saw them open for LCD Soundsystem last year in a lofty auditorium, it was one of the loudest things I’ve ever heard – let alone loudest bands. But Alexis Krauss still manages to look fucking-amazing, and kills it. The smaller, intimate stage definitely seems like the far-more ideal spot for them. If you don’t have last year’s Treats yet, it’s a must-have for the modern noise-rock, one-man shred-attack with a hot grrrl who wants to kick your ass, band-lover. It’s dope, and gets you pumped up with a little swagger smirk in your heel.
Anyway, I love the idea of a promo video for a new album. It’s like in the 70′s when the radio would play those ads -”If you enjoyed the dark vibes of The Velvet Underground, then you’ll love the hot new hits from front-man Lou Reed!” And then they play 5 seconds of each song off Transformer. Whatevs, that shit’s awesome if you’re really into it, you know? God, I know I was pumped when they played the preview for Back to the Future III at the end of Back to the Future II. Anyway, just watch the shit – it’s so awesomely evil in a dark witch kind of way, and makes you want to be front row with the band.
And here’s the one Mom-friendly tune, “Rill Rill” – I still think it’s my favorite, but it’s all about how it falls in with the context of the album.