Archive for July, 2012
Seriously, will any of us ever be able to think of R. Kelly without envisioning the dude pissing on a 16 year-old girls’ head? Not that it’s an image I want engrained in my head – but it’s fucking there. This album is positively atrocious. It’s one of those things you put on when you’re really drunk with your friends at 2 in the morning and you want to jokingly listen to the worst possible crap you can imagine. Homeboy’s voice is slick, but nobody should ever, ever, put him in charge of production. Dude should just stick to churning out those Trapped in the Closet videos – they’re the only slightly entertaining thing he can do. Read the full review HERE at MV Remix.
…On the opening cut “Love Is,” Kelly admirably tries to resurrect the pop-soul of a prime Barry White, but instead comes off sounding like a washed up Tom Jones performing at a Reno dinner-club. This is largely due to the horribly crafted digital instrumentation on the track – I’m pretty sure he just hit the demo button on his ’92 Casio keyboard for this one. At least you can appreciate his new found appreciation for monogamy and true love on the song. Well, at least until the next cut: “Feelin’ Single.” But hey, what’s an R. Kelly album without some carnal dichotomy, right?…
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.
Last night was the premiere/farewell showing of the documentary following LCD Soundsystem‘s final show last April at Madison Square Garden. I attended the 3-set, 4-hour marathon performance last year and still get goose-bumps recalling the dance party, the bittersweet pleasure permeating the arena, and the magical sense of knowing I was taking part in a piece of modern musical history. What a bummer that this movie didn’t resurrect those sensations for me – yep, on a scale of 1-10, ranking it with other great concert films, I give it a 5.8.
First off, the concert footage is amazing. The elevated camera angles, the close-ups, and the shared glimpses of momentary wonder from band members are amazing. As is the sound mix. But the emotion is so blatant pouring off of everyone on the stage that the rest of the movie’s non-stage shots fail to live up to its level of compassion. Surely once the full concert is released on DVD along with this doc, the actual concert film will receive exponentially more viewings than its art-house sibling.
It seems like all the right footage is there – following James Murphy around the day before and after the show, and having crucial interview questions from the amazing Chuck Klosterman interspersed defines the whole movie. The thing is that Murphy doesn’t really have the magical, self-defining answers himself to put the whole thing into the necessary perspective we’re all looking for. The dichotomous existence between his rock-star self and the normal dude he strives to be is questioned but never really understood. And what sucks is that it seems if presented from the right perspective all those answers and the clear storyline are there. But instead, the movie tries to crawl into James Murphy’s brain, which at the time of filming was incredibly confused and lost. Thus the film itself tends to get jumbled in obscure transitions from the stage to Murphy’s apartment. The result is that you begin to feel just as uncertain about what’s actually happening as Murphy is, and while it’s a great act of imposing empathy on the viewer, I think it would have been a lot more interesting to really try to define the story from an outsider’s perspective. Essentially, they should have just let Klosterman produce the film.
The most compelling part of the film comes when Klosterman asks Murphy what he believes his greatest failure to be, as Klosterman claims it is an act’s greatest failure that truly defines them. Murphy is quick to reply that potentially quitting will be his biggest failure, while Chuck quickly jumps back at him saying, “No, I think your ability to stop being self-conscious of yourself is your biggest failure.” And he’s exactly right…music, and rock music, and dance music is all about existing in the moment. Sure, some fabulous things have happened from some incredibly intelligent rock stars making some brash decisions about their existence, but real passionate music comes from a place where you don’t give a fuck how history and the media sees you. It’s almost like James Murphy was so concerned about doing things the ‘right’ and the ‘righteous’ way that the very act of concern stopped being the ‘right’ and ‘righteous’ thing to do. I think the movie could have benefited hugely by including a couple brief fan interviews and quotes. For a band that was always about the intertwined unity and experience of itself and its fans, the movie is far too strictly presented from the top down. So it gives you a great sense of the sorrow and confusion ripping through Murphy, but it give little sense of the all-out wonder which the concert itself was. Perhaps the music so speaks for itself that we’ll have to wait for the full concert release for that wonder to be seen. Literally at times you want to scream “Shut Up and Play the Hits” at the screen, but unfortunately that’s not what the film is about. I suppose it is a great portrait of one man’s inability to live in the present, and his obsession with how the future will look back at him. However, a good concert film it is not. Still, it should be required viewing for anyone and everyone even slightly involved with the music business today, but wait until the full concert is released before you schedule any martini fueled dance-party viewing sessions.
Here’s the link to my full review of the concert from last year:
Here’s the preview:
Sometimes these jazz/R&B crossovers just don’t work, but surprisingly the 80′s hip-hop/pop star completely reinvents herself on this album and things fall right into place. Odd choices of covers somehow seem ideal, and Cherry’s voice with a saxophone on top of it just makes you want to melt into the couch cushions. Read the full review HERE at MV Remix.
The last time you listened to Neneh Cherry, probably both you and she had at least one piece of neon spandex in your wardrobe. If you do remember when “Buffalo Stance” was on the radio though, you’ll probably be relieved to hear that The Cherry Thing features none of the euro-pop grooves that Cherry so embraced in the late 80’s. Her voice however, is still as sultry as ever and it finds ideal bunk-mates with the modern jazz masters of re-definition, The Thing. With dark-souled covers of tunes by everyone from MF Doom to The Stooges, the Nordic trio locks so perfectly into an eerie pocket with Cherry on The Cherry Thing that it makes their previous releases sound half-empty…
...his name is my name too… So playing in some musical functionaries over the years, I know what a bitch it is to come up with a cool name for your band that nobody else has yet. And now since we’re all connected with the internet, every lame fuck with a Casio in Walla Walla can register his band name in some sort of formal sense. Honestly…they’re all taken. My own band thought we had just found a winner with famed mustache-connoisseur and all-star pitcher Rollie Fingers, only to find out some bro in the same fucking city played one gig under that name 5 years ago…Ugh… Anyway, there’s 2 such situations that have arisen over the past couple years that kinda flabbergast me with this. The first I’ll just touch briefly on.
Aesop Rock vs.A$AP Rocky
I mean really? C’mon man. So Aesop Rock is the wicked intelligent white rapper from San Francisco who has been huge in the underground scene for almost 20 years now. I guess there’s not really much behind the name according to him, but I always pictured the dude from Aesop’s fables rocking out. Right, didn’t you? So then last year all the sudden this cat from Harlem comes out calling himself ASAP Rocky from the ASAP crew? I mean, he had to have had at least one or two boys who were like, “yo man, that sounds a lot like that white dude’s name from SF.” I mean, not one boy? I guess it must have been the same people who didn’t tell the Ying Yang Twins there’s no “g” in “Yin”. Whatever though, rappers love to cop each other’s shit, so I guess he just didn’t give a fuck. I presume Aesop has already made up some genius line about this, but I haven’t heard it. Here’s 2 tracks from both of em. A$SAP is actually pretty good.
Addison Groove Project vs. Addison Groove
This is the one that really blows my mind though. Now Addison Groove Project was a killer jam-funk band from Massachusetts who gained some fairly good notoriety in the early 2000′s. Killer musicians, greats songs – always a dance party. I believe the band took their name after one of the member’s Father’s name, and AGP always flowed smoothly off the tongue despite them breaking the cardinal rule of never having the words “groove” “jam” or “funk” in the name of your band. Either way, now I find out there’s this weird dubsteb sub-genre known as “footwork” of which the definitive track is from some dude in the UK name Addison Groove. I mean is the onomonopiatic nature of the words really something that is gonna cause someone else to stumble upon them? Really? Because honestly Addison Groove Anything is such a random grouping of words, and it’s really not that great or exciting. I’m calling bullshit on Addison Groove for sure. I’m saying he had to have heard their name somehow in passing and forgot about it, it wasn’t necessarily intentional. But hell, maybe it was. Either way, I see that the actual AGP is just starting to play some reunion shows after taking a 5 year break. Hopefully they get 10% of all this whack dude’s profits when he plays in the U.S. And just to be sure, this footwork crap is some of the worst fucking music I’ve ever heard. Try to last more than 10 seconds with it, and then bust it to the dope AGP cut.
I’ve been flipping back and forth a lot about whether I should think James Mercer is a total dick for firing everyone who was once The Shins and just making a whole new band out of it. I mean I totally think Billy Corgan is an asshole for that same reason, so I feel like I should try to keep my band-morality ducks in a row, ya know? But then I realized that Mercer is just a wicked introverted cat – always kind of sad and lonesome – and that’s why he is able to write such amazing music. And after this new video for “It’s Only Life”, I’ve decided to hang up all my preconceptions of how the man lives his life and just fucking rock his tunes. Hell, I live in Portland just like he does and I’m well aware of how the drabness can enter your soul if you’re not on top of your game.
Port of Morrow initially seemed too simple for me, even by Mercer’s reductionist pop standards, but lately I’ve been finding myself emotionally owned by its simplicity. The lyrics to “It’s Only Life” make depressing circumstances sound beautiful, and like all of the album it’s draped in a calming tone of acceptance. He’s really able to reach back to that early 20th century vibe when sad songs were what you sang to feel better. He’s kinda like the 21st century’s version of Robert Hunter in the Pacific Northwest. The video itself takes place in a post-apocalyptic PDX, and basically combines the kid from Where the Wild Things Are with the monster-vibe from The Village and imagery directly stolen from this past January’s Cloud Nothings video for “No Future/No Past.” I mean there’s no possible way director Hiro Murai didn’t get at least a little inspired by it. Regardless of that slight artistic stealing though, this video for “It’s Only Life” has my vote for video of the year. It’s tough to make a complete, let alone inspiring story line in under 5 minutes with no dialogue but they totally pull it off. Suck it November Rain…
Get it? They don’t fuck with the kid because he put the antlers on him and his dog – smart thinking, and a killer way to add some past and extension to the story. Totally makes me a little teary-eyed. Yes, I am a pussy. But here, now watch the 5 month old Cloud Nothings video and tell me there isn’t a striking similarity. I do love this video too, and if you haven’t yet gotten into the magical world of Cleveland kid Dylan Baldi, then you’re missing out on the greatest collaboration ever of punk meets post-punk. The latest Cloud Nothings album, Attack on Memory, is at the top of my 2012 list.
Every few years the sonic universe calls for a new ode to Summer in the U.S.A., and most of the time they completely suck balls. Case in point is the horrible 2008 Kid Rock track “All Summer Long” which not only forever tarnished any street cred “Werewolves of London” had, but also brought the most played out Lyrnyrd Skynyrd track of all time “Sweet Nuts Alabama” back into the passionate wailings of meth-head cougars in shitty dive bars. Let alone the classic line Sir Kid engrained in rock history – “We were trying different things and we were smoking crazy things” – whoa, heavy shit. But dear Lord, people seem to friggin’ loooove that song. Anywho, thank Geebus that the Nashville brothers in JEFF the Brotherhood decided it was time for the South to rise again.
Behold unto you – “Sixpack”. Pretty fucking simple idea: some cold beers, a few joints, and you and your pals just floating down the river. If you have yet to understand the beauty and the magic of such missions, then you my friend are letting the terrorists win. I’ve given JtheB a few chances in the past couple years, and nothing of theirs has really clicked with me. I’ve always dug their raw rock vibe for sure, but didn’t think I’d ever really heard them write a good song. Good for them for embracing the lyrical pop side of things a little bit and just writing a non-ironic tune that they don’t care whether people think sounds too simple or not. It’s like they’ve traded in their Motorhead albums for some Pavement vinyl, and the result is totally something you might be able to use to proudly lure your redneck, beer loving, proud American friends into the indie-rock world.
Lorn’s latest is one of those albums that Lester Bangs would have hated, but that all the music-writers that were inspired by him will love. It doesn’t go as deep into the possibilty of modern elctronic production as Flying Lotus does, but it still branches into territory that is somehow still uncharted. Definitely worth a slight embrace. Read the full review HERE at MV Remix.
Did you ever wish that the soundtrack to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a solid backbeat to it? Well there seems to be just as much inspiration from an illegal slaughterhouse as there is from Daft Punk on Ask the Dust, the first release on the Ninja Tune label from Milwaukee artist Lorn. It may be easy to lump all electronic dance music together these days, but this is definitely not the album that will be inspiring the wearing of candy-necklaces anytime soon. Embracing a far more sinister presence than that of his peers, Lorn crafts a 45-minute unified piece that forces the listener to embody the warming darkness of their subconscious as they crush the dance-floor. Don’t be afraid though, Ask the Dust is wholeheartedly beautiful…
I’m not sure if you caught the last Rolling Stone where James Murphy basically claimed he’d be totally open to bringing back LCD Soundsystem, despite their highly lauded and publicized farewell show at MSG last year…
“Oh, I mean, the idea wasn’t really to end being LCD in any form. Like, my friend’s making a film, and there’s a particular cover song that he wants us to get together and play. We’ll call it LCD Soundsystem. Who cares?”
With comments as straight-forwardly bold as that, your initial instinct is that the farewell show was a total gimmick – a spot to gain some attention, and bring your future legend closer to the present. Or maybe putting an ending on something is a total personal-psychological trick these bands play on themselves so that they can totally let go of their past and ignite into an un-restrained tomorrow.
Think about this though, what’s the number one thing anybody talks about with The Band? The Last Waltz – The most famous thing about them is how they quit being a band. What was far and away Jay-Z‘s greatest album? The Black Album – The one where he announced his fake retirement as he slowly faded to black. And right now, you’ll never get into a conversation with anyone about LCD Soundsystem without the ubiquitous question arising of whether you were at the last show. It’s become their legend.
So the question then arises if one should be angry at the band if they just suddenly started playing gigs again and acted like their giant farewell gig never happened. I’m sure many will claim that the sanctity of it is ruined, and that it just seems too suspicious that it was all a money-making gimmick. And I myself am a constant flip-flopper when it comes to reunions, usually because of those same issues of taking away from the magic of the past. But hell, the sun is shining right now…Phish is playing some of the best concerts they’ve played in a decade after quitting for 5 years…I’ve decided I’d gladly see The Talking Heads at Giants Stadium if that was my only option…so I’m gonna say fuck it James Murphy, bring the band back already and reclaim the dance floor from the evil wobble of the dub-step empire. I’ll still gladly go cry at the premiere of your farewell film in 2 weeks. If you’re not already uber-hyped for the film, the Creators Project has just released the 1st of a 4 part series basically based around the film. Mini-docs about a documentary if you will. But this one is all about how the band became the definitive NYC group, and features a few folks pledging their love to the boroughs and the band. It really makes this Portland fella miss his beloved East Coast.
The thing that sometimes amazes me the most about our modern digitized society is how easy it is these days to get out of the pop loop. If you skip all your TV commercials and you never once scan the FM dial while driving around, then it is quite possible that you’ve missed out on this goddam Carly Rae Jespen tune “Call Me Maybe.” And hats off to you if so – I know of a bunch of folks who definitely have never heard it, but believe me the shit is everywhere. It’s currently cresting 139 million fucking views on Youtube, since it was released 4 months ago. Fucking nuts. There’s a bunch of dumb shit like Bieber doing it karaoke and some tools on the Harvard baseball team doing a dance to it or something. Anyway, it’s reached such massive virality that today Mabson Enterprises released a 43-track album of nothing but remixes of the tune, and…
Shit is brilliant. Now we’re not talking just different beats and random Nicki Minaj verses thrown on top, we’re talking 43 of the most off-beat producers doing their best to completely make the tune all their own. We’re talking new versions of “Call Me Maybe” that are entitled things like “Call Me Hella Faded” and “Call My Phone Dumbass, I Can’t Find It.” From light jazz to destructive art-rock, everything is tackled. The original tune just keeps getting re-consumed and shat out into some new masterpiece – only to be gobbled down once again by someone new until it’s recast into the following producer. It’s honestly a magical moment for the modern age of what it truly means to be “pop”. It’s like the musical equivalent of early Shepard Fairey work. Anyway, I recommend going to their bandcamp page HERE right now where you can download the whole thing for free. (Or flip em a few bucks if you want.)
My favorite cut on the disc though obviously goes to my hero, Dan Deacon, and his brilliant composition: “Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered.” Hard to really describe it any better than its own title, but essentially Deacon layers the vocal tracks in syncopation on top of one another, and the form seems to multiple in ever increasing increments. At 30 seconds you can hear the chorus come in. By 1:06, the pattern begins to fractal in on itself. At 1:24, a mystery beat seems to arise. At 1:57, you’re suddenly riding the inter-galaxy transport thing from Contact. And things seem to melt into themselves every subsequent 30 seconds from then on. It’s really phenomenal, and I almost recommend skipping to the last 30 seconds of the track before listening to the whole thing – just so you can see if you can make out any of the original song by that point. It’s fun, and it’s actually beautiful. Friggin Dan Deacon man…the guy is a wizard. Listen and download for free right here…