Tag: Atlas Sound
“People in Portland never laugh at jokes. It’s cuz you don’t have sales tax. You don’t even have heroin in this town anymore. Um, go Blazers.” – That was a mere smidgen of the poetic turns-of-phrase that came out of Bradford Cox Monday night in Portland. Sonically, the lines between Bradford’s band Deerhunter and his solo work as Atlas Sound have blurred together a lot more lately. Last year’s Parallax was a lot more melody-oriented than any of his prior solo seances, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this set – luckily, he didn’t seem to know what to expect either. I’d say 65% of the show was all completely off-the-cuff, and it was spectacular.
Readings from a gay poetry book, posing like Lou Reed for the camera-happy, hilariously loving comments of Portland, and oh yeah, some of the most brilliant drone and echo manipulation you’ll ever see any human being on earth perform. Here’s a snippet of my review at State of Mind and you can read the full thing HERE.
“The evening began with a reading from A Lover’s Cock, a book Cox had bought that afternoon at Powell’s and which was totally comprised of graphic, homosexual poetry. A passionate boner soliloquy grew into an enormous droning vocal-loop before landing in “Recent Bedroom” from 2008′s Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, which itself than melted into another space-drone accompanied by a sonnet about the beauty of a man’s ass. The thing is, as crazy as all this sounds, what he is doing with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a loop machine is honestly magical. He’s able to take half-second snips of harmonica or vocal notes and turn them into elegant drones — not just the sweet loops you and your buddy make in your garage after too many bong-hits, but instant moments of sonic art by a true master of his craft. More than just a genius of echo patterns though, Bradford is a master of formulating himself and his whole persona into the main instrument. There’s this twisted innocence inside him that is the heart of his sound. You could put him up there with a wooden spoon and a stack of dirty laundry, and he would somehow be able to tweak some harmonies out of them.”
And here’s “Te Amo” – one of the songs he fully performed the other night and a great example of what he does with his pedals.
50-41 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=122
40-31 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=124
30–21 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=125
20-11 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=126
10) M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
- 22 tracks at an hour and a half long is a lot to process, and subsequently it took me 3 or 4 listens to even get to the second half of this album. Touches of Flaming Lips, touches of MGMT, touches of droney shoegaze, touches of epic beats, touches of Duran Duran – this album has already cemented itself in landmark status for the new millennium. If “Midnight City” doesn’t grab you right off the bat, then this probably isn’t your thing – but if it intrigues you at all, then dig in deep because this album can reshape your expectations for good music these days.
9) ATLAS SOUND – Parallax
- Bradford Cox has entered into a weird self-inspiring world from his steady releases with Deerhunter and solo as Atlas Sound. As a result, this album is a lot more song-oriented than I expected from a release as this moniker, but that’s a great thing. The driftouts are still prevalent in tracks like “Te Amo” and “Quark Parts 1 and 2,” but interspersed melody-based tunes bring a more expansive cohesion to Parallax than any of Cox’s prior releases, and hint that he has still yet to make his true masterpiece. Either way, he is the current ruler of the psychedelic, ambient, melody-based universe I frequently like to dwell within.
8. WASHED OUT – Within and Without
- Just when it seemed like the chill-wave dream-pop scene was ending before it reached its’ adolescence, Ernest Greene stepped up and made it clear he wants to grow old with this sound. I definitely play this album a lot more as resonant ambient music than as a direct listening focus, and yes it does make you want to have a projector screen in your house just showing waves moving in slow motion. There is a modest hugeness to this music that also makes me want to replace all the furniture in my home with oversized bean-bag chairs.
7) THURSTON MOORE – Demolished Thoughts
- Fuck, I really hope Sonic Youth isn’t dead, but Demolished Thoughts seems to at least state that Thurston knew his separation from Kim Gordon was forthcoming. Acoustic, dark, and beautiful – this album should be next to the word bittersweet in the dictionary. I honestly can’t imagine my life without having the first track “Benediction” in it – sometimes it makes me tear up, sometimes it stops me from tearing up, and all the time it makes me think what an amazing blessing Thurston Moore is to those open to his reality. I truly love this record.
6) CAGE THE ELEPHANT – Thank You, Happy Birthday
- I am so not afraid to say how killer I think this band is. With a thick mid-90’s-ish rock sound and an astonishing melodic-pop sensibility, the comparisons to Nirvana and Arctic Monkies are justified, but leave little credit to this band’s own voice. Jared Champion is a murderous backbone beast of a drummer, and the band’s syncopated rock riffs over top along with Matthew Shultz’s crushing vocals and lyrics make them one of the most powerful bands out there today. This whole record is classic with no less than 5 or 6 amazing songs on there
5) DUCKTAILS – Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
- The pseudonym for the solo work of Real Estate’s Matthew Mondanile, Arcade Dynamics is familiar in the same way that a forgotten dream is. His idea of crafting fake nostalgia came to complete fruition on this album – it’s California drift-folk recorded in Northeast basements and it’s just exactly right. It’s raw and analog in the most perfect way, and with just enough reverb on the vocals to not sound like a completely pretentious asshole. It sounds like the soundtrack to old reel-to-reel footage of a 50’s family reunion where you see your grandparents smoking reefer.
4) RADIOHEAD – The King of Limbs/ TKOL Live From the Basement
- I’ve said if before, but I’m really sorry if you still don’t ‘get’ this band. I have to include the live set here as well, since it is fucking unbelievable, has double drummers, and includes the newer tracks “The Daily Mail” and “Staircase” which are both amazing. With each new album this band re-writes the notions of rhythm in rock music, and restructures how the human soul can physically connect with sound. Get some good headphones, and don’t be afraid of where these songs, this music, and this band can take you.
3) STEPHEN MALKMUS & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
- I don’t think there will ever be another album made with his old band, but subsequently, and perhaps charged from the 2010 reunion tour, this album sounds more like a Pavement album than any of his 4 other solo releases. The only thing that makes it even better, is that some of these tunes could only come from the independent operation of Malkmus, and that he’s reached a level of melodic and lyrical understanding that he never could have grown into with the other band. The rockers here, like the opener “Tigers,” are brilliantly focused, and the slower, more delicate songs are simply astonishing – “No One Is” and “Share the Red” are epic warm-blanket wrappers. As my dear friend Ben Yurco said, “This is maybe the warmest album ever made.”
2) YUCK – Yuck
- The only band that sounded more like the most ideal echo of the 90’s than Malkmus this year was these lovely young cats from London. Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, slow Smashing Pumpkins – they all get touched upon here, but really this band just seems like one of their sonic peers you somehow missed out on 15 years ago. The rockers touch on the more melodic side of Dinosaur Jr., and the slow shoegazers just touch on your reverb-pedal-loving heart-strings. “Suck” and “Rubber” are HUGE. I never stopped listening to this album this year, and it holds just as big a place in my heart as some of its’ forefathering records. As my dear friend Wade Wilby said, “I wish I had this album when I broke up with my high-school girlfriend in 1996.”
1) DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. – It’s a Corporate World
- This became one of my all time go-to albums this year. My iTunes claims I’ve listened to it 62 times since it came out. Two incredibly radical fellas from Detroit write amazing songs, and mix them with killer beats and transcendent drift. Melodically, there’s a pop-sense to it, but there’s more of a rock edge in the exploratory nature they let into the songs. Suppose you time-traveled back 50 years, and you meet someone who’s afraid that all music will suck in the 21st century. So you want to play them an album that’s warm and approachable, but still futuristic enough that it’s like nothing they’ll hear for decades. This is it.
London producer, performer, and electro-wizard, Gold Panda has just released a free new track to download off his website at www.iamgoldpanda.com. If you’re not aware of Gold Panda, I’d put him at the top of the modern organic-electro scene along with Caribou, Atlas Sound and Four Tet. Maybe Flying Lotus too, as well as some other wielders of the modern knightly sword. And by that previous odd descriptive moniker which can lean in several directions, I refer to the fact that he makes music that while entirely electronic is very projective of human emotion. He uses a beat-sampler as more of an instrument than a loop-tool at times, but more importantly there’s just an overwhelming natural sense coming off of him – much more of an artist and musician than others he gets lumped in with.
This new track, “MBP” is a little intimidating if it’s your first glimpse of the man. Jetsons-era wind-chimes fall into a fairly intense overlay of scattered xylophone licks before it moves into a meditative bug-zapper kind of thing. GP’s tunes fall into 3 categories: the ambient drift, the glitchy late-night dance beat, and the future molding sound-pattern attack. “MBP” falls more into the 3rd category. Last year’s Lucky Shiner was his first full length album, and easily made my top 10 list last year. This year’s Companion is a collection of all the EP releases from the year or so before the album, and it’s proof that he has been on point from the get-go. His music is magic, and most of the time incredibly beautiful in a more absurd way than you’ve ever heard beauty in anyone before. If this free track intrigues you, get Lucky Shiner, then Companion, then wait like the rest of us for the next LP hopefully due out near the end of the year. Here’s a cut of the much more reserved track “Fifth Ave” which is a perfect audio grab of the solitude of New York City in a steady dark rain.