Tag: Bon Iver
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…
It’s the day after St. Patrick’s day so… let’s watch videos. I still watch em’ -people still make em’ – in fact I feel there’s a new Renaissance of quality music videos being made again. Here’s 5 that have owned me this week. Let’s make a regular thing out of it, why not?
1. Gotye – “Easy Way Out”
This album has a unique magic to it that is hard to replicate these days, but it helps when you can quiver the upper ranges in eerie echos of Peter Gabriel. You’ve heard “Somebody I Used to Know” on 70% of all potential radio-dials in the past month, but this video for “Easy Way Out” displays more of his true sonic manipulation.
2. The Shins – “Simple Song”
James Mercer really gives off the impression of being a total square, but videos like this show that he’s got an absurdly dry sense of humor to him that makes you sigh in relief for him actually being human.
3. Bon Iver – “Towers”
A new video from Bon Iver featuring (surprise!) natural sepia tones with someone moving around real slowly. There is a pattern to Bon Iver, but if you dig the album, then videos like this perfectly match the tone.
4. Tool – “Reflection”
OK, those were 3 really mellow tunes so let’s ease out of it with this ridiculous video for this tune from 2001′s Lateralus album. I presume ayahuasca consumption has never been displayed in better detail. If you got 11 minutes to launch out, this video is pretty friggin’ ridiculous.
5. Stephen Malkmus – “Jenny and the Ess-Dog”
This video is horrible – one of Malkmus’ much more phoned in efforts, but still kinda what the cat has always been about. Either way, this is one of my favorite solo tunes of his, off his first solo album in 2001. Brothers in Arms and a dog named Trey – what else do you need?
So my go-to love song of V-Day this year is this killer cover of “Your Love” that my dear friend DJ Wyllys turned me on to. If you’re not into the Bon Iver falsetto vibe, then this may turn you off – but the original was pretty up there too. Funny, in all my vast 80′s pop knowledge I always assumed this was a Cars tune, but it’s the oft-forgotten Outfield. Either way, with Vernon as now the signature face of the falsetto voice, this track sounds like it was made for him. Sit back, relax, and soak it in – it’s pretty mother-fuckin’ fly.
And if that cover makes you wonder what else would sound good in the Bon Iver structure, then watch these kids ingeniously mesh the two Bons here – Jovi and Iver.
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) Booker T. Jones – The Road from Memphis
- With the MGs, Booker T. forged the cornerstone of instrumental soul music, and this album is by no means just a nostalgic celebration. Ideally having most of The Roots backing him up, Jones is still all about filling the pocket rather than playing crazy organ arpeggios. There’s an amazing take on Lauren Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” a killer cut with Jim James on vocals, and a crushing tune with Lou Reed called “The Bronx” which if you can imagine what it sounds like, I assure you it’s even more badass.
19) Panda Bear – Tomboy
- Five years ago Person Pitch was released, and its’ influence on the independent music scene has been enormous. Tons of young kids realized their whiny acoustic tunes could sound way cooler with massive echo, drone, and repetition; and the genre known as electronic music suddenly took on much more depth than anyone could have realized. Tomboy is a perfect continuation of this master’s craft, with a touch more focus on melody lines but still that same ‘float up to Neptune on a sunny day’ feel.
18) Tennis – Cape Dory
- Yeah, this album is definitely geared more towards the harmonic desire of my fellow Caucasians, but what do you expect from a band named Tennis? There are plenty of duos out there right now fronted by female vocals, but this husband/wife act makes it sound far more natural than the rest. Part 50’s doo-wop and part gritty roots-rock, this is the new theme music for hipsters on sail-boats who want to puke when they hear Steely Dan.
17) Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II
- Hi, my name’s Adam King. I’m 31 years old, and I fucking love the Beastie Boys. Sure, this isn’t their finest work but it’s still ultra-hype, has a bunch of incredible tunes, and gives credit to me wanting to wear skate-shoes until I die. Hopefully, MCA fully recovers from nasty throat cancer, and we won’t have to consider this their swan-song. Either way, it melds perfectly into the rest of their catalogue, with tunes like “Make Some Noise” being able to theoretically exist on any of their albums.
16) The Black Keys – El Camino
- It took a few albums, but The Black Keys are now officially the coolest band on the planet. Creating a thicker sound as a duo than most full bands out there, this is where the soul of rock and roll dwells these days. Despite Danger Mouse reprising his production role, this is one of the first times that an album he’s touched doesn’t sound simply like a Danger Mouse record – which is a testament to how well these guys fit together. And if you haven’t been to a strip-club in a while because you got tired of hearing Van Halen on repeat, I assure you that half the girls only dance to The Black Keys these days.
15) My Morning Jacket – Circuital
- After the rather dis-conjunct feeling that 2008’s Evil Urges left me with, I decided it was best to lessen my expectations of MMJ. Then this album dropped and they became my heroes all over again. The huge, slow build of the opening “Victory Dance,” the undeniable power of “Holdin’ on to Black Metal,” and the slow time-pod ballad “Slow Slow Tune” are 3 of my favorite tunes the band’s ever released. They are defining what the modern idea of a true rock band should be.
14) The Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
- Calling this band punk-rock is like calling Jonathan Richman punk-rock; it’s more of a mentality than it is a sonic connection. After over a decade as a band, these guys have settled into their niche of just writing cool, catchy tunes and not giving a fuck what anybody wants to call them. This is the kind of band The Peanuts Gang would be really into during their high-school years, and Arabia Mountain finds them at the top of their form.
13) Bon Iver – Bon Iver
- Regardless of the mythical hype that swirls around Justin Vernon these days, and as much as I initially tried to deny it, this album is incredible. It initially comes off as way too simple, but then you realize that it’s actually totally complex. Masterful use of different layers and incredibly melodic chord changes take what could have been an incredibly drab and boring collective of tunes, and make them incredibly thick and literally brilliant. I didn’t want to love it, but I fucking love it.
12) Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
- DM took 5 years to make this album, teaming up with Italian composer, Luppi, and re-assembling many of the same musicians used in the old Spaghetti Westerns like “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.” Essentially imagine that movie just came out, and Danger did the soundtrack and this is what you’d get. The creepy choir and dark strings, Jack White singing on a few morbid tracks, and a few with Norah Jones sounding badass for the first time in her life. This album is epic, and magical, and sadly overlooked by too many this past year. I personally thought it was gonna get nominated for at least a few Grammys.
11) Yeasayer – Live at Ancienne Belgique
- Ok, so this album was actually released a few days before 2011, but whatever, I make the rules. The tribal psych-rock of Yeasayer is presented with a whole new power here. A pristine recording from a Belgium show in the Fall of 2010, this is the album that can turn a whole different amalgamation of your friends onto this band – both head nodding hipsters and funked out post-hippies. It’s big, it bounces, it rocks, and it’s everything a great live album should be.