Tag: Stephen Malkmus
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?
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.
Like most modern obsessors of our amazing present-day world of vast musical diversity and exploration, Stephen Malkmus could probably lead me off a cliff if I weren’t paying attention. Pavement is one of 4 bands to completely change my perspective on music, (GD, Phish, Radiohead) and ever since I first heard Slanted and Enchanted in the late 90′s, Malkmus has only led me to greater personal insight and appreciation for all he creates.
Last year’s Pavement reunion shows were essential to the continuation of humanity as we know it. That huge catalogue of songs was pleading to be performed again, and with no new-reunion tracks it made every show everything everyone hoped it to be. If not, you’re just way too cynical of an asshole. Anyway, despite their essential need for existence, there was one major downfall to the Pavement reunion, and that is that the amazing Janet Weiss has moved on from Malkmus’ solo project to play drums with another band. Homegirl likes to fucking bang the fuck out of those things, and she wasn’t gonna wait for an entire year-long Pavement tour to end before she got to playing again. Jake Morris of The Joggers is on the skins now as Janet does a bunch of shit, including more focus on her Portland-girl-band super-group, Wild Flag. The thing is that when Weiss joined the Jicks, she brought a power-field of energy and inspiration with her. Previous Jicks gigs had come off incredibly flat and non-conjoined, but she dropped in and put the padlocks on all the grooves. So thus, while I’m excited for the new album, Mirror Traffic to arrive on August 23rd, I’m worried about how the band will sound in the subsequent tour to follow. It’s hard to find info on whether Weiss is actually on the album tracks, and I’ve been in half-debate on where she’s at on this new single, “The Senator.” The tune’s great – it’s a little more static and punchy than the past couple Malkmus albums, hearkening back a little more to the looseness of the Pavement days. Listen or download free here:
And once you’ve done that, compare it to this 2009 early version of the song, where Miss Weiss is very notably crushing it. Oh well, we’ll see what happens.
So like most audiophiles of the new millennium, the Pavement reunion tour last year brought tears of joy to my eyes on many occasions. And while band-member Bob Nastonovich is bummed to hear it, I personally think it’s great that Stephen Malkmus has stated he won’t be making any new Pavement albums or songs. When you retired on a good note, it’s best to just come back and play the hits and not tarnish your fans’ love with new crap – I’m looking at you Jane’s Addiction. That being said, I can’t fucking wait for a new Malkmus album. And no, it’s not some sort of weird fanboy hypocrisy to be craving his solo stuff while loathing the idea of new stuff with his old band – that’s just how it is. I am. You are. Whatever. Eat it.
Anywho, last Spring there were rumors circulating that Beck was gonna be producing the new album. I wasn’t sure whether to believe it at the time and mostly forgot about it til a friend mentioned it the other day. Which led me back to the Malkmus and the Jicks website where I noticed this post from October:
0ur future wise–we started recording with beck hansen in the late winter, and plan on getting back into it before the year is over… I dont know when the record will come out or what it will sound like. It is in a protools state of non reality right now.
So yeah, I guess it’s real, and I am for sure elated. The idea of two of my favorite independent producers working with each other, let alone that they both provide a significant soundtrack to my life already – well it’s enough to make me go skipping in the sleet. Easily my most anticipated album of the year, or next two years even. Here’s one of the greatest youtube videos of all time: