Friday, May 30, 2008

Mates Of State - Re-Arrange Us

Mates Of State - The Re-Arranger

I have a place in my heart for pop music. Generally, I like it mixed with other genres (metal, noise, etc), but every now and then, I love me some straight up pop. And Mates Of State are usually the ones to give me my fix. Ever since I was introduced to Team Boo at my radio station in 2003, I have been a big fan. And while I feel like it would be near impossible for the Mates to ever let me down, it's still nice to know that their new record, Re-Arrange Us is just as fantastic as their last one, Bring It Back.

Bring It Back was a big departure as we saw Mates Of State using more instruments and layering the voice tracks, giving them a much more lush sound. While Re-Arrange Us isn't a significant change by any means, they are still able to refine their new sound, making more focused songs that are as catchy as ever. I mean, the semi-title track, "The Re-Arranger," is possibly their best song ever (yes, I actually mean that).

So no, their sound hasn't really changed. If you liked Bring It Back, you should have similar feelings towards Re-Arrange Us. And in case you were worried that Mates Of State started writing lyrics that actually makes sense, fear not. Things are just as vague and poetic as before. Like in "Get Better," with "I propose a less serious boat. But don't mistake it for a party of jokes." But every now and then you get the idea of something important being said. Again in "Get Better," it starts off "Forget all your politics for a while." Sorry guys, but I don't really care for politics in my pop. Although, maybe it's been there all along and I just haven't noticed it.

Re-Arrange Us finds Mates Of State in prime form. They're growing up (they have two kids now) and so is their music. It's as good as anything they've done and I still want to sing along to all of the songs even though I don't know the words. Luckily, there's a lot of "da das" and "no nos" so I'm safe for now.

And there's interchangeable album covers! They have the frames on the first sheet and on other sheets they have different pictures of them. Hooray for fun!

And here's the seriously weird video for the single "Get Better," directed by Steve Choo.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Machinefabriek - Marijn

Machinefabriek - Somerset

This record is startlingly amazing. Starling because, well, I wasn't expecting it to be this good. I mean I obviously had some hopes for it because I spent money on it but wow. This thing is gorgeous.

There's lots of pops and crackles, lots of piano, and lots of various soothing noises. The whole thing sounds like you're underwater (Marijn, duh) but not in the murky, muffled sort of way. More in the pretty, shimmering kind.

"Wolkenkrabber" is very soft, with a drawn out, washed out sound. But there's bit and pieces of more grating sounds. Electronics disguised as porpoise squeaks and cuttlefish squiggling along the ocean floor. And then everything gets amplified, as if you've just discovered some glowing golden gorge and as you get closer to it, you feel at one with the sea, like you could die happy right at that moment. Yeah, that's a good song right there.

"J'espere Ca" starts out all piano, layered all over itself, bringing to mind the sound of Lubomyr Melnyk. Static builds, the surf swirling, and you know a storm is coming. Every now and then I think I hear a seagull, but it can't be. I'm either imagining things or hearing very subtle guitar notes. This is one of those beautiful wall of sound songs that you want to crank up as loud as you can, close your eyes, and know you couldn't be happier. Sadly, it can't last forever, as the song drops everything 3/4 of the way through. The storm has passed, but you can still hear the thunder in the distance.

There's so much more on this album. "Somerset" is fantastic and there's an 18 minute noisy as fuck closer that I don't even have words for. Marijn is a truly majestic and phenomenal piece of work. As an introduction to Machinefabriek, it works wonders and ensures that I will follow all of his future releases.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fear Falls Burning - Frenzy Of The Absolute

Fear Falls Burning - Frenzy Of The Absolute (excerpt)

So apparently this guy never uses drums. Who knew? Certainly not me, and I would guess anyone else who used Frenzy Of The Absolute as an introduction to the one man band known as Fear Falls Burning would be just as surprised as I was when I discovered that little nugget of info. I mean, the first track opens up with almost nothing but drums, save for some static drone in the background. You can only know so much from reading about the sound of a band. And whenever I read about Fear Falls Burning, I failed to see the disclaimer, "There are no drums on this record!" That being said, we can view Frenzy Of The Absolute as a serious departure from whatever FFB was doing before.

So here's the announcement: Frenzy Of The Absolute has drums! OMG, I know. I'm sure you're shocked. Well, the good news (maybe?) is that it doesn't only have drums. There's lots and lots of frightening guitar drone. Stuff that starts relatively innocuous but during the course of the song slowly builds to drown out even the hammering percussion. Or vice versa. Sometimes the drums build to match the drone. Either way, it builds or it falls (burning?) and it sounds good.

There's 3 tracks totaling almost an hour's worth of awesomeness. And all of it is super thick and heavy. The title track is slow moving, a giant troll lumbering towards you from the distance, making more and more of a racket as he gets closer, groaning and splashing his way through lakes. And for a guy that is a newcomer to the whole percussion + music thing, Fear Falls Burning does a damn good job at it. The drums aren't used sparingly but they don't get in the way of anything either.

By the time the 20 minute title track is over, "He Contemplates The Sign" comes in with bowed cymbals, completely lacking any traditional percussion for a solid 11 minutes, and even then it's pretty sparse. It's a great song that gives me more of an idea what old school FFB sounds like: dark drone and scary as hell.

The final track, "We Took The Deafening Murmer Down," truly rocks. A sweet echoey riff, while pseudo-organ sounds burn underneath. And again, everything grows in size, attempting to clobber you over the head with doom. No drums, though. Not yet. FFB knows patience and he saves the best for last. The last couple of minutes are truly punishing. An epic post rock climax of Godspeed proportions, albeit a doomy post rock climax. I love the moments that are so fleeting, yet so rewarding. The kind that you would spend 15 bucks for it alone. This is one of those moments.

Clearly, this is recommended. 53 minutes of doomdrone with drums. How can you say no to that? And by the way, if you stole this record, then I thought I'd let you know that the liner notes recommend using headphones or playing it very loudly...or both. Not that you wouldn't be doing that anyway.

A Bit Obsessed

Occasionally you see a video online that's so remarkable that it stays with you for a few weeks. Or months. Or forever. Here are a couple of those ones that have stayed in my mind ever since I've seen them. I can't get rid of them even if I wanted to (which I don't, so that's a good thing).

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - The Owl
This is a gorgeous, graphic video directed by Emmanuel Ho. It's so simple and so terrifying. Whenever I think of all time greatest videos, this always pops up.

Girl Dancing To Daft Punk's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Yeah, everyone has seen it, but that doesn't make it unremarkable. I can't hear this song without thinking of this video. I don't know or care if she played the song at half speed when she danced and then sped it back up for the video. But man, her moves are the shit. She's so hypnotic. This is probably the most watched video in my apartment. We can't get enough of her.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Black Boned Angel & Nadja - Christ Send Light

Black Boned Angel & Nadja - Christ Send Light (excerpt)

I have had many experiences with studio recorded Nadja (and I look forward to the live experience with them and Grails on June 27th) but this is my introduction of sorts to Black Boned Angel. I say "of sorts" because I'm familiar with Campbell Kneale (aka Birchville Cat Motel), who just happens to be one half of BBA. But I know nothing whatsoever of the other half, Jules Desmond (of 1/3 Octave Band) or of BBA's sound. From what I read, they're heavy. And from what I hear on this collaboration with Nadja, together they're heavy as shit. Hardly surprising, I know, but still good news. Things would be much different if it were a collab between BBA and Aidan Baker (of Nadja) who deals in much lighter affairs on his solo outings. But no, this is not Aidan alone, it is he with fellow Nadjian Leah Buckareff, going all out with Black Boned Angel.

Christ Send Light is a teaser CD EP with a single 21 minute track, hoping to seduce you into buying not only this, but the forth coming full length by the duo that as yet has no release date (but is due out sometime in 2008). This one song, however, will not be on the full length. So if you want it, this is where you find it and nowhere else. It's released by Battlecruiser in an edition of 600 and the full length will come out on 20 Buck Spin with two more tracks, both over 20 minutes long. And if this EP is any indication of what the LP sounds like, then I'll be one of the first in line for pre-orders.

But what does it sound like, you ask? Well, in truth, it sounds a lot like Jesu (and you know I like Jesu), sans Justin Broadrick's soothing shoegaze moan. It's fuzzy, with walls of guitar feedback, some slow cinematic piano in the background, plodding drums that echo like The J&MC, and vocals courtesy of someone other than Leah (there's no liner notes, so sue me). The vocals are what really turn this into a pop song, though. You're always going to end up with some pop elements when you do the metalgaze thing, but strip away the sludge on "Christ Send Light" and you could have something that Sub Pop would put out.

I don't want to say this is better than anything Jesu has ever put out because I just love Jesu that much. But it is. And damn if I'm not fuckin' psyched about the full length coming out later this year. I will be all over that thing. One 20 minute track isn't nearly enough to last on repeat for an indefinite amount of time (for all I know, I might have to wait until the day before New Year's Eve), especially because I'm probably going to end up substituting this whenever I start jonesing for Jesu.

Sigur Rós News

That's the album cover for Sigur Rós's fifth record, titled með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which translates as "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly." They just announced today via their website that it'll come out in the US on June 24th. That is much sooner than I thought and to tell the truth, it makes me kinda giddy. And to top it off, they're selling out (I kid) by doing a track in English. ENGLISH! Come on guys, we love the Hopelandic. It helps add to the exoticism, beauty, and mystery.

As of right now, the single "Gobbledigook," which sounds kinda Animal Collectivey (in a good way, I promise), is available for free download on their other website.

Andandand, there's a gorgeous video for it as well, available in the nice, high quality Quicktime format. But be careful children, it has adult material (hooray for naked wood nymphs) and by downloading the video, you are confirming that you are at least 18 years of age. Don't worry, though. There's not much man junk. My favorite shots are the ones of the nudists falling into the water. Makes me jealous.

Their tour that never seems to end hasn't ended yet. When did they even have time to write a new album? They're playing all over the world, with 4 dates in the US right now. None of which are in Boston (sigh). But if you live in another country (or NY), go see them as I'm sure they will be playing new material from með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


So here it is. The brand new Anti-Gravity Bunny with a lot more color and more me.

I have been slowly realizing that the more posts I make, the more I tend to focus on music. At first, Anti-Gravity Bunny was going to be much broader, with topics such as bunnies, video games, movies, music, art, and anything else I wanted to talk about.

And then I tried peeling some of that away and writing about just music and movies. But I am finding out that I want to write more about music than other things. It's tough saying I won't write any more movie reviews, but that shouldn't rule out movies all together. I mean, movies have music in them. Some of the greatest albums are soundtracks.

So while my love for all things bunnies and movies still remains, I hope to have a more focused, streamlined, and good looking blog with a lot more of my personality in it (which I found it was previously lacking).

If you like it, let me know. And if you hate, also let me know. I always want to know what you think. I hope the rainbows don't scare you away. They should be embraced, not feared.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Explorers Club - Freedom Wind

I like The Beach Boys quite a bit (although I'm not as familiar with their catalogue as I should be). And I generally like bands that name The Beach Boys as an influence. The Explorers Club is some sort of hybrid of those two characteristics. Their love for the Boys is so unabashed and obsessive, I would go so far as to call them freaky stalkers if it were 30 years ago.

This is an album I have been looking forward to for a while, ever since I heard their single Do You Love Me back in March. It sounded so much like The Beach Boys, it could have been some long lost undiscovered demo. That got me really excited for Freedom Wind to come out because I was hoping for an album full of Beach Boys tributes/rip offs. Sadly, that turned out not to be the case.

Freedom Wind fails because The Explorers Club isn't and could never be The Beach Boys (obviously). Strangely, the worst part is when they try to mix their own sound into things, like the awful Honey, I Don't Know Why, where a second singer adds his raspy rock star voice along with the sweet falsettos of the lead singer. It's grating and it just reminds you that no, The Explorers Club are not The Beach Boys.

As weird as it sounds, the triumphant songs on Freedom Wind are the ones that sound the most similar to The Boys. The reason being, you can just kind of space out and forget who you're actually listening to. And unfortunately, there's only a handful of those songs on here. The opener, Forever, is one, as is Do You Love Me. Last Kiss is another, one of those upbeat songs that reminds you of classics like Do You Wanna Dance. The rest are either mediocre imitations of The Beach Boys that serve to remind you who you're actually listening to (Don't Forget the Sun) or they end up being some poor combination of a 21st century indie pop band and your favorite surf pop stars from years past (the horrid self titled album closer)

The best song on here is the single, Do You Love Me, which sucks because usually the single is just the most accessible song, not the best. The single is supposed to hook you in with ease and then you can enjoy the rest of the album that is more difficult but more rewarding. Freedom Wind does not follow this path. Everything on it is less than spectacular. If you must, download (legally, of course) a couple of the more choice tracks and skip the rest. Needless to say, it's always safer and more rewarding to listen to the whimsical Pet Sounds.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Battles Videos

Mirrored is a worthy successor to the 3 EPs Battles put out before it. Plenty of people expected them to continue releasing EPs and never bother with a full length. A friend of mine joked once he heard they were putting out a full length, "What are they gonna call it? The LP EP?" Hilarious, I know. Anyway, here are a couple of videos from last years album that made a lot of people's year end Top 10 lists.

Lots of lights in the middle of a field at night. It reminds me of that lightning field out in New Mexico where people go camping. Gorgeous.

They took that mirror room they used for the album cover and performed in it. It looks awesome. And you gotta love Ty Braxton's vocals in this one.

On a side note, I've never seen Battles live but I have seen Ty Braxton perform solo. And holy shit if that wasn't one of the most mind blowing shows I've ever seen. He sits on the ground with a couple of mics and guitars and a bunch of pedals and makes the best fucking music. He played right after Windsor For The Derby (who's new album, How We Lost, is great) and right before Big Bear at CMJ in 2005. God damn, that was an amazing show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Movie Quickies 5/22

Quickies is a post I do every now and then to briefly talk about some movies or CDs I've experienced lately that I don't think I'd be able to come up with enough words for a full review.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
I'm not giving this a full review because everyone and their mother is going to see it regardless of what I have to say about it. I just thought I'd let everyone know my thoughts on the matter. First of all, it's still too fresh for me to consider ranking it amongst the rest of the Indy films so no, I'm not going to say I liked it better than the Last Crusade or less than Raiders. I will say I liked it a lot and it fits well with the rest of the trilogy. There was a car chase in the jungle featuring a sword fighting duel on the hoods of Jeeps. Crazy cool. The humor was perfect and yes, I personally think they were able to work the "weird" plot into it and still make it an Indiana Jones movie. And as great as Shia LeBeouf was, he really brought me out of the time period because I kept picturing him as Sam in Transformers. The return of Karen Allen was wonderful but there wasn't nearly enough Cate Blanchett. She was severely underused. All in all, though, a worthy (and hopefully final) Indiana Jones film.

The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I was one of the few who really enjoyed The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. It wasn't an amazing movie, but it was definitely fun. And I was looking forward to something similar with Prince Caspian. I expected a better looking movie with a weaker story and that's exactly what I got. The Poseidon type guy at the end looked utterly realistic. I could have done with a lot more of Aslan and a lot less Christianity, though. Sadly, I hear the books have less and less fantasy as they continue and more regular people. Come on, Lewis. Don't you know why people were reading the Narnia books? It was for the minotaurs and fauns. And Aslan.

The Savages
This was a sincere and realistic portrayal of an ill-at-ease family dealing with a father's slip into dementia. With Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Philip Bosco, you know you're going to have really solid acting. Linney and Hoffman were so believable as siblings, that at times it seemed almost like a documentary. I'm surprised that this movie didn't do as well as it could have, especially with the cast involved. My guess is poor marketing. I expected this to be much more of a comedy than it actually was. Maybe people heard that it wasn't hilarious and they stayed away. Well, if that was you, then you should give this a shot. It's worth it.

A horror movie featuring a vagina with teeth. Genius, right? I mean, if I was a studio exec and someone came to me and that's all they said, I'd sign off on it immediately. Well, something went wrong somewhere because this movie had serious potential and it fell flat. It wasn't bad, per se, but I had such high hopes for it. It was terribly predictable and had sub-par acting. It did have it's moments, though, and on originality alone, I have to at least give this a slight recommendation.

A Faulty Chromosome & Black Moth Super Rainbow At The Middle East

A Faulty Chromosome at The Middle East Upstairs shot by me.

Black Moth Super Rainbow at The Empty Bottle in Chicago shot by Patrick Holbrook.

Far too often, there are multiple shows that I would like to go to in a single night and I always end up having to make a really tough decision. But occasionally, the two bands that I want to see will play at The Middle East Upstairs and Downstairs. And as long as they're both not headlining and their sets aren't at the same time, I'm usually able to go see both bands. I did this with Asobi Seksu (opening for The Ataris, yuck) and Dalek. And I also got to do this last night with A Faulty Chromosome and Black Moth Super Rainbow (who opened for Subtle).

So I got to hop back and forth between Upstairs and Downstairs before both of the bands went on and I got to see a handful of opening acts. Talk Modern played before A Faulty Chromosome and they were generic jock rock, the sort of thing you'd hear on WBCN or the like. In other words, not my kinda thing and they really turned me off. And before BMSR went on, The Republic Tigers played. They were a very pleasant dreamy indie pop band. Good stuff. I enjoyed them enough to consider listening again at a later date.

Black Moth Super Rainbow went on at about 10:00 and played to a club filled with people. I had no idea how popular BMSR were in Boston, and I think they band was pretty surprised as well. The audience was going crazy, cheering them on even after they left the stage. You know, it's a shame that "openers" can't do encores because that would have been entirely appropriate last night. They performed for a decent amount of time and played the songs everyone wanted to hear (Forever Heavy, Sun Lips, Drippy Eye, etc) but we all wanted more. I gotta say, I was shocked by the appearance of the band. They looked so...normal. Like, regular people. I'm not sure what I was expecting...maybe hippies or something. Whatever. I obviously don't care what they look like, as long as their music is awesome. And it is.

After Black Moth finished, I went Upstairs expecting to have to wedge my way inside through all the people because A Faulty Chromosome is one of those bands that's about the blow up, right? Well, I guess not. I think they're still in the pre-about-to-blow-up phase because after Talk Modern finished, the club cleared out in a matter of minutes. This was the exact opposite of the crowd Downstairs. I think there were maybe 3 other people that were there specifically for AFC (I saw them come in halfway during Talk Modern's set) and maybe half a dozen other people left over from the last band, maybe sticking around out of politeness. I guess politeness only goes so far, though, because not all of them stayed. This was one of those times when you feel painfully awkward just for being in the audience because you're basically the only one there. And you feel terrible for the band. They're on tour, from Texas and nobody came to see them. Quite sad.

Anyway, they were even more fun live than on record. Lots of silly instruments, whistling and colorful sheets thrown all over the monitors and amps to liven the place up a bit (it worked). Everything about them puts a smile on your face. During one of the songs that called for handclaps, two of them turned to face each other and clap each others hands like two school girls playing Miss Mary Mack. Adorable! Everything was perfect for the show. No annoying crowd, plenty of room to sway and bob my head, and a band that was sincerely appreciative of me being there. I hope they find more crowds elsewhere on their tour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pyramids - Pyramids

Sometimes labels get really bogged down with trying to stay true to their niche. They focus too much on what the stuff they put out should sound like. Hydra Head, for example, releases stuff like Isis, Jesu, Pelican, Torche, Botch, you get the idea. Not that there's anything wrong with them. I own a ton of records released on Hydra Head and I love them all. It's just that sometimes they can somewhat easily be lumped together under the "genre" called Hydra Head. But occasionally the folks that run the label will listen to their hearts and say to themselves, "NO! Uniformity be damned, we need to release this because it kicks so much ass." Such is the case with Pyramids.

Here's a general layout of the Pyramids record. Track 1, ambient. Track 2, metal. Track 3, ambient. And I'm not talking the kind of ambience found on some black metal albums, all dark and scary with creepy moaning. No, I'm talking shimmering high end stuff that could be found on a Hammock or Windy & Carl album. Track 4, back to the metal. Pummeling drums, crooning faded vocals ala Bradford Cox, and guitars that smear all over each other. It's at the same time unsettling and beautiful. It's like the soundtrack to a horror movie made by both angels and demons. Sometimes the angels are winning and others the demons, but for the most part they're neck in neck, neither beating out the other, creating gorgeous ambient metal. And that's what it's like from there on out. The rest of the album ditches the mellow first and third tracks and mixes it in with the metal for some truly weird music.

And as if the one CD wasn't enough, the album comes with an additional disc full of remixes by Jesu, Birchville Cat Motel, a couple from James Plotkin (who helped make the record), and a few others. And by far one of the coolest parts of this album is the cover art. Holy shit that is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Seriously, it's genius and awesome. This record is worth buying just to hang on your wall.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sword, Torche, Stinking Lizaveta, & Never Got Caught At The Middle East Downstairs

The Sword photo taken by Paul Graham Raven of The Dreaded Press.

It's been a long time since I've been to a straight up rock show (let alone a mainstream one). I mean, a lot of the bands I go see usually have some sort of rock elements but rarely do I go see a rock show. I think the last one might have been when Big Business played at the Middle East Upstairs almost a year ago. Sometimes I really get in the mood for some serious head banging and last night's show provided exactly that.

The first band that played was Never Got Caught, some generic rock band lead by Nice Guy Eddie. No joke, this guy looks and sounds just like Chis Penn, just without the track suits. These guys didn't do anything for me.

Then Stinking Lizaveta was up. The last time they were in Boston they opened for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, a show I now regret missing even more than I did before. Lizaveta is a trio made up of a crazy guitarist that often yelps into his guitar and has a board with a handful of pedals, a female drummer who does yoga stretches before she gets on stage, and a metallic silver shirt wearing guy who plays electronic stand up bass. They're some weird jazzy, noisy, mathy, punky, psychedelic combo of sorts. Trying to describe them is like trying to pin down a shape shifter. I was quite surprised at how much the crowd enjoyed them and I especially enjoyed watching everyone try to bang their heads in time with the band's ever changing rhythms.

Torche is a band I've seen a few times already but for some reason I never really gave them credit until now. I'm sure I can be forgiven for ignoring them when they opened for Mogwai at The Avalon. Then when I saw them play with Jesu, I still had the same feelings towards them without even bothering to reconsider. But I went to this show open minded, hoping to really enjoy them. They were the same band playing to a fresh mind and lo and behold, I really loved it. I think part of it has to do with their new album kicking so much ass but either way, they were really great.

And behold thee mighty Sword. It was everything I had hoped it would be. They fucking rocked my face off, probably breaking my neck in the process (although my neck doesn't hurt as much as it did after the Big Business show). Of course with music of this type, it's always better to hear it live if only for volume's sake. No matter how sick your subs are, you'll never be able to recreate the amount of noise coming from a live band. And the crowd loved every minute of it but it took about 3/4s of the way through the set for a pit to form (right after Barael's Blade, of course). They played everything we wanted to hear, both new and old. And they (obviously) finished their encore with Freya, which midway through morphed into a sweet jam with dueling guitar solos. Yes, you read right, two solos at the same time. Fucking ridiculous. Then they went into a cover (which may or may not have been Bring It On Home To Me by Sam Cooke) before finishing off the rest of Freya. Fantastic stuff. It was an amazing show that makes me wait in eager antici....pation for their return.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Edge Of Love Trailer

I'm only posting this because Cillian Murphy is in it. Really.

Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair

Tim Fite is one of those guys that puts on an utterly amazing live show. He's super engaging, has story time with his own drawings, gets the crowd involved (such as the time he spun me around like a ballerina), has a giant wooden boombox with flashing lights, and his sidekick brother Greg helps with everything. As often is the case, bands come up short when trying to capture their frenetic concerts in a studio, and Tim Fite falls under that category. No matter how good his records are, they pale in comparison to when he performs live. But don't let that stop you from listening to Fair Ain't Fair, or any of his other albums. Fite knows how to craft great songs, but keep in mind they are best experienced live.

Fite's last physical release was Gone Ain't Gone in 2005, with two digital releases since then (Over The counter Culture was a more rap oriented album and It's Only Ketchup was a Halloween themed EP). Fair Ain't Fair is quite similar to Gone, in sound and theme, where we find him still using a lot of samples from various obscure records (he used My Latest Novel!).

Fair Ain't Fair is a really fun album that is much more consistent than Gone was. The problem is, though, part of Gone's charm was how it was all over the place and Fair is missing that. Gone Ain't Gone had some really weird short tracks (the overlooked If I Had A Cop Show) and overall, it was just kind of unfocused as an album. Fair is much smoother but all of the tracks end up blending together. Of course you notice some tracks more than others, like Rats And Rags with it's skittery electronic beats and louder than usual last chorus, the catchy opener Roots Of A Tree, or the fantastic single Big Mistake, all of which are some of Fite's best songs to date. But they get lost amidst the rest of the album. It's such a solid album that the stand-out tracks have trouble standing out.

It seems Fite has really improved, though. Some would say a more uniform album is a sign of progress. And in addition to that, his songwriting has been polished as well. Like I mentioned, some of the songs on Fair Ain't Fair are much better than a lot of the songs on Gone. There are definitely songs from Gone that could be skipped, but the same could not be said of Fair. All of them have their own appeal. Some are more catchy and toe tapping, where others are slowly lilting folky melodies. Some are serious with Fite's political rants that can't be missed, and then some are light hearted with whistling and yodeling. But the best songs are the ones that combine all of that creating something more than the sum of it's parts.

So far, I've really enjoyed Fair Ain't Fair. I sincerely love some of the songs on here. Maybe over time, it'll grow on me and I'll appreciate it for it's consistency. But for right now, I see that sadly as more of a flaw than a benefit. Regardless, Fair is a fantastic album, especially if you're a newcomer to Fite's antics.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Boris Videos

I recently picked up the new album Smile by Boris. And I like it a lot. I don't love it yet. But it is prrreeeeetty great. And they have a couple of videos for songs off of it and I thought I'd share those right now instead of reviewing it (although I may do that later).

My Neighbor Satan
I know what you're going to say. And yeah, maybe it is a little boring. But it's still awesome. It's exactly how I imagine Boris when they play their more slow songs. Fuzzy.

I wonder if this was done digitally or if they really shot it a million times and then cut it all up. Either way, it makes for a cool effect that really works for a song that's so crazy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New CocoRosie & Autolux Songs

CocoRosie have released a new single titled God Has A Voice, She Speaks Through Me. I like it with it's digitally affected voice. You can hear it on their MySpace page and then pre-order the 7" picture disc for release on July 8th from Touch And Go Records.

And then there's Autolux who put out their debut album Future Perfect in 2004 (which for some reason didn't go over very well at my radio station at the time). They just put the single Audience No. 2 on their MySpace and it sounds great. Nice and fuzzy. The new song will be released digitally very soon and their follow up album, Transit Transit, will be out whenever they're ready. Can't wait to see them at the My Bloody Valentine curated ATP NY.

The X Files: I Want To Believe Trailer

Ok, I was an X Files fan when it was on TV, but I was not crazy. I probably haven't ever seen a whole season straight through, probably haven't even seen a third of all the episodes. BUT, I still really like it and the first movie. Great premise. You can't really go wrong. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are one of those great pairings that seem inseparable.

I am really looking forward to the new movie. This is a great trailer that really gets me amped for it, too. Epic music, quick cuts, and hardly any information is revealed. All of those guys standing in a line in the middle of that snow field is awesome. And Gillian Anderson is still hot.

War, Inc Trailer

The trailer for the new John Cusack movie War, Inc is now available online for your viewing pleasure. It sports a nice cast with Joan Cusack (obviously), Marisa Tomei, Dan Aykroyd, and Ben Kingsley. The trailer is a bit long but I don't think it gives anything away. And it has a nice soundtrack with some Hendrix and Bowie's Rebel Rebel. On the whole, it looks quite palatable.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Movie Quickies 5/12

Quickies is a post I do every now and then to briefly talk about some movies or CDs I've experienced lately that I don't think I'd be able to come up with enough words for a full review.

Iron Man
It was fun and worth seeing. It didn't really break any new ground, even in the superhero genre. Surprisingly, there wasn't as much action as I expected there to be. But then again, there was no real villain to fight. They did a great job making you like Tony Stark. He's a self absorbed womanizing prick but he's just so damn charming. And there was some cool moments...I guess. I just can't remember any of them. That's pretty telling. I know it's a summer popcorn movie but I only saw it a week ago. Easily forgettable. If you want a better experience, go see Speed Racer.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
I wasn't paying any attention to this movie before it came out. Then I heard someone mention Judd Apatow's name in relation to it and my ears perked. After hearing that, I became slightly interested in it. But only slightly. I still didn't think it looked all that funny. It looked too much like a generic rom-com. And it was. As expected. there were moments that are hilarious (like the idea of Peter's Dracula puppet musical) but for the most part, this is definitely a movie you can skip.

For All Mankind
Apparently this movie is a big deal because Criterion put it out on DVD but I'd never heard of it until Netflix recommended it to me. It's a documentary composed almost entirely of actual footage of the first US manned mission to the moon. It was interesting but the best part is that Brian Eno scored the whole thing (the main reason I even bothered with it). And I discovered that one of the most recognizable tracks from 28 Days Later, Eno's An Ending (Ascent), was taken from For All Mankind. In addition to being in the movie, it plays over the DVD menu. That was a very pleasant surprise.

Matmos - Supreme Balloon

Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt, the duo that form Matmos, have always taken their ideas to the extreme end of experimental electronic music. Be it the sounds of liposuction on A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure, screaming rats on Rat Relocation Program, or a cow's uterus on The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast, they always push the constraints of traditional music making. However, on their newest album, Supreme Balloon, they take their experiences gained using organic materials to create music and apply it to synthesizers. In the first page of the liner notes, it says "No microphones were used on this album." Clearly, this is a big step for them.

Matmos are obviously using different media, but somehow they still manage to create music that isn't very different from what they've made in the past. It just sounds a little like old Matmos run through a dance filter. Lots of poppy sounds and dancey beats that make you question, if only momentarily, who you're listening to. But fear not, Supreme Balloon is undeniably Matmos.

And while the first few tracks are really fun (Les Folies Francaises sounds dramatic and cheesy enough to be straight from A Clockwork Orange's soundtrack), the centerpiece is certainly the 24 minute title track. It starts out sounding like Matmos took a few too many hits and turned prog. But then it turns into something that would be played during a dream montage in a John Hughes movie. Then it goes all spacey for a little bit before toning it down for some cool mellow beats mixed with bizarre sounds that could be aliens talking in their native language (maybe they can only talk using synths?). And in the last 4 or 5 minutes, it sounds like the duo are trying to fake sample Van Halen's Jump (I just keep picturing David Lee Roth doing that ridiculously impressive mid air split).

The album closes with Cloudhoppers which follows the title track with a soothing finish. But wait! There's more! There's an untitled hidden track that starts in after 10 minutes of silence. It's pretty weird and upbeat, just like the beginning of the record.

All in all, it's great to hear a new Matmos record, especially one where they're yet again limiting their means but crafting wonderful ends. Definitely recommended.

Christopher Willits - Plants & Hearts EP

One of the things I love about seeing bands live is the opportunity to buy records that are difficult to find elsewhere. I'm a somewhat impulsive music buyer, so when I go to a concert, it's very hard for me to say no (particularly limited edition and/or hand numbered stuff), especially when I know if I don't buy it then, I probably won't get it at all. Or in special cases, can't buy it at all, like tour only EPs (The Advantage, The Album Leaf, and most recently, Stars Of The Lid).

Christopher Willits is one of those guys that puts out a great deal of his work on self-released CD-Rs, and that makes it very difficult to acquire. So when I saw Mr. Willits at his merch table with a dozen things I didn't have, I got a little excited. Among other things, I picked up Pollen, his Japanese tour CD with Taylor Deupree, and his newest EP, Plants & Hearts.

This new EP is a gorgeous 21 minute piece of drone that is unlike most of Willits' other works. It's still guitar based, but gone are his signature clicks and ticks. This is smooth going all the way and he went about creating it in a very scientific way. According to his website, "Incorporating 4hz isochronic pulses and panning at the same frequency, this work encourages the formation of 4hz brainwave patterns associated with states of meditation, deep relaxation, enhanced creativity, light sleep and lucid dreaming." He warns that this record may cause dizziness or vertigo and that you shouldn't drive while listening to it. And of course, just saying it makes me want to go out and do just that.

If you like Willits' other work but are looking for something a little different or if you're into the Windy & Carlish hypnotic sounds, then I'd recommend giving this a listen.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Koyaanisqatsi Streaming Online In Full

Koyaanisqatsi, the first part in Godfrey Reggio's Qatsi trilogy (all with music composed by Philip Glass), is available on Google video in it's entirety. I remember seeing a movie poster in a video store for the third one, Naqoyqatsi, and being so interested in it that I ended up buying it before I had seen any of them. I wasn't disappointed. They are fantastic movies that may drag at times but are still endlessly intriguing. If you haven't seen any of them, now's the time. It's free and you only need an hour and a half's worth of free time. And as much as this movie should be viewed on a big screen with much higher quality, you can watch it right below this post or check it out here in a larger version (but not higher resolution). You won't be sorry.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Speed Racer

I swore off the cartoon after seeing it only a couple of times when I was a kid. I didn't like the animation style, it wasn't funny, and I just thought it was stupid. And before you go all "omgzwtf iz wrong wit u" I was like 7 years old and pretty much only liked the Ninja Turtles (proof). Going on that, I watched the new Speed Racer movie from the Wachowski brothers with virgin eyes. I have no idea if they screwed up any characters, relationships, names, or major storylines. But if the Wachowskis wanted to make a successful movie, they would have to be able to please both newbies like me and the rabid fanboys. I'm not so sure how the fanboys took it, but in my book, Andy and Larry Wachowski certainly wound up with an enjoyable movie.

Side note: IMAX to me is like Wal-Mart. I only go when I absolutely need to. I don't need to see Harry Potter, I Am Legend, or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on the biggest screen in town. I have only wanted to see two movies thus far in IMAX, including this one (the last one was Transformers, which is the reason IMAX was made, in my opinion).

I wanted to see Speed Racer for nothing more than the visuals. The story didn't really interest me and I knew it was going to be cheesy. I wanted my head to explode with fantastic eye candy. I wanted fast cuts, bright colors, speeding cars, and crazy digital effects only accomplished by filming in front of a green screen. And that's exactly what I got. The previews for Speed Racer don't lie. It's an almost non-stop roller coaster. But one of it's downfalls was it's length. Going on for over 2 hours, it couldn't be a completely constant barrage of headache inducing visuals, otherwise people would, well, get really bad headaches. So while there was plenty of action, there was a lull here and there where I got a little bored. Not much, but enough for me to notice.

Speed Racer is great, and I love it (more than Iron Man, the only other summer movie to compare it to at the moment). Only in this day and age can a movie like Speed Racer be successful. The pre-ADD generation wouldn't stand for such relentless visual bombardment. Speed Racer is a Saturday morning cartoon on speed, or more specifically, a show that could easily be found on Adult Swim.

There were a few times where I actually laughed out loud, but not very many. Spritle and Chim Chim were less annoying than expected and seeing Hiroyuki Sanada was a pleasant surprise. And thankfully, this isn't a kids movie with adult/pop reference jokes in it like every digitally animated Dreamworks movie to date. It's just a straight up kids movie that adults can enjoy either due to nostalgia or the dazzle factor. There was one joke, however, that strayed from the norm. After the Racer family is attacked by ninjas, Trixie sees Pops throw one of them out a window and says, "Was that a ninja?" Pops replies, "Ninja? More like a nunja. It's amazing what passes for a ninja these days." I died laughing. Hearing that come from John Goodman was priceless.

I could have dealt with a little less story (the Racer X bit at the end was totally unnecessary, borderline unbearable) and maybe a little more cheese. At times, I was surprised to see it taking itself too seriously. Not enough lines like Christina Ricci doing her best soap opera impression with "Move it, Speed, it's getting ugly out there" and too many Kodak moments. But when you see race track wall panels with "running" zebras that look like they're straight out of a William Horner Zoetrope, you kind of stop caring. And the last race? The Grand Prix? Oh man. I haven't seen such an acid trip climax like that in a mainstream movie since....well, maybe never.

So clearly Speed Racer is meant to be a popcorn flick. Nothing more than a summer blockbuster with little substance. If you like the idea of mixing rainbows and race cars, then you've just found your movie.

Perfect Songs

If you're a reader of Pitchfork, then you know they have regular feature articles, some of them being interviews, others being about a particular genre of music, but there's only one that I ever read on a somewhat regular basis and it's called Resonant Frequency. It's usually a nice read but to tell you the truth, sometimes the articles for that column seem so random, I've never really been able to put together what it's focus is supposed to be.

Anyway, the most recent Resonant Frequency article is about perfect songs. Not the writer's favorite songs, but the ones he thinks are perfectly crafted and formed, from a technical standpoint. For the most part, I don't know many of the songs on his list (Dwight Twilley's Looking For The Magic? Jürgen Paape's So Weit Wie Noch Nie?) and the ones I do know, I probably wouldn't agree with (Fleetwood Mac's Never Going Back Again ).

But there is one song on his list that I certainly agree that might be the most perfectly crafted song ever. Tommy James & The Shondells doing Crimson & Clover. That song is so great in every way. I remember having a best of on cassette when I was like 7 years old. I wore that tape out. Great stuff. Thanks Tommy.

A terribly synched and probably fan created video of official footage, it was the best I could find. At least there's funny ruffly shirts. And stupid hair.


Sigur Rós just unveiled their new audio/video hosting website, called Dót. Right now, they have a total of 6 videos up. They have the winner of the Minn Heima Contest, the 3 runner ups, and some footage of them in a New York studio.

They also have a Quicktime video that you can download (after signing up, of course) of them performing Ny Batteri from the Olafsvik concert on July 24, 2006. The show at Olafsvik was one that was filmed for their Heima movie, but this is a song that didn't make it into the final cut of the film. So, now we can all enjoy some new live material from one of the greatest bands ever and look forward to seeing more stuff on a regular basis.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Philip Jeck Song

Philip Jeck has a new album, Sands, coming out on May 18th on Touch. Pitchfork has Fanfares, a track from that album, available for all of you to give it a listen. The song has it's roots in Aaron Copland's Fanfare For The Common Man written during WWII.

Jeck uses multiple records on turntables to create his signature sound and this track is no different. For the warbly washed out goodness that is Fanfares, click here.

Btw, that image of Philip Jeck was found on the blog Radio Free Chicago and is from a show he did at 60dum last May.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Parts & Labor

I'm a little late in posting this stuff. I didn't realize until just now (when I'm extremely bored) that these things might even be remotely relevant to my blog.

First of all, Brooklyn based Parts & Labor, one of my favorite in the loud + pop sound, have recruited their fans (and anyone else who wants to join in too, for that matter) to submit any sound clip of their own creation, as long as it's 10 seconds or less. they plan on using some of the submissions for their next album. And if it's anything like their last two, Mapmaker and Stay Afraid, it's gonna be fuckin' awesome. Anyway, if you're interested in submitting some field recordings, click here for more info.

And even though their last full length was released almost a year ago, this video for The Gold We're Digging is still great. It's full of color and stop-motion goodness and it's probably the last video to be made while Christopher Weingarten was still the drummer. I'm posting it now because Pitchfork.TV just added it to their ever increasing collection of stuff. So now it's nice and high-res for you folks.

And while we're on the topic, you should check out their new EP, Escapers Two, because I haven't. It came out last month and I have yet to pick it up. So if any of you already have, let me know how cool it is. And if you haven't, well then you can pick it up right here.

Brainwaves Festival 2008

Hey, hey. Brainwashed is putting on the Brainwaves Festival again this year with an already incredible lineup. They've got Matmos, Meat Beat Manifesto, A Place To Bury Strangers, Stars Of The Lid, Rivulets, Strategy, Nudge, To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie, Lichens, Charalambides, His Name Is Alive, and a ton more (check out the website for the current lineup). And AND! they're doing "a special day honoring Kranky's 15 years." Damn. That's some hot shit right there. Best part about this (for me anyways) is that I won't have to spend any money on a hotel or anything because it's in Boston at the Regent Theater. Only $75 for all 3 days, too. It doesn't get much better than this. It goes down November 21-23. Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Temporary Residence YouTube Channel

Temporary Residence just announced that they opened their own YouTube channel. According to them, "it's true that you'll find loads of music videos and live performances from the likes of Explosions In The Sky, Envy, Rob Crow, Grails, Maserati and more, you'll also find a fair amount of office favorites that have nothing to do with TRL other than the fact that they fascinate us and make us laugh." Right now, they only have 7 videos up, totaling 5 different bands. I picked out a couple of the better ones.

Miss Violetta Beauregarde - Flanger When You Die
A hooded Miss Beauregarde with her friends in a red-lit bumper-car ring shot with a fisheye. Fun stuff.

Grails - More Extinction
Old, faded, brings to mind classic Chinese movies. And at the most important point, his concentration is ruined. Damn it!

Maserati - This Is A Sight We Had One Day
Some dude running around, perhaps imagining that infamous race he was supposed to win. Filled with hand drawn elements like a monster peeing in the background and lightning shooting from a guy's hands. Awesome video.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Stars Of The Lid & Christopher Willits At The Museum Of Fine Arts

Stars Of The Lid

Christopher Willits

Stars Of The Lid make some of the most majestic music around. This is their first North American tour in 6 years and they just so happened to grace us in Boston at the Museum Of Fine Arts. Not surprisingly, they played to a sold out crowd, the seats filled with all types of people. Everyone from old fogies to 20-something hipsters to prepubescent youngsters, the entire audience was there to revel in what is the epitome of musical beauty.

San Francisco native Christopher Willits performed before Stars came on, and he did not disappoint. He plays mostly soft mannered music entirely with his guitar. He has hordes of pedals all hooked up to his Apple laptop, allowing himself to create clicky soundscapes that make you wonder if it's really a guitar thats making those noises. His music is a beautiful counterpart to Stars Of The Lid's and he is certainly a worthy tour mate.

Although Stars is traditionally a duo comprised of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie (both of whom have wonderful records apart from Stars, Brian performing under his own name and Adam performing as The Dead Texan with Christina Vantzou), this tour has them sharing the stage with a string trio (whose names I can't seem to find anywhere, although they are most likely the same women who toured with them in Europe). This combination made for a simultaneously serene and epic sound that hardly compares to any of their studio recordings. Instead of listening to their music at home, the experience is completely transformed when heard in a live setting, especially in a place with such wonderful acoustics as the MFA's Remis Auditorium.

The live music was accompanied by video projections from artist and friend Luke Savisky. The images he used were a perfect companion to the sounds of The Lid: soft, smooth, and slowly transforming abstractions. During the last song they performed (I believe it was Even If You're Never Awake), Christopher Willits came out and performed with the rest of the band. At first, his signature sounds weren't very noticeable, but then his contributions became clear and it was a perfect addition to the song. The song was much more immense and epic than Stars Of The Lid have ever recorded before. I have never heard them get so loud. It was a grand and glorious climax that I'm sure many Stars fans have yet to hear from this usually quiet band.

After the song was over, they left for a mere 10 or 15 seconds, only to return and play an alternate version of Tippy's Demise as an encore. Of course, it was well received, as everything they performed was, and afterwards they received a much deserved standing ovation. I'm still in somewhat of a trance from the night before, as I know that was truly a once in a lifetime experience. They're still on tour with a handful of dates left in the US before they head over the the UK where they have a few more shows planned.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Mausoleums - Blackened Fawns Cleanse The Earth With Fire

Pop metal? Does that even make sense? Well, it'll have to because that's what The Mausoleums sound like on their new album Blackened Fawns. The opening track, Livelihood, sounds like it could be The Mamas & The Papas recorded on a Talk Boy then played on speakers the size of refrigerators cranked up to 11. The following track, though, ups the ante and goes right to kicking your face in. Here we have so much static, you have no idea how many actual instruments are being played. It's just as likely for there to be 2 guitars as there is 8. And the crashing cymbals only add to the noise. The growling vocals start out strong but eventually fade down in the mix. If you didn't hear them in the beginning, it would be easy to miss them entirely later on in the song.

Blackened Fawns is an intense piece of work. Lots and lots of noise. And amidst all of the buzz emerges this crazy catchy riff that stands out from everything else. It doesn't sound out of place but at the same time, you have no idea where it came from. It's a seriously confusing album, with some songs being really up-beat that you'd rather tap your foot to than bang your head, but then there's some others that are crazy and loud as fuck with this echoing growling demon. It's truly bizarre and awesome and I love it whole heartedly.

The packaging on this is truly unique. Released as a CD-R on the Chinese Workers Labor Union label, each one is handmade and it looks like they either rushed right through making them or they just didn't give a shit. I don't think there's a single right angle to be found on this. Everything's cut crooked and nothing really fits. There's a hand stapled booklet that just barely fits inside that has various strange images, particularly the two pages of drawn partridges (like the Family). And the back of the album has some bitchin artwork. It looks like something out of a Bible stories book, with two bears attacking a unicorn. Nature is sad.