Monday, June 30, 2008

Eluvium Interview

Sometimes I work. Like, a LOT. And when that happens, I can't blog. Sorry. Not that I don't have anything to talk about. I went to a couple of shows that I'm going to talk about soon. And there's always lots of new records to talk about, too. But, in the meantime, I will leave you with this interview of Eluvium (aka Matthew Cooper) from The Silent Ballet. It's pretty nifty. Enjoy it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Interview With Tim Fite

It's time for me to profess my love for the gentleman with itchy legs once again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hercules & Love Affair

Am I the only one unimpressed by these guys? Yeah, "Blind" is kinda cool. Otherwise, they're nothing special. I kept wondering whether or not I should pick up their recently released, self titled album, but thankfully I was able to listen to the whole thing on Spinner. Needless to say, I'm grateful I didn't buy it.

The video for "Blind" is OK, though. So I shall share it with you all. The girl kinda reminds me of Robin Tunney. And that fog scene towards the end is pretty nuts. Heh, get it?

Usputuspud - Disco

Usputuspud - Cherished Wig (excerpt)

More genre mixxxing. I love it. What we have here is some dance drone. Waves of guitar with minimal beats laid down underneath. And the best part? It's all super blown out and lo-fi. My favorite!

Usputuspud (say it a few times and you'll get the hang of it) put out this limited edition tape called Disco on Caligulan Records. And it. Is. AWESOME. It's like the whole thing was recorded at maximum volume, everything in the red, only to tone it down a bit when it was finalized on tape (if it sounds like I'm spouting total bullshit, I am. I have no idea what I'm talking about.). What I'm trying to say is the tape itself isn't super loud, but it sounds like the original recording was. In other words: really cool.

Everything is so blown out, in fact, it's pretty tough to discern what instruments are being played. I'm pretty sure it's a lot of guitar on the A side. But the B side might be mostly piano based. Or it could just be more guitar. I don't know. Nor do I care.

Each side contains one track, almost 15 minutes each. That's a half hour of kick ass guitar drone with some washed out techno. It sounds like your next door neighbors are having a dance party while you're experimenting with feedback loops and all you can hear is the beat and their feet stomping.

One of the best parts is on track one, "Cherished Wig," where after about 10 minutes go by, the beat drops out, and you're left with the feedback. The cool thing is, it's like there's this phantom beat still lurking. It's totally gone, but you still hear it in your mind. It's great. The last 5 minutes morph from what was a once cohesive guitar into shapeless echoey feedback.

"Fetish Ball," the B side, leans further to the dance side of things. Not a whole lot of drone, with the guitar (piano?) creating a beat all it's out, until some percussion comes in. The notes are drawn out so they overlap each other, and it's all really lo-fi, so it's still pretty droney. There are even times when Usputuspud himself starts singing. It's certainly a nice effect.

I will definitely be picking up his first tape, Liturgikal Alcoholik from White Lodge Tapes, because this is definitely something I want to hear more of. And this packaging is seriously gorgeous. Black ink printed over the already beautiful photo, with an intricate cut out in one of the corners. Stunning.

Videos: CocoRosie, MSTRKRFT, & The Heartless Bastards

Pitchfork.TV posted a couple of nice videos recently. This is the one for CocoRosie's new single called "God Has A Voice, She Speaks Through Me" and the video is quite....colorful. And cool.

MSTRKRFT is pretty great. And this video for "Work On You" matches, if not exceeds their greatness. It hits all the right spots. Animated? Check. Robots? Check. Disco party? Check. The intro to a "Beat It" style light saber fight? Check. Heart crushing tragedy? Check. If you want any more than that, then you're just being greedy.

They also posted the video for "All This Time" by The Heartless Bastards. That album (All This Time) is really fantastic. Lots of good songs to be found on it, unlike their album before it Stairs And Elevators. The video really looks like a commercial, though. For like, Old Navy or something. It's not bad, just cheesy. And not very original. I like the end though, with the American Gothic thing. And the song's good enough to warrant posting the video.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sigur Rós's Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust Came Out Today

In case you haven't been paying attention, the new Sigur Rós album, Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust, came out today. And if you actually needed someone to tell you whether or not it's good enough to get, I'll help you out.

It's fucking Sigur Rós. What more do you need to know? Yes, it's different. Yes, it's amazing. Go get it already. Seriously.

Sons Of Magdalene - Ephemera

Sons Of Magdalene - Pourquoi Tous Les Hommes Sont-Ils Des Laches? (excerpt)

Sons Of Magdalene = Joshua Eustis = 1/2 of Telefon Tel Aviv. Simple enough, right? One of the guys from Telefon Tel Aviv (Josh) has a solo project (Sons Of Magdalene). I found out about this little project of his because he had some info on his MySpace regarding Belong's Colorloss EP, which was mixed in Josh's studio. I listened to the one track he had on his page, "Quartet For Erhu And Tape," and immediately added him as a friend, waiting for him to announce any sort of release.

Well, that day came, just over a week ago. I placed my order (which you can also do, info right here) and received my limited edition, hand numbered CD-R copy (number 8 ftw!) of Ephemera yesterday. Hooray!

I love it. It's gorgeous and beautiful. And you know what it sounds like? It sounds a helluva lot like Belong. Which is certainly not a bad thing. Actually, the world could use a lot more music that sounds like this. Ephemera has two tracks, both similarly titled (something in French about men and women) and they're both long enough to develop sonically (about 20 and 17 minutes) but just short enough so that it leaves me craving more. The first one, "Pourquoi Tous Les Hommes Sont-Ils Des Laches?" sounds more like Belong, while the second track sounds more like William Basinski. And I'd say being compared to those two puts you in very good company.

I believe his technique is to record a live orchestra on tape, and then process and loop the tape. It definitely has that looped tape sound, much like William Basinski, who I know is a major influence on Belong (have you ever compared "Who Told You This Room Exists?" to any of the Disintegration Loops?), and must be for Eustis as well. And since I'm such a fan of both Belong and Basinski, I have immediately fallen in love with Sons Of Magdalene.

However, sometimes while listening to Ephemera, I feel like I could easily be listening to either Belong or Basinski, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but maybe Sons Of Magdalene needs to distinguish itself a little bit more. I know these are (I think) only his third and fourth recorded songs, so it's possible he just needs a little more time in the oven. I have no problem with that, given that he releases all of his future work. I would be very interested to follow Sons through an illustrious and prolific career of gorgeous tape drones. From the sounds of it, I'm sure it would be a good time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

MP3: No Age - Teen Creeps

No Age - Teen Creeps

It took me a long time to hear No Age's latest, Nouns. I listened to Weirdo Rippers a while back and didn't think much of it. But I figured there was a lot of hype with Nouns, though, so why not give it a listen. Verdict: I enjoy it. It's fine. Nothing amazing.

But "Teen Creeps." That awesome. Like, really good. It's pretty simple, nothing adventurous or challenging. But it's still great. I mean, I feel like I've heard that riff a hundred times before. Even with that little dedede de dede part, too. But I find myself putting Nouns on, and when "Teen Creeps" ends, I just hit the back button and listen again, and again. I'm probably extending the length of the album by a good 10 minutes by the amount of times I listen to "Teen Creeps."

If, like me, you've waited forever to pay any attention to No Age and their (overhyped) Nouns, now's the time to at least give "Teen Creeps" a listen. It might get you hooked.

Citay - Little Kingdom

Citay - First Fantasy

A few months back, Citay played a show at PA's Lounge. I had never heard them before, but PA's is a great place to see amazing bands you don't know about. So I followed the link to their MySpace page from the PA's website and gave them a listen. Beautiful! I loved it, and totally wanted to go see them. Then, the night of the show, I was talking to one of my friends on the phone about what I was doing that night and he said, "Hey, that show was last night, not tonight." Yeah, I'm an idiot.

So I didn't get to see them that night (I went to see Frightened Rabbit and Bodies Of Water instead, great show, review here), and I have only recently picked up their new record, Little Kingdom. Well, needless to say, I'm much sadder now knowing I didn't get to see them when I had the chance to.

Little Kingdom is a really solid record. It's hard for me to describe because it's a type of music I don't listen to very often. It's trippy and psychadelic, droney, very upbeat and poppy, with lots of layers. Lots and lots of layers. Many singers, and lush instrumentation. In fact, this is much more "kingdom" than it is "little." It's so full, with a lot going on. It's warm and it immediately fills the room. And while it's not "loud music" per se, it's definitely something that wants to be played loud. It has a somewhat delicate wall of sound thing going on, which is awesome.

Little Kingdom reminds me of an album called Bells Break Their Towers by Bright. But Citay is more druggy. Similar elements are there, though. The guitars at the forefront, with long stretches of plucking overlapping the drone. The vocals are pretty similar, too, but Bright's are more chant-like and used more like another instrument instead of Citay's more traditional use.

Citay is a lot of fun and Little Kingdom is a fine addition to my mostly non-Citay sounding library. It's a comforting record that isn't abrasive or, well, metal. It's nice having something to put on when Elise is around that isn't dance music.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Videos: Grails & Nadja

Grails and Nadja are playing together this Friday night at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge. It would be an understatement to say that I am ridiculously fucking excited. I hold Nadja in such high regards, I'm not even sure I'll be able to say hello to Aidan or Leah. Until Friday, however, I will just have to watch these videos of Grails and Nadja playing live. I'm sure when I actually see them, though, it'll sound much better and they won't look all pixely.

Grails - Silk Rd.

Nadja live at Lee's Place in Toronto

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'll Never Catch Up

Sometimes I feel like I'm really falling behind. It seems like there's an endless amount of music to listen to and know about. I mean, new records come out every week, and that's just the new stuff. What about things from last year that slipped through the cracks? Or even "classics" from decades ago that I've yet to hear? It's a never ending battle trying to keep up.

Back in the beginning of the year, I remember going through all 5 pages of Keith Fullerton Whitman's "Best Of 2007" on his online record store Mimaroglu. I could probably count on both of my hands all of the stuff that even rang a single bell of recognition. There must have been at least 100 entries in his list, and those were just his favorites! Holy shit! There is no way I think I'd ever have that much encyclopedic knowledge about music. And again, that entire list was stuff that was released in 2007 alone (there were some re-issues, but that hardly matters). It wasn't like an "All Time Best Of" list or anything.

With the exception of The Pixies and Pavement, I've basically skipped over every seminal indie rock band from the '80s and '90s. Yo La Tengo, Built To Spill, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., Mission Of Burma, Wire, Husker Du, Meat Puppets, you name it, I don't know it. And then there's older stuff like The Velvet Underground, Faust, Can, Neu!, The Dead C and everyone else I've never heard.

Of course, there are some I'm slightly familiar with, like Brian Eno or Kraftwerk, but their catalogues are so enormous, it's impossible to know where to begin. And even when you do begin, and find out that you're in love with some artist who have innumerable releases to their name, how do decide which to take the time to explore?

I feel like the younger you are, the more disadvantage you have about musical history (or history in anything, really) and not just for the obvious reason. The younger you are, the more time has passed before you were born and that means you have that much more catching up to do. My parents didn't have nearly as much music to learn about when they were younger. I have an extra 30+ years of music history to learn! Wtf. Not cool.

And people wonder why "kids these days" aren't familiar with classics. And I'm not just talking music anymore, take any media for example. How many people under the age of 35 have read Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls or seen Fritz Lang's Metropolis? I know I haven't done either, but it's not for lack of desire. I just feel like I don't have enough time to. Not when Aquarius Records puts out their New Arrivals list every two weeks that's filled with dozens and dozens of obscure bands I can't even pronounce but need to know and love.

It seems like we have to be very picky about which classics we decide to indulge in, especially when there's so much new stuff to keep up with. It's hard to keep a healthy balance of the new and the old, especially with the uber-prolific like Machinefabriek or Aidan Baker. Should it be 50/50? Or should the youth be expected to be more familiar with the media from their time period as opposed to those of their elders?

It's easy for us to say we want to just know the new, screw the old. Sometimes the old seems boring or just irrelevant. But that's not the case, especially for me and fellow critiquers. How am I to write a proper review of a record if I can't use proper reference points? I could write about the latest Wolf Parade record and have no idea that they're totally ripping off Sonic Youth's Washing Machine, for example. I would never know (well, that's a lie, because I'm familiar enough with SY to know they don't sound like Wolf Parade, but you know what I mean).

So while sometimes I feel like there's no possible way I can catch up with all the trends, both new and old, I know I'm not the only one. There's a little bit of comfort in that, I guess. I do, however, often feel like I'm much further behind than everyone else. It's probably not the case, but that's where the insecurities shine through.

I'm working on bettering myself, though. I recently got My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything and Glider. I figured I call myself a fan, so I might as well have more than one of their albums. And I'm seeing them at ATP New York in September so I'll need to know more than justLoveless.

By the way, I've listened to Crystal Castles at least 3 more times since yesterday and it's growing on me exponentially. I can feel the love is about to burst through any time now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles - Alice Practice

I know, I know, this album is like eons old in the blog timeline, but it's still relevant. Reason being (other than the frequent debacles the CCs seem to get themselves into), I just decided today that I really like it.

So way back when the Alice Practice EP came out, I was like a little school girl falling in love with the new kid in town. I was totally giddy to hear some truly awesome 8-bit music, stuff unlike anything I had heard at the time. The title track blew me away with it's in your face abrasiveness. I knew I couldn't wait until these guys released a full length so I could regularly get my lo-fi electro trash fix. So I picked up their self-titled record as soon as it came out and was totally underwhelmed.

Instead of the rad, gritty 8-bit glitch on the EP, I got some smoothed out 8-bit groove. Wtf? I mean, don't get me wrong. I love mostly anything even with the slightest 8-bit elements. But almost all of the new tracks (the ones not released on the Alice Practice EP) were not what I was expecting. Sadly, Crystal Castles was much more aligned with "Air War" than "Alice Practice" and that just pissed me off. Why would you make an EP with 3 out of 4 songs sounding like all of the mics were being dragged through dirt and then have your follow up debut be all crisp and clean?

So what I wanted was something to kick my ass while I did my secret dance moves alone in my apartment. That's not what I ended up getting and understandably I was not thrilled with Crystal Castles at first. I listened to it only a fraction as often as I thought I would. But I did listen to it, I didn't write the Castles off permanently. So it took a couple of months to grow on me, and today, as I was listening to it again, I realized, yeah, I really like this album. No, it's not what I originally wanted, but it's still supremely satisfying in it's own way. And maybe if I let it brew for a couple more months, I might even learn to love it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Animus - Poems For The Aching, Swords For The Infuriated

Animus - 5 (excerpt)

So I've been in this weird metal groove lately. Not just any metal, though. Black metal. A very specific type of black metal. I can be pretty picky within certain genres of music, and black metal is definitely one of them. I don't have any universal defining characteristics of the type of BM I listen to but it's generally very raw and full of buzz (see Offerblod, Flaskavsae, Xasthur). It's usually pretty oppressive and depressing, too. Sometimes it's full of rage and others it's melancholy, but it often sounds like it's being played through a pair of really shitty speakers.

This Animus album that I just got, Poems For The Aching, Swords For The Infuriated fits the bill perfectly. It's fucking relentless. This guy pummels through some long tracks (the shortest being 6 minutes, the longest at 13), and he never stops going. Almost every song is full on destruction from start to end. And man is this stuff impenetrable. The buzz envelopes you, like a security blanket with spikes. It's awesome.

After the first two tracks (there's only 6 total), everything calms down and out comes the ballad. Yeah, a black metal ballad. It's as bizarre as it is amazing. It sounds like an electric guitar and bass with shit-tons of reverb, covered in thick fuzz. No drums. Just guitars and vocals. And the vocals are what make this thing really haunting. Super raspy, like a prehistoric toad that's been smoking all his life and now has throat cancer. It kind of reminds me when Staind did that acoustic song that everyone creamed themselves over. The fans of their traditional sound were surprised when they went unplugged, but it still fit. Yeah, track 3 is missing a lot of the usual BM elements, but it still belongs on the album.

That's the only respite, however. The next 3 tracks return to the dark metal depths of despair and never come back. This is one wretched, dismal soul. And apparently quite dedicated. The only liner notes say "Animus is none and nothing but sheer artistic devotion. No words, no musical notes - emotions." If I had any paternal instincts, I'd want to give this guy a pat on the head and tell him everything would be OK. That would never happen though. I'd much rather have him keep producing this bleak metal buzz. That doesn't make me a bad person, does it?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Video: Love Is All - I Ran (live)

Pitchfork just posted this video of Love Is All covering A Flock Of Seagulls at a show they did at the Cake Shop in NY the other night. Love Is All has a covers EP out, which also features Prince's "Darling Nikki," and they'll be playing right here in Boston at Great Scott tomorrow night. Sadly, I can't go because the in-laws are up visiting for Father's Day. I shall just have to live vicariously through this video.

Staples: Hum - Downward Is Heavenward

Hum - Green To Me

Staples is a feature about, you guessed it, staples in my music diet. Albums that no matter how (im)perfect they are, or how old or new they are, I always come back to them because they're that awesome.

Hum had that song back in the mid '90s, you probably remember it. It was called "Stars." "She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she's out back counting stars." I'm sure you'd know it if you heard it. Anyway, that was Hum's breakout song. The one that got them lots of radio play but also, sadly, made them one-hit-wonders. After "Stars" was out long enough to stop being played on the radio, people forgot about them.

They were being overshadowed by other indie bands like The Toadies (Rubberneck, another staple!) or more mainstream rock like The Smashing Pumpkins (all of their albums are staples). Four years went by, and nobody cared anymore. But no one knew they spent that time crafting what would easily be the best forgotten gem from the '90s.

Downward Is Heaven is perfect in every sense of the word. It's spacey and epic, with lots of feedback, lots of hooks, and a singer with a vocal range as bad as mine. It's got everything I love. They mix shoegaze with the best parts of The Pumpkins.

Hum supposedly wouldn't finish the record until every member loved every part of every song. That's some serious fuckin' dedication. Man, they weren't kidding. There isn't a single note on Heavenward that is out of place or doesn't belong. They weren't afraid of regularly letting a song stretch out past the 6 minute mark. 7 out of 10 songs are longer than 5 minutes, but they're not just being extravagant. Everything fits.

If you've gone all this time only vaguely aware of Hum as that band from the '90s that did that song, now's the time to give them another listen. Or if you somehow missed their first single, then you need to pick this up. Downward Is Heavenward has all of the makings of a masterpiece and it shouldn't be forgotten in a bargain bin in some used record store.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CineSounds: Snatch

Mirwais - Disco Science

CineSounds is a feature where I talk about how music and sound are used in movies I've recently seen. And since I watched Snatch yesterday and it has a great soundtrack that I'm pretty familiar with, I figured it would be a fine movie to start off with.

Snatch is a very fast paced movie and the creators definitely made sure the music kept up. There's lots of trip hoppy electronic stuff like Massive Attack and Klint along with some super groovy funk and reggae like The Specials and Bobby Byrd. Everything is used to keep pace with the movie. And while I'm not a big fan of some of the musical genres used in Snatch, I can still appreciate the effectiveness of the songs used in conjunction with certain scenes.

"Disco Science" by Mirwais, for example. That song plays when both Tyrone and the bunny are being chased by Brick Top's henchmen and the dogs, respectively. First of all, that scene is intense enough on it's own. But when that catchy/annoying siren chorus is going with that relentless beat, it transforms the scene into something much more urgent. Not to mention whenever I hear that song (which only happens when I listen to the soundtrack, but play along with me for a minute), it automatically brings to mind Tyrone and the wild rabbit. When a song can immediately remind you of a specific scene in a movie, you know it's done it's job.

Something I missed every other time I saw Snatch in the past was the use of Madonna's "Lucky Star." What I didn't know was that it's first appearance is in the flash back scene where we see how Bullet Tooth Tony got his name. It's playing in the background, very unassuming, while he's getting shot up (6 times) and continues to stand ground and then kill his Asian adversary. But later on in the movie, when Tony is driving the car with the guy's head stuck in the window, "Lucky Star" comes on the radio and Tony says "Oh, I love this track." Knowing his back story just takes the awesomeness to a new level.

But by far the best song used in Snatch has to be the one being played during the final fight scene, where everything gets revealed. It's an amazing song. A catchy as hell, neverending riff with matching drums, sweet organs, looped vocal snippets, and an epic chorus. Who the fuck knew Oasis could write such a song? I was flabbergasted when I saw that it was written by "the next Beatles" and that it had such a ridiculous name ("Fuckin' In The Bushes"). I don't know about you but I stopped paying attention to Oasis after (What's The Story) Morning Glory? came out, so this song was way off my radar.

I give the Snatch soundtrack guys a big round of applause for not being afraid to use a song by a well known, and well worn, band like Oasis to put the finishing touches on an already kick ass movie.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


No, that's not an exclamation of excitement, it's a new sub-genre of electronic music. According to the skwee Wikipedia article, it "combines simple synth leads and basslines with funk, r'n'b or soul-like rhythms, overall rendering a stripped-down funky sound." So yeah, it's funky, groovy electronic music. Fantastic!

Most skweee recordings are released on vinyl, primarily 7", but skwee friendly Swedish labels Flogsta Danshall and Harmönia have put out a couple compilations on CDs and 12". And this is exactly how I discovered skwee. The Museum Of Future Sound 2 CD comp put out by FD is getting ridiculous amounts of play time in my apartment and anywhere else I can play my iPod. I can't get enough of it.

I don't want to sound, well, dumb, but being new to the genre makes it difficult for me to notice many differences amongst the 18 bands on MOFS2. A lot of the songs sound like they could be from the same artist to me. But I'm sure if I stick around and get to know my company a little better, I'll be much more educated about their subtleties. Something I look forward to.

I must admit, there is a part of me that loves dance music. I have no idea where it came from or how long it was lying dormant, but it's here and I have learned to embrace it. Everything from Daft Punk and Justice, to skwee and glitch, to A Faulty Chromosome and M83. I love all things with a foot stompin', booty shakin' beat. And now I have a new way to get my fix. Thanks skwee!

Joxaren - LIHOP

Mesak - Popkumm

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Xexyz - Primeval Mountain

Xexyz - Metroid

I really love it when bands push the limits of genres and genre-mixing. Take Xexyz, for example, whose name comes from that obscure, unpronounceable NES game. 8-bit black metal? Seriously? I mean, yeah, it sounds cool to me, and maybe a few others, but did they think they'd actually sell any records? Well, apparently, they have sold out of every pressing thus far. Congratulations Xexyz. You guys have wider appeal than I gave you credit for. Thankfully, Primeval Mountain is now available on Suffering Jesus Productions, to be enjoyed by many.

And it should be. Enjoyed, that is. I'm not so sure how many will do the enjoying, though, because this is some seriously weird shit. Take your good ol' low-fi black metal with chugging drums and shrieking demon vocals, then throw some 8-bit melodies in there and you get Xexyz.

I know what you're thinking. It's exactly what I was thinking the first time I read about these guys. Ok, it sounds like it would be funny for a couple of minutes and maybe you'd listen to the whole album just for kicks. But how could something so novel have any staying power? My answer is...I don't know. It just does.

This is easily the most listened to black metal record at home right now. Shit, probably the most listened to any kinda metal record right now. I love it. And with at least 3 songs and an album title referencing NES classic Rygar, you know these guys have serious dedication to the old school electronics.

One of the best songs on here has to be "Metroid," though, which is basically a black metal interpretation of the Metroid theme. If it weren't for the singing demon, it could definitely be mistaken for a straight up cover of the original. It's also probably the least metal song on the album. But I'm pretty nostalgic about Metroid, so it's easily going to be a favorite.

There's not much more to say. If you saw "8-bit black metal" and kept reading, then this is for you. And here's a video they made for "What Lies Atop Gran Mountain." It's certainly the most fitting video I've ever seen for a band. Because Xexyz sounds exactly like what would be playing in Satan's Hollow Arcade.

Update: Apparently there's a subgenre called NESBM (NES Black Metal). I guess that means there's more 8-bit black metal bands out there. Hooray!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Time To Cut Back

Well, the time has finally come to say goodbye to my car. Well, technically it was never mine, but I used it the most so that's gotta count for something. Numerous problems have plagued it for months and new ones keep coming. The problems are so severe and the car is old enough, that it doesn't make sense to get it fixed. The only things it really got used for was grocery shopping, going to Boston, and visiting family in CT, so it shouldn't hurt us too much.

Except for going to concerts. I drive into Boston to go to shows because the trains don't run late enough for me to get back home after the show is over. The problem is, I go to most of my shows alone (it's true), so I'll only be able to catch a ride with a friend if they want to go to the same show. I'm too far to bike into the city so my only other option is to take a cab. It might sound crazy at first, but compared to the cost of gas and insurance (if you live in MA, you know how crazy insurance is) I feel like I'll actually be saving money by taking a cab.

So you see that list of "Shows I might go to" over on the right hand side? Yeah, I'll probably only be able to go to a handful of those now. That means I'll probably be focusing more on reviewing records instead of concerts (not that I ever focused on concert reviews get the idea). Maybe I'll try to write a review of a record every time I can't go to a show I otherwise would have because of transportation issues. We'll see how that works out.

Well, I'm pretty sure we're doing the right thing, both for ourselves and for the environment. Now I'll be a biker with huge calves like that guy in Triplets Of Belleville. And maybe I'll actually be in shape for once. But if you have any suggestions for transportation from Salem to Boston, by all means, let me know.

In honor of my dying car, here's one of my favorite videos. It should help cheer me up.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tim Fite At Great Scott

Tim Fite playing CMJ '06

No matter how many times I see him (and it's been quite a few), Tim Fite never fails to disappoint. His live shows are so much more entertaining than his records, as I mentioned in my review of Fair Ain't Fair (which I have grown to love).

When you go see Tim Fite (and you should), you should be ready for fun. The stage is always set up the same, with a projector screen showing his heart/gun logo and a giant wooden boombox with flashing lights. And right off the bat, he makes sure everyone gets all nice and close to the stage, so he doesn't feel lonely.

Then the show starts. He has a couple of staples that he always plays, "No Good Here," "Away From The Snakes," "I Hope Yer There," "It's All Right Here," and usually a few more. But this time, he played a bunch of stuff from his new record which meant no "Forty Five Remedies" or "Camoflage." Instead, we were treated to "The Barber," "Big Mistake," and "More Clothes." Sadly, he didn't play "Roots Of A Tree" or "Rats & Rags," two of my favorites from Fair Ain't Fair.

But when Tim Fite plays a live show, it's not just about the music. No no no, there's also story time and sing-alongs. Yup, after every couple of songs, there's a break from the music where Tim tells his stories with the help of Dr. Leisure, who does the projection stuff (as well as help out with the music and going on hilarious stream of consciousness rants). There's stories called "Jo-Jo & Bobby Stab A Motherfucker," and ones about what dogs eat, and another about a rat named Juice. They're all charming and illustrated by Mr. Fite himself.

One of my favorite parts of his shows, though, is the sing-along to "Burn It Down." Tim talks about various places he was walking by and how he wanted to burn them down. It's best experienced live, but you can check out the video below for a clip of the song at Southpaw in Brooklyn.

The last song he played was "Away From The Snakes" and he was truly impressed by the crowd. He said, "I've never seen so many people singing this song together." It was quite touching. I think everyone in the club had a tear in their eye. Afterwards, Adam Green went on, but neither I nor anyone I was with were very interested in sticking around.

Seriously, Tim Fite puts on one of the most unique and engaging live performances ever. If you get a chance to see him, you should. He's still touring with Adam Green right now, so he might be playing somewhere near you. Go see him. You'll have a good time. I promise.

Tim Fite - Burn It Down (clip)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Prurient - And Still, Wanting

Prurient - Returning Truth

Click that sound sample with the utmost caution. Prurient produces some of the harshest power-noise-electronics you've ever heard. Caustic and punishing, his music is likely to make your ears bleed. And that's exactly why I love it.

The first time I heard Prurient, I got light-headed. Literally. It was only a 60 second sample from a website but it was love at first deafening. And while And Still, Wanting is the only record of Prurient's I've heard, I know genius when I hear it. This is it right here.

If you're not careful, the two opening tracks will blow out your speakers. They are harsh and gritty, but swimming underneath the corrosive outer layer lies subtle intricate beauties. Little lullabies that take the evil and make it glorious. Those levels of disgusting sorrow mixed with sweet dreams are what make this a truly rewarding record. Of course you're immediately taken aback when you hear And Still, Wanting, but if you stick around and get used to it's company, you see it's not just some loud mouthed prick, but only a little rough around the edges (OK, really rough).

There are tracks, though, that are much less abrasive but just as depressing. With the song "Total Terrorism," a static low end buzz creates the background while echoing percussion and vocals attempt to fill in the empty spaces. A creepy song, to say the least.

I've read this is Prurient's most accessible record to date (and possibly his best) and while it's hard to ever imagine a noise album being tagged as "accessible," my guess is that this could be that record. For those coming in with an open mind, And Still, Wanting is not totally off-putting. Like I said, it's not constantly destroying your eardrums and when it is, there's so many layers of beauty to enjoy.

One of the coolest parts of And Still, Wanting is that it comes with (at least in an initial limited edition) a 5" vinyl appendage that has two additional tracks, "Prologue" and "Epilogue," that are supposed to act as bookends for the album. Sadly, as my tiny apartment has no room for a record player, I have yet to hear these extra tracks. But still! That's awesome.

McLusky Music Videos

McLusky is one of those bands that is fucking classic and timeless. I never get tired of their music, or listen to them and think, wow, this sounds old. They're awesome in every way. They're also one of those bands that I really wish I got to see when they were still around. My friend caught them once at TT's before they broke up I think. I hate him because I know it must have been a killer show.

She Will Only Bring You Happiness
Probably considered their "big hit." The one that maybe you heard on a non-college radio station. It's wonderfully catchy and has a bowling pin that just wants to be friends. What more can you ask for?

Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues
I don't know if this is an official or fan made video. But if it was made by the band, then it's easily one of the best videos ever. The singing cat is flat out terrifying. But my favorite is definitely the guitarist kitty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

M83 At The Middle East Downstairs

M83 in Vancouver shot by heeeraldo.

Last night was awesome. It started off kinda stressful, though. I had to rush out of work and my car stalled twice in a row while driving through downtown Salem. The first thing that went through my head was "I wonder how much trouble you get in for leaving your car in the middle of the road." Because obviously I was going to get a cab to Boston if my car wasn't going to work, but after starting it up a third time, it was smooth sailing from then on out.

I got to The Middle East just as Berg Sans Nipple was packing up their stuff and holy shit was it hot in there. I was still wearing my work clothes (jeans, t-shirt, button down, and winter shoes) so I immediately started sweating. Gross, I know. But as I'm walking towards to stage, I notice my favorite spot on the left rise-up was open. I walk up and there's only a couple standing in front of me (both of whom were short), so I ended up about 10 feet from the stage with a clear view of everyone. Except for the ridiculous 85+ degree temperature, I couldn't be happier.

The stage set up was kinda weird. The drummer had this huge barrier made of 5 (approx) 6x3 plexi-glass panels. I don't know if it was so he could block out the other sounds or if it was meant to block out his drums. Or maybe it was just for looks, trying to match Anthony's glowing blue box of knobs also made of plexi-glass. I'm going with blocking out the drums because they were definitely too loud. They kind of dominated everything else.

So that brings me to my initial (but not long lasting) gripe about the show. The music was quite different live than recorded. It was much more raw and less processed. The vocals had almost no effects and the guitars sounded very guitary. The drums were really loud and the electronics and synths weren't always noticeable. At first, I was really surprised because I couldn't even recognize which song was being played until the chorus came in. I'm not sure if this is how M83 plays live or if it's a Middle East thing, because I remember similar problems when I saw Asobi Seksu play there.

But, this was not a bad thing. A little disconcerting at first, yes, but easily overlooked and it made the show that much better. I don't know about you, but this is why I go to shows. I'm not always looking for the band to re-create exactly the sound of the record. I like the little subtleties, improvisations, and variations that come along with watching a band perform. It's part of the charm.

That being said, M83 kicked so much ass. I wasn't sure how it would go live, if it would just be Anthony Gonzalez with a guitar, some synths and a laptop, or if he would have more people helping him. But when I saw the drum kit, I knew it would at least be him and a live drummer. It ended up being 4 people total, with another guitarist and a girl doing synths/vocals/maybe some electronics.

It's all kind of a blur but I remember them playing a lot of stuff from Saturdays = Youth like "Kim & Jessie," "Skin Of The Night," "Graveyard Girl," "We Own The Sky," and "Highway Of Endless Dreams." They also definitely played "Don't Save Us From The Flames," "Run Into Flowers," and a different version of "Moonchild." I know they played more but I can't quite remember. The encore might have been "A Guitar And A Heart." Not sure.

The crowd was crazy for M83. Everyone loved them and they loved us back. I love it when a band is really appreciative of an appreciative audience. It lets you know they care and aren't too pretentious. I'm pretty sure everyone in the club that night had an amazing time. And after all is said and done, I now have a little crush on Anthony.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Can't Stop

So somehow, even though I knew June 1st was a Sunday (because it was my mom's birthday) and that M83 was playing on June 2nd, I had it in my head that M83 was playing Boston on a Tuesday. This is not the case. M83 is playing tonight and that means I'm wicked excited. I'm in full on Can't Stop mode, listening to as much M83 as possible before the show tonight. I've already listened to 4 of his 5 full lengths.

Sadly, even though I asked for the day off of work, I'm still working. This means I'll miss the two opening acts, Matters & Dunaway and Berg Sans Nipple. I'm OK with that because I've seen both of them before when they each opened for The Album Leaf on separate occasions and I'm in no hurry to see either of them again.

What is not OK is that I'll probably be standing in the back of the room, staring at everyone's heads because the show sold out and I will be getting there just before M83 goes on. Super shitty. That means no pictures. I shouldn't complain too much, though. I mostly have my eyes closed at shows no matter how close I am. And I'm going to see M83. So there's that.

I'm sure I'll post something about the show tomorrow or Wednesday. So check back and I'll let you know what it was like (prediction: awesome). Until then, here's the video for "Don't Save Us From The Flames," although the beginning of it could just as easily be for Teen Angst.

UPDATE: The dudes from Matters & Dunaway have brought to my attention the fact that they never opened for The Album Leaf. How embarrassing. My sincerest apologies guys. Together, we put out brains together to help me remember who it was that I saw them open for. It was when they played TT's with Drop The Lime and Kid 606. Not The Album Leaf. Not Mono (my second guess). But with the Tigerbeat founder himself. Whoops.