31 March 2008
1. The Village Voice reviews Kurt Vonnegut's posthumous collection, "Armageddon in Retrospect."Read it here.
2. Salon's music critic Kevin Berger manages to describe all the wanderings of Dan Bejar's band Destroyer in elegant detail. But what's up with calling him Daniel Bejar? Too pretentious for me.
3. Did you know the music industry is changing? Please tell me we're not going to give Jack White credit for it. Regardless, music critic Ann Powers of the LA Times seems self-aware of the fleeting role of critics in the digital age.
And what's this...Matt at You Ain't No Picasso thinks he can take better pictures of Man Man than me?! I challenge him to a Man Man picture-off!
But first, I should upload my own Man Man pictures at my Flickr account...
30 March 2008
Thought I would take a post to plug two of my favorite bands; one you've probably heard of, one maybe not. Either way both bands are offering free downloads at their website and are well worth the hard drive space.
Glossary are a band from Murfreesboro, TN and their latest album "The Better Angels of Our Nature" is available for free download. Yep, the entire album is available in both FLAC and 320 kpbs mp3. For fans of Lucero, Drive By Truckers, Cory Branan, and Anders Parker. Follow this link. Spread the word if you like it.
Magnolia Electric Co is the incarnation of Songs: Ohia's Jason Molina. Some of their albums are hit and miss, but they have an entire Live Show Archive on their website to download in FLAC. Follow this link.
The files are large, so I recommend downloading one song at a time--unless you're on a T1. Then click away.
I recommend this page to download a FLAC decoder.
26 March 2008
-Read William Bowers' review of the new Destroyer album Trouble in Dreams at Pitchfork. This man is one of the best writers I've encountered in a long time. I'm basing that bold statement on an article he wrote for The Oxford American called "All We Read is Freaks." It's about teaching English at a community college in Florida. Order the issue here and marvel.
-Medialoper has a two part brief history of R.E.M. that reminds me why I still love them so. New Adventures in Hi-Fi is where it's at; Reveal was completely underrated and forgotten, but still worth it.
-The Chronicle of Higher Education has an all-too-brief story about a seven year old who got sued by the RIAA. Read about the event here.
-I like the new cover for Death Cab for Cutie's new album Narrow Stairs. I do not like the album title.
-Fighting the urge to get the new Counting Crows album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. This interview with frontman Adam Duritz didn't help. What do you think? I feel like I'm over the Counting Crows phase, but I keep coming back. Help.
-And then there's this. I have no idea what to say.
-And finally there's this...
24 March 2008
Dir. Julie Taymor, 2007
(I'm counting this one towards my 100 music documentaries. Deal with it.)
When I first saw the previews for Across the Universe all-those-many-months ago, I had an initial knee-jerk reaction to the ultra sentimentality that the preview conveyed--why can't people just leave The Beatles the fuck alone? Mind you, this was some months prior to the release of the Cirque du Soleil inspired album Love to which I had the same reaction. However, Across the Universe looked rife with silliness: Bono with a stupid mustache singing “I Am the Walrus” into a moving camera; Evan Rachel Wood looking blasé while singing “Blackbird;” some unknown shaggy Brit sitting by the ocean singing the first lines of “Girl.” I brightened slightly seeing Taymor’s name attached to the project (Frida was phenomenal and Titus may be one of my favorite films of the past decade).
Fast forward to Sunday night, watching Across the Universe in the living room and thinking the same thing as before—why can’t people just leave The Beatles the fuck alone?
Believe me; I struggled to sit through the entire movie. I nearly gave up at the scene in the veteran’s hospital with the dancing priest while “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” played. Not to mention the
Just so, the previous example is exactly how heavy-handed the film is. It’s a wonder it didn’t fold inward under its own pretentiousness. There’s no room for subtlety here; just ridiculous amounts of Beatles’ references and a hackneyed plot: boy loves girl, girl loves boy, girl and boy torn apart by anti-war protests until they both realize…come on, guess…all you need is love. The plot could not be more flimsy. Additionally, one gets the sense that the plot was only secondary to the music. In fact, it’s almost as if someone listened to a bunch of Beatles songs and devised a plot from them by mixing their order. How uninspired; the antithesis of everything the Beatles were and are.
Only when the film is at its most excruciating does it frontload the Beatle-isms. When a lesbian named Prudence locks herself in the bathroom (incidentally that’s the window she came in through, Max notes) the cast (lead by Sadie) sings “Dear Prudence” to cheer her up. Fuck me. Seriously? Then during the big breakup scene where Jude and Lucy are torn apart by Lucy’s radical ideals of anti-war and hippie freedom, Jude angrily sings “Revolution” at her acting out the lines as he goes—when he sings the Chairman Mao line, guess whose picture he points to? Just guess.
I could go on, but I can’t go on. It’s so bad it made me roll me eyes during the film and now as I write this. The best part, oddly enough, was Bono in his cowboy hat and strange drawl and Eddie Izzard as the Dr. Geary in an intentionally fucked-up rendition of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” We don’t need Taymor’s movie to remind or instruct us that The Beatles provided a universal soundtrack to more than one generation. We know that by the way the music seeps into our ears and permeates our brains, as parents pass it down to children and so forth.
It would be one thing if Across the Universe was only intended to be homage to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but it’s not. It’s meant to be a definitive piece of film that somehow sums up our collective love for The Beatles and their influence of the history or our lives. And, as a piece such as that, it fails to sum up anything other than ridiculousness at how sometimes we are willing to exploit The Beatles for our own indulgence.
21 March 2008
Man Man, The Village Tavern, Mt Pleasant, SC - March 7, 2008
Behind my back and during several conversations with respected friends, I have heard whispers of the group called Man Man. I never knew who or what they were, let alone what their music sounded like. A few years ago, before I was a
I suppose his reaction has always resided somewhere in my subconscious and etched a mental note to perhaps see Man Man one day, but preferably to pick up one of their albums. The mental note went untended and, in truth, I trekked to Mt Pleasant to see openers The Felice Brothers more than anything (whom I missed that afternoon at a Monster Music instore performance...long story, don't ask). I caught the last quarter of The Felice Brothers’ last song and pushed my way to damn-near the front of the small VT stage unaware that I may never be the same again.
The Felice Brothers left the stage and the gear just kept coming out onto the stage as if from a magical door. First a xylophone. Then a bullhorn. Next a gong. And…a fire hydrant? They look like normal guys, I thought—perhaps a bit too much like ex-druggies who go on to become Unitarian youth ministers—but normal enough. Then they disappeared. And they reappeared, wearing all white from head to toe and white face paint in random thumb-splotches. And then they began. And I couldn’t stop moving. The sold-out crowd was throbbing and pushing me along in time to songs I had never heard. I couldn’t stop yelling out responses to the singer’s calls. Where had they been all my life? Mind you, I've been to high-energy hardcore shows where I've lifted crowd surfers up and thrown random individuals up on stage only to have them backflip into the crowd. But this was different. This was...fun. And I didn't feel like I might have to start throwing punches to get the guy beside to give me an extra inch of breathing space.
I can’t speak about Man Man’s music, having only heard it for the first time that night. A friend of mine whom I inadvertently ran into at the show described it as “pirate-carnival-death music.” I can see that. But I heard some waltz, blues, polka, and metal thrown in and then beaten to a puree with a spiked mallet. If I purchase one of their albums now (their new LP Rabbit Habits is out April 8 on Anti- Records) I think it would be a bit of a let down. But only a let down because there is no way to ever faithfully recreate what Man Man is—how alive they are—in a concert setting. You know how some shows just feel routine, like there are motions set up for you and expectations that might be met? This is quite possibly one of those shows that ruins all others for me. Don’t ever miss a chance to see them live. Raise your freak flag with them unashamedly and salute their new breed of sound—so intense it can't be described, but so disastrous in its ability to amaze.
19 March 2008
I have been posting a lot about Matt Pond PA...I mean The Dark Leaves. Yep. Apparently that will be MPPA's new moniker.
Sun Kil Moon is streaming their new album, April, at their MySpace page. Fantastic, so far. While you're biding your time waiting for the official release date of April on ummm...April 1, you should get The Retribution Gospel Choir.
Part 2 of the Wilco show at the Riveria is up for download at Sixeyes via this link. Have I mentioned just how much I love this blog? Well, I do. Subscribe to it here. You won't be sorry.
Here's interesting and (gasp!) well-written article from Medialoper. It's about The Clash. And music. That's cool, I guess. If you're into that sort of thing.
And finally, in reference to this post's title, this is just sad. Via con dios, Ola Brunkert. Via con dios, sir.
Some mp3 links:
Rilo Kiley--Let My Love Open the Door (Pete Townsend cover)
Thanks, You Ain't No Picasso.
Matador Intended Play sampler, 2008
Thanks, Matador Records.
Music for Video Games Vol. 1
Haven't heard this, yet. But Sufjan Steven's is on it, so what the hell.
Thanks, Asthmatic Kitty.
Man Man pics and a show review on Friday. Some pics from a Richard Buckner show from this past July at the Village Tavern are up on my Flickr site now. They're not very good but they get the job done. Here's one:
17 March 2008
Trent Reznor may be on to something here... Guess I never really thought of it that way, but he makes a valid point. Go your free download of Nine Inch Nail's Ghosts 1-9 here.
SXSW is streaming like nobody's business at NPR. None of the concerts are up for download, but I strongly recommend their live concert podcast.
Get a giant zip file of 1/2 of a Wilco show over at Sixeyes--consistently one of the best blogs for free music and mp3 of the legal variety.
That's all. Now go get Trouble In Dreams from anywhere but iTunes.
Destroyer—Destroyer’s Rubies (Merge Records, 2006)
Dan Bejar has always been the brainchild behind Destroyer, and while I’ve never cared for his previous releases, his work in the supergroup The New Pornographers has always made he question why he can’t create a Jackie Dressed in Cobras (one of the best songs on The New Pornographer’s Twin Cinema) without the help of his supergroup cohorts.
Well, to make up for lost time, Bejar and his new band members in Destroyer have created an album full of intelligent pop that hasn’t left my ears for weeks. Putting what Destroyer does into words is difficult, but the songs have major structure and guitar hooks from hell. And the lyrics, while puzzling at time, serve to enhance the song when necessary and let it be when needed.
The nine minute opener Rubies displays alternating shifts between acoustic strumming and picking and an electric guitar takeover. And even though the chorus consists of little more than Bejar singing, “la da da da da, da da da dum” the song never wears you out as you might expect it to. To counterbalance the chorus, however, are great lines like, “Don’t worry about her/ she’s been know to appreciate/ the elegance of an empty room” and “please don’t wake me/ from this my golden slumber/ I am proud to be a part of this number.” If I didn’t know better I’d say that Bejar was cueing his listeners in to his comfort level; a clearly reflected element in these relaxed and focused songs.
Tracks like 3000 Flowers and Painter in Your Pocket feel like some of the most well-designed songs I’ve heard: they’re elegant in their simplicity, but layered in their meaning. And I love to hear a man write lines that amount to modern poetry—“Where did you get that line?/ Where did you get that rook?/ Where did you get that penchant for destruction in the way you talk?. The only slump is the Neil Young-esque guitar blues on the last track Sick Priest Learns to Live Forever.
There are constant themes throughout the record that I have yet to decipher. For example, blood, oils, priests, and “your blues” (the title of Destroyer’s previous release) come up repeatedly. One could take Destroyer’s Rubies as a concept album, but of what, has to be left up to the listener. And modernist lyrics like, I was Clytemnestra on a good day, can puzzle those not versed in mythology. But one thing that shouldn’t be left up to listeners is the delicacy and greatness of this, Destroyer's finest moment.
It took some time but I've finally uploaded about 20 images from the Matt Pond PA show at The Map Room on Flickr. Check them out here.
Make a comment and tell me what you think; I shot these on better equipment than I'm used to.
As for today, here's a link to a follow-up from Charleston City Paper's little music experiment with The Post and Courier's Preview pullout section in Sunday's paper. See Friday's post for the first part of the story.
As for the rest of the week, Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams comes out tomorrow. Stream it here, courtesy of Merge Records.
And other folks are talking about She & Him, Volume One--the new release from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Stream it here, courtesy of Merge Records, though I couldn't be less enthused about some indie starlet's foray into music. Remember this announcement? Stick to what you know kids, I don't care how hot you are onscreen.
A review of the new Destroyer will be up on Wednesday--that's right, I wait and buy my music the day it comes out like a good like capitalist.
13 March 2008
so much trouble
several arrows later
people have a way
giving it all away
the summer is coming
taught to look away
And, I've got to say, this link is funnier than hell if you enjoy the big, corporate-owned newspapers ending up with egg on their face. Thanks, Charleston City Paper for sticking it to them.
And, tonight at the North Charleston Coliseum...Anne Murray!
Sorry folks...it's sold out.
12 March 2008
There are a few bands that garner more than four CD-sized slots on my music rack. And those slots are usually occupied by “classic” artists (Neil Young, The Beatles, U2) and a few less-than-a decade-old bands (The Pernice Brothers, Modest Mouse, Ryan Adams). Matt Pond PA falls into the latter category, though I often find it difficult to remember why I own six discs (four full lengths and two EPs) of their/his music; that is, until I break one out on long car ride or breathe in deep, wintry air and feel like I must listen to one of his songs. Now.
That MPPA are deeply and almost comprehensively associated with weather, seasons, holidays, etc. is an element that listeners and fans have no doubt come to observe and, most likely, appreciate. It’s fitting then that MPPA’s first trip to
I was totally and utterly wrong.
A crowd of at least 150 packed the stage area and the surrounding bar. (Doesn’t sound like a lot of folks, I know, but The Map Room is not what one would call large.) Fortunately, I managed to aimlessly wander to the front of the stage during tuning/soundcheck and then, as if by surprise, the band started to play. I felt a push against my back and turned to see four, thick rows of people paraded behind me.
The set relied heavily on the latest release, Last Light. Definitely not one of MPPA’s better albums, mostly because it sound as if Matt Pond decided to try to make a half-hearted rock record—a task that does not really fit into his band’s sound. The cello got ditched for this record and for this tour, but the songs still held enough thrust and melody without it to stand on their own. And anyone who's a fan will tell you that MPPA have songs whose melodies and lyrics rattle in your brain for weeks, months, and, for some, years. And everyone has a favorite song—that one song—that makes the daytime that much more bearable and the nighttime that much more glorious.
The momentum of the evening would build and swell with exceptional songs like, “So Much Trouble” and “People Have a Way,” and then crash way down with songs like “Wild Girl” and “
The night felt surreal with the bruising wind outside rattling the windows, Barack Obama slowly losing Texas and Ohio, and the drunk girl beside who kept yelling for “Grave’s Disease” (another obscure song from Emblems). And I felt like someone gave me a shot in the arm after the show ended, but the people refused to leave. “Guys, it’s a Tuesday night and the hurricane is coming,” Matt Pond joked after coming out for a second encore. But no one listened. Some folks had waited seven years for MPPA to come back to this city and they might not be around in another seven years to see them again.
“Thanks for coming!” someone screamed as NBC declared
“Play what you want!” a girl yelled from the back.
I’m with her, I thought. I can always have a new favorite song for tonight.
11 March 2008
The soundtrack of our nights:
...summed up best by Nick Frost as "the band that Smashing Pumpkins could have been, if the Pumpkins didn't suck."
Never made it to:
06 March 2008
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have a session up at Daytrotter for download.
Pitchfork has photos up of the recent Bill Calahan/Johathan Meiburg show at the Village Tavern. I don't know who Drew Katchen is, but apparently he was at the Village Tavern on 2/29 taking photos. I missed the show, but plan on tracking this guy down.
I just discovered JunkMedia; looks like a cool site.
And the award for concert-in-an-amphitheater-that-I-would-go-to-and-then-leave-before the-main-act goes to...Jack Johson with special guests Rogue Wave and Neil Halstead! I know Rogue Wave released Asleep at Heaven's Gate on Jack Johnson's label...but where did they pick up Neil Halstead from? I do recommend "Sleeping On Roads," though.
The Silver Jews are emerging from whatever hole they live in to release a new album, (title here). And their second-ever tour is to follow. The album features Pernice Brother's guitarist Peyton Pinkerton.
Sixeyes has a new mp3 from the Notwist's new album; their first in 6 years since Neon Golden (a fine record).
If I cared I would mention that you can stream Tapes 'n Tapes LP, but their last LP was crappy and for some reason critics went ape-shit over it. And by the time this posts, you can't listen to the streaming album anyway, so nevermind.
Man Man and The Felice Brothers play at the Village Tavern tomorrow night. The Felice Brothers play an in-store at Monster Music beforehand. Apparently they're good.
Dave Eggers is giving a public reading at the Brooks Center, Friday, March 7 at 7:30. It's free and it's part of the Clemson University Literary Festival. Apologies to Woody b/c I can't be there.
That's all. Pix from the Matt Pond PA show and a review coming either tomorrow or Monday.
04 March 2008
Citified – S/T
Eskimo Kiss Records, 2005
Capturing the sound of distance and disparity isn’t an easy task, especially when it comes to music. A few artists have managed to do so accurately within the last decade or so, but those tend to be the ones that bounce through our heads after we’ve fallen asleep. Most recently, Sun Kil Moon perfected the sound of distance (something The Red House Painters had been trying to do for years) with their sprawling-yet-intimate “Ghosts of the Great Highway.” Before that, there were about a dozen or so bands with the ability to convey intimacy through songwriting and music combined. I believe it’s safe to say that R.E.M.’s “Murmur” claims that stake without much competition.
Taking their lessons from these great bands, Greensboro, North Carolina’s Citified has made a convincing case to be placed among the ranks with their self-titled album. Filled with evocative vocals and hollowed out guitar sounds, Citified has created an album that could pass as the soundtrack to both Christmas and summer—a quality that makes it listenable at all stages of the day, pre-dawn to post-midnight.
There’s enough reverb here to satisfy your midnight loneliness, and enough punch to keep you in steady motion while walking. But the strength of Citified lies in the functionality of the album as a whole. Coming in just under 19 minutes, there’s no room for filler, there’s just a short trip of an album that will get you wherever you need to be in a day’s time—twice.
While I can imagine other listeners being put off by the relatively short nature of the record, the more you listen to it, the more you realize how much the length benefits the subject matter. Distance—a key theme to the record as evidenced through titles (“Overseas,” “Going Places,” and “Stopping the Clock”)—is best conveyed in repeated short bursts like day trips or stop lights, because that’s when it’s most apparent to our minds and ears. As such, multiple listens are not only recommended, but required, because what Citified has managed to do is eliminate all of the excess of rock/indie rock and focus in on the experience and continuity of listening—a trait that somehow goes overlooked in most bloated, 13-14 song, albums.
Chris Jackson’s vocals and mysterious lyrics keep the songs afloat, and when he steps away from the mic, a single, jangly guitar line—often just two or three notes—picks up right where he left off. For example, “Secret Knock” is lifted to a whole new level by eventual fade of Jackson’s vocals and lyrics, and a breakdown that culminates in a picked acoustic guitar and a tenor cry. “Going Places” has the best accentuated two note guitar lick I’ve heard in a long time, not to mention the most haunting melody of all the songs on the album.
Citified’s album cover shows an extreme close-up of buildings and skyscrapers in an exaggerated, silver-age comic book color format. It reminds me of Seurat’s pointillism, and the theory that accompanies it: up close the picture appears blurred and spotted, but the farther one moves away from it, the clearer the picture becomes.
By placing distance into their music, but remembering that the whole is greater than the individual parts, Citified have accomplished with incredible accuracy what many artists fail to do: create a solid album that is both evocative and indicative of the landscapes within the listener’s own mind.
From the upcoming EP, "The Meeting After the Meeting:"
Citified - Read Like a Number - mp3
03 March 2008
Does everyone clean their house and go for a walk on Sundays, or is it just me?
There's something about Gang of Four's Entertainment! that demands movement. I pass others out walking their dogs or jogging with their swank armbands and their crystalline white earbuds and wonder, "What the hell could they be listening to?" In my head everyone is listening to wretched, awful schlock like 3 Doors Down (who just happen to be playing at the N. Charleston Coliseum soon) or Nickelback. How do I know what they're listening to?
I don't. But there's something in my head that tells me they don't crave listening to the abrasive, slightly atonal snaps of Gang of Four. I don't imagine others digging the apocalyptic imagery of Entertainment! (See that girl on the TV dressed in a bikini/she doesn' think so/ but she's dressed for the H bomb) while breathing in fresh air of the marsh land. But me, I can't get enough. Thanks to Dewage for turning me on to them.
Keep It Like a Secret made it onto the turntable for two reasons: 1) it's close to being one of my favorite albums (yes, of all time) and, 2) I'm bummed because I'm going to miss another chance to see them live. They're playing at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, NC next Monday, March 10 and then The Orange Peel the next day, Tuesday, March 11. The feasibility of driving 3.5 hours to and from Charlotte on a Monday night just does not sit well with me. And now I'm afraid they'll never come close to me again (have they ever played anywhere in South Carolina? Not to my knowledge). The new BTS vinyl reissues are well-worth the price, though. All come with at least one bonus track.
Music purchased today:
The Mountain Goats--Heretic Pride
Headlights--Some Racing, Some Stopping
The Evangelicals--Evening Descends
Breathe Owl Breathe--Glacier EP
matt pond PA play tomorrow night at The Map Room. I'll be the one taking pictures.