28 June 2008

3 on the 4th

I've been catching up on my "Saved for Later" list in Google Reader. Here are the links I'd like to share:

My Old Kentucky Blog summed up my feelings exactly about Matthew Ryan. I've been a semi-fan of his since 1999 right after May Day came out and during the release of East Autumn Grin. I've seen him twice live, once opening for Badly Drawn Boy and then opening for Matt Pond PA with his band Strays Don't Sleep. I keep dipping in and out of his albums and...well, just read here.

Lemuria, a really cool band from Buffalo, NY, just got a pretty decent review for their new record at Pitchfork. Read it here. As always, I take issue with some of the ridiculousness in the review, but I digress. My friend works for the records label that they released some of their earlier records on, Art of the Underground. I recommend their split with Kind of Like Spitting
...if you can find a copy. Fire up your eBay profiles.

Just discovered mp3Tunes.com, thanks to Medialoper. So far, I'm happy. Read about it here and decide if it's right for you.

Finally, I've got another album review over at Horizon Records' blog. Read it here and support your local record store.

22 June 2008

Silence Keeps Company

Metavari, Ambling EP
Self-released, 2008

Metavari come to us from the "The Former Black Swamp, Indiana" according to their MySpace page. But they may as well descended to us from the heavens or some other ether of celestial beauty because that's the only imaginable space I can conjure whenever I spin their gorgeous debut Ambling EP.

Metavari are a post-rock instrumental band with tinges of electronic and digital sounds, though I'd like to dispense with using ill-fitting tags to pin their music down because there's always a shining layer of natural textures behind the tracks that defies traditional post-rock sounds. On the sublime opening track, "Satellites Made It Possible" the song keeps to a quiet build, starting innocently enough with electric bleeps before chiming guitars pick and slide their way in amidst a ride cymbal that sounds like a church bell on a clear day. When track one ends, it's a sad moment. I'd like for it to go on for an additional 4 or 5 minutes. It's a short-lived sadness because there's the equally transcendent "Everything Is Fine" in line behind it.

The beats and synths are out in full force here; that's not to say they dominate the track (nor, I should add, is it necessarily bad that electronic instruments make such a good showing on the record). Metavari seem to have pinned the thin balance of interplay between natural and unnatural sounds; almost to suggest there should be no distinction between the two. Rather, they should align in unison, side-by-side. It's not a new concept to be sure, but it is one that is rarely executed so seamlessly. A listener might mistake one for the other if not paying attention.

The remainder of the album is just as soothing and structured. From the crystal chimes of "Road to Awe" to the controlled deconstruction of "There You Are," Metavari are on level with the giants of their genre (Mogwai, Explosions In the Sky, Panda Bear, etc). But, if their first EP is any indication, these five will probably be smart enough to subvert their work into something even greater than the sum of post-rock's collective parts. And I, for one, am looking forward to what they have to offer.

*Metavari will open for El Ten Eleven this Tuesday, June 24 at the Village Tavern in Mt Pleasant. Show starts @ 9PM for $6. Be there.*

MySpace (one of the best looking MySpace sites I've seen; listen to their cover of Panda Bear's "Comfy In Nautica")
Official Website
Buy their CD
Download from iTunes

17 June 2008

The Cure 4 Tour

I believe I am close to being able to die a happy man. Saw The Cure last night in Charlotte, NC at the Time Warner Cable Arena (formerly Charlotte Bobcats Arena). I was about 12 rows back from the stage and could have hit any band member with the sweat flying off my brow. Thankfully, I did not.

Security was militant. No cameras allowed. When I tried to sneak a picture with my crappy camera phone I was immediately flagged down. I only got three not-so-good pics that I'll post when I can get them off my f*!@*ng camera. In the meantime, here's a fantastic Cure fansite.
Three hours worth of music. No keyboards. Just guitar. Lovely.

The Setlist:
Underneath The Stars
Prayers For Rain
A Night Like This
The End of the World
A Letter To Elise
Pictures of You
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
The Perfect Boy
Hot Hot Hot
The Only One
Wrong Number
The Walk
Sleep When I'm Dead
How Beautiful You Are
Inbetween Days
Just Like Heaven
Shake Dog Shake
Charlotte Sometimes
One Hundred Years
Baby Rag Dog Book

Encore 1:
The Holy Hour
Other Voices
Drowning Man

Encore 2:
Close To Me
Why Can't I Be You?

Encore 3:
Boys Don't Cry
10:15 Saturday Night
Killing An Arab

And, just found out that Pinback will be playing Charleston's own Music Farm September 24. Now if we could just get Built to Spill here?

13 June 2008

Surrey Is a Word I Hardly Ever Use

The Trouble With Sweeney, "(I Know You Destroy)"
Burnt Toast Vinyl, 2003

This gem was leftover from last Sunday's house cleaning. It's one of the better literary-pop bands you've never heard of. At first listen "(I Know You Destroy)" offered me little in the way of enjoyment. The songs seemed too plodding to be considered pop and the poppier ones seemed too dense to be appreciated. But, ever the faithful listener, I kept spinning it. And eventually I decided I still didn't like it. So I shelved it.

But have you ever been drawn to an album simply because of the way it looks on your shelf? Or its album title? Yeah, me neither.

The Trouble With Sweeney will, however, grow on your skin like so many barnacles. Their lyrics are a plaintive mixture of novelty and sincerity and their melodies are whispers on a Philadelphia street (the band's hometown); akin to a Virginia Woolf novel with more structure and narrative. I believe I read that their lyricist completed his PhD in History after completing this album and was a music journalist for a while. If that's true, it shows in the subtlety of the song structures and in lyrics like ("If you're worried that I'll snitch/you really shouldn't bother/you can rest assured/I'm telling everyone I know).

After a quick check of their website, it looks like the band is on semi-permanent hiatus. In the meantime, check out two of their best tracks for download, both from "(I Know You Destroy)."

mp3: The Trouble With Sweeney: "The Break Up"
mp3: The Trouble With Sweeney: "The Snitch"

06 June 2008

Take More But Give Less

Ha Ha! Now I will make believers of you all. Here are some photos from The Helio Sequence/The Explorer's Club show at the Village Tavern last Friday night. All of these will be posted on Flickr this weekend, but enjoy these for the time being.

We're sweating our nads off here in Charleston: 105 degrees, full humidity.

mp3: Sigur Ros--"Gobbledigook" (follow the link and enter your email address for a free download)

What? They're from Iceland...where I wouldn't mind being right now.

03 June 2008

It's Pudding Time, Children

I did make it out to see The Helio Sequence and The Explorer's Club Friday, at the Village Tavern. I'll have pics by the end of the week (I know, I know...my promises are empty shells of human disappointment).

Saturday I spent painting the garage at the in-laws house. Sunday I cleaned for four hours, but only got in one album b/c the vacuum is loud. Here's the playlist (CD images link to Amazon):
What the hell happened to this album? So much hype surrounded it and then so many fairweather fans and critics disappeared. It may be their finest moment. Have I said that already?
Primus--Frizzle Fry
The tightest album of the 90s; the best moment comes in the breakdown during "Pudding Time." And the lyrics are insanely poignant...not just throwaways.
Built to Spill--There's Nothing Wrong With Love
My love affair with BTS continues. Leave me alone. I know it's unhealthy. I can't help it I want to curl up in Doug Martsch's beard and sleep forever.
Purging Nirvana from my system for years now has only made me appreciate them more. "You Know You're Right" should be required listening for anyone considering starting any type of angsty-knock off band. That should be enough to convince your shitty group to pack it in before you start.

02 June 2008

Go, Bo...Go

This makes me quite sad. Most people cite Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, or Elvis as being their rock saviors. For me, it was definitely Diddley. His music sounds like it comes from some primal spot in the gut that's long since disappeared in rock.

I recommend this album if you don't know Bo.