Sorry for the silence. Evolving through my emo mess. There is a new Lou Barlow EP out though, and that is a good way to break the silence. With some understated over emotional music. Obviously.
A few months ago, I watched Whitney amble admirably through a majority of the tracks off of their debut Light Upon the Lake to a midday beer festival crowd in Columbus, OH. The album had already gotten a ton of hype from the blogosphere/Pitchfork/etc…, so it was a bit strange to see them scheduled so early in the day. In hindsight, though, it makes perfect sense.
Light Upon the Lake is the Laurel Canyon and Ventura Highway by way of Chicago’s suburbs. Whitney formed from the ashes of the Smith Westerns, and while their glammy garage racket would never be confused with, say, Flipper, there was some punk undercurrent bubbling below the surface. That’s now long gone, and it’s for the better. Whitney is, for lack of a better term, dad rock. And that’s the entire reason they’ve found such success. Maybe that’s because a majority of the Napster generation are mothers and fathers now. I can still occasionally throw on Converge and recall my teenage angst. Other days, after conference calls and investment meetings and other vaguely adultish shit, I’m glad to shut off and bliss out to, you know, pleasant music on the ride home. And that’s exactly what Whitney is: songs you can sway along to in the mid afternoon at a music festival. Sunshine rock. My girlfriend doesn’t know what the hell Best New Music means, but she’s glad when “Golden Days” comes on during a roadtrip.
Twin Peaks, on the other hand, just put out the album I feel like the Smith Westerns were always striving for. There is a slight (very slight) edge to things. But all of those distorted guitars are still playing major chords, and there’s a lot more going on around them then typical garage rock: the brass in “Cold Lips”, the Clemonsesque sax in “Keep it Together”, and the swinging piano rhythm of “Getting Better” are just a few examples. There’s enough nods to the 60’s and 70’s here to betray the fact that none of the band’s members are past college age yet.
Stereogum pretty much nailed it with this headline and the phrase “triumphantly choogle”. The internet certainly hasn’t done away with presumption. Quite the opposite, of course. But it has certainly made it possible to explore the gray areas around the Americas and the Eagles of the world with fewer repercussions than there would have been if this happened when rock and roll was saving us all (whoops!) in the mid-90’s. I, for one, am glad there are bands finally dipping their toes into these particular waters.
It’s been a minute since I’ve heard anything from Erik Kowalski, AKA Casino vs. Japan. No worries, though, since he’s about to drop 80 new tracks (no, not a typo) of blissful ambiance in the form of Frozen Geometry. The entire thing will be out via double cassette (good news for you ’02 Optima owners still squeezing some life out of your tape decks) on 10/21, but you can head on over to CvsJ’s bandcamp to preview five different tracks right now. Some bands would call that an EP’s worth of music, but you’ll still have 75 other songs to look forward to in late October.
In hindsight, the last few years of the 80’s were a strange time in Sonic Youth’s evolution. The band had long enjoyed critical success and just sold over 60,000 copies of Sister. They had also just contentiously left SST over the label’s now notorious accounting practices. Not long into the 90’s, they would release Goo on Geffen Records, but 1988’s classic Daydream Nation came out on Enigma, a sort of mini-major that enjoyed distribution through Capitol. So while the band didn’t have the cache to start their run of Letterman performances quite yet, they still found a way to sneak into NBC’s late-night programming via Night Music, a show that managed to broadcast performances by visionaries such as Lou Reed and John Cale, The Pixies, Sun Ra, and countless others out to a national audience over the course of its two year run.
It’s no surprise that the band chose to play “Silver Rocket” on the program. Nation‘s lead single “Teenage Riot” is damn near seven minutes long, and “Rocket” is about as close to a pop moment as you’ll find on the album. That doesn’t stop SY from absolutely tearing through the song live, though, including over a minute of earsplitting feedback smack dab in the middle (check the bend of the neck on Moore’s guitar around the 1:50 mark. It’s about as good an advertisement for Fender’s durability as the company could ask for). Again, this was all happening on national television.
The weirdness wasn’t quite over yet, as Gordon, Moore, Ranaldo, and Shelley would return later on to close out the show with an eviscerating take on “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with a little bit of help from the Indigo Girls (who appeared earlier on the same episode), host David Sanborn, and the house band. There are multiple WTF moments here, though my favorite might be “manager” Don Fleming battling Sanborn for mic time before giving up and spiking his flute to the ground like he had just scored in the Super Bowl. A keytar makes multiple appearances. Steve Shelley spends the entire three minutes grinning ear to ear, and it’s hard not to understand why.
Heaters earned some well deserved buzz with their surfy, psych garage “Mean Green” single, but last year’s Holy Water Pool seemed to double down on the reverb at the expense of atmosphere. Everything was so smooth, it was hard to grab onto individual parts as they floated by. The songs were still there (see examples A and B) but they needed to simmer awhile before they stood out individually. In a way, it reminded me of the Black Lips following up their breakthrough album with 200 Million Thousand: The band was still on drugs, just maybe the wrong kind.
So anyways, Holy Water Pool sounds to me like a very good effort held back by some interesting production choices, and it seems to have passed by many critics’ radars as a result. Have no fear, though, because within thirty seconds of “Centennial”, the lead track on HWP-successor Baptistina, it becomes very clear that Heaters have returned to their wheelhouse. This thing rips the whole way through, but nowhere is that more apparent than about three minutes into album terminus “Seafoam”. The rhythm section gets locked into something so tight it seems they might suffocate, and the guitars ride that groove through multiple ebbs and flows until everything eventually fades out. These might be the shortest six minutes of your day.
Go ahead and read up/spend up over at Beyond Beyond is Beyond.
I don’t know much about Whitney K. It appears to be an outlet for BC’s Konner Whitney to indulge his more Dylan-esque songwriting tendencies. He may or may not also be an associate of fellow Vancouverite Patrick Flegel (he of Cindy Lee and Androgynous Mind fame, among other projects you may have heard of). I assume they spend most of their hypothetical time together reminiscing about the Grizzlies.
“Ode to the Old Ways” lurches along, like a Blood on the Tracks session played back at half speed. Then the bridge hits and transports the whole song to the East Village circa 1977 before stumbling back to the old dirt road it drove in on. If you like what you hear, you should enjoy the rest of Goodnight, which you can check out right here.
Herein we listen to music from Indonesia. And Drink. And live blog and tweet about it. Join along from home. Share what you think or what you like. Apologies to the good people in Indonesia who don’t drink.
8:00pm Let’s do this. Indonesia has tons of good music. This is a fun love ditty.
8:10pm That was pretty damned great! How about a Swervedriver cover?
And tons more after the jump… Continue Reading
Cross-posted at isotria blaring…
Now this is catchy. Boyfriend Material has a new EP out on Community Records.
This first song “Small Talk” is absolutely promising. It’s a sort of indie pop/singer songwriter without being too poppy. “Two Steps Back” starts out like a Rainer Maria tune. In fact, this song could be a Rainer Maria song both lyrically and instrumentally. It’s really quite enjoyable.
“Good Graces” tones things down a bit. It’s pretty in a navel-gazing kind of way. Navelgaze should be a recognized genre. Whereas emo has become a certain brand of pop punk which sometimes is great, sometimes really sucks, navelgaze would focus on a certain brand of songwriters like Shauna Healey and Lou Barlow.
Anyhow, the last track is “Absentminded” which features the ukUlele. This calls back more to her earlier stuff (see below). This EP is a very worthwhile listen. The EP in it’s entirety was released on Friday.
This is more of a full band sound. The core of Boyfriend Material is singer-songwriter Shauna Healey. On her first LP “Far From Home”, also on Community Records, her music is very stripped down. It’s that bare acoustic ukulele combined with raw honest vocals that is popular in certain circles these days. I just love this stripped down sound. In any case, there is much to love here.
Cross-posted on isotria blaring…
Reviving my effort to highlight particularly good new 7″ releases, today I want to bring your attention to the Manhattan Love Suicides newish single on Odd Box Records in January. This single starts out with a bang on Side A with “Bikini Party / Birthday Kill”. First the industrial sounding drum beat. Second the repetitive tilting guitar riff. Third the spoken haunting vocals.
I don’t know what’s up with the slashes, they clearly aren’t separate songs so I gather they are just compound concepts. I think this is true for the B side too which is titled “Deserted Coastal Town / Action & Memory / What Am I Supposed to Do?”
The B-side is much less aggressive at first. Soft and haunting to start. From there it builds to some Joan Jett-esque rock ‘n roll. In the last minute the song really climaxes with more aggressive guitar and reverb effects on the vocals. In this way it becomes more affecting. It’s well worth the listen as the pay off is great.