Archive for April, 2010
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White Rabbits – Percussion Gun 2009
Telegraph Canyon – Into the Woods 2009
Holly Miranda – No One Just Is 2010
Discovery – Slang Tang 2009
Enjoy these gems. Gossip Girl gave us a great musical line-up this past episode. I had never heard of Telegraph Canyon and they are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. The annoying thing is, a completely different song called “Lost Faith” was played on the show and I cannot find it anywhere. Artists probably send Josh Schwartz tons of new work that doesn’t yet exist for the rest of us to enjoy. So frustrating! Dear, Josh Schwartz, if you are going to wet our appetite with new stuff please provide some way for us to access it. By the time the songs do come out, I will probably have forgotten about them and they will forever be lost in the infinite blogosphere of music.
“Into the Woods” is off of Telegraph Canyon’s 2009 album The Tide and The Current. They are currently in Eindhoven, Netherlands playing at the Effenaar Queensday Festival.
This is appropriate after my last post. I talked up “Sun Hands” and suggested you check out local natives playing live. Here is a new video of them on Fuel TV playing “Wide Eyes”. I also added the video from P4k of them at SXSW because it’s one of those things that could get circulated around youtube for being ridiculous.
“The High Road” – Broken Bells
As much as I rip on Broken Bells, I have to admit that this track is a diamond in the rough. It’s the only track that captures both Danger Mouse’s production talent as well as whatever substance he and Mercer could muster up. But what places it in the “best of 2010 so far” is its intro – that lost sounding synth can’t be found anywhere but here.
“And the World Laughs With You” – Flying Lotus Featuring Thom Yorke
Having streamed flying lotus’s album off my space, I’ve decided this is the strongest track on his album and one of the strongest tracks of 2010 so far. George and I were biased getting into this track because of Thom, naturally. We were thinking, “oh Thom must just be so excited to be part of this stuff. This is like the music he’s been trying to create solo since the Eraser. It probably makes him feel good.” The great thing about this song is its entire buildup to Thom’s voice. The beginning is this canon of melodies each piling on top of each other. Like a more kickass version of Canon in D. Then finally, Thoms voice comes in at a serious tonal change. FlyLo used it as both instrumentation and vocals. It’s hauntingly beautiful.
“Super Fast Jellyfish” – Gorillaz
I can go on and on about how this song is perfection. It’s relevant, original, carefully crafted, catchy and it starts with the words “Yo, pretty packages of frosted delights, enjoy the gritty crunch that tastes just like chicken.” I’ve had a recent appreciation for the use of vocal sounds as instrumentation. What this song does is use the line “Don’t Waste Time!” as an instrumental quirk by making it sound cartoonish and placing it in a specific beat or moment. It’s similar to how Oos and Ahhs work in music. But this is done with vocals that contain lyrics, and through the use of caricature voices and pitch modulation. Finally, as mentioned in George’s review, this piece is made to sound like an old television advertisement for fast food (how appropriate these days!).
“Excuses” – Morning Benders
For this song, I will exonerate the Morning Benders of their plagiarism. It’s an incredible opener to an album, and, it’s probably one of the least Grizzly Bear sounding songs on Big Echo. There is a lot of movement created with percussion (including piano) that supports the slow vocal melody. And the vocal harmony in the middle is adorable – bringing a little bop into indie music. I always love the addition of new influences.
“Truth” – Chiddy Bang
Passion Pit + Chiddy Bang enough said?
“Sun Hands” – Local Natives
Not gonna lie, I did not understand the hype circulating this song back in December when it was appearing all over the blogosphere. Once Gorilla Manor came out though, hearing “Sun Hands” in context of the rest of the Fleet Fox resembling songs made it stand out. Not because it sounds different from Fleet Foxes, but because it’s Fleet Foxes at their never attained best. This is what makes Local Natives so amazing – they surpassed the Fleet Foxes with “Sun Hands” – that’s tough stuff. And, if you’ve never seen them live, go to p4k and watch immediately. Here’s a particularly mind blowing performance – is that one guy playing like 3 instruments at once and the washboard?!
“Madder Red” – Yeasayer
Yeasayer is all about the feeling that accompanies their music. It’s joyous, easy, smooth and liquid. Madder Red is my favorite off their new album even more so than “O.N.E.” (although ONE is the best break up song ever). I think it’s the bursts of guitar over the drum bass interplay. I know I said it’s about the feeling, so forget the specifics and just go with it.
I started preparing for my presentation in War and Peace around 1030 am today. I had the next couple hours to pour over Seifrid’s article, decipher what the guy was talking about, find examples in the 1200 pages of text to support his point, come up with my own opinion and then pose questions (I hope my prof does not find this blog!). I did it. My point is that this whole process got me thinking about what makes music good.
First, this is what makes Tolstoy good. The Seifrid article talks about Tolstoy’s obsession with the visual experience and his frustration of having to use words to depict it. Tolstoy felt like there was serious “realness” lost once something visual had to be translated into text. Thus, in order to try to bypass that problem Tolstoy wrote from the sensory experience of a particular character. The problem is that even while character Pierre is seeing light, Tolstoy has to tell you that Pierre is seeing light. So Siegel pointed out that there is this whole laying effect going on of a visual experience passing through the characters perspective and then through Tolstoy’s and then finally to the reader. By the time the reader “sees” what the character does it’s already passed through several lenses. This got Tolstoy all worked up and he didn’t know what to do about it.
The thing is, this is also what made the dude amazing. It made him describe something like “death” in the most ridiculous way. So any normal author would say, the guy got shot and fell over. Tolstoy describes what the guy sees off in the distance, let’s say a horse, and all of the sudden the horse becomes blurry, and the guy notices that something on his right side feels sticky and all of the sudden he sees the sky. Then the guy wonders what happened to the horse…. Tolstoy never actually says he got shot and fell over, you as the reader have to figure that one out.
So the reason this makes him so good is because it takes something we all know, like the smell of the air, and makes you think about it. How often do you walk outside and think about the clothes touching your skin, and the ground pressing up at your feet – not often. Tolstoy would make you notice all that stuff.
Anyway, this made me think about what makes good music good… to be continued…
I swear they didn’t need to play a note, I was already in awe looking down at the set up on stage – the combination of 6-7 guitars, mandolin, and banjo… I have a soft spot for banjo. Then the 6 man band, Railroad Earth began to play. The fiddler dueled with the flutist in between the verses. The upright bassist rocked out in the back until his moment for a solo came. Then guitarist put down his guitar, picked up the mandolin and began to duel with the flutist turned banjoist. If they didn’t sound so together my head would have been spinning. They managed to play as one beautiful melody, beat and energy. The energy seemed to be created through pauses, solos, and anticipation. At one moment, the fiddler had just finished the last few notes of his solo, the entire band seemed to take one breath, the drummer struck up a beat, the lead vocalist struck a chord and they bounced right back into the song. This moment of anticipation built up so much energy the entire audience erupted in cheer. Here is a video below of Railroad Earth playing at the 8×10 on April 22.
I love how they describe themselves, “And like The Band, the members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what ‘kind’ of music they play – they just play it.” Composing without discrimination of genres is one of the reasons I love indie music. Railroad Earth is an interesting example because if you had to be discrete you would most definitely label them as bluegrass. However, the great thing about Railroad Earth is that they make bluegrass extremely accessible. They haven’t gone as far as Deer Tick (strictly indie), they didn’t dumb their music down and they didn’t go mainstream, they just gave it emotion.
Back in 2008 Radiohead DJed during a webcast. One of the most notable moments was when Thom Yorke broke down into his usual spastic dancing to his mix of M.I.A. Someone on YouTube described it as a, ‘psycho bunny dance.’ He just seems to lose control of his limbs but I’m telling you, it’s one more reason I’m enamored of the guy. You can view below.
Check out new song Born Free and its video on her labels website, N.E.E.T. The song is great, the video is horrifying and graphic and the site ‘is flashy and screams in your face’ (George).
click on player to the right to listen
1. Absofacto “Synthesocietal” 2010
2. Toro Y Moi Remix “Alligator” 2010
3. Snowden “Anemone Arms” 2010
4. Kid A “Trampled Youth” 2009
5. Portugal. The Man “All My People” 2010
6. Best Coast “Moody” 2009
7. Radiohead “Palo Alto” 1998 - you know it’s good when it still sounds novel 12 years later
Oh West Coast Best Coast – I’m not sure if I’ll ever seriously embrace your granola ways. I’m not gonna lie, I love sipping on kambucha and smelling soy candles, but it’s too much to offer me flaxseed pancakes and locally grown organic eggs for breakfast. I kid you not, this stuff is on our hotel breakfast menu.
George and I are excited, however, to sneak away from family obligations in granola-town to check out the San Fran Indie scene. I’m hoping that a few Coachella leftovers wandered up to the North. Having done some research, I found we’re lucky to be there on the same days that Yo La Tengo is playing… but I’m thinking we’ll try some smaller venues such as Amnesia. Who knows, this is my first time doing San Fran Indie.
are returning to Baltimore for a show tomorrow at The Hexagon. I need to get my tendency to be completely star struck under control; I always get really excited reporting about Weekends (since I’ve known the guy from Hopkins!) Adam has already agreed to an interview – can’t wait to hear how Hopkins boy turned Indie. In other news, today, they released their song off the Friends and of Friends compilation. Check it out above…We can thank our own Adam Lempel for the album artwork. Also, I’m digging this song. The glo-fi vocals on top of the acoustic plucks of the guitar produce a really fresh combination. Wish I were around to hear them this weekend.
It’s like MGMT had to appease us with “Kids” in order for us to take Congratulations seriously. After all, Oracular Spectacular had us loving and respecting MGMT to the max. They knew we’d at least give Congratulations a listen… and they were hoping that some of us would see it for the masterpiece that it is. Unfortunately, most of us haven’t developed enough sophistication to fully appreciate Congratulations.
I learned my senior year of high school that some good music requires extreme sophistication. At the time, I was dating this guy who was the lead singer of a classic rock band, an accomplished guitarist, and a world renowned fiddler. He was giving me a ride home from school and put Bob Dylan on for the ride. I cringed and said, “Uh, I really don’t like him.” He looked at me, shocked, and probably wondering how he could continue hanging out with me and responded, “Well, he’s just too sophisticated for you.”
As a classical pianist, I was extremely offended at the time, but he was absolutely right. And as my sophistication grew so did my appreciation for Dylan.
MGMT’s Congratulations requires that same sophistication because they are giving us Dylan. MGMT is giving us Prokofiev’s Second Concerto. This stuff requires an acquired taste, sophistication and appreciation. There is no room for instant gratification.
Congratulations is dense. It gives your ear too much to grasp the first, second or third time through. It’s the polar opposite of Broken Bells. Danger Mouse gives you what you want to hear without any substance. MGMT gives you substance – oh, they give you too much to chew! Take the first song, “It’s Working”. It begins with a little riff that turns into a verse characterized by quick chord changes, spontaneous drumming, and then a pause… all within the first minute. Then a B section within the second minute, another pause… Something resembling a chorus is introduced in the third minute but then you get a complete tempo change as soon as the chorus ends! MGMT, you’re giving us a lot to digest. And “It’s Working” is a snack compared to “Siberian Breaks.”
But after listening to Congratulations many times, getting a chance to grasp some themes and melodies, dare I say, “it’s incredible.” Dare I say that the multi-part, “Siberian Breaks” is reminiscent of “Paranoid Android”, sometimes compared to “A Day in the Life”. Am I going too far? I don’t think so.
Some would fault MGMT for the density – but I’m not going to. There is a difference between over the top and dense. Over the top is like Rachmaninoff’s First Concerto – you listen and just wonder if all of it’s really necessary. Dense is like Prokofiev’s Second Concerto, you need every part of it, and on every listen you hear more and more of it and it becomes better and better. That’s MGMT’s Congratulations.
I think MGMT was dying to showcase their full potential – I think they suffered through the people friendly Oracular Spectacular so that they could bring us the more obscure Congratulations. They really poured everything they could into this album. They did not hold back – and why should they? They already proved to us that they can write hit singles like “Electric Feel”. Now they’re moving forward – they’re just hoping we can stay on their level. Hey, it took two reviews but I’m there.
Aphera is now posting at least once a day and is not going to keep providing facebook updates so keep up!
We also started a channel on youtube check it: http://www.youtube.com/user/lwoskob
Will, of Bostontuned is at Coachella right now. On Saturday we got an update from him. Just that day he saw Portugal. the Man, Beach House, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The XX, Hot Chip, and MGMT. Man, are we jealous! Check out his Coachella recommendations on the right
Not to brag, but Aphera was hanging out with Geologist and Deakin from Animal Collective at the ODDSAC screening on Saturday.
We have photos coming soon from that event compliments of Brandon Medrano. Thanks so much!
Correction: We got the spelling of Tek Subport all wrong and corrected our previous post. Since George is too busy fact checking for his other internship, Aphera suffers. Also, apparently Tek Subport plays every Friday night at the Midtown Yacht Club in Baltimore. Can’t wait to go dancing!
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