29 June 2009

Summer Songs!

So we were looking for the perfect playlist to soundtrack our Summer this weekend, but we were too busy taking in the sun, basking in its sunny warmth and lazing around on the lawns of South Jersey to actually, you know, sit at a computer and compile one. Luckily our friend Thom (you know, the guy who records Mountain Goats shows and recommends stuff to you) was up to the task. And we think he did a mighty fine job. The track list is as follows:

1. Elvis Costello - The Other Side of Summer
2. Belle and Sebastian - Another Sunny Day
3. The Fiery Furnaces - Here Comes the Summer
4. Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer
5. Kurt Vile - Trumpets in Summer
6. Jane's Addiction - Summertime Rolls
7. Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is the Move
8. St. Vincent and the National - Sleep All Summer
9. Bob Dylan - Summer Days
10. The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer
11. Yo La Tengo - The Summer
12. Pavement - Summer Babe
13. Rilo Kiley - August
14. Hüsker Dü - Celebrated Summer
15. Coconut Records - Summer Day
16. Superchunk - June Showers
17. The Decemberists - July, July!
18. The Velvet Underground - Who Loves the Sun
19. The Who - Summertime Blues
20. Ramones - Rockaway Beach
21. Beat Happening - Indian Summer

If you're playing the "one of these things is not like the other game" you've probably spotted the oddity: Dirty Projectors "Stillness is the Move". But Thom really digs that song, so we're letting it slide ;) Listen to the WHOLE MIX below:

And download one track while you're out it:
Sleep All Summer - The National & St. Vincent

28 June 2009

RIP Billy Mays

Ok so this is not related to music, but it related to anyone who's ever watched an infomercial in the US. TV pitchman extraordinare Billy Mays has tragically died at 50. The man who loudly and proudly hawked OrangeGlo, OxiClean, Mighty Putty and Kaboom! is gone leaving a gapping hole in the hearts and televisions of Americans everywhere. Dude coulda sold me anything. Here's hoping he's partying with MJ and selling his wares in that great infomercial in the sky.

27 June 2009

Not looking forward to country and western though.

I once had a discussion with someone, and I honestly can't remember if it was in real life or on the internet somewhere, but any way this guy was arguing that you couldn't call yourself a real David Bowie fan unless you liked everything the guy had done. Even the weird industrial-esque Berlin albums. At the time I disagreed strongly, but I've been reconsidering my position of late. I think it's not that you have to like everything by an artist to be a real fan, but rather you have to have given everything a real chance. I consider myself a "real" John Lennon fan, hell I even have a tattoo of the guy, but I know that some (a lot, even) of his solo stuff is a little less than awesome.

I've been applying this opinion to music in general. See, I've always discounted entire genres because I didn't like them. Hip hop and jazz being the main ones here. And that's fine, there's no law that says one has to like every style of music, but he thing is I'd never really tried to like them. And how can I call myself a lover of music when there are whole genres out there I'd never even tried?

So, I turned my attention to hip hop first. I started out with Aesop Rock, because he did that one track with JD of the Mountain Goats. Wasn't really my thing. I could appriciate what the guy was doing and the sheer skill it took to do it, but it didn't work for me. I like clear, structured and literate lyrics, and it seemed that so much of hip hop is more concerned with the sound of the words as opposed to the words themselves. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's just not my thing). I tried Buried, an artist who gets a lot of exposure over at emusic (bah, emusic. I'm still bitter) but while the actual music of his songs was pleasing, again the lyrics left me wanting.

I was just about to give up. To say, well, I tried, and now I can say without guilt that I do not like hip hop. And then. Tucked away in a dusty corner of some obscure Live Journal music community, I found this:

Why? - Alopecia

Holy shit.

This is everything I wanted from hip hop, that I didn't even know I wanted. The music is interestingly arranged. The hip hoppy beat is there, but it weaves in and out and around pianos and strngs and hell is that a glockenspiel I hear? Some of the songs are gritty like Buriel, but then some of them rival Sufjan Stevens for sheer prettiness.

But if you know me at all you know there's really only one thing needed to win me over; the lyrics. Does this album deliver? Yes, holy fuck yes, yes, once again yes, it most definitely does! Not since I heard Going to Georgia for the first time (and dear god Jess, do you realise it's been almost four years since you hooked me up with that song) and heard John Darnielle sing "the most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it's you, and that your standing in the doorway" has my mind been so immediately taken with a singer's words. And they are whole, complete words. Making up whole complete sentences. And not one ounce of rhythm or cadence is lost.

Religion and death seem to be to be main themes here, although it will take a few more listens on my part before I'll be ready to discuss that with any real confidence. Jonathon "yoni" Wolf skips easily from darker stuf, like the line "In Berlin I saw two men fuck in the dark corner of a basketball court / Just a slight jangle of pocket change pulsing" from 'The Hollows' to more precious indie one liners, like in 'FatalistPalmistry' where he sings, "I sleep on my back because it's good for the spine / and coffin rehearsal." But perhaps my favourite line (at the moment) comes from 'These Few Presidents;' "yours is the funeral I'd fly to from anywhere." I mean, come on people. Have you ever seen indie hipster love summed so well as that?

Having been so rewarded for my forays into hip hop I'm actually looking forward to what I'm going discover when I turn my sights on Jazz, or ambient, or techno. (And you know you guys are going to be hearing all about it).

Song of the Sad Assasin
"i'll suck the marrow out / and rape your hollow bones yoni"

These Few Presidents
"i thought, there is no paved street / worthy of your perfect scandanavian feet"

A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under
"and look at the sidewalk in front of me / and my tennis shoes go in and out of the frame"

26 June 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

I can't exactly say why I'm so, so saddened about the death of Michael Jackson. But believe me I am. I have no specific memories attached to any to his music, yet those songs, man those songs - they were any poptimist's utopian dream. Also "I Want You Back" might just be the best song to ice skate to ever.

But really think of this man's ubiquity. Dude sold eleventy bazillion copies of his albums, and deservedly so. And no is talking about how it is nearly impossible for such a person to exist today for reasons both cultural, technological etc. Pop culture is more fragmented and niche-specific then ever before. The internet, a gazillion cable channels and the mainstream acceptance/co-optation of subcultures (think mall-goths, punks, hipsters) makes it beyond easy for us to pick and choose what we want to consume when we want to consume it. There are very few universal pop cultural experiences anymore. How many songs, movies, tv shows are watched/heard by everyone? And how many of those things are actually imbued with talent, charisma and all around awesomeness? That's right - NONE.

Writer Chuck Klosterman theorized that one of the only current pop cultural phenomenon that transcends individual preference is Harry Potter. Because whether you've read them or not, EVERYONE and their grandma knows who Harry Potter is. The closest thing we have to MJ today are 700 page books about teenage wizards. This is genuinely bizarre.

We'll miss you MJ, so will the world.

Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
(Did you realize this song is over 6 minutes of awesomeness distilled to a hypnotic beat? 'Cause it is!)

24 June 2009

Dear Lord, Let's hope this is the new Flaming Lips cover art

The image appeared on the F-lips MySpace page, though there's no confirmation as of yet as to whether or not it will grace the cover ofEmbryonic. For the record, I'd let Wayne baptize any of my future children into his church of fearless freakish awesomeness.

Can't Get You Out of My Head - The Flaming Lips (Kylie Minogue cover)

23 June 2009

Great opening line: "There is NO way I'm looking for a boyfriend"

God bless Matador! The esteemed label is currently streaming the ENTIRETY of Stuart Murdoch's latest musical project God Help the Girl. The Belle & Sebastian frontman has been writing and recording a separate set of songs under the new moniker that tell a story of their very own. Like the title suggests they're basically a bunch of songs detailing the travails of girl having a mental breakdown.

So wait, how is this different than a typical B&S album again? Basically it's not except for the fact that most of the lead vocals are sung by an array of female artists. There are even revamped versions of "Act of the Apostle" and "Funny Little Frog". But irregardless, we are totally digging the self-titled track, which is basically as poppy as pop gets. But with the usual tinges of Murdoch's trademark wit and melancholy of course. Listen to the WHOLE ALBUM here.

God Help The Girl - God Help the Girl

21 June 2009

Simply Mahvelous Darlin'

Those Darlins are a trio of Southern gals who combine a lot of things I love: girl group melodies, twangy instrumentation, rockabilly sass and a dash of lo-fi punk spirit. Think an alt-country version of the Vivian Girls as fronted by June Carter Cash. They sing about booze, snaggle-toothed mamas, eating the whole damn chicken and more booze. If it wasn't for their brash grit (these girls don't fool around, dontcha know) I swear you'd think there debut self-titled album was recorded fifty years ago. But hey, it comes out this Tuesday (on vinyl and via iTunes, and the CD itself will be out 7/7) Y'all should check it out.

Red Light Love - Those Darlins

19 June 2009

Fangio, Juan Fangio!

One of the non-John Darnielle-related highlights of Zoop was most definitely Peter Peter Hughes solo set. While minus his signature etro vest, the Mountain Goats bassist looked as dapper as ever in a snazzy blazer, scarf and flip-flop ensemble. But best of all was the music. He premiered an entirely new set of songs, and not just any set of songs, a set of songs with an impossibly awesome concept album behind them.

Here's the premise: Argentinian race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio, who to this day is considered on of the greatest racers of all time drives through the Andes Mountains in a souped-up 80s Saab on a mission to assassinate Chilean dictator Pinochet. I mean really, an album about a race car driver, secret agent assassin - it really doesn't get more awesome then that. The music itself is mainly 80s inspired beats intertwined with PPH's rocking guitar. And believe you me, it rocked pretty hard.

While we haven't got an official release date on when Fangio will see the light of day (Peter claims the album is about 85% of the way done) we have this video to hold you over in the meantime.

Here's a track off Peter Peter Hughes first album The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Peter Peter Hughes, which is equally awesome. Like the tag line says, "It makes you want to get divorced all over again!". Download the WHOLE album for FREE here. Man that PPH is one generous dude.

No Secrets - Peter Peter Hughes

16 June 2009

We took the longest shower ever yesterday.

Our Zoop II review is coming, we promise.
But while we're still in the process of decompressing check out our reviews of The Decemberists at Radio City Music Hall and Band of Horses at Carnegie Hall(!) (see above photo). We get all pheklempt seeing our favorite indie bands play such historic venue. My how they've grown up!

The Wanting Comes in Waves/ Repaid - The Decemberists
The Funeral - Band of Horses

13 June 2009

Off to Zoop!

Yup we're going camping with Mountain Goats! (both the animals AND the band) at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. We'll be sure to blog all lurid details as soon as we get back on Monday. Until then, enjoy this version of "Attention All Pickpockets" from the first Zoop back in 2007.

Attention All Pickpockets - the Mountain Goats

12 June 2009

Illinois gone graphic!

Wow, just wow. This person Jax de Leon took Sufjan Stevens' Illinois and visually graphed every single musical aspect of it. Everything from lyrical content to note frequency to instrumentation. According to Jax, "This project is an experiment in taking an audio recording of music that is beautiful and personally meaningful to many listeners, deconstructing it from different vantage points, rearranging it, and building it up again into visual interpretations"

It's a worthy endeavor indeed. If we could do math and graphic design we probably would have attempted it ourselves. But since we can't we'll marvel at Jax's work. Check it out here.

Come On Feel the Illinoise! - Sufjan Stevens

09 June 2009

Art Brut @ The Mercury Lounge, NYC, 6/05/09

I'm thinking bushy eyebrows must be a universal sign of the wit of their possessor. Because like Groucho Marx, Eddie Argos has some killer one-liners, even if they soundtracked by killer punk riffs.
I'll keep my words brief here, but the best anecdote of the night came when Argos gleefully announced he got to tour DC Comics. He was so excited about the visit that he immediately phoned his mum afterwards. "Did you get the meet Spiderman?" she asked. D'OH. Eddie then said he might have to kill her. But not really. Mum reads reviews like this one on the internet you know!

DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes - Art Brut

07 June 2009

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard @ The Mercury Lounge, NYC, 6/05/09

A lot of heart goes a long, long way. That's essentially the conclusion you come to after seeing Jeffrey Lewis perform. His music -just a guy on a guitar with a bassist and drummer- is by no means revolutionary and yet you come away thinking you just witnessed something really special. And that's probably because you just did. There is something utterly charming about the fluid cadence of his lyrics. The words, and believe me there are a lot of them, just somersault out of his mouth with rhythmic agility, pseudo stream-of-consciousness style. Also you gotta love his stickered-out guitar.

His lo-fi folk-punk aesthetic is also visually represented with his awesome artwork. Certain song-stories are sung along as he turns the pages of his sketchbooks, abundant with comic book-like drawings. At Friday night's show (as the opening act for Art Brut) we even got an illustrated education on the history of communism in North Korea, the fifth part of an series on the the entire global history of communism. (Side note: Cartoon Kim Jong Il is so adorable!)

There was also a song about a monster who was missing a hand. Way awesome!

You should really buy his latest album 'Em Are I. I had a middle school math teacher who referred to improper fractions as Dolly Parton's, because they were top-heavy (see what he did there?). Keeping with the same lame metaphor, 'Em Are I is also a bit of a Dolly Parton album, as it's also front-loaded. The first half is absolutely killer. The second half, while no means bad, is just lesser in comparison. Enjoy my fave two tracks below, the lilting acoustic "Roll Bus Roll" and the surf-punk flavored "Broken Broken Broken Heart" which even has a bit of a 60s girl-group shuffle.

Roll Bus Roll - Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard
Broken Broken Broken Heart- Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard

Next post up: the main act itself Art Brut, photos and setlist pending.

06 June 2009

R.I.P. Jeff Hanson 1978-2009

Sad, sad news via Kill Rock Stars. The record label is reporting the death of artist Jeff Hanson, which is both shocking and untimely. At only 31 he died at home "the victim of a terrible accident".

VK's own Megan reviewed his latest album Madam Owl last August. Here's what she said back then:

Jeff Hanson’s latest album is soft and melodic, but filled with sharp contrast. Which, I guess, it’s a contrast in itself. Twisting, lilting violin refrains sliced by sharp, harsh string sounds. An Eastern European atmosphere, of caravans traveling through dense woods, shattered by januty banjos. And his voice. Soft and high and sweet like a girl’s, but with an unbending vein of bravado-filled masculinity running through its core.

Listening to ‘Madam Owl’ you can never relax. It’s ‘Bon Iver-ish’ vibe might try and lull you, but that sense of conflict is too strong. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s like those early photographs, of the stiff backed people in stiff clothes with stiff faces. They’re vaguely unsettling, but damn if they don’t have something that modern snapshots lack.

Enjoy some hauntingly beautiful songs by Jeff here:

Night - Jeff Hanson
Hiding Behind the Moon - Jeff Hanson

05 June 2009

RAWR Monsters!

I'm about to head out the door to catch some bang-banging rock n roll courtesy Art Brut AND Jeffrey Lewis (expect lots of photos later). But before I do I'll leave you with MGMT's wacky video for "Kids". I'm not the biggest fan of the band but I am a big fan of monsters chasing babies. And HEY! a Joanna Newsom cameo.

03 June 2009

I could read these all day.

NME just compiled a list of the 50 most memorable Morrissey quotes. And like anything Moz-related it abounds with wit, brazen self-awareness, outrageous hyperbole and downright sexiness (well at least in this girl's eyes). My only gripe: why only 50?? This man has man has made a career pissing on the press and everyone else in his wake. Every word that flows from mouth is tailor fit to make heads turn, eyes roll and be posted on blogs before there were blogs.

On that note we'll leave you with a quote and song:

“I do maintain that if your hair is wrong, your entire life is wrong.”

Words to live by.

Hairdresser on Fire - Morrissey

02 June 2009

You'll be needing that sooner or later

I know so, so little about Micachu and the Shapes. But after hearing "Calculator" I really want to know more. Here's what I do know: they are British. They are perky (but not annoyingly so). And they make scuzzy, angular pop. Really, this song defies you NOT to bop along.

Calculator - Micachu and the Shapes