Sunday, August 27, 2006

technical messy

I've recently been enamored with (now)five-piece Dutch band We vs. Death. Comprised completely of instrumentals, their sound is startlingly immediate, both meditative and cathartic. It's difficult not to be drawn in by the majestic sprawl in their driving rhythm, swelling brass, and pulsing post-rock anthems. Their melodies lilt, sway, and escalate into beautiful aural climaxes; build swaying edifices reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky.
We vs. Death - Wave Goodbye
We vs. Death - Pictures From Stellenbosch
We vs. Death - And How to Translate It

Next up is the eccentric 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, an Oakland-based band featuring Rob Fisk and Kelly Goode(ex-Deerhoof). Their sound is characterised by starkly organic compositions, desultory percussion, and jaunty vocals.
7 Year Rabbit Cycle - Pirate
7 Year Rabbit Cycle - Wren
7 Year Rabbit Cycle - Puppies

I saw these fellas in Los Angeles, it was quite the spectacle. Captain Ahab ejaculate the vulgar inner dialogue of women in various stages of life over sleazy house beats. They're a pink samurai sword up the ass,
but you know you like it.
Captain Ahab - Ride
Captain Ahab - Party Baby
Captain Ahab - Girls Gone Wild

Saturday, August 26, 2006

mic check, one two

It's common sense that first impressions are important - our initial experiences shape our future handlings. This is something I've been thinking quite a bit about lately, particularly in relation to music - nearly everyone's taste is constantly evolving and growing, but where did that base, that foundation come from? It's a question that's difficult to answer. I do know that what I live for - musically, at least - is that sort of epiphany you have every once in a while when you're digging and discovering. It might be something as simple as finding a great riff or hook. It might be something as momentous as realizing there's a whole new genre of music out there that you've never listened to before. One of the biggest ones for me, however, was the first show I ever saw live. The band was Luna.

Luna is a love-child of the Velvet Underground; it's obvious that frontman Dean Wareham and company are enamored of the slowly propulsive guitar drones, looping bass riffs, and straightforward drums that the VU made so perfectly. I meant that "love-child" part literally, though; where Lou Reed was the paragon of NY hipster cool, Wareham instead chooses whimsy and an affected sleepy innocence.

Luna - Lovedust

This song, more than any other, sums up Luna for me. It's perfect for those times when the air seems to be filled with a sort of drugged elation. The flourishes are what make the song - the lazy, soaring guitars; the bells and castanets at 3:12.
This is a song for watching the sunset go down with someone you love. It is also, depending on how you look at it, a song for a 13-year old boy who is discovering music all over again.

Hi. Welcome to Kind of Like Floating. My name is Sam; I love pop music.

Who says we don't patronize local bands?

Whistler July 07 014

Portland's low-fi post-pop-punk-thing The Thermals released their new album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine on Sub Pop last Tuesday. Due to the loss of drummer Jordan Hudson, remaining band mates Kathy Foster and Hutch Harris split up their multiple duties for this record. Hopefully this news won't impact the group's live performace. And if you've seen them live, you understand what I mean.

Their new material is more political and activist in nature (something the album's name reflects). The Thermals have always been straight-edge social commentators through their lyrics. But from 2003's More Parts Per Million to this latest effort, there's been a noted shift in focus from cynical, introverted speculation about their profession and industry, to cynical, extroverted speculation about society, politics, and now the ideological and religious automatons domineering the state. In terms of how this shift in focus impacts the aesthetics of their music....what impact? Aside from the noticable jump in sound quality between 'Million and their second LP Fuckin A, there seems to be very little else going on with production and sound. Whether there should be is certainly moot. That characteristic abruptness, fuzziness, and energy is all still here. And it's a characteristic that always has made the group's shows favorable occassions to exchange sweat and hair with your shirtless neighbor. I'll be the first to assert that impulsive headbanging and jumping has therapeutic merits.

From The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006):
The Thermals -- "A Pillar of Salt"
The Thermals -- "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing"

From Fuckin A (2004):
The Thermals -- "How We Know"
The Thermals -- "Stare Like Yours"

From More Parts Per Million (2003):
The Thermals -- "No Culture Icons"

While we're on the note of PacNW groups, two others sprung to mind in writing this. Whalebones is a local getup who opened for last Monday's Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes show at the Showbox. They delivered a solid performance that blended perfectly with the sounds of the other groups that night (and my god, Wolf Parade absolutely springs into pure, colorful life onstage), not to mention the animal theme in their names. The Fleet Foxes are the other local group who, like the former, have slipped well below the popular radar (and also have an animal-themed name), though they certainly deserve a look and a cappuccino for their efforts.

Whalebones -- "Ladyfingers"
Whalebones -- "Another Jungle"
Whalebones -- "Blood Bank"

The Fleet Foxes -- "Anyone Who's Anyone"
The Fleet Foxes -- "Icicle Tusk"
The Fleet Foxes -- "In the Hot Hot Rays"

The Thermals' Site and Resources
Whalebones on MySpace
The Fleet Foxes on MySpace

Image is an original by the poster

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Vells' Bells

Music is art. And, as art, is comprised largely in the copying, modification, juxtaposition, reiteration, and recombination of other peoples' works and ideas. So what's worse than stealing? I've heard tell that failing to let oneself be influenced by a good idea qualifies. Fine and well. But one quickly tires of hearing uninspired Radiohead and 'Young ripoffs all the same. I suppose as much as hearing endless Beatles ripoffs a generation ago while the then-contemporary namesakes continued to set their own standards.

But where's the room for a younger generation in this equation? If, as myself, one didn't grow up with The Beatles, The Who, and The Grateful Dead, is it justifiable to revel in imitations (whether by chance or deliberation) decades after the original* flame ignited? Such a thought crossed my mind sifting through the odd review and description of The Vells.

The Vells are a Pacific Northwest band currently signed to Seattle-based Imputor records, their latest album being "Return to Echo Falls." Apparently they sound a bit like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, hence the "low marks for originality, then, but a fair grade for general pleasantness" from one reviewer. While I can see the worth in drawing associations, it's hard for me to see it in an accusatory pointing of fingers. Especially since I didn't grow up with The Beatles. I'll burn in my own way. Hopefully that doesn't prevent me from examining the group in a meaningful way. Let's start with: Having members involved in the likes of Red Stars Theory, Modest Mouse, and Stagger Lee, the Vells are embodied in a quartet of active PacNW musicians.

Experienced indeed. The Vells seem extremely refined in their first LP effort, not completely unlike the resolve found on The Arcade Fire's debut "Funeral." Immediatly from the get-go of "In the Hours of Flowers," the grooves are set in a rustic trend. One that is developed and explored, the fuzzy bass and lead melding naturally with the crisper drums and vocals by means of a smoothe keyboard primer and occassional horn section. It's synergy with virbrancy that screams the bright green-with-gold etchwork of the CD's packaging (an eco-friendly, yet attractive cardboard holder. Yes, it's criteria for praise).

In contrast, it's suprising to hear the greater clarity and lift of moodiness from that of 'Falls on their 2002 self-titled EP on Lucky Horse Industries, as exemplified in the last Vells track provided (Beatles associations be damned!). The group has a new album out in September this year, and hopefully with its release there will follow more press coverage and tour dates.

The Vells -- "Larger Than Life"
The Vells -- "Mansour III"
The Vells -- "Light on the Right"

On a vaguely-related note, here are a few tracks by the aforementioned project with Vells' drummer Jeremiah Green (also of Modest Mouse). The group formed in late 1994, and is worth your ear, if only by merit of association and innovation of sound (as I percieve it...hah!):

Red Stars Theory -- "Combinations and Complications"
Red Stars Theory -- "Our Nearest Neighbors"

*Whether 'original' is the correct term is certainly debatable. The Beatles didn't manifest spontaneously in a vaccuum, to the best of my knowledge.

Image of The Vells' self-titled EP album art, by Kevin Willis


The Vells' Official Site
Red Stars Theory band site

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Banners and flags

Can it be? Personal webspace? Yes. And after the caching and template edit issues, it's gotten its shakey self off the ground for the time being. This is where we present the reader with information, news, It being a ramshakle venture and all, let's give it a shot.

A shakey selection, quavering strings and horns and tones, the running theme seeming "homemade." Sean from Said the Gramophone afforded reference to two: Antarctica Takes It! and The Red River. The final group, The Briney Depths, rounds off in rustic whistling and strumming. Yes, their brushes quaver and shake. But the color of their dreams and affairs stands out on the canvas with striking resolve.

The Briney Depths -- "Calling Out"
Antarctica Takes It! -- "Circuits"
Antarctica Takes It! -- "I'm No Lover"
The Red River -- "The Real Danger"
The Briney Depths -- "No Culture No Past"
The Red River -- "The Mighty Tide"



Antarctica Takes It on MySpace and around the blogosphere.
Image courtesy of The Briney Depths on MySpace.

edit 8-23: The Red River tracks will now be online for a limited time. Highly recommended!