Saturday, September 30, 2006

Eux Autres.They're French?














Boy and Girl bands have become something of a trend nowadays (what with Viva Voce, White Stripes, Mates of State and...well...i guess i don't really have any more examples, but whatever). The newest old band out of that group is Eux Autres. I say newest old because while they've only recently become popular on a more than local level (due to their finally getting it bumped up from self releasedom and now being on Grenadine Records) their cd is actually more than 2 years old. so. This should be a lesson to all you indie bands out there.

heh.













Anyway, the real reason that i called you all here today to hear about this wonderful wonderful band is due to the fact that they will be playing at the (newly relocated) Vera Project on Saturday Nov. 18. The headlining band is Math and Physics Club, which makes the show noteworthy already, and the fact that Eux Autres is opening is just the icing on the cake!

Now for what all you soulless bastards came for; the music (or does the fact that you came for music mean that you do have a soul? ...sigh...i don't even know anymore):

Eux Autres- Patrick Nil (my personal favorite)

Eux Autres-Ecoutez Bien

Eux Autres-Salut Les Copains

Eux Autres-Other Girls

Eux Autres-The Things They Carried

Math and Physics Club-Weekends Away

Math and Physics Club-Movie Ending Romance

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Interconnected



This is a selection of past items and references from across the mp3 blogosphere. I'll start off with this selection of old old Neutral Milk Hotel cassette recordings. They emerged shortly after I had begun to peruse the web for mp3 blogs, and promptly affirmed my conviction that they are a unique and unequaled source in spreading and networking music that people love.

Regarding this set, I believe Shannon was a neighbor and friend of Jeff Magnum, the lead singer and mind behind Neutral Milk Hotel. Living in a room near to his in the same apartment building, Shannon would hear the band rehearsing and composing material. As a parting gift, Magnum gave Shannon some unpolished tapes with songs on them, and half a year ago decided to release them on the web for all to hear. They're rustic, yes, but they're oh so sweet in that way that only NMH can achieve.

Neutral Milk Hotel - "Dead Dog (unconfirmed title)"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Now I'm Going Down (unconfirmed title)"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Gardenhead"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Circle of Friends"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Say Goodnight (unconfirmed title)"

Next up is a link from (yet another) local group: Harvey Danger. These guys, especially lead singer Sean Nelson, have been at it for years and years by now. Nelson in particular is an exceptionally active and important guy in Seattle city culture. He hosts a local music show on KEXP called Audioasis and regularly writes for local indie weekly "The Stranger," all in addition to making the odd show with his band at The Croc. The group's latest album, "Little By Little," was released free in its entirety online, in an interesting experiment with album marketing. It's still up (and has been since July), and as I've enjoyed it immensely, I hope to make it available to those who haven't yet experienced it.

Harvey Danger - Little By Little

Finally, a number by The Desks. A granular and rough outfit themselves, their album is also available entirely free online. Much to love in their intrumental distortions and blood-curdling vocals.

The Desks - Calendars

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Image is courtesy of Sylvia Ji. Today has been outstanding for finding artists of the visual kind...my new favorites include Ytje (who did the album art for "Little By Little," and MWM's works.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Reclusive fall psychedelia

Since my recent discovery of King Crimson from the depths of my father's dusty record collection, I've been more and more intrigued with that genre-spanning psychedellic sound. It permeates 'post-rock' and electronica, seeps into nu jazz outfits and wraps up independent musicians in a blanket of distortion and experimentation. And the likes of Pink Floyd and King Crimson indicate that it's been around awhile, too. An attempt of sorts at weaving modern and early-modern psychedellic sounds. A crimson set for a crimson season.

Pink Floyd - 'One of These Days'
Silversun Pickups - 'Waste It On'
Pink Floyd - 'Welcome to the Machine'
Incubus - 'Pistola'
Silversun Pickups - '...All the Go Inbetweens'
Incubus - 'Under My Umbrella'
King Crimson - '21st Century Schitzoid Man'


Monday, September 25, 2006

Exploring an artist: Devin Townsend

In 1993 Steve Vai released a CD called Sex & Religion. Albiet incredibly cheesy and terrible, it was a young Devin Townsends first foray into the realm of rockin' music. Even if it was with Steve Vai. From this experience, Townsend acquired a distaste for the music industry and for major record labels. However, his first musical "project," if you will, was done through Century Media. In 1995, the first taste we had of his work came in a little package called Strapping Young Lad. A combination of thrash, industrial, and progressive metal, it featured a very dense synth laden romp through extreme music, coupled with a keen sense of irony. Titled "Heavy as a Very Heavy Thing," it introduced the bitter, sarcastic, yelling side of, as he would be affectionately called by fans from this point on, "Hevy Devy."

2 Years Later, Devy would metaphorically drop his own personal atomic bomb on music. Entitled "City," the second SYL album was a multi-layered romp through a desolate urban landscape. It is quite possibly one of the heaviest albums made in the last 10 years. Even though on the surface the album is just loud, angry vocals and banging guitars, underneath it all is a very fine attention to detail. It is not just random noise. Devin created the closest thing to calculated madness that has ever been released.

SYL:
Strapping Young Lad - SYL
Strapping Young Lad - Happy Camper
City:
Strapping Young Lad - Oh My Fucking God
Strapping Young Lad - Detox

The best part about Townsend is his unique style that constantly evolves, but never seems unnatural. Not satisfied with the music industry and tired of being angry, he set out to create a new sound. While SYL's City was negative and angry, his next release, entitled Biomech, went in a completely different direction. So Devy constructed a new band. Ocean Machine: Biomech is the complete opposite of everything SYL represented. It was an atmospheric boat ride through happier lands with a brighter outlook on life.

From late 1997 to 2001, Devin released 4 solo albums. Along with Biomech was Infinity, Physicist, and Terria. While each was very different, they all had the sound of "Hevy Devy" on them. Devin assigned "Colours" to each album. While SYL would be considered red, Biomech is blue, Infinity is white, and Terria is Green. Physicist is more of a failed attempt to work with a member of metallica, which may or may not be viewed as a good thing.

Devin Townsend - Life
Devin Townsend - Christeen
Devin Townsend - Bad Devil
Devin Townsend - Namaste
Devin Townsend - Canada

2003 was a year that changed how Devin worked. Almost simultanesouly, Devy released a new self-titled SYL album, and an album entitled Accelerated Evolution. Accelerated Evolution was the first time an album was released under the moniker "The Devin Townsend Band." The two bands toured independantly for each of their releases, and while most SYL fans were not so fond of the self-titled release, Accelerated Evolution recieved widespread acclaim. In 2005, SYL made another release that many fans considered "sub-par." (whatever fans. I like them.)

Strapping Young Lad - Force Fed
The Devin Townsend Band - Storm
Strapping Young Lad - Love?


In early 2006, The Devin Townsend Band released Synchestra. The album is meant to be listened to as a whole, and follows a "story." Later, in July, Strapping Young Lad released their latest, and perhaps final, album, entitled The New Black. They toured with ozzfest(ew) to support it. Devy, according to various quotes, is sick of SYL.

The Devin Townsend Band - Vampira (Video)

The Devin Townsend Band - Gaia
Strapping Young Lad - You Suck
Strapping Young Lad - Wrong Side (Video)

Additional Links:
HevyDevy Records
SYL Myspace
DTB Myspace

Friday, September 22, 2006

Stand Up Children, It's Time For GBV!












'Nuff said?

Not nearly. Starting in 1984 and breaking up in 2004, Guided By Voices has been an influential and integral part of the independant music scene for generations now, shitting out many many records, generally with over 20 songs on them. The two main members of the band that always remained constant were Tobin Sprout and Robert Pollard. While they tend to be inconsistent, they have 5 CD's that are amazing the whole way through. These are; Bee Thousands, Alien Lanes, Hold on Hope EP, Propellor, and Under the Bushes Under the Stars. Ironically that's less than half of all of their music.
Guided By Voices-Alien Lanes-Blimps Go 90

Guided By Voices-Alien Lanes-My Valuable Hunting Knife

Guided By Voices-Hold On Hope EP-Fly Into Ashes

Guided By Voices-Hold On Hope EP-Tropical Robots

Guided By Voices-Hold On Hope EP-A Crick Uphill

Guided By Voices-Hold On Hope EP-Hold On Hope

Guided By Voices-Propellor-On The Tundra

Guided By Voices-Under The Bushes Under The Stars-The Official Ironmen Rally Song


The band had a small breakup in the late '90's, and Robert Pollard at that point started a Solo carreer. I've posted an example of his solo work below.
Robert Pollard-From A Compound Eye-Dancing Girls and Dancing Men

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Pressure Difference



"I used to be 25 years old, living in Gothenburg. I used to wish I was living on a tropical island with my grandmother. I used to play in other bands. I used to care about who I really was. I used to have a girlfriend. I used to take long walks. I used to think I was special. I used to bake. I used to be an agnostic. I used to groom myself.

None of that really matters anymore.

Now I am Agent Simple and I dance to my own tunes."

Agent Simple - Brother

Below is Dan's (from Said the Gramophone) original description of the following tune. It's a tune that's been captivating me lately, and the warmth in the words is a good reflection of the song.

"You play the shaker on this one. And never, never stop. This is the kind of song that the mushrooms in the forest sway in unison to; singing harmony while the squirrels play flutes so small you can't hear them. It will make everything around you sing. And it will make you want to go home. Even if you're sitting at home right now, it will make you want to go to your favourite place in your home, one you always loved but have forgotten about. It'll make you realise why you have to leave every day, and why you might eventually have to leave for a long time, but the squirrels, the mushrooms, they'll still be there if you want to come/go back. I try not to swear on this thing, but holy fuck this song is good."

Agent Simple - Make a Right At Jordfallsmotet

Readymade are an odyssey of chimes and organ and piano. Their dark whimsy fits well with the Agent Simple selections.

Readymade FC - "Rehearsed Disaster"
Readymade FC - "The Fake But No Finish"
Readymade FC - "Simple Appareil"

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Agent Simple's homepage and MySpace

Monday, September 18, 2006

post-?

When I see someone use the genre label 'post rock' in a sentence, I have to ask myself "post what?" Are we already beyond rock? Did I miss the memo and get stuck back in that era-ancien, Arctic Monkeys time period? The title itself makes me think of a great ideological leap in musicality. Though it's almost pretentious in nature, it causes me to stop for while. And consider. What's become of the ole' rock/pop unigenre? Not too long ago it was restricted to a few bands fortunate enough to make it onto labels, and through successive decades of marketing and fashion, it's beginning to shatter into fragments, empowering those smaller local labels.

Maybe it'll all come to a sudden stop one day. Musicians will put down their instruments and become lawyers and real estate salesmen. But what would fill the gaping artistic hole? Would we revert back to Elvis and Zepplin? Maybe it'd be more like the mass sobering of western society in the aftermath of World War II. Classical music and post rock will be all that is left in the wake of change...Like music's own existentialist revolution.

It'll be that throaty French woman's voice, trailing from the dusty radio in Saving Private Ryan, that saves the art. Maybe then we'd be post-something. Or maybe we'd just have outdated ourselves.



Mono - 16.12
The Evpatoria Report - Cosmic Call
Chopin - Nocturne in Eb major (Op 55 No 2 performed by Donald Betts)
Explosions in the Sky - Day Six
Chopin - Etude in Ab major (Op 25 No 1 performed by Donald Betts)
The Evpatoria Report - CCS Logbook
Foxhole - Forgiving Monarch
Joy Wants Eternity - From Embrace to Embrace
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Squeak Squeak Squeak















The Bicycles have come! Straight out of Toronto, this band can rock! They also demonstrate an ability to write quite beautiful songs that make you want to dance all the same. With a sound that is reminiscent of I Was Born A Unicorn by The Unicorns, they are one of the...happiest...bands that i've ever heard.

The new album The Good The Bad and The Cuddly aspires to measure up to old bubblegum pop like The Kinks and Beach Boys and succeeds admirably- not to mention their CD has 17 songs, which is pretty cool if i may say so myself.

Take a gander:

The Bicycles-Longjohns and Toques

The Bicycles-B-B-Bicycles

The Bicycles-I Know We Have To Be Friends

The Bicycles- Gotta Get Out

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

New Yo La Tengo album out. For its title, see above.



From the new album:

Yo La Tengo - Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind
Yo La Tengo - Beanbag Chair

From elsewhere:

Yo La Tengo - Little Eyes
Yo La Tengo - Don't Have to Be So Sad
Yo La Tengo - The Love Life of the Octopus
Yo La Tengo - From Motel 6 [live]

edit:

Almost forgot about this gem...

Yo La Tengo - Speeding Motorcycle

Image by "Mr. Asami of San-X"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Winter is a state of mind

Over the past few years, Winter has become my favorite season. I look forward to those dark weekend evenings, when you can hear distant sounds trailing from the performance hall at the local church. Its pews cleared and its doors open, the place turns into a gathering spot for teens of all ages, and its echoey acoustics bear the noises of bands and audience members through all corners of the intersection in front of my house. Sadly, I've never heard the sounds of this band echoing off the telephone poles, resounding between houses, and consolidating in the pools of light under those street lamps that turn on a bit earlier than the others. But they've played that venue (and yes, they're local). And I can relish only in the prospect of coupling Boat's quirky, meaningful songs with the busy lives of their audience; teens who still fight with their parents, still love their lovers, and still appreciate the finer points of killing their eardrums. God I'm going to miss this place.



These are from Boat's live performance at KEXP, a local nonprofit station that supports great alternative music:

Boat - Clogged Castle Quickly
Boat - Greased Hairclip
Boat - Holding All the Globes
Boat - Laterus Last Cans

The photo is a work of The Knitters, I believe. Apparently they're sort of a gang that, as opposed to tagging, leaves street art in the form of knitted works that cover telephone poles, mailboxes, anything. Also the signs in the background make me suspect that this photo is of a tag in Fremont (very funky Seattle district, in case people visit).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Funk, Folk, and Polka.

We all need to get funky sometimes. And sometimes, we all need to get funky. However, settling for formulaic white boy faux-funk is no way to go. Funk without soul is barely funk at all. This is why Tower of Power is so necessary. They've been funking around since the late 60's, and are still active today. But I regret to say I only have a few samples from the 90's. I'd recommend checking out their earlier work, since it is said to be their best.

Tower of Power - Soul With a Capital "S"
Tower of Power - Souled Out
Tower of Power - Mama Lied

When the folk music comes to mind, it usually isn't paired with post-rock and metal. However, Portland based quartet Agalloch has combined all three. Besides the bizarre genre fusion, Agalloch deserves recognition for the power their music commands; it can be beautiful, it can be unsettling and harsh, and it can be heavy. By sweeping through explosive riffs, acoustic medleys, heavy drums, dark rasping vocals, and piano passages with a soft synth string acommpaniment, the band creates a sense of atmosphere that few could hope to achieve. Agalloch stands out as a unique musical experience.

Agalloch - Limbs
Agalloch's Myspace
Agalloch's Home Page

While T.O.P. is funky, and Agalloch is unique, Finntroll is a completely different beast. Another example if bizarre genre fusion, finntroll have combined the harsh vocals and grinding guitars common to black metal with a form of finnish polka. That being said, they also like to dress up like trolls in music videos and play fake acoustic looking instruments. There is a linked example below, but first a bit more foreplay. It may be difficult to justify taking something like this seriously, until you hear it. They polish it, coat it in a harsh, catchy, brilliantly technical performance, and make you want to jig-mosh. Yes. Jig-mosh. At times you will want to dance a jig, and at other times you may have this bizarre urge to smash someones face into pavement. The musical beast that is finntroll amuses, entertains, and makes one want to raise a glass.

Finntroll - Trollhammaren(music video)
Finntroll - Ursvamp
Finntroll's Myspace

P.S. Fight the system.

beat drooz

It feels so good to immerse yourself in the effervescent cloudburst that is Yesterday’s New Quintet. Madlib’s jazz hip-hop fusion side-project deploys the electric piano and clavichord fused with a small synthesizer to create a genre-muddling sound exclusive to YNQ.
Yesterday's New Quintet - Prelude
Yesterday's New Quintet - Julani
Yesterday's New Quintet - Uno Esta
Yesterday's New Quintet - Sun Godess


Coughs play out like some deranged carnival calliope or like heavily corrugated metal; Anya Davidson howls her spinto like a scorned prom queen backed by racking guitar riffs, ungainly percussion and a whining saxophone. Be that as it may, they’re not without appeal. Their brand of skronk has a massive head trauma charm that makes you feel warm on the inside. To be played at high volumes.
Coughs - Elephant
Coughs – Fright Makes Right
Coughs – Garter Snake
Coughs - Narwahl

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bumbershoot 2006

bumber1

This year at the Seattle Arts festival affectionately known as Bumbershoot, I noticed a lot of changes. It seems that this year the festival organizers have finally come to terms with the overwhelming crowds and evened out scheduling times. I found that I had more than enough time to make it between shows I really wanted to see, where last year I had to sacrifice several show opportunities for the sake of a place in line at one. Very cool. And the lineup seemed to be spread very nicely throughout the entire three days. At about $25 for my presale tickets, I might have paid twice that for the amazing time I had.

Flatstock was back again this year, too. For those not in the know, Flatstock is Bumbershoot's independent poster artist convention, where artists sell, display, and give away their art, posters, and random goodies. Most do promotional art for local shows. The styles span far and wide in terms of how artists deal in form and color, with many many amazing collages (via silkscreening) and multimedia juxtapositions. Danial Danger and Tara McPherson (on the side bar) are two such artists I met at the show last year, and hopefully I'll be integrating the works of some other amazing persons I met this time around.

Now, to the music. Wow. I wasn't expecting such a drastic improvement in acoustics, but jesus. Even at the outdoor stages, all the equipment was working, most (if not all) the instruments could be heard, and the crowds were actually MOVING. This made all the difference after spending five plus hours each day standing in lines, standing at shows, and standing around talking to friends. Saturday I saw, in this order: The Purrs; Rogue Wave; Deerhoof; and Cloud Cult. Sunday: The Village Green; Speaker Speaker; and Izabelle. I'll embellish on my faves.

The Purrs are a great local group with a mellow and surfy rock tone about them. Something you'd want playing in the background as you sip a pina colada and flirt with Money Penny at the coastal tiki bar.

The Purrs band site

I was very taken aback at the crowd who came to see Deerhoof. While the group isn't exactly low-profile at this point, I certainly didn't expect the overwhelming positive reactions to all the abrupt breaks and tempo changes, winded drum solos, heavy bass and timid sub-English vocalizations amidst the otherwise tight and upbeat melodies. And they pulled it off at the crappy dancehall venue, too. It was bloody insane, and I loved every second of it.

Deerhoof homepage

Cloud Cult had interpretive painters at their show. If you ever get the opportunity to see them live, go. It isn't really possible to articulate the joy I felt by witnessing an absolute masterpiece emerge from lines and forms on white canvas, each element and color a materialistic realization of the emotions in the music as they emerged and passed. The group is from Minnesota, and their heavy folk and acoustic inflections show it. But they are also human organisms, standing on a floating chunk of rock, on a spinning sphere in the middle of a gaping vaccum. And somehow the tenderness and emotion of the vocals and synth and Cello make me see that, too.

Cloud Cult - Living on the Outside of Your Skin
Cloud Cult - Car Crash
Cloud Cult - Breakfast With my Shadow
Cloud Cult - Fairy Tale
highly recommended: Cloud Cult - 6 Days to Madness

Izabelle is a spacy rock outfit. My friends asked me what they sounded like, and I sarcastically said 'Radiohead,' since "everybody sounds like Radiohead." But suprisingly, these guys resemble the rh fellows more than a little bit. Maybe if they had made an album after the Bends, but before the OK Computer paradigm shift, they'd have changed their name to Izabelle and masqueraded about in that alterego.

Izabelle site


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Other members who feel inclined to comment about their Bumbershoot experience need only e-mail me their bit. I'll be sure to edit it in with mine to keep them all in one spot. Also the tracks in this and subsequent posts should all be references to urls that the band has provided on official sites. To complain or discuss the issue with track uploads, please see the post below this one and respond there.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Relevance

In, rather briefly, debating the concept today, I find that upon critically assessing it, I am very disgruntled in regards to the nature of an mp3 blog. It has always seemed to me an effective promotional tool, at least in theory. A new audience of potential patrons becomes interested in a band's name where before there was no such knowledge of the band. While to my understanding the upload of a copywrited file without explicit permission by its owner is by nature illegal, I cannot help feeling justified when the act of uploading promotes the band by spreading by way of spreading their name. And for some reason, the proposed alternative of track 'sampling,' ie. via iTunes, seems inadequate and repulsive. I wouldn't be able to assess a band adequately via a clip of the first thirty seconds in their songs. Streaming might be a feasible alternative, as it is both inconveniencing enough and thorough enough to promote a band and their sound while encouraging listeners to purchase an album. But in that regard, downloading three tracks from a given artist seems practically as effective.

But is it worth the risk of injury to the band, by way of distributing their material for free? Is there serious risk of prosecution by band affiliates or record labels who feel they have been victimized by illegal distribution of their material? Is it enough merely to say one will be prompt in taking down a file that a label or group doesn't want up?

Should this project continue, I feel like these questions must be addressed. The direct reference to already-existing url's on official, legit band pages and MySpaces seems in direct compliance with the band's goals in providing those links in the first place. In the future, I believe it may be neccessary to use purely indirect url linking from official band sites and MySpaces.

All questions, comments, and concerns are very much encouraged. And may the God of pop culture have mercy on our souls.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Caring is sexy

This is a set of abrupt textures and anti-pop statements. And an experiment with Yousendit, as savefile.com has been extremely inconsistent.

Forward, Russia! - Thirteen
Deerhoof - Scream Team
Icy Demons - Icy Demons
Think About Life - Paul Cries
Paul Hogan - It (lowfi)

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For those interested, Sam should be offline until about mid-September or so while he's paying Seattle a visit. Incoming there will hopefully be some feedback on the Seattle arts festival: Bumbershoot, which is happening this weekend. Deerhoof, Cloud Cult, and The Purrs were among the great performances I got to see Saturday.

Friday, September 01, 2006

my house on fire

I snagged these gems from the Ethiopiques Vol. 8 compilation CD. The Ethiopiques series features Ethiopian and Eritrean singers and musicians from the 1960's-1970's; a solid collection of shimmy-inducing instrumentals and ethereal creole vocals.
Ethiopiques Vol.8 - Girma Bèyènè - Ené Nègn Bay Manèsh
Ethiopiques Vol.8 - Bahta Gèbrè-Heywèt - Tèssassètgn Eko
Ethiopiques Vol.8 - Samuel Bèlay - Qèrèsh Endèwaza

"One of LA's most daring new artists wears a buzzing halo. This young musical romantic weaves together a true 'love-sound' that falls between honeyed melody and avant-electronics. Daedelus chops and splices disparate acoustic sources into incredible works of staggering resonance. His production style is very unique; it has a precise impact that will make you wonder if you’re dreaming or dancing."
If were to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to only keep ten CDs with me, you could be damn sure a Daedelus album would make the cut. The weave and weft of his music make love to your ears and trigger sensations of floating.
Daedelus - At My Heels
Daedelus - Lights Out
Daedelus - Like Clockwork Springs