Music


(via Coilhouse)

What follows is the story of the power technology can have on one little boy’s life.

The Technology:

Que Glowing Lights and Angelic Chorus

Cue Glowing Lights and Angelic Chorus

Imagine, if you will, a young, courageous boy, riding the T, reading a free daily (The Boston Phoenix ) while riding the T. While reading the music listings for the week to come, he sees– can it be? Yes! — that Mother Mother will be playing at TT the Bear’s Place the following night.

Boy:

"Gasp."

"Gasp."

“But wait!” Thinks the gallant young lad, “I wasn’t able to get into the last two concerts I attempted to attend, as I failed to procure tickets ahead of time!” Our hero had, of course, not brought his computer with him, and so began thinking what he could do to insure that a tragic three-peat did not occer.

And then he remembered he had his iPod Touch in his bag.

In one great leap, the lad catapulted himself to a place of assuredly free wi-fi internets: The Boston Public Library.

Majesty Incarnate.

Majesty Incarnate.

And then– well, let’s just say that the fair lad will be seeing Mother Mother at TT the Bear’s Place tomorrow night.

Boy:

The Man Pictured is a Metaphor for the iPod Touch.

The Man Pictured is a Metaphor for the iPod Touch.

That iPod was my iPod. That boy was me.

Technology– is there anything it can’t do?

(And by “Technology” I of course mean “Apple”)

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Now, to be quite honest, I have liked Made in Bangladesh (MiB) for quite a while. It is worth noting that two of the members of this band are people I have known since I was about 6, and thus I have seen them play live more times then probably any other group of people on earth — these guys are rocks of the Albuquerque scene. That being said, as far as political ska-core/experimental punk goes, there aren’t a lot of bands I enjoy more.

Sir Sean "The Duke" P. Ward of MiB

Sir Sean "The Duke" P. Ward of MiB

The reason why I’m taking this particular moment to shill these guys is that a week or so ago, they released (finally) there first LP– and it just so happens to be pretty damn fabulous. It’s always a gamble to listen to the recording of a band you’re so familiar with live, and sometimes fairly disappointing, but “Earth is an Airplane” definitely delivers.

MiB doesn’t slip into the easy traps of bands of it’s type, resigning themselves to endless brassy break downs interspersed with power chords and screeching (though, of course, there is enough of that to go around). No, they are willing to do things just a little bit differently, like when they throw a little waltz into “VGB”, or the funky, synthy grooves of “Rocksteady Tango” and “Rise Up”.

So yes, not my usually indie rock/folk/electro-pop stuff, but good just the same. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back into the punk rock phase of your life (don’t be ashamed, don’t even try to be).

Check out their website for more of the ol’ info.

Kyle Johnson is a rock star.

Kyle Johnson is a rock star.

Welcome to the inaugural New Music Tuesday here on 21db! NMT is usually about reviewing new music releases, but that’s not what I’m particularly interested in. I consume a lot of music, and I intend to talk about what’s new to me. Any music that I have procured since the last NMT is up for consideration. Old, new, indie, underground, mainstream, local, free, it’s all good. And, really, I hope to introduce y’all to rad new tunes!

Without further ado, the first 21dB New Music Tuesday: Waxploitation‘s Causes 2 benefit album and St. Vincent‘s Marry Me.

Causes 2

Causes 2

I only know about Causes 2 because I love The Decemberists. Being an unabashed fanboy, I added myself to their mailing list not too long ago. In addition to the sweetness of ordering The Hazards of Love early, I enjoy the pleasant ramblings that enter my internet-box once a month or so. The most recent missive included a promo for Causes 2, as it contains a live rendition of After The Bomb. I checked out the set list, and decided that it was totally worth my 8.95 to check it out (LCD Soundsystem, Matthew Dear and RJD2 all help). And, oh yah, the money goes toward Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam to aid in humanitarian efforts in Darfur. What’s not to like?

After giving it a couple of listens, it’s totally worth the money, but it’s not the greatest album I’ve ever heard. It’s about 1/3 totally rad, 1/3 good-but-unmemorable, and 1/3 really? like, for real? For the most electronica-influenced remixes and exclusive tracks, with some more world beat and indie-rockish stuff to spice it up.

My picks/new bands to check out: in addition to the aforementioned Decemberists (After the Bomb), Matthew Dear (When She Don’t Need Me) and RJD2 (Wherever), I will keeping an eye out for Black Moth Super Rainbow (Happy Melted City reminds me of the Samurai Champloo opening music) and Neon Neon (how can any dance track called I Lust U not rule?). I also like the My Morning Jacket Highly Suspicious Remix.

I recommend it if you’re into weird electronica-ish stuff AND/OR you want to feel good about yourself for making a largely symbolic effort to help Darfur. I will probably end up putting about half the album on my regular rotation, methinks.

St. Vincent - Marry Me

St. Vincent - Marry Me

Kyle: Can I borrow your car?

Me: Sure.

Kyle: Cool. I feel like I should give you a present to signify my gratitude.

Me: Yes, you should.

Next thing I know, there’s St. Vincent on my passenger seat. Well, not Annie Clark herself (St. Vincents street name), but a copy of Marry Me, which I believe is her debut album. The best way I can describe her sound is like a weird mashup of Jesca Hoop and My Brightest Diamond, but with not as polished of production. Don’t get me wrong, I really like her voice, and the album is very solid; I’m just a huge audio production nerd, and the recording quality of the CD I have is just not very high. That aside, I’ve given it a full listen-through about four times in less than two weeks, which is a good sign.

This album encompasses a wide variety of variations on a theme. That theme is, of course, “I got some pipes and really good music-writing abilities, don’t fuck with me”. My favorite track by far is Your Lips Are Red. Which sounds nothing like the rest of the album, but it gets me. Check it out:

1

1. Take Me Out (Modern-Makes-My-Ass-Want-to-Move-Classic).

2. Auf Achse (I love Scots that speak Deutsch).

3. You know what? Just all of their self titled.

4. Ulysses.

5. Everything about Alex Kapranos.

6.The last two minutes of Lucid Dreams (Uhm, trip-hop break down?).

7. This:

8. The all around “Fuck You” to everyone who thinks they know what kind of band Franz is that constitutes all of Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.

9. The fact that all of these descriptions constitute their genre on wikipedia: Dance-punk, Indie Rock, Post-punk Revival, Art Rock and New Wave.

10. They’re just so darn Scottish.

If I may:

Yes, I know this video isn’t particularly new, nor is the single.

But goddamn, it’s just so good. One of those that I watched a few weeks ago (or whenever it came out), and for whatever reason I just keep coming back to it.

I want I want I want.

So, I am instituting a new tradition here at 21dB: Ten Things. Every week, I will compile a list (in no particular order) of ten things. Those ten things will all revolve around a common theme, that will change based on… well, whatever I feel like. This week: ten electronic songs on my “Recently Added” playlist.

house_number10_lge

1. Pop Song – Starfucker

2. You Hear Colors – CFCF

3. So Bored (Wavves Cover) – Anamanaguchi

4. Let’s Get Ravey (Skream’s Remix) – Odawas

5. Please Don’t Touch (The Golden Filter Dub Mix) – Polly Scattergood

6. Dude You Feel Electrical – Shout Out Out Out Out

7. 6669 (I Don’t Know if You Know) – Neon Indian

8. Weak 4 Me – Nite Jewel

9. Blissout – Lemonade

10. Mr. No (Phaseone Remix) – Banjo or Freakout

[What follows is an article I wrote for Melisma Music Magazine, which will be puplished sometime in the Spring. So, consider this a fabulous sneak peak. A gift– from me to you. But do feel free to regift.]

The Vivian Girls formed in New Jersey in 2007, but by the end of the next year, they had found a place amongst the loudest voices of cacophonous Brooklyn. In quick succession, they released a single, an acclaimed self titled record (on two separate labels), a music video, another single, a cover of a beach boys song, two more singles—a truly remarkable level of productivity for a nascent, cheeky, lo-fi rock trio. The incredible part is that they did it all pretty much on their own, using whatever resources they had at hand, and a little help from whoever might offer it.
It has become commonplace to say that the Internet has revolutionized the music industry. What began with aural privateers like Kazaa and Napster has in subsequent years led to bands putting their music up online for free download, selling records directly off their websites or MySpaces, marketing their own shows and performances, and so on. Indeed, the industry has come a long way from the time not so distant when major record companies like Virgin and EMI controlled the means of production and distribution of popular music.

What mechanism, then, has risen in their place? While there are many bands who avoid the more traditional methods of gaining popularity and attempt to do so simply through exposing people to their music online, a challenge still presents itself in how exactly one truly talented band manages to stand out from the legions of high school rockers and wanna-be pop stars that saturate sites like MySpace. Where before talent scouts from Capital might discover an up and coming band performing at a tiny venue in front of a crowd of their friends, now bloggers are the ones going to shows, combing through local scenes, all just to find the next big thing to write about.

Though bloggers don’t have access to the resources most record company executives do, there is little doubt that (at least in the Indie music world) they have become the preeminent tastemakers in the industry. Without blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear and Brooklyn Vegan, or the team at Pitchfork, it’s unlikely that the Vivian Girls would be much more then a funky little garage (or maybe loft) band in Red Hook.

Of course it’s impossible for an outside observer to really know, but one can easily imagine the progression of events: Chris (of Gorilla vs. Bear) saw the Vivian Girls play a show, or maybe had someone tell him about them—he was intrigued and looked up their website, found their single, and posted it on his blog. Once the album came out, he reviewed it, writing “after listening to this record back-to-back-to-back over the last hour and change, I’m completely in love with Vivian Girls’ self-titled new LP, a collection of mostly sub-two minute, noisy/sweet pop songs that’s about as infectious as anything I’ve heard all year.” Considering such a auspicious sentiment, it’s hardly surprising that from that point on every bit of news from the Vivian Girls ended up on Gorilla vs. Bear.

But the blogosphere can’t take full credit for the success of this (nor any other) band. The Vivian Girls would not have become such a phenomenon without an assiduous dedication to their music, and, more importantly, without having that music be down right good enough to garner attention in the first place. Indeed, when the Vivian Girl released the second print of their album, Amy Granzin of Pitchfork wondered in her glowing review if the Vivian Girls would manage to be among the small group of “new bands that, when the hype settles, are more than inconsequential collections of postures and exhausted second-hand styles”. They were, and the only explanation as to why they never flamed out is that they continued to produce material and play shows. They kept themselves in the spotlight.

In the last few months, though the Vivian Girls have stepped a bit too the side, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that their sound has saturated the Internet. Gorilla vs. Bear, in particular, has offered up a near endless stream of coverage of similar, lo-fi bands: Eternal Summers, Wavves, the Mayfair Set, The Dum Dum Girls, and so on—and many other influential voices in the blogosphere have followed suit. Though this style isn’t an entirely innovative or revolutionary one, through it’s revival (it seems) a distinctive sound has already emerged for the New Year.

Of course, the Vivian Girls don’t have a monopoly on this particular method of getting the word out about themselves. Animal Collective, a group long lauded in Indie music circles, managed to dominate the blogosphere from the end of November of 2008 until weeks after the release of their LP Mettiweather Post Pavillion, through a succession of events that began with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste (as well as many others) linking to a leaked song off the album on his blog and ending with a series of new songs, remixes and live performances being diffused at the end of January. For a fair segment of that block of time, My Old Kentucky Blog, Brooklyn Vegan, and others scarcely went a day without posting some new tidbit of news about Animal Collective.

And Panda Bear, Geologists and the rest maintained that level of coverage just like the Vivian girls did—by offering up as much new material as possible as quickly as possible. What these and other bands understand is this: as long as your putting out something the blogs like, they will pay attention to you until you stop.

The most salient effect of all this on the music industry, then, is that the cycle bands used to engage in, where they would release a new record, tour in support of it, go to the studio to work on new material, release it, and so on—has completely changed. Bands like Animal Collective know that if you want to be covered by Brooklyn Vegan, you need to play as many shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan as possible; if you want to be picked up on My Old Kentucky Blog or Gorilla vs. Bear you need to release songs on line for free download; if you want to show up on Pitchfork you need to release albums, videos, or just do things that make news—whatever that ends up being.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that there isn’t a place for bands to become popular in this ever-accelerating environment. But most of those bands are the ones who have major labels behind them (or at least the promise of such a relationship in the future), or are more interested in making great music then people knowing who they are. But if you want your music to remain current, to not be subsumed into the constantly flowing sea of new music, to be a darling of the blogs, to be a band worth talking about, if you want to reach a broad, in some cases even National, audience—if you truly want to be heard, you need to be willing to manically create, to constantly and unflinchingly write and record.
And to do that, you need to do the most important thing of all: love your art the way the Vivian Girls do—even if they are a tad sardonic about it.

I love Metric.

And not just the system, either. The band. So yes, a magical puddle of excitement did indeed apear under my chair when I heard about their new album Fantasies was coming out on the 14th of April. But beyond that, I just came across a pretty kickin’ interview with Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw done by Pitchfork. The whole thing is worth a read, but here’s a little excerpt I found particularly compelling:

JS: There’s such a weird line between doing something really cool and doing something unbelievably cheesy. This is a thing that I respect but don’t full-on love about the indie aesthetic: Most of the time, the only way to stay cool is to do nothing on stage.

EH: Just wear the shirt that you slept in last night.

JS: Exactly. It’s very safe– a rejection of trying things that might make you come across differently. We wanna try things, so there’s gonna be a moment here or there where it’s like, “I kinda missed that one.” I’d rather go down that way. Lots of amazing artists have put out records that are unlistenable. There are some bad Neil Young records. There are 20 unlistenable Stones records. Van Morrison only made one great album– and he’s a fuckin’ legend!

Pitchfork: This reverts back to the Killers show– I’m not sure if they’re great at managing that line between cheesy and awesome.

JS: Yeah, like “Is he human…”

EH: “…or is he just a dancer?”

JS: I think that’s one one of the worst things I’ve ever heard.

EH: That lyric is really bad. But it’s a very well-crafted song. I’m glad we’re talking about this because I think about it a lot, too. The idea of spectacle versus the authenticity of indie rock. It’s like, spectacle is shallow, and pretending no one is looking at you is authentic. I agree with that sometimes, but I find the people and shows I really admire don’t strictly adhere to the idea of the invisible self.

I think Franz Ferdinand is an example of a band that knows what they’re doing– they understand the function of music in people’s lives. There are many functions, but when it comes to a concert it’s about performance. If the same people at a show were standing on a subway together, they’d be uncomfortable with their shoulders hunched. But because music is playing and this feeling is in the room, you can have this incredible communion. That usually happens at shows where the performers are putting themselves beyond themselves.

Not only are they each saying some fairly germaine and interesting things about indie music, but also bashing the mutated homunculus the Killers have turned into, as well as plugging the best Brit-Pop of the decade. Good stuff.

As to Fantasies itself, from all accounts it’s gonna be an extreamly rad release. From what I’ve heard thus far, closer in tone to Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? then to Grow Up and Blow Away which makes sense, though is a tad disapointing for the purists in the audience.

But, even so, this band does little if not evolve, so judge for yourself. Check out this video of “Stadium Rock”, a song (I can only assume) from the new album.

Also, if you get a chance, check out “Help I’m Alive”.
And be excited.

In this dispatch: Chiptunes, Goth/Darkwave/Industrial, Local Scenster Rock.

CHIPTUNES

So I’m a fan of weird music. There’s a whole scene of people making music from old Game Boys, Ataries, etc. Chiptunes/8bit/videohack, whatever you wanna call it, I love it. If you don’t know 8bitpeoples, you should. They have a couple new releases that I’m listening to RIGHT NOW.

gWem/Counter Reset Live From Hell

gWem/Counter Reset Live From Hell

80s Metal, funnelled through an Atari, a drum set and a Marshall Amp – oh yes. Recorded live in London, I’m digging the over-the-top lyrical stylings (which are STRAIGHT FROM HELL) with the bleep bleeps. Get it for free here.

M-.-n, Disco Dust

M-.-n, Disco Dust

More “traditional” (if thats an appropriate word), this is the right blend of dance and bleep for my sensabilities. Some chiptunes are a little too far off in videogame land for me to really enjoy for more than about a minute; some, such as this album, involve sexy dance beats and mix in the rawk. So, check this out if that’s up your ally. Download for free here.

If you’re interested in exploring more, I heartily recommend pretty much anything by Mesu Kasumai and Nullsleep.

GOTHDARKWAVEINDUSTRIAL

Ego Likeness (pic by Kyle Cassidy)

Ego Likeness (pic by Kyle Cassidy)

I became aware of Ego Likeness through Kyle Cassidy’s LJ, and they are an awesome goth/industrial/darkwave/trip-hop kind of outfit with fantastic vocal structure. And I was really excited a couple of weeks ago, because on their website they had a directory of free songs to download, so I snagged about 20 songs from their various albums and have been listening to them non-stop. No worries, I plan to invest in some disc realsoonnow, but it appears that the domain has tragicially expired! Well, they are still easy to check out on MySpace, and I’ll keep checking to see if the website comes back up soon. If not, maybe I’ll shoot them an email and see if they mind me hosting those free songs, cuz they really are worth hearing. Who knows.

LOCAL SCENESTER ROCK

Cure For Static Live!

Cure For Static Live!

My buddy Brian is in this band called Cure For Static. I have lots of friends in bands, but I usually don’t pimp them unless (a) I think they’re good and (b) they are being smart about promoting themselves – and these guys are both, so thats cool! You can check them out on MySpace, of course, but they are also offering the digital version of their 5-song EP Higher Ground on CDBaby for $1.00. I invested that measly buck, and it’s totally worth it. It’s a tight recording, with a kind of mid-90s alternative vibe infused with more recent indie/pop hooks and sensabilities. Also, it’s the kind of music to which you can dance with girls while listening. So, check out the 1$ EP on CDBaby, if you wanna support a solid local act.

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