Tuesday, March 29, 2011
In preface: I have long loved Akron/Family. Was head-over-heels smitten after their Angels of Light split (still their watershed moment as far as I’m concerned). I’ve followed them on each album since their debut, albeit with a slightly lesser attention/expectation than I did when they first hit the scene, but not much less. However, and this despite Erin’s love for it, I have not given more than a couple listens to the first few songs of this most recent one record, S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, (not that I don’t have plans to).
In post-preface preface: I am, regrettably, and even while in the midst of my late twenty-somethings, becoming an apathetic, curmudgeonly doubter when it comes to live shows. I’m a wet blanket, pure and simple, holding every expectation that I’ll be let down, constantly wishing that instead of standing in a bar/garage, I was plushly seated in a concert hall, and even more than that, laying in bed at home.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
RIYL = Axolotl, Yellow Swans, Caboladies
I’m contractually obligated to review anything Sean McCann releases in the following way: Gushingly. In said reviews, it is outlined that I must reference McCann’s extensive back catalog. In referencing his previous work, it’s important I remark that, despite the usual pitfalls plaguing overly ambitious/productive artists, McCann’s work is consistently of the utmost quality. I’m then to explain why McCann’s most recent release may just be the best thing he has produced to date. This followed by some abstract explanation of the sound of his new work – said explanation containing how expertly Mr. McCann “manages” to blend cacophony and beauty. I’m contractually obligated to conclude said description with the listener’s brain short circuiting amidst the sheer amazingness of McCann’s latest album. Governments that be will require an immediate parenthetical. This containing a disclaimer that my claims have not been formally evaluated by their audio-scientific staff. I will contend with this but eventually submit. I’m a pushover in these types of situations. The review will conclude with a prophetic conjecture that nothing could possibly top this in the course of the remaining year; that this is the best of the best. This is one of those reviews.
Sean McCann - The Vanilla Maiden
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Belong has long been an FG favourite, from their crumbling, fringed, shoegazing debut – a cloudy guitar-blanket resembling the remnants of My Bloody Valentine smudged and erased down to their earthen core – and their various EP lengthed follow-ups (all notable, but most notable among them perhaps, in relation to this record at least, being Colorloss Record, a stab and 1960’s pop songcraft melted away in the manner that Belong so expertly melts things away). So now, what is it, 5, 6 years later? It is only now that this Louisiana duo has followed up officially with their second album, Common Era. And, surprisingly to all (to me at least), they have leapt quite a distance from their original footing on October Language. These are…songs. Like with lyrics, and drums. The smudged out, erased My Bloody Valentine vibe honed in on in the sound of their first record has been redrawn to more particularly follow that original MBV sound – an erasure and redraw. The result, spawning from a band whose foremost focus has always been sound and texture, is the memory of a song, even as it sits right there in front of you, plain as day: Verse, chorus, verse, ect. I applaud the boys on their willingness to branch out, to risk. I think it’s paid off ripely. And while I still favor much of their early work (Same Places (Slow Version) in particular), Common Era is more than welcome here, and has, as all good records should, increased in its impact and listenability with every spin.
belong 'perfect life' by kranky
Monday, March 21, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
RIYL = Stag Hare, Wyld Wyzyrdz, White Rainbow
Honestly, I am majorly heartsick over this whole Japan situation right now. Even in the wake of the variously devastating natural and manmade disasters insistent on pummeling against this tiny little planet of ours, this particular catastrophe has been stabbing at me relentlessly. None of this, of course, has any direct relationship with The Joy of Awakening, except that the album has been a safe haven for me of late. A space with which to unknot the tension of the situation overseas. I don’t feel it necessary to wonder about the band name. Band names, album names, they’re no big deal. The music, however, is important: Rife with loveliness, wide-eyes, ample space and healing, the vastness and beauty of what the Earth has to offer, The Joy of Awakening is a comfort necessary in times of desperate uncertainty. Music to uncoil to, to reset with, music that builds the strength of the human spirit, strength enough to do good in the world when good is so desperately needed.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
RIYL: rock 'n' roll music, The Hospitals, Carl Perkins, Suicide
Badlands is a really cool, conventional rock 'n' roll record. Except. Except it evokes something alien... summons a ghost and makes you stare at it... freaks you out a little bit... takes a polaroid of something you've seen a thousand times and shocks you with what develops there. So if what's being played is real oldfashioned rock 'n' roll, Dirty Beaches' treatment of the material does two things:
1. It instills in the old form a sense of the rawness, the dangerousness, the violence and darkness and scariness that it's almost impossible for a contemporary listener (or anyone who has come in contact with pop music over the course of the last forty or so years) to hear in the standard: the fact that an Elvis song was once a dangerous thing is something my twelve year-old sister laughs at. Everybody knows that Chuck Berry is nice and cute and is somehow maybe he had something to do with poodle skirts didn't he? Or is he the guy who runs that famous hamburger chain with the checkered floors?
Point is, the rock 'n' roll that Dirty Beaches is playing is more-or-less the original recipe. But his presentation -- the gurgling, clacking recording, guitar rumbling like a car engine, vocals like they're being received through a decapitated drive-in movie speaker -- gives to the old classic stuff the feelings that horrified suburban parents heard in it the first go'round: This is the music your great-grandmother shattered and burned in the streets, praying for your grandpa's salvation afterwards.
2. It gives the old music a sense of its own age -- like this is a relic recording, some tape some guy found that sat in a warehouse for fifty-seven years getting dripped on, chewed by rats, exposed to wind and sun and dust. It calls to attention the fact that, really, what we have in rock 'n' roll is some now-almost-ancient folklore, an antique form of music. And Badlands plays like an antique, awash in all the grainy nostalgia that comparison entails.
It's a trip down memory lane -- but memory lane is kind of a nightmare, and you never really understood it until now.
- Sam C
DIrty Beaches - Horses
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Just as I don’t claim to know thoroughly most things we post about here on FG, I don’t claim to know well the state of contemporary poetry. And somehow, even while equally naive about all forms art, the idea of adding critical language or literary appraisal to the blurb-economy of the literature world feels particularly daunting. It‘s caused the delay of this feature quite a long while. Still, I know what I like and what I would like to see more of; what would, essentially, have me snatching up poetry chapbooks as rapidly as I can download music through Mediafire. Nathan Hauke’s chapbook, In the Living Room, marvels at that level.
Monday, March 7, 2011
As long as Portlandia continues to reel in all those that still dream of a 90’s wonderland, Salt Lake City will continue to lose some of its most creative minds. Point in case: Seven Feathers Rainwater seems destined to follow that path (or is this rumor), though not before gracing the world with their masterstroke album, 15 Apple Magicians. I suppose location can be a heavy influencer on art, but with that argument at hand and the level of creativity seeping from the pores of this album, musicians everywhere may well consider moving (back) to Salt Lake City, ‘cause this record’s bonkers. Ok, ‘bonkers’ may be the wrong term, but ambitious, lush, beautiful and imaginative? Absolutely, yes. And, even more exciting, while swaths of chillwavers and hypnogogic popsters the world over are hanging on the coattails of acts like Animal Collective and Atlas Sound, wishing to, at the very least, produce a watered-down copy, 15 Apple Magicians is an album that seems unique to the talents and vision of Seven Feathers Rainwater. A real diamond-in-the-ruff type scenario. Check it:
Purple Flower Lookout by Seven Feathers Rainwater
Friday, March 4, 2011
I'm in love with this new music video that Michel Gondry made for The Living Sisters single "How Are You Doing." The filmography is stunning and the concept is genius. This is pretty much exactly how I feel about life right now.
Oh Land performed on Letterman this week. I wasn't impressed by Oh Land's performance so much as I was impressed with their choice of visual art to display during the performance. Eske Kath is an artist I've been meaning to post for some time now. So, without further ado...
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I went on a really long drive to see a friend this weekend and I tried out a few albums on the way. Out of all the listens, the new Akron/Family, S/T II: The Cosmic Birth And Journey of Shinju TNT was BY FAR my favorite, and it was up against some total heavy hitters. I had to put it on repeat, cause after I went through it once that was all I wanted to hear the rest of the day. This actually surprised me, because even though I enjoyed their last release, Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free, I felt like it was a step back for them, and with backward steps, more backwards steps usually come, but not in this case. The Cosmic Birth might be one small step for Akron/Family, but it is one giant step for musickind! Akron/Family took all their chewy folky pop goodness and wrapped it in a rich layer of happy rock and roll this time around. The Cosmic Birth is completely seeping with creativity and lush full melodies all the while still keeping their DIY sounding aesthetic. Many of the tracks encase various movements and feelings within very cohesive 3 minute pop songs that are sometimes so subtle and quiet and lovely and dizzying, and at other times totally rocking/headphone shattering. This time around they stuck to the harmonizing they know best: the yelly, clap your hands and shake your head kind of harmonizing. I'm a total sucker for that and their tribal/rhythmic drumming. OMG, I'm a sucker for it all. This album will undoubtedly be on my year end list. Mmmmmm, the guitars are sticky, the rumblings are hypnotic, the bass is heavy, it's so sexy. Watch this really lame video and give me comments of agreeance.
And don't forget that they will be playing Urban Lounge on March 28th. We made a poster for it that you can see here
This album came out last July, and I have never gotten around to reviewing it. Why, you might ask? Or you might even be positioned to believe that I brushed this album off because it sort of sucks or something. But in reality, I've just been too busy putting together photo albums on my computer of my favorite pics of Willow Smith's outfits, or maybe I was watching reruns of Sesame Street, or maybe it's because I didn't really want to post up a boobies picture on our site. I mean, I have nothing against boobs. I have them. I just like them better behind fabric, and with less brown nipples. Seriously, her nipples are the same color as her hair, and her lips? Also, she sort of looks like Vodemort's daughter. Creepy! Anyways enough about boobs, let's talk about the powerful force that is Fortress. An album easy to overlook or overlisten to on first hear. But let me tell you, my liking of this album has increased exponentially with every listen, which has gotten me to the point at which I currently reside, where Fortress honestly makes up at least 50-90% of all my music listening time. It's just that good. It's joyous, light and fluffy, Elephant 6 reminiscent, maybe like a Three Musketeers, but probably more like a watermelon. Totally in love.
Miniature Tigers - Tropical Birds