Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Buy the Hype

The hype (and subsequent backlash) around Iceage's upcoming release New Brigade seems to be steadily building. I couldn't be happier for the Danish post-punkers, who have put together one fine album that has been on repeat in my house for over a month now. The guitars sound brilliant. The arrogance is well placed, as is the nonchalance. It's a wonderful album that I can't recommend enough. To give you a taste ...

or my favorite of the record ...

which reminds me of this ...

and this ...

and I could continue, but I won't. Needless to say, buy the hype people.

Monday, June 13, 2011

At the Halfway Mark

Hey look! It's a new blog post!! It seems like the combination of getting ready for parenthood plus working on my thesis has made blogging near impossible lately. So to make it up to you below is my list of some of my favorite records for the first half of the year. Oh, and please note, records like Tune Yards' WHOKILL , Destroyer's Kaputt , Deerhoof's Deerhoof vs. Evil are absent here only because they've been talked about extensively elsewhere. Kaputt and WHOKILL in particular have moved me more than most records this year.

First things first, as far as big disappointments this year it seems like Tyler the Creator's Goblin or Radiohead's King of Limbs would be easy candidates for tops. However it's hard to call any Radiohead record at this point in their career a disappointment as my expectations aren't that high to begin with (oh how I miss high school). With regards to Tyler, it's actually kind of a relief that Goblin proved to be a poorly conceived record as I was no longer in need of justifying his racist, misogynistic and violent lyrics anymore. "Yonkers" is still one of my favorite tracks of the year, but after that, the record is pretty bad.

Instead, I have to say my biggest disappointment is Panda Bear's Tomboy record. With records like Person Pitch and Sung Tongs (or even the tragically underrated Young Prayer) already in his back pocket, it seems like PB has hit the cruise control button a bit. It's still an enjoyable record to listen to. But with Panda Bear I expect more than just simply treading water.

Anyways, to the list!

The Luyas - Too Beautiful to Work
With her previous work in Miracle Fortress and SS Cardiacs, and now with The Luyas, Jessie Stein is quickly becoming one of my favorite Canadian songwriters. Too Beautiful to Work is a perfect indie-pop record that flirts with the cacophonous without ever fully falling apart.

Wye Oak - Civilian
See Jonathan's comments regarding this record.

Wye Oak - Fish from Merge Records on Vimeo.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
It's a testament to the strength of this record that after only being released for a week, it's already made my short list for record of the year. Easily the most fun I've had with a record not named WHOKILL. Whenever I listen to "A Little Death" I'm brought back 15 years to when I was a skateboarding punk obsessed with Minor Threat and Black Flag. Nostalgia abounds!

Cass McCombs - Wits End
A whisper of an album, Wits End threatens to lull you to sleep, but constantly demands your attention with musical hooks and lyrical turns that show that McCombs is clearly at the top of his game. With PREfection, Catacombs and now Wits End, McCombs is quickly becoming one of the more consistently strong songwriters currently working.

Mark McGuire - A Young Person's Guide to Mark McGuire
Perhaps in need of a little editing, but Emeralds' Mark McGuire latest solo record provides us with a wonderful collection of songs reminiscent of some of the finer moments of the work of Brian Eno and David Byrne.

Joe McPhee and Chris Corsano - Under a Double Moon
Big ups to J-Rod for drawing my attention to this record. Outside of this record, it's really been a quiet year for jazz. Hopefully this changes soon.

Colin Stetson - New History Warfare vol. 2: Judges
2011 could be described as the year the hipster and the saxophone finally saw eye-to-eye. It seems like every great indie-pop record this year has featured a saxophone at some point. As far as really exploring the limits and possibilities the instrument holds, no one holds a light to Colin Stetson, who, with nothing more than himself, a saxophone and the occasional spoken words from Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden, has created an album so haunting, so all-consuming, that it comes close to convincing you that world is actually coming to an end. Just beautiful!

Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972
There have been lots of great minimalist records this year. But none seem to hold up quite as well as Hecker's Ravedeath 1972. Recorded in both Iceland and Montreal, the record does well at capturing the beauty found in the cold and isolated areas of our world.

Curren$y and Alchemist - Covert Coup

Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

It's interesting to me that at a time where hip-hop seems to be obsessed with large and heavy handed production (ie. Big Boi, Kanye, Yelawolf etc ...), the hip-hop records I've fallen for most deeply are two that choose to go a more subtle route. Covert Coup is 'trunk muzik' at its best, recalling the likes of EPMD, while Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam (despite being the worst named record of the year) contains a beauty so unassuming that it proves to be extremely difficult to properly pin down. Wonderful stuff.

That's all for now. Now it's time to get listening.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Night in the Booth

Figured I should start doing this again. Below is the set list from Monday night's show with some added commentary. I kind of got stuck with title tracks. But I think it worked out well. Enjoy!

SET # 1
(opening song) Christine Fellows - "Femmes de Chez Nous" (Femmes de Chez Nous)
Actress - "Harrier Attk" (Harrier Attk/Genesis 12")
Moon Wiring Club - "Feline Ascension Time" (A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding)
Brandt Brauer Frick - "You Make Me Real" (You Make Me Real)
Darkstar - "North" (North)
Royal Canoe - "Nightcrawlin'" (N/A)

Of all the local bands playing right now, few get me more excited than Royal Canoe. If the rest of their record is nearly as good as this live version of "Nightcrawlin'" it will make for an excellent listen, blending the recent movements in UK electronic music and Bucky Driedger's penchant for choosing the perfect time to press that distortion peddle. Also in this set is a wonderful new song courtesy of Actress. "Harrier Attk" picks up right where Splazsh left off, playing with simple forms, but adding texture after texture culminating in an extremely complex sound. Wonderful stuff!

SET #2
Kurt Vile - "Smoke Ring for My Halo" (Smoke Ring For My Halo)
Shotgun Jimmie - "Transistor Sister" (Transistor Sister)
Wye Oak - "Dog Eyes" (Civilian)
The Luyas - "Moodslayer" (Too Beautiful to Work)
Papercuts - "White as the Waves" (Fading Parade)
PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake" (Let England Shake)

While I'm not sure what to make of the new Kurt Vile record (I can't help but think of it as a lame attempt by Jay Mascis to latch onto something good) I know that I LOVE the new Wye Oak record. It's basically a perfect union of Steve Albini-esque drum sounds (think "Scentless Apprentice") and the more aggressive side of Julie Doiron. One of the finest guitar-based records of the year thus far for sure.

SET #3
Domo Genesis
- "Buzzin" (Rolling Papers)
The Streets - "Going through Hell" (Computers and Blues)
Ghostpoet - "Us Against Whatever" (Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam)
Tune Yards - "Buzzin"
Shugo Tokumaru - "Lahaha" (Port Entropy)
Destroyer - "Savage Night at the Opera" (Kaputt)

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Gilles Peterson. On the one hand, he's a master at introducing new music to me (particularly British stuff that tends to get downplayed by American music writers). But on the other hand, he's a brutal name-checker that could do better at actually talking about music rather than simply citing off all the bands he knows (his beautiful Soundway book on Revolutionary Jazz album covers notwithstanding). Lately, however, he's been quite good to me. His podcast is directly responsible for drawing my attention to two of my favorite records of the year thus far - Brandt Brauer Frick's You Make Me Real and Ghostpoet's Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam. Perhaps a terrible name, but the debut from Ghostpoet is a haunting hip-hop record that grants a substantial amount of time to the spaces between the notes thus setting itself apart from other contemporary more heavy-handed hip-hop records by the likes of Kanye, Big Boi and even Odd Future. Just a wonderful record which I will certainly spend more time with in the coming weeks on this site.

Anyways, that's all for now. Tune in next week for more great tunes!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bucky's Back

Bucky D. from The Liptonians is coming into the studio (again) to talk about and perhaps even play some songs from the bands new record Let's All March Back into the Sea which is due out tomorrow! The CD release party is at The West End on Sunday. Here's a taste of what to expect.

The Liptonians - Perfect Swimmers (Album Fundraiser) from Nice! Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sexy Music

Cass McCombs has a new single out, "County Line", which I can't get enough of right now. It's sexy music done right, performed in a fragile and hollow manner that allows the singer to really embrace the riskiness of the desires he sings of. It's a song that deals with the difficulties encountered in the relationship between people and places, particularly those places we tend to find ourselves most comfortably situated in. Anyways, here's the song.

Cass McCombs - County Line by DominoRecordCo

What I love most about the song is the simplicity of it. There is no attempt at any point to deceive the listener, to provide that hook that appears out of nowhere which serves to disrupt the song as a whole (a technique way too overused these days). The song is fragile enough purely in its simplicity that it need not make such maneuvers. Instead, it simply embraces the melancholic experiences you encounter when you go home to find out that this place which you love so dearly, isn't nearly as holy as you once thought. Or, to put it another way, the cold we experience here in Winnipeg isn't really all that romantic. It's just really freaking cold.

Cryptic perhaps, but this shift to melancholy (shift is perhaps not the best word, as this is nothing really new from Cass), is going to hopefully prove to be the main aim of my show tonight. I'm going to be playing melancholic songs focusing on the relationship between people and place. Any suggestions would be more than appreciated.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snowed in

No show again this week as I am currently snowed in. After spending a week in waist deep snow in Edmonton, now Winnipeg seems to be getting hit (although, the amount in E-town is still substantially more). All this has led to a few week's of snowed in music listening. Here's what's been on heavy rotation

New(ish) Heavy Rotation

Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil

Deerhoof are maybe one of my favorite acts to see live. With this week's release of Deerhoof vs. Evil however, the band has put out what, in my opinion, is their best studio work to date (although I reserve the right to always go back to Apple O or Reveille). Douglas Wolk criticized the record on Pitchfork as meandering, claiming the record fails to properly allow its rock undercurrents to break through. This may in fact be the case. However, part of me wonders if if it's fair to criticize the band for not being 'rock' enough. Do we love Deerhoof because they create great rock music (which they certainly do)? Or do we love Deerhoof because they create great rock music in spite of the fact that they needn't? Records like Reveille and Deerhoof vs. Evil seem to push me more in the direction of the latter. Highlighting the band's humor, quirkiness and excellent experimentation, Deerhoof vs. Evil serves to accentuate the awesomeness of more straightforward songs such as "Panda Panda Panda" and "+81" situating them within a larger and more bizarre context. Bellow is the records shinning moment - which also proves to be its most predictable.

Yelawolf - Trunk Muzic 0-60

Southern Hip-Hop at its best. Released on the same day as the Kanye record, Trunk Muzic 0-60 proves yet again that all the accolades thrust upon MBTDF may have been premature. This record is equally weird and enjoyable as Kanye's so-called masterpiece, while avoiding the ridiculous length (it's almost half as long!). Here's my favorite "Daddy's Lambo".

John Vanderslice - White Wilderness

A more organic sounding record than his previous albums, White Wilderness highlights the songwriters skill at arrangement and prose.

Lower Dens - Twin Hand-Movements

This record actually came out a while ago, but I only came across it more recently. The record is built primary around Janna Hunter's bizarre poetry and reverb-drenched guitars which never seem to overdo it. At first the closest comparison to Twin Hand-Movements would be Beach House's Teen Dream. However, after repeated listens, THM proves to be a much riskier record than the safer (and more mediocre) Beach House record playing with its own fragility in fascinating ways.

Retro Heavy Rotation

Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics vol. 1

The influence of the Minimal Electronics and Cold Waves movements of the 1980s on contemporary North America Electro can't be overstated. However, rather than wasting more of your time, I'll just let these videos speak for themselves.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Amping Destroyer's Kaputt

Destroyer's Kaputt is due out in a couple of weeks. I make no bones about being a big Destroyer guy, and I don't want to say much about how wicked the record is quite yet (I want to make sure I get it right). However, the first few listens through the record have resulted in me going through some of my records to try to figure out how to better locate this whole "slow disco" aesthetic he's built throughout the record. Bellow are the results.

In my mind, Kaputt's closest cousin is Destroyer's 2004 record Your Blues. Like on that record, the question of the distinction between life and artifice is at all times at the forefront, blurring the lines between firm conceptions of real and fake.

Some more classic inspirations.

Crappy video quality. But you get the point.

And then from Destroyer himself.