In which indierocket! editor Patrick takes on the year’s biggest disappointments and biggest stinkers. More...
A Place to Bury Strangers, A Place to Bury Strangers (Pimp City)
Don’t believe the blog hype. Total Jesus and Mary Chain ripoff.
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (Merge)
Whereas Funeral was an outstandingly cathartic meditation on death and the hereafter, Neon Bible is too much of a Born in the U.S.A. carbon copy. Sure, Win Butler’s still one of the better songwriters in indie rock, but there’s too much morass here (see “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations,” “My Body is a Cage,” the title track), which drags down the stellar moments (see “Intervention,” “Keep the Car Running”).
Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Sub Pop)
Just because a record is disappointing doesn’t mean that it’s automatically bad. Au contraire: Cease to Begin is a fine record, far from a sophomore slump, applying a Southern spit-and-polish to the majestic Northwestern grandeur of Everything All the Time. But I said Ben Bridwell would miss Mat Brooke, and I was right — despite the addition of Columbia keybanger extraordinaire Ryan Monroe, Cease to Begin suffers from a ritualistic sameness, not from song to song, but within the songs themselves. While Everything All the Time relied heavily on pristine builds and emotional catharsis, Cease to Begin is too pristine, too precious and a little too tedious.
Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City (Vice)
Now this is a sophomore slump record. Was Kele Okereke too concerned about the rumours that he likes getting buggered by geezers to write good songs?
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Some Loud Thunder (Wichita)
What did I say two years ago? Clap Your Hands Say Meh? I hate to say “I told you so” ... wait, no I don’t. I fucking told you so.
Deerhunter, Cryptograms (Kranky)
Don’t believe the blog hype, part two. Yet another begulingly Pitchfork-loved record that's no good, yet people went absolutely ape-poopy over it. Why?
Lavender Diamond, Imagine Our Love (Rough Trade)
Don’t believe the blog hype, part three. More boring than watching baseball.
The Mars Volta, The Bedlam in Goliath (Universal)
How does one say “Just stop it!” in Spanish?
M.I.A., Kala (XL)
This is what I wrote about Arular back in 2005: “oh, i'm sorry. i didn't realize "galang" was the indonesian word for 'shit.' it's as if every single genre ever known to man took a giant shit into a pot, and said, 'lo, this, too, is music!' it's not. it's the densest, most inaccessible piece of crap i've ever listened to. the only reason indie kids like it is because they think they should, because no one else gets it.” Kala is even worse, taking the worst parts of genres I both love (baile funk, electronica) and loathe (dancehall, dub, dirty house) and turning into an unintelligible mush of yelps, squawks and rattles. Sure, perhaps it’s one of those albums that I’ll never “get,” but that’s what this list is about, innit?
Minus the Bear, Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze)
One of Minus the Bear’s strong points has always been its temporary-yet-fleet-footed diversions into King Crimson prog. (See “Women We Haven’t Met Yet,” “Let’s Play Guitar in a Five Guitar Band,” basically all of They Make Beer Commercials Out of This.) But Planet of Ice’s downfall is its all-to-frequent excursions into bloated Floydian butt-prog. An underwhelming record from an extraordinary band with a nigh-impeccable track record.
Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Admittedly, I’ve never been able to get into freak-folk. But after seeing this record top so many year-end lists — including the one penned by our dear indierocket! comrade Tug — I wanted to like this. But it just seems like paint-by-numbers ‘60s psychedelia a la The Beach Boys.
Pelican, City of Echoes (Hydra Head)
Disappointing only because Pelican is one of my favorite bands, and City of Echoes just isn’t up to the bar-setting snuff of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.
Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight (Warner Bros.)
At least Jenny Lewis is still hot.
The Rosebuds, Night of the Furies (Merge)
This hurts. I love The Rosebuds, both as a band and as people; Ivan Howard possesses one of my all-time favorite voices, and Kelly Howard is a keyboard-mashing looker with no peer. But Night of the Furies is bogged down in end-of-the-dance-party melancholy, willful hook-freedom, cheeseball-synth string arrangements and unusually flaccid songwriting. While I reiterate that not all disappointing records are bad — and Night of the Furies is by no means bad — they’re disappointments for a reason. What was wrong with being a garage band people could dance to, guys? Why go all Smiths-via-Human League on us?
Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist (Martha’s Music/Reprise)
You all know how I feel about this. Worst record of the year.
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
Anyone who says Sky Blue Sky is their favorite Wilco record is either a Nels Cline fanboy, a dad-rock apologist or a fucking liar. Sky Blue Sky isn’t bad, just boring, content to twiddle around with flat, second-rate ‘70s soft-rock songwriting. Still, “Impossible Germany” is one of the year’s finest guitar-driven songs, and Sky Blue Sky is at least better than A Ghost is Born.
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (Republic)
There’s a web site devoted to taking bets on Amy Winehouse’s date of death for a reason. Even rehab couldn’t save this trainwreck.
In which indierocket! editor Patrick takes on the year’s biggest disappointments and biggest stinkers. More...
In which indierocket! editor Patrick identifies the albums released in 2006 that should have made last year's year-end list. More...
Cinemechanica, The Martial Arts (Hello Sir)
Speedy, strong, shape-shifting post-hardcore that grabs you by the balls and refuses to let go.
Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
The free-jazz master’s best work since Science Fiction.
Colour Revolt, Colour Revolt (Esperanza Plantation/Tiny Evil/Interscope)
While the record doesn’t necessarily do the band the fullest justice, the grandiose nature of this Mississippi quintet’s epic indie rock is on full display. This is what ...Trail of Dead should be sounding like these days.
Gamenight, Simple Starts in the Mind (New Beat)
Nimble emo-prog from Knoxville buoyed by hyperliterate lyrics and acne-scarred broken-heartery.
Kaki King, ...Until We Felt Red (Velour)
Because when the horns come in on “You Don’t Have to Be Afraid,” you finally understand. Because “Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers” is extremely elegant in its simplicity.
Kickball, ABCDEFGHIJKickball (Yoyo)
I went to Nashville with my dear friend Jordan Blackmon in May to record with our dear friend Aaron Graves. I took a bus back to Columbia, and on the way to the bus station, we listened to this wondrous gem of Franco-tinged Northwestern indie pop. After that, “Shoulders” never really exited my head.
Midwest Product, Swamp EP (Ghostly International)
I first heard “Swamp” — the World Series of Love version — in a Hummer ad. True story. This EP remixes that gem and throws in four new tracks of haunting, delicate glitch-pop.
Plastic Little, She’s Mature (Traffic)
She’s Mature is anything but — the Philly-bred raunch-rap ensemble is as nasty as it wants to be, putting Luther Campbell and company to shame. And yet, for all the smut, there’s true street intelligence (“Crambodia”), outrageous satire (see “Rap O’Clock,” “All Y’all Niggas Dead”) and flat-out club-banging genius (see “The Jumpoff”).
This Moment in Black History, It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold us Back (Cold Sweat)
The names are meant to be provocative; the music is, too. This Moment in Black History’s raucous trash-punk lays Dirtbombs that explode with Sandanista! fervor.
So Percussion, Amid the Noise (Cantaloupe)
When I saw this acclaimed New York Ensemble perform Steve Reich’s Drumming in Columbia, I was blown away. When I heard its foray into glitchy, percussion-heavy blip-hop, I was eminently pleased. Like any ambient music worth its salt, it adheres to Eno’s requirements to a tee.
Alan Sparhaw, Solo Guitar (Silber Media)
I’m a guitar nerd, OK? I like when guitarists from critically acclaimed slowcore monoliths fuck around with ambient guitar works, all right?
Well, it's that time of year, folks. I've made my list, checked it twice, and here's my favorite music videos of this past year, with some slight commentary by myself along the way. Feel free to waste an hour or so of time that you're supposed to be working with these flickering images. More...
18. RJD2 - Work It Out
Directed by Joey Garfield
17. Bishop Allen - Click Click Click Click
Directed by Randy Bell
I just blogged about this one the other day, but hey, it's still good enough to get on the list. Beware the cuteness!
16. Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches
Directed by Johan Sandberg, Fredrik Skogkvist, Henrik Timonen
Pat posted about this video way back when, and it still makes me laugh almost a year later. Have fun picking out your favorite hip-hop simile. My favorite is 'Count you out like a mathematician!'
15. Bat For Lashes - What's A Girl To Do?
Directed by Dougal Wilson
14. Dizzie Rascal - Sirens
Directed by W.I.Z.
The fox-hunting metaphor in this video makes for some great music video gravitas.
13. Spoon - Don't You Evah
Directed by Hideki Kozima and Marek Michalowski
I'm not sure if this was the 'official' video for this song, but I think the story went that these guys made a video with their Keepon dancing to an older Spoon track, and then Spoon saw it and asked them to do this one. I may be making that up. Oh, and the cuteness threat level (CTL) has just jumped to RED, motherfuckers.
12. Feist - 1 2 3 4
Directed by Patrick Daughters
What can I say? I love it.
11. Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos
Directed by Stephanie Comilang and Jamie Shannon
Another one that I posted about earlier this year.
10. The National - Apartment Story
Directed by Banner Gwin
There's no real 'trick' or twist that makes this video great. It's pretty straightforward, but I think it's one of those instances where the music and the pictures just fit perfectly together. There's also some very well-composed shots in here.
9. Beirut - Elephant Gun
Directed by Alma Har'el
Whip out your mustache and do mustache-y things with it!
8. Grizzly Bear - Knife
Directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch
7. Fionn Regan - Be Good or Be Gone
Directed by Si and Ad
If you haven't heard of Regan yet, do yourself a favor and check this video out. The concept behind the video puts Regan singing the song in various places, all recorded live and blended together so subtly that you can hardly tell. And it's a heck of a song too.
6. Animal Collective - Peacebone
Directed by Timothy Saccenti
This is the first of two appearance by Timothy Saccenti on this list - a feat that no other director managed to do. Could it be that Saccenti is going for total music video domination? Keep reading...
5. Justice - D.A.N.C.E
Directed by Jonas & Francois
4. Malajube - Montreal 40-C
Directed by Louis-Philippe Eno
Another one that I blogged about previously and is also supercute.
3. Menomena - Rotten Hell
Directed by Stephanie Comilang and Jamie Shannon
Yep, I blogged about it before, so catch my comments at the link.
2. Battles - Atlas
Directed by Timothy Saccenti
And Saccenti scores again! Originally released sometime in March, this was a tiny window into the awesomeness that would be Mirrored. The 'mirror room' was built by the band themselves, and well, if you haven't seen it already, just watch the damn thing and be amazed. So if it's so good, how come Mr. Saccenti didn't get the top spot on my list? Well...
1. La Blogoteque
I'm kind of cheating here, but it's my list, and I can do whatever I want. I'm giving my top spot to the guys at La Blogotheque and their incredible Take-Away Shows. It's a combination of live music and film that's quite revolutionary in it's sepia-tinged brilliance. Do yourself a favor and check out a few of my favorites from this year below, and then head to their website and spend days watching all the goodies they have to offer. Here's hoping they make some kind of DVD box set...
Get Out! is indierocket!'s occasional guide to getting down in the Soda City.
Descolada :: The 112 :: 7 p.m.
When a band cites such disparate bands as The Dirty Three, R.E.M., Massive Attack, Joy Division, Old Man Gloom, The Jesus Lizard and Isis as equal influence, the immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to call bullshit. But Asheville's Descolada incorporates all make and manner of styles into its unorthodox clamor, boasting a violin-wailing banshee and a heavy-as-fuck, take-no-prisoners rhythm section. It's as if Warren Ellis were playing with Neurosis, equal parts achingly beautiful and cathartically heavy. Highly recommended for the curious and adventurous. Bat-shit tech-metal quartet Sein Zum Tode and bass-driver post-rockers Jacob and I open. This is a house show, so we implore you: Don't do anything in this house you wouldn't do in your own. Damage: Donations highly encouraged.
The Engines :: University of South Carolina School of Music Recital Hall :: 7:30 p.m.
Forget Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Let’s play One Degree of Ken Vandermark, as each member of the Chicago free-jazz quartet The Engines — tromboner Jed Bishop, saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Nate McBride and drummer Tim Daisy — have all cut their teeth in one of the modern-jazz titan’s numerous groups. And while there are several hallmarks of the trademark Vandermark sound to be found in The Engines self-titled disc, particularly the blustery, blistering unison horn lines and steadfast-yet-inventive percussion, remember that these men have all distinguished themselves and composers and leaders outside of Vandermark’s realm. Indeed, it’s when The Engines cut loose and let fly with reckless abandon that the quartet shines, settling into ruthless, sometimes Zeppelin-esque grooves, particularly on “Jet Lag” and “Mash Tun.” Sure, these engines can go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat and stop on a dime, but its when set on cruise control — guiding the listener with subtlety and finesse rather than steamroller force — that the ride is most enjoyable. Saxophonist Aram Shelton, another notable Chicago player, opens on reeds and electronic manipulation. Damage: $7.
Los Perdidos :: The Whig :: 10 p.m.
Who says global warming is all bad? Look, aside from that brief cold snap at the beginning of the month, it’s been a relatively temperate winter here in the Capital City. Therefore, you have absolutely no reason not to break out your finest beachwear as our resident surfanistas return to The Whig for their annual yuletide extravaganza. ‘Tis the season, so expect a classic carol or two to sneak into Los Perdidos’ sizeable set of swingin’ instrumental surf-punk originals, which recall everyone from Link Wray to Santo and Johnny to Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Damage: Free.
Josh Roberts & the Hinges :: Five Points Pub :: 10 p.m.
Put simply, Josh Roberts is one of the finest songwriters the Capital City has to offer. The former helmsman of the good ship Captain Easy recently released his second record with The Hinges — and the first with the current incarnation of the band — My War Cry is Amor, which is chock-full of delectable tunes, from the raucous "Atom Inhibitor" to the sweet "B+1B" to the epic "Every Brick of Downtown" to the tender "The Hardest Part of Winter." And as good as those records — Amor and the debut, The Sugarbird Test — the live Josh Roberts experience is one to behold, as Roberts is a consummate showman and righteous gunslinger. Damage: $7.
Blinded by Underpants :: Hunter-Gatherer :: 11 p.m.
If Tug can blog about his band, I can about mine, dammit. Loud, earnest, riotous post-pop a la 764-HERO, Swearing at Motorists. Good time for all. Plus, the Hunter-Gatherer is a perfect spot for a night-ending nightcap after you've been to one (or all) of the above shows. Damage: $3.
Uhh, what else can really be said about this? It's Kermit the Frog singing (and aping the video to) "Once in a Lifetime," admittedly one of favorite Talking Heads songs. Still not as good as this, though. Or especially this.
I had almost forgotten about the movie project God Help The Girl headed up by Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebstian fame) until Pitchfork reminded me. Murdoch is hard at work casting the musical and will head into the studio to record the soundtrack in the spring. This early demo features Ladybug Transistor's Gary Olsen and B&S's own Catherine Ireton in a sweet little diddy about hipster girls. After a trip to Asheville a couple months ago, I started work on a song called 'I Want A Hipster Girlfriend,' but Murdoch beat me to the thematic punch, I'm afraid. And, of course, it's way better than anything I could have done. So while I shake my fist angrily at Stuart Murdoch, you lovely people can enjoy this great song he's written.
God Help The Girl (feat. Gary Olsen and Catherine Ireton) Perfection As A Hipster
Ah! It's just as cute as you knew it was going to be... Cuteness overpowering... Must lie down... Too much... cuuute...
Seriously, this is a great video. It reminds me of those neat camera commercials that were on all the time this summer. Props to director Randy Bell for a job well done.
This has apparently ruined indierocket! familiar (and occasional Free Times and Drawer B contributor) Logan's weekend: Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the great visionaries of 20th Century music, died on Dec. 5. Best known for his avant-garde electronic work, Stockhausen was an experimental musician who utilized tape recorders and mathematics to create innovative, ground-breaking pieces. Electronic Study, composed in 1953, was the first musical piece composed from pure sine wave sounds; Electronic Study II, produced a year later, was the first work of electronic music to be notated and published. Endlessly prolific, whether in fashion or out of it, he composed 362 works, including the world's longest opera, Licht, a sequence of seven pieces — one for every day of the week. Licht, which took him 25 years to complete, will be performed for the first time next year; the whole piece lasts 29 hours. Though rarely embraced by mainstream audiences, diverse musicians such as Paul McCartney, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa and Bjork cited Stockhausen as an influence, and he’s often mentioned in the same breath as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Morton Feldman as one of the most important experimental composers in the latter half of the 20th Century.
[Ed.'s note: You can find Logan's tribute to Karlheinz Stockhausen here. -p.]
We IndieRocketeers loves us some Dan Bejar. Under his Destroyer moniker, he released one of my favorite albums of 2006, so I was pretty excited when Merge released a promo mp3 of a track off Trouble In Dreams, the upcoming eighth Destroyer album (due out March 18th), I knew I had to share it with you beautiful people.
Destroyer Foam Hands
Let's just consider this reason No. 174 why your indierocketeers would want to live in Chicago. [via Pitchfork]
Have we mentioned that we're really excited about this movie? Walk Hard hits theaters December 21; the soundtrack is in stores now.
The South is notorious for its regionalism. Take barbecue, for instance. In South Carolina alone there are three distinct types of barbecue, each holding preference in a different region of the state. Throw in other Southern states, and you’ll find even more types— including that delicious Texas brisket. This regionalism applies to soul music as well as soul food, and Friday, Columbians can get the first taste of a new funk compilation highlighting R&B, soul and lots of funk acts local to the Carolinas from the late ‘60s to mid-‘70s. Out on London-based label Jazzman Records, which has put out other compilations featuring Texas and Florida funk, Carolina Funk: Funk 45s from the Atlantic Coast was put together by Chapel Hill native Jason Perlmutter, a long-time record collector and disk jockey.
The 22 tracks presented here are an assidiuous look at a bygone piece of local music history. According to local DJ Matt Bradley (perhaps better known as SinDoolah), 'Most of this stuff is super-obscure. I don’t think anybody knows about it but Jason.' Indeed, Perlmutter himself had to track down most of the producers or musicians himself to get the details and stories behind the recordings, which are all discussed at length in his meticulous and fascinating liner notes. 'The music isn’t out there,' Perlmutter admits. 'The history isn’t out there. It suggests a need for someone to write a book.'
The songs are just as varied and enthralling as the stories behind them. Rising out of the gospel music tradition and the socioeconomic plight of being African-American in the South during such a tumultuous time of racism and impoverishment, funk artists in the Carolinas definitely had plenty of blood, sweat and tears to put into these songs. With James Brown just down the road in Augusta, these artists also had the inspiration and drive to make some amazing music. There is an enduring nature to it that Bradley explains well: 'It’s desperate music. It comes from hard times, poverty.'
The compilation includes artists such as Asheville’s Innersouls, Florence’s Soul Impossibles, Columbia’s own Paul Burton and Winston-Salem’s Donnie Brown. While all the tracks are incredible, there are a few that stand out above the pack. Burton’s 'So Very Hard to Make It (Without You)' is one of the more soulful tracks on the album and one of the best baby-come-back-to-me songs I’ve ever heard, on par with some of Sam Cooke's stuff.
Female vocalist Sundia’s 'Stand Up and Be a Man' is a raspy funk groove that nears perfection. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, indeed. Frankie and the Damons drive a heavy funk frenzy while extolling the problems behind a 'Bad Woman.' If you’re not a funk fan, this comp has the power to convert you.
Projects like this are the type of thing that collectors, historians and music lovers everywhere hold in high regard, and Carolina Funk is no exception. It’s a collection worthy of the Numero Group Eccentric Soul series that bloggers and funk aficionados have been praising for years, and the fact that it all happened right here in our own backyard gives it even more gravitas. 'There’s people on this thing walking around town,' Bradley says. 'Maybe old dudes who are on here will come forward now.' Perlmutter certainly hopes so. 'I’d like to reach out to people who might have made records like these that I don’t know,' he says.
SinDoolah kicks off the night with some salacious soul and freaky funk, then Perlmutter himself will get on the ones and twos, playing more grooves including some of the tracks from the compilation. As Perlmutter forewarns, 'Tell people to bring their dancing shoes.' And don’t forget to bring $10 with you so you can get yourself a copy of the compilation. Believe me, 45 cents a song is well worth it for this eye-opening look at an important part of our local music history.
The spinning begins at 10 p.m. Admission is free; copies of the compilation will be available for $10. Call 931-8852 for more information.
Paul Burton - So Very Hard to Make It (Without You)
Go to Jason Perlmutter's myspace to hear more tracks, and head to GorillaVsBear to pick up Frankie and The Damons doing 'Bad Woman.'
Stay In! is indierocket!'s occasional guide to what's going on in the blog world.
We've already talked a little bit about how excited we are about upcoming music biopic spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but last night, I caught star and IndieRocket favorite John C. Reilly and director Jake Kasdan on Fresh Air on NPR. The interview is a lot of fun, but what really caught my attention was the discussion of how the music was written. Apparently, one of my old favorites Dan Bern wrote lots of the songs, including one called '(Have You Heard The News) Dewey Cox Died' where the titular character sings about how sad everyone will be on the day he dies. It's hilarious stuff. They play a bit of 'Royal Jelly,' a brilliant Bern-penned Bob Dylan send-up. And who better to spoof Dylan than Bern? Also, who knew that you could say 'rim job' on NPR?
The soundtrack is out today, and there's a deluxe edition exclusively out through iTunes that includes an extra disc with lots more Dan Bern songs. So check out the interview here and snatch the soundtrack. But you don't have to take my word for it! Here's a bit from Bern's myspace:
i spent well over a year writing songs for this movie, and wrote more songs than i can count, many of them with mike viola. an amazingly cool project. i am in dewey-withdrawal. the movie will have several songs i wrote or co-wrote, and there will be a double-album of dewey cox songs available on itunes, which will have a bunch more that i wrote or co-wrote. so, see these movies! get the soundtracks!