Why? :: "Song of the Sad Assassin"
We loves us some Why? here at the 'rocket, and "Song of the Sad Assassin," what with its clunky toy-piano riffs and lurching structure, is one of my favorite jams from Alopecia, one of my favorite records from this year. The video is as brain-melting as some of Yoni Wolf's abstract rhymes, but that's why we like it, innit?
Band of Horses :: "No One's Gonna Love You"
pitchfork.tv has a video up for Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You," the most charming and endearing song from last year's charming and endearing Cease to Begin.
Weezer :: "Pork and Beans"
Sigh. Remember when Weezer was, you know, good?
This was posted to Idolator this morning under the headline "The Future of Music, Whether You Like It Or Not."
The indierocket! response: Jesus. Fucking. Christ. It's as if someone invented a machine that took the characters from Rock Band — complete and utter lack of charisma and all — and made them real. Then made them start a band. A shitty, dishwater-grey mallternative band.
Seriously. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this. Nothing.
If this is the "future of music," as Idolator posits, then Doc Brown and I need to get back to work on that Delorean.
Blue (Robotic Empire)
RIYL: Orchid, Off Minor, Pg. 99, Circle Takes the Square, Cave In
1. Informal A new term for the screamo/emo bands of the 90s, or anything that is REAL screamo/emo. I'm not sure if the term is supposed to be taken seriously or not, but it's there. Possibly created in revolt of the shitty 'new' emo bands and self-proclaimed 'emo' kids.
You see, this is what irks me as a music journo. As much as I enjoy the convenience of ultra-specific genre labels (see: post-metal; baile funk; nerdcore), the names deigned to them rarely, you know, mean anything. Seriously: Skramz? What the everloving fuck is that? Why can't we just say that Miami's Capsule is a hardcore band? And then why can't we just follow that up with a clause like, oh I don't know, "in the vein of '90s screamo titans Orchid and Pg. 99"? Plus: Skramz just sounds (and looks) fucking retarded. Look: Capsule is a screamo band — essentially short for "faster, more brutal hardcore with lots of screaming and/or shouting." Yeah, that's dumbing it down, but at least it means something.
I digress in the interest of keeping things simple. Capsule fucking slays. Blue is an absolute powerhouse from start to finish; it's heavy, it's spazzy and, at times, it's even absolutely gorgeous. It's a monolith of aggression and power. It's a panic attack gone horribly, horribly right. You'll need a helmet so there won't be a mess when Blue blows your mind.
Blue kicks off in high gear with the balls-tighteningly fantastic one-two punch of the dense "True Blue" and the spastic, thrashing "Cobalt Connection." (See the color motif running through here? Yeah? Yeah.) The energy and spirit contained within invoke Orchid and Commander Caterpillar, but the off-kilter tunings and malicious riffs recall the early work of art-core monoliths Cave In. Indeed, it's when Capsule stretches the song lengths past the 120-second mark that things get really interesting. "Determinal" starts off as another exercise in controlled fury before devolving into a beautiful, grungy drone. Follow that up with the sullen, somber "Blue/Green" and you have a nice respite (and a seldom seen change of pace) from the brutal ass-kicking of the rest of Blue.
Blue is a confounding and wonderful conflagaration of brutal blast-beats, shifting time-signatures and galloping punk spirit. Blurry, buried shouts are surrounded by thunderous mountains of guitar and bass, buried beneath the avalanche of melodic onslaught. And yet, for the conscious listener, intricate melodies in bizarre tunings sneak their way into an overall unnerving amalgamation of genres, creating an anxiety-filled album of fevered beauty. Easily one of the most unique and rewarding listens of the year.
Pelican is an instrumental band from Chicago that plays a dense, sprawling, heavy brand of instrumental music that often gets the band branded "post-metal." But that doesn't sit well with guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec: indierocket! spoke with Lebec in advance of the band's
upcoming show at the New Brookland Tavern about why post-anything is bullshit. An edited transcript is after the jump. More...
The first thing people probably notice about Pelican is the absence of a singer. Was it always the intention for Pelican to be an instrumental band?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, at the beginning we definitely toyed with the idea of getting a singer; there weren’t that many instrumental bands around at the time, so we really didn’t have much of a point of reference for being instrumental. So we definitely thought at the beginning that we would eventually get one, but it just sort of happened that some songs materialized and it didn’t really seem like there was a need for one. Then we were put in the situation of wanting to play a few live shows and not having a singer to do it, but we kind of couldn’t pass up the opportunities — it was to open for High on Fire and then for Isis.
You don’t pass something like that up.
No, not at all.
My friend Russell has this theory that all music is better with vocals. The idea is that instrumental bands start at a deficit, having to try harder to keep the listener entertained and having to compensate for the tangible emotional connection a singer brings. As an instrumental band, how does Pelican approach its music so that the listener is not only entertained but emotionally invested?
The main way we do that is to keep ourselves entertained and inspired. I think if the performance comes we’re putting comes across as us enjoying what we’re doing and that we’re connecting with our own art, then we’re just looking for an audience to connect with that experience with us.
It’s the same as going to see a jazz band and there’s no singer and somebody says, ‘Well, this jazz band would sound a lot better if they had a singer. And these musicians seem to be lacking an emotional connection.’ And that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think that people are maybe too connected to the presence of a singer in their music and find that, maybe, instrumental music is averse to that. But I don’t think that’s the case; people connect with soundtracks in the same way after they see a movie. I think that our music can be quite emotional.
So is it liberating not having a singer?
It definitely imposes less structure. For us, we’ve found it to be pretty freeing. I think we fill the sonic palette pretty well with just instruments.
Pelican is often lumped in with other bands — usually Isis, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Russian Circles, Mogwai, Tortoise, etc. — often because you’re all instrumental bands. Do you think Pelican’s pigeonholed by being instrumental?
I don’t mind the association with any of those bands — we’re all fans and there’s obviously a degree of inspiration. I think that there is a general pigeonholing that comes from being ... instrumental in general; people feel the need to lump instrumental bands in with other instrumental bands and there’s so much music out there. We’re inspired by everything out there that’s under the sun. It’s all there in our music and we don’t choose to put any titles on it.
So maybe “post-rock” or “post-metal” isn’t the best descriptor, then?
I just don’t think that there’s any post- anything. I think most genres around right now are going to be around for a while. You know, I’m a huge fan of metal and have consistently listened to metal for most of my life, and I definitely didn’t think that, all of a sudden, it was like, ‘Oh, metal is over; there’s a post-metal world.’ I think what there is is with the advent of the Internet and people learning about bands all over the world that are doing things a little bit differently; you find that there’s a lot more cross-pollination of genres, and I definitely think that’s something that happened for us. I definitely come from a punk, power-pop and traditional metal background and our other guitar player Trevor [de Brauw] has much more of a taste for experimental music.
We rarely butt heads about where we’re going musically. There’s not a lot of self-conscious reflection on how we’re crafting our art. It’s evolved alone and with each other, and I think our music has, too. So I’m really not too concerned with what team we belong to or who we should be touring with and what people think of us; I think for the most part we find that we’ve been playing music with pretty much anyone. We’ve toured with High on Fire, Mono, Daughters, black metal bands.
And like now, you’re on tour with Thrice and Circa Survive, and those bands obviously have a different fanbase than, say, Mono or Opeth. Is it difficult to cater to different crowds like that?
We’ve done so much different stuff that it’s pretty easy to feel like we can do anything, you know? And that’s what’s rewarding about playing the music that we do. That’s the challenge and that’s what makes touring really fun. When we started touring on a regular basis — and this is like three years ago — you just find that after a certain amount of time you’re really hitting the same spots.
When you’re playing the kind of music we’re playing, you’re also kind of shooting yourself in the foot in terms of potential for being huge. But that’s not the reward; we just want to build up a community of people who are excited about the directions we’re taking and the chances we’re taking and how we’re growing musically.
The language between each other on stage and the rush we get from playing on stage is what keeps us on the road.
There’s an almost seismic evolution from the self-titled EP to City of Echoes, which is much more complex and dynamic and a lot airier that your earlier works. Was this a natural evolution or a conscious decision?
I definitely think it’s natural. We write and generally the songs we write in batches. The weird songs are always the first few songs for a record. You write one and you’re like, ‘Oh man, this sounds different and we’re just not sure where we’re going.’ And you kind of doubt yourself a little bit and you always have this fear of repeating yourself at the same time; you don’t want to tread the same ground. So we started writing this record [City of Echoes] and just right away with the first song or two found that we were really headed in a different direction. And the rest of the writing went smoothly after that. And a year later, you’ve got City of Echoes.
Are there any unifying themes to Pelican records?
Traditional themes: family, health, falling in love, getting married, the pursuit of happiness in one’s life — it all gets sorted in there.
City of Echoes was a reflection of our own lives. We don’t really look back and try to understand where the music came from. The only moments we sit down and try to assess where something was coming from is if it was going wrong. But if everything sounds on point and everyone’s having a good time, you’re not going to say, ‘Whoa, guys, slow down. What does this mean?’
Any song is a different vignette is a ... little reminder or little triggers to remind ourselves from our times on tour.
Has there been any progress for the new record?
We’ve got four or five songs written. And it’s already shaping up to be really different from [City of Echoes].
Is self-parody something you have to actively try to avoid?
We have to. We’re just that hardwired to do it. If we feel like we’re treading old ground, it just starts to feel comical, and we’re very aware of the parodies of the genres we’re playing in and out of.
Pelican's May 1 show at the New Brookland Tavern has been canceled, but the show must go on: Opening acts Castalia and ...for science! take the stage at the New Brookland Tavern at 8 p.m. Admission is $4 ($6 if you're under 21). Call 791-4413 or visit newbrooklandtavern.com.
dear loyal indierocket! readers (hi, mom!):
between new jobs and new situations at old new jobs, indierocket comrade tug and i have been busy. that's no excuse for our neglect, though.
we'll try harder. we promise.
This makes me giggle:
"BLOOMINGTON -- A 12-year-old boy was arrested and accused of throwing a rock through a hip-hop performer’s tour bus windshield Thursday night, police said.I believe the children are our future.
Bloomington Police Lt. Pete Avery said the boy told officers, “I hate Soulja Boy.”
I'm a big Kaki King fan; I think Legs to Make Us Longer was one of the best albums of its year, and ...until we felt red is an underrated pleasure. "Pull Me Out Alive," the first single from King's newest longplayer Dreaming of Revenge, released today. It's an interesting mid-tempo indie-pop track, and the mostly strummed (and incredibly jangly) guitar work seems to mark a departure point from her previous textured-guitar work. I'm interested to see how the rest of the record turns out; hopefully, King won't have abandoned the ambient textures that attracted listeners in the first place to fire off more polished pop tunes.
This video for Russian Circles' "Harper Lewis" has been circulating YouTube for seven months now, so crazy obsessive fans (such as yours truly) have been rocking this jam for some time. (Pitchfork posted the studio version of the track, which appears on the forthcoming Station, last week.) While it doesn't explode like "Death Rides a Horse" or evolve as eloquently as "Carpe," "Harper Lewis"'s slow-burning build is still pretty kickass.
Get Out is indierocket!'s occasional guide to getting down in the Soda City....for science!, Anthems for Odyssey
New Brookland Tavern :: 7 p.m.
...for science! plays loud, slow, heavy post-rock; Anthems for Odyssey plays tight, fuzzy, gothic shoegaze. It's a nice complement; trust us. Damage: $5 ($7 under 21).
The Means and the Machine (Diamond D)
RIYL: Whiskeytown, Lucero, Drive-By Truckers, Avett Brothers
In the grand tradition of Southern rock bands — and please note the distinction from Southern-rock bands a la Skynyrd et al — American Gun possesses a hootin', hollerin', carryin-on' spirit that wouldn't feel authentic coming from a band of carpetbaggers. Indeed, much of American Gun's swagger can be traced to old-time country's bigwigs — The Man in Black, The Possum, The Red-Headed Stranger, The Killer and The King — and the parts of which that can't are easily touchstoned — Whiskeytown, Lucero (hell yes, Lucero; the band expertly covers Ben Nichols' "All the Same to Me" on Means), Americana, Brit-rock.
So while such easy sonic references are a music journo's dream, it begs the question: Where are the original bones in the band's body? The bones here come from songwriters Todd Mathis and Donald Merckle, the creative forces behind the band's attractive indie-Americana tunes. Typical dual-songwriter comparisons — Lennon-McCartney or, perhaps more appropriately, Farrar-Tweedy — don't exactly fit, as there's never the sense that one is pulling in an entirely different direction than the other. Besides, both probably fall more toward the Tweedy side of the scale anyhow, though Merckle's tunes tend to be darker, folksier affairs and Mathis' to be edgier, overdriven affairs. And, indeed, the album works its best magic when each sticks to his strengths: Merckle scores a one-two punch with the tongue-in-cheek opener "Drunk Girls" and the roots-poppy "Fight Song"; Mathis sets Means ablaze with follow-up tracks "Horses" and "Neil Young Mood." Those themselves make for an incredibly strong side one, and while it's not that side two is lackluster or disappointing, it's not really again until the tongue-in-cheek closing number, the Mathis-penned "Jesus Gave Us Rock 'n' Roll," that American Gun again hits on all cylinders. Again: There are good tracks — Mathis' longing, lonesome "First Impressions" most of all — but the second half's preponderance of slow-burners and plodding tearjerkers bleeds off a little too much momentum.
I'm not thrilled with Chris Stamey's production of the record — it's a bit airy and dissociated for a band whose live strength is foot-stomping fervor. Stamey's saving grace, though, is introducing the band to pedal-steel virtuoso Al Perkins, whose melodic lines glide with blissful grace. Indeed, it's the steel playing that pushes most of the tracks into the alt-country straosphere; and when you add flashes of mandolin and horn sections, it's that much tastier.
Ultimately, The Means and the Machine is about the same as American Gun's debut, Dark Southern Hearts: A good-not-great, immensely solid outing that, were the band not toiling in relative obscurity, would provide a nice addition to the hallowed catalogs of New West or Lost Highway.
American Gun [MySpace]
American Gun [official website]
You might remember me posting the demo for this song a while back. Back then, it was just a track on a four-song demo EP that they had thrown together themselves. Now signed to Sub Pop, Mat Brooke and Co. are about to drop their full-length (out Feb. 19th - pre-order and you get a bonus 7-inch), and to whet our whistle, Sub Pop has released the final version of 'Torn Blue Foam Couch.'
To be honest, I'm a little torn with how to feel about the new version. I suppose that's to be expected. For something like ten months, the demo is the only version of the song I had ever heard, and if I would ever get off my lazy butt and post my list of favorite songs from 2007 (soon, I promise), you would already know that this was my favorite song of the year. I have a few problems with the final version (and they really aren't problems, I'm just not used to the new arrangement). First off, I never realized that the chord structure was the same as Pachelbel's Canon (you know, that wedding song), but the new version's intro makes it unmistakable. Nothing wrong with that. It's just a little distracting. Another bother is that the piano is accompanied occasionally with a keyboard of some kind that occasionally detracts from the simple beauty of the piano. It's shorter, so it's build doesn't seem quite as magnificent as the original. There are new things that I do like. For instance, the horns really give it the Beach Boys feel that I think the band is going for, and the drums sound even better than the original, which I didn't think possible.
Anyways, enough of my opinions. Why don't you decide for yourself? Here's both versions. Discuss!
Grand Archives Torm Blue Foam Couch (demo)
Grand Archives Torn Foam Blue Couch (final)
Pre-order The Grand Archives here.
Get Out! is indierocket!'s occasional guide to getting down in the Soda City.
FRIDAY :: 02.01.08
Black Swan :: Hunter-Gatherer :: 11 p.m.
Black Swan's dark, progressive indie rock makes excellent use of post-rock and goth-rock touchstones, creating a moody, atmospheric sound all its own. Reid Hardaway's nimble, heavily reverbed arpeggios counter-balance Courtney Vincent's simple piano structures perfectly, and Hardaway's tasteful use of delay recalls early British shoegazers Ride. And let's not forget the rhythm section, the simple-yet-effective combination of bassist Joe Greene and drummer Daniel Wilson. The most striking of Black Swan's compositional elements, though, is Vincent's voice, which is at once seductively husky and elegantly restrained. Damage: $3.
SATURDAY :: 02.02.08
Colour Revolt :: New Brookland Tavern :: 6:30 p.m.
I say this with the utmost reverence: Colour Revolt blends everything I love about post-Good News Modest Mouse, pre-Worlds Apart ...Trail of Dead, Surfer Rosa-era Pixies and classic Neil Young and distills it into a perfect temper tantrum of indie-rock furor. Call Colour Revolt post-apocalyptic-rock: Drums hit like claps of thunder; bass guitars rattle like earthquakes; guitars twist and flail like whirlwinds; and singer Jesse Coppenbarger encapsulates the lonesome, confused spirit of the last man on Earth. The Oxford, Miss., quintet's new record, Plunder, Beg and Curse, continues in the same urgent vein as its self-titled debut; don't be surprised if most of the set is derived from it. Damage: $7.
Colour Revolt - "Naked and Red" [from Plunder, Beg and Curse]
Josh Roberts & the Hinges :: Headliners :: 9 p.m.
Put simply, there's no such thing as a bad Josh Roberts show. And that's all there is to it. The Hinges' new record, My War Cry is Amor, is a raucous, rollicking riot through the world of alt-country, from the punkish "Atom Inhibitor" to the lugubrious, triumphant "Every Brick of Downtown." Damage: $7.
Josh Roberts & the Hinges - "Every Brick of Downtown" [live at the Five Points Pub [via archive.org]]
Rob Lindsey & the Friendly Confines :: Art Bar :: 10 p.m.
We here at indierocket! love us some Rob Lindsey — I like to say he's a more literate John Mayer or a pop-rock Tom Waits — and we're glad to see he's put together a backing band — featuring members of another indierocket!-beloved local group, Magnetic Flowers — to flesh out his intricate and interesting guitar-pop. Damage: $3.
The Jam Room 20th Anniversary Bash :: Five Points Pub :: 8 p.m.
The Jam Room's a veritable Columbia institution; Jay Matheson's client-list is long and impressive, including The Queers, Kylesa and local heroes Stretch Arm Strong. We're most excited about our boys Death Becomes Even the Maiden, but the night also features some blasts from Columbia's past: Old-timey punks Scary Hand and 49 Reasons play, as do reunited goth-rockers Bachelors of Art. Damage: $5.
Death Becomes Even the Maiden - "Control" [from The Arrangement]
You SEE, THEEE-oh, the HIP-HOP is a moral sewer, you see, with the suggestive dancing with hippin' and hoppin' and bippin' and boppin'. You see, we had the jazz MU-sic back in my day, THEEE-oh, we didn't have the dope-pusherrrrrs and the soldier boys with their crankin' and their supermen. Why don't you get yourself some JELL-O pud-ding with the flavors and the chocolate and tastes so good in your mouth and tongue, you see. ROOOO-DEEEE!!!
Bill Cosby Working on Rap Album [via allhiphop.com]
House of Cosbys [via Channel 101]
Light Works (Polyvinyl)
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins
Light Works is an astutely appropriate title: The seven tunes on the mini-LP (or really long EP) are profoundly quiet, eschewing Aloha’s trademark prog-rock clamor for plaintive, heart-on-sleeve indie-pop built on pristine, plucked acoustic guitars and pastoral piano figures. Indeed, “Too much of anything is wrong,” which Tony Cavallario muses on “Passengers,” is much less a lyric and much more a statement of purpose; to call Light Works sparse is an understatement. Quasi-prog arrangements and refined architectural elements go out with the old; sad-bastard, Plans-esque sentiment and palpable wuss-pop come in with the new. Indeed, fans of latter-day Death Cab for Cutie will eat this shit up — though, to its credit, it’s much headier and a much more refreshing listen than anything Death Cab’s done since The Photo Album, most especially "Body Buzz," which doesn't aspire to anything more than steady trot, but its end-of-summer-romance aesthetic is at once picturesque and gorgeous in its low-key splendor, making perfect use of piano and organ accents (not to mention yet another brilliant performance from drummer Cale Parks). But Aloha’s greatest strength was its beefy, quadraphonic ornamentation; the adventurous listener was rewarded with the efforts of an adventurous band. Now, the adventure is gone. In short, Light Works isn’t good, but it isn’t bad; it’s decidedly middle-of-the-road. “I must admit, I’ve slipped a bit,” Tony Cavallario croons on “Broken Light.” Maybe you have, Tony. Maybe you have.
Aloha - "Body Buzz" [from Light Works]
Aloha, Light Works [eMusic]
Ben Gibbard: "Narrow Stairs — now that is an exciting title! Huh. That's funny. I can't feel my pulse. Shouldn't I have a pulse? Could this have something to do with the bland, watered-down tripe I've been releasing since We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes?"
Chris Walla: "No. You're fine. Now let me get back to my solo record."
Death Cab for Cutie Name New Album [via deathcabforcutie.com]
Before I even start talking about these videos, I would like to (respectfully) inform Nada Surf bassist Daniel Lorca why he doesn't get too much facetime in these videos. Here's a hint - it rhymes with 'red socks.' Apart from questionable hair decisions, I'm pretty excited about Barsuk releasing the new Nada Surf album Lucky on Feb. 5th. Weight Is A Gift and Let Go are two of the best straight-up pop/rock albums of the Aughts. The few promo tracks released thus far haven't completely won me over, but admittedly, their previous two albums were growers for me, so I expect about mid-February I'll be driving down the road, singing these songs at the top of my lungs like an all-girl road trip.
Two (!) videos from the album have dropped recently, and 'Whose Authority', the first one presented here, is far and away the best. Why, you ask? Because the Jonathan Krisel-directed video features none other than Michael C. Maronna of Pete and Pete fame! Man, I haven't seen that guy since those Ameritrade ads. Thankfully, he's not quite as grody in this video where he bike messengers the hell out of some packages in New York. I dig it. You will too. And can someone please get Maronna more semi-serious work like this? I think he can take it.
The video for 'I Like What You Say' is pretty darn good too but loses huge points with me because of the whole cutesy animated indie rock video virus that's been going around for the past two years. At least it doesn't involve unwashed hair, though.
Here's the thing about music that's designed to fit a purpose: It is (or at least should be) judged against Eno's Music for Airports. Above, you'll see Stockholm's Nordic Light Hotel, the core design element of which, according to its website, is the Northern Lights. And the hotel (or at least the marketing firm the hotel employs) has asked a very strange question, at least for a hotel (or at least the marketing firm the hotel employs):
What does light sound like?
"This question," the hotel's website reads, "inspired our musical concept called 'Sound of Light.' However, the idea of creating music inspired by light was only the starting point for the project. The goal was to portray our entire hotel through music but our main idea was simply to produce a far out record that made great listening. To realize this ambition we decided to invite recording artistes to interpret our hotel experience and express it by making a record. One record for each artiste, to give them the space they need to fully develop their interpretation." The first of such artists was fellow Swede Axel Willner, known to the electronic music community as The Field. In essence, Sound of Light is Music for Hotels, and, moreover, Music for the Northern Lights.
Most, if not all, of Sound of Light falls into a fairly simple pattern, endemic of most electronic musicians: Sample-hold-repeat, with bells and whistles (literally and figuratively) orbiting around the central beat of the song. However, this is an advantage, as it makes the breaking Sound of Light down into four long tracks, each clocking in at or near 15 minutes long and delineated further into particular times of day, more palatable, as Sound of Light is designed almost narratively in structure.
"Morning" kicks off with a stuttering-yet-lock-step synth-and-drum-machine groove similar to Amnesiac-era Radiohead and explodes into what could essentially be called a chorus that recalls the reverent techno of Daft Punk. My only quibble with "Morning" is that, as a narrative element, it seems mislabeled; perhaps it's just my mornings, but "Morning" is far too upbeat and caffeinated, far too sunny. Regardless, there's a gorgeous break around the eight-minute mark where the beat reverses swims against the tide; a remarkable distraction from the relentless dance groove.
"Day," narratively, is much more fitting — another unyielding high-hat beat runs throughout the song, which is accented by clicks and clacks eerily reminiscent of computer keys. The machinic pounding found later builds like a Tinkertoy Tower, eventually crushing itself under its own weight — just like a day at the office. "Evening," then, is its antithesis — playful (with synthesized female cooing) and a loping dance beat. It starts out fairly dull, actually, like background music for "upscale" mall stores such as Express. (Uhh, not that I've ever been in there.) But it, like its three companions, unfolds spectacularly, gradually adding piece upon piece (laser beam synths, hisses of static) without losing itself, ironically maintaining a skeletal minimalism. Not surprisingly, "Evening" is also the most playful — the most fun, if you will — of the four tracks, and the most likely to be found bumping in an actual danceclub.
"Night" is the most explosive, a nearly beatless song that interlopes arrythmic synth tremors and high-hats around its vast interior. Indeed, it sounds almost hollow, like the reverbed echo of a canyon in which every sound is peripheral. Because of that, it's the one that's also the most calming, like staring into a clear night sky on a crisp night.
So is listening to Sound of Light like viewing Aurora Borealis? (Or, for that matter, even staying in the hotel?) Having never seen the lights (nor been to the hotel) myself, I can't say. But I'd imagine that it'd be a breath-taking, awe-inspiring experience. Sound of Light is neither, but it's a damn fine attempt. Each of the four tracks on the EP — and to call it an EP is almost egregious, as it's a hair over an hour long (longer, even, than Music for Airports) — unfolds gorgeously, as if guided by unseen mathematics and programmed to burst into one million tiny pieces of light on a night sky. The Verdict: 7.8/10.
Please apologize my recent lack of posts, but holidays + mini vacation + (new job x 2) = Tug has been short on time recently. I did want to take the time, however, to tell you guys about a guaranteed barn-burner going on tomorrow night at The Whig. You've heard me talk about American Aquarium many times before, so it should be no surprise that I'm excited about a solo tour by their lead singer BJ Barham. Now you've heard me extol the virtues of American Aquarium, and how they're a boisterous, hard-drinking explosion of a band, and while that may sound hard to pull off for an acoustic solo act - if there's anyone who can do it, it's Barham. While I've heard it said that all Southerner's are natural-born storytellers, Barham inherited the trait in spades plus the added bonus of being a smooth talker. Look to hear songs from American Aquarium's upcoming record plus some old favorites. The highlight of the night will be that one song that I always forget to ask the name of, but you'll know he's about to play it when he introduces it with, 'This song is about a whore...' Oh, wait. That's lots of his songs.
Head to the band's myspace page to see if Barham's coming near your town. Especially if you're in the Charleston area Sunday and want to swing by and see my boys (and girl) at the Tin Roof. Tell 'em Tug sent you.
American Aquarium Lover Too Late (live in Charleston)
Posted by tug at 9:29 AM
"Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)"
Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy1 / Then Superman dat ho2 / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)
1. Crank dat Soulja Boy: Verb. 1. Masturbating an erect penis.
2. Superman that ho: Verb. 1. The act of ejaculating on your sexual partner's back and then stick the sheets to him/her; when she wakes up in the morning he/she has a cape.
Soulja boy off in this hoe /Watch me lean and watch me rock / Superman dat hoe / Then watch me crank dat robocop1 / Super fresh now watch me jock / Jocking2 on them haterz, man / When I do dat soulja boy / I lean to the left and crank dat dance (now you) / I'm jocking2 on yo bitch ass / And if we get the fightin, then I'm jockin2 on yo bitch ass / You catch me at yo local party / Yes I crank it3 everyday / Haterz get mad cuz / I got me some bathin' apes4
1.: Robocop: Verb. 1. The act of ejaculating semen into a bucket and then placing it on your partners' head.
2.: Jock: Verb (Intrans.). 1. To attempt to imitate one's particular style. 2. To engage in flirtatious behavior.
3. : Crank it: Verb. 1. Turn up music to an unreasonable volume. 2. Masturbate.
4. : Bathin' Apes: Noun. 1. A ghetto shoe and clothing company originated from Japan.
I'm bouncin on my toe1 / Watch me supersoak dat hoe2 / I'ma pass it to arab3 / Then he gon pass it to the low (low)/ Haterz wanna be me / Soulja boy, I'm the man / They be lookin at my neck / Sayin it's the rubberband man4 (man)
1.: Bounce on my toe: Verb. 1. To attempt to keep one's balance while masturbating.
2.: Supersoak: Verb. 1. To completely cover one's sexual partner with semen.
3.: Arab: Noun. 1. Here, a Soulja Boy collaborator.
4.: Rubberband Man: Noun. 1. A drug dealer. 2. One who is able to perform fellatio on oneself.
Watch me do it (watch me do it) / Dance (dance) / Let get to it (let get to it) / Nope, you can't do it like me / Hoe, so dont do it like me / Folk, I see you tryna do it like me / Man, that shit was ugly
Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy /Then Superman dat hoe
Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)
I'm to clean off this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat roosavelt1 and supersoak dat hoe (x10)
1. Crank that Roosevelt: Verb. 1. Perform a typical lean-and-rock dance that involves swinging your hand over your lower stomach while thrusting your pelvis and legs forward in one swift motion. 2. To fornicate.
I'm to fresh up in this bitch / Watch me shuffle, watch me jig / Watch me crank my shoulder work / Superman that bitch
Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy /Then Superman dat hoe
Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)
Summation: No matter what it's about, "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)" blows.
In which indierocket! editor Patrick counts down his favorite records of the year. More...
1. Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans)
Mad genius Dave Longstreth and company rewrite, reimagine and recontextualize Black Flag's seminal classic Damaged, showing that the problems of the past — remember, Damaged came out in '81 — are still the problems of today. But Longstreth — replaying the album essential from (an albeit very damaged) memory — and company turn Black Flag's calls to arms into Baroque meditations, utilizing snaky guitar lines, Dirty South beats and other compositional curveballs to abet Longstreth's beautiful, melodic tenor. The words are the same, but the message is different: Damaged was pissed off; Rise Above is hopeful. That, to paraphrase Frost, makes all the difference.
Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above"
2. The Twilight Sad, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat)
It's s#!t being Scottish was the grand sentiment of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting (well, that and heroin is bad for you), and no Scottish rock group in recent memory has captured that gloomy sentiment like The Twilight Sad. A Sunny Day in Glasgow it ain't: Anchored James Graham's thick Scottish brogue, The Twilight Sad crafted an epic, guitar-driven and appropriately titeld shoegaze masterpiece filled to the brim with torrents of reverb-washed guitar riffs, subtly powerful drumming and twinkling, hypnotic melodies rooted in Scottish folk. Trust me: When "Cold Days from the Birdhouse" bursts into high gear, you'll get it.
The Twilight Sad - "Cold Days from the Birdhouse"
3. Pillars and Tongues, Protection (self-released)
Sometimes surprises come in the most wondrous of places. It was in a small town in Indiana that I discovered Chicago trio Pillars and Tongues, who expertly mash together three of my favorite musical genres: Stately post-rock, haunting slowcore and challenging Chicago free jazz. Protection's tunes veer back and forth between restrained beauty (a la The Dirty Three) and wild, thrashing, chaotic jazz (think the electric cello work of Fred Lonberg-Holm). Protection is practically perfect in every way.
Pillars and Tongues [MySpace]
4. Love of Diagrams, Mosaic (Matador)
If Kim Deal fronted Wire, the result would have sounded a lot like Love of Diagrams. Mosaic, the Aussie trio's American debut, doesn't reinvent the post-punk wheel, but it doesn't have to: It expertly recalls the pioneering godfathers of the genre (Wire, Burma, Gang of Four) and evokes the skilled blend of malaise and fury of The Pixies. Yet it's no stale period piece, working spellbinding magic with tracks the likes of "The Pyramid" and "The Pace and the Patience."
Love of Diagrams - "The Pyramid"
5. Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO/XL/self-released)
Forget all the digital release, pay-what-you-want bullshit associated with In Rainbows. You would've plopped down $20 for this at your favorite record shop and you know it. And it's worth every penny — In Rainbows finally does what no Radiohead album since OK Computer has been able to do: Blend the band's electronic tendencies with its three-guitar orientation with absolute aplomb. The record's also Thom Yorke's most lyrically harrowing yet, as evidenced on the absolutely gut-wrenching "Videotape."
Radiohead - "House of Cards"
6. Battles, Mirrored (Warp)
"People won't be people when they hear this sound," Tyondai Braxton — through pitch-shifting manipulation — croons on "Atlas," one of Mirrored's standout tracks. But perhaps he should've said "People won't be people until they hear this sound": Mirrored is possibly the most sonically adventurous record of the year, bringing dinosauric prog rock into the digital age. Nothing on Mirrored — from the precise, kinetic drumming to the intricate guitar loops and phrases to the highly processed vocals — is an afterthought; it's a human exercise in being inhuman, a masterful melding of man and machine. This is the future of music, and the future is now.
Battles - "Race:In"
7. Electrelane, No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure)
Sure, No Shouts, No Calls doesn't break any new ground, but what's the shame in just recognizing it as an excellent record. No Shouts, No Calls finds Electrelane at its best since The Power Out, blending girl-group soul and Krauty art-rock with ease and grace.
Electrelane - "To the East"
8. Yesterday's Universe, Prepare for a New Yesterday, Vol. 1 (Stones Throw)
Sure, Madlib — nee Otis Jackson Jr. — churns out more music than a vinyl-pressing factory. But his Yesterday's Universe project is the diametric opposite to his Yesterday's New Quintet, looking forward while looking backward, blending the finest cuts of free-jazz skronk, baile funk, thick soul bass, hip-hop beats, post-bop piano, sitar drone and synthesizer solos to create the most groove-conscious record of the year.
The Otis Jackson Trio - "Free Son"
9. The Engines, The Engines (Okka Disk)
Chicago free-jazz is not for the faint of heart. But while The Engines embody some of the hallmarks of the Vandermark sound, they cull the right ones and perform them perfectly. The overblowing and blustery unison horn lines are kept to a minimum, relying on the quartet — each of whom are accomplished composers and Vandermark sidemen — to lock into vicious steamroller grooves. Sure, The Engines can rev with the best of 'em, but like every good engine, it's best when it just purrs along.
The Engines -
10. (tie) Baroness, Red Album (3D)
10. (tie) Boris and Michio Kurihara, Rainbow (Drag City)
The two best heavy records of the year couldn't have been more opposite: Baroness' new-millennium metal meets in the middle ground between Mastodon and Kylesa, amping up its epic, brutal dirge with intelligent, indie-rock-rooted melodic accents. All hail the new lords of smart-metal. Across the Pacific, Japanese sludgelords Boris teamed up with national guitar hero Michio Kurihara to create an unlikely monster: A sludge-metal record filled with psychedelic sunshine; an organic, heat-driven record, the knife-like tones of which cut a shining swath through the din.
Boris and Michio Kurihara - "Rafflesia"
11. Burial, Untrue (Hyperdub)
Burial's danceable grimestep is a little too active for Eno's definition of ambient music, but it still comes pretty close. Untrue is like looking out onto a Minnesota lake in the dead of night in the dead of winter (and we're playing up death only slightly facetiously): Its production is icy, sleek and absolutely gorgeous in its stark simplicity, and angelic voices blow about like snowflakes in the wind. Close your eyes and it's just like December in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Burial - "Near Dark"
12. Ours to Alibi, Beacons (self-released)
Atlanta's Ours to Alibi did something I never thought possible: It out-Explosions-in-the-Skys Explosions in the Sky. From the opening cello riffs of "The Dirt is a Womb" to the resounding coda of "Weary, We Fell Upon Land," Beacons takes the listener on a journey through post-hardcore-inflected post-rock.
Ours to Alibi - "Beacons"
13. Meneguar, Strangers in Our House (Troubleman Unlimited)
Dude, it's Meneguar. I Was Born at Night was retroactively one of my favorite records of 2005 (having heard it in 2006), and Strangers in Our House expands upon its jittery energy expertly. The NYC quartet sounds a little less like Q and Not U and a little more like its own band — and that's a good thing.
Meneguar - "Bury a Flower"
14. Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence)
Just because Ours to Alibi beat them to the post-rock punch doesn't mean that Explosions in the Sky aren't still the kings of transcendent, cinematic American post-rock. They made that Smashing Pumpkins tour worth going to. Bonus: The attached remix disc, which contains bang-up remixes of "The Birth and Death of the Day" (by Justin Broadrick of Jesu) and "Catastrophe and the Cure" (by Four Tet).
Explosions in the Sky - "Welcome, Ghosts"
Explosions in the Sky - "Catastrophe and the Cure (Four Tet Remix)"
15. Kickball, Everything is a Miracle Nothing Is a Miracle Everything Is (Houseopolis)
Kickball's ABCDEFGHIJKickball was among my shoula-beens from last year, so it makes sense that this Pacific Northwest trio cracks this year's list with another set of attractively unwieldy indie rock tunes, each of which burst with authentic nervous energy. Everything also wins massive points for having three of the best truisms of the year, each occuring in "Fight": "If you fight / It's automatically a fight"; "If you don't believe in ghosts / You won't see ghosts"; and "If you build / A house on the beach / It's automatically a beach house."
Kickball - "Fight"
16. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
Everybody's saying it, but it's true: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the best record Billy Joel never made. While Ga doesn't recreate the absolute magnificence of Girls Can Tell or the strutting glam-rock brilliance of Gimme Fiction, it still showcases frontman Britt Daniel at his leanest and meanest, crooning like he never has before, most especially on "The Underdog," the finest (and, truthfully, the most Billy Joel-biting) of the lot.
Spoon - "The Underdog"
17. (tie) Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux)
17. (tie) Ghostface Killah, The Big Doe Rehab (Def Jam)
Aesop narrowly edged out El-P for best indie-rap record of the year; Ghostface takes the mainstream crown.
Aesop Rock - "Keep Off the Lawn"
Ghostface Killah - "We Celebrate" (feat. Kid Capri)
18. Les Savy Fav, Let’s Stay Friends (French Kiss)
Les Savy Fav, we were never not friends. That said, you sound as good now as you did on The Cat and the Cobra. Glad to have you back.
Les Savy Fav - "What Would Wolves Do?"
19. Dinosaur Jr., Beyond (Play it Again Sam)
Fuck it. There's definitely something in the water in Massachusetts. The only post-millennial rock reunions that haven't been utter embarrassments have come from the Bay State (see: Pixies, Burma). Continuing this trend is Dinosaur, which reunites the original lineup of Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Emmett Jefferson "Patrick" Murphy III for the first time since 1988's Bug. Beyond finds Dinosaur in fine, furious form; it's as if they never tried to kick each others' asses on stage.
Dinosaur Jr. - "Been There All the Time"
20. Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace)
True, this ranking might be a reflection of how little I actually digested the Sonic Youth frontman's first solo release since Psychic Hearts. But you know what? I like Trees Outside the Academy a lot more than I liked Rather Ripped. The unusual chord structures and bizarro tunings are still there, but there's a folksy ruminence that permeates the record; a simple, western-Massachusetts charm that enhances Moore's particular quirks instead of suppressing them. Bonus points for "Thurston @ 13"; I know I wasn't that cool when I was 13, and you damn sure weren't.
Thurston Moore - "Wonderful Witches"
21. Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Sub Pop)
Again, this falls under the caveat of "Just because it's disappointing doesn't mean it's bad." On the contrary: Cease to Begin is a delightful and logical follow-up to Everything All the Time. The lush, reverbed guitars are still there, and Ben Bridwell still has a knack for ear-catching, easily hummable indie-rock melodies. Whereas Everything All the Time was stricken with themes of death and triumph, Cease to Begin is a darkly romantic record, most especially in the shimmer of "Detlef Schrempf." (I have to say, though, that I was a little disappointed to find absolutely no reference to the German sharpshooter actually, you know, in the song.) Dig that beautiful artwork, too.
Band of Horses - "Detlef Schrempf"
22. Bridge 61, Journal (Atavistic)
Again, Chicago avant-jazz can be a difficult thing to get into. And this Ken Vandermark-led quartet doesn't make it particularly easy. Journal is filled with all the guttural, atonal sax-skronk you'd expect from Vandermark, and while that's all well and good (after all, Vandermark's a legend in his own right and, as you'll recall, a MacArthur Foundation-recognized genius), Journal's strength is found in the supporting players: Jason Stein's bass clarinet work masterfully complements Vandermark's difficult phrasings, and Nate McBride's bass is best when it's in searing, snarling orbit around Tim Daisy's outstanding drum work. And, indeed, it's when McBride (who alternates between acoustic and electric bass) plugs in that the ensemble really soars, most especially on the spy-movie-riff "Various Fires (For This Heat)" and the appropriately hard-hitting "Shatter."
Bridge 61 - "Various Fires (For This Heat)"
23. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, Worst Band Name Ever (self-released)
Sometimes somber, sometimes sunny, always earnest indie rock a la American Football (or really early Jimmy Eat World) from this New Jersey quintet. That's all there is to say; one of the most absolutely pleasant discoveries of the past year.
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start - "Boise"
24. Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhounds (Touch and Go)
What, you thought Steve Albini was going to put out a record this year and I wouldn't put it on my year-end list? Foolish reader, don't you know that Albini's the smartest man in rock history, and that Shellac's angular angst gets my fists a-pumpin'? (Aside: Albini, as I've learned from the Electrical Audio message boards, is a much better poker player than I am.)
Shellac - "Steady as She Goes"
25. Jesu, Conqueror (Hydra Head)
Sounds like icebergs fucking. “Conqueror” is one of the most achingly beautiful epics in recent history — slow, emotional, breath-taking and destructively heavy.
Jesu - "Conqueror"
26. Menomena, Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
Basically makes it on the strength of "Wet and Rusting" alone, but that doesn't mean the rest of the record — especially "Pelican" and "Rotting Hell" — ain't any good.
Menomena - "Wet and Rusting"
27. Low, Drums and Guns (Sub Pop)
So apparently the biggest thing to happen to Alan Sparhawk between The Great Destroyer and Drums and Guns was a nervous breakdown. Hey, whatever works — Drums and Guns is yet another fine record from the Minnesota slowcore giants. Delicate? Not as much as Things We Lost in the Fire. Austere? Not so much as The Great Destroyer. Hypnotic? As fuck.
Low - "Murderer"
28. Dethklok, Dethalbum (Williams Street)
Call it heavy meta: We know it’s supposed to be a joke, but what does it say when an animated band rocks harder than just about every metal band in existence? There’s more life in these songs than in anything Cradle of Filth’s ever written. And it’s as witty as it is heavy.
Dethklok - "Hatredcopter"
29. Between the Buried and Me, Colors (Victory)
Dude, I hate just about everything Victory Records (which by now has the 15-year-old-girl-into-shitty-emocore market pretty well rogered) has ever put out. But this Raleigh quintet is the exception that proves the rule. Epic sonic-clusterfuck mathcore for the thinking man.
Between the Buried and Me - "Prequel to the Sequel"
30. No Age, Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)
Weirdo Rippers absolutely rips, weirdly, even. No Age accomplishes something very few lo-fi duos manage to do: Sound bigger than the sum of its parts. Weirdo Rippers is hardly an album; it's an all-out blitzkrieg of fuzz-rock, filled with chugging chords and fantastic feedback.
No Age - "Everybody's Down"
31. Wu-Tang Clan, Eight Diagrams (Street/Universal Motown)
Dude: Wu-Tang ain’t nothing to fuck with. And even though the Killah Bees have depreciated into a squabbling, O.D.B.-less mess, they can still kick out some sick-ass rhymes.
Wu-Tang Clan - "Wolves"