Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Record Review: Bon Iver - Bon Iver

This is the most I've had to say about anything music-related in a long while. My crisis of rock critic faith may still be ongoing, but on this topic at least, I certainly know what I think. Many thanks to Stomp and Stammer, as always, for letting me say whatever the hell I want to.

(This album is good but absolutely doesn't deserve a 9.5, Pitchfork. Sigh. Chill out, already.)

Bon Iver
Bon Iver


...What becomes apparent, though, when I put on my critical hat about it, is this: more than ever before, bands, the massive music PR engine that promotes their work and the critics that cover it are not separate, independent entities. They're symbiotic, and the very time-and-place-centric story that surrounded For Emma's release may have sunk in for Vernon and co. They can't create in a vacuum, and they don't....[Read more]

Thought: It's a strange thing to really care about--and be in some suspense about--the release of an album. Outside of Harry Potter, I've rarely been so curious about the forthcoming part of a serial of any kind. But musicians and their fans have different goals and different expectations. Who's to say if they'll ever see eye-to-eye?

Check out all the Bon Iver and Bon Iver-related gushing I've done over the years here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Record Review: Royal Bangs - Flux Outside

For Stomp and Stammer:

Royal Bangs
Flux Outside


Though perhaps no other moment on the record can equal the frenetic, harried energy of the leadoff track, Flux Outside, the third LP from Knoxville's Royal Bangs, barrels relentlessly straight through to its finish. "Grass Helmet," the aforementioned leadoff, peaks the record early with its stuttering percussion, screeching sound effects and emphatic vocals. It's a slap in the face of all navel-gazing, nonchalant delivery, and it's one the trio performs without faltering. We'll be spent before they are....[Read more]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Record Review: Eksi Ekso - Brown Shark Red Lion

For Flagpole:

Eksi Ekso
Brown Shark Red Lion

The Mylene Sheath

The storm is coming. Boston’s Eksi Ekso tells us so. Via backing brass and all manner of accompanying strings, the keys, guitar, bass and drums of this orchestral pop trio turn their individual songs into lush, suspenseful compositions. This wide scope, both stylistically and instrumentally, only adds to Brown Shark Red Lion’s foreboding. When voices foretell en masse of impending danger, they’ve likely got more credibility than a single harbinger alone...[Read more]

Flagpole Feature: Ocha la Rocha

For Flagpole:

Ocha la Rocha
30-Plus Members and Just as Many TV Spots

It’s a far cry from working and playing at Atlanta’s Star Community Bar to having songs appear on Hollywood television shows like ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money” and MTV’s “The Hills.” Somehow, however, Johnny la Rocha and his band Ocha la Rocha seem to be at home doing both...[Read more]

Record Review: Secret Cities - Strange Hearts

In which I for some reason lead with more talk of chicken fillets. For Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Secret Cities - Strange Hearts

Sometimes a mallet can do more than beat chicken fillets into submission. Occasionally, it's the essential ingredient in an already-virtuosic experimental psych-pop band's rhythmic impact. Fargo, N.D.'s Secret Cities uses mallets to complement the dual lead-vocal duties deftly executed by Charlie Gokey and MJ Parker...[Read more]

As I've previously mentioned, Secret Cities is one of my absolute favorite bands. This sophomore record they put out a couple months ago is one of my favorites of the year, even if it bears some striking differences from the debut. What's more, their live performance when they passed through Atlanta a few months back was spectacular. They're so immensely talented, and also extremely sweet people.

Shorty after I heard the band play live, I was able to conduct an interview and write this feature for Paste, which I just realized I never posted here. This one does them much better justice, too:

Best of What's Next: Secret Cities

North Dakota’s Secret Cities will combat their home’s blustery weather this month with a sophomore record as warm as it is wry. Born of a chance band camp meeting, the two bewitching lead vocalists and drummer have already morphed many times in their young careers.

“We’re a bunch of dorks that found each other in very dorky ways and started making music in very dorky ways,” jokes singer/multi-instrumentalist Charlie Gokey, who started the band with singer/keyboardist Marie Parker when they were just 15. “Now we’re not dorky anymore. We can pretend easier now.”...[Read more]

Happy listening!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Record Review: Peter Bjorn and John - Gimme Some

For Atlanta Music Guide:

Peter Bjorn and John
Gimme Some

Almost Gold

Gimme Some is perhaps one of the sunniest records of the year, but Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John took a strange, twisty road to get here. This, the band’s sixth LP, is a far cry from the weird hollowness and intimately narrative lyrics found on their 2006 U.S. breakthrough Writer’s Block. That set of songs still resonates in XM Radio annals and every comfy coffee shop – especially the whistling, ubiquitous single “Young Folks” featuring The Concretes’ Victoria Bergsman. The band’s intervening two albums (2008’s Seaside Rock and 2009’s Living Thing) reveal something of its stylistic journey over the past five years as Peter Morén, BjörnYttling and John Eriksson traversed various inroads of pop experimentalism. With Gimme Some, however, it’s obvious they’ve emerged in the bright light after their creative tunnel...[Read more]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Record Review: Akron/Family - S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT

For Flagpole:

S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT

Dead Oceans

At what point does lack of identity become an identity in and of itself? Akron/Family, the now-trio sometimes called the only hipster-friendly jam band, has undergone multiple personality changes, each record revealing a new layer in their fragrant musical onion...[Read more]

Previously, on FOA: Akron/Family @ The Earl, 8/13/09

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flagpole Feature: Pride Parade

For Flagpole:

Pride Parade
Growing Without Growing Up

Even big kids need room to grow. After five years as a band—scrapping predecessor Brown Frown, releasing an EP and two LPs with Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk and playing to Athens audiences large and small—Pride Parade needed to stretch out.

To record the band’s third full-length with the hope of reproducing the effect of its widely adored live show, the quintet retreated to Watkinsville’s Full Moon Studio and, with the help of Jay Rodgers, simultaneously tracked all instruments in the expansive room there. “We wanted [the recording] to be something we didn't have to go in and piecemeal,” says guitarist Allen Owens. “We just rehearsed our asses off and made sure we went in there and played the stuff like we play it live.”...[Read more]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Record Review: Lia Ices - Grown Unknown

For Stomp and Stammer a couple months back:

Lia Ices
Grown Unknown


I never thought I'd actively think about Paula Cole again. When she stopped wondering where all the cowboys had gone – when I grew out of my teenage obsession with a certain Mr. Dawson Leery – I thought Paula and I were through. And though, admittedly, I'm not one to seek out the female singer-songwriter over other musician types, I heard my fill of others like her in the intervening dozen or so years, and barring Natalie Merchant, no one drove me to recall her.

But whenever the double-tracked vocals on sections of Lia Ices' Grown Unknown kick in, I'm back in my bedroom, wishing a Dawson would climb a ladder into my window...[Read more]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Record Review: Tapes 'n Tapes - Outside

"In which I write a record review while obviously hungry" or "Tapes n tapes n tapes n tapes...."

For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Tapes 'n Tapes


I like bar food. I like veggie burgers and fries and the occasional (okay, extremely frequent) plate of nachos. I like feeling that when I go somewhere for such food, I can show up looking however I please, that no visual or behavioral state of being (barring unruly and destructive) will be frowned upon.

In 2005, Minneapolis’ Tapes ’n Tapes released a record I consumed like bar food — ravenously, insatiably, uninhibited...[Read more]

Tiny Mix Tapes' 50 Favorite Albums of 2010

I feel so privileged to have contributed to Tiny Mix Tapes for the duration of 2010, and weighing in on their best albums of the year was just the icing on the cake. Some of the top 25 albums I voted for made their cut, some didn't, but by asking me to write about TMT's #14 choice, the editors gave me a second stab at a review I thought I could've done better.

Read the whole 50-item feature here.

See the page with selections 20-11 to read my blurb about #14, Women's Public Strain:

"...Public Strain, like their self-titled debut, was a tactile album, one to be felt like someone unseeing recognizes a face, complete with all the relief found in that face's familiarity."

That full review can be found here.

For the record, here's the stuff I voted for, though I gotta say I lack conviction on a lot of it:

25. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
24. Beach House - Teen Dream
23. Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
22. Owen Pallet - Heartland
21.Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
20. Future Islands - In Evening Air
19. Mount Eerie - Song Islands vol. 2
18. Megafaun - Heretofore
17. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
16. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - Where The Messengers Meet
15. Kurt Vile - Square Shells EP
14. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
13. Abe Vigoda - Crush
12. Friendo - Cold Toads
11. Wolf People - Tidings
10. The Harvey Girls - I've Been Watching A Lot of Horror Movies Lately
9. Carnivores - If I'm Ancient
8. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
7. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
6. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
5. No Age - Everything In Between
4. The National - High Violet
3. Secret Cities - Pink Graffiti
2. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
1. Women - Public Strain

Big Boi shoulda totally been on there....

Monday, December 20, 2010

FOAVOD: Sam Prekop - The Silhouettes

Today's FOA Video of the Day comes from Thrill Jockey artist Sam Prekop. This killer video (cute anthropomorphized blobs having adventures to celestial electro music) was directed by Jordan Kim of Yo Gabba Gabba fame. Tearfully adorable and annoyingly uplifting:

Sam Prekop - The Silhouettes from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Bazookaluca Podcast: Best of 2010

Want to hear two people chatter excitedly (jadedly, ruefully, hopefully, gloriously) about the year in music? FOR AN HOUR?! That's what I thought you said!

My dear friend Luca invited me to be his guest for the second installment of the Bazookaluca Podcast! We discuss our respective best-of-the-year recommendations in music and go on plenty of tangents. He even did a great job cutting in the tracks we talked about! It's amazing.

CLICK HERE to listen to it streaming on the website.
CLICK HERE to listen to it free via iTunes. ( know you want to.)

Also, see Luca's staggering Best of 2010 Megalist for GIFs of Christina Hendricks' boobies and corgis. Oh! And a TON of music, film, TV, etc. He's the hardest-working man in showbiz, folks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


So my dear boys in Lazer/Wulf asked me to recreate the brief guest spot I did with them on the song "Who Were The Mound Builders?" when they recorded their spectacular The Void That Isn't a couple years back. For their great return-to-playing-live-in-Athens show at Caledonia December 4, I brought my flute and waited beside the stage until the last song. I wondered why my mouth had gone so dry and I wished my beer wasn't gone. Then it was time. And I played. And then it was over.

The thing about the internet, though, is that even the most fleeting, out-of-body-type experiences don't necessarily have to stay that way. Someone could very likely be there to capture the moment and preserve it for all eternity. Someone like Sloan Simpson and Mike White, of Southern Shelter and Deadly Designs, respectively.

At Southern Shelter, you can listen to (and download for free) an MP3 of my flirtation with metal glory (It's track 4). You can also watch a video/audio synch of the Wulves' newest performable creation, "There Was A Hole Here (It's Gone Now)," which has been stuck in my head for three days. Matter of fact, here that is:

As always, I've written about L/W here on FOA before. Here it go.

But I'm not the only one. Flagpole's done a great job of plugging the deserving, and they ran a feature the week before the show, for which I had the honor of taking this picture, as well as several others (which I hope will soon, ridiculously, see the light of day):

Now, that was fun. I do worry about the poor recycling worker who had to clean raw ground beef off of all those cardboard boxes...sorry man, my mistake...

Of course, Flagpole's talked about Lazer/Wulf plenty of times, as well. How could you not?

Lazer/Wulf on the Facebook!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flagpole Calendar Pick: Bridges and Powerlines

This is a little out of date, but here's the mini-feature I wrote on Bridges and Powerlines for Flagpole Magazine:

Bridges and Powerlines

New York’s Bridges and Powerlines share more aesthetically with composer John Philip Sousa than anyone would have expected—especially them. After producing a debut LP driven by shiny keyboard melodies, the quartet has blossomed into a band that makes near-marches. The tunes feature sweeping arrangements that, though still pop-driven and lyrically balladeering, explore frontlines unlike any the band has approached before...[Read more]