Friday, July 31, 2009

Urgh, new banner not look so good. Will fix when have time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Live Review: Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound @ The Earl 7/17/09

For Atlanta Music Guide (and please pardon my terrible show photography):

Live Review: Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound @ The EARL, July 17

Dirty Projectors arrived late, during Atlas Sound’s set on The EARL’s welcoming stage. They’d driven straight to Atlanta from Louisiana, they told us, and more than one band member was sick. In a gesture of goodwill, the audience agreed to put out cigarettes for their benefit.

Fortunately, the smokes were the only things extinguished. Bradford Cox’s set as Atlas Sound had been a glowing one. Backed by Herb Harris, Jason Harris and Tommy Chung of The Selmanaires, he gigglingly played a handful of tracks from the forthcoming Logos for his hometown crowd. It was the first Atlas Sound show I’ve seen where he had a backing band — one that learned the songs in two days, no less — rather than just a microphone and a sampling board at his fingertips. Cox will take The Selmanaires on tour with him when he hits the road this October.

[Atlas Sound: Bradford Cox and Tommy Chung]

The headliners’ set was no less luminescent. Consisting of almost the entirety of this year’s Bitte Orca, it opened with “Two Doves,” just vocalist Angel Deradoorian singing and band leader Dave Longstreth on guitar. It was a sweet, captivating way to start, and ensured the audience’s undivided attention. The set was peppered with moments that would make us stare equally as rapturously.

[Dirty Projectors: Angel Deradoorian, Dave Longstreth, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle]

Standout moments included the rocking unison “bitte orca” refrain in “Useful Chamber” and the guitar riff and handclap backing in “No Intention.” Longstreth almost never strums his guitar, always finger picking these frantic, stuttering melodies and looking ecstatic the whole time. Deradoorian, Haley Dekle and Amber Coffman’s voices ping-pong-ed off each other’s in such a way that it was seamless, and difficult to believe it was human anatomy and not an electronic device producing the sound (most startlingly in “Remade Horizon”)...[Read more]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Record Review: Megafaun - Gather, Form and Fly

Yay timeliness! Gather, Form and Fly releases today via FOA Crushworthy Record Label Hometapes. ("Home is where the tapes is.")

For Atlanta Music Guide:

Gather, Form and Fly


Megafaun’s albums feel like a flocking of musical ideas rather than a linear expression of them. Good thing for the Durham, N.C. trio, then, that the migration it has made compositionally takes it in all kinds of fascinating directions; ones that perhaps aren’t visible without binoculars. From the ashes of former band DeYarmond Edison (minus member Justin Vernon, now of Bon Iver), Megafaun took flight, releasing Bury The Square in 2007. The album won over a national audience with its pretty soundscapes, lush vocals and backwoods instrumentation.

But sophomore release Gather, Form and Fly cashes in that capital and compounds the interest, utilizing more techniques than a goose has feathers. At first glance, it’s just a record full of finger picking and pretty stacked vocals. It fiddles like Appalachian folk, rambles like Americana and strums like acoustic rock. But beyond all that, a strong instinct for experimentation and sound variety permeates Gather, Form and Fly; no two songs can be said to be the exact same style and no one song remains the same style throughout its entire length...[Read more]

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've had my file hosting account suspended for some reason (I suspect it has to do with the bandwidth usage surrounding me posting Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks"). Sorry if you've tried to listen to some older stuff and it's not there anymore. If there's anything specific that I once posted that you'd really like, shoot me an email. Thx!

Friday, July 17, 2009

FOA OMG!!1!: Pontiak

I'm not usually one for stoner-sludge-type guitar rock, but man, is Virginia's Pontiak an exception. I missed them when they did an in-store at Criminal Records during Bonnaroo (exasperated sigh), but I've been spinning their April Thrill Jockey release Maker since then anyway. I caught wind of the band when they passed through Atlanta last year after releasing Sun on Sun (these guys record quickly). The three Carney brothers hail from the Blue Ridge, and can perhaps thank their familial relationship for the seamlessness with which they perform and record. Live, they were a positive force, dark and menacing but somehow buoyant and bright, too. Recorded, listening to Pontiak feels like walking into a cave on a hot, sunny day. You're a little blinded, but it's cool in here, and somehow the sheer depth of it relaxes.

Maker is almost minimalist. Though vocals do play an important role in the album, they're few and far between. That's because for Pontiak, less is more. Lead-off "Laywayed" stops abruptly after the intro and inspires that kind of everyone-inhales-at-once tension bands sometimes employ live. Some tracks, like "Wax Worship," begin or end with lengthy sound collages--they drone--and concentrate more on waves and textures than any pop sensibilities. "Wax Worship"'s final minutes feature vocals reminiscent of Gregorian chants or some type of cult choir situation. You can almost hear the creepy ceremonial hooded robes.

"Seminal Shining," one of Maker's shortest track, departs from all of this. It's wholly and hypnotically different, utilizing Spanish-style guitar and low vocals throughout the length of the song. Maybe a technique of drone and ambient music comes through here; it's another example of the effectiveness yielded by lulling an audience into a certain repetitive framework before startlingly changing style or key. I like it.

Give 'em a listen:

[MP3] Pontiak - "Wax Worship"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Record Review: Bowerbirds - Upper Air

After writing a Paste Band of the Week on Bowerbirds at the re-release of Hymns For A Dark Horse last year (in which I got to interview Phil Moore), reviewing their follow-up LP was a bit of a challenge. For one thing, their style hadn't vastly changed on this sophomore effort. Many of the same elements were still there, to the point that it risked monotony. But once I listened enough, I got to experience the ways the band was growing. In the end, Upper Air is a satisfying, if not list-topping, effort from a band whose instinct for beauty is unparalleled.

For Stomp and Stammer:

Upper Air
[Dead Oceans]

“One morning you wake to find you are shackled to your bed/ And bound and gagged/ Oh my, what a predicament,” Phil Moore sings to begin “House of Diamonds,” the lead-off track of Bowerbirds’ sophomore LP. That certainly would be a predicament, but not to worry; “You were free/ You were already free,” the song reassures as Beth Tacular’s high, clear voice joins Moore’s. Two years after the self-release and one year after the re-release of the North Carolina trio’s first full-length Hymns for a Dark Horse, they’ve returned with Upper Air, an album consistent with their debut but that shows clear signs of evolution.

See, they were already free. Hymns betrayed the band’s organic, unshackled ways of writing, playing and living. (Moore and Tacular are a couple and lived in an Airstream trailer in the woods before they built their own log cabin.) The album explored almost exclusively themes of respect for nature, of living harmoniously with it and with the world as a whole. On Upper Air they still use pretty, harmonized vocal hooks and minimalist, acoustic instrumentation like accordion, piano and hand-held bass drum. They still pepper their folk songs with a darker, more intense gypsy number here or there; see “Beneath Your Tree.”...[Read more]

[MP3] Bowerbirds - "Crooked Lust"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Record Review: Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

So far, Veckatimest is one of my favorite records of the year. Seeing Grizzly Bear for the first time at Bonnaroo was a complete thrill; I was so happy! Ed Droste is a hypnotic vocalist, and Christopher Bear's live drumming is formidable and overzealous and fantastic!

When I came back, I got to agonize over a review of the album for Stomp and Stammer. What came out was unintentionally kind of a thesis. Hope you like!

Grizzly Bear

It takes a long time to get submerged in a Grizzly Bear record. The band name itself deceives. No reckless, territorial aggression to be found here – no claws – only beauty and calculation, careful diction and studiedly released energy. The first few listens always reveal, to me at least, only the textures used and not the content. The reedy, blended treble they favor sounds like some ensemble of minstrels dancing atop an intermittently used giant bass drum. (Idea for a video, maybe?) When I’ve only gotten my feet wet, the immediacy of Grizzly Bear records doesn’t feel as apparent to me as it must to those who always gush about them.

But then something happens. On the 15th-ish listen, suddenly I’ve plunged under and all the waves of brilliance start rushing past. Veckatimest, of their work so far, is all but a tsunami. (To be fair, listening on cranked-up headphones helps, too.) Packing the punch possibly lacking in the gorgeous Yellow House and the eclectic Friend EP while still just as pretty, Veckatimest exhibits loudly the Brooklyn quartet’s abilities with theme exploration and the manipulation of audience tension. Lead-off track “Southern Point” seems a microcosm of this with its backing strings and barreling chorus, alternately gentle and jarring. Each track develops a melody or two and repeats, changing a bit each time, and often sprouts into a large, thrilling B-section or coda at the end. (Come to think of it, Grizzly Bear is exactly why you should never judge a song on its first few seconds.) They’re no less exciting for their predictability, mostly because the band ornaments absolutely everything. It sounds like they’d hang Christmas baubles on the pointy parts of their songs if they could.

Take, for example, the ostensible stand-out “Two Weeks.” As catchy as the group gets, the song just repeats the bouncy keyboard melody and soaring vocal backing (featuring Beach House’s Victoria Legrand) over and over. Here’s the thing, though: the arrangement is different absolutely every time the theme reprises. It’s the final touch that makes the song not just something hipsters can dance to, but a powerhouse composition in its own right. Same goes for “All We Ask” and “While You Wait For The Others.” Sure, they’re transcendent pop songs, but they’re effing fascinating, too!...[Read more]

If for any reason you haven't heard it yet:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Record Review: Lord Cut-Glass - Lord Cut-Glass

For Atlanta Music Guide:

Lord Cut-Glass
Lord Cut-Glass

Chemikal Underground

Ex-Delgado Alun Woodward’s lilting Scottish accent wraps itself around the haunting, intricate instrumental arrangements in his songs. His debut LP under the moniker Lord Cut-Glass — named for a character in the radio play Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas — turns seamlessly from folk to waltz to military march to a ditty about being the “product of the modern man.” Each song is a fleshed-out stand-alone composition, a full story and an entire piece of music in its own right. Listening to Lord Cut-Glass as an album feels like being at the theater; one can almost feel the velvet of the curtains and the see the glow of the stage lights.

Maybe it’s because most of the phrasing seems directly derivative of theatrical song composition in the best way. Woodward plays with tempo and volume in a manner that creates interest and tension, helped in his efforts by drummer Paul Savage (also formerly of The Delgados), as well as a large collection of Glasgow classical musicians. Together, they man a toy piano, a full horn section, an accordion and slews of sweeping strings; they supply choral backup singing to supplement Woodward’s fast-picked acoustic guitar and produce his bizarre mental collages.

Lyrically, Woodward brings intimidating smarts and a charming sense of humor to his songwriting. Take, for example, the fact that the quietest song on the album — a sweetly sung minimalist acoustic duet — is called “Holy Fuck!” and asserts that “glimpsing reflections of the past… feels like licking rats.” Through lines like these, Woodward displays his ability with striking descriptiveness. “I believe that you and me will never be/A Fred-and-Ginger matinee romance,” he croons. “Holy Fuck!” and every song on the album, really, beautifully meshes undeniable truth with darkly comic wit and weird analogy...[Read more]

FOAVOD: Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game"

This video is incredible. It parodies those terrible slideshow videos people are always making for YouTube. But it does it in a way that makes your realization of what's going on grow gradually throughout the length of the video. I was laughing out loud-- it's brilliant!