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. (Subscribe...you 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

Metal/Flute!

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]

Record Review: Wolf People - Steeple

One of the now-rare pieces I've written for TMT of late. Hopefully more will follow.

I wrote about Wolf People's singles compilation release Tidings earlier release this year here.)

For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Wolf People
Steeple

Jagjaguwar

...Completely devoid of the ADHD that made Tidings so charming, Steeple instead errs on the side of monotony, the whole thing sticking firmly to its take on authentic psychedelia. Without declaring the record totally unvarying, though, I’d instead assert that it feels more complete but less passionately (naïvely?) hopeful than Tidings did. Like a bright-eyed recent graduate, Tidings went in every direction at once, envisioning endless possibilities. Wolf People, as the freshly diploma'd will do, picked a direction and went with it. They selected an eventuality from the infinite potentials they hinted at on Tidings and worked on it, honed it into a whole, fully-realized work of art. Steeple is competent and very obviously displays hard-earned skill, but it’s a little sad to think about all the directions they didn’t go, all the roads they didn’t take....[Read more]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Record Review: Carnivores - If I'm Ancient

Love me some Carnivores, as we well know! I think this is my fourth time formally writing about them? No matter! They have a new record out, and it's brilliant. Still officially my favorite Atlanta band. ATL represent!



For Flagpole:

Carnivores
If I'm Ancient

Double Phantom

The name If I’m Ancient deliberately misleads. The grammatically conditional title of this sophomore record from Atlanta’s Carnivores, who, incidentally, are far from aged themselves, communicates a tentativeness the band seems wholly without. Appropriate, perhaps, that a group so committed to pop disguised deftly beneath layers of psych-punk anarchy fools us yet again. Pleasant deception is what it's best at...[Read more]



(As a side note, hearing some of these songs pre-mastering and then in their finished form really gives an extra level of admiration to the whole thing. THUMBS UP.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Record Review: Women - Public Strain

One of the best of 2010!! Women rules, for sure. Or is it "Women rule"...? For sure.

Women
Public Strain

Jagjaguwar

Women’s 2008 self-titled debut is one of my favorite records. As with many loves, however, it's difficult to tell you why, exactly. When I first laid ears on it, I thought it was the prettiest ugly thing, interlocking detuned guitar riffs and swaths of wide-lens noise and all. The music was as warm through all its tearing and wrinkling as I imaged the band’s Canadian home was chilly. It felt three-dimensional, like fingers on a relief map — then like the map had rolled up and was trying to asphyxiate me. I always ended the album’s journey slack-jawed and a little out of breath...[Read more]


[MP3] Women - "Eyesore" (via Jagjaguwar)

Record Review: Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth: Remixed


Joining the ranks of bands I've written about too many times but can't help myself is Brooklyn's Bear In Heaven. I was able to talk up their re-release of 2009's Beast Rest Forth Mouth (with a remix record) for Tiny Mix Tapes' Delorean blog.

Here it goes:

2009: Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth: Remixed

Although I recognize the necessity of re-releasing previously self-released records when artists get signed or get big, as someone who’s job it is to give a crap about when exactly an album came out, it can be a little annoying to deal with these discrepancies. Bear In Heaven’s move to re-release their breakthrough record Beast Rest Forth Mouth (like the cardinal directions “East West North South,” geddit?) a little under a year after its original road to acclaim, is an understandable one; the Hometapes label can rake in more cash while the Brooklyn-via-Georgia-and-Alabama band gets to up the quality of the LP they’re selling at merch tables and record stores across the world...[Read more]


Read up on all the other FOA Bear In Heaven content here!

Flagpole Feature: Frightened Rabbit

In which I get to call Scotland from my cell phone in my car on my first day at a new job!



Flagpole feature:

Frightened Rabbit's Winter of Mixed Drinks
Are They Half Empty or Half Full?


Scott Hutchison is probably an optimist. Listening to The Winter of Mixed Drinks, however, his band Frightened Rabbit’s third studio album, sometimes it’s hard to tell...[Read more]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Record Review: Abe Vigoda - Crush

A record review almost entirely inspired by that '90s theme party we threw a while back...


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Abe Vigoda
Crush

PPM

As 80s nostalgia has melted into 90s nostalgia with the concluding aughts, some parts of pop music (especially indie pop) have perhaps unsurprisingly slid what’s retro forward, dwelling no longer on the 60s and 70s (revisited psychedelia, disco), but on the 80s, an era that now concluded nearly 20 years ago. Granted, there’ve always been synthesizers. In some circles, the indispensability of the artificial, of the 4/4 dance beat, was never called into question — night clubs and dance pop have always needed the non-acoustic to survive. But even as theme-party attendees have abandoned their sweatbands and side-ponytails for flannel and combat boots, the center-of-the-road alt-pop band has looked to those fads’ temporal predecessors for inspiration. (See: Yeasayer’s Odd Blood, Bear In Heaven’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth, M83’s Saturdays=Youth, etc.)

Enter Abe Vigoda, a Los Angeles quartet up to this point declared by itself and others a “tropical punk” band (and one possessed of perhaps my favorite ridiculous name)...[Read more]

Live Review: Jimmy Eat World @ Center Stage, September 21

For Atlanta Music Guide:



(Photo courtesy of Luca)

Live Review: Jimmy Eat World at Center Stage, September 21

As unseasonably hot inside the venue as the month of September has been outside, Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins took the stage and within a song had soaked through more than half of his shirt. Before long, the sweat started flying off the tips of his hair, and coupled with epic smoke-machine-meets-stage-lights effects, it felt like the pure essence of rock ‘n’ roll...[Read more]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flagpole Calendar Pick: Agent Ribbons


This is a very cool record from a very cool band. Highly recommended! Playing tonight at Caledonia in Athens.

For Flagpole:

Calendar Pick: Agent Ribbons
w/ Cars Can Be Blue, Dusty Lightswitch, Laminated Cat
Friday, Sept. 24 @ Caledonia Lounge

With a frilly cowgirl dress for sale on Modcloth.com inspired by their music, and a whole country’s worth of road under their belts, the three women of Agent Ribbons prove both more feminine and more forceful than your average group.

Their sophomore record Chateau Crone will be released via Antenna Farm Records on Oct. 12, and it covers a lot of road—from American doo-wop- or surf-influenced ditties to Eastern European-emulating ballads...[Read more]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Record Review: Megafaun - Heretofore


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Megafaun
Heretofore

Hometapes

When I interviewed Megafaun’s Phil Cook in April, the band had just written and recorded Heretofore within the space of six weeks. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an unmastered version of the short LP, and even in that raw-ish form, their grounding in “roots music” — the one that somehow incorporated their high school jazz band beginnings with a love of folk and bluegrass — mixed as obviously as ever with a commitment to pushing boundaries. Cook spoke about the balance between tradition and experimentation, the trust between the band’s members, and winning people over by not taking themselves too seriously...[Read more]


I've written about Megafaun before!

Live Review: Crystal Castles @ The Masquerade, September 8

One of the sweatiest shows I've ever attended...


For Atlanta Music Guide:

Live Review: Crystal Castles @ The Masquerade, September 8

As the floor shook steadily underfoot 50 feet back from the stage upstairs at the Masquerade, the crowd got restless. The room was filled with a seething mass of older teens and younger 20-somethings; a full hour had elapsed since Bear In Heaven’s abnormally early set concluded (much to my disappointment) and people were beginning to get antsy...[Read more]


(Photo by Ben Grad via AMG.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Record Review: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul


For Flagpole:

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
Dark Night of the Soul

Capitol

Dark Night of the Soul almost never saw the light of day. The release of the collaborative record between late Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous and former Athens resident Danger Mouse (AKA Brian Burton) was delayed more than a year by Burton’s legal battle with EMI and Linkous’ untimely death. In 2009, the extensive David Lynch-furnished accompanying picture book was put out along with a blank CD, but July 14 marked the first time the record itself saw proper release...[Read more]

Record Review: Efren - Always Been A Bleeder


For Flagpole:

Efren
Always Been A Bleeder

Slo Pro

In a quiet eddy where gothic Americana, psychedelia and straight-up country swirl together, Scott Leon-O’Day of local band Efren sits holding a guitar. Armed with only his breathy voice, he sings of the hand he’s been dealt (“Check It Down”) and watches the brackish waters, at times assisted by a trio of instrumentalists...[Read more]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Record Review: Oryx & Crake - Oryx & Crake

Oryx & Crake is an nine-person Atlanta music collective made up of SCAD grads and English teachers, parents and friends. They celebrate their record release this Saturday at The Earl with Venice Is Sinking and Book of Colors.

For Stomp and Stammer:



Oryx & Crake
Oryx & Crake

Self-released

Is there such a thing as quietly epic? Caught somewhere in the twilight in-between that isn't quite post-rock and isn't quite folk and isn't quite pop, Oryx & Crake's self-titled debut album at times revisits the waves of tinny sound that populated the years of '90s alternative while paddling its feet in the wading pools of orchestral rock and experimental electronica...[Read more]

Visit their website for songs.

Also, check this out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Record Review: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - Where The Messengers Meet


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Where The Messengers Meet

Dead Oceans

We all know the saying about what happens when you assume. And we also know that a band’s name usually has little to do with its sound or its genre (see: Conifer). But Ben Verdoes and his Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band seemed to uninitiated ears to promise something either ramshackle or violent or both, a troupe of minstrels preaching peace and protest or waging nothing less than sonic war.

Neither is true....[Read more]



[MP3] Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - "Hurrah" (via Dead Oceans)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Record Review: The Harvey Girls - I've Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies Lately


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

The Harvey Girls
I've Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies Lately

Circle Into Square

I’ve Been Watching a Lot of Horror Movies Lately needs to see a psychiatrist. Rarely does a record possess such clearly split personalities, and even less often does one do it so successfully. In fact, never mind. Let’s leave it unmedicated.

The Harvey Girls, a Portland husband-and-wife duo that shares its name with a 1946 Judy Garland film based on a book by Samuel Hopkins Adams, do so much more than two people reasonably should. Melissa Rodenbeek and Hiram Lucke infuse each of the album’s nine songs with their own personality, one that may or may not make any sense whatsoever in the album's context.

Fortunately, all of Horror’s songs play well with others...[Read more]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Record Review: Wovenhand - The Threshingfloor


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Wovenhand
The Threshingfloor

Sounds Familyre

Gimmickry of any kind will only go so far. Colorado resident and ex-16 Horsepower front man David Eugene Edwards’ Wovenhand returns for its seventh (!) record, the follow-up to 2008’s widely-lauded Ten Stones, with an exploration of a different ethnomusical palette, and it’s one that paints an ambivalent picture. Whereas Ten Stones explored the sounds of middle America — one of mile-high mountains and masculine morality — with an admirable clarity, The Threshingfloor takes up the instruments of Europe and the Middle East, and in the process muddles itself a little...[Read more]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Record Review: Secret Cities - Pink Graffiti


Guys. This album is magnificent. Go pick it up.

For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Secret Cities
Pink Graffiti

Western Vinyl

Dear Secret Cities,

I know you're all comfortable returning to your Fargo, North Dakota home and stuff, but let me ask you an urgent question real quick. Can you please, PLEASE pull an about-face and come back to Atlanta, Georgia? See, today I discovered Pink Graffiti, your debut album (as Secret Cities, that is, not as Parker and Gokay or as The White Foliage). I mean, it only came out like a month ago, right? I'm not that far behind. And when I heard it, when I realized how magnificent I thought it was, I went and looked you up. That's when I learned you were here in Atlanta two weeks ago, and I didn't know. Goddamnit...[Read more]


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Record Review: Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Horse Feathers
Thistled Spring

Kill Rock Stars

Horses don’t have feathers. Duh. The name is a deliberate contradiction, much like a string quartet that plays rock music. But unlike the characters in the Marx Brothers movie that shares its name, the band called Horse Feathers doesn’t fumble around; their performance isn’t a comedy of errors.

Unfortunately, it’s the very fact that every action is so studied — that it’s so beautifully orchestrated and meticulously performed — that robs Thistled Spring, the third full-length from the Portland, Oregon four-piece (their second for Kill Rock Stars), of its hook. No smash-and-grab antics or dramatic football finales for Justin Ringle’s Horse Feathers. It’s stark and gorgeous, yes, a mashup of romantic string arrangements and melodic keys and emotive guitar and gloomy vocals. But entire swathes of the album run together; though it’s very pleasantly atmospheric, each song has trouble standing out from the blended timbre of the record as a whole...[Read more]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flagpole Feature: Venice Is Sinking


Flagpole Feature:

Venice Is Sinking's Sand & Lines
Featuring Special Guest, The Georgia Theatre


When smoke rose above the Georgia Theatre on June 19, 2009, Venice Is Sinking didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t just that they stood to lose a favorite place, somewhere they’d performed dozens of times and whose owner, Wilmot Greene, had always welcomed them warmly. It was that only the week before, the band had begun a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise the money for the pressing of Sand & Lines, the group's third LP, recorded over the course of four days in that very building (out June 15 via One Percent Press).

“We all felt really close to the Theatre because we had spent so much time there,” says vocalist and viola player Karolyn Troupe. “It was a loss for the town, but it was also a personal loss for us.”...[Read more]


I was lucky to be able to run the remnants of the interview on Creative Loafing Atlanta's Crib Notes Blog:

Venice Is Sinking talk Sand & Lines and rising above


Today, a year to the week after the Georgia Theatre in Athens was gutted by fire, the town’s native dream pop quintet Venice Is Sinking release Sand & Lines, the album they recorded in it. Produced by Athens’ prolific David Barbe, it’s an LP recorded wholly live on two microphones suspended above the theatre’s stage, and in light of the building’s fate, has become a de-facto historical document of what it once sounded like. Beyond that, it’s a watershed moment for VIS, whose previous studio recordings were painstakingly scalpeled into place over the course of many months. Sand & Lines, conversely, was recorded and wrapped in a week, features three covers and demonstrates the group’s ability, with the help of a slew of local friends, to cut loose.

I joined them at guitarist and vocalist Daniel Lawson’s home on the last day of May to talk about the album, the Theatre and their musical town over a table of tacos. Then we went and shot a BB gun in the backyard....[Read more]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Record Review: Here We Go Magic - Pigeons

Last year, I interviewed Luke Temple for Stomp and Stammer about his self-titled Here We Go Magic debut. It never made it to the web (it ran in print only), but we talked a lot about his commitment to analog recording and what it means to suddenly have four talented bandmates when he'd been a solo musician for so long. He was thoughtful and serious, and seemed more than anything to believe in music itself, in the way that's so thorough that it sounds almost casual. I loved Here We Go Magic, so when I got a promo of sophomore release Pigeons in my mailbox, I was thrilled. In the end, though, I was left feeling ambivalent. (I decided on a 3 1/2 out of 5 rating because it's still better than a lot of what gets released, I guess. I don't know what to think.)

Here's like 800 words I wrote about it for Tiny Mix Tapes:

Here We Go Magic
Pigeons

Secretly Canadian

Remember those Claritin commercials? You know the ones. There’s some spokeswoman in the middle of a green, green field holding a tennis racket or other athletic device and rubbing her allergic eyeballs. Then they pull a layer of something saran-wrap-like up from one corner of the screen and suddenly everything’s the kind of vivid bright you didn’t know to expect, because until they removed the film, the slightly hazier version looked pretty normal. Nice, even, because once the gauze has been removed, you seem to need sunglasses — everything’s a little too blinding.

After adoring, worshiping, wanting to physically hug Luke Temple’s first, nearly-solo 2009 release as Here We Go Magic (self-titled, via Western Vinyl), listening to this sophomore, full-band effort feels much the same as blinking in the suddenly too-crisp glare of a Claritin commercial...[Read more]

[MP3] Here We Go Magic - "Collector" (via Secretly Canadian)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flagpole Feature: Broken Bells


In which I talk on the phone with Danger Mouse from the inside of a hot car:

For Flagpole:

Broken Bells

An Unlikely Pairing Breeds Unlimited Creativity


In 1995 world-famous producer Danger Mouse wasn’t yet called Danger Mouse. He hadn’t collaborated with the likes of MF DOOM (to form DANGERDOOM), Gorillaz, Beck, Cee-Lo Green (to form Gnarls Barkley) and many more. He hadn’t moved to London to explore his craft, and it would be years before he was on every musician’s A-list. Back then, Danger Mouse went by his given name, Brian Burton, and was a freshman studying film at UGA and living in Athens. Though he considered himself an artist, he had never made music any substantial way...[Read more]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Record Review: Friendo - Cold Toads


Friendo is coming! One of my favorite offbeat records of the year, Cold Toads is small but brilliant, all atonal and warped and infectious (out on St. Ives, a subsidiary of Secretly Canadian). Friendo is the side project of Michael Wallace of my favorite favorite favorite Canadian band Women. (Here's the review I wrote of their self-titled debut.) Friendo is a trio, and all three members are playing different instruments in this band than they have in previous groups. Wallace is usually a drummer...

Come see them with me when they come to the Drunken Unicorn this Tuesday, June 8!

For Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Friendo
Cold Toads

St. Ives

If charming, deliberately detuned guitars make a first case for Cold Toads — the debut LP from Canadian trio Friendo — the moving instrumental parts deftly intertwined with buried vocals second them loudly....[Read more]

Listen to Friendo's "Callers" via HypeM.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Record Review: Kurt Vile - Square Shells EP

For those of us who await every Kurt Vile release with baited breath...


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Kurt Vile
Square Shells [EP]

Matador

With a collection of seven songs, Philadelphia's Kurt Vile reemerges after his triumphant 2009 Matador debut Childish Prodigy. The EP serves as a stopgap between full-length releases, and while it’s an apt rehashing of maybe three of the four styles of songcraft Vile has incontrovertibly mastered, it doesn’t boast the variety and punch of either of his previous two LPs, Childish Prodigy and 2008’s Woodsist/Gulcher Records release Constant Hitmaker.

The Vile style missing from Square Shells seems to be the one best explored with his backing band The Violators, as in the rollicking, testosterone-laden rompers like Childish Prodigy’s “Freak Train.”...[Read more]

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the sousaphone cover art?


Listen to "Invisibility: Nonexistent" (via HypeM)


Hey, check out the other FOA Kurt Vile coverage:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Record Review: Night Driving In Small Towns - Serial Killer


For Flagpole:

Night Driving In Small Towns
Serial Killer

Lower 40

Nodding to every seminal and referential pop band from Headlights and Architecture in Helsinki to Mazzy Star and even Belle and Sebastian, Serial Killer, the debut LP from Atlanta group Night Driving in Small Towns, capitalizes on the mild-mannered example put forward by artists like Azure Ray and Eux Autres...[Read more]

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Record Review: Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Male Bonding
Nothing Hurts

Sub Pop

...Maybe it’s Male Bonding’s very embrace of the bands that surround them that gives them whatever unique character they have. The record’s echoing final track, “Worst to Come,” even features beautiful, sweeping backing vocals from Vivian Girls; they’ve created a family of noisy little bands that have joined together in their commitment to the best and the brightest short songs — they’re miniatures as part of a greater mural.

And Nothing Hurts doubtless paints a vivid picture, full of Technicolor, which I suppose is why I’m such a sucker for bands that sound like Male Bonding. From bright, interlocking guitar riffs, to kinetic bass, to the kind of drumming that’s almost giggle-worthy for all its slanted attempts at toughness (just listen to the intentionally silly cowbell in “TUFF”), its fuzz flurries together so happily!...[Read more]

[MP3] Male Bonding - "Franklin" (via Sub Pop)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Record Review: Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Phosphorescent
Here's To Taking It Easy

Dead Oceans

I guess it’s ironic that the first song on Here’s To Taking It Easy filled me with dread. It wasn’t that it’s not a good song — “It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)” actually packs quite a punch — it was that Matthew Houck seemed so thoroughly to have abandoned that woozy, otherworldly echo that characterized his most recent record of original material, 2007’s immaculate Pride. That album meant so much to me — the thundering cadence of “At Death, A Proclamation” seemed literally taken from my own experience (it features a field recording done of my own college marching band’s drumline) — that the idea of an artist, even one I loved so much, moving on from that compositional place was a scary one, however relaxed the album’s name might be...[Read more]

[MP3] Phosphorescent - "It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)" (via Dead Oceans)


Read other FOA posts about Phosphorescent here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Record Review: The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt


Ah, he was wonderful live...

For Stomp and Stammer:

The Tallest Man On Earth
The Wild Hunt

Dead Oceans

...And that's the moment, too, when Matsson's Swedishness becomes really surprising; because in his singing about "salvation" and "white knuckles on a wheel," in his detailing of how the highway makes him think about God, he sounds so quintessentially American – or at least the kind of American dudes with guitars have always told us exists but that we've never quite seen – that it's unbelievable to learn he grew up a whole ocean away from our endless roads and rolling fields....[Read more]

[Mp3] The Tallest Man On Earth - "King Of Spain"

This has been a fascinating one for reading other writers' opinions:
Pitchfork (Stephen M. Deusner)
Tiny Mix Tapes (Gabe Vodicka)

Everyone seems to agree how great it is, though. Unexpectedly, one of my best of the year, so far!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Record Review: Frog Eyes - Paul's Tomb: A Triumph


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Frog Eyes
Paul's Tomb: A Triumph

Dead Oceans

If we were to take Carey Mercer and his cohorts — members of Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Wolf Parade, etc. — as a sampling of what Canadian musicians are like, we’d assume everyone who ever picked up an accordion or pan flute north of the border was prolific, virtuosic, impassioned, and a little unhinged. But I guess that wouldn’t be quite statistically sound. Though Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph is Frog Eyes’ Dead Oceans debut, as far as I can tell it’s their sixth full-length overall, the previous LPs having been put out by small Canadian and Californian indies Global Symphonic, Animal World, and Absolutely Kosher.

And if you liked those, you’ll love this. Much of the same Frog Eyes material is here: the frenetic guitar refrains, the slithering keys (even without Spencer Krug performing them anymore), the manic drumming, and Mercer’s voice howling and gurgling around it all. This release feels freer, though — not easier, necessarily, but delivered with a clarity of purpose not quite as muddled, consumption-wise, by sheer weirdness as was their previous LP, Tears Of The Valedictorian, for instance...[Read more]

CL Show Preview: Megafaun wants to earn your trust


For Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Megafaun wants to earn your trust
The rootsy band returns to Atlanta with tricks and treats


If Durham, N.C.'s Megafaun plays what typically is categorized as bluegrass or Americana, then its take on roots music certainly has sprouted gorgeous branches. The trio, which formed after the collapse of its previous band DeYarmond Edison (with Justin Vernon, currently of Bon Iver) in 2006, employs a brand of experimentalism that turns what would otherwise be a competent rehashing of traditional folk styles into something riskier. After two full-length albums (2008's Bury the Square and 2009's Gather, Form and Fly), Megafaun will release a six-song EP this summer titled Heretofore, a project they wrote, recorded and wrapped up, all within the space of about six weeks. "We just worked fast and had to make decisions from our gut," says multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook. "I think in retrospect that we did a really honest record."...[Read more]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Record Review: Medications - CompletelyRemoved


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Medications
CompletelyRemoved

Dischord

Medications’ sophomore full-length is remarkably easy to consume. For something so covertly metrically ambitious, CompletelyRemoved goes down smooth, and before you know it, you’ve taken it all. Mary Poppins would be proud.

Maybe the D.C. band’s subtlety — or, rather, slyness — shouldn’t come so unexpected. Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter have been in bands together for almost two decades, most notably co-leading Medications’ much-lauded direct ancestor Faraquet, and it’s hard not to notice the level of performance chemistry birthed by such a lengthy collaboration...[Read more]

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Record Review: Broken Bells - Broken Bells

Writing about a James Mercer project is a little nostalgic for me. Not quite in the his-music-is-SOOOO-important-to-me kind of way you might expect, though. I mean, there was a time when The Shins were my favorite band (and I'm happy to report it didn't coincide with the release of Garden State, thank you very much). I think that time concluded when I saw them play live at the Atlanta Civic Center (which, to be fair, is a TERRIBLE venue for live music) and it was as if I'd put in the album and pressed play. Boring. The whole thing was so stilted that I never quite returned to them.

What I'm remembering is that I read a review of the last Shins record, Wincing The Night Away (Jan. 2007) in some magazine...I'm thinking The Big Takeover...a few months after its release. That summer, I was a recent grad and an aimless intern at Athens Magazine, and I read the review over my lunch one day. I had bought the album a few months previous and it was one of my current faves, in heavy rotation almost every day, and when I read the review (which I can't find online despite my best efforts) it just...made sense to me. The writer's descriptions of songs on the album, and the overall way they tied it together--I seem to remember them describing "Australia" as a "gentle rockabilly" or something to that effect--I thought was something to admire. I also thought, "I could never write about music like that."

And I never wrote about The Shins. Not for a publication, at least. Wincing The Night Away was their final release, at least for now. The band has suffered lineup losses after domestic violence drama and infighting, and the members now seem to be off deliberately working on other things.

Enter Broken Bells. It's a very different beast, to be sure, but it's still a Mercer project and it's still something that back at that lunch table, I thought I'd never do.


For Flagpole:

Broken Bells
Broken Bells

Columbia

If the collaboration between sensitive songwriter James Mercer of The Shins and provocative producer Danger Mouse (former Athens musician and WUOG DJ Brian Burton) of Gnarls Barkley fame seems an unlikely one, the natural feel of Broken Bells’ self-titled record proves even more improbable. After working with the likes of Gorillaz, MF DOOM and Beck as well as on a myriad of other projects, Burton’s contribution to Broken Bells brings the sneaking suspense of Demon Days and the maximalist multiculturalism of St. Elsewhere to meet Mercer’s acute lyricism and lilting melodic skill...[Read more]

Record Review: Freelance Whales - Weathervanes


Wrote this one in a plane on my way to New York last month. Can you tell?

For Tiny Mix Tapes:

Freelance Whales
Weathervanes

Frenchkiss

At 35,000 feet, a first real listen of Freelance Whales’ debut LP seems scarily appropriate. The tops of clouds and glimpses of the coastline below act as visual echoes of Judah Dadone’s gentle vocal style, of the intricate orchestration and laptop rhythms the multi-instrumental quintet has to offer throughout Weathervanes. Prevailing winds even affect an airplane as much as they power the device after which Freelance Whales named the album. Sensually, the only reason the experience of the record doesn’t fit the journey of an hour-and-a-half flight is that, for someone afraid of flying like I am, Weathervanes lacks the adrenaline edge felt at takeoff and landing. It’s beautiful but a little impotent, kinetic but decidedly de-clawed...[Read more]


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Record Review: Christy & Emily - No Rest


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

(My favorite paragraph):

Christy & Emily
No Rest

Klangband

...In fact, every instrumental decision the duo makes is something I’d stand up and applaud; Irmler’s deft production is nothing to sneeze at, either. No Rest, in that way, mixes the perfect amount of seriousness and detachment with the adamant and the white-knuckled, both committed and reserved. The problem enters — and it’s a big problem — when the lyrics begin. It’s not that they’re un-poetic (though they do come off a little obvious at times); it’s that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the lyrical phrasing. It’s like threadbare fabric stretched futilely over something lumpy, or like trying to wrap up a plate of leftovers with too little aluminum foil: what was once neat and self-contained rips, and suddenly there’s chicken all over the floor...[Read more]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Record Review: Tahiti Boy & The Palmtree Family - Good Children Go To Heaven


A damn treatise I wrote on Tahiti Boy & The Palmtree Family for Tiny Mix Tapes:

Tahiti Boy & The Palmtree Family
Good Children Go To Heaven

[Third Side; 2010]

Full disclosure: I’ve played the flute for 13 years, and despite the existence of mainstream rock acts like Jethro Tull (stop with the Jethro Tull jokes, already!), I’ve always felt that in my favorite musical genres — punk, art pop, lo-fi — it’s been a seriously underrepresented instrument. It’s just not cool enough, maybe. So when I heard that the first notes of Good Children Go To Heaven, the debut LP from French group Tahiti Boy & The Palmtree Family (a group that, it should be noted, has no tropical tendencies of any kind), were part of a well-performed flute cadenza, I was more than a little excited. Once a band nerd, always a band nerd, I guess. Sorry...[Read more]

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Record Review: La Chansons - King and Queen of the Dance Floor


For Flagpole:

La Chansons
The King and Queen of the Dance Floor

Stickfigure

Atlanta's La Chansons never meant The King and Queen of the Dance Floor to be anything more than fun, and it isn't. Husband-and-wife duo Greg and Carson Keller released their sophomore album Jan. 26 via local label Stickfigure Recordings; it's 10 songs of frivolous, synth-driven dance pop that break no ground compositionally and showcase often awkward and occasionally even embarrassing first-person lyrics...[Read more]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Live Review: Cymbals Eat Guitars, Bear In Heaven @ The Earl, 3/11/10


For Stomp and Stammer's Tales From The Moshpit:

Cymbals Eat Guitars, Bear In Heaven @ The Earl 3/11/10

At first, I thought Joseph D'Agostino might be crying. The Cymbals Eat Guitars frontman is recently famous for his profuse sweating, but during the New Jersey band's second song, the first drop of water running down his cheek seemed to drip sorrowfully from the corner of his eye. By the end of the next number, though, it became clear that it wasn't so much misery he exuded as it was sheer force of will – perspiration from concentration and leaving it all on the stage. Nothing to grieve about there...[Read more]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Record Review: The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night


For Tiny Mix Tapes:

The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

Jagjaguwar

It’s an epic quest — one with teeth bared, vocal cords strained, and eyelids drooped. One with seven-minute opuses, blown-out walls of sound, and evenly harmonized boy-girl vocals, where stage lights appear behind eyelids even with the doors closed and headphones on.

And it’s a quest through time and compositional prowess as much as through the night about which The Besnard Lakes opine so vehemently. Perhaps a little less stratospheric than their sophomore (and breakthrough) release The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, ...Are The Roaring Night brings the Montreal group’s potential down to earth, expanding what were sweeping, almost classical compositions into gut-wrenching, prog-y panoramas. A lot of the same cerebral, chamber-music-meets-guitar-wash elements are still there; they’re just a bit beefier this time....[Read more]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Q&A with Cymbals Eat Guitars' Joseph D'Agostino


For Atlanta Music Guide:

Q&A with Cymbals Eat Guitars' Joseph D'Agostino; Playing The EARL March 11

What do you do when your debut record gets more attention than you ever thought it would? When it’s the blogosphere that drives your success, and your nascent band suddenly has the weight of the critical community behind it? You go on tour!

March 11, Cymbals Eat Guitars will stop at The EARL on the sixth date of their first national headlining run. They’ll be performing selections from Why There Are Mountains, the much-lauded, muscular LP the band released this past September via Sister’s Den Records. Supported by recent indie luminaries Bear In Heaven and Freelance Whales, it stands to be a night to remember. Atlanta Music Guide talked with frontman Joseph D’Agostino about the snowball of success and what it’s like to live with your ears burning.

I really enjoyed your record. Can you talk to me about what it’s been like on your end? It got the mythical Pitchfork Best New Music tag, and people have been noticing it in a pretty big way.

We didn’t have an audience or a career or anything that you might consider serious before we received that review. Really, receiving the Best New Music and the amount of play that we were starting to get from WOXY radio in Cincinnati, those were the two big things that sort of helped elevate our band to the point where we had to be viable — like we had to be a good live act, because we hadn’t been playing any shows before March of 2008, really. At the same time, there’s definitely a disconnect between internet hype and actually attending shows and things. But I get the feeling that we are enjoying a pretty unique situation, because it also seems that the spread of our record has been very much a word of mouth kind of thing, rather than one huge crush, and then suddenly we’re just ubiquitous...[Read more]

Record Review: The Young Sinclairs - The Songs of the Young Sinclairs


For Flagpole:

The Young Sinclairs
The Songs of the Young Sinclairs

Kindercore

Gathered together from highlights of their CD-R and tape releases as well as featuring tidbits of new material, The Songs of the Young Sinclairs is the Roanoke, VA quintet’s long-awaited and first proper LP. After producing it in their enigmatically named studio, The Mystic Fortress, The Young Sinclairs joined up with Kindercore to release the 18-song vinyl-only collection that will street Mar. 30. The record, for better or worse, explores every facet of that blended, baroque, ‘60s-and-‘70s rock soundscape made famous by bands like The Byrds, The Zombies and Peter, Paul and Mary...[Read more]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Record Review: Wolf People - Tidings


Another for Tiny Mix Tapes:

Wolf People
Tidings

[Jagjaguwar]

One of my favorite things about tape — be it cassette or reel-to-reel — has always been the way the players seem to suggest faces. The spindles look like eyes, and when they turn, they recall the expressions of crazy cartoon characters.

Maybe that’s just me.

But UK’s Wolf People certainly make no secret of their love for tape and the insanity it can communicate — the cover of their debut album Tidings shows miniatures of all manner of analog recording devices. Fans can even cut out replicas of them from Wolf People website to reproduce on their own. Accordingly, the quartet has riddled the album throughout with audible tape hiss that punctuates its mythic, winding course...[Read more]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CL Feature: Bear In Heaven comes to fruition outside the South


Hey! It's my first music feature for Atlanta's Creative Loafing!

Bear In Heaven comes to fruition outside the South
The Brooklyn band experiences a homecoming of sorts in Atlanta


When the four members who would eventually form Bear in Heaven individually left the Southeast for Brooklyn nearly a decade ago, not one of them did it for music.

"I moved up here in 2001 for no real reason other than it wasn't Atlanta where I grew up," says bassist Adam Wills. "I'd never been outside of Marietta, Ga., really." One by one, his future bandmates – who had all been in other musical projects in Atlanta or Savannah – coincidentally relocated with the intention of putting music on the backburner...[Read more]




Bear In Heaven will be at The Earl March 11 with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Freelance Whales. Can't wait!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Record Review: Mathis Hunter - Soft Opening


An album by one of my favorite Atlanta musicians and Aurora baristas! Mathis will celebrate his album's release this Friday, March 5 at the Earl with Noot d' Noot and The Selmanaires.

For Atlanta Music Guide:

Mathis Hunter
Soft Opening

Shakedown Records

Mathis Hunter, longtime mainstay of the Atlanta music community, former member of The Selmanaires and one of the founders of psych-funk collective Noot d’Noot, puts forth his first solo effort with Soft Opening. The LP spans 10 tracks and makes good on all of Hunter’s already demonstrated predispositions: creative percussion, saxophone, psychedelic soundscapes and haunting guitar melodies. It’s a masterful continuation of the train of thought that makes up his career, not a departure from it...[Read more]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Record Review: Local Natives - Gorilla Manor


My second review for Tiny Mix Tapes!

Local Natives
Gorilla Manor

[Frenchkiss]

Like that hot guy who works in the wood shop around the corner, Local Natives’ debut LP Gorilla Manor is most attractive at its messiest. Replete with sweet piano, duetting guitars, and insistent drumming, the California quintet paints a mostly pretty picture. But it’s when they veer away from pretty that things get adorably hairy...[Read more]




Hey this also marks the first time my review has been at odds with P4K. They gave Gorilla Manor an 8.4 and their "Best New Music" stamp. I thought it was good, but not that good.

Oh, well there was that one other time. Remember when Pitchfork's Marc Hogan saw Black Kids at Athens Pop Fest in 2007 and said they had "a communal urgency not unlike the Arcade Fire's"? Then he gave their EP an 8.2 and unleashed the full fury of the blogosphere's buzz machine? How about a few months later, when I wrote this (in retrospect very green, unresearched) review for Paste's website of Black Kids' full-length Partie Traumatic? Back then, I thought it was my job to skew things more positively than I do now, I guess. Live and learn. In contrast, Pitchfork's review of the album was this:



Ha. So I guess we've disagreed in print before, huh PF? I bet this time won't be the last...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Record Review: Surfer Bood - Astro Coast


My second little thing for Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Surfer Blood: Astro Coast

With echoing vocals and plenty of reverb layered over the sunshiniest pop melodies, West Palm Beach, Fla., quartet Surfer Blood released its debut record Jan. 19 and unleashed a tidal wave of buzz. But the album itself proves the band’s ability to ride easily atop that wave...[Read more]

Be sure to hit up their show at the Drunken Unicorn this Friday, Feb. 19 with Carnivores, Turbo Fruits and Holiday Shores.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Record Review: Field Music - Field Music (Measure)


It's my first review for Tiny Mix Tapes! Yay!

Field Music
Field Music (Measure)

[Memphis Industries]

Sorry Mr. President, but for a moment, let’s forget The Audacity of Hope. I want to talk about the audacity of longwindedness. It takes a lot for a band to stand up and say, “Hey guys. I know you’re used to an album usually lasting between 40 and 50 minutes, but we’ve got an hour and 12 minutes of material here, and we’re gonna make y’all listen to all of it.” To me, that’s pretty audacious, and I’ll tip my hat to it. That is, if it’s got something real to offer...[Read more]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The National talks to P4K about forthcoming album


I'ma go ahead and declare the as-yet-unnamed record The National is finishing up right now my most anticipated release of the year (if, indeed, it releases in 2010). It's weird, I think The National's music is a bit of an outlier in my music love spectrum, at least lately. But I adore their compositions so much--and their seriousness, honestly--that the idea of a fresh album to adore...well, it's almost too much.

Ever the over-achievers, Pitchfork got enigmatic frontman Matt Berninger to sit down and talk about it. He says the record's about 75 percent finished.

The most exciting excerpt:

"I don't think it sounds anything like Alligator, but it's less restrained than Boxer, that's for sure. I don't quite scream my head off in the way I did with "Mr. November", but I do think it's cathartic. Boxer was all tension without a whole lot of release. This builds a lot of those same kinds of tensions, but I think there's at least a little bit of bloodletting in this one. I'm trying to sing out and higher a little more, and the melodies move around a little more. When we started this record, I worked on melodies before I worked on lyrics. A lot of my melodies are sort of in a limited chanting, murmuring range, which has always worked for me. But I was trying to work on melodies this time much harder than I ever have in the past, and I think that alone has made the songs feel like they release more."

Can't wait.

Hey, remember when I interviewed Aaron Dessner at Langerado?

How about when I blogged about their set there for PasteMagazine.com?

How about when I reviewed their show at The Tabernacle last year?

Yeah, me too.