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 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

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:

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]


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: