Monday, February 24, 2014

Still in love...with the Twilight Sad.

For Record Store Day this year -- yes, it should be every Saturday, but this year it'll officially be April 19 -- the Twilight Sad are re-issuing their debut record, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. This was one of the first records I felt compelled to review for this blog, just as The Wrong Car was one of the first reviews I submitted to Your Flesh in 2010. The Twilight Sad is the type of band you simultaneously hope is your secret and want to shout about to everyone you know. I felt this way in 2007 and continue to feel this way now. Give this record a chance if you never have; it is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous records of all time and can easily compete with favorites from decades past. The Jaguar will become your new favorite guitar.

This said, the reissue of Fourteen Autumns will feature demos not released on the original album (see "Untitled #4," above, for one). A full track listing, as well as European tour dates, during which the album will be played in full, can be found on Fat Cat's site.

Additionally, a free download of their recent performance with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can be found here.

Something to keep you occupied tonight.

Fat Cat just put together a podcast of bands from Brighton (two extra points for including Huggy Bear!)

Track Listing:

1. Royal Blood - Out of the Black
2. Esben And The Witch - When That Head Splits
3. Fickle Friends - Swim
4. Fear of Men - Seer
5. Theo Verney - Dead N Bones
6. Skirts - Lovers
7. Huggy Bear - Her Jazz
8. The Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster - Celebrate Your Mother
9. TOY - Lose My Way
10. Regal Safari - Closer
11. British Sea Power - K Hole
12. Blood Red Shoes - Cold

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kayfabe: Laamb of G.O.D.

The Dead Science was a favorite of mine while I was living in Washington about ten years ago; they were based in Seattle, rooted in a strange marriage of influences spanning black metal, free jazz, Shudder to Think, and comic book villains, and there was no one quite like them. Eventually, they split off and spun off -- singer/guitarist Sam Mickens moved off to Brooklyn and became a goddamn performer, drummer Nick Tamburro started playing with Ava Mendoza around the San Francisco area, and bassist Jherek Bischoff assembled an orchestral masterpiece (no beating around the bush, there).

Mickens just put out a new, crowd-funded record, Kayfabe: Laamb of G.O.D. While it's a natural follow-up to 2011's Slay & Slake, this record is, truly, his Ziggy Stardust moment. It's an ambitious, 15-track album to which every detail has obviously been attended, and it is the type of art that one can only aspire to make and then carry out after struggle, desperation, and drive have kicked in. If Mickens has ever had a Party at Kitty and Stud's moment, then Kayfabe is his Rocky. 

I have mixed feelings about the decadence of it, and perhaps this stems from the fact that Mickens is not only into Batman and Anthony Braxton, but also dirty '90s R&B, and to say the least, shit gets weird real fast. Like, Luther Vandross weird. Kayfabe is glamorous and gaudy and bizarre, and nothing about it is accidental. Mickens is an excellent singer and guitarist, and his record is fabulously produced. But he's also fulfilled what I imagine is an aspiration of sorts, to be in an is he or isn't he for real? league with the likes of Prince. The biggest and most accurate way to describe him is to label him a true original, which he is, and leave the interpretation and appreciation of the word original up to whomever will have him.

Purchase Kayfabe: Laamb of G.O.D.

Shit gets real:

The Organ Grinder's Monkey, recorded in five days.

About seven years ago I quickly became attached to Song, by Toad, a blog out of Edinburgh which later evolved into a record label, and sort of fell in love with one of the bands on its roster, Meursault. They've consistently released wonderful things, and as of this year, they've got a new, Kickstarter-funded record for which donors voted on songs to include, and which is being used to fund an east coast U.S. tour. Sadly, no mention of travels to the rest of these parts. But you can buy The Organ Grinder's Monkey here.

Something old:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jennnaaahhh! (Meet Kelly Kreye.)

I don't know that I'd have given former model Kelly Kreye a chance, were it his just-released, all-acoustic, What the Fuck is this Shit? EP that I'd met from the start; what he presented to me, however, was "Jennah," the first representation of what he can do with a three-piece band, inclusive of Scott Remila and Dylan Green (Raising the Fawn). The way he freely wails Jennah's name solidifies Kreye as a songwriter who is both completely free and emotionally involved, but his music is simple, extremely lo-fi, unpretentious indie rock; Kreye is the guy who gave you a mix tape twenty years ago, married his second choice, and never quite got over you.

On the whole, Flying with Kites is in something of a club with the likes of Wounded Lion, a band I initially didn't know what to do with, but came to appreciate for how honest and straightforward they are. No gimmicks, and no apparent marketing strategy. "My Friends" is the worst of Flying, and closes the album in a way that makes me question the depth of Kreye's musical experience. It's the song that doesn't belong, and makes me uncomfortable the same way "Freakin' Friends" did over a decade ago. And this is generally the association I make when I hear his solo acoustic work. But Kreye intends to make a variety of EPs over a given period, and it'll be interesting to see if he can be steered either which way.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ten years ago, everyone said that Interpol sounded just like Joy Division. Enough time has passed that we now have bands that sound just like Interpol.

GRIZZLOR DESTROYS (We're All Just Aliens)

It's no secret that the glittery and goth sides of the '80s returned to music about ten years ago, overstayed their welcome, and then paved the way for a revival of the much sloppier '90s. However, there are bands here and there that've drawn influence from those misfit sludge acts that popped up during the '80s and stuck around, and seven years ago, I'd predicted that they'd be much more ubiquitous out of rebellion for the rather feminine emo culture that had occurred in the earliest 2000s. I was sort of right, but my timing was off, and a tougher, more masculine take on music isn't quite as prevalent as I'd anticipated it would be in the rock world. However, I imagine that if you're involved in the metal scene, today's grunge bands are probably no more than a rehashing, so grunge is really just a way of tricking non-metal fans into pretending they're capable of liking metal, which just won't die.

That said, last month's EP by Grizzlor, a three-piece out of New Haven, is nothing original -- the vocal effect is just one element lifted from Big Black, and their grotesque, intentionally ugly style could've been influenced by the increasingly cited Jesus Lizard, or These Arms Are Snakes. No, there's not much originality here, but then, who is capable of originality at this point? You can ask why bother? in response to the question of why music is made if it's not adding anything new and culturally relevant, but if every potential musician were to abide by this and only create if a brand new idea popped up, we'd have very little to choose from.

Grizzlor are, however, an enjoyable listen, dirty, ugly, fuzzy, and not worried about sounding mundane, which is why their genre is so refreshing next to pop (and "Boring Guy" might just be an update on "Spent"). I appreciate that they admit the absurdity of Twitter, that their cover art looks like it might've been swiped from a comic book and photocopied, that I imagine them saying, I dunno, just make it louder. This is the type of music you don't justify enjoying; it's something you simply have on while home alone, that you feel you can have and no one can touch or take from you. It's as sloppy as it ought to be, the best possible stereotype of a rock band, and it can only be described as "fat." Two thumbs up.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The best possible example of how to use music in a cartoon.

Barfing Rainbows: Grass is Green

And while we're gushing about Exploding in Sound, pining for the snowy east coast, Grass is Green released Vacation Vinny last month, which is, if nothing else, a contender for Best Artwork of 2014.


While talking of Exploding in Sound, the newest Speedy Ortiz release - and yes, they're now on Carpark, though they're still an Exploding in Sound band in spirit - comes out tomorrow. The Real Hair EP is the most commercial they've come to be, though there was already a radio-friendly hint in the opening riff of "Basketball," on 2012's Sports. What partly defines the evolution of Speedy Ortiz is the voice of vocalist/guitarist Sadie DuPuis, who only a couple of years ago had a somewhat androgynous, almost boyish voice, and who has undoubtedly made the transition to fully grown woman, and whose lyrics have transformed from mere high school insecurities into legitimate poetry, which is an excellent cap on her graduate studies in poetry. Complementing the newer maturity of her lyrics, though, is that commercial quality, which is to say that the songs are musically more comfortable and willing to flow from part to part, where they were much simpler only two or three years ago.

That said, have a crack at Real Hair, which gets officially released tomorrow.

We Love Pile!

What's the best new song of 2014, now that we're halfway through Q1? My money is on "Special Snowflakes," the A-side of a seven-inch soon to be released by Pile. Exploding in Sound, which essentially exists to showcase the best of Boston's rock scene, has seemingly popped out of nowhere in the last couple of years, and suddenly offers some of the best bands around. Pile's 2012 record, Dripping, was one of the obvious standouts of their roster, and their new single is perhaps their best yet, an ambitious seven-plus minutes where each turn is important to the song's tone, sharing an energy with the likes of The Argument-era Fugazi, at its moodiest, and the intensity of grungier acts like Pissed Jeans and the Jesus Lizard, at its loudest. It's a perfect grunge song, demonstrating cleaner production than that used on Dripping, and constantly builds like a real, human mood, with no instrument wasted. Hear for yourself, and then buy everything Pile's released:

Dessy Di Lauro Brings Neo-Ragtime to the West and the South.

This is a break from the usual stuff of this site, and the jazz/hip hop hybrid has been done (there was once Blu Cantrell, and then Christina Aguilera dedicated an entire album to it, for two), but there's a nice change from the usual '70s/'80s/'90s rehash in Dessy Di Lauro, performer of her own genre, neo-ragtime, which is exactly as one would expect. This is genuine singing ability, kitsch, humor, and danceability at once. Dessy's also local to L.A., performs with her pianist husband, Ric'key Pageot, and has a couple of shows coming up in Santa Monica and Long Beach.

Visit 2013's This is Neo-Ragtime.

Friday, February 14th
Harvelle's Santa Monica
1432 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA

Friday February 21st
Harvelle's Long Beach
201 E. Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802