Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sliding the Same Way

David Thomas Broughton was someone I developed a liking for when I unexpectedly befriended an album of his close to ten years ago. His unconventional voice, somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Scott Walker (but not, you know, young Scott Walker), is somehow simultaneously jarring and elegant, but brings neither the gender ambiguity of Hegarty nor the "I've gone and left the real world" quality that Walker now seems to possess.

"Although I'm an unshaven boozer I do all my drinking in town" is an odd chorus with which to harmonize, but I think it sums up Broughton somewhat well. He is confrontational and, at least through his music, comes off as a loner as genuinely as one can, but you feel like he can hold his own; you never feel the need to sympathize with him. Were moving to South Korea not something that geeky American white men do when they're finding themselves, and were it not for the fact that music tends to be an outlet for what doesn't come out in real life, I'd also say that there's a hint of something dangerous or ill or otherwise off in Broughton, and this is the thing that separates him from all the other folk (or "folk") songwriters out there, that it scares me a bit to think about all the people he might be under the fa├žade of songwriter. And in a strange way, I don't want this documentary about him to come to fruition, because it will realistically burst the myth and show a very normal man who happens to be a good storyteller.

Sliding the Same Way is a collaboration with London-based, female a cappella ensemble Juice, who come the closest Broughton can get to a backing band without overshadowing his subtleties. The trio adds a fairy tale-like quality to Broughton's songs -- maybe this is what Joanna Newsom was good for, maybe Vashti Bunyan as well. And maybe this speaks to the fact that there is no replacement for feminine energy, which is all over this record. The presence of Juice creates imagery, of wooded forest, elves and fairies, all the things that ought to be embarrassing to conjure up but somehow aren't in this context. But then there's "Been a While," where Juice purr their way beneath "I asked the winter/the winter he said/'I may chill you but I don't wish you dead'/then why do I lay here in the ground?"

And further still, Broughton's tone, the one that says he has nothing to lose -- the very thing that makes you curious and then keeps you feeling uncomfortable all the way through -- this remains the driving force behind the record, despite the graceful women behind him: "I will glass everyone/all you pricks in this bar/it may not be the promise I had intended."

Matthew over at Song, by Toad, who's releasing this album, also happens to be a blogger and marvelous writer, and this is what he as music blogger, publicist, and label owner happens to say about Broughton's new release:

This album has everything on it which made me want to work with David in the first place, most obviously that incredible ability to make ostensibly small shifts in mood which can take you from weird to confrontational to playful to heart-breaking and right back again in the blink of a an eye. Just as you steel yourself for something abrasively strange to happen, you get something layered, melodic and beautiful. And just before it all gets too heavy, brief, almost throwaway little ditties like Woodwork crop up.

Pre-order Sliding the Same Way, which gets released on September 22.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last call to donate through Give Forward

It's Friday night in Los Angeles, which means that this blog post will ultimately get buried. Most of my neighbors are off and celebrating Shitty Beer Night, as they should be. But I want to 1) tell anyone who's donated to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund that you're a true mensch, and 2) put out what will likely be a final request for donations to the fund, as there is now just over one month left in the fundraiser period. Dan Melchior has indicated that Letha will be entering hospice at home, which is wonderful in the context of comfort, but, you know, an unfortunate turn. Their fundraiser page at Give Forward has just about hit the $5,000 mark, which is fantastic. But their living expenses and health care will require a bit more of a push for the time being, so anything you can offer would help enormously -- even $5-10 donations will add up to something significant. Truly.

Donate to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund by clicking here.

Additionally, there will be a couple of benefit shows in the coming month to help support Dan and Letha's living expenses and Letha's medical bills. Please go if you live nearby!

Aug. 30, 8pm
The Union Bar & Grill
18 W Union St, Athens, Ohio 45701
Blam Blams / Ghost Stories / TBA

Sept. 17, 8pm - $10 suggested donation
Emporium Arcade Bar
1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Mr. Ma'am / Melkbelly / Beat Drun Juel / Soddy Daisy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'll Be Your

This track by The Tallest Tree is essentially the auditory equivalent of gentrification -- it's twee, tame, whimsical. It's white people paying $6 for toast with homemade jam. It's 34-year old women wearing bangs and vintage cardigans, playing kazoos, riding bikes, pretending to be six. It's incredibly mild. But it's sweet, and it sums up the husband-wife team comprising the band:

We met a couple years ago when Armando's band, The Oats, was playing in Canada. 
And that's when Armando fell in love with Dawn.
Every time Dawn came to visit Mexico City, we would write a new song.
Now Dawn and Armando are married.

New Twilight Sad is here!

And it's a hark back to Forget the Night Ahead.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Walkin' Bicycles

Quite happy to receive this one, the third single off Him That Wills The Way, which will be released August 11 on Highwheel Records. Walking Bicycles are like a hybrid of Jane's Addiction and Death From Above 1979; they're also energetic, middle-aged, and have origins in Arcata, CA. (They're now Chicago-based.) Among a sea of EDM, and pop music made by countless women who sound like Lykke Li -- really, there's an entire sea of Lykke Li out there -- this is quite a refreshing find.

Also related: the story of their guitarist's incarceration for possession of marijuana.

Two songs for a hearty laugh

Here's the newest by Seattle-based Relays, for you unsentimental types.

Also, one from the Chicago-based Oscillator Bug -- it's like Oneida and Half Japanese and Devo all rolled into one giant mess!

Tales of Us comes to a close.

Completely in love with the final song in the Tales of Us series by Goldfrapp, the video for which was released today.

Here are the others in the series, directed by Lisa Gunning:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Get Ummagma the hell out of Ukraine!

Speaking about the parts of the world experiencing war at the moment -- had a very nice albeit humbling conversation with the lovely Shauna McLarnon, of Ukraine's Ummagma. McLarnon is a native Canadian, residing with her husband and their daughter in Ternopil, and they're looking to make an exit back to the world's most neutral territory. And really, can you blame them? The best way to support them right now? Through their music, which is quite decent and will appeal to fans of alternative/synth/shoegaze hybrids. They're also featured on this brand new Sounds of Sputnik album, which will be available not only as a digital download but as a 50-Euro "post-Soviet music bundle," which contains the new Sounds of Sputnik album, digital access to two Ummagma albums, and mixed collections of Ukrainian and Soviet/post-Soviet music curated by the two bands. Here's a small taste:

All Ummagma albums can otherwise be purchased here.

If nothing else, at least Israel's got its music.

The former guitarist of Monotonix (Tel Aviv) has got a thing of his own going, and not only is he a joy if you're a fan of, say, Dungen (or Monotonix -- albeit it's a bit more dignified), but Yonatan Gat will be at the Smell in Los Angeles this Thursday.

Other good news coming out of Tel Aviv? A couple of freshly recorded Vaadat Charigim demos, "Have No Place in this Planet" and "Where it Ends." A while back, I had the opportunity to interview Juval Haring of Vaadat Charigim about living in Tel Aviv, and since then, the updates have gotten quite surreal, particularly as most of us only hear about Israel in the context of their war with the distance of media. From Facebook:

Walking down the street in Tel Aviv just now, we heard a siren. We were next to a random apartment building so we went in. The neighbors were running down the stairs with their dogs, leading us down to a small cellar where people keep their old bicycles. We stood there for about 10 minutes. Every few moments we could hear a distant BOOM. I thought to myself - these wars are strange, these for-show missile attacks on civilians, our ego-driven responses. Someone must be gaining something somewhere, and i know its not the people. It makes no sense why on such a lovely summer day, we would all be standing sweating in an old cellar with our pets. This is just another war, fought by ideologists and leaders of men, on the expenses of civilians. People are just people. They just want to hang out, be with their kids or friends. Someone is gaining something from this. Someone is profiting off everyday peoples thirst for revenge, people's desperation, fatigue, on both sides. And the losers are us, hiding from missles instead of basking in the sun, pawns in a game designed by greedy people to be so big that us everyday folk will never be able to grasp it.