Monthly Archives: March 2011

Sipping Reptilian Vodka Underneath The Portland Sky

A few hits and a couple of misses round out today’s reviews. Any questions? Good. Have a seat and we’ll get started.

Millionyoung: Replicants– Out of all the chill wave artists around right now, Millionyoung have a slight edge. The psychedelic guitar work that Mike Diaz does on nearly every song sets him apart from others who merely depend on synthesizers to work out their songs. Unfortunately, the differences don’t end there. I talked a bit before in my review of their So True EP of the difficulty I found to listen to his off-key wails at times. Needless to say, those kinks have not only not been worked out, they’ve been magnified. Though thankfully mostly an instrumental work, its like they stopped paying attention after a while. Its as if they were in the studio recording the vocals and the producer said,’Alright, that was one take. Do we wanna try that again,’ and Diaz’s response was,’No, they were perfect! Lets go with it’. The result is a hit and horrendously miss effort of potentially great songs completely fucked by awful, tuneless vocals. The shitty thing is, you never know when its going to happen because musically, this album is solid. And again, many of the songs here are instrumental or have minimal vocals that are just fine. Its those random little pieces of crap scattered here and there that really doom this. I’d enthusiastically recommend the instrumentals, but really, its far too much of a headache to wade through the trash to find them…4.6/10

Easy Now

Starfucker/STRFKR: Reptilians– Starfucker is a synth-pop band from Portland, OR that have written a brilliantly composed and upbeat record for their debut. From nearly start to finish, the swirling synthesizers and vocal melodies blend in a nearly perfect arrangement of pop goodness. The worst thing is, I may have never known that if I had stopped at the opening track, which I nearly did. Contrary to the rest of the album, the opening track was a slightly ear-splitting mess that nearly made me skip this altogether. Fortunately, I remembered that the track I had sampled earlier, Bury Us Alive, was exceptionally good and I knew they were capable of getting beyond it. Once you get over that massive speed bump, its clear sailing to a brilliant, beautiful and catchy record. Highly recommended…9.3/10

Julius

Joan Of Arc: Life Like– Joan Of Arc have always been the gold-standard for experimental indie rock since they came on the scene 14yrs ago. No one has been able to really replicate anything close to them. Whether its their mysterious use of sound effects, Tim Kinsella’s off-tune and ridiculous vocals or even the fact that all together they’ve managed to sound brilliant at one level or another nearly every time, Joan Of Arc will never be predictable. I personally have had problems with elements of their songs and records over the years, but their creativity have always kept me coming back to see what they’ll do next. Life Like most notably adds one of the most interesting guitarists Kinsella has worked with: Victor Villareal. Villareal played in Owls and Ghosts and Vodka and his amazingly upbeat, innovative and intricate guitar work is certainly evident on Life Like. Unfortunately, the problems I’ve had with Joan Of Arc in the past crop up here as well. Though quite unpredictable in JOA fashion, I think Villareal’s unique style is wasted a lot of times on minimalized songs that really just put him in a box. I think in a lot of ways they really missed an opportunity to use the new line-up to their advantage. I knew they weren’t going to duplicate the Owls or Ghosts and Vodka records, but again, it didn’t have to be this minimalized at times. Overall, this is a better than average JOA record with some really upbeat and interesting songs…7.1/10

Love Life

Toro Y Moi: Underneath The Pine– Toro Y Moi are a chill wave band from Columbia, South Carolina. Channeling their love for late 70s and early 80s synth, Underneath The Pine is definitely a departure from last year’s Causers Of This. Whether it was clear influences of Stereolab from the late 90s from time to time or even acoustic guitar and harmonies reminiscent of Simon And Garfunkel, this record definitely stands apart from its predecessor. That all being said, this is a very smooth and relaxing record thats very smartly written. I’m not sure if Simon and Garfunkel would sound like this if they were to come out today or anything, but mix in a little Stereolab and other chill wave elements and who knows? What I do know is that this is nothing if not a complete pleasure to listen to at every turn and you’d be completely stupid to blow this off without trying it first. There, I said it…9.2/10

Before I’m Done

Explosions In The Sky: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care– Instrumental rock has had its ups and downs over the years. For me, when I approach anything instrumental, I’m looking for whats going to set it apart from everything they’ve done before as well as compare it to other bands in the genre. This is where Explosions In The Sky lose me most of the time. I think most of their songs are really great, though somewhat difficult to get through when it comes to their length. When I saw that this record had 6 songs that averaged 8mins or more each, the dread set in immediately. I have to confess: I’m a 3 and 1/2 minute song guy for the most part. If you’re going to keep me longer than that, it better be for a good reason. Most of the time I have mountains of music staring me in the face and if you’re going to keep me from it, you’d better be interesting. This is exactly where this album repeats what every other record of their’s does. I know people like the build up to their choruses, but does it have to take so long every time? I don’t think that by their 6th record that it should. In short, its tremendously predictable. For fans, this is exactly what you’d expect. For everyone else, try Mogwai, Del Rey or Tristeza if you wanna hear a band that grows progressively with every new release…5.0/10

Trembling Hands

Twisted Metal Friday

Car crashes: Why is it that so many people have to slow down and stare? Why won’t anyone get out and help them? And most importantly, why do so many people enable them to happen? All of these questions and much more are being asked of Ark Music Factory‘s newest artist, Rebecca Black. Who is Rebecca Black, you ask? Well, words are pretty overrated in this case, so watch this and then we’ll talk…

Let’s start at the very beginning… Before we’re even 5 seconds into the song or ‘yeah yeahs’, Ark Music Factory is already giving themselves a ‘shout out’ by putting themselves in print on an animated book at the very beginning beneath Ms. Black and some guy auto-tuned saying ‘ah, ah-ah ah-ah Ark’. This lets us know whose fault this is. Then we have the ‘book’ turning to pages with titles from good songs like ‘Just Another Manic Monday’ and even more infuriating, ‘Friday I’m In Love’. NOTE: Never mention a good song in the middle of your bad song. Moving on… Black’s voice. Who doesn’t like nasal-y vocals? And auto-tune? Well that’s just one of the instruments of success!

Now let’s get to the meat of the song– The lyrics. This is the part where we hear in specific detail on what you do when you get up, get dressed and eat breakfast. Because who among us hasn’t pondered the paradigm of cereal consumption? But no time for that, let’s get to the real action: Transportation indecisiveness. Bus versus Car. Duh! Car! Then comes the part where we get to see how clearly more awesome riding in a car is… this must be her lucky day. Man, if only it were Friday, that would be perfect… and it is! And because it’s Friday, you obviously wanna party, right? Well the other kids in the car think so too. In fact, they agree with her so much that they multiply their voices by 20 and reverb themselves into oblivion to express it. Now that’s what I call agreement. So it’s time we get to school and the party obviously continues there… wait, now it’s nighttime. Okay… nighttime. Ohhh nighttime on a green screen! So they must have gone to school and went to theater class. Okay, that makes sense. At least we know that they won’t get hurt riding on the back of a dangerous car because it’s just a prop. Thank goodness! Now we’re at the destination of the party. This could get interesting… I mean, any distraction from the nails-on-the-chalkboard vocalizing of Friday over and over is welcomed at this point. OoooOoooo! House party bitches! But nevermind that, my favorite part of the video is coming up! This is the part when we hear about how today is Friday and how yesterday was Thursday. So, what else to sing about… um, Saturday is tomorrow. And you know what? Sunday is like, the day after that. Yeah, that’ll work. Sundaaay!

BREAKDOWN!

Awwww yeah! Who dis? Aw snap, it’s my boy Patrice Wilson AKA PATRICE! He’s talking about driving on a Friday and coyly waving at… school buses?!? Okaaaay… Friday?

Ohhhh so this is why she was going to that house party: She’s performing in the backyard! Yeah, they’re really into it… all those hands in the air… fuck all. Even PATRICE thinks it’s cool, see? Man, if Saturday ever comes, I’m going to kill myself!

—————————————————————-

So why am I pointing out all the countless flaws about this video? The answer is simple: People need to stop enabling children without any talent in order to further their own agenda… whatever that may be. They even have their own label now. Watch this and tell me there isn’t something wrong here– I particularly enjoyed the part where they stopped everything to listen to a Quincy Jones voice message on an iPad saying that he couldn’t make it at 5:50. The fact of the matter is, they’re talentless adolescents who should be focusing on finishing school and getting into college where they’ll study things that put them far, far away from anything to do with music. Now, a special word for Rebecca Black:

Look. Rebecca. I’m sorry that you suck. We can’t all be winners, but you’re in luck! You still have time to change all of that. No, no. Not music. Perhaps English literature or even massage therapy. With an education you can be anything you want to be! Hey, you’re a smart girl and we’re all here for you. You’re the only one who knows your potential and only you can unlock it. We’re pulling for you. Now, go to your room, young lady– That video made my eyes bleed.

Friday

Divine Error Releases Wild Mogwai

Just wanted to pop in and mention a couple of things happening next month…

First of all, Alela Diane will be releasing an album with her husband’s band appropriately titled, Alela Diane & Wild Divine. Being that Alela Diane has one of the best voices in the folk/americana genre, anytime she releases something is an event. Alela Diane & Wild Divine will be officially released April 5th.

To Begin

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And secondly, ahead of their first full U.S. tour with Mogwai, Errors will be releasing a 7″ picture disc entitled, Magna Encarta. I’ve featured the title track below:

Errors – Magna Encarta[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11780775″]

They will also be properly releasing last year’s Come Down With Me in this country next month as well. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now is the time.

Supertribe

Errors 2011 Tour Dates:
Mar. 16 – Austin, TX /SXSW – Annies (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society / popantipop Party – 6pm)
Mar. 16 – Austin, TX / SXSW – Maggie Maes (Scottish Showcase – 10pm)
Mar. 17 – Austin, TX / SXSW – Latitude 30 (Clash Magazine/UK Trade & Industry/BPI – 1am)
Apr. 19 – Washington, DC – 9.30 Club*
Apr. 20 – Philadelphia, PA – Starlight Ballroom*
Apr. 21 – New York, NY – Webster Hall*
Apr. 22 – New York, NY – Webster Hall*
Apr. 23 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club*
Apr. 25 – Montreal, QC – Olympia Theatre*
Apr. 26 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre*
Apr. 27 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre*
Apr. 28 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall*
Apr. 29 – Chicago, IL – Metro*
Apr. 30 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown*
May 02 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater*
May 03 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue*
May 05 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom*
May 06 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom*
May 07 – Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market*
May 09 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom*
May 10 – Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theater*
May 11 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern*
May 13 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theatre*
May 15 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theatre*
May 16 – Austin, TX – Stubbs Waller Creek*
May 17 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live*
May 19 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theater*
May 20 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage*
* w/ Mogwai

Mermaid Washes Out Gum In River

When I’m not looking around for new bands to pique my interest, I occasionally come across singles from bands I know and love. So today I’m highlighting 4 exceptional tracks from that group and if they’re new to you, all the better. Thats what I’m here for.

Explosions In The Sky – Trembling Hands

Not only is Explosions In The Sky one of the most popular post-rock bands ever, they’re also releasing another LP next month. April 26th, to be exact. Every one of their records has either met or surpassed expectation, so Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, though redundantly titled, should be no different.

Washed Out – New Theory (RAC remix)

Remix Artist Collective(RAC) is a band that likes to remix songs from other bands and makes those tracks available for download. Thats it. Not terribly creative, you say? Not quite. At least, not once you’ve heard the final product, that is. Case in point, take Washed Out‘s New Theory. If there was any doubt of how good a remix could be after hearing this, I haven’t found one.

TOBACCO – Super Gum

Before TOBACCO released Maniac Meat last year, he was selling a little DVD called Fucked Up Friends 2 on his tour. This DVD/Blu-Ray had many of his new songs synced to some of his freaked-out videos that he likes so much. There was one, however, that stood out among the rest. I’m of course talking about the infamous German E.T. sex video which he synced with his song, Super Gum. Despite being the weirdest video I’ve ever seen, the song was actually really good and made me excited for the new record. Then to my dismay, it wasn’t included on the album. Thanks to him whenever I hear this, I still can’t get that video out of my head. Other than that, great song.

Okkervil River – Mermaid

Okkervil River hasn’t put out a proper release in nearly 3 years until now… sorta. Mermaid is just a single to whet our appetite for their May 10th release of I Am Very Far. Though merely a B-side, Mermaid is a beautiful reminder of how much I’ve missed their work and the potential it has to be the best album of 2011. If Mermaid is any indication, this ought to be interesting…

Furry Bears Fly Sun Airways To Athens

Solar Bears have not only been mixing and remixing their own songs, they’ve also seen fit to remix a few of their friends’ songs as well. From FUR to Keep Shelly In Athens, they’ve been busy over the last few months and these are the fruits of their labor. All 4 tracks demonstrate the moodiness we best associated them with on She Was Coloured In as well as keeping the original songs in full mind. And soon after, Keep Shelly In Athens decided to return the favor and remix Cub because after all– what are friends for?

FUR – Friends (Solar Bears Remix)

Cub (Keep Shelly in Athens remix)

And some unreleased remixes…

Keep Shelly In Athens – Running Out Of You (Solar Bears Remix)

Sun Airway – American West (Solar Bears Remix)

FUR – Clears Throat (Solar Bears Remix)