1.31.2005

Coffee and Vodka

The Game - We Ain't (featuring Eminem)

So this is the new model? 20050 Cent? The glock-toating return of gangsta rap, straight off tha mothafuckin' streets of Compton? Fair enough.

"We Ain't" boasts a tidy little beat -- fizzy synth, big bottom break, and a cute-if-hackneyed string swell chorus. Plus it goes: "We ain't goin' no where, so fuck you!"

(Buy it here)

Enon - Marbles Explode

This one's a doozy. Lifted from Enon's upcoming Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence, "Marbles Explode" is easily one of the album's most playful moments.

Remember when The Flaming Lips backed Beck on that huge tour a few years ago? If they'd all gotten wasted and recorded some material, this would have been the result. Mealy-mouthed pert psych, with broken tape-recorder bridges, and bubblegum sensibilities. Reminds me of Goa's uptempo technicolor freak-outs.

(Buy it here)

1.27.2005

I Do Videos TOO

Kikkoman (video)

I will revive this: a bizzare video featuring the now-famous fish-headed soy sauce super hero. The theme song is pretty bitchin' too. Straight Street Fighter. Listen to that grinding synthesized guitar line. The chorus is secretly brilliant, I think.

"Show me, show you, KIKKOMAN!"

Basically, he kicks the shit out of some ketchup and mayo PLUS ends up in bed with a hot babe. Enjoy.

1.26.2005

Loud Wizards From the late 80s

Comus - Diana

How about the lead track from Comus' 1971 debut, First Utterance? Music for fucking Wizards, I swear. Like T. Rex's Marc Bolan teaming with Robert Fripp and Gandalf, Comus was a prog-folk behemoth bent on destroying anything Pentangle, Trees or the Incredible String Band did in the late 60s and early 70s. Maybe they succeeded. Doesn’t really matter, ‘cause the caterwauling and vaguely-tribal nonsense that is this song is just so damn satisfying.

Moss Icon - I'm Back Sleeping, Or Fucking, Or Something

This here is some classic emo. Unsung heroes of the late 80's post-hardcore boom, Moss Icon created some of the most physically enthralling and downright intense shit I've ever heard. Maybe it’s a bit blood-n-thundery, but "I'm Back..." is a perfect example of their clamor -- violent bobs and weaves, a fiery rhythmic pulse, and Jonathan Vance’s devastatingly harsh vocals. Even today, this song sounds so incredibly hard.

Martika - Toy Soldiers

Pop radio much? If so, this should sound familiar.

1.25.2005

I Come Through, Briefly

Neutral Milk Hotel - My Dreamgirl Don't Exist

I found it! And as promised, here it is: the best Jeff Mangum song EVER.

Paul & Linda McCartney - Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

A theatrical wonder in three-part form, taken from Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 release, Ram. Truthis, this is better than most Beatles songs. The way McCartney crafts melody is delightful, not to mention, incredibly distinctive in each section. All of the Beatles calling cards are present, but I'll be damned if I've ever heard any late era stuff that is such a distillate of revelry.

1.21.2005

HELP!

This is all thanks to Brandon:

A long, long time ago, before he was any good, Jeff Mangum put out a demo called Invent Your Own Shortcake. Just how bad most of the songs arebaffles me. Really, it doesn't add up how the genius behind one of the best albums of the last decade -- hell, one of the most perfect records POSSIBLE -- could ever be capable of producing such shit. Still though, there're a few gems that, back then, showed a bit of promise, glints of the Mangum charm.

The best song was called "My Dreamgirl Don't Exist." Lyrics were sort of dumb, and the guitar riff was based around the progression from Green Day's "When I Come Around," but the song had a certain buoyancy, something extra that every single one of the songs on Aeroplane simply gushed.

It was still pretty sub-par by comparison, though.

HOWfuckingEVER, there EXISTS, somewhere on this internet of ours, a live performance that, with reasonable lyrics, and the Mangum-on-stage-once-over, just rips my little heart into a million billion pieces.

I've heard it a single time. And Soulseek has been a thankless son of a gun when it comes to my finding this track. But as soon as I do, I promise, it will be right here.

1.19.2005

Again?

Finally a tracklist for the cry.on.my.console mix. Here:

rum loving uk bass pirate

01 lady sovereign - ch-ching
02 jon e cash - war * basement jaxx - do your thing (acapella)
03 slaughter mob vs search & destroy - saddem
04 si begg - buss f/ miss mc
05 si begg - buss boglin clocks
06 radioactive man - itisanditisnt (tipper mix)
07 plasticman - pump up the jam
08 si futures - freestyle disco (si futures mix)
09 dj assult - ass n titties
10 radioactive man - 'ave that *obie trice - got some teeth (cry.on.my.console glitchupella)
11 aquasky vs master blaster - disco biscuit
12 dizzee rascal - stand up tall (cry.on.my.console remix f/ mc hammer)
13 markone - stargate
14 wiley and j2k - they will not like you
15 cry.on.my.console - big muff guitars (toughbreakguitarlessversion)
16 si begg - can't take it * fatboyslim - right here right now (cry.on.my.console glitchupella)
17 eminem - my name is (cry.on.my.console enime remix)
18 debasser - dark smile *amon tobin - verbal (acapella)
19 busted - year 3000 (cry.on.my.console cuntz mix)

A Triumphant Return

Hood - Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive

After a few listens to Hood's latest, Outside Closer, it's apparent that 2001's Cold House will most likely remain the band's ice cold space-pop paramount. But it doesn't seem like the Leeds collective is really trying to outdo their most brilliant work here -- instead, they're game for a bit more experimenting. The songs are longer. There's more acoustic work. There's less square-sounding sequenced drums, but of course Hood's wirey, ghost-in-the-hallway vocals make a solid return. Sounds like a Dirty Three record played through a fucked up victrola.

Ruff Sqwad - Raw to tha Core

If you've already written off grime as a simple flash in the pan, y'oughta reconsider. Here's a good starting point for the road back: "Raw to tha Core" by Ruff Sqwad. Feverish pace, menacing synth line, outrageously busy percusion sequencing, and will you just listen to that hook?

It's been argued that today's hip hop operates in a similar fashion to the rock music of the mid-70s. And I say, hey, that makes perfect sense. Let's be honest, hip hop has been *comodified*. A genre -- nay, a fucking culture -- that was once vibrant and revolutionary, once considered utterly dangerous (ringing any bells?), presently finds itself playing the role of froo-frah revenue-generator.

Take Nelly for instance: a pop star. He's not hip hop. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. The point is: I like Boston and Kansas, just like I enjoy Usher and Jadakiss. But there's no denying all four of those artists' pop sensibilities, and their position as comodities in and of themselves.

Now, you may see where I'm going with this, and maybe you're about to punch me in the face. But, if all of the aforementioned nonsense jives, then grime is today's mother fucking punk rock.

Children of Bodom - The Final Countdown (Europe Cover)

There isn't much you can say about this: the best Swedish pop-metal song ever written, re-interpreted by the most culturally relevant Finnish black metal band of today. A jock jam played in double time.

1.16.2005

PEDRO the Long Article

A piece for Fly.

Pedro The Lions.
Article by Robbie Mackey

It’s perhaps the most memorable moment on last year’s Achilles Heel – Dave Bazan’s milky tenor rises above the introverted guitar wash of “Bands with Managers” to proclaim: “I trust T. William Walsh / and I’m not afraid to die.” And while, ostensibly, the line’s about little more than TW’s competence behind the wheel of the Pedro the Lion tour van, the events leading up to the release of Achilles afford the couplet a slightly different meaning.

In early 2004, Bazan – then, the only legitimate member of Pedro The Lion – made an adventurous overture: he asked ever-present contributor, Walsh, to join the ranks full-time. But while drafting in a second member could have proven disastrous for an established solo-artist with such a patented aesthetic, Bazan found the addition entirely enriching for the creative proccess.

“Because we’re both songwriters, we really feel the process is sacred for the other person,” says Bazan. “But [Tim’s full-time presence in the band] gives me a lot more confidence, because I have a sounding board that I trust. I have somebody whose ideas I really like. So I know that if I’m hitting a wall he’ll have a really good idea or at least some perspective to help me.”

Of course, Pedro the Lion is and always will be Bazan’s brainchild; the man has penned six near-seamless collections of musical minimalism, harsh realism and incisive cultural satire. It’d be almost impossible for one to consider this anything but Dave’s gig; and Walsh has no problem with that. “It’s definitely still his band,” says Wlash. “Dave writes most of the songs. It’s all his vision and his vehicle for his creativity. I definitely have as much input as I want to have. We work together really collaboratively, but ultimately he has the veto power for whatever it might be.”

And since Bazan serves a similar role in Walsh’s “solo-work” (recorded under the moniker TW Walsh), the two have developed quite the interesting creative chemistry. “We both are songwriters, so in his band my role is to try to help him realize whatever vision he had when he was writing a song,” says Bazan. “In Pedro the Lion it works the same way, but vice-versa. That gives you an awful lot of control from both ends. [When I’m working with Tim], I’m just hoping that it jives with what he was thinking originally.”

And as if the musical lives of Pedro The Lion’s two principal members weren’t already intertwined enough, the duo is set to unveil yet another joint venture this May: The Headphones. Entirely synthesizers, drums, and vocals, Walsh and Bazan’s latest outfit seems quite the departure from their top-notch mope-rock. “But it’s very much like a rock band,” says Bazan. “It’s real drums, no sequencing. It’s not electronic music at all. It sounds like Pedro The Lion and Depeche Mode, kind of — if you saw Depeche Mode and they were all actually playing the parts and there was a real drummer.”

Bazan’s composedly unaffected vocal delivery will make the crossover to the new gig, but don’t expect Pedro The Lion’s characteristically weighty lyrics. “I didn’t work as hard to make the lyrics make sense all the time. I’d just choose words that I kind of enjoy. I think that because of the context that the vocals are in, it’s different enough that you don’t really focus on them quite the same way. For Pedro the Lion, my perception has been that the lyrics have been one of the main focal point in the band,” says Bazan.

And he couldn’t be more correct.

Since 2000’s Winners Never Quit, Bazan’s dark, satirical detachment has been the press’ near-total focus in regard to Pedro the Lion. Labeled depressing, and unnervingly stark, Bazan’s lyrical badlands have turned some Pedro The Lion fans away. But, Walsh sees his band’s lyrics as an example of brave realism:

“I think that people who write the band off as kind of depressing are either a little bit timid, in general, or a little bit unrealistic about the nature of the world. [The records] just portray everyday things. Every day, people are cheating on their spouses. Every day, people are exploiting other people within the economic system and the country. These are just real things that almost define the structure of our society. It just seems realistic to me as opposed to pessimistic.”

And with the now full-time aid of Walsh, Bazan may still yet have his most daring, and cohesive indictment of society, his most brilliantly painful piece of realism, left in him.

1.13.2005

Gimme Glitch

Dataclast - Catering To The IDM List

Finally, they FUCKED! Loud, fast, heavy and computer-driven, Dataclast is the Venetian Snares/Napalm Death tantric sex session I've been dreaming about for years. The Locust have been trying to fill this niche some time now (at least they should have been), but to no avail. Poor them. Presently, they must be watching on in disgust from the corner, cursing the 'clast for finally getting theSOUND right. If only they'd bought computers instead of those ugly bug outfits. But, I digress. Like the description would have you believe, this is incredibly difficult music.

Difficult and fucking totally sweet.

And here is some of that cry.on.my.console biznis I was raving about the other day. The only thing that can stop these guys from being huge in '05 is their relative obscurity. Let us unite and fix that problem!


1.11.2005

Big in '05

Predictions:

Des_Ark - About to break so hard I can smell the hype in the oven. Promise: this Durham, NC duo's debut full-lenth -- recorded by J. Mascis (of Dinosaur, Jr.) and Zeno Gil (of Pox World) -- is going to be brilliant. I haven't heard it yet, but I've seen 'em live enough to know that their stew of crusty math punk and whiskey-drenched bayou rock will deliver. And then some. Bifocal Media just posted a few samples here. One of the tracks is a surprising acoustic number, Aimee sounding equal parts Harvey, Gibbons and Hannah. If this doesn't break, sell my clothes, I'm off to heaven.

M.I.A. - So maybe I was late. Maybe my 2004 list was embarrassingly devoid of the M.I.A. and Diplo album. No matter, because after hearing it, I can officially throw myself behind the huge-shirt-wearing-beauty that is the new queen of the UK underground.

Cry.On.My.Console - Crunk, glitch, and grime meet head on. Could the snarky, electro-loving hip-popists ask for anything more? Like Dizee Rascal, Otto Van Schirach and Kanye West cold kicking it with Lil' John. They mash-up Coldplay. No, really.

Bright Eyes - The promos are in my CD player, and I must say that the wave Lifted made will be doubled this year. And not only because Connor is dropping two records. These albums will be universally adored -- and reviled, but only by those too cool to accept that Bright Eyes is actually good.

AFI - Gothy poppunk for the masses. The new record is purportedly both darker and popier. That means great singles with a sensible backbone.

Pas/Cal - The Shins have busted THIS THING open, folks. And if it isn't Pas/Cal, it'll be The Sun.

LCD Soundsystem - It's time the cynical-dance made a break. Course, we're only talking indie-popular here. Don't 'spect to see these guys on the cover of Rolling Stone, but DFA and co. -- spearheaded by the work of Goldsworthy and Murphy -- will have a big year.

Ciara - Like she won't capitalize on this wave?? There'll be a huge single about mid-way through the year that blows the roof off.

Daft Punk - Expect their thrid record to get mixed reviews after release, but slow-burn to top-20 status by the end of the year.

Why?

McClusky broke up.

The Unicorns may have broken up.

Note to other bands I enjoy: Please, don't break up.

Bayum Bayum Bayum

The Ying Yang Twins - Wait

Not only is this the best thing to happen to Crunk since "Yeah," but the radio edit of "Wait" must be one 3-minute block of silence. Fereal, this is

1. a filthy, mini-crunk anthem actually whispered into the ear, and...
2. my new favorite song.

The Twins were awared the Source's Group of the Year honors in 2004, and with the brilliant success of "Get Low," have become sort of go-to-guys for Lil' John. But if they feel the need to mix it up and dabble in some low-key Neptunes-inspired production, I won't argue. Listen, and I promise you won't either.

1.08.2005

Oh, Canada

Wolf Parade - Dinner Bells -

If the new milenium has proven anything, it's that a whole hell of a lot of interesting music is coming out of Canada. And while I detest the Broken Social Scene's calculated mash-up of expanse, tropicalia-infused exoticism, and bombast, I'd be hardpressed to deny You Forgot It In People it's rightful spot as watershed for the American indie press' appreciation of music north-of-the-border. But who broke the barrier don't really matter, now does it?

Like some of the biggest success stories of the past few years (The Unicorns, Arcade Fire, etc.), the latest Sub Pop signee, Wolf Parade call Canada home and create some damn fine music. "Dinner Bells" is the band's shining moment -- an uplifting plod that calls to mind the post-punk balladery of The Walkmen, the fucked-folk of Frog Eyes, and the smokey nostaligia of My Mornign Jacket.

To put it crudely, it's a folk song that swallowed an atomic bomb, a keyboard-driven anthem, bolstered by a worn sincerity and a delightful harmonica outro. A great tune.


1.06.2005

Fuckin' Shit Up With Your Lightsaber

The Left Rights - Darth Vader/Weird (video) -

A devastatingly brilliant video for two songs taken off of The Left Rights' 2002 self-titled debut. The tracks -- "Darth Vader," in particular -- come as quite the surprise, considering their progenitors: a side-project of the utterly awful Mindless Self Indulgence camp. That's the same NY neo-industrial-slop-hop crew whose talents have been enlisted on large-scale arena tours with the mother fucking Insane Clown Posse. What the fuck is right! But the tracks are great -- bubblegummy electro-psych, like The Unicorns or Wayne Coyne after a bit too much Prince. I might be going mad, but this stuff is just brilliant. The slow'd vocals on "Darth Vader" will never leave you. Never.

1.05.2005

You Missed

Laura Veirs - Rapture -

Quaint yet distrubed, Veirs dabbles in a sort of fractured-folk framework a'la Chan Marshall or an edgier Nina Nastasia. Though the Seatle songwriter released her 2004 effort, Carbon Glacier, on the fairly high-profile Nonesuch, and most important music jerks should have had access to it, PRACTICALY NO ONE LOVED THIS INCREDIBLE RECORD THE WAY I LOVED THIS INCREDIBLE RECORD. And for that I'm a bit miffed. Seriously, peep this chorus.


1.04.2005

If Mary J. Blige Beat Up Britney Spears

Plan B for the Type A's - Toxic (Britney Spears cover) -

Thank Chuck Eddy at the Voice for unearthing this confusing piece of novelty -- a snotty riot grrl send up of Brit's best single to date. I'd rather hear 'em lampoon a shite cut like her latest, "Mona Lisa," in which she's pitch altered to the point of sheer absurdity. Alas, after one listen to this take on a good Brit track, one can't help but ache for the orginal in all of its naked-body-covered-in-diamonds glory. Scary.

And as a nice lil' aside:

The title track from Mary J. Blige's 2001 record, No More Drama, is one of my absolute favorite songs of all time. Such emotional impact behind those bleeting laser synths and that afternoon-soap piano line. And when the baptist choir chimes in for the climax, Mary J. is cold serious.



Generally, Twee Is Bad, But It Was A Good Year

Architecture in Helsinki - The Owls Go -

A quirky indie pop number lifted off of Fingers Crossed, the debut album from Australia's Achitecture in Helsinki. Such a charming collage of acoustic guitars, minimal found-sound samples and the human voice, I have never heard. A neat lil' gem from an otherwise unremarkable album that owes a bit too much to the likes of Jim Gutherie, The Aislers Set and Belle & Sebastian.

So this is the way the year of TWOTHOUSANDFOUR wound up for me:

01 Arcade Fire – S/T [Merge]
02 Laura Veirs – Carbon Glacier [Nonesuch]
03 Animal Collective – Sung Tongs [Fat Cat]
04 The Clouds – S/T [Team]
05 Interpol – Antics [Matador]
06 Cyann & Ben – Happy Like An Autumn Tree [Locust]
07 Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing In The Hands [Young God]
08 The Hold Steady – Almost Killed Me [Frenchkiss]
09 The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free [Vice/Atlantic]
10 Franz Ferdinand – S/T [Domino]
11 Converge – You Fail Me [Equal Vision]
12 The Comas – Conductor [Yep Rock]
13 Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles [5 Rue Christine]
14 Air – Talkie Walkie [Astralworks]
15 The Dead Texan – S/T [Kranky]
16 Jukeboxer – In The Food Chain [Absolutely Kosher]
17 Mastodon – Leviathan [Relapse]
18 Subtle – A New White [Lex]
19 The Gris Gris – S/T [Birdman]
20 Ratatat – S/T [XL]
21 Isis – Panopticon [Ipacec]
22 Robyn Hitchcock – Spooked [Yep Roc]
23 Growing – Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of the Light [Kranky]
24 Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans [Sounds Familyre]
25 The Minor Times – Making Enemies [Level Plane]
26 Mirah – C’mon Miracle [K]
27 August Engkilde Presents EPO – EPO [popscape]
28 Pig Destroyer – Terrifyer [Relapse]
29 Black Eyes – Cough [Dischord]
30 Pedro The Lion – Achilles Heel [Jade Tree]
31 Comets on Fire – Blue Cathedral [Sub-Pop]
32 The New Year – The End is Near [Touch & Go]
33 Haunted House – La Vida… [Adonis]
34 Joanna Newsome – The Milk Eyed Mother [Drag City]
35 Fear Before The March of Flames – Art Damage [Equal Vision]
36 Wrangler Brutes – Zulu [Kill Rock Stars]

The argument 'round here is that Pitchfork had a lot to do with the success of the Arcade Fire record. I say POPPYCOCK. Sure, perhaaaaps, due to the site's fairly large readership, they introduced a few -- a few -- folks to the band, but let us not forget how much press that album was getting around the same time. And let's not forget the giantic buzz the album rode before its release. And while we're busy not forgetting things, let's not forget how delightfully perfect Funeral was.

The thing warranted the hype, folks.

Besides, this happens every go-round: "Oh, well, if Pitchfork didn't hype this record to death it wouldn't have done well." Really, did you care about the Wrens? I didn't.

But, much like Turn on the Bright Lights from two years ago (although not to be compared to the see-thru irony-arena mope-pop bullcrap of 2003's You Forget It In People), the "Pitchfork Album" of 2004 was just a devastatingly brilliant release. Bright and vibrant in all the right spots. Dark and gloomy in the OTHER right spots.

It returned godhonesthope to my music collection. Funeral is a bunch of songs that reasure. A bunch of songs that pat the back. Truly cathartic music and clearly the best album of the year -- Pitchfork endorsement and all.