28 February 2009

This is fucked up.

In a relationship, you must always be planning ahead...

Magnetic Fields - The One You Really Love

Pharoah Sanders

I've been living in Sydney for a little over a year. In that time I haven't managed to find any decent employment and have just been working odd jobs around the way. I've just come home from working at a restaurant. Without getting into a big diatribe about the service industry, I'll just say that this job bums me out. It's a bit of an existentialist nightmare, for one thing. But the larger issue is all the stress that everyone is under all the time and the disrespect for coworkers that stems from this stress. I've never really considered food service to be a serious occupation, so I don't really get too stressed at work. But as you may well know, it's difficult to work in an environment where everyone is yelling at each other and ordering people around.

What I find to be a really good remedy when I'm feeling down about this is to consider the grand order of things and the peace and positive energy that exist in the world. I turn to the deep thinkers, the enlightened ones. I always find it uplifting to listen to the meditative retreats of certain Impulse! artists like Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. The themes of these artists are usually love, meditation, spiritualism, and peace. I suppose these themes could sound really hokey if the music wasn't there to match. Fortunately, these are some of the greatest, most free-thinking jazz musicians ever, and usually the music says it far more eloquently than the words might.

I don't know a whole lot about jazz, and only within the last two years have I really started to "get it." When I was first starting to enjoy jazz I was introduced to Pharoah Sanders. He played with both John and Alice Coltrane in their prime periods, and has continued his own recordings into this decade. As a 69 year old he gets out a lot less than he used to, but he's still known to make an appearance at jazz festivals from time to time. The first recording that I heard by Pharoah Sanders was 1969's "Karma." Karma is largely comprised of a single track- "The Creator Has a Master Plan." In the first 8 minutes, Sanders' tenor sax is on display, first as bombastic chaos (as a friend once said, "This sounds like someone's running through a pack of loons."), and then as a more relaxed and uplifting 2 chord stroll. But from there, it's Leon Thomas' singing that really takes over. First it's a soothing refrain, but it eventually drifts away from structure and into freeform yodelling and spiritual prowess. The song grows into a serious freakout as Thomas begins to whoop and holler in a way that sounds nonhuman. Sanders complements this with his own hollering, only he does so through his instrument. They eventually come down to finish the song on a peaceful note with the same refrain as what started out this journey.

The other track, Colors, is more peaceful and contemplative. The track serves as a comedown from the epicness of "The Creator Has a Master Plan" with a babbling piano line and Thomas' soothing baritone. The drums never really play a rhythm, so to speak, but instead shuffle along in order to signify the ending.

Pharoah Sanders - Karma

Track Listing:
1) The Creator Has a Master Plan
2) Colors


27 February 2009

Bell Orchestre

When the first Bell Orchestre album "Recording a Tape the Colour of Light" came out, I remember it as being touted an Arcade Fire side project. This was 2005, after all, when you couldn't go two seconds without hearing the "Arcade Fire...awesome...best band....taking over..." Fair enough, I guess. After all, it IS an Arcade Fire-related project. But the Bell Orchestre are more closely related to their fellow instrumentalist Canadians Do Make Say Think or Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Unlike DMST, however, the Bell Orchestre has a greater focus on percussion and/or horns (French horn, clarinet, trumpet, and perhaps my favorite, bass saxaphone) rather than guitars. And unlike GY!BE, there is no impending doom. Their first album has a sense of urgency without getting overwhelming, and stradles a fine line between beauty and chaos. With all these ingredients- a member of Arcade Fire, comparisons to heavy-hitting post-rockers, and a sound that is complex-yet-accessible-- you'd think they'd be an underground success, right? But when "Recording a Tape the Colour of Light" came out it was largely ignored, and I haven't heard mention of the band since. Again, I must say, the music industry is a fortuitous and fickle mistress.

Fortunately, the band is soon releasing a new album called "As Seen Through Windows." This album is similar in style to their first LP, though they've taken a step away from the urgency that was so pressing in "Recording a Tape the Colour of Light" and decided to build open planes of sound instead. They make better use of the band as a whole this time around instead of stringing together short solos for each instrument. This allows for a denser record that doesn't feel suffocating, but rather ephemeral and lilting. Think Rachel's, think Efterklang, think Sigur Ros with horns in place of vocals. It's music for late snowy nights, warm baths, and slow, slow death.

The title track:
Bell Orchestre - As Seen Through Windows

The music video for "Throw It On A Fire" (from "Recording a Tape the Colour of Light"):

Wilco - Roger and Out

So, it's just been reported that Chicago's hometown heroes Wilco will release their 7th studio album (not counting the Mermaid Avenue albums) in June. With all that experimental talent in Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline, I'm hoping we don't get another dad-rock record like that Sky Blue Dump. I kid! That album wasn't the worst thing I've ever heard. But it certainly wasn't what I've come to expect from the band.

Anyway, when I heard that Wilco was coming up with some new shit, it jogged my memory. As a wee teen, I remember when downloading wasn't even an option, and then when Napster came to be, and it took three hours to download a song on your dial-up internet. If the connection was interrupted, by perhaps your mother or sister picking up the phone, the connection was lost and you'd have to start d/ling the song from scratch again. I also remember having nary a one record store in my town (KMart was the only option for CDs), and how it was a blessing to get a Best Buy gift card for Christmas. And then finally my friend Bryan got his license, and we'd get blazed after school and venture out to the bigger suburbs for a trip to Record Breakers.

On one particular visit, I noticed that they had a bunch of bootlegs for sale. In those days it was pretty risque to be selling unsolicited copies of anything because the RIAA still had command of the industry. I think Record Breakers eventually got caught and had to pay a big fine or something. But that wasn't my problem. My problem was that I was standing there, baked out of my skull, trying to decide on a Wilco bootleg or a bunch of stickers for my guitar case. I eventually decided on getting both the Wilco CD as well as a Grateful Dead sticker, that didn't turn out to be a sticker at all, but a decal (doy...stone chillin').

So anyway, nearly 10 years and many good and bad decisions later (one good one was to stop getting stoned), I'd like to share that Wilco bootleg with you, my internet friends and stalkers.

Wilco - Roger and Out

1) Someday Soon
2) Forget the Flowers
3) Far, Far Away
4) In Your Dreams
5) Out of Mind
6) Lonely 1
7) I Got You
8) Must Be High
9) Pick Up The Change
10) Wait Up
11) Not the Issue
12) Casino Queen
13) Box of Letters
14) Acuff Rose

Tracks 1-7 were recorded on Valentine's Day 1997 at T&G Studios in Philadelphia. Tracks 8-14 were from a concert in July 1995 at the Mountain Stage in Charleston, WA. The first 7 tracks are from Being There and the last 7 are off A.M., with the exception of Uncle Tupelo's "Acuff Rose" and "Wait Up."


26 February 2009

Group Bombino

Sublime Frequencies has done it again- another release from the rebels of Niger. This time it's Guitars from Agadez, Volume 2, recorded by Group Bombino. Unlike the first volume, recorded by Group Inerane (which shares some members with Group Bombino), this one is half acoustic, half electric.

The first side is more folk-based and was apparently recorded in the desert with only hand claps as percussion. These acoustic songs remind me of some of those Yaala Yaala Records (Drag City imprint) releases from a couple years ago, and also some of the Lipa Kodi Ya City Council jams.

All of side 2 was recorded through generators. Side one is great in its isolation and message of hope, but side 2...damn. Raw, dirty, psychedelic, and full of life. This is powerful music, replete with messy guitars, ululating, chanting, and a strong rhythm. These songs are not exactly light listening. They have a heavy message to them, much as Fela Kuti's music did. This is music for the uprising. Again, I cannot stress enough how raw this stuff is. It's really unlike anything coming out of the western world. So, so, so good.

Group Bombino - Guitars From Agadez, Volume 2

Say it 10 times fast:
A1) Tenere
A2) Imuhar
A3) Kamoutalia
A4) Amidinine
B1) Boghassa
B2) Imouhare
B3) Issitchilane
B4) Kamu Telyat
B5) Eronafene Tihoussayene

Here's a 30 second film clip to give you an idea of how kickass this is:

There's a one time pressing of 1500 copies of this record and it's already sold out at the Sublime Frequencies website. You can still get it here, but not for much longer. Considering the first volume goes for around $100 on eBay, I'd strongly suggest grabbing a copy of this now. Even from halfway around the world I already got my grubby hands on one of these. Not to be missed!

25 February 2009

Yo La Tengo/Condo Fucks

Metro Chicago

("Yo La Tango" and "Lamb Chop.")............................(They got "Yo La Tengo" correct the second time, but RICK Brown wasn't so fortunate.)

Yo La Tengo are the absolute jam. Their creative restlessness, their balancing act of wearing their hearts on their sleeves without being wimpy, their ability to cross genres without flinching, and their willingness to cover any band they well choose...these are all exactly the things I want in a band. They don't bother with image, other than being nice, honest, creative music dorks. The music has always come first, baseball a close second. I'm a little surprised it's taken me this long to talk about them.

So when I heard that Yo La Tengo were putting out a garage covers record under the name "Condo Fucks," well, I couldn't have been more fucking condo-ning. For one thing, it means new Yo La Tengo. For another, it means they're still having fun trying something new, which, if I'm to infer correctly, means no end in sight. It also means we'll get Yo La Tengo pretending to be a raucous garage band covering The Small Faces, Slade, and The Troggs. Win win win.

There's a new video, err, photo montage of a bunch of Connecticrap, where "Condo Fucks" are supposedly from. I really like that in the press release for the new album, they didn't even bother coming up with an alias for James McNew. Georgia Condo, Kid Condo, and James McNew. Yeah, he's just kind of there, hanging out, playing bass. You know, whatever.

Check it:

Loud and obnoxious and gritty and awesome.

And for kicks, here're the two Dylan covers they contributed to the "I'm Not There" soundtrack.

Yo La Tengo - Fourth Time Around (Bob Dylan)
Yo La Tengo - I Wanna Be Your Lover (Bob Dylan)

24 February 2009

Mardi Gras

Today, on this very Fat Tuesday, I'd like to pay tribute to a holiday that is better than Christmas, Halloween, and 4th of July all skewered together and deep-fried in delicious. That's right, it's Mardi Gras! No work or school for a week! Hot funk (not to be confused with white-hot funk)! Cab drivers smoking doobs! Plastic beads! Breasts! Booze! Parades!

I remember one year (2003?) when Aaron Carter was the king of one of the parades (Bacchus?), and my old roommate and I were trying to hit him in the face with beads. Serves him right, the little twerp.

This year Bacchus actually got a first rate celebrity, Jim Morrison/Batman/Iceman himself, Val Kilmer.

Two things that best epitomize that New Orleans spirit are The Meters and some Mardi Gras Mambo.

The Meters - Hey Pocky A-Way

The Hawketts - Mardi Gras Mambo

23 February 2009

Sam Cooke

Once upon a time there was a little Christian boy named Samuel Cook. He sang all them Jesus songs in the church choir up in Chicago. But then he went prodigal, changing his name to Sam Cooke, singing that devilish secular music (Gershwin) and getting all mixed up with prostititties.

Fortunately Sam Cooke will always be most well-known for his sweet, smooth vocals and doo-wop love songs. A vast multitude of artists cite him as an influence or idol, such as Otis Redding, who covered "Wonderful World," "Change Is Gonna Come," and "Shake" on Otis Blue. I read an Otis Redding biography once and he was talking about how ashamed he was of his rough voice in comparison to Cooke's. He idolized Cooke so much that he stole those patented Huh's and Ha's that can so often be heard in Cooke's (and Redding's) songs. I guess we all live in somebody's shadow.

About two years before his death in December 1964, "Live at the Harlem Square Club" was released. It shows a more rowdy side to Cooke and his songs. It sounds like Cooke is having a really good time and has the audience eating out of his hand for the entire show. His vocals are a little less restrained than on record, which gives this album tons of energy. This album also shows off the handy sax work of King Curtis, an Atlantic/Atco studio musician who headed Aretha Franklin's backing band. This is a really great excerpt from a career by one of the greatest singers of all time.

Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

Track Listing:
1) Feel It
2) Chain Gang
3) Cupid
4) It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons
5) Twistin' the Night Away
6) Somebody Have Mercy
7) Bring It On Home To Me
8) Nothing Can Change This Love
9) Having a Party

Here also is a video of Sam covering Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," a song that consequently inspired Cooke to write "A Change Is Gonna Come."

21 February 2009

Dinosaur Jr.

I just came home from work to find out that Dinosaur Jr. have just signed to Jagjaguwar. This means, with almost utmost certainty, that Dinosaur Jr. will be releasing a new album soon. What this also means, with a lot less likelihood, is that there's actually the possibility that they'll go out on the road with new labelmates Richard Youngs and Oneida and get on stage for a rousing rendition of Sheets of Easter.

Back on reality planet, it's good to know that Dinosaur Jr. have decided to actually be a band again, and that 2007's Beyond wasn't just a one-off. Dinosaur Jr. had their heyday before I was really kicking it, so I'm quite pleased that they're still puking and crying their way into our hearts. I do remember when Q101 started playing "Feel the Pain" on the radio. It was one of a few good songs that they played then and now that it's 15 years later, it's the only good song that they still play. Man, that station stinks. Anyway, I doubt the new album will be another "You're Living All Over Me," but I'm sure it'll make a few "best of" lists (mine included).

Here's a video of them playing their 15-year single "Feel the Pain" on HBO:

And here's their cover of Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way," which was originally on "You're Living All Over Me" but I think got pulled because of copyright or something.

Dinosaur Jr. - Show Me the Way (Peter Frampton cover)

20 February 2009

You're what the french call, "Les incompetents."

I've achieved a small victory today in (sort of) figuring out how to let readers listen to songs without having to download them. Certainly this is not impressive to anybody but me, but like I say, "Don't hate, congratulate."

Much of the music I've posted thus far is being hosted on rapidshare, which doesn't allow you to listen to songs first, so I'll have to find a better hosting site. I'll work out these kinks in no time, and then we'll be on the streaming superhighway.

I'd really like to figure out how to host the files myself or have them embedded, but this will have to do for now.

19 February 2009

Lifter Puller

Since my last post was largely about guitar-heavy bands, I thought I'd stay on the rock tip for this one.

Seeing the Hold Steady a couple weeks ago has got me thinking about how fortuitous the music industry can be.  Considering the previous Craig Finn incarnation, Lifter Puller, was essentially the same band making essentially the same music, why is it that they got absolutely no press whereas the Hold Steady have been cult darlings since their inception?  

My conclusions:
1) Internet
2) Pitchfork
3) Hype
4) Internet-generated pitchfork hype

Fortunately they're a band that's worthy of the hype of 1000 Taylor Swifts, so it's all good.

I've really enjoyed this Lifter Puller song for a few years and wanted to share it.  It's only available on the Soft Rock album, which compiles every recording of Lifter Puller's art-scene-cock-rock ever made, with the exception of Fiestas + Fiascos (which I may post some day if you're lucky).  It's also out of print and way overpriced.

Touch and Gone

I was a little disheartened to wake up today and find out that Touch and Go is phoning it in.  It looks like all is not lost, as they'll still be operating as a label, at least to some extent.  However, they're dropping the distribution side completely, which is a big hit for a few of the veritable indie labels of America.  It's better explained here.

This news has got me thinking of all the bands T&G has provided us over the years, from the angular post-rock of June of 44, Slint, and Rodan to the angular punk of Big Black, Killdozer, and the Jesus Lizard, to the angular muddled dirges of the Black Heart Procession and Dirty Three.  So much low end, all for naught!  Just kidding.  There were some pretty jams in there as well, with the likes of Rachel's, Blonde Redhead, and the prettiest girl at the ball, Ted Leo.

I was going to post a track that Ted Leo/Pharmacists released on a digital EP last year after the riots at the Republican National Convention, but some blogs around the way have gotten in trouble for it. Nothing like a little brute force and some copyright issues to sully a party. So instead I'll just post my most favorite Ted Leo song ever. After all, I don't think Lookout Records is coming for me anytime soon, right? Hey-o!

Ted Leo - Parallel Or Together?

I also thought I'd post this totally kick-ass Polvo song. This is "Can I Ride," which I think was their first single ever, and eventually found album release on Cor-Crane Secret, released on Merge and later by T&G. It's the song version of a brother-in-law, I guess. It's all in the family.

Polvo - Can I Ride (Polvo EP version)

18 February 2009

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords is #2 in terms of TV comedy for me(30 Rock is firmly secured in the top spot).  The writing is superb, the songs are really well done, and there are plenty of cameos by some really great (and not so great) comedians (Toddy Barry, Jim Gaffigan, Dmitiri Martin, Arj Barker, and Eugene Mirman, plus a spot by Daryl "Private Eyes" Hall).

One aspect of the show that I really enjoy is the way they make fun of Australians.  I don't know that they're even making fun of Australians as much as they're mocking the Australian stereotype.  I think the Australian stereotype is akin to the American stereotype of mulletted rednecks waving Confederate Flags and chowing down at IHOP and Denny's all the time.  Needless to say they're unrepresentative, a bit depressing, and, if used properly, very funny.

Here's some footage of the great Aussie/Kiwi rivalry a la FotC:
This week's episode saw Jemaine accidentally shacking up with a pretty rough Aussie broad named Keitha (who's "got a tongue like a badger's arsehole").  Of course a lot of mockery follows and the guys end up right back where they started from (just like that Maxine Nightingale song).

If that's not reason enough to watch this episode, Michel Gondry directs the episode which features a very "Be Kind Rewind" style music video.  If for some reason you can't watch the full episode, here's the music video:

Another winner from Camp Conchords.

16 February 2009

Hall & Oates

I will forever assert that Hall & Oates are more than just a punchline or the musical equivalent to Siegfried & Roy (There is some creepy resemblance though).  Granted, both Hall and Roy have been the victims of animal attacks.  The difference is that Hall overcame Lyme Disease (which, interestingly enough, was first diagnosed by ex-girlfriend/songwriting partner Sara "Smile" Allen, who once had a bout with Lyme Disease herself) while Roy can hardly walk and part of his skull is now housed in his stomach.  True story!

Like I said, Hall & Oates are more than a punchline.  I will always stand up for their abilities.  But, they are still a punchline.  In the words of Neil Hamburger:

Why did the farmer start a punk rock band?  
He was tired of Hall N' Oates!

If that's not enough punchline for you, check out Daryl Hall's appearance in this B-Legit video:

Since we here in Sydney haven't seen the sun in 8 days and it looks like a slip and slide outside, I thought I'd offer up "Lady Rain" from 1973's Abandoned Luncheonette.  A lot of people say that Hall & Oates are nothing more than a singles band, but this is a great album from start to finish.

Harry Nilsson

I wanted to write about Harry Nilsson because 1) Nilsson is one of my favorite songwriters ever 2) I was a little rushed to get up today and started singing "Gotta Get Up" for a few seconds before Emily joined in.  

Much like most of today's songwriters, Nilsson never took himself too seriously and didn't stick to one or two styles of song.  Rock songs?  Check.  Ballads?  Check.  Easy listening?  Check.  Children's songs?  Check.  Country?  Check.  Free-form jazz?  Uh, ok, wouldn't go that far.  Still, where his contemporaries (The Beatles, Cat Stevens, The Turtles [I guess he liked being contemporaries with animals]) only stuck to one or two of these styles, Nilsson managed to convincingly write and record in a myriad of genres, held together by his commanding presence as a singer.  Only Randy Newman could be considered a rival, and nobody can stand that guy's voice for an entire album anyway.

Nilsson is known primarily for two movie songs- Midnight Cowboy's "Everybody's Talkin'" (later featured in Forrest Gump) and Nilsson Schmilsson's "Coconut," later featured in Reservoir Dogs.  These songs highlight just part of the genius of Nilsson.  He could do an airy, world-weary folk song (granted, he didn't write "Everybody's Talkin," but "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City" serves the same purpose) just as easily as a slow, percussion-heavy calypso song about hangovers.

Some of the greatest things about Nilsson aren't his songwriting, but his modesty and humor when handling his own talent.  When Nilsson was recording with John Lennon for the Pussy Cats album, he ruptured a vocal cord and famously continued working because he didn't want Lennon to stop the sessions.  As a youngster in 1960, Nilsson recorded a few tracks for $5 a piece.  When he later became famous, the owner of the songs followed up with Nilsson as to offer proper compensation, Nilsson said he'd already been paid for the songs in 1960.  Through 1968, he handled his own phones and often gave on-the-spot interviews.  

Don't get me wrong.  Nilsson did his fair share of partying and trouble-making.  But at least he didn't go around smacking up his lady friend.

I want to share a few tracks that I especially enjoy, but I strongly urge you to dole out the $2.99 for most of his records.

13 February 2009

DJ Shadow

I was/am a really big fan of the first two DJ Shadow albums Endtroducing... and Private Press.  These albums are heady trip-hop classics.  But I couldn't handle the left turn he took when he got into hyphy territory with The Outsider and the Bay Area EP.  Strangely enough, my favorite song in the entire DJ Shadow catalogue comes from "The Outsider".  "This Time I'm Gonna Try It My Way" is a funky soul masterpiece unlike anything else on the album.  It's more Marvin Gaye and less third-rate club banger.

When the single was released, a contest was held wherein people could submit music videos and the winner would get to choose from a selection of dead presidents.  The winning video is probably the best in quality, but I like this one for its simplicity:

A lot of them are on youtube and I encourage you to check out a few.  It's not like you can really get sick of the song...

Here's the track as well, for your aural enjoyment:

Vangelis - The Dragon

I threw this record on last night as I was cooking spaghetti. Much like spaghetti, this record is a delicious mess. It was apparently recorded in 1971 with a couple members from Vangelis' earlier band, Aphrodite's Child, but didn't see release until 1978 on Charly Records, unbeknownst to Vangelis. He successfully sued the label and got the record pulled from stores. I don't know if it was ever released lawfully again or reissued on CD, but it's absolutely worth checking out. This isn't the uplifting Chariots of Fire Vangelis or the new age stylings of Jon & Vangelis. In short, this is not your mother's Vangelis.

The real winner on this album is the first track. Side-long "The Dragon" is a psych burn-out, complete with squalling guitars and electric violin. That dragon on the cover does a good job of portraying the impending apocalypse that is this song. The other two tracks are decent in their own right, but it's hard to follow such a magnificent jam with anything better (though "Stuffed Tomatoe" does get pretty scatter-brained after a few minutes). So good.

Vangelis - The Dragon

1) The Dragon
2) Stuffed Aubergine
3) Stuffed Tomatoe


11 February 2009

School of Seven Bells

Just as I mention School of Seven Bells, what should pop up but a new video for "Half Asleep"? This is the proper single off last year's Alpinisms (buy it here).

From Stereogum, who got it from Pitchfork, who got it from the band.

I always thought the song was kind of dreamy, but this video is making me carsick.


Camera Obscura

Title track off the forthcoming Camera Obscura record. Is it possible to have sex with someone's voice?

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career


10 February 2009


I was cruising around on this very overcast day flipping between stations, and landed on FBi (besides the two classic rock stations, this is probably the only good radio station in Sydney). They were playing School of Seven Bells jam "iamundernodisguise." I think this song is absolutely wonderful. It has a melody that sounds like a church song from the Middle Ages. The Deheza twins have voices that alternately soar and lull, creating a great soundscape on top of the droning electronic rhythms put forth by ex-Secret Machines member Benjamin Curtis.

School of Seven Bells - iamundernodisguise

I first got into the music of Claudia and Alejandra Deheza when they were in a band called On!Air!Library! The mood back then was a little dreamier, moodier, and spaced-out. A mix of shoegaze, space rock, electronics, and jagged guitars made them lesser-known contemporaries of bands like Blonde Redhead, Portishead, and My Bloody Valentine. Here's my favorite song from their self-titled album:

On!Air!Library! - Bread

And the video:

Prettiest band ever.


09 February 2009

Laneway 2009

One very good thing about Laneway Festival: even in 35 degree C (95 F) heat, there is quite a lot of shade going around. This is made possible by a number of large trees around the area, as well as a couple of rather large buildings. One very bad thing about Laneway: two of the four stages are located between said buildings in very narrow lane-ways. Here I was thinking the festival was named after Nathan Lane and his crazy effeminate ways.

Jack Ladder
Sydney's own Jack Ladder opened the festival at the Basement Stage. The Basement is a very dark, stuffy, underground, low-ceilinged venue. My thoughts on Jack Ladder: Oh good, it's not just him with an acoustic guitar! That would have been pretty boring. This music isn't too bad. Wow, he's REALLY trying to be Jonathan Richman. Did he just say "Turn a frown upside down"? These are the worst lyrics ever. This guy is a mega-dick.

Still Flyin'
I had heard about this band only in a Will Sheff interview. The way I understood it was that it was like a younger version of Broken Social Scene, with a revolving cast of musicians and more people on stage at any one time than could comfortably fit into a doctor's waiting room. I was only afraid that it might be a little too twee-pop for me. Fortunately, they're a 14-unit ska/reggae party band. At any given moment, only about 70% of the members were playing instruments. The rest were dancing/jumping/rolling around, passing a boogie board around the crowd, giving sweat-hugs to audience members, and singing backup on one of their many "brew-grooves." Possibly the best, and certainly most life-affirming, band I saw all day.

Born Ruffians
Finally we venture out into the light of day. This was where I first encountered this "laneway" situation. The band had already started playing, and there were maybe 150 people in front of us. The sound was bouncing between the buildings and it wasn't worth the effort. Food and beer instead.

Spiral Stairs
I had to make a decision between No Age and Spiral Stairs. No Age was playing at the same stage as Born Ruffians, and I wasn't sure I wanted to risk waiting around for a band that hasn't gotten very favorable live reviews. I'd rather see the Pavement dude on the big stage. About 15 other people made the same (wise) decision. Spiral Stairs, aka Scott Kannenberg, took to the stage on crutches. He announced that he had broken his foot in Perth two days before, yet he still somehow managed to move around more than a lot of bands with fully-functional legs. A couple of the new songs were a little off the mark, but the Preston School of Industry "single" "Caught In the Rain" went over quite nicely. The real highlights, of course, were the three Pavement songs- "Date With Ikea" and renditions of "Kennel District" and "Two States" with the Still Flyin' guys. I seriously thought dude was going to break his foot a second time during "Two States." I've never seen a man shake that fast.

I skipped out on Jay Reatard (again, laneway stage) for more beer and chillin. Oh and some feral douchies in line for the bathroom. Some broad snuck to the front of the line and tried getting into the toilet that I was first in line for. "Someone just went in there," I informed her. "Oh, well I'm just guarding it because I'm next." "Well actually, I've been waiting." "OH MY GOD! Chivalry is DEAD. Are you REALLY going to PUSH your way in front of a GIRL? I don't GET it with you guys. You have PEEENISES. In a couple hours you can just go ANYwhere." I did the right thing by making her feel bad and then going in front of her anyway.

Wait around for Stereolab at the main stage and catch some of Melbourne's Temper Trap. They're ok, but probably not something I'll go check out later. Their last song is a very sub-par cover of "Dancing in the Dark" that gets the sub-par audience screaming.

I finally got my chance to see the seminal Stereolab. I wasn't quite sure what to expect since they haven't been much of a band at all in the past few years. The band started out with some of the new cuts off "Chemical Chords." I didn't really get into this album much. It's just a little too poppy. I like my Stereolab experimental and kraut-ish. Fortunately the second half of their set was more to my liking, with songs like "Mountain", "Lo Boob Oscillator", and "French Disko". Also Laetitia Sadier made eyes at me more than once, and there is nothing wrong with a little sexy French to go with my indie rock.

El Guincho
This was the first and only act I saw all day on the other laneway-situated Red Bull stage. This stage basically presented DJs all day, though for some reason the organisers thought it fitting to advertise acts like Four Tet and Daedelus as live. Live, like, in person? Anyway, El Guincho played just about everything off "Alegranza" although sometimes it was actually difficult to distinguish between the songs because the BASS WAS VERY LOUD. So loud, in fact, that you couldn't hear vocals, keyboards, or samplers. It didn't seem to deter the crowd too much and everyone was dancing and generally having a good time...that is until 6:45 when everyone ran to see Architecture in Helstinky.

Architecture In Helsinki
After The Guinch, I made my way to the big stage where the Hold Steady would be performing in an hour. Originally the Drones were meant to be playing on this stage, and I had wanted to catch a little of them anyway because I'd heard good things. But then it turned out Architecture in Helsinki got the nod. Since I was planning to be front and center for Hold Steady, I sat through the last 20 minutes of AIH. My god, this band has seriously spiraled downward in the past few years. When did they turn into a cheesy 80's soft rock band? It even took me a while to recognise songs that I know, like "Do the Whirlwind" and "Heart It Races" because of long, meandering synth intros. Then I noticed that the Still Flyin' dudes were hanging out up there and putting AIH to shame with their dance moves.

Hold Steady
I pretty much expected to be transcended to a higher plane for this band. Their albums are decent, but everything I've ever read has said that these guys are THE rock band to see live. So the band comes out, the crowd goes wild, and they begin "Constructive Summer." Then I realise how many morons are in the crowd. Some guys start moshing and knocking people over, people are getting their feet stepped on, and kids are crowd-surfing and kicking unsuspecting victims in the face. It was hard to fully enjoy the music when I'm afraid I'm about to get a Volley to the head. As for the band, they played all the songs I wanted to hear, but it was basically note-for-note from the record. The band didn't seem to be having a lot of fun or really enjoying themselves, but what came across most was that more than anyone else at the festival, these guys are a professional band. Craig Finn is definitely a dynamic frontman, Tad Kubler has guitar hero written all over him, and Franz Nicolay is a virtuoso at piano and mustache.

So, how does this compare to ATP?
Better bands
More shade and buildings
More douches
Longer, faster moving toilet lines
Still Flyin'
So many bad tattoos
Worse stages
More beer


05 February 2009

Grizzly Bear

We here at the Regular Express foam at the mouth for anything Grizzly Bear related. It's been a little while since they've released anything new (though there was that Department of Eagles record last year), so word of a release date or new songs being played live is like discovering a "bear"-ied treasure. Recently there have been a few new jams floating around that I'd like to share. They're all from a live show in Boston that the Grizz played in August. Why they're only making the rounds now, I'm not sure. This is the digital age! Lightning fast people, let's do it!

Aside from these new songs, there's a remake of "Service Bell," recorded with Feist, set to be released in about two weeks on the 4AD Dark Is The Night comp. Indie compilation of the century. Unfortunately I can't seem to find the new "Service Bell," so these live ones will have to do for now.

Grizzly Bear - 2 Hud
Grizzly Bear - Fine For Now
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks


Robert Palmer

I think it's unfortunate that Robert Palmer always gets lumped into the "Dad music" category. It's understandable considering the major hits that he had- "Simply Irresistable," "Doctor, Doctor," and "Addicted to Love." These are all powered, cheesy 80's pop songs that go hand in hand with REO and ZZ Top on classic rock radio. What you wouldn't know from these songs are both Palmer's smooth, smooth grooves as well as his more contemplative, insightful side. Palmer's also been known to throw in a decent cover here and there, including Little Feat's championing of cocaine, "Sailing Shoes," Toots' "Pressure Drop," Gary Numan's "I Dream of Wires," and Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me." These covers SCREAM smooth/insightful.

I'd like to share what I think is Palmer's best track, and is probably in my top 20 all time favorite songs. The third track and first single off the (excellent) 1980 album "Clues," Johnny & Mary is a poignant tale of a doomed couple set to a drum machine and (what I can only assume to be) a highly phased bass riff. Top notch.

In September of 2003, Palmer got "layed" for the last time as his body was put to rest after a heart attack.

Robert Palmer - Johnny & Mary


03 February 2009

Holiday Road

As I mentioned before, and will most certainly mention again, I really love Fleetwood Mac and nearly all Fleetwood Mac related things. The other day friend Mikey asked me if I had ever seen the video for Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road." I realized that I had not. I went home that night and took a gander on youtube. It was not at all what I expected.

This video really gets me "under the skin." Ha ha! Get it?! If I had to watch it over and over, I think I would "go insane." Hey, this guy's on fire...

In actuality I really like the video. The song is a bit too poppy and upbeat considering most of Lindsey's other material, and I think the video shows some of that darkness we all know and love.


02 February 2009

Lipa Kodi Ya City Council

A label called Mississippi Records has been putting out some incredible releases over the past few years. Apparently the label started around '03 or '04, but my first introduction was this album in late 2006. The record cover itself is a silk-screened piece of cardboard glued onto an old Latin Big Band sleeve. Attached is a photo of a Nigerian dude, wearing what appears to be traditional dress and a couple of reeds, playing electric guitar plugged into a generator. Needless to say, this record is mind-bogglingly good.

The first side consists of songs meant to be a celebration of life and death, sung in the colloquial language of southern Nigeria called Efik. The second side is in the official language of Nigeria, called Ibo, and celebrates the officers and members of a "cultural organisation" (whatever that means). Elements of reggae, gospel, ska, and highlife can all be found here, and for the most part it is a very upbeat compilation. The recordings are somewhat lo-fi, but not in that Times New Viking way where everything is distorted and it sounds like somebody is chewing granola in the studio and they accidentally put that way up in the mix and now you're listening to it because 1) you're punishing yourself 2) because you have no actual opinion of music and your "tastes" are learned. No no, it's lo-fi in the way that the songs have been recorded on a tape machine in the late 60's with limited equipment. The first two tracks are definite standouts, but I think the center of the album is track 6, a slow, peaceful gospel chant done by a bunch of missionaries and religious drummers. No, they're not referring to the drummers from Jars of Clay and PM Dawn (amusingly enough, when I clicked the link for the PM Dawn website, I was alerted that their site contains malware..way to go guys). I put this song on the mix CD I made my mom for Christmas, and now you can too!


Track listing:

A1 Moussa Doumbi - Yeye Mousso
A2 Yaseen Mohammed and Saada - Lala Mpenzi
A3 Sami Kamar & The Black Diamonds - Egun Dide
A4 Kabushi and Mwenya - Mwe Baiyashi Centeleni
A5 Mbasela Kunda and William Monyanda - Nina Namusonda Sanguweji
A6 Noviciat De Soeurs Missionaires De Notre Dame D' Afrique & Four Religious Drummers - Yesu Ka Mkwebase
B1 Cabdulashi Iman Zamir / Xaaji Cusmaan / Nuur Maxamed Curuba - Siina Miiri
B2 Ester John / Mdawida Fadhili William* / Ben Nicholas / Fundi Konde - Mwanamali Wa Maridadi
B3 Frida Sonko - Gwenasobya
B4 Marehamu George Mukabi - Bibi Mama Ngani Mzuri
B5 S.E. Rogie - Do Me Justice
B6 Isaya Mwinamo - Lipa Kodi Ya City Council

This album is out of print on LP and probably won't ever be available on CD, so I'd suggest you grab this right here if you're even remotely interested. It should not, will not, cannot, let you down. Also get your hands on everything you can from this label. Their records are cheaper than dirt and always of a very high standard. "Always - Love Over Gold."