Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Twitchy No-fi of Sealings

Sealings are what would happen if The Secret Society of Giraffes decided to produce a little no-fi pop and rock. Over messed up drum beats and thick montone, they produce dark, beat mixed tunes that are close to what I imagine early Cold Cave would have sounded like if they ever tried to cover Times New Viking. The British duo is also nicely prolfic, having put out split tapes on Clan Destine and FLA, as well a tape on Tye Die Tapes as well, not to mention various one offs on their tumbler. The band is also quite prolific, poping out various songs to throw on their tumbler for download, or put up on their soundcloud page for the world to listen too. The contrast is easy to see when comparing "2 Cups" to "Jack Nicholson, In A Sea Of Faces". "2 Cups" though filled with drum beeps and harsh synth lines, mainly composed of heavly in the red guitar riffs stacked on almost completely symbol composed drumming. The singing style serves as a nice contrast to the choas surrounding it.

(mp3) Sealings-2 Cups

"Jack Nicholson, In A Sea Of Faces", on the other hand, sounds like one of the many upon many hazy synth songs produced today, but almost as a satire of the sytle, recorded in the worst way, making almost every elment of the song that should have that should have beauty with it now contain stark grit and anguish. Like Washed Out if he decided to use a two-track and dump large amounts of feed back into the mixing process.

(mp3) Sealings-Jack Nicholson, In A Sea of Faces


Sealings on Myspace
Sealings Tumbler, Awesome Ghost 

SXSW 2011: Wedensday

South By Southwest this year was the most insane musical experience I have ever had in quite some time. I was beaten, battered, and bruised, never got enough sleep, was completely exhausted at the end of every single day, and probably developed some form of illness from the event. I can also say I saw some the greatest bands ever, meet some incredibly awesome people, and had one of the best experiences of my life. What is featured in the next few days is a small sliver of what I got to see and hear of the best four day music festival in the world, both the best and the worst in the pantheon of music.

Weekend @ Emo's Annex

Technically, Weekend where not the first band I saw at SXSW. That honor goes to Beach Fossils, who I managed to catch at their Pitchfork set on Tuesday after arriving in Austin from Mexico City the same day. However, due to forgetting my camera on Tuesday, Weekend gets the honor of first photographically pictured band of my SXSW '011. And what away to kick off the day. A thirty minute set of pure ear ruining noise-pop, from a band I should have payed a lot more attention to last year. While the setting was not perfectly suited for the band (a large tent with a lot of light), the band still gave a hell of a loud performance.

The Vaccines @ Emo's

The Vaccines are what is known as a "hype band". For those who don't know the difference between a "hype band" and a "buzz band", a "hype band" is built up by their label through lots of advertisements and magazine articles, while a "buzz band" are usually built up by their fans and blogs and gain traction a lot more authentically. So I was a bit iffy on whether I would like The Vaccines set at the Brooklyn Vegan show, despite kind of liking their two mp3s that made waves a short while back. However, the band was surprising good. Coming off as something like the British equivalent of The Soft Pack, the band jumped on stage, started jamming, and didn't stop. Blasting through seven song in twenty minutes, the band was nothing if not tight, and pulled off quite an energetic set.

Mister Heavenly @ Emo's

Let us ignore for five seconds that Michael Cera is playing bass in the band right now, and that is why a large chunk of the audience was there, particularly teenage hipster girls. Pulling back the band is made up also of three hardened veterans of the '00s indie rock scene, put together into one band which comes off as an awesome bi-polar indie rock band. The Nick Diamond songs sounded like more manic Island songs, while the Horus Horus songs sounded like more melodic Man Man tunes. The styles mixed in a way that served as a juxtaposition, but also meshed surprising well. Also being in bands for so long the set was great, filled with multiple guitar flailing and piano hopping that spun out of control in just the right ways. And for all the haters out there, Michael Cera is a pretty good bassist.

Dead Gaze @ Cheer Up Charile's

There was no set on Tuesday I was more excited for than Dead Gaze's. Cole Furlow and co. (which now adds up to a five piece) despite dealing with some initial sound problems, performed one loud and roaring all too short thirty minute set on the tiny Cheer Up Charile's stage. I mean the band's music was re-crafted perfectly live with one lo-fi gem after another from the band's catalog was blasted through the venue's perfectly terrible speakers. Furlow was also in top form, belting out the songs and pounding on his guitar, with a small little smile breaking across his face during when guitar dueling with one of his other band mates.

Gayngs @ Red 7

Gayngs is a super group getting large amounts of acclaim due to being made up a plethora of indie rock band members, none less famous than Bon Iver adding guitar to along with the other three guitarists, piano player, bassist, two vocalists, laptop operator, clarinetist, among more. However, all this spectacle does not make up for the fact that the band is incredibly boring, not only with their music, which is just slightly airy yacht rock, but also in their performance as well. Of course this is partially due to the subdued nature of the music itself, but still with all those excellent musicians on stage it should have added to something a lot more. I left after the third song, and doubt I missed anything.

Secret Machine @ Red 7

At about this time I did something, that any respectful SXSW attendee should do: see bands you have never heard of. So I swung by the Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans/Secretly Canadian showcase catching two bands, the first one being Secret Machine. For a six piece band, that were dressed in some pretty interesting outfits, and were playing their hearts out, there wasn't really much that struck out for attention music wise. Yes there were moments that the band sprung to life, and those moments were great. However, for the most part felt like a "label band", one that fits perfectly the label they are, but don't produce any music you remember very well.

Sun Airway @ Red 7

Sun Airway know how to play a show. The lights dimmed, and suddenly a massive light show was being projected on the band, a mixture of movie clips and multi-color lighting that must of really bothered the band, but added the perfect atmosphere to the entire show. The band were great, clear veterans of various other bands, playing ever wonderful electronic influenced dream-pop, that built and swelled to points of falling apart, only to come back together again in some texture of blissed out pop tunes. The band was playing right before Small Black, so connections and similarities could easily be put together, but honestly Sun Airway seem to be everything Small Black try to be, but actually pull it off.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Audio Antihero: Broken Shoulder and Bob Hope Would

Audio Antihero is at it again. Continuing their wave of supporting whatever underappreciated band they come in contact with, AAH is supporting the digital release and physical release of brand new British artist Broken Shoulder. Broken Shoulder first ever release is the seven song Broken Shoulderrr EP, is completely different from anything Audio Anti-Hero have release in that it is the label’s first foray into ambient music. However, to describe this EP and this band as just another “ambient” artist is selling him short on way to many levels. One listen to “Morning Is Broken” takes you to the desolate twilight that is crafted here in the mind, with waves of singular static and warped to infinity guitar tones used as the perfect foils to this sound. I’m a still a newbie to this entire genre of music, but even I can feel the simple, rhythmic beauty made here. Every part of the songs falls and cascades on each other, each time bringing a new tone or element with it, so when they finish it is something every so subtly different than how the songs originally started. From the weeping guitar lines that encompass “Uff/Magow” to the singular piano tone that manages to stretch “Chocolate One Room Disco” into a 10 minute note of beauty, Broken Shoulder should be put up there with every other “experimental/ (noisy) ambient artist out here in the US, though labels are becoming increasingly irrelevant to this genre of music. One listen to “Sato Costume” and “Ultimate Donko” back to back speaks volumes as to every angle Broken Shoulder is trying and can accomplish. Listen at night with your headphones on and your eyes closed.

(mp3) Broken Shoulder-Uff/Magow


Stream and buy Broken Shoulderrr here, from Audio Antihero

As you’ve heard, Japan got hit by just about every single natural disaster known to man with the past few weeks, and is now dealing with a nuclear and radiation situation, not to mention limited supplies and housing for all the people they had to evacuate. Not surprisingly, several bands and labels have set up various projects to raise funds to the situation in Japan, and Audio Antihero is playing their part as well. Bob Hope Would is a massive 34 track digital compilation of almost completely exclusive, alternate, or demo songs not only from Nosferatu D2, Benjamin Shaw, Jack Hayter, and Broken Shoulder, but Fighting Kites, Paul Hawkins and The Awkward Silences and a mountain of more. It’s only ₤3.99, has tons on great music, and it's all for a good cause.


Stream and download Bob Hope Would here, from Audio Antihero

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Flaming Lips w/ Neon Indian-Is David Bowie Dying?

I love the Flaming Lips. They were one of the very first "indie" bands I got into (though being on a major label for so long makes you wonder how they qualify for that. I guess the same way Sonic Youth did). The first time I heard "She Don't Use Jelly" I ran to buy Transmissions from the Satellite Heart and blasted that song over and over again, and at the same time discovering how incredible the whole album was. Nothing tops though experience of seeing the band finally for the first time last year at their all too short set at ACL last year. Now free from a major label after being tied to one for so long, the band is diving head first into every creative odd end they can think of. First came "Two Blobs Fucking" the twelve-part Youtube song meant to be heard on a bunch of peoples mobile devices, a la their famous one album over four CDs  Zaireeka. It is very demented track and truly should be heard in it's original intent. However for those without twelve friend, listen for yourself.

But what is even more impressive is their latest project, a four song 12" collaboration EP with none other than chillwave god Neon Indian. The result, at least on the awesomely titled "Is David Bowie Dying?" is a slightly more beat infused and proper extension on what the band did on Embryonic, with odes to what they did on The Soft Bulletin as well, no doubt do to them performing said album in its entirety recently. I ask how is it possible for a band to keep changing their sound, become increasingly more experimental as they grow older, and for songs like "Is David Bowie Dying?" to be this great? Said 12" was only on a pressing of 1000 and is completely sold out now, so here's praying the band does decide to reissue it very soon.


The Flaming Lips' Website
Neon Indian on Myspace

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Video: tUnE-yArDs-Bizness

I fell in love with tUnE-yArDs when I saw her and her band perform at the intimate yet spacious French Legation Museum at this year's South By Southwest (coverage to come). I was absolutely blown away, and every time "Bizness" comes out of the my satellite radio and pumped through my car's speakers, I go into a small world, completely memorized by the multiple layers of the song. Everything from askew drum beats, to the tribal style singing, or saxophones that feel perfectly in place when the come out of nowhere in the middle of the song. Everything within the song meshes perfectly with one another, it might just be my favorite song of 2011. Now the song has crazy video to accompany it. Watch as kids and adults alike do crazy dances to the song with band master mind Merrill Garbus, all matching in her signature face paint as well. w h o k i l l, her upcoming sophomore album is coming out April 19, and I am beyond excited for it.

(mp3) tUnE-yArDs-Bizness


tUnE-yArDs' website
Pre-order w h o k i l l here, from 4AD records

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dead Gaze-Fishing with Robert

This is what happens when you attend SXSW. You are going crazy trying to keep track of every other show that is happening, running around Austin like a mad man, all the while the music world keeps turning. For instance, my favorites Dead Gaze released a brand new mp3 off of their upcoming new seven inch for Atelier Ciseaux, the french label that put out that the split Best Coast/Jeans Wilder single. "Fishing with Robert" kind of sounds like its title, bringing a bit of a Campfires styling or Surfer Blood riff to usual dreamy and distorted as fuck lo-fi rock that Cole is producing. Truly, Dead Gaze keeps doing no wrong and keeps getting better and better.

(mp3) Dead Gaze-Fishing with Robert (via Weekly Tape Deck)


Dead Gaze on Myspace
Buy the single now here, from Atelier Ciseaux

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost Gems: Television Personalities-I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod

In the musical world, so much is released only to disappear without a trace. Creative, experimental, boundary pushing, great music is lost without a notice or second glance. In order to fix this I shall go, one by one, to bring to light all that I can... if I find them.

1995 was not a good year for the Television Personalities. The band had tolled in obscurity for years and band mastermind Dan Treacy's drug problem was just getting worse. Within a few years Treacy would find himself in jail before starting anew and getting everything back on track. However, before all that wound up happening, the band would produce one of their best and underrated albums I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod (though I'm pretty sure you can say that about any album from the Television Personalities discography).

The album easily represents all the tribulations the band was going through at the time. For one, it's a bit hard to even consider it a "band" effort. The entire record was crafted by Treacy, writing and playing everything on it. Also gone are childhood musings and mindsets of previous albums. True, the Television Personalities where always darker than people gave them credit for (one reading of the actual lyrics for "This Angry Silence" is proof of this), but when you open with something as stark as the piano lines of "As John Belushi Said" it sets a tone that the album never shakes off.

Not to say the entire album is devoid of anything that made the Television Personalities, the Television Personalities. The title track is an excellent snotty guitar pop, and the band descends into utter nonsense with repetition of "Little Woody Allen". But still the rest of the album is marred by despair and lost, from the tales of fucking up that make up "A Long Time Gone" and what appears to be its counter part the equally sad "Evan Don't Ring Me Anymore". And that is only side A, which tries at least to keep the twee image up the ungodly excellent guitar pop coming from everywhere. Slightly less falling apart than usual, but fitting in the album's context. However, side B comes out battered and bruised, five increasingly dark tales from Treacy's mind, the psychedelia influence becomes more apparent with each passing song, almost as an emphasis. Demon's swirl around in "Haunted", paranoia and delusion become apparent with "Something Just Flew Over My Head", with the entire world falling apart on "I Can See My Whole World Crashing Down". The album ends with the most Pink Floyd influenced track "Everything She Touches Turns to Gold", a bleak retelling of Treacy's past coupled with bare bones instrumentation, crafting of image of Treacy singing it in a mental hospital. While the album is without a doubt dark that is in no way a commentary on the quality of the album itself. The album was originally released on CD by Overground in the States, but went out of print long ago. Thankfully, the always awesome Burger Records recently reissued the album on cassette for the rest of the world to try to obtain.

(mp3) Television Personalities-I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod
(mp3) Television Personalities-A Long Time Gone
(mp3) Television Personalities-Everything She Touches Turns to Gold


Television Personalities' website
Buy I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod here, from Burger Records

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Single Review: Pink Playground-Sunny Skies 7"

Pink Playground is a band from Houston, Texas that has been putting out hand-made CDRs and cassettes of their shoegaze for a little while now. Now the wonderful folks at Zoo Music have released the band's debut 7"; a simple two song affair to showcase what will soon to be the next showgaze obssetion. The title track is creamy smooth neo-shoegaze track that doesn't burn so much as melt into a pile of My Bloody Valintine musical goo. It's remininesient of the Whirl cassette I was adoring a few months ago, if the band had wanted to concentrated a little more on adding a level of atmosphere to their barage of melodic shoegaze. The flip side "Here Comes the Rain" ventures even further into the band's own take on the genre (or style of music, take your pick), creating a sort of "synthgaze" track if you will, a mix of dream pop and Cloudland Canyon, or at the very least this is what the world's slowest shoegaze song sounds like. This is pour headphone music, just something to get lost in for hours at a time, only getting up to flip over the single, over and over again.

(mp3) Pink Playground-Sunny Skies


Pink Playground on Bandcamp
Buy the single here, from Zoo Music

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Parenthetical Girls-The Pornographer

Nothing brighten ups a day quite like one of your new favorite bands releases a brand new song even if it's one like the Parenthetical Girls' new dark "The Pornographer". "The Pornographer" is probably what would have happened in some alternate dimension if the Parenthetical Girls had tried to be a blues band or The White Stripes. Thick slow guitar lines are layered over a steady thumping drum beat, with backing vocals even thrown in for good measure. It's haunting and so utterly different from everything the band has ever done, and should not work in any sense, yet Zac Pennington and company manage to pull it off ...again. The song is from their upcoming third 12" in their Privilege series, Privilege pt 3: Mend and Make Do, which is up for pre-order now.

(mp3) Parnethetical Girls-The Pornographer


Parenthetical Girls' Website
Pre-order Prvilage pt. 3: Mend and Make Do here, from Slender Means Society

Monday, March 7, 2011

Family Portrait-Other Side

The latest music from the Ridgewood, New Jersey collective (we can start referring to them like that, right?) is from slightly more unknowns Family Portrait. After releasing a split single with Andrew Cedermark a long time ago (which I loved), and a cassette for The Curatorial Club, the band will be releasing their debut album on April 5 for who else but Underwater Peoples. And of course news of a new album means mp3s too. "Other Side" is sprawling, warping, psych tinged of a song, possibly what would happen if Real Estate decided to cover Campfires. Without a doubt, a soon to be hidden gem of this year.

(mp3) Family Portrait-Other Side


Family Portrait's Website
Pre-order the debut album here, from Underwater Peoples.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ponytail-Easy Peasy

I have been a Ponytail since I discovered them in 2009 for SXSW and both their show there as well as their follow up show in May were some the most insane, most fun shows I have ever been too. So I was a bit heartbroken when I heard that the band had split up last year. Thankfully, this turned out to be false and a simple hiatus, and as if to prove this, the band announced that they would be releasing their third album Do Whatever You Want All The Time on April 12 for We Are Fee. Now the band has released the first single to that album "Easy Peasy". It is a very different Ponytail, one that has taken a breather, listened to the Fall a bit for lyrical delivery, but manages to retain the art-spastic sound that is the core of the band. Lead singer Molly Siegal even seems to be singing actually English on this track as well. It's a brand new direction, but one I still love, and nothing else should have been expected from this incredible band.

(mp3) Ponytail-Easy Peasy

Update: Watch the video for the song, of a frantic recording of the band a while back performing at Coney Island.


Ponytail on Myspace
Get Do Whatever You Want All the Time soon here, from We Are Free

Live Concert Review: The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise @ Emo's 2/28/11

In my mind, at the very least there is no adequate way to put into words how wonderful and joyous the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise was when they performed at Emo's this past Monday. I will try, but I know I will probably fail epically. Because when you are talking about this show, your not talking about just one person or just one band. This is a group of close friends, getting together, to preform the music that means so much to them it spreads warm, broad smiles into across all of their faces just a few minutes into their performance. Music that is still as timeless as the day you first heard it, and still holds up ten plus years later. The show was an event, whether it was discovering the magic of B.P Helium, seeing the band perform the Mintuemen's "Party with Me Punker" that blew a few minds, Julian Koster hoisting a man named Andy who had come all the way from San Francisco to see the show then help melt a snowman, seeing The Gerbils silence the audience then propel them to euphoria when they performed "Glue", and then the entire collective storming the crowd with whatever instruments they could carry as they lead crowd in a chant of Sun Ra's "Enlightenment". This total was only the the tip of the ice berg of their marathon three hour performance. The was something simply magical about the show, something I'm glad all of these people decided to do again and take across the country.I know for a fact that this concert, this show, this night will go down as one of my favorite and as one of the best nights of my life.

The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cassette Review : Bathetic split cassingle

While there has been a steady revival of the cassette, there hasn't been much love for its sister format the cassingle. True, the cassingle wasn't very popular even when it came out originally, but it's a new era, and a quality cassingle is possible now. Look no further than Bathetic Records, who have started a series of split cassingles to showcase two artists, mostly in the electronic based ambiance/soundscape genre.
Sparkling Wide Pressure/Lee Noble 
Up until this point I had always wondered why this wild, gooey, ambient music like this were always described with either a story or prose, but now after listening to this cassingle I can understand the practice a bit better. Saying that the songs done by both these artists amounts to various loops, beeps, and manipulations of their synths doesn't do justice to what they are actually producing.What both these songs actually do is produce mini movies in your mind. Sparkling Wild Pressure's "Caught in the Creek" is like some art school take on the swamp thing. Not evil, but the image (in part to the incredible art that comes with this cassette) of a black and white swamp covered in fog while a monster comes slowly out of the black pond can't help but be imagined. Lee Noble's "Real Object in Real Light" in turn is nice contrast to this, transporting the listener to some party with everything happening in slow motion, and it's one of those good parities where there is quality music coming out of the speakers, and everyone actually seems to be having fun.

Sparkling Wide Pressure & Lee Noble - CASSINGLE EXCERPT


Sparkling Wide Pressure on Bandcamp
Lee Noble on bandcamp
Kevin Greenspon/Trudgers 
Two label mates on Bridgetown records have paired together to release this excellent split. Kevin Greenspon's side is supposedly split into tracks, but they blend so seamlessly into one another that it's a bit hard to believe. Whatever it is, Greenspon's side is sublime, his always unique take on "ambient" if you want to classify it as that. It moves and evolves from sparse notes to static noise over the process of it dripping out of your speakers and it still blows my mind that his music is composed of nothing but a guitar and tape manipulation. Trudgers add two new songs to this tape, some of their best recorded as well for the tape hiss and lo-fi sound of their earlier releases has now been stripped away. In turn this places Trudgers in a whole new light. Now the band's post-rock sound is much pronounced, and parts of the band's dark sound are gone due to the new clarity. However, the band still manages to balance their new evolution with their old style to produce two still equally dissonant and distant post-punk tunes. This was cassingle made to be the background music to long walks at night in the big city.

Kevin Greenspon and Trudgers-Cassingle Excerpt


Kevin Greenspon's Website
Trudgers on Myspace
Buy both cassingles here, from Bathetic Records