Chaotic. If there could be one word to describe The Flaming Lips output over the past year, in either solo gummy form or collaboration form, chaotic is the optimal word to describe it all. This is a band that released a song called "I Want to Get High, But I Don't Want Brain Damage", and that only manged to be about the 6th craziest thing they did that year. So it comes as a big of a surprise when the first musical offering of 2012, after releasing a 24 hour song, after playing a two night extravaganza with the Plastic Ono Band, is something as pretty as "Now I Understand". A deep haunting piano drives the track as iPhone's Siri and Erykah Badu trade of questions and answers for the universe. It truly feels like floating in space while listening to this song. Let it into your brain and watch as it expands your soul ever so slightly.
Andrew Bird makes his best material when he's angry. Not when he's being whimsical or sweet, when he's flat out pissed and wry. Case in point with "Fake Palindromes", possibly Bird's best song ever, the one where he substitutes whistling solos for detailed revenge fantasies and monster metaphors. Which is what makes "Eyeoneye" such a great song. The wobbling, discordant violin lines that open the the song are just some of the best of Bird's career, effected to hypnotic proportions, as a tale is cast of someone Bird knows being and acting like an ass. Since the majority of Andrew Bird's singles have been relatively subdued (to properly showcase the accordingly low key albums), it's nice to see Bird come out of the gates with what's his equivalence of a sonic boom. Break It Yourself looks like it might be the Andre Bird record I've been waiting for for the past five years.
Finding out that the front man of the incredibly great punk band iceage is collaborating with a member of the also great hardcore band Sexdrome (who I free admit to discovering through iceage's cover of them), the part of my brain that love's loud music started doing back flips like I'm guessing everyone's who read the headline as me. Then I clicked on the actual track, and it blew my mind...mainly due to how it is in no way a punk song. Apparently these two violent men managed to channel their dark, violent urges into this bleak, throbbing track dubbed "Brodermordet". Lo-fi synth and drum beats fade in and out, bringing to mind the more spaced out work of Total Control, with barely audible vocals popping in to give "Brodermordet" just enough of a sinister undertone as well. Not at all what I was expecting, but still an excellent track none the less. Can't wait to see how the rest of this 7" turns out to be.
It's weird, but Campfires music works better in long form then in short bursts. Take for example their previous release, the Dusty Mansions 7" they did for Small Plates. It was a mighty mine seven inch, and it had some of their best songs to date (especially the impeccable "Chasing Planets"), but it also felt strangely incomplete at the same time.
Which is what makes their latest release, the triumphant return to the cassette that is Slaughter Tropes, all the better. This is the way Campfires was meant to be heard, with all the dimensions of the band present at once. Because yes, for every "Melted Rubber Soul", the cassette's lead off track of gooey guitar lines piled on cooed vocals, there is also the 30 second sound college of "Fuck Zurich Anyway" or "So Far Gone" which is just the band repeating the song title over and over again. And these sections/songs, which would be throw away moments on most other bands' releases, work so well when done by Campfires (mostly thanks to the band's ability to meld beautiful, fragment melodies into those fragments of songs). Campfires has realized what Guided by Voices figured out (and in turn forgot as well); that experimentation with one's sound can flesh it out and expand everything around it. Especially when your crafting songs as bright as "Distant Hills" or "Red Five & Dime", they jump from simple psych pop to glorious lo-fi psychedelic gems.
I don't know a lot about electronic music. I'll be the first to admit it. However, I know a good song when I hear it, and I've been sitting on this one for too long. White Fold is a collaboration between two guys from the Swill Children fold (W-H-I-T-E & Jesse Hlebo) who for their first outing have created the nicely great Feral/Free EP. "End of Now" is the showcasing track off of it; a dark pulsing animal of beeps that sound sound like yelps and super echoed, tribal drums. Add to that the cave like howls that creep through out as well as the bracing synth that shows up midway through, and you have one spooky like tune here. The Feral/Free EP is only in a batch of 50, so grab one before they run out.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- While you're there, check out some of Swill Children's other releases. There is a lot of hand crafting and effort put into all their releases, and their "Quarterly" publications are some of the coolest things I've seen around. Seriously, check this stuff out.
I didn't really understand Lower Dens when they started releasing music. It was very similar to my first experience with The xx, a band so restraint with their style of music that I felt I was missing something, a part of the song hadn't downloaded completely. Thankfully, like with The xx, and a Record Store Day 7", I finally warmed up to the Lower Dens just in time for the next album. "Brains" is the mindfuckingly great first single from it, with the band's ever present Velvet Underground sound/coolness as the songs base as electronics work through out the song, eventually bubbling to the surface as the song expands and expands in a very minimalist way. Almost as if Beck's "Gamma Ray" was fed codeine, pumped through an electronic organ that morphed into a dream-pop song, and huskier Kim Gordon sang the vocals. Yeah, it's that good.
Internet Forever are back! Those are words I thought I would never get to type, mainly due to the attention removing ability of the internet, and the fact that Internet Forever hadn't made a musical peep in close to a year. However, that changed as Internet Forever announced their debut album, to come out on February 17. The band also dropped a video for their newly recorded album version of "Break Bones". The band has really morphed much the same way Trailer Trash Tracys did when they disappeared and reappeared; the music had become coated in a shell of studio production with the drums blasting through speakers crisp clear guitar work, but still has a wonderful indie pop nugget center. Also, be prepared to be lost in the deeply trippy day-glo infused Mexican art video.
The entire album is not jsut hyper polished material from the band's singles, thankfully. "Center of the Universe" I think typifies what to expect from Internet Forever's debut. Explosive drums combined with a swirling cocktail of shimmering guitar and everywhere-at-once synth stacked upon singer Alex's sugar sweet vocals. It's overproduced indie pop to be sure, but the best kind of overproduced indie pop.
The synthy excellence that is Tanlines will be releasing their debut album Mixed Emotions on True Panther Sounds all the way into the distant future that is March 20. In the mean time, the band has dropped their first single, "Brothers" from the album. It's incredibly warmth for an electronic song, with the sound of waves crashing on a beach loop through out while minimalist keyboard and guitar work are used throughout to build the song to higher and higher points. LCD Soundsystem style lyrics come spewing out as questions without answers are asked about life and those around you. Tanlines have produced a stunning, melancholy pop song, and maybe 2012's first great song.
This is Youth Lagoon's second video to accompany a song off their astounding debut The Year of Hibernation. The second to have the genius of Tyler T. Williams create it. And the second to be utterly visually and emotionally stunning. There's something to using nose bleeds as an abstract metaphor for one's entire world falling apart. Just watch it and be amazed, and try to avoid making to many Melancolia connections while you are.
7 Inches is the ever excellent blog that combs through the vast magnitude of singles that are released at a mind numbing rate, and manages to fine a great piece of wax for everyday of the year. Now, like so many blogs, they have moved into the record making business. With that comes the birth of Sweaters & Pearls Records, a commitment to colored vinyl releases, and showcasing some of the best unknown indie rock around.
Sweaters & Pearls first release is a split between two "The" bands, as well as a "split" release with Velocity of Sound Records. The Ceiling Stares "A Tunnel Through Air" is a great, hodgepodge of a indie rock song, filled with a fuzzed and drugged guitar line, melodic keyboard undertones, Television like breakdowns, and chanty-esque vocals. It sounds utterly familiar, yet out stop just enough to never be be to place how. The Super Vacations are the perfect counter point to the Ceiling Stares. Buzzing, fast paced guitars and songs that bring to mind the less stoney work of the Fresh & Onlys. The band ha quite mastery in making guitar shifts from sunny to tense, tight, and bleak, as best demonstrated on the opening riffs of the appropriately titled "Hexing". Excellent post-punk with a little California beach garage placed within them.
Stream: The Ceiling Stares-A Tunnel Through the Air
Truly, I was not expecting much from a band called Fat History Month. A best, I was hoping the 7" would be some sort of passable guitar rock that was stupid in the right ways. Boy was I wonderfully proven wrong. Contained within these bright banana colored grooves are four, beer soaked indie rock tunes which are some of the best I've heard of the genre in a while. This is what's played in basements, by guys are drink too much in order to get over the pain of their lives, while said pain drips into their songs as well as a general decrease in ability to play, but this somehow compliments the songs even more. It's as if Andrew Cedermark decided to cover the Silver Jew's "Secret Knowledge of Backroads" and take that sound as the basis for an entire band. From the opening notes of "Gorilla" the guitar dissonance builds to heart breaking levels that by the time "Heart Takes a Beating" you know the band isn't joking. It would be much more brutal if the music wasn't so great.
A title as harsh as You Are Not Going to Heaven should be the dead give away that Soccer Mom are not the twee band their name suggests. Instead, you get the awesome mixture of Rather Ripped era Thurston Moore fronting a shoegaze band that has listened to too much early '90s indie rock. This 10" has a wonderful balance to it, while taking so many cues from classic indie rock, Soccer Mom's ability to jump one style to the next keeps the band alive and thoroughly excellent. Simply compare "(A) Natural History", which sounds like "Incinerate", to "Unwanted Sounds" which conjures to mind "Only Shallow" by My Bloody Valentine. But it all works into a cathartic combination of everything great of indie rock, mushed together in a blender, and spread over these six tracks. Warm, loud, and fuzzy in all the right ways, Soccer Mom make music to submerge one's brain into, just perfect guitar music to disappear into and never look back.
Along with the new year came a radical change to one of my favorite blogs, Get Off The Coast. Due to it no longer being just the work of Jheri, Get Off The Coast morphed into Secret Decoder to better represent the sprawling music obsessed collective it had become. Along with the name/site change came the even better news that Secret Decoder would also exist as a physical, magazine supplement filled with deeper, richer articles about all the bands and record labels that Secret Decoder/Get Off The Coast had been digging up and rapid blogging about for years. Secret Decoder is currently producing its first issue, and has set up a Kickstarter page to help with the funding. I need not say how worth while and deserving this project is, and every dollar helps. Speaking of, any dollar donated to the project gets one a digital copy of Decoders' first mixtape (streamable below), which also serves as the perfect sampler for what's to the come/be covered within the first issue.
Speaking of Secret Decoder related works, the blog's label Crash Symbols is still in full force, cranking out cassette and digital releases at a rate that rivals their blog updates. That rate in fact makes it very easy for fellow bloggers to occasionally miss a release or two from the label. Thankfully though I caught hold of the label's release of Noah Wall's debut cassette Hèloïse. Hèloïse is an incredibly warm record, filled with sprawling synths that submerge the listener in a mental, crystal clear sea with the sun always over head. Noah Wall could have easily created a simple chillwave record, but his music is smarter than that, taking light dashes from tropica and darkwave (in sound and structure accordingly), it's more reminiscent of Broken Social Scene's more ambient and free form pop than normal electronica. Lightly stunning, beautiful music.
The Creative Intersection is an Austin based music blog, dedicated to the music I discover and love. Feel free to email me about bands I should cover and your band's mp3 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to use the same email to contact me about sending me your CD, vinyl, cassette, 8-Track, or zine for review. Long live the physical format!
I post mp3s for the sole reason of promoting the bands they are used for. I don't really like mp3s and if you like what you hear, buy their albums. Despite what Steve Albini says, it does help the band. Any band/label who doesn't want thier mp3 to be posted can contact me at email@example.com