Thursday, May 27, 2010

Noise Diary 007: Raining

I was lamenting my lack of audio equipment while walking by the two fountains near my house today. But when I got back to the computer, Magnulus, a Whitechapel friend, had posted a great clip of rain:

Magnus Hølvold - Raining (2010)

Another great site for rain is Rainy Mood, a 30 minute loop of a thunderstorm, which basically drops my blood pressure by about ten points just from turning it on.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Song-a-Day 025: Kate Nash

I'm sick of this song. I still like it, I think. I still sing along with the 'bum ba dums,' but I could go a couple of months not hearing it.

Kate Nash - Do-Wah-Doo (2010)

Can I point out, first, that the words Do-Wah-Doo do not appear in the song? Thank you.

The intro grummy guitar hook goes straight to the part of my brain that's still in love with Bikini Kill. It pops up again in the bridge. I wish the song would go with that feeling for the coda, because what it does is so busy! Piano, horns, the seemingly indefatigable hi-hat that gives way to a tambourine, back up singers. My brain stops trying to catalog what it's hearing and goes, "my my, aren't we effervescent?" What the hell is a dirty little guitar riff doing in there? What it does is pull me back into the song. Good job, Mr. Producer, I'm still listening to your song.

The thing I do like about Kate Nash is her voice. It's all floaty and nice. I appreciate the incongruence but a) her tone makes it really sound like this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black and b) what, did she kill Lily Allen and absorb her power, Highlander-style? At least when Lily Allen goes the jaded ingenue route she still sounds kinda like she might cut you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Album Absorption 010: An Unwelcome Guest

I really hope y'all aren't sick of Guante yet. I am definitely a record needle stuck in a groove and I just need to work it out.

An Unwelcome Guest is a concept album. It's about one man traveling across the United States from East to West after an unnamed apocalypse. I choose to assume zombie apocalypse, from the line "We are waking up in our caskets" in track 4, The Stockholm Syndrome (featuring Prolyphic and Big Quarters). Sure, I am probably meant to interpret it metaphorically, and it's a very powerful line taken that way. I just also choose to interpret it literally. Because I can. This is my LitCrit Bill of Rights.

I like, in my mind, to line up this album and Stars Lost Your Name, which is a transcontinental journey in the other direction. Different genres, different stories, different compass needles, but a thread between them. It's good.

A particular favorite is track 3, The National Anthem (featuring Haley Bonar). I need to look into more of her stuff. Intriguing.

Okay, analysis now. Big Cats brings nice beats, and layers them with the nostalgic, tragedies of futures-past retro crackles and bent sounds, as though from time-warped cassette tapes or thermonuclear-slagged records. Guante's voice, now smooth now ragged and raw, delivers very tight images of what we will have lost. What we are in danger of losing right now. What we are losing right now. In a sense he's cataloging our apocalypse-in-progress.

It's all streaming here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


So I talk some smack about the Current. I love that I have the luxury of smack-talkin my local alternative radio station. It is one of my favorite problems to have.

This weekend my jaw almost fell off when I heard this song on the radio:
The 757s - Mary Lucia (2009)

Mary Lucia rocks. No matter what I ever say about the Current, that will stand.

Spoken Word: Arts Activism in Milwaukee

Ryan Hurley and Eric Mire - Save the Arts (2010)

via El Guante

Friday, May 14, 2010

Album Absorption 009: Broken Bells

I was in the middle of different musical headspace when I remembered that Danger Mouse had a new project that had just come out. Broken Bells (Danger Mouse and James Mercer of the Shins) dropped their new album in March and I had originally ignored it. I was looking for some kind of something else entirely when I first listened to it, so I dismissed it at first.

Broken Bells - The High Road (2010); this track combines some of the bleepy techno with almost a classic rock vocal line. Then it goes to a more modern indie place and evens out, but that original incongruence is nice.

Broken Bells - The Ghost Inside (2010); listening to this is like the cold hand of my decade-ago self reaching out from the past to clammily touch my face. If this were a late-nineties/early-aughts transitional fossil, I would be less confused. But it's not because it sounds like I've heard it before. Its sounds just fall in a weird place in the nostalgia spectrum. Old ghosts I haven't made peace with yet.

Broken Bells - Vaporize (2010); I find this track basically inoffensive. I think the rest of the album is nice for having on in the background but not necessarily something I can really sink teeth and claws into.

I'll be poking at it more, see if anything else interesting is in there.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Album Absorption 008: Sea of Cowards

The Dead Weather's (aka the Kills/Raconteurs/Queens of the Stone Age supergroup) new album dropped this week. Find it streaming here.

I am really enjoying the scuzzy sound and sleazy lyrics.

Dead Weather - Hustle and Cuss (2010)

Dead Weather - Die by the Drop (2010)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Song-a-Day 024: Herbaliser

Found today's track via Oldhat's Mix-a-Day project on 8tracks.

The Herbalizer - 8pt Agenda feat. Latryx (2000)

Noise Diary 006: Björk's Lost Pierrot Lunaire

I just got around to digesting my friend Ian McCowan's last tweet:
Björk sang Schönberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" and only 1:14 of recordings are extant. This makes me sad.

It makes me sad too! The quality is just awful, the audio equivalent of your phone taking a picture of the inside of your pocket. But the site is almost like a case file, trying to track down scraps of the past and figure out what exactly happened there in 1996.

Björk - Mondestrunken

Björk - Galgenlied

I myself have a lost hard drive filled with Björk mysteries; in the filesharing heyday of the early aughts I downloaded anything I could get my hands on. I have mixes never seen before or since, and recordings I have no clue the origins of. Though I am sad that there may be no record of this performance, in our increasingly pinned-to-the-corkboard world, I do appreciate some mystery.

More about Gayngs

Their CD release show is on Friday at First Ave and City Pages has an exclusive audio stream of the theme song, The Last Prom on Earth.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Song-a-Day 022: Cecil Otter

I apologize for missing yesterday's Song Set, but I had the screaming vomits for most of yesterday and today. So let's do a double up on Cecil Otter.

Cecil Otter and Paper Tiger - Forensics (2008) - I was expecting, I dunno, vocals from this track, since it's a Doomtree project, but I really liked how lowkey it is.

I think I may have only ever heard Cecil Otter live. The internet does not yield up tracks of his very easily.

Cecil Otter - Rebel Yellow (2009); recorded at South by Southwest.

Both Dessa and Cecil came up through the Twin Cities' slam scene, and you can hear the echoes in their lyrics. The strength of our spoken word scene is underappreciated.

Doomtree was on the current just before Christmas (3 December 2009): Dessa and Sims - The Wren, Cecil Otter - Demon Girl, and Sims - Like You Mean It.

The Doomtree Crew

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spoken Word: Come and Get Some

Ed Bok Lee - How to Survive in America (2009); Lee was in town last April for the first Urban Griots awards. (Via El Guante's blog.)

Guante performing The Last Words of a Roach, Underfoot (2009); (from Minnesota Microphone's youtube channel, where you can find a crapton of MSP poets.)

Lauren Zuniga - To the Oklahoma Lawmakers (2010); I am very much hoping she makes the OKC team and that I get to see her this summer at the National Poetry Slam. (Hat tip to Pharyngula of all places.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Album Absorption 007: Trans-Continental Hustle

So Trans-continental Hustle, Gogol Bordello's new record, came out, what, a week or so ago? I made the mistake of looking at a review while pecking around for undersecured mp3s:
...(I)t's hard to sustain interest in yet another offering of gypsy punk rock.
-Katie Toms, The Observer, 25 April 2010.

I don't understand this attitude. I have never gotten anywhere near my upper limit for gypsy punk. I mean, that's when they'll be issuing me dentures and two fake hips.

However, listening to the two tracks I've been able to find (Pala Tute and My Companjera), I reluctantly agree with some of her assessments:
Well known for his stripped-down arrangements, Rick Rubin is an odd choice of producer for a band noted for their energetic live shows, and this cleaner sound is a mistake.

They must have a pretty dedicated media person(s) cleaning up loose mp3s because every one I've found has dried up. So, the best I can get you is this live studio performance from 25 April 2010, two days before their album dropped. Songs played are Pala Tute, We Comin' Rougher, and My Companjera.

Pondering 002

So, Start Wearing Purple got, er, 'market saturation' because it was in a commercial (for Yahoo I think?). This song you may not know, from their East Infection EP:

Gogol Bordello - Madagascar-Roumania (Tu jesty fata) (2005)

I am not sure how they accomplish being wistful-feeling while keeping some of their signature rowdiness but I like it.

I am consistently aggravated by the lack of plays GB get on the Current. Basically when they're in town, they'll throw a play or two, and they played the single from the new album, Trans-Continental Hustle, a few times in the week or two before it hit, and I heard Start Wearing Purple a couple of times while it was in that commercial. I'm irritated by how much of the pre-chewed indie homogeny gets overplayed and they could easily spice it up a little of the gypsy punk. Also, Madagascar would be a sweet track for radio, a gentler point of entry. Sigh. Gnash. Become a DJ.

Song-a-Day 021: Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple (2005)

(The video is quite good as well.)

Also, check out this skeletal, progenitive version of Start Wearing Purple from 2000.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Remixes: Bon Iver

My pal Ben, working as The Ronald Raygun, has two authorized remixes from Justin Vernon's original Pro Tools tracks.

Bon Iver - Wolves [Aen's Howler Reconstruction] (2010)

Bon Iver - Bloodbank [Aen's Ignorant Mix] (2010)

Song-a-Day 020: Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God (2008)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Song-a-Day 019: Cinco de Mayo

In honor of the day, here are my two of my favorite Spanish language songs:

Orishas - Naci Orishas (2004)

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs - El Matador (1993) (OH MAN OLD)

Wikipedia tells me Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are together again? Yay to that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Album Absorption 006: Urge Mode EP

Ok - I don't know anything about any of this except that I stumbled over it this morning via Weaponizer and liked it a lot. Dubstep is sometimes attached to things I like and so I listened to it. It is three tracks of dark, crunchy, scaly goodness.

Morphamish - The Urge Mode EP (2010)

Song-a-Day 018: Rural Alberta Advantage

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Frank, AB (2008)

I am not sure what to make of these dudes, because Frank, AB goes to such a complicated emotional place and has the music to back it up, driving guitars and plaintive vocals etc, but then there's this one, which is has nice strings, but is sort of thin, predictable and safe. The plaintiveness floats over unchallenging major chords, taking the teeth out of it. And the vocals are a little sloppy in the verses, not in a "I'm making artistic choices" way, but in a "go back and record it again" way. It's sad to me, because the subject is a rich one, a great place for the deftness RAA might be capable of.

Don't Haunt This Place (2008)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Noise Diary 005: Wat Saket Temple Bells

I find myself going back to this one over and over again:

Andreas Bick - Wak Saket Temple Bells in Bangkok:

On the winding way up to the temple top there are two rows of differently tuned temple bells that are struck by the pilgrims on the way back down.

I like to pretend that's what I hear out my windows.

Song-a-Day 017: Gayngs

So, Gayngs has kind of been on my radar a little while. Somewhere below Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls (that is until yesterday when she mugged for my camera during the May Day parade (hooray puppets!) and went up quite a few notches) and, say, M.anifest (i.e. local artists who I should probably pay more attention to).

Holy Shit, I should have paid attention sooner. There are approximately nine jillion members, many of whom I already know and love, including the Eau Claire contingent: Joe Westerlund, Phil and Brad Cook, Nate and Justin Vernon (every one of them stellar musicians and much missed by me) and Maggie Wander, aka Dessa.

Also, incidentally, I read the Vernons are organizing a concert and music resource space in Eau Claire at the old women's college, which I had heard NOTHING about. That would be so awesome! That town needs it; it has one of the best university jazz programs in the country and so much musical talent just sort of bubbling away below the surface in so many of the sketchy, sketchy venues I went to in my squandered youth there. Good for them.

Music now.
Gayngs - The Gaudy Side of Town (2010) forthcoming on Relayted in May.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Song Set

These two songs are Björk-related, at least in my head.

Télépopmusik - Love Can Damage Your Health (2002): This quickly reaches out brain tendrils and grabs hold of the Deodato Mix of Isobel.

For comparison, here is Björk - Isobel (Deodato Mix) (1997). (Apparently there are no humans who wanted to rip and host Telegram mp3s, only Post, so you get a damn video.)

And then DJ Shadow - Mutual Slump (1996) because I literally just pieced it together this week that he's sampling Possibly Maybe. I am docking myself so many goddamn points for that.

Björk - Possibly Maybe (1995)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Live Show Log 002: PROOF

Didn't believe me?

P.S. You're gonna get rickrolled.

Dang that was a fun show.

Song-a-Day 016: Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton - First of May (2003)

I saw him perform this live at the Varsity Theatre on the First of May a couple years ago. It was pretty rad.