Group Sounds

group sounds
I seriouslly wonder if you can be addicted to music. I feel like I need it 24/7. I find it sort of hard to judge a CD these days, also (I know -- I do indeed write record reviews for Exploding Plastic, but I am evaluating records there on a basis of talent and ability ... it's like judging beer on it's flavor/texture when you really just want to drink it to get drunk). I just love that feeling that I get when I hear something new. Something creative, fun, energetic, emotional ... just something for my ears to indulge in. Going to concerts is taking it up a notch ... I get all my senses stimulated ... the lights flashing or turned way down, the smoke in my nose, the bobbing heads of audience members, and choreography on stage, a crazy-looking bass player, and then, finally, the music blasting out of some gigantic JBLs.

So now for the subject of this post: Group Sounds.
I was bopping around the net, on my usual music-related rounds, when I came across Group Sounds, a fantastic NYC quartet. I dig them mucho because, as they say themselves, they are not only inspired by the Clash, the Kinks, and other standard rock/punk groups, but DEVO as well. So they have a wacky quality about them that I think is really hip. Buy their EP at Insound at a damn good price. Also, check out their song Things Fall Apart. It's uber-cool.

I also really dig their gear. If I was a girl, I would so buy that shirt ...
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The Runners Four

the runners four
I am so glad that Deerhoof is holding to its annual record release schedule. They make at least one new album every year, and they have for the past, like, seven years or something (even though they've technically been a band since '94 or thereabouts).
The latest LP is called The Runners Four, and it's very, very good. Better than Milk Man (which I enjoyed greatly) ...
This time, Deerhoof has sort of returned to their chaotic noise-pop roots, but they manage to still maintain a pop-songwriting structure in their music, like they did on Milk Man. So ... more disorganized, but still totally together and poppier than albums like Apple O' or Holdypaws.
Also -- for those of you who didn't know this -- Deerhoof released a Japan-only EP called Green Cosmos. I think it may be out in the US now, but I have the Japan-only version ... not that there's a difference.

A few more things ... this album is, like, twice the length of their previous releases (score!) and it will be released on Kill Rock Stars as usual.
Here's a tracklist:
01. Chatterboxes
02. Twin Killers
03. Running Thoughts
04. Vivid Cheek Love Song
05. O'Malley, Former Underdog
06. Odyssey
07. Wrong Time Capsule
08. Spirit Ditties Of No Tone
09. Scream Team
10. You Can See
11. Midnight Bicycle Mystery
12. After Me The Deluge
13. Siriustar
14. Lemon & Little Lemon
15. Lightening Rod, Run
16. Bone-Dry
17. News From A Bird
18. Spy On You
19. You're Our Two
20. Rrrrrrright

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Live It Out

Metric is such a great band. Unlike most of the New-Wave-revival groups, Metric draws it's sound mostly from the poppier New Wave groups like Blondie, rather than the Cure or Echo and the Bunnymen ... the darker bands. Which is way cool. I absolutely loved Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? and I am incredibly happy to have been able to see the group perform live twice. They are so full of energy ... it's really inspiring.
Anyway, Metric releases their follow-up album, Live It Out, on the 27th.
I am so pumped. I was looking for a leak, but no luck ...
Although I did come across a sample of Monster Hospital. Classic Metric ... good job, guys.

Please tell me where I can hear more. I really cannot wait much longer ...
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Islands, Th' Corn Gangg ...

Betcha' didn't know this ...
Or maybe you did, if you're a Pitchfork reader ...
Well, I'll update you all anyway.
The Unicorns recently discussed their breakup in more detail to Pitchfork. They had clashing views on where the band was to go, etc. ... read about it here. I don't want to be too much of a plagiariser ...
But, the things that Pitchfork left us curious listeners to find ourselves were the hyped Islands songs they discussed. Don't worry, you guys ... I found them, so I am here to spread the joy I felt after hearing the two leaked tunes.
They're, like, really good. It's the Unicorns with a punk edge or something. The Unicorns with a more studio feel.
Whatever. Listen for yourselves ...
Abominable Snow

Thanks, guys. I was afraid that I would never hear anything from the Unicorns members again. I was wrong. I cannot wait until the albums come out.
Oh. My. God.
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Echo and the Bunnymen - Siberia

Echo and the Bunnymen never really broke up. Unfortunately, they just kind of backed out of the music world a little while after they releaed their 1987 s/t record. Since then, the group has released a new album every couple of years, but none of them were that great, and none of them were taken too seriouslly. Echo, it seemed, was just playing for the heck of it. Since they never split up, they could not have a dramatic re-entry into the pop music world like Gang of Four or something, but they had always been remembered for their older albums, so they couldn't re-invent themselves either. Though spot they were in.
Instead, the band has taken the Morrisey-route. That is, they kept playing around and throwing new ideas out until they hit something solid. And their newest album, Siberia, is indeed solid. It's a true Echo and the Bunnymen album. It's cool how it sounds so authentically like something they created in the 80s. I'm surprised that they were able to recreate that sound so accurately. Listen to Parthenon Drive at Scenstars.

I didn't think they had it in 'em.
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Athlete "Half-Light" Video

I've been softening up a lot recently. Whereas I used to really, really like hardcore spazzy rocky stuff, I've mellowed out a little recently. I've been listening to a lot of British stuff that's pretty chill ... I don't want to name too many names, as I always feel a little embarassed and go red in the face when I do.
But I'm sure that if you give me a month or, I'll have a total change of heart.
Anyway, I've really been diggin' Athlete's "Half-Light" video. Ballady, string-laden, liquidy Brit-rock. Tourist is the name of their new album, and it's defnitely a step forward for Athlete. They seem more confident on this record, and it is apparent that they're trying to separate themselves from Coldplay as much as possible.
The video is way cool. I like the desert setting, and I enjoy how the band takes advantage of the daytime/nighttime contrast. Good job at setting the tone.
You can see the video with WMA here or with Real here.

lo .asx
lo .ram
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New Gang of Four!?

No way ... I was just doing some blog checking and read that Gang of Four is realeasing a new album. And it says so on their homepage. And, you can even listen to here.
I find their marketing of the record to be obnoxious, though ...
You've heard the tribute bands. Now let the original blow you away.

Yeah -- lame. V2 reports that the album is actually a double record, and it's hitting shelves on the 30th. Damn ... how did I miss this?!
I wonder what it'll be called ...

"To Hell With Poverty" is the lead single, and is already out on iTunes, etc. I actually kind of like it. At least Gang of Four is staying pretty true to their roots. Angular guitar accents, loads of reverb, funky yet harsh drumming. And I'm just thanking God that they also kept the original line-up. Phew ...
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I did not realize this when I posted about Mike Mills a few days ago, but apparently he recently made a film called Thumbsucker, that, like, won a prize at Sundance and another one at the Berlin International Film Festival. It's just another coming-of-age type thing, but done by Mike Mills, which I guess makes it kind of edgier while still maintaining a soft edge. This is Mills' debut film (although he has done some music videos and things like that before ... )
Hey, but the surprise thing about this film is that it has not only Vince Vaughn in it as a supporting character, but Keanu Reeves (of all people) as well! I wonder if Keanu pulled it off well (Bill and Ted? the Matrix? ... now an orthodontist?)

Anyway ... it looks worthwhile, and the reviews have been rather positive. A skateboarder making a Sundance-worthy film ... internesting regardless ...
Ah -- and here's a trailer.
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How I Paid for College

how i paid for college
On a totally different note, I just finished How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater. Damn good book for me. The author, Marc Acito, did a fantastic job of making his book a page turned while also sending a really meaningful lesson to me. Imagine the book form of Orange County or something. I don't read a whole lot of books, so I was concerned that this one would just sit on my shelf for years. But instead, I finished it in, like, a week or so.
The story is about this kid who wants to go to Julliard but can't anymore since his really rich father remarried a bitchy Austrian chick. It's all about experiemntation and becoming a more mature person, even though the things the characters participate in are not seen as "mature" by all. I love how, in the end, the guy says that he doesn't need to go to Julliard anymore (like in Orange County), but then he takes it one step further. He says that he feels nothing. Or rather, nothingness. I love that part because it's totally what I've been feeling recently. I just want to be happy and have my friends be happy too. The choices I've made are not what mature people would always dub as "mature," but I don't want to take them back. A it was with the novel's protagonist, those experiences made me grow, and that is too meaningful to me (and him.)

Buy the book at Amazon and tell me what you think of it. It won't ever become a classic because it's too up on modern times and too hip, if you will, but it certainly made me feel good finishing it.
Also, check out this cute little animated excerpt from the book here.
And they want to make it into a movie. I'd watch it ...
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Japanese Magazines

I still can't really read Japanese well (give me some slack here ... I've only been here a few days and I never studied really hard before I arrived), but that has not dissuaded me from purchasing a few Japanese magazines.
The first one I bought was this month's Relax. A really nice issue ... this one focuses on peace and love and harmony ... blah, blah, blah. The Japanese seem to really like writing about such subjects, and then adding art into the mix somehow. I still don't quite get it. For example, Relax's theme for this month is, "Peace Begins With ... " ... they do a short bio on an artist and then ask what he thinks of peace. Honestly, I don't think that if I was able to read the Japanese I would really get their "point," but they chose interesting artists regardless ...

The second magazine that I picked up was Brutus, which is kind of like GQ or Esquire in Japan. This one is cute ... it focuses on Japanese (and foreign) snacks and small dishes. I figure that reading up on such things will make me appear to know what I'm talking about (or being talked to about) more often.
I love looking at all the clothes and stuff in the magazines as well, although everything is really expensive, so I probably won't end up buying too much of the stuff.
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Two Japanese Artists

matsumoto taiyo
Well, first off, I'm back on. I've come across an unsecured wi-fi network where I'm living, so I don't have to update the blog from, like, the library or anything like that ...
So, I've only been "living" in Japan for 2 days now and I don't have too much to report on. But I did come across two neato Japanese artists that I think are worthy of mention.
The first one is Usui Noriko. I can't find anything by her on the net, but I saw a fair amount of her stuff in the newest issue of Relax (which is good, by the way). She's really young, so I hope she'll get big and famous soon ...
Then there is Matsumoto Taiyo, who I've already mentioned for one of his mangas, I think, but I recently saw something unlike anything else he has ever done before. An oil painting. It's really cool ...

Again, I can't seem to find an actual picture of it on the internet ...
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Japan Photo Blog

Okay, so I've gone Pro. That is, I've paid the $25 annual fee to have a 2 GB upload capacity per month, unlimited bandwidth, and a whole bunch of stuff on Flickr. I highly recommend it.
Anyway, if you would like to check out my photos as they come, I will be posting them for my whole year right here.

Have fun.
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Well, it's official (and it has been for a while, I guess). I'm going to Japan. Shikoku to be precise. Kagawa to be even more exact. And I leave tomorrow morning. So this will probably be my last post for a little while. But do not worry, I will be posting here for my whole year there (a total of at least 44 weeks as it stands right now), and I have set up a Flickr Pro account, so I will have photos a plenty. More updates on all of that later.
I just guess I wanted to say that I am indeed leaving, I'll miss all of my friends (I love you), but I will be back, and I will have a very worthwhile trip I'm sure. Thanks everyone.

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The Dead 60s - The Dead 60s

the dead 60s
Yipee Skipee! The Dead 60s are about to release their debut album. Looks good ... the 2-disc record is going to be released in the UK on the 26th of September. I love this band ... they are another one of the British groups that is trying to revive the edge that British music used to have in the 70s and 80s that Colplay and Radiohead (no offense) watered down. Think Gang of Four instead of the Sex Pistols in this case, though. Er, Gang of Four but without the uber-intelligent side. These guys just like to rock out with a very sharp sound. And it totally works for me and I must say I love it. Check out some of their videos here. They are all excellent songs. I'm pumped!

And the tracklist is ...
Disc: 1
1. Riot Radio
2. A Different Age
3. Nowhere
4. Red Light
5. Just Another love Song
6. Control This
7. Loaded Gun
8. Nationwide
9. We Get Low
10. Horizontal
11. New Town Disaster
12. The Last Resort
13. You're Not The Law

Disc: 2
1. Too Much TV dub
2. Invader Dub
3. D-60 Fights the Evil Force
4. No Control Dub
5. Tower Block Dub
6. CNS Lazer Attack D-60
7. Police Radio Dub
8. Flight Mission Dub
9. No Good Town Dub
10. Game Over

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Humans by Mike Mills

mike mills
Yipee! The neato graphic designer, Mike Mills, has created a clothing company called Humans by Mike Mills. A tad pretentious, but all in good humor. Also, the page was designed by Moog Yamamoto (from Buffalo Daughter). Check it out here. I like the Humans Manifesto:
No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Sometimes being dumb is the only smart alternative. Shy people are secretly egoists. Nothing is real. Everything you see a dream you project onto the world. Children live out their parents unconscious. The only animals that suffer from anxiety are the ones that associate with humans. I don't trust people that are very articulate. The only way to be sane is to embrace your insanity. When you feel guilty about being sad, remember Walt Disney was a manic depressive. Everything I said could be totally wrong.

Copying that whole thing down made me love you, Mike Mills. Thank you. I want to buy things from you.
Also, he has a blog, and his collection of fabrics and shirts (etc.) is fantastic. I'm so pumped to see this off on a good foot.
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Dust From A Thousand Years

dust from 1000 years
I was reading some new record reviews, and one of the most intriguing bands that I ran across is a psychedelic folky group from Indiana called Dust From A Thousand Years. I love the incredibly lo-fi sound ... all the tape scratching ... the messiness of it all ...
I have many links for all of you to check them out further ...
Sleep Summer Town
Come Back To the Soil

Enjoy, enjoy ...
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Broadcast and the Concretes

tender buttons
I think that it is fitting to mention the new Broadcast album (Tender Buttons) and the new Concretes album (LayYourBattleAxeDown) in the same post. The bands are stylistically not that similar, but they have great female vocals and a certain lo-fi quality throughout.
Tender Buttons is really cool. It's a bit of a departure for Broadcast, because the album still obviouslly has a 60s pop theme, but this time, the group has applied the style to a more modern sound. So it sounds a tad more accessible. Trish Kennan's bewitching voice melds incredibly well with the music, the arrangements of which sound almost like something that Slowdive would have made. But that isn't to say that there are not classic Broadcast elements here, either. "Black Cat" is one such song, heavily utilizing a drum machine, an electronic twist, and shoegaze moody vocals. Best album so far.

layyourbattleaxedownLayYourBattleAxeDown is superb as well. It's actually a collection of B-sides and the sort, but still stands well on it's own. It's a sparer sound ... closer in style to Boy, You Better Run Now, and therefore sort of like a link between that album and their last s/t record. Their cover of the Stones' "Miss You" is absolutely perfect and one of the best songs on the LP. Get both.
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Test Shot Starfish

test shot starfish
Yes, yes ... I know. I am way too sporadic in my musical tastes. One day it's rock, the next it's funk, the next it's electronica. And so it goes ...
But the new thing that I'm jamming out to now is Test Shot Starfish. The dancey group released their self-titled debut album on the 7th of June. Their sound is similar to the Orb, Plaid, Aphex Twin ... that kind of style. You should all check out their song, Level One, and decide what their influences are for yourself. Enjoy ...
Oh, and you can also buy the album from their label, Kanpai.

The band cite the Orb, Plaid, Orbital, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada as some of their influences - groups that range from harsh and abrasive, to ambient and sensory. This particular track sounds like ambient Aphex and one of my favorite female electro producers, Andrea Parker. I guess its the deep buzzing bass that's nestled up against the mid-tempo scattershot drums pattern and the light synths.

The duo's sound design and music studio, which would seem to have quite a lot of fans, has allowed them to produce music and do sound design for numerous short films, television specials, and tons of commercials. Their reach has allowed them to do a number of remixes for artists such as Snoop Dogg ("Beautiful"), Gus Gus, Lenny Kravits and even Coldplay ("Clocks"). Weird right? I'm trying to imagine what they'd do to Coldplay to try to make it listenable (seriously), or to Snoop to make it more fun than the original.

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New Broken Social Scene Album

broken social scene
Well, I'm pumped. Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People is one of my favorite albums of all time. Perfect indie-rock with a sophisticated edge that no other band has.
Anyway, BSS will be releasing their self-titled third album ... kind ... of ... soon? October 4 is the scheduled date of release. It was supposed to be called Windsurfing Nation, but for some [stupid] reason, they decided to just make it a s/t record. Which, I think, is a bad sign.
Okay, so I'll admite that I'm confused. There actually may be two albums due out. One will be called Windsurfing Nation, and the other will be s/t (maybe?) ... I don't know! Someone explain this all to me ...
The band itself is describing the LP as "raw fucking puke and love." Does that mean edgier? More emotional in a disgusting way? I'm confused, but oh so excited to hear it.

Even if it will be a let-down.
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Paste Magazine

paste magazine
Paste Magazine has been out for several months now, but I decided to write about it because (a) I just got a free issue from them and (b) it's a good magazine, so you should all start buying it. First off, I like it because it has a nice little CD sampler. Like, 20 tracks or so. It's a good representation of new music. Maybe even a little better than the CMJ sampler (but that's just my opinion ... I never really liked CMJ's interest in metal). Also, it comes with a DVD, which can be interesting. The DVD usually just has trailers for movies and that sort of thing on it, though, but occasionally, it has musical performances and those can be fun.
And this will sound stupid, but it's a good length and not too texty. I have issues with magazine being too short or too dense. If I want something dense, I'll buy a book. Magazines are supposed to have pictures, right? But I don't want to sound stupid, so don't judge me, please. Also, it's pretty thick, which is good. Not too short, but not too long either. I can actually get through the whole thing in a few sittings and never get bored with browsing through it.

Well, I was able to get a free issue of the magazine, but I think that you can't get the free issue anymore. I dunno ...
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More Art

atsu mori
Okay, so I have found some more blog-worthy [Japanese] artists! Super!
First there is Atsu Mori. I like her stuff a lot ... it's kind of folky, but also very modern. And I think she works with quite a range of materials ... like, she does actual paintings, but she also does a lot of installations and sculpture-type stuff. I think. I need to get better at reading Japanese, I guess. Since I'll be there for a bloody year.

Next, we have Ai Kijima, another female artist. Now Ai, I believe, is actually trained as a textile artist. So a lot of her work has a very organic feel. Also, she utilizes collages a whole lot, which I think is really cool as well.
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More T-Shirts!

crying tiger
What is a boy to do when there are so many T-Shirts to choose from to buy? And on top of that, I have my unquenchable thirst for CDs. So I must choose wisely ... I must have many cool shirts and many cool CDs. And then other cool stuff. So hard. Hah ...
Unfortunately, I have found another cool T-Shirt company. Crying Tiger is their name and awesome T-Shirt is their game (so lame ... sorry).
I really like the Crying Tiger and Angry Tornado shirts. Wicked cool. Must ... buy.
Also, for all you T-Shirt heads out there, you should be happy to hear that Crownfarmer is having a pretty impressive (and rare) T-Shirt sale. Many of their shirts are 50% off! Wow! I'm in heaven ...

And one more unrelated thing ... check out PingMag -- a flashy and interesting Japanese internet 'zine. Nice.
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