France's Kitsuné Records is prepping for the release of their newest compilation, the fifth in their stunning series of mixes.
Kitsuné Maison 5 features the usual dose of buzz bands (the Teenagers, Cazals, Digitalism, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, etc.), quite a few old standbys (Alan Braxe, Fischerspooner, M.I.A.), and a handful of bands on the verge that BBBD endorses wholeheartedly (Late of the Pier, Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya). In short, an awesome, awesome, killer, killer mix that's not to be missed!
Pre-order the thing here. Download a great six-minute mini-mix below, too. Get psyched.
BBBD favorite Swedish indie-pop act, Envelopes are finally about to deliver their much, much anticipated sophomore album -- and follow-up to Demon -- Here Comes the Wind (out on Brille Records on February 18). I've been on these guys for literally a year, begging and pleading for more. The handful of EPs and singles didn't quite quench my thirst, though: I needed the album!
While we've still about three weeks until we can pick up a hard copy of the LP, the band has put together a free widget that you can get here. We've yet to test drive the thing, but you apparently get a sample of the record, exclusive songs, and much more with the download. Thank you, Envelopes! Not quite a Radiohead, but you're getting there ...
This is a new one for me so let's hope I get the facts straight (but keep in mind that I'm working with a lot of Spanish text here).
Okay, Buffet Libre is a music blog/magazine that -- while I've not investigated too much -- looks really, really solid. Good coverage, good topics, interesting collaborations, good recommendations. Right up my alley!
So ... Buffet Libre just put together a killer mix of remixes called Proyecto Batidora #147. Or at least I think it's #147. All you need to know is that P.B. is a series and B.L. represents a whole pile of DJs who tour around Europe as a group. I'm going to stop trying to explain here ... I'm sure one of you lovely readers will (a) catch mistakes and (b) amend my post, anyway. So check the comments, folks!
Download the mix right here. It features remixes of the likes of Das Pop, the Go! Team, SHITDISCO, the Toxic Avenger, and a few more. Below is my favorite remix -- Mojib's edit of the Go! Team's "Grip Like A Vice."
The following review of Xiu Xiu's (MySpace) Women as Lovers was written by BBBD contributing writer, Bryan Hood. Fingers crossed he'll become more of a regular at this Internet daily concern, but until then, just enjoy his expert writing.
Although an avid fan of Jaime Stewart’s band Xiu Xiu, I can’t say that I have been looking forward to their latest album, Women as Lovers. Since 2004’s accessible Fabulous Muscles, I had found myself disappointed by each successive follow up. Neither of the two albums released since then had been able to capture the energy and spirit of Xiu Xiu’s fantastic live shows. That said I was more than willing to give Women as Lovers a chance, and what I found is that Xiu Xiu has managed to finally make the album I’ve been wanting to listen to the for past four years.
Xiu Xiu’s music can best be described as a blend of shattering of glass, wind chimes and a few desperate pleas yelped above the chaos. This description may not sound that appealing, but somehow Stewart and co. manage to pull it all together and create music that’s earnest, beautiful, and occasionally poppy. This is something that can be heard at each and every live show, but rarely on their studio albums. Women as Lovers changes this though as Xiu Xiu’s full sonic range is finally on display. The music is no longer a shambling mess of high-pitched screaming and clanging. Well that’s not exactly true, there’s still plenty of that but now there’s so much more. Along with all the high treble sounds, there’s actual bass and—get this—drums! That’s right Xiu Xiu has finally added texture to their sound, and it’s definitely welcomed. Really enough can’t be made of drummer Ches Smith’s addition to the band. It’s hard to imagine Xiu Xiu having produced anything like the magnificent “I Do What I Want When I Want” and the exuberant “No Friend Oh!” prior to Women as Lovers. On top of this the album features more than just Stewart’s pained warble as Caralee McElroy once again joins on in the singing and Michael Gira’s voice is a welcome addition to the wonderous “Under Pressure” cover. The album’s not perfect by any means though (I understand the sentiments behind “Guantanamo Canto” but that doesn’t mean I think the song is any good) but it’s a remarkable album that gets better with each listen.
Women as Lovers is a great step in Xiu Xiu’s musical evolution. The band manages to add new layers to their music while still maintaining their distinctive sound, something that is especially important of a band as unique as Xiu Xiu. The album is one that both longtime fans can enjoy and one that for the first time since Fabulous Muscles might actually win over some new converts.
I love this band's name! At first, I read "THE LK" as "THE ELK" -- funny how your eyes (and brain) can paly taht srot of tirck on you!
Anyway, settle down for this one. The LK (MySPace) is a super-melodious experimental/glitch electronic pop act out of Malmo, Sweden. Had they popped up a little earlier, they would've been on the Caribou/Manitoba bandwagon. Had they congealed earlier than that, these two would've been an integral part of the IDM scene (how cliche does that classification sound now?) Fortunately, they're making music in 2008 and don't really subscribe to any one genre (who doesn't!?) ... or at least neither of the two aforementioned ones.
Equal parts emo-leaning Junior Boys, hook-driven Ratatat, and atmospheric experimental, the LK will surely pull you in for the sheer quality of their synthetic doodles, cavernous computer "paintings" (yes, I'm calling these songs paintings and doodles). None of the songs from Vs. the Snow suffer from want of ... anything. They're overflowing with bizarre samples, moody, brooding soundscapes, and lovely, thin vocals that all coalesce into this overwhelming pile of sound. They are very cool.
Vs. the Snow sold out in Sweden (allegedly), but lucky for us Americans, it's been picked up by Washington D.C.'s Kora Records, and will be released on March 3, so get it there! The pair's also touring the U.S. for a month or so starting on March 7 ... find more details (when posted!) on the MySpace page.
Mojib (MySpace) is a Swedish experimental breakbeat outfit that's really ... sweeping me away right now. The Gothenburg artist sounds like a sublime cross-breeding of dark, atmospheric acts like UNKLE, the Avalanches, Boards of Canada, and RJD2 on the glitchy, electronic, free jazz side of things and Asobi Seksu and like shoegaze bands on the other end. A really amazing and heartwarming sound.
Remember that UNKLE song that Thom Yorke sang on? "Rabbit In Your Headlights"? That's what Mojib reminds me of. Stunningly beautiful.
You can pick up a digital or hard copy of the album, Whimsical Lifestyle, for a mere $9 right here. It comes highly recommended. The title is an apt way of describing Mojib's sound and aesthetic -- with a light-hearted whimsicalness, the eleven tracks just float by, wrap themselves around your ears, calm you down, and ease the tension. If you're looking for something to keep you chill while keep you guessing what the next bar, refrain, or song is going to sound like and truly keep you stimulated, Mojib is your guy.
Many months ago, BBBD posted about this great new London DJ duo, the Slips. The electronic pair make refreshingly sparse and atmosphericdeeply layered, yet clear and highly-produced dance music to distinguish themselves from the bulk of club music (AKA bombastic, spasm-inducing, sensory-overload-in-a-bad-way crap, 95% of the time). The Slips have just released a great 7" single on BBBD favorite L.A. label I Am Sound Records for "Girls At the Back Up." A really solid 7".
(As an aside, BBBD would like to think that we were, in part, responsible for the Slips' signing. We take pride in occasionally telling you all about music that's worthwhile ... )
Anyway -- as the headline indicates, we've a contest! For the new Slips single! Shoot an email over to email@example.com with SLIP ME THE SLIPS as the subject. Be sure to include your mailing address so we can send our one (1) lucky winner the single and, if you're super nice, tell us how and where you found out about the Slips. The winner will be announced next Friday.
Check out a couple b-sides below, stream the "Girls At the Back Up" song, and stream/download the CSS remix of "Hot Hot Sex" over at the MySpace page. It's super good, man. Just buy it, why don't cha?
Q: You get a lot of attention for being a phenomenal live band. What do you try to do when you're on stage and how does it differ from your studio recordings? Do you try to differentiate the two?
JOHN: There is a difference, and some of it is intentional, but we don't think of the two as totally different things, I'm sure if there was a producer involved, some songs would be slowed down for the record that are much faster live, but the live songs and the recorded are very similar. Were allowed more crapulence with overdubs and such. Live there's a different NRG arc in the sequencing, some things get you off differently recorded vs. live.
Q: And more generally -- how's touring been for you? You've hopped around a few continents now and seem to be garnering quite a following. How's the touring life treating you? How're you liking it?
JOHN: We've always been touring, before we had a record, or fans or anything. So were pretty used to and get antsy staying at home. We generally love tour, but it does kick yr ass. The upcoming tour with Crystal Castles through central Canada in winter were expecting to run our asses ragged.
Q: As a band signed to a small label [Love Pump], how do you think the music industry at large is treating smaller groups and labels? Do you think the current environment is overall helpful for independents or is it still tough to "make it" today?
JOHN: I think its easier than ever for independents to "make it" today then ever, but let me clarify that "making it" is being known, not like making it rich or nothing. The interweb, dood.
Q: Any projects coming up that we should know about? Collaborations, forthcoming releases, music videos?
JOHN: 7" singles and 12" singles w/ originals and remixes, in limited colored vinyl pressings. There will also be a HEALTH//DISCO album in early '08 on Lovepump United, it will be a remix album, but a lot of care is going into it, it wont be just a comp of remixes. There will be some enhanced CD content too. Dan Deacon mentioned he wanted to collaborate sometime...but given his schedule that will be sometime in 2019.
Q: Thanks so much for talking! You make me proud to be in L.A. -- just when I'm starting to feel down about the health of the music scene around here, you pop up and make everything better! We all hail HEALTH!
As with every (*ahem*) desperate pop star trying to straggle a hit or two out of the new album, Kylie Minogue (MySpace has remixed the hell outta her new material. First a Studio remix, then Big Face, then a billion more I didn't hear, and now, a great one by the French duo, Spitzer.
The two brothers who comprise the ominously named Spitzer (sorry -- I just think it's too foreboding in nature; the name deserves italics) sent ripples through the blog-o-sphere when they sent out a couple ace tracks to a couple ace blogs and requested a post. This rarely happens, but ... Spitzer wound up being pretty damn good! Re:
The blogosphere was amazed by the twilight dark ambiance and the frenetic robotic sound of some of their tracks available on the Web. Understandably backed up by the whole electro Lyon community, booked by the Festival des Nuits sonores, they were also called by Kylie Minogue to create a crazy remix, that is still very secret. Track after track, Spitzer creates a new map without boundaries nor rules, frenetic and grandiose techno music set in between Nathan Fake's grandiloquence and the rhythmic scathing of Trentmoller. Sought by many labels, Spitzer is already cooking some new remixes and is working to finalise their first EP, "Roller Coaster". The two brothers will also start an Australian tour beginning April 2008. The two Spitzer brothers will road trip from one club to another and get the dance floor groovin'."
Remember the delightful Swedish pop duo Suburban Kids With Biblical Names? Well, Peter -- one half of the indie-/guitar-pop pair -- has been an active member of another band, Springfactory since 2005. The band shouldn't be thought of as a S.K.W.B.N. lookalike, though -- they share little in common. Springfactory's sound is equally indie-pop oriented and relies heavily on cutesy lyrics, twee production qualities, banjo melodies, and quirky arrangements (plenty of xylophone, horn, etc.) like S.K.W.B.N., but otherwise, they represent a sharper, more concise breed of Swedish pop music that S.K.W.B.N. never neared.
Gah, I can't believe I wrote S.K.W.B.N. three times in that paragraph. Ignore me.
The band released a collection of their EPs on the Nebraskan label, Series Two Records, on December 3. Buy a copy over at the MySpace page. Springfactory will undeniably be on repeat at the BBBD Offices ... and why not? Not a single song isn't immensely hooky and memorable, not a single word out of vocalist Linda's words comes out flat or or insincere or unnatural, not a single banjo strum sounds cheesy or cliche, and not one guitar hook sounds bland, overdone. Swing along to Springfactory's easy-going guitar-pop/indie-rock tunes. Ahhhh, so good.
They just released a 7" single for their stellar tune, "Psychotic." The duo sounds like a loony Devo-meets-K-Records-meets-the-Dodos (does that shed any light on their sound?) They fill their songs with irritated distortion, bouncy, off-kilter synth lines, filtered harmonica, and mumbled lo-fi vocals. It's so supremely soft-spoken and modest yet unassumingly angst-ridden that I simply can't get enough. I need more than a mere three-song 7", damn it!
Check out a couple tunes below and buy the vinyl when it's available for purchase on Every Conversation's MySpace page.
Q: I really liked your debut video [for "Heaven"]. Why did you pull that footage [from Werner Herzog's documentary, The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner]? It works really well with the music, but seems like a strange choice ...
JOHN: Yes, well it wasn't our idea. In fact we didn't know about it until after it had been posted on YouTube, and it started getting posted a lot of places. The video was done by Bret Berg of a great band called Anavan, he also did an Anavan video made with found footage ... The video is still not technically "official" but we really like it.
Q: And speaking about aesthetics and imagery -- where did the cover art for the eponymous debut LP originate? What was the inspiration there?
JOHN: The design used is one we've used for a lot of t shirts and our live cassette before, but the LP art was inspired by a lot of old record art, when the song titles or hits were often listed on the cover. Taking that idea and making it modern.
Q: Now, on to music. When asked to describe your music, what do you say? You're noise, but you tend to play more melodious stuff that other noise-rockers; you mess around a lot with pedals and weird effects, making the "experimental" categorization an easy one, but you seem to be more interested in song structure over random sounds; your tunes feature heavy, stoic drumming and speed guitar often, but no one's described you as a metal group yet. What are you!?
JOHN: Yeah thats tough. We tried to join several genre clubs with little success. We do get metal associations on tour, but Jupiter is the only one with a metal pedigree, though Beej is most accused of having one. We wish we could just be called Noise, but the L.A. Noise guys have reminded us that we are a band that plays music and not Noise. I like how BBBD says "Noise Dance". The genre thing doesn't bother me.
Q: What sort of stuff did you grow up on and how did you all personally get involved with actually making music yourselves?
JOHN: My formative years were punk rock, then I added classic rock, then progressive rock, then actual current music in that order, dance music got in a few years ago. We all played instruments in high school, and had high school bands. Weve always wanted to be in a band. Jake's was also punk rock, Jupiter, Metal, and BJ Blues Traveler. We all had equal Classic rock obsession and its the experience we share.
Q: And what type of music are you digging right now? Any undiscovered gems we should know about? Are you really all Michael McDonald fans?
JOHN: Um, Im really loving anything from "Italians Do It Better", get hip to Pictureplane, Captain Ahab, Telepathe, Narwhalz, Videohippos. If you live in L.A. get hip to Kyle H. Mabson, hes a goofy musical movement all to him self, in about 14 bands, all hilariously stupid: Kyle H. Mabson MySpace.
We finally got the chance to do an interview with BBBD favorite, HEALTH (MySpace). I think we've literally been talking about this for a year now. Anyway, enjoy Part 1 today, 2 tomorrow, and 3 on Friday! Q: Tell me a little about how you four got together as band.
JOHN: Not terribly interesting. Jake and I met each other working at Guitar Center Hollywood,I was playing Chinese Stars in the accessories section and he went: "hey you listen to cool music..." etc. etc. Him and Jupiter had already been trying to make a band and didn't know what they wanted to do, so I started meeting with them after work. After much talk and little action we decided to get a drummer off of Craigslist, BJ. Then we were a band.
Q: Shortly after the album came out, you began releasing a wave of remixes. Why did you decide to commission so many DJ's to remix your work? And what do you personally think of them?
JOHN: The original plan was not for so many remixes, I didn't think so many of them would be down for it. Every remixer was hand selected, I'm a huge fan of all parties involved.
Q: Maybe the most important and significant remix was the Crystal Castles one that was done way back before you had much of anything released. How did you get together with them and do you credit them with bringing you to any sort of fame?
JOHN: We discovered Crystal Castles upon my first visit to the blog 20jazzfunkgreats. Immediately stoked we started stalking their MySpace, added them. They left a nice comment about the tunes. Stoked+ we worked up the nerve to ask them to do a split or a remix possibly, at the time they had only two remixes both of which were amazing. Finally we emailed and asked. They were down for both. We owe a lot to Crystal Castles, possibly a right eye.
Q: The Smell has received major press in the past couple of months from sources as desperate as the New Yorker to i-D. Along with No Age, Mika Miko, and a few other groups, you're closely tied to the venue ... so how do you take all this press and, more importantly, what're your feelings on the place? How have you interacted with and benefited from the Smell?
JOHN: We don't mind the press, its not harming the scene one bit, and The Smell is a very willing participant in all this, so don't shed no tears. Nothing is in danger here. The Smell is a big deal for us, its always been a legendary place, I would drive up in high school from San Diego to go to shows there, but the biggest thing we owe to it is our record. Jim Smith gave us keys and free reign, and the Smell is really the sound of the record.
The Edmonton, Canada new-psych-pop outfit, the Whitsundays, just released their eponymous debut LP on Friendly Fire Recordings (the label that brought us the beautiful Asobi Seksu and Faunts to name a couple).
Everything about the band is somehow ... off. Just the thought of a stupendous psych-pop band a la the Zombies with a summery twist of Beach Boys from Alberta is sort of weird. But psychedelic music is more contemplative and dark than listeners assume initially. The Whitsundays' songs, while dripping with pitch-perfect harmonies, saturated, melodious guitar hooks, warbley organ lines and bass routines, and clear, minimalist drum breaks -- in short, everything a poppy summer psych-song circa 1966 needs -- are almost eerie and cold in nature. Take the below "Loralee," for example. It plod along at a sunny, bright pace yet winds up making you feel pretty damn ... down, am I right?
I guess that's appropriate, though. It's super rainy in L.A. -- weird -- the world is dark and cruel ... the Whitsundays may sound like some lost 60s artifact, but they're very much a relic of our present.
I don't mean to end on an ominous note, though. Pick the record up right here. You will not regret it.
The Pacific! guys just sent me a few remixes of two of their songs that I'm really enjoying.
"Runaway to Elsewhere" has received the treatment from France's Breakbot while "Sunset Blvd." was remixed by fellow Gothenburg citizens the Touch. They're both very impressive. The "Runaway to Elsewhere" remix is a space-y, robotic ode to the original with a sexy Daft Punk twist. It's elegant but retains that original fun pop aesthetic that made the track so damn good to start with. The Touch's effort is a more straight-forward club edit that'll get you jumping up and down, bobbing your head to the beat, and air chopping with the audience.
The Pacific! vs. Radio LXMBRG tune is very good as well. It's somehow cheesier than the original song -- faux-metal-esque guitar riff; slinky synth chords -- but just as funky and easy to get into. Man, I love this band ...
Listen to more remixes here. Be certain to check out the Avalon remix of "Sunset Blvd."
Chicago's Clique Talk has changed a little since we posted about the group first. Now, Clique Talk doesn't really represent a group anymore. J.D. -- the original frontman -- has moved on to do club nights, some remixes, and other dance-oriented projects. He assures me that the band still "exists," but for now, I'm not completely convinced. And it's hard to complain about -- if he keeps sending me remixes like this one, a draft of his remix for Mahjongg's "Tell the Police the Truth."
The new Mahjongg LP -- out on January 22 (tomorrow!) is great. Stream the whole thing here. It's more tribal, more bombastic, more confident, more intriguing and exciting. The songs explode into lengthy percussion exposes, sing-alongs, killer riffs and jams, and shrink back to the seedling of ideas they once were.
The remix is a lot of fun. It's more ethereal and creepy that the original -- repeated, echoed drum routines; high-reverb vocals; atmospheric synth lines -- but just as exuberant and rhythmic. Check it out below. Keep in mind that the final version -- whenever that's out -- will most likely be even better.
Tall Firs (MySpace) is yet another band that somehow passed under my radar for two, three albums. And, the Brooklyn trio is signed to Ecstatic Peace ... really, how the heck did I miss these guys?
Anyway, they've been found, and just in time for their forthcoming LP, Too Old To Die Young, out in March. As it is with most of Ecstatic Peace's signings and releases, it really makes sense that Tall Firs was picked up by Thurston Moore. Briefly put, the group sounds like a folksier version of Sonic Youth, or maybe like the opening for the new Moore solo album. These guys don't mess around -- the music and style is serious, intensely detailed and layered, and especially stoic, solid -- and I love it. They've the sonic reverence and taste for sophisticated arrangements like Radiohead and the homegrown soothingness of any other Ecstatic Peace outfit, Sonic Youth on a "quiet" day, or maybe some underground country outfit from the 70s. I'm blabbing.
Check out a few songs from the new LP below, get some more over here, and buy the Ecstatic Peace eponymous debut over here.
Von Luxxury, Johnny Jewel, and Ida spent nine months working on this remix! Johnny and von Luxxury were quite the collaborative team as they kept bouncing ideas off of each other, passing around edits, and critiquing each incarnation of the edit. The final cut wound up being nineteen minutes long, believe it or not (hence the Parts II & III thing)!
I'm itching to hear Part I, but for now, the final two-thirds cut it pretty damn well. The von Luxxury remix is dark and ambient like Glass Candy songs ought to be, bouncy and post-punk-infused, but with just enough disco gloss and atmospheric shimmers to bump it up to moody dance floor fodder (if also very smart and expertly arranged).
While I can't help but wonder if this strategy is really working, I do admit that I'm a big fan of any band who offers their music for free download, especially when that music is in an album package, with artwork and all. Additionally, the groups taking this route seem to be getting increasingly better, which is heartening, a good trend.
The Depreciation Guild (MySpace) has their album, In Her Gentle Jaws available for free download right here (click the yellow bar of just grab the ZIP here). It's a very solid effort. I never thought that 8-bit, jagged electronics, harsh drum machines, and shoegaze could merge so effortlessly and with such a beautiful result. Let's call it industrial shoegaze.
The Brooklyn-based band sounds like apost-apocalyptic My Bloody Valentine that's been hacking around with synthesizers, drum & base production equipment, and Atari-chip filters for ages. In Her Gentle Jaws is mesmerizing. Download it immediately, sit back, and let wave upon wave of serene yet angst-ridden guitar walls, bombastic drumming, and swooning vocals flow over you ...
Photo: Marie de Crécy Sebastien Tellier (MySpace) is back at it again, only this time he's got Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo of Daft Punk serving production duties!
We're pretty sure you've already heard the stellar "Sexual Sportswear" track from Tellier's forthcoming Sexuality (a spicy one!) -- in case you've not, the video's after the jump -- and now we offer you a new sample tune from the LP, "Divine."
Quite a bit different than "Sexual Sportswear," divine sounds more like a sleazy Beach Boys song straight from the 60s but with a ... unmistakable French essence. Literally, this song sounds like it could've been on the La Boum soundtrack. It's perfect. Here's what Mr. Tellier makes of the single himself:
A tribute to the Beach Boys and the Juicy Fruits (from the 1974 musical Phantom of the Paradise). It’s about a time of innocence – when having fun was more important than picking up girls.
If only there were a few "shooby dooby"s ... everything would be perfect. Right, so stream and download a lower-quality MP3 below and don't forget to check out the "Sexual Sportswear" video! It's ... quite sexy -- like a James Bond film opening credit -- and man does that song rock.
The New Year is officially upon us -- how's it feelin', folks? -- and we've got a contest that ... uh ... happens to be occurring early on in the year. I guess there's less of a connection that I'd thought there'd be when I started that sentence ...
Anyway, the contest is for Steve Aoki's new album, Pillowface & His Airplane Chronicles (out January 22 on Thrive Records). We've got two (2) copies of the album (autographed by Mr. Aoki himself, I should add!) and two (2) posters for the record. So send yer entry emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject AOKI AOKI AOKI AOKI!, and you might just be one of our lucky winner, to be announced next Thursday (January 24). Be sure to send along your contact information and mailing address, too, since I'll be needing those if you plan on actually getting the prizes after winning!
Best of luck to you all! The album is surprisingly good (don't get too skeptical now!) and certainly the best mix CD to be released in 2008 so far (was that cute or just plain dumb?)
I'm trying to relax, here! Trying to just kick back ... chill out ... loosen up ... ach, too much stuff, stuff, stuff. It's all welcomed -- so don't get me wrong -- but I feel like I could use another break even though I just had one what? Two weeks ago?
Right -- so to combat my growing angst and the hectic days, I'm listening to France's delightful Orouni (MySpace), a twee pop group with some folk undertones and major light-hearted overtones. I like them. They're especially cute, especially catchy, especially un-nerve-wracking and intrusive. They just fade into the background ...
That's not to say they don't deserve your concentrated attention, though! Orouni is a wonderfully energetic and exciting indie-pop group that just ... might get a little over-excited at times. They speed through songs, sing off key, and strum their guitars a little bit ahead or behind of the beat. But it's all done with such earnestness, with such an honesty and authenticity that it's really hard to not let them into your heart ...
So immerse yourself in them. Listen to the below two songs (unreleased as of yet -- next LP, folks!). Buy the old stuff here. Precious.
I may have expressed my passion for obsession with Stephen Malkmus (MySpace) prior to today on BBBD, but I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt and saying no ... no, I didn't.
So here, I'll let it all out (if not in slightly abridged format): Stephen Malkmus and Pavement represented one of the first bands that I really got into. I was the biggest fan. I bought all the albums, and when those became obsolete, I bought the remastered albums with bonus tracks and discs. And when those became dated, I started reading the literature, re-reading the linear notes, digging up video clips and old photographs. Malkmus & Co. have been a persistent inspiration in my life, and while I don't voice it as much as I do with say, the Unicorns or Joy Division, don't be fooled -- Malkmus, Pavement, all of that ... heaven to me.
So I'm writing this on behalf of the band, on behalf of the new album, Real Emotional Trash. The LP is fantastic; the band's best and most mature (okay, duh). Malkmus and the Jicks have gone a little more stoner, a little more jammer, a little more psychedelic that I'd thought they would've, but hey, I love it. The songs are just as oblique, winding, and bizarre as ever ("Dragonfly wants a piece of pie"; "I traipsed over the Mexican border in a caravan van" [?]) ... the songs are as hooky and complex and meticulous yet nonchalant and relaxed as you'd expect ... and, of course, Malkmus retains his twenty-something-style vocals while simultaneously emitting "infinite wisdom" (or maybe just a uh ... different wisdom).
It rocks. It rocks. It rocks. Ahhhh ... Okay, download the songs below, check out the cool videos from the past after the jump. Have yourself a damn good time.
Wow, late with the posting today! Sorry, folks -- I'm alive and well!
Talk Taxis is a London quartet that has the brashness and lopsided, helter-skelter stylings of Jamie T. and the poppy, radio-friendly hooks of Arctic Monkeys. Hey! That was a short one!
Really, though, this is a great band. They're energetic and poppy (duh), super catchy, and, I'm guessing, a bit of a British girl's heart-throb. The singer -- Tom -- has a great voice which, even if a little scratchy and on the rougher side, is really inspiring and strangely lovely when he lets loose. The drumming isn't anything too special, but it's tight and on-par with the rest of the foursome's super sharp and crisp playing. Solid bass lines that work in perfect tandem with the guitar melodies and vocal lines. There's this really cool symbiosis that exists within the band ... you can't help but feel like they're all accompanying each other. There's clearly a melody (man, the main hook from "Liverless" is rockin'), but there's this unusual unity to the songs that's rare in a band. I like these four a lot a lot.
The Aliens (MySpace) -- the band that infamously rose from the ashes of the legendary Beta Band -- made a new song and music video in collaboration with Zune Arts.
While it's clear that the days of big budget music videos have all but passed into oblivion, the video is plenty of fun. As you would expect from the Aliens -- considering the title of their debut LP, Astronomy For Dogs and the name of this new track! -- there's a dog in the film. It's quirky animation totally works for the soulful, funky, beat-bouncing grooves of the Aliens, though, and ought to be thoroughly enjoyed by any fan!
Check it out also at Daily Motion. Every time Microsoft does something like this, I like them more ... and with WIRED giving the new Zune higher marks that the new iPod, I dunno ... I might just buy one someday not too far off!
Column: Grumpy Old Man Muttering On the Park Bench
We would like to introduce a new feature here at BBBD: columns! The first piece is pseudonymously written by "Grumpy Old Man Muttering On the Park Beach." Needless to say, he's been a music consumer for quite a bit longer than anyone here at BBBD, and hopefully his take on the pop world will represent a refreshing change of pace for this humble web publication.
The way I see it, the record companies protest too much about the devastating fall in album sales. The way they portray it, and the way all us listeners seem to accept it, is that this is the "end" of the music-industry business model. No, it is not at all an end: rather, it is a return to the prior business model, which has been around a lot longer than the current one (which I'd arbitrarily date to "Dark Side of the Moon," the first monster-selling concept album). The prior business model, which in the USA ran from roughly 1900 to 1975 or so, was all about selling singles ... not albums. It's 1910 and the family has gathered around the piano, to sing along with Sis as she plays "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" ... reading from sheet music for that one song (no one had to buy a whole Leo Friedman songbook). It's 1930 and the family is sitting around the Victrola listening to a 78 of "Embraceable You" -- okay, there is a second song on the flip side, but no Gershwin album in sight. It's 1960 and budding music-enthusiast Billy is listening to a 45 of the Beatles' "Help!" -- he didn't have to buy the album. (Extra credit question: what was the b-side?) Then came hippies (lots of leisure time) and drugs (too stoned to move) and we all had the inclination and opportunity to stare at the wallpaper and listen to Floyd for an hour or so (not counting skips). I don't know if Capitol/EMI asked for all those songs at once or if Pink Floyd offered them, but the record companies sure fell in love with the album concept: pay radio stations to flog one catchy single, then insist fans buy the whole album (with the 10 other dogs) to get that single. Voila! Average sales price goes from 75 cents to 10 bucks! Push one song, sell 20! Profits soar! So, no wonder the corporations aren't happy now: digitization of music not only allows it to be copied more easily (a big problem), but it also allows listeners to break up the album, and maybe that's just as big a problem: now we have to sell a million singles at a buck a pop instead of only having to move 50,000 CDs for $20 each. Sorry, guys, but yes, it's harder to do it that way. And, like I said before, this is (roughly) how everyone had to work for the 75 years prior. So the "new" order today ain't so new: it's a return to where we were. And I am quite sure that if we made money before with it, we can do it again. Just ask iTunes.
Our favorite Canadian label, S.L.U. Records, just released a new video for Dandi Wind's (MySpace) "Searching Flesh," which is being officially released on a remix EP (although at 16 tracks I hate to call it anything less than an LP), Sacrificial, this week.
The group's also coming out with a new full-length, Yolk Of the Golden Egg in March or April, is playing a few W. Coast shows in the near future (dates here), and, of course, playing SXSW (geez, the year's already speeding by).
So keep an eye out for them! 2008 may very well be Dandi Wind's year. If you've not seen them live, make sure you get to their show when they pass through your town. They've a fantastic live presence and vibrancy that's rare and exciting. Also pick up those CDs! The remix EP(/LP) will definitely not disappoint you!
I really enjoy bands like Buckinghamshire's Kotki Dwa (MySpace). Bands this creative and fun and talented seem to be extra rare in the U.K. (by my estimate, there is one truly talented and good band for every fifteen or twenty "trendy" uber-young group: this is the fodder that keeps the hype machine running smoothly, though, and makes groups like Kotki Dwa shine and stand out).
Right, I'm neither old nor bitter, so I shouldn't talk like that. Kotki Dwa is a colorful, energetic, and heart-wrenchingly earnest and honest band that I would kill to see live ... although perhaps playing a small bedroom gig or loft party would be more fitting for these three lads.
The music is loaded with quirky synth lines, filtered guitar hooks, and swingin' drumming that makes you first tap your foot, then bob your head, and finally jump up and down to the beat. Unfortunately, the trio's only got a single out at this point, so good luck sustaining that heartwarming and exuberating dance for more than eight minutes.
May these guys live long and prosper. They've certainly got it all right now: a heartthrob singer with a great voice to boot, phenomenally constructed hooks and riffs, a clean and crisp sound that never settles but sounds familiar enough to draw you in, draw you in, draw you in ... Oh, and in terms of their visual aesthetic, they're covered there, too! Check out the fantastic page for the Robin's Clog single. What a video (view it after the jump, too)! What fun illustrations! What an exciting band! Enjoy "Robin's Clogs" for streaming ... maybe someday the band'll let me put an MP3 up for download. But for now, just support them, love them.
"Robin's Clogs" is the band's 30th track to date! You can preview and buy them all here!
Enjoy Part 1 of the interview right here! Thanks for reading!
Q: And speaking of influences ... Skeletons is routinely compared to the likes of Sonic Youth, free jazz groups, no-wave bands, Can, and Prince. How accurate would you say these parallels are and how well do you personally identify with them? What are you own influences?
A: I like all of those things very much, so I appreciate the parallels... but I hope that it always takes a few parallels to sort of deliver a picture. I'm always searching for something that hits me so hard I can only listen and gather up everything that band or person did for a while... it keeps happening!
Q: Why all the regularly-altering band names? Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys; Skeletons & the Kings Of All Cities ... where did the monikers come from?
A: It's nice to have a name that can change a l'il bit, no?
Q: I love the video you most recently made for "Sickness." Who directed that and what was the aim with the film? It's a pretty eerie film ... like a David Lynch-inspired quest done Hunter S. Thompson style. (Was that way off?)
A: Thanks! The video was directed by Jojo the King, Minister of the New New Heavy, Senior VP of Development for Skeletons, INC. It was filmed between Nevada and Kansas for no money. We started filming at 3am when we ran out of gas in the middle of the desert. The story finished itself! You start to notice all the abandoned gas stations more when you run out of gas once or twice.
Q: From what I understand, you've a history with the visual arts, too. How does this affect your musical work and what stuff are you currently working on now outside of Skeletons?
A: I'm working on quite a bit of video... When Skeletons first started, there was an idea to keep it multimedia. The first record we did with Shinkoyo was originally an album with videos from start to finish, mostly from educational videos about driving and growing up. It sort of fell to the side when we started touring so much, but in the past year or so I've tried to always have a camera around. Lately I've been shooting various things, little ideas, TV shows, etc. I'd like to make musicals.
Q: Aside from touring next year, what else is on the horizon for you? Are you recording a new record? Working on some sort of collaboration?
A: We're right in the middle of a record right now, and starting another one if time permits before we go on a big tour in the Spring, plus there's another one that's about 90 percent done that I recorded a while back more solo style. I'm hoping to get them all out in the next year, that's my resolution. That and maybe exercising. And keeping my job.
Q: I think that's about it. Thanks so much for doing this interview. Hope to see you soon!
BBBD wrote about Australia's Flamingo Crash (MySpace) a while back ... and actually did aninterview with the quartet almost exactly one year ago! We still love 'em, and now that the foursome's released Triangle Island, their debut LP, they're taking up much too much playlist time once again.
The record -- which seems to have been recorded in both Austrlia and NYC -- is a more assured and confident release than the previous singles. It's sharper, more rhythmic (woo! jungle beats), and funkier, dancier. The record's ... a lot of fun! At times they sound sort of like the Rapture circa 2003, at others more like XTC or Wire or something "smart" like that, and at others still, more like their fellow Aussie musicians Architecture In Helsinki or something along those quirkier lines. (Is it just us or do most Australian bands have this cutesy, lo-fi thing going on?)
Check out a few songs below. (We're not big fans of the title and lyrics of S.T.F.U. -- what that the abbreviation for, folks? -- but hey, it's a good jam.)
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random The first article title on the page is the name of your band. 2. www.quotationspage.com/random.php3 The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album. 3. www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/ The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. 4. ??? 5. Profit
BBBD contributed a cover: 1992's ...But Recognized the Opporunity.
The below MP3 is not by the [fake] band 1992. If you like a band that's abbreviated X. X., you'll like the tune, though. Just don't tell the RIAA. BBBD enjoys being subversive every once in a while.
Skeletons (MySpace), the NYC-by-way-of-Oberlin, Ohio experimental pop ensemble is currently in between albums after releasing 2007's Lucas on Ghostly International (which topped many year-end music charts), but their current state of transition doesn't make them any less interesting (it probably makes the band more interesting, actually). BBBD was fortunate enough to get a few questions in with the band before they finish the new record and tour tour tour! Remember to finish reading Part 1 after the jump! Part 2 will be published tomorrow!
Q: I believe I saw you at the Grog Shop in Cleveland years ago ... maybe 2003 or 2004 or something. Just though I'd start this whole thing off with that note -- I'm from Cleveland, you're from Oberlin. Tell me a little about the city, what you think of the place ...
A: Oh! 2003! What'd you think of the show?... feels like a long time ago... Mostly places are about the people in them, and the time I was in Oberlin there were great people moving in and around. The school sort of had this "bubble" thing? The minute you arrived everyone was like, "Don't get stuck in the bubble!". But sometimes it was a great bubble! Just talking about and making things, monthly concerts in the recital halls and try to make them as bizarre as possible, all nights in the studio, instruments filling the living room for anytime jams, and then going to the one bar in town because it was the only place to go. I also spent a lot of time on Greyhound busses... I highly recommend a good five hour sit at the Elyria Greyhound sometime. We'd go into Cleveland pretty frequently for the Bent Crayon and that thrift store Unique. We had our first big shows in Cleveland... I really like that stretch on 90 I think? Where you're elevated over all the industrial gunk, flames burning out of smoke stacks? Then you come up on the stadium! I didn't grow up in Oberlin though, I think I have only a glimpse of it.
Q: You released a bunch of records, before signing to Ghostly in 2005, via the Oberlin collective you co-founded, Shinkoyo. Where did that name come from and what's the underlying purpose or mission statement of Shinkoyo?
A: Shinkoyo came out of all those things... I think we wanted to have some vessel to send things out of the bubble? Seve Martinez and I got "loans" to put out the first three records (Skeletons, Peter Blasser's "sound of doves in a cave", and Seve's "Clocks and Psandas") and we'd have big round table "board meetings"... really heated discussions between 8 or 9 people, amazing! Seve had a dream that he was going to start a fashion company called Shin12koyo, but the 12 was silent... We found out that Shinkoyo sort of means "new employment" in Japanese. Then Doron Sadja put out a record with 12k... We were talking about a logo with two dead birds, and Seve and Peter found this flag that we adopted as the logo... which ended up being Pennsylvania Dutch - a sign to ward off evil spirits - we had been using it upside-down! We spent one meeting writing up our "mission statement" which said something about newness and collaboration and technology without "tech or retro - fetishism"!? We never really had any money though, or distribution beyond bringing records to record stores while we were on tour, which we still do. We've also put most of that music up to be listened to on the Shinkoyo site.
Q: Any cool projects coming up with that?
A: So many if only we had money and time! We co-released a new Sejayno (Peter B., Seve, and Carson Garhart) record. Doron and Zeljko McMullen are running a performance space in NY called Paris London West Nile, recording and archiving much great music played there. I've been preparing video for internet TV shows. And we have albums and albums waiting to be put out into the world, gathering lovely dust...
Skeletons - Hay W'Happens? Q: You're clearly an eclectic musician. Your lyrics, continually-rotating and enlarging line-up, tremendous array of musical styles and these, and overarching ambitious, completely unique sound make that very clear. So tell me a little about your musical background!
A: Hmm... I started pretty young playing music, but never practiced enough. My major in college was Technology in Music and Related Arts.
Q: Regardless of how many influences you cite and how many instruments you throw into your arrangements, your songs continually wind up sounding sort of lo-fi. Not necessarily bedroom recording lo-fi, but just quieter and more restrained than what one would assume you sound like on paper. What the writing, recording, and producing process like for you?
A: I think it depends how loud you listen to it! I've always wanted the records to be their own thing... they have to be, considering the space and the tools you have to make it. It means the process is always changing... when we made Lucas we moved into a new place (The Silent Barn, they have shows at now...) and sort of halted recording in order to build our rooms. Set up the "studio" in the basement, which had the biggest effect on the sound of the record. Every track recorded in that room sounded like that room, so you sort of have to learn how to use it to your benefit. Everything beyond the "sound" has an effect too... the place and time and people. Now we're recording at a place in Times Square, only at night, only a few days sporadically, paying for time. So where Lucas was more like sculpting, long hours adding and taking away things - the process now is much more planning, every part, every sound, every experiment. Oh, and I think what you're talking about is trying to keep things multidimensional? Trying to make something BOTH loud and soft at the same time or funky and fucked up and the same time... so the focus becomes finding the overall feel of the record that differs from a description of it's parts, it's own thing?
I feel as though I've stumbled upon some old Morrissey home demos or something. Sweden's Most Valuable Players sounds like four-track Morrissey tunes covered by Casiotone For the Painfully Alone or the Unicorns before they got "big" trying to channel some of their deeper emotions through low-fidelity equipment and without pitch-perfect vocals.
The band released a super-sparse, minimalist pop album, You In Honey, in 2006 via Friendly Noise that's incredibly endearing if not a little too empty at times. They hadn't solidly landed on their sound yet, I suppose. Regardless, the LP's worth checking out ... sample two songs from it below ("AC In HCMC" and "Stockholm Doesn't Belong To Me")! You can grab a couple other sons over here, too.
What I'm most excited about, though, is the new single, "Rondo," which the group released via Friendly Noise's MP3 page (which is loaded with awesome freebies that you all ought to check out). The song is more confident, more collected, and the Morrissey comparison I drew earlier is clearer. The song sways along ... drifts past in an almost eerie haze that's made all the more sublime by the jazzy drumming, organically strummed guitar riffs and bass hooks, and warbly synth lines.
I'm sure I'd have more to say about the Swedish group, Rigas (MySpace), had I received an English one-pager from the group, but alas, all I got was the untranslated Swedish version.
No matter, though ... the music speaks for itself! Equal parts Klanguage (hard, sharp beats; jovial vocal harmonies), Tom Tom Club (edging-on-cheesy club pop aesthetics), and the Embassy or the Tough Alliance. Quite a package!
The ensemble just released the phenomenal debut LP, The Hardest Pocket To Pick, which you can buy here or here! It's infectiously catchy and nonchalantly fun and hooky; an superbly constructed dance LP from the cold North! A refreshing change from the usual super-cute Swedish twee pop that's plaguing us! Ahh!
The pop scene doesn't revolve around Scandinavia and Northern Europe, despite what we all might think! I need to introduce a wider array of musical talent to this blog! Gah!
But one last time, let me indulge ... Love Dance is just too darn good to pass up. The Bergen, Norway band's taking up a unique and sort of old-fashioned (or maybe just lazy?) marketing technique: no MySpace, no imeem, no Facebook, no nothing aside from the website which features nothing more than two email addresses and a foggy B&W photo. I love it. No interpretation required, no searching, no wondering ... all you need to do is sit back, turn on the music, and enjoy it for what it is.
So that's what I'm requesting you do right now! Listen to Love Dance's beautifully arranged guitar pop ballads, swingers, and baroque pop licks. The debut LP, Result, is quite a sophisticated entry ... clean, matured production ... complex harmonies and rhythms ... hooky melodies that won't be forgotten any time soon. Wish these Swedes luck ... they're pumping out some fantastic pop music! A little bit of Kings Of Convenience, a little bit of the Whitest Boy Alive, a little bit of Acid House Kings, a little bit of everything compact and beautiful and soft-spoken and shy and heart-wrenching ... ahhh.
Strangely, the record was released on the German label Marsh Marigold ... but I don't advise buying it from them -- too far away! Instead, head over to Poppolar Records to grab the thing! Definitely worth your time!