Thursday, May 26, 2011

review- crystal stilts at the empty bottle 5.20.11/permanent records 5.21.11

One of the great disappointments to me in the current musical landscape is the glut of fashion-victim bands parading around trying SOOOO hard to look ‘cool.’ I like to think of the source of this disappointment as having come of music listening age in the 90s when bands made a habit of looking like they’d just rolled out of bed minutes before their photo and video shoots. There were exceptions to this rule, but generally looking like you were presenting yourself as anything other than what you actually were was roundly frowned upon in those days and often made you a target for ridicule. A friend brought up a good Mac McCaughan quote that sums it up very nicely—to paraphrase, the best bands were always the ones that looked like their mothers dressed them. I suppose anyone could grasp what I’m getting at here by this point. Crystal Stilts would fall under the category of a very normal-looking bunch who make some truly extraordinary music.

‘In Love With Oblivion’ is high in the running for my favourite new releases of this year. ‘Alight of Night’ and the self-titled EP were always what I thought of as being what I wished Interpol sounded like but couldn't even on their best days. Even that would be selling them short a bit—there’s so much going on in their music—60s production and sound washes, a post-punk approach and aesthetic (their studio album reveal themselves for the unadorned gems that they are when one witnesses them live—what sounds like studio additions are revealed as having been there from the moment the tape started rolling), gloom, angst, frustration and nail-biting tension mix with the occasional laid-back moment (i.e. ‘Lights’ off of the self-titled EP—a personal favourite of mine). That’s to say nothing of the Gun Club quoting and flamenco flavored ‘Blood Barons’—one of many examples of new ground covered on ‘In Love With Oblivion.’

At the Empty Bottle the band stuck to the side of their output that favors faster tempos—they started with ‘Sycamore Tree’ and kept the pace going at about that clip throughout the course of the night. The band had prepared projections for their live show, but the DVD they inserted into the Bottle’s projector didn’t work so the band played the entire night bathed in stark white light. It worked just fine. The night went on surprisingly fast. Conditions were just right as well—a large crowd but not of the sold out elbow-to-elbow variety. I had been holding out a vain hope that they might break out the extended slow-jam ‘Alien Rivers,’ but I suppose that that would’ve killed the carefully constructed momentum and mood they'd built up over the course of their set. I have a soft-spot for what I call ‘the mutant track’ on nearly every album that I own—you know the one, it’s the song that sounds completely different from everything else on the album, it’s usually the slowest, quietest track and often the one that you skip (or listen to and love if you’re smart).

Once I got home I’d thought that I had had enough of them as I’d never planned on attending their free instore at Permanent Records the next day (I am usually at work on Saturday afternoons, but had been fired from my longtime café job on Monday) but found myself at the Wormhole drinking coffee and eating a donut thinking about the show the night before. Once 1pm rolled around I was getting into my car to make the short trek down there. Well worth it again as they treated the afternoon audience to a fairly different set—they played ‘Converging in the Quiet’ as well as tracks from ‘Alight of Night’ and even ‘In Love With Oblivion’ that had been skipped the night before. They tried to stop after only 20 minutes; indulging the crowds’ protests with a dead-on reading of one of the most perfect 45 speed single tracks ‘Love is a Wave.’

I’m excited to hear what’s next from them—hopefully it won’t take another three years to hear. Even if it does, though, it’s going to be worth the wait. Talk about overcoming the sophomore slump…

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

diary 5.17.11- set your arms down

aka 'in which i am fired from my job a day before my birthday.' maybe i should've gone with 'my time's up.'

song- artist- album
1. set your arms down- warpaint- the fool
2. bo diddley jam- spacemen 3- copenhagen barbue 1989 bootleg
3. alien rivers- crystal stilts- in love with oblivion
4. like cockatoos- the cure- birmingham 87 bootleg, or 'faded wishes' if you'd prefer
5. love fade- tamaryn- the waves
6. untitled- koolaid electric company- the koolaid electric company
7. tropical island suite- the fresh & onlys- play it strange
8. winter '68- the black angels- a nice pair
9. o, lilac- wild nothing- gemini
10. i'll feel a whole lot better- the byrds- mr. tambourine man
11. mary- jessica bailiff- s/t
12. tears in the typing pool- broadcast- tender buttons
13. waves wash over me- spectrum- soul kiss (glide divine)
14. scheherezade- panda bear- tom boy
15. turtle island- beach house- devotion
16. my time's up- the raveonettes- raven in the grave
17. 200 bars- spiritualized- lazer guided melodies
18. stinking cloud- thee oh sees- castlemania

diary 4.13.11

forgot to post this one.

song- artist- album

1. haze interior- tamaryn- the waves
2. valerie- broadcast- hi-fi bar, melbourne 2010 bootleg
3. hanging in the wire- pj harvey- let england shake
4. evidence- jessica bailiff- feels like home
5. summer moon- the raveonettes- raven in the grave
6. on tour- kurt vile- smoke ring for my halo
7. fire song- brian jonestown massacre- thank god for mental illness
8. the end- vivian girls- everything goes wrong
9. undertow- warpaint- the fool
10. codex- radiohead- the king of limbs
11. second date- thee oh sees- thee hounds of foggy notion
12. slow moving trains/the cowboy- godspeed you! black emperor- the vic 2011 bootleg
13. feel so sad (peel session)- spiritualized- the complete works vol. 1
14. fuck you- cee-lo green- fuck you single

shalloboi- wnur 89.3fm 4.27.11

here's a download of the live set we taped for wnur a few weeks ago. they still haven't archived it so i figured it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and upload it. a pretty solid set. my aim with this radio appearance was to record some of the 'all hope is blind' songs in a different setting and with the adjusted string arrangements. here's the setlist-

1. forever drowning
2. ashes, ashes
3. whisper
4. you can choke on your own breath
5. i know where you live
6. you're a vision
7. down to sleep
8. real love (beach house cover)
9. 4am train
10. narcoleptic

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 days of music compilation

i did the '30 days of music' thing on my facebook. i figured i might as well compile the whole thing here for the sake of posterity (or some semblance of it, i suppose) as i really enjoyed doing it and it got me back to thinking about some songs and bands that i hadn't thought about in ages.

day 1- your favorite song
'to here knows when'- my bloody valentine
yup, not much of a surprise. ironically it took me a while to figure out which one song was my favorite. this is the only song that's been a constant favorite since i heard it back when i was 16.

day 2- least favorite song- 'fire and rain'- james taylor
if you have half-an-hour you should ask me about my deep and bottomless loathing of james taylor. all that i loathe about james taylor's music is pretty much personified in this song- the bone-headed rhymes, the inoffensively vanilla chord progressions and melodies perfect for soundtracking a trip to banana republic- you name it.

day 3- a song that makes you happy
kate bush- 'cloudbusting'
i sing this song to myself when i need to lift my spirits. a very uplifting, hopeful song. i'd encourage you to read up on the backstory of this song and video- very fascinating stuff.

day 4- a song that makes you sad
'shots and ladders'- low
i love this song quite a bit, but it does make me feel very sad whenever i hear it. not entirely sure why- the lyrics are a bit impressionistic. there's some graphic talk about a hospital visit and it seems to be from the point of view of a child. amazing song- so beautiful.

day 5- a song that reminds you of someone
'the wagon'- dinosaur jr.
this one reminds me of billy and mike. this was the first dinosaur jr. song that i absolutely loved and was the lead-off track of the first dinosaur jr. album that i bought- 'green mind' on cassette. best middle section to a song ever! awesome video too!

day 6- a song that reminds you of somewhere
'how to disappear completely'- radiohead
this song reminds me of my trip to glasgow, scotland in 2000. i went to see radiohead play and this footage is actually from the first night of their two-night stand there. i was present at this show. pretty awesome.

day 7- a song that reminds you of a specific event
'temptation'- new order
this reminds me of driving back to portland from los angeles after stefanie played her first show in shalloboi at the knitting factory. we played, hung out until the show was over and then got into our car and drove straight back to portland.

day 8- a song that you know all of the words to
'baby got back'- sir mix-a-lot
yup, sad but true. every word.

day 9- a song that you can dance to
'humpty dance'- digital underground
'i like my oatmeal lumpy'- yES!!! i need to get my grimy mitts on this record already- i think i've loved this song since i was 10 years old.

day 10- a song that makes you fall asleep
'blue calx'- aphex twin
stefanie introduced me to this song during the infamous courting days. when i would stay the night she would usually load up her cd player and play a bunch of music for us to fall asleep to and one of the discs she'd always do was this one.

day 11- a song from your favorite band
'this twilight garden'- the cure
yup, big surprise, right? this is my favorite cure b-side and also one of my favorites of theirs period. why was it left off of 'wish'? it's almost better that way though because not everyone has heard it. this used to be my go-to cure song for mixtapes for this reason.

day 12- a song from a band you hate
'hero' or anything by nickelback
it's probably a bit obvious to hate on nickelback. nirvana inspired a lot of boneheads to form really awful bands and nickelback are the personification of this unfortunate consequence of their success. it only took me 11 seconds to hit the 'pause' button when i looked this video up.

day 13- a song that is a guilty pleasure
'feed the tree'- belly
yup, i still love belly. i don't tell a lot of people about this, but it's true. that's a guilty pleasure, right?

day 14- a song that no one would expect you to love
'superstar'- the carpenters
everyone who finds out i like the carpenters (and not ironically) is completely shocked by this fact. go ahead and make fun of me during this particularly embarrassing portion of these 30 days.

day 15- a song that best describes you
'master of none'- beach house
i found it very tough to find a song that describes me, but this line clinches it- 'jack of all trades, master of none- cry all the time 'cause i'm not having fun.' don't take it too seriously, folks- tongue-in-cheek.

day 16- a song that you used to love but now hate
'evenflow'- pearl jam
pearl jam was my favorite band when i was 12 and this used to be my favorite song of theirs. when i listen to it now i just can't stand it and i don't really know why.

day 17- a song that you hear often on the radio
'money money money'- red cafe
i don't listen to the radio at all. i do have my alarm set to the hip-hop station and was awakened last week to this little obnoxious gem that wouldn't go away. i suppose that that counts.

day 18- a song that you wish you heard on the radio
'mogwai fear satan'- mogwai
no-brainer! i did pick the shortened live version from the 'burning' dvd (which is amazing) of this fantastic 16 minute long song.

day 19- a song from your favorite album
'the same deep water as you'- the cure
again, not a surprise. this is pretty great for a dude-holding-a-camcorder-in-the-audience-from-really-far-away-in-1989.

day 20- a song that you listen to when you're angry
'only shallow'- my bloody valentine
i often put on 'loveless' when i'm extremely pissed. i don't really listen to a lot of angry-sounding music. when i get angry i usually try to calm down.

day 21- a song that you listen to when you're happy
'plastic palace people'- scott walker
this song is so full of wonder and beauty- probably a bit weird to listen to scott walker when you're happy, but i suppose that that's just the kind of person i am. this could also have to do with the fact that i'm listening to 'scott 3' right now.

day 22- a song that you listen to when you're sad
'to june'- ganglians
i listen to this song at night by myself a lot when i get wistful and sad. the version on the album 'monster headroom' is much better- it's over six minutes and a little slower and sounds better. this was all i could find as far as a youtube clip goes.

day 23- a song that you want played at your wedding
'svefn-g-englar'- sigur rós
since i am, in fact, married and this song was played at said wedding what choice do i have but putting it here. it was either this or 'you look great when i'm fucked up' by the brian jonestown massacre.

day 24- a song that you want played at your funeral
'real love'- beach house
this is one of my favourite songs right now.

day 25- a song that makes you laugh
'flies on my dick'- ween
yup, makes me laugh a ton and also impersonate the voice.

day 26- a song that you can play on an instrument
'pictures of you'- the cure
i picked this because i can play a lot of my favorite songs on the guitar. this is an example of a song where i can play every part on every instrument (except for the drums- i suck at the drums).

day 27- a song that you wish you could play
'crushed'- brian jonestown massacre
i love this song- it's always been a favorite and yet, for all of the millions of times i've heard it i can't for the life of me even get an inkling of how it would be played.

day 28- a song that makes you feel guilty
'hallucinations'- the raveonettes
this is a great scummy dude song. it's kind of unflinchingly honest about this as well and therefore it often makes me feel guilty to be a dude because dudes can be complete shitheads.

day 29- a song from your childhood
'been caught stealing'- jane's addiction
fifth grade was when i started the habit of listening to the radio while i did my homework. most of what i heard i thought was really boring, except for this song- which would pop up frequently to my delight. embedding disablement is WEAK!

day 30- a song that was your favourite at this time last year
island raiders'- thee oh sees
not entirely sure what my favorite song was this time last year, but this is definitely a safe bet. how did a band from san francisco manage to make the perfect wintertime album?! makes me miss their slow, beautiful stuff.