Friday, January 18, 2013

diary: 1.16.13- everything is changing

Diary 1.16.13- everything is changing by Shalloboi on Mixcloud

song- artist- album

1. young and cold- the raveonettes- 'observator'
2. i follow you- melody's echo chamber- 's/t'
3. long was the year- broadcast- 'peel sessions'
4. apocalypse dreams- tame impala- 'lonerism'
5. inside my head- bare mutants- 'without you' 7"
6. venus in furs- blasted canyons- 'the velvet underground & nico by castle face and friends'
7. 'a' song- spiritualized- live at rockpalast 2012
8. in the new year- the walkmen- 'you & me'
9. new year- beach house- 'bloom'
10. we no who u r- nick cave & the bad seeds- 'push the sky away'
11. afterlight- tamaryn- 'tender new signs'
12. joke or a lie- sharon van etten- 'tramp'
13. waiting- low- 'plays nice places'
14. let time breathe- jessica bailiff- 'the speed by which we fall' comp
15. quick canal- atlas sound- 'logos'
16. dearly departed- holly golightly & the brokeoffs- 'medicine county'

Saturday, January 12, 2013

embarrassing oversight: swans- 'the seer'

Something about this record had been calling to me since it came out. I’d always heard about Swans for much of my music-listening life and just never quite gotten around to them. The first instance I can remember was in 1998—an attractive gothy waitress at an IHOP saw the my bloody valentine T-shirt I was wearing and told me to check out Swans. Reading Sonic Youth’s biography a few years later there were a few strong cases for checking them out as well—I had no idea their first tour had been with Swans. Several more times over the next ten or so years they popped up time and time again—a club owner in Ft. Wayne, Indiana played the Angels of Light CD for my band after a show, we were compared to them in a review of our weakest EP unfavorably. When ‘The Seer’ was released last year I kept seeing it and I kept thinking, ‘maybe I should get this—it’s been getting a rapturous response.’ I finally clicked on a few video links in a friend’s year-end list and was promptly blown away by what I heard. I’ve found myself scolding myself for not enduring the misery of the Metro for a third time last year to catch their undoubtedly intense live show. Judging from the patterns of their renewed activity they won’t be back for at least another two years.

I would normally wait until the end of this year to admit this oversight, but after living with this amazing record for the last two weeks I simply can’t bear to not admit my inexcusable ignorance for any longer. This record would’ve easily placed in my top ten. I’m guessing it would’ve bumped everything underneath the newest Godspeed record (which this beautiful, cathartic, transcendent beast of an album effortlessly outshines). What I find most impressive is how much intensity and raw ferocity has been captured so clearly on tape here. Pummeling is difficult to effectively translate through the filter of the recording process. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve pumped into getting my own brutal sounds to cut through a mix effectively—it sounds easy enough in concept, but when you actually try to get it done it can be daunting for reasons that you couldn’t have possibly imagined when you started.

In a lot of ways this record reminds me of Godspeed as the extended multi-movement tracks are a good parallel. Not only are these tracks even longer, but they are even more effective and with even more drone and repetition. It’s lack of clearly classifiable genre only adds to this—it’s the sound of a band with a million imitators effortlessly outshining them every time. This album features bagpipe noise drones, menacing use of orchestral bells and dulcimer and a healthy dose of ‘I don’t know what the fuck that is’ type of sounds. There’s also a decent amount of heavy metal brutality layered in there where necessary. Somehow all of these incredibly disparate elements are all tied together through the terrifying clarity of Michael Gira’s overarching vision. It’s about time I took notice of this band. My prediction is that I’ll spend a generous amount of the new year gathering the many pieces of their back catalogue.

Monday, January 7, 2013

ruminations: most anticipated releases of 2013

Low- 'The Invisible Way' (Subpop)- 3.19

Putting this up here almost seems like a waste. The whole thing's on youtube and I haven't had time to check it out yet (I've been busy working and listening to the new Broadcast album). It will be interesting to see what they've come up with working with Jeff Tweedy. I'm not one of those hopeless Wilco-obsessives, but I am partial to Wilco's favored production style and pairing it with Low straight off of their triumphant 'C'mon' (which is easily my favourite Low record in at least ten years) seems like a match made in heaven. I'm pretty sure it'll be a pretty safe bet- Low have only released two albums that I would venture to call disappointing. My only worry is that when they come through town they'll stop at the dreaded Metro rather than Lincoln Hall (which was PERFECT last time) as their show there was packed to the gills.

my bloody valentine- (as of yet untitled)

I'm a lurker on the my bloody valentine 'to here knows web' forum (I used to post a little, but people there can be a bit uncivil). It always seemed foolish to me to go there to get breaking news on the limited workings of Kevin Shields and the band until I discovered that pitchfork were using the forum as their source for news tips. A mysterious and benevolent person started posting prophetic musings informing us that Shields was working around the clock and finally making some significant headway on finishing the third abandoned MBV album from the mid-90s. We read. We nay-sayed. We wanted to believe but didn't have the strength to withstand the disappointment if these wonderful things we were reading weren't true. Announcements in the press trickled in confirming all of this mystery person's predictions. The album was mastered in December. It officially exists. It just has to be released. The current hold up? Album artwork. The band's long-dormant website is being tweaked. Domain names are being bought up. We wait with baited breath assuming that the album will appear quickly and without much warning. It's only been a week and a half since we've known it has been mastered. I've never felt as much torture as I feel waiting for this goddamned thing to appear. I'm almost certain I'll love it. I don't even give a shit if it's not as good as 'loveless' or as groundbreaking. It's just an album I've been dying to hear since I was 16 years old. PLEASE GET THE LEAD OUT!!!!!

Veronica Falls- 'Waiting For Something to Happen' (Slumberland)- 2.12

I'm not expecting anything terribly different from Veronica Falls' debut. When I saw them live back in the spring of last year they played a handful of new and excellent songs that I enjoyed more than the self-titled album material. The songs had more of a shimmering, stark, dream-pop element to them. 'Teenage' I remember loving immediately (see above). 'Bury Me Alive' is another great moment which they included in their insound live session which is also included here. As with the new Low album hearing this one is just a few clicks away as it's already leaked. I'm trying to be strong this year and not download leaks. I've tried every year since 2011 and I'm rarely strong enough. Just another month...

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- 'Push the Sky Away' (Badseed)- 2.19

I was wondering when we'd get another Bad Seeds record. After 'Grinderman 2' I wondered if we'd get another Bad Seeds record as quickly as we'd gotten 'Dig Lazarus Dig' after the first Grinderman record. Most intriguing to me is the fact that this newest Bad Seeds record is essentially an album made with the entirety of Grinderman and one other person, but Grinderman is supposedly no more. Interestingly this will also be the first Bad Seeds record made without multi-instrumentalist and sole remaining link to the Birthday Party Mick Harvey. Lead single 'We No Who U R' has a nice electronic sheen to it and definitely sounds distinctive in Cave's massive back catalogue. It sounds to me like a space-age version of something from 2001's 'And No More Shall we Part.' Yes, please! Their show at the Chicago Theater is the only upcoming show that I have tickets to right now. It was the first priority- Sharon Van Etten is opening, it's a seated show and it's their first since 2008.

The Warlocks (Cargo)

Another hold-over from last year's list. As of last year the band had signed contracts with Cargo and headed into the studio. According to their website it should be out soon! They've added a handful of tourdates as well including a stop at Austin Psychfest 2013. Oh how I wish I could get down there for that marathon- the lineup gets better every year. I'm sure once the record's released they'll go on a fairly exhaustive tour which is fantastic news- they've been gone for far too long.

Kurt Vile (Matador)- Spring

'Smoke Ring for my Halo' was #2 on my 2011 list. Every time I throw it on it manages to impress me every time. This newest record is reportedly like Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' album without the cheesy parts (I don't know- I've never heard 'Tusk' to be honest). I consider Vile a pretty safe bet regardless at this point- he hasn't really released anything that I don't like. 'Constant Hitmaker' is my least favourite album of his and I still like listening to it the whole way through. My guess is that a few of the new songs that he peppered his sets with the three times that I saw him last year might be on it. I certainly hope so- the two that I heard are both fantastic (watch the video, for instance).

Mazzy Star

File this under 'hope against hope' (pun unintended, but left in because I hardly ever make them). Much like my bloody valentine, Mazzy Star are one of those amazing 90s bands that, despite releasing a nice steady stream of quality albums during that decade, can't seem to finish anything that they start these days. When the 'Common Burn' single appeared out of the blue at the end of 2011 it seemed like the wait might be over soon. When a promising string of tour dates followed at which more new material was played (including the shit-hot bluesy number up above) it seemed like it was imminent. Now? Silence. That better mean they're getting things finished up. My guess is that, like the my bloody valentine album and the 'Common Burn' single, the announcement will be completely last minute. Is that better or worse? I don't know. I just don't know...