30% late period Catherine Wheel + 30% Low + 2% Toto + 4% Alan Parsons Project + 34% magical sauce = Besnard Lakes.
Here are the opening two tracks of the very, very listenable new album. Apparently they just blew the doors off of SXSW. Figures. I was probably falling asleep to a rerun of NCIS or eating a tater tot. Sad.
I am deeply in love with this album, but it just so happens that I know this feeling will end so I am going with the flow and will play it into the ground until it does.
The return of Jason Lytle was almost completely unheralded, but now that I’ve finally listened to his post-Grandaddy album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, I can say that it is a massive norepinephrine rush of nostalgia tinged with post-Pink Floyd sensibility and sprinkles of utter brilliance.
I picked this particular track for Pinko Punko, since it is super Jeddy-like and it evokes Lawn and So On from Under The Western Freeway. Short, sweet, and kind of melancholy. The beginning is so Dark Side of the Moon, I almost laughed out loud, but then it settled into a replica of old Grandaddy and I got really sad for Jed.
St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is only into her second album and I am starting to have angst about maybe never seeing her live. UC prefers the more delicate but still theatrical numbers while I lean to the angular, fuzzy, mathy virtuosity ones. We previously had “Your Lips Are Red” from her here, and “Marrow” is in the same vein. Phenomenal.
There is also an extended intro version of this same song from a different angle at the same show on the Tuber should you wish to get into it more, also it seems more songs from this set as well (good quality).
I find Radiohead’s In Rainbows to be an exquisite collection of songs but one that gives me pause. I find them to be wonderful, yet with the semblance of odds and ends, and essentially this is what the album is. Many of the songs seem perfect yet half finished, opaque, secretive. Out of all of Radiohead’s work, In Rainbows most reminded of the My Iron Lung EP, a collection of non-album tracks circa The Bends. If I compare In Rainbows to the last Radiohead album, Hail To The Thief, I feel HTTT is both much more cohesive but also not as good. I wonder if the band is somehow losing steam or energy, the dissipation of which still leaves a residue of genius and wonder. I guess I am thinking these things because I wonder if a time will come when all Radiohead will have all but evaporated into warm and elusive half tones and murmuring (tasteful and great, though). I find that “All I Need” reaches a clarity that is sublime.
Billy Pilgrim hooks up Song of the Day with a taste of Cloud Cult:
Cloud Cult is one of my favorites, on disc and live. They have a
complex, polyrythmic semi-avant sound that mixes prog and pop, with
just a hint of Sonic Youth, overlaid with Craig Minowa’s plaintive
vocals. It’s a surprising sound that grows on you, and they
translate amazingly well live, if being a fair bit more aggressive.
The song structures are…well, non-traditional, to say the least.
But for my money, there’s not enough rock bands sporting teh string
instruments. Not to mention the stereo painters that perform with them.
“Transistor Radio” is a bittersweet reminiscence about the
inspiration of how our relatives can give us hope, inspiration and
determination. It’s a quietish song, but they had me hooked from the
first time Craig punctuates the lyric with a little ‘yep!’ And he
keeps on doing it.
“what comes at the end” is from the album Advice From The Happy
Hippopotamus and starts off with a grinding little guitar, but
settles back before the lyrics start, and after the first verse, the
chorus starts to bleed a little pop happiness on the song.
Cloud Cult self-releases all their music, preferring to operate
outside of the record industry, despite being one of the most played
bands on college radio. They record their music on Minowa’s farm,
which is self-sustaining, and when they tour they purchase renewable
energy offsets for the power they use in the stage show. I’ve seen
’em three times now, and their shows are joyous and life-affirming,
and they sell paintings that are done by the artists while the band
Go see ’em when they hit the road. No excuses Brando.
There is an almost guaranteed way to get my attention with your music. Make it sound just like Grandaddy trying to sound just like Radiohead. It will always work. Promise. Weeping Willow from Sébastien Schuller is unabashedly just like this, and I can’t stop listening to it. I can’t tell you much about Schuller. He’s French. Interesting. Multi-instrumentalist. You know …. I think I’m still on my DeVotchKa high and need a fix to keep the high going. I really like Sébastien’s voice and the accent that is not masked. I can’t comment on his face, because of issues that arise from the video. The best part is the sireny thing going on that sounds a little like a theremin, but is probably not. All the electronicy flourish is really really good and of course the keyboards drive everything. Maybe a little too No Surprises, but is that a bad thing?
UPDATE: You can stream his entire first album, Happiness from his US label, Minty Fresh. All the songs are really good
If you haven’t heard of Annuals, wait a few months, and look around again. They are going to be popular. Coming off their excellent debut, 2006’s Be He Me, Annuals are the kind of band that will buzz their way into popularity. Their sound is diverse indie pop with all the right influences (ahem, Brian Wilson). But unlike Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene, bands they sometimes resemble, the music always stays under control and doesn’t sprawl into smarminess.
Dry Clothes is a good example of some of the styles of music in any given track, and their ability to surprise. The first half of the song, apparently about the love between a man and a crocodile, sounds like a Beulah track as performed by Animal Collective. Then something dark and probably bloody happens with the transition to Dry Clothes. I’m only sorry that the video truncates the second half, because it is easily the creepiest and most interesting part of the song. But I think you get the idea. They rhythmic shock associated with ‘Clothes’ delights me every single time, and I’ve listened to this dozens of times now. To me, it also evokes aspects of Spoon Fitted Shirt.
Bands that play European TV shows get production values like they are on CSI. And worth it too, the war Radiohead plays the sh*t out of these standouts from the last two albums. The mic picks up extra bass on the “I Might Be Wrong” clip, so you can actually hear how awesome it is. I think I like IMBW a little more than “There There,” but they are both sinuous little ice-prog charmers. Great renditions of both. Cue Seitz “meh.”
Kind of wanky some might conclude, but total genius. To be honest, I’ve always thought The Who were fine, but the sound is always so clean it was hard for me to understand for what purpose this band was once “the loudest on Earth.” I heard a bootleg “Live at Fillmore East” on the radio and my mind was changed. To compare we have two versions of the epic “A Quick One While He’s Away.” Please note there are only three people playing instruments, and yet the band does not sound like Rush, they sound good. You might note a slight Beach Boys influence, yet instead of using a studio to create the different mini-vignettes within the opera, they just kind of happen.
Here’s the Who at Monterey Pop (awesome, very clean):
For comparison, though, here’s the same song live at the Fillmore East (1968), where you can sense how much more powerful they could be. Pete’s still playing super cleanly, but there is a muscularity there under the 60’s tone, he’s playing the Who’s sound, but it is more raw and crunchy. What is evident is how unbelievably well they performed. I mean Zep (whether you like them or not) could show flashes of awesome but I think it is clear they phoned it in sometimes.
Extended jammy wammy Beatles cover by Monty Python looking Mofo prog frog English guitar hero. Possibly the target of Spinal Tappian free-form jazz odyssey riperoo. I predict Uncanny will dig it. This is for our more mature audience members. The live album version I caught the last two minutes of on the radio one night and it was a guitar-effects freakatronic space race. I was digging it. This is a poorer, infinitely more boring take on that.
So I am just starting to scratch the surface on Krautrock, the German experimental rock movement that has given us drone, ambient, much electronic music and dance rock, dance punk. Neu! are one of the more well-known bands of this genre, along with Can and Faust. I can’t add a whole lot, as I only have the first Neu! (self-titled) album. What I want to point out is the invention of a huge chunk of Joy Division’s sound, somewhere between 1:28.889 and 1:41.214, Peter Hook, Joy Division/New Order bassist gets birthed, whole. Listen to the bass go from whatever whatever to the original scary emo/punk/goth/expressionist/whatever Joy Division can be categorized as. Also, the snap on the snare is definitely proto-JD as well. Not exploding yet, but you know Joy Division’s legendary producer Martin Hannett wore out a couple of copies of this record. Very influential.
Architecture in Helsinki are a strange collective. It’s probably an Australian thing. I think they make up instruments that they want in a song ahead of time and put the song together around that. Which makes for interesting songs, especially when the tuba is involved. Their previous CD, Fingers Crossed, was all about cutesy and ecelctic music. I like it a lot. It kind of falls into the Elephant 6 subgenre of music, of which I’m a big fan. I like poppy and unabashedly 60’s-influenced music.
It’5! is a very different song, from their very different CD In Case We Die. It begins with a chant of the obscure lyric “stranger danger, danger stranger, when you gonna follow through?” And then gets right into a disco beat, which keeps getting interrupted by random things until the song really takes off. Once it does, it resembles a Badly Drawn Boy song more than anything else. Maybe a little Scissors Sister. With the occasional refrain “It’s 5!” or “It is 5!”. The beat is pretty good. I could almost see someone dancing to the music. Maybe myself …..
I’m curious why people keep comparing In Case We Die to the Fiery Furnaces. I just don’t hear it. They happen to be two groups that make diverse sounding music, that sometimes changes abruptly. AiH never sounds proggy while FF is very proggy.