Sunday, June 30, 2013

THROWBACK 2007 || Mishka Shubaly: "The Only One Drinking Tonight"

First off, a nod to Doug Stanhope, whose podcast is bookended by both this song and my last Throwback post. Good finds, and right up Stanhope's alley, whose belligerent questioning of all social mores and conformist values basically positions the comic as the nearest thing to Bill Hicks in the last 20 years. The man also has a penchant for beer and cocktails, which presumably makes Mishka Shubaly kind of his personal Elliott Smith.

THROWBACK 2003 || The Mattoid: "Party Time"

I don't know if Ville Kiviniemi a.k.a. The Mattoid is intentionally trying to sound like a Caribbean version of Arnold Schwarzennegar or not, but damn if it isn't effective. I don't know a lot about this guy, but he appears to be to Nashville what Moondog was to New York and Wesley Willis was to Chicago: an irascible outsider art guy that happened to choose music as his medium, and never really made it too clear whether he was in on the joke or not.

Carcass: "Captive Bolt Pistol"

In case you're wondering, a captive bolt pistol is the thingy Anton Chigur dispatched his victims with in No Country for Old Men. A little late on the reference, there, Carcass are, but you're talking one of the most eagerly anticipated studio reunions in years, so a forgiving eye is in order here. Judging from the fairly no frills songwriting here, I'm going to assume that the band are going the route that has become typical for metal bands these days... putting out the more simplistic, meat & potatoes track as first single and saving the more challenging shit for the more hardcore fans that buy the album. "Captive Bolt Pistol" is a pretty strong comeback effort, but for a band of Carcass' caliber it's going to require more than 40-50 minutes of this.

Lee Bannon: "NW/WB"

Ah, I miss drill & bass. I don't even think people call it that anymore, even in hindsight, but it used to represent the art contingent of drum & bass producers a la Richard James and Squarepusher. Mr. Lee Bannon brings it back strong here with an early dubstep-influenced banger, back when the latter meant sinister dub and a nod to grime instead of airraid siren nu rave.

Duck Sauce: "It's You"

You ever meet one of those middle-aged adults who somehow think they're being progressive by listening to LMFAO? "I like that they're having fun and not taking themselves seriously", is often the justification for such ill-conceived fandom. Yeah, well, that doesn't mean the fun is being conveyed to me, motherfucker. ICP look like they're having fun too, doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy feeding them and their whole crew to a tree shredder and oiling the gears with Faygo. Anyway, in a perfect world Duck Sauce would be the fun time, party duo getting blared from every stadium soundsystem instead of Berry Gordy Jr.'s trust fund kids.

Local Natives: "You & I"

The increased emphasis on nuanced, soulful singing as late seems to finally be putting a stake through the hearts of both one-dimensional emo singing and the flat, monotone singer-songwriter schtick (sorry, but having a shitty voice alone does not imbue your material with character). Local Natives are fresh out of Silver Lake, Los Angeles - a.k.a. Williamsburg West - and only two albums in they've already settled into a nice groove of accessible yet intelligently written indie pop. Basically the kind of thing you would expect given their origin (the cover of Hummingbird even plays on the uber-trend of 3D sidewalk art) though in practice they come off as more exceptional than typical.

Matia Aguayo: "Levantate Diegor"

The conceit for "Levantate Diegors"'s video is paper thin - Matia Aguayo attempts to rouse a lethargic sidekick to the English refrain of "get up!" - but the music itself is anything but, an affectionate blend of techno and Tropicalia that brings to mind Mala, though rhythmically a bit more hard hitting.

Majical Cloudz: "Bugs Don't Buzz"

"The happiest songs end with a smile", Devon Welsh croons, but the way he's singing it you know up front this isn't going to be one of those songs. "Bugs Don't Buzz" has to be one of the more unrelentingly bleak pop songs in recent memory, an insistent piano chord underscoring the austere drudge of humanity. It's kind of pretty, no?

Weekend: "It's Alright"

Interesting mix of period styles here, Britpop-inflected shoegaze with a martial-lite, industrial percussive backing. Somewhere in the intersection where Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins and Cabaret Voltaire were meant to collide - and never did - resides this.

Part Time: "I Want to Go"

The weird thing about the intentionally damaged production on much of today's retro music is that, while it's clearly intended to resemble a worn cassette tape, it sounds just as much like the kind of bad MP3-encoding that was prevalent in the early days of Napster. Doesn't really matter, I guess, since I spent the turn of the millennium hunting down 80's one hit wonders that I hadn't heard in 10-15 years by that point. Hard to believe that an equivalent amount of time has passed since I first went self-consciously archival in my music collecting. Guess that's what listening to these throwback tunes will do for you.

Black Joe Lewis: "Skulldiggin"

Black Joe Lewis hasn't mined the same success as fellow Austinite Gary Clark Jr. when it comes to riding the crest of retro-blues rock that the Black Keys and Jack White have helped to popularize. Perhaps it's because they've always represented somewhat of a moving target, their 2009 debut Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! largely consisting of James Brown vamping, while the 2011 follow up Scandalous found Lewis and his Honeybears delving deeper into P-Funk.

"Skulldiggin" takes the band even further left field, the crushing riff and claustrophobic production nearing 70's metal levels of heaviness. Electric Slave isn't out until August 27 (on Vagrant), so time will tell if this is a new direction or just a one-off. With Black Joe you never can tell.

College: "Départ"

There's arguably been no greater popularity booster for post-Moroder minimalist electro than the 80's-repping soundtrack to Nicholas Winding Refn's 2011 polarizing film, Drive. Kavinsky's "Nightcall" got most of the press, but David Grellier's College project made noise with their Electric Youth-featuring "A Real Hero". Grellier's chosen nom de plume evokes 80's electro-R&B group Collage and "Electric Youth" is obviously the name of a (best forgotten) Debbie Gibson hit, so everything about the song was firmly rooted in a specific decade.

College goes back to 2005, one of several backward-glancing projects that Grellier juggles - others being Valerie and Sexy Sushi - and March saw the quiet release of their third album, Heritage.

Quilt: "Open Eyes"

Quilt sticks with that brand of acid rock that is not so much a mishmash of psych tropes over the years as it is firmly entrenched in 1967, that Haight-Ashbury sound where everyone wanted to be the next Jefferson Airplane. The sound is not so much timeless as uprooted, reenactment sans pastiche. It's deeply affecting even as it's purely inauthentic. Shit, what are you gonna do?

"Open Eyes" can be found on the New Hampshire Freaks split 10" with MMOSS, out now on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nine Inch Nails: "Came Back Haunted"

Trent Reznor is officially the Too $hort of EBM: retiring for good his bread-and-butter flagship Nine Inch Nails nearly three years ago to focus on film composing and other projects, only to unapolegetically announce a comeback tour this week. What gives? Shit if I know, but "Came Back Haunted" is one of his more radio-friendly tunes in years, even though I thoroughly dug Year Zero and The Slip (Ghosts I-IV was a bit harder to take seriously).

Hesitation Marks won't be out until September 3, but you can while away that time by wondering aloud what the fuck Reznor is doing back on a major label.

[EDIT 6/30/13: added the David Lynch-helmed music vid]:

Hey Champ: "Celebrate"

I listened to the new Simply Red recently. Sucked. As you probably expected it. "Celebrate" actually sounds more like SR contemporaries Thompson Twins, maybe with Howard Jones fronting. That chorus is totally it's own beast, however.

Major Lazer: "Bubble Butt"

Don't y'all think this twerk shit done got out of hand?

The Thermals: "The Sunset"

That's right, another goddamn Portland band. Is PDX the new Brooklyn? Austin certainly isn't it, much as I'd love to say otherwise. Thermals bass player Kathy Foster takes time out from getting all Girlfight and shit by recreating the Rosie Perez hoochie dance from Do the Right Thing. Bed-Stuy do or die, y'all. It's a Brooklyn thing.

Caveman: "In the City"

Somehow "In the City" has wound up as my favorite track of 2013 thus far. It's nothing new, but the mix of plaintive vocals, gently propulsive backbeat and arresting synth line just represent the total package... a little bit psych, a little bit synthpop, stratospheric heights of broodingly optimistic vocal largesse thoroughly achieved. This is one of those songs that puts you in a sad, wistful mood wherever you are or whatever you're doing when it comes on. Kind of like Julia Stile's career at this point. BOOM! Seriously, though, this may end up my album of the year as well.

Lightning Dust: "Diamond"

"Hazy" is the musical preference of the 2010s thus far, and Black Mountain side project Lightning Dust isn't trying to buck that trend with "Diamond". With compositions this strong and awash in upbeat melancholy you can call it anything you want, just don't expect similar levels of inspiration out of this half-assed video (which reminds me, Esther Williams croaked today, RIP).

Surfing: "Hollow Sparrow"

Surf is the new shoegaze, and the unimaginatively monikered quartet Surfing have obviously been listening to their Washed Out and Best Coast in addition to their My Bloody Valentine. Can they squeeze one more hit out of the genre before the bubble bursts? Probably not, but "Hollow Sparrow" is a pretty glorious failure if nothing else.

Dirty Beaches: "Casino Lisboa"

Alex Zhang Huntai, a.k.a. Dirty Beaches, is through fucking around. The 75 minutes of his new double LP Drifters/Love Is the Devil, leave the listener scrambling for footholds in its dense mire of scattershot noise. In spite of Pitchfork's overly ebullient score the collection has a patchwork (read: directionless) quality to it but I guess if you're going to get your feet wet "Casino Lisboa" is the place to do it. Just keep in mind this is probably the poppiest song on the record.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hospital Ships: "If It Speaks"

I've been listening to a lot of early jazz lately and one thing that's struck me is that, on the vocal tracks, it was pretty common back in the day to front load the song with improvised soloing, with the singer not coming in until the midway point. Quite a switch from modernist preferences, which dictate that the singer is what everyone paid to hear and the "noodly" stuff should be saved for later in the cut. "If It Speaks" kind of harks back to that ethos, a slow, metronomic build up to a real nugget of a single. It's genuinely risky in that a lot of listeners who might have been totally into it as a pared down indie pop could potentially be turned off by the loose structure at the beginning. Don't be one of those guys.

Raspberry Bulbs: "Groping the Angel's Face"

Ok, so now we're mixing black metal and bootstrapping garage punk? Is that what we're doing? I guess it'll be alright.

Destruction Unit: "Sonic Pearl"

Rarely does drone go the junkyard dog route, but when it does the band Destruction Unit may just be involved. These guys have an album coming out August 20 on garage-psych trainspotters Sacred Bones, but a month prior - July 16, to be exact - they will unleash a 7" of this puppy via Suicide Squeeze's Singles Series. And apparently I just missed these guys during Chaos in Tejas this past weekend. Of course.

[EDIT 6/16/13: added music video]:

Darktown Strutters: "Evil Eye"

"Darktown Strutter's Ball" is one of the most oft-covered standards of early jazz, as well as providing the title for the most racist film of all time. Not sure how this discogaze (please don't let that be an actual word) group settled upon it, but "Evil Eye" is some solid ass 2 AM summer chill music.

(via Gorilla Vs Bear):