Monthly Archives: March 2010

Nuevo Cali: Girls, Dum Dum Girls @ Voyeur (Making Time), Philly, 4/2

Girls + Dum Dum Girls
Making Time, 4/2, Voyeur,
Philadelphia, PA

What to drink:
Sparks & PBR

Now that surf rock has migrated to Egypt and Croatia and that every indie band in the East Coast seems to be California dreamin’ (see: Real Estate, Beach House), the California sound was bound for a reinvention. The first wave had No Age and the whole LA/The Smell noise post-punk scene, but California has had a resurgence of a sound somewhere between ’70s classic rock and folk.

Since Girls broke onto the scene in 2008 with “Hellhole Ratrace,” they’ve gathered critical force and 2009’s Album gained the indie music double crown of a ten spot on Pitchfork’s year-end album list and a #6 on our own. For me, it peaked with “Hellhole Ratrace,” but that song is strong enough for me to be glad to see them on Friday at Philly’s legendary Making Time party.

Girls, “Hellhole Ratrace”

Also appearing are LA’s Dum Dum Girls, whom Pitchfork loves a lot more than I do. But their I Will Be has enough strong tracks to raise an eyebrow. And their Ronettes meets noise sound shouldn’t be affected much by a poor sound system. Not to mention that a little bird (well, R5‘s newsletter) tells me that Major Lazer will probably be doing a “secret” set w/ Diplo at Making Time after they’re done with their sold out show across town. A lot to like at this show.

Dum Dum Girls, “I Will Be”

Not appearing, but part of the San Fran scene, are Sonny and the Sunsets. I’m loving their dramatic freshman album, and their lead single, “Too Young to Burn,” is fast burning up the list of my favorite “Too Young” songs (cf. Phoenix, Nat King Cole,
The Big Pink, The Specials).

Sonny and the Sunsets, “Too Young To Burn”

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Looking Backward

Chris Cooper, Lone Star

A love for classic country has been sneaking up on me for years, despite my youthful protestations that I’d listen to anything but country. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I credit the Cowboy Junkies’ Black-Eyed Man, Chris Cooper’s Lone Star performance, and the slide guitar with the laying the foundation for my steadily growing obsession with tempered sound, drawl, romance, and melancholy of classic country. And I must credit, of course, the jukebox in my favorite Madison establishment, Le Tigre, where Waylon and Willie both make appearances.

This past week, in an end-of-week Lala slump, I finally took the time to listen to Waylon Jennings. For two days, I listened to Waylon Jennings, who has quite a fascinating story. From what I’ve read, it appears that he rejected mainstream country in order to formulate an “outlaw” sound building on musicians such as Hank Williams, a classic country figure with a tragic history (Williams died young, and his wild fame was based on only a few years of songwriting. He was a superstar at 25 and died of drug abuse at 29). Jennings himself had an early brush with death–he was supposed to be on the plane ride that killed Buddy Holly, but switched his seat at the last minute.

Waylon Jennings

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what it is like to experience a new sound in the time that it is first uttered. It’s hard to have a sense of that in our own time, because we hear new sounds so incrementally, while at the same time, living in our technologically driven contemporary world, I think it is hard to shake us. Some music hits me and gives me a sense of how progressive it must have sounded in its time. I often think of this when listening to and seeing videos of Elvis, understanding that most people just didn’t have a register or framework for what they were seeing and hearing. For some reason, when I hear the Police and the Cars, I respond similarly–I think of how arresting their sound must have been when people first turned the dial and heard Sting’s voice piping analogically through a contained space. (Although now that I think about it, I can still recall the place I was in, people I was with, and tape that was playing when I first “got” house music, a transition that has shaped my listening habits since that day, although looking backward, I’d call house more referential to the disco, pop, and sampling-based forms that preceded it than revolutionary). I must confess that I have a hard time distinguishing the “outlaw” in Jennings’ sound, perhaps because his music is so similar to much of the country I’m familiar with and particular to. I wish I could hear the rebelliousness that made crowds go crazy for him. I have also never quite heard in the Beatles what sent so many teenagers over the edge.

This is not the case when I hear Louis Armstrong, a musician my father introduced me to and whose music I listened to this morning following a Lala trail. In his music, as with most of his jazz vocalist contemporaries, I hear feeling, suffering, get a sense of the racial and cultural politics of the time. Perhaps this is just because I know a touch more about jazz, Satchmo’s era, and the Cotton Club he played in.

Every time I hear Summer Time, I am reminded of the way that music–done right–can make you feel the thing it is signifying. This song crawls like the dead heat of southern summers and makes you feel sultry, languorous, sweetly sad, but full of a quiet unease that is also reflected in the song’s lyrics:

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Yo’ daddy’s rich and yo’ mama’s good lookin’
So hush little baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornins you gonna rise up singin’
You gonna spread your little wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’till that mornin’ there ain’t nothin’ gonna harm you
With yo mama and daddy standin’ bye

So, looking backwards, here are two for you, a perhaps odd pairing, Waylon and Satchmo.

Waylon Jennings: Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line

Louis Armstrong with Ella Fitzgerald: Summer Time

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noisenarcheology: Omar Khorshid

"We look awesome." "I know."

A lot of the “new” music that I come across is not new at all except to me.  A suspicious car collision cut tragically short Omar Khorshid’s career in music and film a few months before I was ever born.  Documented attempts on his life began shortly after he played a concert at Carter’s White House to celebrate the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signed 31 years ago this past Friday.

I discovered his music when my brother recently passed along a tip about Sublime Frequencies, a self-described:

collective of explorers dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers via film and video, field recordings, radio and short wave transmissions, international folk and pop music, sound anomalies, and other forms of human and natural expression not documented sufficiently through all channels of academic research, the modern recording industry, media, or corporate foundations.

I highly recommend that you check them out.  So far they’ve put out 52 releases, the most recent being a retrospective of the music Khorshid was producing in Beirut around the time of the Lebanese civil war. “Takkasim Sanat Alfeyn (Music from the Year 2000)” originally appeared on Rhythms from the Orient (1974).

Omar Khorshid, “Takkasim Sanat Alfeyn (Music from the Year 2000)”

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Thank you, NPR, for reminding me of what I'm missing.

This week, I am missing the annual Miami Winter Music Conference that finds my sister and friends tanning themselves poolside while listening to the best international djs, generally while I give a conference paper in a freezing Midwestern city at my field’s major conference.

Luckily, NPR is here to remind me of what I’m missing. They’ve compiled 10 songs to shake the dance floor. Enjoy. I particularly like A-Trak’s remix of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll,” though I can’t say this raises the band to 1-up category.

Posted in Where You're From | 3 Comments

1-UP: Giving music a second life

In the past week, I’ve been inundated with music that I had written off. So, a new feature: 1-UP, where we fess up to hatin’ on bands that shouldn’t have been hated on.

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks
There was nothing wrong with Real Estate’s album. It just didn’t capture me, Pitchfork’s 8.5 seemed ridiculous, and I wrote them off as just another wave in this year’s tsunami of beach rock. But their side project, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, will have me giving them another look. Imagine Yo La Tengo and Neil Young forming a classic rock band. Or really, forget that critic speak: just imagine really chill classic rock.

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, “Animal Tracks”

Kraftwerk
I’ve never disliked Kraftwerk, but I’ve always put them in the formative but not for me category, and skipped them for their off-shoot Neu! (who really are the best). After reading about Philly’s newest Fishtown watering hole, I put onTrans Europe Express while walking home, and damn was I wrong. Sorry, legendary electronica weirdos: my bad.

Joanna Newsom
Nope, I was right. Still unlistenable. Someone needs to hold an intervention for Andy Samberg.

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Hipster puppies meets Wolf People

Mr. Cocomo still makes the “why are there so many ‘wolf bands’” joke, like five years after the fact.

Am I using London’s Wolf People as an excuse to post about Hipster Puppies? Absolutely. But I do think that Wolf People are a good substitute while I wait for Black Keys’ new album to come out. (Even if Tidings has a lot of filler.) Plus, who doesn’t love ’70s blues rock with flutes? Flutes!

Wolf People, “Cotton Strands”

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Lady Gaga? Seriously?

Here are a few of the Gaga-related posts that have turned up in my feed-reader over the past couple of months:

Continue reading “Lady Gaga? Seriously?” »

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Minute Music: BRMC, "Beat the Devil's Tattoo"

I generally agree with this scathing Pitchfork review, but the title track of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Beat the Devil’s Tattoo is still pretty great:

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”

PS I promised a post on story and music…it’s still going to happen, but not until April 13th, when Kaki King’s Junior is released.

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Springing into Luna

In Billy threw grass at me. And I was entirely enthralled.

A creature of seasonal habits, ever since, when the first full-on day of spring hits, I throw open the windows, throw on a Luna record, and pretend that I’ve just turned twenty. Worked like a charm every single time. Enjoy the beautiful weather and the lazy, VU-flecked pop, East Coasters.

Luna, “Lost In Space”
Luna, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

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Sarasota doesn't have a music scene.

Here’s a couple of songs that I like:

Papa Michigan and General Smiley, “One Love Jam Down”

Max Tundra, “Orphaned”

I’d put some Ricardo Villalobos in here, but most of his best stuff is too large to upload. You can dance to these two songs, too, though.

Here’s a funny video:

I think I did that right. For me, the funny thing about the furniture, is that even though they locate the store (roughly) near Philly, this stuff is all Florida, baby.

Posted in Random Noise, Where You're From | Tagged | 3 Comments