Monthly Archives: March 2010

What's not to like about a Cubby?

You know, those teacher-assigned box-shaped things that seemed to hold our future and any chance of elementary school happiness in the balance. There was always the kid who was somehow missing a shoe and getting yelled at for lingering behind at lunchtime. Probably, our early cubbies could have tracked who would grow up to be neat and messy adults.

Or, you know, some band that makes nonsensical references to cubbies and which there is little to no information about online.

Here’s an energetic celebration of Friday by what I think is San Franciscoan The Cubby Creatures. The album, After the Deprogramming, is pretty good, too.

The Cubby Creatures, “Static Fuzz”

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Philebrity's lush life

Philly’s local tastemaker blog Philebrity is occasionally infuriating with its snark and local scene infighting, but brass tacks: I go to this website at least as much as any other on the web for its buzz on local news, music, and the rest.

And through the years, this has served me well: in 2006, they introduced me to Blood Feathers (now signed to Philebrity’s label), whose “Sea Legs” defined 2006-7 for me and who, in February, were simply the best and most impressive 50’s coverband for an Under the Sea fake prom I could imagine. And now I’m even better served; Philebrity’s introduced a new feature where they run down 10 local tracks. Lots of fantastic ish, and makes me very proud (undeservedly) and happy (doubly so) to be a Philadelphian. Although I have many new leads to follow, Lushlife‘s remix of Washed Out is my new spring jam: why wouldn’t hip hop come to shoegaze? And how could I not love anybody who promises to “rock hard” my bobo with an underbelly Bella Vista hood?

Washed Out, “Feel It All Around (Lushlife Remix)

And now, seriously, go check out all the tracks on Philebrity: intowners, so you’re in the know; outoftowners, so you’re in the envy.

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"The longing that brings one here with a lot of reverb, it's sip directly under the skin."

I’m working on a real post about the relationship between music and story, but in the meantime please enjoy a fun track from As the Dark Wave Swells, the most recent release from Croatian surf-rockers, The Bambi Molesters:

The Bambi Molesters, “Siboney”

According to a German review of the album (and thanks to Google Translate):

Nine years of waiting have paid off: Just killer, no fillers. The world, it can be so unfair: Scrap soulless filled to the brim of the charts, wonderful music, when every note comes to the soul, remains unheard. No, “As the dark wave swells” must not go unheard.

Let the success to come in waves.

And as a bonus, here’s a video produced for the album’s title track:

As the Dark Wave Swells

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New Music Tuesdays: Free Lying Gorillaz

A very quick edition of New Music Tuesdays, highlighting a few albums that were released yesterday.

Liars, Proud Evolution
Post-punk Kraturock-philes Liars released a very solid fifth effort in Sisterworld. I’ve already annoyed people with “Scissor” via Facebook, so I’ll post their sequel to Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” (lie):

Liars, “Proud Evolution”
Also, Thom Yorke did a remix, Radiohead completists:

Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn-helmed Gorillaz released the uneven but fun Plastic Beach. Why wouldn’t grimemaster Kano feature with the Lebanese National Orchestra?

Gorillaz, “White Flag”

Free Energy, Stuck on Nothing
Philadelphia hipster classic rock band Free Energy skip right over the Philly scene to get produced by dancemeister James Murphy (DFA, LCD Soundsystem). You’ll forgive it’s numerous clunkers for its breezy spring feel and sundry good songs. Even though I’m pretty unimpressed, I can see it growing on me until it becomes a closet favorite (see: Semisonic, Counting Crows). Their first-released track is still their best:

Free Energy, “Dream City”

Also, jj released jj nº 3, which I wrote about and posted from earlier: Tropical vacations with jj & Gucci”.

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Mark Linkous ? – 3/6/2010

Mark Linkous took his life yesterday, leaving behind three gorgeous Sparkelhorse albums and a collaboration with David Lynch and Danger Mouse that finally was going to get a release beyond its take-this-CDR-and-burn-it wink-wink release. Apparently, no on in the media was sure of his age, but he was in his forties. Update: The New York Times is now reporting that he was 47.

Sparklehorse, “Most Beautiful Widow In Town”

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Bears in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Johnny Brenda's, PHL, tonight

Bear in Heaven +
Cymbals Eat Guitars, 3/5,
Johnny Brenda's,
Philadelphia, PA,

What to drink:
PBC Kenzinger (50°+ outside!)

A few of the Narcs (Chris and the silent Kandace) are going to the slamming dual bill of Bear in Heaven/Cymbals Eat Guitars tonight. Overhyped New York bands slum it in Philly? You know how we do.

Cymbals Eat Guitars are from the sixth borough of New York, Staten Island (Philly’s taken the fifth spot). Could we call them an even more distorted Pavement? We could. But we’d be lame if we did. “Like Blood Does” is the final track from the final track from 2009’s Why There Are Mountains. It’s also the best track, so I pretty much just ruined the whole album for you.

Cymbals Eat Guitars, “Like Blood Does”

Bear in Heaven are from Brooklyn? With a name like that? With that ’80s meets indie meets psychadelia meets ?!? sound? Who could’ve know? Snark aside, 2009’s Bear Rest Forth Mouth is pretty spellbinding. “Lovesick Teenagers” is a standout among standouts. It seems to build and crescendo, but it never does: constantly resolving, never resolved.

Bear in Heaven, “Lovesick Teenagers”

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Dreaming of Philadelphia Sun (or: It's Always Sun Airway in Philadelphia)

Philadelphia’s Sun Airway released my second favorite EP, Oh Naoko, of 2009 (a surprisingly close second behind Animal Collective’s Fall Be Kind). And according to their latest Facebook status, they’re “99.99%” done their debut LP, which is my most anticipated Philadelphia release of 2010. (Although, if Man Man’s record drops this year, that’d be a bleacher brawl worthy of a Mets-Phillies 10 cent beer night.)

Sun Airway are two members of the The A-Sides, who released two albums that got a lot of “Beatles-esque” tagging before disbanding after 2007’s Vagrant release, Silver Storms. I liked Silver Storms well enough on the whole, but when push comes to shove, it was really all about one song for me, “Cinematic.”

Sun Airway and their EP are a whole other ballgame: I’m thoroughly enthused about each and every track. Glimmering dream pop that is familiar and enveloping: like a slightly peppier Beach House (“Oh, Naoko”) or as if Animal Collective decided to flash just a smidge more of the picture perfect pop songs underneath the noise (“Your Moon”). Oh, did I mention that the EP is offered free on their website? Go get it now: it’s a sun-kissed treat, and with the clouds and snow Philly’s been seeing lately, it’s a welcome one.

Below find the surprisingly non-John Lennon-biting “Oh, Naoko” and the longing “Waiting on You,” as well as The A-Sides’ “Cinematic.” You might also want to check out the videos of Sun Airways’ Jon Barthmus performing accoustic at Philly’s Art in the Age gallery/boutique.

Sun Airways, “Oh, Naoko”
Sun Airways, “Waiting on You”

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Retro Energy on New Music Tuesday

So far, this seemed like a fairly sparse New Music Tuesday, and the strong albums that did appear have a slightly retro feel.

I was disappointed by Rogue Wave’s new release, Permalight, which finds the band squarely in the pop/radio domain. I did enjoy the more mellow “Sleepwalker,” the energetic “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” and the catchy “I’ll Never Leave You.” Many of you will likely enjoy this album far more than I did, though.

Similarly, I have never really been able to get behind Portugal. The Man., despite the band’s kick-ass name. This release, American Ghetto, certainly doesn’t break new ground and is not a consistently great listen. One Lala member reviewed this as “heavy drums, echoing electric guitar, spacey keys, and pseudo-rap vocals,” and I think that about sums it up. It has an early 90s Brit pop feel that will always entertain some people.

I did find a great surprise in the debut album from a rock band called Big Light, one I’ve never heard of and that I can find almost next to nothing about online. Their album Animals in Bloom is at once energetic, beautifully sung, catchy, intelligently poppy, and skillful. I hear the lead singer has quite an onstage presence.

My favorites so far are the intro song, “Departed,” “Caution,” and “Superfuzz Fine,” a song with an 80s energy that reminds me of high school. We’ll see how this album holds out over time.

Another great listen is Nighttime Rainbows, the latest EP from synth-noise-poppy A Sunny Day in Glasgow, which is likely to please My Bloody Valentine and electronica fans. I’m particularly fond of both the original and Buddy System Remix of “Nighttime Rainbows.”

A Sunny Day in Glasgow, “Nitetime Rainbows”

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Of Soundtracks and Pittsburgh Musicians, and Pittsburgh Musicians and Soundtracks

As the overly-long title might suggest (if it weren’t so confusing), this post is really two things. Firstly, it functions as a minor plug for a minor film in which I played a minor role this past spring. Born of a challenge posed amongst filmmakers on Twitter to make a feature-length movie in just two weeks, Blanc de Blanc is Pittsburgh’s entry into #2wkfilm, churned out by my friend Lucas McNelly—whose previous film, Gravida, finished a narrow second (to a short starring The Office‘s Rainn Wilson) in the inaugural Now! Film Festival, presented by MySpace. It is also the thing that caused me—hurried as the shooting schedule was—to leave a visiting David Goldfarb alone in my apartment to fend (nap) for himself on a Saturday afternoon, after a hearty breakfast at the Obamas’ favorite Pittsburgh haunt, Pamela’s.

Anyway, the soundtrack to Blanc de Blanc was supplied by a guy named Jerome Wincek who, I’m told, lives way out in Oil City, PA (look it up) and crafts his songs around such things as the sounds of doors slamming and his young daughter banging on pots and pans. (After all, what else is there to inspire in Oil City?) The track I’ve posted here is, in my opinion, the standout within the context of film, but it also noticeably bucks the theme of primarily-instrumental electronic music built around loops of found and ambient sounds, of which the majority of the soundtrack is comprised. Where most of the music pulls a Mike Doughty1-sort of aesthetic (when there’s lyrics at all) into the worlds of glitch and video game music, this track features a distinct Jeff Magnum influence tugging right back.

Jerome Wincek & the Old Hats, “Awake with the Sun”

Secondly, this post is a bit of a prelude (a “teaser,” the kids now say) to the “Where You’re From” post I’ve been planning for some time that should also end up being Noise Narcs’ first exclusive: a leak of tracks from the upcoming album from my friends in Signal to the Ocean Estate. If you recall, Signal’s debut, Tunes for the Bird of Chittenden, was one of my top ten albums of 2009. When making that album, they secured, via a fingers-crossed email to David Lynch’s personal assistant, approval to include on it (royalty-free) this take on Lynch’s composition “In Heaven” from Eraserhead. (Also, this sort of extends the bizarre parallels between some of Chris’s posts and mine.)

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “In Heaven”

And just for fun, I also decided to share the following track (also from Signal’s debut), which—within the spectrum of political songs—fits nicely between “Back in the USSR” and “Fight for Your Right (To Party!).” Most of you will hate it, but I love it.

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “Tribute to the Capital” (sic?)

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1 The man behind Soul Coughing; not to be confused with “Surgical Mike” Dougherty, the man behind Dramatic Oil Company’s inoperable funkiness.

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I've been ignoring the Shins ever since…

I’ve been ignoring The Shins ever since their cloying introduction into mainstream culture in Garden State, what is perhaps one of the most cloying films ever. Not that being mainstream is the problem. There was just a Shinsplosion that was hard to take, really, and I think Natalie Portman’s “unique moment,” besides nearly making me hide under my theater seat and simultaneously lose my lunch (or popcorn), probably had something to do with why I could never pull my Shins records out after being subjected to the film.

In a week, though, Shins front man/songwriter James Mercer  and Danger Mouse’s Brian Burton are scheduled to release their debut collaborative effort under the monikor Broken Bells, and the album is surprisingly decent. I can’t call it great, but it is interesting, even if just to hear how two famous songwriters collaborate in a way that allows them to dodge their stereotypical sound (though you’ll still hear Shins reverberations here and there).

You can listen to the full album on NPR Music here for the next week, after which I’ll post a link to my favorite song on the album via Lala, which as of now is either The Ghost Inside or the Beck of Sea Change-like “Citizen.”

Posted in Random Noise | 7 Comments