Monthly Archives: April 2010

Lala means I loved you…

Nothing shocking after their purchase by that evil Cuptertino company, but Lala, the only music website that had a pricing model that actually made sense, is shutting down on May 31st.

For the 2009 best of list, I had this to say:

As if the years of unlimited musical copying and on-demand musical purchasing weren’t bad enough for our overloaded ears, this year (for me, if not others) has been a year defined less by individual bands than by Lala.com and their listen-to-anything once model. On a culture already defined by flitting taste and staggering overabundance, Lala dropped a garbage truck of unbounded possibility. But at the same time, Lala’s model unleashed a counteracting conservative force. In many ways, Lala didn’t make music more available (after all HypeMachine and a dozen other websites had made virtually any song (and it’s seven remixes) available for years): it made, for the first time, albums available to experience, en masse, for free (once). And because of that, I’ve never been more excited about the album format: its death has been greatly exaggerated.

Lala, you will be missed.

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Chillwave Week Bookender: Beach House and Memoryhouse, Philly, 5/3 and 5/7

Beach House w/ Washed Out
5/7, First Unitarian Sanctuary
Philladelphia, PA
What to drink: Sneak a 22oz

Chillwave, glo-fi. Silly names for music that has seriously arrived. And Baltimore, MD’s Beach House are the flag-bearers of the chillwave army. Although I dug their first album, I first fell in love via 2008’s Devotion. “Gila” is a revelation, the chorus bearing down like a gentle, fatal locomotive of oohs and aahs.

Beach House, “Gila” (from Devotion)

Teen Dream is a leap forward, trance-like but direct, tender but terrifying. Beach House dishes this album like a martini up, with an austere English gin in a bone-chilling martini glass, and god damn if it doesn’t taste like a mouthful of winter on an August day. Teen Dream‘s been getting serious best of the year chatter, and with good reason. I’m laying 3:1 odds on it winning Noise Narcs’ Best of 2010 album poll (and 1:1 odds on me winning Noise Narcs’ stupid alcoholic metaphor 2010 poll). No songs are weak enough to allow for standouts, though “Norway” is the obvious single.

Beach House is playing a very, very sold out show (as in, good luck getting tickets on Craigslist for less than $50) at Philly’s First Unitarian’s Sanctuary on Friday, May 7, with the likewise tremendous Washed Out. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have tickets, sneak a couple of fine 22oz ales from Philly Nosheri in and enjoy the show in seated Unitarian splendor.

Beach House, “Norway” (from Teen Dream)

Memoryhouse w/ Music for Headphones
5/3, Kung Fu Necktie
Philadelphia, PA
What to drink: G&T

If Beach House is a searing martini, Onatrio’s Memoryhouse is a well-made gin and tonic (a Dutch-style gin, fine tonic, and for God’s sake don’t forget the tonic ice cubes). Pitchfork, who usually write as if they have a fist full of marbles, is gracefully apt: “At times, The Years plays like a shoegazer record minus the feedback, leaving just the reverbed loops and frostbitten vocals behind.”

Find out if Pitchfork is right, as Memoryhouse has put up their The Years EP for free [link]. On Monday, May 3, they play Kung Fu Necktie with Philly chillwavers Music for Headphones, for a measly $5. A double steal. And quite a Monday-Friday pairing.

Memoryhouse, “Foreground” (Grizzly Bear Cover)
Memoryhouse, “To the Lighthouse”

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Sun Airway album announced

Previously raved about Sun Airway has announced the title for their debut album, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, and leaked the first song. I’m excited.

Sun Airway, “Put the Days Away”

A few weeks ago, they posted a video for another song from the album:

Sun Airway “Infinity” from klipcollective on Vimeo.

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Youngins Avi Buffalo


L.A. band Avi Buffalo appears to be getting quite a bit of attention. According to the very little research I conducted, their single “What’s in it For?” was taken up pretty quickly by Sup Pop, who signed them and has now released their debut album.

I’m not sure what exactly to say that I like here, except that for such a young band (all of the members graduated high school, thank God, by the time the record was released), they have strong lyrical command with quite a bit of wry humor (even when they wield words like “cum” in the song I’ve posted below) and a sound that is more mature than you’d expect for such youngins. I’m not a huge fan of wandering guitar (it tends to take my attention along with it), but I don’t mind it here.

This is a nice summer listen and impressive debut effort. I enjoy the vocal duo on “One Last,” and I’m posting “Summer Cum” with just a little bit of adult discomfort, since it is my favorite on the album so far.

06 Summer Cum

07 One Last

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Anni Rossi reminds me… of my sexism

Big cats, and Anni Rossi, hate sexism

Five years ago or so, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the bands I dug who were fronted by men versus women. Then I started including bands who had at least one woman. Then I stopped doing the calculation at all. It wasn’t pretty, and the shame has kept me from doing anything similar since.

My sexist image isn’t helped much by Anni Rossi. Sure, I really like her Rockwell EP from 2009, and I’m digging her new track, “Crushing Limbs,” so I get to add her to the non-sexist-jerk side of the envelope. But when I go to write her up, what bands do I think to reference? PJ Harvey (the fiery cello), Feist (this bumpy new pop track), and Tune-Yards (her rough wildness). All women, Dave? Really? You couldn’t think of, say, Mountain Goats? You damn sexist bastard. As the song says, I “should be taken away in an emergency car.”

Anni Rossi, “Las Vegas” (from Rockwell, 2009)
Anni Rossi, “Crushing Limbs” [via Fluxblog]

Previously: Wild Things When They’re Bound (Tune-Yards)

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Wavves of Home Improvement

1-Up is a regular feature in which we drop a quarter into music we had once written off.

Despite all of the hype, I didn’t bother listening to the Wavves until Pitchfork released their best tracks of the year list. I liked “No Hope Kids” and put it in my “to listen to” list. Where it stayed. Like a Tarkovsky film on my Netflix queue.

But now that somebody put the Wavves’ “So Bored” to the wipes from the third season of Home Improvement? Top of the queue. 1-Up, indeed.

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Singles Mixer

"What kind of music do you like?" "Don't talk to me."

I’ve got 4 tracks to share with not much in common except that I listened to them yesterday (though not for the first time), so I thought I’d just throw ’em all together and stop thinking about which (if any) deserved its own post.  I’ve listed them below in order of most likely to get a thumbs up to least.

The first track is from Dag för Dag’s debut Boo (2010).  Dag för Dag (Swedish for “day by day”) is a Stockholm-based trio led by American brother and sister Jacob and Sarah Snavely.  The album is uncomplicated and fun and not very challenging, and “Hands and Knees” has a Mamas and the Papas sort of feel that I like.

Dag for Dag, “Hands and Knees”

Video here.

This next one’s also a bit retro.  Librarians’ second album, Present Passed (2010), is all over the place in terms of style.  Probably best described as Animal Collective imitators, but on “Cranberry Palace,” they’re definitely channeling the Zombies.

Librarians, “Cranberry Palace”

Here’s one for banjo-lovers (I think NoiseNarcs may have one or two) and Philadelphia-philes (although there are definitely none of them here).  Jack Rose was a Virginian guitarist and folk enthusiast who made his home in Philadelphia, PA.  We unfortunately lost him back in December to a heart attack, but the posthumously released Luck in the Valley is solid, solid listening.  Glenn Jones plays the banjo on the elegiac “Moon in the Gutter.”  It is undoubtedly my favorite of these four tracks.

Jack Rose, “Moon In The Gutter”

And lastly, I’m finishing as I began, with a Scandinavian three-piece, but this is pretty much the opposite of “Hands and Knees.”  It is not for everyone.  If you didn’t like Bitches Brew, then you should stop listening now.  But if you’re into manic jazz/rock fusion, then organ-led Elephant9 might be for you.  Walk the Nile (2010) is their second release and it makes me want to run around in circles.

Elephant9, “Fugl Fenix”

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Brought to you by McDreamy

A few weeks ago while I was drunk watching Grey’s Anatomy (I’m a sucker for melodrama since my pre-K days as a “Young and the Restless” follower). I happened upon a song by Emy Reynolds that I enjoyed, so I downloaded her EP. I completely forgot about it, which is one of the dangers of drunken iTunes purchasing.

After listening to the All Songs Considered podcast where Jonsi from Sigur Ros recommended a Billie Holliday song, I thought I should check out some lady singers, even if I wasn’t in Costa Rica eating dolphins. I stumbled upon the EP and gave it a listen. Then, I listened again.

I don’t want to write a review where I talk about the album being derivative of Pavement. I also will not be writing anything about Ms. Reynolds because she doesn’t have a wikipedia page and that is as much research as I’m willing to do. I like the EP because it’s sparse and I find her voice enchanting. I chose to post this cut because it has a xylophone, and everyone knows how much Sox Goldfarb hates the xylophone (see: Freelance Whales).

Sorry, I couldn’t upload the mp3 because it was too large. Or, because I’m an idiot.

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420? What does that mean?

Kula Shaker is set to release a new album in June, titled Pilgrim’s Progress. Here’s a performance, recorded in 2008, of a track that is set to be on it:

Kind of sad, but unfortunately not in the good way.  So I’m not getting my  hopes up, though I’ll definitely check it out and report back for you guys.

Anyway…reminds me that once upon a time the recipe for blowing my mind was pretty simple.  I won’t say all of the ingredients, but one of them was this:

Kula Shaker, “Great Hosannah”

And while I’m on the subject, put down that joint and pick up a pen.

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New Blur

Nothing makes me feel older than bands I loved during their original incarnation going the reunion route. But given that I snapped up four Pavement tickets the day they went on sale, I can’t pretend to be too hip/young for this. Pretty darn good if you ask me, you damn whippersnappers.

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