Monthly Archives: September 2010

a little bit of nostalgia never hurt anyone

My friend Andy recently introduced me to Twin Shadow’s debut release, Forget. Twin Shadow is the brainchild of Brooklynite George Lewis, Jr., a man who was recently hailed “one of the most stylish New Yorkers” by Time Out magazine.

The record, Forget, has a little bit of that 80s nostalgic sound that always turns my head, and this album’s quite possibly catapulting itself into my top ten of 2009. Since it’s a great listen just about the whole way through, it’s worth heading over to Hype Machine and checking out a few of the tracks, but below is one for you, “I Can’t Wait.”

I’m confused about the official release date, because the album’s been up on Rdio for weeks, though it’s release date was listed as yesterday on many sites. You can head over to 4AD or buy the album on Amazon.

Twin Shadow: “I Can’t Wait”

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Stars and Stripes and Sufjan

The first time I saw Sufjan Stevens he played in a church in Madison, Wisconsin. Despite the church’s every nook and cranny being crammed with the hundreds of bodies in attendance, you could hear a pin drop. At the end of the show, we were rewarded with Sufjan’s revision of the National Anthem. It gets a little political towards the end. We Madisonians were a little weepy.

A couple of years later, I saw him perform in San Francisco, and I wanted to hear him play the song again. So I passed a note to the stage requesting it on behalf of his Madison fans.  He read the note and played the song.

All of that is to say, if you don’t know it already, his latest album, The Age of Adz, is streaming this week on NPR’s First Listen, and so far, I give it a wow.

Below is Sufjan singing his revisionist national anthem in San Francisco. I can’t remember if this is the show I attended, but I like to think it is.

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Monday Music: the Portuguese edition

Let others take up my madness
And all that went with it.
Without madness what is man
But a healthy beast,
A postponed corpse that breeds?

-from “Sebastian, King of Portugal”
by Fernando Pessoa (Richard Zenith, trans.)

I have three tracks to share with you on this rainy monday (it’s rainy where I am).  Each from a different continent, they all have in common the Portuguese language, a tongue well-suited to song, unlike our coarse Germanic talk.

"Fado," by Jose Malhoa (1910)

The first, a classic example of the Portuguese fado, was recorded in Mozambique somewhere around 1955 or 1956, during the reign of Portugal’s imperialistic Estado Novo.  It is one of the earliest known recordings of Joao Maria Tudella, who would go on to become an internationally touring fado singer in the following decade.  He is accompanied by Alves Martins and the famous Antonio Fonseca on Spanish and Portuguese guitars.

Joao Maria Tudella, “Cancao do Mar” [via ElectricJive]

The next track was recorded in 1971 in Paris by Brazilian Bossa Nova singer Nara Leão.  In marked contrast to the violent political turmoil of the preceding decade in Brazil, “Insensatez,” off Dez Anos Depois (“10 years after”), is practically Tylenol in song form.  It is one of my favorite bossa nova tracks and exemplifies for me the sleepy melancholic characteristics of the genre.

Nara Leão, “Insensatez” [Amazon]

The final track I submit to you closes the debut solo album of Portland, Oregon-born jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding [myspace].  Only 24 years old at the time of this recording, she was selected by President Obama to perform at the Nobel prize ceremony in Oslo at the end of 2009 and has not surprisingly been receiving quite a bit of critical attention since that time.  Her sophomore effort, Chamber Music Society (2010) [Amazon], is also excellent.  Niño Josele joins her on “Samba em Preludio,” playing flamenco guitar.

Esperanza Spalding, “Samba Em Preludio” [Amazon]

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Requesting submissions for top albums of year (yes, already)

In December of 2009, back when this site was just a twinkle in our collective eye, a bunch of friends who would make up the core of Noise Narcs came together to put together the least-scientific, least-informed Best Albums of 2009 list possible. We’re doing it again this year, and we will vote for at least one album Pitchfork didn’t love, promise (lie).

In an attempt to get a few of the voters to actually, cough cough, listen to a few of the albums before they vote, we’re starting early, and the Noise Narcs editors are putting together a list of albums we think are contenders. To see the always up-to-the-minute list of contenders, go here (and leave submissions in the comments):

Noise Narcs Best Albums of 2010: The Not So Short List

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Eddie Fisher: In Memorium/Childhood Ignorance

David already posted about Eddie Fisher’s passing, but I need to give my eulogy as well, in honor of my childhood ignorance. Eddie Fisher was my father’s teenage idol. Years later, once my father had an established practice as an attorney, Eddie Fisher’s representative, Victor Jarmel, contacted my father and asked him to represent Eddie. My father agreed and became Eddie’s attorney, friend, and confidant.

Unfortunately, my father could never convince me in my childhood of Eddie’s greatness, even after forcing me to listen to thousands of hours of his music (granted, he would play Eddie Fisher in the car while smoking cigars with the windows rolled up, which could produce an aversion in anyone) and watching every film he ever starred in. Even as Eddie would play our piano and sing in our living room, I stuck my unproverbial tongue out at the 50s sound I hadn’t yet become enchanted with. And once, to my deepest embarrassment, my father sent Eddie to my school to pick me up. Because my name is Cydney, he roamed through the echoing halls crooning his famous tune, “Cindy, Oh Cindy.” Being the nerd I was, I really didn’t need anything else to set me apart from the other kids. Little did I realize how much cultural capital could later come from knowing Princess Leia’s father.

Upon hearing of Eddie’s death today, I feel a strange sadness for this man who was the equivalent of my Madonna, Prince, or Andre Agassi. Perhaps it is because Eddie’s death reminds me of my father’s mortality. Or because I know that my father will undoubtedly feel a greater sense of his own mortality with his friend’s loss.

Below is a clip from the show Eddie hosted, Coke Time, ironically representative of the drug addiction that would plague his life from that point out.

Eddie Fisher, “Cindy Oh Cindy”

Eddie Fisher: “Oh My Papa”

You can buy most of Eddie’s music, including his greatest hits, on Amazon, by clicking here.

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Eddie Fisher, 8/10/1928 – 9/22/2010

Eddie Fisher, native Philadelphian, graduate of South Philadelphia High, scandalous ex-husband of Elizabeth Taylor, and most of all golden-throated ’50s crooner died on Wednesday.

In June, Noise Narc’s Material Lives posted about her father, a Philadelphian himself, and their musical taste: “I’ve also developed a taste for most of his favorite things: 50s cinema, black licorice, food, dancing, and 50s music (although I prefer Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, and Elvis, and while he likes them a lot, he prefers Eddie Fisher, Joni James, Tony Bennett, and Sinatra).”

Given that the only sacred remnant of the newspaper in this digital age is the obituary (barely), Fisher’s “Get Your Paper (The Newspaper Song)” seems to hit the right, sad, passing note.

Eddie Fisher, “Get Your Paper (The Newspaper Song)” [Buy Greatest Hits]

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Punk rock hairstylists everywhere

will be all over Frankie Rose and the Outs’ debut album. Not to essentialize hairstylists. I love and am fairly dependent on mine. And she would love this CD, which for some reason, catapults me back into a red or black vinyl chair. With stars on it.

The album’s a little uneven, with its strongest contributions coming from the more lively surf/punk/noise-inspired tunes. The song I’m posting, “Candy,” is not only my fave from the album, but the kind of song I wish I’d hear at the next house party I attended, knowing full well that I won’t. Yet.

Frankie Rose and the Outs, “Candy”

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1 + 1=10

I’ve been a Stereolab junkie for quite some time. Laetitia Sadier’s vocals and lyrics catapulted the band far beyond its Neu! foundations, creating a lush, layered, and hypnotic sound that was driven by 60s ambient pop, yet still politically grounded and fresh. I’ve always been curious to hear solo work from Sadier, because I’ve always understand her Stereolab partner Tim Gane to be the mind behind the instrumentation and Sadier to be responsible for lyrics and vocalization.

And so I am not surprised that I’m feeling unsure about the first song off Sadier’s first solo release, The Trip, to be traveling around the I-way, “The Million-Year Trip.” It’s stripped-down Stereolab, beautiful, but without the punch and complexity, sonically speaking. What remains are Sadier’s lyrics, which betray the depth Stereolab has always been famous for. In “One Million Year Trip,” Sadier sings her sister’s suicide:

“My little sister’s voice / Forever muted, inaudible / She went on a million year trip / And left everything behind.”

Just as I’d always go see one of my acting heroes, such as Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren, even if they were in B heist police procedural horror films involving Poltergeists (just combined all of my least favorite genres), I’ll buy Sadier’s album and give it the full listen.

Laetitia Sadier: “One Million Year Trip”

Although I was not a fan of Atlas Sound’s full album last year, despite Brad Cox’s new status as the darling of the indie world, I loved what I consider to be one of the strongest tracks off it and that 2009 had to offer, “Quick Canal,” the one Sadier sings on and obviously had a strong role in, because the song is much more layered than most of the other tracks on the album and features Stereolab’s classic drone and repetition.

Atlas Sound: “Quick Canal”

Also out this week are two things I have less to say about. People are losing their lunch over The Hundred in the Hands’ new synth pop post-punk release, their debut album. Here’s “Dressed in Dresden”:

The Hundred in the Hands: “Dressed in Dresden”

I waffle over Gucci Mane, but not over this track of his sophomore release The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted, which features N.E.R.D. frontman Pharell Williams and Nicki Minaj. I refuse to say “Haterade” out loud, though. Luckily, this is a music blog, and I don’t have to.

Gucci Mane: “Haterade”

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Continental Shelf Wars: Australia vs. New Zealand

As an ignorant American, virtually all I know about the cultural nuances of Australia and New Zealand can neatly be summed up with these skits from Flight of the Conchords:

So: I know nothing. I even thought that New Zealand was part of Australia’s “continent”; turns out they’re on completely different continental shelves. So what qualifies me to talk about Australia’s or New Zealand’s music? I know how to use the internet just well enough to set up a blog, that’s what. Someone should really put a stop to that.

Australia’s Deep Sea Arcade
The press release we got sent from Deep Sea Arcade likens them to “The Zombies throwing a beach party for Portishead.” I don’t hear Portishead, but I do hear The Zombies. And oh my, do I dig their The Zombies handshaking Elvis Costello sound. New single is “Keep on Walking.”

Deep Sea Arcade, “Don’t Be Sorry”
Deep Sea Arcade, “Keep on Walking”

New Zealand’s Surf City
I first heard Surf City doing a credible Jesus & Mary Chain shtick for their debut EP. But what’s really got me going is the krautrock of “Icy Lakes,” which is off their upcoming debut LP. Due out in November on Fire Records.

Surf City, “Icy Lakes”

And there you have it: two bands from loosely related countries. American ignorance FTW.

Update: How ignorant am I? I used the wrong “sea” and failed to capitalize the word “new” in New Zealand the first time. Someone should really make blogs harder to use, separate that chaff.

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Eating Lehigh Valley Crow: Headless Horseman

A month ago, after Chris T posted on Bethlehem’s Musik Fest, I made a post (joshingly) calling Lehigh Valley out as Philly’s musical backwater.

Luckily, my pallet for crow is excellent, as fresh from the Noise Narcs inbox comes Headless Horseman, a duo originally from Allentown, now half-living in New York. They assure me that they are not part of the New York Times‘ famed Lehigh Valley-to-New York commuters (a trend as made-up as their anointing Philly as the 6th Borough), although they’ve had their “fair share of riding the Bieber Bus between atown and NYC.”

Even though they’ve made the seemingly inevitable indie move to Brooklyn (where they’ll soon play their first gig, opening for Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, details below), their EP was finished in Allentown. That seems appropriate. After all, the duo claims as their own a little island outside Darktown, which the All Knowing Internet describes as “an abandoned village with the Delaware Indian name of Hockentaqua. … Close by is an area the locals call ‘The Alamo.’ As you approach it, you’re supposed to hear strange noises and see eerie lights.” Their music bears out this woodsy-eeriness meets the digital age meme. If this is what the Lehigh Valley sounds like, I’ll gladly eat that esteemed valley’s crow.

Noise Narcs bonus points for the yuckyuck file pun for a song title.

Headless Horseman, “Wavlngth” [Stream/Buy]

Saturday September 24th, 2010 @ Glasslands Gallery
289 Kent Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
w/ Avey Tare (of Animal Collective) DJ, Crocodiles and Kria Brekkan (formerly of Mum)

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