Monthly Archives: November 2010

Talknarc: Bridge Underwater Interview

Pat Mellon and John Basile of Bridger Underwater

Bridge Underwater has been active in the Philly music scene since 2005, releasing three EPs and an album. Their newest EP, Send Me All Your Love (available now for a bargain bottom $1 at Bandcamp), is a gamechanger. The titular track has been spinning Noise Narcs’ platters several times a day since we were introduced to it last week. A Beatles-esque romp that dips its feet into New Wave’s driving guitar and beat, “Send Me All Your Love” makes big on the duo’s promise. Leadsinger Pat Mellon, whose voice has a tinge of Gordon Gano’s fragile intensity, sat down to answer Noise Narcs’ questions in advance of their record release party at North Star on Saturday.

Bridge Underwater, “Send Me All Your Love” [Buy]

Introduce your band. Where’re you all from?
The band is me on guitar and vocals and John Basile on drums. So far on all of the recordings, I’ve played everything, but John is going to be playing drums from now on. We’re both from Southwest Philly and have known each other since we were 12. Right now it’s just the two of us playing live. Maybe sometime down the road we’ll find other people to play with, but we’re not really worried about that now. We’re just concentrating on practicing as much as possible and writing as many songs as we can.

Southwest Philly is a neighborhood I associate more with Beanie Siegal than indie rock. What brought you to Southwest Philly? What’re your favorite things about it?
I grew up in Southwest, and all of my friends are from Southwest, including John. At the moment I’m actually living in Delaware County, but John still lives in Southwest, and we practice at his house. I guess my favorite things about the neighborhood are my memories from growing up there. I think Beanie Sigel is from South Philly, maybe? Either way I wouldn’t mind being associated with Beans. [Sigel got his name from Sigel Street in western South Philly, not Southwest Philly… got it? -Ed]

Your most recent album and EP, Feeling and The Love EP, had a distinctly and intentionally lo-fi sound. Send Me All Your Love is lush, and not just by comparison. What made you move in that direction?
Here’s the long story: I recorded an EP called The Music in Your Mind before Feeling. I spent a lot of time, way too much time, mixing it. I recorded that one digitally. The mixing process really sucked the life out of the music for me, and I ended up hating those songs. I learned from that experience that the most important thing is to write a good song first. Recording and mixing are always secondary and can’t help make a bad song good. So after that I didn’t record another song for like 6 months because I was too scared it would be another horrible experience. Finally, I decided to just make things as simple as
possible, so I recorded Feeling with just me and a guitar into a tape recorder—that way I wouldn’t be tempted to mix the thing and freak out over it. After that I just kept writing songs, and I decided to record the new ones for Send Me on the computer again. I finally stopped worrying about what was better, lo-fi or digital. And this time around I didn’t mix the songs which really helped. I also felt like I owed it to these new songs to give them a more “hi-fi” sound and a better mix. I’m happy with how things have turned out.

Your press email said that you’re “really into The Beatles, so I think that might come through in the music.” That’s true. But in my ears, your music has the same relationship to The Beatles as a lot of the Elephant Six collective: an influence skewed. What other influences brought you to your sound?
That’s cool you mention the Elephant Six collective because Neutral Milk Hotel is one of my favorite bands. I also really enjoy Animal Collective. I think my favorite band making music right now, though, is Girls. Album is one of my favorite albums ever.

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Bradford Cox loves you and wants you to have a nice Thanksgiving

Bedroom Databank, Volumes One and Two

How else can you explain Cox releasing two albums worth of unreleased material from his Atlas Sound project for free on his website? Sure, not all of it is wholly brilliant (and none of it is as great as Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest), but it’s still pretty damn good. And involves a surprising amount of harmonica. But not, coincidentally, on his cover of Bob Dylan/The Band’s “This Wheel’s on Fire.”

Let us not forget that since 2008, Cox has released two proper Deerhunter albums, two Deerhunter EPs, two Atlas Sound albums, two Atlas Sound EPs, and several albums worth of free bonus material on his website, all the while touring extensively, both as Atlas Sound and Deerhunter. Why? Because he loves you. And wants you to have a happy Thanksgiving. Duh.

PS When Deerhunter played in Philly in October, Cox wore a 1993 Blue Jays World Series Champions t-shirt. Nothing pleased a Mets fan like me more than watching all those Philadelphians cheer against their will for the team that crushed their collective adolescent hopes. Go, Joe Carter, go!

Atlas Sound, “This Wheel’s on Fire” [Download Bedroom Databank, Vol 1.]
Atlas Sound, “Wintergreen Sketch” [Download Bedroom Databank, Vol 2.]
Atlas Sound, “Town Center” [Download Bedroom Databank, Vol 2.]

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Pitchfork gives Kanye’s new album a 10

Today, Pitchfork gave Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a 10.0. Considering that, if Wikipedia is to believed, they’ve only given nine non-reissues a 10 since they opened shop in 1995, that’s a big deal, whether you agree with their tastemaking qualifications or not. I mean, they only gave a music a 6.8.

I’ve listened to it once through, and I’m cautiously optimistic about Pitchfork‘s crowning of this album as great. It’s certainly the first hip hop album in a very long time without a bad track. But a 10…

As a result, the record comes off like a culmination and an instant greatest hits, the ultimate realization of his strongest talents and divisive public persona. And since the nerd-superstar rap archetype he popularized has now become commonplace, he leaves it in the dust, taking his style and drama to previously uncharted locales, far away from typical civilization.

[Pitchfork]

Kanye West, “Monster (ft. Jay-Z, Bon Iver, Rick Ross & Nicki Minaj)”

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Upcoming Shows: Tame Impala at the First Unitarian Church

As the Noise Narc most likely to use the “psychedelic” tag (especially since Dave misspells it “psychadelic”), I’ve been remiss in waiting this long to post a track from what is very possibly the best psychedelic album of 2010, Tame Impala’s debut Innerspeaker.

The Western Australian four-piece has made quite a splash this year, and if Pitchfork hadn’t been so glowing about them, I probably would have posted a review of my own a long time ago.  I stupidly resisted listening to the album because Pitchfork is not the boss of me.  Yet as St. Augustine wrote, “what a fool I was then.”  Seriously, folks, it’s good.  Also, while I’m going to post the single, “Solitude is Bliss,” bear in mind that Innerspeaker is a whole album and that’s how you’re supposed to listen to it.

They’re going to be playing the First Unitarian Church  in Philadelphia this Sunday at 7:30.  Tickets are $12.

On a side note, the latest R5 Productions email notification calls Tame Impala “a more poppy, fun version of Dungen” and Passion of the Weiss made a similar comparison to the Swedish prog outfit back in July:

I love the Tame Impala record, but let’s be honest with ourselves: they’re essentially a poor man’s Dungen fronted by a guy with an uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon on “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Having listened to the latest from Dungen, this year’s Skit I Allt, I can definitely see the resemblance, but if only one of these albums is going to be on my top ten, it’ll be the one from down under.

Tame Impala, “Solitude is Bliss” [Buy Innerspeaker]

Dungen, “Barnen Undrar” [Buy Skit I Allt]

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Dreaming of a sunny Friday: Four King Cousins

The Four King Cousins were a quartet whose salient qualification seemed to be their deep music executive connections. Oh, that, and the goddamn amazing bit of sunny bliss that is their “I Fell.” Which, by the by, was written by the “We’ve Only Just Begun” team of Paul Williams and Rick Nichols. Which, even more by the by, was originally written for a bank commercial. Thanks, Wikipedia.

The Four King Cousins, “I Fell” [Buy] [via Emerald’s Steve Hauschildt/Pitchfork]

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Blood Feathers advance notice / Best of Philly 2010 songs

Blood Feathers w/ Birdie Busch
Tin Angel, 20 S 2nd St, Philly
Thursday 1/20, 8:30PM

Advance notice on an upcoming show that Noise Narcs had a hand in bringing into fruition. Back in September when we did our interview with Drew Mills with Blood Feathers, we mentioned that it’d be great to see Ben Dickey and Drew Mills do a singer-songwriter-esque set at Philly’s super-intimate Tin Angel (an “acoustic cafe” which, nepotism disclosure, my dad books). So on January 20, they will be doing a gig with fellow Noise Narc-fave Birdie Busch at Tin Angel. On a side note, Blood Feathers’ drummer Patrick Marsceil was excellent last night at his gig as Sun Airway’s drummer.

And the last time I went to their website (picture above), I don’t remember it being so winter-y…

NOISE NARCS: Back in March, PhillyBurbs claimed that your next release would be a Christmas album, coming out, well, soon. Any truth to that?
DM: There was talk…

In other Philly news, as part of a contest, we put together a “Noise Narcs’s Top 10 Philly Songs of ’10” on MOG.com. Which you should check out and review enthusiastically (and make suggestions for Philly tracks we missed). And while you’re there, take advantage of their 14-day free trial of their 8+ million streaming songs. Which I honestly can’t imagine going without.

Drew Mills and Ben Dickey of Blood Feathers | Birdie Busch
Tin Angel, 20 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, 1/20/2011 8:30 PM $12
BUY TICKETS

Blood Feathers, “Don’t Know You at All” [Buy]
Birdie Busch, “Joey” [Buy/Stream EP]

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Thom Yorke’s my older brother

I have a secret. It’s not that Radiohead is my favorite band. Or that I used to be (and to a much smaller degree still am) a giant fanboy. My secret is that leadsinger Thom Yorke is my older brother.

How else can you explain the number of bands that I’ve been introduced to by Radiohead (through their webcasts, radio playlists, openers, and collaborations)? A quick glance through my iPod reveals that a virtual who’s who of my musical taste has been stolen from Radiohead: Autechre, The Beta Band, Can, Clinic, DJ Shadow, Four Tet, Laika, Liars, Louis Armstrong’s version of “St. James Infirmary,” Magazine, Neu!, PJ Harvey, Sigur Rós, Sparklehorse, Tricky. No mere band could have that much musical influence. Only an older brother could have that.

So when my older brother Thom Yorke posts a playlist on their website, Dead Air Space, I pay attention. And on November 4th, Thommy (as we family members call him), furthered his stranglehold over my musical taste, giving me a musical noogie, posting Sibylle Baier’s “Forget About.”

Sibylle Baier was a German actress in the 1970s who, before deciding to be a stay-at-homemom in America, was involved in a few Win Wenders movies. Despite her music appearing in one of Wender’s films, she never pursued a musical career. But in 2006, a tape of her home recordings from 1970-1973 made its way to Orange Twin, and they released Colour Green. Baier’s guitar pallette is heavy on Leonard Cohen, but she has a piercing, fragile voice. The album, for reasons more than its back-story, is ghostly.


Sibylle Baier, “Softly” [Buy]

Both her thirty-years late recognition and bare folk reminds me of Vashti Bunyan, who released only one album in 1970 (Diamond Day) but was encouraged by her cult popularity to make a sophomore album in 2005. Another thirty year span that was very much worth the wait. Especially if, like me, you came late to the game didn’t have to wait at all.

Vashti Bunyan, “I’d Like to Walk Around in Your Mind” [Buy]

Thom also posted Fleet Foxes member J. Tillman’s “Crosswinds,” but sorry big bro Thom: I’ve been listening to him for years. Great song, though. The younger brother has become the master?

J Tillman, “Crosswinds” [Buy]

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Shaolin dance party: Paragraph’s “Powernap”

ParagraphBack in the summer of 2005, my brother, some friends, and I started performing a few cover tunes each Monday night at an open mic at Martini Red, a dive bar in Stapleton, Staten Island. A quartet of college students called Paragraph also performed each week, and they were by far the most exciting original act I had seen on the island. Their early stuff was mostly quirky dance-punk — angular, Gang-of-Four-type guitar stabs, driving bass lines and disco beats — fun, catchy, and always danceable.

The quartet became a trio, and over the years they honed their sound, experimenting with drum machines, adding layers of keyboards, working with other local musicians, and in 2009 they released a self-titled eight-track disc. “Body Part(y)” is one of the standouts.

PARAGRAPH by ParagraphParagraph, “Body Part(y)” [Buy PARAGRAPH]

Paragraph recently released a video for their single “Powernap,” which is available on a three-song EP, Chic Punk One. As with their self-titled album, the vocals are too buried in the mix for my taste — I have some trouble actually making out what singer Danny Lane is saying — but it’s a fun club-banger of a tune, and the video is slick. (Plus, it employs a variation of my all-time favorite music video conceit: the band traveling to the gig, where they eventually perform the song we’ve been hearing all along [see Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug”].) It’s been a thrill watching these guys grow as a band, and I’m glad they’re around to rep Staten Island.

Paragraph - Chic Punk OneParagraph, “Powernap” [Buy Chic Punk One]

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Age-old complaint: Corporate-commissioned indie Xmas rock starts earlier each year

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone complain about corporate commissioned indie Christmas songs starting earlier each year, I’d probably have enough nickels to buy this Boys’ C9 Champion® Power Tee at Target (shrug, it was the first cheap thing I could find). Which is probably all part of Target’s master plan, since they’ve just released a commissioned song by indie darling couple Wavves and Best Coast called “Got Something For You.” Click over to Target’s website, dreadfully named “The Christmas Gig,” where you can also listen to holiday songs by such groups as Bishop Allen or Guster (no, I have no idea why you’d want to do that, either). And listen to the Wavves/Best Coast collaboration below, while I put all my nickels in a roll.

Ho ho ho! Happy pre-Thanksgiving indie Christmas, everybody!

Best Coast and Wavves, “Got Something for You” [Target]

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Show Reminder: Wednesday: Bear in Heaven & Sun Airway now includes Twin Shadow!

Bear in Heaven w/ Twin Shadow and Sun Airway, 11/17, Johnny Brenda's

Back in September, I babbled enthusiastically about this Wednesday’s show with Bear in Heaven and Philly’s own Sun Airway at Johnny Brenda’s.  Since then,  Sun Airway’s pulled a very favorable 7.8 review from Pitchfork and Noise Narcs favorite Twin Shadow has been added to the bill. I’ve got nothing else to say but “God damn.”

Bear in Heaven, Twin Shadow, and Sun Airway
Wednesday, 11/17/2010, Doors/Show: 8/9PM
Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA
Buy Tickets (Advance/Day of: $10/12)

Bear in Heaven, “You Do You” [Buy]
Sun Airway, “Oh, Naoko” [Buy]
Twin Shadow, “Tyrant Destroyed” [Buy]

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