Monthly Archives: December 2010

Philly Is Busy Pitchforkin’ Somethin’

The past week was a pretty good one for Philadelphia on the ol’ ’Fork. First, on Friday, Philly uber-cute husband and wife duo Reading Rainbow got a seriously enthusiastic 7.7 review for Prism Eyes, which runs tight, soaring ’60s psych-pop through the garage (or, as they call it “blown-out sonic love”). How uber-cute are they? Watch this Shaking Through video to see Rob Garcia introduce the band: “Sarah and I are married, and she’s my best friend, and I love her.” Yep: baby monkey riding a pig cute.

Opener “Wasting Time” is the standout and has garnered a spot on my list of songs about laziness. Still on top? The unbeatable Beach Boys tune, “Busy Doin’ Nothin’.”

Reading Rainbow, “Wasting Time” [Buy Prism Eyes]
The Beach Boys, “Busy Doin’ Nothin'” [Buy Friends]

Then on Tuesday, Birds of Maya member (and high school classmate of mine) Mike Polizze scored a 7.4 for his solo band Purling Hiss’ Public Service Announcement. PSA is a whirlwind tour of warped sound. A Kurt Vile cassette played under a magnet would be a good starting place. In a good way.

Purling Hiss, “Don’t Even Try It” [Buy Public Service Announcement]

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Game On

For a lot of colleges and universities, the fall semester is coming to a close.  Student term papers are almost due, and for their professors, the real work of winter writing projects begins on the other side of just one more grading marathon.

You’ve done the research and collected the data.  The terms are defined, and the points are in order.  The office is uncluttered, the desktop cleared, and the coffee’s brewed and poured.  Now close the door and don the headphones because at last it’s just you, the blinking cursor, and some sweet music to write to.

Daft Punk, “End of Line” [Buy the soundtrack to Tron Legacy]

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Anika: a new Nico

Having already posted a Nico cover, today I just can’t resist a track from another album released in North America through the same production company, Stone’s Throw Records, that put out Aloe Blacc’s Good Things.

Anika’s self-titled debut is out this week and the most difficult part of posting about it is deciding which of its excellent tracks to share.  Her novel interpretation of Dylan’s “Masters of War?”  Well, Noise Narcs has kind of been there…  A dark and melancholy winter song (“Sadness Licks the Sun”)?  Eh, Noise Narcs has sort of done that

In the end, I decided on “I Go To Sleep,” a dark, plaintive track offered for free download from the Stones Throw website.  Keep it up, Stones Throw.  Here’s some of their press on Anika:

Released this week, LP/CD/digital: self-titled debut produced by Geoff Barrow of Portishead. Out in North America on Stones Throw Records.

Anika and Beak> (Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller and Matt Williams) went into the studio to begin recording material just a week after meeting. The resulting album was recorded in twelve days, live, with the four together in one room. Dub with no overdubs. The collaboration is political, trashy, dub, punk, funk … a cohesive sound, and experience in uneasy listening.


Anika, “I Go To Sleep” [Amazon]

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Minute Music: Aloe Blacc, “Femme Fatale”

Aloe Blacc’s September release of Good Things is apparently most well known for the lead-off track, “I Need a Dollar,” because it’s the theme song to some HBO show I haven’t been watching, but it should be known for this great soul rendition of the Velvet Underground and Nico’s “Femme Fatale.”

Aloe Blacc, “Femme Fatale” [Buy Good Things]

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Deadly Folk

Solway Firth, the imagined home of The Skeleton Dead

Here’s a note to all publicists who send submissions to Noise Narcs: do exactly what The Skeleton Dead did. Get the reference our (dreadfully Photoshopped) logo makes to the classic arcade game NARCS and then blow us away with unexpectedly great tunes.

The Skeleton Dead are a duo from London, although their heart lies “somewhere along the coast of the Solway Firth deep in the industrial north west of England.” Which, given my expert knowledge of British geography, puts them in the same cheery territory as Channel Four’s The Red Riding trilogy [Ed: wrong coast, idiot.] Despite their black metal name, Knol and Claire’s sound is a heavy folk dash of Leonard Cohen and Smog, with a pinch of the stark vocal duets of Low and the icy prettiness of Broadcast. Knol handles primary vocal duties, and he has a voice that lingers, gravely and tender, with just a touch of the strut of Jarvis Cocker. A voice that I wouldn’t mind getting lost in for an album. Or four.

Their Soundcloud has two additional songs on par with these two. Ignore the below tags, file this under “bands to keep a serious eye on” and “music to listen when facing a dying fire while drinking bitter.”

Are You Going to Over React? by The Skeleton Dead

Gather Up Your Clothes by The Skeleton Dead

Update: Reposted as Soundcloud embeds due to some technical issues.

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Deadly folk (Deleted)

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Melancholy Monday: Sam Amidon, “Rain and Snow”

Way back in January, in the comments to one of my earliest Noise Narc posts, Dave recommended All is Well, an album of Appalachian-style folk released in 2008 by Sam Amidon, whom he’d recently seen perform at First Unitarian.  I listened to the album and second the recommendation, but when Amidon’s fourth album, I See the Sign, came out later that spring, I never gave it much of a chance.

Like All is Well, I See the Sign was produced with the help of experimental Icelandic musician, Valgeir Sigurðsson, who subtly augments Amidon’s tradfolk lyrics and instrumentation with interesting horn, percussion, electronic noise and drone.  The results are mournful, ethereal hymns to hardship and suffering.

Not really summertime music.  I See the Sign is pretty much the opposite of King of the Beach.

But there’s a reason why I included this album on Noise Narcs’ Best of 2010: not-so-short-list, and now that the weather is turning cold again, I find myself playing it more and more.

“Rain and Snow” is a traditional folk tune about a man dissatisfied with his wife.  It’s been widely interpreted by all sorts of musicians, famously including The Grateful Dead on their 1967 studio debut, but Amidon’s much darker, much more desolate version takes a place among the best.  It evokes the fatal serenity, devoid of panic or fear, sometimes described by those who’ve approached hypothermic death and returned to tell of it.

Sam Amidon, “Rain and Snow” [Buy I See the Sign]

Grateful Dead, “Cold Rain and Snow” [Buy Grateful Dead]

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Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

What stops Destroyer from being played on a 1970’s FM radio station? Three decades and Pitchfork approval. But with weirdo soft rock this good a shocking 8 LPs in, I’d do the time warp. New LP Kaputt comes out January 25th on Merge.

Destroyer, “Chinatown”

And what’s Chinatown without some Luna?

Luna, “Chinatown” [Buy]

REMINDER: Don’t forget to add suggestions to Noise Narcs Best Albums of 2010: The Not So Short List. Voting takes place shortly.

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