Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ariel Pink: Not a metal god

For some reason, I had, without listening, filed Ariel Pink under “metal.” But after hearing the truly lovely breakout single from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti’s Before Today, the truly excellent “Round and Round,” I realized I should have filed myself under “clueless idiot.”

Ariel Pink produces 1970s AM pop. You know, if it were filtered through a freak folk vortex. With a stopover in Elephant 6’s Athens, Georgia.

The album is a flitting, beautiful mess. Which just happens to contain song after song of fantastic pop. Their cover of Rocking Ramrods’ “Bright Lit Bright Sky” is my current favorite. Check the video below.

[Buy] at Amazon.

And check out the original after the jump! Continue reading “Ariel Pink: Not a metal god” »

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Sometimes all you need is a voice…

and boy does Bill Callahan have a great one.

Bill Callahan, “Lapse”

[via the always amazing Said the Gramophone] [Buy]

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Khyber RIP

A much-prettier-than-ever-existed Khyber as it appeared in the NYT

Brian Howard has a great piece in this week’s City Paper on the long-rumored and now-confirmed closing down of Philly mainstay The Khyber as a music venue. It’ll still be open as (hopefully not too) scrubbed beer bar, with a new food concept. Which, given its history as one of Philly’s earliest craft bars, is some consolation.

That I haven’t seen all that many shows at The Khyber says a lot about its recent past. By the time I was living in Philly and of drinking age, 2005, The Khyber was a shadow of the place that hosted early shows by Beck, Guided by Voices, a secret gig by Iggy Pop, and, as booker Bryan Dilworth puts it, “the bulk of the Sub Pop, the Amphetamine Reptile, the Touch and Go, the beginning of Merge, the beginning of Simple Machines, the middle of K., the bulk of Dischord.” Which itself was a far cry from the Middle Eastern freak jazz bar named “The Khyber Pass” it started as. Philly has changed a lot since then. Old City’s gentrification has flooded into a Jersey backwater, and other, further north, parts of the city have risen up. Venues like The Fire, Kung Fu Necktie, Johnny Brenda’s, and others have sprung up like gentrifying weeds. And local booker Sean Agnew, who started R5 as a more humble DIY outfit, has expanded into the Pitchfork-friendly territory that the Khyber previously held. And, since R5 booked shows at other bars but never the Khyber, I’d say R5 quickened (unintentionally, of course) The Khyber’s passing. Not to knock R5, which has been a boon for this city.

My favorite quote from the piece, a variation on the everything’s gone to hell trope for the punk generation:

The rock scene nowadays is too organized. No surprises. Very controlled. Venues have air conditioning now. Bands seem to show up on time. Onstage monitors apparently work more often than not. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen actual vomit and/or nudity at a rock show. Most bands seem to know how to play their instruments. This is boring. I blame the computer.

-Rich Fravel, ex-booker, present real estate agent

I can’t remember the last show I saw at The Khyber. Many of them were energetic, the sound frequently lackluster. I do remember leaving one show on the second song of the first opening act. The last good show I do remember was a wonderful set by Little Joy in November of 2008. I got drunk and aggressively set my brother up with a girl from Jersey.

Adieu, Khyber. Not even being part of the Gray Lady’s sixth borough could save you. Wish I had seen you in your heyday. Next time around, promise. Oh, and of course, I’ll still drink in you. So, you know, there’s that.

Little Joy, “The Next Time Around” [Buy their self-titled at Amazon]

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Letter to Paul

Dear Mr. McCartney,

Because you seem to have forgotten (with one exception), this is how it’s done.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

P.S. Isn’t our name pretty cool? Better than “Wings,” huh?
P.P.S. In case you’re interested, you can buy our Horse Power EP on Amazon.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., “Simple Girl” [via Altered Zones]

Update: Forgot to mention. This track continues Noise Narcs’ promise about posting awesome songs with whistling. See more here.

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Fol Chen and Baths at Johnny Brenda's

Next Thursday, 8/5, Johnny Brenda’s will be hosting two interesting California acts fresh off of new releases.  Headlining will be the mysterious Fol Chen, who dropped their sophomore album, Part II: The New December at the beginning of this month and from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty crazy.  A sort of demented, disjointed pop that paints a picture of a parallel earth, a successful revolution with unexpected consequences.  Here’s a description from the press release:

The plot, steeped in a Bowie-esque sense of puckish melodrama, picks up with the malevolent John Shade vanquished. Unfortunately, the struggle alluded to in Part I has left Fol Chen’s world frayed – covered in ash, plagued by acid rain – and its population dazed. The members of Fol Chen, once a ragtag team of insurgents, are now bureaucrats forced to sit back and watch as the cipher they relied upon to defeat Shade mutates into a virus that eats words indiscriminately.

Watch this, you will like it, weirdos:

Fol Chen – The Holograms

Fol Chen | MySpace Music Videos

Pretty scary, yeah?  It’s tough to resist sharing at least one more track with you, but if you manage to get your hands on it (You can purchase Part II: The New December here), “Men, Beasts or Houses” comes with my seal of approval.  It’s dark and strange.

Opening for Fol Chen will be Baths, the latest project of 21 year old Will Weisenfield, that released a debut LP, Cerulean at the end of last month.

Baths, “Lovely Bloodflow”

You can buy Cerulean at Amazon.

Looks like tickets to the show are just $10 and are still available.

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"And then you can jam to the loop."

Swedish geek, Linus Åkesson, recently re-purposed an old organ to be an 8-bit synthesizer for live chip-tune playing.  He calls it a “chipophone.”

While I find the idea of imposing strict technological constraints on making music a compelling one, I’ve never thought to venture very far into the vast, amateur swamps of chip music.   But for a certain cohort of boys who grew up in the 80’s, these sounds fondly recall many many frustrating and happy hours.

And here’s an older video of a guy playing the theme to “The Legend of Zelda” on a theremin.  I really the minimal, otherworldly vibe:

And lastly, here’s another dude playing the theme to “Super Mario Bros.” on a classical guitar.  There are a million of these on youtube, but this is probably the best:

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The Dread Empire of Rock

“My name is Ozzy Osbourne, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

I’ve got two interesting tracks to share with you today.  I don’t exactly know what either of them is about, but they are both to some extent artifacts of American cultural hegemony conditioned by Cold War schisms.  So think about that as you give a listen, if you want.  You can also think about what may be the defining and dooming paradox of rock genres: the complementary forces of rebellion and conformity.

The first comes to us thanks to Sublime Frequencies, who have done it again with their newest compilation.  Praise be to the archivists; the 17 tracks of Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974 could not have been easy to come by.

Phương Dung, “Đố Ai (Riddles)”

Buy Saigon Rock & Soul here.

The second track is by Shin Jung-Hyun, “the godfather of Korean rock,” and his band, The Men.  I found this on last year’s excellent international psych compilation, Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974, compiled and produced by Now-Again Records.  Unfortunately for America, the “Twilight” that all the kids are talking about is not this song but instead some kind of Mormon romance.

Shin Jung-Hyun & the Men, “Twilight”

Buy Forge Your Own Chains here.

On a somewhat related note, check out this awesome photo-essay in Foreign Policy on Kabul in the 1950s and 60s.

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Guess what day today is?

I’ll let the music speak for itself.

The Smiths: “Frankly, Mr. Shankly”

And this isn’t really my style, but it does make me giggle just a little . . .

You can buy Frankly, Mr. Shankly off of The Queen is Dead here.

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Happy Post-Monday!

Don't the Sunbirds look sunny?

Today Rdio gifted me the Sunbirds, whose EP River Run is filled with great melodies, lyrics, and an indie rock beat. The band members apparently hail from London, L.A., and France, and people are claiming they can hear this in the music’s eclecticism, and maybe they can.

Rdio also recently exposed me to a band I’m not sure how I’ve missed for so long, being as Boards of Canada Orb-esque as it is, but it’s fitting that I post Marumari’s “Searching for the Sasha Wolf” today, after a night of hearing coyotes howl while camping in Wyalusing State Park. Marumari is apparently a one-man-band located in Providence, Rhode Island, one of my favorite cities. And his 2000 The Wolves Hollow is a chill, sonically interesting listen, in the vein of, you guessed it, the aforementioned bands.

Sunbirds: “River Run”

Marumari: “Searching for the Sasha Wolf”

You can buy the albums by clicking on the links above.

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New Track for Deerhunter: More of the Same

No, no, no. It doesn’t sound the same at all. It’s just as awesome as all previous Deerhunter stuff. Really, has anyone in the indie sphere recently had as prodigious and brilliant an output as Bradford Cox? Between Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, he’s absolutely killing it. Excited as all get out Halcyon Digest, out September 28 on 4AD. [Website.]

Deerhunter, “Revival”

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