Monthly Archives: January 2011

(Sorta) Sunday Church Music: Bardo Pond

Jesus is coming, and unlike some people, Bardo Pond is willing to wait.

That’s pretty much the gist of “Don’t Know About You,” the single off their recent self-titled release.  For an s/t, it’s been a long time coming.  Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond has been playing and recording muddy, scary acid rock for over 2 decades now.  I saw them play a free show at Kung Fu Necktie a few years ago, and even without drugs they were a trip.  This latest album is a heavy dose: a distillation of the genre that peaks somewhere during the outer-space blues of “Undone,” a 21 minute track that recalls the pioneering heavy psych of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” which also makes for pretty great (sorta) church music.


Bardo Pond, “Dont Know About You” [Amazon]

Funkadelic, “Maggot Brain” [Amazon]

Tangential Update: just saw this video via Gawker’s scifi blog io9.  A housewife in 1956 is “treated” with LSD.  Most unintentionally funny line: “Everything is in color.”

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Broadcast’s Trish Keenan Passes Away from Pneumonia

Pitchfork has reported that Broadcast’s Trish Keenan has passed away from apparently H1N1-related pneumonia.

Like so much other wonderful music, I got hipped to Broadcast by Thom Yorke, in a best of 2000 roundup he did for SPIN. Although I have enjoyed all three Broadcast LP and the various EPs, the brilliance of The Noise Made by People still stands out. Whenever I struggle to describe music that is icy but warm, familiar but distant, Noise comes to mind. Trish Keenan’s vocals always overwhelmed me, somehow alluding categorization and comfort. A blast of beauteous ice rocketed from the 1960’s into the future. And now, sadly, heard no more.

If you think nothing is yours
And if I claim everything belongs to me
How wrong I’ll be
None of us have anything
There’s a place I have never explored
Another world we have yet to conquer
And until then, none of us have anything

Broadcast, “Until Then”

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Birthday Cake

Everything was ready for Noisenarcs’ birthday party.

Everyone from Noisenarcs’ preschool class was invited.  It turns out that Noisenarcs is afraid of magicians, but for entertainment there was a moon bounce and a popcorn maker.  Plenty of juice and snacks had been laid out.  Balloons were tied to the mailbox and the other children were beginning to arrive.  What was I forgetting?

The cake!

There wasn’t much time so the recipe would have to be simple…simplistic, even.  I dusted off my big book of ’90s alternative recipes and flipped to the Cake section.  Ah yes, here was the formula I was after: lazy, half-sung vocals; junkstore guitar riffs; a dash of trumpet and some random shouts for color and flavoring…

Mmm. Gimmicky.  Happy Birthday, Noisenarcs!

Cake, “Easy To Crash”

Cake’s first studio release in 7 years (I would have guessed 13 years), Showroom of Compassion (BUY), dropped yesterday.

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Happy Anniversary, Noise Narcs!

by Jared Schorr

Noise Narcs’ first post was one year ago today. What’s the traditional one year anniversary gift for a music blog? Paper, silver, a shutdown notice from the RIAA?

I was hoping for the last, but instead we get two gifts: a Noise Narcs show and a new feature. Still firming up details on the show, but expect mid-March and some fantastic bands. And we probably have room for one more band, so if you know one, tell them to get in contact.

The new feature? “Noise Variations,” where we tackle several cover versions of a song. And what could be more appropriate for an anniversary than best the annum song of all: The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year.”

This is a tall order for a cover. In my mind, “This Will Be Our Year” does no wrong. Only the brave (or the very foolish) would attempt it. The gorgeous, steady piano. The way Hugh Grundy’s drums, heavy on the hi-hat, kick in. Colin Blunstone’s perfect vocals: the phrasing, the way it trembles towards cracking, dancing around the beat, the way “go on” drops out of nowhere, dripping in echo. This is a song that knows at two minutes and eight seconds that it has accomplished everything a pop song can and so calls it quits. This is a song that makes me fall in love again every time I hear it: with it and my girl.

The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year” [Buy]

So, with all that, do any of the covers match up? In a word: no. A lot of acoustic dreck. But there are some worthy of a listen, although none really hold a candle to the original.

The Mynabirds: This is probably best in class. Although the slide guitar throughout and so high in the mix makes this a bit overloaded, it takes the bare sweetness of the original and makes it swing. And fuck it: I love slide guitar. Although this version is great, it makes me wonder, desperately, what Willie Nelson would do.

The Mynabirds, “This Will Be Our Year” [Buy]

Dear Nora: As if recorded by the Velvet Underground with a toned-down Veronica Bennett instead of Nico. A lithe, little garage band version.

Dear Nora, “This Will Be Our Year” [Buy]

The Zombies (demo version): Wow. What a difference a take can make. Still a great song, but pales, pales, pales, pales in comparison to the original. The only thing that matches the studio version is Grundy’s drumming. There’s also a mono version with horns: better than the demo, but the horns just get in the way.

The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year (Demo Version)”[Buy]

OK Go: This version needs a clever video. And euthanasia. At least he nails the “go on!” OK go away. One-year-old-blog burn!

OK Go, “This Will Be Our Year”[Buy]

Other notable versions: The Avett Brothers’ dreadful live take, Rose Melberg’s too cute by half ukelele version, Great Lakes’ points-for-clarinet track, and the Model Rockets’ slice of snearing grunge. Any we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Narcs Katherine and Matt K used it as their recessional.

And thank you, everybody who has read and contributed. Been a fun year. Come to our show!

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Our Favourite Son(g)s

Ugh. What’s worse? A blogger’s spelling pun, or an American band’s name utilizing British spelling? What’s definitely not the worst is the subject: Favourite Sons, whose album we recently identified as our 29th most-anticipated release of 2011, rose from the ashes of Philly’s Aspera (those ashes have good company, Noise Narcs favorite and Blood Feather Drew Mills was also a member). The titular track of their upcoming The Great Deal of Love, to be released “soon,” has everything we need in a winter warmer: a gravelly and emanating voice, plenty of opportunities for drunken singalongs, exquisite schadenfreude, and enough bouncy melody to pretend that it’s already spring.

Favourite Sons, “The Great Deal of Love” [Buy their debut, Down Beside Your Beauty]

And they’ve recently released their second video, “For Dear Life.”

Favourite Sons: For Dear Life from Georgia on Vimeo.

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The first time the F word was said on Jeopardy!*

Scene: The muted fluorescence of Merv Griffin’s retrofuturistic Jeopardy! set. A bearded wannabe-hipster named David stands in palms-sweaty anticipation in front of his podium, giddy with luck. It’s been his day, with categories such as “Mets Baseball Players 1987-2010,” “Philadelphia Music Acts 2006-2011,” “Yesterday’s NYT.Com Headlines,” and “Movies That Most Reasonable People Like But I Think Suck.” There’s only square left in play.

David: I’ll take “The Right Music for the Moment” for $1200, Alex.

Dooodododo rings from the speakers

Alex: That’s our final daily double. David, you have a insurmountable lead over your librarian and research assistant competitors who know important things, are not from Philadelphia, and do not love the New York Mets.

David: I got this, Alex. I’m betting it all.

Alex: [An appreciative whistle.] Oh-kay. For a total of $64,400. …. The category again is “Right Music for the Moment” and the answer is… “The best musician to play on a jukebox on a gente snowy day as you eat brunch at a bar.”

David: [A relieved, confident sigh.] Who is Townes Van Zandt?

Alex Oh… I’m sorry. We were looking for Coldplay. Coldplay.

David Fuck you, Alex.

* not by Sean Connery

Townes Van Zandt, “Be Here to Love Me” [Buy]

Townes van Zandt. “Talking Karate Blues” [Buy]

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Kurt Vile loves you, yes he does

Earlier this week, we posted on our most anticipated releases of 2011, saying of Kurt Vile’s upcoming Smoke Rings for my Halo “Which Philly album is more hotly desired, Kurt Vile’s or Man Man’s? With Kurt’s new single ‘In My Time’ demonstrating a more approachable sound, it has to be his. Until we hear music from Man Man’s at least.”

And now, Kurt’s released the second single from it. “Jesus Fever” demonstrates Vile’s amazing knack for letting his repetitive guitar line fall all over the place until it reaches a fragile perfection. Clock’s ticking, Man Man.

Kurt Vile, “Jesus Fever”

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You’re doing it wrong!

While watching this adorable video, I noticed Jorge Narvaez plays his right-handed guitar left-handedly but also with the strings backwards (treble strings up top, bass strings on the bottom).  Most of the famous left-handers I know of who played right-handed guitars (Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain) flipped their guitars around and then restrung them as a true left-handed instrument with the bass strings on top so that the shapes of chords would not have to be inverted.

I guess the obvious advantage of Jorge’s style is that he can pick up any right-handed guitar and play it without having to restring it.

The only other person I’d seen play that way before was Rick Moranis, believe it or not, in this hilarious SCTV skit, in which he, Eugene Levy, and John Candy cover Chilliwack’s “My Girl” as the punningly-named pre-teen band, “The Recess Monkeys” as part of a public-access fundraising drive.

So my curiosity about the backward-stringers was piqued, and as usual, Wikipedia is up to the challenge.

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A post on charts and maps that doesn’t mention the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

In the last twelve hours, I’ve had three amazing computerized graphs sent my way.

The nonmusical one, Gapminder, which bills itself as being “for a fact-based world,” was sent to me by mom. Which violates the tenets of the International Convention of Your Mother Not Knowing Websites You Don’t Know of 1996. Despite its clear illegality, Gapminder is an amazing compendium of international data, allowing you to easily pull data through time periods using Google’s Motion Chart (itself an amazing charting tool). Want to watch how women’s age of first marriage changes through the years by country and income since 1800? Trust me: you do. [Gapminder]

Another, sent to me by fellow Narc Billy L, maps Pitchfork’s reviews for 2010. Look at that cute little bell curve. Also, look at that cute little top ten worst list all the way to the left: Ghostland Observatory, Ninjasonik, Jaguar Love, Mumford & Sons, Liz Phair, Eminem, Keane, Hole, Richard Ashcroft, The Pipettes, and Mathematics. Wait: didn’t one of the Friends of Narc put that Mumford and Sons album on their top ten? Thankfully, none of the Narcs voted for that Richard Ashcroft album. [Yearinreviews]

Although, of the three, Gapminder is the most objectively impressive (and useful), a site I’m calling Six Degrees of Last.FM most wowed me. Technically titled “Reconstructing the structure of the world-wide music scene with,” it charts artists by their popularity and their similarity to other artists based on the users of Last.FM. If you don’t know, Last.FM is a plugin that will record all tracks you listen to and recommend music based on your listening. For instance, here’s my list, infrequently updated and heavily skewed by my girlfriend listening to Janelle Monáe’s album a million times on our computer. Anyway, the Six Degrees site is amazing, suggesting for instance more overlap between fans of Joy Division and Radiohead than Radiohead and Thom Yorke solo. And Jonny Greenwood hardly connects to the ‘head. And reggae is pretty much in an island all by itself. And… a million more things. Go check it out now, and if you have a Last.FM account, it will map your data to see how your taste clusters. Shocker: I like indie rock. [Six Degrees of Last.FM]

And now, back to our regularly scheduled retreads of Pitchfork.

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Gerry Rafferty: 1947-2011

Gerry Rafferty’s two hits, “Stuck in the Middle with You” (1972) and “Baker Street” (1978), were both featured in episodes of The Simpsons.

The first will forevermore be linked to the scene in Reservoir Dogs when Michael Madsen cuts the ear off of a uniformed police officer with a straight razor, but it was also playing when Itchy cut the ear off of Scratchy in Reservoir Cats.

Lisa plays the lick from “Baker Street” at the conclusion of the 9th season’s “Lisa’s Sax,” after Homer, having inadvertently destroyed Lisa’s first sax, gifts her a replacement with the engraving “Dear Lisa: May your new saxophone bring you many years of D’oh!”

He was 63 and the cause of death seems to have been liver-disease-related, so here’s a track that you probably have not heard off of his 1972 debut, Can I Have My Money Back:

Gerry Rafferty, “One Drink Down” [Amazon]

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