Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Which I Pat Myself On The Back For Being The Last Indie Kid In The World To Listen To New Pornographers.

Two Day Old Shit isn't just a classic Phife Dog line; it's also a way of appreciating music. Something new, or something garnering a lot of buzz, isn't always worth listening to. Waiting on something, sleeping on it even, brings pretty great rewards. For one thing, you can be sure you're not being sold a band solely on the basis of their cool factor. But the best part is discovering a new band, and then realizing they have a slew of albums for you to work your way through. That's a good feeling. Call it the Two Day Old Special.

So here's a quick roundup of some things I've slept on. They're not new, but they're probably better than anything that's come out so far this year. And for better or worse, they were so buzzy when they first came out, I couldn't give them a fair shot 'til now.

New Pornographers: My interest in the New Pornographers was piqued late in the game by an interview with Neko Case on Sound Opinions in February. Greg Kot asked what influences Case saw in her new LP, Middle Cyclone, another quality-yet-middling release from the alt country honky tonk queen. "The New Pornographers were a really big influence [on this record] in that they will have no less than five people singing at a time, and it's really gratifying--it's a super sugary cheap fix, and I can't help but want to do that. [...] Playing in that band is a huge influence, because it feels great to sing like that." It sounded like maybe the New Pornographers were a band I should be listening to instead of trying to make myself like Case's solo records. You know how it is: every Neko Case album that comes out, you try to listen, but it's a little boring about halfway through and even though you want to like it because she's a badass with a truly great voice and a top notch sense of humor, the songs kind of blend together and you don't really care about what she's singing about? Well, in the New Pornographers you get enough of the gal to satisfy your Neko craving, but the crew keeps things moving in a way that Case's solo albums never have for me. There are a ton of interesting personalities in this band, and they each bring their own flare to the table but they're still a band. It's not a case of competing personalities, but the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It's some of the strongest indie pop I've heard in years, and I'm kicking myself for not listening for so long. Twin Cinema is a good place to start, and I'm also digging their most recent, Challengers. I'm sure the other records are pretty good too.

Metric: Until my girl Claire dragged me to see an Emily Haines solo show, I always thought of her as "that woman in Broken Social Scene who isn't Feist." But she was so live, so charismatic and cool and together at that show that I began to think I should check out her work with Metric. Their new LP Fantasies is new school new wave, with lyrics ranging from the personal to the political. I don't know if I think this is a great album yet, but it's very good, and I'm looking forward to diving into the rest of their catalog.

The Avett Brothers: Holy hell, where has this band been all my life? I cannot stop listening to this North Carolina string band. I listen to it on the train, at my desk, cooking dinner, and cleaning up the apartment. It really feels appropriate for everything, especially now that the weather's getting a bit nicer. It's springy music, and while musically its a throwback, lyrically it runs the usual indie gamut from love songs to confessions of intense anxiety. Check out Emotionalism or Mignonette; I can't really vouch for the others. If finger picking and banjos are the kind of thing you're into, trust me on this one. You will love the Avetts.

The New Pornographers [eMusic]
Metric [eMusic]
The Avett Brothers [eMusic]
Neko Case interview [sound opinions]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Finally: The Beatles' Remasters

Maura Johnston over at Idolator has a post today regarding the Beatles' reissues, something I've clamored for quite a bit and am pretty happy will be making it to the masses this September. I don't think that McCartney and company should be patting each other on the back, since it took them decades to do something that should have been at the top of their list from the beginning days of the CD format. But better late than never, I would say. I have faith that these albums are going to sound better than we've ever imagined, or at least better than they have on digital formats before (nothing beats my copy of Abbey Road on vinyl, "STEVE FISHNER" dymotape still intact). But Johnston isn't so sure that the project will perform very well:
[...]There was one question that was nagging at me every time I passed through another breathless announcement of the release. And that question is: Who, exactly, is going to buy these CDs?

Johnston makes the point that there aren't that many places to even buy CDs anymore, even if people wanted to, which more and more they don't. This is true, and Johnston is right about almost everything (especially "the way the music industry is hell-bent on shooting itself in the foot with dopey ideas like the ringle and Musicpass") save for one thing: people buy the Beatles' material no matter what. She claims that they've "fallen out of the habit," but I don't know that I'd go that far. This is anecdotal but I can pretty much guarantee that my dad, who I think is probably the target here, will pick up this remastered release. No, he doesn't buy CDs with the frequency he once did. In fact, he buys a lot more music via iTunes than he does from brick and mortar sources. But he bought The Beatles' 1, he bought Love, he bought Let It Be Naked, he bought the Capital Albums reissues, and if he bought all those superfluous releases, then he's probably going to buy the remastered catalog. Time will tell, but you should never underestimate the commercial power of the biggest band in the history of the world. As sometime Idolator Michaelangelo Matos points out in the comments to the post, the Beatles are recession-proof.

The Beatles' Remasters: Are They Really That Big A Deal in the Post-CD Era? [Idolator]
Earlier- Dropping the Ball: The Beatles [2DOS]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

From Rhymefest, to You: The Manual

the_manual_front.jpgIt's looking like we're never going to see Rhymefest's long time coming LP El Che, which is a major bummer. I can only watch this video in anticipation so many times before it creeps up on me that it was posted almost two years ago.

But, good news! Rhymefest's new mixtape, The Manual, hit the internet this week, and while I haven't listened to it yet, I implore you to cop it from Fest's MySpace. Okayplayer promises "Fest rhymes over reworked versions of some golden era classics," something he's particularly well suited to do. And the tracklist features a three part "Native Tongue Medley," the prospect of which has me salivating on the keyboard. My hopes are high, especially after the man's previous mixtape turned out to be the best hip-hop album of 2008.

Rhymefest and Scram Jones present The Manual [free download at MySpace]
Rhymefest - The Manual [okayplayer]
Rhymefest w/ the Fresh Prince's Jazzy Jeff [YouTube]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This Is Going Out To Roadrunner Records

I have no feelings one way or another regarding Amanda Palmer. But after seeing this, via Daily Swarm, she's a total winner in my book, even though I could take or leave her body of work:

If you ask me, this is right up there with carving "slave" on your face and holding a press conference announcing you will now go by a symbol instead of a name. But, you know, cheekier.

WATCH: Amanda Palmer Sings to Roadrunner Records [the daily swarm]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Upcoming: Dark Was The Night Live @ Radio City

Dark Was The Night is a double disc compilation benefiting AIDS relief organization Red Hot, produced and compiled by Aaron and Bryce Dessner (the National). It features outtakes and covers by Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, Spoon, Sufjan, Iron and Wine and Stuart Murdoch to name just a few, as well as collaborations like Conor Oberst/Gillian Welch and Feist/Ben Gibbard. The record skews towards the kind of indie buzz bands I generally avoid, but there are certainly a few artists on here whose work is strong enough that you'll want to investigate further. There are also some you may want to delete from your iTunes straight off the bat. Anyway, it's bursting at the seams and I'm not going to try to give it a track by track rundown, but check it out because there's really something for everyone and it's all for a good cause.

But what I'm really stoked about with this whole Dark Was The Night business is the show that WFUV and The Bowery Presents are putting on, May 3rd at Radio City Music Hall. David Byrne was just added to a lineup that already featured Feist, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the National, TVOTR's David Sitek (also the producer of all three YYY's albums), My Brightest Diamond, and Bon Iver among others. And it's not just going to be a performance of tracks from the compilation, either. Says Aaron Dessner in an interview on Pitchfork that essentially sold me on the tickets:

We're going to have two halves. The first half will be songs from Dark Was the Night, and then there will be a short intermission. And then afterwards, there will be mini-sets by different artists and collaborations, both things that relate to Dark Was the Night and some that don't. Not every artist will do a mini-set, but most will. That's basically it. We're trying to keep the show manageable in length, you know, so it's not four-and- a-half hours or something. But it will be a lot of music.

Which, when combined with the idea of seeing Feist, Sharon Jones, and granddaddy-of-it-all David Byrne, was enough for me to plunk down the $38 for cheap seats. Tickets are still on sale.

Dark Was The Night live - tickets [bowerypresents]
Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation) [emusic]
The National's Aaron Dessner on Dark Was The Night, New National Album [pitchfork]

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sort Of Belle and Sebastian's New Album

Found this on a friend's tumblr today:

God Help The Girl - an introduction from God Help The Girl on Vimeo.

Is Stuart Murdoch constructing his own girl group, playing Phil Spector to some kind of awesome Scottish Ronettes, or is he recording what will one day be his first movie musical? It's hard to tell from this meaty introduction video, but it looks like this June we'll have some sort of bizarro Belle and Sebastian album to listen to all summer. There's a song streaming from the band's official site.

God Help The Girl - an introduction [vimeo]
God Help The Girl [official site]

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Prince wants to see Salma's crrrazy underwears, asks her infant to help.

In case you haven't paid the super reasonable price of $77 to become a member of the Purple One's new(ish) website, or picked up a copy of his new album(s) at your local Target for $11.98 (Prince's music economics 101: punish downloaders and reward retail consumers), perhaps you aren't aware of Prince's latest gem of a tune, "Valentina." I hadn't heard it yet, since he only streams like, three songs on his mind fuck of a flash site. But, thanks to Jody Rosen at Slate, it was brought to my attention and I have to get my hands on it, ASAP. It's no big deal, really, just a creepy ode to my favorite wet nurse, Salma Hayek. Sample lyrics:

"Hey Valentina tell your mama/ She should give me a call/ When she get tired of runnin'/ After you down the hall/ And she's all worn out/ From those late-night feedings."

And yes, the title of the song is the name of Hayek's baby girl and yes he shouts out Hayek's bff too:

"If Penélope wants to Cruz/ There ain't no way that we ain't gon' dance."

I'm sorry, what?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Marvin.

If he were still alive, Marvin Gaye would be 70 years-old today (and yesterday marked the anniversary of his 1984 death). What are your favorite Marvin Gaye albums and songs? Comment, please.

Mine are 1976's I Want You and 1978's Here, My Dear.

Two choice cuts from each record, after the jump.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This Is Getting Ridiculous

The economy is fucked, your job is hanging in the balance (if you've still got it at all), and summer festivals are still charging a pretty sizable figure for admission. But the lineups aren't getting any less awesome. What's a listener to do?

Layaway, of course! From promoter Goldenvoice's All Points West lineup announcement:

Festival-goers now have the option to purchase 3-day festival tickets and 3-day parking passes on a payment plan. Layaway options (available online ONLY through May 29) are as follows: the 50% down payment option allows purchasers to pay a 50% deposit of the total order now, with the remaining 50% automatically deducted July 3; a multiple payment plan whereby purchasers initially pay 10% of the total order, with the remaining amounts automatically deducted in equal payments on May 4, June 3 and July 3.

Uh, alright. I guess that's one way to handle things. I just don't know how to decide between this and that Margaritaville I've had my eye on.

All Points West - 2009 Festival Dates and Lineup [brooklynvegan]

When Will Yeah Yeah Yeahs Have Their Album Moment?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' third LP, It's Blitz!, came out a few weeks back and it's sporting awesome album art and some pretty rollicking jams. Much has been made of the more synth-heavy sound for this record. That really got me excited at first, as I think this band's synth based songs are usually a lot more fun than the more straightforward guitar-driven numbers (I'm counting guitar synths as synths in this analysis). Have they ever recorded anything better than "Rich"? No, they have not.

For my money, this album doesn't sound like too much of a departure from the band's previous output. I think it's probably their strongest record to date, but I'm starting to wonder: are Yeah Yeah Yeahs ever going to release a classic, start-to-finish fantastic album? So far they've got three pretty good albums, but not a single one I want to listen to from beginning to end. It's not to say it'll never happen--this band is still fairly young, though by today's standards they can seem like dinosaurs--but when will Yeah Yeah Yeahs put out their Village Green Preservation Society, their Happy Hippopotamus, their Dutchess?* I hope we see it eventually, but if not, there's always the inevitable greatest hits collection.

Let us know what you think in the comments: can this band deliver a truly great album? Is this the one and I'm just not hearing it yet?

*Just kidding about The Dutchess. Sort of.

It's Blitz! Review [The L Mag]