Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Here's a documentary on British television about Dan Treacy (singer/songwriter for Television Personalities). It's mostly about his struggles with substance abuse and being in and out of prison, but do yourself a favor and check out his MUSIC, which is catchy, very earnest, whimsical and sometimes funny. It doesn't take itself too seriously, while sometimes taking itself too seriously.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
You guys know about X right? The amazing, under-appreciated LA punk rock n' roll band with stoic front man John Doe (way cooler than Nick Cave for sure) and thrift store poet Exene Cervenka.
Well, I'd never seen this documentary about them before, which includes some incredible live performance footage. These guys could all actually play their instruments incredibly well, and had some insanely good lyrics to boot! I got into them in high school during my initial punk phase, but I never really appreciated them until I got a bit older; I think I bought the wrong album or something, which happened pretty frequently before the internet age ... Anyways, thanks to Youtube, I get to see this awesome relic of a film about a specific time and place in musical history, and you do too. YOU'RE WELCOME!
Monday, May 5, 2014
I want to start this out by saying that a person like Wesley Wolfe is someone I'd like to become some day. He does what he loves, maybe not for a "living", but that's not what really matters to him in the long run. Just for some quick background: Wes writes, records, and cuts his own records on his own record label (Tangible Formats). When I say "cuts" his own records, I am being literal; he owns his own vinyl lathe and he physically cuts each record, by hand. Take THAT Black Flag!
Here's him in an interview with POPMATTERS:
I don’t think the point is to profit from it in the first place, although compensation as a gesture of appreciation would be nice. Haha! My goal has evolved through the years to get as close to breaking even as possible. So, I’ve figured out how to make a record for next to nothing. This is just what makes me happy, so why would I do anything else?
I would kill for that level of perspective and wisdom about the process of making music. Making art can be frustrating, especially when you put all your stock in what other people think about it, and measure success as acceptance in a confused, oversaturated music climate. As Wes brilliantly puts it in the title track:
"I dreamt of success but it only breeds assholes ... to be selfish and petty was not worth the hassle"
This clearly expresses that push and pull of trying to "make it" as a musician, putting all your eggs in one basket, and being way too "in your head" about shit. But he follows that sentiment with an amazingly succinct outro:
"My ideals took a back seat, while my ego was out drunk driving. I messed up a good thing, while my numbskull has lost all feelings."
Lyrical virtuosity aside, you could just as easily enjoy this album for its sparkling pop hooks. You can call it 90's all you want, but truthfully there are just 10 absolutely knock out SONGS here. If good songs died in the 1990s, then I guess Wesley Wolfe/this album may have single-handedly brought songs back folks! ;)
Everyone that hears this album loves it, and so here you go. You're welcome.
Keep up with Wesley Wolfe (if you can):
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
Well, folks, after 8 years of struggling to get it written, recorded and mastered, Dave Doughman from the band Swearing at Motorists is finally getting around to putting out a new record. There've been a lot of hiccups, small EPs, reissues and false starts that have kept yours truly on the edge of his seat for these 8 years. I've written about the music many times on this blog (whose name comes from a rare early S@M song), and I'm super excited to share the new single off the new album which should come out in a few months if all goes well. As Dave describes on his kickstarter, the creative process sometimes needs to take a backseat to "real life", which can sometimes make a creative person second guess the very notion of why they seek to create. Ultimately, life has a way of reaffirming the very art that comes from it.
The new track is classic Swearing at Motorists: beautiful enveloping vocal harmonies swarm around each other, anchored by a steady rhythm guitar and driving drum march, but with the new and exciting addition of synthesizer, which adds an uplifting coda to an otherwise heavy song. The song talks about the struggle that has been a common theme in Dave's writing for nearly 2 decades, and a common theme in life in general: trying to make a relationship work, even though it might not ultimately be meant to work out. Dave is always honest and ernest in his lyrics and vocal delivery, despite his somewhat limited range on the guitar. You don't have to be a shredding virtuoso to write music that hits home, and that's what first drew me to his work.
Dave is attempting to self-release this effort; all that remains are the costs of pressing the records and getting them to stores. Go support that humble effort here:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/swearingatmotorists/swearing-at-motorists-return-with-a-new-album
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Indulge me for a second…here's the shortened list of some of my highlights:
1. Polvo - Siberia
Polvo is back and is weird again! Doing what they do best, still with muscle, but a bit less emphasis on recognizable riffage and a return to strange guitar acrobatics (and synth!) My love for this band runs deep - we're from the same town, with a certain sound. Big surprise - this is my favorite album of the year.
2. My Bloody Valentine - mbv
Was not expecting to have a new MBV record come out during my lifetime, and this one did not disappoint, it confused, but did not disappoint. Half the record is the classic murky, beautiful music they're known for, while the other half ventures into bouncy, schizophrenic club music. All in all, any My Bloody Valentine record is way better than most of the stuff out there today.
3. Purling Hiss - Water On Mars
Really great classic guitar rock from dirty Philly. There's influence from the 90s (Mudhoney) and some Dinosaur mixed with stoner 70s vibes. It's a guitar riff record, and a good one at that. The lyrics can be somewhat dumb/repetitive at times ("Everybody wants to have a good time!"). All in all this is one of my favs of the year for its instant aural satisfaction. It's everything I love about rock n roll rolled into 1 package.
4. Kurt Vile - Wakin' On a Pretty Daze
Kurt gets even more introspective and vibey, honing his craft for mumbling, stumbling, expansive tunes. At this point, if you don't like Kurt's personality, you ain't gonna dig his music. I'm fully into getting immersed in it, but some of the tracks lagged for sure (Shame Chamber, Goldtone). "Sometimes when I get in my zone, you'd think I was stoned, but I never as they say 'touch the stuff'"… yeah, sure bud!
KV Crimes is one of the best songs of the year for the riff alone. Again, a Kurt Vile record is better than most records, even if it drags a bit.
5. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Weird 70s/80s sci fi jams. One of the few electronic groups I can get into. These guys are creative as shit with the sounds they use. When I was a kid I really liked the Disney movie Flight of the Navigator. This album would make a perfect soundtrack to that.
6. Atoms For Peace - AMOK
This album rules. Thom Yorke is a genius, get over it. Also, Flea. He's been part of a tired alternative rock band that has a kinda shitty singer (I dug them in middle school for sure). He is, however, a skilled musician when restrained a bit. The collaboration of 2 of my early teen idols might be part of why this album works for me; in spite of the unlikely pairing, the results are pretty successful. If you like Fela Kuti, and good rhythmic tranced-out stuff, then yeah, listen to this record. Incredible complexity with a strong underlying groove. Perfect soundtrack for coding websites.
7. Wooden Shjips - Back To Land
This sounds like a Wooden Shijps record at its best: droney, happy, organ-driven psychedelic abstractions. Until you get to the last song, where shit gets kinda dark. I can't pick out a word that dude is singing, but I love the sound of it! All around, an enjoyable listen.
8. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
This record kinda threw me for a loop. I guess the 90s are back in fashion? Liz Phair/Helium anger/angst sung beautifully and intelligently. The nerdy girl you always had a crush on in high school is way better at guitar than you.
9. Ty Segall - Sleeper
Ty goes acoustic and the results are somewhat stunning, which isn't surprising. This guy is reaching Marc Bolan levels of accomplishment with just his voice and an unplugged guitar. The Man Man is one of the coolest songs to come out in recent times, and the video rules:
10. Sebadoh - Defend Yourself/Secret EP
New music from the mighty Sebadoh.
Lou just got divorced, and his songs are still kinda whiny, but the Jason Loewenstein songs are fucking KILLING it! Heavy distorted bass riffs and sharp guitar hooks wrap around his throaty, desperate voice in a collision of pounding Butthole Surfers-esque jams (Beat, Final Days), and dark, ragged country songs about failing relationships (Can't Depend, I don't Mind). It's all filtered through the dirty cracked lens of the 4-track 90s.
To be fair, I've never been able to reconcile many Sebadoh records (aside from Bake Sale); to me the 2 songwriters are just too different to make for an album that gels from start to finish. I respect the shit out of Lou Barlow and his songwriting methods. I can get down with pretty, painfully-honest songs (Let It Out), but at my core, I relate more to the Loewenstein stuff. These songs, separated from Lou's sad ballads, would make a great follow up record to the stunning 2002 solo release At Sixes and Sevens.
Wesley Wolfe - Title Unknown
This album is not out yet, but he sent me a preview and it rules. As with most Wesley Wolfe albums, this one's gonna take a few hundred listens to fully digest. He plays all of the instruments, records everything, and cuts his own vinyl records himself, on his own lathe. My first impressions were, that he has an incredible knack for coming up with hooks and building his somber pop songs in a very satisfying way. His lyrics are brutally honest, very self-aware and extremely relatable to yours truly. Carrboro's secret weapon songwriter/engineer/record lather proves himself worthy of your attention yet again. Look out for it in the New Year I hope?
Vannevar - S/T
Lee went & got himself a synthesizer, and got his shit together ;) Breakup songs and epic multi-movement weird jams. I dig it. Also, looking forward to their "God Hates Vannevar" shirts!
Gross Ghost - Public Housing
The scuzz pop songwriter fleshes out his band with a seriously competent drummer and some better production. Couch surfing tunes about fucking up and starting over. It's like bartending in a beach town during the off season.
Warren Hixson - Hawaiian Underwear
This is one of my favorite Richmond, VA bands, mostly for their unpredictability. Things aren't so friendly up North, and this band will keep you on your toes. Imagine a cross between Devo and the Cramps and you're halfway there. Now combine that with the the sweet, sometimes scary sounds of The Beach Boys and Karl Blau. Throw on some dusty King Tubby LP, followed by a Gories '45 and you're getting closer. It's a somehow simultaneously calming and unnerving listening experience. These are the "z-sides" from last year's excellent album Cruel Whims.
Also of Note:
One of my favorite bands of all time, Swervedriver released a new single, Deep Wound, their first recorded music under the name in 15 years, and it doesn't suck. It kinda rules actually, and seemingly picks right up where Mezcal Head left off.. Excited about their new album/tour hopefully next year.
In sadder news, my favorite radio show, The Best Show on WFMU with its amazing host Tom Scharpling has ended after 13 years of amazing free entertainment for a largely indifferent world. This call-in talk/variety/music show has meant a lot to me over the years, providing an escape from the sometimes depressing life as an office worker. I wish Tom the best and I'm anxious to see what he does next!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Rocker, Recording Engineer Jason Loewenstein is one of my musical/life idols. He writes awesome, twisted, weird pop songs and plays in bands such as Sebadoh, Fiery Furnaces, and Circle of Buzzards, but my favorite thing he's done was his first solo record At Sixes and Sevens, which came out on Sub Pop, way back in 2002! It's one of my all time favorite modern indie rock albums. If you find a copy, you should buy it.
He's a pot-bellied pig owner (as you can see above), and occasionally writes songs about it (Emmit Pig). He also apparently now makes slingshots? I saw him perform an intense solo set (with drummer and bassist) at a tiny record store in Greensboro, NC when I was in college. He was/is primarily a bassist, but has remarkable creative ability with a 6 string guitar as well. In fact, I'm pretty sure he plays all of the instruments on his solo stuff. In addition to all of this, he's a really great recording engineer, I always love the way his home-recorded stuff sounds. Also, the new Sebadoh record, Defend Yourself is really great, and his songs in particular stand out to me. But I'm rambling.
Enjoy this weird, awesome collection of surprisingly hi-fi home-recorded freebies, demos, outtakes and live cuts. Some of it is just him fucking around (Winged Eel), but there's some real gems here (But Yr. Gone - nice slow burner, Contribution - the riff is classic Loewenstein, etc.)
Check out more from Jake here: jakerock.com.
Monday, December 2, 2013
The older I get, the more I value the craft of good songwriting. I thoroughly appreciate a band's ability to boil a song down to the hook ("Don't bore us, get to the chorus"). I'm a sucker for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; I grew up on their hits, which were always playing on the radio during long summer car rides down to the coast, so I associate their songs with that certain period in my life. As a guitar player, hearing Mike Campbell's infectious, beautifully played guitar lines now just astounds me. When I was a kid I don't think I even realized there was a separate guitar player per se, but just felt that certain feeling. He's all about TONE man ... and playing TASTEFULLY, serving the song. Found this great live concert on Youtube in full, and thought I'd share. I never get sick of the Heartbreakers.