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Archive for August, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle Reissue (Album Review)

“There’s a chance it might get weird, yeah it’s a possibility.” That’s Eric Bachmann singing on the first song on the first side of Archers of Loaf’s first album, Icky Mettle. Nearly two decades after they were committed to tape, those lines have proved supremely prescient, neatly summing up the North Carolina indie band’s career—or lack thereof. With only a few singles under their collective belt, the quartet signed with Alias Records in 1994, then spent the ensuing five years working, writing and touring as hard as any of their peers. When they broke up in 1999, however, they had little to show for their efforts beyond a very small cult following and a drummer with severe Carpal Tunnel.

Archers deserved better, as their eloquently queasy guitars, non-sequitur lyrics and profanely barked vocals predicted the next era of punk-based indie rock (as well as late-’90s self-absorbed mook rock, but don’t hold that against them). Like so many lo- to mid-fi bands of the era—the Grifters, Superchunk, Strapping Fieldhands—they were overshadowed by Pavement and Guided by Voices, who at the time stood in for some many less-popular but still vital bands.

In 2011, things are definitely getting weird: In January, Archers played their first show together in thirteen years, a small, unannounced opening slot for the Love Language. That low-stakes reunion show lead to an ongoing weekend-warrior tour that saw the band playing to aging fans and to newbies who discovered them through such Gen-Next acts as No Age, Yuck, and Wu Lyf. Now Merge Records is launching a reissue series that will finally put the band’s catalog back in print after too many years as collector’s items and used CD bin discoveries.

First off is Archers’ 1994 debut, Icky Mettle, a collection of tightly coiled songs that might be about a break-up or about the group’s reservations about investing in a band. “It’s awful self-indulgent to think that you might like this song,” Bachmann sings on “Might,” as his and Eric Johnson’s guitars slash violently at each other. This is ‘90s indie at its most self-aware, its most bilious and contradictory.

Archers’ gift for tense melody and slack countermelody distinguished them from their peers at the time and still makes these songs sound caustic and urgent so many years later. These songs are glommed in dissonance and noise, yet reveal a skewed pop sensibility. Opener “Web in Front” sets one catchy hook over a second catchy hook, one guitar theme underneath the main, and the crosscurrents lend Bachmann’s coded lyrics about peanuts, spines, and webs something that’s awfully close to insight.

With its barrage of guitars and vocals, “Sick File” is barely one step removed from ‘80s hardcore and its attendant fast-and-loud aesthetic, and “Last Word” is post-grunge indie with coarsely anthemic guitars and all-messed-up-inside sentiments. Yet, for all their glorious bluster, these songs are complex and often eloquent—simultaneously cerebral and emotional, heady and devastating. Merge’s new remaster brings out these contrasting elements, which sound all the more abrasive and aggressive so many years later.

In that regard, the second disc of early singles, b-sides and EP tracks provides a useful contrast, revealing not only the various layers of rhythm and melody intersecting furiously in each song but also the different levels of lo- and mid-fi the band mastered. Barring some future set that includes vials of the musicians’ blood, sweat, and tears, this will stand as the definitive version of Icky Mettle—an answered prayer to new and old fans that makes these songs sound startlingly present
(review by: Stephen M. Deusner)

The Beach Boys Reveal Details of Long-Awaited ‘SMiLE Sessions’

Recordings from the ‘SMiLE’ sessions, the legendarily aborted Beach Boys album, will finally be given official release Oct. 31 internationally and the next day in the US, according to group leader Brian Wilson’s website.

Intended as a “teenage symphony to god,” the band’s follow-up to landmark ‘Pet Sounds’ was famously ditched as Wilson began a decline into mental illness and drug abuse that continued well into the ’80s. Though several of the songs from the 1966-67 sessions found their way onto subsequent Beach Boys albums, and a newly recorded version of the album was done by Wilson in 2004, the LP was never released in its intended form.

‘The SMiLE Sessions’ will be released in a variety of formats: two-CD lift-top box, double-vinyl LP, digital album and iTunes LP. According to the press release on Wilson’s site, the compilation will “feature an approximation of what was intended to be the completed ‘SMiLE’ album, compiled from the Beach Boys’ original session masters.” Bonus tracks, stereo mixes and additional session highlights will also be included.

A deluxe box set “featuring the main ‘SMiLE’ album tracks, plus four CDs of additional audio from the legendary sessions, a double vinyl LP set, and two 7-inch vinyl singles,” will also be released. The expanded version will also come with a 60-page hardbound book with rare photos and memorabilia as well as essays written by the remaining Beach Boys, historians and session insiders.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Foo Fighters Debut ‘Hot Buns’ Video Featuring Soapy Group Shower Scene

Anyone who’s ever fancied Dave Grohl for more than his killer guitar riffs will want to watch the newest video from Foo Fighters on repeat. In ‘Hot Buns,’ the guys are doing far racier things then popping Mentos. A steamy group shower scene — at a truck stop, no less — complete with soapy butt shots may take the crown when it comes to the band’s farce-of-a-video style.

‘Hot Buns’ isn’t some just-revealed secret track on ‘Wasting Light,’ so stop scanning the album’s tracklisting. This video was done to promote the Foo Fighters’ tour this fall — though after watching the guys in the buff, you’ll be more focused on matching the bouncy bums to the various Foo Fighter faces — or getting the image out of your head — than buying concert tickets.

Watch the video here, oh, and with all these ass shots, you may want to save this one until you’ve left the office.

Beirut: The Rip Tide (Album Review)

A songwriter lost on an eternal gap year – his recorded output has journeyed through eastern Europe (2006’s Gulag Orkestar), Paris (2007’s The Flying Club Cup) and Mexico (2009’s March of the Zapotec EP). But unlike most gap years, the discoveries have been more satisfying than a dodgy bracelet and some rug you’ll never unfurl. Condon’s third full-length album is the first that doesn’t come specifically geo-tagged – rather, the focus here is on his oft-underrated melodies. The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt is the obvious reference point, a comparison encouraged by Condon’s sonorous vocals. Brass still figures largely, but it’s not always centre stage: Goshen digs its foundation with solitary piano, whereas Santa Fe embraces a lo-fi electropop sound. When Condon does bring out the reinforcements, such as on the stunning East Harlem, the impact is greater for his previous restraint. It’s less flashy than previous efforts, but the thrill here is of witnessing a songwriter’s talent maturing. (review by Tim Jonze)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Male Bonding- Endless Now (Album Review)

“Feeling so much older than I used to feel,” Male Bonding’s John Arthur Webb drawls on “Before It’s Gone,” from the London quartet’s standout second album. Nostalgia for a not-so-distant past has been a consistently effective pose for dazed indie rockers, and Male Bonding know it: Endless Now was recorded in the same upstate church where Dinosaur Jr. made 1993’s Where You Been, and it sounds like a happy refugee from that alt-rock era, all battering drums and youthful, melodic confusion. This extends to the lyrics, nearly all of which are arranged in the form 
of questions. Answers are for grown-ups, and who wants to be one of those?

Watch the Strokes and Jarvis Cocker Cover the Cars at Reading Festival

The Strokes welcomed Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker onto the stage during their Reading Festival set this past Saturday. They delivered a crunchy performance of the Cars’ 1978 smash “Just What I Needed”. Before coyly introducing “the Jarv,” Julian Casablancas let out both a “yabba dabba doo” as well as an “I’m going to fuck this up. I know it.” See if he did below:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Walkmen Record 15 New Songs w/ Phil Ek

The Walkmen are way ahead of schedule with their follow-up to Lisbon, having just completed a round of productive recording sessions this month, long before their original plan to hit the studio in November. Working this time with producer Phil Ek — a man whose resumé includes breakthrough LPs by Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes, and Band of Horses — Hamilton Leithauser and co. have at least a couple dozen cuts ready for LP7 consideration: “15 songs survived his battle axe,” the band shared on Twitter. “We’ll be testing them live all September.”

Atlas Sound Announces New Album

Parallax is the new LP from Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound project, out November 8 on 4AD. The album’s tracklist is listed below. The album cover features a picture of Bradford that was taken by legendary rock photographer Mick Rock.

01 The Shakes
02 Amplifiers
03 Te Amo
04 Parallax
05 Modern Aquatic Nightsongs
06 Mona Lisa
07 Praying Man
08 Doldrums
09 My Angel Is Broken
10 Terra Incognita
11 Flagstaff
12 Nightworks


It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K”…

12-FU Punk doc 1hr from Peter Boyd Maclean on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trailer: George Harrison Documentary (Directed by Martin Scorsese)

Scorsese’s latest rock doc, a 2-part biographical look at the so-called “quiet Beatle” titled George Harrison: Living in the Material World, will finally hit HBO on October 5th and 6th, complete with a host of interviews from former friends, surviving Beatles, and collaborators, including a priceless mention by Eric Clapton of his infamous battle for the love of Pattie Boyd.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse toxicology reports showed ‘no illegal substances’

The family of Amy Winehouse has revealed toxicology reports showed there were “no illegal substances” in her body at the time of her death.

The 27-year-old singer was found dead at her north London home last month. Her family said the reports showed alcohol was present in her body, but it is not yet known if it contributed to her death.

Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, had previously said she had “conquered her drug dependency” before she died.

“Toxicology results returned to the Winehouse family by authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy’s system at the time of her death,” the family said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Results indicate that alcohol was present, but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death.

“The family would like to thank the police and coroner for their continuing thorough investigations and for keeping them informed throughout the process. They await the outcome of the inquest in October.”

Winehouse was discovered by her bodyguard at her Camden flat at around 4pm on Saturday 23 July.

An initial postmortem examination proved inconclusive, and an inquest was opened and adjourned with no cause of death given.

At her funeral on 27 July, Mitch Winehouse said she had recently “completed three weeks of abstinence”, adding that she had told him: “Dad, I’ve had enough of drinking, I can’t stand the look on your and the family’s faces any more.”

He had announced that he would set up an Amy Winehouse Foundation in memory of the singer and was flooded with donations, only to have to put plans on hold last week after a “dickhead” beat the family to registering the website domain name.

He had hoped the foundation would be able to “help all children in need”, but said he was having to return all donations.

“We all have to bombard the tabloids’ websites to put pressure on this dickhead who stole our foundation name,” he wrote on Twitter. “This person was offering to sell [the] name on [a] website.”

Amy Winehouse had fought a well documented battle with drink and drugs. In the month before she died, she was booed off stage in Belgrade on the first night of what had been billed as a 12-show comeback tour. The dates were later cancelled.

The singer rose to fame in 2003 with the release of her debut album, Frank. Her second and last album, Back to Black, was released in 2006, reaching No 1 in the UK.

In the week after her death, the album again topped the UK chart as fans mourned the singer.

Tom Waits Announces New Album

Tom Waits will release his new album Bad as Me October 25 on Anti- Records. The album is up for pre-order on iTunes now, in both regular and deluxe editions. The title track single is on sale now as well. Tracklist below.

Bad as Me:
01 Chicago
02 Raised Right Men
03 Talking at the Same Time
04 Get Lost
05 Face to the Highway
06 Pay Me
07 Back in the Crowd
08 Bad as Me
09 Kiss Me
10 Satisfied
11 Last Leaf
12 Hell Broke Luce
13 New Year’s Eve
14 She Stole the Blush *
15 Tell Me *
16 After You Die *

* deluxe edition bonus tracks

Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Brody Dalle Welcome Baby Boy

It’s no insult to say that newborn Orrin Ryder Homme’s mother wears combat boots. In fact, his father does, too. Such are the perks of having rock-star parents.

The 7-pound, 12-ounce., bound-to-be-cool redheaded baby boy came kicking and screaming into the world on Friday (Aug. 19), much to the delight of dad Josh Homme — best known as the singer and guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age — and mom Brody Dalle, the Aussie punk siren behind the Distillers and Spinnerette.

“Weez totes IN-LOVE,” Dalle said in a tweet announcing her son’s birth.

Orrin is the Palm Springs-based couple’s second child. The first, daughter Camille Harley Joan, arrived in 2006, a year before the rockers were married.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carl Barat: reports of Libertines reunion are a ‘complete fabrication’

Both Carl Barat and his management have dismissed tabloid reports that The Libertines are reuniting for a UK tour.

It was reported in the Sunday Mirror that Pete Doherty and Carl Barat had reconciled and were on the brink of announcing a tour, after Barat tweeted a picture of him and Doherty together, but the prospect of a reunion tour has now been completely ruled out.

Barat posted a message on his Facebook page which reads: “So that “story” in the Mirror yesterday? Complete fabrication, folks.”

Management of the band states, who said of the reports:
None of us are aware where this is all coming from beyond the fact the pair of them met for a tea and had a nice time. Carl posted a picture of them on Twitter and that’s that really.

It continues:
Truth of the matter is there are NO plans whatsoever in the pipeline and both of them are committed to other things for the next year anyway. Carl leaves for Paris next month for rehersals on his opera which will keep him busy until next June and Peter is away on tour.


The Dark Side of Oz from Bryan Pugh on Vimeo.