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Archive for September, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Neil Young reveals Pono music player, promises ‘the best sound anyone can get’

Neil Young has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote Pono, a high-quality digital music service that will launch next year. Rolling Stone reports that Pono will be comprised of a music downloads store, a tool that converts digital audio files into analog-sounding recordings, and a series of audio players. Young showed off a prototype Pono player to Letterman, and the design is nothing if not unique — it’s a bright yellow triangular prism with a small screen and simple controls. The player will, according to Young, play back Pono master files with “the best sound anyone can get.”

Young has been increasingly vocal about what he perceives as the poor quality of current digital music offerings, and trademark applications back in April hinted at his plans for Pono. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea got a first-hand demonstration of the service in Young’s car, and told Rolling Stone that “it’s not like some vague thing that you need dogs’ ears to hear. It’s a drastic difference.” Warner, Sony, and Universal are reportedly all on board, and while you’ll have to re-buy songs if you want to hear them in their high-definition glory, the Pono devices will also play back tracks bought from other digital stores. (Still curious how this player can better a 24bit WAV/AIFF file which many portable players already support, heck a hacked iPod can support 24 bit audio!!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze EP (Album Review)

When Dum Dum Girls made the leap from songwriter Dee Dee’s bedroom to Sub Pop for 2010’s debut LP I Will Be, those unfamiliar with the project’s backlog of EPs and singles could easily make the mistake of judging the band from their press photo, depicting four vampy women dressed in all black while standing on the beach, equal parts Joey Ramone and Bettie Page. Idiosyncrasies like a uniform of leather and stockings, the all-female band membership requirement, and even the decision for each band member to go by single-word nicknames might have worked against the band in some ways, with many thinking that they already knew what the girls would sound like without listening, and others simply showing skepticism in anything with an obvious image agenda. But, over the course of what seems like a wealth of recorded material in a relatively short amount of time, Dum Dum Girls have won over critics and listeners alike by overshadowing this image with increasingly affecting and surprising music.

On their newest offering, the five-song End of Daze EP, naysayers who would look to pigeon-hole Dum Dum Girls by a “look” or a “sound” should readily concede that Dee Dee’s songs continue expand on her range, leaving a band whose musical trajectory seemed predictable with an ever-increasing ceiling, both commercially and artistically. Using I Will Be’s jumping-off reference points of ’60s girl groups, punk and ’80s gloomy post-punk, subsequent releases have seen Dee Dee write from deeply personal spaces about death, love, and loss. End of Daze continues with this, recorded immediately after last year’s Only in Dreams and working almost as an appendix to that full length. Here we see Dee Dee’s grief from her mother’s battle with cancer and eventual death consuming her even further than on Only in Dreams, making it an unflinchingly sad record, but also a very honest and beautiful one.

From the driving and grand scale of the self-eulogy “Mine Tonight” to the surprising minimalism of the upbeat “I Got Nothing,” Dum Dum Girls are nearly unrecognizable from the band we met a couple years back, and the transformation is a mostly successful one. “Mine Tonight” is a revelation, building tension with the sludgy distortion of the guitar strums in the verse until the eventual explosion of sound that is predictably fulfilling. First single “Lord Knows” is just as moody, but with a maturity in Dee Dee’s voice matching a newfound maturity in her songwriting. Lyrics aside, the arrangements on End of Daze steer away from easily classifiable terms like “ballads” and “rockers.” No, the songs are much more complex than that.

Dee Dee is even a smart enough songwriter to know when her airing of her personal baggage might be wearing thin, and she maintains control of her emotional outpour up until the release’s closing moments. Ultimately, Dee Dee confirms that “a confession is not cure / there is always darkness to endure / on the path to be redeemed” on the closer “Season in Hell,” with hope seen in the final moments when Dee Dee notices that after these hard times, the “dawn looks divine.” End of Daze is a brief trip through a songwriter’s grief, and one with enhanced by lyrical honesty and musical risks. Maybe most importantly, the End of Daze EP cements Dum Dum Girls as a band that should be taken seriously and whose look has become the least interesting part about them…

Follow the Journey of a Troubled Figure Skater in the Video for Grizzly Bear’s “Yet Again”

Grizzly Bear have shared a video for their Shields cut “Yet Again”, directed by Emily Kai Bock. The clip opens with a female figure-skater alone on a dark rink, and then chronicles her personal journey after cracking through the ice. She travels from a carnival to the woods, back to a suburban home, and it all ends with a dizzying scene of mental anguish.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


On July 4th, 1999, a Ryder truck containing Sonic Youth’s priceless touring gear was stolen in Orange County, CA. The truck was found a few days later, but it’s uniquely modified contents were gone, which would be the end of the story if Sonic Youth didn’t have the most loyal fans on the planet. Due to the commitment of their fans and key details that make the guitars distinguishable, two of those guitars stolen 13 years ago have been recovered. Via Pitchfork:

But over the years, some fans have remained on the lookout, tipping the band off whenever a guitar for sale raises an eyebrow. This month, the sixth and seventh guitars to be recovered from the robbery both mysteriously reappeared within one week of each other. “It’s kind of wild,” Lee Ranaldo said. “After all this time, things are still surfacing thanks to the diligence of fans.”

R.I.P. Andy Williams

Andy Williams, one of the most popular television crooners of the 1960s, known for “Moon River”, has died after a year-long fight against bladder cancer, as NPR reports. He was 84.

Along with his signature song, Williams was known for his Christmas television specials throughout the 1970s and 80s. He had 18 gold records, three platinum ones, and an Emmy-winning television series, “The Andy Williams Show”. The program was televised throughout the 1960s until 1971; it featured Williams performing his catalogue and chatting with such guests as the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Elton John…

Williams hosted award shows throughout the years, including several years of the Grammys. He continued performing throughout his life at his own Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri.
The singer had no retirement plans. “The old cliche says that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t there,” Williams one said (via The New York Daily News). “Well, I was there all right, but my memory of them is blurred– not by any drugs I took, but by the relentless pace of the schedule I set myself.”

Williams is survived by his wife and three children, who asked that donations in his memory be sent to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Watch Animal Collective on “Conan” (Video)

Animal Collective began their previously announced run of late night TV appearances on “Conan” last night. They played Centipede Hz track “Today’s Supernatural” from behind rows of flashing, gappy cartoon-like teeth.


Greg Jardin took over 1600 photographs in order to cobble together this excellent stop-motion tour of New York. The video features appearances from cast members of 30 Rock, Anthony Bourdain, Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav, Andy Shernoff of The Dictators and many more. All of them proud to make their home in New York City. (via East Village Radio)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Justin Vernon: Bon Iver “Winding Down”

Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver project released their massively successful self-titled album last year, and has been on tour ever since. But we might not be hearing much from Bon Iver for awhile in the future…

Last night, Vernon appeared on Minnesota Public Radio station 89.3 The Current’s Local Show, as City Pages points out (via the Daily Swarm). When questioned about what Bon Iver’s “up to these days,” here’s what he said:

Winding it down. I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There’s so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I’ll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that.

In the meantime, Bon Iver’s performance at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall on September 21 is now streaming live on YouTube. Watch it below– it’s only available for the next two days:

(via pfmedia)


Update: “A website”: for the record has been put up, with quotes “from” Walker about the upcoming album, due on December 3rd and 4th.

How to approach a record like Bish Bosch?

Scott insists none of his work is in any way autobiographical. So you are compelled to re-think the way you experience music to get the most out of these pieces. Instead it’s more like a form of sonic fiction (magic realism, cut-up, sci-fi and historical reinvention all rolled up into distinct packages). There are frequently two, three or more ideas packed into each song: scenarios that seem distinct at first but whose connections are subtly revealed. The lyrics process a mass of data, set to music that often veers into filmic sound effects and Foley artistry. Songs leap across giant historical chasms or reach for the outer limits of space. A single number can contain references to molecular biology and sulphurous farts; quotes from the Bible and Hollywood film directors; medieval leather shoes and Algonquin chiefs. They unashamedly revel in unfamiliar words, technical terminology and obscure references, so keep a dictionary handy and bookmark Wikipedia. It’s all part of the fun.

As Pitchfork points out:

A few months back, 4AD teased a new album from revered avant-garde crooner Scott Walker—his first since 2006’s The Drift, which placed at #10 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2006. Now, an album title and release date have surfaced on Amazon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bob Mould perform’s Sugar’s Copper Blue- Showbox, Seattle, WA 9/18/12 (Concert Review)

Tuesday night, Bob Mould played up a amazing set of Sugar’s seminal 1992 album Copper Blue in its entirety along with cuts from his latest record Silver Age…

Bob Mould has never been the type of artist to look back… But in the last few years, he surprised longtime fans releasing an autobiography that was several years in the making along with a renewed interest in his nineties work with indie rock, power trio Sugar.

Mould’s work with Sugar, specifically the Copper Blue album, has been some of his most recently popular work and in the last few years it hasn’t been uncommon to hear some of that material performed in his live sets. That said, it was still a bit surprising when it was announced that he would tour performing the ’92 album in its entirety.

Mould’s profile hasn’t been higher than it is right now since the early nineties. A mutual admiration with and opening dates for Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters certainly hasn’t hurt but even moreso, that relationship seems to have also rekindled Mould’s passion for the guitar. The new Silver Age album is one of his more rocking and critically acclaimed affairs in some time.

I’ve seen Bob Mould solo and with band several times but what I love about the idea for this tour is his ability to look back without pandering, exposing his audience to solid new work in addition to a revisit of the Sugar material and more.

The night kicked things off with Copper Blue side one, track one, “The Act we Act.” From there, Mould and company (Verbow alum and Split Single frontman Jason Narducy on bass/backing vocals and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster on drums) plowed through the album with nary a pause, giving it new life in the process.

What struck me immediately was just how much fun Mould seemed to be having. He bounced across the stage like someone half his age throughout the night and bared quite the grin as he repeatedly moved to his right to jam with Narducy.

To say this band has gelled is an understatement as each member had their moment to shine. For Wurster, that moment was on the Sugar ballad “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,”
which he transformed from mere ballad retread to anthemic punk anthem with his propulsive drumming.

The Copper Blue set was good. “The Slim” followed “Hoover Dam” and while not one of my favorite album tracks, it certainly allowed Mould’s vastly underrated guitar playing to shine.

Powering through that album in forty-five minutes left plenty of time in the eighty-five minute set for material both new and older. Three straight from Silver Age kicked off with “Star Machine” and saw Mould at his most animated of the night.” The crowd and the band was left breathless.

“Thank You Seattle!!” said Mould as the show drew to a close. The packed club was full of smiles and ringing ears, Bob, welcome back!!

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion- Meat and Bone (Album Review)

For a band that regularly invoked its own name as a chest-beating rallying cry for the power of rock ’n’ roll, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion never really got its due. Questions of authenticity dogged the group throughout its ’90s heyday—never mind that the run of 1993’s Extra Width, 1994’s Orange, and 1996’s Now I Got Worry was one of the strongest of the decade. These days, the band’s raucous blues-punk has been co-opted dozens of times over by anonymous automatons like The Black Keys, and Spencer’s Elvis-as-carnival-barker frontman act seems even more out of time. But on the Blues Explosion’s first album in eight years, Meat And Bone, the group makes a surprisingly credible attempt at legitimizing its “The Blues is still No. 1!” throne, no strings or gimmicks attached.

Mixed by Spencer himself, Meat And Bone wisely passes over the Beck and Dr. John guest-spots of yesteryear in favor of stripped-down, balls-to-the-wall swagger. Spencer, guitarist Judah Bauer, and drummer Russell Simins crunch and stomp their way through opener “Black Mold,” and mine the hip-shaking geekiness of Worry’s “Wail” on the excellent “Bag Of Bones.” Elsewhere, the effortlessly funky “Get Your Pants Off” hews closest to the band’s Orange days (and includes the sole “Blues Explosion!” shout-out of the album).

Following the 2010 reissues of the group’s ’90s Matador albums, Meat And Bone is largely a success, even if its less-focused second half feels a bit rote. “Too many squares! Too much… mediocrity!” Spencer cries during “Bag Of Bones.” It’s less a crotchety complaint from a weary veteran than a plain statement of fact; indeed, Meat And Bone is the heir apparent to Now I Got Worry, and a fine return to form..

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tame Impala: “Elephant” (Music Video)

Tame Impala’s new record Lonerism is out October 9 in the U.S. (and October 5 in Australia and October 8 in Europe and the UK) via Modular. Here’s the kaleidoscope live-footage video for the single “Elephant”, created by Yoshi Sodeoka using film from The Silentlights..

Girls Against Boys – She’s Lost Control (Music Video)

Girls Against Boys – She’s Lost Control (Joy Division Cover)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ryan Adams Producing Lemonheads Album, Recording w/ Jason Isbell

Ryan Adams has a pair of new studio projects on the way, at least one of which to feature the singer-songwriter in the producer role for the first time since 2006′s Adams and the Cardinals-backed Willie Nelson album, Songbird. “Looking forward to producing the new Lemonheads album this weekend,” he said on Twitter, adding that Ben Deily and Evan Dando — two of the band’s co-founders — will reunite for the record while Dando’s It’s a Shame About Ray collaborator Juliana Hatfield will play bass on the LP. What’s more, Adams said he’s set to perform on the upcoming recording session: “Playing drums on the Lemonheads records too,” he added. “Dream come true… Back to the punker sounds.”

Meanwhile, Jason Isbell has been making press rounds in support of his excellent 2011 LP, Here We Rest, and he just revealed that the pair behind last fall’s “Love In the First Degree” live cover (among other Isbell-Adams onstage collaborations) are planning to work together on his fourth solo album. According to an interview with the Washington Post, the former touring partners have booked studio time for this October.

Deerhunter and TV on the Radio to Curate All Tomorrow’s Parties Festivals

All Tomorrow’s Parties will once again stage their spring/summer festivals in the UK, despite stating that they were canning them last year. Today, they’ve unveiled the curators for the two 2013 editions.

TV on the Radio will curate from May 10-12, and Deerhunter will curate from June 21-23. Both will take place at Camber Sands Holiday Centre in Minehead, England. Deerhunter are confirmed for three performances at their weekend, doing their albums Cryptograms, Microcastle, and Halcyon Digest in full. Atlas Sound will also perform. 35 bands are expected to perform at each weekend, with further confirmations coming soon.

The New York edition of ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror festival takes place at Manhattan’s Pier 36 this weekend. Curated by the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, the weekend will feature performances from Frank Ocean, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, the Roots, the Antlers, Jose Gonzalez, Philip Glass and Tyondai Braxton, Lightning Bolt, Lee Ranaldo, Dirty Three, Hot Snakes, the Make-Up, and more.