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Archive for November, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mogwai Share “Teenage Exorcists” Video

This morning, Mogwai shared their trippy visual for “Teenage Exorcists”, from their new Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1 EP. The clip is directed by Craig Murray. Watch below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Parquet Courts – Content Nausea (Album Review)


Over the past few years, Austin Brown and Andrew Savage have been nothing if not prolific. As part of bratty New York neo-punks Parquet Courts, they’ve rapidly built up a sizable back catalogue, releasing at least an EP’s worth of material every year since unveiling their little-spoken-of, seldom-heard debut album proper, American Specialties, in 2011. And still, as we enter the dog-end of 2014, it seems that their voracious appetite to record cannot be satisfied. Not even the temporary loss of their rhythm section (bass player, Sean Yeaton and Savage’s brother, Max, on drums) to the respective responsibilities of completing a degree and beginning a family- enough, surely to derail many a band- has managed to impact too greatly upon their creative energies. Shed of their rhythmic half, the two have instead assumed the Parkay Quarts moniker (the very same name that adorned last year’s fabulous Tally All The Things You Broke EP), for Content Nausea, their second outing of this calendar year and show no sign of slowing down on what they’ve labelled an ‘in between albums album.’

With the snotty duo seemingly never out of the studio, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the choice of title is a neat little meta-commentary on the ever-moving, hardly-static songwriting impetus of the men at Parquet’s core. In terms of opener “Everyday It Starts”, this assumption really isn’t very far off the mark. Possessing all of the hallmarks of a classic Savage-Brown composition- the thundering bass, the jab and throb of competing guitars, the bleak Blank Generation lyrics- the song bemoans the pressure they feel to surpass their own high standards. And I never sleep/But I go to bed, shrugs Brown in his familiar deadpan, lamenting a life spent eternally producing and never allowed to switch off, forever trying to write the next “Master of My Craft”. Even from the comfort of his sheets.

Taking the song at this purely autobiographical level, it’s fun to imagine both Brown and Savage between the bedclothes in the dead of the night, light sourced from cigarette lighters, waiting with tattered moleskines and half-chewed pens at the ready, searching for inspiration. Sure enough, by the time the album’s title track rolls around, romantic hipster songwriting imagery aside, they find it. And how. A mile-a-minute spoken word protest comparable in pace and content to the breakneck Beat poetry of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Content Nausea” sees Savage, like his counter-cultural antecedent, shout out his disregard for homogeneity and capitalism’s endless, mindless produce over an urgent bluesy architecture. Not once taking the time to pause for breath.

“Pretty Machines” and “Psychic Structures” also run along similar themes, admonishing the “worship of illusion” and the inevitability of being “overtaken by fear” as frenetic saxophones and distorted guitars soundtrack the slow spiral into doom. For a duo that have so frequently read from the Ramones-Casablancas lyric book and consciously opted for ambivalence over action, the loaded observations that spill from their mouths as quickly as their saliva on these tracks, is refreshing. No longer are they content to stew in impartiality, they are ‘landmines’ just waiting for the right moment to explode.

The music itself is, in truth, not all that much of a departure from the trademark spiky, speedy post-punk that found a home on Light Up Gold and Sunbathing Animal. But the album’s covers, something hitherto avoided, offer a little respite from the repetition. The first of these, “Slide Machine”, taken from semi-obscure acid band 13th Floor Elevators’ sophomore effort, enshrines a mellower hue to original vocalist Roky Erickson’s deranged howl. It’s not the drug-incurred freak-out but, rather, the reflective, sombre comedown that the duo capture here. Some would argue, with knowledge of Savage and Brown’s heavy debt to hazy garage acts, this cover choice uninspired but the second, an unexpected and possibly-inebriated reimaging of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, limits such cliché and is an equally intoxicating listen that shows off some unlikelier influences. Last to reach the ears is the dusty, slowed-down “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”, a blood-stained American Gothic tale- that already shared online to tease the album’s release- closes Content Nausea on the same downbeat note as Sunbathing Animal’s most honest and emotionally resonant song, “Instant Disassembly”, proving that beneath all of their arty noise and, lies an immutable sensitivity and grace.

Increasingly astute at documenting how it feels to live inside our hyper-intense, instantly-gratifying and mind-numbing fast-food culture, Savage and Brown’s nausea is a sickness that we all share. Their record’s the closest thing we have to finding a cure.

Friday, November 14, 2014

TV on the Radio: Seeds (Album Review)


TV on the Radio are called many things, but until now a pop act wasn’t one of them. Seeds, the band’s latest, and first since the passing of bass player Gerard Smith, is the most clear-eyed and anthemic album of their career. It’s also the closest thing to pop the group is likely to produce.

Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone’s voices are front and centre, soaring through choruses few felt the band were capable of, let alone interested in, writing. The shift is deliberate; reportedly, there was a host of material to choose from and this is the direction in which band members wanted to head. Adebimpe and producer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek even brought in several outside songwriters — including Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle and Flo-Rida collaborator Marcus Killian — to hammer their compositions into shape. Unsurprisingly, Seeds is also TV on the Radio’s least experimental record.

On paper, this sounds like a cynical career move, but the group haven’t lost their idiosyncratic charm. The songs are less busy than in the past, but in dialling back the noise, Sitek emphasizes the groove — something the band never get enough credit for — and magnifies small details, turning songs like “Could You” into towering, soulful anthems.

Seeds is sublime catharsis after the group’s tragic loss and a perfect distillation of what the band do best. It’s a rare record that serves as an entry point for newcomers while rewarding old fans who’ve stuck by them since the beginning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Bank Hank of pioneering rap group Sugarhill Gang has died


Henry Jackson, aka Big Bank Hank of the pioneering rap group Sugarhill Gang, has died of cancer, according to TMZ and some of Jackson’s friends on Twitter. David Mallie, who manages the group’s two remaining living members, confirmed Jackson’s death to Fox News. Jackson, 57, was best known for his verses in the iconic song, “Rapper’s Delight.” Released in 1979, the track became hip-hop’s first commercial hit (it was the first rap recording to reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100) and paved the way for rap to enter the mainstream.

Here’s the group performing the song during Soul Train:

But the song — which was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame last year — was born out of some controversy, with allegations that Jackson’s verse wasn’t even his, as chronicled by Dan Charnas in “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.”

Studio owner and producer Sylvia Robinson, struggling with financial problems, went to Harlem World one night in 1979; there, she saw a DJ controlling the crowd with call-and-response talking over a track.

“This was the first time that she ever saw this before,” Robinson’s son Joey told NPR. “And she said, ‘Joey, wouldn’t this be a great idea to make a rap record?’ ”

But Robinson had trouble finding a rapper from the club circuit to record a record with her. So Joey and his friend, Warren Moore, took her to a New Jersey pizza shop where Jackson was working. Moore brought Jackson to an idling car, where Robinson turned on a cassette. Jackson hopped in and began rapping. Two others showed up — Mike Wright (Wonder Mike) and Guy O’Brien (Master Gee) — and all three vied for the slot.

Eventually, Robinson hired them all, and the Sugarhill Gang was born.

Later, Jackson asked Caz (or DJ Casanova Fly) of Cold Crush Brothers for help. As Charnas writes, Jackson told Caz that someone in New Jersey wanted to record him rapping. Caz responded; “You ain’t no MC!” Jackson asked Caz for any rhymes he could use. Charnas writes:

“Thinking that the whole fantasy of making a record would amount to nothing, Caz threw one of his rhyme books at Hank. ‘Use whichever one you want.’ Apparently, Hank did. And didn’t even bother to change the part where Caz spelled out his name. Caz hadn’t even thought to ask Hank for money. The idea of rapping on a record was just that ridiculous.”

A few days after the three rappers met Robinson, they went into the studio and recorded the 15-minute “Rapper’s Delight,” set to the tune of Chic’s “Good Times,” in one take.

The track topped charts worldwide and has since taken on historical significance, having brought rap to the mainstream and showing it was possible for this musical form that had mostly existed underground in New York to be commercially viable. “Rapper’s Delight” has since inspired countless wannabe rappers to spit those rhymes — even Brian Williams. Sort of.

Here is Jackson’s most famous verse:

Check it out, I’m the C-A-S-an, the O-V-A and the rest is F-L-Y
You see, I go by the code of the doctor of the mix and these reasons I’ll tell you why
You see I’m six foot one and I’m tons of fun and I dress to a tee
You see I got more clothes than Muhammad Ali and I dress so viciously
I got bodyguards, I got two big cars, that definitely ain’t the whack
I got a Lincoln continental and a sunroof Cadillac
So after school, I take a dip in the pool, which really is on the wall
I got a color TV so I can see the Knicks play basketball
Hear me talking ’bout checkbooks, credit cards, more money than a sucker could ever spend
But I wouldn’t give a sucker or a bum from the Rucker, not a dime ’til I made it again
Everybody go: Hotel, motel, whatcha gonna do today (say what?)
Cause I’ma get a fly girl, gonna get some spank and drive off in a def OJ
Everybody go: Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn
You see, if your girl starts acting up, then you take her friend
Uh Master Gee, am I mellow?
It’s on you so what you gonna do?

(Via the Washington Post)

Friday, November 7, 2014

…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD – IX (Album Review)


Despite the critical controversy over their post ‘Source Tags & Codes’ output, Trail of Dead have pretty reliably been churning out experimental alt rock for the last ten years. In fact, though there have been ebbs and flows in their levels of aggression and tendencies towards post-rock or even prog eccentricity, since last album ‘Lost Songs’ they’ve been playing up to their former mantle of punk experimental mavericks with more determination than ever.

While there are some tracks that feel distinctly like filler – ‘A Million Random Digits’ for instance being very much Trail of Dead by numbers – that’s the exception rather than the rule. Mellow ‘The Ghost Within’ and Pink Floyd-like ‘Like Summer Tempests Came His Tears’ may be, but a Trail of Dead record without some respite wouldn’t really be a proper Trail of Dead record anyway.

‘Lie Without a Liar’ is as anthemic as any of the singles from ‘Source Tags & Codes’ or ‘Worlds Apart’, percussive and full of clever, downbeat melodic hooks. ‘How To Avoid Huge Ships’ builds to a pounding crescendo with bloodied determination, while ‘Lost In The Grand Scheme’ manages to completely lose the plot – in the best possible way – with a screeching breakdown that any fans will immediately recognise from their live shows.

Closer ‘Sound Of The Silk’ is surely one of the better tracks they’ve ever done, both instrumentally, where it’s a storming, drum led drone rocker, and lyrically, where it’s Conrad Keely’s wistful narrative proves infectious; “Carry me back / To the field bathed in sun / The bright terraces where we used to run / Where the songs of weddings loud in the air / Swear to me someone that you will bury me there.” It’s classic Trail of Dead, and Conrad has always been at his best when painting vivid landscapes of the mind, a fact that made 2011’s ‘Tao of the Dead’ concept album so compelling.

Bottom line – if you’re new to Trail of Dead, this might be a good place to begin your investigations, and if you’ve lost track of them since their critical and commercial peak, then ‘Sound Of The Silk’ and ‘IX’ as a whole is as good a way as you’ll find to rediscover this consistently fantastic band.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Charged in Murder Plot


Update: The other members of AC/DC gave a statement to Rolling Stone about Rudd’s arrest. “We’ve only become aware of Phil’s arrest as the news was breaking,” they said. “We have no further comment. Phil’s absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year.”

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, 60, has been charged with attempting to arrange a murder, BBC News reports. Rudd’s house was raided this morning; he is also facing charges of threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Rudd asked his intended hitman to kill two people. Rudd was released today on bail. He’s scheduled to make a court appearance in three weeks.

Rudd was kicked out of the band in 1983 and rejoined in 1994.

AC/DC have a new album called Rock or Bust out on December 2. Their new single “Play Ball” was shared last month. After the band announced that Malcolm Young would retire, it was revealed that the guitarist had been diagnosed with dementia.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Father John Misty Announces I Love You, Honeybear, Performs “Bored in the USA” on “Letterman”

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Father John Misty—the former Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman—has announced the follow-up to his great 2012 album Fear Fun. I Love You, Honeybear is out February 9 in Europe via Bella Union and February 10 everywhere else via Sub Pop. That’s the amazing artwork above.
Below, watch him perform the album cut “Bored in the USA” alongside a 22-piece string section on tonight’s “Late Show With David Letterman”.

The album was produced by Tillman and Jonathan Wilson (who also worked on Fear Fun), mixed by Phil Ek, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.

In addition to the standard digital, CD, and 2xLP editions, the album will receive a limited edition deluxe 2xLP alternate cover on tricolor vinyl housed in something called a “Dioramic, Meta-Musical Funtime gatefold jacket”. All CDs and LPs will come with a fold-out poster featuring photos by Emma Tillman, design from Alia Penner, and extensive “Exercises for Listening” written by Josh Tillman. CD and LP pre-orders will come with eight demos on cassette while supplies last.

The LP’s press release comes with a letter from Tillman detailing the album’s concept. Spoiler: The word “blammo” is used frequently and effectively. Read the whole thing below the tracklist.

Also below are a series of freshly announced tour dates. On the tour, he’ll be backed by a seven-piece band. King Tuff, Guy Blakeslee, and Luluc are all set to open at various dates.

I Love You, Honeybear:

01 I Love You, Honeybear
02 Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
03 True Affection
04 The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.
05 When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
06 Nothing Good Ever Happens At the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
07 Strange Encounter
08 The Ideal Husband
09 Bored In The USA
10 Holy Shit
11 I Went To The Store One Day

Father John Misty:

01-16 Felton, CA – Bret Harte Hall
01-17 Sonoma, CA – Vet’s Hall Ballroom
01-18 Chico, CA – El Rey Theatre
02-09 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy *
02-12 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC *
02-14 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom *
02-16 Montreal, Quebec – Virgin Mobile Corona Theater *
02-18 Toronto, Ontario – Danforth Music Hall *
02-21 Dublin, Ireland – Whelans
02-22 Glasgow, Scotland – King Tuts
02-23 Manchester, England – Gorilla
02-26 London, England – Village Underground
02-27 Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
02-28 Bristol, England – Thekla
03-03 Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
03-04 Brussels, Belgium – Botanique – Orangerie
03-05 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
03-07 Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
03-08 Hamburg, Germany – Nochtspeicher
03-25 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works +
03-26 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse +
03-27 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel +
03-28 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club +
03-31 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club +
04-01 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer +
04-03 Chicago, IL – Vic Theater +
04-04 Minneapolis, MN – First Ave +
04-07 Lawrence, KS – Granada +
04-08 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room +
04-09 Denver, CO – Ogden Theater
04-22 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater ^
04-23 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
04-24 Austin, TX – Stubb’s ^
04-25 New Orleans, LA – Civic Theater ^
* with Guy Blakeslee
+ with King Tuff
^ with Luluc

Here’s Tillman’s letter:

“I Love You, Honeybear was recorded all through 2013 to 2014 in Los Angeles with producer Jonathan Wilson, who I also recorded and produced 2012’s Fairly Fun with. There’s a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like solo-era John Lennon, Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn, while taking more than a few cues from Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Muhammad Ali. It has a decidedly more soulful presence than Fear Fun, due in no small part to the fact that I am truly singing my ass off all over this motherfucker. The album is really characterized by the scope and ambition of the arrangements. Nearly every tune is augmented by something special, be it orchestral strings, a mariachi band, questionable electronic drum solos, ragtime jazz combos, soul singers, or what have you. I’m pretty sure there’s a sitar in there somewhere. Blammo.

“I Love You, Honeybear is a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman who spends quite a bit of time banging his head against walls, cultivating weak ties with strangers and generally avoiding intimacy at all costs. This all serves to fuel a version of himself that his self-loathing narcissism can deal with. We see him engaging in all manner of regrettable behavior.

“In a parking lot somewhere he meets Emma, who inspires in him a vision of a life wherein being truly seen is not synonymous with shame, but possibly true liberation and sublime, unfettered creativity. These ambitions are initially thwarted as jealousy, self-destruction and other charming human character traits emerge. Josh Tillman confesses as much all throughout.

“The album progresses, sometimes chronologically, sometimes not, between two polarities: the first of which is the belief that the best love can be is finding someone who is miserable in the same way you are and the end point being that love isn’t for anyone who isn’t interested in finding a companion to undertake total transformation with. I won’t give away the ending, but sex, violence, profanity and excavations of the male psyche abound.

“My ambition, aside from making an indulgent, soulful, and epic sound worthy of the subject matter, was to address the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons in my own voice. Blammo.

“This material demanded a new way of being made, and it took a lot of time before the process revealed itself. The massive, deranged shmaltz I heard in my head, and knew had to be the sound of this record, originated a few years ago while Emma and I were hallucinating in Joshua Tree; the same week I wrote the title track. I chased that sound for the entire year and half we were recording. The means by which it was achieved bore a striking resemblance to the travails, abandon and transformation of learning how to love and be loved; see and be seen. There: I said it. Blammo.”