The Sea and Cake
“On and On”
It’s pretty intense how long The Sea and Cake has been around, here in 2012 with their ninth full-length record, Runner. And, typically, it’s awesome. I mean, when you’ve got four musicians this cosmically (aquatically, breezily, etc.) aligned and this good at what they do (Sam’s smokey voice, Eric’s super-slinky bass lines, John’s unfaltering drums, and Archer… oh Archer… he’s cute. No, he’s also a really, really good guitarist), there’s basically no way to screw it up.
Anyway, enough rambling about how great the band is; I just wanted an excuse to post the poppy lead number to the record “On and On,” and Nowness sure gave me that by premiering this video on Sunday. Directed by Naomi Nagata, it’s just the eye candy I needed: a stop-motion animation of sand on a scroll, expertly arranged in such a way that the essence of line as an artistic concept is given copious amounts of life and character, much in the same way Chuck Jones did with his classic cartoon.
A few years ago, I co-hosted a show at my college radio station called Morning Wood. It was a morning show, and the general premise was to play all sorts of music that featured woodwinds. We had one simple rule: no ska. But we expanded the premise to include brass or really any instrument that “you put your mouth on and blow.” We also made a guideline to focus more on 70s and 80s rock than jazz or orchestral music, but we played virtually everything.
Our main source of material was the station’s own extensive LP library. Because of the domination of the CD in the past 20 years, and now the digital age, most of the records in the station were promotional material from the late 70s to the early 90s. My co-host and I would grab a random record from the stacks, judge it by its cover, then search the liner notes for the list of instrumentation and look for flutes, flugelhorns, saxophones, kazoos, etc. Through this process, I discovered some artists who are now all-time favorites, like Bongwater, Split Enz, Sparks, and Woo. Woo’s It’s Cosy Inside was one of the albums we discovered, and it featured subtle flute-sounding tones on a few of the tracks that, due to our perpetually loose guidelines, qualified it for the show.
Now, out of seemingly nowhere, Drag City reissued It’s Cosy Inside earlier this month, and I am thrilled that the world will discover this magical record. Originally released on Independent Project Records in 1989, It’s Cosy Inside is Woo’s sophomore release. Woo consists of two brothers, Mark and Clive Ives, who created music that sounded both ahead of its time and timeless. On their website, Woo call their music “nostalgic guitar music,” but it can sometimes sound like contemporary indie soft rockers such as Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles, or Ducktails. “The Western” is a good example of just that aesthetic, which you can find out for yourself by hitting that sideways triangle below.
Musician, modernist, and machinist Holly Herndon has taken to SoundCloud to release a near-48-minute track called “CAR.” In line with the song’s title, Herndon composed the music for “automobile listening,” specifically for her Toyota Matrix. It’s seemingly detached from the usual signifiers you’d want/expect out of “car music” — it’s mostly atonal, and any rhythms are unintentional — but while it might not make the commute feel any shorter, it may very well increase your perceptual awareness, its sine sweeps and pulsating noise blocks blending into the surrounding sounds such that you’re moving not through space, but through the vibrations of sound itself. Take a listen:
In other news, Herndon is about to drop one of my favorite albums of the year next week. It’s titled Movement, and it’s absolutely stunning. Pre-order now via RVNG Intl.
San Diego’s Art Fag Recordings has this way of releasing music on albums without sacrificing any of the live energy of its artists. The self-titled debut from Plateaus is no exception. If it weren’t playing out of the computer speakers directly in front of me, I might be inclined to think that the surf-rock band that lives next door to me was practicing in the middle of the day again. It’s a refreshing sound, like a backyard barbecue house show that you can enjoy year-round.
Stream the entire album below and enjoy endless summer in your cold and/or rainy and/or snowy city whenever you please! I suppose this is kind of what it’s like to live in San Diego.
“Schulze and Shaffner”
Full volume. Come on, try it for this one. I warn you though, this is louder than normal. I’m not sure how to explain it exactly, everything about this is just… bigger. As it should be. This here track “Schulze and Shaffner” is a tribute to those Tjutjuna members we have lost: Brendon Schulze and Adam Shaffner. For those of you who don’t know/didn’t know about the history of the mythical Denver beast known as Tjutjuna, the former iteration of the band as Mothership, the concept album about alien spores they did, or that show at the planetarium (yes, a planetarium, and yes, it was probably amazing)… well, now you do. And the loss of these members? No… no, it’s not a big deal. It’s a huge, fucking gigantic fucking deal, got it? What was lost: some psych. Some. Just enough to hurt. Just enough to enlarge, engorge, and enrage. Slowly, stately, professionally, “Schulze and Shaffner” marches forth in an epic eulogy. Keep your nerves. Deep breaths. Oh okay, cry already. But of course, we persevere. We buck up, keep our chins high, and we stomp on, in this case while traveling at warp speed through a wormhole. We still have these massive drums. We still have these euphoric harmonies stacked to the stars. We’ve got the gently unfurling melodies and the riptides of guitar. We’re going to be okay.
This track is the “b/w” part of the “Desert Song” cassingle from the Colorado psych outfit, who are fresh off an East coast jaunt that took them to CMJ last month. Check out the track below and hit up Fire Talk for a copy of the tape.
• Tjutjuna: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tjutjuna/118920721454555
• Fire Talk: http://firetalk.tumblr.com
E-40 & Too $hort
“Say I” [ft. Wiz Khalifa]
It’s been a really, really long wait, but at last, E-40 and Too $hort are preparing to release their collaborative, two-disc LP, History: Function/Mob Music. Sure, Jay-Z and Kanye was a nice team-up, but this pairing is 2000% more hyphy. Which is probably why it took so damn long. “Say I” is classic Bay Area rap, with a menacing choral beat and recurring pledges to get very, very intoxicated. E-40’s deep-throated squawks are a perfect match for Too $hort’s sharp monotone. And, through some sort of magic, Pittsburgh’s beloved stoner prince Wiz Khalifa sounds right at home in this Cali-indebted track. History drops today, on Election Day; just try to resist the urge to ghost ride the whip at your local polling place.