Well, I've been home for the holidays for a few weeks now, dealing with the transition from noisy, crowded London to the eerily quiet, suburban strip mall haven where I was born and raised. I'm unemployed and broke, but I have access to ‘free’ wireless from my parents' neighbor's houses and a large stash of vegetarian TV dinners! It has been a long and cold three weeks, and as the needles begin to drop from the Christmas tree and the holiday cookies start to disappear, my interest in fairly painful, but also pretty damn spectacular scream-y music is totally SKYROCKETING.
As a result, I have been listening to the tracks on Crystal Castles' MySpace page almost obsessively. (Okay, there's no "almost" to it, just a whole lot of "obsessively.") It's all Atari noises, aggressive dance beats, and screaming. And it's the perfect soundtrack to that "Yes, I have an MA, but what I really want to do is work at your chain coffee shop!" post-holiday malaise! Of course, there is also the fact that I truly like magical things like unicorns and She-Ra, and therefore if you name your band "Crystal Castles," I am probably going to be super into your music.
The Toronto duo is embarking on a six-week tour that will serve as a taster for their upcoming full-length, set to be released March 18, 2008 on Last Gang Records. The band has toured extensively in Japan, Australia, Europe, and the UK over the past year. On this upcoming North American tour, the LA awesomeness that is HEALTH will open all dates.
Everybody should have a happy place or a tranquil spot to retreat to whenever life throws a curve ball. If an idyllic cottage on the lake isn’t at your disposal, you could always “pull a Vashti" and leave for the highlands and sidelands of Scotland and Ireland like Ms. Bunyan did at the onset of the 1970s after her solo career failed to materialize the way everybody expected. Note: one can suppose that if Bunyan had a particular taste for fur rugs and [Mars Bars like another of Andrew Loog Oldham’s ingénues, she might have made a bigger splash, but that's another speculative story for another speculative time.]
One of Bunyan’s labelmates at FatCat is Norwegian artist Silje Nes, who creates similarly spectacular intimate “feel” music, proving handily that while guys may have the wussy mall-rock market cornered, the gals just cannot be beat at crafting highly integrated, emotive, personal, inviting, heartbreaking, berserk... well, you get the picture. Then there is Nes' pitch witchery; she makes someone like Hope Sandoval sound like a mongrel dog with a throat box and a bad case of crotch rot. She cannot be heard without envisioning an angel astride a gossamer-winged unicorn swooshing around near a silk-tasseled rainbow. Yes, that good.
Nes’ debut album, Ames Room, was written and recorded in spontaneous creative bursts using a healthy host of instruments, electronics, and found sounds. It is, frankly, peerlessly beautiful. Those with a particular penchant for imported models can pick up the UK/European album now, but those who prefer to build anticipation and wait for such things in a timely manner can realize their delay-engrossed goals on February 26 in North America.
“…an angel astride a gossamer-winged unicorn swooshing around near a silk-tasseled rainbow”? What the hell? One week in, and it looks like I have already blown my resolution to actually make some sense this year!.
1. Over All
3. Shapes, Electric
4. Ames Room
5. Giant Disguise
6. Dizzy Street
7. Long Shadows Left Behind
8. Bright Night Morning
9. Recurring Dream
10. Searching, White
11. Magnetic Moments of Spinning Objects
14. No Bird Can
With Kenya in a disputed-election situation gone increasingly south, those who were once making a steady living in the country -- and especially the nation's capital -- have seen their businesses destroyed or shut down and their lives reduced to day-to-day survival. One group in particular has been struggling since the start of the riots: musicians. Because of the spreading violence, curfews have been put in place that have effectively put an end to the career of anyone making ends meet via evening gigs.
Opiyo Bilongo, Onyango Wuod Omari, and Onyango Jagwasi, 3/5ths of the Obama-loving, Kenyan/American hybrid group Extra Golden, are three such musicians who live in Nairobi. Fellow bandmates Alex Minoff and Ian Eagleson, have put a message up on the band's website, appealing for financial help:
Opiyo Bilongo, Onyango Wuod Omari and Onyango Jagwasi [...] all have large extended families for whose well-being they are entirely responsible. Of course, as musicians, that well-being is provided for through nightly work at clubs. With dusk-to-dawn curfews in place, these men are all unable to work, and a subsistence that was already hand-to-mouth has become non-existent. They have been forced to leave their homes, which have subsequently been looted. Their families have almost no food and no clean water. Even with the swiftest possible resolution to the country's debilitating political situation, it is hard to foresee a time in the near future when these men will be able to go back to work.
As the bandmates and friends of these exceptional men, we are used to helping them out of financial jams but, as musicians ourselves, this critical situation is one that is simply beyond our own means. While the plights of Bilongo, Omari and Jagwasi are by no means unique in a country full of desperation, it is within our power to help them and their families directly. We are asking for donations of $5. Of course we will accept any amount you can muster, but we believe that with enough contributions of $5 we can make a huge difference in our friends' lives.
To make a donation, please go to http://www.paypal.com and choose "send money". When asked for the email address of the recipient, enter service [at] kanyokanyo.com. Please feel free to forward this message. We thank you in advance for your compassion and we hope that your help will enable us to compose a song of thanks for our next album.
The band's latest LP -- the excellent Hera Ma Nono -- was released last year on Thrill Jockey and should definitely be picked up after sending the band a much-needed donation.
As reunion-mania rolls on through the times we live in, people often make proclamations as to which bands from the past they wish would reappear in the present. From my unofficial research (the status of which will likely remain that way), I have found that some of the most desired reunions would be Pavement, Charm Farm, and Hüsker Dü. While I cannot argue on the first two (hearing Perver in its entirety would be Heaven on a stage), the last one is a waste of a wish. Bobby M is on his own (vocoder-laced) trip these days -- plus, to put it bluntly, it would probably suck. Distortion-filled, punk-indebted rock is a young man's game, so why would you want the Dü around when you already have Parts & Labor at your fingertips?
Parts & Labor are performing music with vitality and spirit that resonates better in 2007 than Bob, Grant & Greg would be, and that is without the aid of performance-enhancing nostalgia, which is all too common in the reunion-lousy 21st Century. As an added bonus, you won't have to put up with all the old-timers from the ‘80s, which includes a reprieve from the liquor-filled rants about how they are a tougher breed because they didn't have the internet and things of that nature back then. Those Guitar Center employees can stay home and listen to Candy Apple Grey; fans of active bands can go see Parts & Labor and maybe pick up a few of their albums, including this year's Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar) and bassist/keyboardist BJ Warshaw's more electronic side project, Shooting Spires, which just released a self-titled LP on the P&L label Cardboard Records.
As insatiable music fan Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.) once said, "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
First release for Wham City Records: a Dan Deacon 7-inch featuring a live version of "Silence Like the Wind" from his forthcoming February 8 performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Now hover your mouse over the pic above to watch a special, distorted, awesome Wham City amination!
Some Guy in Tennessee Actually Upset About Being the Recipient of an MP3 Player Pre-Loaded With Porn
I hope each of you TMT readers had a very special holiday season. Things went pretty much as they always do for me: another year where I drink too much eggnog on Christmas morning, another year where I’m asked never to return to the Gap my ex-girlfriend works at, another year where I don’t get my family any presents and call it art. Nothing too exciting. My only regret is that I didn’t stock up on MP3 players at Wal-Mart when I had the chance.
Until recently, Wal-Mart was known across the globe as a promoter of mainstream values. Who could forget the way they so nobly released a version of Nirvana’s In Utero featuring the song "Waif Me"? Until this winter, everybody everywhere adored absolutely everything Wal-Mart stood for. Yet the retail chain has recently made some enemies via its latest experimental marketing strategy. The new promotion, which Wal-Mart has yet to officially recognize, involves allowing customers to buy MP3 players, chock ‘em full of pornographic material of their choosing, and return them, where they will then be mixed anonymously in with other MP3 players and sold. The lucky winner of such an MP3 player was Cookeville resident and father of three, Daryl Hill.
Hill bought each of his children an MP3 player as Christmas presents and foolishly neglected to check the allegedly brand new MP3 players for pre-loaded porn before giving them away. His 10-year-old daughter ended up with the MP3 player, who apparently watched a substantial amount of video. Hill was quoted as saying "Within 10 minutes, my daughter was crying... I wish I could take the thoughts and images out of her head." What happened during the first nine minutes of the video is unknown, though it is believed that they were comprised mostly of “softcore” or “upstairs” footage.
Hill would not accept a replacement from Wal-Mart, presumably due to the slight chance it would contain a genie or a money machine, which would likely induce fits of violent weeping in his daughter lasting for weeks on end. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart has since ended the promotion and has both returned to its former policy of not placing used items back in stock and initiated a campaign encouraging customers not to buy MP3 players, put porn on them, and then get busted by their 10-year-old daughter.
Lambchop Tour, And I Finally Discover That Lamb Chop, The Puppet is Spelled Differently than Lambchop, The Band
Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and the genuine smile of Shari Lewis. My childhood was full of those three things, and as a young boy, I was inspired to be a puppeteer. I grew up in an area consumed by urban sprawl and Wal-Mart, so my only chance of getting out of a small town like St. Paris, OH was to either be a sports sensation or enter show business. I tried to convince my parents that being a puppeteer was being part of show business, but my father ended up crucifying my sock puppets while blaring AC/DC from our wood shed. I learned quickly that AC/DC and whisky made my dad to do some strange things. So, I was essentially forced by my parents to give up my dreams of show business as a crossroads approached quickly: either attempt the high school thing (assuming I can play sports) or start working.
I started working.
I began work at an automotive parts factory that I could ride my four-wheeler to. I had a Polaris Trailblazer; it was two-stroke, and you had to mix the gas with oil. Easy upkeep and I lost my virginity on/in/under it. That ATV was my best friend. Eventually, I had forgotten completely about the dream of being a puppeteer, and I was working overtime at the factory. I didn't have time to think about cute sheep made out of socks, and instead it was booze and "bitches" for me. It was all I had time for. I had a good friend who had some radical taste in music, and he introduced me to a lot of good tunes. One particular band he introduced me to ultimately changed my life: Lambchop. I couldn't believe the name of this band, and then he let me hear my first Lambchop song, "I Will Drive Slowly."
The lyrics went like this:
"No Age’s music is not instantly inviting," says Sasha Frere-Jones, writer for The New Yorker. And by that, Frere-Jones means to say that, literally, No Age's music hasn't sent out invitations. In a way, I understand what he means. It's a little upsetting that all the blog hype and zine cream amounted to, you know, no invitations. You'd think we'd get a little something something. On the other hand, I feel like Frere-Jones is simply expecting too much from No Age's music. I ask: how can one expect invitations from something that doesn't even have sentience?!?
Ha, thanks! Comedy comes easy to me!
Anyway, No Age are set to debut their debut Sub Pop full-length. The album, titled Nouns, is due May 6 and will not -- I repeat -- WILL NOT be a collection of tracks, like last year's Weirdo Rippers. As we've already reported (remember the mashup?), the dudes are going on tour with Liars, so check ‘em out as they play some new tunes. BUT DON'T EXPECT AN INVITATION, TEE HEE.
% WITHOUT Liars
Caribou Plan Further Into The Future Than Most Of You, Will Reportedly Be Releasing Their 1, 5, 10 & 25 Year Plans Very Soon
What are you doing for the next four months? Do you know where your life will be in, say, late March or May 2? Sure, 2008 is little more than a week old, but Dan Snaith and his touring buds already know exactly what will be going on in their world for the next four months: one big-ass tour, stretching from the four corners of the globe to the nether regions of the soul.
Starting with Japan, Caribou will travel to about 19 more countries (sorry countries in Africa and South America) to promote last year's excellent Andorra (TMT Review) on Merge. About the time of blooming flowers, the band will be wrapping things up with a return trip to England for something called ATP Vs. Pitchfork, which, from my research, seems to be a festival celebrating the convergence of electronics and farming. Well, maybe the organizers of this extremely under-promoted and under-reported festival think the band is made up of actual North American wild Reindeer. Then this would make perfect sense.
See you in May, Dan.
Apparently, dreams do come true, as former Q and Not U member, Chris Richards is well aware of. The FADER publisher, Andy Cohn, announced recently that Richards would take over the position of Executive Editor for the music publication.
But wait, we know Richards can play music damn well, but can he write about it?
Well, my friend, unless you live in the Washington D.C. area, you were probably unaware of the fact that Richards has been a longtime columnist for The Washington Post, covering music, arts,, and culture for the Style and Sunday Source sections for the past six years. And the dude has a B.A. in Fine Arts from George Washington University, so, you know, that’s got to count for something.
Richards released the following statement about his new position: “I feel like The FADER has just hired its biggest fan. [They’ve] been turning me on to new sounds for years and I'm thrilled to be joining a team of journalists as enthusiastic about the future of music as I am.”
Cohn sounded equally as excited about his new hire: “After meeting with Chris we knew he was the perfect person for the position. His incredible background combined with his passion for music blew me away and I'm really excited to be working with him as we continue to grow The FADER and explore new terrain for the brand.”