Friday, August 20, 2010

Future Islands

"B'More: Never Been Scurd - reasons to believe you won't get shot"

John Waters - a mustache such as his doesn't survive in a true 'hood
Baltimore Aquarium - the city would never spend money on those massive tanks if it thought drive-by's were a real threat
Merriweather Post Pavillion - that thing would be a crack den in two days if it was a valid possibility
Janet Diggs - my pupsy whitebread mother managed to grow-up on Sherwood Ave. without skills in knifefighting.
Samuel Herring, William Cashion, Gerritt Welmers - would not be complete fools and move up from Greenville, NC unless they thought they'd make it to 2011 without undergoing a gang initiation, and be able to make sicknasty No Wave music in this underrated city.

Truth is, the scene always has to start somewhere. Places like Brooklyn and Portland weren't always that cool, ok? I wasn't alive back then, but I've heard that was the deal from some trusted sources. Animal Collective, Beach House and Dan Deacon call it home; the latter of which pleaded a good case with the boys of Future Islands, who knew him from days at ECU playing in the performance art band Art Lord & the Self-Portraits.

FI's May release In Evening Air might be one of my favorite albums of this balmy season. Chariot-driven rhythms, dreamscape sounds and focus on musical textures over melodies. And it's a breakup album - I don't care how hysterically in love you are, because we all find luxurious despondence in expressions of ragged heartbreak. Frontman Herring's lyrics of a relationship's decomposition will have any one of us staring into an emptied bottle.
And any time you look like a former linebacker with the stage theatrics of Jarvis Cocker, you're pretty damn solid in my book. I simultaneously want to be fireman-carried by him and participate in a modern dance troupe with him. Weird?

Future Islands // Tin Man
Future Islands f. Katrina Ford // In the Fall

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

Put on your new pants and move out to France.

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl want to make sure your ear catches totally boss lyrical efforts on Acoustic Sessions, October release.
These two are so pretty with a band name so stealth it makes me mildly ill.

Usually an electronic amorous pair, the nine track album features just what's needed - guitar, piano, vibraphone - to exacerbate their trippy hippie pop pysch folk feeling. That is the most ridiculous genre listing ever. We're making up a word for it right now. We're calling it MACRAME SYNTH. Fruit snack on that.

The Ghost of Saber Tooth Tigers // Jardin du Luxembourg

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Walkmen

I'd been one glum hamster since that last post. That was way too much reality in my real world. So much so that I had to drink an entire bottle meant to be reserved for some romantical thing or another, just to get my shoes tied up tight.
And you know what, friend? My life is lived romantically, so I can drink that grape juice whenever I want. A votre sante.

Speaking of boozy romance - these boys are that and a key-bump of cheeto dust. Since '04, the Walkmen have kept their cacophonous, howling, careless abandon center stage. The kind of stuff that made you want to do the Walk of Shame. Lisbon, set to release September 14th, doesn't forget those wild nights, but lucidly evaluates what many-a-midnight hour provided.

Hamilton Leithauser and crew took two trips to Portugal's capital over the course of writing the album. It's stripped, plaintive musculature could easily put you
in the corner of a dusky blue room, looking out over rust-colored roofs leading to Ursa sands. Drool. The title and closing track are a little tip of the cap to it's muse.

Few more personal standouts are "Angela Surf City's" unhinged percussion and next-door subtleties of "While I Shovel the Snow." Featured track could still have me doing the Walk, only a little more elegantly with my hair smoothed behind my ears.

The Walkmen // Blue As Your Blood

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lost in the Trees

Ari Picker (B-Sides, the Never) grew up in a small, skipped-over town outside of Chapel Hill, NC back in the early 80's. The Picker family didn't have much; but unlike the cozy fairytales where the family lives on laughter, air and maybe some loaves of sweet brown bread - they didn't have much in the way of anything. The house was one of hostility, sadness and loss. We're talking the major, scary things - parent's who loathed the space the other existed in, twin sister siblings who died at birth and his mother's subsequent depression. Just looking at the list makes me want to press my forehead against my prefab laminate desktop and close my eyes against it.

Picker got away, away, attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he was trained in classical composition. His love of sweeping orchestration, combined with rustic folk roots and the right people, has brought him to his current band, Lost in the Trees. He writes the music and hands it out to those who truly want to play his old ghosts out to the room. He is not afraid to tell the tale of what has been; that he had been All Alone In An Empty Room - expected to release Aug. 10.

The titular song samples the creak of old floorboards as we enter this abandoned effigy. It starts easily enough with Picker's acoustic guitar picks, but it's not long before provocative lyrical samples from actual arguments of his parents
, I built you this gorgeous house/To put up with your bitch tongue, let's you know you can never be warm here. The instrumentalists come in one by one, swarming and surrounding yet his tremulous vocals remain alone.

You're thinking, "jesus h, woman. Way to shave my buzz for the week," but it's worth the listen. You'll hear the influence of Bernard Hermann's Hitchcock soundtracks in his interludes "Mvt. 1 and 2." Instrumentation is downright impressive, and as we hope for him since the opening note - there is light on the other side. Picker has said in recent interviews that the rawness of his lyrics cracked the doors that separated his family from each other. "You really felt that?" "Why didn't you ever say it?"

Well. He is.

Lost in the Trees // All Alone in an Empty Room

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How To Dress Well

Tom Krell, research translator of post-Kantian philosophy by day. Subterranean-fi R&B artist and sound designer by night. What a mystery. What an enigma. What a long lost twin of mine - because they are few people in this world who sweat early 90's R&B like I do.
"Candy Rain," "Twisted," be still my heart.
Difference being I do solo cracked croons in the car while he emulates and shares with all the world on his living breathing blog.

HTDW is escapist, deconstructed molasses miasma. The sound design elements - synthesizer, Aaliyahe-esque "ahs," handclaps - are so singular you know they feel nakey. Once exposed, they futilely attempt to cover themselves under
his keening falsetto - like a Timberlake-after-a-balls-kick falsetto. But there's not much to hold onto before it's gone again.

Our smooth sound hero returns this month after his debut tour in Europe. Full length LP due out in September; you can cruise with me and belt Kci & JoJo in the Jetta if you're feening till then.

How to Dress Well // Ready For the World

How to Dress Well // Ready For the World (Twin Sister Remix)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arcade Fire

I perch on my second-hand couch in a shotgun 1-bedroom flat on Grace Street. The first place of my own on an "artsy" block in this old, slow, charming city. The stylish kids coast down the street on single-speeds. Leashed dogs pad down the sidewalk. A lover's pair of cardinals have a nest in the oak in front of my window.
My quartered building is two down from a halfway house, my bike's been stolen, I suffer the August drone of window units, and I make my sandwiches on top of the washer - as it's the only counter-top available.
That's my personal interpretation of The Suburbs, releasing Aug. 3. Read on for something a bit more glossy.

It's a different notso different Arcade album compared to what's come before. Funeral, '04 was our first taste of the massive singalongs influenced by several deaths of relatives to the septet; drenching us in an orgy of instruments - viola, French horn, doublebass, xylophone, glockenspiel and hurdy-gurdy just as appetizer. Neon Bible, '06, a soldier's concept album, was cramped and paranoid; disavowing the things American dreams are made of.
The Suburbs, even more so than NB, needs to be listened from start to finish. And it might take a few listens, so dedicate more than a coupla hours to your headphones. Admittedly, I had moments of "they are turning into g-d U2" and "what is this, a Bruce Springsteen relic," but just keep at it, they'll become more themselves. Because see, before Win and Will Butler made their way up to Montreal to set the kindling of Arcade Fire, they grew up in The Woodlands - ridiculously ordinary suburban sprawl of Houston, TX. This piece of information changed them a bit in my eyes. They're not quite so pale, tightroping another dimension. And so we set our stage.

When you first turn in,
all you see is the dreamy haze of sprinklers. The music rollingly plinks along "The Suburbs," the sun shines on tow-haired children and cars stay under 25mph.
Drive through a roundabout or two of "Empty Room," and you catch glimpses of angsty, lonely teenagers. Unhappily smoking filched cigarettes, collecting together by ditches lining the manicured hedges. There is wistfulness, a pull of where you come from and where you'd rather be.
By the time you crest the hill of "Half Light," couples are fighting in the driveways after one too many at the neighbors, not noticing their middle child slipping away into the evening. Even the twilight can't keep the edges from being hard and unyielding. No amount of drawn shades can keep the prying eyes away.

But then after all the "Sprawl," dimmed dreams and forgotten teddy-bears in emerald front lawns. You can drive away away, flicking your gaze to the rearview mirror. "If I could have it back, all the time we wasted, I'd only waste it again."

Arcade Fire // Suburban War