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It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that last night’s Juliana & Evan show at Mercury Lounge, the second in a two-night stint, was a bit more like therapy than a straight reunion. Anyone who has followed the career of these two ’90s alterna-babes knows that their relationship has always been tumultuous and somewhat undefined, at least in the public eye. Rumors about their relationship have persisted for more than two decades; here, they at least tried to lay them to rest.
“This is explicitly about having sex with you,” Dando mumbled, prefacing the hit “It’s About Time.”
Continue reading at Sound of the City.
Listening to extremely loud, abrasive noise music is an exhilarating experience because while you’re in it, there’s nothing you can do but give in, and endure–just ask the more than 50 people crowded into Issue Project Room last night for the first of a two-set night with Merzbow, Japan’s preeminent sonic terrorist. When it’s over, you’re just a little bit stronger. (Though our eardrums may beg to disagree. The music was so loud even the most die-hard fans were sporting earplugs, which the venue was handing out like candy.)
Continue reading at Sound of the City...
Reading reviews can, in fact, turn people on to music they’ve never heard before. The power of words can be as strong as listening to a song and deciding for yourself. The list of Pitchfork albums reviewed today included one written by Liz Colville, a smart and eloquent writer. Colville discussed Alibi Coast by Sebastian Blanck, formerly of Black Dice, as if his album was a chapter in a long, important novel.
“Blanck is at his best when he gives himself over to these unresolved, knotted issues, accepting that a song doesn’t have to end with an answer.”
That lesson can be applied to anyone’s life. Inspired by the review, I sought out some tracks, choosing “Don’t Let the Darkness Gather Me” to post. This beautiful and haunting folk song is given added warmth and oomph by collaborator Becky Stark from Lavendar Diamond. Her angelic vocals would sound fitting in a church, inside a hymn sung out joyously from a wooden pew. This song isn’t joyous, though– the album was written during the time when Blanck was mourning the loss of his brother, who drowned.
Sebastian Blanck: Don’t Let the Darkness Gather Me
The album is out on Rare Book Room.
I got wet at Todd P’s unamplified, acoustic “bbq” on Sunday. Check it out:
When two shirtless men playing bongos tell you to clap, you clap–even when the sky is pouring rain, even when you’re all the way out in Jamaica Bay, even when you’re one of only 25 or so people at the show.
Continue reading at Sound of the City.
Vibes matter man. When a bunch of unknowing and unconscious assholes show up some place and do shit that makes no sense and bother others while doing it, the vibes are altered. Now, we all know Altered Zones are great, but this wasn’t great at all.
Which brings me to the Underwater Peoples Summertime Showcase on Saturday night at Shea Stadium. For whatever reason, in attendance was a handful of big time posers who had no clue that this was NOT a punk or hard-core show. So they acted as “punk” as they could, by kicking each other and spitting on the stage. Now, if this were a real punk show these kids would have had the shit kicked out of them (which is maybe why they chose the chillest place in Bushwick to bring their shenanigans). Besides the inappropriateness of their actions, what really made me sad was what their presence and attitude means for the future of underground, anti-authoritative music and culture. These kids were Hot Topic, personified.
What’s most depressing though, is that the bands, all of whom are great, really brought their A-game. The performances were lively, well-rehearsed and, in many cases, full of new material. I don’t know if the bands were much bothered by the crowd, but for those of us there for the music, it was hard to get lost in it.
I mean come now, moshing to Alex Bleeker and the Freaks? I don’t think his music could possibly inspire violent physical reactions. I guess anything is possible, but I would place a bet that a more enjoyable reaction would be a bit more heady and less aggressive.
Even though I badly wanted to see Julian Lynch perform again, I left early. Those kids weren’t the only reason, but they were part of it. I heard they were gone before Lynch and Real Estate took the stage much later in the evening, and for that we can all be grateful. I’m sure all good vibes were restored after they peaced out.
So, the point is, vibes matter. And hey kids! I’m not an old stick in the mud, I enjoy moshing and stage diving from time to time. But when it makes no sense, it only makes you look like the biggest idiot in the world. And I don’t think that’s what you’re going for.
Ok, all of that aside though, the bands I saw were totally rocking. Fluffy Lumbers with a FULL band, including the drummer from the recently disbanded Pants Yell!, was on fire. Really great. Alex Bleeker debuted a bunch of new and startlingly dark songs (and played a cover of Say It Ain’t So!). No Demons Here performed with a full band, (first time ever?), which really fleshed the sound out. Be sure to see these bands SOON.
Go to NJ Underground for more pics!
The most simple and desperate of themes, love and desire, guide the new La Big Vic song. “LYNY” is a hypnotic, electronic rumination on what it feels like to be isolated, alone, perhaps even desperate. But in true high style, the song picks up and takes on a positive tone when Emilie Friedlander begins to sing and the drums kick in.
“I love you, I need you. I love you, I need you.” Lyrics like that present the dichotomy always present in scenarios of human relationships. To love and to need is both comforting and frightening. Of course, this can also apply to psychic roaming and wandering. We all want to understand how sound works, but ignorance is bliss, as they say. To get caught up in confusion can be more rewarding.
La Big Vic has only a few tracks circulating, but each one is better than the last. “Heyo (Silver Morning)” is a bit more atmospheric than “LYNY,” but both are deserving of a close listen.
La Big Vic is playing three shows at the end of the month, including an MME presents gig at Glasslands on Friday, July 30. Check the flyer below.
La Big Vic: LYNY
Mountain Man: Made the Harbor
The first track of Made the Harbor, “Buffalo” invites you to “follow, follow, follow,” and that’s just what a listener needs to do with this sparse yet not at all bare album: follow the voices in three-part harmony as far as you can, both metaphorically and literally.
Mountain Man formed in Vermont, obviously, but that’s the only obvious fact about this band. Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Amelia Randall Meath and Molly Erin Sarle sing folk songs, yes, but the music is not simple. On the surface, the themes–nature, female sexuality, human connectivity—may seem easily understandable, but the voices beg the listener to get lost.
The debut album is about nuance, and it would be unfair to label it a “backporch charmer” or an “iced-tea beauty.” While it is certainly refreshing, calming and soul quenching, some songs on Made the Harbor are devastating in their intensity. This is not background music.
“Soft Skin” is one such song. A simple story, perhaps, of a woman enjoying her surroundings: her own skin and the “cool green tiles in the kitchen.” But ultimately, this song is about recognizing and understanding the difference between what we want and what we need, which is a thread that runs through this whole album. The women in Mountain Man don’t just sing, they inspire you to question existance.
Made the Harbor is also about transcendence. In “Loon Song” Sauser-Monnig imitates a loon call, thus becoming a part of nature and not just an observer. If you’re not an ecologist and you’re not sure what’s special about a loon, here’s some information. The water bird can age up to 30-years, lives in a monogamous relationship and is the Minnesota state bird, which is also Sauser-Monnig’s home state. The loon’s call is loud and melodic, and echoes far and wide, particularly over the vast lakes where it chooses to make its home. The loon call in this song is from the mouths of Mountain Man. They are calling to you, the listener, to follow them on their journey. It’s hard not to do just that.
Recorded with just an acoustic guitar and the three singers in an attic and a former ice-cream factory, Made the Harbor certainly feels like an informal and homey affair. Just as you’d imagine, breathing, footsteps, sighs and crumpled paper are all included on the recording. Why omit the natural sound of the process?
Made the Harbor is a unique album, a collection of songs that should fit snugly into your life. And as folk songs are prone to do, these tracks too beg for the opportunity to be endlessly replayed.
Mountain Man: Soft Skin
The music of Beach Fossils sounds like a very fragrant flower: irresistibly syrupy sweet and utterly simple and colorful. But actually, beneath the petals and fragrance is a band that strives for complicated texture and melody.
Beach Fossils is a breezy pop band, heavy on the reverb. But Dustin Payseur has a thing with melody, it’s a bond that feels very, very strong. He plays in what Total Slacker’s Tucker Rountree described as “baroque style” melody driven progression, that “implies chordal structure.” So Payseur doesn’t actually play chords, he’s plays around them. And in fact, bassist John Pena is the one playing the song’s melody.
Guitarist Chris Burke used to lend rhythmic, shiny guitar to the mix, but last night was his last with Beach Fossils. He’s left so he can pursue his band, Red Romans.
See Sound of the City for more pics and words on the show at the Mercury Lounge last night.
Mount Wittenberg Orca has come out at a time when people need, more than anything, something real and truthful and topical. Dave Longstreth likely didn’t plan for the album to drop during the worst environmental crisis this country’s ever seen, but it did.
The collaborative project between Dirty Projectors and Bjork is a lesson in communication. The entire EP pulsates with emotional longing and a desire to understand and be connected to others. You can feel it in the singing. Subjects like whale mothers and swimming through the ocean can have that affect.
And that’s where the genius of this album lies. Through instrumentation, the listener is forced into confronting the sad reality mankind is in the midst of. This is music that is transcendent but not in the typical sense. It forces you to stay here, in this realm, this zone, this space that we all share, and think about what is right in front of all of us.
The music is basically what you’d imagine from this team. Bjork croons in her sing-song jazzy way, and the sirens of Dirty Projectors hocket all over the tracks. Listen to “When the World Comes to an End” and “Beautiful Mother” and focus on each singer’s voice one at a time. You will get lost, guaranteed.
All of Mount Wittenberg Orca is jazzy. Drummer Brian McComber and bassist Nat Baldwin sync together to support the vocalists– they provide the Orca’s strong backbone. Lightly hit cymbals and upright bass make for a remarkably thick sound, despite how stripped-down it is.
The addition of Bjork to the Dirty Projectors mix is interestingly clean and unfussy. She sounds like she could have been there all along. She leads Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle but never towers over them. In fact, it can be argued that the three DP’s singers deliver more of a punch that she does on this album. Bjork doesn’t take part in the collaborative three-part harmonies, she does her own thing. Even Longstreth takes a harmonizing, back-seat role, (on “Beautiful Mother.”)
The old adage is true. BE HERE NOW.
Stream “All We Are” and buy the album. All proceeds go to National Geographic Society Ocean Preservation.
I generally don’t like the idea of music festivals. Too much to see, too many people, over-priced beer, stages that are too big for indie bands, etc. But I do like The L Magazine’s Northside Festival. Here are my reasons:
1. It’s cheap. Badges, although not guaranteed entry, are only $50, and last for four-days.
2. Sponsoring is minimal. Yeah, Heineken was everywhere. But that was basically it. In the press goody bag I got a healthy aloe drink, pirate booty and a novel. That’s the most inoffensive sponsoring ever.
3. It’s in BROOKLYN!
4. Stages are curated and presented by local blogs and websites. In SXSW fashion, you get to go to your favorite blogs or media peoples’ shows. But it’s on a smaller and more unique scale.
This year marked the 2nd year of Northside, and the bands were great.
Titus Andronicus. Especially when Patrick Stickles told audience members to “not be animals and throw trash everywhere.”
Coasting. This dynamic duo from Brooklyn play fast and ferocious punk rock ala 2010, with tons of reverb. The band played the Brooklyn Based showcase, which MME curated! (Pat on the back.)
Cloud Nothings. The power-pop of alterna-rock Cleveland outfit Cloud Nothings is so infectious you’ll find yourself jumping up and down. The band played its first show opening for Real Estate back in early December, and are on tour with Wavves. That’s not for no reason….
Andrew Cedermark. Does being in a 120 degree room with humidity and feeling like a breath of fresh air is being blown over your soul and into your ears sound possible? It is.
Dana Jewell. Love songs at their most tender.