Stream New Liars, “Scissor,” Which, For the First Two Minutes, Sounds Like Tom Waits Singing a Waltzed Cover of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and then Proceeds to Become a Speed Metal Track, Which is as Confusing, and Not Nearly as Great as It Should Be; Sisterworld Released March 9 [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Jeff Mangum, Indie Folk’s Howard Hughes, Emerges From Seclusion to Record Cover of Tall Dwarfs’ “Sign the Dotted Line” For a Chris Knox Charity Album (Stream 30-Second Sample); Mangum Most Likely Heavily Bearded, Pasty [Pitchfork]
Weezer Frontman Rivers Cuomo, Who Was in a Serious Bus Accident on Sunday, is Recovering Well; Elsewhere, Thousands of Bloggers Breathe Sigh of Relief After Making Slightly Morbid “Say it Ain’t So” Reference Toward the Accident Yesterday; I Instead Choose to Wonder Whether Any Muppets Will Visit Rivers in Hospital [Spin]
British Post-Punk Outfit The Horrors’ Primary Colours is Awarded NME’s Album of the Year, with The xx Taking Second Place; NME Stands Firm in Stance That Britain > U.S.A., Even Though U.S.A. > Britain in Revolutionary War [NME]
Apple Purchases Popular Streaming Media Site/Pitchfork’s Number One Main Squeeze Lala For $17 Million – All Who Purchased Music On Lala May Lose their Songs (But Not to Worry, It’s Mostly Just Copies of Owl City’s “Fireflies”) [Prefix]
Stream “The Old Graveyard” a Track From Gigi, a Canadian Duo Consisting of One of the Guys From No Kids, and Destroyer’s Producer – They Claim It’s Supposed to Sound Like Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Stuff…I Think It Sounds Like an Olivia Tremor Control Cover Band, Which is a Good Thing; Debut LP Maintenant Released Early 2010 [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Wisconsin’s Eau Claire Memorial High School Jazz Band Announces Debut Album, A Decade With Duke; Released Today (And Cindy and Britney are So Excited that Justin Vernon is On the Album – He’s Like SUCH an Indie Heartthrob <333) [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
Supposed Dates For 2010 Daft Punk Tour Leak, Including a Stop in Yankees Stadium on August 15 – Dates are Not Yet Confirmed, But Will Most Likely Be Kept as Robots Have No Place For Scheduling Errors, and Most Likely Have Google Maps Stored in their Titanium Minds [NME]
Sunset Rubdown Frontman/Wolf Parade Co-Frontman/Swan Lake Co-Co-Frontman Spencer Krug Desires More Attention, Records Solo Under Pseudonym “Moonface;” Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums Released January 26 [Pitchfork]
All Tomorrow’s Parties Announce Initial “Don’t Look Back” Line-Up for ATP New York; Iggy & the Stooges Performing Raw Power From Cover to Cover; Remains to be Seen Whether or Not Mr. Pop Will Finally Promise on Walking Street as Cheetah; ATP New York Takes Place September 3, 2010 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Swedish Songstress Lykke Li Releases a Free Cover of the Shirelles’ classic, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Stream It Here; Considering the Heartbreaking Pace of the Song, I’m Guessing Li Has Already Answered that Question With a Firm “No” [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Lily Allen (Who, Let’s Remember, “Quit” Music Due to Illegal Downloading (Allegedly (…At This Point, Pretty Sure She Didn’t Quit))) Says She’s Fine With People Buying Burned Copies of Her CDs, as Long as They Pay For Them; Elsewhere, Who Wants to Buy a “Copy” of Alright, Still? [NME]
Merge Reissues Neutral Milk Hotel’s Albums; Releases Two Videos of Jeff Mangum Playing Aeroplane’s “Two Headed Boy” and Avery Island’s “April 8th.” Warning: These Videos Made Me Cry Due to Intensity of Mangum’s Music and Memories. Maybe NSFW, if Your Co-Workers Are Likely to Call You Names [Youtube]
compiled by Max Sebela
August 6, 2009
Alone At The Microphone
Three Gut | 2001
The question: how does one qualify what constitutes a hidden gem? There seem a handful of conceivable avenues to pursue. There are those underappreciated albums that exist within a generally, or even wildly, appreciated body of work (Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece, Bob Dylan’s World Gone Wrong). There are those albums that, while they garner a reasonable amount of attention, don’t seem to excite as much enthusiasm as one might reasonably expect, depending, of course, on the context and current climate. (It seems to me that Bowerbirds should have achieved the status of independent-folk elite by now.) And then there are those albums that simply never really registered at all – they’re out of print, have little web presence, and have not inspired manifold amateur YouTube covers. I always refer to the Minneapolis-bred Bellwether as figureheads of this latter group. They released what seem to me the unquestionable high-points of “alternative country,” 2001’s Home Late and 2005’s Seven & Six. Both, in my opinion, are perfect albums and absolutely decimate the entire recorded output of Ryan Adams, Rhett Miller, Son Volt, pre-YHF Wilco, etc. And yet, Bellwether just didn’t register. No videos, no tab sites, nothing.
I’d long considered Canada’s Royal City to be Bellwether’s closest companions in this realm of criminal under-appreciation, in this place where incredibly gifted bands release incredibly conceived and performed albums that inspire, for whatever reason, little commercial fanfare. But now, Asthmatic Kitty is releasing a Royal City rarities collection, and I wonder: did Royal City attract hordes of silent admirers? How much did their dissolution contribute to their falling off the grid? It’s a complicated equation. There’s plenty of retired performers that inspire ceaseless speculation and conversation. Have I simply missed the peripheral murmurings, the longings for Royal City’s reformation? Because Alone At The Microphone, their 2001 sophomore effort, is certainly as idol-worship-worthy an album as I’ve found in my collection. I simply don’t know how this album isn’t considered a fundamental template and cornerstone of contemporary dirty-folk music.
More on Royal City | Alone At The Microphone
June 12, 2009
ART OF SONG
“So Come Back, I Am Waiting”
Black Sheep Boy
2005 | Jagjaguwar
I have always likened Will Sheff’s particular genius to that of Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Mangum. At their best, these artists’ compositions and performances seem so deeply organic and inalterable that its hard to conceive of them having been written. In their songs, there is such an incredible and inextricable confluence of emotion, dynamic, and lyric that they seem like some ancient earthen documents, like discoveries rather than efforts; they seem not artisanal but divined, delivered.
“So Come Back, I Am Waiting” is the thematic and emotional culmination of Okkervil River’s masterful Black Sheep Boy, and it is flawless, in composition and performance. Birthed as a whispered dirge, it naturally and effortlessly develops into an anthemic, cloud-parting, breathtakingly grandiose statement of purpose. Okkervil River’s performance is inimitable – admittedly scrappy, but possessed of a maniacal frenzy that ultimately crescendos into magisterial grace. It is, simply, the sound of musicians, mid-performance, stumbling into greatness.
More on Okkervil River | “So Come Back, I Am Waiting”
October 21, 2008
Jeff Mangum, the reclusive lead singer of indie-staple Neutral Milk Hotel, recently resurfaced at several stops on the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour. It all started in NYC on October 11th at the Knitting Factory, when Mangum appeared on stage to play and sing backup for Olivia Tremor Control’s “The Opera House” and “I Have Been Floated,” and Elf Power’s “The Arrow Flies Close.” At the Pittsburgh and Columbus stop of the tour, Mangum went into the crowd to perform Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Engine.”
Is this Mangum’s way of reemerging into an active role in a genre of music that he helped mold? Or was this just a rare opportunity to see one of indie rock’s greatest songwriters perform live before he goes back into hiding? We’ll have to wait to see.
by Melissa Stanley