May 19, 2010
I meet Avan Lava outside St. Cecilia’s Catholic School and Church in Williamsburg. Father Jim walks past and exchanges hellos with multi-instrumentalist Michael “Le Chev” Cheever and singer Tom Hennes as the two finish their cigarettes. Father Jim walks back up the stairs into the school and a few seconds later Cheever and Hennes lead me down to the Church’s basement, filled with rooms that Father Jim rents out to artists, dancers, and musicians. We walk through a maze of dust- and clutter-filled rooms until we reach the recording studio where I sit down and talk with the band.
Avan Lava’s music doesn’t necessarily sound like it was recorded in a church basement—it can certainly be haunting and ambient at times, but still the group switches easily between shoe-gazey, dream pop and bouncy, dance-ready neu-disco. Avan Lava have already released their first EP, Vapors, which you can get on iTunes or their website; but the two are still hard at work, spending hours upon hours in the basement of St. Cecilia’s figuring out and perfecting their constantly changing sound.
Jezebel Music: So how did you guys meet and decide to start working together?
Michael Cheever: We were working with a friend of mine, Ian, and all of us were writing this song together.
Tom Hennes: Yeah, and Ian had seen me sing in something random, and was just like “Hey come sing with me.” So I showed up at the studio and it was the four of us, and Mike and I kept having the same ideas. It was weird.
MC: Especially because we were working with like a 70s, glam rock melody. And everyone was kind of saying, “I dunno, I dunno,” and Tom and I were like, “Yeah, that’s it!”
TH: It’s funny because we were the two people whose input wasn’t really wanted, because we were kind of invited into this project.
MC: I actually don’t think it was fitting the track very well, but it was exciting for us.
April 18, 2010
Yesterday marked the third momentous Record Store Day, and for those scratching your heads trying to remember what a record store even is, it’s one of those long-standing places of business being destroyed by this internet thing (no, not those places). Many people have gotten touchy about the demise of local record stores and for three years running have reserved April 17th to do the unthinkable: going out to buy music they could easily get for free from their computer. Because sometimes to keep something you love, you have to do irrational things like getting married or respecting copyright laws.
Since many musicians grew up in such boutiques and, not to mention, appreciate the idea of people paying for their music, tons of big names help out with the festivities by issuing special vinyl records; this year is no exception, and there is a ton of great wax to collect. A few of the highlights include: a double LP of Pavement’s recent Quarantine the Past compilation that even has a different track listing (now Pavement psychos can argue which is better), a sea foam green vinyl of the Flaming Lips cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, a vinyl reissue of Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica, the Hold Steady’s new LP Heaven is Whenever, a 12” of LCD Soundsystem’s new single “Pow Wow,” and get this, a 7” of Blur’s new single “Fool’s Day.”
All of this is pretty cool stuff, but Blur’s choice to premier “Fool’s Day” as a vinyl on Record Day is a hell of a gesture. This is the first song that the full band (including the brilliant Graham Coxon) has made in seven years, and it happens to not suck. A gritty little minor-chord chugger, it has that Blur charm of being simultaneously melancholy, a bit ragged, and damn catchy. Sure, the melody sounds a bit like the Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight,” but hearing Coxon kick out a sweet riff at the end will make any Blur fan happy. Sadly for us Yanks, the single is only being sold in record stores in the UK, so you will have to stick to the loads of other special records made available yesterday. But if really want to hear ‘Fool’s Day’ you could always find it on, well, the internet. Yeah… that’s a little awkward…. Happy Record Day everybody!
For a list of even more special releases here’s Pitchfork’s list.
by Geoff Anstey
UK Long-Retired, Now-Active UK Songstress Vashti Bunyan To Play One NightAt 92nd Street Y in Tribeca Tonight; Screening Her Documentary Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before Both Tonight and Tomorrow Night [Brooklyn Vegan]
Stream New Brooklyn Duo Coasting’s First Song “Coasting” (It’s Solid Garage Fuzz, With More Sprawling Guitar Than Wavves); Hopefully Their Album Will Also Be Called Coasting, And They Just Make Videos of Them Skimboarding on the Atlantic Coast [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Vampire Weekend Play a Bunch of Songs off Upcoming LP Contra (Released January 12) at London Show; NME Gives No Indication of Whether Songs Were Good or Bad, Or What They Sounded Like…I Create Vendetta Against NME For Lacking Such Opinions [NME]
The Flaming Lips To Record Track by Track Cover of Dark Side of the Moon; Only One Appropriate Joke For the Occasion: Fucking Hippies. [Pitchfork]
Ticketmaster Prints “Free Denny’s Hamburger” Coupon on Morrissey Ticket; Morrissey Vegetarian (If Meat is Murder Wasn’t Convincing Enough For You); This Writer Laughs, Animal Ethicist Peter Singer Cries (Probably; I Do Not Know The Man) [Idolator]
Jack White’s Other Garage Rock Band Dead Weather Already Halfway Through Follow-Up To This Year’s Horehound; Expecting Release Before End of 2009…I Convinced Jack White’s Business Proof That Sleeping = Optional For Human Beings [Spin]
compiled by Max Sebela
October 6, 2009
IN THE TUBE
Well, I got one wrong. In 2007, two god-loving French DJs under the name Justice released an album of throwback, Michael Jackson sounding electro-pop that they simply called † (I reiterate, these guys are religious, and in a Prince-esque move, forewent proper album title in favor of a cross – symbolism entails wackiness, which directly correlates to overall fun). It was innocuous and satisfyingly vapid electro-pop, occasionally acting like it had some higher-end order (“Waters of Nazareth”), but really just looking to make you dance, as dance music rightfully should.
Long story short † earned high critical accolades, and deservedly – it was a really fun record. But, as with most yearly buzz bands, I was immediately skeptical, and forcefully predicted that in just two years, this band would be meaningless. They were in some way the epitome of this decade’s return of dance music (which yes, if you go through my editorials, I mention far too often): while LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy held tightly to punk and Hercules and Love Affair stayed glam and new wave-y with their electropop, Justice embraced raw, leather-chap wearing, ecstasy takin’, chest hair sweatin’, coked-up moustache Eurotrash disco techno (if that can feasibly become a realized genre, my life goals will be complete). But being at an extreme side of the dance movement made them easy targets, and as with any genre, when you fly too close to the sun (in this situation, the galaxy is constructed around some kind of disco sun…a giant rotating colored light ball will suffice), you’re bound to fall.
This year is convincing me that I was all wrong about Justice. 2009 has seen two Justice remixes: first, they took to remixing U2’s “Get On Your Boots,” the god awful lead single off this year’s No Line on the Horizon. They someone turned it from a modern-rock catastrophe, to a convincing sex dance, with a ridiculously bass drum and some hilarious ragtime piano. It made Bono a whole lot easier to stomach, even as he squeals, “I’ve gotta submarine/ you’ve got gasoline.” Uh…yeah.
More on Justice Remix | Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule”