May 13, 2010
At Echo Lake
2010 | Woodsist
It’s been a little over a year since Woods released their last album, 2009’s well-received Songs of Shame, a record of lo-fi folk that garnered the group some pretty significant attention and made them standouts among the rest of the fuzz-heavy Woodsist family (e.g. Wavves, Vivian Girls, et al.). Still, Woods has wasted no time following up Songs of Shame. Their fifth record, At Echo Lake, bears many similarities to the group’s previous releases (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing), but also finds them toying with their rustic-Brooklyn sound.
“Blood Dries Darker” kicks off the record with a sunny guitar lick and a distant tom-and-snare beat that’s right out of 1960’s San Francisco, before floating into an acoustic melody that would make Crosby, Stills, & Nash jealous. “Suffering Season,” one of the record’s highlights, sways effortlessly and cheerily, balancing James Earl’s fuzzed-out vocals and an overdriven electric guitar with steady acoustic strumming and crisp background chimes. “Who knows what tomorrow might bring?” Earl sings, his Neil Young-like falsetto still strong under the heavy bedroom production.
It’s songs like these that show Woods undoubtedly growing as musicians and songwriters. The melodies on At Echo Lake are infectious and never hard to distinguish amidst the wide range of instruments and noises that fade in and out of every song throughout the album. “Time Fading Lines” is, for the most part, hauntingly clean and open, but sporadically the song swells with clatter —“As the hours let go / Time fading lines creep into control” sings Earl, his voice stoic, as the drums grow and a wail of feedback crawls out of nowhere.
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
The Second Annual Beatles Complete Ukulele Festival Will Take Place on December 5 and 6 in Williamsburg; Every Beatles Song Will Be Played on the Ukulele…And All Money Goes to Yoko Ono (Last Year, It Went to Warren Buffet); All Reading This Ought Be As Confused As I Am [Jezebel Music]
Stream a Re-Recording of Wavvves Cut “To the Dregs,” and a New Wavves Song “Horse Sholes” – Have an Existential Crisis Over the Fact that You Don’t Really Hate Wavves Anymore, As Zach Hill Brings Much-Needed Chops to the Project; Feel Dejected; Claim to Hate Wavves Anyway [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Brooklyn Over-Hyped But Endlessly Catchy Dance-Pop Duo MGMT Title Upcoming LP Congratulations, As In: Congratulations, MGMT, You’ve Succeeded in Making a Typically Boring Album Title [Pitchfork]
Cash Money Records Says Lil Wayne Will Release Two Albums Before The End of 2009; The Rebirth, The Much-Delayed Weezy-Goes-Rock Album, and Tha Carter 4, The Follow-Up to Wayne’s Lauded 2008 Offering…My Guess: Neither Will Come Out and I Just Wasted Time Writing These Sentences [Pitchfork]
Beyonce Cancels a Show in Malaysia Due to Malaysia’s Islamic Conservative Party’s Concerns That She Might Promote “Western Sexy Performances;” I’m Outraged Over Use of the Word “Might” in That Sentence. All The Woman Does is Western Sexy Performances [Billboard]
U2 Frontman Bono Believes President Obama is Having Difficult Time, Realizes the Harsh Reactions Obama Faced When Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Doesn’t Know No One Gives a Shit About His Political Opinions, and Just Wants Him to Sing “With or Without You” In Front of Some Starving Kids [Idolator]
Watch Spike Jonze’s New Short Film Starring Kanye West, We Were Once a Fairytale; Features Kanye Being Hilariously Douche-y, Getting Really Drunk, And Then Vomiting Rose Petals With This Little Monster…So It’s Just Like the Real Kanye [NME]
No Age, Rain Machine (TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone), Mew, and Jay Reatard All Opening for Pixies Doolittle Shows; Universal Agreement Made That This Concert Will Be “Very Good” (Alternatively, “Beyond Satisfactory”) [CMJ]
compiled by Max Sebela
November 2, 2008
Obscured By Clouds
1972 | Capitol
Pink Floyd’s music can sometimes sound overwrought, if not downright silly. But who cares? Their albums have not only helped define rock music, but their experimentation has chased a lasting imprint also into pop and jazz. Their music crystallized, in part, a historic movement, and their genuine complexity cannot be denied. Likewise, Obscured By Clouds, though borderline over-the-top, still displays enough sincerity and skillfulness to avoid the fond belittlement of being categorized as kitsch. No doubt written under illicit influences, this album provides, as does all of Floyd’s music, the quintessential sound of that period of time when psychedelic experimentation in many forms was at its height. (Rick Wright claimed in a Guardian article that they were not high; only the people who attended their concerts partook.)
More on Record Review: Obscured by Clouds
August 19, 2008
In a time when every band, even Matchbox 20, vies for alternative, punk, or indie status, fashion has surprisingly swung back to the grandiose days of Rush, Styx, King Crimson, and Led Zeppelin. These bands set their songs in misty, mythic landscapes, and murmured abstract, profound-sounding lyrics about Big Questions. They were the ultimate geeks, known for their musicianship but poring over The Name of the Rose. They were Progressive Rockers.
| Photo of The Mars Volta by Niken
If you had attended an early Pink Floyd concert, you probably wouldn’t remember much other than the huge, floating pink pig. Middle-aged software developers keep posters of the big red face from King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King in their closets. The album itself hasn’t been heard for a while. True, Pink Floyd’s two famous albums about the emptiness of modern life never quite vacated the Top 200. But hipsters had to listen to them in secret. Around 2000 or so, the grandchildren of the original rebels dug out the King Crimson album and discovered that Mellotrons, rudimentary synthesizers, actually sounded cool, almost… punk. And, like a childhood trauma recollected on the couch, Prog Rock floated back into the collective consciousness.
Punk, as everyone knows, was a protest against the bloated pretentions of bands like Styx, whose nutty “Mr. Roboto” may be the strangest Top Ten hit ever. But skinny, angry adolescents restaged the same revolution so many times since the late ‘70s that the whole idea began to feel tired. Sick of faux rebellion, a clever new crowd learned to love the dinosaurs – and wimps – the punks had reviled. UK soft rock bands like Starsailor and Travis hearken back to the dreaded acoustic light rock of the ‘70s. The other day at a friend’s house I was slightly taken aback to hear Bread, the sappiest group of that time, on a friend’s mix tape. What to do? Change your friends?
More on Run for the Hills! Prog-Rock is Back!!