Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The Art Museums’ Rough Frame EP nails it

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’m enjoying a very intriguing new EP titled “Rough Frame” by the Bay Area’s own The Art Museums, via local SF label Woodsist.

new EP by The Art MuseumsThis album was apparently recorded on a Tascam 388 reel-to-reel multi-track tape recorder and mixer combo (state of the art home-recording back in the mid-80s).  The result is a thick and lush atmosphere that anyone having grown up with a monophonic sound system will fully appreciate.

The nine supplied tracks are simultaneously fresh and nostalgic, packaged nicely within the tape-hissing 8-track cassette atmospherics.  Not sure why, but it shares echoes from the mono version of Pet Sounds (and Brian Eno?), with the lonely heartbreak crooning being replaced by hipster satire at its most contemporary.

Go grab the set at Amazon’s MP3 store, or check it out on Lala.

Thomas Dolby remixes Radiohead

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Now, why does the player’s object code break my template? I have no idea, nor do I have time to jack with it right now. Here’s the link to listen to the mix, and vote if you feel so inclined.

After that, you can also check out the current top-ten remixes people have submitted and voted on.

Seawolf, live session on KCRW

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I’m a huge fan of the work KCRW does down in Santa Monica. It’s probably the last, best, most influential real radio station (that actually loves music, not CD sales). In any case, Nic Harcourt had Seawolf in the studio last weekend.

It’s about 30 minutes into the Sounds Eclectic program.

Top 10 albums (and therefore bands) of 2007

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Everyone does this, I know, and who the hell am I to judge? I’m me, that’s who. I figure I may have a slightly different list than some, and at least the order should be interesting to one out of a million folk out there. If I can reach just one child who listens to KISS FM… Anyway, I’ve listed my personal top ten favs based on what I’ve listened to repeatedly, in almost a scary way.

  1. Band of HorsesBand of Horses, “Cease to Begin” iTunes | MySpace.
    I am absolutely addicted to this album. I’ll listen to it multiple times in one sitting, and have found myself severely attached to nearly every song in the list. I easily get the Neil Young references people always talk about when it comes to Ben Bridewell’s voice, but I suppose for me BoH is now what I always hoped Grandaddy would become. (I’m still upset Grandaddy broke up.) BoH’s range is simply inspirational, and a real breath of fresh air. I’m always impressed by musicians who have an innate ability to produce albums where multiple songs seem to be pulled from different genres, yet the album as a whole simply “flows”. It’s not done very often, or if it tried it’s not often done well. The new Band of Horses nailed it.
  2. Menomena’s Friend and FoeMenomena, “Friend and Foe” iTunes | MySpace.
    It has been a while since I found a band so different and genre breaking, yet absolutely brilliant, that I started to lose all hope I’d ever find another Ween or Flaming Lips. This whole damn album is so fantastic, listing songs seems almost silly. Nevertheless, “Rotten Hell” surely tops the list for its slightly ambiguous take on the self-proclaimed righteousness of religion, or possibly politics. “I’ve got a stranglehold on this decision / All those opposed can rot in hell” Even their little EP, Wet and Rusting, is awesome and deserves humping and squeezing. Incidentally, “Friend and Foe” is something you really need to buy on CD – not just for the obvious quality issues, but the cover art by Craig Thompson is fantastic. Fantastic, I say! Plus, can a band that names itself after a hilarious Muppets song be wrong? I think not. Portland is saving the world.
  3. Elliott SmithElliott Smith, “New Moon” iTunes.
    This double album is incredible. Now, obviously the songs were written years ago since Elliott has been dead since 2003. (The top theory is that Elliott committed horrific suicide by plunging a knife into his own chest – not an easy feat. That, or his druggy girlfriend did it. The case is still open today.) This is the second release of Smith songs since his death at the tender age of 34, and this double album doesn’t disappoint. You get his typically beautiful mix of downtrodden indie folk rock that is nearly some of the best strung out rainy day broken heart music, ever. Pick an album, any album. And go get this one, too.
  4. Mice ParadeMice Parade, “Mice Parade” iTunes | MySpace.
    I love it when a drummer is the band. It changes the entire dynamic, and really forces you to listen to what is going on from the rhythm section. Adam Pierce makes something truly beautiful here while somehow sounding raw and homemade (in a good way). I personally believe this is one of the best unknown albums of the year. It’s mellow, and a great listen.
  5. Blonde RedheadBlonde Redhead, “23” iTunes | MySpace.
    Ever heard of them? Too bad, you’re missing out. This is a gorgeously progressive and rich album that really grows on you. It has several lush overlapping layers, and the switching vocalists breaks up the album flow nicely. On first listen, I assumed (incorrectly) I was listening to some band from Europe, possibly France. Come to find out these guys (and gal) are New Yorkers! I’ll be working my way back through their catalogue this year.
  6. Sea Wolf, “Leaves in the River” iTunes | MySpace.
    Yet another band that really shows a lot of musical diversity on one album (I seem to have a theme here). You’ll swing from alt-folk to 60s rock to alt-alt whatever that was. Not nearly as “catchy” as some others, but damned good. Every time play this album I seem to discover something I hadn’t heard before. It’s really impressive. You can tell this guy went to film school as his lyrics are very visual and almost like little storyboards.
  7. Devotchka, “Curse Your Little Heart” iTunes | MySpace, “How it Ends” iTunes.
    “Curse Your Little Heart” was technically released in 2006, and “How it Ends” in 2004, but since Devotchka toured in 2007, I’m going to bend the rules and add them to my list. If you ever have the chance to see this band in concert, it is an absolute must. Beyond being a powerful musical force, their stage presence and theatrics (I’m not kidding) have to been seen to be believed. As for the music, try to imagine the Smiths falling through a void in the sky into an old Clint Eastwood western, set in Europe.
  8. Iron and Wine, “The Shepard’s Dog” iTunes | MySpace.
    This album should probably be higher on my list, to be honest. The more I listen to it, the more my headphones are becoming glued to my ears. Sam Beam’s haunting voice is so addicting, his lyrics and music so right on. Maybe I’m a tad biased for a Texan musician that seems to really break the stereotypical mold, but still cling to his roots. Talk about a breath of fresh air.
  9. Interpol, “Our Love to Admire” iTunes | MySpace.
    I’ve been a fan of Interpol since the very first time I heard them on Bright Lights, and was lucky enough to see them before they were really known back then at the Fillmore in SF. Even though they only had the one album back then, I could tell these guys had something special if they held things together. They have, and this album doesn’t disappoint. The build-up crescendo in “Pioneer to the Falls” is amazing.
  10. Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Rodrigo y Gabriela” iTunes | MySpace.
    One listen will instantly conjure imagery of bleeding fingers blurring to near invisibility above some poor straining acoustic guitar that is begging for mercy. These artists must use titanium guitar strings. Amazing.

And, yes, I liked what The Shins did, Metric (some), and TV On the Radio is interesting, but I’m not drooling yet like some people are.

Finally, some albums I feel like I’m supposed to love, but haven’t been able to force myself to listen to over and over and over until I “get” it. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was:

  1. Radiohead, “In Rainbows” Thank god the guitars and drums are back! If I keep trying, I’m sure this one will hook me at some point. Maybe. “Nude” and “Reckoner” are gorgeous. I do appreciate the genius of how Radiohead released this album to the public. But, this ain’t no “OK Computer”. Come on people. Some of this album seems tired. At least the band has been allowed to come back and wedge themselves into Yorke’s world again.
  2. Wilco, “Sky Blue Sky” I like it when a band can show its musical virtuosity and flex its artistic muscles, but I can only take so much country twang. I really like it in small doses, like a garnish, not entire buckets.
  3. Of Montreal, “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” I LOVE eclectic weirdness. Just don’t get so bizarre that you become annoying. I’ll keep giving this one a try.