Saturday, May 15, 2010

MOJO: The Young Person's Guide to Vinyl

"I remember the first record I ever bought. Do you remember your first download?"

"For those of us who grew up in a world where the stifled cry of a CD was the benchmark for quality recording, listening to analogue is like audio-alchemy."

MOJO has a good article about the unparalleled lovliness that is vinyl. head on over to read it.

Delta Spirit storm the Daytrotter barn

Saturday Music Definitions: Cake

John Williams - Cakes for Crabbe and Goyle
from the HP II soundtrack

The Strokes Post #440

Friday, May 14, 2010

Band of the Week: The National

having posted The National as band of the week twice in the past, I feel obliged to do it once more. there are no words to describe how much richer and tear filled my life has become since hearing High Violet for the first time. epicness.

The Strokes Post #439

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Classic Track Thursday

Peter Gabriel - No Self Control [mp3]
from Peter Gabriel III (1980)

Weezer were not innovators: Peter Gabriel released three consecutive self titled albums. this track comes from his third, and is uber creepy in the best way possible. Peter Gabriel has the tendency to take weird music to the next level, and just freak you out in ways that you never could have imagined. his solo work is also vastly superior to anything Genesis released, so there you go.

The Strokes Post #438

interview: Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus' very own Amy Klein talks to Music Induced Euphoria about the band's progression to punk, her solo project Solanin, her own growth as a musician and covert government operations. her well-developed responses sum up the band's uniqueness in the realms of eloquence. bless them.

The first album is much more anthemic, The Monitor sees a shift to more punk hooks and more audibly pissed off guitars. What caused this change in sound?

I’m not one hundred percent sure what caused that stylistic shift between the first and second albums because I wasn’t a member of the band during that time period. To me, however, it seems that a lot of things changed for the band members in between the making of the Airing of Grievances and the making of The Monitor. Everyone graduated from college, for instance, and left New Jersey behind, and then tried to make a life for themselves in that big, scary place known as the real world. Everyone, presumably, did their fair share of growing up. Perhaps, in the real world, there are far many more things to be pissed off about than there are in an isolated collegiate bubble. When you become an adult, you have to confront the unpleasant reality of a world in which not everything is fair, and in which injustice often seems to thrive everywhere you look. Punk provides us with an ideological framework within which we can address the injustices we see around us. I guess that getting pissed off about the current state of the world and writing punk hooks have often gone hand in hand throughout history. When you feel like taking a stand, you often find yourself writing within the punk idiom. That’s what this album is really doing—taking a stand against the divisions that continue to haunt our great nation, and trying to figure out how to express our anger at the status quo in a constructive way. It makes a lot of sense to delve into punk history for inspiration when you have so much that you want to speak out against.

The lyrics on the songs are intensely personal. Are they all Patrick’s or do any songs tell the stories of the other band members?

Patrick writes all the lyrics for this band. So, in that sense, they’re all his stories. I’m sure, though, that he’s inspired by the stories of people around him—be they friends, enemies, family, significant others, political figures, neighbors, or founding fathers. No one writes lyrics that are only about themselves. Or, if they do, then those lyrics pretty much suck. In order to be a great songwriter, you have to be a great storyteller, and in order to be a great story teller, you have to have an essential quality known as empathy. You have to tell stories that other people can find themselves in, because you have to be able to see what life is like for other people. I find that some of the lyrics I can relate to, and other lyrics describe an experience that is foreign to me. A lot of the Titus Andronicus lyrics are about the experience of growing up as a boy in suburban America. I’m from the suburbs, but I’m not a boy. A lot of things like drinking with your dad and a bunch of old men at the neighborhood bar and then seeing a poster of your band hanging in the urinal—those are not stories I can relate to. However, I can relate to the more implicit conditions of anger and frustration that the music suggests. I can definitely see myself in terms of the lyrics that describe a struggle to construct an identity as you grow up, the way that you abandon certain ideals and cling to others, the struggle to express yourself in a world that encourages conformity, to feel that you are fighting an ongoing battle between self-expression and self-doubt, and to define your personal connection to the country—and even region—in which you live. I feel a lot of anger when I play these songs—sometimes even anger at how hard it is to be a girl growing up these days—and even though Titus Andronicus doesn’t talk about that sort of thing, that feeling of raging against something you feel to be unjust is something that is definitely present in these stories.

How does the songwriting come about?

Patrick writes all the songs. Then he brings them to the band and the members work out their own parts based on the framework that's been established.

Something very distinct about Titus Andronicus is the recorded speaking voices in the songs. What inspires these unique layers?

We don’t live in a cultural vacuum. In fact, we live in the most “open-source” society that has ever existed. I guess, it’s our way of paying tribute to the fact that different voices have always existed in any given moment of American history—but that our generation, thanks to the internet, has an explosion of information, carried by more voices than ever. Walter Benjamin talks about “the dialectical object at a standstill,” that bizarre moment where, in looking at something, the past overtakes the present; the voice of the past and the voice of the present coexist in a single object. I think that the great works of art have something of history and something of the new coexisting inside of them. So yeah, we like to honor the pluralism of ideas, the cacophony of voices that exists within the American tradition. We like to show that when we speak, others are also speaking, and that where we speak, others have also spoken. We like to reference our awareness of the voices that have gone before us, and gesture towards the promise of more voices in the future.

You play guitar and violin. Which do you prefer?

That’s a really tough question. They’re different sides of my personality—One is very peppy and a little crazy. The other is very lyrical and sad. I think I like the guitar better. It just feels more natural for me to express myself with that instrument. But when I play the violin, I get to play a lot of solos. I love the feeling of playing a solo and feeling the crowd’s eyes on you, without even looking at them. It’s like time slows down, or stops completely. You feel very peaceful. The violin really rises out of the rest of the sound and creates a powerful, unexpected impact.

You guys were featured in SPIN’s last issue. I think the piece was from a few months back—January or so. How was that experience?

We actually did the interview at a bowling alley. I came late—from a meeting I had to attend, so I didn’t get to bowl. But I did get to see this ten year old kid who was very excited to see an interview taking place at the local lanes. He kept on, sort of, following us, and whispering to his friend. Then, finally, he confronted us and asked us, “Are you in a band?” And we were like, “Yeah,” and he was like, “See, I told you!!!” all gleefully, to his friend. Then he ran away. It was as if he had solved a gigantic mystery. He was very proud of himself. Also, I think I got to eat some curly fries during that interview. That was great. I love curly fries. I guess the weird part was later, a few weeks later, when we had a photo shoot. I was so nervous, I brought six outfits. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to wear. This woman called “a groomer” did my hair and makeup. That was the first time anyone had ever done that for me. I never wear makeup and my hair totally resists all attempts at being made to “stay put,” so I think the woman was very confused by me. She kept on running around with a little spray bottle, frantically patting my head and shooting me with the aerosol can in between photographs. Finally, she was just like, in exasperation, “Your hair is so…puffy!” Then she gave up. When the photo came out in SPIN, it was surreal. I never expected my picture to appear in any sort of magazine. I couldn’t believe that it was actually me. I still can’t.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the road?

Hmm. We've had all kinds of adventures on the road. It's hard to think of just one. I think the most interesting thing for me is just looking out the window at the American landscape. I hadn't done much traveling inside the United States before I started touring, and I love that I have gotten the chance to see all different parts of the country. The drive up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco is really beautiful. You can see yellow, purple, and orange wildflowers, and rolling green hills, and even the Pacific Ocean.

What music do the members of Titus Andronicus listen to collectively?

Everybody listens to a lot of different kinds of stuff, and usually what we listen to depends on whoever is driving the van at the moment. (The driver always gets to choose the soundtrack to the drive. That's the policy.) Ian is really into hardcore and post hardcore. Patrick likes punk of all kinds, and rap, and individuals like Daniel Johnston. Dave's favorite musician is Phil Elverum (a.k.a. Mount Eerie), and Eric digs Animal Collective. I'm really into experimental stuff, like freak folk and weird psychedelic noise music.

If you could be proficient in any instrument, which would you choose?

The cello! I think it's so gorgeous. It has this tone that is warm and full, and yet mysterious. I recently heard somewhere that the cello is the instrument whose frequency spectrum most approximates that of that of the human voice. That's why people find it so instantly compelling, and why it also has a kind of mystery about it. I used a lot of cello on my solo album because I think it makes the songs seem intimate and warm, and it also seems to compliment my singing style nicely. Yoed Nir, who is the cellist for the singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, played cello on the album and did a fantastic job.

As a female musician do you find that you can relate more to female musicians or just musicians who share your style musically?

On a purely musical level, I relate to music by men and music by women equally. I'm not one to classify genres of music as inherently male or female. You can't listen to a piece of music and automatically say, "Oh, that sounds like a man playing!" or "That sounds like a woman!" Men and women are equally endowed with the abilities to create great works of art. The fact of the matter is, though, that when I see live performances, I relate much more to the female performers When I look at them, I see people like me who have figured out how to do something extraordinary with their lives. I can't help but want to follow in their footsteps. I feel this when I see a great male guitarist too, but it's a more powerful feeling of identification when it's a woman that I’m seeing up there. Because, as we all know, while men and women both make great music, our society rewards men far more for their efforts. And so, when I see a girl up on stage doing something wonderful, I feel this little jolt--like, "Yes, I can do this. It really is possible for us."

As I get older, more and more of my favorite bands are all-female, or female-driven. As the stories of my life accumulate around me, I find I can relate to the stories of other women more and more. I mean, what bourgeoning guitar goddess wouldn’t relate to Marnie Stern, who shreds like a leather-suited metal god of yore—but totally busts open the conventions of that genre, bringing, as she does, an outsider’s perspective to that dudely field known as “extreme technique.”

Jess Hopper has a brilliant Maximum Rock and Roll article from a few years back about how it's just harder for girls to identify with the male perspective in the emo songs that got popular during the early 2000's. These are the songs where the woman is always the object of desire or the Machiavellian heartbreaker; she’s a two-dimensional character, with absolutely no depth, or reality, or voice to her at all. Those songs are just men’s voices parroting women’s, just the angst of the benighted male, over and over again. His heart is broken and girls are totally morally bankrupt, except when they let him have sex with them and then let him write a song about it.

That's not to say that I hate emo. I listened to a fair amount of Bright Eyes in high school, like everyone else, and I'm really into the Rites of Spring and sorts of emotional hardcore bands who scream at the top of their lungs about their feelings. But with Bright Eyes, you feel there is some depth of character to the woman, and in the Rites of Spring, the angst is existential--it's something we can all relate to. Rites of Spring is unifying as opposed to divisive. It’s the opposite of the music that takes up most of the Top 40 charts today; pop music often functions by polarizing the sexes, as opposed to trying to break down the boundaries between them. I guess what I'm saying is that I can never relate to music that is misogynist, that objectifies women, and that silences their voices. Whether songs get sung by men or women is ultimately less important than the message that those songs are putting out there.

Do you listen to your own music?

Well I listened to The Monitor a lot when I first joined the band, because I had to learn the songs really quickly. I pretty much had it on repeat during my entire day at the office. It was hilarious. I worked for the government and I would be secretly listening to this really angry music at top volume while I filed papers. I alternated Titus with Bad Brains for inspiration. There's nothing like listening to Bad Brains at work. Now that I'm touring, I don't really listen to Titus Andronicus in my spare time. On the other hand, I still listen to my solo stuff once in awhile, because (like wine, cheese, vintage clothing) the songs you write have this aging process that changes them. I listened to those songs so many times throughout the recording, mixing, and editing process that I could no longer tell up from down, or right from left. It takes a few months, or years even, before you can listen to your own songs and hear them as they actually are. It takes a long time for your various biases and mental fixations to fade. So I like to check up on my solo stuff once in awhile--see how it's doing, whether I can hear it differently now, or whether I've still got more time to wait.

What has been the most trying experience that the band has undergone?

From what I hear, a few years back, the band got deported from the U.K. and spent the night in airport jail. Then, there was a terrible situation involving a broken down tour van and the necessity of finishing up the tour in a rented U-Haul. Two members sat up front, in the seats, and two members sat in the storage car, on the ground, in the pitch darkness. Sounds like a great way to spend 10 hours a day, right? Ian and Patrick also like to talk about how they were once forced by extenuating circumstances to spend the night in a storm drain outside. You end up sleeping in all sorts of crazy places when you're on the road, but that storm drain definitely wins the gold medal for most unlikely bed.

Who would you like to tour with?

Joanna Newsom! She is easily the greatest songwriter and the most enthralling performer of our generation. I never get sick of listening to her songs, and to experience her live show every night would probably leave me depleted of energy, and tissues, by the end of week one. As in, I would spend most of the tour weeping with joy. Also, she seems really quirky and intelligent, but not the least bit pretentious. If I could stop weeping long enough to strike up a chat with her, then I would like to become her best friend.

Do you have a favourite band?

I am obsessed with this two-girl Japanese noise band called Afrirampo. I saw them open for Lightning Bolt when I was a teenager and, although I'm a huge lightning bolt fan, I didn't even need to see Lightning Bolt afterwards, because I felt I had already attained some kind of musical nirvana. Afrirampo is this rock and roll fantasy that could only be dreamed up by two young girls with no musical training and a whole lot to say. Watching them, you feel like these girls must be soul mates because of the way they relate to each other so naturally, even when they're improvising most of what they do. Their shows are so enthusiastic and wild, and everything they play is completely organic and surprising. It's like watching the definition of freedom.

Solanin kind of reminds me of the female vocals in Arcade Fire. It’s so atmospheric and beautiful. How did it come about and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

I wrote most of the album when I was living in a tiny apartment in Tokyo. I moved there after college on a traveling fellowship to study Japanese feminism through the lens of the experimental music scene. I interviewed all kinds of musicians, and filmed dozens of concerts all over Japan. I was supposed to make a movie. Instead, I made an album. I found I was so inspired by the women I met, and by all the creative sounds that they were making, that I couldn't help but follow in their footsteps. I took classical guitar lessons from an American musician living in Tokyo, and I would sit alone on my futon all day and all night, writing poetry and fragments of songs. Then I'd go to the park in Harajuku and play them for the public. I turned the album into the story of my time in Japan. It's all allegorical, and it describes the events of my life during that year of self-discovery, and the even more challenging year, the first in my true adulthood, that began when I came home. This album is the story of me growing up, told through a kind of myth I wrote about myself. It's filled with symbols of the actual events that happened to me, but I wanted to render them images that anyone could find meaning in. In a way, I don't care what happens with it, because finishing the album was enough. It just means that I was able to put the story of my life together in some way--to make it less confusing to myself, and to make sad and difficult things, in some way, meaningful and beautiful. I want to play a bunch of shows and see how it goes over live. I also want people in both America and Japan to hear it, and relate to it in some way. Those are basically my goals right now.

Do you think you’ll ever quit Titus Andronicus to explore your own musical terrain or is this just your way of exploring your own voice?

Well, considering that I just joined Titus Andronicus, I feel like the adventure is only in its incipient stages. Who knows where this will lead or what the future will bring. The band is such a great opportunity for me, and so far, it's been a way of exploring who I am, in particular, learning how to confidently express myself, and to use music to illuminate feelings that are often difficult for women to share with others. That's something that's always been difficult for me--expressing anger, showing my whole self, and performing confidently in front of an audience. I still write my own songs though, and I perform them regularly. I love to sing, and I know I'm going to keep on singing no matter what. One day, I'd like to release an album of my songs, and tour with my own music.

Finally, a friend of mine insisted that I ask: how did you guys get to be so awesome and is it contagious?

Awesomeness is totally contagious. Less than sixty seconds after venturing within 25 yards of somebody awesome, there is a high probability that you will begin to feel awesome too. Symptoms include: nervousness, sweating, an accelerated heartbeat, and an uncompromising desire to express oneself creatively. We probably got awesome because our mothers and fathers were awesome and then passed on many of the symptoms to us, or at least neglected to provide us with the necessary vaccines. In all seriousness though, I think we are awesome because we try to be one hundred percent true to ourselves and to our audiences; there is no sense of irony in what we do. The band is not an attempt to be cool or popular, but rather an attempt to be honest--honest about our emotions and who we are. We are working as hard as we can to do what we love, to do something we are proud of, and we try our best to share that feeling of joy with our audiences. Now watch out, or you're gonna get all awesome too! Actually, I bet you already are.

listen to Solanin HERE and follow Amy's tour diary HERE

record review: The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards

It’s a mark of deep rooted talent when a band that is borne of whim takes the entire world of rock n roll by storm, slowly but surely claiming souls and headlining slots at Coachella. Then again, Jack White is not your run of the mill kind of guy.

On Sea of Cowards, The Dead Weather look past their sex drenched grimy debut and seek refuge in siren guitar licks and their own demented and irresistible take on he/she “harmonies”. Glitz? Glamour? Hell no. Give me odes of deteriorating health, muffled drums and bass lines that seem to halt mockingly—knowing just when you need more and t-t-teasing you all the same. How about an amplified return to blues-rock form? Lucky for us, the impeccable Mr. White himself claims more of the spotlight than he did on Horehound, spinning blasphemous puns about the Holy Mother among a million other things. Oddly enough, White’s more audible presence makes for a more balanced record—one that doesn’t seem to leave you in as much of a head spinning daze as their debut. Sure, you’ve heard this music before, but not since your teenaged Tuesday night rituals of getting stoned in the basement amongst your dad’s records.
The Dead Weather are here to stay, and if you question their authority one more time, Alison Mosshart will bite your head off and wear is as an earring.


The Strokes Post #437

the winner of the Juicebox single is MaroLeon. send along your snail mail address and prepare your mailbox for the deluxe treatment.

here is a photo of Jules on the cover of CLASH mag, I posted the interview a few days back

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Dead Weather - Die By The Drop

I am having absolutely no trouble getting into the Dead Weather's second album. a review is forthcoming, but here is an mp3 (via to give you guys a sweet taste of the music that has had me on edge for weeks.

record review: The National - High Violet

'Your voice is swallowing my soul'
-"Afraid of Everyone", High Violet

Every once and a while a record is released that temporarily ruins all other music for you. High Violet is one of those albums. Much like on their previous work, the songs on The National’s fifth full length release force you to come to terms with the most morbid depths of your secret shames and sorrows. Much of The National’s appeal stems from the fact that we as humans need a harsh blow of emotional realism every once and a while, just to keep things in perspective. Just like our fascination with tortured artists such as Edvard Munch, we can seek refuge in the complexities of Matt Berninger’s baritone rather than attempt great artistic expression ourselves. The music, therefore, transcends individual dispositions; you can be a cheerful person or a gloomy person and I will guarantee that you will be completely enamoured with High Violet (and Alligator and Boxer, for that matter).

Without a doubt, the most admirable thing about High Violet is its relentless pursuit of aural hyperbole. It is so loud, so unforgivably layered with echoes and mesmerizing drum beats. It doesn’t flow like its predecessor, but this fact is easily overlooked by virtue of the heart-wrenching amounts of raw emotion found on the album. Its frostiness is crippling, yet there is hidden warmth which emerges as surreptitiously as the blood rush induced by icy vodka shots. If you ever find yourself hunched over some street corner in the blistering cold, alone and confused yet oddly at ease with the world, rest assured that there is a perfect soundtrack to the moment lurking in The National’s phenomenal discography.


High Violet was released today. Don’t waste another minute.

The Strokes Post #436

via this little gem of a site I just found. what a wonderful way to pass the time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

record review: The Black Keys - Brothers

The Black Keys almost never could be reduced to releasing albums that are less than forty minutes. They just have a swagger that is too laid back and songs that have too strong a punch to be able to rush through anything. Lucky for us, on their sixth album Brothers, this tendency to take their good ol’ time for artistic expression has taken a dramatic leap to a masterful, soul tinged album containing fifteen songs running just under an hour.

The opener, “Everlasting Light” explodes with such T-Rexian glam rock viciousness that you could easily mistake it for “Mambo Sun”. Continuing in a chronologically backwards fashion through the realms of 60’s r&b and soul, the Black Keys take their blues roots to the max in earnest attempts to unearth overlooked musical stylings of decades past. Needless to say, the two white guys from the midwest do more justice to Black music than 90% of contemporary artists belonging to the African race.

Seamlessly shifting from space-y to jazz-y, Brothers delivers like an improvised live set, with howling guitars interspersed generously throughout. Songs like “The Only One” fearlessly combine house beats and dusty grooves for the astonishingly brisk effect of gospel music drenched in synth. Drawing vocal inspiration from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dan Auerbach never fails to strike mercilessly at every cell in your body, leaving you helplessly desiring more.

At times, the Black Keys manage to sound spookily airy without emulating the Misfits, by creating a stroll-through-a-graveyard-at-midnight vibe. Overall, the album is a monstrous portion of funk served up on a lively platter of authentic American musicianship, with a Jerry Butler cover thrown in for good measure. Like a world-class city containing all of the exotic offerings of the globe within a few square miles, Brothers has neither a dull moment nor one that you could pass without at least a bit of intrigue.

Highly recommended.

the album drops next Tuesday, 18 May but is currently STREAMING IN FULL HERE. make sure you check it out.

visit them on MYSPACE for tour dates

The Strokes Post #435

oh my Albert.