Friday, January 29, 2010
In May 2009, Sigur Rós wrote on their website about sessions at the Sundlaugin studio in Álafoss, Iceland. Drummer Orri Páll Dyrason told a local newspaper that the band were almost finished work on their sixth LP, a record that was "slower and more ambient" than their last two. The "out there" release would likely be released in 2010, he said.
Speaking to Spinner this week, Birgisson has dashed such hopes...
Read the rest at The Guardian's website.
Pitchfork posted an interview today with lead singer Matt Berninger discussing a variety of things, including the new album. Check out a portion of it below.
Pitchfork: Is the new album finished?
Matt Berninger: No, it's close. We're scheduled to master it in three weeks. I'd say it's 75 percent done. But with us, the songs often change drastically in the last couple of weeks, in the mixing. We know what songs we're trying to finish, but what exactly the songs are going to end up like is still a mystery. It's the most frustrating and exciting part of the process. So from a time perspective, we are almost done, but what the thing's going to end up like, it's hard to tell.
Pitchfork: What's the most frustrating aspect of this stage?
Matt Berninger: At this point, everybody's getting attached to certain versions or arrangements or forms of songs, and everyone's getting attached to different versions. At this point, we'll be chopping songs apart, cutting them down, and then rearranging them, just to try to figure out the magic middle ground between everybody's ideas. So it's where everybody starts to just dig their feet in the sand, and it's where all the arguments happen because we know how drastically something can change at the last minute. It's easy for us to ruin a song in the last day or two of working on it.
Check out the rest of the interview with Matt Berninger at Pitchfork.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Although it's out digitally (and will be released in physical formats on 3/1/10) You can listen to it streaming below.
Drive-By Truckers - This Fucking Job
(streaming via Pitchfork)
Frightened Rabbit - "Nothing Like You"
(streaming via http://www.myspace.com/frightenedrabbit)
Yeasayer - "O.N.E."
(download via http://www.yeasayer.net/)
David Byne and Fat Boy Slim - Please Don't (Ft. Santigold)
(streaming via Stereogum)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Broken Bells' self-titled album will be released on March 9, 2010.
Dire Straits- "Down to the Waterline"
Mark Knopfler's guitar shines on this opening track off their debut album--one of the most underrated debuts in rock history
Heavy Trash - "Outside Chance"
Jon Spencer may have shifted focus from Blues-Rock to Rockabilly, but the energy the remains the same
The Clash - "Revolution Rock"
Reggae-heavy punk that endures as an obvious predecessor to ska upswing in the 1990s
Led Zeppelin - "Ten Years Gone"
A personal favorite from their catalog making a return into heavy rotation
Japandroids - "Crazy/Forever"
One of my favorites from 2009
Low - "Violent Past"
After covering Alan Sparhawk's Retribution Gospel Choir last week, some of his main band naturally got played
Okkervil River - "So Come Back, I Am "
Deep cut from Black Sheep Boy displaying an epic 8 minutes full of Will Sheff's earnestness and passion
Monday, January 25, 2010
While there has not been any confirmation as to what songs will be on the album, "Runaway" and Blood Buzz Ohio" have been staples of the band throughout their shows in 2009, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise if these two cuts were announced as part of their upcoming album. Check out these two songs below.
"Blood Buzz Ohio"
In other news, The National have confirmed their first shows of the new decade. Highlights include their biggest headlining shows to date in NYC and London at Radio City Music Hall and Royal Albert Hall respectively, a performance with Pavement in Paris, and additional US dates on both coasts with more to be announced soon. (via Shorefire)
APR 22-23: Richmond, VA @ The National Theater
MAY 6: London, England @ Royal Albert Hall
MAY 7: Paris, France @ Le Zenith (w/Pavement)
MAY 9: Berlin, Germany @ Astra
MAY 22: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
MAY 23: San Diego, CA @ Spreckels Theater
MAY 27: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
JUN 2: Boston, MA @ House of Blues
JUN 5: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
JUN 6: Washington DC @ DAR Constitution Hall
JUN 8: Toronto, Ont. @ Massey Hall
JUN 16: New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
Volume 20: 1/25/2010
1. Bruce Springsteen - The Ties That Bind
2. Arcade Fire - Keep The Car Running
3. The National - Blank Slate
4. The Smiths - Panic
5. Spoon - The Way We Get By
6. Wilco - I Got You (At the End of the Century)
7. Rolling Stones - Tumbling Dice
8. The Hold Steady - Slapped Actress
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Found this little gem today compliments of Gorilla vs. Bear (who got it from IGIF). Anyway, this studio session features a Grizzly Bear interview as well as a performance of two songs--"While You Wait for the Others" (near the 5 minute mark), and a stunning rendition of Hot Chip's "And I Was a Boy From School" (around the 12 minute mark).
Artist: Retribution Gospel Choir
Record Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: 1/26/2010
For the better part of the 15 years leading up to 2007, slow-moving and crawling have been the predominant characteristics describing Alan Sparhawk’s work, particularly in regards to his pioneering Slowcore band Low. What remains mostly unnoticed, however, is that Sparhawk’s career has been more or less described through his use of atmospheric earnestness and tense, looming dynamics. Yet many were surprised when he formed Retribution Gospel Choir in 2007—a group defined not only to the likes of an increased tempo (‘Mediumcore,’ if you will), but also a louder sound!
However, this is not a complete sea change for Sparhawk, as there is more to the picture than initially meets the eye with Retribution Gospel Choir. What most have overlooked in his endeavors with this current project is the fact that the groundwork from Low—delivery and dynamics—remains intact. So to say that this is a completely other side of Sparhawk would be incorrect. That being said, Retribution Gospel Choir does lean away from Low’s minimalist style, falling closer to the likes of Black Mountain, Queens of the Stone Age and other stoner-rock contemporaries.
As Alan Sparhawk continues his marginally sped-up efforts in Retribution Gospel Choir’s sophomore release 2 (2010), he appears quite comfortable with this departure into moderately-pace heavy-rock. 2 opens with a resolved purpose previously unreached by the group. “Hide It Away” pounds with a determined mid-tempo, angst-ridden rock, as Sparhawk’s repeatedly cries “You’re running away / You hide it away child.” Their resolved loudness (relative to that of Low) continues throughout most of 2, particularly through the efforts of Sparhawk’s full-bodied, psychedelic-laced guitar, as well as drummer Eric Pollard’s thumping drum-work.
Between the gloomy haze of “Your Bird” and the accessible focus on “Working Hard,” Retribution Gospel Choir have appeared to hit their stride with these tightly crafted tracks. The remainder of 2, however, stretches towards the experimental, and at times overreaches the groups’ capabilities. “Poor Man’s Daughter” builds up into a borderline psychedelic-thrashing, while “Electric Guitar” features a sprawling guitar attack that drudges towards a noisy climax, before effortlessly collapsing into a fade away. While there are some exciting moments here, these two lengthy numbers are rather hit or miss.
Retribution Gospel Choir’s 2 endures as a progression of Alan Sparhawk’s slow ascent towards the faster and louder. As each of their two albums has grown apart from Low’s noted style, this development ultimately is worth embracing. 2 stands a timely place in Sparhawk’s career, as it still bears resonance to his past, yet offers plenty for those unfamiliar with his prior work.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Spoon - "Trouble Comes Running"
There's such a drive to this song--dare I say it's my favorite track of 2010 thus far?
Television - "See No Evil"
Off one of my favorite albums ever--I also think Spoon may have borrow a move or two from these guys
Girls - "Big Bad Mean Mother Fucker"
Beach Boys + noise-rock = excellent fusion
Yeasayer - "Madden Red"
Yeasayer has also been on repeat a lot lately--loving the harmonies here
Mayer Hawthorne - "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out"
Still can't believe this song was made in 2009, instead of 1964
Drive-By Truckers - "Carl Perkins Cadillac"
The bearers of Southern Rock's tradition demonstrate their prowess to fans year after year
Frightened Rabbit - "Swim Until You Can't See Land"
Something about lead singer Scott Hutchinson's voice that just keeps me swimming
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Volume 19: 1/18/2010
1. Neutral Milk Hotel - King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1
2. The Flaming Lips - Fight Test
3. Of Montreal - Requiem for O.M.M. 2
4. Yo La Tengo - Mr. Tough
5. Atlas Sound - Walkabout (Ft. Panda Bear)
6. Olivia Tremor Control - California Demise, Pt. 3
7. Beulah - Silver Lining
8. King Khan and the Shrines - Welfare Bread
Sunday, January 17, 2010
In what has become a tradition in recent years, The Drive-By Truckers returned home to Athens, where they performed on three consecutive sold-out nights. Throughout the Friday night concert—their second show of their homestand—the band provided fans with a glimpse of what lies ahead for the band over the upcoming year.
With their next album, The Big To Do, scheduled to be released this March, Drive-By Truckers decided to share much of their new work with the Athens audience, including “The Fourth Night of My Drinking,” “Birthday Boy” and “Santa Fe.” In addition, Patterson Hood invited his dad to play bass for two songs as they played both songs off of their release Dangerous Highway: A Tribute To The Songs of Eddie Hinton 7″--a tribute to the late songwriter and great session guitarist.
While the band played nine new tracks from The Big To Do as well as this tribute 7”, they also ensured that the hometown fans received more than their money’s worth, as they played an assortment of songs from across their catalog. Singers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley alternated on lead vocals for fan favorites including “Three Dimes Down,” “Lookout Mountain” and “Women Without Whiskey,” providing the crowd with plenty a number to sing along with.
After their eighteen song set, The Drive-By Truckers returned for two more encores. The first encore included impressive versions of “Zip City” and “Puttin’ People on the Moon.” Longtime DBT producer David Barbe joined the band onstage during their final encore, where his guitar accompanied Hood as he did his best rendition of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Their set concluded with a rousing performance of “People Who Died” as the DBT’s rocked out one last time behind the lasting image of Patterson Hood’s exuberant vocal delivery.
Throughout the weekend, The Drive-By Truckers continued their usual focus on tales and journeys of the South, highlighting their own experiences both embracing and conflicting Southern tradition, Friday night was no exception, as they once again partook in the communal celebration of their work. As Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley continue into their 25th year of musical collaboration, their Athens-stand showed every indication that their work together, along with the rest of the band, will continue for a long time to come.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Record Label: Merge
Release Date: 1/19/2010
Over the past fifteen years, Austin veterans Spoon have steadily worked their way towards becoming elder statesmen of indie-rock, producing exciting album after album in what has become an all-too predictable pattern. Three years after their last full length release Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)—one that arguably was their album—Spoon returns with Transference (2010). While Transference does not match the striking quality of its predecessor, their latest work remains on par with the band’s overall body of work. In other words, an average Spoon album is like falling one number short of winning the lotto—you may not have hit the jackpot, but you still wind up with a nice consolation prize.
“Before Destruction” opens Transference as a slow and syncopated crawler, tinged with a soulful lo-fi vibe. As the album continues, Spoon holds steady in their ever-workmanlike endeavors, crafting their indie-rock style in an unsurprisingly solid fashion. “Is Love Forever?” continues a particularly impressive first half of the album with its noisy buoyancy, as it brings to mind older tracks such as “Don’t Make Me a Target” and “Jonathon Fisk.”
As the album progresses, Spoon incrementally amasses track upon track of indie-punk excellence. The album’s first single, “Written in Reverse,” struts its cool piano-driven swagger, as drummer Jim Eno compliments his fellow band members in a powerfully raw, yet perfectly complimentary manner. “I Saw the Light” recalls a faster version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” both in its tone, structure, and dynamic. Like the latter song, Spoon powerfully delivers a slow, noise-ridden buildup that ends abruptly. While not as intricate as The Beatles original, “I Saw The Light” does their best impression of that song here, and succeeds as Transference’s finest track.
The second half of Transference endures as mostly enjoyable, but slightly forgettable overall. Spoon does provide a few gems on the back side of the album, including the lone holdover from their last EP “Got Nuffin” and the straightforward, anthemic rocker “Trouble Comes Running.” During “Trouble Comes Running,” Daniel admits “I was in a functional way / And thinking clean clean thoughts / Effort just to keep my nose on / Just trying to look straight ahead.” On the path Spoon continues down upon, straight and functional is all Britt Daniel and company need. Keep those clean clean thoughts coming.
Listen to Transference in its entirety at NPR's website.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
R.I.P. JAY REATARD
It is with great sadness that
we report the passing of our good friend Jay Reatard.
Jay died in his sleep last night.
We will pass along information about funeral arrangements
when they are made public.
For more information regarding this, check out Pitchfork or Paste's articles.
Free Energy - "Dream City"
catchy, anthemic indie-rock that invites you to sing along
Yeasayer - "Ambling Alp"
first single off their upcoming album Odd Blood is their best, most accessible track to date
Bruce Springsteen - "No Surrender"
The Boss in his element with one of his lesser known tracks of his epic album Born in the U.S.A.
Grandchildren - "Cold Warrior"
Best of 2010 lists, get ready for this Philly-based electro-rock band
The Mountain Goats - "This Year"
"I am going to make it, through this year, if it kills me"--lyrical earnestness at its best
Midlake - "Roscoe"
with a new album on the horizon, this 2006 track showcases their alternative lo-fi style.
Neil Young - "On My Way Home"
From his Live at Massey Hall 1971 Disc, captures Young right before he became huge.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Artist: Final Fantasy
Record Label: For Great Justice
Release Date: 1/12/2010
When most people hear the words Final Fantasy, their minds typically jump to the popular video game series—one filled with overarching themes surrounding adventurous heroism and imaginative worlds. While these types of visions may have initially inspired composer and violinist Owen Pallett to embrace this name for his solo project for his first two releases, his third album Heartland finds itself amidst a name change. While this album was initially to be released under Final Fantasy, Pallett made a late decision to perform under his own name. Both names aside—this album was made in the same manner as his earlier solo work.
If you haven not heard of Pallett, you have most likely heard one his countless string or orchestra arrangements, like those of Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House and Beirut’s The Flying Club Cup. After years of supporting indie-rock’s finest, Pallett has continued to increasingly focus on his own project--one featuring not only his arrangements, but also his singing. The decision to perform under his own name marks a coming into his own as a songwriter, as Heartland carries a great weight in all its mysterious and alluring majesty.
Between the string flurries of “Midnight Directives” and looming nature of “Keep the Dog Quiet,” Pallett presents Heartland as a blend of surreal and ambient chamber pop—recalling a combination of Andrew Bird’s style, Arthur Russell’s sincerity, and Stuart Murdoch’s understated vocal delivery. Drawing from these different components, the album demonstrates Pallett’s masterful craftsmanship as a musician, while simultaneously continuing an exploration of his understated pop sensibilities
While Pallett meanders through his nuanced arrangements during the album’s first half, it is not until the halfway point that Pallett truly shines. “Lewis Takes Action” endures as Heartland’s most accessible track, evoking The Shins’s aesthetic as well as his own signature string arrangements. Heartland reaches its grandiose pinnacle with “The Great Elsewhere”—exhibiting dreamy, synth-heavy textures as the song builds into a stunning crescendo highlighting Pallett’s orchestral aptitude.
On “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt,” he softly sings, “My senses are bedazzled by the parallax of the road / I concentrate to keep contained the overflow.” Pallett’s lyrics aptly describe his performance throughout his third album. Given that Heartland prevails as a lush inundation of marvelously dynamic baroque pop, listeners can only admire the passing of this album’s gorgeous landscape. It goes without saying that Pallett has nearly mastered the art of indie-rock arrangement, and if he continues to hone his songwriting skills, he could be well on his way to becoming the next Andrew Bird.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Sun Jan 24: Park City, UT--Sundance Festival Show
Tues Jan 26: New York, NY--Bell House (Record Release Show)
Fri Mar 26: Washington DC--Black Cat
Sat Mar 27: Middletown, CT--Wesleyan
Sun Mar 28: Boston, CT--Paradise
Thurs Apr 1: Pontiac, MI--Pike Room
Fri Apr 2: Chicago, IL--Metro
Sat Apr 3: Milwaukee, WI--Pabst
Sun Apr 4: Minneapolis, MI--Cedar Cultural Centre
Mon Apr 5: Omaha, NE--Waiting Room
Tues Apr 6: Lawrence, KS--Jackpot Saloon
Wed Apr 7: Denver, CO--Bluebird Theater
Fri Apr 9: Boise, ID--Neurolux
Sat Apr 10: Portland, OR--Doug Fir Lounge
Mon Apr 12: Seattle, WA--Neumos
Wed Apr 14: San Francisco, CA--Bimbos
Mon Apr 19: Phoenix, AZ--Rhythm Room
Wed Apr 21: Dallas, TX--Granada Theater
Thurs Apr 22: Austin, TX--Emo's
Fri Apr 23: Houston, TX--Walters
Sat Apr 24: Baton Rouge, LA--Spanish Moon
Sun Apr 25: Tallahassee, FL--Engine Room
Tues Apr 27: Birmingham, AL--Bottletree
Wed Apr 28: Nashville, TN--Mercy Lounge
Thurs Apr 29: Atlanta, GA--The Earl
Fri Apr 30: Asheville, NC--Grey Eagle
Sat May 1: Chapel Hill, NC--Cat's Cradle
Thurs May 6: New York, NY--Webster Hall
Fri May 7: Philadelphia, PA--First Unitarian Sanctuary
Be sure to check back later this week for our own review of the album. Until then, enjoy!
Volume 18: 1/11/2010
1. Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
2. Okkervil River - Black
3. Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars
4. The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow
5. Arcade Fire - Haiti
6. The Antlers - Two
7. The National - All the Wine
8. Avett Brothers - The Perfect Space
Thursday, January 7, 2010
2009 Wrap-Up: Music Purchases Up, Album Sales Down
The 2009 year-end Nielsen SoundScan numbers reveal that Taylor Swift edged Susan Boyle in terms of album sales, and that the Beatles and Michael Jackson can still move major units. But how did the music biz do overall last year? Slightly better than the year before. Total music purchases were up 2.1 percent over 2008, as ‘09 brought in 1.545 billion overall music sales — which factors in albums, singles, digital tracks and music videos — compared to the 1.513 billion combined in 2008.
Read More of this article here.
Soundgard to Reunite
(via pitchfork at http://pitchfork.com/news/37457-soundgarden-to-reunite/)
Those squealing and riffing purveyors of grunge known as Soundgarden are getting the band back together. So says lead screamer Chris Cornell, who announced the reunion on his Twitter as the clock struck 2010 on January 1. (Via Billboard.) "The 12 year break is over & school is back in session. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!" wrote the singer, adding a link to the new official band site, where fans can sign up for e-mail updates.
The biggest question mark regarding the reunion is Cameron, who has lots of 2010 dates with Pearl Jam already lined up and recently told New Zealand website Stuff "the last thing on my mind is getting a band back together" when asked about the future of Soundgarden. But at least this means Chris Cornell will most likely not put out a solo album produced by Timbaland in 2010, and for that we are grateful.
New Knife - "Colouring of Pigeons"
Over eleven minutes, the Knife introduce their most recent costume with "Colouring The Pigeon," the first sounds from their operatic composition Tomorrow, In A Year, composed in collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. The piece was commissioned by Hotel Pro Forma, to accompany the Danish performance art group's opera based on Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of The Species. Which works out, because Karin and Olof were already all about birds anyway. "Pigeons" is a master blast -- it's less obviously electronic than the Knife of the naughts, freely incorporating operatic elements as per the assignment -- strings, bel canto vocalisms -- but as soon as Karin jumps in after the hockety, harmonized vocal intro, and the various, sublimely eerie instrumental arpeggios color the remains, the Dreijer signature is bold on this one, even if it's on a mask geared for a different sort of theater. This is a big one, must-download:Read More on this here.
Artist: Vampire Weekend
Record Label: XL
Release Date: 1/12/2010
Over the past several years, there has been a significant influx of Afro-beat’s influence on indie music. Bands like The Very Best, Ruby Suns, and Fool’s Gold have emerged into the spotlight, reviving a style of music that had fallen to the wayside in recent memory. Out of this subgenre, no band has captivated the hearts and minds of listeners like Vampire Weekend. With their Graceland-influenced, self-titled debut in 2008, the band invigorated both critics and fans alike. With their increased acclaim, however, the band became a prime example of over-licensing music in ads and commercials (MLB, Sony Ericsson, etc.). Despite their initially overdone exposure, their music has been able to withstand the test of time, leading up to their sophomore follow up Contra (2010).
Rather than sitting on their laurels and established sound, frontman Ezra Koenig and company have chosen to expand their role as multi-cultural appropriators. Contra brings in enough different genres, ethnic influences, and other elements from world music to be deemed as a ‘melting pot’—which at times resonates magnificently, and at others points overstretches its boundaries. Paul Simon and his African-influence still remain at the heart of the band’s tone, as evident with their triumphant and carefree staple “White Sky.” This time around, however, the band attempts to tackle Joe Strummer and The Clash—including their use of reggaeton and dancehalls’ influence, as well as numerous other genres. The problem in emulating Strummer, however, is that they lack the edge that The Clash possessed in incorporating these styles. As a result, tracks like “Holiday,” “California English,” and “Taxi Cab” are overreaching affairs that lasting all too long, leaving the band in somewhat of an identity crisis.
Contra does manage, however, to connect on some of its home-run swings. Beyond the lush, textured opener “Horchata,” Vampire Weekend’s best moments come during the album’s second half. The odd quirkiness of the percussive textures on “Cousins” seem off-putting upon first listen, but ultimately prevail as an exciting and energetic display fiercer than any songs found in the band’s repertoire. This liveliness continues into “Giving Up the Gun”—a baile funk groove bearing a slight resemblance to a faster-paced version of Guster’s “Happier,” along with hints of James Murphy’s electronic textures. Going from their upbeat, dance-heavy side, Vampire Weekend shift gears entirely on the beautifully mellow and contemplating “I Think UR a Contra.” This closing track endures as a brilliant composition that showcases the band not at their most expansive or dexterous, but with a delicate fine-tuned orchestration that resonates as one of their best songs to date.
Overall, Contra is a mixed bag—at its best, an ethnic harbinger delivering their unique brand of fusion to indie-rock ; and at its worst, a collage world music gone sour. Fortunately for Vampire Weekend, their sprawling exploits tend outweigh their shortcomings.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Home"
heartfelt and sentimental in a stroke of folk-rock genius
Elvis Costello - "Miracle Man"
70's Pub-rock at its finest, pt. 1
Avett Brothers "Shame"
Throwback to their pre-polished work of late
Blakroc (Ft. NOE) - "Hard Times"
Two white hipsters + a stable of rappers? It works
Beach House - "Norway"
Shoegaze just went from dreamier to dreamiest
Nick Lowe - "So It Goes"
70's Pub-rock at its finest, pt. 2
Sonic Youth - "The Empty Page"
Prolific band continues making prolific work
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Max Blau: Since you’re obviously the frontman for Gentleman Jesse and His Men, how does the creative process within the band work? Do you do most of the writing for all the parts, or is it more collaborative?
Jesse Smith: Basically I come up with the songs, and then try and let the band do what they think is right...and if it’s not going right, then I go ‘let’s try it this way.’ With the new members of this band, it’s been a little more [collaborative], as opposed to me going to the 4-track and recording everything by myself, before being like ‘ok guys, here’s the song’
MB: So you started it initially as your own project, and then brought in a backing band behind you?
JS: Sort of, it was never going to be a solo thing, but I just write all the songs. But more and more, instead of doing the 4-track thing, it’s been a little bit more organic, where I’ll play through a song…and here’s the general idea of it, and then we work on it a little more as a group, so that’s been cool.
MB: Without using genre labels, how do you describe your music to people that haven’t heard of your music?
JS: I usually say that it’s kind of got a British-invasion vibe filtered through Punk Rock. If The
Ramones were trying to play The Beatles.
MB: How did you get together the people who make up “His Men”? How did the lineup form?
JS: Me and Dave, the drummer, have been playing together for years. We were in Carbonas together. And I was like “I’m going to start another thing, but I don’t know what I’m going to do.” And he said “well I’ll play the drums.” And then, my old bass player moved to New York, and my old guitar player moved to Australia. So I knew Adrian, my guitar player now, for a long time. He played in The Hiss, and I knew he could sing and play guitar. Warren, my new bass player…we toured together and stuff like that—so I’ve known Warren for a long time too. And he never played bass in a band before, and was like “Hey man I’ll do it.” I knew he could sing and play too.
MB: At this point of time, are you still playing in Carbonas?
JS: No. I won’t say that we’ll never play again. But we’re just not doing it. We played our last show in July, I think. No, August.
MB: Describe your experience between the two.
JS: Carbonas were pretty wild, we were known for being pretty wild. So I’ll say that when Carbonas would come to town to play shows, that people weren’t as eager to give us a place to stay, and with Gentleman Jesse, people think that we are nice houseguests.
MB: The name helps, how did you decide on that name? Is it as simple as it seems, or is there a story behind the name?
JS: There’s a Carbonas 7” where our singer Greg came up names for everybody. Like our guitar Clay was ‘Claydolph Hipster’, and Greg was ‘Atilla the Hump’, and he put me as ‘Gentleman Jesse Gentile.’ And I couldn’t think of a better band name.
MB: As you’ve started to play larger shows, with The Black Lips or SXSW, has there been a moment in time, and thought to yourself that this is getting bigger than you ever expected it to be?
JS: Every time people watch us, it’s bigger than I expected it to be. It’s been constantly that, but evolving.
MB: What’s been the most memorable part since you have been starting to get press and touring with larger bands?
JS: Well even before we were getting press, necessarily, like we went on our first tour when our first 7” came out, and people were singing along to the couple of songs off that 7,” which was pretty remarkable to me. Press—I take it or leave it—I don’t give a shit as long as people are listening, you know what I mean? I guess there has been a couple of key things that brought us to another group…I always look at people who ask us to be friends on MySpace, and it used to be that [these] people used to be ‘we like The Oblivions…, and Carbonas,’ and stuff I expected from people who sit in the same genre, and now it’s like ‘we like Wilco’ and stuff like that.
MB: People like Pitchfork?
JS: Yeah exactly…it’s the Pitchfork thing…which, Elvis [Costello] sold some mp3s.
MB: With your debut and only album so far, and the obvious homage to Elvis Costello, beyond him a particular influence on you, why did you choose that as opposed to another album cover?
JS: Well when we did that, we did a photo shoot. We just brought a bunch of different background colors, and I knew I wanted it to be just a picture of me and the band, with a background color, and for it not to say anything on the front. And there a bunch of different things I had thought of like the Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool record, Dave Edmunds - Repeat When Necessary, and that one [Costello’s This Year’s Model] all came out around the same time, and all had a similar look to it, and the Wreckless Eric LP (the first one). So we took all different pictures of me with a guitar…and that one came out the best. In hindsight, I like Elvis Costello just fine, but I don’t consider him one of the biggest influences for the band, it’s almost inappropriate to a certain degree. If I was going to have someone, I’d much rather pay homage to Wreckless Eric.
MB: So you would consider Wreckless Eric to be the primary influence for the band’s sound?
JS: No, there’s tons, the list goes on. I’m a huge record collector, I listen to all kinds of stuff. The basic idea for the band is just to have a hook. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s fast or slow or aggressive. Just as long as it has a hook
MB: Since you’re such a big collector, give me an artist from the past year that you have constantly had on repeat.
JS: White Wires, from Canada. We played a show in Toronto, and this girl came up to us and said ‘Hey my sister is in this band, she’s coming to see you tomorrow in Montreal, you’d probably like them.’ And you know you take that with a grain of salt when you’re on tour. I asked ‘well, do they have records? Have them bring us a record.” We got back from tour, and I listened to the record, and it was amazing. Plus they had only pressed 300 copies of it…they’re amazing, it’s like general melodic punk stuff but it has a 60’s songwriting vibe to it.
MB: Switching back, to before, and how you were commenting on people finding you from being fans like-minded punk rock from Atlanta and around here, do you consider yourself a big part of the collective of bands in the East Atlanta Village scene.
MB: How do you think that has influenced your music, if at all? Being a part of the scene, as opposed to doing your own thing?
JS: I have a bigger pool of musicians around me. Well it’s not actually that big of a pool. I know that there it’s always different people I could play with for certain projects. I always wish there were more bands, it’s always exciting to have more bands, because it seems like every time that a band comes along from out of town, they don’t have as many options of bands to play with so a lot of bands have to overplay. We try to play once a month and we’re breaking that rule severely this month. Everyone else plays once a week, so it seems—GG King, and The Barreracudas, and Predator—they play every week. I hope it doesn’t kill the buzz.
MB: So you do see Gentleman Jesse touring full time in the future?
JS: I would love to quit working. But I’m not going to quit my life to tour. I’ll tour as much as can or need to, but I can’t be on the road ten months out of the year.
MB: Do you have any plans for Gentleman Jesse in terms of expanding your sound or repertoire? Other than musicians coming and going, do you see the band’s style changing in any way, shape, or form?
JS: There’s talk about adding some stuff, yeah. But it’s in the beginnings right now… Keyboards and what not, Piano and Organ... We’re trying to branch out a little bit. We’re working on our next LP, and the songwriting has evolved. It’s definitely the same thing, but it has evolved a little bit.
MB: Tell me about the next LP, when is that scheduled to be released?
JS: Everybody’s so busy all the time, and all the band members have different schedules, so it’s hard to get everybody together. The plan is to record twenty songs or so, and release another LP and a couple of singles, all at the same time.
MB: Have you started to record at all?
JS: Haven’t started recording, we did a couple of 4-track songs just to see how they came out. We have about ten songs that we have been playing live that we can bust out. But I have to teach them another ten.
MB: What’s your favorite song to perform live, or favorite song you have written, if any?
JS: On an energy level, the first song [“Highland Crawler”] on our LP is fun song to play. It’s got that slashing The Who guitar thing, it’s a good ‘get people pumped’ song. There’s also one’s I don’t thing translate well live, but I like playing them all pretty much. And you go through phases, too…”All I Need Tonight” and I got a song called “Careful What You Wish For” that’s fun to play.
MB: Do have any notable covers that you like to play in your live shows?
JS: We don’t usually have a ‘go-to’ cover. We learn stuff and forget it, you know. When we first started we did “Government Center” by The Modern Lovers quite a bit, and that was fun. We learned two songs for Halloween, we learned “Deanna” by Nick Cave and “I Walked with a Zombie” by Roky Erickson, and those were fun as well. So it’s in the time and place, but we usually don’t do covers that much.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Volume 17: 1/4/2010
1. Belle and Sebastian - Me and the Major
2. Jens Lekman - You are the Light
3. Andrew Bird - Plasticities
4. Taken by Trees - Lost and Found
5. Sondre Lerche - Dead Passengers
6. Beck - Paper Tiger
7. Beirut - Mimizan
8. Sufjan Stevens - Ring Them Bells
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Artist: Beach House
Record Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: 1/26/2010
The wearily drifting warmth of Beach House’s ambient shoegaze has continuously left fans in admiration of their beautiful, comforting sound, anchored by lead singer Victoria Legrand’s serene voice. While she has usually stood at the noticeable forefront of Beach House, Teen Dream (2010) embarks on a path that not only celebrates Legrand’s talents, but allows multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally’s world of subtle guitar riffs and layered synthesizers to shine in full force.
Scally’s presence, however, is not the only façade emerging throughout the group’s third album. The addition of regular contributors on drums and auxiliary percussion enhance the group’s tone into a fuller, lusher and increasingly poignant sound—one that puts the dream into Beach House’s brand of dream-pop. Between the floating atmospheric nature of “Norway” and the lively, more dynamic reworking of “Used to Be,” Legrand and Scally step outside their comfortable melancholic lull and glimmer with each passing note. “10 Mile Stereo” embodies a new awareness within the duo’s work, with a build-up unlike anything seen in their usual form—in essence awakening themselves from their usual dreaminess, ascending into a simply astounding climax that stands as their finest work to date.
Ultimately, Teen Dream triumphs as a statement about coming to terms with hopelessly romantic ideals concerned with love and relationships. Their first two albums--Beach House (2006) and Devotion (2008)—surrounded themes of heartfelt yearning and steadfast loyalty, without, and the desperate willingness to feel reciprocation. Teen Dream, however, departs from this despair, as it voices a new resolve and determination to move on. “Walk in the Park” expresses new realizations in regard to the ‘devotion’ of their last album. Reflecting on her newfound insights, Legrand responds, “The face that you saw in the door / isn’t standing there anymore.”
While the album wrestles with overcoming these old demons, Beach House finds a resting place in the album’s closer. “Take Care” rests as an acknowledgement of the relationship running its course. Despite its ultimate demise, the song closes with the recognition of an everlasting care for one another and a cherished remembrance for the good memories shared in the past.
Teen Dream endures not only as a showcase of Beach House’s delicate, progressive lo-fi beauty, but also as an album that offers listeners resounding veracity on the matters of love in the most comfortable and relatable manners. As Teen Dream provides a glimmer of optimism in closing the predominantly melancholic trilogy of Beach House’s albums thus far it provides music fans with not only the first great release of 2010 but also optimism for the group’s bright future.