Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Perhaps, as a lad or lass, you were one of those folks who ate, slept and breathed shoegazer dream rock. You worshipped Kevin Shields and believed that My Bloddy Valentine was the logical culmination of hundreds of years of music refinement. I was not one of those people. I had an appreciation for the shoegaze but never dove in quite as deep as some of my friends. There are of course many descendants of the shoegaze empire currently playing out, including but not limited to Daysleeper, Ester Drang, Amusement Parks on Fire, Bethany Curve. For whatever reasons (I imagine a love for the sound is high on the list) Darla Records seems to be a home to whatever remnants of the glory days of shoegaze remain. In particular Darla is home to Robin Guthrie guitarist and producer for showgaze pioneers Cocteau Twins and arguably the man that helped to launch MBV, Slowdive, Ride. Guthrie's currently working on the instrumental tip but you can still hear the chiming looped guitar chords and atmospheric keyboards that defined the Cocteau Twins.

But what's got my attention today is the new disc that arrived in the mail from Darla Record's Mahogany called Connectivity!. Is it shoegaze? I guess. That's certainly the direction the press wants to push you. There are many aspects of the record that fit the profile from the looped guitars, steady almost New Order like percussion and beat, drum machines, keyboard washes, breathy vocals, swirling panache of melody and drone, lots of layers of fuzz and cream, it's all there. But Mahogany is also just rock and roll, plain old music made to make you nod your head. While I'm always trying to shed the labels that bands (more often record labels) feel the need to apply it is sometimes necessary to simply acknowledge that a band can work so deeply within the confines of their influences that they come to embody the sound completely. Such is Mahogany. If you like shoegazer rock, you like Mahogany.

1 song from disc 2 of Connectivity:

Supervitesse (extended mix)

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Friday Random...

I need theme music. I know I hear it in my head when I type "friday random", it's kind of a cross between circus clown music, an organ grinder, and The Decemberists. Wait, is there a difference?

If you are at all like me then you need to be visiting DJ Shir Khan's site regularly. There's plenty of interesting stuff to look at, but in his download section he's got sets saved as long (usually about 90minutes) mp3s. And dude can work the wheels. This is but shaking good time DJ sets, innovative, interesting, rocking. Now in reference to that "if you're like me" statement I mean if you like to drink too many Budweisers every now and then and wear your boxers on the outside of your pants and shake it like a white girl on Dance Party USA, then perhaps we have something in common. However, when I'm making an ass out of myself I'm still discriminating in my tunes. DJ Shirkhan sets can rock the house party but good. Check out some of the downloads, "Ghostride" is particularly good.

On to more serious biz. I just finished Cormac McCarthy's most recent The Road. Now I'll preface this by saying that I'm a huge Mccarthy fan. The Border Trilogy is fantastic and I don't think I've ever been as creeped out by a book as I was while reading Blood Meridian. But The Road just blew me away. It's heartbreakingly sad, desolate, crushing and ultimately redemptive. I'm a sucker for a father son story, I'll admit that. But the emotional resonance of the book isn't due solely to my personal baggage. This is was an engrossing, captivating read that I recommend to everyone.

Have a good weekend. Keep your underwear on the inside, unless, you know, you don't.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In The Fishtank...

The In The Fishtank Seriers isn't always succesful but it's always interesting. As they say themselves: In The Fishtank is an ever ongoing project of Konkurrent, independent music distributor in the Netherlands. In this collection Konkurrent invites musicians to whom they feel strongly related to record. They are given two days studio time and freedom to do whatever they like musically.The Fishtank offers a space for expression and experimentation, results may vary but are always surprising.

Of late I've been listening at least twice a day to 2001's In The Fishtank release #8. This release brings together The Willard Grant Conspiracy and German electronica band Telefunk. What ended up recorded and released as #8 is In The Fishtank at its best and most unexpected. I mean, really, it could have been a train wreck. Two bands with very disparate approaches to music thrown together in a digital vs. analog, organic vs. electronic, steel cage match. But it all worked out. It certainly sounds as if WGC took the lead and Telefunk was contented to lay low with some mild sampler and beat additions. But the more you listen the more you realize that both bands yielded one to the other to create a sweet ebb and flow. What's especially sweet is the layering of WGC singer Robert's deep baritone with the light jazzy touch of Telefunk's female lead. I've really been enjoying this EP.

1 from In The Fishtank #8:


Monday, October 23, 2006

Brief Update & LCD goes Nike...

Received a brief enlightening regarding my previous post on The Last Town Chorus:

1) Their record is available in Europe right now. So if you're reading this across the pond, go purchase now. Also my man Dave Douglas is drumming in Europe right now with the always excellent John Vanderslice so go check him out and tell him P Funk said we can't wait until you get back because it's really busy.

2) The Last Town Chorus hails from Brooklyn not the UK as I mentioned. Although Brooklyn may as well be the UK as far as my life is concerned.

OK. Record set straight.

Have you checked out LCD Soundsystem's 45:33 track on iTunes. It's a mix that James Murphy did at the behest of Nike, the idea being to come up with a work out specific tune that starts you out slow, peaks then brings you down soft. There are probably people yelling "sell out" at Murphy right now, but it's a great song. When the track hits it stride (I'd say from about 15:00 to 27:00) it just kills. Whether you should throw rotten fruit at Murphy for taking Nike's money is not for me to say. When reading the notes that accompany the song, he sure sounds sincere in his desire to execute his task in the most entertaining and work out appropriate manner. The really cool thing about the track is that it's not "thump thump thump" house music like you hear at Gold's Gym on Division St. It's much more disco and a soulful disco at that mixed with some jazz piano. Shit's good. Hard to post any of it for obvious reasons. But check it out on iTunes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Last Town Chorus video...

Not to long ago I posted an absolutely gorgeous cover of David Bowie's Modern Love by The Last Town Chorus, a fine British alt-country band on V2. I've been waiting patiently for their second record to come out, unfortunately it won't see state side release until March of 2007. But here's a video of the band playing live that's really quite lovely:

Last Town Chorus on Artists Den

The band brings to mind Hem, Maria Mckee, even Mazzy Star.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Denison Witmer...

So nice to have a few quiet moments this AM before I throw myself back into my long day of computer screens, phone calls, no lunch break, long hours. Sometimes events simply conspire against you and you've gotta go with the flow. At work I'm currently very short handed necessitating my long days and lonely hours. Just as an example: within two weeks of one another one guy fell of his mountain bike in the Marin Headlands and shattered his collarbone (not broke, I mean seriously like shattered it in three pieces) and another fella got his foot run over by a truck. I mean, what the fuck. Of course all that coincided nicely with a two week vacation another 3rd guy had planned for months. What are you gonna do?

So enough of my bitching and moaning. So finally this AM I have a few minutes. I don't have to be up at the crack of dawn to get to work. But I did have to get my daughter out of bed and motivated to go to school, which is a large challenge because she's my daughter and we both share a serious love of sleep. So this AM I try a little music to get her going. No, I did not opt for my old Minor Threat record. Nor did I use Squirell Bait's first album. I went the mellow route. I started out with Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator) which seemed to have a minor affect (I certainly enjoyed it). Then I tried a little bit of Denison Witmer's July released album Are You A Dreamer?, the implication being pretty stark obvious. That at least got her up and into the shower and for that I owe Denison a post.

Are You A Dreamer is a mellow singer/songwriter vibe, acoustic guitar gently picked, excellent lyrics and a voice that if it wasn't tucked into these songs you'd find to be utterly unremarkable. But in his songs it works. You should be thinking Elliott Smith, Bloomed era Buckner without the pipes, a male Aimee Mann. Excellent AM music and pretty damn good as well for wooing the one whose pants you wish to enter.

from 2002's Philadelphia Songs:

Leaving Philadelphia (Arriving Seattle)

from Are You A Dreamer:

Are You A Dreamer

Friday, October 13, 2006

Monster Movie...

Monster Movie gets props for no other reason than that they were once in Slowdive, and that's cool. I remember when I got Monster Movie's first EP in 2001 because my friend had burned it for me onto a reformatted AOL sign up disc, you know the one's that littered the mail for years. Certainly on that first EP and even the following album Last Night Something Happened the fruit didn't fall too far from the Slowdive tree.

Now here I am in 2006 listening to All Lost the newest from Monster Movie. First off, excellent art work by Will Schaff. Second off this record kinda makes my head hurt, and not because it's loud or has weird subsonic tones that you don't know you're hearing. It's because there's so much genre jumping that the second I get to head nodding and digging what's going on the rug is pulled out from under me. That's usually not a problem, but what is is that there's not only genre jumping but a definite unpredictability in song quality. I sound like a shitty ass critic here but the record opens with 5 great songs and then drops "Driving Through The Red Lights" with its synth handclaps and lack of melody. Whatever, I guess I'm being a nitpicky bugger because really it's a decent record. I just have to make a playlist of the album with only the tracks I like, which is a bit obnoxious but...

1 song from All Lost:

Vanishing Act

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Swallow And Swallows...

Swallow And Swallows is a side project of Dominic East of Our Lady Of The Highway. Less pop/americana than his regular out fit, Swallow And Swallows is a melancholy journey through heartbreak and emotional bitterness. There aren't very many upbeat moments on the record (released through Fogsnob Records here in SF) either musically or lyrically. East has always had a way with heartache and his lyrics show his preoccupation with boys and girls and the myriad ways that they can and do hurt one another. Unlike Our Lady of the Highway Swallow And Swallows shows a strong penchant for electronic bleeps and blips, snyths and drum programming. It's a refreshingly different setting for his lyrics to live within.

1 song from Swallow And Swallows:


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Not Music Related...

This story from the NY Times isn't music related but is so intense and engrossing that I had to post the link. You may have to register for a free account to get access, but the few moments it takes is well worth it.

What's Happening To The Elephants?


There's some very good stuff over at Carpark that ranges from Indie Electronica to ambient noise to straight up cut and splice beat heavy doses. I don't usually go in for such music, but there's something weird and wonderful both precious and peculiar about what Signer does. Kind of droney abstract approaches to physical space, if that makes sense at all. I've found headphones to be the best/most satisfying approach here, though the videos seem to add even more texture.

2 videos from Signer:

I Was Dressed As The Ant, You Were Dressed Up As A Beehive

Hurricane or Sunshine

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bound Stems...

Quick post because work is busy today and I can't create as much fuck off time as I'd like, I know I know it's rough.

Bound Stems just played San Francisco and have been garnering some pretty impressive accolades for their newest Appreciation Night. Like the website says "pretty/complex/music". Of course you can use the "pretty" as an adjective or adverb and it works either way. Good solid well played rock.

2 from Appreciation Night:


Western Biographic

2 from The Logic of Building The Body Plan:

Wake Up, Ma and Pa Are Gone

My Kingdom For A Trundle Bed

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Oh c'mon you indie rock fuckers. You know you like to dance, you're just so confused about how to be cool and dance. At first it was The Rapture and that was cool until it wasn't and anyway didn't it feel a little too much like you were at a rave. Franz Ferdinand worked for a while. You could dance awkwardly to "This Fire" because the song was kind of awkward. Then there was "Crazy" which was fun, but before long Gnarls Barkley wasn't very cool because every car that drove past you was playing it. But let's be honest here: it takes alot for you to take of the trucker hat, get off the track bike, put down the PBR and really shake your ass like a little girl alone in her room.

I may have the antidote.

SF Bay Area singer/songwriter type Bart Davenport has teemed with a drummer who plays the beats by tapping on some Tascam deal, a serious R&B hold down the bottom type bass player and a keyboardist who's got serious moves to form Honeycut. Think Gnarls Barkley blended with some DJ Shadow and Tommy Guerrero (in fact Honeycut is on Shadow's Quannum) and sprinkled with a touch of The Clash and a shake of JT (scandalous I know).

Album's bumpin' and I promise you it's OK to dance, even if it's just you and your mirror.

1 from Honeycut's The Day I Turned To Glass:

Tough Kid

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grudge Fuck vs. Grudge Fuck...

A lot of good records come out today: The Crane Wife, Boys And Girls In America, and The Pernice Brothers Live A Little. For most indie rock types the first two records will probably command most of their attention as they mull over their best of 2006 lists. I'm certainly not trying to denigrate either release from The Hold Steady or The Decemberists as I think they're both pretty phenomenal (I've got tix for The Decemberists here in SF on Oct. 20th, it'll be my daughters first show), but to overlook Live A Little today would be both tragic and typical. Simply put Joe Pernice and company have made their most consistent, beautiful, sonically interesting record since The Scud Mountain Boys Massachusets.

If you're offended by gushing you should probably look away. Live A Little is bolstered by a couple of things:

1) JP's songwriting is at its best. He's always good but this time there's a joy that's been absent for awhile. Maybe it's being a new dad but his lyrical outlook is sharper, wittier. more literary and a bit more upbeat. Don't worry though there's still plenty of heartbreak and at least one vivisection.

2) Production. For Live A Little producer Michael Deming is reunited with JP. Deming worked with The Scud Mountain Boys and produced Overcome By Happiness (which until now was probably Pernice Brothers' best record). The sound is full and rich, filled with piano and strings and some horns but never overwhelming never sappy, never lush for the sake of having a budget that allows you to make it so.

3) The Band. The boys are tight as hell, in particular Peyton Pinkerton's guitar work is sterling. Deming has pulled out the best of all the players.

There are so many highlights on this record that for really only the 2nd time this year (the first being M. Ward's Post War) I listened to the entire record and immediately went back to track 1 and started over again. For the terminally cynical this is huge.

The songs just sound so good on Live A Little. Whether it's the string section on one song or the sax on another or the organ that fills out a lot of the songs, it just sounds so rich. I know I keep harping on this but it's an issue I've had with past Pernice Brothers records. It's almost as if the producer was at times scared of overwhelming Joe's fragile vocals, but there's no such fear here. Deming builds the songs into thick crescendoes pushing Joe to sing hard or be lost.

The songs have a pop rock feel that's rooted in FM radio hits of the late 70's. As I listened to Live A Little I couldn't help but think of 10cc and Al Stewart. That's intended to be a %100 compliment. Pernice Brothers have vastly outdone Midlake's Van Occupanther as homage to classic pop songwriting.

This record is just outstanding. Get it.

So now to the post title. One of the only questionable aspects of Live A Little was, in my opinion, Joe's decision to rerecord the Scud Mountain Boys fabulous "Grudge Fuck" as "Grudge F*** 2006". This time around it's full of lush strings and a credibly strong cresendoe though a lot of the tragedy and desperation is sucked out of the song with the new production. I'll let you decide for yourself.

From Scud Mountain Boys Massachusets:

Grudge Fuck

From The Pernice Brothers Live A Little:

Grudge F*** 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Stills...

In the short course of two albums and various EPs The Stills have done their share of polarizing. Those fans that loved 2003's Logic Will Break Your Heart (an album in which the band was constantly compared to Interpol) seem to view this year's Without Feathers as a sell out of enormous proportions. My view is not so harsh. I do imagine that the change in sound was due in part to the constant Interpol comparisons, but I see the reaction as a healthy one. I also love a good pop tune and for many that seems to be The Stills greatest sin on Without Feathers: they're too accessible, too "Coldplay", too not what they used to be. I can understand the sentiment but the bottom line is that the songs are either decent or they're not. Are The Stills on Without Feathers the same Stills the made Logic Will Break Your Heart? Clearly not, but what remains are lot of catchy, hooky, literate songs. Groundbreaking? Hell no. Fun? Yes.

The Stills come to San Francisco's The Independent on October 5th (that's this Thursday). Check 'em out.

1 songs from Without Feathers: