I'll start off with some shameless self-promotion: cCoOmMpPuUtTeErR iIsS aA rRoOoOmM with j.s. makkos is completely finished and I'm headed to Cleveland later today for our small and unofficial CD release show. If you are in the area, check out languagefoundry.org for more information. I'll have another track or two up on my Virb account within the next week or so (virb.com/wherethereisfire) and sometime in the next month there will be some means of purchasing the album online through Paypal if you are interested. In other Where There is Fire We Will Carry Gasoline news, Neal and I will may be doing some recording in the next week, so look for a track or two from that vein on the Virb as well.
My best of 2007 list is in the works and will be up sometime in January. If you are itching to find out what could be on my list, a friend of mine from State College has list up and a few of his albums will definitely be on my list as well.
[link] britches11596 - Top 20 Albums of 2007
Neal has also had a few posts on his blog over the past month or so that you should check out, especially if you are into noise (Pink and Brown, Lucky Dragons, etc).
[link] (kidsmoke) - Neal's mp3 blog
[link] Where There is Fire We Will Carry Gasoline on Virb
[link] Language Foundry - Cleveland arts collective which j.s. is involved with
By the way, the bridge of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" really sounds like Broken Social Scene. Did anyone else find themselves making the eerie comparison on the first listen?
Everyone's favorite whistling violinist played the State Theatre here in State College on Monday night. I can't really comment too much on the show because I was only able to catch the last 30 minutes, but what I did see was definitely worth my money. Andrew Bird is still on tour and I'd recommend going to see him if he's coming through your area. If you haven't heard Mr. Bird, check out "Heretics" off his most recent release, Armchair Apocrypha.
[mp3] Andrew Bird - Heretics
[mp3] Phosphorescent - A Picture of Of Our Torn Up Praise from the forthcoming Pride
Phosphorescent also did a Daytrotter session back in May and there are four tracks available for download; you should read the interview as well. Also, sorry about the lack of posts this week. If you accept excuses ... exams.
Gregg Gillis, or as we know him - Girl Talk, should be everyone's hero. A couple months ago, he began to get enough requests for Girl Talk gigs that he decided to leave his biomedical cubicle for good. Now you can see him, fully bearded and behind his laptop, any night of the week ... like this past Tuesday, with Dan Deacon and White Williams. Baltimore electronica superstar Dan Deacon and Girl Talk (I won't comment on White since I've never seen or heard him - arrived too late on Tuesday) are hell of a combination for a show, especially if you like being drenched in sweat and completely exhausted from dancing when the night's up. Tuesday night's show was no exception. I'm not exactly sure what the deal is with the 2640 space, but it's a church about 3 blocks from landmark Baltimore venue, Ottobar. The show was promoted by Wham City, Monozine, and the tickets were sold through MissionTix (an Ottobar related entity), so if you're familiar with the Baltimore scene at all ... that's a bit of weird cooperation going on, but they show went great and Beach House and Grizzly Bear will be playing the 2640 space on October 13th. I don't really have too much to say about Girl Talk or Deacon, other than, if you don't listen to both of them, start now, because they will both change your life forever.
[mp3] Girl Talk - Smash Your Head
[mp3] Dan Deacon - Crystal Cat
[mp3]The Dirty Projectors - Depression
Swedish crooner Jens Lekman's second studio effort, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is due out October 9 in the US on Secretly Canadian. The new record seems a bit more upbeat and orchestrated ... I kind of liked sad, sappy Jens a little better but I'll get used to it. Here's "I'm Leaving You Because I don't Love You" off the new album filled with great samples, plunky piano, and a faint, but funky bassline. Oh and of course, Jens' wonderful and distinctive voice.
[mp3]Jens Lekman - I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You
[link] Around America in 2.0 >> About
[link] Matt's Flickr Photos
I decided to start using my flickr account, and to streamline things, I'm going to start embedding slideshows of my show pictures with the use of a really cool widget called PictoBrowser. I am kind of in love with how sleek it looks and how much easier it is that me having to put in each picture in explain it. If you guys as readers don't like it, post a comment and I'll look for a different photo posting solution.
Whartscape (July 19-21, 2007)
Whartscape music festival is Wham City's contribution to Baltimore's larger Artscape festivities. If you haven't heard of Wham City (which is unlikely because they've been gaining notoriety like wildfire) they are a art collective out of Baltimore. Started by Dan Deacon, Wham City has been hosting absurdest art events for more than a few years now. So, as almost all other Wham City events, Whartscape was hot, loud, intense and AWESOME! There is no way Sean and I could do all of the bands justice even if we had got to see them all but here are the many, many highlights of the weekend.
Sean And I showed up just before Wzt Hearts started their set. If you haven't heard of Wzt Hearts any you are any kind of a fan of noise music you should check them out. As if two laptops blipping, bleeping, buzzing and blurring isn't enough to make you feel like your tripping in some kind of weird hyper modern wasteland, then add some pounding drums and hoots and hollers that sound like you've stumbled upon a tribal gathering, and the total effect is one that will make your hairs stand up on end. Wzt Hearts really feels like modern music being made in response to modern times. Oh and did I mention their set was great?
WZT HEARTS - myspace
It seems like every time I see Thank You they get better. Really, I think it just me being too reluctant to open my ears. Thank You's gittery rock knows how to shoot what its aiming at. Thank You's open and spastic but steady sound is just approcahable enough to keep you listening and just wierd enough to keep you interested. They, like so many of the bands at Whartscape, played and awesome set. The stand out of seeing them is definitely their drummer. Never have I seen a lady thrash on drums like Thank You's fine drummer (who's name I cant seem to find anywhere)
THANK YOU - live @ Whartscape (as recorded by Baltimore Taper)
Growing is a aptly named band. Live, their swirling soundscapes, pulse around you and the room seems to be, well, growing. I had seen them once before when they opened for mogwai but their set at Whartscape was significantly different. I remember thinking their set sounded more 'soul of the rainbow' than 'color wheel', although with a band like Growing I'm sure live performances are loose and can sound very different from the records. regardless their set was great and a nice contrast to alot of the more "Baltimore sounding" bands.
GROWING - epochemal renissance (exerpt) (from heart of the rainbow)
Since the first time I saw the sunshine a few years ago a lot of things have happened. They have since released a record on Carpark records and toured around the country. As we all know when you add time and experience you get change and that's exactly what Ecstatic Sunshine has done. This guitar duo's live performances are significantly noiseier, using distortion and looping much more heavily than before. I don't dislike their new sound but it doesn't seem to have the unbridled energy of songs like 'Tuscan'. Having said that, the sound does feel more mature and I'm sure we will only see great sunshiny things form this thrashing duo.
ECSTATIC SUNSHINE - live @ Whartscape (as recorded by Baltimore Taper)
I had been introduced to Soft Circle a few months ago by a friend of mine. I listened to Full Bloom a few times and just found it seeping to me. Full Bloom is a weird yet intensely moving album that is very tribal sounding yet somehow still sounds very urban and modern. His live show is no less engaging than the cd. This Ex-Black Dice member's soundscapes feel like they fill your skull to the brim with some kind of life force. Plus watching a guy play drums, guitar and sing at the same time is always amazing.
SOFT CIRCLE - myspace
more whartscape soon...with real pictures!
So I know neither Sean nor I have posted for quite some time. Keep an eye out for post and pics of Panda Bear, WZT Hearts, Ponytail, The Death Set and Enjoy Your Canary. In the meanwhile check out lost:ghost:records Chris Day recently started lost:ghosts to release limited edition releases by people who make worthwhile music. I would also like to say in a moment of shameless self promotion that the musical escapades of Brendan Sullivan and myself are being released in the form of a self-titled cd-r on lost ghosts. The packaging is all hand printed and is super high quality. Chris is also an amazing artist so check out the lost:ghosts website. You wont be sorry.
The Books have been one of my favorite artists ever since I heard "enjoy your worries, you may never have them again". They have been on my list of 'artists to see before I die' for quite some time and last night I had that pleasure. They played a great set including my favorite song "Smells Like Content". They also did a fantastic cover of Nick Drake's "Cello Song". Each song had an accompanying video that will be released on DVD by the end of the month. The videos were funny and great, in a really subtle way. The Books are by far one of the most creative acts out there right now, no matter what kind of music you are into. If you are not familiar with their music, do your self a favor and purchase some. And if you are already a fan of The Books, the you know what I'm talking about, and are probably as excited as I am to get my hands on that DVD.
The Books- Smells Like Content live
Todd Reynolds was the opening act. I hadn't heard any of Reynolds music previously, which is basically him playing violin and using a loop pedal. He is a phenomenal violinist, in some ways it reminded me of Eluvium but not as ambient. All I can really say is I didn't think he was spectacular, but Todd Reynolds is definitely worth checking out.
Todd Reynolds- "Walkin'"
3/31 The Decemberist and My Brightest Diamond
2/10 Sam Beam and David Bazan
2/9 Yo La Tengo and The Rosebuds
I have to admit I haven't listened to The Decemberists since last September, and that was giving the new record a second and third chance. I used to consider myself a Decemberists fan, and I'd say after this show, I would again. First off, the opened with Shiny and closed with The Tain, my two favorite Decemberists songs. Second, sure you can call them folk, alt-country, etc, etc, but a good deal of this show was straight up rock and roll. This may have been due to the fact I was standing in front of guitarists Chris Funk's amplifier. If you saw the guitar-off spurred by the green screen challenge on the Colbert Report, you might have a better idea of what I'm talking about. Their stage presence made this a great show. Although he had his moments, gone is the Colin Meloy of mostly acoustic historically accurate lullabies. I would not be surprised if their next move was a rock opera. Funk and drummer Nate Query made their way into the crowd near the end of the set, random percussion implements in hand, for some sort of impromptu Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment ... I'm not sure what that was about, but it was funny.
[mp3] The Decemberists - Shiny
[video] Stephen Colbert vs. The Decemberists: 2nd Green Screen Challenge
If you read my top 10 of 2006, you may already realize that I love My Brightest Diamond. Her opening set was absolutely intense. Her voice was unwavering, hitting every note as precisely as the record. Shara Worden was joined by equally energetic drummer and bassist, so three strong, the set lacked the orchestration and sprawling arrangements of Bring Me the Workhorse. Even so, it was nothing short of amazing.
[mp3] My Brightest Diamond - Something of an End
And as I had mentioned ... some backlogging.
I actually got pictures of Anathallo this time in Pittsburgh. Their set was nearly identical to the fall show. There's not much I can really say other than they were great as always.
Sam Beam and David Bazan at Messiah College ... sitting room only. For some reason Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine) thought it would be a good idea to sit. Sure it was more intimate, but rather uncomfortable. The setlist included quite a few songs from the new record due this fall, which sounded very promising. David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) is so much cooler in the first place. Two covers were the highlight of his set: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) and L'Amour Stories (Deerhoof). I asked him to play song A but he dissappointed me.
[video] David Bazan - Hallelujah (live @ Messiah College)
[video] David Bazan - L'Amour Stories (live @ Messiah College)
And then Yo La Tengo ... another record that made my top 10. This was an amazing show - two and a half hours of garage punk, avante garde soundscapes and everything in between. They played a lot from the new record ... pretty much a lot of everything. only they did not play my favorite song - Little Eyes. Even so, they should make the "must see before I die" list for each and every one of you reading this.
1. First Breath After Coma
2. Welcome, Ghosts
3. The Only Moment We Were Alone
4. Greet Death
5. What Do You Go Home To?
6. Your Hand in Mine
7. Catastrophe and Cure
[zip] Explosions in the Sky - 3/17 @ 9:30 Club (link on Sendspace download page)
[mp3] Ecstatic Sunshine- Little Dipper Big Dipper
[mp3] OCDJ- Pls stp th hstl
[link] Coconut's myspace
[link] Thrust Lab's myspace
There are MANY more Baltimore acts that I hope to highlight in the following months. These should suffice to fulfill your ADD, sugar-addicted musical escapades for the time being.
I don't care who you are, you have to admit loop pedals are pretty cool. And when a band actually uses them to their full potential its even better. Now, what if this said band not only knew how to use the pedals they had but had TONS of them. It would probably be a mind bending, head bobbing experience. So Its no surprise that seeing the experimental, noise-rock outfit BATTLES was exactly that. I haven't seen so many gizmos in all my life. BATTLES does what they do well, and with class. Why not have the drums in the front and the guitarist in the back? Why not have the keyboard so close to the drums the drummer can hit it? Why not have the cymbal up as high as it can go? There is really no good reason why people haven't thought of these things sooner, but BATTLES is about as experimental as they come. And best of all, they do it well.
Check out the video for Atlas, and note the cymbal.
[video] Battles - Atlas (youtube)
Opener, Eluvium, was nearly as impressive. Despite the fact that half his catalog is strictly piano compositions, his live performance built up loop after loop, each managing to float in the balance of the others, comprising more of an ethereal shove than a wall of sound. And then there was The Paper Chase. I do not recommend them whatsoever. Sorry to those that may like them, but I thought their live show was nearly unbearable.
[mp3] Explosions in the Sky - Your Hand in Mine
[mp3] Eluvium - Prelude for Time Feelers
The Where There is Fire We Will Carry Gasoline virb site has a demo recording of a new track - Pitch, Yaw, Roll.
In other news, Neal, of the aforementioned project Where There is Fire We Will Carry Gasoline may be joining me in posting to the blog. He jumped onto the blogging ship a little bit ago with Kid Smoke Kid, and we've talked about making Where There is Fire a 2 contributor blog. So keep an eye out for that.
Continuing on the subject on our band Where There is Fire ..., I don't really have a news and progress outlet other than this blog right now, since I'm too annoyed to do anything with the myspace. This will change because of the virb page which I plan to use in full. Continuing ... on the web front, a formal website for the project may be in the makings, including a store with upcoming releases. I am doing a collaborative piece with Cleveland poet, Joe Makkos which will release in mid April. I am also working on another project remixing Baltimore's Maps (formerly Joseph Albers Experiment) songs which should release in April or May. Where There is Fire We Will Carry Gasoline's first formal album might begin recording this summer and release ... eventually. More news to come. And I promise I'll just mention it in the future as opposed to using the blog for news itself.
Also to come in the blog: one or two more looks back to 2006 and the best of the best that didn't make my top ten, and the worst of the worst.
Upcoming Album Reviews: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible, Lovedrug - Everything Starts Where It Ends, and Lewis & Clarke - Blasts of Holy Birth.
The Knife - Deep Cuts, Silent Shout
80's throwback is one thing, but traveling back in time, making an album with the best coked out B-rate producer you can find, and then traveling back to the future and releasing it in 2006 is another. I mean sure it's poppy in a 1986 sense, but I can't sense a modern element of creativity in it at all. I never even took the time to listen to Silent Shout in its entirety, but I'm sure it's terrible. I don't get it ... but I can find a small amount of respect for The Knife by the fact that Jose Gonzalez covered "Heartbeats" which is a phenomenal song. I just wish he wrote it.
Will be on top 10 lists in 2007:
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (March 13, 2007)
They're back and better than ever. Some songs are in the typical LCD style: short, noxious, and to the point. But for the most part this album sprawls. Everything is climactic and has epic buildups. And every single layer has intense attention to detail. Every loop and synth in this album is tweaked to perfection and it is catchy. Unexpectedly catchy ... when was the last time you heard a 6 minute song that completely held your attention span? "Someone Great" is one of my favorites down to every last sample, filter sweep, and synth tweak.
And don't you dare compare LCD Soundsystem to The Knife. Because there is no comparison worth considering.
LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great (yousendit valid until 2/17)
Read my best of 2006 if you didn't yet ... it's right down there vvv
Choosing the 10 best albums of the calendar year of 2006, or any year for that matter, is an extremely fickle beast. There are albums I absolutely adore that aren’t particularly innovative or overly creative and there are albums that are musically revolutionary that I didn’t care for. The moral of the story is, what conditions do you set “best” relative to? I ended up evaluating albums with a balance of subjective and objective criteria.
I thought some of the highly lauded albums of the past year were a great deal smoke and fog. Return to
“Monkey and Bear” (EDIT - I meant "Sawdust and Diamonds," thanks for pointing that out to me Kleeb) stood out to me as the strongest song on the album. Broken Boy Soldiers (The Raconteurs) was an onslaught of great songs, but it was just another Jack White project, falling short of The White Stripes. And the list goes on, varying from person to person…
This monotony, repetition, and overexertion is obvious on a lot of albums, but the subjectivity lies in the interpretation of where these qualities are positive and progressive. Quite of few of the albums from my possibles list several posts ago fall into this grey area. Some emerged from it, and others still wallow in it. Within the next couple of weeks I’ll evaluate some of these albums that didn’t make the cut and why. Now on to the albums that made it.
Highlight Songs: Gamera, Why We Fight
Excuse my semi-stereotypical simile, but Tortoise is to me like Dave Matthews Band is to a frat boy. Anything can be set to Tortoise, immediately mesh, and be enhanced. A Lazarus Taxon is 3 discs and a DVD, which some might argue exempts it from the top albums list, but not for me. Additionally it’s a sort of best of, b-sides, and remix compilation. I don’t care. Tortoise is some of the most simplistically creative, complexly droning, and absolutely inspired music to stem from the constant evolution of “rock” over the past 15 years. Sitting at the other end of the spectrum from Talk Talk in the genesis of post rock, you can’t get more original than Tortoise. This entire set is anthemic in the most non-anthemic way possible. There’s a theme song for any and everything within there 3 discs.
Highlight Songs: Flower Gardens, Gubbish
I have a feeling that Chad Vangaalen is that guy who sits in his basement studio and records music he thinks no one else will like. His music is really weird, but also quirky, ingeniously poppy, and haunting. Skelliconnection makes such a mess of genres that I have no idea what to classify it as other than indie (becoming more indescript, day by day, 10 years and running). Everything about this album has a soundtrack feel to it, but I have no idea what the movie could even be about. Every time I hear something new from
Highlight Songs: Atoms for Peace, Harrowdown Hill
No. This is not just a solid album without the rest of Radiohead. It’s a unique stage where Thom can showcase his oddity in a semi-divergent manner from the outlet of Radiohead. In case you didn’t notice in your unenchanted listening to this album of Radiohead minus most of the musical component, the vocals are nearly devoid of the effects and reverb present in the majority of Radiohead tracks. Thom’s voice is truly amazing on “Atoms for Peace,” an element that never rears its head in such a way within the entity of Radiohead. Pads, guitars, and beats are all glitchy, hauntingly melodic, and lie in a perfect balance of mechanized and organic. The personal implications of this album for myself are huge … also being a self-proclaimed artist of the “laptop rock” variety. I see no reason why everyone shouldn’t love this album.
Highlight Songs: A New Beginning/Been Here Before, Cannons
Enigk’s voice is one of my all time favorites. Everywhere in between his whispered lullabies and strained, impassioned cries, he never ceases to throw his entire self into vocal expression. Moving past the vocals, the entire album sounds meticulously and carefully orchestrated. Attention to no detail is spared … and this vigilance is well heard. The opening track “A New Beginning” is a great testament to my former observation. It’s completely rocking out; you can feel the emotion. On a sidenote: Enigk was featured in “O, Porcupine” off mewithoutYou’s lastest record, and the way he sings make we wonder what’s to come from Enigk. His vocals are blood-chilling, and I hope to hear him sing in the same manner in the near future on new material.
Highlight Songs: Golden Star, Magic Rabbit
I didn’t hear even a hint of any indication of a female Jeff Buckley in any of the background vocals on Sufjan Steven’s Illinoise, but apparently it was hiding in there somewhere. When you give Shara Worden, of slight Illinoisemaker fame, the spotlight, the comparison to Buckley becomes obvious. A classically trained composer and opera singer doesn’t seem to out of place on the ever eclectic Asthmatic Kitty label, but Worden definitely sets herself apart. Obviously indie and operatic, her sound begs so many descriptions. The certain depth and darkness of her voice is what pulls in the Buckley comparison, and it is definitely well merited. The album sounds big, maybe a bit overproduced, but I’d say it’s a great and captivating sound for a debut. I, for one, am hooked and can’t wait to hear more.
Highlight Songs: Black Flowers, The Story of Yo La Tengo
I have to admit that any Yo La Tengo album released will make my top 10 for that year. They can’t do wrong. And they’ve enhanced this addition to your collection with attractive 10 and 11 minute bookends to make it all the better. A long, sprawling last track is a given for many bands like Yo La Tengo, and although the first track my seem unnecessary in length, it is completely unobtrusive to the album. All tracks are fashioned in the beautifully quirky Yo La Tengo fashion sitting somewhere between sleepily ambient and sugar-sweet pop. If there was ever a band that combined equal parts Broken Social Scene, Belle & Sebastian, Brian Eno, and Elliott Smith, and made a perfect album, that album would have been I Am Not Afraid…. I feel a lot of familiarity and done before vibe (by both YLT and others) in this album, but it’s in an extremely positive way. In so many ways it is a perfect album where so many others have fallen one step short.
Highlight Songs: Free Radicals, The W.A.N.D.
At War With The Mystics is much more than mediocre, and if you don’t think much of it, it’s because you liked Yoshimi and The Soft Bulletin too much. This album was released at the wrong time, preventing a lot of people from appreciating the genius that At War With The Mystics is. It was just the right amount of time for the timelessness of the previous two albums to sink in and dictate the mindset that the next Flaming Lips album needed to be interpolated precisely from the progression from Soft Bulletin to Yoshimi. The Flaming Lips went out on a limb and exceeded the parameters of the interpolation by far. People weren’t ready for this and all but rejected the new album. I venture to say that it is a damn solid album, creatively, musically, and lyrically. Soon enough people will learn that if you expect much of The Flaming Lips, you’re going to be let down. They never do what you think, and that’s one reason they are so damn good.
Highlight Songs: Dokkoise House (with face covered), The Bruised Reed
These Michigan Boys have done it again. It’s been a while since their last release, but it was well worth the wait. Super-saturation of emotion has been a common thread in my analysis of 2006’s top albums, and this is yet another album that invades that list. It quite possibly could be at the top of the list, and if you have ever seen Anathallo live, you can be the judge. Japanese proverbs, chain clinking, some orchestration, harp, and female vocals aside, this is just another Anathallo album, but they are great at what they do. Four part harmonies, enchanting melodies and countermelodies stacked teeteringly high, atypical percussion, and a horn section reminiscent of nameless fugues and dirges are all still omnipresent and better than ever. In short, the sound sits somewhere between atypical and typical, which I think perfectly describes Anathallo.
Highlight Songs: Teaspoon, Ultimatum
I didn’t think the delicate and carefully crafted “Ultimatum” could get any better then the version on the identically named EP in late 2005. Somehow, by way of baring no holds and a mysterious method of “rockification”, John Roderick made this song better. I guess you can do that when you hole up for a year or so like he did to make the new album. And I’m glad he did because if there’s an album I would say defines straight up indie rock and roll at this present moment, it would be Putting the Days to Bed. I really can’t think of much else to say about this album other than the fact that it’s nearly perfectly crafted upbeat rock that will put me (and I hope you too) in a good mood, anytime, anywhere.
Highlight Songs: You’re Not an Astronaut, Anhoi Polloi
This is a tour EP. I didn’t realize it until I was tracking down the artwork to post with this review, at which point I had to add this aside. With 8 tracks and 30+ minutes it might as well be an album, because I’m counting it as one for this list. I haven’t specifically discussed drumming on an album, but I will begin on Phages with the drumming. Frantic, sub-divided, intense, but never excessive. Tony Nesbitt-Larking replaces drummer Adam Nimmo from the previous album and continues to build on the spastic percussion of Underwater Cinematographer. On Arts and Crafts, one would assume Most Serene Republic sounds similar to label definers Broken Social Scene and Stars, and one would assume correctly. But the drum work on this album sets Most Serene Republic apart from the sound they would otherwise be pigeonholed in. This is a truly unique and epic album; keep an eye on Most Serene Republic.
If there is demand, I can make a zip file with all of my 2006 highlight tracks and post it. I do not have time to upload or find links for individual tracks. If you would like the zip file with the 20 highlight tracks, leave a comment and I’ll post it in the near future (It will actual be in the next week if there’s demand, I promise).
Also coming soon: 2007 is way better than 2006 already. Good stuff has leaked and I'll post a few tracks.