Category Archives: Music

News Blast 12/10 & Other Musings…

So, as this year has progressed, it has become increasingly more interesting; between juggling purchasing my first home, new girlfriend, and job, I’ve had little time to update this space, which has been disheartening. BUT, my excitement for spreading the good word on music, film, and TV is still strong, so here we go!

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Simon Reynolds, a writer for the The Guardian, wrote a very perceptive article on the ever-changing status of our music-scape, and why our decade best-of lists may seem a bit fragmented…

“The fragmentation of rock/pop has been going on as long as I can remember, but it seemed to cross a threshold this decade. There was just so much music to be into and check out. No genres faded away, they all just carried on, pumping out product, proliferating offshoot sounds. Nor did musicians, seemingly, cease and desist as they grew older; those that didn’t die kept churning stuff out, jostling alongside younger artists thrusting forward to the light. It’s tempting to compare noughties music to a garden choked with weeds. Except it’s more like a flower bed choked with too many flowers, because so much of the output was good. The problem wasn’t just quantity, it was quantity x quality. Then there was the past too, available like never before, competing for our attention and affection. The cheapness of home studio and digital audio workstation recording, combined with the wealth of history that musicians can draw on and recombine, fuelled a mushrooming of quality music-making. But the result of all this overproduction was that “we” were spread thin across a vast terrain of sound. That’s why, if you look at the end-of-year or end-of-decade polls across the gamut of music magazines, there’s so little overlap. If even a relatively non-diffuse community like Pitchfork could only find its centre around records that came out in the early years of the noughties, it suggests that the culture-wide slide into entropy is speeding up.”

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In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Fleet Foxes singer/guitarist/awesome beard haver, Robin Pecknold, talked about his “boring” new album due in 2010, writers block, and writing film scores. As one of my favorite albums of 2008, I loved this candid response about the recording process:

“…I want the recording to be like two weeks. I want it to be really fast. I want to do all the vocal takes in one go, so even if there are fuck-ups, I want them to be on there. I want there to be guitar mistakes. I want there to be not totally flawless vocals. I want to record it and have that kind of cohesive sound.”

Great news for people that were fans of the cohesive sound of early rock records from the 60’s & 70’s. More recently, The Black Crowes experimented with recording live with their new double-album, performing for a small audience in a barn in upstate New York. It adds an incredible aesthetic to the recording, leaving the listener with a more personal, human experience that resonates with each repeat listen.

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The much maligned Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins recently released a new track from his lofty upcoming 44-track, 11 EP effort Teargarden By Kaleidyscope. The buzz surrounding the new track, “A Song For A Son“, has been quite favorable, considering the Corgan-bashing that has dominated music blogs as of late.  The track finds a downtrodden Corgan speak-singing to the listener, then unfolding from the simple piano/acoustic/voice formula comes a wicked guitar solo reminiscent of the Pumpkins’ early ’90s Gish days.  If the lush sound of this track is any indication of the EP’s direction, it could mean a resurgence for the lone-remaining original Pumpkins’ member.

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Icelandic Sigur Rós frontman, Jónsi Birgisson, is preparing to release his first solo album, Go, on March 23rd. He just released the first track from the album, “Boy Lilikoi“. Being an avid Sigur Rós fan, it feels a bit odd to being hearing Jónsi sing in English. In recent interviews, he has said the new album will be more quiet/simplistic arrangements, but the first track seems quite layered and incorporating a bevy of instruments. First reactions?

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Check back for my year-end lists, which will include my top 10 albums, runners-up, and my biggest disappointments of the year. As always, comments are appreciated!

~Ant

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New Posts on the Way…

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

I have been reciting this old proverb daily for the past couple months. It applies to many things lately, does it not? Obviously the economy, but personally for me, buying (or the PROCESS of buying) a house, this blog, and getting out of my current situation. Although, good things ARE on the way, more importantly for you, the readers, I plan on posting regularly again. Starting now.

New music and film commentary, along with interesting things I see throughout the day, and perhaps some personal posts (see below).

Random thoughts:

As I was sitting between my cousin and a Celtic fan getting unmercifully pummeled in the face (well, a couple sections away) at a Magic playoff basketball game, I realized something: the little things matter the most. I had family in town this weekend, my aunt, two cousins and their kids (1 & 3). Things I have been putting on a pedestal lately seemed so trivial and meaningless. The stress of finding my “perfect” house, usual 20-something insecurities, filthy habits of roommates, fair-weather friends: all deemed pointless. What does matter is family, the friends that ARE there, the simple things like listening to your favorite album on a rainy afternoon, spending a Friday night at home with a good book and a cup of green tea, or even simply watching a movie with your brother. We live in a complacent society, where all of our media outlets focus on everything negative, where good deeds are back page news. I guess the whole meaning of this is to point out the positive, hug a friend (tell them they’re awesome, the cat’s pajama’s, etc.). Enjoy the simple moments. We take everything for granted; we expect too much, get let down too easily, but never focus on when things DO go right. I probably sound like a babbling idiot, but I have felt like glorified zombie this year up until now. At risk of sounding like a complete nerd (who am I kidding), I will quote Steve Jobs (who is quoting someone else), “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

-Ant (follow me on Twitter @Cerv0)

Tor / Sufjan Stevens – Illinoize (Hip-Hop Mash-Up)

album-coverIt takes a lot for any kind of hip-hop to impress me (I’m not an expert or huge fan of hip-hop by any means). I prefer the indie stylings of artists like Murs, Atmosphere, or Mr. Lif as opposed to Lil Wayne (or any other popular hip-hop for that matter). Every so often comes an amazing remix/mash-up of an artist in the indie/rock circle paired with various hip-hop acts that sounds like it was just meant to be, it turns out as natural as any original music would/should. An almost unknown artist, based out of Montreal going by the moniker Tor, decided to create the backbone of the song with various  Sufjan Stevens tunes, and laying it down with the lyrics provided by various hip-hop acts (Aesop Rock, Outkast, Brother Ali, etc.). This really shouldn’t have worked, but it does. A fantastic listen. Download it for free at Tor’s website.

Enjoy.

– Ant

VOTD: Animal Collective – My Girls

You can always count on the boys from Animal Collective to give you a trippy video; really, it only matches their musical stylings.  Arguably the best track on Merriweather Post Pavilion, “My Girls” conjures the Beach Boys sense of melody and the technical keyboard prowess we have come to expect from AC. It’s too fitting the video looks like it was shot from the inside of a lava lamp.

If you haven’t yet, you need to listen to this album.

– Ant

Listen Up! New Music 3/3…

A couple new albums and a new discovery…

The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules

the_whitest_boy_alive-rules_album_coverAfter much success with his hometown band Kings of Convenience, Erlend Oye broke away from the simplistic pop for the more dance oriented The Whitest Boy Alive (on the short list for greatest band names of the decade). Flat out, this is fun indie dance hall music. The track “1517” starts out with a familiar keyboard/bass line, one that could be tracked to Daft Punk’s “Better Faster Stronger”. If Daft Punk traded in their turn tables and vocal effects for instruments and a softer melodic tone, you have The Whitest Boy Alive. Every track has a similar tone: an almost jazzy quick note guitar riff matched with a funky disco bass-line; it’s undeniably catchy and fun. They aren’t breaking any new ground, but if this doesn’t get your feet moving and smiling, you need to check your circuitry. The album releases 3/31.

Heartless Bastards – The Mountain

heartless-bastards-the-mountain-cd-cover-album-artSounding like a dirty indie country version of Cat Power with a healthy  mix of Jenny Lewis and Jeff Buckley (yea, whoa), Heartless Bastards‘ 3rd album has been viewed as somewhat of a departure. The band started as a 3 piece, and has added a memeber for the album, but the only remaining original member is Erika Wennerstrom. She knows how to belt it out with the best of them, showing little restraint on the album opener and title track “The Mountain“. Although, one of the best songs on the album comes when they slow it down and add some banjo and violin, “Had To Go”.  They have a real hodge-podge of influences, which is what makes them so interesting and exciting to listen to.

Empire of the Sun – Walking On A Dream

songoftheday-walking_on_a_dream_coverThe two Aussie ‘gents that formed Empire of the Sun have made a bigger splash with their new “side project” than either of their individual efforts (The Sleepy Jackson & Pnau, never heard of them? Yeeea, don’t feel bad). Often noted as being a bit pretentious (just look at that album cover, eek!), you can’t deny their ability to craft an uber catchy pop song. The obvious comparison to MGMT is apparent while hearing the first couple bars of the title song “Walking On A Dream“. The album as a whole is not built as strong as that single, it becomes convoluted with a few throw-aways, of which the album could have done without. The keepers would have probably made a solid EP, but it still remains a good debut.

– Ant

VOTD: Bon Iver – Skinny Love

I’ve been covering a lot of Justin Vernon lately, but it’s only because he is THAT good. No, he is not the best singer or guitar player, but he conveys torrents of emotion with each note he croons in his unmistakable falsetto. Take this impromptu live performance on what looks like someones back porch: shown from the view of the artist, it was an incredible way to capture this performance; the emotional look on the faces of the fans in attendance is apparent. Take a look.

Thanks to my buddy Joey Bags for sending me the link.

– Ant

Dark Was The Night: Beautiful Compilation For A Cause

dark-was-the-nightIn what is looking like comprehensive ‘who’s who’ of indie-rock-pop artists of this decade, Dark Was The Night was finally released last week. Does it live up to the massive hype it has garnered on NPR and oh so many blogs the past couple months? A very confident YES! What’s even better is that it’s for a very good cause. The compilation includes tracks from the likes of Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Feist, Ben Gibbard, The National, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, Beach House, and the ridiculous thing, there is more. I put one of the standout tracks below; a brand new song from Sufjan is always welcome.

Sufjan Stevens – You Are The Blood

I already bought my 3 LP copy, get out there and do it.

– Ant