Friday, June 27, 2008

sick hot summer jamz
nothing says summertime like some summer jams, and i've found a couple i'm pretty fond of. not only is this song getting infrequent play on fake (i.e. non-college) radio—it deserves way more—but the other week i stumbled upon an amazing remix of beck’s “where it’s at” (his second most iconic single and definitely one of his best) called “lloyd price express”. better than the original?:

beck--"lloyd price express" (mp3)
i've also be rocking the first album my minneapolis r&b legends the time. adult-themed opener “get it up” is the best song, a nine-minute burst of summertime eroticism that sounds an awful lot like prince’s “controversy”-era jams. anyone know anything about that jamie starr guy who produced, wrote and played almost every instrument on the entire album?:

the time--"get it up" (mp3)

your favorite summer jams?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

last night i finally got a chance to watch the low movie annie let us all know about. i think i'm paying it the ultimate compliment when i say that it reminds me in a lot of ways of a low song: a bit slow and simple at first, but ultimately something really subtle and beautiful. i also appreciated how it’s about a part of america we don’t often see on our tv/movie/computer screens.

anyways the movie nicely incorporates some low songs, and has a respect for the acutal music in a way a lot of rock docs do not. in particular there's a gorgeous live version of one of my low faves, “when i go deaf” off 2005’s “the great destroyer”:

low--"when i go deaf" (album)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I think a lot of people are aware of Supergrass, without being aware that they are a band truly worth caring about. They have a new album called Diamond Hoo Ha, their sixth (check out the beautiful airbrushing on the cover), and while it’s not their best work, it once again showcases their many strengths. For example: They’ve always been reliable for a killer riff, but with the dense riffage on Diamond Hoo Ha, they are in a way encroaching on White Stripes territory, succeeding where another band might embarrass themselves. Gaz is still a true showman on vocals, nowhere more apparent than the shameless Bowie-isms on “Rebel in You.” It’s worth waiting three years for 11 new Supergrass songs, because of the implicit guarantee that each one will be elaborate and intricate, executed with care and finesse, and exist in the context of the history of rock music.

[I will try to add an mp3 here soon.]

The band got their start in the mid-90s Brit-pop scene, but even from the beginning, they were more like a cross of the hyper-melodic adrenalized pop of the Damned and the Buzzcocks with the cuteness of the Monkees than they were like their more overblown contemporaries. Debut I Should Coco is the place to go for that sound in its earliest incarnation. Follow-up In It for the Money does the expected by adding horns and more acoustic guitar, but it’s a stronger batch of songs, probably their best to date (and since then, they’ve often suggested a great 70s band still relevant in the modern era). The difficult (and self-titled) third album is also strong, but for all its beauty (a more pastoral and somber work) it somehow always fails to connect. That album started a pattern of moving back and forth between the reflective and the energetic on each subsequent release, and fourth album Life on Other Planets couldn’t possibly be more energetic, like Rubber Soul turned up to 11. It plays like a headlong rush toward an increasingly more hummable melody, and the fact that it doesn’t collapse under its own giddiness is a testament to the band’s talents. Album number five, Road to Rouen, is a great title and also some sort of masterpiece. It may be a cosmic fluke that its 35 minutes weren’t pressed on vinyl in 1972, but it’s not an album that sounds like it’s locked in the past. Its extremes of sadness and joy are potent in the 21st century in which they were conceived. In a nutshell: I love this band.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A review from a ne'er released edition of Liner Notes. The CDs called "Beat Pyramid" and it's by a Southend group called These New Puritans. Enjoy it, and give the CD a listen. Hope this thing called summer is going well for everyone. Here goes:

It’s no secret that I’ve been on a post-punk streak of late, listening to some of the great British bands from the 1970s and 1980s, but I hadn’t really ventured into modern music that could be considered post-punk. That was until I came across These New Puritans. Their sound is reminiscent of the lively pub and club scene that the elder statesmen of post-punk were a part of, yet this British group is almost hypnotic on this effort. For example, on the track “Numerology,” they time guitar slides so that they directly time with the snappy, yet almost paralyzing lyrical hook, “What does it mean?/ what’s your favorite number?”. “Colours” is completely uptempo, with repetitive lyrics and synchronized drums that would have even the most timid of clubbers shuffling their feet on the dance floor. “Swords of Truth” is a track with slashing urgency, fading in and out quickly, constantly leaving a listener on edge. The album sours a bit with the slower, electronic tracks “Doppelganger” and “En papier,” but the band never allows the drum beats to drop off, and the single, “Elvis,” feels like an awakening from a rhythmic slumber. It’s a British Invasion-era track, showing some edginess and unwillingness on the part of the band to label itself as purely post-punk just yet. The album is truly an uncompromising ensemble effort, with multiple vocals as the norm. It’s an album with no filler material, but rather short transition tracks. And they lead into tracks with stuck-in-your-head lyrics delivered as if they are propaganda on a town loudspeaker. The album not only a giant leap musically, but it’s a work of engineered art, with precision being the key throughout. There’s a sense of satisfaction in listening to the stunning debut of a band that has potential to revive a critical genre in British musical history, and adapt it to the modern dance floor.

Monday, June 09, 2008

i think it was at last year's sometimes-annual low christmas show that a cameraman managed to obscure even the famously good sight lines at first ave. i remember being irked at the time, but the fruits of a little annoyance have proven great. the dutch documentary "you may need a murder," which follows mimi and alan and their kids cyrus and hollis on tour, at home and on stage, is (in my huuuuuumble opinion) amazingly beautiful.

while alan sounds like a bit of a crazy (LSD+LDS=delusions of antichrist), you can see how much he loves mimi and how heavy the world is on his shoulders. with interviews at their home in duluth and in alan's hometown of leonard, mn, the filmmaker lets his subjects wax philosophical, but stops short of revealing a tragic flaw. i admired this band before for their honesty and simplicity, and now i admire the individuals for the same reasons. what you see on stage and hear in the music, it seems, is as deep a truth as any.

for a while, at least, you can stream the movie here.
the introduction is in dutch, but the film is in english with dutch subtitles (strangely understandable to this german speaker, who knew?)

anyways, enjoy.