dredge fog

6 Oct

I’m developing a roll of film from Scion Garage Fest this weekend (shot King Tuff, The Gories, Human Eye, The Spits? and some other things while I was drunk and now don’t remember). The shows were cool, don’t really feel like recapping them. Listen to these grossly good jams instead:

The Child Molesters – (I’m The) Hillside Strangler
Fag Cop – Tunnel of Love
The Warmers – Walking Solves It

Momus interviewed by The Local

12 Sep

Check out this intriguing interview Momus did about the city of Berlin being an unconventional artistic hub:

Momus speaks: ‘Berlin is potentially a very provincial city’

…I kind of like the fact that it’s hard to sell work here, it keeps you thinking about other things than the market. I do a lot of art shows in New York and the burning desperation of artists there to compromise as soon as possible, to make work that collectors want to buy because the devil is there: you’re at the top of the mountain with the devil and he’s saying “look there’s the money, shake the tree and the money will fall on your head”. In Berlin that doesn’t happen because it can’t: all the rich people are all in Frankfurt or somewhere, and it’s just galleries here. There’s a certain kind of delay, it’s not like we’re living outside of the system but we are living at arm’s length.

kick it for the third time

8 Sep

Living on a farm road
Takin’ all your time slow
Cheerin’ from the bleachers
Don’t you wish your life was gold?
I bet you do

The Virgins – Hey Hey Girl

Sometimes when you live in the country you have to dance and yell to grab the placidity and lethargy by their throats–tell them, “I love how you let me act like a freak without becoming a spectacle.” Then, the fact that you could just walk into a dry, yellowed cornfield off the farm road, and see its repetition for hours on end as you walk–to be put in a trance simply by walking in that environment for a good chunk of time and know nothing will happen but a rush of wind with the consequent rattling of the leaves high above in the distance, which are on the threshold of a coming autumn–it’s like a cold drink of water. The high of running to nowhere on this expansive rural trail, with no necessary plan or time frame, feels intense and surreal out here; you’ll lose sense of what should be gone, and gain back what you needed, even if you don’t know what those things are. It’s a process with surreptitious, borderline mystical, components. They may make a city girl out of me yet, but the urban nectar is one that I cannot imbibe.

Screaming Females’ Castle Talk

26 Aug

Screaming Females
Thursday, Aug. 26th
Replay Lounge, 21+

Screaming Females will be returning to Lawrence exactly three months later from their show earlier this spring at the Replay in order to promote their upcoming album, Castle Talk, which marks their fourth full-length release to date. The show in May was pretty fantastic, not only because it made me realize how much I overlooked King Mike’s bass parts when it comes to their sound, which Marissa Paternoster ensures to pack a heavy punch, but also because watching Paternoster play & sing live is enough to bring tears to my eyes. The integrity of Screaming Females’ live sound remains such that it’s almost as if the tracks are playing over the PA, but with more ferocity and bite. And you gotta love a band that plays a killer encore for a crowd of some twenty people.

Castle Talk, which blasts outta Don Giovanni’s rock womb on Sept. 14th, is currently available for pre-order on Insound, and if you get it now, you can nab a free Screamales poster as well. All pre-orders also come with an MP3 download of the album so that you can listen to it as soon as you make your purchase. Highly recommended.

Order Castle Talk for a measly $9.99


Track by Track Review

1. Laura and Marty

A pretty menacing intro rolls into a brisk bassline and steady beat as Paternoster’s calculated notes throw down the pavement for her mighty vocal range to run upon. Besides displaying the wonderful quality of the recorded vocals (crystal clear with a healthy touch of reverb), the track also reminds listeners of the band’s great songwriting control–capable of keeping it subdued but interesting, and knowing when to let go and burn hard, which they demonstrate after the second verse by finally bringing in the chorus, and then letting their instruments ring loud and free. After this, Paternoster launches into a twenty five second guitar solo, which I’m not really sure is necessary, but then again, when is a guitar solo ever necessary? The woman squeezes three times as many arpeggios in that interim than anyone else in her age bracket, that’s for damn sure, almost to the point of distraction by nature of being so badass.

2. I Don’t Mind It

The first single off the new album not only tones it down a notch but also adds a proper serving of pop next to Paternoster’s tasty distortion and expressive couplets. The rhythm of King Mike’s bassline holds this track’s head up high and proud, even when the Paternoster busts out a terse guitar solo for the outro. Once again, the front woman’s skillful timing works to the benefit of the overall musical composition–by knowing when to hold notes out and when to let them flood, she works out a balanced chemistry between herself and the rhythm section. On the other hand, the snare barely ekes out over the rest of the crew and at times the drums almost sound like they are just there to keep time.

3. Boss

In this track, the band takes a sensitive approach to feeling subordinated, coming into the song with a slow-release–drums setting the tempo for a somber bass, which is then layered with a wailing guitar that then goes into Paternoster’s signature guitar sound. However, when the vocals drop in, the distortion drops out in order to match the austerity of the rest of the song. In the second verse, there’s no guitar and instead the listener is left bobbing their head to the tambourine played in conjunction with the drum parts. In contrast with the beginning of the song, the end fades out a combination of all the instruments and a hook-worthy guitar riff.

4. Normal

It seems that swift fingers and strong lungs aren’t enough for the front-woman, because her rhymes are darkly dexterous as well. The chorus contains sarcasm so thick that it peels away as Paternoster sings, “I wouldn’t be surprised if no one wants to waste their time with me/I’m joyfully employed and normal.” The switches between effects also make for shuddering transitions within the guitar arrangement. I especially love the tail of oscillating bass note that Paternoster latches onto the very end of the chorus. The stark musical contrast between the chorus and the bridge creates an atmosphere of withheld rage that then builds up and brims over before the song ends. The brevity and beat make this one of the catchiest tracks off the record.

5. A New Kid

Hands-down my favorite song–all I could think was, “Fuck,” when I first listened to it. With its merciless hooks and engaging composition, it tells the story of a newcomer who has overstayed his welcome. Paternoster reaches record-high levels of creepy with her lyrics–“If I invite you over can you look me in the eye?/Because your head is a cavern and I want to crawl inside/I put some speakers in your ears and I stuff up where you sleep/You’ve got a whole lot of nerve to think that you can fool me” and “Let me travel up your brains, hang my image in your skull/So I can be the gizzard(?) in your nightmares from now on”–while hazy guitars and lolling bass torridly circle one another before switching from a stagnant mood into a frenzied chorus. The guitar solo after the second verse is especially driven and forceful, blending in nicely with the subsequent riff.

6. Fall Asleep

Not to be outdone by the previous track, this song’s appeal profits from a cruising bass and a diverse guitar sound that switches between psychedelic and grunge. Not forgetting to throw in a helpful dose of skillful guitar picking during the chorus, Paternoster keeps it slamming in the last minute with another lively solo before throwing down notes befitting of a metal musician. I can’t get over this bassline though, which makes the heavy tones surprisingly danceable.

7. Wild

If there’s one anthem off of Castle Talk, it would be this track. A sensitive bassline matches an emotional, yet not delicate, guitar part and vocal melody. The build before the chorus makes for a great transition, and the bridge heightens the intensity of passion before flowing from chorus into a third verse that utilizes an alternate guitar melody, which is quite nice as well. I didn’t initially like this song as much as some others, but I found that it possesses a lot of replay value and gets stuck in my head a lot.

8. Nothing At All

I thoroughly enjoy the guitar riff that occupies the intro and chorus in this track, and it stands out from the sneakily unadorned verse. The drums sound pretty sweet too, with some cool tom action going on throughout the song. It’s nearly epic when Paternoster sings that she “want[s] to be your late night crisis lion” and the instrumental part that comes in toward the end of the song channels some serious late 60s rock n roll vibes.

9. Sheep

Got to appreciate a song that criticizes casual, unconcerned promiscuity–“You count sheep with anyone/Yeah anyone would do”–quite bluntly. I’m kind of interested by that weird “zipping” guitar noise that occurs in the intro and unsurprisingly excited by the sweet bassline near the last refrain of the chorus and generally by the different measure of rhythms King Mike uses throughout the song.

10. Deluxe

A solitary acoustic track with lots of reverb trails at the end of the album. I can’t figure out if this is a cover or not, but it sounds nice either way. It’s odd hearing Paternoster sing in a tone that’s much closer to her speaking voice.

11. Ghost Solo

Thundering, reverberating drums start out this song, which is a nice change of pace from all of the other guitar heavy intros that dominate most of the band’s songs. I love the guitar melody in the short bridge; the listener is also gifted with a psychedelic guitar solo afterward. Once again, Paternoster gratifies with her diverse guitarwork. The only thing that dismays me is that the album has now come to an end…hah.

photos © 2010 Mahsa Borhani, all rights reserved

where will we go when we get old?

21 Aug

I like them better when the try and sound like a saccharine sweet 60s boy band than when they go for the New Order wavelengths.

The Drums – We Tried

Bombay Bicycle Club’s Acoustic Album

19 Aug

Wow, so, what a wet dream. I’ve always really loved Bombay Bicycle Club (it’s a tear-jerking moment when early demos that kicked major ass turn into well-produced EPs and then a full fledged album) and after Evening/Morning came out, “You Already Know” was a favorite of mine (I posted it later on in my anniversary mix). Despite my heavy sonic leanings, I’m as much of a sucker for acoustic songs as the next person. I just saw this was out today (I know, I’m terrible with new releases), and didn’t hesitate in getting it–there is never a dry patch or stark moment in the acoustic efforts of the band. I suppose it’s also a pretty risky move to have your second full length record be completely acoustic, and I praise the band for believing in their strengths enough in order to make such a decision. I knew I’d fall in love. I know you will too. Leonard Cohen made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a reason, so any querulous BBC fans that are critics of this release should put a damn sock in it.

I’m not lying when I say the acoustic treatment of “Dust on the Ground” might rival the original song (I’d like a little more bass via drum though). I also relish what seems to be the Spanish guitar styling of “My God.” And of course, “Ivy & Gold” is quite an irresistibly dapper tune. “Swansea”, the Joanna Newsom cover, is pretty good as well, though not one of my favorites. Utter beauty is my initial response to the title track. I’m throwing out too many superlatives right now, I know–deal with it. Fantasy collaboration? Bombay Bicycle Club with The Dodos. YES. Yes, yes.

Buy the album through Amazon
or buy it through iTunes

Why Is Keith Murray Confused?

18 Aug

When I interviewed We Are Scientists last week (check out the first half here), one of my questions regarded the significant change in Keith’s lyricism that’s visible in their current release. Due to several factors–unbalanced food-alcohol ratio, anxiety and decreased eloquence–I’m not sure I explained my point correctly, and in turn, I would like to take a second look at this now that I have a bit more input from Keith & Chris. Before I begin, I want to clarify some things in case this post gets taken out of context. Do lyrics truly determine the overall potency of a song? No, they do not. Do the lyrics on Barbara really bother me that much? No, not really. Nevertheless, when complex gets construed as better, which is what I think Mr. Murray has convinced himself by shunning his lyrics off of With Love and Squalor because they’re “whiny,” I get pretty annoyed.

Chris, who is the voice of reason, does admit that “if for good or for bad” the lyrics on Barbara are more sophisticated. Though he did not elaborate further, I did agree with him. Not only are the lyrics from Barbara more diverse in the themes that they encompass, but I imagine the way in which they were conceived–Keith states that they weren’t topics that directly related to him, so I’m assuming constructed from an observer’s standpoint–requires a little more effort. So in turn, the scope of the lyrics do extend further than those from With Love and Squalor and did require a touch more labored imagination to do so. But do these traits make them better lyrics? Absolutely not! The problem occurs when mere phrase construction gets marked down as being the means to improvement.

This isn’t a new misconception–this kind of faulty thinking is outlined in the study of causation (usually describing why most social policies fail to address the issues they’re trying to resolve, aka “correlation does not imply causation”), in statistics (in the form of a spurious relationship), and even modern philosophy. Richard Rorty, in his book entitled Philosophy and Social Hope (1999), goes into depth regarding this kind of assessment by stating why “moral progress is not a matter of an increase of rationality.”

Nor is what Dewey called an increase in intelligence, that is, increasing one’s skill at inventing courses of action which simultaneously satisfy many conflicting demands. People can be very intelligent, in this sense, without having wide sympathies. It is neither irrational nor unintelligent to draw the limits of one’s moral community at a national, or racial, or gender border. But it is undesirable–morally undesirable. So it is best to think of moral progress as a matter of increasing sensitivity, increasing responsiveness to the needs of a larger and larger variety of people and things.

So Chris wasn’t too far off when he described the lyrical success of With Love and Squalor as arising from an “[identification] with the grade of intensity [that the listeners] then apply that to a situation in life where they had high-grade emotion;” this is the increasing sensitivity that Keith so convincingly accomplished by writing from a highly personal perspective, which people then co-opted to their own situations. Keith suggests that because he removed the specifics from the songs, they then became vague and too broad to be viewed as interesting or holistic to the experience. I feel like he might have even caved into calling them cliché if pestered long enough by the wrong person.

Yet, Mr. Murray can’t be farther from the reality of the situation. It is his responsiveness to the environments present in With Love and Squalor that make the lyrics powerful, whereas the lyrics from Barbara read like an advice book for dealing with the tragically immature. Do some of the lyrics off of the first album reek of adolescence? Yes, but it’s hard not to empathize with the narrator because they’re themes that not only everyone has experienced in their own unsteady psychological growth, but also themes that still plague us when we face rejection, loneliness, petulant intoxication, contentious denial of reality, the detrimental outcome of pushing limits, or romantic vulnerability.

Don’t get me wrong–not every single song off of Barbara breaks away from the methods used to write With Love and Squalor lyrics (Jack & Ginger, Ambition, and Central AC are obvious exceptions) and not every song from With Love and Squalor benefits from the strengths of its counterparts (Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, Cash Cow, The Great Escape are some catchy culprits). Despite this, a concern with jumping from exposition to overall statement remains a problem that plagues Barbara, much more so than in With Love and Squalor. Those few songs off With Love and Squalor with scantily clad narration are such high-powered tunes that all is forgiven–but the songs from Barbara which similarly possess a lack of emotional atmosphere cannot claim the same merit.

It’s true, though, when Chris argues that having Keith focus on playing beautiful chords suitable for a rhythm guitarist rather than fancy lead guitar parts is going to get people fussy and unreasonable. People like me, will then state that the band isn’t harnessing all their talent in creating a compelling album when they are probably expending twice as much of their musical craft and ability than normal. The fact remains, however, that the band has not completely compounded all that they have to offer in one album. They’ve definitely expanded their range and corrected prior shortcomings, but they still need a bit more of something before everything comes together in the studio.

Alright, well, now I should go use my college education for more suitable endeavors, like proposing a middle east peace solution, rather than constructing a droll argument on why I’m miffed by song lyrics. SORRY Y’ALL.

photos © 2010 Mahsa Borhani, all rights reserved