Thursday, June 26, 2008

there's a stillness in the air, i pray for sound

Let's talk about music. I haven't done this in a while, and it's overdue.

New York bands I won't stop crowing about anytime soon:

O'Death, my favorite Brooklyn garage punk/bluegrass band, has a new record on its way out called "Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin." I haven't been able to listen to much of it, but what I've heard knocks my socks off, just like their first full-length, "Head Home." Someone told me he thought O'Death sounded like John Fogerty on acid. Not even close, but it's a nice image. Oh, and they do a fantastic cover of Pixies' "Nimrod's Son" live.


Les Savy Fav ("Lay Sah-vee Fahv"). They've been playing for over ten years, and they're one of the best live acts I've ever seen (next to The Roots and the aforementioned O'Death). They released a new record last year called "Let's Stay Friends" which spurred write-ups in Rolling Stone, Spin, Magnet, Pitchfork and your Grandma's diary, yet still nobody seems to know who they are. I saw them play three times when I lived in New York, and I'll do it again every chance I get, because it's a perfect mix of angular guitar noise and dunce-hat comedy. When I really fell in love with them, though, was at the CitySol fest in NYC last summer, when LSF ended their set (and drained the solar-powered P.A.) with a two-fer of covers of Superchunk's "Precision Auto" and Archers of Loaf's "Wrong." My video is here -- enjoy the metal-y transition between songs, and my drunken pogo cinematography. In related news, Syd Butler, Les Savy Fav's bass player, runs French Kiss Records, the label that houses LSF along with (among many others) The Big Sleep, The Hold Steady, Fatal Flying Guilloteens, Sean Na Na, Detachment Kit and the Ex-Models. Also, LSF's singer, Tim Harrington, and his wife, Anna, run a small textile company called Deadly Squire, where they make things like tote bags and neckties and oven mitts out of sturdy fabrics with cool patterns of their own designs. Buy their stuff and support independent artists.


Aesop Rock. I know everybody already knows who he is, but he is really, really good at what he does. I challenge anyone to find fault with his lyrics. Here's one of my favorites:


Joy Zipper is a guy and a girl -- actually they're a married couple -- and it looks like they're in New York now. I can't put my finger on why, but for some reason I really like these guys. They're like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Fountains of Wayne, but throw in a Baker Act/suicide watch. Catchy, sugary pop songs with super creepy, dark lyrics. They always seem to have strange song choices on their MySpace page, so here's "1" from their album, The Heartlight Set:

Baltimore, hooray!

Dan Deacon and OCDJ put out, respectively, the top two party records of 2007. Apparently OCDJ is done making electronic music for a while, but Dan Deacon ain't quitting anytime soon. Thank god. This is what happens when he plays for the Brooklyn hipster crowd in an empty swimming pool in the middle of Summer. The audio is horrible, but the song is "Lion with a Shark's Head," and the dancing is. . . well, just watch:

It's too late to turn back, here we go, Portland!

The Shaky Hands are a group of nice kids in Portland, Oregon who sound like they're into nature, The Beatles, grizzly bears and psychedelic drugs. Their self-titled album came out last year, and every time I listen to it, I start believing: a) all really is right with the world, or c)I really oughta try mushrooms again.


Old Time Relijun is the best thing to happen to my ears since June of 44 broke up, and that's not a sideways comparison -- it's just the truth. I love this band so much I want to dry-hump the speakers whenever they come on. It's raw, ugly, dirty, driving, primordial music. It howls at the gate separating religion and sexuality. I can't get enough. I've already plugged them here at the Dinghy, so I'll stop now and let the band speak for itself. The song is called "Cold Water" (Arrington's mom says it's her favorite). Just a hint -- if you decide to watch this video, you should be ready to commit to the whole eight minutes -- it becomes increasingly better as it progresses.

Old time relijun
by mainsdoeuvres

Friends and Neighbors:

Billy Harvey is a one-man-band in Austin, TX, who puts a lot of thought into everything he does, including his live shows, which feature him singing backup for himself thanks to a nifty pedal-controlled contraption that records and plays back loops of the show right then and there. He's imaginative and has a great voice and a really nifty website, too.


My friends Ford & Fitzroy are mastering their first full-length album right this minute. The singer goes a bit heavy on the angst at times, but their songwriting is intelligent and they do neat things with guitars.


Some other friends of mine, The Five Deadly Venoms are a Brooklyn-based bluegrass/Americana band who kill me every time I hear them play. Elio's voice -- and the music -- is just so, so beautiful.


The Ones to Blame are a group of four women in Gainesville, Florida, who write balls-out bluegrass/country songs about boozin', fuckin', and fightin'. And the songs are good. I mean it.

. . .and let's not forget:

The Modern Lovers was Jonathan Richman's band in the early '70s. Rock.


John Prine has been around forever, and is still a master. Here are one old video and a new-ish one.


And finally: What's up with Ladytron, and their new album "Velocifero?" Someone, please give me a reason to like this. I used to harbor a half-hearted sort of love for Ladytron, which would often expand into full-blown, unrestrained lust (just add booze and/or drugs). But their latest record is such a lame, watery letdown that I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something. I mean, is it really THAT bad? When the music is more boring than that NYC traffic channel, and the lyrics are so awful they actually make me laugh out loud, the answer is "yes." It's that bad. A friend of mine said he bets the members of Ladytron are made up of binary code. I think they're made of HVAC parts, inositol and empty promises.


I think that's all for now.


jesse said...

good post, thank you. One thing- do you really think no one knows Les Savy Fav? New York Magazine chose them as their featured band and it was obviously well-loved.

V said...

outside of new york? no. though it's likely i'm just hanging around the wrong people.

also, i am prone to hyperbole.