Monday, November 9, 2009

Viva Radio Electronic Mix

My friend works at American Apparel and was sick of the music they play on Viva Radio. She asked me to make a playlist, only requirement is that it has to be 1 hour long. I've been going through an electronic phase since this phenomenal Fuck Buttons record, so that's the focus here.

Playlist to the right, tracklist below:

1. Avalanches - Two Hearts In 3/4 Time
2. Prefuse 73 - Perverted Undertone
3. Air France - No Excuses
4. Air - Brakes On
5. Flying Lotus - GNG BNG
6. Boards Of Canada - 1969
7. Delorean - Big Dipper
8. Radiohead - Meeting in the Aisle
9. DJ Shadow - Midnight Perfect World
10. Aphex Twin - IZ-US
11. Fuck Buttons - Surf Solar (7" Edit)
12. HEALTH - Crimewave [Crystal Castles vs. Health]
13. Hot Chip - The Warning
14. M83 - Couleurs
15. Squarepusher - Iambic 9 Poetry

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport


Last night was the end of an incredibly stressful and long week. I was exhausted, could only think about sleeping, and was far from willing to go out. My friend bbmed, I debated, and finally conjured up the strength to open my blood shot eyes and head to Hollywood. How did I manage to pull it off? Tarot Sport.

On my way out I was trying to convince myself that I was not tired, trying to use mind over body, trying to fight my urge to turn around and pass out. Following a similar experience where I did not have energy to go to the gym earlier in the week yet worked myself to the bone while blasting this record, I put on the album at full volume. By the time "The Lisbon Maru" broke out into horse-like beat, then "Olympians" rang my head with noise and then released with a single keyboard riff on top of echoes, I was awake, ready to go and ready to party.

This is one of the most chilling and adrenaline pumping records I have heard in a very long time. Using layers, sounds, and pure volume, the Fuck Buttons have managed to pull off an album that will stick for years. It's ahead of its time, it is post-modern.

Where Dan Deacon layers his music to create contrasting sounds that end up straight forward and clunky, the Fuck Buttons use numerous finely tuned keyboards to create subtle textures that slowly build off each other to create a single final sound. At any point in time on this record listen very very closely. Separate the sounds into their own, alienate the 6-7 keyboards into each separate melody, and focus on the insane amount of detail that went into crafting this album. It is truly inspiring.

Each song is only comprised of a simple four chord progression, a 4/4 time signature, simple beat. The way they use such simple and familiar grounds makes the album beautiful. And ask any musician how difficult it is to write a song longer than 3 minutes without boring yourself and the listener. I know I couldn't do it in the short time I played music. And every notable song stretches out beyond the eight minute mark, and keeps us engaged.

Do yourself a favor, treat yourself, get this record. Listen to it loud. Coming in at one of my favorite of 2009, and up in the top electronica releases of the decade (is it even electronic?).

The children that will be graced by this music at clubs and raves will only be so lucky. You don't need ecstasy to feel the power of this music; The album itself is ecstasy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thom Yorke @ the Orpheum Theatre


When Thom Yorke first came out with the Eraser I was living in London and was hardly amused. Radiohead was the band that changed my life and inspired me in ways no other musicians have, and the thought of Thom Yorke writing his own material made me relive the worry that I had post Hail to the Thief that the band was going to break up. My friend Sean and I had heated arguments about whether or not the album should exist, the merits, shortcomings, and mishaps of the album. To this day I will remember him saying "this is what Thom brings to the table, and for that we should respect his work."

It took three years for this album to hit me. I became inspired to listen to this album after hearing about Thom Yorke hanging out, sans Radiohead, in LA. On two different occasions I received text messages from friends telling me they were lucky enough to be partying at the Roosevelt where Thom casually showed up and took over the DJ booth. Along with the two recently pressed singles, these encounters inspired me to pick up his solo album again, and I loved it. It felt refreshing, something I had been blocking out and finally letting in. So when his two Orpheum shows were announced and later that day put on sale I was overwhelmingly excited to go, so I got tickets for both nights (let's not talk about what happened with Echoplex).

My hat goes off to whoever had the inclination to put together this band to present the material. Thom Yorke's The Eraser consists of simple drum machine beats and bleeps, atmospheric keyboards, melodic bass lines, with Thom Yorke taking the lead on piano or guitar and singing. Let's replace the drum machines with a drummer (REM/Beck collaborator Joey Waronker) and percussionist (Mauro Refosco). Let's have Nigel play the atmospheric keys and guitars. Let's put Flea, a modern legend, on bass. And let's put on a great show and demonstrate how excellent this material is.

Even though the original material was probably exclusively written and recorded by Thom and Nigel, the album, pulled off through this supergroup, sounded full and complete, as if this was the way it was meant to be heard.

My highlights include "the Eraser" "Atoms for Peace" "Harrowdown Hill" and "Cymbal Rush." The new songs were excellent as well, notably "Lotus Flower." Search Youtube, videos from these shows are all over.

My favorite new song of the night, "Super Collider":

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Best Album of the Decade


The end of the decade will mark eight years since I first visited Pitchfork. It's been a roller-coaster-- many great reviews, some bad ones, a number spectacular groups they introduced me to (the Avalanches, the Arcade Fire, the Knife, Deerhunter, to name a few).

It all comes down to this: Tomorrow, Pitchfork announces their top 20, and number 1 album of the decade.

But making a countdown, ranking artists, naming the #1 album of the decade, inherently makes no sense. Everything is subjective to where we are right now--what musical path that album, and ones similar to it, has carved. The problem is there is no way to tell the future, no way to tell what this same album will influence 1, 5, 20 years from now.

We tend to think of music as following a singular path. In our attempt to understand where or how an artist is inspired we pinpoint times, places, feelings, and other musicians to their work. And so when it comes to the closing of 2009, the first decade of the new millennium, we can look at what music was and is and find the albums that inspired them. But we can't look forward, and that is a fatal flaw to making and hardcoding this venerable list.

So far, the countdown is full of snippets like "...Mirrored didn't set any new trends: for the rest of the decade, indie mostly shifted back to its fascination of working against constraints..." and, about the Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsum, "...RECORDED A PERFECT RECORD FOR THE MILLENNIUM THE YEAR BEFORE IT STARTED," which is evidence of the obsession with the past and present. The writers need a way to materialize their album, to create this path, to explain how and why music sounds a certain way today.

Take a look at their top albums of the 1970's. David Bowie's Low, while an undoubtably monumental album, would probably not end itself at number one today. In 2004, when this list was created, the albums that Low influenced are notably different from five years on. I'm sure London Calling would have found itself at #1 at least once if this list were rewritten between now and then.

Don't agree with me? Think of what you would have said your top five albums were in 2004 vs now. I'm sure your perspective has changed drastically. Still don't agree with me? Look at their Top 2000-2004 Albums and compare it to the top albums they have selected just this week. They are not in the same order.

In one month, year, decade, I guarantee this list would change if it could. But it can't, the artists get the deserved and undeserved acclaim for their work.

So then who the fuck cares about what gets number one?

I do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

These guys are excellent, best of luck to them

It's a very worthy shot at the music we all know and love.

Jesus H Foxx

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Boulder Record Stores

I spent the weekend in Boulder visiting my little brother at college. Other than remembering what it was like to be 18, I paid a few trips to the local indie record stores and found some great originals:

These would have been gone in 5 minutes in LA.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the Antlers


I passed on this album a little while back due to the flurry of Pitchfork rave reviews that I disagreed with. I figured it would just be another disappointment. After running into a couple other websites that loved the album I decided to pick it up, and it was well worth it:

The album is gorgeous, I highly recommend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bored to Death Soundtrack


Just saw the pilot of this new HBO series, Bored to Death. The episode was pretty solid and I am definitely looking forward to watching more this Fall.

Like almost all other HBO shows, the soundtrack is excellent. The one episode included I think three songs off of this historic album from 1980:

A failed writer taking on a second life as a private detective and getting himself into lots of trouble in the process. The minimalist and quirky musicianship complements his endeavors perfectly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The battle against piracy is already lost, so what next?

There has been considerable buzz about piracy over the past couple of weeks. Ed O'Brien supports it, claiming it displays a genuine interest an artists work. Lily Allen abhors it, saying that if this continues our only medium for getting music will be through mainstream television shows.

Yes, the record companies have been losing money from record sales alone. They have been forced to a cookie cutter business model that allows for virtually no artist development. But trying to fight piracy is like trying to fight underage drinking. It is illegal, it is punishable by law, but it is not going to stop.

Bands need to and have found other mediums to make money. They tour, they sell merchandise, they pull advertisements on their websites. Argue that this is not enough and I don't disagree, but there is a legitimate way to counter piracy, and Quietus did a great job of covering this issue.

I completely agree with this perspective. The second a band completes an album, sell it online. Both parties are happy; the producer gets their moolah, the cosumer get their product. It's a pretty simple business model.

HEALTH put out an interesting method of selling their newest album, Get Color. The band sold their LP online, and with it they provided fans with a coupon to download the album one month before the release date. I had no problem buying the LP-- I would get the product as early as anyone else. I would not have to wait an extra month for the fucking label to send me a hardcopy. I would not feel cheated.

So when Vampire Weekend (who I love and hate) released details of their second record, all I could think about is how I could get it before the January 12 release date. How about this XL: the second you announce the title, album art, and tracklisting for a long-awaited sophomore album, why not give fans the ability to pay .99 a track immediately?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lightning Bolt fan art

Set 2

Set 1

Volcano Choir - Unmap

Collaboration brings the foundation of much of the great music of the past decade. Whether it is from artists sampling older works or the more general bands playing with each other, music has taken new routes by havings artists borrow and merge their styles. When Justin Vernon made the (I think purposeful) decision of producing an album with fellow Wisonsin musicians Collections of Collonies of Bees he knew that the contrasting yet familiar artists would produce an album that could tickle our musical fancies. Justin Vernon has one of the greatest voices in music, and combined with a talented instrumental group the album had potential to be epic. And they were right.

Husks and Shells dreminds ones of of the great work produece by the Books no longer than 5 years ago. Very melodic and equally beautiful, yet in a diffucult and non-parallel time signature. This song takes simplicity, in the form of one guitar line, to its peak, through the whole song. And the beauty is magnified by Vernons voice, familiar to all of us as a love-broken ballad yet shown to us here as Collection's instrument, subtly as both percussion and an atmospheric instrument. The song fades and follows, coming in and out of remnants of great beauty.

Finally breaking out of simplicity and ready to include the traditional percussionists is Sleepymouth. Following the general theme of the album is a repeditive guitar and keyboard following the high hat however in no way easily interpretable. The instrmentals formed in this song are very contrasting and layered and would make you believe that they dont qutie fit together, however, as Vernons voice kicks in and the music subsides, the melodies all of the sudden make sense and build, with the original percussion, and more simplified keyboards and guitars. The song climaxes to Island, IS, the most notable song of the record.

Island, IS is meant to be a song that influences the music to come. Taking much from minimalist musicians as Steven Reich and Phillip Glass, the music takes an expirimental approach to pop music and helps instill in us that music, and the further development of music, is not over. The song is epic in its own regard, not for the layered drums, guitars, keyboards, and melodies, or catchiness or simple brilliance, but rather that the song strikes a chord and makes us feel comfortable. This song could and will only be pulled off by Justin Vernon and his warm and soulful voice, full of emotion and depth, as is the music that surrounds and complements it. This is one of those rare songs that reminds us that there still is much to be discovered with music. And that feels, to say the least, refreshing.

As hard as it is to follow this song up, the group decides to take a more ambient approach, as a means to break up the record. The first two songs built to Island, IS. The rest of the album needs to calm down, and here Volcano Choir decides to follow with the airy Dote, which allows vocals, keyboards, and samples to carry the simplicity, and continue the album.

Here the guitars break and repeat, an arpeggiating keyboard follows, then the music subsides into an easy guitar note, then the original vocals come in with Vernon's voice as a complimenting and overpowering tone.

Mbira in the Morass gives us the simplicity we have not been asking for, with disturbing and sharp lyrics that remind us of his earlier works. The experience with sounds and shapes, love and lost, animals and wilderness, yet all performed by anarchy. Bells and out of tune pianos. Incoherent lyrics. This song leaves the listener uncomfortable, yet ends with a more follow-able out of tune melody that allows us to remember where the album took us before.

Cool Knowledge shows us the band is capable of beat boxing and even hip hop. Was it really all that simple all these years?

The next song, the brilliant Still, begins with a keyboard holding a steady pace, then the resonance is turned upwards and the uncoordinanteed guiar takes the show. The silence is broken by Vernons voice, along with harmonies, and the song continues in simplicity, as a blues track, a simple vocal harmony complimented by a simple keyboard, and the lyrics praise Vernon's state of being. Eventually electric guitars and drums take over the song, with a very slow and building release, more effects put in place, singing "I'm all in the world / I'm down on my mind".

The album ends with focus on the voice that built the album. In Youlogy, Vernon's voice is displayed with the assistance of his own choir. Simple, ambient, and powerful.

Vernon's voice struck a chord in me the first time I heard him. I knew this was nothing I had heard before, yet something I knew would change my life, and I was right. Complimented by strong instrumental compositions, it is proved proved that his potential goes beyond a folk/blues singer, and we have much to look forward to in the world of gorgeous melodies and heartfelt lyrics.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is so bad, its good

Watch the whole thing, seriously. If you can't handle it go to 2:45

Monday, September 7, 2009

FYF 2009


Mika Miko

Fucked Up

No Age

the Black Lips

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great song, hope they pull it off

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I want to pay a quick tribute to HEALTH, probably my favorite new LA band right now. I talked about them a little while ago but that was before I owned their self-titled, which is far superior to their remix album.

I'll give the disclaimer that I don't think this band is for everyone, but if you can handle progressive music that is far from pop, subtly intelligent, and makes you clench your teeth, then I highly recommend:

This band’s debut LP is one of the most adrenaline pumping pieces of work I have heard in a long time. It resides somewhere between noise, electronica, and punk, and they do an incredible job of building their songs from beginning to end, and mashing the songs together. When I first listened it was exactly what I was looking for, however nothing like I had heard. The first four songs on their self-titled could have been one. And they all build up to the climax Crimewave, and that song is simply brilliant.

Crimewave - HEALTH

You should really listen to the whole album, because the progression to this song is perfect.

The album was recorded live at a small venue in downtown LA, the Smell. This makes the album perfectly raw and clean at the same time. That doesn't mean it sounds like a live album, because it doesn't. It just means that they can pull of all their material flawlessly live, which I've heard other fans attest to. Needless to say I'm excited for the show at the Troubadour in early September.

Not to mention that the design on all of their albums is beautiful and unique. Look at the LP:

This is partially to show off my setup.

Not coincidentally their new album comes out in September 7, and if you preorder the LP you get to download the mp3's a month early which is, wait a minute, tomorrow. Can't wait for this piece of work to come out, should be a great album to work to.

This band definitely has a monumental album in them. I hope for them, LA, and noise rock as a whole that they pull it off. I think they will.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

MacBook Pro

I'm sitting here listening to this relaxing piece of work, just rereleased on vinyl:

This is my first post on my new MacBook Pro. I picked this up today after some short endeavors and a quick personality crisis.

As a trader, I like to think I know "value," or at least I convince myself that I do. The easiest, and probably most practical, way to measure value is by how much it costs. So when it came to getting a new computer I compared the Macs and PCs side by side and realized I could get a PC with the same specs for $600 cheaper. This was enough of a reason to make me, a 4 year Mac user, convert back and purchase a PC.

I was really excited by this money I would save. This excitement pinnacled when I received it on my doorstep, yet sharply subsided. As ridiculous as it sounds, the computer was so ugly-- hideous-- that I could not get into it. With both my old beat up Mac and my brand new professional looking Lenovo competing side by side, I would still use the Mac. It was after a couple of days I realized that I couldn't make the shift, the Mac simply was too beautiful, simple, stress relieving, and pleasant.

So then what is value, Mr Cash Generating Trader? Value is making yourself happy, and many times money simply does not complete the picture. Spend the extra cash, get the extra product. I feel relieved.

This album is really fucking good. Krautrock at its finest. The members of Kraftwerk going haywire. The 70s would have been pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New playlist

Small sample of some songs / albums I've been listening to. Truncated.

Fuck imeem.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This came on TV last night...

and is the most satisfying thing I have seen in a very long time.

Sum 41 and Good Charlotte, doing a Dennys commercial:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Glastonbury Day 2: Bon Iver

Another headline evening spent at the Park, and another spectacular performance and memorable show.

Bon Iver came out in sweats and a tshirt, sporting a beard and his scruffy hair. He wasn't there to impress anyone, he was there to tell his heartfelt story.

Justin Vernon has one of the most powerful voices in music right now, as evident on his debut album and following EP. I was excited to see this live because I had only heard people raving about his performances and I was not disappointed.

Vernon's voice was inspiring, breath-taking. Better live than on the album. I found this video that someone else took, hopefully it gives you a good idea of how perfect his performance really was:

And then the true highlight of the show, and of my long weekend at Glastonbury: "Skinny Love".

I can't watch or post a video of this, it was too beautiful and I fear it will taint my memory. All I can say is that I was in another world. Every time the song stopped and starting I lost my breath. I didn't want it to end.

Glastonbury Day 2: M Ward

M Ward is a true musician and performer, and if you see him live you will agree. His albums don't do him justice, because you can't see how involved and charismatic he is with the music.

I don't know his material that well but there was one song he played completely by himself, on acoustic guitar, where he busted out a 5 minute solo. He was telling a story with no words.

Glastonbury Day 2: Passion Pit

I have always been cautiously optimistic about Passion Pit's debut record. I had the album on non-stop when it came out--I'm sure others relate as the music is very simple and catchy and touches on some familiar ground that is inherently easy to listen to and in many ways gratifying. However there was always something that irked me about the album that I could not quite put my finger on.

When I saw this band on the Glastonbury bill I knew I had to go and see how these young guys from Cambridge would pull it off. I got to the stage 2 hours before the show, sat through a relatively entertaining set by the Gaslight Anthem, and then squeezed my way to the barrier at the John Peel stage.

When Gaslight was done, Passion Pit set up their equipment (mostly keyboards) in a tightly wound fashion, not taking much of the available room on the stage. I understand they are most likely accustomed to playing very small venues and this was probably their biggest show yet. Subsequently, each member of Passion Pit sound checked their instrument and microphones, however not once did they test everything together. Both of these I attributed to inexperience at the time, however I didn't know how this would affect their show.

The band huddled, got pumped up, and then came on stage to impress a 20,000 odd crowd:

When Michael Angelokos first walked on stage I immediately noticed how nervous he was. He couldn't really look at the crowd and if so for only a second. No jokes and nothing to get the crowd cheering. He was not charismatic, he just looked like he didn't want to be there. Along with the cramped setup on stage, there was nothing really to keep us engaged.

As difficult as this was, it was not the main setback of this performance. The sound was terrible. The instruments overpowered each other, much unlike the album. The main keyboard players output was set way too high and every time he would play it would overtake the drums, the bass, the guitar, and most importantly Angelokos' voice. None of the songs sounded like they did on the album, more like a fuzzy unsynchronized demo tape.

To add to this, they messed up playing I think I counted 5 times. By messing up I mean the band was off for a beat or two. I think this was the drummer's fault; aside from not looking like a drummer at all (rather an elongated Rivers Cuomo) he didn't seem to play with much finesse, implying that he doesn't have that much experience. However with the sound being as bad as it was these hiccups might have just been because they couldn't hear each other.

Bad sound, bad execution, bad charisma. This was quite a painful experience, and by the end I wasn't even moving to the music anymore, I wanted it to end.

The one thing I can respect about these guys is that they did look like a genuine indie band. That can even be proven by the fact that they put on such a terrible performance. Maybe they got too famous too quickly? Maybe this venue was too large for them and they couldn't handle the pressure?

In any case, I am a firm believer that a band should be revered because of how they perform their music live, not by how they put it together in a studio. I think subconciously I knew this when listening to the album, and that's why the album irked me.

Passion Pit lost a fan.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Glastonbury Day 1: Animal Collective

Animal Collective headlined the first night at the Park Stage. The Park is secluded from the rest of Glastonbury, and takes a good 20 minute walk off of the main grounds to reach.

When I originally saw this I had the feeling that the show would be smaller and more personal, and I was right. The stage was much smaller than most, and sits at the bottom of a rounded hill that envelops the sound the same way as an amphitheater. Perfect for all of the acts that I saw there.

This was easily my favorite stage of Glastonbury, and falls into one of my favorites of all time:

Full crescent moon.

Not to mention that this stage was absolutely perfect for this band. There was no display in the back of the stage, just a black sheet with a number of small lights popping out and a few large ones blazing through the band. Animal Collective set up their long and thin neon light sets, the only prop that assisted them on stage other than a few spotlights above. And it was perfect.

I managed to squeeze my way to the front for this one, primarily because I ventured off alone. To me, AC still remain the most important band right now, and I wanted to get up front. Seeing them up close at the Troubadour vs up top at the Wiltern made a huge difference, in fact I didn't enjoy the Wiltern show. Being up close made this another monumental show.

These are some of the best pictures I have ever taken of a band.

Their equipment:

Does that setup not scream at you "Animal Collective"?

And of course, them:

Fucking beautiful setup.

This show was nothing short of perfect. No hiccups, no sounds problems, no singing issues, the sound was great, they were into it, we were into it. I haven't seen Panda Bear rock out that hard, nor sound that good, so I think this was a particularly good show for them.

They played a mostly Merriweather set while throwing in "Fireworks" and "Slippy." My only complaint is that they didn't play "Leaf House," a song they have included every time I have seen them, and one of my personal favorites live. In addition English crowds love to dance and that song has one of the sickest buildups/basslines that would have made everyone go nuts.

But you can't have everything. This was as close to perfect as we're going to get. One of my two favorite shows of the weekend.