Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Frontman/Hold On (I'm Calling)"



I probably should have posted this back when I reviewed the album, but in the couple of months since its release I continue to think about how unlikely a jump Ariel Pink has made with Before Today, his first record for the venerable 4AD label. Case in point, "Frontman/Hold On (I'm Calling)", an early demo version of what would eventually become 2010s best song, "Round and Round". Apparently this track was sent out last year with a few other demos on CD-R when one purchased AP product via mail order. Anyway, the skeleton of the song and the basic melodic turn is certainly there, but nevertheless it is amazing to think that all this nascent promise was seemingly spun so effortlessly into pure gold. Take a listen to the demo, as well as the finished product, after the jump.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Music Review: The Books - The Way Out



"There are a lot of reasons to get excited for a new Books album in 2010. For one, the New York-based electro-acoustic sound collage duo’s fourth album, The Way Out, is their first full-length release in some five years (and this after packing three records into just four years from 2002-2005). Second, in an era of instant gratification and woefully nostalgic genre dress-up, the Books’ engaging mix of found sound samples and cello-based musique concrète offers not only a respite from the influx of faux lo-fi trend-hoppers, but also an authentically derived sense of real nostalgia with exactly zero posturing or elitist aura evident in the proceedings. And after their last record, 2005s satisfying if not exactly revelatory Lost and Safe, this long period of artistic gestation is further stoked by the opening sample of The Way Out, which declares (via what sounds like a self-help tape voiced by the narrator of “Magnolia”) “Welcome to a new beginning…that’s right, a new beginning”. It’s enough to send my Books-loving heart racing at the possibilities, and to their credit the duo of Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong do present a run of tracks here as exhilarating (and different) as anything they’ve ever done. They’ve also, unfortunately, not entirely done away with the more traditional singer-songwriter material which ultimately hampered their last effort.

Monday, July 26, 2010

InRO Feature: Year in Review 2010 - Halftime (Music)



I don't have much to add here that I don't already say in my introduction to this Year in Review: Halftime Music feature-- except, okay, maybe again, PAUL'S TOMB!-- so I'll just let myself do the talking so to speak:
"As listeners, a music year such as 2010—deep, inviting, consistently surprising—is reason enough to persevere through the onslaught of new music. As critics, however, this kind of year presents something of a double-edged sword. As the amount of quality albums continue to pile up, we as writers start to see the proverbial wealth spread around pretty thin as far as publications are concerned—so much so that consensus-type lists such as what you’re about to read/disregard are not much more than gestures in the “right” direction. I’m pretty convinced that our individual staff lists would look quite a bit different than what we have compiled below (something our two-part End of Radio half-year podcast not so subtly hinted at). As a result, we’ve opted simply to present a group of this year's InRO Gold selections—which, truth be told, is about as close to consensus as we are going to get anyway—in quasi-hierarchical order, instead of hand-wringing over certain exclusions (but seriously now guys, ummm, Paul’s Tomb?). So while I do have doubts that any one of our writers would offer up this list as representative of such a wonderful first six months of the year, I’m also equally confident that these records are thought of in universally high regard around these parts. Therefore, if everything here does elicit little more than a knowing nod of recognition, well, at least you know you’re in good company." [InRO]
We've also got a film list up (which I very much agree with) for those interested, while my personal lists of the year's best so far can still be found here and here. Onward.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Podcast: End of Radio #26 - Gimme the Awesome



"Returning after a mid-year retrospective, regular End of Radio co-hosts Jordan Cronk and Jon Staph turn the clock back even further with a selection of tunes from across the interceding decades, touching down on everything from classic psych-pop to more outré selections from the R.I.O. and glitch sub-genres."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trash Humpers



I saw Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers a couple of months back, and (for obvious reasons I would think) it refuses to leave my dreams, nightmares or what could otherwise be described as my waking life. Easily one of the best films of 2010 so far, you'd do well to seek out the film if it slithers it's way to your city. If nothing else, it's not something you'll soon forget (I particularly like the Variety pull: "riveting beyond all rationality"). VHS screenings are currently taking place across the country, and Warp is dropping the DVD on September 20th. (source)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Music Review: Björk / Dirty Projectors - Mount Wittenberg Orca



"Sometime in the last year or so, Dirty Projectors became the best experimental pop band in the world. On the back of their precisely calibrated 2009 breakthrough Bitte Orca, the co-ed sextet almost immediately began to show up on bills and be mentioned in the same breath as some of the indieverse’s most elite and respected artists. As is often the case with many a breakthrough act, the next year or so is often times used as a victory lap of sorts. This tends to result in needless EPs or fan-only releases—which, to be fair, the Projectors already kind of fell prey to with their Temecula Sunrise EP—but every so often this new found freedom facilitates an unexpected and rewarding artistic side-trip. This is certainly the case with Mount Wittenberg Orca, a 20-odd minute collaboration between the Projectors and pop-art mistress Björk, which debuted live this Spring as a single piece written for the Housing Works in Manhattan. It’s a tantalizingly brief but impressive melding of the minds, and all the money raised by this officially sanctioned studio recording is being donated to the National Geographic Society.

Friday, July 16, 2010

David Lynch's 1990s



All this week, Not Coming... has been spotlighting the wide-ranging and ever-inscrutable 1990s output of David Lynch. They're wise in pointing out that the decade was somehow his most pervasive in terms of both artistic output and mainstream notice, while at the same time the period in which he produced his most divisive and arguably most extreme work. They revisit his major works of course (Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Wild at Heart-- pictured above), but they also thankfully take the time to highlight some of Lynch's little seen short-films, operas and aborted TV shows:
"Twin Peaks debuted in April of 1990 to immediate critical and popular acclaim, and his fifth film, Wild at Heart, followed later that Spring, and would win the Palme d’or at Cannes. In the decade’s remainder, Lynch would helm three more features; produce a second, tumultuous season of Twin Peaks; create two more television series (both of which remain orphaned in only a handful of episodes); direct an opera; and make what is by some measure his finest short film. The decade would end as it began, with an unexpected mainstream success: 1999’s surprisingly gentle, pastoral The Straight Story earned its star, veteran character actor Richard Farnsworth, an Oscar nomination."
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to view some odd footage and an episode of one of those elusive left-field TV shows (On the Air, which they provide a detailed excavation of here) when I attended an event entitled "An Evening with Robert Engels", where we spent a few hours hearing about not only Twin Peaks, but a lot of the work that this same crew of people did in the wake of their breakout success. It was a fascinating conversation, and it's ably matched by the passion of this feature from the folks at Not Coming. Lynch fans would do well to check out the feature-- I'm sure there are interesting tidbits even for the die-hards.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Höstvisa


via Sincerely Yours:
"The Honeydrips is no more

Sometime, somewhere, someone will pick up a record called Here comes the future by The Honeydrips. This person will not quite know what to expect. This person will listen in headphones. Not one minute into the opener "The strangest dream", this person will be stuck. Some 34 minutes later, when "In some distant future" has closed the circle, this person's heart will be speeding. I know this because I have been this person myself.

***

"Höstvisa" is a song written by Tove Jansson and Erna Tauro. One of the most beautiful songs I know. In my version, I sing over a recording of Tomas Blank conducting Göteborgs Symfonietta. (I am nothing more than a karaoke singer with no respect for copyright laws.)

This is the last release by The Honeydrips. "Höstvisa" completes the discography. I've said everything I wanted to say.

Please accept "Höstvisa" as a farewell gift. Listen to it and cherish it. Listen to "Åh, Karolin" and "Hejdå Karolin". Listen to "Every Time" from the I wouldn't know what to do single. And listen to Here comes the future. It's a fantastic album, you just haven't listened to it carefully enough.

***

Thank you for your time. The Honeydrips is no more. Now hurry up and love.

Mikael Carlsson, The Honeydrips"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can't See My Own Face - The Eternal Love 2



One of my favorite EPs of the year so far. Achingly beautiful lo-fi r&b. Stream/MP3s courtesy of Tom Krell himself. How's that for generous.


Friday, July 9, 2010

InRO Feature: The Provocative Feminism of Catherine Breillat



I didn't contribute to this latest "Directrospective" feature at InRO, but it's more than worth a read not only for fans of the great French filmmaker Catherine Breillat, but also for the curious looking for a place to start amidst her three decade career. If you'll remember, her latest film Bluebeard made my list of the Best Films of 2010 (so far...), but there is plenty more where that came from-- my personal favorite being 2001s Fat Girl. The entire feature went up today, and objectively speaking it's one of the best of these retrospectives the film staff has yet put together.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Santorini



I continue to get a kick out of these "Record Club" one-off cover album/live things Beck has been posting to his site in the last few months. This one has got to be the funniest though: Mr. Hansen, along with Thurston Moore and members of Tortoise, covering Yanni's "Santorini". This isn't, however, the weirdest thing Beck and Moore have ever done together. And last time it was on broadcast television. Man, I miss MTV.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky



I seriously cannot wait for this. Something to finally come and (hopefully) blow glo-fi off the map. Easily one of my most anticipated records for the second half of 2010. And below, just for fun, "Beautiful Child" from the Kings of Independence VHS.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Music Review: Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal



"Until recently, it seemed reasonable to assume that this loosely defined “new-wave” of 2009 experimental electronic artists had squandered whatever momentum they had built up during a renaissance twelve months to close-out the decade. Save for a nice mid-career gem from Locsil (this Spring’s Endless Falls), the new decade had yet to turn up anything to make good on such promising recent acts as White Rainbow, Brock Van Wey, Mokira or Black to Comm. However, in the run up to the new year’s half-way point, we’ve seen a nice gathering of newly signed talent to the recently re-vamped Editions Mego label, and together they’ve dropped a high-concept ECM recording (Robin Fox’s A Handful of Automation), a hypnotic space-arpeggiator opus (Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here?, the follow-up to their scene-solidifying 2009 epic What Happened), and one album that seems to do all of the above and more through its own distinctly confident lens of heavy drone and low frequency ambiance. The album in question is Returnal, the fourth full-length from Brooklyn-based experimentalist Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, and it’s a strong enough statement in its own right to fully establish whatever listener context could possibly be needed, with or without the suddenly stacked Editions Mego roster to reinforce the argument.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ranked & Revisited: Jim Jarmusch



On the occasion of Mystery Train getting the well deserved Blu-Ray treatment from the saintly folks at Criterion (and finally with appropriate English subtitles that had previously left many non-Japanese speakers in the lurk), I felt this was as good a time as any to evaluate the career of Jim Jarmusch, New York's preeminent ambassador of all things cool. And like Orson Welles, who I spotlighted in this series last month, Jarmusch has a small but influential catalogue of feature length films to his name, none of which I feel could or should be written off.