Posted 2 days ago

SoTD: July 28, 2014

Shabazz Palaces, “They Come in Gold”

If you close your eyes and squint really hard into the middle distance, you can kind of make out Seattle experimental hip-hoppers Shabazz Palaces where Digable Planets used to be. Which makes sense, since Palaceer Lazaro (nee Ishmael Butler) used to go by the handle “Butterfly” when he was a part of that pioneering crew.

The new album, Lese Majesty, appears to be only marginally related to the collective’s 2011 debut, Black Up, consisting as it does of seven different song “suites” of varying length (totaling 18 tracks organized by semi-theme).  One critic, upon hearing the entire thing for the first time, suggested there was “No need for drugs, or even the dazzling light show, since the music’s fathoms-deep dubscapes and strategically predatory beats equaled the angular and smoky psychedelic visuals—each track already dazzled by a universe of deep-space stars, clouds of galactic gases, and the bright trails of wandering balls of ice.”

It’s like that. Seatown, represent. (CdB) 

Posted 3 days ago

Song of the Day: July 27, 2014

Momus: “How to Get —and Stay— Famous”

Nicholas Curry, aka Momus, is one of pop’s greatest intellectuals—as comfortable writing for Wired Magazine as he is writing about Japanese kawaii culture.

Hysterically, the Wikipedia entry gets it pretty close: “Momus is fascinated by identity, Japan, Rome, the avant-garde, time travel and sex.”

Having recorded for three of my favorite labels of all time, Creation, el Records and Cherry Red, he’s been creating biting, cultural commentary for 30 years. My favorite song of his might be ‘The Homosexual’, a revenge narrative about sleeping with the wives and girlfriends of the “insecure Englishmen” who had mistakenly called him gay throughout his life (a theme thought probably cut a little close to home to me at highschool in conservative Arizona in my pegged jeans, Jim Reid haircut and brothel creepers!)

But since this is a family blog, lets stick to my second favorite track, today’s SoTD, which laments Curry’s lack of chart success despite years of trying and has maybe his most self reflective lyric:

And Lord, what will it take, what will it take to get me to be and to stay famous?

Am I going to have to sell my soul to the stylists and the tailors of this world

If I’m not to go down in history as one of the failures?

Lord, teach me the boy band dance routines. 
Above all teach me to be tame, bland, blind and blameless

Cos that’s the hardest thing of all, to be aggressive and yet remain harmless

To edit out my impure thoughts when you know so well, Lord, that I’m shameless

Principled, amoral, provocative, confrontational and shameless


Posted 4 days ago

Song of the Day: July 26, 2014

Spoon, “The Ghost of You Lingers”

Extraordinary Cap Hill Block Party set from these Austin indie survivors last night — the crowd at the MainStage was live (Moshing! How ’90s!), the band was clearly energized by what they saw happening in front of them, and the setlist covered new material (killer) in addition to songs as far back in the catalog as 2002’s Kill the Moonlight. 

I’ve probably seen Spoon a dozen times or so over the years, but have never seen them attempt this skeletal number from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga — it never struck me as anything that could be pulled off live until I saw it last night. It’s as strange, moving and unique as anything in the Britt Daniel Knapsack, its repeated staccato piano almost OCD in its insistence as he wrestles with the Spirits of Relationships Past.  Special. (CdB) 

Posted 1 week ago

Song of the Day: July 20, 2014

HTRK, “Give It Up”

I’ve written about the Ghostly International label before; HTRK (pronounced “Hate Rock”) are just the latest instantiation of what I love so much about the imprint.

It’s almost impossible to discuss HTRK without referencing the tragedy that has stalked them like, well, a ghost: even the press release that announces the return of the Aussies-by-way-of-London-boomeranging-back-to-Oz duo explicitly mentions the 2011 suicide of founding member Sean Stewart during the recording of the band’s second album, Work (Work, Work). So there’s a pall hanging over the album before you’ve even heard it.

But that’s where it ends; maybe the best comparator I could make for this record is Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor’s “No Protection,” which took the group’s breakthrough “Protection" album and filtered it through a dub blanket that rendered it almost unrecognizable (and perhaps a tad sunnier, if more blunted) vs the original. 

This is where the surviving duo of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang get to bury their, uh, ghosts — upbeat and expansive where HTRK’s preceding albums were dour and claustrophobic, “Psychic 9-5 Club" essentially feeds the banalities of life through a shower of happy pills, sunshine and surf, delighted to still be alive and finding itself surprisingly optimistic despite being surrounded by constant reminders of the cruelty of everyday life. One of my favorite albums of the year, informed as it evidently is by the minimalist exercises of Tarot Card reading, fasting and the sunnier clime of Sydney, HTRK’s latest demands to be heard in its quietly determined way. (CdB) 

Posted 1 week ago

Song of the Day: July 19, 2014

Grimes, “Go” (featuring Blood Diamonds)

So: supposedly Canadian witch-house purveyor Grimes, having spent the last year-plus surfing the pop culture momentum wave and now freshly signed to Roc Nation, wrote this track for Rihanna, who turned it down.

Ri-Ri doesn’t make many huge errors, but taking a pass on this track mighta been one of ‘em. KEXP DJ Kevin Cole debuted this on his afternoon show yesterday, riffing that there is a fall full-length in the offing.  Think: Zep’s “Battle of Evermore” spliced hard/fast with a white label that wouldn’t sound at all out of place at 4 am on Chester’s dance floor in Berlin. Already lining up for that, at least, in my mind. Girl don’t play. (CdB) 

Posted 2 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 15, 2014

Flares, “Ruinum”

Here I go, hearing something amazing online and then immediately leaping to a Burial analogy given how little I know about the artist in question.

Flares is Baltimore, MD-based electronic musician and producer Marc Alan, and “Dimensions Divide Us" is his full-length debut.  What I hear, here — bits and pieces of Massive Attack, Sigur Ros, orchestral pop somewhere deep inside the Fripp/Eno continuum — makes me emotional. In the best possible way. Reflective, sweeping, evocative… and just totally timely. Dude’s twitter timeline is fairly funny (in a dry sort of way) so there is evidence of humor embedded within the DNA strand of water-drip majesty that leaks across these tracks.

Watch this space — I have a feeling we’re going to learn/hear more about this guy. (CdB)  

Posted 2 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 13, 2014

Mndsgn, “Eggs”

If you spend any time listening to urban radio, it’s fair to say that a prefab category like “underground hip-hop” still exists (compared to lazy garbage a la, say, Waka Flocka Flame or some such).  And is still utterly welcome and totally vital to the survival of hip-hop as an art form.

Mndsgn (“mind design”) is the LA-based producer Ringgo Ancheta, a dude rooted squarely in the DJ Shadow/Avalanches/Kid Koala tradition of cratedigging, trippy found sounds and disorientation-as-design point. “Surface Outtakes" is his latest release (supposedly a precursor to a proper full length on Stones Throw later this summer) and "Eggs" is pretty typical of the affair; wobbly Fender Rhodes ladled over almost indiscernibly slowed-down vocals and drowsy, blissed-out beats, not altogether different from some of Madlib’s stoned soul picnics. The perfect soundtrack for the not-so-endless summer. (CdB) 

Posted 3 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 9, 2014

Fairport Convention: “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”

On the eve of my birthday, I thought this was an appropriate track for today’s SotD. The cliche of time speeding up as you get older sure does feel real to me. Remember how long summers felt when we were young? How eternal a year seemed? How long a day could be?

Well that’s no more. With fiscal quarters always on my mind, currently planning for Fy15 and strategizing 3 year plans, sometimes I forget about the ‘now’, the ‘today’. Maybe that’s my birthday resolution (to paraphrase that Mancunian sage) to Be Here Now.

But back to today’s SotD. Easily in my top songs of all time list, my favorite Sandy Denny vocal and the Richard Thompson guitar is amazing without the need for pyrotechnics (as usual). I literally well up almost every time I hear it (and I’ve forbidden myself to play it while drunk for that very reason!).  

And as noted in my will: This is the track that will be played at my funeral (not too soon, I hope!) once all the time has gone. So Music Warriors I give you permission to bring a boom box with this on it and disrupt the service by doing a Gothic Lloyd Dobler if somehow it gets left out of the program. (mize)

Posted 3 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 8, 2014

Ryan Adams, “Miss Sunflower”

I’ve been a fan since Whiskeytown and only just discovered this track yesterday, when my bootleg copy of “The Suicide Handbook" finally arrived (this was the record that was supposed to come out immediately following "Heartbreaker," but Adams’ label deemed it "too sad" and instead marched him toward what would become "Gold,” a compromise if ever I’ve heard one).

If I was a sunset, I’d want to lay on your bed, 
And watch the Hollywood lights flicker as it started to dim. 

Another classic Adams track buried somewhere deep in his back catalog, findable only via the interwebs and uber-fans. But worth the effort. (CdB) 

Posted 3 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 5, 2014

Death Grips, “Guillotine (It goes Yah)”

RIP, Death Grips. It would seem we hardly knew ye.

For those of you not hip to this Sacto crew’s unique admixture of the weirdest of Def Jux and the most outré bits of the Butthole Surfers, it’s already a little too late, as the band just executed one of the most epic breakup maneuvers ever.  ”DEATH GRIPS WAS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN A CONCEPTUAL ART EXHIBITION ANCHORED BY SOUND AND VISION, ABOVE AND BEYOND A ‘BAND.’” If not, ya know, a bona fide musical act capable of performing every night without utterly falling apart (or failing to show altogether, by design or by dint of self-destruction). 

Peace out, boys. We’ll be here, keeping it legend for ya. (CdB) 

Posted 3 weeks ago

Song of the Day: July 4, 2014

Elliott Smith, “Independence Day”

A classic Smith composition about patience, wisdom and perseverance that has nothing whatsoever to do with July 4th but sounds pretty damn great on a beautiful holiday weekend anyway. 

Don’t go too far, stay who you are… (CdB) 

Posted 1 month ago

Song of the Day: June 29, 2014

Dalhous, “Success Is Her Sensuality”

Back in Merry Ole once again and heard this playing overhead last night as we crawled across London. This track is evidently from a forthcoming album, Will to be Well, inspired by the radical psychiatrist RD Laing, who (among other extreme forms of treatment) advocated for LSD as a therapeutic tool. The Scottish electronic duo’s music is open-ended and expansive, a logical extrapolation of the question “What if you made music not only to be danced to while under the influence of acid, but was actually ABOUT being high on acid?”  So. Very. Meta. (CdB) 

Posted 1 month ago

Song of the Day: June 25, 2014

Whiskeytown, “Somebody Remembers the Rose”

Sometimes, a song is so beautifully, perfectly, simply captured, you can’t do any more justice to it than just let the lyrics and music speak for themselves:

"Somebody remembers the dress
How it was hand-sewn,
Beautifully pressed
Would all the dangers
Would all the dangers of love
Lost to a stranger

Honey, I’m out of service
For a while
Damaged heart’s been manufactured
And everyday this one never works, anyway.”

Ryan does this little trick better than most.  An old Whiskeytown track that’s not particularly well-known but certainly is well loved and remembered by the faithful.

Yeah, I know you. (CdB)

(Source: Spotify)

Posted 1 month ago

Song of the Day: June 24, 2014

Grouper: “Living Room”

A counter to Corey’s sunny song, here’s little grey music for a grey morning. If you don’t know Portland’s Liz Harris, who records as Grouper, its worth checking out “The Man Who Died In His Boat” and (my favorite) “Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill”. Pitchfork calls it ‘charred ambient’ which somehow says a lot. (mize)

Posted 1 month ago

Song of the Day: June 18, 2014

Velvet Underground, “Who Loves the Sun?”

This song just kinda felt right after the announcement we made with Arizona State this week.

The most “pop” thing the Velvets ever recorded, at least to my ears.

Who DOESN’T love the sun?  (CdB)