Archive for September, 2009

Awesome Album Covers!

September 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Hunting is so passe: in 2009, hipsters prefer to kill deer with photoshop

Rain Machine

September 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s artist of the week is an unsurprisingly awesome solo spin-off project from a member of one of the decade’s best bands. He’s got a gorgeous, sensual voice that bends to no conventionality, and his writing is affecting, weird, and awesome. This week’s artist of the week is…

The solo project of guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone, Rain Machine sounds pretty much like you’d expect it to: a fraction of TV on the Radio removed from the whole. This, of course, has its positive and negative aspects. To start with the negative, you’re not getting Dave Sitek’s unbelievable dense, textured production, Tunde Adebimpe’s incredible counter-vocals or the whole big band effect of TVOR, but you are getting a far more intimate performance and some tracks that show more of a side of Malone rarely revealed in TVOR’s music.
The eponymous album is comprised both of tracks that sound like they could easily stand alongside TVOR’s best work as well as more demo-sounding songs. “Give Blood” is a ferocious opening track (“Intro” doesn’t count) with all the apocalyptic rush of horns, multi-layered beats and fuzzy guitars you’d expect in a TVOR song – but still it feels smaller, more focused on an individual voice rather than the genius toss-up that is TVOR. As the album progresses, the various elements we’ve all come to know and love from TVOR albums present themselves but the individual voice becomes more pronounced, which, as I said, is both good and bad for the aforementioned reasons.
The second half of the album, however, starts to stir things up a little as the tracks become more experimental and more demo-like. “Desperate Bitch” immediately stands out for its sparse arrangement and its lengthy (though interesting) descent into ambiance and then Bitches Brew-esque dissonance. “Love Won’t Save You” one-ups its predecessor by showcasing simply Malone alone with his electric guitar for nearly eight minutes. The rest of the tracks aren’t quite as sparse, but find Malone depending a lot less on electronics and instead using more acoustic instruments which is at least intriguing, if some might not consider it quite as exciting and enjoyable as his full-band quasi-electronic sound.
Regardless of what Malone’s doing or how he’s doing it though, the soulfulness of his performance makes everything worthwhile. Interestingly, as I was driving down to my place with my dad just now, he wanted to hear the Jay-Z ft. Rihanna+Kanye song “Run This Town” and he was commenting on how he liked Rhianna’s voice. He asked me what I thought and I replied that I really did not, because I didn’t buy it.
“She sounds like she’s supposed to sound. Like somebody told her, “sound like this” and she was just like “okay”.” If you replaced her with any other popular female RnB singer it would hardly make the slightest difference.
Malone may not be radically differing in style from the lineage of RnB singers proceeding him, but with him I buy it, I believe he means it, and that when he’s singing, he’s singing the truth. His project may be called Rain Machine, but in an age where even the human voice seems to be considered an inadequate instrument, Malone’s music stands out and head and shoulders among the crop of other musicians, because he isn’t afraid to flaunt just how human he is.
Click here to buy Rain Machine from Amazon.

In Defense of Pitchfork

September 26th, 2009 | Features | 1 Comment

Whenever anyone so much as mentions, the response you usually hear is, “Oh…Pitchfork.” Yeah? What’s wrong with Pitchfork? It’s either, “Oh, they just trash everyone” or “They’re just way too pretentious” or something along those lines. You know what? No. I seriously hear this everyday at the record store, in my backyard, in interviews, at concerts, everywhere.

Firstly, Pitchfork does not trash everyone. Do they occasional trash bands? Yes, and not even really, but some bands deserve trashing, and people need to deal with it. So they gave some album no one cares about a 4.0/10.0; O to the M to the G. I can only think of two instances where I was dismayed at a review: when they gave My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges a terrible review, and when they reviewed the Black Kids album with a video of a monkey pissing in its mouth. Admittedly, the later was not a cool move.

But do you know how many bands Pitchfork has helped and supported? How many bands Pitchfork has literally “made”? You can pinpoint the moment Arcade Fire became a contender to when Pitchfork gave Funeral a 9.7/10. Even Broken Social Scene admit in Stuart Berman’s excellent book This Scene Is Broken that the glowing 9.2 they gave You Forgot It In People was a big help in breaking them in the US. When Feist’s The Reminder came out, a lot of the reviews of it were middling. Rolling Stone gave it three stars, AMG gave it like three and a half. Pitchfork gave it an 8.8, and then by year’s end it was on every “Best Of” list and Feist had become an international superstar.

Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Wolf Parade, Dirty Projectors, Fleet Foxes, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Bon Iver and numerous other bands and artists have been given huge ups by Pitchfork, and many of these bands are deservedly the biggest indie bands in the world now. The only band listed above that I didn’t hear about through Pitchfork, actually, was Wolf Parade.

When I first started reading Pitchfork, I actually was kind of pissed also that pretty much every album got like a 6.7 or something, and rarely would you see an album get over 8.0. But after a while, I kept reading, and realized that often the albums that would get over 8.0 were seriously, really good. And that’s how I came to trust Pitchfork.

And people like to complain about the writing also, and that’s just beyond my understanding. I’ve heard people say that they try and use all kinds of big words and just blabber and what not but they really don’t. The writing is phenomenally strong, often funny, insightful, sometimes personalized. Marc Hogan’s review of Deerhunter’s Cryptograms, where he compares the album to Dennis Cooper’s novel Closer, in particular is one my favorite reviews ever. True, he does a lot of band-to-band comparisons and you’re not supposed to, but you can feel his passion for every aspect of the album and the way he cuts in factual bits about the band works beautifully in conveying to the reader of true sense of who this band is, which, particularly in the case of Deerhunter, explains more about the gravity of the music than anything else one could write could.

Hogan – and, really, most of the writers on the site – have more passion, musical knowledge and sophisticated prose than I’ve found on any other music site. I’ve read Christgau, Meltzer, Bangs and plenty of the writing of other respected rock critics, and I’d argue that the writing of those at Pitchfork is the logical evolution of where they were going with their work.

Even with all the P-fork hate that goes down, its undeniable that Pitchfork’s power and influence is enormous, so there must be enough people out there who like them. For those who have never read Pitchfork, don’t be dissuaded by hipster hate. Why are the people who always accuse everything/one of being pretentious themselves the most pretentious people around? “I don’t want to be labeled” is like the moto of every hipster, their automated response to you when you call them a hipster. And I love hipsters! I think they’re so cute and colorful and artistic!

For those who have read and hate Pitchfork, please chill out and give it another chance. This time, actually read the reviews and note how many albums they actually write bad reviews of…It’s really not that many. Think of all the great bands they’ve helped and just generally try and chill out. May I point out to you that you’re reading this blog and therefore are kind of lame yourself? Yeah, that’s right.

Antlers In-Store at Criminal Records, Sept. 24th

September 25th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

My buddy Mandelbaum gave me a call yesterday and told me he was going down to check out Antlers at Criminal and that I should come. So I came. And it was pretty solid.

Firstly, I was surprised that there was just three of them and there was no bassist. Secondly, they sounded really good. Singer Peter Silberman is great at what he does, and his voice sounded beautiful, smooth, soaring…dove-like, even…The use of the synth was maybe the most essential part of the band’s sound aside from Silberman’s vocals, as it filled up the room with a gorgeous white ambiance, lending the songs a heavenly lilt. The drummer kind of just provided these simple repetitive marching-band-esque beats, but they were all the songs required, so it was all good.
As great as they sounded, after a couple songs it started to sound a little boring, as all their songs sound pretty much the same and they’re all very sensitive and ambient. But they were very pretty.

Awesome Album Covers!

September 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Finally somebody makes the album I’ve been waiting for about chicks without pupils, mummies, evil skull-faced villains, tap dancing, spaceships and Mr. T.