Archive for December, 2014

Wins / “Arrow”

December 28th, 2014 | This Is New York | 0 Comments


I saw A Sunny Day In Glasgow last night at Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn. They were so awesome. I wasn’t sure how well everything would translate from record since they sound very much like a ‘studio band’, but no, they killed it. Opening for them was arty local trio Wins, playing their first show ever apparently, and also putting on a pretty solid (if more chills) performance.

The band is principally a collaboration between Fang Island guitarist Jason Bartell and former Eleanor Friedberger bassist Cassandra Jenkins, who met while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Playing a double-necked guitar, Bartell’s odd, innovative axemanship gives the group its requisite element of interest, but their songs were no slackers either, and the same goes for Jenkins’ almost austere vocals.

p.s. the picture above is from Jason Bartell’s tumblr, since I was having trouble getting a usable image of the band for this post.

Top Albums Of 2014: Honourable Mentions

December 27th, 2014 | Features | 0 Comments

Though I only wanted to pick a ‘top’ ten, there were a lot of cool albums released this year. Here are a couple more I enjoyed…


Operators – EP1

At first I thought this was a little too clean and poppy for my liking, but after listening to it for a while I came around to it more. Now I think it’s one of the best things Dan Boekner‘s ever done (though, to be fair, everything he’s ever done is incredible). It sort of picks up where Handsome Furs and Divine Fits left off, except without Britt Daniel and no soviet vibe (which is kind of unfortunate; I really liked that vibe, but whatevs). Excited to hear what these guys do on a full-length.


Mitski – Bury Me At Makeout Creek

Really cool 90s indie vibe from this young NYC band.


Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien

I know this is super un-indie but former My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way‘s solo album is a actually very solid return to form. I was a fan of MCR until Danger Days let me down (hey, The Black Parade‘s actually a pretty deece album), so it was nice to give Hesitant Alien a cursory listen to find that Way still knows how to write a great pop-rock song. Also, Doug McKean‘s production gives everything a little much-needed room to breath after years of Way’s MCR songs being radio-formatted to death by the likes of Green Day producer Rob Cavallo.


LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

Another solid 90s-loving NYC band who put out a great album this year on their own excellent label, Double Double Whammy (also home to Mitski and Frankie Cosmos).


Posse – Soft Opening

Really enjoyable, chill album from this Seattle duo, with plenty of reference points from 80s and 90s indie homebodies like Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tengo.


Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap

Abandoning the overwhelming quaintness of Lookaftering, Vashti Bunyan‘s latest (and hopefully not last) album is a quiet, naturalistic wonder, that feels amazingly relevant for an artist whose catalogue dates back to the mid 60s.


The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave

If this had been the band’s first or second album, it would’ve been in my top ten of the year. The only issue I have with it is that it isn’t really anything new from a band that has otherwise been making subtle progressions from album to album. Instead, it’s more the In Rainbows-esque consolidation of all the experiments the band’s been making with each album until now, streamlining the harsh shoegazer guitars of Forget The Night Ahead and the daggery synths of No One Can Ever Know. The songwriting is as sharp as ever, with no shortage of the infectiously gloomy melodies and suggestive lyrics one would expect of the Scottish crew.


Wish – S/T

Just a really cool album from Toronto record collector types.


Kevin Drew – Darlings

The beloved BSS frontman’s second album isn’t the intimate epic his first album was, but rather, an epically intimate collection of small, beautiful synthy songs.

Top 10 Albums Of 2014: 5-1

December 16th, 2014 | Features | 0 Comments


Yes, it took a bit more than a day for me to post the second part of this list. You can blame that on my studying for the civ pro exam I just completed: four intense hours that basically ruined me for the next twenty-four.

Since I can’t bring myself to get back to studying for my contracts exam right now, here’s part two of my favorite albums of the last year.


5. Julia Brown – An Abundance Of Strawberries

If I were the king of reality, everyone would see mainstream pop artists as the vain, shallow posers they are and we’d all gawk at the brilliance of  Julia Brown, a crew of wonderful young music makers who put out this gorgeous album with no hype, no Pitchfork review; just a Dropbox link.


4. A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent

I’ve been listening to A Sunny Day In Glasgow for years and thought they’d keep putting out cool, dreamy albums until everyone just got tired of them. Then they decided to let Jeff Zeigler produce one of their albums and he apparently decided, “you know, it’d be really cool to turn up the low end on this and give it some oomf.” The result was, as Pitchfork accurately pointed out, the band’s best album and one of the best albums of the year.


3. Nothing – Guilty Of Everything

Philly’s Nothing came out of nowhere (as far as I was concerned) to deliver the best shoegaze album of the year. It also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only shoegaze album to mine Slowdive‘s pretty, cavernous eeriness rather than My Bloody Valentine‘s wall of romantic noise.


2. Spoon – They Want My Soul

If Transference was the all-over-the-place White Album following Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga‘s focused Sergeant Pepper-y genius, They Want My Soul is the Abbey Road return to form: 10 songs, more hooks than you could ever keep track of, and everything in its right place.


1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

I take back what I said in the first half of this list about there not being any clear masterpieces this year.

I’m not really a fan of music that’s too ‘talky’ – and sometimes Sun Kil Moon walks that fine line pretty wobbly – but the purity and depth of feeling Mark Kozelek displays on Benji is so astounding and overpoweringly beautiful that I’m ready to forgive a lot. Being a big city Jewish kid from Toronto, Canada, I often can’t relate to the simplicity and earnestness of ‘real America’ and those who live there in my imagination: farmers, gas station attendants, waitresses, etc. But if one of those gas station attendants created a work of art that encapsulated the tragedy and wonder of ‘the life of man’ the way a Saul Bellow novel or Blood On The Tracks can, perhaps it would sound something like Benji. And it would touch my soul just as profoundly, regardless of our differences.

Top 10 Albums of 2014: 10-6

December 11th, 2014 | Features | 1 Comment


2014 was easily one of the best years of my life: I finished my time in the IDF, travelled across the US for two months, went on an amazing little road trip to Sackville, New Brunswick (Canada) for the incredible festival Sappyfest, moved to New York and began law school. It was also a great year for music, with a lot of great albums, though admittedly no real indisputable masterpieces like in other recent years. In any case, here were my top ten picks, with 10-6 today, and the other 5-1 tomorrow.


10. Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

The ‘most hated man in rock’ may have made some really stupid, dickish statements in the last year, but the fact is his music remains some of the most interesting, exciting, catchily-warped stuff anyone’s putting out anywhere. Pom Pom finds him getting even more comfortable recording hi-fi studio albums without losing what made his early tapes so intriguingly weird.


9. Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

It took me a while to get into Cymbals Eat Guitars and their blend of proggy-poppy-punkish indie-rock, but now I’m totally on board. LOSE might be their best album yet, with the band trying their hand at some foreign aesthetics – the harmonica on “XR”; the 80’s drum machine-esque beat grounding “Chambers” – to great effect, while delivering some of the strongest, hardest hitting tracks of their career.


8. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy

Frankie Cosmos‘ first attempt at a studio album after over 40 rough little bandcamp collections is a short but very sweet set of adorable, poppy twee songs. The musicianship isn’t quite Battles or whatever, but the songs are just so simple and wonderful. I was lucky enough to buy my LP in Brooklyn from the girl herself.


7. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – Welcome To The Slasher House

Each time the Animals in the Collective go solo they put out some of the most inventive, interesting albums of the year – Welcome To The Slasher House joins  Person Pitch, Tomboy and Down There as another one of those. Admittedly, Avey Tare isn’t totally solo, as he’s joined by Dirty Projectors cutie Angel Deradoorian and former Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman. Together, the three of them pack enough punch to qualify WTTSH as the most visceral, propulsive album yet from a member of the AC crew.


6. The New Pornographers – Brill Breakers

The New Pornographers never stopped writing great songs, but 2010’s Together had the least of them out of any New Pornos album, and I was afraid the band was starting to head downhill. Luckily they proved me wrong by releasing one of their best  albums yet – if not their best ever- with Brill Breakers. There’s a couple songs I’m not crazy about, like the title track and a boring version of Dan Bejar‘s “Spyder” (Swan Lake‘s on Spanish Gold is way better), but they’re more than made up for with pop euphoria fests like “Born With A Sound” and “Champions Of Red Wine”.

Check back in a day or two for 5-1!

Isa (Father)

December 6th, 2014 | Print | 0 Comments


I was just looking for a coffee shop in Brooklyn where I could chill and do some of my law school reading. Of course, something cool is always going on in Brooklyn, so I ended up at the Comic Arts Brooklyn fair.

There were a lot of vendors with really interesting stuff, but I’m just a law student and only have so much cash to spare. Still, when I saw Hanneriina Moisseinen‘s beautiful, mysterious graphic novel Isa (Father) at a Finnish company’s table, I decided to shell out the $15 it cost. You don’t come across strange Finnish graphic novels every day.

Apparently autobiographic, Isa is the story of how Hanneriina’s father Seppo simply disappeared one day while on a company camping trip and how she and her family coped with his disappearance. Hanneriina was just a child. Her family, apparently, never discovered what happened to him, nor was his body ever found.


What makes Isa particularly interesting, however, is that in telling her story, Hanneriina delves into childhood fantasies and quasi-mystical forest imagery. One of the most recurrent images, a shadowy bear figure – apparently the imaginary version of her teddybear Teddykins – is particularly haunting and touching. Images of illustrated towels separate chapters and manage a similar effect at times. They’re meant to connect with the idea that Hanneriina’s dad’s towels would now be used by others.

The imagery and format of the work make reading Isa feel like sinking into a dream, or swimming into memories too painful to explore without cloaking them in fantasy. I’m not sure where you’ll find it now, at least with English translation, but if you’re interested, this is the publisher’s website (which is in Finnish).