You know those moments on the Office when Stanley looks up from his cross words to express displeasure in whatever tomfoolery is happening around him, or the asides where he lets us in on his view of the world? Man, those are great. This video is five minutes and seventeen seconds of that.
I’ve written a lot about Haligonian Rich Aucoin over the years, most prominently in last month’s issue of Exclaim! Some might accuse me of boosterism – and that would be fair – but in my defence, he’s just a hard guy to dislike.
Anyway, rather than go on about Aucoin, his live show, and his new full-length We’re All Dying to Live, I’ll just say watch the video below for his track “It.” You won’t regret it.
Beavis and Butt-Head always seemed destined to be a ’90s relic. Few pieces of media from that decade were able to capture the Gen X zeitgeist so perfectly. Perhaps its because while the characters – two slacker friends who spend the majority of their time parked in front of the television taking the piss out of whatever happens to be on – had the stereotypical look and attitude of teens at the time, their actions and, most importantly the comments they made while watching music videos were shockingly cutting and insightful.
So it’s surprising then to discover that not only is the show making a return to the airwaves, but it’s also as funny, if not funnier than I remember the show being. Check out the sneak-preview – which includes a shot of Stewart, still rocking his Winger tee, as well as the duo’s take on Jersey Shore – below.
We’ve known for quite sometime that J Mascis was capable of more delicate musicianship than the fuzzed-out bombast of his guitar histrionics in Dinosaur Jr., but we rarely get a chance to hear the alt.rock legend unencumbered from some form of backing band.
Freed from the guitar squalls that accompany his day job, Several Shades Of Why offers a rare glimpse into Mascis’s soul, since we can actually hear him emoting in his singing. Though he’s invited several high-profile guests to help out, including current muse/sideman Kurt Vile, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Sophie Trudeau of Godspeed/Thee Silver Mt. Zion fame, there’s not a drummer in the bunch. Instead, these guests help bring Mascis’s stark acoustic numbers to life while keeping his laconic drawl front and centre.
Each of these songs could have sat comfortably on the next Dinosaur record. But rather than offer another blast of thundering alt.rock (and don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited for that next blast) Mascis cleverly flipped the script while offering a different piece of himself. And despite his lengthy run in the biz, that’s a seldom-heard treat.
Baltimore, MD noisemakers Ponytail have a knack for creating jam-y tunes that never feel like actual jams.
Third time out, the group more or less stick with the script they perfected on previous release Ice Cream Spiritual: math-y guitars, pulsing rhythms and singer Molly Siegel’s unintelligible vocals are still present. What have changed are the raw production values that Jawbox’s J. Robbins brought to that record. In their place, Robbins (who again produces) gives the band a much more measured sound.
The blunted visceral blows of Ice Cream Spiritual are replaced with more textured tones and even space. While all this is likely to turn off fans that enjoyed the immediacy of the quartet’s previous work, those who like the band’s ability to build to a joyous climax, filled with uplifting chants and rhythms, won’t be disappointed.
After laying out his M.O. with last year’s seven-inch collection,Gay Singles, Jay Reatard and Nobunny affiliate Seth Bogart took the next logical step and recruited an all-female backing to help him recreate the sounds of ’60s girl groups. Hallmarks of acts like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las are filtered through his queer punk lens, putting a fresh spin on a tried and true formula. The Ramones tried to create a similar aesthetic on End of the Century, but got lost in the album’s overblown Phil Spector production. Bogart, though, keeps with the lo-fi garage sound of his previous work, to terrific effect. Most importantly, he’s able capture the vulnerability that lays at the heart of the best girl group music, which is often lost on imitators. The Ramones were always too tough to tap into that. Among “the Punkettes” backing Bogart is Shannon and the Clams’ Shannon Shaw, who plays bass and wrote a trio of the record’s tunes. Her voice creates the perfect counterpoint for Bogart’s nasal drawl and the album’s best tracks find the two trading lines. Moving forward while looking back, Too Young to Be In Lovefinds the sweet spot between classic pop sweetness and garage rock fury.
If you grabbed the debut album from UK dubstep producer James Blake already (it’s kind of all over the Internet, despite having an official release of next Tuesday), then you no doubt quickly stumbled across the brilliance of its second track, “the Wilhelm Scream.” The Antony-meets-Burial flavoured track is a personal favourite of mine, and is the leading reason that James Blake is rightly getting rave reviews already. Check out the appropriately hazy and sparse video for the track below.
You can essentially trace back any kind of music to something that’s come before it. It’s the whole point of art in general: take what already exists and build something new out of it while pushing things forward. To this end, I really have no problem with bands borrowing from the past in order to create new sounds.
This year that retro cannibalism raised its head in the form of a shit-load of groups simultaneously borrowing from both late-80s reverb drenched rock and hi-fi 90s R&B, combining the two into a floating vibes of feedback and melody. These glo-fi bands or chillwave bands embody the DIY spirit, often recording in their own bedrooms and creating something quite beautiful.
Which makes Japanese group Mariah all the more strange. Active in the early 80s, the band was comprised of Japanese instrumentalists, along with an Armenian singer. They were probably best known for their 1983 record Utakata no Hibi which the below track is taken from. Finding out much more is a little difficult, due to the plethora of Mariah Carey info you get when you start Googling their name. Likewise I’m unfamiliar with the Japanese scene from which they sprung. How did they create this sound? What music were they referencing?
All I do know is that the record and the track “Shinzo No Tobira” in particular sounds strikingly similar to a lot of the new bands who we heard from over the past 12 months. Many thanks to Sub Pop publicist Sasha who sent this link out with one of her regular email blasts.
Vancouver all-female choral crew Aliqua played their annual Christmas concert last week, selling out the Vogue in the process. Along with the usual yule-tide jams that go along with these kind of shows, the group dropped this pretty rad cover of Tegan and Sara’s “Where Does the Good Go?” Check it out…
Aliqua – “Where Does the Good Go?” (Tegan and Sara cover)
Much of the second album from this U.K. art-rock quartet comes on like what most of us had hoped the recent Massive Attack record would be: a dark and brooding affair that creeps like the Bristol trip-hop pioneers’ Mezzanine.
The heavy beats and ominous synths of “We Want War” are an excellent antidote to anyone who’s been looking for something to both move dancefloor butts and bleed eardrums (I know you people are out there somewhere) simultaneously.
The decision to augment tracks with sections played by a Czech orchestra gives the already violent tracks a more visceral feel. Lighter numbers break the tension, but even the track titles — “Attack Music,” “Fire-Power” indicate the band are drawing a line in the sand and preparing for battle. With what, isn’t entirely clear, but I’ll be damn sure to stay out of their way.