An outstanding rock record in an era when such things are increasingly rare. Although Adam Granduciel's Tom Petty fetish is obvious throughout Lost in the Dream, he exhibits an uncanny ability to avoid sounding clicheed in a domain that seemingly has little virgin territory. Beyond his songcraft (and even his singing voice), this is Granduciel's greatest debt to Petty.
2.) Dope Body - Lifer
Those who simply lump Dope Body in with the new wave of 90s noise rock revivalists are missing a major point. Yes, there are plenty of AmRep and Touch and Go-indebted idiosyncracies embedded throughout Lifer, but I dare anyone to show me an album by the likes of Drive Like Jehu, Polvo or The Jesus Lizard that is anywhere near as hooky as this one.
3.) The Austerity Program - Beyond Calculation
Several degrees of magnitude more intense, furious, and generally awesome than two geniuses with a drum machine have any right being.
4.) Beck - Morning Phase
Taken as a companion piece to 2002's Sea Change, Morning Phase manages to deal with similar topics (heartbreak, loneliness, growin' old) without being as overbearingly morose as Sea Change. Much unlike its predecessor, Morning Phase actually winds up with a vaguely pleasant, positive overall tone.
5.) Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket - In a Dutch Haze
As the story goes, Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell was unable to make it to the gig at which this album was recorded, allowing Heavy Blanket's J Mascis (also of Dinosaur Jr, natch) and Graham Clise the opportunity to save the day in Mitchell's stead. What results is nearly an hour of pure, explosive, unbridled improv, even more berserk and unhinged than a typical Earthless live joint. Yes, there's some sloppiness and wheel-spinning on here, but the peaks on this match the most frenzied jamming from Earthless' proper catalog.
6.) The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi
While little has changed with the compositional style and framework behind Sune Rose Wagner's melodic surf-noir mini masterpieces, his eagerness to experiment with varied instrumentation gives Pe'ahi a different flavor than all previous Ravonettes releases. This time around, the subject matter touches on the recent passing of Wagner's estranged, alcoholic father, giving much of the material a particularly caustic bite.
7.) The Men - Tomorrow's Hits
After a bevy of releases featuring styles ranging from explosive noise to kraut-everything to acoustic folk, these shape-shifting Brooklyn punks (*former* punks?!) can credibly add "70s Classic Rock FM Radio" to the list of genres they've successfully conquered.
8.) Todd Terje - It's Album Time
If you're the type of bitter old curmudgeon who hates young whippersnappers *and* their crappy, soulless EDM, fear not - this is an electronic album that you can really (choose one: a.) sink your dentures into; b.) wrap your adult diaper around; c.) stir into your high-fiber supplement beverage so as to provide superior flavor). It's Album Time mixes legit bangers with cool downtempo shit and enough cleverness and humor to make even the most geriatric old-timer respect (and love!) our robot ovelords.
9.)Bobby Bare, Jr. - Undefeated
The perennially underrated alt-country lifer finds songwriting inspiration in love and loss (in particular, the dissolution of his relationship as depicted in the documentary, Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost)), interminable, low-reward touring, and the inherent sadness of absentee fatherhood. But it's not all doom and gloom; "North of Alabama by Morning" is a tale of dogged perseverence, and album closer "Don't Stand at the Stove" is an undeniable barn-burning rocker.
10.) (the) Melvins - Hold It In
You'd think that the Melvins joining forces with Butthole Surfers Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary would result in some epic weirdness, but oddly the opposite happens. While Hold It In is one of the two or three least experimental / most straightforward studio efforts in the Melvins' 30-plus year history, something something bone-crushing riffs, something something hilarious song titles.
11.) Guided by Voices - Cool Planet
12.) Perfume Genius - Too Bright
13.) Haunted Hearts - Initiation
14.) Pelican - Arktika
15.) Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
16.) Hookworms - The Hum
17.) Mogwai - Rave Tapes
18.) Guided by Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit
19.) Early Man - Thank God You've Got the Answers for All of Us
20.) Floor - Oblation
21.) Queen - Live at the Rainbow
22.) Mogwai - Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1 EP
I've already plugged Early Man's IndieGoGo campaign, in which Early Mike seeks crowdsourced funding for their as-yet-to-be-recorded album, but I figure I should make folks available of a potentially awesome new perk Early Mike added to the campaign last week. From the site:
"You choose the subject and/or write the lyrics, we write a 10 second death metal song and sing them. All songs will be released as a digital record called "Early Death". Perfect for dedications to that special someone! Especially if that someone is Satan. Any subject. Whatever you can cram into 10 seconds. Tell someone you love them. Tell them you hate them. You write it, we growl it. GRRRRRRRR. Includes a digital download of "Early Death" and the new Early Man record."
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!!!!
So, to recap, you get a 10 second song performed by Early Man (you provide the lyrics), and to top it off you also get a digital download of the new album when it comes out, all for only $15. Who are you to refuse, eh?
[from their indiegogo page. Go there to donate and pick up some swag!]
What is this all about? Hello world! This is Mike Conte from Early Man. For those of you who may not know I’m the founder and singer/songwriter/guitarist of the band. Welcome to our Indiegogo page. After many years spent recording full length records on larger labels we’ve decided to take a DIY approach with this record. We have all of the tools at our disposal necessary to make an amazing record, including songs that are already written. We want to make that record free of any outside involvement from labels, managers, producers, etc. and we find ourselves in the fortunate position currently of not being signed with any label. This campaign, with your help, will fund the recording of the entire record as well as the pressing of vinyl and CD’s and printing of t-shirts. Start to finish. I've just recently run a very succesful Kickstarter campaign for the purpose of pressing vinyl for one of my other bands. Now I want to take it to the next level. Without you, none of this will be possible. And the beauty of it all is that we’ll deal directly with you, band to fan. We’re at a truly amazing point in time where we can use the ability to cast a wide net to all of our old and new fans worldwide immediately through the internet to get direct support from all of you and turn this into reality. That’s HUGE and very exciting! Let’s make it happen!
[Above picture is not from this show, although what's pictured above definitely happened at this show.]
So I'm feeling content and rested after a weekend trip to Charlotte for a buddy's combination birthday/engagement/finished law school/passed-the-bar party. What better way to celebrate returning to blue state territory than going to see some good ol' fashioned performance art?
I caught Monotonix' set in late July at Bowery Ballroom when they played with Early Man, and even though I left before the headliner (Violent Thorr)'s set, that was easily one of the top 15 shows I've seen this year. If you're in the market for insane stage antics (more on this later), then I'd highly suggest checking these bastards out before they get deported for severely injuring themselves / crowdmembers or accidentally burning an underground venue down.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that this was my first time at Death by Audio, considering that I've lived less than 10 blocks away from it for the last four months. This means that my only real previous exposure to DbA was the Pitchfork.tv piece on A Place to Bury Strangers (Death by Audio is also the name of APTBS frontdude Oliver Ackermann's distortion pedal business). When I showed up 9ish, there were few signs of what was to come; at that point the performance space was largely empty and the "back room" (slightly smaller than the performance area) was populated by 12 or so bored looking hipsters watching an inscrutably arty film which was projected on the wall. I bought a coupla cans of Busch and settled in.
Apparently one of the evening's bands had cancelled, so I have to presume that the first band that actually played was a last minute fill-in. Didn't catch their name, but they were a two-piece with kind of a typical early hardcore sound with superfast drumming/riffs and barked vocals, but with a more muddled guitar sound than I'm used to with shouty hardcore stuff. Kinda generic fare to be honest.
I got hungry (and gassy) so I walked down to the crappy Chinese place at the corner of Bedford and South 2nd. A few minutes after ordering the curry chicken, I was handed a box of something covered with a brown sauce. I pointed out to the woman behind the counter that there was no way that what she had given me was actually curry chicken, but she disagreed. Fair enough - after all, the customer isn't necessarily always right. Didn't feel like making a stink so I ate up and got the eff out of dodge.
Before the show I had noticed at least one of the dudes from Ex Models walking around, and by the time I got back to DbA after polishing off the fake curry, I noticed said dude was onstage, and his band was halfway through their set. As it turned out these guys were called Knyfe Hyts and they're apparently an Ex Models side project. I enjoyed the Ex Models set I caught when they opened up for Deerhunter last July, and I must say I liked what I heard of Knyfe Hyts even better: they've abandoned the hardcore-ish tendencies of Ex Models, replacing that with somewhat kinda garagey stoner metal type stuff, while retaining Ex Models' krautrockish persistence and no-wave artiness. Highlight for me was the loooooong set closer which consisted of basically one note repeated for about 10 minutes with some discoish high hat shit going on. Very danceable and kinda awesome. The tokers in the room took this as their cue to fire that shit up, and understandably so.
Monotonix was up next, and these guys know how to fuckin' party! The set itself, like any great/terrible blackout, is a bit hazy as to the actual order in which stuff happened. Suffice it to say that the actual music is merely incidental; even if the tunes were great -- which they're definitely not -- it would be tough to concentrate on the music whenyou're actually fearing for your own safety. If you haven't seen them live and don't want spoilers, DON'T READ THE RED INK BELOW.
Okay. I feel bullet points are in order. The following happened:
Pre set, it was somewhat sheepishly announced that "these guys set a lot of fires so be careful." Sure enough, the drummer dude began the set by setting his cymbals and sticks ablaze and thrashing about.
I should mention that like Lightning Bolt, Monotonix refuses to perform onstage. Unlike Lightning Bolt, Monotonix' singer spends a good part of the set dumping the room's garbage cans over the drummer's head.
Said garbage cans had many uses, with my favorite being when the singer actually hopped in one and crowdsurfed about the room. My least favorite was when the crowd began chucking the cans across the room. Normally repelling a giant garbage can isn't too big of a chore, but with the number of flashes going off in the room I could barely tell what the fuck was going on. CONK!
The drummer seems to endure the most abuse but manages to maintain a reasonably steady beat despite being pretty much defenseless against the onslaughts of the crowd and his bandmembers. Several times actual pieces of his kit were dragged across the room, necessitating several impromptu changes of scenery during the set.
At one point, the crowd wrestled the bass drum away, and next thing I know the drummer (who has to be about 6'4") is sailing over the crowd while sitting on the bass drum, and still somehow keeping the beat.
By the end of the set, the band had been carried off along with their equipment into the smaller room before leading the crowd in an a capella rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You." Frickin' hilarious.
Well, there you have it. If you think any of the antics described above are hilarious, then I have at least one thing in common with you. See you tonight at (le) poisson rouge for Deerhunter.