The first time I heard Interpol, back in 2002, I absolutely loathed them. I think it was around the time The Killers came out and I just hated what I thought was an 80's new wave resurrection. To be fair, I only heard one song (I don't even remember which one), but I thought they were a total Joy Division rip off. It wasn't until I heard Antics that I realized these guys were for real. I then went back and listened to Turn on the Bright Lights in full which absolutely floored me, and have been a big fan ever since. I still don't think I would like these guys if I met them, but I do recognize that they really are an amazing band.
So I was disappointed when I bought Our Love to Admire back in 2007. With the exception of the f***ing stellar opener (Interpol's opening tracks are always the sickest), "Pioneer to the Falls", I felt it was a big let down.
That's how I felt about this record at first. I thought it was old hat and actually pretty boring. But I was wrong. This is a very subtle record. The melodies are there but they don't backhand you to get your attention. Not that Interpol has ever written like that. I feel their albums always take time to grow into. But this one in particular requires repeated listens. It's also very dark and somber. Even by Interpol's standards. But that's one of the reasons I like these guys.
This is definitely not their best, but not their worst either. That would go to OLTA. If you're an Interpol fan, chances are you won't be disappointed. If not, then go buy Turn on the Bright Lights to decide how you really feel about this band. We'll see how they're gonna deal without Carlos D. though..
This is Happening
There's really no point in even posting this. But I will anyway. This record is on pretty much everyone's "Best of 2010" list already, and for good reason. It's really, really good. I'm a big fan of James Murphy. I personally think he is my generation's David Byrne. Yep. This record, even more than his previous ones, shifts effortlessly between post-punk (for lack of a better description) and electro (again, for lack of a better description) and my ears love it. So yes, I agree that so far this is one of the best records of the year. Mr. Murphy has single-handedly redeemed Williamsburg, Brooklyn for heaving up Sleigh Bells on the masses.
Oh, and the video for "Drunk Girls" is f**king fantastic. James Murphy and Spike Jonze were destined to go together. Like Miller High Life and Vodka. Great record.
I wouldn't say that I'm a Dwarves fan. That rap CD they put out was f**king appalling. And their early stuff doesn't really do it for me either. But Young and Good Lucking is just straight up goodness from start to finish. It's a lot of sacrilege and misogyny, but all in the name of good fun. Every time I listen to this, I feel like I'm 16 again. God, that's actually kind of depressing now that I think about it.
For a band that was infamous for getting dropped from Sub Pop because their guitarist faked his own death, it's unfortunate that now Blag is most well known for getting his jaw rocked by Josh Homme. I don't doubt in the least that he deserved it though. Either way, this is fast, disgusting, immature punk rock. Just the way it should be.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
I have a habit of obtaining more music than I can ever possibly listen to. I'm constantly discovering music that I may have bought or downloaded years ago and totally forgotten about. It can be slightly embarassing when other people are listening to my iPod and say something such as, "Wow, this music is fantastic! Please, we implore you. Who is this band and what's the name of this song?" Who knows. But otherwise it adds a little mystery and surprise to my my listening experience. There's worse hang-ups.
That's what happened with Nothington. About two years ago, I had my iPod on shuffle when a song came on that I had never heard. I thought it was maybe The Draft, but couldn't be sure. But I liked it. I checked the title. "Who the f**k is Nothingon?", I thought. Good question. I only had one song and had no idea how it got on there, but I immediately bought the CD which was a good idea.
The easiest comparisons would be with Social Distortion, Leatherface and all the bands spawned by Leatherface, i.e. anything involving Hot Water Music or it's members. Fun fact: two of these guys were in Tsunami Bomb, but this sounds absolutely nothing like them. Which is positive.
Once again, job well done Self and thank you for exposing me to great music.
Boy Meets World
One Records, 2009
Here at mxmcty, we love hip hop. When people say "Real hip hop is dead", it makes us sad. If hip hop is dead, then I guarantee you Gucci Mane killed it and its decomposing carcass is buried in his basement. But of course, hip hop isn't dead. You just have to know where to find it. It's obviously not on BET or your local "Hip Hop and R&B" station. Sure, maybe a legit artist like Talib Kweli or Atmosphere will bubble up in the mainstream for a minute, but most of the time we have to deal with garbage. But if you like real hip hop, do you listen to the radio anyway? If you like real rock or any other genre for that matter, do you turn to MTV or the radio? Of course not.
You can say that Fashawn is "saving" hip hop or "bringing it back", but it never went anywhere. If anything, he'll bring it to the general masses and then possibly sell out like countless other talented MC's (come on EM, Recovery?). But who knows. What is glaringly apparent at the moment though is that this kid is crazy talented. He raps with the same hunger that Nas did on Illmatic and he slays every single track. Right from the intro you know this is going to be good.
Combine that with some of the best production I've heard in years, compliments of Exile, and you have a really good record. Exile is one of those producers who doesn't make beats, he makes songs. Anyone with a computer or MPC can make beats these days. There's way too many cooks in the kitchen. Not everyone can make a real song. Each track stands on it's own. I could listen to the rhymes accapella, but I could also just listen to the instrumentals and not get bored. This was a perfect collaboration. This is honestly the best hip hop record I've heard in years, and definitely the best of 2009.
Fashawn is only 21, and with this kind of talent he's going to be f***ing huge. Whether he will remain to be a credible artist or become just another product being relentlessly pushed by the commercial media is anyone's guess. But for right now, I recommend you do what he says on his intro. "Watch me."
This is a story about neighbors.
It was the summer of 2002 and I was living in the small mountain college town of Boone, North Carolina. During the summer, most of the students would journey home, and the only people left were locals and the the drove of Georgians/Floridians who descended upon the area like ravenous locusts to vacation in their multi-million dollar summer homes.
I, however, was living in a cheap apartment not far from "downtown." It was your average low-rent student apartment. But this apartment came with something I'd never had before. A cool neighbor.
I lucked out and ended up with the best neighbor I've ever had. His name was Seth and he worked at the local snowboard shop, which means he did absolutely nothing. He was like the older brother I never had. He never complained when I would ask him to buy beer for my friends and I, and he unsuccessfully attempted to sleep with every single girl that came over to my apartment.
He would inevitably wander across our shared deck when I had a party, get miserably drunk, and strike out with every unassuming co-ed there. Multiple times. Apparently the line, "I can get you free clothes whenever you want if you come by the shop," doesn't work so well when you have vomit on your shoes and urine dribble on your jeans. Not to be deterred, he would systematically move on to the next girl, no matter how disinterested, sober, or far out of his league she was. It was all part of his "shoot high/aim low" philosophy.
Seth was a good guy though and all we did that summer was drink beer, cook out and listen to music. He was sort of like the Socrates of snow bums and was always kicking me knowledge that was questionable at best. He was the first person to introduce me to Modest Mouse ("Dude, they're not just for indie rock p***ies"), and also dropped this album, Handsome, on me.
We were drinking MGD ("Seriously dude, it's the best domestic beer available, hands down") and eating cheap ribs when Helmet's Meantime queued up in my CD changer. Being a few years older than I was, Seth was even more sentimental about the 90's than I am and was overjoyed. He immediately ran across the deck to his apartment and brought back an album by a band named Handsome. He then demanded that I listen to it because it had changed his life or something. After that, he proceeded to get catastrophically drunk and completely forgot he loaned it to me.
I loved it. Beyond the horrible name and equally awful album artwork was a good band. Handsome was formed from members of Quicksand, Helmet and Jets to Brazil back in the late 90's. Basically they were a supergroup of modestly successful 90's rock bands. The music is similiar to Helmet, but not as "riffy". Jeremy Chaterlain's vocals also make them more dynamic than Helmet or Quicksand. They were only around for a year or two and released this one album, but this is good stuff. It's a 90's time capsule of hard rock (it's not metal, I swear) that still holds up today.
Wherever you are Seth, I want to thank you and Miller Genuine Draft for turning me on to this record and then forgetting that you let me borrow it.
Interdependent Media, 2009
If you had asked me if I knew who Tanya Morgan was before I had listened to this record, I would have said, "Yeah totally. I sat next to her in Psychology during my freshman year. I heard she's waiting tables at the Applebee's in North Raleigh now." You would be forgiven for having a similiar reaction if you had never heard of these guys either. I have no idea where their name came from, but I do know that this Tanya Morgan is a hip hop group that's bringing back the 90's hip hop sound. All the comparisons that are heaped upon Little Brother (De La Soul, Tribe) which I honestly don't understand, are actually applicable here.
The first thing that struck me about this record is that it reminds me of The Black Eyed Peas' Behind the Front. You know, when they still had their souls and their integrity. And before Fergie and her self-inflicted, onstage golden showers.
Brooklynati definitely takes me back to 1996. It's packed with funk and jazz samples and the breakbeats that made 90's hip hop great. Plus, these guys don't hesitate to toss around Onyx and ODB references like an Aerobie.
However, one hip hop trap that they fall into is the whole skit thing. Yep. Skits that are given an entire track all to themselves. Or sometimes tracks that begin or end with skits. Like almost every other hip hop artist, they will find a way to pack in as many skits as possible. I've always hated that. It pisses me off to this day that I have to fast forward through over a minute of nonsense just to listen to Biggie's "Kick in the Door." And don't even get me started on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
All of that aside, this is a good record. There's definitely some misses here, but I just appreciate the fact that this is a refreshing break from the stagnant state of mainstream hip hop.
Still, I swear I know a Tanya Morgan.. Did she figure skate?
Have you ever wondered what the soundtrack to a mountain range crumbling would sound like? Or a city collapsing? Or a meteor striking the Earth? (No, it wouldn't be Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing.") Or even witnessing the extinction of all life on our planet? These are the kinds of things I think about. At least when I'm listening to Jesu. And this album would be that soundtrack.
This music is heavy. I'm talking concrete-crushing heavy. But that's to be expected from Justin Broadrick, the man who brought us Godflesh.
The wonderful thing about Jesu is that once you get past the devastating nature of this music, you will realize that at the core, these are extremely well-crafted and beautiful pop songs.
The other great thing about Jesu is that Broadrick understands that you don't have to scream the vocals just because you play extremely heavy music. Throughout this record (and the other Jesu releases) his voice barely rises above the maelstrom of distortion, bass and crashing drums. Now, sometimes screaming is appropriate. Like if you're Botch or Curl Up and Die. Or if your dog eats your laptop (true story). The best way to describe Broadrick's vocals, and I hesitate to use this term.. would be "shoegaze." But it works perfectly here.
Huh. I guess the whole "more than meets the eye (or ear)" and "judge a book by it's cover" thing is true. This record is sort of like the aggro, heavily-pierced girl (no, not the neo-nazi slag that was smashing Sandra Bullock's husband), who you may run into at the gas station from time to time. From her appearance, you immediately assume that she only listens to Norwegian Black Metal and has the entire Faces of Death collection on DVD . But if you get to know her, you find out that she loves baking, Nicholas Sparks novels, Ani DiFranco and finds Jimmy Kimmel "too racy" at times. Yeah. It's like that.
I know there's a lesson to be learned here somewhere..
American Central Dust
I hate the term "alt-country". It's just a catch-all genre for anything that's not quite traditional rock, but not quite squeeky-clean enough to be peddled as "new country" to the majority of Americans . To me, bands that are considered "alt-country", such as Rodney Crowell, Son Volt, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Isbell, Tift Merritt, Steve Earle, Scott Miller, Old 97's, Hayes Carll and, of course, Lucinda Williams, are the rightful inheritants of the true country music of Cash, Jones, Cline, Haggard, Jennings, Lynn and Coe.
The bile that's spewed from Nashville these days is hardly "country". It's more like brain-dead-pop music for people who don't like music to begin with. I myself would have to be about a case-deep in Milwaukee's Best Ice with an ice pick firmly inserted in my frontal lobe in order to even attempt to make it through a Rascal Flatts or Trace Adkins record. Even then, I would probably question it's authenticity.
Son Volt is one of those bands that I love, then I forget about, then rediscover all over again. Their 1995 album Trace was truly a classic "alt-country" (vomit) record, and these guys have rarely let me down since.
My only hangup (there's always one) is that Jay Farrar's voice is a bit monotone, and sometimes I think it holds the band back a bit. I always liked Volt's music more than Wilco, but I like Jeff Tweedy's vocals more than Farrar's. If only they could join up to form another band sans the Uncle Tupelo sound. I despised that band. But the chance of that happening is about the same as me ever putting money on the Celtics to win another championship game.
A highlight here is "Cocaine & Ashes". Farrar is able to sing a song about Keith Richards' infamous drug-fueled salute to his dad, true or not, in which he snorted a line of coke cut with his father's ashes. The thing is, Farrar is able to make it sound endearing. In fact, it's down right touching.
Now if that's not country, I don't know what is. Great album.
I would now like to take the time to thank these guys for making the kind of music I want to hear. It's upbeat and melodic but with a definite punk undertone that can be found in a lot of the music from that area. Matt Lamkin even kind of sounds like Rick Froberg sometimes.
It seems almost too easy to like these guys. Seriously, after the first track I knew this was for me. I had heard about them when they were at SXSW, but didn't pay a whole lot of attention to them. What a mistake on my part. Not quite the same level of mistake as getting into a habanero sauce drinking contest with my brother, but more like when I went to see Kool Keith at the Cat's Cradle and thought it would be awesome. Just a misinformed mistake. But no more sleeping on this band. If SoCal keeps putting out records like this, I'm packing my bags for San Diego.
MURS & 9th Wonder
MURS has never been one of my favorite MC's. It's nothing personal or anything. I'm just not that into him. I love Living Legends and Felt, but not so much his solo efforts. So what really attracted me to this record was Durham's own hometown hero, 9th Wonder.
Basically, this is a record about women and relationships. Or maybe that's just a metaphor for hip hop (it's always hard to tell with these "conscious" MC's).
It starts off decently, and then you're hit with a track all about Asian women and how hot they are. MURS is a little behind the curve here. Techie nerds and Anime fans have been celebrating/worshipping the submissive and borderline pedophilic sex appeal of Asian girls for years now. It's honestly pretty lame and almost unlistenable.
Then I get beat over the head with a track about cigarettes and liquor, which seems a little out of place. And as a pack-a-day smoker, I apparently haven't been shamed enough by those truth.com a**holes, so now I'm being judged by MURS. Outstanding.
There's also a track about the problems that arise from dating a porn star, which could have been really good. Alas, in a shocking twist that I never saw coming, he realizes that maybe porn stars aren't quite relationship material. The track ends with the heartfelt advice to "never let your d**k dictate who you love." Thanks MURS. It's like a hip hop fortune cookie that I didn't even want.
Basically this is a forgettable album, which is a shame considering the talent involved. Even Wonder's not at the top of his game. Granted, his beats are better than 80% of what's out there at the moment, but these sound like the leftovers from his other projects. I really wanted to like this, but honestly, it doesn't stand up to repeated listens. Pick up a Felt record instead or check out Skyzoo's collab with Wonder.