Thursday, January 31, 2008

Album Review: Hot Chip, "Made In The Dark"


Dancey, electronic Indie from across the pond. Personally, I was a little bit disappointed; this record isn't as dynamic as their old stuff, a little too sterile for my taste, and the slow stuff does nothing for me. Still, if you want to compel booty-shaking, this record is certainly capable of it.

Play: 2++(killer breakdown), 3++(good set-ender), 4, 9+(sweet vocal hook), 10++(great slow jam), 13+ (cute)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The band you'll hate at the end of the year

Vampire Weekend.

Their album was officially released today (basically, its the same as what was going around last summer, just with strings added and 2 new songs), and really, every song is great. You can read all sorts of bullshit about the atmosphere and the preppiness-hipster battle thats deep within the album on pretty much all of the big music blogs today, but there isn't really a clunker to be found on the album (M79 comes the closest). Here's the thing though, they're a bunch of preppy, Ivy League dudes, and the album isn't that far separated from OAR-esque jam band douchiness (separated just enough to be great). Vampire Weekend is going to be everywhere. It's only a matter of time before the backlash comes, and in a big way too. Enjoy the album while you can, there's a lot to enjoy.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Subversive Cinema: Devo's Mongoloid (A Film By Bruce Conner)

Bruce Conner is most famous for his experimental "found film", A Movie (1958). In A Movie, Conner edited together stock footage, news reels, Academy countdown leader, and B-Grade films (among other things) to create a "pessimistic comedy on the human condition". The result is an entirely original film made from entirely unoriginal sources.

Similarly, in 1978, Conner collaborated with DEVO to create their second music video, "Mongoloid". DEVO described it as, "a documentary film exploring the manner in which a determined young man overcame a basic mental defect and became a useful member of society. Insightful editing techniques reveal the dreams, ideals and problems that face a large segment of the American male population." What results is a brilliant three and a half minute music video by the master of the "found film".



-Klax

Labels:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quasi-interview: White Rabbits

Before last night's show with White Denim and the Walkmen, I had a chance to talk with Alex Even, guitarist for the White Rabbits. While I didn't have the chance to prepare for a more comprehensive interview, Alex was gracious enough to give me these little nuggets:

On Columbia, MO: A great place to start a band. They were able to get all their embarrassing stuff out [of their system] there.

On Wash U: He's heard of it! Fond memories.

On the band that will be the next White Rabbits: White Denim (When I asked the question, I was referring to another band from Columbia, but hey, White Denim was great, so no complaints here)

On the Walkmen: "Inspiring"

Labels:

Album Review: Dengue Fever, "Venus On Earth"

You will certainly not hear anything like this all year, an eclectic mix of Ethiopian jazz and Cambodian rock. Unfortunately, for all its novelty, this album just lacks energy and is hampered by terrible lyrics ("It's 4 AM, I check my email"). Thankfully, the lead singer could sing the stupid out of George W Bush, and the band is skilled, which almost saves the album, but not quite.

Play: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10+++ (GORGEOUS ballad), 11++ (Rock 'n roll!)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Concert calendar

It looks like the big venues in the St. Louis area have their lineups pretty much filled out. So without further ado, some highlights:

January 21: The Walkmen and White Rabbits at Blueberry Hill

January 25: So Many Dynamos, Maps and Atlases and Say Panther at the Billiken Club

January 30: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Blueberry Hill (sold out)

January 31: Band of Horses and Cass McCombs at the Gargoyle

February 6: Flogging Molly at Pop's

February 9: De Novo Dahl and Foreign Islands at the Billiken Club

February 17: Galactic at the Pageant

February 18: Health and Shooting Spires at the Billiken Club

February 27: KWUR WEEK HIP HOP SHOW

February 28: KWUR WEEK LOCAL SHOW

February 29: KWUR WEEK LIKES CRAWFISH (crawfish sold separately)

March 1: KWUR WEEK WAVE SHOW

March 2: Pelican at the Gargoyle

March 10: Dropkick Murphys at the Pageant and A Place to Bury Strangers and Holy Fuck at the Bluebird

March 15: Built to Spill and Meat Puppets at the Pageant

March 17: X at Pop's

March 18: Parts and Labor and Berlin Whale at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center and Man Man and Islands at the Blue Note

March 19: Jose Gonzalez at Graham Chapel

March 29: British Sea Power at the Billiken Club and Explosions at the Sky at the Pageant

March 31: Xiu Xiu and Thao Nguyen at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center

April 6: Cursive and Capgun Coup at the Gargoyle (who at the Gargoyle has a crush on Tim Kasher?)

April 12: Dan Deacon with Ad Astra Per Aspera at the Billiken Club

April 19: New Pornographers w/Neko Case and Okkervil River at the Pageant

April 23: Enon at the Billiken Club

May 1: Caribou at the Billiken Club

At some point, in some venue: Radiohead

Let me know if I've missed anything, I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible

Labels:

Martin Luther King Day

This is probably my favorite speech of his:

Hope you enjoyed your holiday. But don't forget the reason for the season.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Megatron Now Fields Requests

Hello KWUR, from Hawaii. Thats right, my dark blood still courses through KWUR, and after hearing the robot play one too many buzzkill tracks while sitting in my office in Honolulu, I wrote a request feature. Right now, its only scheduled during safe harbour hours on the weekends (it will still remember your requests, but it will not play them except during these times, this could be easily changed.) Here's how it works!

Windows:
1) Start/Run telnet
2) Connect to kwurmail.wustl.edu, port 10102

GNU/Linux and Mac OS X:
1) Open Terminal
2) type:
telnet kwurmail.wustl.edu 10102

3) Type the following:
request
something to search by
.
4) Be sure to press enter after the period. The robot will list all tracks matching your search with numbers in << >>. Find the track you want and remember its number. You will be disconnected from the robot, that is proper behaviour.
5) Connect to kwurmail.wustl.edu, port 10102 again
6) Type the following:
request
something to search by
that number
7) Be sure to type the search stuff exactly the same and press enter after you type in the number

Example robotic dialogue:
[connect]
request
nwa
.
LOTS AND LOTS OF TRACKS
[disconnect]
[connect]
request
nwa
10
SUCCESS
[disconnect]

If it works, it will tell you that this track has been queued. Moreso, it will properly display in the Playlist Tracker as a requested track when it plays. Love it!

pz!
-k

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rafter - Sex, Death, Cassette

Rafter Roberts writes music for commercials (like Michael Bluth in Juno!*) , and he's part of the Sufjan Stevens crew. Therefore, he already had two strikes against him as I started to listen to Sex, Death, Cassette. Fortunately, Rafter was able to come up big with two strikes. Sex, Death, Cassette obliterates any possible genre classification but still manages to sound like a cohesive album, even with upbeat indie songs like "zzzpenchant," an Afrobeat impersonation in "Love Time Now Please," and (shudder) Sufjan Stevens-esque folk making frequent appearances. This is a testament to how well produced this album is, not surprising given that Rafter has produced for artists like the Rapture and Fiery Furnaces. Songs like "zzzpenchant" make you want to dance, while on the other end of the spectrum, "Tropical" is more heartfelt and somehow absorbing. Sex, Death, Cassette may be coming out in the winter, but it sounds like the perfect soundtrack for a drugged-out summer adventure. Oh, to be out of the cold...

Standout tracks: zzzpenchant, No-one Home Ever, How To and Why
Rating: 7/10

* I know his real name is Jason Bateman, and that he's been in many other things. I just refuse to accept that Arrested Development isn't real

Labels: ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

RIP Streetside Records


Ah, the spring semester is upon us, and slowly into St. Louis the WashU student body trickles in. Hopefully fresh faced for the new semester, maybe they'll notice the empty storefront on the Loop that was once Streetside Records. Only an address sign, the graffiti wall, and memories remain.

Most likely they won't.

Well, at least we'll have Chipotle.

More on that later, I should introduce myself. My call on the radio is DJ Meatface, and I do a house/techno/electronic show on sundays, 4-5. In real life, I'm Brian Mita, the new Electronic Music Director at KWUR. We haven't had one for a bit, and I'm pretty damned excited to be given this position, because I really enjoy a lot of electronic music; House, Techno and all the derivatives and crossovers in between. Being from Chicago, the birthplace of house music, really helped that. I originally went to WashU waaay back in '96, dropped out after a few years, and now I'm back finishing up the sculpture degree.

Back to Streetside; yes, it is gone. Not that I missed it, I haven't stepped foot in it since 2000. It was bought by Trans World some years ago, and it really wasn't anything special since then. I do remember back when I first went here, that three music stores thrived on the Loop, Vintage, Streetside, and Deep Grooves (catered to DJ's). It was a different neighborhood then, a little less gentrified, maybe a little seedier, but it seems these days, the unique "hip" neighborhoods are getting "nicer." If you're from Chicago, look at Clark and Belmont 10 years ago, and the Six Corners area 10 years ago, compared to today. Is that happening here on Delmar? Does it really matter?

No, it probably doesn't, because neighborhoods change, and hopefully for the better. With cd sales dropping 50% and music downloads skyrocketing in 2007, the writing is on the wall for most music stores, as it was for travel agencies when the internet first hit. Still, Streetside will be missed as a Loop icon.

Here's an article about it at PlayBackSTL, with a lot of personal commentary:
http://www.playbackstl.com/content/view/6980/231/

And here's a couple of articles about the changing face of the Loop:
http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2007-04-25/news/loop-chained/full
http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/stlog/2007/03/streetside_out_restaurants_in.php

and if you didn't hear about the CD dying, pay your respects here.
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jGK2CZZu1nEJtZekM7K39jfiLhWAD8TUP10O0

Hope the semester goes well!
Brian

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Band to Watch: Cut Off Your Hands

Anyone can tell you that Black Kids are going to be huge in 2008. Everyone has told you that Santogold will be as well known as Barack Obama. But one band that might sneak up on people this year is Cut Off Your Hands. They've been around in New Zealand for a couple years now, and finally released their debut EP, Shaky Hands, in the US last year. The EP is 6 songs of twitchy, catchy, glorious post-punk in the vein of Gang of Four (obviously, my New Year's resolution was not to make grandiose comparisons). What separates Cut Off Your Hands from a band like Radio 4 is that instead of trying to do their best Gang of Four imitation, they really carve out their own niche, and make something that is uniquely theirs. Personally, I like all the "oh oh"s in the songs - can't get enough of it. They released another EP, Blue on Blue, last year in New Zealand, and recently put out a new single. You can check out an MP3 of my favorite song off Shaky Hands "You and I" here (thanks SXSW!).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Odds and ends

From Dividing By Zero, via RFT: The New Pornographers (along with Neko Case) and Okkervil River will be playing at the Pageant on April 19. This may become the most anticipated non-KWUR Week show of the semester (good thing you don't have to choose, because KWUR Week will blow this out of the water). Check out the updated concert calendar more listings.

From RFT, via the Ladue News: Will "not Win" Butler of Arcade Fire got married - at Holmes Lounge! The next time you get a carvery wrap, remember - Arcade Fire was there. Here's a question: if there was an Arcade Fire sandwich (like the celebrity sandwiches in delis), what would be on it? For some reason, I can see it being drenched in mayo.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's nothing compared to Pete Doherty's page...

Before the Wikipedia police showed up, this is what Shins keyboardist/ex-girlfriend beater Marty Crandall's Wikipedia page looked like:


(courtesy of http://ultragrrrl.blogspot.com/2008/01/shins-in-troubs.html)

Monday, January 07, 2008

José González at Graham Chapel?

I was looking at José González's recently announced tour dates, and apparently, he's playing Graham Chapel at Washington University of March 19th. Does anyone know what the story is with this? The Gargoyle website has nothing to say about it, and I've never really heard of a musician like this playing in Graham Chapel. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

C-Right, A, C-Down

I figured I'd start this new year with a post about an almost universally beloved song that has been covered and arranged a bewildering number of times. A song that has inspired me ever since I first heard it as a child. That song, of course, is the Hyrule Overworld Theme from the Legend of Zelda series. Here is the version of the song in its original 8-bit glory:

The Hyrule Overworld Theme was originally composed by Koji Kondo in 1986 for the first game in the Zelda series, The Legend Of Zelda. Mr. Kondo is a classically trained composer who was hired by Nintendo as an in-house composer back when the company was still called Famicom. He was faced with the challenge of composing music for an 8-bit system. Instead of a whole orchestra, Kondo had only four "instruments" to work with, two monophonic pulse channels, a monophonic triangle wave channel for bass, and a noise channel for percussion. Given just those rather shitty elements, Kondo managed to create a work that has been covered and emulated in countless styles, with countless instruments (although some would call the forced minimalism of 8-bit music not a handicap but instead an aesthetic, which is the subject for another post). No matter what you think of the song itself (which bares a nearly copyright-suit-worthy resemblance to Deep Purple's "April), you have to be overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of YouTube imitators. A warning to those with dignity and pride; the dorkiness levels here are through the roof. Here's basic piano:

And orchestral:

And then the more unusual versions, such as this one on theremin:

And this one, appropriately enough, on ocarina:

And this one on 11 string bass:

So, what's to explain for this downright explosion of covers? Is it a sign of the eventual collapse of Western Civilization? Maybe, but let's not be so square. It could be kitsch or nostalgia, but I strongly suspect that kitsch is a fancy word for eating your own shit, and nostalgia is a fancy word for pretending you like to eat your own shit. To put it in the best possible light, maybe it's simply reverence. For the same reason we buy a movie soundtrack because we love a movie, we cover the Zelda theme as a tribute to a piece of art that we love. What do I feel when I hear the Hyrule Overworld theme? I remember the joy and solitary rapture - akin to what I feel when I read - of galloping across the seemingly limitless Hyrule plains on Epona. I've seen, read and heard a lot of pretty amazing and affecting things in nineteen-odd years on this earth, and I'm not ashamed to rank the awe-inspiring spectacle of the end of Majora's Mask among them. It is likely that by covering the Hyrule Overworld theme, people are participating in the same strange debasing they undergo when they play Guitar Hero: instead of directly emulating the musician by playing the guitar, they seek to emulate the mythos we construct around the guitarist. Instead of responding to the art by producing our own art, we replicate the aura erected around the art. But that's not necessarily a terrible thing. We pay tribute to things we love, and there's very little incentive to paying tribute to Zelda; little financial incentive, little social status. There's something refreshing about people participating in a work of art (no matter what the value of it ultimately is) without any irony or without saying anything except that they love this thing, this thing means something to them. It's something I'd like to see (and do) more in the coming year.