Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Damn, another list...

List, List, List...here we go, 2008. Lotsa of jams (in no order):

Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In, Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion (CD/DVD), Peanut Butter Oven EP
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a John Dwyer (Coachwhips, Pink and Brown, Yikes) fanboy. Luckily his newest band, Thee Oh Sees, remain prolific. Three great releases in one year.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - My Bloody Underground
Just like the title suggests, the Brian Jonestown Massacre unapologetically combined their My Bloody Valentine and Velvet Underground influences and we get another great psychedelic LP. Worth the four year wait?

The Fall - Imperial Wax Solvent
Since The Fall basically release and album every year, they will always be on my list. They are the most consistent band of all time. This, their twenty-something-th release, still delivers.

The Black Angels - Directions To See a Ghost, Black Angel Exit EP
More awesome Texas neo-psychedelia. Nothing has changed with this band and that's a good thing.

Times New Viking - Rip It Off
I think everyone enjoyed this abrasive lo-fi as shit pop music.

Sic Alps - U.S. EZ
Noisy San Francisco experimental garage rock that can't be beat.

Group Inerane - Guitars From Agadez (Music of Niger)
Sublime Frequencies delivers the goods as usual. I think they describe it best: "Group Inerane is the now sound of the Tuareg Guitar Revolution sweeping across the Sahara Desert and inspired by the rebel musicians that started this music as a political weapon used to communicate from the Libyan Refugee camps in the 1980s and 1990s"

Dead Meadow - Old Growth
Heavy pot music.

Awesome Color - Electric Aborigines
The young 21st century Stooges. I think their first album was better but this certainly is a band to keep watching.


Reissues/Not New
:

The Clean - Compilation
A classic reissued on vinyl.

Pavement - Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
Another great issue of the continued spiffy Pavement remasters. I especially enjoyed the many Pavement psych-jams and covers included on the second disc, including covers of Faust and the Fall.

King Khan and The Shrines - The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines
Big-band doo-wop garage rock? Awesome. This collects the best of their past material in one nice package.

Wooden Shjips - Volume 1
Modern kraut-rock jams. This release collects all their hard to find/limited edition early vinyl releases.

Flat Duo Jets - Two Headed Cow
Various live material from the past collected for the new documentary of the same name. Loud fuzzy Link Wray jams.

Sun City Girls - You're Never Alone With A Cigarette
"Recorded in July of 1988 during the sessions that produced Sun City Girl's most popular recording, these nine tracks represent the other half of songs which were originally prepared as a 2-LP demo version of 'Torch of the Mystics' for Placebo Records in 1989."

Henry Flynt (with C.C. Hennix) - Dharma Warriors
Totality of liner notes: "Recorded to boombox Woodstock, New York 1983." Two more lengthy "celestial rockabilly" jams that no one but Henry Flynt can deliver. Keep these archival releases coming...


--Klax

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Year Of Music, 2008

Ah, the holiday season, when we all dream of sugarplums (whatever those are) and the music critic's thoughts turn to compiling year-end lists. I always feel sort of funny about doing a best-of list for the year, since I have mixed feelings about best-of lists in general. First of all, it's part of America's obsession with list making, which is so well known that even criticizing America's obsession with list making has become a cliche. The other thing I don't like about year end top ten type lists is that it suggests that the year is this discrete, objective entity, in which the same music is experienced by everyone equally. I think this idea of the experience of one year that is shared by everyone is especially invalid for music. Sometimes, the "album of the year" for me is not an album released that year, but an album that I hadn't gotten around to listening to until that year. My album of the year for 2007, for example, was probably Wolf Parade's "Apologies To The Queen Mary", released in '05. My album of the year for 2006 was probably "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)", by the Wu-Tang Clan, released in 1993. Most of the music listening a person does during the year is catch-up, not just new releases. What's more, I tend to miss a lot of the year's big releases, for a variety of reasons. I would have liked to have spent more time with Beach House and The Dutchess and The Duke, but I just never got their albums. On the other hand, critics are raving about TV On The Radio's Dear Science, but TV On The Radio just has never done anything for me. I heard a few cuts off the album, but it sounded like the same ol' same ol', and I never felt compelled to give it too much time. My friend Sam thinks I'm History's Greatest Monster for not loving Fleet Foxes, but even though I gave it the old college try (heh heh), I just am not well disposed towards toothless, airy indie-folk harmonies. And though folks loved Hot Chip's release this year, I will stick to the opinion voiced in my original review of that album for KWUR: overwhelmingly mediocre. Yes, even "Ready For The Floor". And ugh, am I done with Vampire Weekend. Which is to say that I did listen to that album a whole lot. And I got so sick and tired of it. The music is still somewhat interesting, but I got to the point where I decided that I could no longer hear the line "coffee on your kaffiyeh" again.

So instead of trying to pick out the absolute best albums of the objective year in music experienced by everyone, I'm just going to try and take you through a long, meandering tour of my year in music. Before I do that, however, I have to note one great release that really dominated my listening during the winter of '07, even though it was technically released in '08. Pattern Is Movement's All Together is not just a great album, but a unique musical experience. The combination of the simple production, the use of various homemade-sounding electronic loops, and the soaring and swaying vocal harmonies on this album gives it a peculiar feeling of intimacy, with the raw emotional content of reading a middle schooler's diary. It's an album that really sounds like nothing else out there right now.

Overall, didn't care much for this year in music, the new releases, anyway. A lot of mediocre stuff, dud albums: here, I am chiefly thinking of Of Montreal's new album, but I was also disappointed, unlike most critics, by Wolf Parade's new release, which I thought lacked the vitality and the pop craftsmanship of Apologies To The Queen Mary. Everything this year sounded bored with itself, dead-ended. I really didn't care for the set of airy, Fleet Foxes sounding stuff, with the exception of Beach House, or a lot of the noisier stuff, which didn't do a whole lot to distinguish itself from older noise. A lot of it sounded overly derivative to me, and a lot sounded escapist, totally detached from the year in which it was made, dangerously distant from increasingly troubled times.

The winter and spring of '08 sounded like We Brave Bee Stings And All by Thao and The Get Down Stay Down and Rabbit Habits by Man Man. Thao Nguyen succeeded in crafting the perfect winter album, the warmest sounding CD this side of vinyl. Beautiful, lyric-centered, simple pop songs anchored by Nguyen's distinct voice, rich and resonant as an old violin. You put this record on, and you feel no hurry to go anywhere; things are basically ok, and if you wait a while, they'll get better. Rabbit Habits dominated my spring this year, and it's probably my pick for best album of the year. I've noticed that a lot of music listeners and music critics don't share my rabid enthusiasm for Man Man, and honestly, I can't understand it. If Man Man is my blind critical obsession, so be it, but I will champion this band until they start recording Nashville covers of Christmas songs with Britney Spears and Zac Efron (in which case, I will describe the resulting album as a "rare misstep that deserves a second listen"). First of all, the sheer virtuosity of this band has to be noted. Not that virtuosity itself makes Man Man a great band, but it's a joy to listen to a Man Man song and guess at the inventive instrumentation (Is that a marimba? Are those kazoos?). When you combine the inventive sound with a bluesy pop sensibility and a soulful, all out delivery, you get an album that somehow sounds both experimental and warmly human, like a homemade appliance. It says something about this album that it has, in my opinion of course, one of the most fun, most party songs of the year ("Mister Jung Stuffed") and one of the most moving songs of the year ("Whalebones"). I can think of no other album this year that I would describe as a masterpiece, but this is a masterpiece in the very literal sense of the word: masters of their craft carefully constructing a piece in which no time, no note is wasted, a piece that sticks in your head for a long time after.

The summer for me meant listening to a lot of hip-hop. I had a boring, stay-at-home job, and I decided to kill time by listening to Jay-Z's entire discography, along with a lot of Biggie and Nas. Well, surprising nobody, it turns out that this Jay-Z fellow is pretty good. I personally prefer Jay-Z to Nas, and not just because of a geographical affinity (I too, am a Brooklynite). Nas' insistence on the romantic conception of the artist, opposed to the market, gets boring. But there's something really brilliant, interesting and subversive about Jay-Z's embrace of the ultra-capitalist conception of rapper-as-producer/rap-as-commodity. For my money, his best albums are "The Blueprint", "Reasonable Doubt", "Life and Times: Vol 3", "The Black Album" and "In My Lifetime". Again, not exactly a critical coup, but my opinion, for what it's worth.

As for the new stuff, I have to say, Tha Carter III at least grabbed my attention. It's a tremendously interesting (in this case, read: peculiar) sounding album. Lil' Wayne's rhymes range from inspired to lazily waiting for syllables to match up. Lil' Wayne's flow is also noteworthy: a petulant, adolescent hazy wheeze that might explain his appeal to similarly high, immature suburban teens. But bottom line, when Wayne's hot, he's hot. See: "Mr. Carter", or the downright amazing "Dr. Carter".

The album of the summer for me, hands down was Mates Of State's Re-Arrange Us. I once played the title song (according to I-Tunes, one of my top ten played this year) for our music director, Daniel Burton saying "This is everything you could possibly want in a song". A lot of critics have picked on this album (and Mates Of State in general) for hitting all the same old pop notes and being too sappy. Maybe, but that's sort of the point: an unbridled pop jouissance, that includes every great pop song tendency. Sing-along vocals, ABBA-like call and response and harmonies, lovely lyrics, great, driving piano lines and that good ol' call and response, this album has basically everything I like about pop music.

Although I personally didn't get to spend too much time with this album, I'd hate to overlook The Bake Sale by The Cool Kids. This album might be the most fun album ever made, just genuinely playful and cheerful. Dig the amazing deconstruction of hip-hop on "What Up Man". It's a wonder, in this age of the vocoder, to see how the spare production and goofy lyrics here add up to a great album. These guys are just having a blast, making it look easy and letting you join in.

I spent a great deal of time this fall with The Menahan Street Band's debut release, Make The Road By Walking. I don't know how they did it, but somehow, they captured a soulful Brooklyn summer night and put it on record. It's a joy to listen to this record. Once again, Daptone's got some of the best musicians anywhere, and they lay down some prime funk, but it's also just a rare, happy record. It kinda sounds like the day after election day this year felt.

The album of the end of the year, and an easy runner up to Rabbit Habits, is A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night by Love Is All. This album is my favorite kind of pop: twisted, angular, sounding as if it were an alternate universe version of mainstream pop. Josephine Olausson's voice is an eccentric, no wave sounding kind of voice, and the songs are fast, fun, and just plain crazy catchy. These songs, weird as they are, get stuck in your head. They become like a dream you remember as reality.

Those are my albums. But there are also quite a few songs that I dug, even if I wasn't crazy about the album as a whole. Call 'em honorable mentions, if you will:

Chad VanGaalen's album, Soft Airplane, is pretty swell, but the song "Willow Tree" is a freakin' masterpiece. The echoing, high vocals, the simple lyrics, laid over a casual banjo line, are piercing and haunting.

I thought The Walkmen's new album, You And Me was pretty disappointing, but "In The New Year", with that lethal seven note decrescendo and the marvelous drum swells, is the kind of song that feels like it could change lives.

Again, great song on an otherwise disappointing album: "Language City" by Wolf Parade. This is the kind of song I loved on Apologies To The Queen Mary: multi-part masterpieces, downright brilliant piano, pounding drums and vocals, a song that sounds so naturally pop that it seems grown rather than written, delivered in a heart-stopping, breathless manner that never fails to prompt a sing-along.

The Watson Twins have some of the best voices around, and when they're given time to really pound out a song, like on the ballad "Old Ways", you get something absolutely worth listening to.

I know, I know, I'm a sucker for the bombastic stuff, but you gotta give it up for the big chorus on "Waving Flags" by British Sea Power. I hear the whole album is good, but I haven't really gotten a chance to listen to it.

At the risk of getting attacked by my own DJs (heck, my own exec staff), I have to say that I generally found No Age's album uninteresting, with the exception of the song "Teen Creeps", one of those Replacements-sounding noisy punk numbers that remind you what it was like when you were in high school, angsty and loud, a fist in the air number.

I really got into The Dutchess and The Duke's Simon-and-Garfunkel-like punky acoustic number, "Strangers". If someone would be good enough to lend me the album, I'd be much obliged.

And some old-school numbers that caught my ear:

"Fool, Fool, Fool" Barbara Acklin - Definitely the best song I played on my show, Hippocleides Doesn't Care, this year. An infectiously simple wood block beat and walking bass, soulful back-up singers and Barbara Acklin's unbelievably big voice. This song makes you just plain happy to be alive, which is kinda strange, since it's about dating an asshole.


"She's Gone, Gone, Gone", Lefty Frizzell - Zak, our folk director, got me listening to this classic. Boy, I love those strings and that aching twang. I'd like to see that make it back into pop music, fuck, even country music.

"Harlan County", Jim Ford - Another gem recommended by Zak. Jim Ford was a country/soul guy who wrote a bunch of songs for Aretha Franklin and Bobby Womack. This song really has it all: country guitar, horns, insistent drums, a charming, almost hokey old school song structure, and Jim Ford's desperate, psych-soul era vocals.

That was my year in music. Not great, but it had its moments. Hope you had a good year in music, and I'm looking forward to a great one in '09.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

R.I.P. Dock Ellis, 1945-2008


"Dock Ellis, who infamously claimed he pitched a no-hitter for Pittsburgh under the influence of LSD and later fiercely spoke out against drug and alcohol addiction, died Friday. He was 63."

Obituary

NPR Interview from March 2008, "An LSD No-No"

Labels:

Monday, December 15, 2008

KWUR 2008 LISTENERS POLL ALLLLLLRIGHT

Hey folks,

I promised a little poll thing last week, but life got in the way and I didn't get around to making it until this weekend. Thus, without further ado...

CLICK HURRRR



Okay, a few things. First up, yeah, it looks like the Pitchfork poll but that's because the survey generator they used is super easy to work with. All of the music listed in the best album/etc. was played on KWUR this past year (with a single exception, which should be pretty easy to pick out). So, yeah, the list may not be comprehensive, but it's what we're playing. It's a great opportunity to see what you like/hate, and also what we're missing or you'd like to see us play more of.

Most importantly, if you take the survey and give us your email at the end, you will be entered to win an Of Montreal schwag-pack - including the new album, Skeletal Lamping, on vinyl, CD, a poster, and pins. Take the survey before someone steals it! (oh yeah, we're not gonna do anything with the email addresses after that, just need a way to tell you that you've won)



DO IT!!!

Labels:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the Saturday Evening Post-up (Sunday edition)

SOOOO, uh, in case you hadn't noticed, it's not Saturday. I didn't quite make it to the station yesterday, so please accept my humblest humblest apologies.

Every once in awhile, a CD slips through the cracks here at KWUR. Sometimes no one picks it up to be reviewed and sometimes it literally slips into a crack and is lost for like six months. There often are stacks and stacks of unreviewed CDs at the end of the semester, and for every ten discarded turds there's a real gem. So, this week, I'm going to take a look (via DJ reviews, as always) at a couple of CDs that didn't quite make it onto the new release shelf this year. I'll offer a few brief comments after each review, as well. Let's show 'em some love:

David Byrne and Brian Eno - "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today"

These two draw on a lot of genres here - sun bleached pop, jazzy lounge, folk - and combine them to make a diverse and enjoyable album. Eno's production is top-notch and Byrne's croons are as falsetto as ever.

RIYD: Talking Heads, older Eno, Radiohead

Play: 1 (sun bleached, layered pop), 2 (ambling folk), 3 (textured jazz), 4 (standout - beautiful pop), 11 (great finish)

(ed. note)
This album, like Radiohead's "In Rainbows" or Nine Inch Nails' "The Slip," was released via the internet long before it met any kind of official physical release. Because of this, we only just received it, although it's been in circulation for quite some time now. This was the year of self-releases, and if other major bands (such as those aforementioned) follow the trend, it's going to shake up the entire industry, from the (honestly outdated anyway) Big 5 (Universal, et al) to lowly college radio outfits like us. The times, they are a'changin'.

Land Of Talk - "Some Are Lakes"

Saw them open for Broken Social Scene and fell in love with Lizzie Powell's voice. Solid album with quite a few shining moments. Good blend of drum beats, kind of jagged guitar riffs and dreamy pop-esque vocals. Give them a listen.

Play: 4, 6, 7, 10

(ed. note)
As noted in the review, these guys opened for Broken Social Scene at the Gargoyle about a month ago. I've been to my fair share of shows, and I've only been truly impressed by openers a handful of times - and I'd easily include Land of Talk in that handful. Whereas most openers tend to be watered down versions of the headliner, or even just flat out suck, they truly stood out on their own merits. It's indie pop, no doubt, but with razor sharp edges and a lot of tension boiling under the surface.

Annuals - "Such Fun"

Nice, country laced indie pop. Anthemic stuff, and lots of nice instrumentals. The vocals are a little annoying at times, got a little pop-punky, but the musicality of the band really makes this record worth your time.

Play: 2, 3 (good build), 6 (rockin good orchestration), 9 (nice piano), 10 (pretty)

(ed. note)
Back in 2006, Annuals basically exploded onto the indie scene from the ever-fertile fields of North Carolina via their debut "Be He Me." This was around the time I really started getting into "indie," and one of my friends burned it for me. I hated it. Here was a band that was lauded as excellent by a number of prominent music blogs (this was also 'round the time the "blogosphere" came into full effect, I think) and I just didn't get it. Yet, this album didn't get half the press or praise their first did, and I liked it a hell of a lot more. I don't know what that says about anything - other than maybe I shouldn't read Pitchfork so much.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - "Sunday At Devil Dirt"

Former female vocalist for Belle & Sebastian teams up again with Screaming Trees frontman (and Tom Waits doppelganger) Mark Lanegan. Really downbeat ballads, slow, ominous folk/country. Their voices blend well together, and really fit the music. All of these were arranged by Isobel, and they're all really good.

Play: 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 (really sweet), 11

(ed. note)
What the hell happened to Belle & Sebastian? They recently released "The BBC Sessions," but it's been, like, a billion years (actually 3) since they put out new material, and 10 since "If You're Feeling Sinister" (which is arguably their best work). I suppose none of that is relevant here, as Isobel's no longer a part of the group. She is, however, doing fine work with Mr. Lanegan - this album isn't groundbreaking but it's damn fine nonetheless. I think (and hope) time will be kind to their work together.

Last charts of the yeaaaaar:

Rank Artist Recording Label
1 WOMEN Women Jagjaguwar
2 VIVIAN GIRLS Vivian Girls In The Red
3 JENNY LEWIS Acid Tongue Warner Bros.
4 I'M FROM BARCELONA Who Killed Harry Houdini? Mute
5 EAGLES OF DEATH METAL Heart On Downtown
6 PAST LIVES Strange Symmetry [EP] Suicide Squeeze
7 DESOLATION WILDERNESS White Strobing Light K
8 TOUGH ALLIANCE A New Chance Modular
9 STARFUCKER Starfucker Badman
10 BOUND STEMS The Family Afloat Flameshovel
11 MENAHAN STREET BAND Make The Road By Walking Daptone-Dunham
12 THESE UNITED STATES Crimes United Interests
13 GENTLE GUEST We Are Bound To Save Some Souls Tonight Amble Down
14 ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS Another World [EP] Secretly Canadian
15 ETTES Look At Life Again Soon Take Root
16 PARTS AND LABOR Receivers Jagjaguwar
17 SEBASTIEN GRAINGER Sebastien Grainger And The Mountains Saddle Creek
18 TOBACCO Fucked Up Friends Anticon
19 MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA Let My Pride Be [EP] Sony
20 PINK SPIDERS Sweat It Out Mean Buzz
21 WINTERSLEEP Welcome To The Night Sky Labwork
22 LITTLE ONES Morning Tide Chop Shop
23 HER SPACE HOLIDAY XOXO Panda, And The New Kid Revival Mush
24 FUCKED UP The Chemistry Of Common Life Matador
25 PORTUGAL. THE MAN Censored Colors Equal Vision-Approaching AIRballoons
26 LITTLE TEETH Child Bearing Man Absolutely Kosher
27 RELIGIOUS KNIVES The Door ECSTATIC PEACE!
28 OF MONTREAL Skeletal Lamping Polyvinyl
29 ARIZONA Glowing Bird Echo Mountain
30 JAY REATARD Matador Singles '08 Matador

and that's it folks. I'll catch you again in a few weeks - enjoy the holiday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Elliott Carter at 100

Just barely in time for the end of the day, KWUR today marks the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter, America's leading modernist composer, born December 11, 1908 in NYC, and, believe it or not, still composing and very much with us. Some recent articles about him in the last week, just before his birthday:

(1) Boston Globe, Matthew Guerrieri, Dec. 5, 2008
(2) Boston Globe, Jeremy Eichler, Dec. 6, 2008
(3) The Guardian, Nicholas Wroe, Dec. 6, 2008

From KWUR, we had a chance to air:
(a) Gra for solo clarinet
(b) A 6 Letter Letter for English horn
(c) Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano and Two Chamber Orchestras
(d) Quintet for Piano and Winds
(e) Asko Concerto
(f) Oboe Quartet

So, a small shout out from us at KWUR, 90.3 FM to the birthday boy, Elliott Carter, with good wishes for many more.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

NYTimes: "College Radio Maintains Its Mojo"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/arts/television/07sisa.html

Saturday, December 06, 2008

the Saturday Evening Post-up (12/6/08)

Hope everyone had a relaxing break. No charts this week because of there was basically no one here last week, so instead I've got a ton of new reviews, the last part of the Neutral Milk Hotel review, and a LISTENERS POLL OMG OMG OMGGGG anyway check this shit out first:

The Decemberists - "Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series (vol 1-3)"

Colin Meloy is back with the Decemberists on this new compilation of singles. Pretty standard Decemberists stuff - horns, hooks, awesome chorus, Colin's voice, strings, etc. Pretty good tracks overall, though not exactly innovative given their previous releases.

Play: 1, 5 (Velvet Underground cover), 6

Three Second Kiss - "Long Distance"

Italian deconstructed rock trio puts out a trebly, dissonant, angular disc that offers more raw energy than darkness typical of the "math" genre. Produced by Steve Albini (!), this band bears resemblance to a busier Shellac, a more organized U.S. Maple,, or even a late Fugazi. Vocals are a groaning ESL stew. Hear!

Play: 1 (militant with distorted vocals), 2 (develops well with some classic mathy guitar riffs), 5 (clanging chords with rumbling close bass harmonies opens wider than most), 6 (chanting, minimal)

The Gentle Guest - "We Are Bound To Save Some Souls Tonight"

Combines a lot of sounds for a rhythmic, folksy, and fun album. Sounds like Reel Big Fish meets Drive-By Truckers at times, other times more like a raspy ballad of Tom Waits or Bob Dylan. The stripped down feel is like early Ray LaMontagne, only not as tender and more upbeat.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - "Cardinology"

Pretty subtle album, definitely one of the better ones in the huge amount of music under his belt. Solid lyrics, nice hooks. Takes a couple of listens to appreciate the details but I'd definitely give this a try. A bit predictable though, not as edgy as "Heartbreaker," but still good overall.

Play: 2, 4 (a bit radio pop-esque), 7

Megapuss - "Surfing"

Devendra Banhart, Gregory Rogove (drummer of Priestbird), and others - including Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes and many from Little Joy - combine to create an all around groovy album. One of my favorites of the year.

RIYD: MGMT, The Black Keys, Devendra, Little Joy

Play: 1 (good for lovin), 5 ("too much fun..." so catchy), 9 (rockin), 10 (disclaim but rocks)

Part 3/3 of the NMH interview:

Sample: In regards to the CD (On Avery Island), all the songs run together and you can tell that there's an ongoing theme. Two or three of the songs sound rather similar in parts. I know it's not a rock opera, but is there an overriding concept? Or is it entirely subconscious?

Scott: I've got a really good answer!

Jeff: You're going to give some bullshitty... alright.

Scott: Okay, but don't put this answer in unless he wants it. He only knows two chords!

Jeff: It's more like a story than a concept in the sense that a concept can be overly done. I'm not "conceptual" in the full sense of the word. It's not supposed to be a book where the opening song is page one and it works up to the end. There is definitely a story, but at the same time, there's not a very rigid structure. Do you understand?

Sample: Well, although there's a story, I have no idea what it's about. Any explanation I've come up with is by virtue of just making something up to find something.

Jeff: I write lots of songs that relate to each other and some of them end up being released and others don't so it's an ongoing thing where the same story is continued in my songs... I just keep writing until it's finished and they cut it up into different parts. Because people are going to relate to songs and relate them to their lives, it's not just a one-sided, either you get it or you don't, story.

Sample: Are the different styles on the album used to convey or correspond with different moods? Something will be lo-fi and folky, the opening track is more pop-oriented...

Scott: It's because you forgot how you mixed and got that sound earlier...

Jeff: Each song has it's own mood... that's why I was trying to record at home. I'm into home recording, not lo-fi. Home recording gives the freedom to deal with something for a long time, not so much "Let's make the song sound shitty."

Sample: Were some of the songs on the album recorded in the studio and others at home?

Jeff: They were all recorded at home. But we had a reel-to-reel four track and a little board console.

Sample: Isn't it hard to hold down a job and tour?

Jeff: Every time I quit a job, I would say, "My mom fell down the stairs. I have to go. Sorry." And then come back in two weeks and say, "She's better," and get my job back... my mom got really mad and tired of it.

Scott: That's bad karma.

fin.


Check back tomorrow for the completely unofficial, done on the fly, KWUR LISTENERS POLL FUCK YEAH ALRIGHT!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

KWUR Does Klassical @ Powell

Recently, the Saint Louis Symphony hosted a "Bloggers Night at the Symphony" at the 'Beat Movement' concert on Nov. 15. Eddie Silva, the SLSO's publications manager (and a former Riverfront Times writer), invited said bloggers to post their impressions of the concert and the scene that night, which many of them did here.

Independently, KWUR invited station DJ's to go to a "KWUR Does Klassical" night at the Symphony the night before Bloggers Night, that Friday. In a shameless attempt to ride very belated coattails on Bloggers Night, I asked KWUR people who went to that Friday concert to contribute their impressions:

B: "I didn't enjoy the bass centered piece so much. Maybe it's just me, but I like my basses sticking in the rhythm section or whatever it would be considered in classical music with the occasional solo. The violinist in the second piece was outstanding and a joy to listen to and also watch perform. The Rite of Spring was mind blowing. I was warned in advance that it would be an intense experience and it surpassed my expectations."

D: "I didn't like the two contemporary pieces. The first piece had two interesting movements, and then fell apart in the third and fourth movements, and even when it was interesting, it didn't really grab me at all. The second piece had one of the dumbest beginnings I've ever heard, although it grew on me by the end. The performance of The Rite Of Spring was really terrific, I thought, although I didn't like the subtitles."

T: "Weeks after the performance of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, I still conjure a vivid sensory image of the experience. The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra led me with a hand firmly guided through the narrow straits of complex polyrhythms, jarring dissonances, and intense dynamic polarity that make the work so personally memorable. But the vividness of my memory is not of an aural aspect; no, the experience was distinguished by its raw physicality. In The Rite of Spring, the percussion is not remembered by mallea nor inca nor stapes but by the chest cavity, moved to reverberate. The opening melody erects an indelible pattern in the minute hairs of the neck. It is a penetrating sensation. I am thoroughly amazed by a piece that in spite of its horizon-dilating erudition is able to connect with an audience on such a visceral plane."

Because I'm a regular subscriber to the orchestra, I wanted to let the others get the first word, as my own impressions are longer:

G: "The first work by Mark-Anthony Turnage surprised me by how mellow it was. I'll admit that I was expecting something a little edgier, but I knew that jazz would play a big role, given Turnage's reputation for using jazz in his concert hall works. John Patitucci did really well, as did Erik Harris in his 3rd movement duet with Patitucci. It was nice to see the orchestra shuffle its feet in appreciation after the duet. I was expecting the audience to do the same, but they didn't.

I got said musical edge at the beginning of the Mackey concerto. I was somehow put off by the beginning, but as the piece went on, I got more and more into it, and the title made more sense. As she was in John Adams' The Dharma at Big Sur last season, Leila Josefowicz was very extrovert and totally committed, and also very appreciative of the orchestra.

This Rite of Spring was my 4th time hearing it live, each time with the SLSO. The music never fails to astonish when heard in 3 dimensions live, even on a 4th hearing. I admit that I wasn't too enamored of the subtitles for the ballet's plot on this occasion. I liked them for past performances of The Wooden Prince and Petrushka, but the 3rd time wasn't the charm here. So I just focused on watching the orchestra and tried not to look at the screen.

I talked with some (non-KWUR) friends about the concert and the music. This was the first Powell concert for two visiting students from Europe. One was surprised at seeing an electric bass guitar on stage at a symphony concert, the first time she's ever seen that. The other herself thought the start of the Mackey was not to her satisfaction, but the piece got better for her as it went along. By contrast, a third friend liked the Turnage more than the Mackey."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

RIP