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Perhaps this is the result of my listening habits for work, as this doesn’t seem like something I would normally post on here. Obviously there is a cultural shift to this sort of British-style, Sam Smith, James Blake, minimal r’n’b production. Crisp drums, clean vocals, all well produced and quiet and mostly about relationships and all that. I think this one does a better job than most of actually capturing some of the effortlessness necessary if you really want to nail this. It doesn’t really on some falsetto vocal constantly riding the breaking point. And the bridge is just one of the many, many reminders that Kanye’s 808s and heartbreaks is easily the most influential album of the last ten years. But that’s just a 15 second digression. Dude just wants some real talk with his lady who clearly is on the way out.
Point is, this one hit me today, so there it is. Episodes are from New York and that’s all I know about them.
There is a long history here with DFA 1979. They were on our first compilation, Music for Robots vol. 1 way back in 2005, almost ten years ago. And honestly, it doesn’t sound like either of us have changed all that much. The huge riffs are there. The piano driven chorus. The thumping, floor-rattling drums. The hoarse tired-from-the-party vocals are there. It makes me think of all-over-print hoodies, myspace, and late nights at Cinespace. This is all to say that this is great. Despite my initial feelings this is not about nostalgia. It’s about a sound. DFA 1979 have clearly mastered it, so why not keep at it. There is more gold in that vein and we’re all the better for it. Album’s out in September from our old friends at Warner Brothers.
2776, out on July 4, is a record whose sales benefit the OneKid OneWorld, a non-profit that provides education resources in Kenya and El Salvador. That’s a pretty serious mission, but you’d never know it from listening to the sublimely silly 2776, which features, among many others, Will Forte, Aubrey Plaza, Patton Oswalt, Aimee Mann, and k.d. lang. The liner notes are by George Saunders (and they were published in The New Yorker this week). It’s pretty great.
“These Aren’t The Droids” is by Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, and it imagines a future not determined by fanboys. What a crazy, mixed-up world that would be.
Every once in a while something so quintessentially British comes along and we Americans fall head over heels for it. We listen, listen, listen over again. Listen hard. Listen to the accents, the beats, the references, the lifestyles, the ennui and anguish. We don’t have direct analogs for this, we just have this. And we’re not wrong about this one, “North Circular” by Real Lies. Here’s to another one.
It’s 5:30 a.m. as I write this, with a cup of coffee to my right and a wandering cat walking across my keyboard. I’m listening to the Gold-Bears’ second record, an exclamation point of an album called Dalliance, and it’s doing me more good than my caffeine.
“Yeah, Tonight” is like Dalliance‘s thesis statement, an opening salvo against the sleepers. Wake up, everybody. It’s Monday, and we have shit to do.
“Bloodlines,” from singer-songwriter Nate Lacy and his bandmates Aaron Hanson and Adam Trachsel (collectively known as Mimicking Birds) reminds me of something, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it is. Maybe it just reminds me of various musical memories.
Which isn’t to say Mimicking Birds and their excellent record Eons are derivative. I think they just have my number, and everyone’s numbers. They know what we sound like.
Eons is out May 13, on Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace label.
I have a long and storied history with Evan Dando. He is one of my original musical touchstones and one of the reasons why I got into this game in the first place. He sang songs full of slacker ennui about drugs and friendship while simultaneously alienating himself from everyone around him. He floated somewhere in between Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith and he lived to tell about it. It’s crazy to say but I am sure that things would’ve worked out extremely differently for him had he experienced a similar fate. But instead he spent years gigging at T.T. the Bears Place playing country covers. And I loved every minute of it. He would show up announced and open for whomever and just ramble through a few tunes. This being Cambridge, everyone in the audience knew all the words anyway.
The funny thing is, Dando and his band the Lemonheads have always been popular in Australia. It was always someplace he could tour or release an Australia-only EP to keep things floating. Years later, we’re finally seeing the trickle down of his efforts. Here in the states, “Come On Feel” has experienced a bit of a critical revision in recent years, with the basic idea being that it was underrated at the time of release. As a teenager I loved the shit out of that, so I’m not really one to say. But I do know that Bein’ Around, even at the time, took on a life of its own. It was covered at many a coffee house, sung around many a campfire. It was goofy and childlike and absolutely 100% sincere. Maybe the most sincere song in his catalog and I really believe that Evan Dando is asking these things, all fucked up on drugs with Rick James in the studio.
So here is the young Courtney Barnett, who has been making a name for herself on her own merits for the last year or two. The cover is fully in her wheelhouse, showing both her influence and mastery of the material. It can only go up from here.