Sunday, August 29, 2010

Episode 22: Summer Jams, Pt. 2

[via ryan tatar]

Labor Day is fast approaching, so we bid adieu to the summer season with a fond farewell podcast, augmented by some beach-y found sounds between the tunes. The temperature continues to rise here in ATX, but those days of waves have passed us by until next year. Tracklist/download below:

The Barracudas--Summer Fun
The Budos Band--Rite of the Ancients
Honey & The Bees Band--Sisi Mbon
Music Convention--Big Green
Henry Mancini--Lujon
Cut Copy--Where I'm Going
Beach Fossils--Youth
Evan Voytas--I Took A Trip On A Plane
Floating Action--So Vapor
The Avalanches--Since I Left You
Caetano Veloso--Tudo Tudo Tudo
Ganglians--To June
Buffalo Springfield--Kahuna Sunset

Total time: 40:55

Summer Jams, Pt. 2

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Instruments of Science & Technology--Library Catalog Music Series: Music For Paradise Armor

Our review of the new avant-garde electronica album from California pop tunesmith Richard Swift. Take it in below or at Prefix.


Is it better to hone a consistent sound or branch off onto different paths? For Richard Swift, it’s overwhelmingly the latter. His stylistic forays are almost schizophrenic in their incongruence. He started his solo career creating Tin Pan Alley pastiches before moving on to Randy Newman-like piano pop and synth-heavy new wave, but recent years have found him mining scratchy garage and soul with a reel-to-reel recorder. He’s an adept producer, as well, adding clever touches to both his own work and others’, like the recent debut album from the Mynabirds. Aside from music, Swift creates his own music videos and short films and has a pretty extensive photography collection. And if all that wasn’t enough, he finds time for an experimental electronica side project called Instruments of Science & Technology. It’s this last endeavor that’s so eyebrow-raising, but IS&T allows Swift to try on yet another hat, fully integrating his work as both a producer and a musician.

Music For Paradise Armor
is one album in a lengthy series dubbed Library Catalog Music. Started by Asthmatic Kitty Records, the series is a commission of instrumental albums for possible use in film, television, relaxation, or as background sounds, and Armor fits almost all of these categories. The songs are uniformly glitchy, utilizing both computer beeps and vinyl hiss as the rhythmic base. Swift seems to relish the blank canvas, creating tiny, minimalist environments for exploration. The album is undoubtedly meant to be listened to on headphones; the sounds are paved over through conventional speakers, but they pop and fizz when they’re directly in your ear. Songs like “Nuux” and “Station Number Set” are busy without being overbearing, and Swift’s choice of analog recording prevents the textures from becoming too cold or mechanical. His pop sensibilities occasionally bubble to the surface -- he ends the record with a short solo pump organ melody -- but they’re usually swallowed up by the restless electronics. He even explores atonal sounds on “Mt. Mountain” with samples of a randomly plucked guitar and a sped-up drum loop. Suffice to say, it’s a dizzying stretch from the simple piano ballads he’s known for.

Despite the joy to be found in the experimentation itself, all of these moving parts and ideas are a bit exhausting to closely follow. They may be minimal in ingredients, but the songs make quite a racket, pulling your attention to every skittering sample and computerized note. As background music, it’s too complex to just simply ignore. The result is overwhelming at times; by not providing enough terra firma, the listener is stranded in a bizarre, glitchy sea. It’s certainly a playground for Swift as a producer, as he gets to be the mad architect of these nebulous compositions. The melding of the organic and the technological is equally intriguing and unsettled, but the restless Richard Swift wouldn’t have it any other way.


Instruments of Science & Technology--Nuux
Instruments of Science & Technology--Mt. Mountain

Friday, August 13, 2010

Taken Away

Unbelievable take-away shows from Sharon Van Etten and La Blogotheque. Watch Van Etten work her magic (with accompaniment by a harmonium) below.

Take Away Show #109 _ SHARON VAN ETTEN (part 1) from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Take Away Show #109 _ SHARON VAN ETTEN (part 2) from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Sharon Van Etten comes to the Mohawk November 18 as the support for Junip. Her new album, Epic, drops October 5.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dungen: "Skit I Allt" Video

We gave you a tantalizing taste from Dungen's new album, Skit I Allt, a few weeks back. Here's another preview, this time in the form of a video for the album's title track. Skit I Allt drops September 14 via Mexican Summer.

Dungen - Skit I Allt from Mexican Summer on Vimeo.

Monday, August 9, 2010

V/A--Welcome Home/Diggin' The Universe

Our review for the new Woodsist Records compilation, Welcome Home/Diggin' The Universe. Check it out below or at Prefix.

Woodsist Records prides itself on doing things the old-fashioned way. It’s a time warp of a record label, choosing to cultivate a particular sound through limited-run cassettes, 7-inch singles, and vinyl LPs. This approach attempts to hark back to the days when labels had specific aesthetics, relative to their regions and the management’s tastes. And through this new compilation, Woodsist largely succeeds: The label is at the forefront of lo-fi psychedelia, a niche of a niche that doesn’t require a declarative statement so much as a snapshot of a time.

Woodsist is helmed by Jeremy Earl, frontman for the band Woods, and he has his own personal stamp on the proceedings. Woods kicks off the comp with the bright campfire ditty “I’m Not Gone” as a way to ease into the distortion that follows. The comp feels like a personalized mixtape from Earl himself, featuring relatively bigger names like Skygreen Leopards and Real Estate offshoots Alex Bleeker and Ducktails alongside a bevy of newcomers.

The sounds are fairly varied, a welcome surprise considering the pigeonhole the sub-genre tends to put itself into: tape recording plus distortion plus mumbled lyrics equals a blog-able song. Here, there’s standard ‘60s fetishism, like the Fresh & Onlys’ “Heel. Toe.,” but the song is well-composed and an absolute earworm. The Mantles unveil the surf-rock inspired “Bad Movies” to great effect, and both Cause Co-Motion! and Nodzzz break out short, sunny blasts of jangly pop, indebted to ‘60s forbears but still fun and refreshing all the same. Elsewhere, the cheekily named Run DMT impresses with “Richard,” a song so tape-damaged it feels like it will fall apart at any time. While this recording technique could be used as a mask, here it’s used as an instrument in its own right. White Fence’s abrasive organ droning follows on “The Love Between,” a dark antithesis to much of the comp’s feel-good vibes.

And sometimes these feel-good vibes get the best of the comp. Both Alex Bleeker and his Real Estate bandmate Matt Mondanile (here as Ducktails) offer up limp songs that barely register, while Moon Duo overstays its welcome with a six-and-a-half-minute dub jam. City Center’s “Box of Rain” (a Grateful Dead cover) is offensive in its amateurism and certainly one of a handful that should’ve been left in the garage.

The scattershot sounds and subtle experimentation act as the modus operandi for Woodsist. They’re not out to change the world like Nuggets did, the patron saint of compilations and an obvious touchstone here. Rather, this serves as an interesting word-of-mouth among friends, showing what a bunch of underground freaks can do with distortion and home recording, for better or for worse.

Woods--I'm Not Gone
The Fresh & Onlys--Heel. Toe.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Episode 21

[via nevada moonrise]

So many colors pouring out of our stereo this week, on Episode 21 of the Waterloo Sunset Podcast. We have brand-new music from those cut-and-pasters The Books and a fantastic pop gem from Deerhunter. Plus, Sagas provides a massive Scottish-inspired drone before Castanets casts an eerie gloom over the proceedings (Sufjan Stevens' cover led me to the original). The second half cracks open the door for a bit of country-fried sunshine--alongside Fruit Bats, their Optigan, and their Band-ish breeze--before Junip, the newly-revived project from Swedish folk singer José Gonzalez, takes us home. Full track list below:

The Books--Beautiful People
Secos e Molhados--Amor
Voice Of The Seven Thunders--Out of the Smoke
Sagas--Murdstone Road
Castanets--You Are The Blood
The Carter Family--Foggy Mountain Top
The Byrds--Time Between
My Morning Jacket--Lowdown
Fruit Bats--Flamingo

Total running time: 35:15

Waterloo Sunset Podcast #21