Monday, January 01, 2007

Neverending Mixtape #5

Panda Bear - "Bro's"

Free download here.

For any reader unfamiliar with the name "Panda Bear" (a.k.a Noah Lennox), here's the short story: he founded Animal Collective with Avey Tare (Dave Porter) and serves as said band's drummer, vocalist, etc. For those of you familiar with Panda Bear, you may recall 2004's Young Prayer - a eulogy of sorts for his, then, recently departed father. That album worked well for what it was: a hushed lament for a lost parent. "Bro's" is the joyous flipside to Young Prayer and easily ranks as one of his greatest recorded accomplishments (AC output included). Melodically and structurally, "Bro's" sounds like classic pop (i.e. Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Beach Boys, etc.), but its production creates the feeling that the song is being transmitted from deep space or an underwater trench. Yes, that is a terribly trite statement, but listen to this song and find me a better analogy. To my ears, Noah's voice sounds very reminiscent of a young Paul Simon. His vocals, buried a bit in the mix, yearn passionately over the careening melody and galloping percussion. At 12 and a half minutes, the track does get a bit epic, but it rushes by with such celebratory glee that it hardly feels its actual length.

The above link is for a free download of an edited 5 minute version of "Bro's."

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ben's Top 20 Albums of 2006

Here is my list without any embellishment.

1) TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
2) Joanna Newsom - Ys
3) Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
4) Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
5) Bob Dylan - Modern Times
6) Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
7) The Knife - Silent Shout
8) Liars - Drum's Not Dead
9) Built To Spill - You In Reverse
10) Swan Lake - Beast Moans
11) Ghostface - Fishscale
12) Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go
13) Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
14) Tom Verlaine - Songs & Other Things
15) Band of Horses - Everything All The Time
16) Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
17) The Black Keys - Magic Potion
18) Thom Yorke - The Eraser
19) Cat Power - The Greatest
20) Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Top 25 Albums of 2006

1. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
2. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
3. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
4. Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
5. Destroyer - Rubies
6. Vetiver - To Find Me Gone
7. Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
8. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
9. Joanna Newsom - Ys
10. Figurines - Skeleton
11. Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds
12. Girl Talk - Night Ripper
13. The Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
14. The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
15. Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
16. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
17. Hot Chip - The Warning
18. Swan Lake - Beast Moans
19. Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo
20. Professor Murder - Rides the Subway EP
21. The Knife - Silent Shout
22. The Walkmen - Pussy Cats
23. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
24. J Dilla - Donuts
25. The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

The Top 25 Tracks of 2006

1. Hot Chip - "Over and Over"
2. T.I. - "What You Know"
3. Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"
4. The Streets - "Prangin' Out (Remix ft. Pete Doherty)"
5. Ghostface Killah - "Be Easy"
6. LCD Soundsystem - "45:33"
7. The Killers - "When You Were Young"
8. Peter Bjorn & John - "Young Folks"
9. Clipse - "Mr. Me Too"
10. E-40 - "Tell Me When to Go"
11. Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack"
12. Lily Allen - "Smile"
13. Killer Mike - "That's Life"
14. Liars - "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack"
15. Voxtrot - "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives"
16. Spank Rock - "Sweet Talk"
17. SoftLightes - "Girl Kills Bear (Lo-Fi-FNK Remix)"
18. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"
19. Justin Timberlake - "My Love (ft. T.I.)"
20. Junior Boys - "In the Morning"
21. Shout Out Out Out Out - "Dude You Feel Electrical"
22. Danielson - "Did I Step On Your Trumpet?"
23. The Pipettes - "Pull Shapes"
24. Klaxons - "Gravity's Rainbow"
25. Islands - "Rough Gem"

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Neverending Mixtape #4

Grizzly Bear - "Knife"

If you are anything like me (a ridiculously avid fan of music), you might be sick to death of music journalists/critics making lazy, unjustified references to Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys when describing some band's sound and style. There have been countless mediocre indie-pop bands with half-assed harmonies and contrived surf guitar sounds. Inevitably, some hack will throw out a reference to "The Beach Boys" or "Brian Wilson" when talking about said bands. For every instance that truly warrants the comparison, there are at least ten more that leave me scratching my head in bewilderment. My point is this: I simply will not reference Brian Wilson & Co. unless it is irrefutably valid.

This brings me to Grizzly Bear. Duh. Right? Before you jump to the faulty conclusion that the Grizzlies might just be another cookie-cutter, retro-pop band, take note that they are on Warp Records. Yeah, these guys are lablemates with Squarepusher and Autechre. If I'm making a comparison to the Brian of yore, it's to the LSD-addled, loony toon Brian that made SMiLE. Obviously, that is said with all due respect. On "Knife," the ephemeral spirit of the Beach Boys is evident in the lilting strum of the guitar, the Spectoresque production (horns and all!), and, of course, in the heavenly, reverbed harmonies. The other obvious comparison would be to their Brooklyn neighbors, Animal Collective. The measured, tumbling percussion and manipulated, alien backing vocals can't help but bring to mind Animal Collective's more recent output.

Grizzly Bear's stellar new album, Yellow House, is chock-full of highlights. However, "Knife" is probably the stand-out track; and one of the year's best songs by any measure.

Below, I've attached a YouTube clip of Grizzly Bear performing an impromptu, a capella version of "Knife" on the streets of France.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Canon #12

The Velvet Underground - "Sister Ray"

When people talk about the Velvet Underground's "sound" and "influence," songs like "Pale Blue Eyes" and "I'll Be Your Mirror" are typically not the reasons given for the VU being the over-canonized behemoth that it is today. As gorgeous and immortal as those two songs are, the Velvet Underground would not be a "best-of-all-time" band if they had only written dreamy, introspective folk-rock. You know why people still tolerate Lou Reed's increasingly tepid solo albums? Because he wrote and recorded "Heroin," "White Light/White Heat," "Waiting for the Man," "Venus In Furs," and, of course, "Sister Ray." On all of these tracks, the VU took Bob Dylan's electric, amphetamine blues of '65 and laced them with feedback, decadence, and avant-garde touches.

"Sister Ray" clocks in at a whopping 17.5 minutes, and not a second of that time seems superfluous. As The Beatles did with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," the VU decided to keep playing the song until the tape reel had run out. Obviously, the VU's tape lasted about twice as long as The Beatles'. The VU's chugging colossus begins with its catchy, signature riff -which is extrapolated and mutilated over the duration of the song. In the studio, Lou Reed and John Cale were constantly trying to drown each other out - Lou on his electric guitar and John on his electric organ. They were both hammering out that same wonderful riff, but John would continually increase the volume on his organ while Lou continued to strum faster and louder - feedback bleeding everywhere. John Cale was on the verge of being kicked out of the band by Lou (for ego-driven reasons) and this song became a sort of confrontation between the two men - and the song was all the better for it.

"Sister Ray" has a dense, murky feel. This is mainly due to the warring musicians' waves of distorted riffs and peels of feedback. The song's story of a motley group of degenerates involved with drugs and an accidental homocide is only bolstered by the fuzzed-out murky sound. Props should be given to Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker as well. Sterling has always been an underrated guitarist, but, as the group's lead guitarist, he was responsible for countless searing leads and solos. Moe didn't just keep time. She kept the whole damn ship from sinking into chaos. Her propulsive, monotone drumming is the only constant throughout this song (and it's beating heart).

As I already stated, songs like "Sister Ray" are the reason "everyone who bought their records started a band." If you don't like this song, then you're not a Velvet Underground fan. Period.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What's the market for this?

This is so bad that it's not even funny in an ironic way. It's not even the Snakes on a Plane of videos. Miles worse than "so bad it's good." Jaw-droppingly bad. I didn't even crack a smile at how fucking miserable this is. What a waste of life.

Seriously, I challenge you to find someone that actually enjoys this. This isn't snobbery here-- this is just plain terrible. I understand people who like music that I think is bad, such as mall punk and what have you. But Christ, who would actually enjoy this?

It's not even really worth this post.


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Visions of Johannson

Bob Dylan's new video for "When The Deal Goes Down"

Madison Avenue Blues

We'd like to welcome a new blog to the Sawin' Blogs family.

Madison Avenue Blues

It's about advertising.

It's pretty awesome.

Check it out.

Bookmark it.

Love it.