CULT OF YOUTH
OTTO VON SCHIRACH
When Ledge is Home
The packaging for this is very tricky. The CD comes in this cutesy cardboard case with a fold-over tab, and the art is a drawing of a bummed-out teddy bear. I put this in so ready to hear some kind of twee music about tandem bicycles and loganberries, but instead I got ten very mediocre rap songs that never reach more than a casual ramble’s pace and don’t say much about anything. I like the bear, though.
Nobody ever sends us hip-hop stuff to review and it’s really depressing. What do you think, that we’re over here skipping rope while listening to This American Life, or some other combo of activities that would indicate to you that we don’t appreciate all different kinds of music? We never told anyone that we don’t like rap, we just tell people (over and over and over) that we don’t like music that sucks balls. It took us 89 years of digging through inboxes and cubbyholes to find this album to review so we wouldn’t have just two things under the rap category. Having just three isn’t much better, so please, send us more to review. Sorry that your review got stolen, Oreo Jones, but we had to get all of that out on the table.
Somethin ’Bout Kreay
12 Bit Blues
A Canadian man of Asian descent who dresses up as a koala bear and creates blues music using a SP-1200 sampler. We should put this kid in a rocket ship and blast him off into space for the aliens to observe; he’s like a five-piece combo platter of everything that is cool on Planet Earth. And yes, I am well aware that he’s a turntablist, but what’s a gal to do?
SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS
Mind over Matter
When I was at SXSW this year, I got into a bunch of conversations with musicians about what it takes to make a music editor notice a band and actually listen to what they send in. I told them that the answer is stickers, handwritten notes or an interesting album cover. Everyone I said this to looked at me like I was an idiot, but the only reason I’m reviewing this Fur Coat piece of trash is because there are naked tits on the cover, so… who’s laughing now, bands?!?!
According to the press release for this, Otto Von Schirach was born in the Bermuda Triangle and uses his superpowers to continually save Earth from the Annunaki Reptilian Order. Ooooo-K, guy. Really, though. Do you think it’s awesome to be a gay man? Yes or no? Usually I think yes, but then I wonder whether it ever gets stressful. Like maybe you get sick of always having to make sure you poop and really clean it out in there before going out on dates. And, like, who’s gonna buy the lube THIS time? So many butthole-related questions.
Dovecote Somewhere in suburban Indiana a father has just googled “gay culture.” His 19-year-old son, home for the summer after his first year at Oberlin, has come out of the closet, and Dad is trying his hardest to “understand” despite his own staunchly conservative views. He even downloaded Bent from iTunes and is listening to it while scrolling past banner ads for bulge-boosting briefs and HIV-support services. He resolves that, while he loves his son and always will, this whole lifestyle is “a lot… too much…” Later that night, he googles “What are poppers?” This is enough to break his 14-year streak of sobriety.
My best friends put out this album and I know I’m supposed to be all supportive and everything, but it just reminded me of how uncool I am compared with them. And how they have so many rare records and know so much about synths and stuff, and I don’t. Fuck it, I’m just going to be cool with not being cool (like Amie Barrodale).
Western Vinyl What’s your first memory of being a young robot? Is it your first robo-X-2.75.1-Chrystmys, stockings hung and dripping with steam-powered rotary-cuff oil? Is it the first time you got caught behind the gears at the robo-bowling alley/roller rink? Perhaps it was your first robo-kiss, steam shooting out of every crack in your welding (embarrassing), while you stared deep into AR-C778’s ocular scanning grid, with explosions of happiness inside your robo-heart as the score built to fever pitch and you adjusted yourself to disguise that first roboboner… and Lymbyc Systym was playing and you were smiling that gleaming holo-smile.
Weird Wild World
While all your friends start to grow up and get real jobs and get engaged and say things like “I really understand why cops are important for society,” it’s nice to know there are still three dudes like this in Brooklyn, working part-time jobs and cranking out spazzy, snarky pop-punk that makes everyone else look about as tuned in as William F. Buckley Jr. That knowledge, when mixed with this fan-fucking-tastic record, makes a perfect tonic for those moments when you get fired and have to find newer, poorer friends.
This album manifested in a random part of our office and the receptionist brought it over to me, held high in between two fingers like it was a dead bug, and said, “This must be for you.” Fuck yes, this is for me. I love self-released surprises like this so much that I could fold them up like Totino’s Pizza Rolls and slide them inside of my vagina for safekeeping. Of course, I was that weird kid who always wasted her allowance on those shitty grab bags at the comic book store. So I guess that means I appreciate the element of surprise more than the resulting product. But the difference here is that this is actually awesome. Most of it is just scream-singing about woodpeckers and having poop on your dick. At least I think that’s what they’re saying, and if not, they should be.
Love Will Prevail
Leave it to an SS-haired boy with a Death in June fixation to teach me about love. And he even did it the old-fashioned way, by dropping a little acid house into the frantic power strumming, then gently easing the whole song into my ears, first slipping a little ecstasy into my beer and then his whole cock into my throat in the cab home from The Cock. Romance lives.
Nothing in Rambling
Not gonna lie, I thought this band was called Helvetica, and in my mind they were a sweet noise band that banged on human skulls and threw monkey corpses around and shit. But they’re not. They’re just some spacey indie-pop thing that toured with Built to Spill. This record is fine, I suppose. I’d like it a lot better if it weren’t so fucking boring.
I don’t think this is the band I thought it was. I could have sworn that someone made me a mixtape with a Menomena song on it a few years ago, and I played it over and over and over. But judging from what’s on this album, that couldn’t possibly be the case. No. I for sure don’t like this at all. This is not an enjoyable experience for anyone. It makes me want to go Plath.
I Bet On Sky
Fuck, dude. Dinosaur Jr. are SO fucking heavy. We’re talking wanton air-guitaring levels of heavy. Epic bong rips heavy. Saying the word “bro” over and over again heavy. Those weird quasi hugs dudes do that end in snaps heavy. Uranium and shit. Just when I’m ready to write guitar rock off forever, Dino Jr. come along and put out another record and remind me how stupidly, terrifically wrong I am. Every record of theirs sounds exactly the same: goddamn perfect. This one is written from the perspective of a vampire.
Fast Weapons/Cooperative Music It seems like everyone is trying to sound like a band from the 80s these days, which is fine by me as long as we never make it back to the 90s again. If you were to rate this on a scale with “any Sufjan Stevens album” on the left-hand side and the Drive soundtrack on the right, it would land about three-quarters of the way to the right, somewhere around “any These New Puritans album.” Also, I always find it a little funny when a band is from Australia. What kind of bugs you all got over there? Big ones? I bet they are.
OK, first off, this is a tentative smiley face. The Helio Sequence have been trying to make it for more than ten years now, and honestly, if you listen to their albums, you can see why. It’s mostly the same crap that you can hear at any concert space or basement party in Portland. This new one, though, shows just enough potential that these almost-too-old indie rockers might get some limelight before they have to give up and sell insurance or get their real estate licenses. Ask your once-hip, now-married older brother about them. He probably bought their album in 1999, and he’ll take pleasure in telling you he knew they were good all along. But, shhh, he’s lying. Or has bad taste.
Have you ever been to Richmond? It’s the kind of place where you’ll get jumped by a pack of Dickensian bicycle urchins for stealing one of their wheels (you didn’t), then consoled by the guy from GWAR under a statue of a 200-year-old slave owner. Abysmal. I guess the only way for decent people to keep sane there is to lock themselves in a basement and turn old Mariah Carey samples into Lilysesque dream-pop. Works for me, too.
Woodsist I wish I could have seen them in their prime. My uncle saw them at the Fillmore West, opening for the Byrds and Derek and the Dominos in ’68. Before one show, Duane Allman gave the drummer so many ludes he couldn’t play, and Ginger Baker had to stand in. Somehow he “got lost” in the green room for three days, during which he recorded horn tracks for Amon Düül II’s Phallus Dei under the name Gay Edgar Hoover. They should release a book of these stories because I bet people would like to read that stuff, and with all these archival Woods recordings being released, it just makes sense.
Let Them Talk
Ever since publicists found out that the VICE music editor is a carpet muncher, they specify which bands have lesbian members when they send out press releases. At first we thought it was hilarious that they thought it’d actually work, but then it started working. Agent Ribbons isn’t just a lesbian band, though. They’re a good lesbian band.
End of Daze
I used to listen to Dum Dum Girls records with my husband on Sundays, but then we moved to NYC, and this town drilled a hole in our marriage and fucked the socket raw. Now he’s my ex-husband. End of Daze is a perfect soundtrack for that numb relationship purgatory—you stare out the window at jack shit for days straight, starve yourself, and shit yourself. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
An album made by soulful Brooklynites about various feelings, the ocean, and clocks on the wall counting down to some terrible sadness is so cliché that it’s like burning your tongue on pizza cheese. It’s always going to be there and always going to happen no matter what. The only difference between those two comparisons is that pizza cheese only makes you constipated if you eat too much of it. This will clog you up after minute 1.
Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen
Do you ever think about what it is about a certain piece of music that makes you enjoy it? Like, it’s just noise, you know? Just some random people blowing spitty breath into instruments, or strumming on strings with not much more dexterity than a monkey, or banging on things with sticks. Do you think that maybe devout Christians are right, and nonsecular music really is the work of the devil, and we’ve all been brainwashed to waste our lives chasing after pleasures of the flesh? DO YOU THINK THIS IS TRUE?? I’d at least kill a goat for this band. This album is that fucking good.
Thrill Jockey If you’ve followed the Sea and Cake only peripherally in their decades of releases, you might think you’ve got them pegged. “I get it, Sam Prekop’s voice is like butter. They’re indie-rocking the Chicago jazz-scene, GAWD.” That’s all technically true, but what you don’t know is that each member of this band knows how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet.
I put this album on and then started reading through a few of my favorite blogs, waiting for the music to sink in and produce some sort of feeling or reaction. I became engrossed in an article about female comic book artists and was about to move on to something else when I realized the music wasn’t playing anymore. The album had been over for some unknown amount of time, and I didn’t even realize it. I couldn’t remember a single thing about it. This is a truly unremarkable collection of songs—a perfect sampling of nothing. I’m tempted to play it again to see if I wake up pregnant or find that I had pulled out all my teeth while it was on. This is musical roofies.
Have you ever been to a dumpy restaurant where the menu has like four things on it, but you order something anyway because your friend Conner is on some weird diet and can only eat eggs, so you might as well just bite the bullet? Then your food arrives and you’re like, “I did not expect this dirtbag diner to put lemon and rosemary on these potatoes!” Well, this record is like said restaurant, and the “lemon” is like a Gloria Estefan send-up while the “rosemary” is a nod to Black Flag in the middle of a rap. This is the kind of restaurant that you think about writing a Yelp for, but in the end you don’t because you’re a lazy fuck.
When you grow up you have to worry about lots of boring crap like 401(k)s, getting your tubes tied, mammograms, rectal exams, baby toys that won’t choke your kid, bequeathing, burying your parents, and loads of other annoying odds and ends. But as Ariel Pink has proved, there’s another way. Instead of becoming a true-blue adult, you can just decide to sleep on friends’ couches in perpetuity, speak in cryptic riddles whenever you’re asked a question, continually make your bandmates endure frothing, Klaus Kinski-level freak-outs onstage, and fuck anything with at least one leg. Oh, I forgot to mention: The latter path is only an option if you write the most weirdly catchy and strung-out songs imaginable, specifically ones that sound like a combination of the Kinks on special K playing synths stolen from Yes and the Doors if Jim Morrison weren’t a too-serious poet fatso.
Do you ever do that thing where you meet someone you really like, hang out with them for a few weeks, finally sleep with them (and it’s amazing), and then the next morning you “accidentally” shove one of their sweatshirts into your bag and find excuses to wear it for the next week until the person decides they don’t like you anymore and asks for it back because you’re insane? This is the aural equivalent of those events.
Heavenly A few weeks ago, I went camping with some friends in upstate NY and at a certain point one of them shared a piece of chocolate with me that had mushrooms in it. I forgot all about it, and had assumed it wouldn’t do much because the piece I ate was so small, but then 30 minutes later I was lying in a field, watching the Milky Way pump like a human heart, and talking about the “dark wildness” of the world. Something about this album produces similar effects, with the added bonus of my NOT waking up the next morning with mud all over my face and smelling suspiciously of pee.
World music always makes me think of a bunch of different things, primarily of how I bet it would sound even better if played from the car stereo of a brand-new convertible. All like, “UH! My life is so high stress with all of this international espionage and charity balls, I’m gonna go take a drive up the coast and just listen to happy music that mostly consists of hand percussion.” Also, music from other countries (although let’s be real, this band is from Canada and just PLAYS world music) makes me feel like I’ve never traveled farther than my mailbox, which makes me cry mini American flags.
Listening to the Eraserhead soundtrack makes me angry with contemporary indie filmmakers, mostly because sound design and scoring have shifted from “creating a space inside which the film can live” to “Beach House/sounds like Beach House.” Give it a listen and see how layered and terrifying it is, and I’m not even talking about the included dialogue about that demon baby. Peter Ivers’s “In Heaven” may be the only actual song on here, but it is a well-timed release from the grand crescendos and the Fats Waller party-organ hymnals. At one point, I reached to turn the volume down, and then was like, this is fucking beautiful when it’s loud! It’s a testament to how good a film Eraserhead is. I’m gonna listen to my whole DVD collection now—no video—and see how my fave movies hold up. Norbert, by the way, probably ain’t gonna make it.