There's a lot of music to be listened and not listened to this month (Dan Melchior and Bowerbirds, respectfully).
Colored People’s Time Machine
Sub Pop If you and your friend take 30 milligrams of Adderall the moment Robert De Niro’s name appears in the opening credits of Neil Burger’s 2011 cinematic gem, Limitless, and then push play on this Spoek Mathambo album, nothing will happen.
Zef After the apocalypse, these international scumbags need to head up the New World Order (New New World Order?). Hopefully they’ll militarize disenfranchised peoples, including gays and intelligent tweakers, and send them out on two-stroke dirt bikes with orders to assassinate everyone, set up huge propaganda raves, and pillage whatever they want.
Love at the Bottom of the Sea
EVAN RACHEL WOOD
100% Silk Not a whole lot of dance music gets released on vinyl these days, and a great portion of what does should have lived and died on Soundcloud. Thankfully, this slice of acid funk made the cut. It’s an absolutely ludicrous blend of tranny house and truck music that pushes the LA scene even further. I feel like there is a NY vs. LA house-music war brewing that’ll eventually escalate into a bunch of catty shit-talking and possibly some drinks poured on drum machines at the pop-up club. The whole ordeal will most likely be settled with an epic vogue-off in Chicago. Perhaps.
CLARA ELIZABETH GOLDBUM
LILACS & CHAMPAGNE
Mexican Summer If pornos were produced by intelligent people, this album would make for a fantastic soundtrack. Creative white noise blended with seductive hip-hop beats, it’s what fucking D’Angelo while Beats Antique played would sound like.
One Second of Love
Secretly Canadian There’s a YouTube of Nite Jewel called “Nite Jewel - Part2/2 - L’KEG.” live at the late L’Keg Gallery in LA where she’s wearing sunglasses and playing for, like, nine people. Compare that with the recent video “Nite Jewel -- live at Echoplex (Echo Park CA, 30-July-2011) [Part 2].” How you qualitatively evaluate the difference between these videos for yourself pretty much determines your own Smiley or Barfy review for this record. I happen to prefer when the lady was in white denim and sunglasses, creating a world while giving slightly less of a shit.
LITTLE LOCKY I am so ready for this synth business to be over. If I hear one more arpeggiated MicroKorg I’ll orchestrally stab someone. No more of this “vibe” business either. And while we’re at it, can you pseudo New Agers please stop with all the cosmic this and that? Politics aside, this record is the real deal, the best electronic record of all time. The problem is that now that I’ve made a point of shitting on all the hippies, I can’t in good conscience hijack their words like, “epic,” “ethereal,” “hypnotic,” “pulsating,” and such.
THE MARS VOLTA
Warner Brothers I’m not sure how I feel about these aggressively spacey concept albums made solely for the enjoyment of young men who smell like socks and some unidentified wax. This one, according to the internet, is about a character inspired by the Superman villain Solomon Grundy and the Greek myth of Hyacinthus. Wait. I figured out how I feel about this album now. I fucking love it, because I’m a huge faggoty dork too!
Melt, Cry, Sleep
Doubleplusgood/Cash Cow Wouldn’t it be nice if all the bros who listened to “hard” music were exposed to nice things? Things like this? Doesn’t it make you LOL to think about all the blue-collar homophobes out there listening to the Kinks’ “Lola” on classic-rock radio as if it’s NOT about fucking a tranny? Gay people forever!
Self-released My friend Kristen was supposed to review this album, but then she started doing PR for the band, so she asked me to do the write-up instead in an effort to preserve what’s left of VICE’s shoddy journalistic credibility. I guess everyone who hears Jangula becomes a believer, and I’m sold now too since each song reminds me of snorting Adderall and sipping Codeine at the same time. The tracks pummel you with jungle drums and angular guitars, then lull you with spacey synths and “oohh-aahh” vocals. It’s pleasurably exhausting. Oh crap, wait. Now I’M doing PR for the band.
WILBERT L. COOPER
Kanine Dinowalrus thanked me in the liner notes of their last record, and I gave them a bad review in VICE anyway. This drove the main guy CRAZY, and he told me he changed the members and sound of his band because of it. For some reason he kept the terrible name. Why not change it to Bad Behavior since you basically started over? Anyway, this new record is kinda like Duran Duran or Oasis or some other English disco-rock thing.
Goner Oh man, I’ve got most of Jay Reatard’s creative output, but I’ve never heard the original Lost Sounds seven-inch before. This is wayyyyy better than the more polished stuff he did. He’s just screaming his fucking head off and there’s a nice amount of tape hiss. If you get excited by things that were recorded badly then this is your fucking jam. Also, I wish Jay Reatard was still alive.
THE TWILIGHT SAD
No One Can Ever Know
Fat Cat The first time I listened to this I thought that maybe the singer was trying to sound like Dracula, and then I realized he’s just Irish or something. I gave this more than three chances, and even had “relations” to it, because it’s moody and dark enough for that sort of thing, but yeah, my primary opinion is that it’s corny. Oh, I should mention that at the end of the “relations,” I told my girlfriend that I was giving it a barf face (the album, not her), and she was like, “We had sex to a barfy???”
Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Southern Lord Oh, Earth. How oft I’ve gotten comically stoned and listened to thee. Over the years you’ve delivered some choice numbers to my dome piece and I’ve always been super-grateful. These new jams sound like the type of shit Anton Chigurh was cooking up in his mama’s basement before he left for West Texas A&M and started shooting people with a bolt pistol.
BARREL O’ LAUGHS
Whimpers from the Pantheon
Rank Toy A lot of people seem to have downloaded Fag Cop’s “I’m Fuckin’ Dead” 7", but not much is known about them. The only video I could find online is of them performing a show outside in a literal hole in the ground. They’ve occasionally put out records and performed as Ex-Fag Cop and no one knows why they do that either. Anyway, this new record sounds like subway trains and breaking glass.
NICHOLAS GAZIN AGAIN
Stagger & Fade
HHBTM It’s ugly and cold right now and I just took out the recycling, but it was 55 degrees and sunny the couple days in January I spent listening to this record for review. I rode my bike to the liquor store, then I called my girl to see what she was up to, and we went down, down, down, down, down to the park, and I told her I’d love her forever and that she’s the only one.
Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Fat Possum I have to start walking when somebody tells me that Pete Kember—who collects rare SS cagoules by the way—was the cool one in Spacemen 3. And they usually think that ’cause they haven’t listened to a Spiritualized record since Pure Phase. Man, those guys.
Break It Yourself
Mom + Pop Oh, you play the drums and the guitar and the harmonica and the trumpet and the violin, you say? And sometimes you play the violin like it’s a little tiny awesome guitar? And you whistle like the patron goddamn saint of whistling (Cecilia)? This is a great album for lying back on a red velvet chaise lounge while a nymph lowers a bunch of Concord grapes into your mouth. STOP DOING ALL THE THINGS. We get it, showoff.
K Emily Beanblossom (formerly of Christmas) has a new thing called Ruby Fray that is softer and weirder and makes me want to wash her “car” with my tongue more than I did before. There’s a duet on here with Calvin Johnson called “Mint Ice Cream” that sounds like a pretty lady singing a song with Frankenstein. The rest of the album sounds like something comforting your mom would sing to you if you were sick or on your period or got fired from a job. There’s a song on here where Emily talks about spreading jam and butter, which is just, well, it’s almost too much to handle.
Douchemaster This guy sure writes some ear-tickling, Joe Jackson-style skinny-tie pop for someone who looks like Ellen DeGeneres impersonating the Screeching Weasel logo.
Hopeless but Otherwise
Self-released Slowness is right. My God, this album is waaaaaaay too droney. Also, I shit you not, one of the songs on this album is called “Slowboat,” and it made me remember when I was on a boat to Catalina Island once and I got seasick so I ate a bag of Lay’s but that only made me want to barf even more and I was like, “CAN THIS BOAT GO ANY SLOWER?!” I usually like droney, shoegazey things, but why listen to Slowness when Slowdive is right above them on your iTunes?
THE WEDDING PRESENT
Scopitones It’s funny how this band’s whole shtick was built around the one guy playing his jangly guitar really fast, ’cause now that his wrists are too old to keep up pace with the drums it’s sort of like, “Well… … … [tongue-smacking sound]...” So I guess not so much “funny” as “a problem.”
Dead Oceans For fans of farming as a hobby, Patagonia products, learning to knit, gender roles, vintage t-shirts, beards, traveling, old cardigans, soft female vocals, livin’ off da grid, talking about social issues out of your asshole, tattoos of naturey things, vegan baked goods, and just letting your pubes go.
Yep Roc Is this what Paul Weller’s been doing for the past 20 years? Marble-mouthed adult-contempo songs over mid-90s session drums? Half these melodies sound like when an ad agency can’t get the rights to “Stuck in the Middle with You” so they ask some hired gun to rewrite it slightly worse. Oops. Didn’t mean to write “half” back there.
Kye Face it, everyone says they love George Harrison’s Wonderwall or Mick Jagger’s ridiculous Moog masturbations all over those Anger films, but who actually listens when pop stars go rogue? What happens when a brilliant rock ’n’ roller becomes a brilliant purveyor of field recordings, hymnic vocals, and gorgeous, soul-expanding piano licks? What happens when you deface a Joe Cocker album and make it your record sleeve? *Insert picture of guy pointing at empty shelves saying, “Look at all the fucks I give!”
SUE XANIBARS AARON FREEMAN
Partisan I want to say first that I LOVE WEEN. Listening to this album is like the creeping disappointment Grandma must feel after several years of sending birthday checks to little Billy, only to find Billy has taken all of her hard-earned money and invested it in a serious top-hat business, when for years, she thought he was way more into awesome novelty hats with large plastic penis tips. Technically the top-hat business is a sound investment because of proms and formals traffic, but it’s just not a penis hat.
Ribbon Music Everything these guys do is good and will be good, forever and ever, amen.
DENIALS LOVE TRIALS
B-Music Ready to crush the fuck out? Suzanne Ciani was a synthesizer player in the late 60s and 70s, back when that still meant knowing how to modulate sine waves and sawtooth functions and so on, which in turn meant being a socially retarded math major with a gross Jim Henson beard. Before going New Age in the 80s, Suzanne used her Buchla (the thinking man’s Moog) to make those gorgeous, synaesthetic outer-space sounds everyone like AT&T and Coke and Atari once used under their corporate logos. This is a little greatest-hits comp of her commercial work as well as a nice reminder that there was actually a time when giant companies cared about shit like that instead of just letting the Black Eyed Peas piss all over their brand identity.
THE MARKETING DEPT.
A Soundtrack to the DSM-IV
Self-released This CD showed up one day with no info included in the envelope, and it seemed like it would be a disturbing thing to listen to, so I took it home. A few tracks in, the sound of crunching noises growing louder and louder caught my attention so I checked out its name on the track list. “Pica.” PICA!!!!!!!!!!!!
Polyvinyl The video for “Hi” from the new album Always finds singer Jamie Stewart sniveling about poking his eyes out, stitching his wrists, and having a hole in his head, then he sets his hand on fire. All I could think about while listening to this was Winona Ryder stabbing herself in the face with a nail file in Black Swan. Stewart also offers up a new jam to blast at your next Planned Parenthood rally with the synthy, pipe-clanging “I Luv Abortion.” I spend way too much time thinking about how Xiu Xiu scares me.
Finders Keepers God, have you seen that fucking Heineken commercial that uses the song from the beginning of Ghost World? “Jaan Pechacky Whatever”? And it’s basically just an uninspired, maskless re-creation of the same dance sequence but with white folks? Just wanted to put a “gross” out there on that. K.S. Chithra is like the living, sober Whitney Houston of Bollywood playback singers (the folks who actually sing the songs the prettier actresses lip-sync to in the movies). So as you can guess, some of this sounds like the most maniacal Carnatic 80s dance pop you’ve ever heard in your life and the rest sounds like the Hungry Hungry Hindu Lunch Buffet at Havali’s.
WILLIS EARL BEAL
XL A lot of people are freaking out about this guy because he is a mystery and doesn’t have a Twitter account or something. I feel like this is the type of thing you’d try to force yourself to be into in order to convince your friends that you’re not racist. It reminds me of those creepy images of rotting fruit and random weird bugs that they show in the intro credits for True Blood and An American Horror Story. I am very, very uncomfortable.