Song of the Day: Night Moves – “Carl Sagan”

Whenever I see an artist from Minneapolis making waves on national music websites, I always feel a little swell of hometown. Even if I’m being a total bandwagoner who just discovered said artist through Pitchfork or Spotify, I’ll make up for it by creating false memories of listening to their music before they got big. I might even convince myself that I’ve got mutual-mutual friends with the bassist, or that I saw them open for Of Montreal back in 2009. Something like that.

 

That said, I can’t exactly remember if Night Moves is a band that I first heard on my local NPR station or if I found them through a more mainstream source. In any case, I’m going to pretend that I’m a #dayone fan of this band because not only is their music a freak-folk dream, but they also grew up in the same metro area as I did.  The newest single from their forthcoming album, “Carl Sagan,” is laden with beachy guitar hooks and falsetto vocals, an ambiguous sound that could easily hail from another decade.  Major music outlets like iTunes and Entertainment Weekly recently brought Night Moves to my attention again after a brief hiatus, which is also why I’m promoting their music to overcompensate for sleeping on these hometown heroes.  If this track strikes your fancy, stay tuned for Pennied Days, which is set for release March 25!

SONG OF THE DAY: GREEN DAY – “2000 LIGHT YEARS AWAY”

Has anyone posted about Green Day lately? I don’t think so, or if they have, it hasn’t been recent enough. If you know me, you know I’m a Green Day fanatic- indeed, every song they’ve ever recorded has found its way into my itunes library, and I’ve heard them all, too (it’s about 14 hours of listening, if you wanted to do it all in one sitting).

“2000 Light Years Away” is the opening track from Green Day’s first album, the oft-forgotten “Kerplunk!” The album was released during a simpler time; nobody was arguing about what was or wasn’t “””pop punk””” and, I’m gonna say it, it always seems to me that kids who wanted to listen to Green Day in 1992 probably had it a lot easier than kids do now. The song is written in a familiar style if one listens to a lot of early Green Day, with Billie Joe sorta whining about loving a girl and being totally hot for her, too. Funnily enough, this song was written about Billie Joe’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, who was a fan he met backstage at a show. You, too, could marry your idol!

Honestly, there isn’t much else to say. If you like Green Day, you’ll like this. If you’re not into it, you’re entitled to your opinion (even though it’s totally wrong).

SONG OF THE DAY: Kush & Corinthians – Kendrick Lamar

After listening to the Life of Pablo for the past week on repeat, it’s a good feeling to return to Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick’s poetic talent is on full display on his 2011 mixtape, section.80. Kush and Corinthians in particular is a great song to climb back into. The clarity with which the Compton native expresses himself on the track stands out in a time when rappers such as Future can mumble over eccentric beats and sell millions of records. It was good to see Kendrick get some recognition at the Grammys for his obvious talent. TPAB certainly took a different direction than section.80, but on Kush and Corinthians there are glimpses of the rapper that he would hatch into three years down the line. enjoy. also, check out episode 1 of the viceland series: Bompton

Summer 2016 Music Festivals

Secret Garden Party Festival in the UK
The summer of sophomore year in high school in England is known as festival season –– girls put on tonnes of make-up and flower headbands, boys buy condoms in futile dreams of losing their virginity to a “festival fling”, twenty-or-so of them get together, buy a bunch of cheap shitty beer (or Strongbow cider, if you’re feeling really classy), and head off for weekends of music, mud and mindlessness.
While most of my memories of those weekends consist of wishing it’d stopped raining for at least one of the four festival days, some of them are bright, beautiful memories of shows –– Phoenix at Reading Festival in 2013, for example.
Most of the festival crowd had gone off to see either Green Day (I’m sorry, Billie Joe Armstrong, but in 2013 you were already much past your prime) or Knife Party, so the Phoenix set brought along only a modest crowd of about 1000 people (Reading’s general festival population is around 300,000). Being 5’, I got passed around from shoulders to shoulders until I got to the front of the crowd, high-fived Thomas Mars and  crowd-surfed my way to the back, where my friends were performing some sort of an interpretive dance routine.
Since then, I’ve gone to a few festivals and had similar, lovely experiences, mostly because I realised that Reading (the British amalgamation of Coachella and Bonnaroo) was not what I was looking for. If anything I’ve described above rings true for you, or if you’re just sick of seeing Native American headdresses on drunk white girls, look no further.
Here are some of this summer’s festivals I’d love to go to:
Levitation Festival
Where: Austin, TX
When: April 29 – May 1
Who’s playing: Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, Animal Collective, Courtney Barnett, Flying Lotus, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Allah-Las, Parquet Courts and a bunch of other cool people
How much: $185 + $86 if you wanna camp on site
Forecastle Festival
Where: Louisville, KY
When: July 15 – 17
Who’s playing: Avett Brothers, Death Cab for Cutie, Alabama Shakes, Glass Animals, Dr. Dog, Shakey Graves, Femi Kuti, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alex G, etc.
How much: $170 (no camping though)
Shaky Knees Festival 
Where: Atlanta, GA
When: May 13 – 15
Who’s playing: Jane’s Addiction, The Kills, Savages, Wolf Alice, Alex G, My Morning Jacket, Shakey Graves, The Head and the Heart, Atlas Genius, Parquet Courts, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, etc.
How much: $215 for 3 days and no camping
Nelsonville Music Festival
Where: Nelsonville, OH
When: June 2 – 5
Who’s playing: Courtney Barnett, Gary Clark Jr, The Tallest Man On Earth, Mac Demarco, Angel Olsen, Badbadnotgood, Twin Peaks
How much: $125 + $30 camping
and an across-the-pond shoutout to a festival with just a fucking fantastic lineup
 
Primavera Sound
Where: Barcelona, Spain
When: June 1 – 5
Who’s playing: Alex G, Animal Collective, Beach House, Beirut, Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, Cass McCombs, Chairlift, Deerhunter, Destroyer, Dinosaur Jr., Freddie Gibbs, Hudson Mohawke, The Last Shadow Puppets, LCD Soundsystem (!), Neon Indian, Parquet Courts, Radiohead (!!!), Sheer Mag, Sigur Ros, Tame Impala, Ty Segall, Vince Staples, Wild Nothing
How much: Weekend tickets are reselling at about $400, plus hostels, plus flights… a girl can dream

SONG OF THE DAY – “IT G MA” – Kieth Ape

 

This South Korean punk trap music has me captivated. Music is changing quick. Kieth Ape demands you forget what you know about music, and just enjoy this energy packed 3 minutes. Vibe to this during your pleasant Wednesday evening.

 

Animal Collective – Painting With Album Review

From their 2000 debut Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished to the release of the seminal Merriweather Post Pavillion and excellent Fall Be Kind EP in 2009, Animal Collective were a force to be reckoned with. The band released one fantastic record after another, each with a unique ever-evolving take on psychedelia. From the freak-folk meanderings of Sung Tongs to the eclectic, glitchy, psych-pop of Strawberry Jam, Animal Collective’s distinctive brand of psychedelia was always on point. That is, until 2012’s polarizing, and, in my opinion, disappointing Centipede Hz. Centipede, more than any other Animal Collective record, had songs that were forgettable. The hooks were duller, the instrumentals muddier, and with the exception of a few stand out tracks, the record was, all in all, forgettable. Centipede Hz was hardly painful to listen to; it was simply a mediocre record. But when a band known for their greatness, innovation, and universal acclaim puts out a record that is met by a lukewarm reception, uncertainty hangs in the air.

Painting With is Animal Collective’s tenth studio record, and the follow up to Centipede Hz. Animal Collective has not been totally silent since 2012, however. Dave Portner, better know as Avey Tare, released his Slasher Flicks project in 2014, and 2015 saw the release of Panda Bear’s fifth studio record, the Sonic Boom produced Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, as well as the Crosswords EP. Given the direction Panda and Avey went with these respective project, the sound of Painting With is not shocking. Painting With is Animal Collective’s most stripped back record in recent memory. There are no droning, ambient, or spacey passages on the record. Rather than their usual brand of drawn out, slow burning, atmospheric jams lathered in layers of effects, the band present twelve short, succinct, synth driven pop songs. As far as I’m aware, this is the first Animal Collective record without a track reaching the five-minute mark. Guitarist and most-of-the-time AC member Deakin is also absent from the record, which like on Merriweather, results in a record sans guitar. As a result, Painting With is Animal Collective’s most by the books pop record to date.

The album kicks off with “FloriDada”, which would not seem out of place as a Strawberry Jam outtake. The bouncing groove to this track, Avey and Panda’s vocal harmonies, and gently swelling synths on this track recall AnCo of old, at least to some degree. The track is infectiously catchy, danceable, and well arranged. The less energetic “Hocus Pocus” follows, and features Panda Bear on vocals. As on PBVSGR, Panda Bear delivers stuttering, hocketed vocals. John Cale is featured on this track as well, providing a viola drone low in the mix on this track. The synth swells and jabs on this track work in unison with Panda’s bouncing vocals. Avey Tare sings in double time on most “The Burglars”, with Panda coming in on the back half of the track to harmonize with Avey, resulting in one of the best vocal performances on the whole record. The short but sweet “Bagels in Kiev” has a brief droning intro, which subsides to reveal shimmering synths and a danceable drumbeat.

The record’s two best tracks are the final two on the record. “Golden Gal” features the distorted synth bass that is ubiquitous on the record, but with the pulsing synth lead, the galloping percussion and the Avey Tare’s excellent vocal performance carry the track. By far, “Golden Gal” has the best vocal melody of any track on the record. The track has brief stop time in the middle, and features some of the lushest and strangest instrumentation on the record. The lysergic closer, “Recycling”, features Panda Bear’s bouncing vocal delivery, and is instrumentally the most dissonant song on the record, which is not saying much.  This is not the In addition to gently modulating chord progression, some high frequency synth jabs and swells, and wonky, modulated notes over a punctual xylophone melody are among the most lavish and strange effects on the record.

Still, the record’s shortcomings are hard to ignore. First of all, Panda Bear’s hocketed vocals, which work well on tracks like “Hocus Pocus” and “Recycling”, on tracks like “Summing the Wretch”, “Lying in the Grass” and “Natural Selection” become redundant and, for lack of a better word, boring. “Natural Selection” especially indulges in this vocal style, to the tracks detriment. This vocal technique was extensively used by Panda Bear on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, rendering many of these tracks annoyingly similar to the more forgettable tracks on that record.   The instrumentals on these tracks do not stand out among the other songs on the record, and with out any hooks or infectiously catchy melodies, these tracks are almost instantly forgettable. So many tracks on the record have the same squelchy distorted synth bass, and on songs like “On Delay”, “Lying in the Grass” and “Natural Selection” this synth base is overpowering, and the bass melodies are homogenous from track to track. For trying to make a more simplistic pop record, Animal Collective’s hooks are underdeveloped or all together lacking on too many tracks. So many tracks, especially in the middle of the record, fail to stand out. Not that these tracks are terrible; they simply feel underdeveloped, rushed, or otherwise uninspired. On prior records, Animal Collective has always had the ability to write songs that are infectiously catchy while maintaining an experimental nature. On this record, Animal Collective has massively toned down their usual experimental tendencies, resulting in several tracks that, at the end of the day, are lackluster and highly forgettable.

When a band that’s been around for as long as Animal Collective puts out a record or two that don’t meet their usual standard of excellence, it is easy to write them off as past their prime, as some have already done. However, I think there are enough excellent moments on Painting With to make the possibility of another excellent Animal Collective record seem plausible at least. More so than Centipede Hz, the stand out tracks on Painting With are enough to convince me that Animal Collective is far from done. Animal Collective has never been a band to linger on one sound for long, so it is nearly impossible to speculate where they’ll go next. But Painting With presents just enough excellence to keep me optimistic.

Song of the Day: The Clean – Point That Thing Somewhere Else

In 1981, Roger Shepard started Flying Nun Records in Christchurch, New Zealand. He initially wanted to release music by local Christchurch bands, but Shepard’s great success was releasing the music of Dunedin bands, like The Clean. The Clean were without a doubt the most influential band Flying Nun signed. Steven Malkmus of Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and Jay Reatard all site The Clean as a major influence. Their first single “Tally Ho!” and following EP “Boodle Boodle Boodle” set the template for the Dunedin Sound, which would become the dominant style of Kiwi Rock for the next decade.

This track, “Point That Thing Somewhere Else” is the 5th and final track off of The Clean’s 1982 EP Boodle Boodle Boodle.  The EP was recorded in a bedroom on a 4-track recorder, and like all on the EP this track has a distinct lo-fi sound. The driving, scuzzy guitars and simple drum beat propel the track forward into a five plus minute long hypnotic jam. Drummer/vocalist Hamish Kilgour’s quiet vocals float above the guitars and drums for the first half of the track, which gives way to the fuzzy, tight, and atmospheric riffs David Kilgour wails on. This track is a beast, balancing gracefully on the edge of total guitar freakout and amphetamine-fueled jangle pop a la The Feelies. So give it a list and take in some southern hemisphere sounds.

SONG OF THE DAY: Van Morrison –– “Moondance – Take 22”

 

I was driving today, looking at the fog blanket on the mountains. It started snowing, and this song came on. My whole drive home suddenly took on a really lovely quality –– honestly, play this song on your walk/cycle/drive home and the next five or so minutes will become a tiny bit more wonderful.

This is an extended version of the original song, and has a much longer beautiful instrumental part with a lot of brass, which is dope –– brass is always pretty great. Personally, I associate Van a bit more with the summer, but this version of ‘Moondance’ is perfect for this meteorogically–bipolar beginning of the week.

SONG OF THE DAY: WILLIAM ONYEABOR – “Fantastic Man”

WILLIAM ONYEABOR is hopefully but not likely a name you have heard before. The music of the mysterious man, released in the late 1970s and early 80s, characterizes a unique form of African electronic funk. After self-releasing eight albums during this time, he became a born-again Christian and essentially denounced his whole music career. To add another level of intrigue, there are rumors of his having went to Russia to study filmmaking.

After recently being “discovered” by Damon Albarn, David Byrne and other powerful male white British musicians, his music has gotten a little more exposure.  There is apparently a short documentary released by Noisey (affiliated with Vice) on Onyeabor and — someone — has been trying to write a biography on him for a year and a half – but no luck there.

David Byrne’s world-music focused record label Luaka Bop recently re-released a lot of Onyeabor’s music with his approval and enthusiasm, but was unable to secure event a statement from him much less a live performance. He did, however, make an audio appearance on the radio program BBC 6 Music in 2014, where he stated that he “only create[s] music that will help the world,” and sort of announced to his fans that more music is to come… We can only hope.

I was first introduced to Onyeabor through a friend who has a habit of finding precious things in small crannies in the music world; I initially had absolutely no idea if this music came from one of this friend’s obscure, hyper-modern Soundcloud-only DJs from this decade or if it was from the middle of last century. If I ever find myself in Enugu in Eastern Nigeria, I will be looking to make contact with the High Chief William Onyeabor, operator of a flour mill and proponent of the local Christian music scene.

see another track: “Good Name”

SONG OF THE DAY: CAETANO VELOSO – “Cucurrucucu Paloma”

This song popped up on my discovery weekly (as does most of the music I listen to atm). I’m a big Bossa Nova fan, so I’d heard of Caetano Veloso before. I listened to the song, and I loved it…           Big whoop!

But here’s where things get interesting…

The day after I heard the song I decided to check out a Pedro Almodóvar film called Talk to Me (Habla Con Ella). About 1/3rd of the way through the movie, Caetano Veloso APPEARS AND PLAYS THE SONG!

spooky

Anyways… the song is great. The movie is great. I am great.

Cucurrucucú, Paloma, don’t cry anymore…

THE SOUNDS OF COLORADO COLLEGE