1. Bugz In The Attic - Don't Stop The Music 2. Tiga - (Far From) Home 3. Slope - Want'Choo Longa feat. Ovasoul 7 (12" edit) 4. Eddie Kendricks - Date With The Rain 5. Ennio Morricone - L'Estasi Dell Oro (Bandini Remix) 6. Radio Citizen - Everything (feat. Bajka) 7. Alice Smith - Love Endeavour (Freeform Five's Freeform Reform) 8. Hot Chip - Over And Over 9. Gorillaz - Dare (Soulwax Remix) 10. Under the Influence of Giants - Mama's Room (Weird Science mix) 11. Spektrum - May Day (DJ T. remix) 12. Spank Rock - Backyard Betty 13. Busdriver - Kill Your Employer (Recreational Paranoia Is The Sport Of Now) 14. Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing (Linus Loves Vocal Mix) 15. Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow (Van She Remix) 16. In Flagranti - Reputation Or Notoriety 17. DJ Hell - Let No Man (Busy P Stotter Mix) 18. The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control (Soulwax Nite Version)
This was my second time seeing John Darnielle and Peter Hughes rip it up live, and between being the Best Man at a wedding this weekend and sundry other things, I am woefully late in writing about it. So late, in fact, that Carl Wilson has already done a masterful job of discussing the concert, here, in a fantastic post that covers pretty much everything that I was thinking of talking about (although my set list is more complete than his - I was front row centre, scribbling down each song as it came on, and only the opening ditty I still can't track down (possibly a new one?), although Darnielle graciously gave us the title). I incredibly glad to run into Wilson's post while trying to track down the actual title of the Franklin Bruno song that the Goats covered fantastically during the encore because he bothered to remember the between song banter more than I had, and John Darnielle's stage presence is worth paying $15 for all by itself. The songs were amazing, and astoundingly done - I'd seen him do "Lion's Teeth" where the chorus just drops into nothing before, but seeing him work similar magic with the more simpatico moments on Get Lonely took my breath away.
Yes, like the guy shouting for old songs I could have done with some more history (I would kill to hear "The Young Thousands" live), but the Mountain Goats last two records are arguably highlights of Darnielle's whole career, so I don't begrudge his focus on them at all. And of course, songs I thought were merely good on record, like "Wild Sage" and "In The Hidden Places" were revealed as absolute highlights, one of the funnest parts of seeing these guys live.
Unlike Wilson, however, I have a little more space, and I'd like to mention Christine Fellows. Playing keyboards and with a band composed of a drummer, a cellist/zylophonist and a full-time percussionist who was actually valuable, she put on a fantastic show; I'd never heard her before, although I think she's played Guelph quite a bit, and I bought her latest album Paper Anniversary as soon as the show ended. Darnielle dedicated "Get Lonely" to her as a sign of the high esteem he holds her in (as Wilson notes, he mentioned her as one "whose boots I don't consider myself worthy to polish"), and although I'm familiar enough with the songs to speak convincingly or even coherently about them, after her set I can see where he's coming from. As the unconventional band setup indicates, she wasn't exactly rocking out, but her songs managed to marry a level of sonic detail you don't often get with live music with the kind of energy you can only really find there. The only thing disappointing about her performance was that her cellist didn't re-emerge when the Mountain Goats played "Dilaudid" (and even then their acoustic-and-bass rendition was a lot of fun).
Set list: "Design Your Own Container Garden" New Monster Avenue Moon Over Goldsboro You Or Your Memory Dance Music Dilaudid Get Lonely Wild Sage Going To Cleveland In The Hidden Places Game Shows Touch Our Lives Cobra Tattoo Lion's Teeth This Year
Encore: No Children Houseguest (Nothing Painted Blue cover)
Second Encore: The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton
As Mallory knows, I'm fond of Sting's The Soul Cages, the only solo album on which his poetic pretensions find appropriate, pretty settings. Since this is Sting he's incapable of considering that ponderous subjects may be more interesting if treated with levity. The endless closer "When The Angels Fall' falls and falls, searching for a melody, anything to justify itself and its employment of worn tropes (and yet a feisty deejay played this at my junior prom, to my delight if not my date's). Elsewhere his crack band injects a tricky time signature on "Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)" as predictable as their paymaster's wit and even stoops to power chords on the epic (there's three songs which qualify as such; remember this is Sting), broken-kneed shuffle of the title track.
Yet there's a sense in which Sting's commitment to the myth of his upbringing (destitute Newcastle shipbuilder dies to give birth to the once and future King of Pain) frees him from sullying his genius on the creation of hits and such. At least half of TSC's tracks allude to his childhood, and each improves on its predecessor, as if he was a writer discarding incomplete drafts. He works damn hard here, and while the strain shows the results are often impressive. The album's lone hit, "All This Time" is one of the oddest Top Fivers ever: a striking mandolin hook ("Losing My Religion," the year's other mandolin hit, was three months away) and Sting's mastery of conversational cadences; he unfurls those polysyllabic sentences ("Fussin' and flappin' in priestly black like a murder of crows") as if Paul Simon had never existed. "Why Should I Cry For You?" should get more publicity as his most ambiguous ballad since "Every Breath You Take." Sounding a little like Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" and studded with unexpected filigrees, it shows a rueful, gentler Sting, whose dusky croon weighs each word like he can't understand why he should feel conflicted. The sailor-far-from-home metaphor mitigates the assholism he's surprisingly eager to accept (""I loved you in my fashion"). It's a touching performance, justifying the song's inclusion in a couple of C-90's I've compiled over the years.
From its doctor's-office cover art to Ottmar Liebert homage/pastiche, The Soul Cages is estimable middlebrow art. It's the sort of album your cousin Ralph will zealously defend at a Christmas party, provoking from you a condescending smirk but no rebuttal.
We've got Taylor Swift's song up in the Jukebox tomorrow night (check Tuesday's Stylus), and this is a rare instance where the Jukebox introduces me to a track I really quite like. Usually the tracks I give high scores to are ones I am already familiar with; since we work on actual release and charting dates rather than Internet leaks, I'm usually already familiar with the song if it's the sort of thing I'm likely to like. Of course, country is my blindspot, the one area of popular music that I'm always behind the times on, so it shouldn't be surprising that if the Jukebox is going to be giving me something new to listen to, it's going to be a country track.
This track is called "Tim McGraw," but I don't think he's that vital lyrically to the song. The idea is that Swift's favorite singer is Tim McGraw, so when the boy she's had a fling with and moved on from hears a McGraw track, Swift hopes he thinks of her. Really, she could have substituted any artist with a three syllable name - "When you think Eminem"; "When you think Fall Out Boy"; "When you think John Coltrane" - etc.
However, she did choose Tim McGraw, which is something I kind of like. See, Swift is 16 years old (for lazy writers, Wikipedia counts as fact checking), so it makes a neat kind of sense that if she's going to namedrop an artist she likes, it'll be someone recent like Tim McGraw. Namedropping artists is a fairly common theme in pop music since pretty much forever, and if we're not talking about dis tracks or humorous pop cultural references (Eminem, Adam Green, etc.), artists usually like to sing about artists who have meant a lot to them. And because an artist who you've spent much of your life listening to is the type to stick around in your mind for a long time, the artists who get namedropped tend to be a fair bit older than the artist doing the namedropping. Don McLean sung about Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper; Biggie rapped about Salt 'n' Pepa and Heavy D; The Replacements shouted out Alex Chilton. It's the same reason artists cover older songs more often than newer songs.
But when you're only 16 years old, a current artist like Tim McGraw can have been part of your life long enough that it makes sense to sing about him in a song. It would make no sense for Swift to be singing about Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash, or hell, even Garth Brooks. She would have been about two years old when Garth Brooks was at his biggest. So when McGraw is looking for a musical touchstone to color the experience of her summer night with a guy in a broke-down Chevy, she sings what she knows. She sings what was probably on the radio at the time.
The worst thing rock music ever got itself involved in was creating history and heroes to be reverent about. In today's rock environment, you're not allowed to contemplate the idea that you could be better than Bob Dylan, or the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or the Beach Boys, or even Nirvana. Evan McGarvey said something similar about New York hip hop in his Stylus review of T.I.'s King, and suggested that the fertile creativity of the South is somewhat due to that region's music community being not"as fascinated with the dead artists of yore." (He's right - why do you think the most interesting acts in New York are the man who said "if I'm not better than B.I.G., I'm the closest one," and Dipset, who act like people who are better than them don't exist?)
Rock acts are cripplingly fascinated with the dead artists of yore. And when the entire rock culture is built on this idea that there are a certain number of heroes (and there always are, no matter what type of rock you play - indie kids are not alllowed to think they could best the Pixies or Sonic Youth for instance), it's going to shut down an artist's ambition and creativity. That's why I like hearing an artist like Swift, who operates in such a contemporary environment, that her number one historical reference is a guy on the radio right now. With no history to revere, she can do whatever she wants.
Something Corporate isn't quite so young as Taylor Swift, but they're close. In fact, frontman Andrew McMahon is 11 months older than I am (which makes him 24), but still - that ain't old. And this song, "Konstantine," comes from a 2003 Japanese-only release called Songs For Silent Movies (Something Corporate, as a vaguely emo band, are contractually obliged to make their best tracks only available on obscure EPs.) So he was 20 when this track was recorded, and younger than that when he wrote it, and goddamn, you can tell. Something Corporate are juvenile, and I'm not talking juvenile like Blink-182, I'm saying they have an immature outlook on life. The way they talk about things is quite clearly not anything close to adult.
That works out wonderfully and disastrously for them in about a 50/50 ratio. Seriously, I like some Something Corporate tracks, but they have recorded some terrible, terrible shit. On their first record they have a track called "If U C Jordan," which is not only a nauseatingly horrible exuberant take on midtempo pop, it has quite possibly the dumbest lyrics ever commited to tape. The sort of thing where you can't wait for the singer to get the shit smacked out of him, as he almost undoubtedly will. McMahon tells us that "Jordan" is about "this kid who just don't like [him]/And that's a solid fact." Check this verse and ask yourself how a human being who's been on this earth for two decades could write something like it:
You tried to fight me down at Tyler's beach/And man I think that's great/You nearly cried and said/to yell at you like I did at all the girls/You drove home real quick, did you make it in time to masturbate?/There's one too many of you in this world
Damn, a guy who's been on this earth one decade shouldn't be writing that shit.
But the flipside is, McMahon has a knack of pulling some brilliant stuff out at times, to the extent that you wonder how this could be the same guy who penned a track called "If I Was A Terrorist (I'd Bomb Your Graduation)." "Konstantine" is a perfect example of the talent he apparently has hiding somewhere. It's just as immature, but in that great irrational, impassioned, limitless opportunity type way. "Konstantine" is about... shit, everything. It's about McMahon, and his girl Konstantine ("why I can spell confusion with a "K" and I can like it") and him disappointing Konstantine, and the two of them talking about the future, and McMahon's dreams of becoming a rock star, and drinking and nudity. And McMahon is so struck by the importance of all this stuff that he makes "Konstantine" nine minutes long! And we're not talking about big proggy instrumental interludes; the whole thing is McMahon singing, at first solo with a piano, then over a gorgeous throbbing bass and then the whole band comes in, but they stay somewhat restrained. Only McMahon's vocal goes over the top. It's a stupid idea, terribly audacious, but it works, simply because McMahon believes that this track is his masterpiece, and he delivers it as if it is the greatest and most meaningful song ever released. Maybe it's not, that but it's still pretty fantastic.
And somewhere in the middle of the thing, he sings "it's to Jimmy Eat World and those nights in my car/When the first star you see may not be a star," a reference to Jimmy Eat World's track "For Me This Is Heaven," from the 1999 album Clarity. Like Taylor Swift, Andrew McMahon is so young that his musical reference points don't extend back much beyond who he's listening to right now. In this case, Jimmy Eat World. He has heard older music of course - the band does a truly horrible cover of Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman," - but the fact remains, when the emotional big guns had to come out, McMahon drew on Jim Adkins, not Robert Zimmerman.
When other artists have a similar lack or reverence for people like Dylan, maybe we'll start getting somewhere.
(Jesus, people - I'm starting grad school, there is no way I have enough free time to be the one updating the FF7. Step up!)
So, with Scala & Kolacny Brothers' absolutely gorgeous choral version of Heartbeats (the original of which is presented above, for your viewing/hearing pleasure) I have no heard five versions of what I continue to insist should be the first standard of the 21st Century. Every version, whether it's a reworking by the Dreijers themselves or a cover, has been amazing. The lyrics always stay the same (and always remain fairly cryptic), but the range of emotional tone between the differing versions is a wonder and a joy. And yes, it's a favourite of mine, but there are plenty of favourites of mine I don't think of this way (and this isn't even my favourite Knife track, that'd be something off of Silent Shout, today probably "Marble House," which also has a much better video); there's something about the durability of "Heartbeats," it's ability to stand reworking, that makes it even better.
And of course, if you know of any versions other than the original, the Knife' live reworking, the Rex the Dog remix, the Jose Gonzales cover, or Scala's version... please, please tell me.
The mix itself is pretty typical for a Lady K! mixtape. It's mainly comprised of funk and hip hop (surprise surprise!), with a few big hits, a few tracks you've never heard, a few old favorites of mine, a few songs that you people will think are boring, and a few WTFAREYOUSMOKINGCRACK?!?!s. The idea for this particular theme struck me one day while blaring the Ice-T track and wondering what my coworkers would look like getting down to it-- and well... that's a pretty hilarious thought when your brain is being wrung out at the office. So I ran with it.
And thus-- White-Collar Booty-Grooves exists! enjoy!
1. Paris Combo - Fibre De Verre 2. The Five Corners Quintet - Case Study 3. Marlena Shaw - California Soul 4. Kashmere Stage Band - Ain't No Sunshine (Live) 5. Soil & Pimp Sessions - Waltz For Goddess 6. Stark Reality - Dreams/Comrades 7. Jaylib - Champion Sound 8. Ice-T - Girls LGBNAF 9. Jibbs - Chain Hang Low 10. DJ BC - When The Meth Comes Marching In 11. Soul Excitement - Stay Together 12. Deaf In The Family - Mr. Blue Sky feat. Scavone 13. Wilson Simonal - I'll Never Fall In Love Again 14. Treva Whateva - Singalong 15. Funkmaster Flex - Here We Go (Run DMC) 16. Pitbull, Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon - Bojangles (DJ Benzi Remix) 17. Mac Mall - Go Dumb 18. Beyoncé - Get Me Bodied 19. Phil Flowers - I've Got to Move 20. Justin Timberlake - Damn Girl (feat. Will.I.Am) 21. Tami Lynn - Mojo Hanna 22. Broad Street Gang - 12th Street Man 23. Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Your Love (means everything to me) 24. Focus 3 - 10,000 Years Behind My Mind
OK, I like the Beastie Boys, they were my first favourite rap act, but To The 5 Boroughs had them sounding old and tired and utterly disconnected from contemporary hip hop. And that can’t be excused with tired old “Beasties are real while all the pop-rappers are fake!” arguments – the Beastie Boys just sounded like they had no business rapping at that point in time.
But when I came back to the album a year or so later (OK, the mp3s I had on my computer from the album), I noticed how incredible the beat for “An Open Letter To NYC” is. A few scratched samples give way to a loop from the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer," and the track takes on this nervy, claustrophobic air that has nothing to do with the lyrics the Beasties lay over it. But the thing is, it so easily could have - the whole thing is about post 9/11 New York, and while they may not want to create a response to the attacks that sounds terrified, the tense electronics and paranoid punk is certainly appropriate for 21st Century America.
But instead of reflecting this, the Beasties spout corny hippy couplets about how damn great it is that everyone in New York gets along, even though they're from all over the world. Which is naive and unrealistic as hell as well as gratingly upbeat; they don't need to turn their city into a liberal Eden to pay homage to it, but that's what they attempt to do. It makes something like Arrested Development (the group, not the show) look bleakly nihilistic. And the result is the "love letter" to their city sounds insincere, a collection of well-intentioned bumper sticker slogans that probably should have "The More You Know!" appended to the end of each one.
It doesn't help, either, that the Beasties haven't switched up their vocal style since Licenced To Ill, but instead have let it degenerate. The one time they do break out of that chant-a-line-and-then-on-the-last-word-SHOUT style that makes each song sound like a museum piece is the staggered delivery on the line "We're doing fine on the 1 and 9 line," and it shows what the song could have been, but it's only a glimpse. Juelz Santana is only on the hook of Cam'ron and Jay-Z's "Welcome To New York City," a far superior post-9/11 anthem, but his contribution alone is superior to this song.
Who would sound better on this? If we stick with the New York theme, Nas or Mobb Deep would have killed this, delivering a performance cagey enough to go with the beat. Then again, Young Jeezy never fails to deliver on the steely, claustrophobic front, so I wouldn't mind hearing this rebranded as "An Open Letter to ATL," or something.
It should be pretty obvious that Jurassic 5 working with Nas-and-others producer Salaam Remi would be a bad idea, but I kind of thought it could have worked, if only because Jurassic 5's turn as rap's Dave Matthews Band was becoming increasingly boring (full disclosure: I used to like these guys, and still don't mind them at times. Despite the dumb chorus, "What's Golden" was a pretty neat single, and "Thin Line" would have predicted the current Nelly Furtado singles run if the "Get Ur Freak On" and "Turn Off The Lights" remixes hadn't done it already). The way I figured it, the injection of a bit of hard-ass testosterone into their college-kid jams could only do good.
Well, I was sort of right. Salaam Remi really brings it, turning out the sort of cold, sparse banger that better rappers process into hot shit. It kind of nods to that whole "back in the day"-fetishism that Jurassic 5 built their career on in that the bells are vaguely reminiscent of that "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" sample that got such play in the '80s on things like LL's "Rock The Bells," and Run-DMC's "Peter Piper," but even so, the production aesthetic is one more modern than Jurassic 5 have ever been involved with. Abandoning stubborn regressivism is a positive move as far as I'm concerned, and I hoped something good would come of it, even though it'd be too much to expect Jurassic 5 to listen to some rap since 1989 and work on updating their anachronistic flow - honestly, kids, cut out that '80s revival flow. Y'all are acting like the rap version of Rennaisance Fair geeks, and damn near just as irritating. You can be into medieval history without running round in costume and you can be into early rappers without trying to be one.
So, strike one - J5 are still acting like they haven't heard a new rapper in the past 20 years. But even worse than the way they're saying it is what they're saying. Now, right now you may be thinking, "Hold up, Jonathan, you listen to coke-rap all the time and you're down with that. And you want to front on Jurassic 5 for criticizing Clear Channel?" And to that I say, why the fuck are you paying that much attention to what I say? but more pertinently: I only care about what Jurassic 5 is rapping about because they're making it an issue. From the opening declaration that they're putting "real hip hop on the radio," J5's subject matter is an issue; by announcing their self-congratulatory piety to the world, they are required to back it up. And good lord do they fail dismally. It's like a tightrope walk the way they stay so carefully on the talking points - their '80s fashion, their '80s idols, their good behaviour. (Possibly the most offensive part is that they say they never "indulged" in the street life, as if every ghetto in America is filled with people who'd be living nice in the suburbs right now if they only had a bit more self control.)
Look, I don't care what you say in your songs. Rap about murder, drugs, whatever. But if you're telling me that your songs are "real hip hop" and then you serve up this weak-ass shit, then, yeah, I'm going to say your subject matter needs some tweaking. And the thing is, other rappers have made music worth listening to on exactly the same tip J5 are on. Dead Prez's "Hip Hop" has the same righteous attitude toward radio rap that Jurassic does, but Dead Prez at least have some fire in their voices when they call these rappers out. And on the '80s rap nostalgia, Biggie's "Juicy" bests every Jurassic 5 track ever made, mostly because Biggie makes his nostalgia relevant by connecting it to the present. Jurassic 5 tries to do this, but it's a weak effort - ending each verse with "now my song's rockin on the radio" is entirely unconvincing, both because it sounds tagged on and because no self-respecing radio station would be playing this.
Who would sound better on this?
Remi usually produces New York rappers, but I want to hear some Southerners on this; the Dirty has a track record of laying hypnotic flow over this sort of stripped-back banger with excellent results. So, my wishlist for the next Southern Smoke is for UGK on this beat, maybe Field Mob, Chamillionaire, T.I. - anyone who can just lay something tight down over those bells. Maybe make it about dealing.
This guy over here on our left is Rick Ross. Rick Ross is the founder and Executive Director of the Rick A. Ross Institute. He is an internationally known expert regarding destructive cults, controversial groups and movements. Since 1982 he has been studying, researching and responding to the problems often posed by such groups or movements. Dude could probably make a better song out of "Push It" than the guy from Miami with the Bin Laden beard. I daresay rap about destructive cults would be pretty great, too.
"Push It," by Rick Ross (the Miami guy, not our expert friend here) is a dismal waste of a good beat. If you read Stylus, you might notice that I gave it an  in this week's Singles Jukebox, which is testament only to how much I love the beat. Every time I hear this track, which is a hell of a lot, I can only think "Fuck Rick Ross. Fuck that fucking fat sack of shit hard with that white on white ride he can't shut up about."
Here are threedifferenttakes on Ross' Port Of Miami, and while they are all wildly divergent in their opinions, I agree with each of them. I speculated before it came out that in spite of his lack of talent, Ross could make an enjoyable record, but I can't really say he lived up to my hopes for him. In the Stylus review, Evan McGarvey described the albums thrust as "the city of Miami as gluttonous, deadly, sun-drenched metropolis," which would had have made for a pretty compelling slice of schlock if Ross wasn't so incompetent, and the best songs on the record do capture that Miami (though since I've never been there I can't speak for its accuracy). With the amount of money poured into the album, all Ross had to was get out of the way, let his big booming voice do the work, say something dumb every now and then and not fuck it up. He only manages to do that half the time.
Still, at the end of the year "Hustlin'" is going to be rubbing shoulder with "When You Were Young," "Wolf Like Me" and "What You Know" (good year for songs starting with W) at the top of my singles list. "Push It," though, won't, because Ross doesn't deliver. There aren't as many stupid quotations - "I'm building the dream with elevators in it" and "that fat girl would grow into Oprah" are about as good as it gets, and after the weak opening line, Ross sounds like he's constantly struggling to stay afloat. It's even worse in the context of the album, because it's the opening track, and it should be a stomping, glossy monster with a delivery triumphant enough to match, the sort of thing to get us primed for Rick Rawssss the bawssss. But instead the beat shoves Ross into the spotlight and he shits himself. Not to mention that it comes after a skit featuring a bizzarro news report from WCCC, whose reporters mispronounce "confiscated" and think the thrust of a drug-seizure story is how "the cocaine would have made drug dealers millions of dollars."
Who would sound better on this?
Do you have to ask? Killa Cam was made for production like this - ridiculous, over-the-top samples, tinkling keys, soaring vocals, blatant dealing references. Let's just hope "Push It" becomes a hit, so the next Dipset mixtape will feature Jim Jones, Freeky Zeeky, Juelz Santana and Cam'ron Giles doing what they do best over the type of beat they were born to do it over.
"There's something about the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps it's being overshadowed by towering evergreens that instills a modest reverence for beauty. Perhaps it's the evergreens remaining ever green under the gusts of snow which keeps hope alive. Perhaps it's the cradling of cold coast and the Rocky wall. Whatever the causes, the Pacific Northwest has played womb to some of the most skyward, heart-wrenching, and gentle pop music of recent history."
So said Brent Dicrescenzo back in 2000 in his review of Death Cab For Cutie's We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes, which is probably my favorite record by my favorite band in the world. I think there are a lot of people who don't like Brent Dicrescenzo as a writer; his high-concept creative writing reviews were the sort of thing that made a lot of people despise Pitchfork, but the paragraph I've quoted above demonstrates the talent he has. No fancy gimmicks, no time-travelling George-Washington-listens-to-Supergrass cuteness, just a simple description of my favorite place in the world. What he says is not only an accurate portrayal of that part of the world, but his musical analysis is right on, too. I first read that review about 5 years ago, and when I went to Western Washington University in 2004, I realized how accurate DiCrescenzo was. That insight is the reason why I've still got his last ever 'Fork review saved on my computer, an ill-advised but brilliant Gonzo take on the Beastie Boys To The 5 Boroughs that no longer exists in original form on the Pitchfork archives due to the numerous entirely fictional claims it makes on interactions he had with various people associated with the Beastie Boys. Journalistically stupid, of course, but great reading.
Anyway, this post is about Washington State and Some By Sea, not my liking of Mr. DiCrescenzo's writing. In his review, an odd time capsule from a period when Death Cab were another really good indie act rather than Seth Cohen's Favorite Band and The Guys That Are At The Vanguard Of A New Indie Niche Market, DiCrescenzo pretty much nails not only DCFC, but the musical direction of a good chunk of bands from that region.
The trademarks of the Northwest sound continue to be cherubic eunuchs on vocals, crisp production, slow rollercoaster melodies, and tales of crushes and the crushed. Built to Spill, Elliott Smith, Quasi, Sunny Day Real Estate, and even Modest Mouse and Caustic Resin, to some extent, all revolve around this central axis of Northwestern pop. In two short albums, Death Cab for Cutie have firmly established a stylistic nexus from which all of these bands spoke. Like history in reverse, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes documents the proto-Northwest sound as a footnote to a decade of tranquilizing rock.
I love that sound, which is lucky, because like the guys says, the Pacific Northwest is loaded with acts like that. Perhaps it could be argued that Seattle is the reason we have the New Indie Niche Market, except I'd need to think that through a bit more extensively before I commit to it as a theory. Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Some By Sea is a band who, it turns out, broke up a few months ago, a fact I only found out tonight while I was looking up some links in preparation for this post. It's a real shame, because I really liked these guys. They're one more out of hundreds or thousands of groups in the Seattle area who all make this kind of indie pop that sounds almost exactly like the photograph illustrating this post, but luckily, Some By Sea did it really well. Gorgeous melodies, crisp production, great lyrics that chronicle the lives of 20-something college kids as effectively as all those UK voice-of-the-yoof acts cover Chav culture (or whatever) or your favorite rapper describes the hood, except the indie acts do it such an unassuming manner that no-one notices.
I discovered Some By Sea through the brother of a very good friend back in WA - he (the brother, whose name is Tomo) was in another great, now-defunct Seattle indie band, and I guess his band was friends with Some By Sea (they get a shout out in the liner notes, anyways). On my second last day in America, I told Tomo that I wanted to buy his band's record, because I love what they did, and he not only refused to let me pay for it, but gave me Some By Sea's album, too. I guess he figured I'd like it, which was an accurate surmisal. Thanks, Tomo!
That album, which these tracks come from, is called Get Off The Ground If You're Scared, and I strongly recommend it. You can buy it here, if you like. I'm not sure how much money they'd be making on it, because the liner notes look hand made, and are absolutely gorgeous as a result; thick card with cut out windows and little sketches accompanying the lyrics all on expensive-feeling paper. Any profit margin is probably absorbed by packaging costs.
Some By Sea also have a second album, called On Fire! (Igloo), which you can get here, and although I haven't heard it yet, I'm going to order it, so if it's good, maybe I'll put some more stuff up. It's a real shame actually - this one came out on Sidecho records, and though I've never heard of them, it seemed to be a step up for the band, one which they unfortunately not do get to capitalize on. Anyways, check out the track, check out Some By Sea's MySpace, and enjoy your musical excursion to the Pacific Northwest, wherever you are.
P.S. The title is a complete non-sequitur. This sounds nothing like Adam and/or the Ants
Further proof that Beyonce is probably the greatest performer out there at the moment:
And our boy JT, following in at a close second, given a slightly sharp start on what's got to be one of the hardest songs to find your pitch on at the beginning EVER... I think he more than makes up for the pitch problem with the wonderfully godawful pseudo-attempt at beat boxing he does at the end though. Yes, definitely.