Archive | September, 2010

New Crush: Janelle Monae

30 Sep

Simply put… Janelle Monae is fucking awesome.  She’s one of those artists whose name I kept hearing about long before I finally gave in and listened.  She is also one of those artists who does not disappoint, and in fact exceeds the expectations set by all that name dropping, and all while tearing it up on the dance floor and wearing some damn fine tux’s!

Her second full length album The Arch Android, widely [and bizarrely] reported as a debut, presents suites 2 and 3 of the on going epic of her Bowie like alter-ego Cindy Mayweather – a love lorn robot in an oppressive sci-fi society.  Monae masterfully uses this story to draw comparisons and allusions to the problems in our own society, following in the footsteps of Vonnegut, Huxley, Le Guinn and Orwell before her.  Yet perhaps the truly astounding proof of her talent is her ability to combine all of these heavy ideas and dense story lines into really fucking good music.  And by good, I mean downright toe tapping, dance with your headphones on amazing.  Truth be told, when you strip away the sci-fi facade what Monae is truly singing about are complex issues of race, representation, oppression and freedom, themes that form the bedrock of all great R&B, Soul, Funk, Punk, Hip Hop and even dance music out there.  In summation, it’s pretty rad to have a pop singer who is able to fluidly synthesize genres and book-smarts into great music.  Also, did I mention she look’s great in a Tux?  It’s a win-win all around I’d say.

For your viewing pleasure here’s what very well might be my favorite song of the year, “Tightrope”.

I also recommend checking out the “Tightrope (Wondamix)” version, featuring Lupe Fiasco and B.o.B. I wasn’t able to embed it here but it’s also damn good, and features a badass rap by Monae at the end.

Janelle Monae’s two albums, Metropolis: The Chase Suite’s vol 1, and The Arch Android: The Chase Suites vol 2 and 3, are widely available and well worth the listen.

New Crush: STLS

27 Sep

I don’t know about anyone else, but I fucking hate it when I find out a band has broken up.  Seriously.  It’s like finding out you’re best friends broke up and they’ve been dating since high school.  I go through a period of mourning and everything.  I have even been known to shed a tear upon discovering the news of an ‘indefinite hiatus’.  Of course, that being said, I have also shed tears while watching trailers, crappy tv or the last five minutes of Homeward Bound when channel surfing (Shadow made it home you guys! broken leg and everything.)

At any rate, there are two things I usually do when I find out about a band splitting up.

1.) Buy anything I can get my hands on that the band released.  This is especially important for small and/or young bands as that shit becomes scarce quick.  T-shirts are also a high priority item.  No tours, no shirts.  So you best get them while they still have your size.

2.) Furiously scour the interwebs to find what the various former bandmates are doing.

The newest edition to the musical graveyard to grab my attention was portland based Explode Into Colors.  The trio had only been around for about 2 years but gathered quite the following due to their distinct sound and great live shows (or so I heard, never got to see them for myself *grumble grumble*).  They were playing shows pretty steadily as recently as this past May, but come June they were no more.  QUELLE HORREUR!!

Happily the weberverse searching yielded happy things and quite quickly too.  Lisa Schonberg, who you may remember from her Favorite Things contribution, not only has a new project underway, but they’ve already released new material.  Even better is that her musical partner in crime is longtime homocore icon STS, who you may remember from such bands as The Lookers (with Sarah Dougher), The Haggard (with Emily Kingan) and Cadallaca (with Sarah Dougher and Corin Tucker).

Together they form STLS, a duo who’s debut 7″ Drumcore is available for purchase or download on Kill Rock Stars Records.  They may be short on melody but damn do they ever have a fuck ton of rhythm.  Oh how I want to see them bang those Tom Tom‘s live.  Who knows, maybe this time I’ll get my chance.  And for those of you in the portland/oly/seattle area – WTF are you waiting for?!  Look how cute and drummy they are!

7″ Heaven: an ode to rare finds

26 Sep

So I was walking around the neighborhood this morning, trying to walk off brunch, when Tory asked if I wanted to go into the local record store.  Despite having been on an online record buying splurge all week I decided this was a very good idea and was positive my wallet would be safe from impulsive purchases.

Boy howdy was I ever wrong.

Let’s ignore the fact that I found, and therefore could not resist, two rare K Rec’s releases (hell YES out-of-print sealed Blow recording, how’re you doing?) and get right to the good stuff.  And by that I mean the holy-shit-super-awesome find that my last minute flipping through the 7″ bin yielded.

“Where R We/ Freaks *** Athletes” by The Butchies.  A 7″ that is so rare I can’t even find mention of it on the internet.  This is partly due to the fact that Mr. Lady records, the label that lead singer Kaia Wilson and her former partner Tammy Rae Carland ran which released nearly all of The Butchies records including this one, has been defunct for over 5 years now.  Combine that with the fact that its always hard to find any queercore/homocore/riot grrl vinyl, since that shit was scarce in the first place, and you have yourself a first class find.

This got me thinking about my record collection in general.

Ignoring the fact that it has stayed pretty small due to a self imposed sanction on new records for most of the last year – I have to say if my 12″ LP’s were to duke it out against my 7″ Singles and EP’s to see which collection kicks more ass… the 7″s would win hands down.

But why is that?  Is it simply easier to make a rad collection due to the fact that they tend to be a format for smaller print runs, thereby making each worthy 7″ find feel more like gold, even if it does only cost 1-5$.  Or is it the low price tag that makes them so hard to resist, like the baseball cards of the music world.  What is it about 7″ scores that makes them so much more satisfying?  Or am I wrong about this whole thing and just punch-drunk with capitalistic glee on my recent purchase.  Are 12″ long players the true victors of record collections everywhere?  Im eager to know?  Is there ever a clear winner?  Or is it simply a matter of which collection yields the better treasures?

And while we’re on the topic, anyone else make some great finds recently?

Heads Up!: Carrie Brownstein announces Wild Flag

23 Sep

So remember how back in april we covered the various rumors surrounding the future plans of the women of Sleater-Kinney.  Well, lets just say good things come to those who wait.  First of all the debut album of The Corin Tucker Band is finally coming out next month and is being followed by a small tour (definitely already have my tickets btw) which is pretty rad all on its own.

Todays discovery, however, may just be even more exciting in my book.

Carrie Brownstein officially announed that for the first time since 2006 she has a new band, Wild Flag.  What’s more is that its not just any old band.  It looks to be a virtual supergroup for anyone familiar with the portland music scene over the past 15 years.  Completing in the roster (if the picture didn’t give it away) is:

They’ve just signed to Merge Records and added that they are preparing to record a debut full length expected to be released next year.  In case that weren’t enough there is a small tour on the west coast planned.

Excited yet?!  Cuz I sure as hell am.  I mean, I may or may not have called my girlfriend on the way to work giggling like a mad woman about a new band that I’m sure made no sense to her in the morning hours.  At any rate, if thats not news to start your day off right the I don’t know what is.  So who’s with me, where does this rate on a ‘meh’ to ‘holy sh*t” scale?

Check out Carrie’s announcement on the All Songs Considered Blog, and a list of their tour dates below.

Wild Flag:

11-10 Olympia, WA – The Northern
11-12 Seattle, WA – High Dive
11-13 Portland, OR – Doug Fir
11-17 Sacramento, CA – The Hub
11-18 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
11-19 Los Angeles, CA – Spaceland
11-20 San Diego, CA – Casbah
11-21 Pomona, CA – Alladin’s