Whosawhatsits: Wild Flag

27 Nov


Finally, watchable proof of what we all knew would be both epic and awesome.  Even more awesome is the news that Wild Flag is currently in the studio recording their first 7″. Color me excited.

Play, Pause, Repeat: Grass Widow

16 Nov

So my head has been all a flutter recently with thoughts about music being made now, its similarities to genre’s of music past, passion in relation to sound especially in reference to political discourse and whether any of that means anything or if it is still possible to make radical music.  It seems like anytime I start thinking about this idea, I hear something new that makes me re-evaluate.  My primary inspiration at the moment is Grass Widow, a band that has been floating around my radar ever since I went to mexico and got all crushy on their music at the house bar we went to.  The one and only Tobi Vail just wrote a really awesome review on her blog Jigsaw of their new full-length Past Time that is dead-on and well worth a read.

It should go without saying that their music, if I’m gushing this much, is also worth a listen. So to prove that point, and to quell your hump-day blues a bit, here’s a rad live action, stop motion video (my very favorite kind) of their song “Fried Egg” directed by the band’s own Hannah Lew. Bon Appetite!

 

Whosawhatsits: Good drummers vs. Bad Drummer

31 Oct

Some random video fun for a halloween sunday.  I was tricked into showing up to work today super early, the kind of early where it was still dark out on my bike ride to the subway.  So tonight, I’m gonna treat myself to copious amounts of halloween candy, and I’m gonna treat you to some awesome videos of people drumming like mad.  And I mean that both figuratively and literally.

First up the good.  Here’s a two part video of a drum battle between Sara Lund (Unwound, Hungry Ghost, The Corin Tucker Band) and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Wild Flag) filmed this august at a drum festival in portland.  It is, in a word – epic.


And, just for fun, the most ridiculous drummer I’ve ever seen in my life.  Keep in mind this is one of those bands that plays outdated songs to the people eating hot dogs at amusement parks.  This dude watched one hair metal video too many. Skip to about 50 seconds in and wait for the magic to happen.

Play. Pause. Repeat. – MEN

27 Oct

New MEN video for the track ‘Off Our Backs’. I admit, I’ve watched it a couple of times already, and I plan on watching it a few more. Nothing like watching a bunch of shirtless bears play tug of war at sunset. Epic in an entirely homo-gay kind of way. Plus, I can’t help but love how Samson continues to blend feminist lyrics and ideas into poppy dance-beats, it’s just plain sweet.  Enjoy.

 

Quiet Vs. Loud

26 Oct

One of my recent musical acquisitions is the self titled compilation from the New Zealand band Shocking Pinks.  After giving them a thorough and enthusiastic listen on the ride to work I was hooked.  The music seemed to hum through my head – playing more with air than with noise.  It was at once wholly unpretentious and totally arrogant at the same time.  The kind of feeling you get when you suspect the music your listening to knows its good.  Sometimes, its a welcome sensation.  I found myself looking forward to giving the album another listen.

On the way home I split headphones with my girlfriend, eager to show her my new musical treat, when I was suddenly aware of how the album worked absolutely not-at-all when listened to in mono.  It was too soft and indistinct and it clearly wasn’t hooking her.  I quickly changed tunes so as to prevent an unfair judgement on the music, then gave it another listen with proper stereo sound the first chance I got to make sure I hadn’t been in some sort of sleep induced trance on that initial listen.  It was just as good if not better.  Because of this incident however, I began to notice a strange phenomenon.  The album was brilliant when loud.  Yet merely intriguing at best when listened to at lower, more conservative volumes.

I remember reading an interview by Eddie Vedder for Magnet Magazine (no.67) with Sleater-Kinney just before the release of The Woods.  In it he asserted his belief that the band should be held responsible for his blown out car speakers, in the same way that cigarette companies could be held responsible for lung cancer in smokers, because their music just demanded to be played louder and louder.

I have experienced versions of this in both directions.  Music that you just cant get enough volume from, where the more you feed into the stereo the better it sounds.  And music that seems to be at its most serene when only audible enough to tease your eardrums.

All of this made me wonder about the connection of volume to music.  Hendrix used to say that the two best ways to listen to music were live and through headphones.  While there are many factors that make his a reasonable argument, volume to the extent that it blocks out all other noise must surely be a significant factor.  Does this idea pertain to all genres?  Or does it stay confined within well defined lines, i.e. punk = loud, folk = quiet.  Do we define music by the volume at which we consume it?  I’d be curious to hear peoples feedback and/or examples of other volume sensitive albums.

In the meantime here is the video that made me want more from the Shocking Pinks.  Crank it if at all possible.

Merch-Isle: Revel and Riot sets up shop

24 Oct

Going down the rabbit hole of the internet sure has its perks.  Lord knows how I stumbled upon this the other day but it sure as hell wasn’t intentional.  Regardless of the route however I am extremely happy that I managed to find the new site of Revel & Riot just days after its launch. Revel & Riot is a design-house type project that strives to “to promote LGBTQ rights, awareness and equality through new media, graphics, writing, and products on the internet.” The result is articulate and well curated blend of art and activism.

I was so impressed with the level of design that I really shouldn’t have been surprised that the project was co-founded by one Emy Storey, the art director for Tegan and Sara who makes me like their t-shirt catalog better than their music catalog, and is easily my favorite designer.  Emy is joined in this venture by her partner Sarah Fobes, who I suspect is largely responsable for the impressive writing, resources and research that pepper the site.  I for one am very excited to see where this venture goes, though you can bet my wallet is a little worried about all the new wearable Emy Storey designs bound to come out of this.  In classic style a portion of the proceeds from all sales on Revel & Riot will go to benefit groups working for LGBT rights and equality.

It really is a stunning example of community activism through a desire for a cultural aesthetic.  I tend to be of the opinion that more artists, though not all, need to advocate for their beliefs through their work, especially those who have the privilege and the means to do so.  So I can’t help but be inspired when I see direct and thoughtful action taken in the name of art.  If you have some time to check out the site and all that it has to offer, I really can’t recommend it enough. And I’m curious to hear what you think when you come back.  In the meantime I’ll be trying to figure out which shirt I’m going to order with the money I already don’t have.

New Crush: Fences

23 Oct

After going on an album buying splurge last month and blowing all my cash, I was reminded of the fact that the list of albums to buy never ends.  Top of the list at the moment is the self-titled debut full length of Chris Mansfield’s project Fences.  So far I have heard all of two tracks, “My Girl the Horse” which has been playing on a near constant loop on my ipod, and “Girls with Accents” from the new video.  There is something about the chemistry of this music, something both tender and worn, inviting and distant.  Having not yet heard the album in it’s entirety I haven’t yet been able to codify my impressions into coherent sentences.  So to put it simply, the music is really really good.  In fact, in the process of writing this post I broke down and finally bought the vinyl online, despite my lack of funds I just couldn’t wait any longer.

I’ll keep this post short as I hope to write a proper review of the album within the next few weeks.  But for now it should be noted that this record also marks the debut* of Sara Quin as a producer in her own right.  Obviously the twins Quin have been co-producing their own records for some time now, but this is one of the first times that we’ve been able to see those talents put to use on another artists work.  It’s pretty stellar stuff, the songs sound rich and dense without ever being heavy-handed.

Chris Mansfield has, from what I can tell, been working toward this record for some time and it shows.  Every note is a stunning achievement.  And now I’m going to go listen to the record I just bought…

*Sara Quin also recently produced the debut album for friend and former Northern State MC, Hesta Prynn, it is unclear which was recorded first.