Last year our melodic mates at Insound commissioned gifted designer Jason Munn to create the limited edition Insound20 line of posters, hoodies, and tees in tribute to 20 contemporary indie rock stalwarts including the likes of The National, Beirut, and The Decemberists. If last year’s collaboration didn’t do a good enough job convincing us of their good taste in both graphic design and musical arenas, this year’s sequel finished the job and damn near knocked our socks off in the process. Insound has turned to one of our favorite artists, Mike Perry, to create the “Insound 10 Classic” collection. This time the focus has been turned away from the contemporary and towards creating an updated visual representation of influential bands that helped define the genres of punk, post-punk and indie rock between 1977-1997. Included in the visually inspired line of tees, totes, and posters are seminal acts like The Feelies, The Magnetic Fields, and Sleater-Kinney. While the products are slated to arrive in September, pre-order officially launched on Monday at the Insound store, so your time to grab them is already running out. Save a Galaxie 500 Tee for me.
Just a few days ago, we heard little more than a peep out of Radiohead when the last British veteran of the Great War passed. Their tribute to him is still available on their site for a quid and all proceeds going to veterans’ charity. Today, we get something that’s actually going to be on their next release. Even better: it’s free. The new track is called “These Are My Twisted Words” and we’re all hoping for the best.
You can check out my take on it later today.
New Orleans brings to mind sounds of big band and certain other persuasions of jazz, but oddly produced rock — not so much. Mute Math‘s songs sound like their ingredients are pretty conventional, but then throw unusual instrumentation and production in a blender. Armistice (out August 18) is a rock album, but the rhythm section sets the sound apart from other bands in a similar vein. Produced by Dennis Herring, Armistice has only been heard in bits so far, but those little pieces hint at something great. There’s also rumor of a documentary about how the album was made that’s in the works.
The club scene in Rome can be pretty lame if you stick to the most ostensible standbys, the places usually crowded with more done up travelers than actual locals. The scene in those places ends up being as superficial as the worst American scene, and you find yourself wondering how that fits with the laid back temperament of Romans. One of the largest clubs in the city, and one slightly out of the way for non-locals, is Circolo Degli Artisti, a mostly outdoor club with a couple of indoor DJ rooms. A half dozen bars serve as various sitting and lounging areas — and then there’s the swimming pool. Big and small shows alike come through this venue, but just about any night is bound to be pretty damn fun. (You can catch Dinosaur Jr. there in September).
Exactly ten years ago, summertime in every city was lit up for those listening by a warm weather anthem that wasn’t a hip hop song or a club banger. The distinct bossa nova kick and the breezy female vocal of Nicola Conte’s ‘Bossa Per Due’ is ever familiar, even if his name isn’t. The producer, DJ, snappy dresser, and purveyor of all sounds Italian doesn’t play out a ton, but he’s coming to the Highline Ballroom. He’ll be on guitar, accompanied by a hand picked jazz ensemble for this one-off show. I’m in Rome right now, so I don’t know how the weather is back in New York, but I promise it’ll be warm and clear while he’s there!
Antony Hegarty’s voice will give you goosebumps guaranteed. The tremolo and emotional croon is the kind of thing that can sound cheesy and over dramatic if it’s not done perfectly. Thankfully, it is done perfectly. Antony and the Johnsons showcase the frontman’s ability to sing us an honest and sad, yet uplifting song, the single entitled ‘Aeon’. The true stunt, however, is the B side that sideswipes you. Equally somber is the band’s cover of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy Right Now’, a pop hit turned inside out, making a perfectly played out song listenable again. Remember the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules cover of “Mad World”? Exactly.
The term ‘experimental rock’ can sometimes conjure up images of unlistenable frequencies laid over even less listenable instrumentation, especially for those of us without the technical (and sometimes masochistic) craving for the likes of Frank Zappa or the Residents. Battles brings the genre home for fans of anything. Relatively straightforward drum lines by Helmet’s former drummer, and odd, piecemeal harmonies by former guitarists of Don Caballero and Lynx (as well as the avant garde jazz pedigree of Tyondai Braxton) come together to form something experimental without the pretentious sentiment often bundled with acts of the sort. It’s simply good listening.
Battles is playing a one-off at Terminal 5 (my favorite Manhattan venue) on September 4th. See it now or wait indefinitely for another record and another set of shows.
We often have to throw out our expectations when it comes two piece rock bands. From the circular smash noise of Lighting Bolt, to the dance pop vibe of Death From Above 1979, to Hella pre-expansion, there’s clearly a lot you can do live and on record with just two guys. There are countless and ever varying examples. In most cases, however, the stripped down composition is apparent. The effort is placed in utlizing the lack of manpower and not in building it into grandeur that sounds like more than eight limbs are doing the work. Canadian duo Japandroids call themselves ‘garage rock’, that vague description more applicable to a style than a sound, but carry big punch. It’s not so much the songwriting as the creation of big sound that drives their debut LP Post-Nothing. A thorough listen to a couple of tracks will give you the idea- check it out.
One of my fave mags because it consistently introduces me to a fountain of new music that I wouldn’t otherwise find unless I spent my free hours diggin’ in the crates and hanging out with vinyl heads, Wax Poetics’ current issue themed under Brazil (it’s a Brazilian summer!) is a treasure trove of interviews with some of the greatest legends of tropicalia and jazz, plus newbies making the grade. Cover star Gilberto Gil leads off articles with Airto Moreira, composer Arthur Verocai, L.A.’s Triorganico, singer Ceu (whose career has seen an incredible forward trajectory in the past few years), among others. This edition will surely be a collector’s edition, worth putting alongside all that vintage vinyl you have.
Nine out of ten music nerds agree, Warp Records is king. Since its inception and initial release in 1989, the label that defined intelligent electronic music has witnessed a wave of advancement in sound production, a rode it all the way to July of 09, marking twenty years of great tracks, cutting edge producers, and (more recently) experimental bands. Titled Warp20, the anniversary is being celebrated with a number of shows featuring acts like !!! and Battles, as well as a really dope T-shirt and a box set chronicling the history of Warp. There’s a whole lot going on with this label right now, and it’s spanning continents. Check out the site for full details.