I guess this opening "salvo" (that pun will make sense later, but it will never be funny) is usually a place to make a few larger points about music too, so here goes. I sometimes hear people lamenting that the 1) glory days of music are behind us and 2) that the internet has ruined music. The quick answer to both, is that that's a load of bulljive. I think the people making these comments - and you know who you are - just aren't willing to do the legwork to find the good new music and base their opinions on the crap they hear on the radio. So the glory days of music are just really behind them. For everyone else willing to make a bit of an effort, they'll see that everything is just going fine-and-dandy. On technology's impact on the quality of music, it's definitely a lot easier to make and release music nowadays than ever before, which has led to a lot of crummy music being made and released, so I can definitely understand the argument that the average quality of songs has gone down. That being said, these same things have opened the door for a bunch of great musicians who wouldn't have had the same chance before, so I think there are a lot more really good bands than before as well. More bad bands on the bottom, more good bands on the top. Just more bands in general, really.
And another thing: As the hardworking staff over at mitchfork suggested, look out for these ladies in 2013. It's poised to be a big year for Haim.
10) Black Forest Fire, Transit of Venus
Slay Tracks:Do It for Sara, Majestic, Saint Christopher, Don't Need an Angel
9) Papercranes, Three
Slay Tracks: Rose Stem, Setting, Shared, Matter, View
8) Titus Andronicus, Local Business
Okay, I think by now we've established
Everything is inherently worthless
And there's nothing in the Universe.
With any kind of objective purpose.
Sounds like the kind of dreck a disenfranchised college kid would write, and what could lead to pretty mopey music. This isn't the case here. Titus' write huge, fist-pumping anthems, seemingly shouting that if the universe is devoid of meaning, at least we can find some solace in the brotherhood of man. While two or three songs on here are kind of throwaways, there are more than enough to cover the price of admission. Some more good lyrics, from the brilliantly titled track: "Still Life With Hot Deuce on Silver Platter."
Out, walking the street
looking for these
alleged elegant truths
It's just me
and the other irrelevant dudes
arrogant enough to believe
this is developing news
I exist just as a fish
stuck with the pelican blues
- hot deuce!
Slay Tracks: Ecce Homo, Still Life With Hot Deuce on Silver Platter, My Eating Disorder, In A Big City
7) Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Slay Tracks: Would That Not Be Nice, The Salton Sea, Baby Get Worse, Shivers
6) Sat. Nite Duets, Summer of Punishment
"Milwaukee’s premier purveyors of shaggy guitar rock try their damndest to be frivolous, but on the excellent Summer Of Punishment, Sat. Nite Duets let their guard down and reveal some genuine concerns. Sure, there are still plenty of lyrics about getting shit-faced and carpooling with AC/DC, but scratch the shambling surface and you’ll find a wistful, winning tribute to gauzy nostalgia and misspent summer youth. Nowhere does that heady theme resonate more strongly than on Summer’s best track, “Of Age.” Amidst the band’s well-honed sound, a bittersweet tale of “wasting your 20s” is sketched out with remarkable clarity and humor. “Growing up can only be so hard” is the sort of effortless, tossed-off line that Sat. Nite Duets have long excelled at, but the band outdoes itself with the terrifically evocative lyric, “Take your handle off the bars and fly, / pretty soon it’s going to be July.” There’s no amount of gags or snickering references that can take the edge off a line like that."
Long story short they remind me of Pavement without sounding like they are ripping off Pavement.
Slay Tracks: Of Age, Genghis Khan, Way Behind My Age Group, WWDD, Andy's Going to Heaven
5) Pomegranates, Heaven
Ha, oh yeah -- that reminds me. I was somewhat pissed that Pitchfork didn't review their new album, after having reviewed their first few, so I wrote them this letter:
I know you guys must get a lot of emails about bands to review, but here are three GREAT albums that I think you've overlooked:
1) Easter Vomit -- Vs. the Natural History Museum this album is a lo-fi classic and for a site that loves Pavement so much, it seems weird that it would be overlooked.
2) Grand Salvo -- Slay Me in my Sleep I assume the reason he hasn't gotten reviewed is he's Australian. But this is an intricate, beautiful album whose only real comparison is Sufjan.
3) Pomegranates -- Heaven -- you've reviewed all their old albums, why not the new one? This is such a great band and they could use some of the attention they'd get from a review.
Thanks so much!
They never got back to me. Can't blame a guy for trying.
Slay Tracks: Pass Away, Sisters, Letters, Lost Lives
4) Family Band, Grace and Lies
Slay Tracks: Lace, Ride, Grace & Lies, Rest
#3) Foxygen, Take the Kids Off Broadway
I guess this is technically just an EP, but it's got a running time of nearly 40 minutes, so it makes the cut. They're kind of all over the map here, but they seem to be one of those bands that can stitch together a bunch of disparate parts into a catchy, cohesive whole. At different times, they sound like Bowie, the Rolling Stones, MGMT, the Unicorns, you name it. I think I texted to Jake Lowell that he should listen to this album about 40 times, but he never got back to me. He's in Puerto Rico right now getting a brain transplant. No joke.
Slay Tracks: Make It Known, Take the Kids Off Broadway, Waitin' 4 U, Why Did I get Married?
#2) Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
Johann: what's the word?
7:57 AM me: just porking away
listening to this cloud nothing albums
me: sounds pretty sweet
7:59 AM Johann: phew
and i'm listening too
me: yeah -- it might not be down your alley
The Steve Albini-produced Attack On Memory is their sharpest work yet, trading in that fuzzy, suppressed production in favor of a more aggressive, crisp sound. Albini, who has produced classics for Nirvana and the Pixies, sounds right at home working towards Cloud Nothings' vision. If you've had enough of the hazy hipster bands, give Attack On Memory a listen.
8:01 AM Johann: i like this 1st song
8:03 AM me: you do?
it's pretty intense, right?
i don't mind intesnse always
me: good way to wake up
Johann: i like the pixies
Johann: and wolf parade
and handsome furs
8:04 AM me: yeah
how was last night?
8:05 AM Johann: eh, ok i guess
8:06 AM nothing too crazy
8:07 AM me: not too much -- groceries, gym, bar with vic for a drink
8:08 AM Johann: you and vic... always at the bah
me: ha -- he's a funny guy
always wants to go to the bar
8:09 AM Johann: what do you guys talk about?
8:10 AM me: life
trying to get him back on his feet
Johann: what are your strategies?
8:11 AM me: you ever seen shawshank?
8:12 AM Johann: hahahahahaha
8:13 AM victor loves dependency, hopelessness, learned helplessness, and other maladaptive behaviors
Slay Tracks: No Future/No Past, Wasted Days, No Sentiment, Cut You.
#1) Grand Salvo, Slay Me in My Sleep
Not a surprise here, I know. I wrote about Grand Salvo back in August. Easily my favorite album of the year and quite possibly the best novel of the year. It tells the story of an elderly woman who is visited by the ghost of her girlhood love through a series of vignettes which alternate perspectives and time periods. It's a hushed, ecstatic album that reminds you of how meaning becomes attached to different objects in our lives, how that meaning changes over time, and how it can all add up to make the world a very magical place. An example:
a stone sits in a creek
a path into the woods
I wronged her in my youth
an acorn on the sill
a tree upon the hill
careful not to breath
a nuckle with a bee
a doll made out of wood
a bell upon the sea
a suitcase on the bed
the last one she will pack
It's a great album to listen to on a cold Sunday morning with a hot cup of coffee as you try to walk off a hangover and need to be reminded of god's majesty here on earth.
Slay Tracks: the entire album?