Monthly Archives: June 2009

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp, 2009)

beartimest

Nick: very strange hybrid music…like it’s…

bit’s of it sound sort of jazzy, jazz rhythms and other bits don’t sound like jazz at all, some bits go to modern classical.

it’s interesting without being…it’s no great shakes.

it’s obviously somebody, or a number of people trying to find a new way to make music.

and they don’t fail miserably they just fail.

y’know what I mean?

{track 6: Dory}

bit of Ennio Morricone.

I think I’ve made this analogy before but it’s like a painting where so many colours are used it becomes grey.

this is grey music.

maybe if they stay at it long enough…they may eventually…..make some…..good music.

it’s funny, I actually feel the same as you, they have some great songs but overall I find it very hard to get excited by them…

well, there’s too much going on and so much of it is WRONG.

there were some gong bits in the last number that were just awful, even a four year old would know that.

…and it’s gotten 5 star reviews all over.

well critics……don’t know their ass from their elbow.

if you say something is very very good, no one asks why, but if you say something is very very bad, then people start to ask why, and that’s the last thing they want to answer.

Maybe it’s because all the songs are longer than 4 minutes? or the guitarist’s voice? or because it’s kinda over-blown mopey museum music? I dunno. You have some amazing songs but I just can’t warm to you Grizzly Bear.

http://www.myspace.com/grizzlybear

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Joanna Newsom – Ys (Drag City, 2006)

jnewysNick: Well? come on.

hold on a min, I haven’t decided what to do yet.

I thought we were doing Joanna Newsom?

well maybe…but maybe Grizzly Bear, actually you decide.

well I’ve no idea what Grizzly Bear sounds like so let’s do Joanna Newsom.

Newsom.

Joanna Nuisance.

ok, here she is with her second album ‘Ys’.

ease.

Y, S.

eh…

where’s she from?

I’m not sure, she’s American anyway.

oh that’s surprising, she sounds typically British eccentric.

because that’s what it is. it’s eccentric.

is this classed as folk music?

by some people yeah.

haha but not by everyone?

well….

she has an American ‘r’

r? letter r?

yes, that’s when you can tell where she’s from.

{Nick – laughing}

it’s very engaging, I have to say. despite the fact it’s quite seriously eccentric.

it’s just about folk isn’t it? it’s certainly not pop.

it get’s very close to modern classical.

I’m thinking of….whatshisname.

you know whatshisname?

him?

{Nick – rifling through Cd’s}

Peter Maxwell Davies!

and that lot.

I was in a taxi in London and they were playing him, I didn’t catch his name but the Dj said it was called Eight Songs for a Mad King. so I went to a classical record shop the next day and asked for it and the guy behind the counter asked ‘do you actually like this stuff?’ I have a feeling I was the first person to ever ask for it. it made an enormous impact on me when I first heard it. I was like ‘what is this?’ it’s so mad and so brilliant.

the orchestral arrangements were done by Van Dyke Parks.

……..

…right!

I don’t know them.

he worked with Brian Wilson a good bit. back…

back in the old days?

yeah.

this is almost it’s own genre.

it’s certainly unique.

very unique yes!

what does she look like? I’m trying to picture her.

is she a nerd with big glasses?

like Nana Mis…Mus….

Nana Mouskouri wasn’t a nerd!

she should look like a female John Lennon.

it’s so…..off centre.

I can’t help it feels more European than American.

amazing stuff.

a big talent.

this is an album I want to listen to again.

and probably again and again and again.

I’d want to sit down and give it some proper attention, follow the lyrics.

it has a lot of humour in it.

melodic humour.

other bands have humorous lyrics but she’s like, this is probably a weird comparison but she’s like Thelonius Monk.

every now and then she’ll throw a note in there and it’s just….funny.

she has such great control over her voice as well, even in the yodel-y parts she never puts a foot wrong.

what age is she?

hold on…

oh man, she’s probably the same age as me.

yep, 27, born in 82, hate when that happens.

well she’s probably a lot more……..

go on.

focused.

heh, yeah.

I love the way she suddenly puts emphasis on random words.

there are eastern influences too.

Chinese.

and there’s also quite a childlike quality to it isn’t there?

like ehm……

{track 4 – Only Skin}

recognize the back singer here?

no.

oh it’s…. Mr Pleasant Voice… that guy from this morning.

what’s his name again?

Bill Callahan.

yes, well she is a much, like MUCH bigger talent than he is.

how much does she sell?

I have no idea.

I’d like to find out.

because it’s not difficult to listen to but I can’t imagine it going over too well with ‘the great unwashed’ as they say.

I remember I was working in Virgin one night, it was a Monday night, hardly anyone around. and I was playing her first album, this guy walks up to the counter and just says ‘turn that shit off!’ he was really angry. I said no, he looked like he was going to jump the counter and start attacking me.
‘turn it off or you lose a customer’ I just shrugged, he left.

really!!?? wow, that’s weird, I can understand someone maybe not liking her but to get so angry….

there’s a strange dichotomy between the childlike quality of her voice and what she actually sings, the aggressiveness, it adds a nice, strange quality to it.

wikipedia says: Newsom has, however, expressed disappointment at comments that her singing is “child-like.”

well, I’m sorry but it is, she sounds a lot younger than she is.

is it over? ok let’s listen to Peter Maxwell Davis.

Jeepers creepers! A long and sprawling review of a long and sprawling album. Great job!

(ps. sorry to my former employers for not bowing to a customers request but he was a thick idiot)

(pps. as I’m tidying up the text we are listening to ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’, it’s pretty odd stuff. Nick says – ‘it sounds like a zoo’. And he’s right.)

Breakfast at Sulimay’s

Who’d win in a fight?

more here

Belle & Sebastian – Tigermilk (Jeepster, 1999)

bellemilk

Nick: Do you mind if we switch the fan off?

oh boy….really?

it interferes with the sound.

ok, 41 minutes in the sauna.

so far…I like that.

oooooh, he missed that note rather seriously there.

the only thing I find slightly irritating is….he has this….in England they’d call it a prep-school voice.

upper-middle class, you can hear he’s a ‘very nice boy’.

but that’s not a real criticism.

girls would be very happy to bring him home to their mothers.

great listenability, if that’s a word.

not easy-listening.

great melodies, great lyrics…..

nice.

very nice.

it isn’t exactly.. ehh… whatyamacallit….ground breaking stuff, but in it’s genre, I like it a lot.

Phew, fans back on. We work in the attic of our house, heat rises, days like this can get pretty unbearable. But what other option do we have? We can’t just let the whirring disturb the gentle indie-pop, can’t just carry on regardless. It wouldn’t be fair to you – our fans (oh man I’m funny).

This is for Sean.

http://www.myspace.com/thebandbelleandsebastian

Boredoms – Vision Creation Newsun (Birdman, 2001)

boredomsnewsun

Nick: Sounds ominous… doesn’t it?

when it started out I didn’t think I would like it, but I do!

despite the fact that….if this were a painting it would be……abstract decorative.

{track 2: Star}

like it has…eh…..oh now it has deteriorated into complete rubbish, like they no longer know what to do with it, slice it up, cut it.

like, it has no……..

it’s still nice, quite nice.

not too many ideas, it starts somewhere and just carries on, y’know?

the twittering bird sounds work fine.

as with all this kind of stuff, it becomes wallpaper after a while.

the changes are there but they’re not surprising or dramatic enough to make a big difference.

oh….I was about to walk away there but we’re still listening right?

well, if need to do anything go ahead, this is gonna be on for another half hour at least.

and all in the same way?

the more you listen to them the more their name becomes appropriate.

A few years back, the Boredoms announced a gig in London, I immediately bought a ticket, booked flights and somewhere to stay. There was no way I was gonna miss them while they were over this side of the world. Then they announced they’d be playing Primavera in Barcelona a couple days after the London show. I was already going to Primavera so…score! Boredoms twice in one week! Then they announced a show in Dublin a few days before Primavera…ehhh ok I’ll go see them three times in a week so.

In the airport on the way home from Barcelona I bumped into eYe and Yoshimi from the band. I blurted out ‘ohmygodhii’mabigfanijustsawyouguysthreetimesthisweekdublinlondonandhereyouwere-amazingatallthreeshowsandi’vebeenwaitingagestoseeyouandiwassoexcitedandandandand”. They just smiled nervously and nodded, dunno if it was the language barrier or if they were actually scared for their lives.

I quite like the Boredoms.

Bali: Golden Rain (Nonesuch Explorers Series, 1969)

gldnrn

Nick: it’s sort of….it sounds like Gamelan music.

it is.

oh really? ok I thought Gamelan was much slower.

this is high speed, break-neck Gamelan.

are you sure?

it sounds less resonant.

oh it slows down here….

ah they must’ve heard me, off they go again.

it’s interesting as a novelty, but because of the lack of variation in the sound…and there’s no melodic variation either, it gets boring.

it’s boring me.

it’s almost like a fancy doorbell constantly ringing, now they’re getting impatient.

well, the next piece is pretty different.

I wait with baited breath.

I have heard real Indonesian Gamelan that is more interesting than this, I have to say.

what makes this not real? and not Indonesian?

the rhythms…..

yeah basically the rhythms.

but this was recorded in Indonesia, by Indonesians, in 1969.

well, even if this is really Indonesian people and a real traditional Gamelan orchestra they’ve been heavily influenced by western music.

but….surely this would’ve been one of the first Gamelan recordings to find a large audience? I dunno.

oh no no no, by ’69 Holland had already lost Indonesia.

what’s that got to do with anything?

well, I can remember people having recordings of Gamelan stuff long before that.

I’m going to look it up.

{track 3 – Ketjak: The Ramayana Monkey Chant}

very rhythmic again.

I like this better than the Gamelan stuff.

again it suffers from the same thing as the stuff we did the other day.

it needs something to go with it, a balletic performance or something because as a piece of music it doesn’t really hold up.

maybe I’m too much of a visual person but I can actually see them performing, they’re crouched down on the stage with sticks or something, acting threatening.

remember that CD-ROM I sent you from Bangkok? with the pictures of the mural going around the palace?

oh yes.

that mural tells the same story as this…

aha so I was right!

eh….

well, I mean in the sense that this should have a visual performance to go with it.

oh is it over?

yep.

so it’s quite short.

no, it’s 22 minutes long.

really!? that is quite surprising.

I got this a few years ago when I worked in Virgin Megastore and they had a €1.99 clear out, I bought a load of stuff that I normally wouldn’t’ve, it was awesome.

listen & learn

Starfucker – S/T (Badman, 2008)

starfucker

Nick: I find…huckgagcha…sorry.

I find this almost very good.

and I’m not sure what’s wrong with it, it seems to have an overall dullness of sound.

it’s like a photo without enough contrast.

there’s very nice things in it but….

ok, there’s nothing dramatically brilliant about it but there are some nice bits.

you’d like a bit of…

and I’ve no idea why that is.

yeah! you know that there’s an awful lot going on, lots of instruments played or mixed or whatever and yet they only achieve a small sound.

and I think it has something to do with the keyboard sound, it’s dull and…

it sounds like a house organ, y’know the kind people had, they’d all stand around the organ and sing hymns?

maybe that’s what they want but if I were the producer I would throw it out, it’s not what I want.

it just makes the whole thing mini.

like there’s no eh…do you know what I’m getting at or do you think I’m talking a load of cobblers?

well….they’re not using the same sound in every song….

no but they are using it a lot.

I’m not looking forward to listening to it again, but it’s quite good.

Blah blah blah blah pop, blah blah blah dressed up as blah blah, urbandictionary.com blah yadda blah, blah yadda pretty good, blah blah yadda yadda great.

Blah yadda.

http://www.myspace.com/starfuckerss

City Center – S/T (Type, 2009)

citycenter

Nick: I’m sure this means something to them.

but it doesn’t mean anything to me.

{track 5 – Bleed Blood}

This is a bit better, it has a melody.

which is always nice, something to hang on to.

yep, getting better.

I always have the feeling that music like this…if you can call it music.

always depends too much on serendipity.

as in, you try a few things in the studio and if it sounds good you use it.

but it hasn’t been worked on over a long time, hasn’t been thought out.

well what about someone like Neil Young?

what about him?

his jammy-er stuff, how much is thought out before entering the studio? does he just show the band the chords and they rock out for a while and then pick the best take? how much of that is serendipitous?

well, that’s different as he begins with a song.

so does this guy by the sound of it, there’s songs underneath.

but here the serendipity is overcoming the song.

it’s like found art, find some junk, put it on a pedestal, now it’s a sculpture.

{track 6 – Cloud Center}

this is sort of halfway between just noise and music isn’t it?

this should be a sound effects record.

people making films about rippling water or whales could use it.

but as a piece of music on it’s own it’s very unsatisfactory.

{track 8 – Summer School}

oh and then as soon as I say that they completely change it.

interesting to listen to, not unpleasant but quite unsatisfactory.

underwater, vague, undetermined soundtrack.

what I always find amazing with people like that is that they WANT to do stuff like that.

I’m not against experimentation but…….

actually… if you can sell it, sell it!

Pop songs from the bottom of the ocean.

http://www.myspace.com/citycenternyc

http://citycenternyc.blogspot.com/

Bark Psychosis – Hex (Circa, 1994)

barxhex

Nick: Doesn’t sound very psychotic.

their name deceives.

they don’t bark and they’re not psychotic.

apart from that it’s….fairly pleasant music.

nothing dramatic.

nice…..pleasant.

do you think it’s important for a bands name to give some indication as to what they sound like?

no no, it’s not important, but a name has to come from somewhere, right?

so maybe when they started they wanted to be barking and psychotic but changed at the last minute.

it’s very gentle, lyrical.

they’re sort of almost…strawberries and cream.

do you think that would be a better name for them?

what? oh strawberries and cream?….yes it probably would be actually.

they suffer from the usual….

well I don’t know if it’s suffering but….

no surprises, once you hear the first song you know what they’re going to do.

no surprises so far anyway.

they’re just going to tinkle on regardless basically.

no that’s a mean thing to say which I don’t really mean.

you know who they remind me of? in the instrumental parts anyway.

who?

M.J.Q!

m.j.q?

Modern Jazz Quartet. John Lewis, Milt Jackson.

they had a vibraphone too, I bet these guys would like them.

subtle.

certainly.

and not easy to catagorize, it does it’s own thing.

Bacon and Peanut Butter sandwich.

huh?

would you eat one? I’m doing a questionaire here.

ehmm…yeah…..I probably would.

it’s sounds weird at first but the more I think about it the more I think it could actually be really nice.

yeah, you’re right.

ok, I’ll answer that question tomorrow, after I’ve tried it.

I like it quite alot actually.

the more I listen to it the more it grows on me.

I love it actually. love it.

This was requested by a guy called Luke. Thanks Luke. Thuke.

http://www.myspace.com/codenamebarkpsychosis

Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Dedicated, 1997)

slagwafis

Nick: So far I like it.

but a question always enters my mind when I listen to stuff like this; is there too much in it?

is it overcooked?

I was at a recording session once where someone who was into all this layering spent over an hour trying to get some bells onto a track, and I couldn’t hear it at all, no one could.

is it worth spending all that time, when you can’t even make out a whisper of some of the sounds?

it’s still nice though.

there’s something very filmic about it as well, the instrumental bits feel like they’ve been written to illustrate something.

it’s very nice stuff but if I had a say in the production, I’d reduce the amount of the…

the very full bits, I’d put in some bits where there’s a bit of relief.

{track 11 – Cool Waves}

see! when this part comes along it’s like aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

needs more bits like this, maybe I’m just showing my age but I can’t take it for too long.

it’s such a huge production too isn’t it?

obviously has a sense of the…what is it? …..the grandiose! the anthemic.

and it’s Spiritualized?

god I hate the name, it sounds so phony.

You know.

http://www.myspace.com/spiritualized