Akron, Doiron, Dutchess

On first listen, the new Akron/Family album Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is everything I love about Akron/Family and nothing that I dislike. The guitars are huge and gorgeous, the harmonies are thick and natural, raw even. They bring out all the instruments in a little red wagon and never leave one untouched. Or, I hope they do. They bridge this gap between delicate and crushing in a way that no one else really does. It’s unreal. They’re able to contain the noise bursts in a manner that don’t make you scratch your head waiting for the melody to come. The melodies are right in front of you, grab them, everyone! This is an inclusive record. Akron/Family would like you to join them.

They do funk on this record, but this is not a funk record. This is music that feels timeless and I’ve only listened to it once. It’s full of warm images, tones, feelings; driving up the coast with the glow neverending, north along the cliffs 68 degrees August 3rd windows down 5:30 PM Santa Cruz county line cliff face at the right after you pass the ocean and the redwoods all at once. This is music that brings you there. I can’t wait to hear it again. As I start it again, the first song, which Dead Oceans proclaims as “touching on everything from Fela Kuti to Sly and the Family Stone in under six psychedelic minutes,” is most definitely Akron/Family. It’s faster, more straightforward, but they are the same band. Tighter, faster – Sunset Rubdown without the inflation problems. I don’t know.

On fifth listen, the new Julie Doiron album, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day is still as immediate as the first time. Julie Doiron is singing to you. You have been where Julie Doiron is. This album is really my favorite whole work she’s done. Nothing else really sounds like her music. Her voice is natural, honest – not affected, not haunting. Julie Doiron sticks with you not because you’re afraid but because you’re engrossed in her world. She can play the guitar. “Spill Yer Lungs” starts with an almost metal half-time droney riff that falls into her voice and story. “Consolation Prize” is the perfect fuzzy pop song on this record. You listen to these words and tell me you don’t understand the primal human feeling that she feels. I do. I’ve been there. It’s shocking, upon hearing her music, to realize that people listen to people who are not Julie Doiron. I want to sit with her as she plays her guitar and think really hard. Walk down streets with her as she rides her bike back and forth because her life is pretty great, some of the time. You will too.

Akron/Family plays this next Monday at the Brookdale Lodge in Santa Cruz (well, in Brookdale). Everest opens. Thank you, FolkYEAH for bringing this.

Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is out in May via Dead Oceans, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day is out this next tuesday from Jagjaguwar.

also: One of my favorite bands of the year and favorite songs of the year, Scorpio by the Dutchess and the Duke is available still on 7″. HoZac’s been out for a while, but Hardly Art has them and some rad t-shirts. Pick one up while you can. I would listen to “Scorpio” in bed every night, reaching out to hit start on my record player and then waiting for it to be over to reach out and turn off my receiver to go to sleep. You can, too.

Dark Was the Night

Congratulations, 4AD and Red Hot! You’ve released an incredible compilation that benefits AIDS research and is full of incredible songs!

Honestly, if you haven’t heard of Dark Was The Night, check it out. I intend to buy it once I can afford the LP, which insound amongst others are bound to have for sale.

from their site:

“Dark Was The Night will be released on February 17th, 2009. It’s comprised of 31 exclusive tracks and it will be available as a double cd/triple vinyl/download and will benefit the Red Hot Organization – an international charity dedicated to raising money and awareness for HIV and AIDS through popular culture. They are the people responsible for albums including No Alternative, Red Hot and Blue and many more, and this is their 20th year, and this is the 20th release!”

DARK WAS THE NIGHT

THIS DISC
1 Knotty Pine – Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
2 Cello Song (Nick Drake) – The Books featuring Jose Gonzalez
3 Train Song (Vashti Bunyan recorded, written by Alasdair Clayre) – Feist + Ben Gibbard
4 Brackett, WI – Bon Iver
5 Deep Blue Sea – Grizzly Bear
6 So Far Around the Bend – The National (arrangement by Nico Muhly)
7 Tightrope – Yeasayer
8 Feeling Good (popularized by Nina Simone) – My Brightest Diamond
9 Dark Was the Night (Blind Willie Johnson) – Kronos Quartet
10 I Was Young When I Left Home (Bob Dylan) – Antony + Bryce Dessner
11 Big Red Machine – Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner
12 Sleepless – The Decemberists
13 Stolen Houses (Die) – Iron and Wine
14 Service Bell – Grizzly Bear + Feist
15 You Are The Blood – Sufjan Stevens

THAT DISC
1 Well-Alright – Spoon
2 Lenin – Arcade Fire
3 Mimizan – Beirut
4 El Caporal – My Morning Jacket
5 Inspiration Information (Shuggie Otis) – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
6 With A Girl Like You (The Troggs) – Dave Sitek
7 Blood Pt 2 (based on original song “You are the Blood” by the Castanets) – Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
8 Hey, Snow White (Destroyer) – The New Pornographers
9 Gentle Hour (Snapper) – Yo La Tengo
10 Another Saturday (traditional song) – Stuart Murdoch
11 Happiness – Riceboy Sleeps
12 Amazing Grace (traditional song) – Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
13 The Giant Of Illinois (Handsome Family) – Andrew Bird
14 Lua – Conor Oberst + Gillian Welch
15 When the Road Runs Out – Blonde Redhead + Devastations
16 Love vs. Porn – Kevin Drew

If that’s not a killer list of songs, I don’t know what is. It’s pretty unbelievable. The Sharon Jones cover of Shuggie KILLS it, and Dave Sitek’s cover of the Troggs is also wonderful. I can’t tell you everything. Listen.

How I feel about Marquee Moon

I have strong feelings about Marquee Moon. I’m beginning to realize it is nearly perfect. Have you listened to it recently? I hadn’t until this week. Side one was always my favorite. It packs quite a punch, with the first two songs especially. “See No Evil” is like starting a car in third gear. The guitars start off as the focus of the record and that never relents. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd should be praised. There should be a Jazzmaster-shaped altar in front of where CBGBs used to stand where you can go and pray. I’m serious. I’m not going to get into it track by track. “Venus” is the anthem. “Marquee Moon” is the precursor to “Youth of America” with guitar harmony, rhythms tighter than you could possibly imagine. The Dismemberment Plan read this book quite well. “Guiding Light” is a glorious, glorious piece of music. It’s like that song you’ll hear in a high school movie where they’re at the prom and they’re dancing and they’re about to have their first kiss and it pauses and the camera focuses on the two teenage lovers, the music pauses, and as the guitar solo kicks in, the camera starts to spin in circles and there are visible bursts of joy. That is the way “Guiding Light” feels to me. “Prove It” is Verlaine being playful. Lyrically, when I hear him say “This case is closed”, it’s with the biggest smirk you could possibly imagine. From what I’ve read, dude was a smirky guy. I love it. Love it. “Torn Curtain” revisits the mode of “Venus”. It’s so cohesive, fuck! There is a sense of playfulness on an album that’s so overwhelmingly serious, especially compared to the other things coming out of the same scene.

This is drivel, but I can’t get enough of the record. It’s been canonized for years, sure, but it still makes me jump around my living room and pretend I’ve got a Jazzmaster.

Also, re: Todd Rundgren’s Runt: are side 1 and side 2 seriously the same record?

Not reading.

Stopped by the HoZac myspace tonight. I’m not doing homework. The song that came up first on their little player was by a band called Woven Bones.

Check it out, and try and tell me that it doesn’t sound exactly like “Raw Power.”

It’s pretty scuzzy, though.

I went to a party last night, I can believe what I saw

On Sunday, I went to see Thorns of Life at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz. It was a sold out show. Have you heard of Thorns of Life? You haven’t? Did you check for a myspace? Oh, there isn’t one. And there aren’t any recordings, you say? Weird, how could that band sell out a show, even at a small venue?

Wait, but this band has Blake Schwarzenbach from Jawbreaker in it? I have a Jawbreaker tattoo! And Aaron Cometbus, you say? I’ve read all his stuff! (I have, or, what I can get my hands on) And Daniela Sea? She was on the L-Word and in the Grups! Wow, I have to go! I’ll check out these youtube videos! Hey, they played a small house in Brooklyn! This song sounds fun, and if I try hard enough to live vicariously through the girl in the red shirt dancing up and down, I could have a good time!

Enough in that tone, welcome to the new era of touring when you want to stay small and can’t. Thanks to the internet, a fanbase can be built unintentionally, as it has in the case of Thorns of Life. From the venues they played on their tour, it looks like they would like to take fame and throw it in the East River.

But who could blame them, right? I wouldn’t want people hounding me down for things I did in 1994, or 1984. The internet has made it a hell of a lot easier for people who were four years old when 24 Hour Revenge Therapy came out to wish that they were there, in the Mission when it was only sort of being gentrified, seeing Jawbreaker play a show where Blake’s voice sounded like it was going to fall out of his throat and jump into oncoming traffic as the words followed it into the street, clinging on, not letting go. The fans won’t.

Cometbus, whether he likes it or not (and I can guarantee you that he doesn’t), is an icon in today’s world. People aren’t going to read like they did twenty years ago; culture has brought us to this thing called “reality” and regardless of how ‘real’ it is, people want real. The most “real” news on TV is a joke. Cometbus’ writing is real, and he just wants to play drums in a punk band. The fans want his autograph, he doesn’t want to touch a pen. Dude wants a cup of coffee (and he got it from my sweet neighbors).

So you’ve got this band that no one’s heard but the rumor mill spins fast these days on the web. I didn’t even write about Animal Collective because what’s there left to say? Avey Tare had a burger on thursday but Panda Bear is a vegan? Who fucking cares!

As someone who was very excited to see Thorns of Life in the aspect that I like the music that they’ve previously done and I respect them as musicians and people (Blake teaches, Aaron writes – I don’t know much about Daniela except that she was very nice when I talked to her, and someone brought an L-Word DVD to get signed), the show was a complete success. The music is wonderful, Blake seemed happy to be there and played with passion. Each song made Aaron want to play faster, harder, he took off his shirt and drank coffee as he hammered the crash cymbal. The songs gallop along, the crowd was bopping along. It wasn’t Jawbreaker, it wasn’t Jets to Brazil, Crimpshrine, Pinhead Gunpower, the Gr’ups, or any band they’d been in before. Three people making music together that sounds like “self-deprecating rock and roll” being played in a crepe restaurant. Blake taped his setlist to a ceiling fan and had to watch it spin around in vain. They smiled, they sang, the songs had wonderful melodies and I can’t wait to read the words. They were crunchy and not too fast, not too slow. His voice sounds great. I smiled a lot.

They packed ’em in and maybe they wanted to but maybe they didn’t. The tour included stops at a community center, the Gilman, several house shows that were “secret”, a show at the Hemlock in SF that SF Weekly blew up, and a bar in San Diego. They made me feel young young young, and I love that. I bought a T-shirt. It’s too big. I’ll sew it on something else.

A new band made me have a great evening.

Tonight, I saw Calvin Johnson at the Crepe. It was packed when he started and dude cleared the place. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, his baritone is still clear as day, the melodies have not lost a touch of starkness, the banter about playing at an Obama inauguration event in Olympia was charming, he smiled between songs. But people weren’t into it. Can’t win em all.

Suffering jukebox, such a sad machine

berman

Thanks for everything, David. I’ll be listening.

If you’re bored tonight, listen to American Water on repeat.

“When the sun sets on the ghetto all the broken stuff gets cold.”

I’ve been up all night

I can’t get the embed code to work, so clickhere to watch the video I am about to talk about.

The song, “As Tall as Cliffs”. The band, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. A band from Indiana. Playing in San Francisco. This is a gorgeous video from La Blogotheque (as usual), and it captures one of my favorite Margot songs.

I kind of lost them in the whole Animal/Not Animal fiasco. Their first record remains a favorite, and this song off the second has the emotion and melody of the first record.

There are some cool Margot tracks to check out here, at Musical Family Tree, a large site dedicated to Indiana bands. Pretty rad. Free, too.