Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dance, Dance, Dance!

ok, I know that I focus pretty heavily on hard rock of the "alt" variety. I suppose that does make up a goodly percentage of my listening habits. But, I hope I've been clear that I do listen to other stuff, as well. Specifically, in this case- Disco, or if you prefer- Dance music. I'm fine with calling it disco, though, because that's what I think of it. Heck, there was a time (specifically 1992) when I did some gigs as a DJ at raves. I was more into House, Acid House and a little Techno than anything else as a DJ- but I did fit in some grind right in the middle of a disco track. (Ask anyone who saw/heard my non-legendary "Walls of Jericho" mix- it was based around a sample from Ministry, but featured everything from small blips of Gary Numan- My Centurion, to some extended bits of Sly & the Family Stone- a sped up sample of the main bass riff for "if you want me to stay") Further, I'd argue that Disco has advanced pop music more than most rock music in the past 25 years.
But, I'll save that argument for another time. I'm here to revise a few things.
See, in the last post I mentioned Oh Land as somewhat Bjorkish- and I was wrong. It's more caberet-styled traditional music meets disco, than the wild avante gardisms of Bjork. However, Bjork has been known to do that same experiment- a mix of show tunes and hard electronica, so I wasn't entirely wrong- just mostly wrong. Still, I prefer it to most of the "indie girl Trad pop" stylings you hear like Sara Bareilles. I find most of that stuff to be cloying and annoying, and Oh land is more Kitsch than Cloying, and more obnoxious than annoying. Still not great, just good.
Much better disco is coming from the same old sources. With all the other old 80's bands releasing new records, did you know that Shriekback had a new-ish one out? Yes, they put out "Life in the Loading Bay" back in December. I think it's worth your time, and here's my reasoning: Remember Michael Mann? Did that iconic TV series "Miami Vice"? Well, outside of that he's responsible for some ultra-gritty modern Noire movies like Thief, Manhunter and Heat. Well, he was a major league Shriekback fan, and used their music several times in his movies. That means the downbeat, burbling kinda greasy dance jazz that people use as a cliche for Crime scenes in movies? Yes, Shriekback invented and perfected that. No less a figure than Leonard Cohen has bitten off chunks of the Shriekback sound ( If you tell me that the Whole "Future" album owes nothing to Shriekback's "Oil and Gold" I will call you a liar). It's still a very relevant sound, as 99% of what gets called "Trip Hop" is just a slightly more linear version of the Shriekback sound. So, I think it's a big miss to skip them. Here's what I suggest: put on a sophisticated outfit. Mess it up, a bit. Go to a formerly glorious bar at three in the afternoon, order some kind of hard alcohol. Drink it quick, but stay in the bar at least an hour, watching people. Then, listen to Shriekback on your way back home. If you're not in your own personal Noire by the time you get there, you did something wrong. Whether you listen to Rock, Jazz or disco, don't you listen to music to feel something? That's why Shriekback. ( oh, and do check the link for Shriekback. they have some excellent blog posts, one of which is the whole reason for this post)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On the other hand

Much as I love the new Pandoras.box, and I do- I had to drive to the motor vehicle administration yesterday, and Monomeet was the ideal soundtrack for driving a country road in Maryland on a grey early spring day, I listen to a lot of music, and so I have listened to other music in the past week or so, but much of it will unjustifiably get the short end of my attention span because there's been so much good music in the past three or four weeks. So, if these come across as negative, it's only in comparison to stuff as great as Pandoras.Box....
Young Widows-In and out of Youth and lightness. It's decent post-metal. It's not as great as Pelican, or Isis, but still for stuff that's more sophisticated than Sludge, but not exactly "Metal"- yet still holds the Doomy-ambience of pound and crawl, it's decent. Strangely, it reminds me of Cop Shoot Cop, a bit...
Royal Bangs- We Breed Champions. Pop Math? A hybrid of Radiohead and Blink 182? I'm not quite certain. It's noisy indie rock with some odd bloops on keyboards. Yeah, I'm behind on them, but what do you want? I'm not hip.
Amateur Party-Truncheons in the Manor. My first impression? A very Garage rock version of the Kaiser Chiefs. Which isn't a bad thing. The Kaiser Chiefs are a good band to see live- the records are disposable. Likewise, this band, if they can bring the energy to the show seems like it'd be a fun show. I wonder if they'd tour with Capsula? That seems like it'd be exhausting, but worth it.
Lotus Feed- A Savage Breath within our Lives. Wow, these guys really LOVE the 80's. I mean REALLY. It's like Shriekback meets the Call to play a gig with Wire Train. Decent in a black eyeliner and costumes of ambiguous gender kind of way. I also get the feeling like English is a second language for these guys. A kind of Eastern European vibe, makes me think they play gigs in Poland and Austria....
The Lazy Cowgirls- Somewhere down the Line. And now for something completely different... I've been a fan of the Lazy Cowgirls since the late 1980's. They played a garagey form of Cowpunk, like a mix of the Ramones, early 1970's Rolling Stones and Waylon Jennings. By the early 1990's there was a pretty awesome "party Rock" scene going in Los Angeles; These guys and the Cadillac Tramps and Social Distortion, and the Hangmen, and a bunch of others. So, it's still nice every once in awhile to blast one of their records, and drive fast down a sunny Highway.
The Wails- EP. What's going on in Texas? Another great Shoegazer kind of band. A bit more Lush than Ride, a bit more Chapterhouse than My Bloody Valentine- but still really nice, pretty stuff.
Warm Widow- Widower. Sorry. I've already heard Chrome/Six Finger Satellite/Brainiac styled trebley Art damage punk. This just doesn't do much for me.
The Boxer Rebellion- The Cold Still. Ummm, it's better than Coldplay and Keane? Not really my deal.
Oh Land- Oh Land. Really Bjork-ish at times, as absurd as that might sound. What I mean is that it's pretty, sophisticated and avante Garde Dance pop. I might get into it sometime later, so I'll hang on to it.
White Lies- Ritual. Hmmm. It's very indebted to both the "coldwave" set, and Interpol, and Joy Division. It's good, but very... Naive? Raw? I'm not sure what the word is- the production is well done, and the musicianship is good, but there's something a bit juvenile about the songwriting, and the execution- not in a playful sense, far from it, but in a sophomoric, way too self-serious way. I think that given two more records they should be really excellent....