Thursday, June 7, 2012

Silence is Sexy- Modern Antiques

I've been a fan of Silence is Sexy since about 2008. That doesn't make me some kind of OG fan, but a long term fan, nonetheless. I got into them on the strength of the songs on "Everything you Should Know" which really is still a stand out in the post "New Wave Revival" European rock scene. Then came  "This Ain't Hollywood" which is still my go-to album for atmospheric pop rock- it's post punk in form, but in execution is more lush and orchestrated than what that term would imply. Since then, there has been very little new for me to hear- I don't live in Europe, so I've not been able to see them live, or anything, so coming into this new record is almost like hearing a brand new band. 
There are a few tracks that do the kind of sweeping atmospheric post punk inflected  stuff they are associated with in my mind. There are also straight up new wave tracks in the vein of Depeche Mode ( "Rain Begins to Fall" really echoes "StrangeLove") and baroque Beach boys styled retro pop ( "Holiday" and "American Life" could be lost tracks from "Smile", no doubt) with strong doses of Flaming Lips styled psychedelia, and noise rock ( "Lovely Ways to Die' is about as blown out and snarling as hardcore punk ) but really, it adds up to their own thing. Songwriting? Hell, easily equal to The New Pornographers, Decembrists, and Blitzen Trapper rolled together. Vocals? Again, Beach Boys are referenced. Musicianship? Excellent. I used to compare them to Radiohead. I think it's only Fashion that makes them a household name, and Silence is Sexy a near unknown in the States.
I don't mean any of this as hyperbole- Silence is Sexy really is one of my favorite bands, and while the sound changes with each record, I am still gladly following along as they hit the right combination between what I find familiar and what I find novel. So, a word about the title- I think while the title might be obvious, here's how I interpret it- Volume 1"MODERN Antiques" represents the more modern sound of their previous songwriting, while Volume 2 "Modern ANTIQUES" represents their newer songwriting, which reflects an older style of music- hence both are "Modern Antiques".
As added good news, they are available on Bandcamp and Amazon and CD Baby- so wherever you are, in whatever fashion you like your downloads or CDS- it's available. Seriously, I think it would only be stubborn backwardness that would prevent you from giving them a fair listen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Windfall

I got a few extra bucks,  unexpectedly. Expect more full descriptions, but I've ordered and pre-ordered several new releases: The New Silence is Sexy," Modern Antiques", The new Metric, "Synthetica", , the new Patti Smith "Banga", The New Hives " Lex Hives"  and the new White Lung "Sorry" . Quite the haul, huh? Don't feel bad if you don't know all the names, but you should feel bad if you're not at least a bit curious- hell, I was curious as to what the dude from Stain'd 's country Album sounded like, so I'll be checking out The Road when it comes out. Curiosity is a good thing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

eMpTy V get off the air...

I prefer to use this blog to promote, in my small way, the pop culture I'd like to comprise the culture. I'm not by nature a negative person. Angry? possibly. Outraged? at times. Cynical? Of a lot of things, but not everything. I've managed to make it into my forties, still a socialist, so I can't be really all that negative, can I? A socialist has to believe that there is a wisdom and a strength in people.
So I watched the MTV Movie awards, and this one good thing in the whole she-bang, consistently, was Russell Brand. He took the piss on the whole thing repeatedly. Charlie Sheen even was uselessly  sucking up to the Viacom Teat. References to the illusion of democracy in western culture? Laying bare the oppression inherent in Twilight, Hunger Games, and Teen Mom, in three sentences in the opening monologue? That's not a terrible use of the broadcast medium, now is it? I'm looking forward to Brand X.
Apart from Russell,  it was lousy, beginning to end. We start with fun.  Not really, just the band. God, has there ever been such a lousy excuse for Indie rock? Of course there has- the world is suffused with them, but since when has that been an excuse? " Oh, we're only as terrible as the rest of the worst"
We also had Wiz Khalifa- a copy of a bad xeroxed copy of a mimeograph of a discarded version of Outkast and Kanye. Lyrics cribbed from a workplace motivational poster, and vocoder melodies do nothing for me. I liked his T shirt, at least, so, that would be the one thing that put him above fun.
The Dimmer Twins out to bury Johnny Depp? I suppose that like the rest of their Career, Keef can't be everywhere, can he?
Ok, I can't rip on Johnny Depp and the Black Keys.  It was a superior version of Gold on the Ceiling. Some decent Rocknroll in a sea of crap,  but then Johnny had to speak, and kissed every arse he could find, I would've preferred to just really hear the version of Lonely Boy that they talked all over. Way to ruin an oasis of decency in a sea of opiated zombie hell.
As for the Movie stars, most don't deserve a mention, at all. I'll just mention that Josh Hutcherson has the same hat as me, Kristen Stewart IS Avril Lavigne, I don't have high hopes for Andy Sanburg without SNL, Fasbender's Beard is Wierd, as is his facial hair, Posh Spice, in her guise as Kate Beckinsale was a prejudice given human form, McConnaughey still thinks he's in Dazed and Confused, and as for Gary Oldman, Christian Bale and Jason Gordon Levitt- I have a question: if talent is amassed just to sell  Crap to the most lumpen of proles, do you still call it talent, or is propaganda a better word? ( Also, Nolan inadvertently gave me a great joke in his swallowing of the words "Dark knight"- The Doughnut rises. It needs to happen, now.)
I could give less than a deuce about the awards. Seriously, I don't care, and don't think anyone with even Arctic room temperature IQ cares, either. Least of all the audience.
It was just insulting, but I know why it existed in the first place. So, really- how long must we tolerate mass culture?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I just want this on record

Cousin Iggy playing the Black Keys' Lonely Boy is horrible. Just dreadful. I love Iggy, and not just because he's a medium distance relative (he's my Mum's cousin) and Lonely Boy is the second best song from the Akron Duo (  Everlasting Light is their best. No discussion.) but this is just wretched.

Some small thoughts on the new dEUS

dEUS are a band that, in some ways, just can't win. They're from continental Europe, which means that they're invisible to mainstream ( read "American") pop culture. They don't make really esoteric music, so hipsters can't use them as some sort of totem to designate hos sophisticated they are. In fact, it's kind of charming how some UK fans try to "hip them up"- I even have seen, more than once, Drowned in Sound refer to them as "Europe's Sonic Youth", and they're nothing of the sort.  They had a mid-career shake up, going from playing Zappa and Beefheart influenced Alt Rock to a much more straightforward Alt pop sound, which split the fans up, further. So, despite playing more ear pleasing music than 99% of either the pop charts or the Indie blogger favorites on Twitter, they're a cult act.
Here's how they win, anyway- they play better music. I can only relate them to the top echelons of pop and rock music, even though they don't really sound like any of them.  They aren't really a "RIYL" type band. Instead, I hear little bits of everything from Beefheartian skronk, to Brel and Bacharach pop to Afghan Whigs styled soul punk, to doomy bits of Sabbathian blues metal, but all blended nicely into a very fine grained lager.  So, if you're discerning, but have a broad palette, dEUS is for you, even if they don't sound like your other favorite acts.
So, they're shaking things up, again. They're getting a bit more spontaneous, which is a return to the methodology of dEUS mk1, but they're keeping the aesthetics of Mk2- this is still fantastic.  See, I wasn't a fan until mk 2, because the mk 1 improvisations seemed unfinished, rough, and awkward. Mk 2, even when they're a bit looser, as this release is, still hew closely to an aesthetic- no abrupt changes, no awkward bridges, no crowding, all of which marred mk1. Instead, this reminds me of beatnik jazz, only in a rock format. Superlative players taking a familiar form and trying to move that form into an idiosyncratic direction. They're not like a bad jam band choogling along while one player at a time plays scales in E- instead it's a real coherent group following the melody to where it leads, with a half drunken poet reacting in real time. If that doesn't interest you, I think it should.
So, song by song, but quickly, you haven't got all day-
Quatre Mains- The Edge of Seventeen meets Bauhaus playing french bop- the title references two people playing the same instrument- you can guess what the lyrics are about from there.
Sirens- a more Cowboy reading of 'Ghosts' with a lonesome echo.
Hidden Wounds- early 1980's dub post punk as a soundtrack to war stories. Striking, in every sense.
Girls Keep Drinking- Skeletal No Wave Funk meets Captain Beefheart spinning Minneapolis R and B and grinning on an inside joke
Nothings- A R Kane sings a mash note in zero G
The Soft Fall- "Security'( yes, the American title) era Peter Gabriel plays a summer pop song, and drinks wine coolers- as happy as can be.
Crazy about You- Envelope Filter Funk meets Hootie folk pop with a tequila twist.
The Give Up Gene- Stark Beefheart realizations meets Morse code Bill Laswell cocktail hour.
Fire Up the Google Beast Algorithm- Stream of consciousness gets absolutely dangerous
One Thing about Waves- Greg Dulli forcing Pelican to play soulful doom rock.

That's as close as I can explain. Hope I didn't use more obscure references than Dennis Miller on an University of Alexandria research bender....