Wednesday, December 9, 2009 conversation with Paul Shirley

So I figured we'd go with something a little bit different today. I woke up this morning, went to to get my morning sports news fix, and saw a link to this article, which is presented in the context of a conversation between Todd Gallagher and Paul Shirley about whether music (and, especially, popular music) today really sucks, or whether that's just an illusion.

one especially relevant five-paragraph chunk (because, obviously, anything that can't be said in five paragraphs shouldn't be argued... goodness, I'm reifying the prevailing educational structures)

My sadness, then, comes from the realization that you've given up on finding good new music. And obviously, that's where someone -- the program director at a radio station, the head of your favorite label, the manager at Best Buy -- has erred grievously. That person, or group of people, has decided that it's better to go after the dollar of the person who responds to the music of The Rolling Stones and The Kinks by attempting to reproduce their sounds. (Or by continuing to tour those acts.)

That's why the music on rock radio is made by Shinedown and Nickelback. But that's a losing battle, because people eventually get tired of Shinedown and Nickelback, throw up their hands and say, like you, that they'll be happier listening to Tom Petty.

It's nearly the same on the alternative or indie stations. The music continues to get sissified, because that's what sells, and the result is a huge gap. No one's hearing Manchester Orchestra because it doesn't sound like The Rolling Stones, and it's just a little too heavy for 14-year-old girls, so we're left with a gaping chasm that should be filled by, say, Crystal Castles.

But it won't be, because people like you -- and I'm not saying that in a condescending way; as we've discussed, you're normal -- have given up on anything new. If you hear the name Crystal Castles, you think, "Eh, never heard of it."

Don't you see, Todd?! (I'm winding down, losing steam, pleading with you.) Of course you've never heard of it. That's what makes it interesting. But you have to be ready for it to sound different, just like our forebears were, for whatever reason, ready for Chuck Berry to sound different from Glenn Miller.

I find that very interesting.

In response to one of the bands that Paul Shirley mentions here: I've heard of Crystal Castles, but I think they kind of suck; a lot of their sound feels sort of stuck in the 1980s, and I don't feel like they're really pushing anything forward or doing anything (a) innovative or (b) better than has been done before.

No music in this post, you say? Never fear! YouTube is always here!

Crystal Castles - Vanished

If you're looking for something that is pushing at the edges of rock conventionality, here's a couple of posts you might take a look at:

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

The pAper chAse

God is an Astronaut

If you're looking for music that flat-out rocks (in, perhaps, a more traditional sense), try one of these posts:

Jarvis Cocker

White Rabbits

Have a great day, everyone!

(note... I've been looking for a witty sign-off, lately. Something along the lines of "you stay classy, San Diego." Any suggestions? I don't think "life is beautiful, and so are you" has quite enough snark to it, and the "have a great day" I've been going with is a little bit conventional.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Clock Opera. They're British.

Out of London, actually. Here's a video:

Clock Opera - White Noise from Killer on Vimeo.

I think that's pretty cool, myself. I have this hunch that the video, as of right now, is a little better than the music... then again, I'm the guy who's partial to post-rock, acoustic hip-hop, and jazz metal. So this isn't necessarily the sort of thing I usually go for. It's nice, though.

Dinner time! Have a great evening, everyone!

(note: it's frigging COLD out here! like, below 0 Celsius! wtf?! there's ice on the sidewalks! I almost busted my highly toned @55 returning from class this afternoon. It's nice, though, because there's sun. And also warm drinks. I understand now why the Russians make vodka.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight: Thumbzo coming in with a longo mix

Hey y'all!

Hope you're not getting too stressed out as the end of the fall semester, quarter, period, whatever approaches...

If you are, though, here's something to cheer you right on up: a hour-plus mix from Ramsgate, UK artist Thumbzo. If y'all remember some of the remix and mashup posts from earlier this year, this has a lot in common with some of those, albeit (1) it's a bit more dancey, and (2) you probably won't recognize most of the choons. Get off your collective tails and get to dancing, eh? Burn off some of that nervous energy, get yourselves recharged and up for the weekend! And if you decide that a solo cup full of a delicious beverage should be part of that, hey, I won't hold it against you.*

*Note: By delicious beverage, I of course mean soda. We here at AAH would never, ever, ever condone the underage consumption of alcohol. Never. Of course not. We certainly wouldn't.


Thumbzo-Rolldabeats 92 Hardcore Mix-October 09 by thumbzo

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Liam Finn: not just 90210

Can y'all believe that it's December already? I mean, seriously... this last quarter has just flown by. It's already just about finals time, which means it's almost Christmas time, which means it's almost time for the new year.


Anyways - I've been listening to Liam Finn for a little while now, kind of saving him up for a time when I hadn't found anything new in a little bit. Then... this morning, I found out that one of his songs was featured on the new 90210 series. That bummed me out like whoa.

I guess it doesn't change the fact that his music is pretty awesome. I guess.

Tunes! ...or, more accurately: Videos!

Liam Finn - Second Chance

Liam Finn - Better to Be

I'd also like to note that this past weekend was the 10th anniversary of the WTO protests in Seattle. For any of you who like to style yourselves as activists... that's big stuff. Now, I'm no activist, but there's something about community and solidarity and belief to be said coming out of that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Quick Post: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, you ask, your faces upturned quizzically, mouths twisted?

(note - I've gotta run. Like, three minutes from now, I've gotta go somewhere. Otherwise, I'd give you more witty text and more analysis, plus I'd upload a couple of mp3s. Or something.)

Yes, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I read about them a little while ago in an interview that The Dresden Dolls did. From SGM's Myspace:

[...] they reject the elitism of the avant-garde in favor of a reckless populism: They are entertainers. Though not without humor, their often wide-ranging musical and theatrical choices are rarely ironic.

Just what I've been looking for.

Anyways -

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: Widening Eye

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rain Machine: Big Hair and Big Sound

Any of y'all like TV On The Radio?

I ask this because Kyp Malone (this guy, and, yes, he does look kind of like a hobo nerd), one of the leaders of that august assemblage, has put out a solo project under the title of Rain Machine. And it's awesome.

[content warning, before I continue: yes, he uses bad language. bad words. if that offends you, don't listen to his music]

He's definitely got a unique sound. His voice is a strained, warbling thing that alternates between a croon and a shriek; the guitars that underlie most of the album are alternately sparse and overwhelming.

The music is also passionate; it takes on Important Issues (or, perhaps more importantly for the sake of creation, issues that are important to Kyp Malone), and it does so without getting stuck in the preachy, whiny tone that so hinders a lot of art that tries to be political. This is music, first and foremost, and it's pretty dang good music. I like.

Anyways... it's a rainy Wednesday evening. The rainy Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, yeh? Y'all have a good one, enjoy your times of rest and celebration. Enjoy these tracks, too. Peace out.

Rain Machine - New Last Name

Rain Machine - Smiling Black Faces

Rain Machine - Love Won't Save You

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Brightest Diamond: Music for Rainy Days

So I'm going to have a rain theme in my next couple of posts... just be forewarned.

My Brightest Diamond are labelmates of one of my other favorite artists, DM Stith, and there are definitely some sonic similarities (a good thing), but MBD work generally in a much more familiar soundscape.

I've been struggling to come up with a way to describe this band cohesively; descriptions such as 'acoustic/orchestral blues' and 'delicate constructions of precise emotion' touch on what's going on, but don't really get to the core of the issue.

What I can say is that the band's slightly eclectic (but never rushed) sound hovers in the space between image and thought, between raindrops and earth, between continuity and discreteness. Frontwoman Shara Worden's voice is a haunting presence that inhabits the well-worked soundscapes with careful lyrics and unselfconscious quavers and tremors. The sum is something that verges on the hypnotic.

It should be noted also that these couple of tracks are from My Brightest Diamond's first album, Bring Me The Workhorse, which came out in 2006; they've put out a couple of albums since then, but I don't have the mp3s of those.

My Brightest Diamond - Gone Away

My Brightest Diamond - We Were Sparkling

Have a good day, y'all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight: Gridlok

Hey, y'all!

It's the weekend! (and the party just begun!)

Party! (in the USA!)

Dance! (Dance Revolution!)

Neurofunk! (... uh... I got no witty followup to that.)

Gridlok! (has a new album coming out next week!)

Granted, I don't actually have his new album yet (sad panda), but I do have a few of his older tracks. So here are a couple of those, some fun ish to get your party started right.

Gridlok - California Schemin

Gridlok - Sherlok Holmes

Have a great night, y'all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed

So I picked up Frank Turner's new(ish) album, Poetry of the Deed, and figured that I'd throw up a couple of tracks and talk about it a little bit.

For those of you who aren't necessarily familiar with Frank Turner, that's completely okay - I'd never heard of him until about four days ago, either. Apparently, though, he used to front Million Dead, which was some sort of post-hardcore British punk band that broke up a few years ago, and he's been making folk music ever since. He's also written a song called "I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous". Hm.

Anyways - the music on Poetry of the Deed is really a mixed bag. There are a few tracks that are completely awesome (like the three I'm putting up here), as well as a few that aren't quite so strong, due mostly to little clunky bits that mess up the sonic and lyrical flow - in the title track, for instance, after a reference to Baudelaire and a verse whose lyrics go "Pentameter in attack, iambic pulse in the veins, / free verse powered off the street light mains, / an Iliad played out without a shadow of doubt / between the end of the club and the sun coming out. /
Leave Kerouac at his desk, we have romance in our risks" - which is just drop-dead gorgeous stuff - Turner inexplicably decides that rhyming, over and over, "poetry" and "show it me" is a good idea, thus completely ruining the ending of that track.

So. There are moments of cringeworthy lyrical clunkiness - but, at the same time, there are tracks that are just wonderfully done; "Live Fast Die Old" has gotten a lot of hype, and worthily so - it flat-out rocks, and its thoughtful lyrics belie the seeming ease with which the song flows; it's obvious that the track is well-crafted and well-worked, but it feels effortless. Lyrics like "We can never sell out because we never brought in, / And if they build it back up then we'll swing back in town / and bring the whole thing down again" work nicely with the guitar, piano, and drums that dominate the track.

Take a listen! And have a great Sunday afternoon, eh?

Frank Turner - Live Fast Die Old

Frank Turner - Sons of Liberty

and, finally, just to have some flashy video up in here -
though, seriously, the song is pretty awesome -

Frank Turner - The Road

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight: Hardstep

Y'all like hardstep?

Y'all know y'all like hardstep. Thick bass, classy drum patterns, stuff you can dance to.

It's Thursday night, y'all! Classes are done for the week (unless you have Friday classes, in which case I pity you), and you know what time it is! So tune in, turn off, drop out, drop in, switch off, switch on, and explode... just don't blame me if/when Public Safety comes knocking on y'all's dorm room doors!

I'd like to offer thanks to NB for clueing me in to IQ Collective... you know who you are, and you rock.

I'd like also to throw out a shoutout to all the beautiful people out there... especially if you don't know who you are. Because that makes you rock harder.

What're you waiting for?! Start up the strobe! Hit the play button! Get your dance on

IQ Collective - Mode One

Resonant Evil - Are You For Real

Resonant Evil - Hold Your Breath

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quick Post: Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications

Hey y'all!

I don't know quite how 'indie' Jarvis Cocker is, seing how he used to front Pulp and he's signed to Rough Trade Records... but his music is tremendous fun, and there's new music from him out now! This is the title track from his new album, "Further Complications", which dropped all of two days ago. Hope you enjoy!

...and it's time for me to head out.

Have a great afternoon!

(whoo! four minute post. who says that you need free time to be a blogger?)

(also: whoo! two posts in two days!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DM Stith - Lingering Traces of an Unfelt Presence

Hey, y'all... sorry it's been a little while since I've posted - life has a funny way of getting busy and eating up spare time.

Anyways - I realized this morning that I'd never posted on DM Stith. This caused some slight embarrassment, if only because (1) a lot of people have never heard of him and (2) he's completely freakin' amazing. I'm going to post three of his music videos for y'all today, all from his album "Heavy Ghost", which came out in March of this year.

[disclaimer, before I begin: I've heard from folks that DM Stith's music is a very bad idea if you're high. I would of course have no firsthand knowledge of this, but it seems reasonable. So. If you're high, be warned.]

DM Stith - Isaac's Song

For those of you who are counting, Isaac's Song is the first track from Heavy Ghost. Simple enough, lyrically - but absolutely haunting and just drop-dead gorgeous. It's probably worth mentioning at this point that DM Stith - DM stands for David Michael, his first and middle names - is a protege of Sufjan Stevens and is signed to his label, Asthmatic Kitty Records.

DM Stith - Pity Dance

Pity Dance is the second track off of Heavy Ghost, and it starts getting into some of the absolute lyrical brilliance that DM Stith features - lines like "I say bring me sunflowers and bring me a landscape of clouds and rain / And let the sky give up her many, heavy hammered warnings"... wow. I'd also like to comment on the music video, which is simultaneously creepy and absolutely wonderful.

DM Stith - BMB

The complete lyrics to this track:

From in your car we saw the fire
and we could feel it on our skin
Slick licorice road, our glassy eyes,
shared in the argument of undefended light
Oh, did you say?
What did you say?
Oh did you say?
What did you say?


Hope y'all have a great day (and how could you not, after seeing those music videos?)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight - Five Infected Maroon Earworms

Hey y'all! Another Thursday... the end of another straight-up awesome week... let's party, eh? Correspondingly - let's party with AAH (who better?).

Got three fun tracks for y'all tonight, all of them suitable for turning up loud and getting your dance on.

First up - from Israeli psychedelic trance band Infected Mushroom, the title track off their 2007 album Vicious Delicious. Some killer stuff there.

After that - two remixes from San Francisco mashup artist DJ Earworm. The first one is a little bit older, a club workup of several different Maroon Five songs; the second one is his newest piece, a mashup of a bunch of different Sean Kingston songs. All irresistibly catchy, all a lot of fun.

Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious

DJ Earworm - Love and Wonder (Club Mix)

DJ Earworm - Beautiful Mashup

Hope y'all have a great night! Party hearty, party safe!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Johannes Hopfner: Blues from the Other Side of the World

So I was wandering around the internet the other night, putting off my reading, and I came across this guy, Johannes Hopfner. And then I listened to his music, and I was like, "hey! this guy's pretty awesome!" (because when I'm talking to myself, I don't use capital letters). And then I read about him a little bit, and I was like, "hey! this guy's not from around here!"

He's French-Danish, actually, which kind of surprised me, if only because there's not much of an accent evident in his music... and because his sonic palette is exactly the sort of indie-blues I'd expect to hear coming out of the mid or northern South. Not so much Europe.

Anyways... I've got his album "One Song, One Take" - a reference to his method of recording it - which came out not all that long ago. Take a listen! If you like acoustic blues, I think you're gonna like this. I like acoustic blues. I like this.

Johannes Hopfner - Over

Johannes Hopfner - Walk Away Leave Away

Off to the library! Have a great day, all you beautiful people out there. And we're all beautiful people.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Duke and the King

There's a startling beauty in the music of The Duke And The King; they write and perform songs that have the warm clarity of a lake in summer and the slow melancholy of the moon shining through early morning fog.

I suppose I should have expected this, to a certain extent: this band, after all, includes Simone Felice, a member of The Felice Brothers (who I wrote about in September), and The Duke and the King's sound is reminiscent of some of the more contemplative moments in The Felice Brothers' canon.

Is there a point at which I'm required to acknowledge that, yes, I get the reference in the group's name? As the band's Myspace points out, "Named after the traveling Shakespeare hustlers in 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' these curious blood-brothers (and sweet sister) have found a home together, a traveling Church of Harmony and Sin where its OK to french kiss your cousin and all strays are welcome to come out of the cold and sing along to these songs of love, loss, pathos, and hope." Love, loss, pathos, and hope. Who could ask for more than that?

Anyways... here are a couple of tracks from the group's debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, (and, yes, I get that reference, too) which came out just a couple of months ago.

The Duke and the King - If You Ever Get Famous

The Duke and the King - One More American Song

Hope y'all have a terrific (and safe) Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight: Swing Low and RAVE OUT, BRAH

Hey, y'all! Welcome to another edition of Attempts at Hip's famous Thursday Night Spotlight.

Now, I know that just because it's the Thursday before Halloween, y'all aren't passing up the parties, right? There's no point in saving up the raving for the weekend - let's get it on!

Got some Pendulum for y'all tonight... classic Drum & Bass, probably best enjoyed with a blacklight, some glowsticks, white t-shirts, markers, and (if possible) the famous Jack Kelly ravedance. Y'all know it, y'all love it...

Anyways - a couple of tracks off their album In Silico - (and sorry for not embedding the mp3s... my internet is being mildly retarded at the moment)

Pendulum - Propane Nightmares

Pendulum - Granite

Edit 30 Oct. 9:00 AM - subbed actual music videos for blank screens. Audio is the same.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

James Marsters and Anthony Stewart Head: Oh My Lord...

As I promised in my last post (and sorry it's been a little bit... I had a presentation yesterday that took some significant getting ready for, and some significant letting-down-of-hair after - figuratively, not literally, since I've got a buzz cut), I've got music today from a couple of gentlemen who any little former nerdlets out there (and I use that term not as a pejorative, since I, despite my current assimilibility, used to be one) undoubtedly had crushes on at some point... James Marsters and Anthony Stewart Head.

Marsters has actually put out several albums, both as soloist and as lead singer; the song I've uploaded is the title track from his newest, titled "Like a Waterfall." Marsters' work, from what I've heard, tends to skew towards the country/blues side of the musical spectrum, which isn't necesarily my usual taste, but it's nice every once in a while - and, after all, it's always nice to hear a little banjo.

The only album of Mr. Head's that I've been able to find is the unpromisingly titled "Music for Elevators", a collaborative effort with George Sarah. I've uploaded the song "This Town in the Rain", the eighth track off of that album, but I don't know that it's necessarily a representative tune, if only because the album itself is so dang eclectic, it's hard to get a firm grasp on the tenor of it (no pun intended).

Are either of these songs, or either of these albums, going to change the world or the face of the musical landscape? Don't kill me, all you little fangirl (or fanboy, I'm not prejudiced) tweens out there, but no - they're pleasant enough, but they're nothing special. But they are pleasant, and they might provide a passing thrill to those of you who, like me, still have fond memories of things like "Once More With Feeling", or of any of the work of these two actors. And there's a place for that, I think. Anyways - hope y'all enjoy, hope you have a great day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Night Spotlight: Loo and Placido

So, for whatever reason (by which I mean that we're all busy folks) it's been a while since we've run this feature. And that really is a shame, because, in the grand scheme of things, there's not much that's more important than having some hot tunes to dance to on Thursday nights.

Am I right?

Of course I'm right.

So - with the first Thursday Night Spotlight since, uh, the last one, Attempts at Hip gives you a 23-minute mix from French mashup artists Loo & Placido. Killer beats, fragments of familiarity - where else are you going to get RATM, The Sex Pistols, Daft Punk, and oh so many wonderful elements together? - and, overall tons of fun. Enjoy!

Oh, btw... next post... I'm not saying yet exactly what's gonna happen... but it might or might not involve a certain goth/punk vampire... and/or a certain tweed-wearing, tea-sipping, dark-past-having librarian...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quick Post: The Twilight Sad

Hey y'all! Hope you're having a great morning (or afternoon, if you're on the East Coast).

Things I'm Excited About Today:

(1) Leaves changing color!
(2) Class in a mere couple of hours!
(3) Coffee! Hot, two sugars, no cream.
(4) Rain! Okay, not really.
(5) I got the new The Twilight Sad album! I'm still not quite sure what to make of it - I liked their debut, "Fourteen Albums and Fifteen Winters", but this has kind of a harder feel to it, with some U2-type guitar stuff going on. Still, the vocals are awesome, and the lyrics, which feature lines like "There's a hand in the till / still believing what she sells / only girl in the town / with her fingers in eyelids" are as georgeous as they've ever been.

Anyways - I've embedded "I Became a Prostitute", one of the singles from "Forget the Night Ahead", their new album, which dropped near the end of September. Enjoy!

And have a great afternoon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taking it Back

Let's go historical here for a minute. I mean, not medieval, exactly, but close.

Early August: I join Attempts at Hip. In my first post, I note that I'm a devotee of "chilled-out, acoustic, pseudo-philosophical" music. In that post, I deliver chilled-out, acoustic, pseudo-philosophical music in the form of Lakeland band Joon.

Late August: I move to Seattle to start graduate school. In my first post from the West Coast, I share one-woman band Blue Roses - which is very, very chilled out, acoustic, and pseudo-philosophical.

Mid October: I deliver, for y'all's entertainment and edification, another one-woman band, this time from Seattle: Tiny Vipers. Another acoustic endeavour, Tiny Vipers is the nom de plume of Jessy Fortino, who is signed to Sub Pop Records (making her a bit more mainstream than I would usually write about, but her stuff is so immediately, urgently awesome that I couldn't resist).

The best way I can think of to describe Tiny Vipers is something along the lines of a compelling, urgent sereness; Fortino's voice isn't the strongest I've ever heard, but it melds hypnotically with the sparse guitar arrangements she creates. This is really high-quality stuff, and I'd urge you all to take a listen.

Tiny Vipers - Development

Tiny Vipers - Time Takes

Have a great afternoon!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Capitalist Pig-Dogs! And The Insider

In a late-stage capitalist society, one might argue, music serves a function not unlike that of the university, albeit on a more populist level: the reproduction of the prevailing (state) ideology. One might further argue that the specific mechanism of this ideological apparatus, especially as transnational cultural industry begins to render state boundaries more irrelevant (as the twin flows of capital and labor become global rather than regional) is to reproduce the prevailing ideology via the illumination of the boundaries thereof; that is, in a late-stage capitalist society, music serves to show the boundaries of acceptable behaviors within the context of seeming rebellion.

Both the subsumption and the paradox of this apparent rebellion are easily visible in the profit motive and industrialization of music: no longer an oral or folk tradition, though the argument could be made that such traditions fit neatly into the feudal system, with 'groupies', drugs, and other elements of the so-called 'rock 'n roll lifestyle' composing perhaps a symbolic subset of the traditional Droit de Cuissage, the rise of the "music industry" shows clearly the hypocrisy of artists who claim to distrust the so-called system while at the same time profiting from its capitalist-industrialist nature.

Oh, and here's a couple of tracks from a new album that Seattle instrumental hip-hop artist The Insider just put out earlier this year. Album is available for free at this site. Don't be a part of the system. Check it out.

The Insider - The Insider Theme

The Insider - A Little Woozy, I Guess

Have a great day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Daring Young Man...

So after I wrote my post on Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I received a flood a bunch a few an email somebody mentioned to me in passing that I might want to take a look at another post-rock band, God Is An Astronaut. Since I'm (as are Tyce and JK) always eager to please the readers of this noble blog, I took a look.

Dude. This band is friggin' awesome.

I mean, I don't know if I like them better than GY!BE - and I don't think there's necessarily a direct comparison to be made between the two - but God Is An Astronaut has a few things going for them. Shall I make a short list? Why not.

Things Going For God Is An Astronaut
(1) An awesome name
(2) Delicious bite-sized post-rock niblets
(3) No vocals to get in the way of the instrumental goodness.
(4) They're Irish.

That enough to make you want to take a listen? I hope so... anyways, here are a couple of tracks from the band's 2008 self-titled album. Time to go study!

God Is An Astronaut - Echoes

God Is An Astronaut - Zodiac

edit, moments after posting: I don't use the term 'niblets' as a negative thing, here. Niblets can be delicious. Sometimes it's nicer to have a bite of steak than a full-on 20-ounce T-bone. Mmm, steak...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swing Baby Swing

Y'all feel like a little jazz tonight? It's a beautiful Wednesday, ya know - I've got chicken and vegetables simmering in my slowcooker, textbooks sitting on my desk, and a beautiful evening fading slowly towards darknessoutside my window. Let's groove, eh?

As always, though, I'm bringing y'all some ish with a little bit of a twist to it. The Diablo Swing Orchestra isn't what y'all might call conventional. There's sure as heck some danceable beats in there - 'Balrog Boogie,' the first track on the "Butcher's Ballroom" album, starts out with basic hi-hat and upright bass on the intro - but then bursts into a full-throated electric-guitar-and-trumpet-and-cello pseudo-roar, followed moments later by singer who's obviously well-schooled in screamo, followed in turn by an operatic soprano whose voice soars and floats over the continuingly turgid pseudo-jazz undercurrents.

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Balrog Boogie

Sound complicated? A quick glance at the band's Wikipedia page is enough to make you wince... for one thing, the band is listed as "Swedish avant-garde metal." Ouch. While I can't really argue with that, there's a lot more to the Diablo Swing Orchestra than such a limiting and cliched description. The Wikipedia page also lists a long and complicated anti-establishment pseudo-backstory.

Once you get past the pretentiousness, though, there's a really fun band here; more than that, there's a really fun band here that has the potential to ascend towards the top echelons of jazz-metal greatness (wait... who else, exactly, might be in that echelon? I'm asking this kind of seriously. If any of y'all know, shoot me an email - Anyways, I'll leave y'all with a link to DSO's Myspace and a page where they've put up the entire Butcher's Ballroom album for free listening and download. Go check it out! Worst case, your eardrums will bleed a little bit (warning: a didgeridoo is involved). Best case, you'll find a cool new band with an awesome, freely available album.

Hope y'all enjoy! I'm off to be pretentious and enjoy the Seattle evening.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Tragedy Hath Occured

So as the headline reads, a horrible tragedy hath befallen the young Attempts At Hip. The hosting website that I use for mp3 reformatted themselves..or something like that, which has rendered all of the mp3s from my posts useless. But we'll move on! Just don't click back ha!
So allow me to redeem myself with a BRAND NEW single from VAMPIRE WEEKEND from their upcoming album Contra which will drop in January. We'll get more new music up soon!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Classic. Listen. Know. Now.

A warning: this isn't new music that I'm writing about today. It's a decade or more old. It's also pretty famous, if not nearly famous enough.

Any of y'all post-rock fans out there almost certainly know GY!BE already; they're sort of the linchpins to the entire genre. Any of y'all who haven't heard of Godspeed... I'm tempted to say something along the lines of 'shame on you', but I'm not going to. I'll just say that you're missing out on something truly special, something that verges on (if it doesn't cross over fully into the land of) mind-blowing.

I say this without equivocation: the first time I really sat down and listened to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 1997 album 'F#A#oo' (that's 'F-sharp A-sharp infinity), my mind was utterly blown. This isn't to say that there isn't good stuff on GY!BE's other albums - I'm fond of 'Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven' and 'Tiny Silver Hammers' - but F#A#oo was what made me fall in love.

This isn't pop music, and if you go into it looking for pop music, you'll be confused and put off. The song I'm including with this post, 'The Dead Flag Blues', is slow in places. It has room to be; it's 16 1/2 minutes long. It makes me think of the ocean on a warm, cloudless night. It builds as calmly and inexorably as the incoming tide, solemn guitar and strings rolling in like breakers past a sandbar. The only words in the song are from a poem, and they're spoken (not sung) in a stark bass voice: "The car's on fire / and there's no driver at the wheel / and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides," the voice intones. Cheery stuff, I know... but brilliant.

Another warning: this isn't music to be listened to through cheap computer speakers. Not that any music should be, but you can get the gist of Britney Spears or Taylor Swift no matter how scratchy and flat the sound might be. Not so much this. GY!BE is music that demands to be experiences in quality - good speakers, or at least a decent pair of headphones. The difference in the experience is truly astounding.

Gahh - anyways. Listen. If you like it, pick up the album, or any of Godspeed's other work. F#A#oo has two other tracks, 'East Hastings' and 'Providence', both of which are, if not equally jaw-dropping, beautiful in their own right.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - The Dead Flag Blues

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick Posting: A Hawk And A Hacksaw,

Sorry my pace has dropped off a bit... I've kind of gotten into the flow of the quarter now and OH MY GOD THE PACE. (for the eight or so of you who made it through Honors with me: remember Honors 4? It's like I've got that class. Every day. For four hours.) So... I've been a little bit busy.

Anyways: I can compensate! By posting YouTube videos, which take less time to embed than mp3s!

So, then: I've got a treat for all you lovers of violin-and-accordion duets! That's right... you guessed it... or, more probably, didn't...

A Hawk And A Hacksaw - I Am Not A Gambling Man

Kind of interesting, no? I'm still trying to figure out whether I like it or not, precisely, but it's at least something to consider.

In terms of things I do most definitely like, though, I give you Art Brut... or would have, except that they're apparently being kind of pathetic and have disabled embedding on their newest music video. So NO PROMOTION FOR YOU! (note: I'm not even going to tag them in the post! because that'll show them... or something)

I'd also like to mention that I went to see It Might Get Loud last night. That movie was completely, completely amazing - if you're interested at all in music, or more generally in the creative process, go. Watch it. Get a bucket of popcorn (light on the butter; one can never be too careful of one's arterial health), get a seat near the front, and let the sheer awesomeness of it make you dance like a spaz in your seat (with no offense meant to spazzes). Jimmy Page is amazing. That is all.

Have a great afternoon!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sarah Jarosz: Because, On Occasion, I Creep

So the other night about three AM, I was sitting by myself, in a dark room, reading peoples' facebook pages when I came across (in one particular friend's 'favorite music' section) Sarah Jarosz. Being, by nature, a curious sort of fellow, I said to myself: 'Hey! That's an interesting name!' I then clicked on the link to the lovely Ms. Jarosz's website (note: I don't have any basis to say whether she's actually lovely or not, since I'd (1) categorize that as a personality trait and (2) have never met her).

Upon the website loading into my browser (yay Firefox!), I saw that the headline item in the 'latest news' section was that Ms. Jarosz was going to perform on Prairie Home Companion on September 26. Being generally a non-Garrison-Keillor-loving sort of fellow - no offense to the man or the show, it just doesn't light me up the way it does some folks - I didn't take that as an encouraging sign that I would love her music. I pressed on, however, as I usually do - because, after all, anything's worth listening to once, right? (please don't kill me, sir... please...)

Anyways, all fear of Mr. T aside (he has a tank, you know... and so can you!) when I listened to Ms. Jarosz's music, I was pretty much blown away. There's an unusual level of virtuosity in her banjo playing (don't hold the instrument against her - she uses it well), and her voice is smooth as a velvet hand. While some of her songs - her cover of The Decemberists' 'Shankill Butchers', for example - are relatively unadorned, they never feel overly simplistic; and when, in other tracks, she chooses to go for a more multi-layered and fuller feel, the arrangements never overwhelm the songs, instead adding depth and color.

Take a listen! I think you'll like. All songs are from Ms. Jarosz's debut (and, so far, only) album, 'Song Up In Her Head', which dropped in June of this year. The album's available on Amazon and on iTunes, and you can preview every song on the music page of Ms. Jarosz's website.

Sarah Jarosz - Shankill Butchers

Sarah Jarosz - Song Up In Her Head

Sarah Jarosz - Broussard's Lament

Have a great Sunday afternoon, everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick Post!

I've gotta run in a minute here, so I'll do this quick and nasty (just the way you like it, I know... yeah, baby, that's right).

Patrick Wolf is a pretty awesome, significantly flamboyant British singer who's been putting out music for the last decade or so... one friend of mine (thanks, H) described him as a talented version of Mika.

Take a listen! hope you have a great afternoon.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Album Review

So due to this blog I've been recruited to write music reviews for my University publication, and luckily the editor is allowing me to get my hands on some pretty neat stuff. This week I listened to the new Monsters of Folk superband self titled record that drops tomorrow. Considering that I haven't really researched much new music lately, I'm going to post it with their single Say Please

The other day I learned a bit about folk music. As I understand it, folk music came to be a type of layman’s music that the normal person could play on their front deck and not have to become a legitimate recording artist to enjoy when records began to explode into general life. Folk music passed down different stories that were easily translated through song as well. Some people describe folk music as “old songs with no known author”; well, if that is our working definition then Monsters of Folk need to find a new genre. Monsters of Folk is a superband consisting of well known musicians including Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Mike Mogis, as well as the well noted Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, and M. Ward.
Alright, now that all the logistics are in place, let’s get to talking about Monster of Folk’s self titled freshman album.
When I think about folk music I generally think about people sitting on a porch with a guitar and just singing about what has happened in their lives, and while this album definitely evokes that feeling, it evokes many more. While listening to Monsters of Folk I went through feeling like I was riding horses looking for bad guys with John Wayne, to riding in a rusty old Ford truck through crop fields, to flashing the peace sign at an anti-Vietnam war rally. This album covers a ton of area within the folk region. Some of it feels very Elvis-ish and poppy, and some of it feels very Blitzen Trapper indie folk. The majority of songs have a very grooving beat that makes one tap their feet without realizing. Losin’ Yo’ Head stands out on the album as one of the stronger songs. Losin’ Yo’ Head is one of the more up-beat songs on the album, it is very full sounding and is closer to the poppy Elvis sound I mentioned earlier. I like it.
One thing I really enjoy about this band is their wit. The song Baby Boomer strings together backhanded slights very craftily at (presumably) the American government for things such as the Vietnam War and September 11th with lines such as “we don’t agree about September, can we agree on Vietnam”. Songs like Baby Boomer keep the album moving very quickly. Next on the album is a song entitled Man Named Truth that exemplifies why the band is called Monsters of Folk. This song contains just about every sound from a cowboy movie. I keep expecting to hear a whip crack. The song is written as a traditional folk song keeping the lyrics very wordy to explain things such as “fell in love with identical twins/lived 34 summers between the two of them”. This keeps old tradition strong and makes one really think about the lyrics, which aren’t hard to decipher.
The first three songs on the album are a tiny bit different from the rest of the record. The first song – Dear God (Sincerely M.o.F.) – sounds like what Monsters of Folk would expect the next wave of folk music to sound like. It’s very minimalist feeling. And by that I mean there is a lot of picking guitar chords, a constant, somewhat boring drum beat (which reminds me of Sublime’s Summertime) and lots of low bass hits that just create an odd, yet still folky song. The next song – Say Please – sounds very 70s, but feels like a song written for movie credits. Next third song – Whole Lotta Losin’ employs a synthesizer with a classic driving folk beat and piano that mesh to make a great song. All three songs seem to be experimental before the album really jumps into full folk swing.
All in all I feel like Monsters of Folk have done a good job creating a much hyped folk album. I do feel as though some of the music falls a tiny bit short of being “traditional” folk, but they definitely hit on the “contemporary” scale. I’ve got to say, I did not enjoy this album on first listen through. I am not a huge folk listener generally, but I do have a taste for it when in the right mood. Monsters of Folk is just upbeat enough that it keeps you very into it. The songs go by very quickly, and the lyrics are great to actually listen to. This album is definitely for people with a taste for folk, but it is possible that some more mainstream listeners may warm up to it if they give the record a chance.
Monsters of Folk, in my opinion, has successfully brought back an old sound and cultivated it enough to sound appealable to many different people. This begs the question though, if this music has been created as such, is it really folk music? I say who cares, buy the album and enjoy it.
Monsters of Folk - Say Please

Grynch: Not such a mean one...

As I wander (neither weak nor weary) through Seattle, I keep coming across hip-hop music with which I'm unfamiliar, but which strikes me as being, for lack of a better descriptor, very cool.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about hip-hop, rap, or whatever other nomenclature you choose to append to the rapid-fire pronouncing of rhymes over (preferably) dope beats... but I know quality when I hear it.

One hip-hop artist whose name keeps coming up when I approach DJs with questions on the level of, 'pardon, sir, but might you enlighten me as to the name of this artist? I find his work to be fly' is (once I get past the glares and the occasional smackings upside of haids) is Grynch. Having run into his music on no less than three occasions - including one at a Korean barbecue restaurant - I decided to search him out on the internet.

After suffering fruitlessly through literally four Seuss-related pages due to my lack of knowledge as to the unconventional spelling of his artistic pseudonym, I chanced upon a page which broke down a number of local hip-hop artists, Grynch among them - and I from there found his MySpace. Cradled in the venerable arms of that most scorned of social networking sites, I found a link to his actual website... upon which was and is (and is to come?) available for free download a veritable plethora of his music - including the tracks which I'm sharing with y'all this beautiful evening.

On this first track, "My Volvo," which was the first of Grynch's songs that I heard, he waxes lyrical about the virtues, not of b*tches and bling, but of the sort of beater we've all driven at some point in the past: "I've laughed in that car / I've cried in that car / knock on wood, I'll probably die in that car," he says, between listing the eccentric charms of his whip's shortcomings - and I kind of believe him.

Grynch - My Volvo

This second track, "Time," is perhaps a little bit more conventional in terms of hip-hop tropes, focusing on the changes Grynch sees as he moves through Seattle; but if the trope is a bit famiiar, the self-assuredness of the MC's flow, complete with some truly slick multisyllabic rhymes and a laudable willingness to deviate fom a predictable lyrical rhythm when necessary, make the track a more than enjoyable listen.

Grynch - Time

If you like what you hear from these two tracks, I'd urge you to check out Grynch's other work - it's good, it's fun, and it's free, and, really, who could ask for more than that?

Have a great Monday night, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another Quick Post!

Free time comes rarely now in these parts. I apologize for the lack of updates. I was playing guitar a few minutes ago and stumbled upon one of my favorite bands whom I haven't listen to in far too long. Kings of Convenience are great. Here's one of my favorite videos ever of one of my favorite songs of one of my favorite bands. That's a pretty legitimate favorite!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oxytocin: Funky Beats And Nice Harmonix

...I'm sorry for the pun. Really, I am. It was just there. I couldn't help myself. THE PEOPLE WHO MADE ROCK BAND HAVE A REAL BAND. And it's awesome - some of the funnest hip-hop I've heard in a while (though I would note that Seattle has an amazing underground hip-hop scene... more on that, hopefully, in my next post).

Anyways - because nothing says 'hip' like a hip-hop group that has one black guy, that is composed entirely of employees of a video game development company, and that's named after a neurotransmitter - I present: Oxytocin.

Awesome poster, isn't it?

Anyways, from the first moments of the pseudo-gothic intro to the first song, "Ludlow", you realize that this isn't going to be a typical hip-hop album. By the time the narrator is finished talking to an alien in the same track, you realize that, hey - this isn't just out of the ordinary, it's really frickin' cool.

Oxytocin - Ludlow

If there's one flaw to this album, it's that it's a little bit self-indulgent and near-schizophrenic... then again, the entire thing is available for free from the band's website, so it's not like they're costing themselves income. Case in point: the album's fifth track, 'Cathode Rays' which is done in 8-bit. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I mean, it's pretty good as an 8-bit track - and it's definitely got some funk to it, but it doesn't, to me, fit the tone of the rest of the album. (note: if you've been reading AAH for a while, this isn't the first 8-bit track we've posted...)

Oxytocin - Cathode Rays

So... yeah. When Oxytocin stick to what they know, though, they do it really, really well - as evidenced by the final track I'm linking to this afternoon, "Do it for me", which spotlights Nay (AKA The Beatles: Rock Band Lead Producer Naoko Takamoto)'s vocals over a bugged-out, syncopated synth-orchestra beat, and which unequivocally kicks the stuffing out of a lot of more commercial work.

Oxytocin - Do It For Me

So there's a nice sampling of the sound that Oxytocin puts out in their self-titled debut album... if you like it, you can, as I've mentioned, get it for free off of their website. Hope you enjoy!

Have a great Thursday evening!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick Post!

So I heard this the other day and it blew my mind (I say that a lot it seems). Friendly Fires has dropped a new single entitled Kiss of Life. This song came out just at the end of august so you may have heard it, but here's the video. Man, can't wait for their new album - whenever that is. Check this out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back In The Day

As I promised in my last post, we've got an artist today who some of y'all might remember from his time at Stetson.

Violinist, guitarist, vocalist, and pianist Marques Toliver lived in Nemec Hall for a little while, which was where I met him - and, though the period he spent at Stetson was far too short for the tastes of anyone who knew him, he made a strong impression during that time.

Lately, he's been out in The Real World (not the MTV version), making music: busking in the New York subway system and, now, performing in England. Starting mid-October, he'll be performing on the Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson tour, which goes from New York down through the South, then swings up the West coast (including a November stop in Seattle).

Toliver's music strikes me as an eclectic mishmash of influences - Southern gospel, acoustic folk, and jazz maybe the most prominent of those. It's a mix that strains sometimes at the edge of expectation, but tends to retreat before stepping into dissonance or imbalance, meaning that it winds up being a very pleasant listen.

But you don't have to take my word for it!

Marques Toliver - Moth to a Flame

Marques Toliver - The Wishing Song

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Felice Brothers: No Weathermen Needed, Thanks

Do you remember the first time you heard Bob Dylan singing? The nasal drawl, the guitar, the lyrics that, at their best, hovered just on the edge of intelligibility?

Take a listen to The Felice Brothers, and you'll remember that feeling. I'm not saying that they're the second coming of the honorable Mr. Zimmerman, but the similarities are unmistakable - especially in the voice of lead singer Ian Felice and the general folk/blues veritas that the group enjoys.

The brothers performed on the New York subway system before they began touring - something they have in common with the next artist I'll talk about (teaser! you'll have to wait until Sunday to read about him... but if you went to Stetson in 2005, you know him very well). Lately, they've been touring across the southern United States; pretty soon, they'll be heading over to Europe.

I've been listening to these guys pretty consistently for the last couple of months, as anyone who worked with me this summer at Stetson can attest; it's just really solid music.

I've uploaded a song from each of The Felice Brothers' two mainstream albums:

First, from their eponymous debut album, "Frankie's Gun"

Second, from their sophomore album "Yonder is the Clock" (which came out in April of this year), "Chicken Wire"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Voodoo Economics: Dude. Trippy.

What, you say? Yup. Mmhmm. Yarly. Anyways - Voodoo Economics. Formed in 2005; one EP and two albums out - and available for free on their website - currently on hiatus.

Not enough information for you? Try this: they're a high concept band. What's the high concept?

Megatsunami hits; dead bodies reach critical mass, and meat wakes up. Girl talks to meat; meat talks back.

Yes, meat. Red stuff, tasty? Yup.

Weird enough?

All that aside, though, they've got a really cool sound - kind of like a bluesed-out, slowed-down Nine Inch Nails, but with a female lead vocalist. And since (as I might have mentioned) all their music is free (!) it won't cost you anything to check out.

I've loaded two of their tracks here; the first one (hit soft like a featherload of bricks) is from their first album, if::then::iminami. The second one (Meathook) is from their second album, Nighttime Sabbaticals.

Voodoo Economics - hit soft like a featherload of bricks

Voodoo Economics - Meathook

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Dodos: An Intersting Avenue of Folk

My homework assignment was to check out the band The Dodos. Homework for a blog? Thanks a lot Jack. But this was a great band. I looked up these guys online and several sites described them as psychedelic folk. (WTF is that?) But after listening to them for a while, it really seemed to describe them well. You'll hear throughout their new album, Time to Die, the chimes of a Keaton Snyder playing vibraphone. Their repetitive and syncopated drumming and the interesting instrumentation (xylophones, vibraphones, and the occasional toy piano) give folk another new direction to explore. I'll leave you with Fables, off the aforementioned album, Time to Die. Let us know what you think. (Personally it reminds me of The Shins, but if you disagree tell me off!)

The Dodos - Fables
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Sunday, September 6, 2009

MYMNKA: The Icarus Account

     So it’s finally Labor Day weekend and we’ve all got a little time off. Can’t beat that right? Talk about needing it too, it seems like this day off always comes just when we’re beginning to get overwhelmed, doesn’t it? Anyway today I come to you with a very exciting Music You Might Not Know About. This is exciting firstly, because the guys in this band are not only awesome individuals, but good friends. Secondly, because the music is mind-blowing. Third because these guys are going to be blowing up (already are). And lastly, because I’ve had the privilege of playing on the same stage with them, and that’s pretty exciting.
The Icarus Account
     Ok, so let’s start at the basics. The Icarus Account consists of two guys, Ty and Trey. They’re twins, believe it or not, and both massively talented. They’re Christian and not afraid to show it. They hale from Fort Myers, Florida and have been playing music for a while now. The Icarus Account plays intense acoustic music and when I say acoustic, I mean all sorts of acoustics. I dare you to listen for all the different instruments one can hear within their record. Though fret not, there are full band songs, and if you thought the acoustic songs sound great, then get ready for some ear-delightfulness. Their debut album, Mayday, has been well received around the country and considering they were unsigned at the time the album dropped, it was an impressive release. I bought the album from Trey one night after seeing them play at a local venue and it was definitely a smart move. Mayday was on repeat not only on my computer, but in my head, for a few weeks. These songs are catchy! I have not had a single person hear this band and have anything but positive words to say about them. And rightfully so.
     The most insane aspect of The Icarus Account is that while doing all the above mentioned items, these guys have been in college. Talk about a busy life and some crazy multitasking! Personally, I also have to add in that Ty and Trey are just about two of the nicest guys I've ever met. Not to mention probably some of the most talented musicians around right now. Trust me, you'll realize this quickly upon listening!
     I spoke with The Icarus Account the other day to get a little update on what they have been up to the past few months and there’s some pretty awesome developments in their camp. The guys have been working on a brand new album and will shipping out to LA to finish it later this month. Love is the Answer will be recorded over the next few months and should be released on December 1st, obviously making it the best stocking stuffer this Christmas season (I’m already excited). Love is the Answer will be a split album with five acoustic songs and five full band songs. The Icarus Account will be touring through October and November so visit their Myspace and check out some dates. You’ve got to see these guys live, I promise you won't be disappointed and c'mon, have I ever let you down? Now listen to some of this music!
The Icarus Account - Proud
The Icarus Account - Closer to You
The Icarus Account - More To Me