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