Inevitable ‘Woo, Mountain Goats!!!’ post

This seems like a decent way to celebrate that the Mountain Goats are touring in the UK again this May. Which is several different shades of awesome. Dates are as follows;

May
22 – Whelans, Dublin, Ireland
24 – Coalition, Brighton, England
25 – KOKO, London, England
27 – Academy 3, Manchester, England
28 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, England
29 – King Tuts, Glasgow, Scotland (I’ll be at this one, come with!)
30 – Cluny, Newcastle, England

I really can’t say enough about how great their live show is (and people who know me probably wish I’d shut up about it). So here’s another video instead;

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Every repost is a repost repost

The Pitchfork article kinda has this covered, but I feel that I have to add that

a) I genuinely love Yo La Tengo

b) Who else would have actually gone through with doing this for an entire half hour of a show?

c) I genuinely love Yo La Tengo

http://pitchfork.com/news/41495-watch-yo-la-tengo-act-out-a-seinfeld-episode/

Oh, and here’s an actual song too.

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Another argument for reunions…

Not much needs saying here…

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Adventures in singing really really high, being awesome, and posting four versions of the same song

Jonsi’s best known as ‘that guy from Sigur Ros, you know, the one who nobody believes is a guy when they hear them… yeah, that guy’. He put out a solo album last year, sounded like a denser, poppier Sigur Ros with shorter songs. Really great ‘grinning like a spaz’ music…

A few years back I’d have paid a decent amount of money to see Sigur Ros live, seemed like they’d put on a good show. But I wasn’t too fussed about seeing him on his own, I couldn’t see the songs working well in a live setting, the arrangements were a bit too dense. Clearly I’m an idiot…

Well, even if he could pull off the sound of the record on stage I figured the songs wouldn’t work without the complex backing. He cancelled his acoustic instore tour after the first show, saying he found the whole experience uncomfortable. It looked like this…

Yeah.

I’ve been at (and let’s be honest, played) a fair number of uncomfortable gigs, they didn’t look or sound much like that. Still, at this point there isn’t really anything left to take out of the songs… I mean, it’s just a guy singing, a ukelele, a few people drumming on their legs… What, seriously?… The whole album with just him on his own, in his house?…

Fine, okay, I give in.

At this point I’m just going to accept that he could sing that song backed by an army of farting poodles while an angry dwarf attacked audience members with a plank of wood and it’d still be fucking beautiful. I mean, he could probably… hmm… something sillier than that… err… turn an MGMT song about taking drugs and having sex with models into a touching piano ballad?… Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me…

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Apparently you can be a great musician and a nice guy at the same time

It’s easy to forget why people are so fond John Vanderslice and his music. Everything he does is so low-key and subtle, so unassuming that he can come across as a little bland. And then you listen to a song like ‘Dead Slate Pacific’ and he tears your internal organs out through your shattered sternum without even raising his voice. The man uses detail and understatement the way punk bands use power chords and repetition, twisting surprise from the mundane in way that’s genuinely nothing like anyone else I’ve ever listened to.

And he produced half of the Mountain Goat’s albums that 4AD put out (‘We Shall All Be Healed’, ‘The Sunset Tree’, ‘Heretic Pride’) and collaborated with John Darnielle on the ‘Moon Colony Bloodbath’ E.P., if that helps…

The video above isn’t quite as good as the album version of the song but that one isn’t on Youtube and it’s only a matter of degrees really.

He’s got a new album out as of two weeks ago, ‘White Wilderness’., which he recorded with an orchestra. In three days. Because… well, honestly, why not? I haven’t had chance to listen to it yet and it isn’t reviewing quite as well as his past few albums, again only by a matter of degrees, so I can’t really say whether it’s a particularly good entry point into his catalogue. If you’re looking to get started with his stuff maybe try ‘Pixel Revolt’ or ‘Cellar Door’, but he’s fairly consistent so there isn’t really a bad place to start.

Hit up his website with the link below…

http://www.johnvanderslice.com/

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I’m genuinely scared of Radiohead

Radiohead are smart guys. That’s fairly obvious, I mean you don’t need to be an obsessive fan to see the thought that goes into their music, the level of care with the stuff that goes with it; album art, liner notes, videos, etc. suggesting they take this all rather seriously. Which is cool but hardly anything beyond the ordinary for a band as big and respected as they are. So when I read the article linked below, I was a little surprised;

http://puddlegum.net/radiohead-01-and-10/

N.B. The article doesn’t mention you need to put a 10 second crossfade between each track to get the full effect,  which it’s pretty easy to get iTunes to do.

I assumed after reading that article that putting the two records together would be a weird and vaguely unsatisfying experience, there’s no way anyone could write a cohesive record that also doubles as a counterpoint to another record. Well, apparently Radiohead are a fuck of a lot smarter than I am because I’d swear blind that ’01 and 10′ is a better album than either of it’s constituent records. Which is kind of a big thing when one of those records is often named as the most important, even best, album of the 90’s.

It gets more impressive the more you think about it too. Ten years on from a series of recording sessions that almost tore the band apart they were once again facing a ‘What the fuck do we do next?’ moment. They had no record deal and were letting out the odd rumour that they might be done with Radiohead, that they might have run the project as far as it would go.

Mad bastards that they are, they decided to try and beat themselves, make an album that stands right next to their best in terms of quality whilst also maintaining and twisting new ideas from the same atmosphere as that first record. Thing is, in the ten years since recording it they’d changed a lot, moved even further away from traditional arrangements into an area no-one has really managed to follow them into. So the new album would have to work both with their new style and the way they worked a decade prior.

The constrictions imposed by this insane plan must have made songwriting a fun challenge, the intro of each song would have to fit with both the track that comes before it on ‘In Rainbows’ and whichever song from ‘OK Computer’ it follows while the end would have to do the same with the next pair of tracks. And they’d have to make each song interesting to a modern audience without doing something that would conflict with the sound and mood of the old album. Every song had to make sense as part of two entirely separate progressions without either seeming schizoid.

‘OK Computer’  is freaked-out nightmare of a record, the sound of a band deeply unsettled by fame and rejecting everything they’d ever been told . Yet, if you read any of the reviews of ‘In Rainbows’ you might remember the consensus that it was Radiohead’s nicest record, that it bordered on loving in places. How the hell do these two disparate collections of songs work together?

My suspicion is this; ten years on from what must have been a pretty unpleasant time in their lives the group were facing a similar challenge and they wanted to respond to it in a new way. They didn’t disagree with the things they’d said on ‘OK Computer’, but ten years is a long time and aging had shown them that there are other ways of looking at the same issues. So ‘In Rainbows’ becomes the counter argument to their younger selves, the wisdom they needed back then delivered without contradicting their original take on the situation. Put together the two records give you the starkness of the music they’d made at the end of the nineties undercut with the lessons they’d learned in the intervening years.

It must have been a good handle for dealing with what they were faced with back in the real world too, a constant reminder that they’d beaten a challenge like this before and come out of it stronger. It’s also a good handle for those of us who haven’t gotten everything out of ‘OK Computer’ yet, a key to understanding what it was they were trying to say back then that doubles as a great album in it’s own right. I can’t honestly think of another band that could have pulled this off, and even if they had you’d think they’d have told someone about it once they’d done it. I can’t decide if that’s integrity or insanity but whatever it is it’s one hell of a record.

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An Argument For Reunions Sometimes Being Totally Awesome

Is anybody out there pleased that Archers of Loaf are playing together again?

Because after this I sure as hell am. Even if you haven’t listened to any of their stuff before, which is something that should be remedied by going out and buying ‘Icky Mettle’ right this second, even if you haven’t done that yet this is still great news. These guys wrote some of the best indie-rock songs of the early nineties, angular and strangely affecting songs with lyrics and guitar sounds that haven’t really been replicated in the nearly twenty years since they were released.

This makes me rather happy, so here’s another track from the same show…

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Actual New Music (It was bound to happen eventually)

Ohh, it's all dramatic!

So there’s a new Mountain Goat’s song floating around. It’s the second track they’ve released from the sessions for their new album ‘All Eternals Deck’, the first being an outtake called ‘Tyler Lambert’s Grave’ which John Darnielle gave away on his Twitter feed a few weeks ago. Actually, if you’re a Mountain Goats fan you really should keep an eye on his Twitter (http://twitter.com/mountain_goats), it’s a great source of free songs. And vegetarian soup recipes…

Anyway, I could wax lyrical about all things Mountain Goats for a while but I have to get a move on so I’ll be brief. Song seems pretty cool, nothing especially unusual that I’ve noticed on the first few listens. Very nicely put together though. Even so, the past few years they’ve tended to release the most MOR song on each album as the lead-off single (‘Genesis 3:23’? Really?), so there’s still a strong chance that with songs recorded by a metal producer and a seventies occult-horror-movie theme the album could be one of the oddest they’ve released in a while. And, yes, that is including the last album with all the songs based on specific Bible verses.

http://downloads.pitchforkmedia.com/The%20Mountain%20Goats%20-%20Damn%20These%20Vampires.mp3

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Adventures in Low-Res Gig Footage Pt.1

I have literally no idea idea who Sharon Van Etten is and I’ve only heard of Junip because their lead singer is Jose Gonzalez. I mean, he’s kinda cool in an ‘you’re not quite sure where he’s coming from’ sort of way, but even so this video is a lot more than I expected. It’s U2’s best song and this is something a whole lot bigger. Yeah, it sounds bigger than U2. Well, to me anyway.

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Other fun things to do with drums

Because let’s be honest, nobody listened to Bon Iver and thought ‘The only way you could make this better is if you added three singing drummers’.

Posting is going to be fairly irregular for the next couple of weeks due to what I can only describe as a staggering whirlwind of too-much-stuff-to-do. I’ll keep going with the obscure Youtube videos vein for the time being and get back to actually talking about albums when things calm down at the end of next week.

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