Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travelling Without Moving: Thanks Jamiroquai for the suggestion: Day One

A recession has been going around, taking jobs from us. Also, since a larger and larger group of young adults seem to be taking “extended vacations” by not actually being employed, I figured there might need to be an alternative vacation.

“Staycation” would probably be what I’m describing. Now, you don’t need money to do this, in fact, the lack of money is what makes this such a great idea. MP3s are free, and if you pay for them, you’re probably a massive tool. A few people I worked with used to pay for MP3s; they now look behind Dunkin’ Donuts at night, looking for stale bagels to salvage. So don’t be like them.

Before we begin on the audio journey, I do want to make sure you have a couch, various beverages to avoid dehydration, and food to keep yourself alive. Your favorite alcoholic beverage might be nice, but please don’t get drunk by yourself. Sloths don’t suggest more than this, to do more than this would be un-slothlike.

Usually my track lists have shorter songs. Since this is your vacation, you don’t want to worry about the transitions so much. Rather, you’ll want to get lost in these. Due to my personal belief that long tracks get shorted so often, these are epically long, perfect for traveling in.

Overall, I’ll try to have a theme for each day. There’s three days worth of music on here, for an average of about 5-6 hours of music for each day. Let’s begin:

Day One

1. LCD Soundsystem – Yeah (Crass Version)
This was my first truly adored song by LCD Soundsystem. It starts out all cool before having some sort of worrisome breakdown towards the end into pure synthesized chaos.
2. Acid Temple Mothers – Pussy Head Man from Outer Space
Uh, this follows up nicely on the insanity of the last track. Unlike LCD Soundsystem, these guys do more the “bat shit” crazy Japanese yelps followed by unrestrained guitar. Both of these two are sort of meant to get you jump started into the sea of weird.
3. Pita – 3
Among certain crowds, this is considered a classic. From soaring majestic music, you’re hit. Struggling for air, you reach around for something to help you. The headphones are off; you’re hurt, confused and alone. I know it hurts, but this is the necessary in order for you to “blast off” into the weird selections of music. Please remove this track from the playlist if you are driving, it will shock the hell out of you.
4. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Generator 2
The weird section continues. Unlike Pita, Keith cares about you. You ever heard of I-Dozing, where you listen to music to give yourself the illusion that you’re on drugs? Well, this song is one I considered falsely labeling to give those stupid Midwestern kids a real taste of culture, not just pre-fabricated garbage. The real deal, he is one of the few modern composers still making approachable avant-garde.
5. Black Dice – Smiling Off
After those last two, I realized you’re probably starved for a beat. So I got you this. In the sweet middle period of Black Dice, you get the rhythms along with their warped noise. Noise meets beat, I pronounce you man and wife.
6. Battles – Atlas
Battles tracked me down for all of 2007. It felt like everywhere I went, this song followed me. Perhaps I need to leave my insulated little music shell, but this song is so much fun. Cartoonish chanting mixed with great drums and progressive rock-type greatness. The breakdown is ideal halfway through the song.
7. The Velvet Underground – Sister Ray
Just like Sister Ray said. Mixing the joy of long-length songs with Velvet Underground = pure genius. Easily one of my favorites of all time, this needs little introduction.
8. Shit and Shine – Practicing to be a Doctor
Transitionally speaking, this flows so well from Sister Ray. Right now you’re entering a half-hour worth of the Strangulated Beatoffs cover with one of my beloved modern bands. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll enjoy the fact that it doesn’t relent at any point or really progress. Just slog into the mindless void of the groove.
9. Terry Riley – You’re no good
Sorry, I needed something weird to throw at you. But wait, is that some random band looped endlessly for the duration of the 20-odd minutes. Why yes, it is. See, things aren’t as weird as they seem. Revel in early plunderphonics-type material. You’re no good!
10. Sun Araw – Beat Cop
Blistering heat in the midday sun, the cop patrols his part of the hazy, brightly colored streets. A nice groove goes on, but not too long. I figured you might need something close to dub or a normal sort of music for a little bit. Consider this a pop offering from the sweating police officer.
11. Teotihuacan – Extraterrestrial Light
A little history is probably appropriate for this one. The Skaters are a hugely prolific duo. James Ferraro is behind this one, and his releases are usually decent enough. Teotihuacan is phenomenally weird. Pay attention to the warping weirdness of this one, this is probably the best thing the Skaters have ever done period. Drone for those who have been bored by drone.
12. Panda Bear – Good Girl/Carrots
Panda Bear works with Animal Collective. Really, any song off of “Person Pitch” was fair game for this compilation, but I like this one best. Vibe out hard to this one, there’s nothing but warm friendly sunshine contained within.
13. John Fahey – Fare Forward Voyagers
A man sits alone with his guitar and performs an entire orchestra’s worth of passion and themes. This is easily one of the best pieces from one of the best guitarists that ever graced God’s green Earth. For your information, this is a fully acoustic set, no overdubs, so the amount of talent behind this is pretty mind-blowing.
14. Claude Debussy – Prelude a l’apres – the afternoon of a faune
In case that last track didn’t tip you off, or if you’re not familiar with the next two, this is the more classically-influenced part of the selection. This is from that French impression piano player, few have ever explored the quiet touch of the piano the way he did.
15. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Sleep
We used to sleep, sleep on the beach. You can’t do that anymore, things change. Disciples of Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, they know how to conduct a musical orchestra. Plus, they will be gracing everyone with a new tour very shortly.
16. Stars of the Lid – Even if you’re never awake (Deuxieme)
So many good and long Stars of the Lid songs to choose from, so little time. There’s this one, which is a bit tenderer than their usual output. This song ends our classical section for today; put your volume down for the next one.
17. Mogwai – Mogwai Fear Satan
Cut from similar cloth as Godspeed, these guys contain a wee bit more Scottish aggression amongst them. Yet, when the soft moments come, they are that much more appreciated.
18. The Legendary Pink Dots – We Bring the Day
Oh, this is heavily bizarre. From a band that often samples noise and includes violinists, this is adorable. It sounds like someone’s hyperactive imagination, which is a good thing. A band I grew up with very much so, and this is definitely one of their stranger concoctions.
19. Moritz von Oswald Trio – Pattern 3
Efficient German techno and Jazz mixed with dub and skeletal keyboards. Propulsion seems to come from elsewhere, but it does move very quickly. We explore the origins of this song a little bit in the next song.
20. Ras Michael – Run Come Rally
Whenever somebody says that Bob Marley was a great reggae musician, I shutter. This is one of the reasons. Lyrically it is less insulting to the intelligence, plus it is in their restraint that you really get a feel for the groove.
21. Gescom – Five
Marking off the end of the restraint of the last two, this one sort of explores the love I have for early 90s techno. If you miss the days of early Autechre and Aphex Twin, I think this will more than meet your fix.
22. DFA – The Chemical Brothers – the Boxer
Yeah, I know, I have a LCD Soundsystem track on here as well. It isn’t my fault they are so good at what they do. Anyway, here’s a dance track to keep you up for bit longer, in case the slower tracks before tired you out.
23. Donna Summer – Love to love you baby
I figure Donna Summer wouldn’t mind being so close to DFA. No doubt you’ve heard the song before, but I would be shocked if it has been this original, super-extended edit. 16 minutes long of Donna Summer cooing enthusiastically. Good times.
24. Dirty Three – I knew it would come to this
Here’s a quiet end for you. It meshes in perfectly with the beginning of day two, in case you wanted to skip ahead. But perhaps over 5 hours of music might have “killed the need for yet more music”. Anyway, it is a beautiful sendoff, please enjoy.

Com Truise – Cyanide Sisters EP 7.7

People have compared this to Neon Indian, which already should be a good sign. Although I disagree in part, due to Neon Indian’s obvious pop influences, I still find myself enjoying this quite a bit. He’s definitely a cut above Tom Cruise’s usual performances.

“Sundripped” and “Iwywaw” have the catchiest melodies and simplest executions. The rest of the songs are great as well, but perhaps with a little less clutter, they might have been more memorable. “Norkuy” has a heavy manipulated tape quality feel, particularly towards the end where the songs entire warps around and sounds like it is dying.

Of all the cheesy re-arranged names, this one is the best. Chill Murray and DAVVES got nothing on this. I’d say the sound of the music goes more towards Boards of Canada style (obviously not the same level of quality) with an emphasis on longer, more intricate arrangements that work and don’t work.

Oh, and the introduction to this little EP is worth mentioning as well. There they kept it so short and sweet, one sort of wishes they might have shied away from the flashier excesses.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Alternative Vacations: The Hot Spots.

Every year over 400 million vacation days go back to the employer in the US of A. That’s a lot of days to not take off. Americans generally feel it is necessary to do something relatively productive with the time they do have: learn a new language, fix something, or do something else productive. Perhaps this is why we spend so much money on being cool, since we fail to “discover ourselves” from pointless road trips or soaking in a bathroom with some ice cream. I mean, why else would we need a sunglasses hat to watch TV on, or anti-depressants for our dogs?

Assuming that you try to take time off for the purposes of relaxing, usually that time is spent going to a very well-established tourist spot. Places like “Rio” or “Cabo” are world renowned for convincing overly tanned-douche bags or walking mid-life crises to spend their hard-earned cash on a manufactured, assured false experience.

With that in mind, I’ve tried to pick out some places that perhaps the more creative or “adventurous” would want to check out. There’s a vague description of why I think it belongs there. By no means is this definitive; my hope is that people will be able to suggest more places to me, since I am by no means Omni-potent and aware of every great place.

Liechtenstein is a small principality created after someone loaned the Hapsburg family an unrealistic sum of money. Rather than the royal family paying any of this money back, they said “Hey, have some of these 62 square miles and do whatever with it.” And thus, Liechtenstein was born.

It is a beautiful, peaceful country which recently gained a large degree of prestige once Snoop Dogg expressed a profound desire to “rent the entire country”. Whenever someone as delightfully eclectic and insane as he wants to rent your country, you’re definitely doing the right thing. Plus, within the country there’s a “falconer” or something so you might want to see that.

B. Port Louis, Mauritius
Mauritius had the dodo. Then, once settlers arrived, they beat the shit out of that bird and made it “mad extinct”. A passage in “Gravity’s Rainbow” describes the Dutch reasoning behind this: That due to the extreme ugliness of the creature, it had to be destroyed. For if God created everything in his image, it would be inconceivable that he would make such an ugly creature and that it had to be the work of the devil.

In case this is not enough to convince you, there are additional literary references for this little spec of greatness. It is clean, warm, welcoming and Mr. Mark Twain (a famous writer, maybe you’re heard of him) stated:

"You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius." 1896

C. Miri, Malaysia

Off the northern coast of Borneo, only a stone’s throw away from Brunei, Miri rocks. It has a healthy amount of Australians, escaping the lack of fun (alcohol restrictions) from Brunei over the weekdays and weekend. So it bumps in that way.

Unlike Kuala Lumpur, it also sports the advantage of a beautiful, crystal clean beach (Kuala Lumpur is mostly swampy unfortunately). Plus, to add to it, you can go to the beach and see conceptual crab artists. These little critters dig up sand and place it into beautiful patterns. Balls of these things crowds up most of the beach, and one would think that the crabs would get smart, move to Bushwick, and start an artistic career in the big city. Sadly, it was not meant to be since they do not understand language.

I’d suggest getting there sooner rather than later since at some point somebody’s going to discover this remote, cheap paradise.

Traveling can be expensive though. In case you lack the sufficient funds to do necessary travel, I’ll also explain what you can do in order to give the impression of traveling (via music, food, and TV).

Clubroot – Clubroot 5.7

More dubstep found right here, for anybody who wants it. Unlike a lot of dubstep, this is a lot more melodic. Plus, they’re clearly using a lot of music from the early 90s (think Future Sound of London) as a main influence for the melodies and layout of the music.

Sometimes this approach works, allowing the atmosphere and melody to influence the rhythm of the piece (like with “Low Pressure Zone” and “Embryo”). Unfortunately the extreme similarity a lot of this has with early Future Sound of London makes it a bit boring. Like, simply adding some more contemporary beats onto old ideas doesn’t make it more interesting. And basically Future Sound of London had a better, more confident style in general.

Essentially, this does rise above a lot of more boring dubstep due to the ambient influences. But since the influences are so blatantly obvious, it becomes difficult to absolutely adore or recommend this. Plus, the later half of the album suffers for want of good material (it gets really tedious).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is Hipster Runoff still a blog worth blogging about, now that is ‘over’? Some reactions from the HRO commentators.

Throughout various levels of online indie-cred-o-sphere, there’s a large outpouring of raw, un-ironic emotion over the loss of one of their ranks. Carles, the monotone voice of all forms of cultural hipsterdom, left the internet on Friday, stating very bluntly:

Might not be worth it any more.
This might be it.
Learned a lot from every one, but maybe this project has run its course.
I’m sorry if I let you down.
goodnight moon

It is interesting to observe how he actually spelled all the words out, including the word “be” rather than using his text-speak he’s been fond of so recently. A few more dedicated readers noticed how he posted this on a Friday, thus this might be a ploy to attract more readers when he starts posting again on Sunday evening/Monday morning. Others still picked apart the argument even more carefully, stating that it was just the alt robot, and not under the “Carles” name who posted this, meaning that it will continue but without the alt report, which would be a far less updated blog.

But all of this can just be a huge delusion, that in fact Carles might be leaving us, in order to become a more “relevant” person, via going to Grad School/getting an actual paying job instead of amusing hipsters on the internet for $3 a day/becoming a writer like Tao Lin, only unlike Tao Lin, he’ll actually be good.

Readers began, after a few posts, to go through various stages of grief:

Shock: See sadbro’s very obvious comment of “NOOOOOOOO!!!”

Denial follows shock, as people make up reasons why it can’t happen: See Islebro’s comment: FUCKING CARLES MAN,
He’ll be back. depending upon how big of a douche he is, which judging by his later posts = Mega. He prol just wans to take the weekend off via no altrobot, which is cool.

Bargaining: Many readers depended on HRO in order to be more authentic and culturally connected. The amount of people who avoided becoming Juggalos due to this site was most likely astronomical. Without the safeguard of the HRO blog, people might be led astray into the most awful of music. Ritz summarized this feeling well:

Carles don’t do this
Another one, using a greater deal of negotiating power, tried to woo Carles back.

Alttits: I love you Carles don’t go!!!!!!!
I’ll even show you my cleveage if you stay.

Guilt: Sometimes people expressed concern or worry about the state of the blog. They commented on what they interpreted as what might have lead to the collapse of Carles’ writing empire. One poster, using a great deal of creativity mixed in with harsh realism called them “Carles’ Mom”. Below is the following:

Dear Carles,
Son, I know I came down hard on you the other day for not helping with the dishes and lawn and your other chores, but don’t get down because of that–you know I still love you and support you. I want you to keep writing for this blog even though sometimes it takes away from our family time and your design school homework because I know it is a passion of yours. I like to see you doing what you love. It is okay to feel down sometimes, but you’ll get past it and realize that this is what you really want to be doing.
Lots of love!
Most of the humor comes from the fact that Carles probably can’t support himself on advertising revenue alone for this particular blog. Hence, he lives at home as a basement dweller, barely able to afford the trendy American Apparel clothing he so desperately desires. And using his mother’s name to evoke various feelings of guilt might have been the best way of getting Carles to come back.

Otherwise, it seems like various comments refer to the fact that many took ‘dumps’ on his ‘writing’. That perhaps we sort of treated Carles a little too harshly and that we forgot an actual person was behind all of this, a vulnerable lad much like ourselves (more on his vulnerability later).

Anger: A few expressed pure, uncut outrages at an anonymous person cutting off their vital input into the day. DJ PM exclaimed:

Good Riddance cock sucker

Others, while not as angry, try to point out to Carles that since he is anonymous, he doesn’t have any other way of sort of rolling this into another field. See George Constanza’s comment:

really? your a great blogger bro, unfortunately your a major pussy. you need to grow a pair of iron balls bro… especially on these interwebz shits tough.
what will you do without hipster runoff bro? you’d be a lost cause. don’t end it like this… and if y0u don’t quit brett favre-ing us bro.

Depression: Most people had this somewhere in their comment. Even the angriest ones realized that this was the end, and showed various signs of vulnerability/crying themselves to sleep. LCF said:

Carles, you’re breaking my rotten little heart

Cousins showed how they coped with it:

tears rolling down my face
trying to gasp 4air
no air to be found
just gonna hold tight to my person pitch vinyl
till this blows over
<3 y'all

Acceptance and Hope: This is when all those commenting have come to terms with Carles’ emo-like announcement. See Broah Lennox’s quote from Carles’ referenced children’s book:

Goodnight comb and Goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody Goodnight mush
And Goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”
Goodnight stars Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere

B. Thankfully, it did look like everyone actually followed the steps to eliminate grief. Posts were commented on, with various degrees of seriousness and hilarity. Among the usual well-wishes were a slightly modified transcript of Star Wars, a bizarre Smurf-porn short story, and desperate pleas to read somebody’s brand new blog.

One of my favorite posts however, had to be this one, by a Dr. Phillbro:

This blog had a really distinct and illuminating perspective. The famous Animal Collective post was great.
I was disappointed to see you move away from insightful posts to boobs and Perez Hilton-style (alt) celeb gossip, especially because so much of it was mean-spirited. The AZN bro seems a lot chiller than what this blog turned into.
You’re a smart guy, a great writer, and you have unique perspective. Use your powers for good.
The responses to this one, classic by nrb:

@Dr. Philbro, holy shit shut the fuck up.

And onbrobation:

@Dr. Philbro, fuck u bro.

So feelings were shared, by both Carles and the HRO community. Feelings were discussed openly and frankly, with people being asked to “Go fuck themselves” on multiple occasions. Interest was shown towards those who were going a little off the deep end, threatening to destroy their vinyl copy of Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” a fantastic, overwhelming good album from 2007. Others tried asking people to read their new blogs, but as per Boohoo, it “reeks of mainstream-ness” After the end of the blog, when people will stop checking the “over” post at HRO, maybe they’ll decide to seek professional help.

At this point I should remind those very distraught readers that:

Suicide is permanent solution to a temporary problem. (So don’t go offing yourselves with something from a Wes Anderson film, like razors as Elliot Smith plays in the background. That’s a pretty cliqued thing to do, I’m sure when you’re all dead and stuff the priest would say something like: “He thought he was alt, but really was a mainstreamer” Like, I hope no one here becomes a “suicide addict”)

Not only does that apply to the readers of HRO, but to Carles as well. Whenever I read Carles’s posts, I felt like it was not only excellent satire, but it did reveal a little bit about himself. Mentioning how “vulnerable” he felt, he fit a certain profile. Keep in mind a lot of those people now referred to as “hipsters” originally started out their musical journey as “emo kids”. Carles displays multiple traits of this kind of evolution, from the sad kid at his university growing into a person who is a bit more secure and confident in his environment. You can even see it within the blog itself, as it moved from recommending various bands (in a form of “please accept me”) to pure satire, which is actually a far more offensive format, since people can be very sensitive about their culture and music.

Below are some ways you can cope with the grief, the death of HRO.

• Be patient with yourself. Do not compare yourself to others. Go through the mourning process at your own pace.

Everyone’s different. Some might have other snarky blogs to fall back on. Others may realize that they had been too dependent on HRO for news, and may revert to newspapers and other outdated media.

• Admit you are hurting and go with the pain.

Everybody’s got to learn sometimes – via the Korgis. Try your best to cope with this loss. Carles is going to better places, and so are you!

• Apply cold or heat to your body, whichever feels best.

Take care, good kids. Make sure to bathe regularly. Don’t just spend the whole day in front of a computer, desperately looking for answers online. Get some sweet loving, like IMBOYCRAZY would suggest.

• Ask for and accept help.

If you y’all need a hug, I’ll be there for you, via James Taylor.

• Talk to others.

Internet forums are a great way to discuss this, since people in real life tend to not exist exclusively on the internet, unlike you. So when you go to your relevant dive bar, don’t sob to the bartender. Most likely that guy loves totally shitty bar music.

• Face the loss.

Realize this isn’t your fault. Except if you are American Apparel. Then it is your fault, had you paid Carles more, he might have continued with it.

• Stop asking "Why?" and ask "What will I do now?"

Yeah, plan your life shit out. Goals and aspirations are probably important to most people. I know it is against HRO values to “go somewhere” but try.

• Recognize that a bad day does not mean that all is lost.

Some days are bad. Some are good. Some are mediocre. The past is gone, the future hasn’t happened yet, so all we’re left with is the present. – Bill Murray.

• Rest.

Get sleep. Get off the internet.

• Exercise.

You probably do this enough from clicking with your mouse/trackball thing.

• Keep to a routine.

Get a job. Earn money. Repeat.

• Introduce pleasant changes into your life.

Get a bike. Go biking. Get a camera. Take pictures. These are really overdone, but they help. Just because a lot of other people do it doesn’t make it any less valid.

• Know that you will survive.

Excluding the apocalypse, you will survive. If the apocalypse does happen, keep in mind I have a few playlists to take care of you during that time.

• Take care of something alive, such as a plant or a pet.

Good advice. Plants are your best friends and like good music as much as you do. Pets sort of suck, I wouldn’t recommend them to anybody.

• Schedule activities to help yourself get through weekends and holidays.

See friends. Internets stalk Carles via twitter updates. Keep away from anything that might bring up painful memories of Carles, like abusing mainstreamers at parties. You can do that after the hurt is gone.

• Find someone who needs your help.

Give them a hug, or one of those smiley internet things

• Accept your feelings as part of the normal grief reaction.

Keep in mind you probably used to be emo. So do what you used to do, cry by yourself.

• Postpone major decisions whenever possible.

You can’t be expected to do something major when you’re recovering from the loss of HRO. Take care of these major decisions in the fall, and don’t worry, fall will be kind.

• Do something you enjoy doing.

Listen to the LCD Soundsystem. That will make you realize that though they are gone, you can still enjoy what they did, just like HRO. Now that HRO is gone, reminisce about all those good times you had, laughing at Juggalos, etc.

• Write in a journal.

Those are called blogs. Avoid writing about knitting or your cats. Either one of those makes you look insane. Perhaps this will fill a little bit of the emptiness now that quality writing from Carles is forever gone. Sometimes, who knows, you might even stumble into something beautiful or hilariously stupid.

• Be around people.

Earth has over 6 billion people. You can find somebody.

• Schedule time alone.

This is important, especially if you miss the more pornographic elements of HRO.

• Do not overdo.

I don’t know what this piece of advice means. Perhaps that you should not overdo things, instead have a Zen-like attitude towards life?

• Eat regularly.

This piece of advice is extremely important, especially since so many readers of Hipster Runoff are extremely skinny or malnourished. Have some food; don’t get all your vitamins and minerals from various imported beers.


Finally, I’d like to reach out to Carles for this last bit. We all hope that you succeed in whatever you set out to achieve. It has been the music and your own unique perspective on how we consume culture that has made HRO so infinitely fascinating. Whether or not this is forever, and you’ll be leaving us indefinitely, only you can ultimately answer that. Even your farewell seems to be rather ambivalent, hinting that you may or may not continue it.

We thought you’d be with us forever, subtly mocking things. You survived bloghouse, raves, and invented the phrase “chillwave” which has been etched in the very pages of Wikipedia. Plus, through your efforts, you were able to figure out what actually had a self-life (like Neon Indian, Washed Out) and what was re-packaged nonsense sold as something new (like Best Coast and WAVVES). Hopefully there will be a book about your travails across the glorious American post-ironic countryside. Or perhaps all this outpouring of emotion will bring you back, or it could all just be a huge-ass joke on us the audience.

But look at this effing twenty-something, towering over what looks like his state university. He has his whole life ahead of him and yet he looks so confident in his water bottle holding ways. Maybe you could learn something from this young college grad, like finding out why he’s looking into the distance, seeing a better and more relevant future. Or simply he could be trying to figure out how to get to his friend’s dorm room for a Thursday night party.

Do y’all think HRO is over?
Do y’all think Carles is pulling our metaphorical chain?
Feel like Carles didn’t put much effort into saying his ‘goodbye’ to the blog world.
Wonder whether Carles is going to ‘get back to his roots’ via 2008.
What kind of ‘buzz band’ will Carles create? Will it be chillwave/lo-fi/blog house?

Matrix Metals – Flamingo Breeze 6.9

Yeah, so this is just like a dance mix of hypnagogic pop with some light funk thrown in. Think of an AM radio station remixed, and you’re halfway there.

There’s little here that I can pick out from the morass. Basically these feel like never-ending loops that change so minutely that you can barely detect any change. Since each song is so short, it doesn’t get old quick.

Bits and pieces float in and out of the mix. Often you wonder how this even came to be, since it feels like any sort of human interaction has been wiped fully clean, as if the samples are sort of hanging out with each other. Hypnagogic pop is at its barest and most minimal incarnation ever.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Amps – Pacer 8.2

Between working on the Breeders and various Breeders members getting arrested for drugs, The Amps came about. Their sound ended up being very similar to the Breeder’s sound and some of these songs would later be found on the Breeder’s return album: Title TK (see “Full on Idle” which is much better on this album).

Sounding much more stripped down to the barest of elements, Pacer is a true joy. If you had to pick the best moments on here, I’d go with “Bragging Party” which feels like it should’ve been a hit at some point, complete with a nice slow delivery and a great attitude. “First Revival” opens up with a slow increase in volume until you’re almost overwhelmed by the loudness.

This is made up of material that originally would’ve followed the Breeder’s last 90s album, “Pod” so you get the idea that they wanted to continue that streak with some more inspired material. It is a shame that they never got around to offering more than this one album.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bogdan Raczynski – I will eat your children too! 7.0

Bogdan has a cult following in some parts of the Rephlex worship machine. While most fans of Rephlex enjoy listening to Aphex Twin and his many, many guises, others enjoy that retro sound some of the artists possess. Most of Bogdan’s fans fall into the latter category along with the insane.

All four of these tracks contain all those hallmarks that make him so special. Naïve melodies mixed with clunky percussion work out so hard. Fragments of singing and noisy screaming (see track 2). Track 3 offers a classic sort of feel to his work, with a big, shinny melody mixed it with non-intrusive drums. And the fourth one is surprisingly dark for someone who is usually so light-hearted in nature.

Overall, this is another great release from Bogdan. He’s still limited by the very antique computer he uses, along with obscure programming software. However, the joy of his music lies in what he does within these limitations. With so little, he’s able to create these over-sized, sugary pieces. And that’s a good thing.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is the Hipster Grifter (Kari Ferrell) secretly a North Korean spy set to destroy our way of life?

By now you’ve probably heard of the Hipster Grifter, who also goes by the alias Kari Ferrell. She’s a writer for various blogs (Animal New York, Spook Magazine, etc) but is probably much more famous for ripping off people. During her time in Salt Lake City and New York, she wrote bad checks and stole credit card numbers. Eventually caught, she served time in jail for all her fraud.

Most naturally assumed she had some sort of severe personality disorder. Her sexually aggressive behavior and her imprint on low New York City society was vividly portrayed in the hit TV series “Law and Order”. There, they also showed her willingness to use sex to try and get out of trouble while on the stand by masturbating in front of the lawyer. I’m not sure whether or not Kari Ferrell ended up using this tactic at her own trial, but it seems like a pretty good way to either get out of trouble or show that you’re totally insane.

However, those who feel that she’s now vaguely contributing to society by writing for Hipster Publications would be dead wrong. And no, I’m not talking about how hipster writing is boring; upper-middle class inspired fantasizing drivel. Instead, I’m saying this is just part of her diabolical plan conceived by herself and her father, Kim Jong-Il.

Adopted by Mormon parents in Utah, we’re lead to believe that she was in fact born in South Korea. But those 5 months, where she’s told everyone that she lived in South Korea, might in fact be a complete lie. 5 months is long enough for someone to bond with their adoptive father, Dear Leader of North Korea, and to learn his instructions for world domination.

Kim Jong-Il is a fanatical movie-goer. People who have seen his films state that excluding the propaganda in the films, he has a real knack for the dramatic. One day, while going on his daily jog through the wrecked landscape of his country, he noticed a small infant on the side of the road biting the heads off of small country mice. Warmed by this loving display of evil, he brought her to his secret palace and trained her to destroy Western capitalism.

Over the course of a few months, the small infant got subjected to heaping doses of her father’s irony, his love of trashy pop culture, and being a pathological liar. Figuring that she must have been the spawn of a wild wolf and pixie, he taught her how to fit into specific subcultures of Americans. His “Dear Leader” senses indicated that cute, twenty-something girls could wreak true havoc in the right corners of America. Yet he also knew this would take time, born in the era of the 80s, the world had yet to melt to the charms of short-haired, pixie-ish girls. Time was on Kim’s side however.

Changing her history forever, he created a secret underground spy network to keep in touch with her. Then, shedding some tears, he let her float away in a small basket down a river into South Korea.

Utah offered her a perfect place to hone her indie skills. Reading up on all the latest trends, she developed a keen knack for knowing all about “haute indie” culture, including the various discographies of the Boredoms, Pavement, Built to Spill, and the more daunting ones like Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, and even Stereolab. Mr. Hansen (her first real boyfriend and person she ripped off) and other males became practice runs for the sort of manipulation she’d perfect later on.

Salt Lake City is where she practiced the art of “fucking people over” like Modest Mouse (another favorite band of hers) suggested. Much of the money she stole was sent back to Pyongyang to help pay for its missile program. But it wasn’t just the money Kim cared about, he also wanted to make sure his Pixie-Wolf child stayed safe in the big city. After $60,000 had been re-distributed to herself and the communist North Korean government, law enforcement took action. Realizing she had a choice of doing the responsible thing by showing up in court and facing the (crappy) music, she went to Brooklyn, searching for better music and new opportunities.

By now, she crafted herself into every hipster dude’s wet dream: multiple tattoos, one which crowned her breasts, another which showed her affection for men with beards. Besides aesthetic features, she discovered that being sexually aggressive came with rewards. Picking on hip losers, she stroked their egos among other, more tangible things. Using their affection, she stole things from right under them. Story-telling improved considerably as she remembered those movies she watched with her North Korean adoptive father.

It was her sexual aggression which made men fawn over her. Among some of her better lines were:

“I want to give you a handjob with my mouth” – This directly reference two different sexual acts, while also re-framing a description of what is commonly known as a “blowjob”.

“I want you to throw a hot dog down my hall” – This subtly references the lost art of love-making, with the hot dog representative of a penis, and the hall referring to her vagina.

“I want you to go spelunking in my cavernous vagina” – An act that most of her victims would be aware of, cave exploring, mixed in with the wink and nod that she in fact was somewhat fast sexually.

“I want your peen in my va-jay jay, baby” – Using juvenile language deliberately, she hopes to draw them in with pure cuteness. Plus, this isn’t quite as hard to understand as her more obtuse one-liners.

Being in the Crown Heights-Prospect Heights border, she got to meet all the most relevant blog hipster types Brooklyn had to offer. She tried to break into that ivory tower of hipster culture, Vice Magazine, but they googled her and realized that she was in fact a criminal.

This was but a small snag in her plan to destroy capitalism. Stealing money from these sorts of people became astonishingly easy, as they often had their judgment clouded by her mischievous sexual siren calls.

Using people’s ATM cards and always borrowing money never raised suspicion, mostly since these same people she stole from borrowed money en masse themselves, and from foolish people they called “their parents”. Cancer became the go-to story in case people got somewhat intelligent, after the clouds of drugs, emotional attachment, and alcohol wore off. Kim Jong-Il trained her very well indeed.

Eventually her first run ended in abject failure. While she later stated that she handed herself over to the police in Philadelphia, the truth was that a young musician (Sam Tremble) lured her to his city, to play by the rules of the land. As soon as the police came to take her away, she tried thinking of something sexy to tell the officer to get off the hook, but couldn’t think of anything insanely sexy enough to get out of jail.

A few bits of time later (months, weeks, who knows really) she’s back, with part II. Part II of the North Korean plan involves showing some remorse for her actions. Capitalizing on the fame brought to her by the internet (Gawker, etc) she now works for those publications. Slowly, surely, she’ll try to reel us all in again, convincing us she’s just some sort of hip girl who got mixed up in criminal activity. Maybe Kim Jong-Il will even lose control over her, as he falls for her charms like so many others, paying for her alcohol, drugs, and CDs with bonus tracks.

I’d like to think her rein of ripping people off is over, but I know that communism never rests. Plus she hasn’t even accomplished some of the goals Kim Jong-Il laid out for her. They include:

- Getting Knicks tickets, smuggling Kim into a game, claiming that Kim is her “Grandmother”
- Destroying Western Capitalism
- Convincing Stereolab to reform and write the new national anthem for North Korea
- Bankrupting the Ayn Rand Institute
- Punching Bono (lead singer of U2) in the face
- Meeting David Lynch and bumming a cigarette off him

Goals that she did meet:
- have an unreasonable amount of sex with bearded weirdoes
- getting James Murphy’s autograph
- stealing King Tut’s penis
- show her boobs all over the place
- writing snarky commentary for reputable blogs
- pissing off hipsters
- collected Liza Minelli’s toenail clippings
- explaining to Kim Jong-Il how twitter works

I’m worried though. Hopefully she’ll be stopped before she goes into the upper echelons of society, of dating famous movie star types. Right now she’s on pretty much the lowest social level, that of professional blogger. The only thing she’ll inspire at this time is cutesy twitter and facebook updates about how much they care for her. The fools! If only they knew!

Anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you America. Oh, and to Kari Ferrell, quoting your own speech to Gawker

“Hey, what’s up?”

Rangers – Suburban Tours 8.3

Hypnogogic pop to the extreme! Yeah, here are some great muddled fragments of our disposable pop culture, transformed into new disposable pop culture.

Though people might compare this to James Ferraro, I think the funkiness of it points more towards a Matrix Metals kind of vibe. Beat wise, it is hazy and weird.

I will say the vocals definitely make it sound like Ariel Pink, so I can’t exactly knock that comparison. Vocals and instrumentals are both represented on here, from the washed out feel of “Bear Creek” to the future shopping center music of “Golden Triangles”. Most of the song titles seem to refer to bland suburban developments, like the music got taken out of presentation videos for them. “Bear Creek” is definitely a favorite of mine, try as you might, it will not leave your head for a long time.

These entire songs sort of float around one main idea, and they do tend to blend into each other. Perhaps this would be a problem if this was of low quality, but it tends to be pretty interesting, even among other artists mining the same material. Some have commented that this might be the Neon Indian (break out) artist of this year. Hook-wise, it is very similar, there’s a lot to grab onto, and he doesn’t make it impossible for you to get into it, unlike many working in the same field.

One can only hope this reaches more ears. And this grows on you a lot more than you’d initially realize.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can Japan defeat the Grass-Eating Men (Soushokudanshi) or should they stick to oversized reptiles?

In case you hadn’t been following Japanese news lately, they haven’t been having a good year. There’s a general sense of malaise that follows the gradual decline of your country’s population, the gradual decline of your country’s economy (from a “lost decade”), losing all of your old people (via their children having them hang around the house mummified and collecting their pensions) and the growing numbers of grass eating men (Soushokudanshi).

All of these are of course related. But in order to get a real sense of how the grass-eating men came about, it might be important to start from the very beginning, to the gradual decline of the economy. This year marked China becoming the 2nd largest economy in the world, overtaking Japan. Most in Japan didn’t even really flinch, like they knew this was coming. Some commentators even stated that the “pressure was off” and that they could “relax and look for those missing elderly people”.

So it is this sort of environment that the “Grass-Eating Men” would really thrive. For those of you not in the know, Grass-Eating Men are those who don’t believe in what has been the template of success, the working long hours in 9-5 jobs and being “traditionally” successful. Instead, they focus more on themselves, shying away from relationships with others and hiking, playing video games, and other lonely activities. Women are a no go, and they prefer not being in relationships.

Why would this be? Part of it might have to do with the way that expectations are created for these young lasses. If you don’t become part of the vast commuter army, then there must be something wrong with you. The US had a similar generation in the early 90s called “slackers” so saying that this is some sort of exclusive Japanese issue isn’t at all accurate. Every country goes through some bummer period, I mean, according to the New York Times; twenty-somethings in the US suffer from the same lack of direction/motivation.

Then, if this is an inevitable part of a maturing society, what ought to be done? Is there a way to increase the birthrate without referring to women as “baby machines” as one Member of Parliament did (though to be fair, he almost immediately realized how stupid he was, whereas in the US he’d defend himself under the “First Amendment right to idiocy”). Can these men be convinced to eat meat and stop taking weird hikes by themselves? Should men be allowed to have “man-purses” or is that just sort of off?

Anyway, below are some suggestions on how to get these people out of their shells.

1. ONYKO movement could decide to write tender love ballads using their no-input mixing boards. Sachiko M should dedicate “Salon de Sachiko” to all the ladies in the room as she gyrates wildly to pre-generated Sine wave drones and clicks.

2. The Gerogerigegege (Juntaro Yamanouchi) should talk about how to behave appropriately in public, using measured terms. Then he’ll scream loudly into a microphone and perform “Tokyo Anal Dynamite”. After he’s done, surely the grass-eating men will work harder to avoid this exhibitionist, senzuri fate.

3. Hanatarash will reform and destroy multiple concert venues with backhoes, Molotov cocktails, and high-grade explosives. Then the Eye’s latter day band the Boredoms will perform in the smoldering wreckage.
4. Japan creates an ultra-cute hybrid, far cuter than “Hello Kitty” and uses it to enslave mankind, using only the cutest of dictators, Chairman Meow.

These are just a few ideas for Japan to get its mojo back. But like in “Austin Powers” perhaps it’ll realize that it had its mojo all along.

Uffie – Sex, Dreams, and Denim Jeans 4.1

Uffie used to be popular about 5 years ago. Sadly it took her half a decade to write a couple of songs, some of which are of questionable quality. I don’t think anyone was exactly clamoring for “Brand New Car” to be on here. In fact, I was kind of hoping that I’d never encounter this song ever again. Feadz made this, so of course it would suck.
“I can’t even sing you know” Uffie tells us in another Feadz song, “Our Song” another total loser. Feadz’s only really good contribution was “Pop the Glock” a song from 2006, and which sort of has to appear on any Uffie official release.

Most of this just highlights that the muse hasn’t really inspired as much as she thinks she has. Mr. Oizo and Mirwais’s contributions fare the best, and provide most of what you’d want to actually return to. Sadly, Uffie decided to rap over these songs, making them far less likable. If you’re interested in the sound, you may hope and pray that at some point they release instrumental mixes of each song, since they’ve done that in general for most Uffie EPs.

Nonetheless, even the songs themselves are infected with Uffie’s snotty attitude. Plus, great deals of these songs don’t even work as the mindless dance songs that they should be. “Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans” uses the laziest Velvet Underground sample known to man, with so little work you wonder whether or not more than 3 seconds was spent on its execution.

So if you’re interested in music as pure attitude, without any sort of thinking, discovery, or effort, by all means pick this up with due haste.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When is a good time to be “Ready to Uff?”

Uffie (Anne-Catherine Hartley) raises an important question with her by far most meaningful song. And having been born in Miami, raised in Hong Kong, and now working in Paris, she knows a thing or two about international uffing.

So, when is the proper time to talk to your child about uffing? Is it before or after they drop out of school to pursue a career in Parisian electro house music? And is acceptable in our day and age for a thirty something mediocre DJ to date a 16 year old crappy rapper? Perhaps France decided to invoke their “Roman Polanski” rule: where if you’re an artist, you’re given a degree of leeway in terms of transgressions whether they are sexual, criminal, financial, etc. Not sure whether or not Feadz can count as an artist, since his music is generally the suck.

Anyway, Uffie did eventually explore her age old question of when it was “Ready to Uff” in her hit 2010 album “Sex, Dreams, and Denim Jeans”. Released into a sea of acceptance and knee-jerk hatred, perhaps a 2007 release would’ve changed things. Back then Ed Banger was a name people could say without shuddering. Justice ruled the waves, but now they’re in hibernation. And Mr. Oizo isn’t good enough to save the now-floundering label.

Being “Ready to Uff” means many things. Now you’re ready for maturity, for releasing an album that embodies that entire hipster culture is thought to be: lazy, superficial, trust-fund, untalented musically. Whenever she releases anything, Tiny Mix Tapes and Pitchfork immediately go to the bathroom to vomit. Then, after finding a thesaurus, they proceed to mock her for growing up rich on yachts, dropping out of school, and having a kid from a failed marriage before the tender age of 25.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a spoiled rich brat and then rap about how you suck at rapping, then by all means, you’re “Ready to Uff”.

BXI – BXI 3.0

When I heard that Boris and Ian Astbury were coming out with a collaboration, I was immediately thrilled. Ian has a great voice, and Boris has a great sound. “Pink” is definitely an outstanding record, so I was wondering what would come about when the two came together.

As much as it pains me to say this, this is not particularly good. What could’ve been a much better EP ends up sounding very, very cheesy. Ian’s vocals do a decent job, but Boris sounds like it is in autopilot. There’s almost like a bad action movie sound to it, epic without being remotely engaging. And this is a disappointment from how their music usually bludgeons you over the head with sheer size and volume.

Perhaps the first track is the best one up on here, as you travel further down the tracks, to the dreadful live song; you realize that it isn’t getting better and that despite the great talent, they just failed you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Did “Freak Nasty – Da Dip” teach everyone about how to get down without speaking the English language properly?

Yes, I know Freak Nasty definitely left a valuable contribution to the world of music with his 1997 hit “Da Dip”, but I wonder whether or not he realizes his true legacy?

No, it isn’t that he’s rich and successful. Most likely, according to his last.fm user profile(freaknasty504), he is doing horrible, selling vital organs for serious cash. If he was doing amazing, he wouldn’t be trolling around on the internet correcting biographical information on various websites. He’d probably be busy writing subtle love songs like “I want 2 Fuck” and “Fuckie Suckie (at Freaknasty Party)”, the latter of which refers to his desperation and willingness to distribute blowjobs in order to buy food. The party is a pity one, where we think about the fate of so many one-hit wonders.

Those songs, while delving into the innermost desires of the young lass known as Freak Nasty (and showing how vulnerable he was about his heterosexuality) did teach us about the many rules of English grammar. “Da Dip” showed how despite moving from singular pronouns to plural the verb “dip” does not change:

I put my hand upon your hip
When I dip you dip we dip
you put your hand upon my hip
When you dip I dip we dip
I put my hand upon your hip
When I dip you dip we dip
you put yours and I put mine
and we can get down low
and roll it round

Also, the sheer repetitious nature of the song re-enforces the structure of the English language. This allows those who might not be fluent in English to enjoy themselves at various social events, like “Retro 90s Night” at their local bar in Bismarck, North Dakota or ironically enjoy it with a bunch of twenty some-things. Don’t worry if you can’t dance, at either one of these locations, not only is being dancing impaired acceptable, it is even smiled upon.

I think a good way of him making a comeback would be to create a “Past Tense” version of the same song. Since nostalgic pop from the 80s is coming back in a big way, why not the 90s. Then he would simply sample his own previous song, slow it down and lower the pitch. Recording in onto a tape cassette with some woozy synthesizer, and you’re done. Here’s how those revised lyrics would go:

I had put my hand upon your hip
When I dipped you dipped we dipped
you put your hand upon my hip
When you dipped I dipped we dipped
I had put my hand upon your hip
When I dipped you dipped we dipped
you put yours and I put mine [for this part of the song, it would be good for a slight amount of tape distortion to show the rapper’s longing for better times]
and we got down low
and rolled it round

Plus, Freak Nasty lives in New Orleans, not terribly far from two chillwave juggernauts, Toro Y Moi (SC) and Washed Out (GA). And while both of those people do have very strenuous touring schedules and actual careers, perhaps their hearts will be moved by seeing a cultural icon fall so far.

Hammerhead – Into the Vortex 7.8

Poor guy, his parents fed him dirt. But like, they fed him so much he was stuffed, so he couldn’t have any more. Then he has that whole family dynamic to take care, with his mother turning his father against him. All of this occurred over a sound that nobody else picked up on until the end of the 90s.

Walls of angst created and prepared so well, help to deal with the brutal suffering our daily lives entail. Or they could simply be very talented at this sort of dark, heavy, unhappy music. They certainly have the chops for it, everything has such muscle to it, and there isn’t a single letup or a glimpse of happiness.

In addition to “Swallow”, the aforementioned song, there’s also the joy of “All of this is Yours” which eludes heavily to Big Black and other depraved bands. However, this is a thicker sound than that, and the rhythm is much more persistent. Eventually some of these members went on to create the band Todd in London, who went on to create Shit and Shine.

Despite the extremely unpleasant lyrics, this is very catchy. Shame these guys were so ahead of the curve and of their time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beach Fossils – Beach Fossils 5.9

I remember listening to their first album, “Real Estate” and thinking how excellent that was compared to this. Seriously though, I’m a bit confused as to why Beach Fossils so blatantly ripped off Real Estate, especially when Real Estate isn’t even that popular a band.

Basically, if you adored Real Estate, you might like this. It has a bit more re verb, but still retains all the twang and mellow feeling. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Real Estate has only released one album.

The songs that work best are those that show a bit more energy, like “Vacation” and “Daydream”. Unfortunately, a lot of the songs do sort of fade into the background, since there’s little to distinguish them. So I’d say this is some sort of background Beach music. There are few memorable melodies, and little that hasn’t been done before.

Essentially then, this is an OK album, but they definitely need to stop ripping off another band’s identity.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Billy Bao – Dialectics of Shit 7.4

Hardcore music is usually total shit, recycling various sounds as if it was some sort of “Remember the 80s” tribute. Instead of that rubbish, we hear something about a pissed off Nigerian who came to Spain to front a punk band. Whether or not that’s true (it isn’t) you get the feeling that these guys know exactly what sort of seedy sounds need exploring.

Every track is exactly 3 minutes for reasons that only they know. For the first track, it starts off almost like rock before an absolutely suffocating bass comes in and slowly the track dies due to static noise. “Tight Ass Bleeds” goes through almost fully normally, and “you get me you get the kicks” skips away for half the track.

Nothing here is polished. The lyrics hate everything, everyone. The first half is easier to digest than the second half. For the latter half of the album, the noise becomes even more prominent and basically becomes the new groove. I’m a sucker for bands that make “noise rock” sound genuine, but these guys know exactly what they’re doing, and the bass just solidifies that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Business Casual Mix – 2010 (Or Entry Level Conversion)

Working in an office for so long, you can only hide your true passions for a short period of time. Before you know it, your co-workers will know about whatever your obsession might be. Look at Gibson “Gibby” Hayes, the lead singer of Butthole Surfers. For a while he covered up his heavy, heavy weirdness, but then one day a co-worker found his self-published magazine of abnormal medical ailments, and the rest is history.

Obviously you don’t want that to happen. And I don’t either; I want everybody to remain a viable and productive member of society. Now I can only provide guidance regarding music, if you’re heavy into anime or cos-play, then I have nothing to suggest to you.

But if you’re obsessive about music, it might be best to have a sort of “Business Casual” playlist, in case you’re going to have lunch with a co-worker. So long as you have a car, there’s likelihood that at some point a co-worker or boss will ask to put on some of your tunes. There’s no chance they want to listen to the radio, they want your specific brand. When they’re listening to your music, they want to know that you’re a cool dude, but also that you’re not “super weird” or “heavy into drugs”.

So what does this mean? That means avoiding your impulse of “shocking people”. No James Chance’s “Flip Your Face” will be remotely appropriate, despite it being a great song. Also, although you might like atonal jazz, it may not be for everybody. If you’re a noise head, you might want to keep that on the DL, noise heads still face a huge amount of discrimination among the more mainstream elements of society (everyone else on Earth). Being heavy into metal isn’t as terrible, but please avoids any sort of thrash or extremely depressing metal. The more mainstream the metal you can get the better.

Moving away from the aggressive would be the too mellow worry. I remember playing Legendary Pink Dots for somebody and they said “So you’ve done acid, haven’t you?” Similar hippie stuff or nostalgic hippie stuff might not work as well, so it is best to avoid it, excluding classics like Bob Dylan. Neon Indian, though socially accepted in many circles, may make you come off as a bit too lazy or stoned. The same is true for similar chillwave artists like Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, Sun Araw, etc. And you might want to keep the love of Dub Reggae to yourself, unless you want a very uncomfortable conversation with a coworker about how much beer he drank listening to Bob Marley in college.

Finally, I move onto the last group of music that you should avoid when playing music for your coworkers: Dance music. Yes, this one hurts me on the inside too, since people generally expose themselves to the worst in dance music. Daft Punk is foreign to most, despite their massive popularity to the cool kids. If you are in an office, you’re probably the coolest and youngest kid. Most cool young kids don’t have jobs, or are forced to bring their coolness into the underground.

Below is a good mix of fairly recent songs that you can play with ease among your coworkers. Not only will your reputation as “the cool coworker” help with respect, but you might be able to shake out those few who hide their true hip identity. I’ve found Godspeed You! Black Emperor and !!! fans through this method, so I’d say it is fairly workable.

1. The Radio Dept. – Domestic Scene
2. Department of Eagles – Brightest Minds
3. Surfer Blood – Twin Peaks
4. Arcade Fire – Rococo
5. Women – Locust Valley
6. MGMT – It’s working
7. Tame Impala – Lucidity
8. Jaga Jazzist – Banafleur Overalt
9. Harlem – Poolside
10. The Morning Benders – Excuses
11. Spoon – Out Go the Lights

I’ve worked out the tempo and pace perfectly. Here’s an explanation for each track:

1. This gives your coworker the impression that you’re a sensitive soul who’s really revealing something personal to them when this song is played. But in actuality it signifies nothing, it just gives everyone in the car a mellow feeling and a good vibe to start out whatever journey you’re about to head out on (like to the office Christmas Party or some boring conference about whatever it is you actually do)
2. Department of Eagles works in some sort of “classical” pop area. So there’s nothing here that even the most mainstream person will not immediately recognize. Plus, there’s a few moments where everybody will say “Whoa, this is good” particularly around the 2:30 mark. And you’ll look very sophisticated choosing such tasteful music to listen to.
3. You get a double feature for this: no doubt there will be someone who may recognize that this sounds very similar to the Pixies and be happy somebody decided to follow that vein. Failing that, you can mention this is called “Twin Peaks” and they can reminisce about David Lynch stuff. Of course the song is strong in itself, so external references are nice, but not necessary.
4. By now, Arcade Fire has allowed everybody to feel like their taste is a little better, from it being at the top of the music charts. It incorporates classical influences, so your coworker can feel like they’re educated and as cool as you since they know this song.
5. Women incorporate a lot of old indie rock, so if you’re coworker is old now and used to be cool, they’ll immediately recognize this. Basically you’ll be kind of reminding them that they’re old, but it doesn’t matter because the important, tasteful elements of indie rock change very slightly since it is such a conservative genre of music.
6. This is about as close to a “rave-up” as I’d allow for those you work with. It possesses a great deal of eccentric qualities, none of which are particularly offensive, like some sonic Wes Anderson film. “Oh my how quirky, but yet there’s nothing here that really challenges my own perception of my insulated world”. Plus, the various sonic elements hark back to earlier 60s movements, so if you have some older coworkers they might appreciate this.
7. Lucidity channels a lot of British pop from the 90s, particularly Blur and its ilk. Perhaps this is pushing the mellow envelope, with such a summer vibe to it, but it reminds your coworkers how cool a dude you are. So instead of appearing to be someone who obsesses over MP3s like an insane person, you’re actually a guy who just happens upon this stuff.
8. Jazz is one of those genres of music we’re supposed to like, sort of how greens are good for us and we should eat them all the time. Jaga works in a light jazz kind of sound, which basically comes off as the next generation of jazz pop. Note about a third of the way into the song it sort of vibes out, allowing the bass a great deal of movement. The cooler people you work with might mention something about Krautrock, but I sort of doubt it if you work in a normal, non-creative office.
9. Poolside reminds everyone of garage rock and how much they enjoyed seeing live bands. None of the lyrics are offensive, plus they might speak to the younger coworkers you work with. Of all the tracks, this might be a good one to convert those towards better, less mainstream artists due to its poppy aspects with gritty sound.
10. Maybe those Generation Xers might connect best with this song. The happy sounds will remind them of Weezer before Weezer began sucking so hard. Plus, the vocals are nice and pretty, the melodies easy and there’s really nothing unlikeable about the pure sunshine you feel when listening to this.
11. By now, you should’ve approached wherever it is you were supposed to be going. Like, I can’t imagine really being in a car this long with coworkers unless you live in the middle of Montana and chop down trees. But it is a great come-down song, and has little emotional bits to show how vulnerable you are. Coworkers will feel your pain and offer comfort.

Hopefully you’ll be able to use this cool yet inoffensive grouping of song. So remember, lay off the noise, post-noise, post-rock, industrial, power electronic, crab rock, thrash, heavy metal, glitch, chillwave, hypnagogic pop, etc. Stick with the basics as far as coworkers are concerned.

Weed – DC Hope EP 8.2

Stay with me for this one. I know the title of the band is awful, but the music contained within is burned-out summer tunes. Moody, sun-drenched production can be found throughout the five fully-formed songs.

The singer places himself far too close to the microphone, giving the vocals a sort of whacked-out near yet far feel to them. Sonically, it sounds like a throwback to early 90s indie rock, with fairly complicated arrangements (such as the cacophonous opener “Quilt”). Melodic and surprisingly touching in what it wants to do.

Attention to detail is what wins me over on this one. Rather than presenting a uniformly lo-fi aesthetic to the whole endeavor, there are very small details that show how labored over these songs were. “W.G.A” uses the bass to full effect, allowing the sound to bleed into something more powerful, at times overwhelming the rest of the track. This is done unevenly, to give the impression that the originals were cracked up. So rather than follow a “this is when the loop gets messed up” they allow this to be done by sheer chance. “Run to Cranes” also allows the guitar to sound like its struggling to perform its basic duties.

Audio snippets from elsewhere only improve upon this idea. “Run to Cranes” ends with what sounds like an organ blast, but an airplane passing overhead is what is revealed to be the cause of the rest of the distortion. “Quilt” and “W.G.A” include various clips of people, undecipherable.

Uh, for such a small offering, they really did their homework. So long as they continue this level of quality, I’d be very hopeful for a bigger release from them (here’s hoping). Perhaps Brooklyn can crank out a few more of these guys; it feels like New York is losing the lo-fi/chillwave wars.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Henry’s Dress – Bust ‘em Green 6.9

Uh, this is pretty damn good. Basically they took a bunch of 60s references and added some good old dollops of noise, great hooks, and a sense of humor. Because it’s in the way she goes as the first song “The way she goes” states.

The whole thing flies by in the bat of an eyelash. And there are some really catchy parts of it where you’ll be singing along with them. Don’t worry, it’s not a bad thing, they simply know how to turn pop music on its head.

My biggest problem is that some of these songs, as soon as they try for something considerably noisier, sort of fail at achieving that chaos. Like, the chaos got recorded at too reasonable a level, and as a result sort of failed to connect on that more visceral level.

Basically, that’s just a minor complaint. This is fantastic, and check out what came from this burst of creativity (The Hospitals, Sic Alps, Coachwhips, etc).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to quit your job in dramatic fashion

There’s a lot of sadness going around in this recession (depression?) we’re having, as millions of Americans lose their jobs. As millions of Americans cheer themselves up by watching their dog chase a remote control car, there’s still plenty more who have jobs. Many of those jobs are awful, terrible, soul-crushing endeavors which suck the life out of them and make them fatter, less cool, etc.

So I’ve created a little template of how to quit your job. I’ve witnessed many people quitting their jobs. Below are a few ways I’ve seen and heard of people leaving their place of employment? Next to each one I have notes on what could have been done differently to perhaps lighten the situation (good vibes versus bad vibes). Most of these people are taken from news, rumors, etc.

1. A guy got fired for slashing someone’s tires. This was caught on tape. Eventually this individual was “let go”.

Good Vibes: This guy walked around like Darth Vader and like he had just slashed your tires!

Bad Vibes: He actually slashed your tires. Upon his dismissal, they found 15 pounds worth of metal chains in his desk, along with knifes of various degrees of sharpness.

2. Guy leaves, invites everyone to beer. He tells people about this roughly one day before he leaves.

Good Vibes: Everything here is a good vibe. Whether or not you liked him you’ll never deal with him again. Plus, you get free beer.

3. Slowly, a great deal of tension gets created from a failed office romance. This individual goes mad with despair and Jerry McGuire’s himself out of the office from a well-written, poorly thought out email.

See the below. Make sure to use his template, and immediately after sending it, scream out: “And who’s with me” to capture the full effect. I promise that wherever you work, once you send this email, you will definitely get fired immediately. Fill in the blanks as you see appropriate. Keep in mind this is a G-rated version, if you want to tell your boss to “Eat a bag o’dicks” then you’ll need to add that yourself.

Hi Everyone,

I had a discussion with yesterday about office morale. I’ve pointed out to several times over the past several months that the atmosphere and the overall happiness within this department as waned. disagrees with me vehemently. thinks morale has never been higher. I am hoping I can enlist your help in making this the best possible work environment possible. rarely gives us a forum for feedback (both positive and negative). And when they do, it’s in a small conference setting with face-to-face interaction. This setting may not hinder some people from voicing their concerns or suggestions, but it’s only natural for people to shy away from any sort of confrontation.

I think should generate an Employee satisfaction survey to distribute to everyone so that our voices and suggestions can be heard anonymously without any fear of backlash. But you and I both know that that won’t happen. But if we don’t let our management know what needs to be fixed or worked on, things will remain the same. If you’re like me and want to try and make things better, please type up a brief a statement in Word outlining how you would rate the overall morale, the reason(s) that support your rating, and possible suggestions that could boost morale or make the work environment more enjoyable. Obviously, this is completely anonymous (no names). If you are interested in doing this, you can either hand the paper into me, or put it in mailbox directly.

I know this an odd request from your peer, but it’s obvious my opinion isn’t respected by . I have only voiced my opinions in an attempt to resolve certain situations and to help and this company see that there are issues that should be addressed. If won’t listen to me, maybe our department rallying together and voicing concerns together will be impossible for to ignore.

I appreciate your time and consideration in this matter.

Kind regards,
(Your Name Here!)

Good Vibes: This is an absolutely epic way of quitting your job. Years after you’ve left, co-workers will be talking about what a confident, insane person you were. Boring things you did before this will become much, much cooler. Truth will be distorted in such a way that you become an office folk hero.

Bad Vibes: You no longer have a job, plus there’s no way of explaining this to future employers besides saying “I was young and stupid”.

These are just a few ways to leave a place of business. Obviously I’m sticking with the more light-hearted methods. Steven Slater offers yet another example, of cracking under customer abuse, deploying a slide, grabbing a few beers and jumping out an airplane.

What could have made Steven Slater’s exit more dramatic?

- Jumping out of the airplane with the parachute while in flight, saying no curse words but rather uttering “Get Extreme with (beer name here)”. Fall out of the airplane with said beverage. That way, when you’re fired, you can become a beer promoter.
- Self-combustion.
- Go to cockpit, slip the pilot a $20 and get a free trip to Rio. Plus, you can’t be extradited from this location. Argentina works as well.
- Fart in the passengers’ faces. This juvenile act will make the rounds on late-night comedy, and eventually get you your own TV show on CBS called “Shit Flight Attendants do”.
- Do exactly what he did, but urge the passengers to get out an I-Phone or something so we can have recorded evidence.
- Have the plane land on some uninhabited island. Let weird shit happen to you like smoke monsters coming up and tension build among the survivors. Eventually get found and create a show on ABC called “Found”.
- Get an awesome lawyer before any of this happens.

Hopefully this will help you as you face the tough job market, and even tougher actual employment. Using this guide, even if not implemented, will help you continue your reign of coolness.

Of course I’d suggest the second option. Or you could just stick with it until you have enough money to retire in another, poorer country and live off interest.

The Swiss – Bubble Bath 7.7

Since I needed more evidence that Australia was electro-obsessed, the Swiss come out with this little number of an EP. Oh, and it is funky. Like most Australians, they don’t really introduce themselves; they jump right into the groove, now in progress.

“Bubble Bath”, well, this is a banger right here, to use the parlance of 2007 blog house. Bass lines aplenty, propping up little synthesizer lines move everyone quite quickly. If you’re familiar with DFA Records at all, this will be much more likable to you. All the hallmarks of DFA are present here, with perhaps a more carefree attitude towards titles.

For evidence of this, see “Manthem”. Yes, they actually went with that name. And the song rules so much. Sounding like a reject off of Daft Punk’s Discovery, this is fantastic.

My only qualms are with the remixes, particularly the “Manthem” remix, which is mixed WAY too loud. Since they’re not responsible for the remixes, I do not hold this against them.

Listen to their four songs, avoid the remixes. You’ll be fine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ja Prawn – Everybody 8.4

Mixing progressive rock, dance, hip hop and a deep seated love of the analog, Ja Prawn has created a good, solid album. Perhaps it is due to the heavy use of analog equipment that I’m reminded of “Add (N) to X”, but this is definitely a very good thing, since that band broke up too early. And it is rare that you hear a band master not only its equipment, but to write some decent songs to boot.

Arrangement-wise, this is solid. Besides just focusing on rhythm and beats, there’s some excellent little moments tucked away in the corners. “Pyramidia” rolls on by, with some really great little moments of pure analog bliss. Later on, we’re treated to the joys of “Dreaditor”, which organizes itself so well into some lovely sonic hug.

Pacing could not be better. Right in the middle of the album “Shakuhachi”, they switch gears temporarily into heavier, more-rock based stuff like the stomp of “Lecturer” and the spaced-out jam of “Everybody Shuffle” where they really work the keyboard solo over the groove.

Easily this could have turned into some gear worship; the fact that it is infused with heart and soul makes it rise above. I hope they catch on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did Charlie Brown grow up to become the lead singer of Bright Eyes?

A long, long time ago there existed a boy who never caught a break. Girls would promise to hold a football up for him, only to pull it away from him. “And then you/took everything from me” as James Murphy sang in “45:33”, he was referring to the football incident. That football of course represented the goodness in his soul, being snatched away by the mischievous strumpet. And the kid’s inability to connect with anyone as a child, besides of course the Red Baron reincarnated as a dog.

This kid’s name was Charlie Brown. For a brief moment, it felt like things were going to go up for him, with his prowess at spelling. However, at the big state spelling bee, he wasn’t able to spell the name of his own dog “Beagle” and lost, letting everyone down yet again.

“Good Grief” was his phrase. Growing up in Nebraska might have been hard on him, along with being unable to understand human speech in people aged above 21. What happened to him after his awkward childhood was only more terrible, and almost unwatchable.

Re branding himself as “Conor Oberst” he didn’t change his style. He was still the same mopey, loser kid he always had been. After learning the piano from Linus, he took up the guitar and let his heart out. Emo music had just been invented by this loser, so pathetic he couldn’t even sue a steakhouse that illegally used his likeness and named the damn place after him.

Using all twelve people that made up the Omaha indie music scene, he toured the country, singing about what a pathetic loser he was. By now he wore a wig and had lost considerable weight due to crippling depression. Being an emo rock-star, he could now afford black makeup and Hot Topic apparel. All was not well in the kingdom of the sad. People stopped listening to Emo music since they ran out of tears.

So now, unfortunately, he floats around the world without a home and without the same level of money. Instead, he has to tour to places that are a little behind on indie scene trends, like Scandinavia and Australia. He’s expressed his discomfort at Arizona’s immigration policy, and even wrote some crumby little song about coyote love, where people on both sides of the border want to be together, even though one is a coyote and bestiality is still frowned upon. Conor hopes that one day they’ll be together, and produce coyote-human hybrids.

Charlie Brown certainly has come a long way from being a pathetic, lonely loser. Now he’s the poster child for pathetic, lonely losers.

Jim O’Rourke – All Kinds of People – Love Burt Bacharach 2.6

Uh yeah, Jim O’Rourke had a much better product with last year’s “The Visitor”. Here we are treated to the cheesiest of musical arrangements dedicated to Burt Bacharach. And the sound is paper-thin, like Burt Bacharach songs getting re-appropriated by indie rock.

To call this “disappointing” would be perfectly just. Here’s a guy who created a lot of really good stuff, peaked, and over the past year or so has tried to show he’s still relevant. But his output doesn’t prove this at all. The recent “Fenn’O Berg” album was stale, lacking any of the energy you’d expect from those crazy people. Even “The Visitor” was an exercise more in restraint than anything really ground breaking.

And nothing can be less ground-breaking than revisiting stale AM rock hits with production values this weak. Is there any bass, or is Jim O’Rourke trying to become some sort of lame copycat of Jon Brion? Jon Brion can be corny, but it feels like his work justifies that sort of attitude.

It may be true that all kinds of people love Burt Bacharach but that doesn’t work when somebody disfigures those songs into the most obnoxious of cutesy “arty” arrangements. And since those arrangements were already written by Burt Bacharach, it is pretty disappointing that something so simple could be ruined so easily. Jim O’Rourke’s decline continues unabated.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Nite Jewel in the Deadbeat Summer of the Neon Indian

Governor’s Island is probably one of my favorite places in New York City. Its location isn’t near anywhere really, it exists on another plane. Artsy kids have colonized it, and its future will continue being artsy. NYU will be opening some dorms on there, after more of the buildings have been converted, so whoever dorms there is going to be infinitely lucky.

But this is about the concert. Miniature Tigers did a decent enough job, but I liked them better when they were called Animal Collective. Yet another Animal Collective sound alike band. So since I like Animal Collective, I can’t totally dismiss. Still, I do like it once an artist is able to form an identity all their own. Such a copycat act, but at least they got the crowd moving a little bit.

Nite Jewel had the reverse problem. I’d say that she does the whole “lo-fi/chillwave” vibe really, really well. But her music isn’t suited for a live performance. Only “What did he say” actually moved the crowd in any discernible way. If you were making out, you might have a different opinion on this band, or if you had just returned from the opium den and were out on a leisurely stroll. Otherwise, it is that sort of music I’d suggest listening to on headphones or at home rather than go to a concert. Even her “dancer” who displayed both of her dance moves could not bring up the energy. Her voice sounded excellent, but it would work better in some smoky, ambient cafe than it would in a large outdoors event. Bands don’t necessarily have to be good live in order to be a good band, but it is always a nice gesture.

DOM suffered from neither problem. With a thick Massachusetts accent, they introduced themselves multiple, multiple times. The screen behind them showed their name all over the place, and they sort of blasted their way through the set. Right now they only have an EP out; perhaps sometime soon they’ll have something a bit more substantial. So for now, simply take my word they did a very good job being weird New Englanders. Check them out if you have the time.

Prefuse 73 is one of those bands that I think has passed their prime. Even seeing them a few years ago, that was a real treat. Now they have live drumming, to sort of take away attention from the basic fact that it’s just a few guys dinking around on laptops. The live drumming helped, as did the remixed visuals, but the sound is a bit stale. Warp at one point had a very forward-thinking lineup, but those artists now seem to cater to a specific niche of people who still enjoy the tech-heavy kind of sound. That means a lot of 70s funk re-configured into broken shards of hip-hop and noise. Parts of it did work, but those parts were heavily based off of his album material, particularly One-Word Extinguisher. Unfortunately, their set dragged on for what felt like an eternity. A few years ago, I might have been more into this, but the fact that Prefuse’s sound has not evolved since I started listening to him is somewhat discouraging. I’m figuring that since a lot of his samples do hark back to earlier musical forms that he could claim to be distantly related to Neon Indian’s approach to sound. But this is only half-true, he’s essentially doing the same thing as he did in 2001 but giving a slightly different, more live presentation.

Neon Indian is doing something fairly new. He showed us that with the encore (again the new song from his rock-based side project VEGA) but with a few nice covers. For a few moments, he attempted to make conversation with the audience. I get the feeling that hanging around so much audio equipment probably means that you have a hard time expressing yourself verbally, via human language. Musically, he has no problem. Plus, the sheer joy of having “6669 (I don’t know if you know), Temporary Secretary (cover), and Deadbeat Summer” made everyone’s face unable to express the sheer joy that came with that knowledge. Pulling out one of his first remixes was a nice added touch. Overall, I feel like he’s really doing a good job stage presence-wise, considering the heavy electronic bent of their music.

And the audience rocked as well. Rarely do I enjoy audiences; usually they are misplaced for whatever concert I’m going to. But everyone I met at the concert was so polite, friendly, and sharing. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that across from the Beach you can see the crowded skyline of lower Manhattan. Or it could be that everyone there is of such a specific type of person, the type of person who actually knows almost all the bands and is aware of how to get to Governor’s Island in the first place. I had so many great conversations with people, and they gave me good advice rather than telling me to “fuck off” or push into me trying to getting a closer view of the bands. And unlike the last Neon Indian concert I went to, nobody spilled beer on me.

This was my favorite concert of the summer, thank you everybody for making it such a great experience.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blackbird Blackbird – Let’s Move On Together 7.4

Happy music made for happy people. Yeah, this is as chill as chillwave can be. Every little detail you need for such music has been supplied: ethereal vocals that float on by, warm fuzzy noises, and an electro feel placed deep down in its heart.

But never fear, it isn’t as if they just re-hashed old sounds. It is a bit more up tempo than most, while still sharing that “swimming in sound” vibe. The quality and consistently of the tunes, from the sleepy opener “Avalanche” to the sight melancholy of “Sunspray” indicate that he knows what he’s doing.

Yeah, I’m really enjoying what he’s been up to. Hopefully I can catch up with his full album. This is very close to the excellent standards set up by the original mother and father of the chillwave movement, Washed Out (Oh yeah, Ernest is good enough to satisfy everybody, even multi-sexuals).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Confessions of a Music Addict

While I attend parties, people often ask me what I’m interested in, what I do, etc. Usually I sort of fudge that first question and legitimately answer the second one. But thinking about it, I wonder, how I strayed upon this weird sonic universe and have grow obsessive over various bands no one cares about.

Growing up in such a desolate sonic environment was extremely difficult. Jock rock predominated in my uncomfortable, posh, hell-scape of a suburb. Dave Matthews was revered as a god, and in the spring people would sacrifice large sheep at his altar. In ordinance to the townsfolk’s wishes, he’d continue to torture me with that awful sound.

Being in a suburb, you don’t really get much in the way of culture. As a child, you don’t necessarily realize this. Thankfully, I lucked out with my close proximity to a major city alongside the rise of late night Music Videos specializing in weirder mainstream artists. Plus, and this is probably the biggest factor, the internet started to rear its head, beginning with the joy of Napster and other share sites.

MTV 2 started, and I began to enjoy music a bit more. Being a natural insomniac, this came easy to watch a culture that I didn’t yet feel a part of. But I wanted to. I remembered driving through Lower Manhattan in the early 90s (before Chelsea became chic) and seeing Generation Xer’s just sort of hanging around abandoned buildings. They looked happy, they looked cool. When I grew up, I wanted that same sort of style of hip. And where I was, that just wasn’t there.

K-Rock provided me with a basic template for what was up. By presenting the late night program “Solid State with Liquid Todd” I got to know about Orbital and LFO. Obviously I couldn’t find anybody to talk to about this, and the internet was still slow as hell about moving.

Once the internet became more prevalent, and Napster ended (Napster was never that good) I found a great site called Audiogalaxy. Audiogalaxy differed dramatically from most other download sites in that user participation was necessary. As a result, artists directly reached the listener, telling them to listen to this and that. Plus, and this was probably bigger, other users would tell you what they liked and what they didn’t, so you had somebody holding your hand as you left ‘entry-level’ electronic stuff to get into weirder stuff like Autechre, Philip Glass, Planet Mu stuff, Warp stuff and that great label Thrill Jockey.

But why did I choose music? Well, music felt like the most authentic cultural form to me. During the day you could live your normal life and at night you’ll freak out to the best jams. Other artsy endeavors I got into later, but others, like Theater, reeked of pretension and a nerdiness that I could not tolerate. While other forms (photography, writing, etc) required a great deal of external criticism and review that I found off-putting. Music allowed you to just judge it yourself, without needing as much judgment, since you could insulate yourself around other like-minded people. Whereas with film, Television, people tend to get unreasonably passionate about it, while with music, you basically list off names and people nod their heads and say how cool that sounds. Most people avoid doing any heavy exploration into sound and its fringes, so it felt like a big open field to me.

Rather than spend countless hours in music stores like “Other Music” having employees try to explain the plethora of music to you, you can do the research yourself. Since audiophiles tend to be detail-orientated, you can discover how Bernard Günter created glitch with his album “Un Peu de Neige Salie” in 1993. By having this information out in the open, over the internet, you’re able to compare and contrast much more easily than when a sales person is trying to convince you that this/that band is the best. Now the internet does have hype, but it becomes considerably easier to avoid this or tune it out.

So basically I became interested in music for all these reasons. In case you were wondering.