Wednesday, August 31, 2011

wikipedia says it will pass by diana salier


                Diana Salier busted this out at my face eyes. I have eyes elsewhere, but the ones on my face were the most interested. “wikipedia says it will pass” focuses on those universal truths about love lost, pinball, San Francisco, sex, and hamburgers. All of those things mean a lot to me. Except for San Francisco I’ve never been there. Sometimes as I stare out at some giant indifferent sky I wonder whether or not other people have faced similar problems? Reading this delightful collection, with its humor, many references, and traveling I realize I’m not alone in this big crazy thing called ‘emotions’. 

                The book’s cover is blue. Inside it is a little blue too. But not too blue, just blue enough to find it funny but sad. Or sad but funny, it depends on the poem. “i didn’t cry at the end of titanic” makes me happy that I’m not the only one who wasn’t moved by such a sub-par film. Also the line “fuck walt disney you’re the happiest place on earth” should be recorded for time immemorial as perhaps the best compliment ever given to another living creature. 

                San Francisco comes up a lot. Really I don’t know anything about California. California seems too fast-paced for a slow East Coast sloth like me. Diana appears to have a strong connection to the city. Even while she travels part of her still wishes she was there, despite San Francisco being a graveyard of past relationships. Guess I know how she feels regarding music and how it can’t be the same after a relationship has ended. The other person took that song, that record, and that experience molding it into something familiar while still unfamiliar. 

                Pin ball takes up a few of the poems. I wasn’t aware of pin ball’s great swag-production. My only experience with Pin Ball is from The Who’s play “Tommy” about the deaf, dumb and blind kid. Guess it really is true; it turns everyone into something cool. Due to Diana’s ringing endorsement of this fine and wholesome American sport, I may order away for a pin ball machine in order to get all the other people into thinking I’m a cool sloth, not just a blogging sloth. 

                I feel “wikipedia says it will pass” is a fun read. My comparison would be what happens after Daft Punk plays at your house. Sure, LCD Soundsystem is interested in telling you what happens while they are there. What happens at the after party, once those disgusting overrated Frenchmen have left the building? Personally, I always like the after parties more. “wikipedia says it will pass” is the ultimate poetic experience of the after party.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Olivia Tremor Control’s New Album


                It doesn’t seem bleak. Everything is fantastic (copyright by Jackson Nieuwland). Why am I excited? Uh, the Olivia Tremor Control came out with a new song after so many years of inactivity (about 12 or so, roughly 3 Presidential terms). Not only that, they’ve announced they are working on a new album. Don’t know them still? I may need to explain.

                Long ago, before there was a fully-developed blog-o-sphere, there existed a delightful collective down Athens, Georgia way called “The Elephant6 Collective”. Some of the bands from that collective like “Of Montreal” and “Apples in Stereo” became better known. Most of them (The Gerbils really guys) did not gain as much attention. A few of them had critical adoration drizzled on them for they were fine, tasty pastries of sound. The Olivia Tremor Control frequently outdid everyone else, often going after positively ridiculous soundscapes. Pop songs were thrown in and the whole albums were unrealized soundtracks to trippy movies. Yep, are you excited yet?

                That’s why it is amazing they’ve returned. My ears have perked on up. When that album leaks I’ll let you know. I try to keep up with the latest in album leaks, and the Olivia Tremor Control new album leak is no different. Already they’ve released a single in support for the still unmade album. You can listen to it here. As I listened to it I think I cried. Being re-acquainted with one of the few bands never to meet my “IPOD culling methods” is amazing. I’m getting caught up with one of my closest musical friends. Since they are touring all the coolest parts of the East Coast, you can get to meet them in real life as well. 

                 Nothing at all can prepare me for this album. Even that teaser song has been played again and again in my mind. Welcome back Olivia Tremor Control we missed you. Don’t leave us again.

A Soft That Touches Down & Removes Itself


                David Tomaloff used to be a Lion tamer. I’m assuming he was heavily influenced by the seminal band “Wire”. While he doesn’t state he’s an ex-lion tamer he does appear to have mixed feelings about the decision. His Tumblr name says it all: Lion Tamer Blues. You know, they don’t build lions like they used to. Now Lions suffer from chronic laziness, drinking Red Bull and Monster at night, playing World of Warcraft after school, and generally being a drag on society. The next morning, after the night of staying up accomplishing nothing online, you have to train them and they half-heartedly respond to you. Man that would give me the blues too.

                “A Soft That Touches Down & Removes Itself” is quite gorgeous. I mean that in every way. The cover looks beautiful, with a schematic of a heart. Guess all hearts need to be built up. You don’t get them pre-made. Love is like Ikea, some assembly is required. People won’t do it for you and sometimes it hurts. I’d like to give kudos to Miles Donovan for that excellent design. 

                What is contained inside makes my heart ache. I found a lot of this pretty lovely. “Mohawk Sideburn Attachment Kit” shows a tiny gesture. Describing the before as better than the after (caterpillars are the new butterflies) it speaks about relationships. How what we don’t know, what we hope and anticipate happening could be better than the outcome. A lot of relationships start out promising or bleak. The benefit we get depends on how we approach it. Will we decide to just isolate ourselves in a self-contained environment with our own references and perspective (the cocoon) or will we continue crawling around, looking curious. 

                “It’s Always July” continues in this vein. Describing the joy of ‘fornicate a riot’ they leave. The idea of seeing the entire “Godfather” trilogy almost makes the narrator walk into a door. For who really has the hours necessary to see all of it? At the end is where it hits, where they could come into the heart at any time but never go. People are afraid of strong emotions. Having a heart is much harder than it sounds. Exploring yourself and your true self takes time and most people don’t have the time, just how they never bother seeing the “Godfather” trilogy. Rather each one is reference but neither is fully known. 

                Love is expressed earnestly in “Yin & Yang”. Here we have a couple willing to admit to each other that they care. Each person is blunt and upfront about the other. There’s no ‘internal monologue’ like there was for the previous poems. Instead they are perfectly comfortable sharing information with each other based off of dreams. How dreams protect one another and separate a good dream from a bad dream. 

                The book is mostly in lowercase, excluding use of the word “I” which avoid the lowercase fate. I liked the simple yet effective language. Going through David’s website I see he’s been published in multiple places, including Ana C’s well known “NewWaveVomit”. A pity I hadn’t encountered his work before now. You can check out his chapbook at NAP Magazine, a place that I’ve been quite fond of lately. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

John Hawks – Tape #2 7.0


                I’ll be honest: I don’t listen to that much folk. When I do I try to make sure it’s pretty good. Getting a super lo-fi tape (when, they are technically MP3s) of someone from Sweden kind of made my day. Usually I generally stick with digital. Tape #2 reminds me of that unusual, irreplaceable quality known as ‘soul’ which I can too frequently forget. 

                The lo-fi quality has the right quality of genuine emotion. Whoever John Hawks is managed to keep the environment noise to an absolute minimum. You can tell that it is a tape but it appears to avoid having the process take over the music itself. John’s voice comes across clearly and forcefully. Actually that’s all there is: just a man and his guitar (excluding the ending of “Bible in the Thorns” which ends with a sample). 

                John plays with a skillful ease. At no point do things become too much. Rather the minimalism of the tape works wonders. Even the tape appears to be aware of this and there’s little in the way of ‘tape warbling’. Personally my favorite songs on this are the shorter ones. The opener is a real winner as is “Goodbye to the Flowers of Shortvalley Hill” which has a similar, mellow attitude. 

                Glad I got to hear this little offering. With the amount of bandwagons catching countless numbers of musicians, it is refreshing to see an artist doing exactly what he’s interested regardless of musical trends.

Zachary Whalen is ‘Shallow’


                Zachary Whalen is some poor Canadian kid. I think he lives in Victoria, Canada a part of Canada I’ve never visited. How he earns money is beyond my comprehension. I think he works. Could be wrong about that judging from his prolific web-based life, I’m not sure. Probably Canada doesn’t offer poets that much to do so they have to get day jobs. My idea is Zachary Whalen works at a canning factory. Every day he throws a stuffed animal into a can allowing for the novelty of opening a can to receive teddy bear satisfaction. Any rejected cans Mr. Whalen fills up with beans, heats up and eats alone as he stares at the bleak and oddly tidy Canadian landscape. 

                Today life got a little less bleak for Zachary. He’s created another blog (called “Shallow”), making his total blog count only 49 different blogs, Tumblrs, email addresses and twitters. It’s a big step. Contributors brought their A game, or rather, Mr. Whalen recruited what he thought was ‘simply the best the internet had to offer’. Most of the internet doesn’t live in Canada especially the writing poetic kind. Zachary’s only fellow Canadian poet is Frank Hinton who again suffers from her geography. I wonder if the two have ever met but considering the size of Canada and apparent mysteriousness of both entities I’m assuming the answer is “No”.

                Ana C. (of NewWaveVomit fame) contributes the first piece. It could be the last piece I’m left unaware of any attempt to organize the poems chronologically. She says to her life “fuck my lonely life”. Considering how many poets she helps and how she recently hosted the hit internet poet Stephen Tully Dierks I don’t see how she could be lonely. 

                Of course Stephen Tully Dierks presents some work up in here. Wherever Ana C. is, Stephen Tully Dierks is bound to follow. I consider Ana and Stephen to be very similar in terms of output and encouragement. Each one keeps close tabs on the literary scene. Together they make up a literary strip mall. At either Stephen’s “Pop Serial Site” or Ana’s site you get a wide selection of literature at affordable prices. “Life is a dehydrated gazelle slowly expiring in bed” represents frustration with old cultural artifacts. Fuck Star Wars. Fuck “Going up to the Country”. I really like you girl. 

                Excerpts appeared on “Shallow”. Not any excerpts mind you, but excerpts from Megan Boyle’s anticipated hit book “Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee”. Yeah, she’s busted out the cover, with a beautiful looking Luna Miguel profile shot. Now we see exactly what all the ‘hub-bub’ is about. I won’t spoil it for you. Suffice to say, it involves a toothpick, a vat of pudding, and pillows. Be excited. I am. 

                Shallow is off to a great start. I hope Zachary Whalen continues to exceed his geographic limitations through his massive web-based presence. Perhaps someday he’ll stop filling cans with pre-made stuffed animals. But that day is far off in the future.  

Spotify: I’m on this


                Guess it had to happen: I’ve joined another music site. After some point I think I might become ‘oversaturated’ with music and my head will become the greatest portable music player known to mankind, but for now I think that’s far down the line, perhaps many weeks if not months away. Besides, I figure why not better connect with my music-loving peers on an online website where I’m under no obligation to meet people. That’s how Turntable.fm turned out for me, me showing up, playing weird chill music in the ‘chillwave’ room. 

                I wonder what my experience will be with Spotify. To be honest, I don’t know what it even does. Spotify seems pretty European. When I did my ‘snobby music search check’ on it I got back excellent results. A failure of a music-sharing site to pass this test means I ban it forever. Usually I include some Editions Mego artists and at least a couple of Venetian Snares albums. Once your site has this bare minimum I’ll start using it but only slowly. Music sites have burned me before and others I have a love-hate relationship with (here’s looking at you Pitchfork you wonderful piece of garbage). 

                Upon finishing my setup I received a notice. The notice told me how I was one of the first Americans to get this great service in my home country. Part of me felt like that Papua New Guinean tribe which built artificial runaways to worship a ‘cargo aircraft’ God. My work in trying to bring weirder and weirder music to people got a little easier. 2011 keeps on getting better. First we had the Turntable.fm thing (which I adore) and now this greatness? Wow, talk about glad to be alive during such a relevant music-site period. Now if the music sites could inspire more great albums I’d be happy, but I know right now we’re in the ‘summer lull’ part of the year. 

                Music sites bring me a little sadness the first time I interact with them. For one by using Spotify I realize how far behind the US is on electronic music. Really how did we let the Europeans beat us? Sure we here in the US mock them for using such antiquated terms as “breakcore” and “social responsibility” but deep down we’re jealous. How can we get onto the electronic music bandwagon? We have a few quality electronic musicians then a bunch of…junk. Make fun of Fatboy Slim? I mean, why not but we long for a day when we get home-grow our own Fatboy Slim. Moby doesn’t count since he’s a bald-headed dork with no sense of fun. The Crystal Method doesn’t count as cool because they are tremendously awful at life and not everyone lives in a trashy, drug-fueled hellhole filled with douche bags (better known as Las Vegas). 

                Spotify has brought this all to my attention again. Look for me on there. I’ll look for you as I continue to inhabit larger and larger tracts of the internet. Perhaps someday I’ll form my own digital realm if I haven’t already done so. As for my Non-American readers, you’re lucky enough to have a healthy and thriving electronic-music infrastructure. Don’t take it for granted.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nishwasher – This Culture EP 7.3


                Nishwasher’s “This Culture EP” was cryogenically frozen in 1993. We’ve been lucky enough to see all the hallmarks of power pop in place: loud guitars, teen-oriented lyrics, and riffs. Yes, it is good to see this kind of thing coming back in full swing. Personally I miss power-pop. No one can really tell me what happened to it. After listening to “This Culture” I’m pretty sure it has been busy incubating in New Jersey.

                “This Culture” I think was made for some hip, local bar. I like the guitars on here, the vocalists match the mood pretty well, and even the beginning of the song with its choppy introduction gives you an idea of what you’ll be encountering on most of this thing. For those of you who were looking for a younger version of “Japandroids” I present to you this song.

                I’m really nostalgic for the 90s with “25 Cent Liquor”. Could the title have been a little better, a little more subtle? Yeah, it really could have. But considering the amount of fun it has (it is the fastest song) I’m more than willing to give it a pass of sorts. Honestly, if anyone found 25 cent liquor I’m assuming they would probably sing about it.

                  Only three tracks long, it doesn’t ask for much. All Nishwasher wants is a couple minutes of your time. They won’t waste it. Consider them one of those 90s wave bands perhaps a little ahead of the curve.

Happily Drowning by Sebastian Sommer


                Can anyone truly be “Happily Drowning”? No, I didn’t think so. Sebastian Sommer thinks otherwise. Besides working hard in the short film scene (one of his shorts “Mama Said Sardine Baby” got shown at the TriBeca Film festival) he networks hard. Once he met Natalie Portman for dinner. I’m obviously not in the same league, nay world, as Mr. Sebastian. His tremendous talents put my output on an obscure blog to shame. Maybe someday I’ll be able to have dinner with my idol, Jim Jarmusch and we’d discuss sloths. But that’s a whole other story. 

                I can get behind him on his latest endeavor “Happily Drowning”. This short is based off of some of Tao Lin’s short stories, specifically “Cancer” and “Robbers”. Honestly I couldn’t pick a better time. Right now Tao’s career is soaring to such great heights, the ones the Postal Service sang about years ago. Stock in Tao Lin’s career is now worth tens, perhaps hundreds of dollars. Getting a short film out there to the general public is a great way of helping this under-appreciated writer. Besides not everybody follows him on twitter (shame on them) so this helps advertise his very essence and core to film-viewers who otherwise would not have the time to keep up with the writer’s hectic tweeting and blogging schedule. 

                A blurred face comes into view. We listen to the face’s thoughts. He wants to destroy their relationship today. The other person in this relationship is busy packing plates and glasses into a plastic bag, a poor way of transporting such delicate items. Someone should really tell her to pack it in a box with newspaper cushioning any potential blows. Perhaps what she’s been through with this near-silent man child has made her indifferent to the fate of her dinnerware. If that’s the case I feel nothing but the utmost sadness for her situation: it seems bleak. 

                The guy says to take all the books. He’s upset. Clearly those books helped him feel smart. By taking them she picks at his intellect, showing him to be a poorly-shaven doofus. She ignores him. We see the nameless figure lie on the bed staring at the ceiling. A noise from another room makes him get up. A well-dressed figure stares blankly back at him. The well-dressed figure wants to steal a table. Our protagonist is upset and returns to bed. Bed appears to be the only constant thing in his life. Going to sleep helps him ignore the pain in life.

                Glad to see Sebastian’s decided to create this homage to Tao Lin’s work. Other people have been making full length films about it but no one had dedicated a film (short or otherwise) to his short stories. Personally I’m a fan of Tao’s short work. I’m a busy sloth sometimes I need things condensed. Tao does a pretty good job of capturing the mood with the original stories. Sebastian captures Tao’s intention quite well in this brief five minute video, also focusing on some of the humor of Tao (something a lot of people oftentimes forget). 

                Sebastian released this yesterday, Saturday August 27th. You can view it here. Let him know what you think. Have fun.                       

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bee Mask – Elegy for Beach Friday 6.6


                Bee Mask’s “Elegy for Beach Friday” is re-worked old works. What does that mean necessarily? That means much of the work precedes his previous efforts for Mego, which is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, you get to see how his music evolved over time. However there is a reason this had to be reworked: a lot of it simply doesn’t have the same scope or focus that his more recent work displays. 

                Much of it comes across as way too thin for me. A crystal clear high-end can be a great thing if used effectively (see Sachiko M or SND for further evidence of that) but this thinness and lack of evolution grates at the nerves. Things move slowly, almost unperceivably so. By the end of the disc things improve considerably with the longer tracks showing a greater detail of complexity and range. “Stop the Night” and “Scarlet Thread, Golden Cord” both possess the menace I’ve grown to love in Bee Mask’s recent work.

                However, this is still a relatively good but not great release by Bee Mask and the brand-new label Spectrum Spools. While it didn’t grab me in the way I had wanted, I can’t discount it, particularly towards the end where it reaches a pinnacle of creepiness. Had he kept that level of quality up for the whole thing, I’d be more enthused. Despite this flaw, it’s a fairly enjoyable album.