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February 20, 2007

Deerhunter

Filed under: Artist Profile,Music — RadioFly @ 11:53 pm

DeerhunterBy now, any mildly internet-savvy music geek has grown wary of the indie hype machine that is Pitchfork Media. Their current project is Deerhunter. The site has their share of misses, but let there be no doubt they got it right this time. Deerhunter just released their second full-length (the band’s first on Kranky) to solid reviews from hipsters and hippies alike. This psych pop record, Cryptograms, actually started out as two EPs; one was more all-out craziness while the other was to be more pop-oriented. This amalgam works perfectly, particularly as a starting point for new fans.

The next step for those that dig the record is to find a way to take in one of their beautifully chaotic shows. Though their live act brings a lot more noise to the table, it bears the same spirit as the record—Deerhunter revels in being one of the last bastions of American psychedelia. And, yes, the front-man, Bradford Cox, is approximately 8’4,” 95 lbs, which gives him an ethereal presence (as opposed to the imposing one that is so often reported), which quite nicely suits the show.

Turn it up, FAGGOT!Deerhunter’s sudden rise to the relative indie superstardom will undoubtedly produce a desire for more material. The band is happy to oblige with a new EP already slated for April, but the real treasure of the Deerhunter’s catalogue is the self-titled debut (alternately and more elegantly titled Turn It Up, You Faggot!). Much more akin to their live shows, Deerhunter  stands as one of the best American noise rock albums in recent memory. Though the band still had psychedelic leanings, they could more accurately have been described as noisy post-punk with their roots clearly in Confusion is Sex-era Sonic Youth. Despite some studio effects like the distortion of Cox’s vocals, Deerhunter  does not have the sheen of Cryptograms—this is a grimy record straight from the depths of Atlanta’s suddenly fertile indie rock scene. As Deerhunter continues to climb in popularity, this record will become harder and harder to find–scoop it up while you still have the chance.

January 25, 2007

Two Perfect Songs: The Story of Tintern Abbey

Filed under: Artist Profile — RadioFly @ 12:55 am

Tintern AbbeyIn London’s Summer of ’67, “psychedelic” was the word on everyone’s lips, while the Beatles, Hendrix, and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd were the sounds in everyone’s ears. As a result, lots of middling R&B groups became lots of middling psych groups. Amidst this craze, many new psych outfits managed to churn out an LP and many more managed a single or two. All these groups, virtually without exception, faded into obscurity, to be heard from again only on compilations like the (wonderful) second volume of Nuggets. One of these bands was Tintern Abbey. With a total output of only one single, Tintern Abbey’s odds of being remembered were all but nonexistent. Fortunately, great music has a way of being heard.

While tracks like The Move’s “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” Kaleidoscope’s “Flight from Ashiya,” or The Syn’s “14 Hour Technicolor Dream” sound like artifacts from a forgotten era, Tintern Abbey’s songs hold up to this day, delivering on a movement largely characterized by wasted potential. Tintern Abbey’s sole a-side, the ironically titled “Beeside“ may never have been a hit, but it stands alone with Tomorrow’s “My White Bicycle” as a perfectly forward-thinking psych pop single from London ‘67. The flip side, “Vacuum Cleaner” (actually the more anthologized song of the two), does not reach the soaring heights of its counterpart, but it’s nothing if not flawless, recalling The Who in many ways.

“Beeside” opens with a beautiful, gentle piano that continues throughout the song, sounding as good as anyone tripping on LSD thought Rick Wright sounded. Then, in a beautiful rush, the rest of the instruments descend into the music, including an uncommonly graceful mellotron. John Dalton’s deliciously psychedelic drumming provides the backbeat for Dan Smith’s understated guitar. Perhaps most impressively, however, front-man Dave MacTavish manages to turn in perfectly elegant lyrics while adhering to the whimsical psych style of the time. Even such giants of the scene as Barrett and Keith West struggled with corniness in similar songs. All in all, “Beeside” is the perfect song to play in your car on a sunny day or in your headphones and get lost in or, best of all, when you can’t think of anything else to listen to.

Unless you want to drop a grand on ebay for the original, you can buy a repressing of the single from VVMO. Also, check out their unofficial myspace.

January 10, 2007

The Dirtbombs, Pt. 2: The Albums

Filed under: Artist Profile,Music — ihggy @ 7:11 pm

So, about these Dirtbombs albums. This Dirtbombs were, according to Mick Collins, never even supposed to be an “albums band”. They were gonna make fifteen 7″ singles, disband, and be relegated to relative obscurity. Albums would force the band to stay in one place too long for Collins’ liking, I guess, so they were never a part of the original plan. However, presumably due to their amazing singles and live performances, the band grew in popularity, so much so that there were expectations that the band make an full-length. At a certain point I think it’s impossible for a band not to give in to such expectations, regardless of whatever principles upon which its members might have originally based its existence. And so we have Dirtbombs albums.

Collins has said that when he finally decided to make full-length record with the Dirtbombs, that he wanted to strictly adhere to the “one complete idea maintained for the course of the entire LP” thing, and so the Dirtbombs are “a punk band on the first one, a soul band on the second one, and a pop band on the third.” The fourth one might be a pop-psych combination. This is true, but the whole catalog is filtered through that loud, dirty Detroit “garage” sound for which the band is best known.

The first LP, Horndog Fest, released in 1998 on In the Red Records, is pretty obnoxious. All kinds of snot pours from these songs, they are fast, loud, as dirty as the Bombs can make them. Even the cover is raunchy as all. Take this tune, “Vixens In Space”. This is ear-punishing blue punk-noise, which, despite the band’s two drummers and two bassists, has no low-end at all. Most of what you hear is unintelligible guitar feedback. Naturally, it rocks in a really wonderful way. But it’s obnoxious, rude as fuck. No class at all. To an extent, the rest of the album proceeds similarly.

Somewhere between 1998 and 2001, when their second album Ultraglide in Black was released, the band developed a real sense of style, a sense of propriety (at least when compared to other garage punks). The record is mostly covers of funk and soul classics (by artists like Smokey Robinson, George Clinton, Lou Rawls). The song selection is the height of cool, the Horndoggy edge is severely diminished, the rhythm section asserts its essential presence, the band tightens up, and the result is a soul-punk classic. The band’s cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Underdog” is a perfect example of the Ultraglide idea. It’s got all the energy and anger of the original, and you can tell that the band really loves the song. It rocks as hard as anything on Horndog, but it does it with a hell of a lot more class.

2003’s Dangerous Magical Noise, the band’s so-called “pop” album, is somewhat harder to pin down. The Dirtbombs throw in elements from all over the place (bits of glam, power-pop, 70’s AM pop, and more), thus the sound on this record is not as uniform as on the others. Because of the variety, and because the songwriting is as consitently high-quality as ever, this is probably the band’s most approachable record. It’s a little cleaner than the first two, it’s got a generally friendlier mix, but it’s still a Dirtbombs record, so it still pumps out pure excitement with every note. “F.I.D.O.”, the record’s closer, is busting with sunshine-y good feelings and boasts a groove you just want to drive to forever. It’s a pop song, for sure, a brilliant, tight, catchy pop song.

Their side of the split LP with King Khan and His Shrines, called Billiards at Nine Thirty (released on Sounds of Subterannia in 2005), bears resemblance to a tightened-up, cleaner version of the more garage-psych “experimental” tracks on the If You Don’t Already Have a Look singles compilation. It’s a really cool record, but because it only has six of their songs, I don’t think I can count it among the band’s proper full-lengths. I don’t think the band meant it to be taken as seriously as their real LP’s or the singles, and for this reason it seems to lack the urgency and energy of their other releases.

The Dirtbombs don’t apparently have any new releases in the near future, but according to Mick Collins, the next record is gonna be their “bubblegum pop” album. Oh man, it should be awesome.

Buy Dirtbombs records from In the Red.

December 11, 2006

Black Pus

Filed under: Artist Profile,Music — rkodrzy @ 9:11 pm

It seems that Brian Chippendale has too much energy for this world. Since 1999, his two bands, Lightning Bolt and Mindflayer, have released a total of eight albums. But this is not enough for the spastic drum master. In between drawing comic books and album art, he has found time for a solo project, Black Pus, which has released three albums since its creation in 2005 on Chippendale’s own label, DiareahRama.

Black Pus is a jazz outfit in every sense of the word. It consists of frantic, ever changing, scattershot drum beats with heavy doses of tourtured saxophones dunked in steaming vats of noise. Ugly music, yes, but its utterly chaotic nature creates a quite enjoyable dark atmosphere. Let the endless streams of snare blasts and horn squelches flow over your ears, not worrying to pick out single notes, but rather viewing it as constantly shifting chunks of sounds. Best when played at ridiculously high volumes.

Judging from his musical catelogue, Chippendale appears content to break music down and rebuild it as he sees fit. Rarely fitting into existing categories or genres, he is a true innovator and is setting many new standards for noise and jazz music in the new century.

The first two albums (curiously titled II and I, respectively), are available for download at fauxfetus.net.

December 10, 2006

Local Atlanta, Pt. 1: Small Framed Boy

Filed under: Artist Profile,News — RadioFly @ 11:52 am

Small Framed BoyOpening acts have it tough. They’re in a position where it’s very difficult to draw the audience’s attention at all, let alone have enough of an impact to inspire concert attendees to remember them. People want to see the headliner…that’s just how it is. Best case scenario, you might hear, “man, the opening act was good, but man The Flaming Lips!!!! SPACE BUBBLE!” or even, “man, Coldplay was so disappointing, even that stupid opener was better,” but you’ll almost never hear “man Belle & Sebastian was great, but that opener really blew my mind!”

Unless you see a show that Small Framed Boy opens.

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Drunken Unicorn to see one of my favorite bands, the Dirty Projectors, play. They turned in an absolutely wild performance, easily one of the best I’ve seen all year. That evening, however, belonged to the group of women who make up the opening band—Small Framed Boy.

The first song they played sounded like the long lost cousin of no wave and psych, with a driving !!!rhythm section of Amanda Boyd and Erin Santini sharing the spotlight with guitarist and vocalist Jennie Castillo’s perfect combination of experimentation, melody, and eerie vocals. As SFB went further into their mesmerizing set, more and more words seemed to accurately described the band. They remained wholly melodic, even downright funky, all throughout but they somehow also managed to be a middle-eastern-sounding noise freak-out group with the giant monster above jumping around in front of the stage. Oh yeah… they rap too. All of those genres and adjectives and buzzwords add up to one word–“indescribable.”

Though you won’t get the full effect of their live show, I urge you to CLICK RIGHT HERE and head on over to their myspace. Then, your next step is to get on a plane to Atlanta so you can see one of their shows. In fact, they’re playing today if you hurry…

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