• Show recap: Diarrhea Planet with the So So Glos at the Tiny Tavern in Eugene, OR…

    Set 21 2013, 3h36

    Sun 15 Sep – Diarrhea Planet, So So Glos

    Please visit Quartertonality.com for more news and reviews.

    Diarrhea Planet at The Tiny Tavern in Eugene.
    Picture by Todd Cooper

    Showing up to the Tiny Tavern just before 8pm, because I know the place is small and I always get nervous that shows are going to be too full or something, seems now like it was a bit excessive. I sat at the end of the bar for about an hour listening to the members of So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet talking and making fun of the horrible musical selections coming in through the speakers of the bar (Counting Crows, Bush, The Wallflowers, Sheryl Crow. I think it must have been from the compilation "NOW That's what I Call Overplayed Watered Down Corporate Shit Rock from the Late 90s that Attempts to Fill in the Enormous Void Left by Kurt Cobain's Death Vol. 3") and eating, though I don't think that any of them really enjoyed the food as when they all got up and wandered outside there were about 8 bowls of weird looking beef stroganoff lining the bar.

    I was sitting there just awkwardly observing and catching bits of conversations between the bartender and the bands. "Hey guys, and don't forget," the bartender leaned in to whisper to one of Diarrhea Planet's guitarists, "that there's a radical discount on the food for the bands and roadies and anyone that is traveling with the band." I remember trying to figure out after he said "radical" whether he was using it as a synonym for "significant" or if he was one "hang-loose" hand gesture away from trying to be "cool like the kids." I came to the decision that, based upon his inflection that it was the latter. Another uncomfortable interaction came a few minutes later when the drummer sat next to me at the bar in order to get some food. After ordering, the super-hip bartender with the black pageboy hat (though strangely lacking in the soul-patch department) said "how 'bout we call that....4 bucks?" and right as the drummer was saying "Ok" the bartender gave him a sideways glance and with a half winking eye said "you can talk me down to $3," to which the drummer replied through an uncomfortable laugh "...whatever man." I knew he and I were on the same page in regard to our thoughts on the bartender.

    At about this time I was watching a dude that came in with some mic stands set up the monitor. The monitor was pretty much next to the stage in front some overturned tables and surge protectors that were dangling delicately from the ceiling, a perfect compliment to the partially working blinking icicle lights (check the date). As he set up the monitor the mics blared feedback for a good 10 minutes at 5 second intervals. A delightful array of ear piercing ultra-high frequencies assaulted our ears, yet nobody seemed fazed. As the monitor guy walked back toward the bar to excitedly talk about the app that he uses to single out the frequencies that are feeding back he said "Ok, I've gotta run." It was at that point I realized that there was going to be no sound guy, he came in, set up the mics, made them squeal a bit, turned a few dials counter-clockwise a bit, drank a beer and left. All in a days work.

    It was quarter to 9 and I was still the only person there not in the band. Well, that's not completely true, there were some unsuspecting regulars that had no idea there was going to be a show and the possibly domestically challenged man in one of the booths that had drank a pitcher of PBR and fallen asleep. One of the guys in So So Glos wondered aloud "So where is everyone?" This was followed moments later by "...so it's just gonna be that guy at the end of the bar?" Despite that being said in a bit of a hushed tone as he headed for the door it was audible from my position at the end of the bar.

    Thankfully, about 20 minutes later the audience showed up. I think that they must have coordinated it earlier, like a punk rock flash mob. It seemed as if the entire audience literally walked in at once. The first opener (didn't catch their name because the sound was terrible for some reason) tore through twenty or so minutes of noisy originals and a few covers (was that the theme to Full House?) to an appreciative crowd.

    So So Glos took the stage next (and by stage I mean area of the floor in front of the fireplace, next to the aforementioned tables and surge protectors and underneath the Coors Light neon dry erase board with "Don't forget to try the special!" scrawled onto it in that generic font that must be taught to all owners of bars everywhere) and immediately invited the audience to get up, move closer, no... closer, no... closer. They then proceeded to bring out their intense energy song after song. Lead singer/bassist Alex Levine could not be contained, and didn't resist the urge to jump into the audience and climb atop the bar. Despite mistakenly stating, "it's so great to be back here in California," to sarcastic boos (someone yelled back "Yeah! Eugene, California!" we're nice here, we don't care and we forgive quickly) he apologized profusely and carried on. The crowd was amped up after their set, and not wanting them to leave after their "last song" began chanting "USA! USA! USA!" together with "ROCK AND ROLL! ROCK AND ROLL!" until they gave us one more tune. Off to a great start.

    I think that part of the reason that we were all so ready to forgive the "California" faux pas is because of their tour schedule. So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet are doing things Japandroids style and touring non-stop up and down the coast and across the country, adding dates as they go. Speaking with lead singer and 1/4 of the shredding department of Diarrhea Planet, Hodan, he said they had been on tour since about the beginning of July and would be going almost straight through until the end of December. So, given that, fine. Call us California, call us Idaho, it doesn't matter.

    Diarrhea Planet swiftly began setting up (tooling with the monitor, as if there was a point by now. I think that every member of each band had been tweaking it all night), did a quick check and were off and running. The crowd moshed wildly, resulting in a cascade of beer flying through the air and pooling around our feet. Shirtless dudes gesticulated wildly at the closest guitarist mimicking the hand motions of Jimi Hendrix as he incited flames from his guitar. The band tore through song after song with little effort; these guys could really play well, truly well. And despite there barely being enough room for the 6 of them on the "stage" there was enough room for some true rock showmanship in the form of hair-whipping headbanging, and thrashing about on the floor while flying through a guitar solo sometimes with Hodan on his knees arching such that the back of his head rested on the floor as he continued to wail. There were a few covers as well, one as (I think) a comment to the garbage that was on the radio while they were (not) eating at the bar. That song was another from the wasteland of late 90's corporate shit rock: Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" which was started on a whim by one of the guitarists and the rest of the band just picked up on it. They managed to get through an entire verse and chorus, with the crowd dutifully singing along and thrashing about before the band said "Ok, we can't do that shit anymore."

    It was a great show. All the way through from the opener to So So Glos to Diarrhea Planet. It was such a great show that as everyone began to realize that it would soon come to a close we all kept yelling "ONE MORE!" until Levine came back to the stage sans bass to lead in an amazing 4 guitar version of Beastie Boys "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)." The crowd went insane, yelling along, hoisting people in the air while watching the leader of So So Glos climb onto the bar again. Things got a little crazy as the crowd sort of invaded Diarrhea Planet's space, but they all had giant smiles on their face. Everyone in there was having a great time.

    Speaking with guitarist Emmett after the show, while buying some merch, he kept saying how great the tour was going. I mentioned that it must be awesome to have been getting attention from NPR and the New York Times (the review was published only two days prior) and a tour that will not stop. He was genuinely excited and said the entire band was still amazed and incredibly grateful for all the press. He swore that they would be back, as they loved the crowd and our city. When they do, I'll be right there at the front again screaming along with everyone else.
  • When Good Bands Go Bad: Maps & Atlases

    Set 20 2013, 20h36

    Please visit Quartertonality.com for more news and reviews.

    When I first heard the EP "Trees, Swallows, Houses" by Chicago's Maps & Atlases, I couldn't get enough. All of the tapping (pre-Marnie Stern era...and yes, I know she wasn't the first to do it, or the most well known, but it will be a cold day in hell when I start talking about Van Halen on this blog) the melodies and breakdowns. Everything about that EP is brilliant. I mean, I still can't listen to it enough.

    I remember around that time (2006), on Myspace, repeatedly checking their page. I was waiting for a follow up, or at the very least hoping that I would see them on one of my many trips to Chicago. The EP's frenetic nature really hooked me. I would drive around all summer with it blaring from the speakers. My friends probably started to get sick of me playing "Songs for Ghosts to Haunt to" over and over while doing the typical "wait...hear that?...I mean this!?..this" with my words effectively preventing them from hearing (and consequently caring) about what I was even talking about.

    The perfectly synchronized guitar parts, the prog/math-rock nature of the whole affair, the punch of the drums and the deft bass playing. Everything on that song wraps up the entire EP solidly. The only thing I could think to compare it to in order to try and sell it to my classic-era British-prog of the 70's loving friends (and yes I was not too long before that in their shoes) was to say that the song kind of sounded like Yes. The virtuosic guitar, the busy bass work, the singer with the weird voice, tricky meters. I at least got some of them to listen.

    It took 4 long years to get a follow up to that EP. "Perch Patchwork" was released, with lead single "Solid Ground." That song was immediately underwhelming. It wasn't even that the song seemed like it would be a grower. "Solid Ground" never, well, leaves the ground and the album is full of mid-tempo dirges that sort of lie flat. "Will" starts the album off on a note that distances itself severely from anything that appeared on "Trees, Swallows, Houses." With it's finger picked acoustic guitar and the generally more spacious aesthetic, it's surely a huge leap in the direction of developing a different sound, and it certainly comes as a surprise. This is not the album that I think anyone was expecting. Certainly not I.

    To be fair, the album does show the band thinking in much larger terms. They seemed more interested in creating a narrative arc, or at least an aesthetic arc, that connected each song across the album in a much different way than previously attempted. That the songs are considerably more straight-ahead and poppy, even repetitive, is somewhat disappointing. It seems as though the bottom fell out, energy-wise. "Perch Patchwork" just hobbles along. Granted these songs are well crafted for what they are, but it left me wondering about what could have possibly led to this drastic shift in sound? Had they run out of ideas for their previous writing style? Did they want to avoid being pigeon-holed and therefore decided to ditch one of the things that truly made them stand out? I mean, what happened in those 4 years between EP and LP? Where there was once not a wasted second there were now filler instrumental tracks like "Will," "Is," and "Was." "Carrying Wet Wood" and "Pigeon" start off promising, but only come close to capturing the band's former glory before backing off. Both tracks turn into these strange, neutered, watered down Rusted Root sounding fake folk.

    2012's "Beware and Be Grateful" is really no better. The album focuses more and more on Davison's vocals and spaciousness. Again, the energy just isn't there anymore. The sound of "Perch Patchwork" is developed now to include sterile production and even less instrumental work. "Silver Self" seems to go on for an eternity, bringing in terrible sounding synthetic drum loops and layers of vocals. The Talking Heads did this type of thing so much better 30 years ago. Not even a flashy guitar solo (that goes on far too long, wandering well into masturbation territory) can help the track. In fact I would say that in that case it does more harm than good. "Remote and Dark Years" takes its cues from the bombast of 80's production values, rendering it simultaneously introspective and overblown. One saving grace may be "Winter," which is actually a good song as far as verse-chorus-verse things go. Good changes, nice arrangement and interplay amongst the entire band. Though, unfortunately, "Winter" is the anomaly. When they return to something energetic like "Be Three Years Old" it does away with the rawness and urgency that the band used to be so good at capturing.

    The point, if there is a point, is this: when the energy left and the band stopped highlighting their strengths and what set them apart, that is when they gave in to mediocrity. It's hard for me to understand why any band would seemingly make an effort to start over almost from the beginning. They went from standing apart, perfecting their fresh and exciting sound, to instead hurling themselves headlong into a vast ocean of bland rock music.
  • Benefit Comp featuring unreleased tracks by Thee Oh Sees, Cave Singers, Elf Power…

    Set 20 2013, 20h27

    Please visit Quartertonality.com for more news and reviews.

    We all love music, that much is obvious. It's why you are reading this, it's why I'm writing this. Sometimes music has the opportunity to really make a difference. Those differences can come in the form of small things - helping to make mundane chores bearable, perhaps giving us some new perspective on the world, showing us beauty in new things, new sounds and on and on. And sometimes music is able to do so much more, something that is bigger than all of us.

    This compilation gives us all a chance to let music make a huge difference in the lives of so many. One such person is Ryan Benton, diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 3, who is the curator of this compilation that puts together a ton of unreleased tracks from more great bands than you could even conceive of. In Ryan's own words:

    I was given a life expectancy of late teens to early twenties. I am currently twenty seven. In the fall of 2008 I traveled to Costa Rica to be treated for the first time with adult stem cells. I had to travel out of country because the all natural treatment was then and currently now not available in the states. After receiving my first treatment I began gaining back strength and have since gone back on seven separate trips for continued treatment.

    With the help of Air House Records, I have put together a benefit compilation featuring fifteen amazing tracks from national artists such as Thee Oh Sees, Cave Singers, Elf Power, Shine Brothers and The Wonder Revolution. Proceeds will go entirely towards helping fund adult stem cell therapy and research.

    So in buying this album you will be helping Ryan as well as countless others that find themselves in the same situation. We all know that stem cell research will provide us with answers to medical problems that many Americans face every single day, yet it is currently outlawed in the United States. So why not take a stand against the ridiculous state of affairs that is the American Health Care System Inc. and buy this compilation for a great cause. Ryan continues:

    Stem Cell Therapy is the first form of medicine that has ever truly helped with the digression of this disease. Stem Cell Therapy is one of the most promising and revolutionary forms of medicine to date. I can attest to this first hand after seeing the positive effects it has had on my debilitating health. Along with my disease it has shown great promise and potential in treating other fatal diseases. We need to embrace this remarkable form of medicine here in the U.S. and outlaw its ban. I am almost certain that without these treatments I would not be alive today.

    The comp will be officially released on October 29th via Air House Records. You can listen to a sample of "The Factory Reacts," a track previously unreleased by Thee Oh Sees, below.

    The Factory Reacts

    The compilation features unreleased tracks from not only Thee Oh Sees, but also Elf Power, Springs, Miracle Days, Cave Singers and a whole bunch more. I whole heartedly encourage everyone to buy this album to help support a cause and also to maybe discover some music that you may have not heard before. I'm listening to it right now and it's a really solid collection of songs.

    If you would like to know more about Ryan, watch the short documentary below. You can also listen to and purchase the first installment of this compilation at comingtogetherforacure.bandcamp.com.

    Remember: October 29th is the official release and all proceeds will go to the Aiden Foundation to help fund adult stem cell research and therapy. I'll remind you through Facebook and Tumblr

    Air House Records//Bandcamp//Youtube//Learn more about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

  • New Release: MGMT s/t LP3

    Set 20 2013, 20h12

    Please visit Quartertonality.com for more news and reviews.

    MGMT is finally releasing a follow up to 2010's superb "Congratulations." The new eponymous album is set for release on September 17 and is available for pre-order on iTunes, where it is referred to as the "optimizer deluxe edition." The pre-order comes with an instant download of the song "Your Life Is a Lie," which can also be heard/seen below.

    Since we don't have much of the album to play, I can relay to you how caught off guard I was when first seeing the album cover. When I went to school in Western New York (Fredonia, to be exact) I lived in the neighboring city. The album cover was taken across the street from what was my bank when I lived there. I remember riding past "Stylez Unlimited" on my bike all the time. It more often than not looked like a garage sale exploded on the front lawn. My apartment was maybe a half-mile away.

    Google Map

    The reason that they were in that shithole of a town is that Dave Fridmann's Tarbox Road Studios is not very far away in the other direction, in neighboring Cassadaga. This is also the reason why I accidentally walked into an MGMT show in 2006 at BJ's, a bar in Fredonia. A few months later their song "Kids" become hugely successful, and because of that success MGMT opened for of Montreal when I saw them a few months later in Buffalo.

    The Flaming Lips also record at Tarbox Road, which is why often times while standing in line at the Starbucks on Fredonia's campus one will find themselves standing behind Wayne Coyne. But I digress.

    Pre-order the album. Check out the songs. "Your Life Is a Lie" is instantly catchy, and much more upbeat than the title would suggest. And so far the album has 5-stars on iTunes, apparently based off of this song alone. So there's that. Oh, and check out the link below to Tarbox Road Studios, where Fridmann keeps a daily log of the goings on at the studio.

    Web//iTunes//Tarbox Road Studios//Twitter//Facebook
  • Album Review: Marnie Stern - "The Chronicles of Marnia"

    Ago 24 2013, 17h47

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    I understand that this album came out 5 months ago, but I also a.) don't care and b.) think that this is not only her best album to date, but probably one of the best albums to be released so far this year.

    There has been a constant and steady development across Marnie Stern's releases beginning with "In Advance Of The Broken Arm" from 2007. That album was a great statement as a debut. The guitars were mindblowing, the melodies were catchy and the lyrics were deeply personal. That the album starts with a barrage of lightning fast guitar and Zach Hill's bat-shit insane drumming set the tone for not only that release, but for Marnie's sound as a whole.

    With each album her overall sound has gotten tighter. The roughness in the production of earlier releases has been replaced with cleaner, more intricately layered guitar lines, with her voice alternating between the familiar highs with the increasing presence of more relaxed and effortless singing in her lower range. For example, on the track "Noonan," we hear the line "don't you wanna be somebody, don't you want to be, don't you wanna be somebody?" sung in the latter part of the song almost unaccompanied, save for a few dropped in guitar chords.


    And, sticking with that song, it creates a good deal of space in the verses with different layers of guitars taking prominence, rising and falling in the mix. Marnie is in control of an entire ensemble of guitars. It no longer feels like the guitar tapping that she has been recognized for (and recognized for good reason) is felt to be the primary element of each of the songs.

    Though, there is (immediately following "Noonan") "Nothing is Easy," that sounds a bit more like something that would be on an earlier release, but finding places to stretch out, once again. Some of the structures of earlier albums, like the terrific despite its blockiness "Roads? Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads," from her album "This Is it and I Am it and You Are it and so Is That and He Is it and She Is it and it Is it and That is That" are abandoned for more standard verse-chorus fair. That is part of what makes this album sound all the more polished. It's the tightening of these structures into more palatable forms that gives "The Chronicles of Marnia" a higher degree of accessibility.

    There were always prog-ish elements to many earlier songs that explored tricky meter changes and several otherwise disconnected sections. And though these things worked well in those album, were interesting and part of the overall sound due in no small part to Hill's drumming, the focus throughout "Chronicles" really shows what a great songwriter and vocalist Marnie can be. That is to say that a hint of prog remains, for example in "East Side Glory" and "Hell Yes," but they hardly beg to be noticed, or take anything away from the overall cohesion of the track.

    There does remain a degree of experimentation across this record. Stern is shown to be tooling more with the recording process, finding new ways to create textures with an array of different techniques, never relying too heavily upon one over another. As a result the album is more balanced. Perhaps this is partly a result of the departing of Zach Hill on drums, which are also, as a result, trimmed back a little bit. Again, this leaves not only a bit more space but also means that the songs don't always feel the need to be super busy guitar vs. drums affairs. Songs are able to grow and take shape in much different ways.

    Each previous release has pointed in this direction. There haven't been any absolutely drastic changes in style from one album to the next, it's just that with each album the elements that have always been present continue to grow and to be improved upon, while shedding a bit of the excess. On the surface the music still sounds and feels complex, but at its core this album is full of songs that are more stripped down but no doubt just as powerful as always.

    As an added bonus, Marnie has released a new track for the previously mentioned Adult Swim compilation, "This Was It," which can be heard below. As an added added bonus Kill Rock Stars has put all of Marnie's albums on sale at her bandcamp page for $5 until the end of August. So head over there and download everything. There are also some upcoming tour dates throughout September that are posted below.

    Kill Rock Stars//Bandcamp//Facebook//Blog//Twitter//

    09/05 Raleigh NC Hopscotch Festival
    09/09 Minnapolis MN Fineline (with DEERHUNTER)
    09/10 Chicago IL Metro (with Deerhunter)
    09/11 Cleveland OH Beachland Ballroom
    09/12 Toronto ON Phoenix Concert Theatre with Deerhunter
    09/13 [event=]Columbus OH Skully's[/event]
    09/16 Boston Ma Royale
    09/20 Lexington KY Boomslang Festival
  • New EP: Why? - "Golden Tickets"

    Ago 24 2013, 17h33

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    I just had to post this, because this is a pretty awesome (though admittedly borderline creepy...but still awesome) idea for an album. I mean, could you possibly think of a better way to create music with such an original idea that is at the same time a commentary on the information age and social media? I doubt you can. I doubt anyone can.

    I'll let the press release speak for itself:

    Golden Tickets is a collection of personalized "theme songs" for and about seven specific Why? fans. Over the the course of several months, Yoni and Josiah Wolf internet-stalked their fans for the purpose of crafting the homage which would end up on this album.

    The concept, Yoni explains, was that, "We would write a theme song for one customer who came to the [Why?] web store and bought something every month. Like Mighty Mouse. It would be a song about that person. We'd read all about them on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes even go so far as to contact their significant other to ask them questions. Then I would write the song on piano, and my brother would take the skeleton of lyrics & piano and turn it into a fully realized arrangement."

    I think that the most awesome/strangest/creepiest part is that they "sometimes even go so far as to contact their significant other to ask them questions." I mean, that's committing to an idea. Check out the song "Murmurer" from the album below.


    There's some more information about the process on this blog, including lyrics to one of the songs, and a few more videos.

    So here are the details of what you get:

    *Limited-Edition Hand-Numbered Gold Vinyl 10" (While supplies last)
    *One (1) of the golden vinyl records will contain a Golden Ticket which may be redeemed to have a theme song written about the winner by Why?
    *10" also avaiable on black wax,
    *Album available as a CDs, MP3 etc.

    And of course the vinyl comes with a download code.


    Purchase//Joyful Noise//Web//Twitter//Facebook//Youtube//iTunes//
  • Stream: Neko Case - "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight,…

    Ago 22 2013, 18h25

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    The follow up to Neko Case's 2009 album "Middle Cyclone" is set for release on September 3. You can hear "The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You" in its entirety on NPR's website as a part of their "First Listen" which is where I've gotten the chance to listen to a lot of stuff that I have since fallen in love with over the years. I remember listening to the debut of Japandroids, Fucked Up's "David Comes To Life," and Dirty Projectors "Bitte Orca" over there.

    Of course the All Songs Considered podcast is always a great way to keep up with new independent music releases.

    I've always been a fan of Case's music, including all of her work with the New Pornographers. Actually, I think that the first time that I heard Neko Case was on their album "Twin Cinema." I couldn't get enough of that album when it came out. And of course the hauntingly beautiful "Hold On, Hold On" from her album "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" has long been my favorite of her songs.

    The upcoming release gives us 12 more tracks of which only one has been heard up to now. If that track, "Man," is any indication of the sound of the rest of the album then it's definitely going to be one of the ones to beat this year. Have a listen to that track below and make sure to head over to NPR to hear the rest of the album. Also, if you don't follow her on Twitter then you should do that now, and if you don't have a twitter account you should still read her page. It's consistently excellent.

    NPR First Listen//Web//Twitter//All Songs Considered Podcast//
  • MusicFestNW 2013

    Ago 21 2013, 15h00

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    Oregon, and the rest of this corner of the country, has really been coming up the past few years with regard to music festivals. There's Sasquatch, in central Washington, bringing in an impressive lineup of bands in May. The Treefort music festival in Boise in March that brought in a whole slew of great artists like Dan Deacon, Youth Lagoon, Earth and Quasi. Of course, as one of my recent posts pointed out, there is also the annual roots/folk festival just outside of Portland called Pickathon.

    But, in my opinion, the most exciting of all of these is the SxSW style MusicFest NorthWest that happens all over the city of Portland for nearly an entire week at the beginning of September. The beginning of September, for those of you that aren't fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, is when our weather tends to be absolutely perfect. Little to no rain, warm, sunny, everything you don't think of when you think of the weather in the Pacific Northwest.

    The artists that are brought to this area for each of these festivals keep getting better with each passing year. Last year Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof and Fucked Up playing MFNW were the bands that originally brought the festival to my attention and now that the full lineup has been released I would seriously urge people to sell a kidney if they had to in order to get there.

    The full lineup and schedule have been officially released, which includes Neko Case, Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Titus Andronicus, Dan Deacon, Superchunk, The Thermals, The Dodos, Surfer Blood and a whole bunch more that I would give anything to see. It's the largest music festival in the Northwest and the 3rd largest indoor music festival in the country, no small feat.

    Wristbands range in price from $90 to $200, each guaranteeing free entry to any show, though the cheaper ones are "space permitting" while VIP is "immediate entry." You can also buy individual tickets for each show, for those of you that don't want to spend a week running across Portland (though if you were going to run around a city, Portland would be a good one to do it in. The light rail is pretty fantastic there.) And being that it is very similar in style to SxSW there is, of course, TechFestNW that overlaps with the last two days of the music festival.

    If you're in the area, or even if you are within a few days drive I would say go for it. Catch all the shows you can, and if you can't get in to all of the shows that you wanted to, hey, you're still in Portland. Have a beer.

    Facebook//Twitter//Myspace (seriously?)//Instagram//Lineup//Tickets//
  • Album Review: The Flaming Lips - "The Terror"

    Ago 17 2013, 17h59

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    It has taken me this long to digest The Flaming Lips most recent album, "The Terror." It came out 4 months ago and I have given it several listens in that time. Admittedly the first time I listened to it, maybe a week or two before release, I set it aside and said to friends that I would never listen to it again. A few months went by and in July I gave it another few more shots.

    The fact that it took me so long to get around to listening to the album didn't have so much to do with how difficult a listen it is at first (and it is, truly, like nothing else the band has done before) as much as it might have to do with Wayne Coyne's obsession with being the center of attention at all times. A few years ago I began getting annoyed by incessant releases of super-gimmicky collectors items. I was annoyed by the mediocrity of their cover of Pink Floyd's entire "Dark Side of the Moon." I was annoyed with the completely lackluster EP that the band did with Lightning Bolt. Actually, that one angered me more than it annoyed me.

    The Flaming Lips are becoming, it seems, increasingly interested in perpetuating their schtick of being the freaks on acid that release albums in jelly skulls and boxed sets of vinyl with the blood of the artists inside the vinyl. All the publicity stunts and Wayne's completely obnoxious twitter account were enough to make one hope that they were putting as much thought, time and energy into their actual music.

    The Terror shows that the Lips definitely were thinking about their music this whole time. And when I say they were thinking about it I mean that they basically stripped it all away and started over. This album is such a hard listen at first because there really are very few places for a listen to get a foothold. There are so few points of reference, with melodies deeply woven into the overall ambient landscape that sprawls seamlessly from beginning to end.

    Wayne's voice, surprisingly lacking the rasp of the past few releases, sings mostly in a falsetto that echoes in the distance for most of the tracks. The instruments are stripped down, with electronic loops and layers of atmospheric synth patches dominating while Drozd's guitar work is mostly absent except for occasional short chordal stabs that created a brightness that cuts through the dense haze of the synths.

    Click to listen to "Be Free, Away"

    I've always loved albums that are able to create a distinctive sound that carries from song to song, with each track having at least that one common thread between them. Perhaps when I first listened to this I was listening incorrectly. I was listening for something to hook me in, something that was repeated and would become recognizable because of the way that it stood apart from other elements. Only in the past few weeks did I come to realize that the point of this album is that it is basically one long track, and that is not a detriment. That's the way that they have decided that they were going to tie the album together, but to that end it also forces us, in a way, to listen to the album in its entirety when we do decide to listen.

    And that is the thing about this album, it requires a commitment on the part of the listener. One can't passively listen to "The Terror," there aren't really any tracks to pull out. It's the entire album. At once. Stop doing other things while you're listening, sit down and hear what is going on because it is complex and it is demanding and it's time for you, as a listener, to hold up your end of the bargain.

    Some of this all seems pretty obvious. There is no "Race for the Prize," there is no "Do You Realize," but that doesn't mean that the album should be ignored. These are all things that I am learning, obviously most every other person out there that has reviewed this album has heaped praise onto it. I don't think that my typical analytical approach of searching track by track through every minute detail to uncover the bits that are good and the bits that are less good, works here. I think that the lesson to be learned here is that it is possible to create an album that ditches short form melodic content in order to shape a much larger picture. It feels like the entire album is building, for nearly 52 minutes, toward the guitars and cavernous drums of "Always There...In Our Hearts." Daring move, to say the least. The song doesn't work as well without that buildup to it, it simply doesn't make much sense.

    Like a set of variations in reverse, the main material only comes clearly into view at the very end. The layers of ambiance and atmospherics are built up and subsequently stripped away to reveal that final track. That is a journey worth taking.
  • Stream/Download: Mincemeat or Tenspeed

    Ago 15 2013, 19h19

    Originally posted on Quartertonality.com

    You may not imagine a tiny blog like mine that nobody reads would get a steady stream of free music sent to their inbox, but I do. It takes a lot of effort (that 9 chances out of 10 is not worth it) to comb through all of the music that I am thrown on a weekly basis. Hundreds of hours of music.

    I get into these moods where I want to listen to something that I have never heard before, or even heard of before. That's where Burn Down the Capital comes in and never lets me down. I met the dude that not only runs that site, but also puts together crazy shows of the most outside music you could ever imagine across Toronto, several years ago. So, that link might be of a bit more help to you if you live in and around the Toronto area if you'd like to actually check out any of the shows that are posted to the site.

    Last week the email he sent out included info about a gig that Philadelphia's David Harms, aka Mincemeat or Tenspeed, was putting on. I checked it out and got exactly what I wanted. Noisy, challenging music. If you are a fan of early Dan Deacon or Merzbow (or both) then you should check this out. He creates music with "No synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, computers, musical instruments." His only tools are effects pedals and a mixer. What he does with that limited inventory is pretty amazing.

    Ranging from pure -ambience to pulsations of distorted glitches, he's got it covered from top to bottom. And the truly great news for you is that there is a great deal of his music that is available for download for free. If you are having a hard time trying to decide where to start, I think that "Live In Black Ops," "The Tower," and "Dungeon Master" are where to go. Interesting sidenote that the Soundcloud page claims Providence as his location (perhaps that is more current?) and that the "Dungeon Master" album includes the track "Mindflayer," also the name of fellow Providence noise master Brian Chippendale's bands.

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