Archive for September, 2011

Real Estate – Green Aisles

September 30, 2011

New Jersey slack-rockers, Real Estate are set to release their sophomore album “Days” on the 18th of October courtesy of Domino Records, and I am pleasantly looking forward to it. Their 2009 self-titled debut was a solid slow burn of quiet rock tunes that were reminiscent of Pavement, Bedhead, and Yo La Tengo. Although the album didn’t blow my mind, I knew this young band was one to watch. In the following two years, guitarist Matthew Mondanile has released a shit ton of music under his Ducktails moniker (which I am a huge fan of btw), and bassist Alex Bleeker also released an album with his band The Freaks. And of course, throughout all this, they’ve been playing shows and festivals and getting tighter and tighter…so I’m quite sure that their new album “Days” will be their finest collective musical output to date. Have a listen to early single “Green Aisles” below — it reminds me of The Stone Roses, and Pavement, and long drives down county roads in the yellow heart of autumn. In short, I dig. Check it.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen (Kranky)

September 26, 2011

Adam Wiltzie, one half of ambient darlings Stars of the Lid, teams up with composer Dustin O’Halloran, and crafts what is arguably the finest modern classical album of the 2011. The last time Wiltzie branched out without Brian McBride (his usual musical counterpart), was in 2004 when he released the stunning The Dead Texan album, and his new project is no different. A Winged Victory For The Sullen create richly emotive chamber music with an amazing grasp of space and atmosphere — and with the help of wunderkind Peter Broderick and cellist Hildur Gudnadottir (who’s worked with Múm, Pan Sonic, and Animal Collective), Wiltzie and O’Halloran have captured the essence of both minimal drone and melodic ambience while still working with piano and strings. “Steep Hills For Vicodin Tears” (below) is probably the best example of their moody yet buoyant sound. Available from the always fantastic Kranky Records, A Winged Victory’s debut is one for quiet mornings and chilly nights. Check it and check it again. Peace.

FRKTL – Atom

September 19, 2011

It’s rainy, grey, and unseasonably cold over here in Toronto today. And so it’s turned into a clean the house, do the laundry kind of afternoon. Of course, all that really means is listening to music way too loud. To coincide with the murk and drear out my window, I’ve been listening to FRKTL‘s dark debut album, Atom. FRKTL is the music project of the multi-talented Sarah Badr, and while her first album does have some missteps, it also has some absolutely brilliant moments. The strongest tracks on Atom are the quiet ones…when the songs veers off into glitch, noise, and Autechresque abstraction they tend to lose me, but the more ambient tracks are emotive, brooding, and amazing. I’d love a whole album of this type of thing. Regardless, FRKTL’s music is worth a listen. Great stuff happening well below the radar. Check it.

William Basinski – Disintegration Loops

September 13, 2011

For those who know William Basinski’s work, his Disintegration Loops series has a mythic quality to it, forever tied to the events of September 11th, 2001. As the story goes: Basinski was archiving some old recordings from tape to digital, and the cassettes were in such bad shape that while he was doing so, the magnetic tape was literally disintegrating, falling apart in front of his eyes – yet what he records is brilliant, haunting, moving, accidental, and some of the finest neo-classical/ambient music ever released. To further add to the story, Basinski was listening to the playbacks of his transfers in his apartment in New York as the events of September 11th unfolded, and the loops became a sort of soundtrack to the horror that he witnessed that day.

And because this story is mentioned in practically every review of The Disintegration Loops, I too cannot help but link the music to New York, destruction, and that day ten years ago. It’s crazy to think that a decade has passed since that fateful morning – but even though it feels as if those years flipped by in a daydream, it also feels like a hell of a long time ago. I was 23 years old, and riding across town on the bus to school when the first plane hit. When I arrived on campus, my girlfriend came running up to me with tears in her eyes, saying that someone had bombed New York. Insensitive and ignorant, I made a crass remark (which I later believed led to the start of a downward shift in our relationship). She had visited New York in July of that year and had been in the World Trade Center for a tour or something, and all she kept saying was that cute little old man who worked in the elevator was dead.

Again, I shrugged it off – this being before the days of smartphones and immediate everything – because I had no idea of the true magnitude of what had just occurred. I left her to grab a coffee before class and went into the student centre and only then actually saw what had happened on TV and was dumbfounded. It exceeded all imagination and is still one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen. I knew then how terribly thoughtless I had been when talking to my girlfriend, and I wanted to run and go find her, apologize, hug her, kiss her, but I was rooted in place, glued to the TV.

And of course, this led to an incredible ideological shift in all of my thoughts on the world as (I thought) I knew it. I’d recently been getting into the concepts of social justice and democracy, and had always swayed left and enjoyed a good conspiracy theory, but that day just blasted everything wide open. And even though I was in Canada when the towers went down, it still felt like it was happening to us; perhaps my closeness with/to Detroit had something to do with it … yet what’s funny is after 9/11 I didn’t go to Detroit for an entire year, when before I used to go almost once a week. Things changed, that’s for sure. And so much more than I can articulate in this silly little blog post. What disappoints me is that until about 2006 I was motivated in the struggle for people to be treated fairly and for our societies to function democratically, but then I got tired, I stopped going to all the websites, stopped engaging in political discussion, started to tune out. I guess I could argue now that I was busy doing graduate work and writing about dead people, but that’s the perfect excuse isn’t it?

Like Basinski’s loops my resolve disintegrated, yet fortunately, like his loops everything is cyclical. Life has an interesting way of coming full circle…and so as another migratory shift is about to begin in my life, perhaps that will be the spark for several others. September 11th was historic for many reasons, and I believe that holding on to the personal reasons that made it historic for you should still be just as important a decade later as they were on that fucked up day.

As I listen to The Disintegration Loops on this chilly September morning, Basinski’s music still proves just as absorbing and beautiful as ever, and my thoughts go out to the family and friends of all those lost at Ground Zero. Peace. Listen below and watch footage filmed by Basinski from his rooftop…

Mayer Hawthorne – A Long Time

September 4, 2011

I’ve been absolutely loving this new track from Mayer Hawthorne for a while now, and the recently released video is just brilliant. I was raised on Detroit TV, so this video immediately found a special place in my heart. Amazing nostalgia courtesy of The New Dance Show, and quite possibly Mayer’s strongest track yet. It’s a song with a vital message about Detroit’s past and future and respect to Mayer for his continual rep of the D.

I cannot wait for his sophomore album, “How Do You Do?” dropping on October 11. Check it!