Month: August 2014

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 29 Edition)

Some #longreads for your Labor Day weekend and pieces to look over in between college football games…

As you may have noticed, we are eagerly anticipating El Pintor, the new album from Interpol.  To help you feel the same excitement, we have interviews both old and new.  Under the Radar posted a piece from 2002 when the band was fresh off their classic debut Turn On The Bright Lights, while Rolling Stone talks to the band as they return in 2014.

The AV Club sets their sights on The Stooges’ legendary album Raw Power for their Permanent Records feature, and that fact alone should spur you to read it.  Elsewhere on the site, various writers discuss songs they love despite cringe-worthy lyrics.  I personally take issue with the first selection of “Conversation 16” by The National, whose lyrics I actually enjoy–the shock that comes from the drastic change in tone quickly turns to amusement, and I always enjoy cracking up when listening to the purposefully humorous chorus.

Pitchfork has an in-depth interview with Anthony Gonzalez, the mastermind behind M83, who discusses his early years as the group’s first three albums are getting reissued.  If you’re only familiar with the group because of “Midnight City” and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, I suggest you pick up these albums when you have the chance because they’re just as gorgeous, though with less of an 80’s influence (which to some may be preferable).

And finally, have some fun with Stereogum as they rank AC/DC’s albums and look back on the twentieth anniversary of Oasis’s Definitely Maybe.  I personally was first introduced to Oasis with their follow-up (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, but for many people their debut still represents the pinnacle of the band’s career.

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A Quick Letter to Trent Reznor

Tomorrow night, we here at Rust Is Just Right are heading up to the wastelands of southern Washington, which means our readers will soon see an end to the mentions of a tour we’ve been talking about since the beginning of this site.  That’s right, the mega-tour of 90’s powerhouse co-headliners Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails is making its way to the Portland area (without the initially-invited Death Grips, however).  Though we saw both of these acts on their own respective tours last year, we were suitably impressed with their comeback performances that it was a no-brainer to shell out the big bucks to see these guys once again, if only for the possibility of a few changes to the setlist.  To that end, we would like to formally request for Trent Reznor to dig deep and play some cuts from The Fragile at tomorrow’s show.

Nine Inch Nails became superstars with the critical and commercial success of 1994’s The Downward Spiral (the album whose twentieth anniversary is nominally the impetus for this tour), but it wasn’t until they released its follow-up The Fragile in 1999 that I climbed aboard the bandwagon.  I was too young to appreciate TDS when it came out–it was simply too dark and scary for a kid who was still in elementary school, and I remember just seeing glimpses of the “Closer” video gave me nightmares (it didn’t occur to me that there was an actual song behind the video that could be played on the radio until years later).  I had none of these issues when The Fragile came out, and even though it’s a behemoth of a double album, I enjoyed devouring and analyzing the music for hours on end.

The reputation of The Fragile has suffered a bit over the years due to comparisons to the ridiculous sales numbers of The Downward Spiral, and this analysis has cast a shadow onto the album’s artistic merits as a result, with many now concluding that it doesn’t measure up as a worthy successor.  I would argue that as great as TDS is, it is with The Fragile that Trent Reznor truly proved his genius and bona fides as a composer.  The album plays as an industrial rock symphony, with melodic ideas and figures that pop up in different variations throughout, giving a musical coherence to the work.  Individual instruments are recorded with precision, providing ample space when required but also allowed to bleed together to create new gorgeous tones like a shoegaze record.  Reznor also balances between natural and artificial tones with expert mixing both live and processed instrumentation.  It is obvious to the listener that every second was planned and recorded with care, and the result is an album that even at its most brutal and devastating sounds absolutely gorgeous.

It looks that the band is playing a few of the usual suspects from this album on this tour, but I hope that Trent flips the script a bit and pulls off a couple of surprises.  The crowd, which is full of diehards like me that grew up with The Fragile and listen to it on a regular basis, would go nuts if the band whipped out the epic instrumental “Just Like You Imagined” and lose their shit if they got to hear “Into the Void” once again.  But I’ll be honest, the one song that I desperately want to hear is the one embedded above, the song that convinced me of the brilliance of Nine Inch Nails, “We’re In This Together”.  I love the relentless drumbeat that drives the song, utilizing a trickier pattern than appears at first listen, I love the ever-evolving vocal melodies that emphasize and build on the emotions of the lyrics, but most of all, I love the fucking guitar in this song, especially one of the greatest noise-freakout solos I’ve ever heard.  I realize the difficulty of putting all the elements of this song together live (which is why it’s only been done a handful of times), but I’m telling you, the fans would go crazy if it actually happened, and we will forgive any and all mistakes just for the gesture.

But don’t substitute “Gave Up”.  That one is great.

And if the guys in Soundgarden are taking requests, please play “Tighter & Tighter”.  It’s not necessary that you have Mike McCready come help you out, but we definitely would love it if he decided to help out on this one.

Beck or At the Drive-In/Mars Volta Lyric?

During last week’s big show, I remembered a bit that I thought would be a fun game for a music magazine or website: Is this a Beck lyric or an At the Drive-In/Mars Volta lyric?  Both Beck and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (singer and wordsmith for the latter groups) are known for their lines that when read in isolation have little to no literal meaning, yet each can still captivate the listener due to their ability to craft a memorable phrase and use of bizarre imagery.  With that in mind, we here at Rust Is Just Right are proud to just go ahead and do the game ourselves.

Here are a few of our favorite lyrics, and while we won’t reveal the artist, we will include a link to a video so you can confirm your guess.  These should be relatively well-known songs if you’re familiar with the artist–we’re not going to try to stump you too hard.

1. “In the company of wolves was a stretcher made of cobblestone curfews; the federales performed their custodial customs quite well.

2. “She’s got a carburetor tied to the moon; pink eyes looking to the food of the ages.

3. “When they dance in a reptile blaze, you wear a mask, an equatorial haze; into the past, a colonial maze, where there’s no more confetti to throw.

4. “This is the pocket-sized edition; rapid sleep through benediction; let’s just paint you a pretty face.

5. “Past, present, and future tense, clip-side of the pink-eye fountain.

6. “Heads are hanging from the garbage-man trees; mouthwash, jukebox, gasoline; pistols are pointing at a poor man’s pockets, smiling eyes with ’em out of the sockets.

7. “Can’t you hear those cavalry drums hijacking your equilibrium?  Midnight hags in the mausoleum where the pixelated doctors moan.

8. “With a noose she can hang from the sun, and put it out with her dark sunglasses.

9. “But have they kissed the ground?  Pucker up and kiss the asphalt now.

10. “He’s got fasting black lungs, made of clove-splintered shards; they’re the kind that will talk through a wheezing of coughs.

Hope that was fun; maybe we can do it again some time.

Beck, Live at Edgefield

Beck’s most recent album, Morning Phase, is a brilliant companion piece to the somber Sea Change, but his live show at Edgefield last week recalled a different era of his career–the rocking and free-wheeling days of Odelay.  The attention of most of the public was on LA last weekend, but the best performance of the week took place about 800 miles north and a few days earlier.  Beck and his backing band were energetic and fired up and delivered an absolute knockout of a show.

Beck kicks things off with a fiery "Devil's Haircut".

Beck kicks things off with a fiery “Devil’s Haircut”.

To be honest, this kind of a performance came as a complete surprise to me.  I had seen Beck live once before, back during the Modern Guilt tour in 2008, and in many ways it was easily one of the most disappointing shows I’d ever seen.  He and his touring band played well enough, so from an aural perspective it was fine, but Beck hardly moved at all the whole time, and didn’t seem engaged until late in the encore.  Earlier this year, during the press tour in advance of the release of Morning Phase, Beck had mentioned that he had sustained a back injury and was in a lot of pain during that time, which helped explain the lackluster show.  Still, I wondered if this was only a convenient excuse; given how switched-on Beck was on Thursday night, I’m inclined to believe him.

Beck wasted no time getting down to business by opening with a fuzzed-out rendition of “Devil’s Haircut” that had the crowd singing along to every lyric.  “Black Tambourine” got a surprisingly welcome response from the audience, but it was their reception to “Loser” that inspired some deep thinking on my part.  Consider for a moment how a tossed-off lark of a song like “Loser” is now recognized as a cultural touchstone; especially now that we’re in an era when culture and especially music is extremely fragmented, yet people of all stripes universally love this song.  I want to be there for the day eighty years from now when anthropologists explain to a skeptical public that the highlight of the day for thousands of people was when they got to sing along in unison the lines “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t ya kill me?”  Initially, the line was ironic; a decade later it was nostalgic; and twenty years later it’s practically warm and fuzzy.

Even the more sedate material was captivating.

Even the more sedate material was captivating.

Early on, Beck often made mention of a noxious odor that had settled down near the front of the stage, commenting at several pauses during the set about the unexplained smell.  It was indeed unpleasant, but the band and the audience were able to ignore it soon enough, and the rest of the set went off without a hitch.  Beck effortlessly incorporated the new songs from Morning Phase into the set without disrupting the momentum, though perhaps the trade-off was a near-absence songs from Sea Change, besides a gorgeous version of “Lost Cause”.  It never felt like that Beck had to “slow things down” to get to the more delicate material, and songs like “Wave” and “Blue Moon” became even more powerful in their live versions.  Still, the most memorable moments were when the band dipped into older material, like an extremely raucous version of “Novocane”, which morphed into a fierce solo-harmonica version of “One Foot In The Grave”, and a rowdy rendition of the oldie “Beercan”.  I also enjoyed hearing a couple of songs from Modern Guilt, as the guys performed both the title track and “Chemtrails”; the latter was apparently a song in which Beck felt rusty, because he had the lyrics taped to a monitor and could be seen reading off some of the lines as he was performing, but it had no bearing on the performance, especially the roaring climax of the song.

As great as the set was, the encore blew it out of the water.  After they closed with “E-Pro”, police caution tape was used to mark off the stage; bassist Justin Meldal-Johnson then returned and began whipping the crowd into a frenzy by asking if they felt like breaking some laws tonight.  The band then launched into a highly entertaining performance of “Sexx Laws”, the police tape was cut, and the show continued.  Beck kept the mood funky by calmly transitioning into fan-favorite “Debra”, spicing it up with some great ad-libs about Oregon and all the perks that his frequent flyer card apparently holds.  During the final chorus, Beck changed up the lyrics and said he didn’t care about the sister (Debra), he just wanted to get with Jenny…and brought up opener Jenny Lewis to the stage, where they collaborated on an exceptionally amusing cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”.  Beck and friends and family then finished the night with an extended version of “Where It’s At”, filled with solos highlighting the different members of the band, before it morphed into a dance party on stage with a cover of “Billie Jean”.  All throughout the show, you could see Beck’s children running around backstage, but for the last couple of songs they became a part of the performance as they danced around on stage with the rest of the band; the presence of Beck’s son added some hilarity to “Billie Jean”, as he mockingly felt rejected every time Beck sang “the kid is not my son.”

The only bad part was that we had another day to wait before it was the weekend; that, and the fact that once the show was over we noticed the smell again.  Otherwise, it was pretty close to perfect (though it would be great to hear some stuff from Mutations at some point, but I digress).

Over the Weekend (Aug. 25 Edition)

Some fun stuff to flip through as you struggle to stay awake for another week of the Simpsons marathon…

In case you didn’t know, MTV aired their Video Music Awards last night, and I think the best way to sum up my feelings about the event is to quote AV Club writer Sean O’Neal: “Today is the 15th anniversary of me realizing I no longer care about the VMAs.”  Nevertheless, Sean himself printed a “recap” of the show, but this was based purely on skimming articles about the show.  If you’re still in the mood to talk about the VMAs, SPIN provides their own category of Worst Music Video and hands out their own award.

In a more substantial piece, SPIN also has an interview with Run The Jewels, and they talk about current events and race in America.  With that, you should also check out the new track released by clipping. in the wake of the events of Ferguson.

We’ve mentioned that Aphex Twin is finally releasing a new album with SYRO, and now Pitchfork has given us a quick preview of a longer interview to be published at a later date; among the most important items mentioned is the pronunciation of the album title.

And finally, Pitchfork decided to use one of the dead weeks in August to go full List-mania, with lists covering the best albums, music videos, and tracks of the last five years.  The fact that Celebration Rock is not the number one album pretty much calls the entire enterprise into question (and the fact that two of the three paragraphs written about the album are pure garbage is also another great hint), but if you’ve got time to kill, then I guess you could read it.

I will say that they are correct about how great Tame Imapala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is.

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 22 Edition)

For those of you looking for reading material during the commercial breaks of the Every Simpsons Ever marathon…

Everyone’s looking forward to the new album from The New Pornographers next week, Brill Bruisers, and they’re making the media rounds in preparation.  Be sure to check out their interviews with Consequence of Sound and Pitchfork.

Pitchfork also has this look at the early-years of Kraftwerk, a period in which the band had yet to find the style that would come to define them.

If you’re in the mood for a troll-tastic list, there’s this countdown of the Best Video winners from the MTV VMA’s.  You can tell it’s an awful list with its very first selection: a shitty argument stating that R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” is the worst in the 30 year history of the event.

[Ed. Note: “Sledgehammer” should be number 1, and “Virtual Insanity” should be 1a, with Chris Rock’s parody of the Jamiroquai video at 1b.]

Deadspin looks at the unlikely connection between the heavily-hyped FKA twigs and Air Supply.

AV Club has been doing a big feature about 1994 this week, and that includes a plea to listen to some Gin Blossoms.

And finally, The Guardian talks to several famous lead singers about the anxieties they face when performing.

Covered: “Cortez the Killer”

Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original.  If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before.

Zuma is one of my favorite Neil Young albums, but there is one track that stands out clearly from the rest and is the major reason why most people have this record in their collections: “Cortez the Killer”.  Even my mother, who is only a casual music fan and not really familiar with Young’s work, was compelled to remark about the song when she heard it for the first time, saying “that was beautiful.”  The song is known for its epic guitar solos, but unlike the vast majority of songs with the same claim, the tempo never gets above an ambling pace.  For over seven minutes, the audience is enraptured by gorgeous guitar lines that snake and wrap around the listener’s ears.  It’s an amazing feat.

Over the years, a lot of people who enjoy proving how smart they are, have taken aim at the lyrics and dismissed the song because of the historical inaccuracies.  True, to say “and war was never known” about the Aztecs, out of all the indigenous peoples of the Americas, is pretty ridiculous.  However, the song came out at a time when historians were beginning to teach a revised version of the interaction between European settlers and Native Americans, and if Neil Young swung the narrative too far in the other direction, it’s understandable.  However, consider that just saying “Cortez, Cortez…what a killer” was enough to apparently get this song banned in Spain during the 70’s, and that part was true.  In the end, I’d just say to those critics to get over themselves and enjoy the true beauty of the song, and let the guitars wash over you.

You know how I mentioned above how it was “an amazing feat” for Neil Young and Crazy Horse to keep the listener’s attention for over seven minutes simply by the beauty of the guitar solos?  Think how impressive it would be to do the same thing, except for twenty minutes.  That’s what Built to Spill was able to accomplish, as recorded on their Live album.

Over the years, Built to Spill has been known to play several covers and do an outstanding job on each of them, ranging from classic rock staple “Don’t Fear the Reaper” to M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”.  I remember seeing a particularly impressive version of The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now?”, with the band able to perfectly nail that distinctive effect for the guitar.  But there may not have been a finer cover than their version of “Cortez”, which still amazes me to this day.  Doug Martsch is a fair match for Neil Young’s distinctive whine, and that’s without even an attempt at imitation; Martsch’s vocals also carry an additional fragility or vulnerability, which helps bring out the beauty of the song even more.

The astonishing thing about their cover is that at no point when listening does it ever feel like “this is a twenty minute song”; it sounds like it takes roughly around the same time as the original, even when you’re listening to several rounds of solos at the end.  And man, those solos…each separate round is able to offer new variations on the well-known melody without sounding repetitive, and able to galvanize the listener without showboating or grandstanding.  The solos keep building and building, and then reach a glorious climax, before slowly receding into the ether, because you have to take some time to calm yourself after witnessing such beauty.  It’s also way tougher to do than just fading out like the original did, though to be fair, that was apparently due to a lack of tape.

The point is, if you have nothing to do for the next half hour, listen to these two versions.  You can thank me later.

Review: Alvvays – Alvvays

Summer may be winding down, but luckily it’s not over quite yet; there are still a couple more weekends for you to enjoy some sunshine and relaxation before the horrors of autumn begin.  However, you might be getting a little annoyed with listening to the same Summer Mix playlist on your iTunes–a perfectly understandable concern.  To that end, it is worth checking out the self-titled debut of the sunny beach-pop band Alvvays.

(Ed. note: from what I’ve read about the band, despite the odd spelling, the name is still pronounced “Always”)

There have been several bands that have mined this vein of indie rock in recent years, most notably DIIV and Real Estate; the trademarked trebly guitars laced with reverb, the simplistic percussion, and the general laid-back vibe are all present on the album.  Even though there are many strong similarities between these groups, the upbeat disposition of many of the songs as well as the unique vocals of Molly Rankin help distinguish the group from its peers.  Whereas Real Estate would be perfect for spending the day relaxing by the ocean, Alvvays fits better as the soundtrack to help get you amped on the car ride to the beach.

The album begins with a 1-2 punch of “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me”, and it’s easy to see why these two songs were the first singles.  “Adult Diversion” is propelled by a bouncy arpeggiated guitar part and airy vocals, a combination where one can note the apt comparisons to DIIV, but the true engine is the driving bassline, which provides both momentum and a great counterpoint.  “Archie, Marry Me” is a a great pop song with a big chorus, with a style that recalls the Dum Dum Girls and their attempts to capture that 60’s nostalgia haze.  While it’s easy to get caught up in the big sweeping hooks, the best part of the song is actually the feedback-drenched lead guitar in the second verse that provides a necessary subtle edge to the gauzy production.

The album is not without its problems, as the momentum begins to sag around the middle with “The Agency Group” and “Dives”.  The latter is actually a well-done ballad with enough unique touches that are promising for the future, but within the context of the album it just ends up being a drag.  Alvvays is able to avoid falling off the rails with the energetic “Atop A Cake” and its extremely catchy chorus, which should have you singing “How can I lose control when you’re driving from the backseat” long after you’ve finished listening to the album.  Other highlights include “Ones Who Love You”, a great slow number that gradually builds into a shocking climax of “You can’t feel your fucking face” before breaking back down once again, and the midtempo song “Party Police”, which is built around an intriguing minor-key guitar lick and finds Rankin hitting an unexpected high note like Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries or Sinéad O’Connor.

When Alvvays is hitting on all cylinders, it’s a fun ride; unfortunately, there are a few too many moments when it stalls.  That said, it’s a solid debut that can easily find a place in any future Summer Mix, and the band displays enough talent that it’s worth watching what they do in the future.

MusicFestNW 2014

Portland celebrated MusicFestNW this past weekend, and it looked a little different than it had in past years.  Instead of a colder, wetter version of SXSW (with a city more equipped to handle the traffic), we got a Northwest version of the current incarnation of Lollapalooza and other similar festivals.  We didn’t have to buy tickets to multiple venues and plan across a whole week, but instead had a two-day festival in a specific part of the gorgeous Waterfront Park, soaking in that last bit of summer before the inevitable gloomy fall.

We decided to skip the first day since there were no acts that seemed worthy of shelling out the extra money for another day of tickets (with all apologies to Run the Jewels, for whom it would probably be worth to pay a full-day’s admission to see on their own).  I’m going to avoid the opportunity to talk smack about bands for whom I don’t particularly care, because we here at Rust Is Just Right try to set ourselves apart by not indulging in condescending snark and instead promote what we enjoy.  But in private, let’s just say there were a lot of good burns that were shared.

Portland's Waterfront Park, on a non-MusicFest day.

Portland’s Waterfront Park, on a non-MusicFest day.

Our plan on Sunday was to catch the lineup starting from The Antlers until the end, but thanks to several accidents on I-5 our ETA was delayed by about an hour.  Luckily, we still caught the last few songs of The Antlers’ set, a circumstance which mimicked my previous limited encounter with their live show when they only performed a short showcase at SXSW.   One would think that their delicate and fragile songs would not be ideal for a live show, especially in a large festival setting, but once again I came away extremely impressed with their performance.  We were caught wandering around the backside of the cordoned-off grounds for “I Don’t Want Love” (mistaking beliving that there would be entrances on the bridge side), but we were still able to hear the devastating power of the song even filtered through the backstage equipment.

The Antlers: "Music Band Northeast, glad to play Music Fest Northwest."

The Antlers: “Music Band Northeast, glad to play Music Fest Northwest.”

Once we finally settled in to the proper area, we heard a couple of songs from their latest album Familiars.  I haven’t yet internalized the nuances of those songs, but I can assure you that they come off very well in a live setting.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was their last song, “Putting The Dog To Sleep”.  It’s a great closer on Burst Apart, but given the specific nature of the song, it wouldn’t appear to be the most natural way to end a set.  The song was as cathartic as expected, but the band added an additional musical twist: first they began the natural breakdown of the song, taking pains to stretch out the chord progression while keeping the resolution slightly out of reach, but then building the song back up with an extended instrumental section that dazzled the crowd.

You know this was from early in the set because Damian Abraham's shirt is still on.

You know this was from early in the set because Damian Abraham’s shirt is still on.

We then made our way to the other end of the park, where Fucked Up was set to perform next–a transition that ranks among the most jarring ever scheduled at a music festival.  Here is a great opportunity for praising the new setup of the festival, as this allowed minimal time wasted between different acts as they had the necessary amount of time to setup without holding the crowd hostage, and the distance between the two sets was both short enough for the walk to not be burdensome while long enough so that there was not any bleedthrough between the two stages.  Someone deserves some extra kudos for that solid planning.

We’ve shown our love before with our glowing review of Glass Boys, but even we were taken aback at just how awesome Fucked Up’s set was at MusicFest.  I’m willing to claim that their hour-long set alone was worth the price of admission for the full day’s lineup.   There’s really nothing quite like seeing the giant hulking mass of positive energy that is Damian Abraham working his way through the crowd, giving hugs to folks passing by, climbing on top of the fence to sing out to the people on the river, and high-fiving a baby as the band ferociously kept up and played in lockstep.  Seriously, Pink Eyes high-fived a baby–that immediately became an all-time top-five concert moment for me personally.

Pink Eyes, now sans shirt.

Pink Eyes, now sans shirt.

I believe most of the set was from Glass Boys and David Comes To Life, though I will admit that sometimes it can be difficult to tell certain songs apart.  At least none of my personal favorites from The Chemistry of Common Life came up, though the rarity “I Hate Summer” made a welcome appearance, with a thoughtful introduction from Abraham on how one shouldn’t listen to personal attacks from others who are merely trying to shame people for no good reason.  He also at other times mentioned the healthful benefits of weed and the terrible events occurring in Ferguson, MO, with each speech receiving thunderous applause.  The band was tight, as I mentioned, but also could have benefited from an extra volume boost to help compete with Abraham’s sharp bellow, and also to help distinguish between the various components of their three-guitar attack.  Unfortunately, it seemed that the raucous set eventually drove the crowd away, as it seemed after their initial welcome that many people grew tired of listening to an hour of hardcore, and eventually made their way back to the other end of the park.  Then again, perhaps it was the heat finally getting to a few people, and the need to stock up on food.  I hope it was the latter, because Fucked Up deserved a new wave of fans after that performance.

A glimpse of the color of tUnE-yArDs

A glimpse of the color of tUnE-yArDs

We had previously seen tUnE-yArDs when they opened up for The National only a few months ago, and in between it seems the set morphed from less a capella and looped percussion to more synths and live percussion.  That’s not to say that the music was any more conventional–there is still a dominant left-of-center sensibility.  For those who are unfamiiliar, the music of tUnE-yArDs is filled with complicated rhythms and tribal influences with world music type lyrics.  In other words, at many points through the set I thought I was living through a real-life Portlandia sketch.  Despite this vague feeling of uneasiness, I still really enjoyed the tUnE-yArDs set, as did the hundreds of other people that packed the listening area.

I ate a lamb gyros.

I ate a lamb gyros.

We ate dinner during HAIM.  Mine was delicious.

I save my worst photography for last.

I save my worst photography for last.

Spoon closed out the festival with a fantastic headlining performance, with a setlist that went deep into their catalog.  You may have noticed that we here at this site love the band quite a bit, and let’s just say that we loved every minute of their show.  Britt Daniel, former Portland resident (who gave a shoutout to SE during “Black Like Me”), remarked that it had been a long time since their last show in the city, back when they performed at the Crystal Ballroom in 2009; as an attendee of that concert, I could only shout out “too long!”

Just to show that the festivities extended into the night.

Just to show that the festivities extended into the night.

In their live show, Spoon manages to perfectly balance between precision and spontaneity, as the band can maintain both a perfect verisimilitude of their albums and allow for individual players to freak out and revel in the moment.  The band mixed in a healthy amount of their stellar new album They Want My Soul, and even some of the more experimental tracks like “Outlier” and “Inside Out” sounded perfectly at home within the set.  The crowd roared when they heard old favorites like “Small Stakes” and “I Turn My Camera On”, but saved their most appreciative response for the hits from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga like “Don’t You Evah” and “The Underdog”.  Personally, I was glad to finally hear some of Transference live, including an extremely passionate performance of “Got Nuffin'”, and to witness at least one Girls Can Tell song, the sublime “Anything You Want”.  The only odd part was that besides Britt there seemed to be several band members that wanted to get out of the show in a hurry–the band ended up doing two encores, which seemed to be partly the result of some poor time budgeting.  It may have been the result of getting used to one-hour slots on various festivals and not properly adjusting to a headlining 90-minute slot, but from a distance I could see the look on some of the faces of the band members that they were hoping to cut things shot.  Despite this, Spoon more than justified taking the top spot on the bill; I’m just hoping for a proper show at some point from these guys in the near future.

Over the Weekend (Aug. 18 Edition)

Kicking off the week with a ton of new music and exciting news, as summer slowly morphs into fall…

It began with cryptic message from a giant blimp, but it’s official: Aphex Twin is releasing a new album.  Richard James most recently released music as AFX, (with the vinyl-only release of Analord, though a compilation of selected tracks was later sold as an Aphex Twin/AFX release on CD called  Chosen Lords), but even then it’s been a long time since we heard new music from him as those records were last released in 2006.  Syro will be the first Aphex Twin album since 2001’s Drukqs; no word on whether we’ll have any more creepy music videos, but the artwork announcing for the release seems to suggest as much.

Fans of the site should be well-aware of how excited we are for Death From Above 1979’s upcoming reunion, and a warm-up show brought us some additional material to help whet our appetite.  A fan has uploaded another track scheduled to appear from the new album The Physical World, courtesy of a free CD handed out to fans at the show.  “Government Trash” lives up to its name, as the song shows the harder-edged roots of the band, and is a perfect example of trashy punk.

Interpol today gave us another taste of El Pintor with the release of “Ancient Ways”.  It’s an uptempo track that shows that the band is really intent on piling up instruments on top of each other, similar to the style of Interpol, but with some of the edge of their earliest work.

KEXP has been uploading videos from a number of different groups that have stopped by their studios, and they’re definitely worth the time to watch all the way through.  So far I’ve watched Peter Matthew Bauer perform an excellent set with a full cast of backing musicians (which is sure to irk Rick Moody, since it contradicts his point) and Cloud Nothings rip through their latest, and I’m looking forward to checking out the Broken Bells and Wye Oak sets soon enough.

It’s always fun to hear bands talk shit about one another, and Kim Thayil provides quite a bit of it with these recent rips on Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins.

And finally, some sad news as Rick Parashar, a producer and engineer known for his work with the early years in the grunge scene in Seattle died a few days ago.  He helped out with Ten and the Temple of the Dog album among others, a contribution that which we all appreciate very much.