…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 18 Edition)

A large number of #longreads for your weekend reading pleasure…

Alternative Nation recently talked to Mike McCready of Pearl Jam for an extensive interview that touched on a variety of subjects, including his work in Mad Season, his songwriting approach, and what the future holds for his main gig.  As always, McCready comes off as one of the nicest guys you will find in rock.

Fellow Seattle legend and sometimes-collaborator Chris Cornell was interviewed by the AV Club for their Set List feature, wherein they took a retrospective look at his varied career so far, offering insight into the Soundgarden reunion among other topics.

Elsewhere on the AV Club, Everclear’s Sparkle and Fade was analyzed for the site’s Permanent Records feature, providing some nice perspective on an underappreciated classic.

DIY talked to Foals as they prepared for the release of What Went Down, with the band discussing their recording philosophy and attitude towards writing new material.

Bradford Cox of Deerhunter opened up for a rather bizarre interview on Grantland.

Finally, we are not sure when this article was originally published, but we just came across this look back to the recording of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s classic Source Tags & Codes in Magnet, where the band discusses the making of the album as well as its effect on the rest of their career.

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Catching Up On The Week (July 31 Edition)

Some #longreads as we enter the most boring month on the calendar…

We have entered the dog days of summer, and as such this invites commentary and features discussing the fabled “song of the summer.”  Contrary to what you may think, the “song of the summer” is not a recent phenomenon, and Vox discusses the surprisingly long history of the term.

Here is a great interview with Conrad Keely of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead done by the Australian website The Music that discusses the band’s surprisingly long history and the friendship at the center of the group that has endured over the years.

The Guardian sits down for an interview with all four members of Blur as they return to Hong Kong, the inspiration for their comeback album The Magic Whip.  In addition to learning the details on how the band’s dynamic has changed over the years and the specific influence of Honk Kong on the record, be on the lookout for a fun anecdote involving shenanigans with Lou Barlow (though he is not mentioned by name). [Ed. Note: The timeline of the story seems to indicate that these shenanigans took place after Lou Barlow left the band, so “Dinosaur Jr. bassist” seems to be an apt description]

We recently reviewed Vaadat Charigim’s new album Sinking as a Stone, and maybe we should have read this interview with CMJ beforehand, as they make sure to distinguish themselves from other groups given the “shoegaze” label.

The AV Club ruminates on the nature of the mp3 as a medium, as the listening public shifts towards streaming.

And finally, following up on one of our earliest pieces, the New York Times is reporting new evidence in the fight against the “Happy Birthday” copyright.  Don’t worry, there is hardly any legal jargon involved.

Over the Weekend (Mar. 30 Edition)

News, videos, and other fun stuff for your possible recovery from Spring Break…

Built To Spill is gearing up for the release of their long-awaited eighth album, Untethered Moon, and they recently posted the video for its first single, “Living Zoo”.  Be sure to read the Noisey interview with Doug Martsch that accompanies it for an insight into what the band has been up to in the past few years and how the current lineup was formed.

Mini Mansions is a new project featuring Michael Shuman, the current bassist from Queens of the Stone Age, and they just released a new video featuring Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys.  Pitchfork has the video and some more background on the shoot, though as the link indicates, it is probably NSFW due to reasons of nudity.  As for the music, the song has the same Gothic vibe that can be found in QOTSA’s groovier work, and is pretty catchy as well.

Death Grips is releasing jenny death, the second half of The Powers That B tomorrow, and it is certainly a different animal from the first half that was shared last year.  Check out the GoPro-type video for the bone-rattling “I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States”, featuring footage from Zach’s drumstick and MC Ride’s mic.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead shared the video for “Lie Without A Liar” from their recent album IX, depicting a fantastical suburban child warrior.  Or something.

Ad-Rock, subject of a recent GQ profile that we linked to on Friday, stopped by The Tonight Show to discuss his recent movie role as well as his poor appearance.

Elsewhere on the late night circuit, Modest Mouse became the first band to perform on the newest incarnation of The Late Late Show, now hosted by James Corden, where they performed “Be Brave” from Strangers to Ourselves.

Stereogum has a helpful guide to getting all your “beach” bands straight, which is probably worthy of consultation as the weather gets nicer.  I wonder if they had similar guides when “Deer” and “Wolf” bands were popular.

And finally, enjoy the contributions of this musical dog to some well-known rock songs.  It’s the perfect thing to help kickstart your week.

Second Look: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Worlds Apart

Due to our special theme week, we didn’t have the chance to mention another new release we were eager to hear that happened to come out the same day last week.  The latest album from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, IX, came out here in the US last Monday, but considering it had been released in various forms weeks earlier, it was easy for it to get lost in the mix, even for people that listen to Trail of Dead as much as the Foo Fighters.  We’re still processing IX (in many ways the album it most resembles is Tao of the Dead, but we’re not ready to give a verdict beyond that initial comparison), but we decided to use this opportunity to defend their most unfairly-maligned album, Worlds Apart.

Like many fans, I first encountered …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead during their Source Tags & Codes days, and to this day that album still stands out as one of the landmark indie rock records of the 2000’s.   I remember catching the premiere of “Another Morning Stoner” and being transfixed by their relentless yet melodic approach, with their catchy cyclical, arpeggiated guitar lines tied to an ever-rumbling drum pattern punctuated by insistent snare hits and rolls, as the emotional intensity of the vocals increased with every verse.  At a time when rock music had become stagnant from a creative perspective, it was a revelation to see a band with this much energy and ambition creating a complete “album”, with shifting moods and repeating motifs that added up to a brilliant whole.

I wasn’t the only one enraptured by Source Tags & Codes, as it ended up at the top of numerous best-of lists for 2002, and it set expectations sky-high for their follow-up.  Due to my living situation at the time (attending college in the middle of nowhere), I remember having to make arrangements for purchasing Worlds Apart as soon as possible, either borrowing a car or pre-ordering it online, although I think the preparations were probably rendered moot since we likely received advanced copies at the radio station.  No matter how it was procured, the important point is that as soon as I played the album, it instantly proved to be a worthy successor to Source Tags & Codes and became one of my favorites.  The ringing guitars and pounding drums of their earlier work were again both there in spades, but Worlds Apart was aided by crisper production and greater dynamic contrast; individual parts came in with greater clarity, and the band used its increased budget effectively with their expert layering of additional instruments (namely strings, piano, and extra percussion) to create added depth to their sound, as well as utilizing keener ear towards balancing the extremes in volume.  Aside from these technical advancements, there were still plenty of great hooks and memorable melodies throughout the record, from the explosive “Will You Smile Again” to the anthemic “The Rest Will Follow” to the strident “Caterwaul”.  I’ve found myself singing that one in particular for days on end.

Since I had established and reinforced my own opinion of the album through several repeated listens, I was surprised to learn that Worlds Apart received extremely mixed reviews.  There were some that agreed with my assessment, that the band’s output had matched its ambition and that the music supported such a grand artistic statement, but there were others that felt that despite the herculean effort the results fell short.  Then there was a third category that utterly trashed the album, though several of their reasons ultimately rang hollow–I can understand if you felt that the record was a little over-the-top or too bombastic, but to claim that it was a sell-out record when there were no obvious singles or that it was confused when everything flowed perfectly together seems more like anticipating the backlash than engaging the work on its own merits.  We all have different tastes, but these criticisms seemed out-of-place with what I was hearing.

Though to this day I continue to listen to Worlds Apart on a regular basis, the band appears to have distanced itself from the album, with only “Will You Smile Again” and “Caterwaul” making regular appearances on setlists (which is a much better fate than what befell So Divided, which the band has apparently deemed unworthy of performance).  And while Trail of Dead’s newer albums seem to focus on one aspect at a time (the overly-serious and histrionic The Century of Self, the energetic if shapeless Lost Songs, with Tao of the Dead a workable compromise between the two), it’s a shame that their work which best marries their epic tendencies with their raw emotions goes unrecognized at best or needlessly scorned at worst, as its fiercest critics are the loudest and insist on repeating its supposed failings years after the fact.

But I ask you to take a listen to Worlds Apart with fresh ears, because it has aged better than you might expect.  Let your stereo explode with those big guitar lines, pound your head along with the multiple drumsets driving the beat, and get wrapped up in even the interstitial music (“To Russia My Homeland”, the end of “A Classic Arts Showcase”) which both maintains a connection between the songs and helps delineate their existence as well.  Get lost in the grandiose “All White”/”The Best” one-two punch, sway with the ballad “The Summer of ’91”, or kick your heels to the biting and irreverent title track–the band’s got everything covered.  If that doesn’t satisfy you, I don’t know what will; but at least I’ll feel better knowing that you gave this album another shot.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 13 Edition)

News and video as you prepare for a week of facing the Pumpkin Spice onslaught

Thurston Moore has a new solo album coming out next week, and NPR has The Best Day available on their First Listen stream.  I loved his two most recent solo records, Trees Outside the Academy and Demolished Thoughts, which show a more sedate, folkier version of what one might expect from the Sonic Youth frontman.  If that worries you, take comfort in the fact that Moore throws on the distortion for this one.

On Friday we mentioned how Kendrick Lamar’s “i” was received with an underwhelming reaction; however, people were gushing over his appearance on Flying Lotus’s “Never Catch Me” off the latter’s new album, You’re Dead.  Enjoy the video, featuring some fantastic dancing by a couple of precocious dancers.

David Bowie released a new song this morning, the jazzy, seven-minute long “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)”.  It will be available on the upcoming compilation Nothing Has Changed, which aims to replace the version of Changesbowie which is now taking up space on your shelf.  At the very least, you can have a compilation which also includes “I’m Afraid of Americans”.

Consequence of Sound has the newest track from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, as well as an explanation of its inspiration.  “A Million Random Digits” is from IX, which will be released next month on the 11th.

Peter Matthew Bauer isn’t done releasing new material, as he offered up the new track “You Always Look For Someone Lost” on SoundCloud.  He also released a new video with an interview that helps explain the song as well.

Foo Fighters are being a bit more coy with their previews, offering only glimpses of tracks.  Alternative Press notes that you can hear clips of two new songs from this trailer for the upcoming Sonic Highways.

And last week, Ryan Adams was apparently inspired by the setting and performed a cover of Alice In Chains’s classic “Nutshell” in his show in Seattle.  Because “Nutshell” is one of the greatest songs of the last 20 years, you bet we’re going to pass a long a video like this.