Death from Above 1979

Over the Weekend (Nov. 17 Edition)

New videos and other fun stuff to get your mind off the biting cold that has descended upon us…

Deerhoof recently came out with a new album (La Isla Bonita) that we’ve unfortunately neglected to cover.  That’s likely to change, since they’re coming to Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge on Thursday, but hopefully we can make up for it by sharing their latest music video.  “Exit Only” features actor Michael Shannon interrogating himself and engaging in all sorts of crazy behavior–in other words, what it’s probably like hanging around Michael Shannon on a regular basis.

Kendrick Lamar gave a thrilling performance on the Saturday Night Live stage this past weekend and I highly recommend watching it.  If you were disappointed by the initial single “i” (those ranks do not include myself, but I know the buzz was lacking when it first was leaked), then you definitely need to see it done live.

It’s been our duty to keep informing you about Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s solo career, and as such, we’re sharing the fantastic, mind-bending video he did for “Around Again” from Weatherhouse.

It reminds me of another fantastic recent music video that we didn’t share when it first came out, but we’ll rectify that immediately.  “Inside Out” from clipping. also uses the concept of following a protagonist’s circular journey around the camera, except this time the character’s face is used to illustrate particular lyrics.  Pretty cool.

Death From Above 1979 would have to be among the last bands that you would imagine sitting down for an acoustic set, but they recently stopped by for such a performance thanks to 102.9 the Buzz in Nashville.  Not only did they perform “Crystal Ball”, “White Is Red”, and “Trainwreck 1979” off their fantastic new album, The Physical World, but they also sat down for an amusing interview, covering such things as proposed alternate band names and how much they listen to Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age.

And finally, leave it to The Onion to cut to the chase when it comes to the standard indie rock career cycle.

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 24 Edition)

Some #longreads for your weekend as you keep pushing “repeat” on the new Run the Jewels album…

Last night, Run the Jewels surprised its fans with the release of their new album as a free download.  I’ve enjoyed it on the first two listens so far, but for the next one I’ll be sure to read Stereogum’s cover story interview with El-P and Killer Mike.  Meanwhile, we eagerly anticipate the release of Meow the Jewels.

Speaking of Stereogum, they have an interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway to discuss his second solo album.  Selway’s contributions to his main gig are sorely underrated, and his solo work is definitely worth checking out.

Josh Modell does an excellent job of capturing the essence of what makes the Pearl Jam live experience so special, and does so in a way that those committed to bashing the band should understand.  Considering the way The AV Club usually handles Pearl Jam, this is pretty great accomplishment.

In our commitment to continue providing you with every Death From Above 1979 story out there, here’s their feature in The Line of Best Fit.

Pitchfork catches up with Panda Bear, as he announces a new EP and is set to release an album next year.

Sure, they made a movie about him earlier this year, but it’s probably worth the time to check out PASTE’s oral history of James Brown, courtesy of his bandmates, in preparation for the new HBO documentary Mr. Dynamite.

And finally, it’s not often we delve into sports, but fresh off his appearance on Conan this week, The Oregonian has a feature on Damian Lillard and the development of his #4BarFriday videos, as well as discussing rap’s place in his childhood.  It’s a piece that’s well worth reading.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 29 Edition)

Some videos and news as you recover from a weekend overrun by beer advertisements

Tweedy released the Nick Offerman-directed video for “Low Key” last week, and it should lift your spirits up as you kick off your week because it’s hilarious and filled with a lot of great cameos.  See how many you can spot, and be sure to watch until the end when the “twist” of who is actually in charge of the record industry is revealed.

I’ve read that this year is the “Year of the Booty”, but I think that’s bullshit, because every year is the “Year of the Booty”.  Even so, I was not expecting to see quite this amount of posterior-shaking in a Mastodon video, until I remembered that they were from Atlanta.  Here’s their new video, “The Motherload”, which should not be watched at your place of employment.

“Twice as Hard” seems an odd choice for a follow-up single to “All the Rage Back Home”, but it inspired Paul Banks to film this boxing-focused video for the El Pintor closer.  The track has grown on me with repeated listens, and in my mind seems to be an improvement over the similar closer “The Lighthouse”.

Not only has Death From Above 1979 returned with a brilliant second album, but they are also the subject of a documentary about their rise and years apart.  The trailer definitely has me pumped.

Enough With the Fucking Arcade Fire, Already

One of our primary goals here at Rust Is Just Right is to provide an alternative to a lot of the dismissive snark that is the hallmark of a lot of contemporary music criticism these days.  We believe that in a world that’s overflowing with great music, it’s better to analyze and promote what’s worth listening to instead of attempting to tear down what’s already popular.  Sure, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of writing something bitingly clever about a band that we don’t like, but it’s not really going to accomplish all that much.  Besides, it’s not our place to decry other people’s tastes.  If you enjoy something, we’re in no place to tell you why you’re wrong–life is simply too short and awful to take away any such joy like that.

Given those parameters, this editorial may seem to run counter to that mission.  Yes, we are going to slag on Arcade Fire, but that’s not the main purpose of this piece.  No, our qualms are with the breathless adulation and coverage that the band receives on an infuriatingly and consistent basis, and how Arcade Fire has somehow in the past decade became shorthand for what’s “good” in “indie rock”.  This unabashed love of the band has frustratingly led to the ridiculous need that many publications and writers to shoehorn a mention of “Arcade Fire” in pieces that are completely irrelevant to the group.

First, we’ll lay all our cards on the table and explain why we don’t like the band in the first place.  Well…Eels wrote a superior album about coping with the deaths of close family members, Pavement did a much better job of writing seemingly-tuneless melodies, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor along with Broken Social Scene did a far better job of simply being a collective of Canadian musicians.  Hell, even the cover of Funeral is infuriating, since it comes off as a rip-off of the art associated with Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea–shit, it even has the same goddamn font that NMH used.  The art just screams “WE REALLY LIKE NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL AND WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE’RE COOL LIKE THAT!”  If you want more substantial criticism (beyond this standard rock-critic trope of accusing a group of being derivative of all these other influences), it boils down to the fact that their music is boring, they can’t sing, and have never written an insightful lyric.  They wrote a two-chord song, and they couldn’t figure out how to do it in a key that was in the range of their singer–LCD Soundsystem managed to do that, and came up with one of the greatest songs of the decade despite James Murphy’s limited vocal abilities.  This is a band that ruins their one decent moment, the song “Wake Up”, with an abrupt and inexplicable shift into fucking “Walking On Sunshine”.

Perhaps my frustration with the band can best be explained by their presence in the film “Her”.  It’s an absolutely amazing film and further cements in my mind that Spike Jonze is a true genius, and I was glad that he won an Oscar for his work.  However, I had significant issues with the score.  There was one key scene where the OS “Samantha” composes her own music, and we in the audience here it played back.  It’s twinkly piano music that sounds pleasant on the surface, even if it has no real melodic ideas, and sounds like something an entity with limited knowledge of songwriting would create.  Which seems to fit the idea of a computer attempting a human behavior and approximating that behavior except…it was frustratingly obvious that the piano was played by a human, since the rhythms were wildly imprecise and fingers were lingering too long on certain notes and making the notes stick together and therefore ruining the illusion.  That’s Arcade Fire in a nutshell: humans attempting to mimic machines which are trying to pass off as humans, and failing miserably.

For the most part, it hasn’t been an issue and aside from their presence in an otherwise magnificent film, I’ve been able to avoid Arcade Fire rather easily.  It doesn’t take much to avoid clicking links like “Watch Arcade Fire’s 25 Best ‘Reflektor’ Tour Cover Songs”, even if those links appear everywhere and on multiple sites.  No, the true problem is when the band makes a random appearance in an article that has absolutely nothing to do with them, as illustrated in this review.  Pitchfork’s review of M83’s re-release of their first three albums marked the moment when we officially reached Peak Music Critic Insufferability, as the reviewer attempted to describe M83’s style with this statement: “Arcade Fire are perhaps a better touchpoint for their overall approach: lead with emotions telegraphed big and wide enough to fill a stadium, and let the guitars and synthesizers fall into place around them.”

Now, let that sink in for a second.  Not only is it ridiculous to compare the music of the two bands (since no one who has ever listened to both bands would find a connection beyond “these are two acts that create sounds”–just listen to that video above and explain how it resembles Arcade Fire in any fashion), note that the connection between the two seems to be…that the two groups are both emotive.  This assertion that somehow Arcade Fire was the first group to emphasize emotion in some capacity in their music is completely insane (especially in an era where “emo” was huge) and demonstrates the myopia that afflicts a generation of rock critics in which in order to convey that a musician is “serious” that it must be compared to this one band.  To further underscore how clumsily the point is made in the review, note that the comparison to Arcade Fire is immediately dropped and no further mention is made in the rest of the review.

However, the most ridiculous aspect of the comparison is just simple chronology.  M83’s first two albums were released before Funeral, while their third was released a couple of months after.  Unless those crazy Canadians can bend the rules of time and space, it can be definitively stated that they had absolutely no effect on the French electronic duo.  If you’re dead-set on making some sort of comparison, perhaps another article can be written about how M83 influenced Arcade Fire, but why bother.  I mean, this is a great song that displays subtlety and mastery of melody–something that is difficult to find in an Arcade Fire song.

That’s not the only irrelevant mention of Arcade Fire I encountered this month–in a review of Death From Above 1979’s new album, I learned that apparently we started measuring time in terms of Arcade Fire album releases in the past decade.  To be fair, that isn’t the worst problem with that ridiculous review (which includes gems like finding out that Wolfmother was apparently a dance-punk band), but it once again points to the annoying habit that many rock critics employ of needlessly dropping references to Arcade Fire.  DFA1979 are as bad a comparison as M83 in terms of music, but why the hell should that matter?

These are all symptoms of the general problem of giving Arcade Fire way too much credit than they deserve.  In this feature, we see the band get praise for…incorporating “whoas” in a song, as if having an instrumental swell accompanied by a wordless chorus was a fucking revolutionary act (just one year later, we would see a much better example of this technique from My Morning Jacket).  Arcade Fire somehow also gets credit for “having an auxiliary floor-tom for intermittent bashing” when Radiohead had a hit the previous year doing exactly that (and to great effect).  Even the most diehard Arcade Fire fan has to admit that Radiohead is a much more influential band.  Besides, has this been a real trend?  Sure, White Rabbits used it to great effect on “Percussion Gun” and it helped get people to listen to their fantastic album It’s Frightening, but for fuck’s sake, it isn’t worth tricking me into clicking a link for a goddamn Imagine Dragons video.  More than anything, it just seemed like an excuse for this poor excuse for a Canadian collective to employ extra people to play random percussion, seemingly ripping off Slipknot of all bands (hey, I knew I forgot another random influence of Arcade Fire).

Arcade Fire fans, I mean you no harm.  But please, if you end up working as music critics, please refrain from constantly mentioning your favorite band.  It reflects poorly on all of us.

Catching Up On The Week (Sept. 19 Edition)

Some #longreads as you prepare for the return of the purest of athletic competitions: Ivy League football.

Next week sees the release of the highly-anticipated new album from Aphex Twin, Syro, though if you live outside of the United States, you may have had the chance to purchase the album as soon as today.  This is Richard D. James’s first album under the Aphex Twin moniker since Drukqs came out in 2001, so anticipation has been extremely high for electronica fans.  James sat down for an extended interview with Pitchfork (filled with all sorts of fancy website tricks) that you should probably read to help pass the time before you get a copy of Syro in your hands, and the Village Voice has a piece putting the new album into context.  For a taste of the new album, here’s “minipops 67 [120.2]

“:

Another high-profile release coming out next week is the album that Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy made with his son Spencer (released under the name “Tweedy”), Sukierae.  Jeff writes a piece for The Guardian discussing the significance of the album form, and why Suierae is a double-album.

J Mascis sat down for a fun interview with Pitchfork for their Guest List feature.

NPR examines the lasting popularity of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”.

WIRED samples some psychological studies that attempt to explain the scientific reason why you and your friends tend to like the same music as well as analyzing the significance of music in social interaction.

And finally, our readers should be well-aware of how psyched we are about the reunion of Death From Above 1979, so of course we’re going to pass along any stories about these guys.  FADER talks to the band about some of their favorite movies while Rolling Stone talks to the band about their time apart.  In true Rolling Stone fashion, the interviewer keeps on referring to the limited-run Romantic Rights EP as the touchstone of their early days instead of the wide-released full-length You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, but I’m willing to let that detail go.

Review: Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

If we are to take Death From Above 1979’s claims at face value and believe that they are indeed machines, then fans should be glad to hear that they are at least constructed from materials incapable of rust.  You would be hard-pressed to believe that it’s been a decade since You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, because DFA1979’s long-awaited follow-up doesn’t miss a beat.  The Physical World does everything you would ask following a landmark debut–it maintains the spirit and essence of what made the original so brilliant (perhaps with an edge or two smoothed over), while at the same time attempting new tricks that keep the new music sounding like a mere rehash of previous ideas.  In other words, all previous devotees should be fully satisfied, and perhaps the band will pick up some new fans as well.

Death From Above 1979 proves that their formula of stripped-down rock reliant on bass and drums (but not drum and bass) still works, filling the album with plenty of riffs that are both fast and furious.  “Right On, Frankenstein!” and “Gemini” would fit right in with some of the more blistering tracks from their debut, like “Little Girl” or “Romantic Rights”.  “Gemini” has several catchy parts that will certainly stick in the minds of the listener (the pre-chorus of “she cries on her birthday” and the chorus of “24/7–still believes in heaven” will definitely be parts that the audience will be shouting along with at their concerts) and “Right On, Frankenstein!”  features a terrific outro, with the band stopping on a dime before slipping into a furiously-picked rapid-fire 32nd-note bass riff that ends with a bang.

The band also stretches out a bit with great success, dipping into sludge-rock territory with the “Virgins” and getting damn near close to writing a ballad with “White Is Red”.  The latter features an inventive bass part that utilizes a gorgeous unique tone that shows that simply because the band uses a limited set of instruments, it doesn’t mean that their sonic palette is in any way constricted.  The lyrics are also some of their best work to date; DFA1979 always were able to come up with an incisive line or individual memorable lyrics, but the heartbreaking story of a spurned lover and an unplanned teenage pregnancy in “White Is Red” shows that the duo can craft a complete song and are capable of invoking previously unknown subtle emotions in the listener.  It also ends up being the perfect setup to the lead single “Trainwreck 1979”, which sounds as terrific and energetic on the album as it does when it’s livening up rock radio’s otherwise generally moribund playlist.  (It also may bear an interesting connection to the previous track, as the track begins with the details of the protagonist’s birth.)

The album ends with the epic title track, a song that shifts from a goofy 8-bit melody into a frenetic punk rocker before ending on a throwback 80’s metal coda, which fades seamlessly into a classical piano outro that mirrors the previous melody, processed through a filter that evokes the soundtrack of a classic horror film from the Silent Era.  With the coda, Jesse Keeler comes as close to a bass “solo” as you’re likely to hear from the duo, and Sebastien Grainger shows off some of the drum tricks he’s picked up in the decade since their debut.  Once you hear that, you gain a new appreciation for Grainger’s rhythmic support throughout the album, noticing how he’s not only driving the beat but also engaging intriguing melodic support as well by effortlessly shifting styles and patterns.  But most importantly, the radical shift at the end shows fans that the band is capable of exploring even more styles, and that the band won’t be running out of ideas anytime soon.

You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine still is in my regular rotation ten years later, and at this point I’m willing to predict that The Physical World will follow the same path as well.  It’s already been stuck in my car’s stereo for the past week, and the good news is that I’m not even beginning to get tired of the album.  In other words, it’ll be definitely making an appearance on our Best Of list for 2014.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 15 Edition)

Helping to start your week off with some live videos, new music, and whatever else we can find lying around…

Last week saw some great performances on the Late Night show, including The Replacements returning to 30 Rock with a blistering version of their classic “Alex Chilton”, their first since their banishment due to their infamous SNL trainwreck of a performance.  Speaking of “trainwreck”, Death From Above 1979 performed their lead single “Trainwreck 1979” on Letterman, with some help from Paul Shaffer and the rest of the band.  It was awesome.

That wasn’t the only memorable performance from Letterman last week, as Interpol did such a great job with “All The Rage Back Home” that it prompted Letterman to continually ask if he could join the band.

There was also Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla’s last show with the band, and Stereogum has the video of the last song from that show.

There’s a Deafheaven side-project that is definitely worth checking out, if the first single is any indication.  Creepers features Dan Tracy, whose drumwork on Sunbather helped make that album one of the best of 2013 as well as touring guitarist Shiv Mehra, and they have an album coming out October 28.  “Stuck” reminds me a bit of the Nothing album that came out earlier this year, so if it was the shouting vocals of Deafheaven that turned you off that band, that’s definitely should not be an issue with this release.

Run The Jewels have released “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” for the Adult Swim Singles Series, and this morning they sent out emails to fans who purchased their first album giving them the details of the various preorder packages available for their followup.  Good, good news.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 8 Edition)

News, interviews, and goofy fun videos as you deal with a full work week…

In preparation for the release of Death From Above 1979’s new album The Physical World tomorrow, you should check out Noisey’s profile of the band.  If that’s not enough to get you pumped, well, you could always go back and read our piece on the brilliance of You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.

As Radiohead begins preparations for a new album, drummer Philip Selway is about to release his second solo album, Weatherhouse, on October 7.  Today, the band posted the SoundCloud link to the gorgeous “It Will End In Tears”, and is definitely worth a listen.

Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron gives some advice to aspiring musicians in this interview with Guitar Center.

SPIN is jumping in on the “let’s revisit 1994” bandwagon, providing a top 100 list of the “Best Alternative Songs” of that year.

And finally have some fun watching Nicki Minaj attempting to teach the various parts to her dance from the “Anaconda” video to fashion models.

Over the Weekend (Sept. 2 Edition)

New music and videos for your recovery from the Labor Day Weekend…

Peter Matthew Bauer released the video for “You Are The Chapel”, the majestic closer to his stellar debut album.  It’s a mix of both performance and lyric video, with a slight twist on the latter as you’ll see:

Spoon did a “Secret Show” for MySpace, and the site has posted their performance of “The Rent I Pay”.  The direct link has been pretty spotty, so if necessary, check out the band’s Facebook page for an alternate link; and if they upload more, we’ll be sure to send you over that way.

There are two new albums that will be released next week that we have our eyes on, and you can listen to their streams now in preparation.  Death From Above 1979’s The Physical World is streaming on iTunes, and NPR has had a stream available for Interpol’s El Pintor since last week.  For more discussion of El Pintor, Gigwise has a series of interviews with the band as well as an exclusive documentary covering the making of the new album.

Those aren’t the only albums coming out next week; Better Than Ezra was one of the bands that I loved from my youth, and not only are they still kicking, they have a new release next week with All Together Now.  Billboard is hosting a stream if you want to check it out.

And now, a look at some art: Gigwise has pictures of the cool accompanying art for the new Aphex Twin album Syro, and Paste Magazine talks to Josh Graham, the artist behind the projections used by Soundgarden for their recent tour with Nine Inch Nails.

Faith No More is releasing its first new album in 18 years, according to an interview that Rolling Stone conducted with bassist Bill Gould.  And while there is no confirmation of a Sleater-Kinney reunion, Sub Pop is releasing a massive boxset of remastered versions of their previous studio albums.

Frontman for The Strokes Julian Casablancas is set to release another solo album called Tyranny in a couple of weeks, and just released “Human Sadness” as its first single, a rather unorthodox choice considering it’s an 11-minute song.

TV on the Radio provided more information for their new album today, announcing that Seeds will be released on November 18, and also provided a list of tour dates for the fall.  Also, the band posted the first single “Happy Idiot”, complete with lyric video.

Didn’t get the chance to catch Kanye West on his latest tour?  SPIN has the link to his performance for the Made In America festival this weekend, where he performed in both LA and Philadelphia.

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.