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Posts Tagged ‘indie

Review of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

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Score = A+


scroll down to listen to this entire album on youtube (embedded in this blog post)!

It’s like the Grateful Dead, but more restrained, but notably of it’s time (2001).  Wilco’s highly acclaimed, and well deserving, album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, mixes psychedelic rock with a hint of country resulting in a sound that is jam band-ish; except without the lengthy jams.

I’ve only listened to the album 3 times now (I am on my 4th listen as I type this), but already I like it a lot. Turn this album on and get ready for 51 minutes of easy listening. Give it all of your attention, or give it none – you’ll appreciate it just the same. YHF could be the centerpiece of a shroom trip or maybe road trip music for a family vacation on the way to visit relatives. There is just such a simple, ageless vibe to the music. In fact the genius is so simple that you might not realize it at first (would that make it, in reality, complex?). The first time I listened to some songs off YHF I thought, ‘Boring!’ I gave it another try a few months later and it hit me like an epiphanizing epiphany: this will go down in history as a classic album.

There’s no adrenaline pumping hype songs, no thought provoking brain boggler songs, no frills at all really. What you get with Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is about an hour of laid back ‘just kickin’ it’ music. Feeling hyped? Listen to old-school Three 6 Mafia. Feeling depressed? Listen to The Bends. Feeling normal and just wanting to relax on a Sunday night? Listen toYankee Hotel Foxtrot. It’s that kind of music. Somehow, YHF manages to evoke in me a strong feeling of nostalgia, even though I’ve only recently started listening to it.

The stand-out songs on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot are:

  • “War on War”
  • “Jesus, Etc.”
  • “Heavy Metal drummer”

Here is the entire album for you to listen to (hosted on youtube!):

I love the outtro ambiance. “Reservations” is spectacular closing.

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Written by danielperry99

January 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

Review of Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (1999)

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Also check out my review of Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle!

After listening to Olivia Tremor Control’s first album, Dusk at Cubist Castle, it was hard for me to imagine that anything that this little known Elephant 6 band could put out would live up to that level of genius. I thought, “well I’ve hardly even heard of them. They must be one of those bands that just has a small burst of greatness before fading into the depths of mediocrity.” Boy, was I wrong.

I was apprehensive about even checking this album out, but I’m sure as hell glad I did. Black Foliage not only lives up to its predecessor; it goes 10 rounds with Dusk in a fight that’s ended by a double knockout punch from each contender. On Black Foliage, Olivia Tremor Control once again demonstrate their mastery of pop music, while at the same time actually improving in their soundscape construction.

The tone of the album is set right off the bat with the opening track, aptly titled “Opening,” which is just 27 seconds of weird, non-musical noise that serves as a lead in to the albums first psychedelic pop gem, “Peculiar Noise Called Train Director.” The lyrics to this song, and most of the others, lead the listener to believe that the theme of this album is ‘drop acid and listen.’ Now, I don’t know if that’s true (Olivia Tremor Control member Bill Doss says 50 listens are required before the concept can be understood), but it really really sounds like it. But the part of “Peculiar Noise Called Train Director” that really sets the tone for the album is the lyrics of the chorus “Where we are, in the blink of an eye you get several meanings.” This album is full of sounds. So many sounds in fact, that every time you listen to the album you’ll probably interpret it differently.

This album doesn’t stray too awfully far from its masterful predecessor’s formula; however, it doesn’t sound stale at all. If the formula to Dusk at Cubist Castle was ‘irresistible pop + ambient soundscape’ then the formula for Black Foliage is ‘irresistible pop + ambient soundscape + weird noise onslaught.’ Basically, this album puts a lot more emphasis on the experimental aspects, while Dusk placed more focus on the pop aspect. Also, while the pop songs on Dusk are largely untouched by any noise experimentation, the pop songs on Black Foliage are fully integrated with sideswiping ear-assaulting noises. Don’t worry though. Trust me, Black Foliage is at least as good as Dusk at Cubist Castle.

Overall, the lyrics on Black Foliage seem much deeper and more meaningful than anything Olivia Tremor Control had put out up until this point. Not to say that the lyrics spoon feed an idea to you – no, you’ll have to listen closely, and you’ll have to think. I only have a faint idea of what is meant by the lyrics of “I have been Floated,” and I still don’t know what the hell “Grass Cannons” is about. Nevertheless, the lyrics are not just pointless hints of psychedelia; you can tell that there is some meaning hiding in there somewhere. But I must say, it’s easy to not even want to dig deeper. Even on a surface level, the lyrics are trippy, fun, and nostalgic.

I know I said earlier that the theme may be ‘drop acid and listen,’ but that was just a joke. If I may speculate for real in all seriousness for a moment, I would have to guess that the theme of the album is to pay close attention to your surroundings – there is always more lying below the surface. This could be with people, music, places, government policy, or whatever else. In other words, I think the theme is a slightly stronger version of the old cliche ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’

Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One is a must have album. Like the equally great album before it, Black Foliage will take you on a journey through introspective thought, deep ponderation, and comfortable uneasiness. Olivia Tremor Control proved with this album that they could mature gracefully as a band, and the result is magnificent. Go get this album right now. You will not regret it.

Written by danielperry99

January 16, 2011 at 2:28 am

Hipsters – who are they?

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A girl is riding down the streets of a big city on a fixed-gear bicycle. She’s wearing a knitted wool toboggan type hat, which sits on her head in an unnatural yet aesthetic fashion. She adorns her face with way oversized thick rimmed spectacles,  and she still has gauges in her ears remaining from her punk phase in high school. She wears yoga pants underneath a pair of cut-off shorts with a shirt and jacket combo that could have only come from a thrift store.

hipster chicks love riding bicycles

She arrives at her destination, an art exhibit, where she meets up with a friend. Her friend has messy, yet again aesthetic hair, coupled with a handlebar mustache and long thick sideburns. He wears large sunglasses, even indoors, and his t-shirt is one that was only available for purchase at Aha (80’s band known for “take on me”) concerts back in the day; he probably got it at a thrift store. His pants are tight and skinny with the hem meeting just exactly at the top of his brightly colored Nike Dunks.

typical male hipster unkempt hair and silly facial hair

As the two walk into the art exhibit, they argue over who had discovered the artist first. The girl says that she had heard of him 2 years ago when he still went by his birth name – a point that the boy counters by telling his friend that she can check the date of his first blog entry about said artist if she needs proof that she wasn’t the first of them to make the discovery. They spend the rest of their time together indulging in lighthearted conversation about Nickelodean shows from the 90’s.

They part ways and the girl returns to her studio apartment to watch the new episode of Glee, while the boy goes home (not forgetting to stop at an atm to withdraw money his parent’s put in his bank account) where he immediately logs onto the internet to check for any new comments on his multiple social networking profiles.

this is a certain type of hipster known as the "attention whore" aka "faggot"

Who are these people, and why are they like this? They are hipsters, the new indie kids. Most of them were punk/emo/goth/scene kids in high school, with a significant enough portion of them having been preppy kids that became disenchanted with the “conformist” way of life. They are a relatively new alternative youth culture that first started gaining recognition sometime around 2004, but didn’t become well known until around 2008. One defining characteristic of the hipster is that they shun anything perceived to be mainstream; and with the ever increasing popularity of the hipster subculture, it’s only a matter of time before they disband entirely, or perhaps transform into some other characteristic group. What is most likely, is that the current hipsters will eventually give it up and move on to corporate normality, but not without having first planted the seed for the next alternative youth culture. After all, what are hipsters if not the half-hearted emulatory perpetuation of all the twenty-something subcultures of the past?

wow strong hat

For those of you still confused on what exactly a hipster is, I’ve made a list of some qualities that hipsters generally possess:

  • Their dress-code is like new-age bohemian mixed with post-modernism. In other words, they like to wear clothes from thrift shops or anything that is ironic. The guys often don silly facial hairstyles like handlebar mustaches.
  • They live mostly in bigger cities.
  • They are really into, or at least pretend to be really into art and social issues.
  • They tend to be very liberal.
  • They ride fixed-gear bicycles.
  • They love the internet, especially expressing themselves via the internet. By this, I mean that they love to fuck around with social networking sites like facebook and twitter, and they also like to blog.
  • They have a general air of superiority about them, often shunning music (or anything else) for being too mainstream. Their favorite type of music is the kind that nobody else has ever heard of before.
  • They do not in any way, shape, or form embrace being a hipster. In fact, 90% of them will refuse to acknowledge that they are hipsters.
  • Some say that hipsters have an affinity for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and American Apparel clothes.
  • There seems to be a bit of a trend towards childlike innocence in hipster culture as of late. An article in Details magazine described it something like that, but I think it’s more of a nostalgia for childhood rather than actual innocence.
  • Pseudointellectualism, or in some cases actual intellectualism, is a major defining trait. (just a side note – pseudointellectualism is still better than a lack of any desire for intelligence)

hipsters in their natural urban habitat

By no means is this post meant to be a shit talk on hipsters. In fact, I actually meet more than a couple of the qualifications myself. I realize that most hipsters are individuals that just happen to share many similarities with their peers due to similar upbringings. But just like almost everyone else in the world, they fit neatly into a definable group, no matter how stereotypical it is.

*Disclaimer – I live in a small town in the South. I’ve seen a handful of hipsters, but only interacted with maybe 2 or 3.

Written by danielperry99

January 3, 2011 at 6:03 am

Review of Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle

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I had never heard of this album, or even the band that recorded it until about a week ago when I was looking online for some unfamiliar music to listen to. I stumbled upon Olivia Tremor Control’s Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle (henceforth referred to as DaCC) while scrolling through Pitchfork.com’s top albums of the 1990’s list. I like Pitchfork’s music lists because they always throw in some indie shit I’ve never heard of before (even though a lot of the time their indie favorites suck). DaCC had a solid ranking in 39th place , so I decided to do a youtube search to hear a couple songs. The first song I clicked on was “Jumping Fences,” and all I can say is…well just listen to this shit.

I loved the song immediately. It contains absolutely no typical 90’s sounds or stereotypes, sounding rather like it must have been recorded in the 60’s. The vocal style, and even the lyrics being sung, are delightfully Beatles-ish in a way that is obviously inspired rather than bitten. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that the band’s similarities to the Beatles result simply from Olivia Tremor Control drawing inspiration from the same acts that inspired the Beatles. After listening to “Jumping Fences” 3 or 4 times I decided to check out a few more songs, and every other DaCC song I could find on youtube was just as good as “Jumping Fences.” It was getting near dusk at this point, so I figured it would be a good time for me to  pay a visit to Cubist Castle myself (this is my way of saying I downloaded the album). By now I’ve listened to this album in its entirety 10+ times, and I’m still not done. This is a great GREAT album. But I digress; let me tell you more about it.

This album is made up of two different things pretty much: pop music and electronic soundscapes. First, I’ll talk about the pop songs. All of the pop songs on this album are nearly perfectly constructed. Most of them go like this: starts with a verse-> goes into a great hook-> transitions into another great hook-> then to yet ANOTHER mind infesting hook. I don’t know if ‘hook’ is really the right word, but when I say ‘hook’ I’m talking about any super galactic awesome catchy part of a song. So basically, the main thing I want ya’ll to understand about the pop songs on DaCC: they are catchy as fuck. No that’s not strong enough. These songs are as catchy as songs can be. They are catchy like a net. Catchy like hands with extra fingers.  Catchy like a well set trap. I know I’m not the best simile builder, but I think you get what I’m trying to say: the pop songs on DaCC are the catchiest pop songs in the world. Seriously, I’m not even trying to be dramatic here, but only the Beatles could compare to this level of pop-rock expertise. But ok, that’s enough of that. Let me tell you about the soundscapes.

If the pop songs are the meat of the album, the ambient soundscapes are the forks. Sure, the album could still be great with just the pop songs, but it would be messy as hell. For their electronic soundscape portions of the album, Olivia Tremor Control found a perfect balance somewhere between “Revolution 9” and <insert Pink Floyd ambient track here>. I can’t find any examples to embed, because apparently people don’t upload the ambient electronic tracks from DaCC to youtube. So the best I can describe these tracks is to say that they consist of atmospheric sounds like birds chirping, dogs barking, or people talking; kind of like in “Revolution 9” but not scary. Then on top of the atmosphere there will be some electronic buzzing or blooping or scazzinging persisting unabashedly. Yeah, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself to know what I mean, but they do a good job of making you feel like you really are at Cubist Castle.

So here’s a recap of what we’ve learned:

  • Olivia Tremor Control’s Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle is a terrific album, way behind it’s time. It sounds like it was made in the 60’s but was really recorded in 1993-1996.
  • Out of a total 1 hour and 15 minutes (exactly), there’s about 50 minutes of dreamy catchy pop music and about  25 minutes of electronic ambient soundscapes. These are just my rough guesstimates btw.
  • The pop on the album is some of the best pop music I’ve ever heard.
  • The ambient/electronic tracks are interspersed perfectly with the pop songs.
  • I recommend you get this album as soon as you’re done reading this. It is truly super galactic awesome quality.

So take a hit of lsd, eat some shrooms, or just stay sober, and don’t hesitate to cross the treacherous drawbridge into Cubist Castle.