Dan Deacon/Off The Air USA Video

Last week saw the release of something I’ve been involved with for the better part of 2013: Dan Deacon’s new Off The Air helmed video for the America suite. I’m exceptionally proud to have had any hand in this…Dan is an awesome guy who I’ve been a fan of for a while now, so getting to work on one of his videos was very exciting for me. Dave Hughes, brain mother of Off The Air did an amazing job as usual, crafting something unique and much needed on today’s web & airwaves.

I helped out on the producing side and handled some of the After Effects work on a few later shots. As well, you can find me in a ghillie suit portraying one of the forest creatures at the end. I’m traditionally typecast in such roles.

Here you can read a moderately crumudgeonly review of Dan’s live show I got assigned to back on 2008. I’m still a tough sell to get fully into the chaos and dance…as much as I love his shows. Most times, you can find me on the sidelines happily singing along.

Better Late Than Never – Best of 2009

Yeah, I know…it’s March. Presidents Day has passed and McDonalds is already selling Shamrock Shakes…a little late for the Best of 2009, but here we are. I never claimed to be one for timeliness, especially of late. For simplicity sake, the numbers associated with this list are just arbitrary…it’s pretty hard to rank things objectively, but the following is what I liked best about the shitty year that was 2009:

1. Dananananakroyd – Hey Everyone!

Cheeky band name aside, Hey Everyone! is an incredibly solid debut. The album is a fantastic shot of energy, bundling riffs that Le Savvy Fav wish they’d written with some of the weirdo sheen I loved so much about the sadly defunct Blood Brothers. One thing that kills me about the best songs on the album is that Dananananakroyd is one of the few bands kicking around that has the concept of a solid build and breakdown. “Black Wax”, the song I turned to most often when I needed to clear the bullshit from my brain, culminates in a fantastic riff & drum fill combination that would make anyone in the 80’s take pause during a line of coke.

Lyrically, you’ve got a weird split…there’s a song called “Totally Bone” which seems to be about emasculation and fucking, while the track “Hey James” has a lyrical riff on the Jungian concept of ego in the opening verse. This past year I came to the realization that sad bastard music does indeed contribute to your state as a sad bastard, so an album full of high tempos, tasteful screaming and good Glaswegan proto-punk riffs is ok by me.

And, considering I just rewatched Ghostbusters and it’s still a classic…I’m good with a Dan Aykroyd inspired band name.


DANANANANAYKROYD – BLACK WAX

2. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

I think there’s been more than enough chatter over the last year about Dirty Projector’s most recent release, so I won’t linger here too long. If Beyonce’s little sister is covering your songs, you’ve hit a certain plateau and there’s not much more to say about what they’re producing.

That said, it’s hitting wide for a reason. The electronics of the previous albums has been replaced with a live band that can reproduce the weirdness in Dave Longstreth’s brain. It’s odd how simply putting their electro classical eccentricities in a band context made the whole affair more palatable. To pinch a reaction my dad had after checking the album out, “Bitte Orca is like listening to dyslexia” and that’s a mighty benefit in my mind. A perfect album to sing along to when nobody is around.

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Again, another album that’s had enough press and sales to merit knocking it from the list, but it’s hard to deny that Veckatimest is an incredibly sold release that will have many imitators. “Two Weeks” is a brilliant piece of work and was my unofficial jam of last summer.

The freaky video helped too.

4. Dan Deacon – Bromst

Another album, like Bitte Orca that successfully takes a usually electronic core and does its best to transcribe it into the organic. I was already a fan of Dan Deacon and his green skull fueled live show, but with Bromst, I found myself appreciating the complexity more. Pitchfork had a fantastic, but but now pulled documentary on the making of Bromst that gave some wonderful insight into the production process that went into the album. No great album should need an accompanying text explaining it to add to the enjoyment, but it was definitely a great thrill to watch them tinker with a midi player piano for the parts too fast for human hands. Equally impressive was the accompanying tour which forced him away from his usual performance spot in the center of the crowd and onstage to accommodate the 14 piece ensemble needed to perform the new songs. It seemed like a very frustrating venture for Deacon who normal thrives being at the center of the hurricane that is his live show, but I think be it a personal success or failure for him, it was amazing to see him pushing his own boundaries. The show I caught at The Wonder Ballroom in Portland was probably the best show I saw all year.

5. Why? – Eskimo Snow

I’ve written about this band probably more than any other band in TTM’s spotty and short life. I did a focus on the album a few months ago, which you can read here. It’s a quality album from a growing artist…I’m not sure if it’s his strongest overall, but it definitely stands as one of the best of the year.

6. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

A comedown of an album, especially in the context of 2007’s doomy & layered Armchair Aprocrapha, the calming overall flow of Noble Beast is still a choice record overall. Like with Why?, I find it tough to pick an album I like best because the peaks and valleys of each of their discographies are something that never lines up with a complete album. Andrew Bird is another must see live…I caught him for the 9th time this past year and the evolution of his live show is an awesome counterpart to the music he makes. Finally backed by a full band, the work you get on the album comes closer than ever to what he’s performing live. Check out my writeup from back in February and give a listen to the most interestingly twisty song on the album Anonanimal:

ANDREW BIRD – ANONANIMAL

7. Miike Snow – Miike Snow

I think on first glance, I had to give this album a few chances before I accepted it in. Given a few tries, you’ll find there’s a lot of polished hooks and lovely electronics layered into every song. In my continuing effort to listen to more upbeat music, this did a solid job of fitting the bill. Even the slower numbers, especially the broody Silvia, keep a great underlying beat and the accompanying video could be a electro outtake from the recent film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Also, check out this clip of them performing the song live on KCRW is worth a look too, gives me some hope that they have a solid live show to back up a studio heavy album.

8. The XX – The XX

I know the pendulum has swung back and the time is now to shit on this once buzz-enswarmed band. This will often happen when your wikipedia page includes the following paragraph:

“Their song “Intro” is also being used in a promotional commercial for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the series Cold Case and Law & Order on the Dutch television network Net 5, and “VCR” was featured in a Lie to Me episode. In episode 7 of the online BBC EastEnders spin-off E20 their cover of “Teardrops” was used. Their song “Heart Skipped a beat” was featured in a 2009 episode of 90210 (TV series). The song “Islands” was used in an episode of the Golden Globe-winning medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Success is a bitch, and the blog hive mind really only loves you when your sales demographic isn’t the same as Grey’s Anatomy. That said, I still want to give this album credit where credit is due; minimalism is tough to do right and The XX have a pretty exceptional grasp on the simple, steely mood they do so well.

LA’s Nosaj Thing did a pretty fantastic remix of the album standout “Islands” that turns the mood murky with a lovely layer of analog wash.

THE XX – ISLANDS (NOSAJ THING REMIX)

9. Talkdemonic – Eyes At Half Mast

While I’m one to hold a candle for the quintessentially dead genre that is post rock, there’s still a handful of bands out there mucking about with the formula and creating something worth listening to. As a duo, Talkdemonic takes a slimmer approach than the usual GSYBE sized mob, giving you just a drummer and violinist. Their music is a swirling mass, Lisa Molinaro’s somber violin creeping around Kevin O’Connor’s clamorous drumming. With Eyes At Half Mast, the band mixes the tempo up combining slinky, atmospheric songs with driving, percussion fueled numbers that match the fire of their live show. Although the album was released in late 2008, I want to give some praise to the Portland duo’s fine release.

TALKDEMONIC – MARCH MOVEMENT

10. The Dodos – Time To Die

The simplicity of their music is a strength, relying on the warm vocal melodies of Meric Long to serve as the subdued hook. Drummer Logan Kroeber’s accompanying polyrythms keep their music at a more complex and interesting pace than most comparable indie folk, which often lulls me into a bored slumber. I could probably find some fault in the simplicity of Long’s lyrics, but most every other element on Time To Die does such a fantastic job at being memorable that the album earned a spot on the list.

Album closer “Time To Die” is a great summation of the overall tone of the album, beginning with soft vibes and acoustic guitar that jumps in with a drum propelled tone shift midway through.

THE DODOS – TIME TO DIE

Given my current pace, keep a lookout for my wrap up of 2010 sometime after the next presidential election.

The best of the new absurd: Let’s Paint TV

Every time I come across things that are so delightfully strange, it renews my faith in the world. One of those such discovery is Let’s Paint TV. I ended up randomly at a launch party for a web 2.0 venture. While I was terribly out of place, I managed to bump into a fellow misfit who, while double-fisting free Stella Artois, told me about the majesty of Let’s Paint TV. Strangely enough, 8 hours later I got a facebook message recommending the show to me from a someone I hadn’t seen in years. The stars were aligned for me to find this.

Let’s Paint TV is the absurd brainchild of Los Angeles artist John Kilduff. The show is of those little gems who’s freaky energy that can only be contained by cable public access cable. It’s hard to really describe what it is, the truth of the matter is that you just need to see it for yourself. The constant of the show is John Jilduff on a treadmill while painting. What goes on around him changes: sometimes, he’ll blend smoothies while jogging, sometimes no-core bands will screech away in the background. All this is done against a slowly dissolving bluescreen. As the minutes tick by, the severity of the blue screen effects increases, like a drug kicking in.

The topper to each episode is that it’s a call-in show and the people who call in tend to primarily harass poor John as he runs on his treadmill. Again, it’s really just something you have to watch. The entire spectacle is beautiful in its chaos.

Tune in for the unholy union of these three influences:
++

You can watch Let’s Paint TV live every weekday from 11am to 12 noon PST on Let’s Paint TV.com and Stickam.com. You can call into the show and ask John a question (818) 528-4516.

If you live in Los Angeles, you can catch him on the following Time Warner cable channels:

Channel 3 – West Hollywood
Channel 37 – Beverly Hills
Channel 77 – Santa Monica
Channel 98 – West Los Angeles-Eagle Rock

If not, take a peek at the Let’s Paint TV Youtube Channel for archives of the show.

An interview with LA’s noisepunks HEALTH


HEALTH live at the El Rey, 01/15/08

I had the pleasure to interview LA’s noisemasters HEALTH before their opening slot with Dan Deacon a few months back (I posted my review of Dan Deacon’s set HERE and my review of HEALTH’s self titled debut HERE). I waited to post the interview because the site I did the interview for, Airraid had yet to launch and I didn’t want to jump the gun. It had been a few years since I’d done a face to face interview, and yet my first with 4 dudes at once, but the whole thing went down smoothly. By the end BJ, the drummer, shared his sweet potato fries with me while chatting after the interview ended…quite nice guys all around.

Above is a live photo from the show. I just got the film back this week, so as I scan the rest in I’ll post them up.

The review finally got posted to Airraid a little while ago and except for the fact that they cut the interview in half and added a stupid final question. The full interview is pretty sold and I’m happy with the way it came out.

HEALTH Interview
The El Rey, Los Angeles California
1/15/08

AR: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview. Could you all introduce yourselves?

John: I’m John, I play bass and noise stuff.

Jupiter: I’m Jupiter, I play guitar, percussion and some other things.

Jake: I’m Jake, I play guitar and sing.

BJ: I’m BJ and I play drums.

AR: Is this your first show playing at the El Rey

All: YES!

John: Our first show ever at a venue this big.

AR: What’s the next largest venue you’ve played at?

John: It was probably, um…

BJ: Reggie’s Live in Chicago

All laugh.

BJ: That was like six or seven hundred capacity, but there was like 35 people there.

John: So, we have played a venue this big.

AR: But, this is the biggest in the hometown?

John: Yeah.

AR: How did the two shows with Dan Deacon come about?

Jake: He asked us to play.

John: We played a couple of shows with him before. We played at a really small venue in LA, right when the album came out and started to blow up. It was him opening up for us at a local show and it was just fucking overwhelmed with people…

BJ:…there for him.

John: Yeah,

Jake: We played again with him in London, and that was a really fun show. Then we played a show that he set up, but didn’t play at in Baltimore. So he asked us to play when he came out here.

AR: You’ve got a lot of tour coming up. The tour with Crystal Castles with a bunch of solo dates before and after…Tell me a little about the tours.

John: The reason why there’s a lot of stuff before and after (the leg of the tour with Crystal Castles) is we have to tour out to Toronto and then meet up with CC and then tour back home.

Jake: We just figured we’d do the whole tour from where they started and then we’re going to end up there and just reverse.

John: And then we’re flying to Europe after that. We’ve been wanting to do Europe for real for a long time, before this we’ve only done the UK.

BJ: It’s unprecedented for us, we’ve only done a 40 day tour before this and now we’re looking at 67 days with Crystal Castles.

Jake: 67 days, 5 days at home and then we leave for Europe for 7 weeks.

John: The whole tour is like 5 months.

AR: So, you’re pretty much booked for the year..

All laugh.

BJ: The year is already a blur.

Jake: Yeah, because after the tour we come home and write a record, so we’re pretty much done with ’08.

AR: Besides Crystal Castles, who on this tour are you really looking forward to playing with?

John: THE DEAC!

All laugh.

John: We’re really stoked, we’re going to be playing with a lot of amazing Baltimore bands…like Check Yo’ Ponytail

Jake: Videohippos!

John: Who are one of our favorites period.

Jake: We played once with Ponytail, it was a weird show at SXSW and we’re bros with Videohippos, so we love playing shows with them.

Jupiter: Daniel Francis Doyle too. We stayed with him during the last tour.

Everyone almost kinda begins chanting “Daniel Francis Doyle” for a second.

John: He’s amazing.

Everyone laughs.

AR: Are you doing SXSW this year?

Jake: We’re hitting it on the Crystal Castles tour, but it’s only going to be for 2 days, last year we were there for 5 or 6 days. It was awesome.

AR: To everyone just discovering you, when did you guys get together?

John: We’ve been together since 2005, but we didn’t start playing shows till very late 2005. We’ve done a lot of touring, but they’ve been really small D.I.Ys so most people haven’t seen us yet.

AR: When did you first official release come out?

BJ: Our first release came out on our first tour, which was about…

John: Which was almost like our third show.

BJ: We did about 3 or 4 shows, went on tour and then released a split 7”. Our first proper release was our album…

John: Which came out in September ’07.

AR: And the first pressing of your LP sold out?

John: They kinda went crazy and did a bunch of pressings, so I don’t know what has sold what, or if it’s sold out.

Jake: If we sell out of our copies, then it’s like “we’re sold out” (Laughs) So, if they want to get from somewhere else they have to get it from a distro or a record store and we don’t know what’s going on with that.

AR: How’s the response to your record been?

John: Pretty fuckin’ sweet. (Laughs) People have been really cool, really kind. We’ve gotten a lot of really weird reviews when it came out, but people seem to be generally stoked.

Jupiter: Some people think it blows.

BJ: But, nobody has written “Shit sandwich” yet.

Everyone laughs.

Jake: As far as you can gauge an album coming out these days, we’re not judging it by sales, but people really seem to be happy with it. We’re happy with people’s responses.

AR: In listening to your album, I’m curious how vocals play a role. It seems almost like they function like in Sigur Ros, not that there’s really any way to compare you two, but do they work more structurally than lyrically?

Jupiter gets up and leaves.

John: Jupiter is out…

AR: I guess he didn’t like that question…

Jake: Let the record show that Jupiter has left the table. I think he hates me…No, he just wants his gardenburger. (Laughs) The most succinct answer to that is that, yeah the vocals do function more instrumentally. When we first started recording stranger songs, it was really hard to figure out how to make vocals work for those songs. We didn’t want to be a crazy band that has screamy Devo-y vocals, I can’t do that anyway. So, we just kinda figured out a way, almost humming along or however you want to look at it.

AR: How did the remix of Crimewave by Crystal Castles come about?

John: Myspace. We asked them.

AR: Ok.

Everyone laughs.

Jake: It was a long, long time ago. We just asked them, and then they blew the fuck up after.

BJ: We snuck in there.

John: It was actually one of the earliest remixes they did, it just didn’t come out till very recently.

AR: You’ve let a lot of people remix your songs, why so many?

John: Well, it started small, I figured I’d ask a lot because I figured they’d say no, but they all said yes. Some people asked to do them and it kept going. I don’t know why there’s so many, but yeah, it’s a lot.

Jake: Remix album.

John: Yeah, the original plan was a remix album, which we ditched. So, we were trying to limit them so they could fit on an album or a CD, but now it’s just a lot of tracks beause most Djs are digital now anyway.

AR: What other bands would you say are influential on your sound?

John: We have a lot of influences…we’re really into X-Models.

Jake: Animal Collective.

John: Yeah, Animal Collective in a lot of ways. The Locust in a few ways. Most of our musical cues are based on what we grew up listening to, a lot of classic rock.

BJ: One thing we all agree on is Sabbath and Zeppelin. We’re trying to figure out how to make a heavy, rockin’ band with a new sort of sound.

John: We really got into bands that were doing stuff that was new, bands that were aggressive and exciting.

AR: How do you feel about how the world is moving away from physical releases to digital?

BJ: It’s a big question.

John: For recordings, it’s just the first thing to go because it’s easiest…but everything will be moving from physical to digital.

Jupiter: We wrote an album that to be listened to as an album, but that just doesn’t make sense anymore because people listen to individual songs and the concept of Side A to Side B is just dated.

BJ: I think there’s always going to be a certain amount of people that need and crave the physical, so which is why vinyl is selling like crazy, I’d imagine. And the sound, there’s something about that sound, we don’t want to loose it. As long as people show up in concert that’s our main concern.

Jake: As far as what Jupiter was saying, as far as the album was written to be an album and I struggle with this as far as MP3 players go or having an iPod is it really just does change your relationship with the music. It’s something we talk about a lot. We kinda geek out about how if Sgt. Pepper sold 2,000,000 copies in the first month it was released and every single person who bought that record had to put that record on their turntable and sit and listen to it, it kinda depletes certain levels of reverence you’d have for music not to do that. It was sort of predicted by the Walkman, (how music became) more and more like an accessory to your life. You put one thing on and you change the iPod before it finishes the song. You can’t fight it.

AR: Similar to how the internet and myspace break down the barriers between fan and band….

Jake: You can’t be cool anymore.

Everyone laughs.

Jake: When you loose the mystery, it really fucks everything up for you.

John: But that’s just the nature of everything, I think everything will get around, get cheaper, and people will get desensitized…that will just be the next phase to just happen to everything and and everything will be free.

BJ: As long as you’re still a mystery to yourself, then everything’s ok.

Jake: I was going to be this brooding rock star, just shoot heroin and be all depressed, but I knew that people would be commenting on my myspace and they’d have photos of me…

Everyone laughs.

AR: Who would you say your favorite contemporary artists are?

John: Really big fans of the Deac. Really big fans of Crystal Castles, obviously. Really love Videohippos.

Jake: Abe Vigoda.

John: We really like The Dirty Projectors. We really like anything Kyle H. Matheson does. We’re big fans of Captain Ahab, he’s local.

Jake: Hella. All the ‘Italians Are Better’ stuff.

John: We’re super obsessed with the Glass Candy/Chromatics. That’s probably my favorite thing going on right now.

AR: Do you have any non-musical influences you can talk about?

BJ: Dave Chapelle.

Jake: Triangles?

Everyone laughs.

John: We are really into Dave Chapelle.

BJ: He’s probably my #1 role model.

John: Yeah, Mitch Hedberg, Chris Rock. Paul Mooney is my new boy.

Jake: Dave Chapelle & Niche.

Everyone laughs.

AR: Is Health a full time job for you guys?

Laughter

BJ: It’s a full time preoccupation.

John: Definitely full time, we’re gone for a fuckin’ long time.

Jake: It’s going to become more full time soon. I guess it’s that we’re leaving for this long and I’m broke.

BJ: I still have a job.

Jake: This next touring block, we’re giving up our apartments. It’s like, to the point where we would ever hope to be at as a band, any illusions you would have about the all money you would make…it’s just amazing to be able to hope to support yourself enough to just live while you’re traveling. So, we’re pretty excited about that.

AR: And once this tour is done?

Jake: When we get done with the tour, we just want to write and record as soon as possible.

John: It takes us a lot of time to write songs, so we plan just to be working when we get back.

AR: Thanks for taking the time out for the interview…