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by Jason Cook

5 Aug 2010

It's all about goth-y apartment therapy in Dan Barrett's reverberant Connecticut.

Since punk’s bricolage in the `70s, the anti-consumerist DIY ethic of self-reliance, self-production, and streetwise distribution has been an integral part of underground music, unchecked within the various “scenes” that have come to us as sub-genres and subtle variations on the themes that all that is indie has given us. This ideology, applicable now to everything from education to the Green Movement’s digs at urban gardening and organic lifestyle, seems most resolute, by way of sheer technology and perhaps owing to its genesis, in the realm of music production and recording.

And while the breadth of this aesthetic is perhaps immeasurable, it seems that DIY is something that Dan Barrett’s Enemies List record label, specializing in home-recorded music, is doing right and very well, releasing shoegaze, black metal, drone-y noise pop, some of it like the infant works of the Jesus And Mary Chain and M83 further wrought through a beautiful pedalboard. It’s a wonder someone from the Deftones hasn’t contacted them for work.

by Dylan Nelson

4 Aug 2010

The year 1967 makes one think of “hard” culture: hard drugs, hard music. It was the year of The Velvet Underground & Nico, Boogie With Canned Heat, Forever Changes, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a year of gritty electric blues and twisted psychedelic pop. Now, hear the sunshine-bubblegum-daisy-puppy pop of “Kites Are Fun”, by the recently rejuvenated family band, the Free Design. Some—persuaded no doubt by the era, the novelty, and the peace and love vibe—would describe the record as psychedelic. But what does that mean?

There’s certainly not much that’s mind-bending about the song’s quiet, precise arrangements, or the hushed falsetto harmonies that croon lines like “I like flying / Flying kites”. The patter of the drums and the gentle thrum of the bass suggest folk or jazz in their least experimental forms. In the song’s refrain, the singers land high on the ‘n’ in “fun” and sustain the note into the next measure; the effect is somewhat comic, since the sung word enacts its connotation of benign and mindless diversion. The orchestral instrumentation, especially the flute, pigeonhole the track into an easy listening vibe rather than expanding its affective vocabulary.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

3 Aug 2010

Everest is a So Cal band made up of musical veterans that embrace a solid rock format, although for “Let Go” the group has also added some strings to the mix. It’s a lush sonic landscape with a hard-hitting rhythmic romp from a band only a few years old, yet clearly comprised of accomplished musicians.  Frontman Russell Pollard played with Sebadoh, the Watson Twins, and the Folk Implosion, just to name a few. The group was tapped by Neil Young to tour with him in 2008 and two Everest CDs were released on his label, Vapor Records. These five guys are also a fave opening act of Minus the Bear as well as My Morning Jacket.

“Let Go” is the opening track of the band’s new release, On Approach. It was actually recorded at an old chicken ranch before the group completed the process in its studio in L.A. The video for the song begins with a nice little intro of the band tuning up in a studio. After some cooing vocals the lyrics begin with a simple yet sweet concern: “May I come in / My old friend / You’re looking thin / Do you feel alright?”

by Andy Johnson

3 Aug 2010

In announcing their latest and tenth album, to be released in late September, Welsh rock veterans Manic Street Preachers described Postcards From a Young Man as “one last shot at mass communication”. Provocative as ever, the band will have meant for this fascinating choice of words to sound ominous, but after the first UK radio play of “(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love” last night, responses will be varied.

Anthemic, brief, uplifting and string-laden, the new song will not be received by the faction of the band’s fanbase that applaud only the darkest of the group’s material, and have always felt that the harrowing 1994 album The Holy Bible was a singular high point from which the group have since uniformly declined. Those fans also didn’t like and may well have forgotten some of the band’s past explorations with pure pop-rock, including a number of wonderful and accessible songs spread across past albums like Everything Must Go (1996), Know Your Enemy (2001) and especially the tenderly icy Lifeblood (2004). Another faction of fans—myself included—lapped up that material, and will be impressed with the radio gleam of the new song.

by Jessy Krupa

2 Aug 2010

Every artist has a signature song, which becomes the symbol of their entire career. For better or worse, it sums up how the public views them in usually less than five minutes. In Paul McCartney’s case, that song is “Maybe I’m Amazed”.

Ironically, it almost didn’t become a hit. When he originally recorded the song in 1970, McCartney refused to release the song as a single, in keeping with the British tradition of not releasing album tracks as singles. Despite this, the song still became well known enough through radio airplay that he performed it during Wings’ concerts. In 1977, the group included a live version with an extended ending on Wings Over America, a three-record live set. Performed in June 1976 at the Seattle Kingdome, this is the version that most people identify with the song. Capitol records released a promotional 12” record with four different versions of the song on it to radio stations, but for the commercially released version, the live rocker “Soily” was its flipside. In the UK, it only hit number 28 on the singles chart, but in the US, it cracked the top 10.

As for the original studio version, it was written and recorded in London. He recorded many different versions of the song, most of which have never been released to the public (these original takes were examined by DJ Hellraiser for the 2005 Twin Freaks album’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” remix; additionally, some of the “beat-boxing” sounds McCartney recorded for those sessions were scattered throughout the rest of the album). Not surprisingly, McCartney wrote the song about how his wife Linda helped him through the emotional mess that was the break-up of the Beatles. Originally entitling it “Baby, I’m Amazed”, McCartney changed it in order to sound less “self-assured”. Linda’s voice can be heard singing back-up on the track, but that is not the only involvement she originally had with it.

//Mixed media

Terror, Dolls, Madhouses: Three for the Price of Price

// Short Ends and Leader

"Three Vincent Price projects from American International.

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