Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Anti-Social Music

Download (well, stream actually) a number of songs and videos here

Man, Lucas is really falling down on the job here. But hey, we'll cut him some slack as he's at the doctor getting all sorts of unpleasant things done to him. With Lucas sporting the latest trends in backless clothing at the moment, I will provide something of an update for The Cropper. Today, we're featuring the New York City based collective, Anti-Social Music.

Unfortunately, I am not the most articulate person and I probably won't do the project justice, but Anti-Social is essentially a group of musicians creating contemporary chamber music, but who are influenced by the approach and work ethic of punk and other DIY formats. This influence is not surprising considering the group has drawn from a wide variety of musicians that are active in more 'rockin' genres. Past and present Anti-Social Performers are involved with such other acts as: the Hold Steady, Ida, dalek, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gang Gang Dance, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Jenny Toomey & Jon Langford, Elliot Sharp, Gutbucket, Balkan Box Beat, and Alarm Will Sound.

Anti-Social Music is devoted to exposing the world to new music that is being composed today outside of the somewhat stuffy confines that people normally associate with the 'classical music world'. Anti-Social member Franz Nicolay concisely states the collective's purpose in the following quote:

Contemporary chamber music is the new frontier in socially unacceptable music for the youth of today...I mean, I like the punk rock, I play the punk rock, but the punk rock has lost its cachet as something to offend your parents and annoy your friends. I encourage the punk rockers of the world to explore the new anti-social music.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Man, this made me laugh.

I love how the use of the now-ubiquitous "Solsbury Hill" makes anything--even The Shining--into a romantic comedy or playful bildungsroman. Funny stuff.

Thanks to Melting Dolls for this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Odds and sods

Thousand Oaks, CA orchestral rock band, Amestory, has a tour blog up right here. Lots of nifty pictures and stuff, including hints of gastrointestinal problems brought on by White Castle. Ewww!

Looks like the boys are having a good time.

Pitchfork gave Ninja High School's Young Adults Against Suicide a 7.0 today! That's 3 and a half stars in the Rolling Stone system to put it into perspective. Personally, I'd give the record yellow stars, blue diamonds, and pink moons.

Speaking of Pitchfork, the Day Jobs has this handy-dandy Pitchfork Review Generator for your enjoyment. My first review generated was for a band called The Blonde Breakers. Their album was called Goodnight, Self-Titled Albums.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Some pop bands I like


Download: Ghosty--"Big Surrender"
Download: Okay--"Compass"
Download: The Spinto Band--"Brown Boxes"

At Team Clermont, we really like the pop music. Give us some solid hooks and a catchy chorus, and you'll put a smile on our face. It's just that easy. I love experimental music as much as the next guy (and I think Jon listens to nothing but noise bands, weird African records, indie pop, and classic rock), but I use it as an apertif as much as anything else. Put on a Merzbow record and then listen to "And Your Bird Can Sing" or Teenage Fanclub's "Start Again" and tell me that they don't sound perfect. Pop music just sounds like clarity to me, whether it comes from Kelly Clarkson or Bram Tchaikovsky. It sounds like what perfection sounds like in my head, the Platonic ideal of the perfect circle that can only be envisioned. Or something like that.

John Jeremiah Sullivan, in The Oxford American, once ran a great description about being in a pop band in an article on dearly departed Chris Bell (of personal faves Big Star):

Chilton said to Robert Gordon, "Most of the Big Star stuff was searching for how to get through two verses without saying anything really stupid.." Add "playing" to "saying," and you have as apt a description of the task involved in writing good pop songs as has ever been articulated. Great songwriters learn as much from listening to bad music as they do from listening to what they love. They memorize pitfalls, dead-ends; the how, as opposed to the what, of poor taste and clichĂ©. It's a strange, hair-splitting science, since, let's face it, when you're thinking in Shostakovich terms, the distance between a Brian Wilson objet d'art and a breakfast-cereal jingle is about three atoms wide. For a pop songwriter, each new composition presents countless temptations and traps, moments when the song wants to become "stupid," wants to go to the obvious chord or rhyme, wants to sound too close, as opposed to just close enough, to what we've heard before. The game is to thread your way through these traps without sounding as if you're trying to be unpredictable—melodically, lyrically, in whatever way. And success comes when you've taken all the crap the genre gives you to work with—limited instrumentation, limited melodic possibilities, limited time—and made beauty of it, then disguised the beauty as more of the good ol' crap we like to hear when we turn on the radio. Isn't that precisely what makes those classics, like "Baby, It's You," so moving, so overwhelming, what makes you have to pull your car to the side of the road when they come on? The beauty in them is subversive. It doesn't belong. It's been smuggled in under the radar of suburban teenage taste and purchasing power. That's why pop music is the art for our time: It's an art of crap. And not in a self-conscious sense, not like a sculpture made of garbage and shown at the Whitney, which is only a way of saying that "low" materials can be made to serve the demands of "high" art. No, pop music really is crap. It's about transcending through crap. It's about standing there with your stupid guitar, and your stupid words, and your stupid band, and not being stupid.
I love that description: pop music is about doing something stupid, but not being stupid.

Anyway, here are some great new-ish pop bands that I adore:

Ghosty, from Lawrence, KS, plays with your built-in anticipation of chord progressions and structure while never once going for a cheap discordant move (a la a million Pixies rip-off bands out there). "Big Surrender" is one of their best. They're a killer live act, too. As with most power pop-ish units, we haven't heard enough about them. That's always the way it is, no?

Okay (the nom de plume of Marty Anderson) has released maybe the two best records of the year, Low Road and High Road, and no one seems to talking about that fact, except Music For Robots. Sure, the story behind Okay (that Marty is basically housebound because of a horrible illness) is compelling, but the music is what really kills me. It's a lesson in the power of simplicity (most of the songs rarely get past two chords) and a unique voice. "Compass" is as beautiful a song as I'll hear this year.

The Spinto Band hails from Delaware, home of credit card companies and um...drawing a blank here. The band's slightly goofy and youthful pop could cut steel. It's just insanely well-written. An office favorite. Apparently there is a bidding war over these guys, and it makes sense, but how many indie pop/power pop/pop rock bands besides Weezer or Matthew Sweet ever got really big? The road to success is littered with the bodies of Superdrag, Tommy Keene, and, well, Big Star (not that they didn't keep doing good music, mind you...I mean this from a strictly commercial perspective). Stay gold, Spinto Band. Stay gold.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wisdom From The Qur'an


Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because
Allah has given them more (strength) than the other, and
because they support them from their means. Therefore the
righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the
husband's absence their unseen parts. As to those women on
whose part you fear disloyalty, rebellion and ill-conduct,
admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds,
(And last) make love to them; and if they return to
obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For
Allah is Most High, great (above you all). [a Sufi

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

iTunes purchases, part two

As if this list couldn't get more embarrassing, here's what I've bought recently on iTunes:

  1. Will To Power--"Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird"
  2. Bedroom Walls--"Do The Buildings and Cops Make You Smile?"
  3. Kelly Clarkson--"Since U Been Gone"
  4. George Michael--"Freedom 90"
  5. Lionel Richie--"All Night Long (All Night)"
  6. Bright Eyes--"When The President Talks To God"
  7. R. Kelly--"Trapped In The Closet, pt. 1)
  8. R. Kelly--"In The Kitchen (remix)"
  9. R. Kelly--"In The Kitchen"
  10. Lina--"Come To Mama"
  11. Yummy Bingham--"Come and Get It (Main)"
  12. Brian Eno--"The Big Ship"
  13. Brian Eno--"An Ending (Ascent)"
  14. Mike Post--"Theme from the Rockford Files"
  15. Mike Post--"Theme from Hill Street Blues"
  16. Mike Post--"Theme from Magnum P.I."
  17. Mike Post--"Theme from the Greatest American Hero"
  18. Billy Ocean--"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"
  19. Cyndi Lauper--"Goonies 'R' Good Enough"
  20. Snow--"Informer"
  21. The Black Crowes--"Wiser Time"
Actually, that ain't that bad. I need to explain a few of these. The Mike Post is inexcusable, for sure, as is the Billy Ocean, but I actually like a lot of the others. Even Snow. I already owned those Eno songs, but I had to hear them right then. Oh, and that Bright Eyes song was free...and terrible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Great weekend.

Some of us Team C.-ers saw a reconstituted REM (featuring Bill Berry) play a short, slightly-sloppy-but-fun set of older songs--the newest was "The One I Love" if that tells you anything--at Kingpins here in Athens for DeWitt and Jackie's wedding reception. Wow. It was just one of those moments where you couldn't believe it was happening. And this coming a night after a transcendent Gang of Four show (also featuring Michael Stipe and Vanessa from Pylon)! Great weekend. Just thought I'd share. Or gloat. Or both.

Also, Georgia killed Tennessee. I wanna kiss Thomas Brown.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Amestory: Band of the Day!

Our good friends at SPIN Magazine have deemed Amestory worthy of Band Of The Day status, of which the band is most deserving. It's pretty fancy stuff, with downloads, tour dates, and all kinds of newfangledness. And check that hot photo! Here are those tour dates for those of you scared of links:

10/5, Bellingham, WA (The Coat Exchange)
10/7, Provo, UT (Starry Nights)
10/8, Omaha, NE (Caffeine Dreams)
10/11, Pittsburgh, PA (Point Park University)
10/12, Bronxville, NY (Sarah Lawrence College)
10/13, Washington DC (Café Mawonaj)
10/15, Gloucester, MA (Gloucester Artspace)
10/16, Washington, DC (The Warehouse Next Door)
10/19, Springfield, MO (The Burgandy Room)
10/23, San Antonio, TX (The Sanctuary)
10/25, Santa Fe, NM (The Halfrack)

We does Dallas

The Tah-Dahs

Download: "Cute Band" by the Tah-Dahs
Download: "The Vice and Virtue Ministry" by the Happy Bullets

Dallas, TX is not exactly the town you think of when it comes to the hot indie pop, but they've got something crazy going on over there these days. Austin might get all of the press and we all know about Denton (Centro-matic, Midlake, etc.), but Dallas is really coming along nicely, scene-wise.

For the record, I think that Houston might be the worst music city in America per capita, though I can't think of a single artist of any kind EVER coming from Indianapolis. Prove me wrong, guys!

Anyway, Dallas recently gave birth to the 25-headed feel-good-psych-pop monster that is the Polyphonic Spree. One of the early choir members of that band was one Roy Ivey, who now runs his own outfit, the garage-pop wonders the Tah-Dahs, who just may have the most subtly disturbing album cover of the year. This is great, witty guitar-bass-drums power pop in the vein of the Modern Lovers, early Apples in Stereo, and the Violent Femmes (the good Violent Femmes). Ivey has a keen, slightly cynical observational eye that he uses on the things and people that interact with him. "Cute Band" is a great example of this: a complete demystification of hipster culture and boys-in-bands worship. Oh, and the musicianship on this record is killer. That drummer is a baller!

The Tah-Dahs' labelmates (on upstart Dallas label Undeniable Records) are the Happy Bullets, a psychedelic ensemble that falls in just the right spot on the continuum between serious and whimsical. "The Vice and Virtue Ministry" is a perfect example of what the Bullets at their peak: quality hooks, not entirely rock and roll, and quite varied. On second thought, it's a great song, but not necessarily the best example of the band's ouevre because the album tackles so many styles with aplomb.

The Tah-Dahs' Le Fun and the Happy Bullets' Vice and Virtue Ministry are two of the best pop records of the year and not to be missed. The bands are starting to hit the road more, so look for them in the Midwest and the Southeast soon.

Also, check out Day of the Double Agent, featuring Regina Chellew, formerly of Captain Audio and Chao. Two of Captain Audio's members went on to form the Secret Machines, who were real jerks to me when my band opened for them a year ago. No matter. They are still a great band. Captain Audio put out one of my favorite records of the 00's so far, Luxury or Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared. That thing was a damned monster and as good as any of the post-Soft Bulletin big drums art-rock records out there. It should have been huge. I have high hopes for this new project of hers.

Pilotdrift, from Dallas as well, ain't too shabby either.

Now is where I make a pun about striking oil or shooting JR or something.