Ah, "Albatross." The softly beating drums. That sweetly sliding lapsteel. The pre-Stevie, instrumental diddy that didn't sound all that much like the Fleetwood Mac that most of us remember, but was somehow so heartbreakingly poignant that Vietnam War vets used to request that it be played at their funeral. They probably still do. The Lee Ranaldo Band's noise-laden cover of the song with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. fame was simply too good not to bring to your attention, even if its release represents a slightly cringe-worthy continuation of the Sonic Youth family's ongoing relationship with Starbucks. (via Pitchfork)
In the spirit of trans-generational NYC solidarity, Brooklyn minimal wave duo Innergaze just did this remix for legendary '90s house producer Pal Joey, who is perhaps best known for classics like "Dance" (under the name Earth People), and "Hot Music" (under the name Soho). This week, Pal Joey comes out with a new EP under moniker Walk The Dog. Innergaze's treatment of single "I Can't" casts smudges of synthy graniness over his subtly chromatic original.
As Hubble, guitarist Ben Greenberg of Zs and Pigmy Shrews (R.I.P.) has been mining the surprise accidents and micro-variations that can arise when you play a short melodic phrase over and over, at superhuman speed. His debut LP under the moniker, Hubble Drums, was one of the most quietly powerful and ideosyncratic electric guitar records of last year, and while I knew this guy was fast, it honestly never occured to me that he might be able to acheive similar results on an acoustic. "Hubble Potatoes," which appears on the Trouble-curated mixtape for this Summer's You Are Here Fest in Brooklyn, actually makes us even more impressed with his technique, because every note that we hear is a played one, as opposed to the possible product of digital delay. The raw acoustic sounds within make for a stark but pleasing contrast with the dizzying heights that this music can transport us to, and we look forward to Greenberg's upcoming acoustic 7" this fall, on Company.
The You Are Here Fest kicks off next Thursday, July 12th with Zs and Miho Hatori's New Optimism. Hubble will hit the maze the following Thursday, and you can check out the entire line-up after the jump. The festival mixtape is available for a donation to the You Are Here Kickstarter campaign, which seeks to raise funds for a recreation of the project in Berlin, and also on-site, in Brooklyn, within the maze itself.
Melbourne duo Fabulous Diamonds have been honing their own, tightly wound brand of minimal psychedelia for about half a decade now. Their upcoming Commercial Music LP is the first of their releases with a proper name and non-numerical song titles; judging from this first single, it's also the most spaceously and sumptuously produced. "Lothario" starts with the kind of woodsy drum pattern that begs to repeated ad infinitum, and builds to a crescendo as the band wields its arsenal of repetitive synth diddies and droney vocal mantras.
To kick off their East Coast micro-tour with Massachussetts outsider hero Bobb Trimble this week, The Prefab Messiahs just unveiled this Xeth "Xerox" Feinberg-animated video for "Desperately Happy," a track from their recently reissued Peace Love & Alienation LP, on Fixed Identity. The Prefabs appear in the form of four cartoon avatars, idling around the suburban gas stations and bars of "Wormtown", MA like the alienated young adults they were back in the early '80s.
But who exactly are they singing about when they tell us not to "sing their harmony?" Sure, there's the images of faceless soldiers and a gun-slinging Ronald McDonald, flags of capitalist, warmongering society. But we can't ignore the golden arches on the drummer's kit, nor the fact that the band have chosen to participate in this all-encompassing, inescapable thing we call "the system" merely by penning this jangling pop tune, or choosing to appear in the form of a cartoon. In other words, we don't have to think long and hard about the meaning of the name Prefab Messiahs to be reminded of the endless complexities of trying to critiquethe status quo through the language of pop culture. For more on the matter, stay tuned for Liz Pelly's profile on the group later this week.
A few copies of Peace, Love & Alienation is still available from Fixed Identity. Peep the dates for The Prefab Messiahs' mini-tour below:
Loving the distressed synth hits and hair-raising screams on this track from DUST, a new, Italo-inspired studio collaboration between longtime NYC party promoter John Barclay and Michael Sherburn. Brooklyn video artist Luke Wyatt, who incidentally did the graphics for our Kickstarter video, takes the feeling of foreboding up a notch with video-mulched VHS imagery of sweating flesh, cobwebbed mansions, and blood-smeared, vampyric love.
Peep an interview with John Barclay at Anthem Magazine, which premiered the video last week.
The trailer for Episode 9 of Weird Vibes, a web-based indie music television show masterminded by New York producer Shirley Braha, takes the form of an advertisement within an advertisement. A very American-looking, middle aged blonde hosts a mock infomercial for “Weird Vibes Warehouse,” a fictitious company specializing in music memorabilia. Chances are, those of us already well acquainted with the ins and outs of indie hype will chuckle at the sight of products like “Grimes All Purpose Cleaner,” “Lana Del Raisin Bran,” and a John Maus-themed, “inspirational” mouse pad; likely, we’ll also experience a twinge of discomfort. An MTV-sponsored project dedicated to “bands who are self-released or on indie labels,” Braha’s labor-of-love inhabits an awkward and frequently hilarious middle-ground between music enthusiasm and self-critique, eager to point out the very processes of commodification in which it willingly participates.
With a backlog of artist appearances that includes the likes Best Coast, Neon Indian, Twin Shadow, and Real Estate, there is no arguing that Weird Vibes tends toward the more above-ground side of contemporary “indie music”; at the same time, it’s hard to not to admire her conviction that a mass medium like music television can be a powerful entry point to artists from all over the visibility spectrum. A graduate of Smith College, Shirley founded the long-running New York Noise music television show while working as an intern for the city government-sponsored station NYCTV. Though she’s since switched over to a multi-platform media corporation, Shirley insists on handling pretty much every single aspect of the show herself, from treatments and shooting to the Saved By The Bell-reminiscent animations that pepper every episode. I met up with her at the cafeteria of the MTV building in Times Square last week to discuss how she taught herself the nitty gritty of TV production, the challenges of presenting niche music to a mass audience, and her advice for getting by doing what you love.
When Los Angeles radio collective dublab went live in September 1999, it was one of the first around-the-clock stations to broadcast on the Internet. Co-founder Mark "Frosty" McNeil, who got his start as the music director and general manager of the student radio station at USC, remembers being courted non-stop by dot-com bubble investors looking to jump on the Internet radio bandwagon. "We got a lot of free lunches out the internet bubble before it burst, but that’s about it," McNeil confided in me over a pixelated video chat connection from the three-room station HQ that dublab calls home, on Santa Monica boulevard. "We walked into internet radio stations and music companies who would have four hundred people on shiny new computers working away-- but you know, low traffic. These companies were being built to be sold, instead of being built to operate and sustain and do something genuine."
With an early DJ roster that included DNTEL, Carlos Nino, and Low-End Theory co-founder Nobody, dublab began as a coming-together of movers and shakers in the Los Angeles hip-hop and electronic scene. Today, under the banner of "Future Roots Music," it has expanded to activities as diverse as events management, arts curation, film production, and record releases, and counts among its official "labrats" artists as diverse as avant-garde composer Julia Holter, beat collagist Matthewdavid, and experimental producer Daedelus. Perhaps even more than its uncompromising dedication to adventurous musical programming, dublab's success in turning that dedication into a sustainable business makes it one of the most inspiring independent media outlets that we know. Below, "Frosty" shares some hard-earned wisdom on building his dream station from the bottom-up.
For the past few months, Upstate New York's Black Dirt Studio has been host to a series of one-off collaborations between some of underground music's most talented unsung heroes, from Steve Gunn and Black Twig Pickers to Pigeons, Dave Shuford, and Margot Bianca. For the fourth installment of Natch, as the series is called, founding engineer Jason Meagher brought together Charalambides guitar wizard Tom Carter and No Neck Blues Band mainstay Pat Murano, whose Decimus project was recently featured on this site by Mutant Sounds' Eric Lumbleau. The 3-track session, available for download via the Free Music Archive, ranges from droney atmospherics and crackling found sound collages to unhinged collisions of industrial texture and burnished guitar squeal, like on "Emir of Hammadan," below.
Ad Hoc and Body Actualized are excited to announce the first-ever New York appearance by Los Angeles New Age pioneer Iasos this week at the Body Actualized Center in Bushwick. Join us on Wednesday for an Iasos-hosted workshop on the use of sound for healing purposes, then on Friday witness the living legend perform on custom-built synthesizers to his hallucinatory video environments. Finally, on Sunday, Iasos will live soundtrack a vinyasa yoga class, led by Amy Jenkins and followed by a raw vegan meal. Visit the Facebook event for more information, and peep one of our favorite Iasos videos below.