Dead Confederate :: "Giving It All Away"

Dead Confederate were supposed to launch a grunge revolution that would seize us all and bury us with its power. This was based largely on an EP, a first record and a song, "The Rat" that seemed to have enough power to do so. This didn't happen but then again, Karl Marx thought 1848 was the year that would launch a seismic transformation of society. Powerful figures don't always get their timing right.

Of course, Dead Confederate are back with their second LP, Sugar and are giving away track 9, "Giving It All Away." Not the best song on the record (that would be "Run From The Gun" featured in the video above), "Giving It All Away" has a great second movement and is the same dark, lit-from-below rock we saw melting the Mercury lounge back in 2007 and 2008. Worth noting it was at that show that a major label A&R leaned over and said, "This is great but we could never sell it." That may be true, but just because they can't sell it doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it.

Listen :: Dead Confederate - "The Rat"


Procedure Club :: "Feel Sorry For Me"

New Haven's Procedure Club released their debut LP on Tuesday and track one, "Feel Sorry For Me" proves to be an excellent introduction to the band's tense fulcrum between psychodelica and twee. The track sounds eerily like two stereos, off-set by maybe a third of a second, playing the same Cocteau Twins song from 1988, but this time in a concrete chamber where everything echos and nothing leaves. Or maybe, like a Jesus and Mary Chain cover act playing in 2025. Of course, this is an absurd, magically real environment but, it is one that the band embraces and plays well. If derivations must be driven underground, buried and played through these awful Aiwa speakers, this is exactly how to do it, beautiful music left alone in the hopes of others.

Listen :: Procedure Club - "Feel Sorry For Me"


Atlantic Line :: "Exit to Intro" [LP]

Atlantic Line are offering up their LP, Exit to Intro for free download. It is an ethereal crusher, not giving way to easy answers even in the process of being an easy listen. There are shades of Radiohead and the Thom Yorke solo work and shades of Ambulance LTD. The space generated here is substantial, but is not space without purpose. Rather, Atlantic Line have built something cavernous without feeling empty, enormous without being misunderstood.

Listen :: Atlantic Line - "Exit to Intro" [LP]


Neutral Uke Hotel :: "King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1"

In one of those things that can only really work with a straight-face and a good gimmick, Shawn Fogel is touring as Neutral Uke Hotel, covering the entirety of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and doing it all on a ukulele. Calling on members of our Boston favorites, The Motion Sick, Fogel faithfully recreates Neutral Milk Hotel's monolith with the dulcet tones usually reserved for Jason Mraz songs and hackass covers of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". Of course, this works because it worked the first time, and "King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1" is no less crushing than it was in 1998 when Jeff Magnum first drew the lyrics that built the room, one afternoon, where I knew I could love you. It was a crushing story then, and no less crushing on a smaller guitar, 12 years later.

Listen :: Neutral Uke Hotel - "King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1"


ArpLine :: "Fold Up Like A Piece Of Paper"

Perhaps it is New York cynicism or the death of the concept of "openers", but we hadn't caught a non-headliner that blew our doors off in what seemed like three years. Brooklyn's ArpLine, opening for School of Seven Bells the other night, provided the specific antidote to this specific malaise. A big, bold pastiche of noise, electronics and guitars, underlying some serious pop-hooks for full four-minute stretches was more than enough to catch our attention. On "Fold Up Like A Piece Of Paper", certainly not even the band's best song, they dive into a frenetic progression before a pounding, breathless chorus. It is instantly catchy and these five guys, representing the coolest side of cool, won't be opening up for people for very long.

Listen :: ArpLine - "Fold Up Like A Piece Of Paper"


Interview :: Blair [6.16.10]

We heard Blair for the first time back in March amidst an email chain regarding Liz Phair and the critical impact of Exile In Guyville. It all seemed too fortunate. Blair, originally from Louisiana and now part of the Brooklyn Illuminati, made us manage to squeak out that we thought it was her year. Well, it still is, exiled or not. She was nice enough to trade emails with us and color us pink and blue and completely charmed.

32feet: Top 5 Desert Island records?


One Foot in the Grave - Beck
Loveless - My Bloody Valentine
Harvest - Neil Young
The White Album - The Beatles
Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon

Has Liz Phair been about as good and bad for girls as Nick Hornby has been for boys?

Liz Phair spoke her mind without any hesitance. She didn't stop to wonder if this is how a girl is supposed to talk. Hornby's characters seem to explore their romantic obsessions with a similar kind of honesty, that doesn't stop to consider if this is how they are supposed to be feeling. They just feel that way without self reflection. So, yes Liz Phair and Nick Hornby are equally good and bad. I'm assuming "bad" means good "bad" though.

If you could describe your music in two sentences, what would they be?

Kittens. Rainbows.

Usually, I ask bands if they were on a sinking ocean liner and there were only two life jackets, who would get them? It can be revealing. Since it's only you, let's assume there's 40% of a life jacket. Do you take it or say, "fuck it, that's a broken life jacket" and swim for it?

I'd float for as long as possible.

Stylistically, who is the one influence, from whom you borrow, that no one ever picks up on?

I listened to Blood Sugar Sex Magic by Red Hot Chili Peppers endlessly as a teenager. I am very influenced by John Frusciante's melodic palate. I don't play funk, and I can't tear it up like him, but there are a decent amount of similarities in our guitar playing. I went on to listen to listen to his solo records endlessly also, especially the first one, How to Record Water for 10 Days.

What is the one thing people don't know about you that they should absolutely, always remember?

Sometimes, I wish animals were different colors than what they are. You know, like pink deers, or blue bears. That would be amazing.

Listen :: Blair - "Hello Halo"
Listen :: Blair - "Heart"


Brandon Flowers :: "Crossfire"

Brandon Flowers' first single off his solo release Flamingo will debut in a few hours on radio in the UK. Of course, it has "leaked" to the itching ears of the Internet. Flowers continues to traffic in rumbling baselines, soaring melodies and wistful lyrics, the edict here being, "lay your body down, lay your body down". We only presume he means to avoid the eponymous crossfire of "heaven and hell" that "we" are apparently caught in. With a straight face "Crossfire" bleeds the galloping influence of Duran Duran and the biggest arena influences of the 1980s. It is impossible for me to be exceptionally rational about a guy who once shared Budweisers and conversation with us in 2004. So, yes, this is great. Did you expect anything else?

None of your business. by TPBSecretLeaks

Washed Out :: "You and I" [feat. Caroline Polachek]

On "You and I" chillwave super-producer Washed Out manages to direct the girl who broke a million hearts by singing "I tried to do handstands for you". Polacheck, of Chairlift and iPod commercial fame, is her smokey self, turned loose in the bridge, as a pulsing, pensive progression unwinds into echoing keys and darting arpeggios. Like most of the Washed Out catalogue, it is a slow-drive, glittering, lonely and troubled.

Listen :: Washed Out - "You and I " [feat. Caroline Polachek]


On The List :: School of Seven Bells @ Mercury Lounge [6.10.10]

School of Seven Bells are wearing it on their skin. Each member of the band features the cover art of their new record, Disconnect From Desire, tattooed prominently on their body; guitarist Ben Curtis is wearing his over his heart. The intoxicating vocalists, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza elect to circumscribe the image on their arms, reflecting a different, nonetheless committed, series of personal choices. A physical commitment, a mixture of pain and soaring beauty, lies indelibly etched in black ink in definition and defense of a new tribalism. School of Seven Bells are exactly this; urban and profane, distant and enormous, ancient and horribly futuristic, a burn of contradictions and desire.

The two Deheza sisters reflect a different, two-roads-diverged-in-a-yellow-wood question. Alejandra, quick, propulsive and bubbly, offered the only "thank you's" and annotations, saying early in the evening, "these are all songs off our new album ... but we have some old ones later." Claudia, delicately behind a keyboard, remained still, providing the intense minor key harmonies for which the band is so deservedly famous. She takes her eyes off the keyboard only to send soul-splitting gazes to the back of the room. The Mercury Lounge, sold-out to capacity, began to move on the fourth song of the evening, the stunning "Babelonia" from the band's forthcoming LP. Alejandra danced on the downbeats, arching her eyebrows to indicate the seriousness of her purpose. Claudia was, well, predictably hard to read.

Though the crowd knew few of the songs, the soaring wall-of-sound approach proved non-negotiable. There were moments so loud, so condensed, so incredibly intricate that you wonder if this band is like Icarus, daring their wax-wings not to melt on the surface of the sun. But perhaps this is darker. On main-set closer, "My Cabal", the band drifted away to some foreign and familiar, a pleasant and unsettling challenge to their audience to join them by the end of the night, burned together in our ears and on our bodies.

Listen :: School of Seven Bells - "Babelonia"


The Strokes :: "New York City Cops" [Live in London 6.8.10]

The Strokes returned to the stage in London on Wednesday night for their first performance in four years. The band's fourth LP nearly or very nearly finished, they took the stage under the name Venison to play 18 songs of old material. They opened with maybe the band's finest work, "New York City Cops," a track memorably buried off the American release of their debut, Is This It, in the wake of September 11. The footage trades sea-sick camera steadiness for proximity, but even in grainy darkness, the moment is undeniably weighty. Perhaps, this is the perfect moment, for a band that defined the nihilistic return of credible rock in 2000, to come back ten years later, one more time with feeling.


Airborne Toxic Event :: "Neda"

Airborne Toxic Event are back with their first new material in two years. The song, a dedication to the Iranian woman shot by the repressive regime operating in Tehran, is sonically a mash-up of "Innocence" and "Wishing Well;" though here there is a palatable hollowness, perhaps intentional, suggested by gaps between lyrical couplets. Thematically, they call it a "prayer for the dissidents" or a hope that the least powerful among us have the symbolic power to tilt the universe.

beat radio :: "the best and the brightest"

Brian Sendrowitz of beat radio has a penchant for lower case letters and lo-fi pop music. With a couple albums in the can and a collection of 2010 singles building, beat radio's latest effort, "the best and the brightest" is predictably reflective. Sendrowitz exists in the new, modern luminosity, somewhere between being someone everyone knows and being an unknown that a few people are desperately loyal to. Of course, like everyone else, he searches for connective tissue in his work, in his art. A whirling arrangement, "the best and the brightest" tumbles in on itself like an imploding, forgotten sports arena in a Rust Belt city bent on rejuvenating downtown. With lyrics of past times like, "we were looking for something/someone we used to know," you picture an empty city, a lost protagonist and a search worth searching for.

Listen :: beat radio - "the best and the brightest"


On the List :: LCD Soundsystem @ The Fillmore [6.3.10]

James Murphy is an unlikely rock god. We've been here before, along with seemingly everyone else, but it's shocking every time. A chubby dude, wearing a white tee shirt and 100-watt smile, gets the kids moving. Granted, most San Franciscans spend their waking hours boogieing to the music only they can hear, but some of us don't. And yet, we're all bouncing up and down to LCD Soundsystem. A friend who categorically doesn't dance, is dancing. This is the Power of James: the venue changes, the results don't. Groundhog Day The Musical?

Murphy and the gang are, understandably, tiring of the shtick. After weeks of touring, the set list has gotten repetitive. They are tight, but not as tight as they were a fortnight ago in New York. They work the crowd into a fevered pitch during most songs -- although "Get Innocuous," "All I Want," and "Pow Pow" never take off -- but their energy lags between each effort. They catch their breath. We follow suit, eager to start again. For us, it's our one chance to witness Murphy; for LCD, it's another gig in another city.

Set closer "New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" remains a gorgeous, poignant duet between the lead singer and Nancy Whang, but just like the band tonight it's missing... home. Murphy wrote his best song about the misery of being on the road, away from his friends. Halfway through the show, he yells "where are your friends tonight," scans the crowd, and sees a seething mass of happy faces he doesn't recognize. It must be a bit disconcerting.

You can take LCD out of New York, but you can't take New York out of LCD. Or something along those lines. (Yes, they recorded most of This Is Happening in a Los Angeles mansion, but it's more Gotham than Batman.) But dancing, that resonates across the country.

This show, like every other one, becomes a night of simplicity.

Sean Carey :: "In The Dirt"

Sean Carey is a founding member of Justin Vernon's Bon Iver and the impact of this experience is undeniable. Although, perhaps, Carey's union with Vernon devolves into chicken-or-egg logic. Did Vernon influence Carey or was Carey drawn to Vernon by common style? I would bear this out further but I suspect neither of us has the time. On debut album, We All Grow, Carey features the sparse and lonely "In The Dirt." With a bridge of whirring winds and keys out of Sufjan's catalogue, the cut finally erupts (probably the wrong word) into echoing claps, rolling keys and longing vocals. While this isn't directed specifically at Emma, or some other proper noun disaster, Carey, like his cover art, has his head under water and his legs flailing in the air. I mean that as a compliment.

Listen :: Sean Carey - "In The Dirt"


Gold Sounds :: "You're A Vision"

Londoners, Gold Sounds could easily pass for a slightly spacier Bishop Allen or a more thoughtful, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. "You're A Vision" is a crushing meditation, and I use this term lightly because so do they, on loss or, rather, being lost. The eponymous chorus follows "you're a vision" with "and that's as painful as it gets." It is a brutal turn of phrase surrounded by shimmying guitars and dancing keys. The foundational metaphor is one of being out to sea, without an oar, curiously juxtaposed in the second verse with a jag about not being able to find a career in the "music biz". We suppose the soul is in the searching. Gold Sounds closes "You're A Vision" with an echoing, Brian Wilson-inspired build of soaking, layered vocals. It's a vision recast not as a savior, but as a pariah. Maybe run away from the light this time.

Listen :: Gold Sounds - "You're A Vision"
Listen :: Gold Sounds - "So It Goes"


Tobacco :: "Six Royal Vipers"

"Six Royal Vipers" isn't really meant to make you feel perfect. In fact, drenched in washing synths and breathing reverb, it's almost intentionally unsettling. But Tobacco, the solo project of Blackmoth Super Rainbow frontman, is certainly not concerned with your opinions on the subject. In fact, as one of the central lyrics insists, "I don't want to be like you," both music and phrasing are the picture of disillusioned, modern-age terror. Or is it apathy?

Listen :: Tobacco - "Six Royal Vipers"