Friday, April 29, 2011

Titus Andronicus - No Future Part III: Escape From No Future

So, perfect timing given that tomorrow has officially (only by me) been ordained Titus Andronicus day here in New York City. Patrick Stickles and co. recently shot and released their new video, No Future Part III, with two goals in mind:

1) To show People the "real" New Jersey

2) To let you know that "you will always be a loser, and that's ok!!!" I love being a fucking loser!

Go check them out live at The Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night!

Has a hip-hop track ever been leaked in such hipster fashion?

So, the ever enigmatic Tyler, the Creator has dropped a new track off Goblin in a very, er, different way. Check it out below.

Now, the burning question is, how many mustache-sporting, PBR-drinking, non-conforming-subculture-conformist hipsters will be rocking a yo-yo when Odd Future takes the stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival this year?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Behind every image, something has disappeared. And that is the source of its fascination. Behind virutal reality in all its forms [...] the real has disappeared. And that is what fascinates everyone. According to the official version, we worship the real and the reality principle, but - and this is the source the current suspense - is it, in fact, the real we worship or its disappearance?" - Jean Bauddrillard, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? Translated by Chris Turner, Seagull Books, 2009

Setting the tone for what was about to transpire, that was the quote presented to me in the program for Hyper-Rainforest, a fully immersive, 70 minute sound installation/performance created by Francisco Lopez, a leader in sound art and experimental music.

Before the performance, Lopez greeted the crowd, giving us all an idea of how Hyper-Rainforest came to be and what we were about to experience. Though, obviously in a concert hall in Troy, NY, he explained that, in a sense, the experience we were about to undergo is similar to that in an actual rainforest. Both environments are acousmatic - meaning though the sounds are very real and concrete, their sources are indiscernible to us. Additionally, he put the art in our hands by stating he believes that the act of producing art is not the creative component of the experience; the ingenuity lies in the viewer/listener and in how they interpret what they are presented with. Shortly after, as the lights were dimming, I donned the eye shade provided to me by the usher and sat back as the shrill creaks and chirps of insects, accompanied by the calls of exotic birds, started to fill the soundscape of the concert hall. Though my eyes were wide open, between the complete blackness and the sound enveloping the room, my mind was filled with the images that my ears told me had to be out there. Due to the layered, sonic environment, my eyes were trying to see creatures and events that were not part of my current, physical reality.

The sequences that I found most impressive were those of the storms. You could hear the thunder rolling in the distance, and at any moment, you knew the storm would be right on top of you. When the rain came, it was oppressive. When the thunder was overhead, you could feel the vibrations. There were two storm systems where the sound was so convincing that I felt like the roof was going to collapse. The meticulous sound engineering, mixed with some of the best acoustics you can find, made sure the sound engulfed your body like a five alarm fire. Even during the the calmer sequences when the buzzing of a swarm was the prominent sound, it was so real that I almost found myself swatting the air, assured that I was keeping the bugs away.

On the drive home, I was trying to think of a fair comparison in the fine arts world. I would imagine that this installation would ellicit very similar reactions as those from people viewing an abstract expressionist piece, like any of Rothko's Color Field paintings. That said, Hyper-Rainforest is not for everyone. Some people are going to shake their heads, say "What was the point?", and walk away. Others will dive headfirst into the experience and make something out of it. If you have an imaginative, open mind and a thirst for new, unique experiences, then this is mandatory. I can't promise you will love it, but I can promise it will make your mind where? That's up to you. But that's the whole purpose of art, and in that regard, Hyper-Rainforest is a grand success.

If you live in Upstate NY and Hyper-Rainforest sounds like something you want to check out, act fast on getting tickets. The three originally scheduled performances all sold out, forcing the addition of two extra showings: one Saturday night and one Sunday night.

Thanks again to our friends at EMPAC for the inimitable experience. Go on over to their site and check out the remaining events they have for the Spring. Euphorie looks killer.

2011 Review (So Far): Toro Y Moi

Chazwick Bundick, aka Toro y Moi, came on to the scene last year with the release of his album Causers of This. While his most recent effort, Underneath the Pine, fails to reach the considerable heights of his debut, it still deserves your attention. Overall, the album tends to drag in certain sections, but there are many bright moments when Bundick explores a more upbeat and funk-based sound on songs like "New Beat" and "Still Sound."

Bundick is an especially bright star in the recent "chillwave movement" and as late summer nights beckon, you will want Toro y Moi to provide the soundtrack. Listen to Causers of This opener "Blessa" below and imagine a bonfire on the beach with this in the background. Fuck, I'm excited for summer!

Toro y Moi - Blessa from Caseytography on Vimeo.

2011 Review (So Far): Cut Copy

The Australian electropop band, Cut Copy, have built on the success of their 2008 album In Ghost Colours and crafted a more ambitious and equally brilliant record. Zonoscope draws even more influence from 80s new wave but retains the pop sensibility that makes listening to this band so damn fun. The album begins with a slow, repetitive synthesizer and as more and more sounds are added to the palette, the anticipation builds. After a couple of false alarms, around the 4:00 mark, Dan Whitford sings "I know we're going crazy, but I need you now," and all is resolved as the beat kicks in.

From the album never loses its enerrgy and only slows again for the instrumental intermission "Strange Nostalgia for the Future," which serves as a beautiful lead-in to album highlight "This is All We've Got." Watch the video for, "Need You Now" below (single version, minus the long intro), pick up the album and then dance away your troubles.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Review (So Far): The Weeknd

The Weeknd is part of a recent wave of independent and lo-fi R&B artists like How To Dress Well and Frank Ocean. Everything about The Weeknd is dirty, disturbing but ultimately brilliant. From the provocative album cover, to the missing vowel in the name to the lyrical content, House of Balloons is wrong in all the right ways.

Abel Tesfaye, the mysterious mastermind behind this project, sings hazy, morning-after stories of sex, drugs and the pain and loneliness that comes with that lifestyle. Check out the song "What you Need" below.

You can also download the mixtape by clicking the link below:

The Weeknd - House of Balloons [Mixtape]

2011 Review (So Far): Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns' sophomore album Dye It Blonde is fun, impossibly catchy and a great follow up to their self-titled debut that showed a lot of promise. The record is dancy, melodious and features phenomenal interplay from the two guitarists, Max Kakacek and Cullen Omori. The two have great chemistry; Omori carries the song forward as Kakacek brings the house down with his bright and bold licks.

Check out the album-opener "Weekend" and then go pick up the album; it's a great listen!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 Review (So Far): Yuck

Yuck are a fairly run-of-the-mill indie rock band hailing from London, England. The difference between Yuck and their contemporaries is that they are capable of delivering in a variety of different ways. On their their self-titled debut, they show off their versatility and meld their different styles into a coherent full-length.

There are songs like "Rubber" and "Get Away" drenched in distortion and feedback reminiscent of early 90s grunge like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. There are other tracks that wander and yearn like a lovesick teenager, while others have a more laid back and detached feel. Anyway you slice it, Yuck are a very talented group of young musicians and I'm excited to see where they go in the future.

Here is a video of Yuck performing an excellent rendition of the laid back "Suicide Policeman" for Pitchfork TV. If you enjoy this, pick up their album.

2011 Review (So Far): Big K.R.I.T.

Big K.R.I.T. started to make noise in the rap game as a part of the DD172 movement with the likes of Curren$y, Stalley, Wiz Khalifa and others. The Mississippi native brings his own lyrical style and swagger to Southern Rap and also produces all of his own tracks.

He's been a busy man in 2011 already releasing a collaborative EP with San Francisco based R&B band Grillade and an entirely self-produced mixtape entitled Return of 4Eva. He recently signed a deal with Def Jam records and is already being touted as the successor to Southern Rap legends like Outkast and UGK.

Check out the song "Hometown Hero" from The 'Wuz Here' Sessions EP with Grillade.

The Return of 4Eva mixtape is available as a free download here.

The 'Wuz Here Sessions EP can be purchased here.

2011 Review (So Far): James Blake

James Blake is an English electronic music producer who fuses elements of minimalism with dubstep and tells introspective tales of love, alienation and childhood. Even through the effects he layers his voice with, you can hear the pain, as he sings "My brother and my sister don't speak to me, but I don't blame them," on the third track "I Never Learnt to Share."

James created all sorts of buzz in 2010 as he released 3 EPs and announced his arrival to the world. The EPs ended up on many end of the year lists and his full-length was one of the most anticipated albums of 2011. The buzz was real and his self titled debut is a truly amazing album. Check out his cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love" which appears on the album.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 10: Take Away Shows

Vincent Moon is a genius. The man has a gift in documenting performances that could be used to define the word "magic". Though he may not direct all the Take Away Shows, they are all his in the sense that his artistic vision laid the groundwork for his collaborators. If you like what you see/hear, be sure to check out La Blogotheque.

10.5. Delta Spirit - "People, Turn Around"

In the case of "People, Turn Around", the video itself isn't particularly impressive, but the song is just too damn good. The camera never really leaves the face of frontman Matt Vasquez, but that's okay. If the passion wasn't evident from the veins pulsing in his neck, the fervor in Vasquez's voice leaves you with no doubt that there is nothing in the world this man would rather do than sing. To quote the director, "He put himself back to the place where he wrote this song. It was beautiful. It was painful. It was perfect." Bonus points for the Beatles reference in the opening scene.

10. Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal"

Being that "White Winter Hymnal" is a masterpiece, the ingredients were there to put this in contention for the #1 spot. Unfortunately, the video itself is really mediocre, but hot damn, this song is phenomenal. Fleet Foxes are responsible for some of the best vocal harmonies in modern music.

9. Man Man - "A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera"

This band is really just bat-shit insane, which makes them a joy to watch. It's contagious watching a group of musicians who have as much fun performing as Man Man.

8. The Antlers - "Two"

Shot in a Parisian cafe, this video is haunting, in a good way. Factor in the deeply personal lyrics about a terminally ill friend, and this will stick with you long after the viewing. Actually, watching this video back in '09 is what brought The Antlers to my attention. Chances are you are already well aware of this Brooklyn band. If not, this is the perfect introduction.

7. Mumford & Sons (with Johnny Flynn) - "The Banjolin Song" / "Awake My Soul"

This performance is everything the world has come to expect from Mumford & Sons. I find the location of a garden to be a perfect fit for "Awake My Soul". As the flowers bloom in the springtime and we shake off the cold grayness of the winter, "Awake My Soul" is on my go-to playlist. It should be on yours, as well.

6. Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible" / "Wake Up"

To warm up, we get a nice rendition of "Neon Bible" in an elevator as the band makes their way to the stage. The focus of this performance, "Wake Up", starts at around 8:30. The song starts well, but drags during the middle. What makes this top notch is that when the song starts its final phase (around 12:20), the crowd is absolutely electric.

5. The Tallest Man on Earth - "The Gardener"

In my opinion, Kristian Matsson has the strongest single voice in folk music today. Oddly enough, while The Tallest Man on Earth is about the size of an Olsen twin, his voice could knock over buildings. Throughout the performance, Moon takes us on a personal tour of the coolest guitar shop ever, Music Inn, located in Greenwich Village. Definitely checking that place out next time I'm in NYC.

4. Cold War Kids - "Saint John"

This video captures the off-beat, soulfully spontaneous nature of the Cold War Kids back during the Robbers & Cowards days. Some of the notes are out of key, and some of the percussion loses the beat, but that's music. I feel like Moon stumbled upon them as they were messing around before a show and just happened to have a camera with him. That's how authentic and impromptu this performance feels.

3. Local Natives - "Who Knows Who Cares"

I love how this is shot as a wandering narrative. Throughout the musical stroll, new voices and new instruments join in until all the pieces of the puzzle are together. When the band stops in the rotunda, something beautiful happens.

2. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Home"

This one is easy to write about. Simply put, I think it's impossible to watch this performance and not smile. Try it.

1. Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"

At the start of this video, you hear a woman say "Break our hearts, Vincent", and with much help from Bon Iver, Moon is able to do just that. Justin Vernon's fragile falsetto sounds like a man weeping away every ounce of past pain, adding to the emotion that radiates from the screen. I love how Moon puts you behind the musicians; seeing the candle-lit faces of the crowd makes the performance just that much more real. As they smile, you smile; as they sing, you sing. When the crowd joins in for the first "my, my, my...", I get chills...every time. This video is raw, honest, and passionate...everything music should be. Enjoy.

There you have it. If you think I missed something brilliant, please let me know in the comments. There are well over a hundred Take Away Shows, there's a good chance I'm missing out on a hidden gem.

2011 Review (So Far): Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is a singer-songwriter hailing from Philadelphia, PA who creates his very own brand of hazy, psychedelic folk music. His music (and hair) reminds me of something that could have come out of the 60s and early 70s, minus the drug and counter-culture lyrics.

Kurt released his newest album Smoke Ring For My Halo back in early March and it’s been on a pretty consistent rotation since then. Check out Kurt Vile performing the track “Baby’s Arms” for MTV Hive and then go out and get the album.