Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
Not much else needs to be said. They’re your favorite band’s favorite band.
They’re lo-fi and hi-fi and abstract and catchy and slow and fast, and they’re back after a decade of reissues and deluxe editions with a tour and Quarantine The Past, the most anticipated greatest hits collection the indie world has ever seen.
Their ten-year stint as a band (1989-1999) left them on top of the world, every alternative music journalist’s darling and pet—the band to which every successive band would get compared.
The band’s five studio albums, Slanted And Enchanted (1992), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), Wowee Zowee (1995), Brighten The Corners (1997), and Terror Twilight (1999), are all endeared as some of the best of the 1990s, and no critic seems to be backing away from that claim at any point in the near future.
The track order for this compilation is not chronological; it’s not a history of the band. The album is simply a retrospective, an introduction. Some of the songs were singles. Some were deep album cuts. All are remastered and essential.
Basically, no self-proclaimed ‘hipster’ or ‘music snob’ could ever be validated without a comprehensive knowledge of Pavement. Here’s a start.
Check out the band's video for "Stereo" from Brighten The Corners:
Joanna Newsom may be an unfamiliar name to some, but she’s been putting out magnificent albums since 2004. Sure, Drag City might not seem like a huge record label or anything, but Newsom shares space on its roster with names like Bill Callahan, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Silver Jews, and Fred Armisen (yes, that Fred Armisen!).
(Oh, and by the way, she’s dating Andy Samberg.)
If 2004’s The Milk-Eyed Mender felt like the opening of some old book of folklore, complete with calm, cool narration and gentle storytelling, and if 2006’s Ys felt like a huge, orchestral-yet-ambient operatic proclamation, then Have One On Me sits firmly in the context of Newsom’s realm, combining all the elements that have made her successful and expanding upon each one in a new way. And it’s something to behold.
Her infamous harp and light falsetto are instantly inviting, but firmly cautious. Newsom’s take on arrangements and track lengths might be a bit hard to swallow at first, but the beauty displays itself with each successive listen.
“Good Intentions Paving Co.,” the standout track on the three-disc epic, feels like the jazz croon of Billie Holliday over the cinematic orchestration of Owen Pallett. Her self-harmonies and uncompromised boldness shine, not one of the 422 seconds wasted on filler or indulgence. The shifts in tone throughout the track play out like scenes of a Shakespearean comedy (yet with blooming tragic undertones), ultimately fading to a close on a succinct and triumphant note.
Check out "Good Intentions Paving Co.":
In Feb. 2001, Kimya Dawson and Jeffrey Lewis wrote five songs, using only an acoustic guitar and a keyboard, during a visit that Dawson was making in Austin. Less than a year later and across the world in Germany, those five songs became the first songs of The Bundles. Dawson began her solo career touring with The Jeffrey Lewis Band, who expanded the songs off that acoustic guitar and keyboard to include a full band.
The Bundles never took off. Each member of the new band went their separate ways, playing in other bands and working on their solo careers.
Now, after nine years, The Bundles have recorded their first album together. Their self-titled debut features some of those five original songs and others that were created within the few days they were recording. The Bundles have brought their quirky personalities to life in each of the ten songs featured on their debut album, singing about everything from best friends to braces getting locked together. To say the least, anti-folk fans will not be disappointed in the album that has taken The Bundles nearly nine years to record and produce.
Check out The Bundles' song "Pirates Declare War":
Hey there, what did YOU do on Friday night? If you were in the Rathskeller, you probably got a chance to hear the original folk of Zack Domes, the quiet, compelling strum of Theodore Maxwell Robinson Carr and the frantic yet oddly composed musical spillings of Mike “Yes-Yes” Ersing.
Bonaventure senior Zack Domes opened the night with a group of his own folk numbers and a cover of "Billy from the Hills" by Greg Brown. For his first public show ever, Domes did a fantastic job of warming up the audience with his original tunes.
Theodore, or “Ted,” kept things calm with his soulful collection of folk numbers, including the jazzy “Picture of Peace.” Ted grooved about the stage, legs swaying and head churning from behind his Fender dreadnought acoustic. For only his third show, Ted was collected and confident, belting out his tunes with the help of a guitar and, for his last song, an organ.
Taking the tiled staged directly after Ted, Mike “Yes-Yes” Ersing jumped directly into his unique, immensely creative stream-of-consciousness songs with authority. Layering his emotional lyrics over neatly finger-picked acoustic arpeggios, Ersing captivated the ‘Skeller crowd with his mysterious, instantly likable musical charm. After an energetic set of soft songs interspersed with the occasional scream, Ersing graciously thanked the audience and left the stage, leaving the crowd awestruck but smiling.
Overall, it was quite the show. If you feel remorseful for not being there, you should, because it was a blast.
Listening to Carolina Chocolate Drops is like taking a step into a time machine back into late 19th Century America. Featuring such instruments as the 5-string banjo, the 4-string banjo, the jug and various forms of bodily percussion, these three musicians show off their sheer ability in the twelve tracks on Genuine Negro Jig. Most of the tracks feature the quick picking/stomping beats and driving harmonies heard in bluegrass, but several others slow down this pace into soulful renditions of traditional African American music that is highlighted by powerful, female lead vocals. They even manage to slip in a cover of the R&B song “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, adding their own flair of course. Overall, Carolina Chocolate Drops is incredibly enjoyable. The band shows that modern artists are fully capable of embracing older styles of music and creating interesting and pleasing works for today’s listeners.
Check out the video for "Ain't No Grave":
From the Bears of Blue River MySpace: “the bears of blue river are friends with day jobs who began gathering in the evenings to make silly noises in a dilapidated old apartment with wooden floors. soon they found themselves playing folk diddies dressed up with some bop about them. their roots define them as hoosiers but currently they are split between chicago, indianapolis, and muncie."
Not to be confused with the 1984 book by Charles Major of the same name, The Bears Of Blue River will blindside even the most readied listeners with the sheer joy and fervor of The Killer Bee Scare. The EP may only house five songs, but each lends itself to the next, bearing (pun intended) repeated plays over and over again. The charm of “Crayola” recalls Paul Simon’s reassuring voice and the backing vocals of She & Him’s female half, complete with lush-yet-rigid instrumentation reminiscent of Fleet Foxes.
Check out "Crayola" below and don't miss out on the show tonight. It's free!
More than a whimsical performer, the mastermind behind Lightspeed Champion, 23 year old Devonté Hynes, is an accomplished composer. His work includes songs by The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and Solange Knowls. In 2009, Hynes was asked by the British Film Institute to rearrange and perform the full soundtrack of the cult classic Harold and Maude. As Lightspeed Champion, Devonté Hynes released his first full-length Falling off the Lavender Bridge in 2007. With the help of Mike Mogis, Lightspeed Champion fished the Omaha music scene and recruited a number of Saddle Creek Records fixtures for the unique recording. While Falling off the Lavender Bridge was not lauded as the introverted masterpiece it set out to be, Lightspeed Champion sparked a sincere curiosity among its listeners.
For his February 2010 LP release, Hynes relocated to another settlement not short on musicians, Brooklyn. By calling on producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarles Barkley, and Gringo Starr), Hynes suggested a newer, more exploratory sound for Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You.
The album’s lead single, "Marlene," presents swooping strings and a crunchy dance rhythm, capped off with a brittle guitar solo that sounds like the amorous calling of a Tyrannosaurs Rex.
At just 23 years old, Devonté Hynes has recorded an album that is as intimate as it is spacious and harmonious as it is brazen. From a vocal standpoint, Hynes still comes off as plaintive. That said, his ability to be assertive can be found in the adventurous arrangements that reveal his interestingly diverse background.
While Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You may not be Devonté Hynes’ opus, it does accurately tap exciting points on the timeline of music, leaving the curious listener to excitedly wonder, what will he do next?
Check out the video for "Marlene" by Lightspeed Champion: