"Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait" -Longfellow

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marissa Nadler covers "Sara" (Bob Dylan)

Sara Dylan with quote from Bob

Don't look back in anger or in haste. Judgments are cement in your brain and regrets are like wet smoke that would chase down the stars. Never as dark as noon, never as far, never cold- your breath sticks to the skin of morning; drumming like the last war before falling into the fertile quiet of a helpless smirk. To have loved the pounding wind, to have dreamed those boxcars and baubles, to abnegate the vast distances- a toothy supernova; you dimly walk away forever into the thirsty fog of memory emptying. 

Marissa Nadler ft. Red Heroine - 09. Sara featuring (Bob Dylan cover)

PLEASE purchase Marissa Nadler's absolutely lovely Covers Vol. 2 at her Etsy Page.

For more about Bob and Sara Dylan (and for an absolutely spellbinding read) get yourself a copy of Clinton Heylin's definitive biography Behind the Shades Revisited.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thoughts on the Original Relationship

the distant motor lumbering labor 
keeps us comfy in the sun and tree. 
thinking questions old and solemn 
avoiding truth and heaviness 
in the light November holiness. 

a squirrel chases a jogger 
chasing her dreams of control and accuracy. 
the bench is cold and proclaims occurred deaths and their depths 
while the warmth of the dirt 
reminds that history starts over every morning. 

but these are human musings- 
like so many before me 
I came here to change myself back to nature 
and wound up replacing just a little bit of nature 
with myself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LIVE REVIEW: The Whirlybirds

pic by Feli
The Whirlybirds @ Limelight, September 3, 2011

In the hit or miss San Antonio indie-rock scene, with its well established personalities and sounds and limits, it's always a welcomed surprise when a promising newcomer emerges. The Whirlybirds, headed by lead singer/songwriter Justin Davenport, are certainly promising and new in a number of ways. On a bill with Limelight favorites The Hawks of Holy Rosary, We Leave at Midnight and Chris Maddin; The Whirlybirds turned in the standout performance of the evening. Their fusion of blues, raw garage-soul and an updated brand of psychedelic brit-pop left a crowd of long-weekend revelers refreshed and mesmerized. The Whirlybirds Facebook page claims that they will "mess you up, son"... which turns out to be true, if by "mess you up" we understand: destroy the expectations of amateurishness and self-congratulatory immaturity that you normally bring to San Antonio indie rock shows (even the good ones). Or perhaps by "mess you up" they mean... hand you the moon tied with a metallic-blue bow...

Their sound, anchored by some astounding Claptonesque (I shit you not) guitar work by Ryan Curran and the crisp vocal harmonies of Davenport and guitarist Raul Alvarez, is full to bursting with a nostalgic richness and a keen attention to textural detail. What those in attendance heard, in The Whirlybirds first ever live performance, was a band in absolute command of their facilities, playing with a rarely seen togetherness and achieving something new and interesting using familiar elements. Their set was a mere ten songs, eight originals and two perfectly executed Beatles covers, but was enough to endear them greatly to a crowd that might not have expected to be so enthralled by a ponderously bluesy round of songs played without pretension, for the sheer joy of good music. For me the highlight of the night was a simultaneously soulful and spiteful number, “Nice Ties Hide Lies”, which allowed Davenport to showcase his oaken, woozily-pretty and powerful voice. The song deals indirectly with the exploits of a faceless, snazzily-dressed and corrupt bureaucrat, handing out favors to friends and, like Bob Dylan's 'Mr. Jones', seemingly incapable of understanding or of being understood. Another instant standout was "Running Around" (see below), a gorgeous vocal-chasing-vocal affair that would be enough to make The Raconteurs jealous. The Whirlybirds will, no doubt, soon be performing around town with some frequency; once people are wise to this group of four dudes making honest music without hipster pomp or unnecessarily distracting adornments. This is the real stuff folks, born from the great songbooks; but new in the way Lennon made Elvis new or Dylan made Guthrie new.

get at 'em:    ePRESSkit     Facebook

Thursday, September 1, 2011

African Head Charge "Over The Sky"

How many men have pissed in the Nile? 
Which weighs more; a pound of nails or a pound of silk? 
How does God tell the difference between then and now? 
If the endless machine should grind to a sudden and violent halt, 
the grains of a knife separating into the imagined power of a man, who rules over the sky?

Buy this shit on Amazon and wig out.
More info and swellness from the incomparable Holy Warbles.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Beirut "The Rip Tide"

Released August 30, 2011 on Revolver

To say that I have taken to falling asleep on the VIA bus while listening to Zach Condon's latest effort as Beirut is not necessarily the biggest compliment- on face. There is, however, something distinguishing about this Beirut album which is revealed by my tendency to doze to it. Namely; the fertile chaos, that gave past Beirut releases such an irresistible free-wheeling spirit, is neatly managed here. All the edges of Condon's genius, which has been called Beirut since before he was old enough to drink, are smoothed out into a kind of patient old world perfection. Songs like "A Candle's Fire", "East Harlem" and "Vagabond" are beautiful and subtle and refined, but are missing what Bob Dylan once called (in his own music) "that wild mercury sound". This is where it gets tricky. The Rip Tide shows growth and maturity- these songs are technically smarter, tighter and more precise than most of Beirut's previous tracks. And yet, they are somehow less gratifying; more comfortable and less gigantic. The songs flow and slink gracefully along through the caverns of your listening mind, rather than gyrating and bashing about with the particularly exhilarating wantonness of youth on fire with the power of creation. All critical observations aside; The Rip Tide is wonderful and intricate and deserving of your attention. Whether you are a devoted fan or an intrigued newcomer, this offering is a rewarding listen; dark and spacious, feeling wooden and musty, impossible to place in space and time- thoughtful in the meticulous way one might consider Marcel Proust or Charles Dickens thoughtful. The Rip Tide is, at its core, the work of an extremely gifted and original artist learning to do consciously what was once done in unconscious bursts.

For now, you can still stream the album over at NPR or (better still) buy it on AMAZON.
And, if you haven't, you really NEED to get to know The Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestar too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

For Feli

I wanna see all the cities before everything goes back to mad meandering molecules. I'm the first to recommend that we resist apprehending anarchy as it plays among the monuments, but my heart won't stop racing when I think of missing everyone's faces furrowed at the endless days and days. I just wanna hug the wind and write my name in the sand one last time before we have our heads consumed by the timeless womb. I just wanna hold your hand while we dissolve. I just wanna watch my breath and yours while I still have infinity to consider. I don't believe in death but, nevertheless, I just wanna think I'll have something to say while I still believe I have a voice. 

And if I am to echo ceaselessly or even for a single moment, I just want you to know that the sound I become is only for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2 Pomes about Humans

feet and deadlines touch the surface of the river;
the mind making an actual weight out of confusion,
the body held lifted by the majesty and surprise ingenuity of dirt.
I send out a peasantly boom to measure the boundaries of thanks:
all the possibilities of forever exist in this moment and that.
what have
you made of those thoughts
that kept us laughing to ourselves
as children?
I cannot believe that we would dig the ditch so incredibly deep
just to barely struggle over drowning in the shallows
when it fills up.

how many times must humanity be forgiven its imitation of eternity?
never has ever been the same saving grace as always, in theory…
but the question we beg of our gods and galaxies is deeper than our senses, our theories
or our graces.

how sharp must the steel grow before it doesn’t have to bother piercing anymore?
workplace weeping stations and worship-faced followers
    can sometimes fail to successfully lead self to self, through self and to never-self.

will you loan me the chisel with which I’ll chip you and the other vast universe away?
I’ve just got to get back to tidy zero before I can truly love the messy multitudes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blooming: Rimar

{{Brooklyn via Columbus, OH}}

It's not THAT weird, I tell myself, that this "Blooming" artist just happened to be from the same city as the last... but considering it's Columbus, Ohio; I think it's at very least to be thought of as... fuckin' awesome.

Why do I like this album of fragments and DJ meditations enough to post about it? Who knows... Perhaps because there are so many spaces for half remembered moments and so many imperfect images full of emotional candor.  It could be because I can't recall disco and never got to listen to it on opium while showering in a Christmas light lit cold-water flat.  Maybe it's because I can't dance but I almost always do.  Whatever the reason, this album is making me feel great this summer.  And for FREE it could do the same to you.

On No Fear of Pop: http://bit.ly/jf7vDL
On Triangle Piece: http://bit.ly/r5Ph3h

Friday, July 8, 2011

FLOW 7/8/11

I wear mismatched skullcaps and a wristwatch of missed maps,
laugh at think tanks with weak dank back-dreaming
of pap-smearing mother earth
and forcing her to give birth
to the real girth of dead mirth twitching on the black surf.
I dont write hip hop or poetry cuz language is a toy to me
broken by real poverty and resurrected by pure corporate greed
I dine on the scrotums of ancient aztec totems streaming through new modems.
I cry out for death in a fever pitch thats dressed with gold and nasty itch-
life is such a nasty bitch, I'll get over it and live the glitch.
because rappers and pastors gave me my voice, I'm an actor:
a brain dripped out of bladders- a waste not wasted and -yep- a tasted not tasted
waiting for the bruising truth and amusing all the thoughtful youth.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ceremonious Transfiguration: Some Belated Ruminations on Mexicans with Guns' "Ceremony"

Released May 10, 2011 on Stones Throw

San Antonio native Ernest Gonzales (aka Mexicans With Guns) weaves together soundscapes using his electronics in an expert way to create computerish music that sounds warm and lush and living.  Drawing on the vast sonic and cultural diversity of his hometown, Gonzales is on to something truly special.  He has previously released a fair-sized body of work, but Ceremony is his first LP and his most unique, fully realized effort to date.  The album itself, cohesive and unified in its subject matter and textures, can be looked at as an actual ceremony...

This Ceremony is that of the next becoming, the return of Quetzalcoatl in his star-craft of angry compassion and bomb-blast; returning to a darkened inner landscape of nervous want. Organic and vibrating with jungle romance, the album has colder more metallic moods as well... Moments where the human 'element' involved transcends nature without re-arriving to tell us if that's a good thing.  Aptly named songs "Jaguar" and "Deities" are replete with hazy images of nervous animals, scratching and pacing, worshiping their own slowed and distorted breath, waiting to live. But there is a sense of holiness felt as well, the truth of the mosaic of atoms that comprises everything is liberating and represents deepest equality and purest freedom from worry.

"El Sol y La Luna" is a track that focuses on the split personality of reality, the dual natures dealt with extensively here: the abandon of some final party and the relief of a ravaged nature freed from its tormentors. It begins with what sounds like a curious animal calling and testing the rumbling hush and breaks into the back and forth of a hurried pulse. You can, and are most definitely supposed to, party like it's 12/21/2012 to this album, but you can also use it, more contemplatively, to see further into the archetype-guarded psyche of reality.  Truly human voices show up at times to celebrate life's gifts ("Me Gusto"), lament damnation while twisting words at a shrugged-at salvation ("Highway to Hell" and "You Got Me Fucked Up") and to bring some sense of our temporal moment to the album. Everything else is abstraction- now dense, now airy -searching oblivion and loss for an already understood meaning that we keep on forgetting.

"Death and Rebirth", as the title suggests, begins by transporting the listener to a wasted plain licked barren by some nameless calamity. The aura of holiness which somehow attends this entire album, becomes shattered and chaotic here. There are hopeful textures, but these feel like superstition and delusional nostalgia; the longing for an Aztlan that never existed any more than some transcendental Jerusalem.

In "El Moreno", the track that closes Ceremony (and probably its most ceremonial sounding), we seem to hear broken church organs droning beneath a new kind of mass; both overtaken by some foreshadowed melodies and an ever blossoming static.

In today's music world there are a shitload of folks making electro-house-fusion-chillwave-witchy-whatever mush... but there are a few, like Gonzales, who loudly make the argument that electronic music can be as genuine and rewarding as any other type of music.  Bottom line: Ceremony is a gem that deserves your attention.  Download the standout track "Death and Rebirth" below, BUY THE ALBUM because it is an experience that these few clumsy words cannot capture and go see Mexicans with Guns live as soon as you get the chance... you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Cults "Cults"

Realeased June 7, 2011 on Columbia Records

Blogosphere conquering indie-popsters Cults have managed to concoct a debut album that lives up to expectations as much as it sets them. Sounding like a Phil Spector girl group with post-modern skittishness and updated to account for grunge and the avant-indie movement, this duo makes music to make you nostalgic for tomorrow. Crisper versions of the tracks that started it all, "Go Outside" and "Most Wanted", are dark and sweet standouts- but this is really a tight and beautiful album with little to no fluff jobs. Also excellent are the creepy bumper “Walk at Night”, the joyously restless “Oh My God” and the haunting love song “Abducted”. The album is thematically and musically focused on light and dark spaces, on the conflict between fullness and emptiness, on tension and release, on freedom and that which seeks to restrain freedom. These dichotomies make some weird type of sense for a band from San Diego transplanted to New York. Eerie dimness and refreshing shine, sloth-inducing heat and frisky cold, moments of flighty glee and opportunities for more serious contemplation- it is, impressively, all here on this album of pop songs. Cults is a whimsically satisfying listen that promises to keep you swaying all through the summer and, due to its darker romantic and more frantic elements, to remain a favorite as times get chillier... 
whenever that is.

Stream the album, purchase the album and check them out HERE

Friday, June 3, 2011

Los Destellos "Constelación"

A song that moves the way a river moves at the midpoint of a moonless night in the jungle.  No words to confuse the holy message of the current, no egoic gang-banging of rhythm into polished form... deep, slow, natural- like droplets of sap that take a week to run down a tree's trunk.  Oh yeah... and when you- half brave, half spirit drunk -climb that tree to cuddle the sky, you're alone with the stars and can make from them anything you can imagine.

Awesome History of Los Destellos from Super Sonido

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Willie Nelson "Uncloudy Day"

There’s a Willie Nelson song called “Uncloudy Day” (it's actually a gospel cover, but for me- it belongs to Willie). I don’t know which album it originally came off of, but I learned it through my parents heroically worn cassette tape of Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits (And Some That Will Be). That cassette had a nondescript off-whiteness to its opaque shell, hiding away those simple yet mesmerizing innards other tapes would flaunt to the high hills. I kinda imagine it was the same color as the walls of some shithole trailer where Kris Kristofferson and Willie would down Lonestars and cocaine bumps late into the thickly humid and ambling night- beneath the threat of another grisly sunrise. It was colored mighty like the tape I learned to love “City of New Orleans” with- that rambling song of near-religious love and fascination, the eyes of ‘the dream’ and the warmly weathered hand of reality, the preoccupation and forgetting about it because 'fuck it'. 

“Uncloudy Day” (being itself an underhanded reference to life-long ailing) doesn’t need to become muddled or attempt esoteric complexity for our purposes. It is a song about the other side of the mountain. It is a song about the good kind of passing through- no more drifting- it’s a song about a temporal home. In the bleary no-bullshit-early-morning it is a song about Heaven. To really believe the song, I guess you gotta fancy yourself back to boyhood- past your hang ups and past trying to write it out or ride it out. It takes a level of idealism and jackassed intensity, a level of beer bubbles leftover in the brain, a certain mystical number of old memories wafting towards awareness. It’s sorta akin to the mental technique one might use to truly appreciate the petting of a dog. I’m not talking about being stuck in the past, but bringing the green and free expanse of childhood’s unspoiled earnestness in to the present moment.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Questioning and Answering the Void

Artwork by John Kenn via Escape Into Life
green lights lead me to the day, flailing peacefully.
a soft copper sibilation sits at my center
   interrupting personalities asking coded questions;
trying to remember or discern
              the moment before the naming of things.

my body is a trillion tribes of lonely physicalities
tired of testing and bearing out biology,
   straining the holy message of the father ever taut.
messy the image and when the five senses can't approach;
endless the pure untouched foreknowledge of knowledge unformed.

by the time it comes to true and false
all is already lost.

pliable or wise too much for steel manhood,
I'm taken away obliterated
                                from the wild nude oxygen pool in neon green
                                  vast expanses openly withholding consequence-
I have grown up knowing my soul couldn't matter
because I can't point directly at it or use it to start a business.
I have seen the unabashedly unmasked numbers
hastily closing down the darkness, whistling like old burning tire fires,
accusing certainties, demanding accounting and quantifications-

but I forgot the exact depth of the dirt under my feet.

ever notice what a head of steamy blusters we work up
building disaster around our disasters?
and then I think, perhaps death deserves this embellishment-
      maybe death deserves no truth or patience.
damn. am I writing about death again? I don't even watch CNN.

do you think tornadoes were built by God;
devices righteous and omnipotent, sent to punish the hard-working innocent?
it's worth considering that we may not be that important-
      it's the invisible things we make that cannot be reduced.
can we talk of love without being self-referential?
we haven't even considered our potential.

how far inward can we calculate our feeble awareness
before we discover that we're all really saints and terrorists?
I am almost certain that, if we try, we can imagine a society without society-
      let our coalitions be loose and patterned after living organisms.
is our measurement fetish really such a sacred cow? NOW is always wild anyhow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blooming: Monster Rally

{{Columbus, OH}}

Monster Rally mixes oceanic steel sounds with galactic waterflow beats.  Glassy and tin-canned reverbs; Sunday songs. Ted Feighan is the beach wizard behind these lazily lovely tracks and he has done wonderfully in crafting, out of samples and serious stoned-slowdown, songs that make the sky feel intertwined with the dirt and the ocean flow over your feet in the easy comfort of the grassy backyard in your head.

On The Styrofoam Drone: http://bit.ly/anbeFm
On Gorilla vs. Bear: http://bit.ly/gEr9ed


Thursday, April 21, 2011

We're Studying Tigers and Coin Space in the Ruins of Mountains

 you wanna explode into your head, into the great written jungles under the vines of sunny mysticism- you wanna purple, you wanna meander through and be serious about clasping at the brilliant jelly bean kernels of spirit hype.  yet there's never really enough time around.... and then you're thinking "why can't i just control myself, just even a little bit more."  and then you wonder what that would look like; how much anybody really controls their Self... what makes us so sure that Self exists or needs any kind of control? is there something that's been sitting on my shoulder hanging out in the moonlight all these years?
and i forget. forget and move towards the center, the never noticing happening-
there is only as suchness while the cats are battling.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mellowhype//Bass Drum of Death: "64"

It's hard, initially, to think of what else there is to be said about the insanely young and gifted members of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (affectionately OFWGKTA)... it's all been said, and said, and said, and said and... well you get the idea.  The blog hype cycle is a magnifying glass in the hot sun, spotlighting the luckiest ants until the focus and the heat destroys them or makes them truer by fire... and it really remains to be seen if, how, and in what incarnation the enigmatic OFWGKTA crew will come out the other side... when the internets are tired of them because the internets' attention span craves new, NOW!- not necessarily better... just new.  But these young oddball backpack kids with twisted lyrics, from the depths of the mental decay of a nation, in the depths of one its richest and foulest places, braced by a blacklight sun burning a zombie confidence... these kids seem poised to go the route of the Wu-Tang Clan; making music their own way, with their own equipment and producers and (largely) without much regard to what you think or feel of say about it.  I like that.

Whatever you feel about their remarkably diverse and extensive catalog of free music to examine the bloody night by; they have talent and they have a point and, importantly, they don't give a fuck what you think.  So, however much I may be compelled to call bullshit (or the campus police) when I see OF ring-leader Tyler, The Creator tweet about burning down schools and killing people... I bear in mind that this rejection of sanctity and desire to pulverize the assumed moral uprightness of the status quo is what being a confident and intelligent teenager is all about these days.  The art seems evil to some people because, bafflingly, some people still believe in evil... there is a discussion to be had here that is much bigger than the wiry and nonchalant duo performing (with badasses Bass Drum of Death) in the video below... but that discussion is best saved for another day; after time has told its tale of how Odd (or stale) the Future turns out to be. For now, feast your eyes and ears on OF members Mellowhype (pictured above; consisting of rapper Hodgy Beats and producer Left Brain)... they are coming for the marrow of night, for your kids' soft heads, for all of our lazy and meaningless comfort.  Like youth-turned-monster pre-punk punk Jim Morrison before them... they want the world and they want it NOW.  Or maybe they just want attention.  Anyhow... with a game this filthy-tight; Hodgy Beats and Left Brain prove that they deserve it.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Blooming: Therapies Son

{{Los Angeles}}

Please pay them money for having made these songs and admit loudly that you'd like for them to make more.  Be red in eye and prospects, grow over seas, and call and call. Open up a grander staircase- and fall...

"Golden Girl" is a joyful blur like a picture of best times taken way too drunk. "Touching Down" is a romp of a song, somewhere forgotten near the sneer of Mick Jagger and the sweetness of Paul McCartney... but then it almost sounds surfer... and a Swedish blonde and trotting love affair with the sugar structure of pure pop.

On THE FADER: http://bit.ly/f07WKO
On STEREOGUM: http://bit.ly/9iW9Oc


Smog Wolves, Rainbow Reactions and All the Joy

image from THIS splendid artist's flickr

Heavy crocheted violin spank
Dream-seated requisitions drank
Down through foamy throats of mesh
Through forgotten salt-skinned death
And all the joy,
And all the joy.

Weepy minutes neon breaking so
Defying frowns and letting finally go.
None can huge the bronzing smalls
Or tease the silver horse into the stalls
And all the joy,
And all the joy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Drums of Death

Gulping hard enough,
this Big Red can feel like a brimming bowl of cold blood and bees,
The clicking of the throat like a hundred thousand 
strategically synchronized wingflaps.
Death allows me to say these things.
Coldly magnanimous death, in which I do not believe.
Irrational and formulaic intensity,
Paragon of universe and method; death, in which I do not believe.
Actual death, no bullshit death, cannibal mouth death, 
time-managed death of purpose and presence; death
In which I do not believe.

Old pictures in worlds removed,
Old sometimes and anytimes, waking up and falling into figuring it out.
They call this peculiar awareness nature, the stoppage and the gulf of continuance, 
the warm close self.
Death allows me to say these things.
Material, wise and important death,
In which I do not believe.
Master of products and prophets,
Grand vision of equality and opposing infinities; death, 
in which I do not believe.
Death pointing us towards God, empty death, final death, 
death of hope and suffering; 

death in which I do not believe.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

White Elefant releases "El Infante" EP

White Elefant is one of those rarest of San Antonio bands that A) sounds from San Antonio without sounding bound to San Antonio and B) isn't readily connectible to some sort of  'scene' (i.e. balding DJs  with an ear for little but Friday night booty, crap metal, tepid and self-aggrandizing indie-pop/rockers).  Josh Mathis is the singer, songwriter and lead creative force behind White Elefant, a band that has been growing and evolving in a patient and natural manner since 2006.  Mathis' vision of songcraft is one of the most refreshing that I have ever encountered; an innocent approach that lets the art realize itself in a stream of consciousness fashion that achieves a seemingly impossible precision.  El Infante is White Elefant's first real recorded release and it's a perfect combination of an almost deadpan style, that makes their live shows feel so refreshingly entrancingly honest, and just the right amount of studio richness.  Kudos are certainly to be given to mixer/master-er Dave Novak of Toastworks Productions for staying out of this band's way while helping them banish any but the most aesthetically endearing mediocrities.

Opener "We Don't Stare" was born from a wandering acoustic jam that Mathis used to play at gigs while his band members grabbed a beer or used the facilities (Mathis never seems to succumb fully to the fact that these shows happen at places of debauchery and consumption).  The song has developed into a kind of anthem for the band itself, musically and lyrically expressing an alienation and restlessness that comes across alternately as a source of weakness and of confidence.  The five song EP's monstrous and sneering second track, "Insult to Injury", is the release's sharpest and most perfect moment.  Play this song incredibly loud with the bass up high and you will feel like you are hearing something startlingly new and simple, while somehow left with the unshakable notion that you've been here before... and things are more complicated than they seem.  The song surges in and out like panicked breaths, towers like a hesitant giant painfully aware of its own crushing step and deals with loneliness and self-professed holiness as artifacts of a timid emotional state.  "Warning Shot", one of the band's newest songs, is well placed at the middle of the EP as it provides a moment for reflecting in the uncluttered spaces between its bluesy vamping swagger.  A song that shows versatility and attitude, "Warning Shot" is followed by the best example of pure pop-rock songwriting in White Elefant's canon: "Safety in Numbers".  Seeming to be written from a distant vantage point of post-apocalyptic wisdom, "Safety in Numbers" is a remark on all we go through and all that we might be willing to put ourselves through... and for what?  "After all the time we've wasted and after all the lights stop spinning and after all their hands stop reaching out because after all, nobody's winning"... these lines perfectly express the shrugging acceptance of this beautiful song, with just enough distortion and pounding to remind you that it was, in fact, raised in a sweltering hot garage.

Rounding out this set of songs, which represent several different eras in White Elefant's history, is the grunge-country toe-tapper "I'll Make It Up to You".  This song is one that essentially belongs to bassist Fil Grady and drummer W.J. Robinson. The song bounces casually upon cymbals and rough low pulses before ending abruptly, confronting the listener with the reality of a sudden silence... always a welcome challenge at the end of a neat and profound statement of artistic purpose.

listen/download: White Elefant - We Don't Stare

You can (and really, really should) buy this EP on itunes.  Additionally, you can stream "El Infante" in its entirety at the band's Myspace page (where you'll also find info on upcoming shows).

AND... here's a link to another piece about Mighty Whitey LeFant, written by Feli and I for Local Aesthetic SA.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reaching for Uncertain Satori Behind the History Membrane

Ligeti's Musica ricercata 2, played by Vicente Uñón

Enemies and their dark hallways are the salts of selves denied as the general brightness is the true focus of our myriad loves unending.  If you go out looking for a creator, why not first consider yourself?  Your brothers and sisters?  There will never be a human reality stronger, more absolute, larger or more essential than the human power to believe in it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Better Late than Never: My Top 5 Albums of 2010

ONE: Beach House - Teen Dream
It’s breathtaking.  If you haven’t been converted to Beach House yet, you owe it to yourself as a New Year’s resolution.  Teen Dream, released at the very beginning of 2010, is the culminating manifestation of a slow and mad confidence developed over several years and two other LP efforts.  Victoria Legrand’s voice has grown into a powerful and heavy orange force among the black and brown and grey thumps and crawlings that constitute Beach House’s sound.  It’s more than music to get lost in; it may help you find yourself again.  It’s nostalgic enough, unsteady enough, romantic enough, jaded enough… with wisdom and as humorless as a heart attack… but innocent.  It’s the best album of 2010.  It is one of the most profoundly important albums of our generation.  Personally, not many albums I’ve ever heard have felt quite so genuinely and powerfully moving, so warmly magnetic and ruminant.
TWO: Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
“If I ever wasn't the greatest, I must’ve missed it” boasts Kanye on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s opener “Dark Fantasy”. To be honest with you, I think that goes too far; that fool was never really the greatest rapper or producer… but maybe the greatest character.  Anyway… the fact that this line goes too far is important.  The whole album goes too far.  In fact, if you’ve followed Kanye throughout this year then you know that he has, more than ever, made a living out of going too far- and he seems to be forgiving himself and becoming more authentic in the process.  This album, and the G.O.O.D. Friday songs that led up to it, are impressive in their scope, their sheer imagination and their swagger.  Kanye has successfully let his ability to see himself catch up with his ability to see what people want.  He is now giving us what we really want from him, from many of our rappers: reality… no bullshit, “what the fuck do you want bro this is me”, never scared, mature and witty… reality.  Of course, part of the entertainment and awe value comes from the fact that Kanye’s reality is so far removed from anyone else’s.  But he still has weaknesses and he is not afraid to explore them in art, openly.  He’s not afraid to be romantic, tongue-in-cheek, boastful or self-deprecating.  He’s become a rare example in the mainstream rap community of how a dude can be everything; whatever the fuck he wants to be.  All of that becomes a part of this album- this album which is musically diverse and complex and jarring, lyrically fresh and brilliant, socially timely and absolutely bursting at the seams with energy and the kind of really-really aware self-confidence that we all gasp to see at work.
THREE: Pill Wonder - Jungle/Surf
Underwater Peoples (the label that released Jungle/Surf) is one of the record labels that inspired and impressed me the most this year and this album is the kookiest, most leftfield, most ‘underwater’ example of why that’s the case.  In a survey of mine and Felicia’s listening habits over the course of 2010, this album looms significant in content and in attitude.  Jungle/Surf is one of the several compelling reasons that this year has wanted so badly to be a never ending summer:

a bro walking towards the ocean in lime green shorts, cabanas in the background fading into dusk and into the smoky insect circles of summer night. You stand while your tired legs, still dripping, dance of their own accord to the pull and bass of the ocean. The winds pick up sand and swirl it around the neons of the falling sun… we can ALL remember standing naked at the edge of eternity…it feels just like this.
FOUR: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I do not feel that this album signals any new directions or great innovations for Indie rock’s most popular band.  In fact, I was tempted not to like it at all when, in the depths of a gritty and hot summer of irreverence and lightness, I was confronted with its heavy and serious demeanor… like “great Bruce Springsteen decided to wear his jeans and khaki workshirt to our beach party”.  Then, however, I really listened to and heard the album’s title track.  Feli fell in love with it first and in its repetition I began to, I suppose, remember just how well its themes of sour heat and paranoia and disillusion and ennui do belong in any decent summary of summer’s soul.  Slowly, in a way that we rarely are courted by songs these days, Felicia and I found ourselves connected to and enthralled with another (“Rococo”) and another (“Sprawl II”) and even more (“We Used to Wait”, “Deep Blue”, “Ready to Start”).  The album may very well be the last thing that can come out of the band’s serious infatuation with the decay of the modern community and communication, but that doesn’t make it any less troubling… that doesn’t make it any less of a catharsis.
FIVE: The Roots – How I Got Over
It is a shame, and surely indicative of some great societal/cultural flaw, that hip-hop foundationals The Roots ninth album How I Got Over has been so overlooked by critics (coverage) and laymen (sales) alike.  The album features some incredible details that far overshadow the fact that The Roots body of work can sometimes seem excessive at the expense of its power, its vitality.  Featuring members of the Dirty Projectors, Jim James and Joanna Newsom; this Roots album is smarter, more elegant and seems altogether necessary and even prescient in this historical moment.  2010 was a year where the negative in the newsfeed seemed to dominate the positive.  How I Got Over is a thoughtful and wise sonic and lyrical argument that it doesn’t need to be that way… we CAN take greater control, through greater discipline and further noticing, and create better lives for ourselves and those that will come after.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Ya Se Muerto Mi Abuelo"

Out in the brighter sun of jungles the jaguar sleeps a dance of nap. In the huge tropically haughty hug of Machu Piccu, the magicians are musicians who hear and see the sonic bits that correspond to every atom. When you are called to move, you move.When the chance to be at home, back under the greeny water, comes... you leap. Even death is full of life and the hypnotic whimsy of pulses of friends as yet unmade.

Narrowing and Expanding

i didn't wake up today.
i think i freaked out the flowers
but i just can't comprehend why life is such a bother,
             such a serious box.
if i can't give you the freedom of New Zealand
  at least a blog, the pasta, our cat framed in the dense sleepy devotion
                          of my morning shower mist.
i can imagine your soul for adventure like a color-changing bead:
valuable in the true sense like caught molten sunlight, now golden
like a racing heart pulled, just in time, from the government hologram of worklife.
        if my imagination is smaller than Costa Rica
   then i've been waiting for the universe to be un-proven,
                 and we can shake off the long stare of expecting life-
     we'll go grab a beer or two- in love.