by: Kyle Olson, KUCI Music Director
Everyone have a relaxing weekend? I used the weekend off to engage in a couple of things. Followed up on the launch of my website The Hipster Book Club , which has had 500 visitors or so in the first couple of days, I believe. I also attended a Matmos concert at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Friday’s show was a one-off collaboration with Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, so the show was one of those really out-there ones. While I can appreciate the musicianship involved, I have come to the conclusion that I really do not truly understand avant-garde sax playing. Somewhere, Ornette Coleman and John Zorn would be rolling in their graves, were either of them dead. The audience was mostly guys, as not many ladies go in for such experimental music, it would seem. The gals that WERE there were so beautiful and hip that they seemed forever unattainable. Ever see a girl so gorgeous it makes you sad and mad? That's a confusing little experience. Yes, sir. Truly a chance to sup at the cornucopia of life’s emotive bounty.
Anyway. Enough of my nonsense. Let’s blurb it up!
I’m from Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends (Mute)
This 29-piece Swedish band’s debut album has landed on American shores with, of course, two bonus tracks to completely dick over the people who paid import prices. But, for those who waited patiently, and managed to ignore the scores of folks on the internet who were raving about this, now you too can listen to amazingly catchy Swedish pop with a huge chorus of voices singing about treehouses and love and so on. Seriously: if the song “Treehouse” doesn’t make you smile ear to ear, you can die in a fire for all I care.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living with the Living (Touch and Go) )
Mr. Leo jumped off the Lookout! Records ship and got himself a bigger budget to record this one. I have a feeling I won’t really need to sell this album to you guys. It’s pretty damned anticipated. Another fifteen tracks of high-energy, political post-punk-pop. I have an ex-girlfriend who was really into this guy. Like, REALLY into. Like, I worried when I took her to see him because she spoke openly about things she would do to him in front of me. Dear Ted Leo: you should probably not have sex with my crazy ex-girlfriend. I warn you because I enjoy your music and don’t want you killed. (The bad kind of crazy, for the record.)
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future (Geffen)
This band’s debut EP did pretty well at KUCI, so I thought I’d let folks decide if they like the full-length as much. UK, hyper-energetic dance-rock is the new black, I understand. If you put this on at a party, and started dancing all cool, people would probably buy you drinks. Either that, or you could put this on and just start breaking things with a chair. Either way, that’s gonna be a rad party. Only one thing could make it MORE rad: s’mores. Am I right? You know I am.
SJ Esau - Wrong Faced Cat Feeding Collapse (Anticon)
So, Anticon records, a label known for it’s very forward-thinking (some would say pretentious, jerks would say awful), hiphop scored a pretty sizeable hit with 2005’s amazing experi-pop album “Elephant Eyelash” by Why? Since that did so well, they seem to have broadened their horizons to non-odd-hop. In keeping with the same forward thinking, genre-smearing agenda, they release the new album by SJ Esau (pronounced like the biblical character). This UK-based fellow strings together a bunch of bedroom-music with influences like (later-era) Mogwai, Fog, (early-era) Arab Strap, and Sonic Youth. While all those touchstones are audible, it really does its own thing, and is pretty solid. I have no idea what the title of the album means, though. Though, it still makes more sense than half the lyrics on Anticon. It’s like that time I did all that heroin and rewrote “Naked Lunch” as a mystery novel. Just kidding. I never did that. But you thought I was a total rock star for a second there, huh? No? Oh. OK.
Rosie Thomas - These Friends of Mine (Sing-a-long)
Who wants to hear the new album by Sufjan Stevens’ giiiiiiiirlfriiiiiiiiiiiend? I had the pleasure of seeing this gal open for Iron & Wine three years ago or so. Her actual speaking voice was this really endearing awkward chirp, as she blustered through her time speaking with the audience. It was cute. But the second she started singing, with this beautiful, round, shining and complete voice, she seemed to become another person entirely. Heavenly folk hymns with guest spots from Mr. Stevens, as well as her other friends (you know, no names like Dave Bazan, Jeremy Enigk, Damien Jurado, etc.) Put a funny closing joke here. I’m tired. No. Not like that. I said FUNNY, not creepy, furry-sex annecdotes.
Wolf & Cub – Vessels (4AD)
This band brings the total of “wolf” bands to roughly ten bagillion (a bagel followed by 30 zeroes). You got Wolf Parade, Wolf Eyes, Fuckwolf, AIDS Wolf, etc. Now you got one that specializes in “darkly psychedelic and danceable noise”. That “noise” is a bit too extreme, as this is hardly unlistenable. A distorted guitar isn’t noise, 4AD Records. I distorted guitar is totally awesome. Jerks.
Gruff Rhys – Candylion (Team Love)
Solo album from the guy from Super Furry Animals featuring poppy lyrics, electronic touches, xylophones and gameboy beats. Gruff can’t be that dude’s real name, can it? I guess it can be. With love, anything is possible.
Papercuts – Can’t Go Back (Gnomonsong)
Newest release from Andy Cabic (Vetiver) and Devendra Banhart’s (Devendra Banhart) label. Are you familiar with those bands? This band is a little more psych-rock than them (a LITTLE more). Basically, this is that stuff I always add.
Cassette – Beautiful California (Honor Roll, Inc.)
This album has 35 tracks on it. That is a higher number than the total tracks on Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s entire career-long catalog. Hell, you could probably throw a few side-projects in and it still wouldn’t be 35 tracks. Then again, one of their songs has the duration of about 16 of these. This right here is a bunch of short attention span electro-dance-rock “songs”. Can you really call it a song if it’s only :56 long? Seriously, what is that short and still considered good? Aside from sleeping with me, that is. SELF-DEPRECATORY ZING!!!
Maria Taylor – Lynn Teeter Flower (Saddle Creek)
Maria Taylor is one of those gals from Azure Ray. “Minus Numbers” John asked that I add this one or he’d steal it. So, here you go. Subtly electronic, Mirah-ish melancholy jamz. Like the Blow on downers. Less bedroom dance party, more rhythmic swaying while you think vaguely sad things. Like, “Oh man. I am totally out of peanut butter. This makes me a little sad.” Or “Dude. Where did my copy of ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ go? I hope no one stole it. I’d be pretty bummed.” Now make a lady with a pretty voice sing that over slightly bouncy, downtempo songs.
OK. Time to go home, and eat peanut butter while I watch Welcome to the Dollhouse.