This Temporary Life

Love and rock are fickle things

Episode 12: On Journalism February 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — TemporaryLife @ 11:59 pm

Happy New Year, everybody! Here’s the new episode, with very, VERY special guest, OPB Music DJ/Morrissey impersonator/all-around nice guy Jeremy Petersen! Click here for the episode, right-click to download!

Topic:

  • Journalism in the internet age
  • What function does the journalist serve on the internet?
  • With the ability to get new music so easily, is “critical approval” still important?

Songs Used:

Our Picks:

Bands Mentioned:

  • TeenSpot
  • Shy Girls
  • Pete Swanson / Pete Swanson / Yellow Swans
  • This Charming Man
  • The Silent Numbers
  • The Cure
  • Bauhaus
  • Shane McGowan
  • Kevin Shields / My Bloody Valentine
  • Thomas Mars / Phoenix
  • Patti Smith
  • David Byrne
  • Morrissey
  • The Knife
  • Arcade Fire
  • James Murphy
  • Foxygen
  • Richard Swift
  • Stone Roses
  • Bon Scott / AC/DC
  • Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Shuggie Otis
  • Radiohead
  • The Weeknd
  • Washed Out
  • Muse
  • The Black Keys
  • Battles
  • Aphex Twin
  • Tapes ‘n’ Tapes
  • M.I.A.
  • Daft Punk
  • DJ Shadow
  • Jack White / White Stripes
  • Passion Pit
  • Animal Collective
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Interpol
  • Nirvana
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Frank Ocean
  • Panic at the Disco
  • Swans
  • The Dears
  • Dillinger Escape Plan
  • British Sea Power
  • Travis Morrison / The Dismemberment Plan
  • Jet
  • Duke Ellington
  • John Darnielle / The Mountain Goats
  • Beck
 

LIVE REVIEW: The Walkmen w/ Father John Misty

Filed under: Uncategorized — TemporaryLife @ 11:59 pm

Journalism is the best when you get to spend three hours watching incredible bands play. One of the best examples of this is last night’s exquisite performances by adult-type-rock-band The Walkmen, supported by the incredible folk pop stylings of Father John Misty. This lineup was a match made in indie rock heaven, and it would have been a crime to sit it out.

Luckily, I didn’t do that. Up first was Father John Misty, fronted by J. Tillman, easily one of the most charismatic musicians I’ve seen in a good while, outside of the usual roster of seasoned veterans. He swayed his hips and danced around with the best, wailing almost every single cut from last year’s fantastic record Fear Fun, plus one brand new song, “Because I’m gettin’ pretty tired of singing the same 10 songs every night, over and over.” Throughout the show, he introduced the band, saying, “We’re Eve 6… it’s really good to be back!”, screamed about the lack of vegan donuts in Portland (spoiler for non-locals: it’s kind of our thing), and playfully bemoaned the fact that everyone was there to see The Walkmen (this isn’t true at all). During a raucous performance of “Well, You Can Do It Without Me,” Tillman dropped to his knees, screaming at his band, “I’M FINE! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME! I CAN GET BACK UP ON MY OWN! I DON’T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP!” before getting up and finishing the song. It was magical. The band blazed through the songs at a breakneck pace, and to be honest, I would have been happier with an extra half-hour (at least), on top of their 45-minutes on stage. Highlight: the freakout set closer “Forever Hollywood Cemetery Sings,” where the band roared on while Tillman swung his mic stand around, wrapping the cord around his neck. I was sure he was going to hit something with the thing, but he never did.

Father John Misty would be a really tough act to follow, but The Walkmen are a great band to do that job. It is spiritually perfect that the first time I saw The Walkmen, it was in support of The National, easily the only band which they can be compared to. They are on the very short list of adult bands making music for mature adults, which is an incredible premium these days. It speaks volumes about a band with enough incredible material that a song like “The Rat,” an easy lock for a set closer, was actually the third song performed. Throughout their hour-and-change, Hamilton Leithauser crooned his heart out, occasionally stalking around the stage. He picked up his guitar for around half the set, adding some incredible layers to Lisbon standout (and possibly my personal favorite Walkmen track) “Blue As Your Blood,” a song which I, personally, could not resist drumming my hands on a house monitor to. My knowledge of the band is paltry at best, but it didn’t affect how magical it is to see this band play live. Leithauser is a frontman for every thirtysomething that got to that age and realized that they couldn’t relate to their former heroes, because he is a hero to everyone who relates all too much to the band’s lyrics. And, considering the rapturous love expressed by that room, it feels like they’re finally getting the love they need, 10 years into their career.

 

REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine – m b v

Filed under: Uncategorized — TemporaryLife @ 11:59 pm

We all know the story, but here it is, briefly: Loveless was released in September of ’91, to a wall of beautiful confusion and immense adoration. My Bloody Valentine lived in their own world; to this day, I can’t think of another band that ever sounded quite like they did. That record exists in a vacuum, where there are no similar records, and you can’t think of any influences. They were always a band that made music unaware of how other people made music, if indeed they even knew that music existed beyond them. And then… nothing happened. Loveless very nearly bankrupted Creation Records, and the following 6 years would be a mess of false starts and broken promises. Advances were blown, and more money was given. They eventually broke up, only to return a decade later. And then… even more nothing happened. The last 6 years have been a small flurry of rumors and whispers. Frontman/maestro Kevin Shields made comments about how he had records worth of material ready to go. Nothing ever came. Then, late December ’12, Shields announced that a new album had been mastered. Near the end of January ’13, at a show in the UK, My Bloody Valentine played a warm-up show, where three new songs were played (the first since Loveless, mind you), from the new album which would be out in “about two or three days.” The amazing thing was, he was only off by a three or four days. The Chinese Democracy of shoegaze finally saw the light of day. And it only took 21 years to happen.

The first thing you notice about m b v is that it sounds like nothing has changed, but in the best possible way. When I hit Play, I was expecting to be hit in the face with the same sonic boom that I encountered when I first listened to “Only Shallow”; In 30 seconds flat, that song redefines “loud”. But here, “She Found Now” arrives with a narcotic smoothness, reminiscent of the first time you hear “To Here Knows When”, with its radio static sheen on full blast. It’s a sleepy track, that perfectly sets you up for the ride ahead of you. It also sets you up for the slow-burning “Only Tomorrow”, which plays almost like Dinosaur Jr. on morphine, also in the best

 

 

REVIEW: Czarface – Czarface

The Wu-Tang Clan will always be the best hip-hop collective that has ever been, but the problem with having a crew as big as the Wu is that the talent becomes a tiered system. You can tell a lot about a person by who their favorite Wu-Tang affiliate is: most people are going to choose RZA if they’re into the beats, or Ghostface Killah if they want their hip-hop to be gritty, but a little over-the-top. Ol’ Dirty Bastard fans are always fun at parties, unless they’re the kinds of people who wear shirts with Kurt Cobain or Bob Marley on them (read: people who obsess over dead musicians, without bothering to listen to them). Fans of GZA are the kinds of people who understand being disappointed after getting their hands on one great thing (read: every GZA record that isn’t Liquid Swords). Fans of Raekwon are patient, and can wait for what they’ve been promised. We all know what it says about a fan of Method Man. It should be stated that there isn’t anything wrong with being a fan of anybody in the Wu, at all. But what does it say about someone who’s really into Inspectah Deck?

For better or worse, Inspectah Deck is the most commonly forgotten lower-tier member of the Wu. It’s not that he isn’t talented, by any means: I attended a show featuring Inspectah, U-God, and Masta Killa last year, and he was the only person who wasn’t drunk to the point of being unforgivably bad. Were he with another crew, he would have definite star power, but being that he has seemed content with being in the background, and stepping in to deliver a few really great verses. My allegiance has always been with RZA, Ghostface, and Raekwon (but only because Only Built 4 Cuban Linx I and II are hip-hop classics), so my knowledge of Deck’s back catalog is incredibly lacking, so I feel like his newest record, Czarface (which is the name of Deck’s collaboration with 7L & Esoteric), is as good of a time as any to get with the program. Admittedly, I’m only a little more familiar with his solo output than I am with the work of 7L & Esoteric, but their work on this album is mindblowing at times. One of the thing I notice immediately is the fact that I’m drawn in by the fact that the supervillain-centric artwork and sampling remind me a lot of that of MF DOOM’s comic book obsessions. That’s a common hip-hop trope, but here, it works perfectly, especially considering the fact that its use isn’t overbearing. However, the best sample comes near the very end of the record on “World War 4,” when the late George Carlin’s stand-up shows up – twice (first a sample of You Are All Diseased, and the other of his landmark “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” bit). But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The next thing I notice is that the production on the album hearkens back to a time before rap was a commodity, and was more of something that nobody was sure how to monetize. 7L manages to make the album sound like it may as well have come out around the same time that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… came out, but instead it was born during a truly depressing drought, and it fits in perfectly. The biggest issue here is that, just like in Wu-Tang, everyone around Deck steals the show and pushes things just a little far. These things happen, but when he takes the ball back, he truly shines. Take “Savagely Attack,” for example: he takes it from the top, and delivers a verse that’s good enough to make Ghostface Killah’s appearance look clumsy by comparison. It’s hard not to feel like he’s been holding back a little bit. And while “Marvel Team-Up” has a concept that’s a little clumsy, the slow-flow by everyone feels like they’re trying to purposefully hold back. It feels lethargic, but this is intentional: the following track, “It’s Raw,” proves to be a potential classic – and it doesn’t help that the guest appearance by Action Bronson slays so very, very much, and he gets the best one-liner here (“I’m like the Bobby Flay of rap the way I flavor shit”).

Czarface is a minor release, to be very sure. It was released with little to no fanfare, and it’s hard to not wonder why this hasn’t gotten any real promotion leading up to the release. In the end, we only get half an hour of music, which means that there’s almost no filler whatsoever. It’s not a perfect album, but considering how long we’ve been waiting for a new Wu album  - and how much longer we’re going to be waiting – it’s hard to not get excited by something new from the main camp.

 

REVIEW: Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob

I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader: Tegan & Sara aren’t a band that I can really click with. It has been pointed out to me that this makes little sense: considering the music that I have sewn into the fabric of my life, it comes as a surprise to a lot of people that I never quite made the Alberta natives a bigger part of my life. It could have been something that could have happened once upon a time, but the sad fact is, they were unceremoniously ruined for me by a friend who decided that they were one of the only bands worth talking about, and she would talk about them ceaselessly. This isn’t my fault, and it isn’t theirs.

I have a lot more friends who adore them now, so it has become necessary to at least put on a smile when listening to people talk about them. It’s not that they aren’t a good band, they just never weren’t for me. But, I am a professional, and seeing as how they had a new album out, I figured it was about time to set aside those prejudices and give them a fair cop. And, dear reader, I’ll admit that I really do enjoy the album. Heartthrob is album number seven for the duo, and as such, there’s no real need for an introduction, is there? So let’s just talk about the thing: for one, there’s a definite love of the 80s here, and it’s clear that the sisters Quin just couldn’t shake that. Admittedly, I skipped Sainthood, so I don’t know if the synth-beats and the dancefloor-ready bangers are part of the norm these days, but to me, it actually suits them incredibly well. As of this moment in writing about the record, I’m about halfway through listening through again, and thus far, my left leg has not managed to stop bouncing. This is definitely a good sign. But does that mean it’s a good record? It certainly helps.

Heart-on-sleeve dance music is, as you may know if you’ve read my reviews, like catnip for me. Tegan & Sara have made the heart-on-sleeve part their bread and butter over the last two decades, so adding in the rest of it just adds fuel to my fire. The minute I really got into their particular brand of it was on the ridiculously good “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” a song that is exactly two minutes too short: “I can’t say that I’m sorry, for loving you and hating myself.” It’s a line that hits close to home for damn near everyone listening to this song, myself definitely included. This is a song that comes from a place of shame influenced by an external force, and the tightrope act involved in making a song that catchy out of hurt that deep is an incredible song. But here’s the thing: that happens all over the place here. Anyone who has been listening since they first heard So Jealous in middle school is likely scoffing at that thought, but for me, this is all new stuff. Even the songs that come from a place of unbridled love are undercut by a tinge of regret, and a desire to cover up old wounds: “I won’t treat you like you’re oh-so-typical,” they sing in the chorus of “Closer,” which opens the record. It’s a line that comes off as a sweet nothing if you aren’t paying attention, but from the right mindset, it’s hard to not want to be the person hearing someone telling them that. And that’s just two songs on this record. That’s not even bothering to talk about “I Was A Fool” and its soaring chorus and its twinkling piano line, or the vaguely claustrophobic “Now That I’m Messed Up, which steals a trick or two from the Bright Eyes handbook, which flows into the pounding synths that cool down over the course of the album’s lonely closer, “Shock To Your System,” with its truly heartbreaking refrain: “What you are is lonely.” Time will tell if this album is a classic, but a lot of the time, it feels like it has a fair few of the markers of being one.

It’s a hard thing to pull off a record like this. To make pop music, you have to cover up the worst parts of life, but Tegan & Sara make it seem incredibly simple on Heartthrob, just like my personal heroes of therapy rock. This is an album that makes you want to put on spandex short shorts and dance with someone who probably gave you a fake name, and is definitely wearing some kind of body glitter. It’s an album that is influenced by a desire to escape real life. And, just like real life, even the most resplendent moments let sadness in through the cracks.

It’s an awesome record. Now get off my back already.

 

REVIEW: Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Filed under: Album Reviews — TemporaryLife @ 1:10 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Close the door and have a seat. I need to get something off my chest. Can you keep a secret?

I never got into The Smiths as much as I should have. I’ve listened to all of their music, and while I think that Morrissey is a dirtbag a lot of the time, I think he’s one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever had. I think that the combination of Morrissey and Marr is completely unbeatable combination, but I never found the same love for their seminal band that everyone else did. Don’t hate me, okay? I’ve never really tried too hard to hide it, but I never really came out and said it, you know?

Still, whenever either Morrissey or Marr do anything, my ears perk up. While Morrissey immediately started working for himself after the dissolving of The Smiths, Marr became a chameleon, working with everyone from The Cribs to Modest Mouse to Paul McCartney, he’s made no small name for himself working in the background, save for the one thing he ever truly stamped his name on, Johnny Marr + The Healers. But, true to his nature, he decided it was about time to make a solo record, and just not make a very big fuss about it at all. There’s something to be said about those actions, considering Marr borders on a household name, but I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way.

The biggest issue with The Messenger is that Marr has spent more time in the background than he has in the foreground, and it has basically made it an uphill battle to define himself outside of the music he’s made for other people in the past. You hear it immediately, and it’s hard to truly connect with at times, especially because there are a fair few stylistic shifts, the most notable of which being the album’s title track, with its glam rock leanings and it simplistic lyrics: “Your eyes are open and you’re on / I’m here and I’m ready / My time’s for taking if you want Who wants to be a messenger?” Really, if you came for the lyrics in general, you may be a tad disappointed; while the words are good, they’re definitely nothing to write home about. The harsh reality is, if this album had come out at the top of his post-Smiths career, it would have been hailed as a classic, but it may have come a couple decades too late.

But that’s just the bad news. The good news is that the album is loaded with truly great stuff, too. Go listen to “Generate! Generate!” and tell me that you don’t want to dance in your chair and pump your fist in the air along with the song (spoiler alert: it’s not quite possible, and you probably look as silly as I do). Take the aforementioned shiny little title-track, “The Messenger”, for example: for its simplicity, it packs a wollop as a flat-out wonderful song, and likely one of the best ear-worms I’ve heard in months. It’s easy to miss, but you hear a lot of the influences of his old bands all over the record, and it really works well in a lot of places.

The real question is this: is The Messenger a good record? It is, without question. The problem is that it never stops being good, so that it can start being great. There’s a lot to love about it, and for a lot of people, this is going to be on repeat for months and months. It’s going to take some time for Marr to find his own footing as a solo artist, and when that day comes, he’s going to blow everyone else out of the water. I hate to say it, but at this moment in time, he’s missed the mark.

 

REVIEW: Pissed Jeans – Honeys

Making adult music for adult people can be a difficult thing. I, personally, adore two of the best bands doing it, The National and The Walkmen, and yet I completely understand those who don’t like it. Those two bands (The National especially) are bands for middle-class boredom, in which you have sex with people who you don’t love, drink too much wine, pretend to laugh at the jokes of people you hate, and sleep at night by taking one too many sleeping pills. There’s beauty in that. “With my kid on my shoulder I try / not to hurt anybody I like / But I don’t have the drugs to sort it out,” Matt Berninger sang on “Afraid of Everyone,” on the last National album, High Violet. The sentiment is something that is relatable, but it’s hard to really understand for a lot of people.

Where are the working class anthems for the worst parts of adulthood? My favorite of them is “The Jogger,” a tone poem of sorts off Pissed Jeans’ second LP, Hope For Men. “Promenade / The jogger / Piece of cake / Racquetball / Hiking trip / The jogger / Whole Foods / Matching outfit / Ford Explorer / The jogger.” The moment I heard that song, I knew exactly what he was talking about, and I think, when you read it, you do too. It’s a grimy, filthy, human version of Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier,” behind a wall of Melvins-esque noise. Hope For Men was an album for adults like Jason Bateman’s character in Juno, who’s wife used his old Soundgarden shirt as a grungy shirt to paint in, who’s had to sell out and get a real job to make a go at a “real life.” Pissed Jeans are by no means a success story: four albums and 9 years in, frontman Matt Korvette still works as an insurance claims adjuster, trying to hide his other life from his coworkers, he said in a recent interview. One might take an issue with that fact, but the way I see it, they’re a band that thrives due to its connection to banal minutiae.

Four albums in, Pissed Jeans have done little to change their sound. They have, however, honed their craft in a really interesting way. Where Shallow was a bit of a sloppy, cacophonous mess, the band has steadily refined their messiness, to the point where that clutter is nearly collected into easy-to-navigate piles. Listening to Honeys makes you feel like the last 15 years never happened, and that the grunge movement is alive and screaming, even if it has seen its hairline recede a little bit. Korvette is only 30, but it’s clear that he’s got a firm grip on the issues with growing up and being forced into growing up. Through all the fuzz, it’s hard to pick out everything, but key phrases and themes (such as that of Fight Club style fantasy murder) that present themselves for digestion. There’s a line, about halfway through the album on “Cafeteria Food”, that sums a lot of things up: “Hey there project manager / I saw you eating cafeteria food / I know that seems like like a healthy choice / I argue that isn’t true.” The song itself is a lumbering mass of bass fuzz, and it does nothing but enhance the bile in his words: “You think you’ve got it all figured out, except where to send your kids to school.” There’s a Bukowski lite tone to his anger on the song, and the album in general, where each bitter line is a mix of pity and jealousy, even if it can’t ever decide which it wears better.

Pissed Jeans are a bitter pill to swallow. Even when you enjoy their music and what they’re saying, like the anti-misogynist screed “Male Gaze,” it’s hard to really connect with the music in a meaningful way. You shouldn’t take this as me detracting from the raw power of the band, and how truly awesome Honeys is. They fill a very specific gap that has been missing in music, and even as a sweatervest wearing dad, I click a lot with the visceral imagery and energy of the band’s drunken, angular wailing. You have to come at the band with the right angle, or else you’re just going to view them as a bunch of meatheads wailing on their instruments for no good reason. If you’re willing to let them into your heart, Pissed Jeans are going to fill the same hole that they fill in mine, and you’re going to find yourself trying to figure out just how to tell people about them. If you don’t understand their music – and I’m sure a lot of you will find yourself in that position – I would suggest listening to Slings + Arrows again, and going back to your desk.

 

 
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