MBV


                My Bloody Valentine pulled a technique that’s becoming more and more common: the sudden announcement. Out of nowhere on a Saturday night they announced that they were dropping ‘MBV’ on their website. Millions gave up their Saturday night plans. #MBV the hashtag took over twitter and eventually outdid the Superbowl hashtag. Apparently the internet is full of aging music nerds and their offspring who share the same interests. This is a comforting thought. 

                Despite the complaints the album was out in a few short hours after the UK went to bed. That meant the US was the first market to get a fully functioning website after the bugs had been resolved. This was serious. What was shocking was how a band that had barely released a thing for over two decades could become so alive. 

                It is impossible to outdo ‘Loveless’. My Bloody Valentine to their credit doesn’t try to do that. An album like ‘Loveless’ is a once in a career accomplishment. They knew that hence dragging their feet since the early nineties. Several breakdowns later, label issues resolved, MBV made it out. The fact it exists is shocking. Can the album spark a ‘Shoegaze’ revival? It should.

                MBV is a three part act: there’s the classic beginning which starts out with the beauty one would expect from a Post-Loveless My Bloody Valentine, the surprisingly mellow interior, and the third act, most likely the drum and bass influenced section Kevin Shields mentioned in interviews. 

Act I: The Classics 

1.       She Found Now
This begins the album off where Loveless ended. No volume could be appropriate or do it justice. Muscular without being outright industrial, it harnesses My Bloody Valentine’s natural knack for hiding melodies under so much hopeful haze. Drums here keep a pulse and do nothing more. This is a perfect beginning. Simple yet strong this is My Bloody Valentine’s legacy fulfilled. 

2.       Only Tomorrow
‘Only Tomorrow’ continues down this path. Compared to ‘She Found Now’ it turns up the fuzz a little bit. Yes it is large but manages to feel somewhat touchable. The drums are more prominent. Parts of the distortion feel completely satisfying like “Thank Goodness You’re Here”. Noise continues into the third track. 

3.       Who Sees You
Honestly this is the best track on the whole album. This in person would mean an extremely physical experience. Listening to it on anything feels overwhelming. Almost industrial in nature My Bloody Valentine sounds completely foreign. Few bands could pull this sort of thing off. Machine music as run by humans would be a good way of describing it. 

Act II: The Cool Down 

4.       Is This and Yes
Oh cool they threw in a Stereolab track. That was nice of them. Now this makes sense why they’d throw this in after the previous three (heavier) tracks. Yet it goes on too long to be considered an interlude. Guitars are hidden. A purely keyboard reliant My Bloody Valentine is the result. Enjoyable but different from what they’ve done in the past. 

5.       If I Am
Continuing with the lighter touch for the sweet center of the album, they at least bring the guitars back. Now the drums are more prominent too. Still the keyboard is in the background keeping track of everything. It is strange hearing the keyboard get that much attention. Still it delivers on being a mellower track with a nice melody. 

6.       New You
Debuted at a recent London show this track was originally known as ‘Rough Song’. Honestly the bootleg from that concert sounded a bit meatier. There’s something a little weak about the album-mixed version, like it requires more in the way of bass or distortion. As a result it sounds a little thin compared to its concert based incarnation. 

Act III: Drum and Bass 

7.       In Another Way
Gnarled guitars begin. The amount of noise overwhelms at first. Drums are sped up. This is one of the three songs with a more drum and bass inspired rhythm. What makes this the best of the drum and bass inspired is their use of multiple patterns. Occasionally everything syncs up. Every time that happens it is fantastic. My Bloody Valentine runs wild on this one. It is the freest and most ambitious moment on the record. 

8.       Nothing Is
Ultra-repetition never felt so good. Melodies do not exist. Rather this is the best of messing with the listener’s mind. They enjoy it. In case My Bloody Valentine didn’t already mess enough there’s this just as a totally demented track. Headphones are highly advised for this track. 

9.       Wonder 2  
Yes they really enjoy the drum and bass influence on this one. A keyboard comes in right as the guitars soar while a drum continues to hyperactively run around. ‘Wonder 2’ feels overstuffed. Maybe this is to completely overwhelm the listener. No element seems to dominate. What results is a disorientating experience. Ending it with this feels like My Bloody Valentine wants the listener to know who is in charge. 

                While My Bloody Valentine fails to outdo ‘Loveless’ they do prove that their work wasn’t for naught. Overall the album shows that My Bloody Valentine is at least returning back to their period of inspiration. Hopefully the next album (or release) won’t take another two decades.

MBV

                My Bloody Valentine pulled a technique that’s becoming more and more common: the sudden announcement. Out of nowhere on a Saturday night they announced that they were dropping ‘MBV’ on their website. Millions gave up their Saturday night plans. #MBV the hashtag took over twitter and eventually outdid the Superbowl hashtag. Apparently the internet is full of aging music nerds and their offspring who share the same interests. This is a comforting thought. 

                Despite the complaints the album was out in a few short hours after the UK went to bed. That meant the US was the first market to get a fully functioning website after the bugs had been resolved. This was serious. What was shocking was how a band that had barely released a thing for over two decades could become so alive. 

                It is impossible to outdo ‘Loveless’. My Bloody Valentine to their credit doesn’t try to do that. An album like ‘Loveless’ is a once in a career accomplishment. They knew that hence dragging their feet since the early nineties. Several breakdowns later, label issues resolved, MBV made it out. The fact it exists is shocking. Can the album spark a ‘Shoegaze’ revival? It should.

                MBV is a three part act: there’s the classic beginning which starts out with the beauty one would expect from a Post-Loveless My Bloody Valentine, the surprisingly mellow interior, and the third act, most likely the drum and bass influenced section Kevin Shields mentioned in interviews. 

Act I: The Classics 

1.       She Found Now

This begins the album off where Loveless ended. No volume could be appropriate or do it justice. Muscular without being outright industrial, it harnesses My Bloody Valentine’s natural knack for hiding melodies under so much hopeful haze. Drums here keep a pulse and do nothing more. This is a perfect beginning. Simple yet strong this is My Bloody Valentine’s legacy fulfilled. 

2.       Only Tomorrow

‘Only Tomorrow’ continues down this path. Compared to ‘She Found Now’ it turns up the fuzz a little bit. Yes it is large but manages to feel somewhat touchable. The drums are more prominent. Parts of the distortion feel completely satisfying like “Thank Goodness You’re Here”. Noise continues into the third track. 

3.       Who Sees You

Honestly this is the best track on the whole album. This in person would mean an extremely physical experience. Listening to it on anything feels overwhelming. Almost industrial in nature My Bloody Valentine sounds completely foreign. Few bands could pull this sort of thing off. Machine music as run by humans would be a good way of describing it. 

Act II: The Cool Down 

4.       Is This and Yes

Oh cool they threw in a Stereolab track. That was nice of them. Now this makes sense why they’d throw this in after the previous three (heavier) tracks. Yet it goes on too long to be considered an interlude. Guitars are hidden. A purely keyboard reliant My Bloody Valentine is the result. Enjoyable but different from what they’ve done in the past. 

5.       If I Am

Continuing with the lighter touch for the sweet center of the album, they at least bring the guitars back. Now the drums are more prominent too. Still the keyboard is in the background keeping track of everything. It is strange hearing the keyboard get that much attention. Still it delivers on being a mellower track with a nice melody. 

6.       New You

Debuted at a recent London show this track was originally known as ‘Rough Song’. Honestly the bootleg from that concert sounded a bit meatier. There’s something a little weak about the album-mixed version, like it requires more in the way of bass or distortion. As a result it sounds a little thin compared to its concert based incarnation. 

Act III: Drum and Bass 

7.       In Another Way

Gnarled guitars begin. The amount of noise overwhelms at first. Drums are sped up. This is one of the three songs with a more drum and bass inspired rhythm. What makes this the best of the drum and bass inspired is their use of multiple patterns. Occasionally everything syncs up. Every time that happens it is fantastic. My Bloody Valentine runs wild on this one. It is the freest and most ambitious moment on the record. 

8.       Nothing Is

Ultra-repetition never felt so good. Melodies do not exist. Rather this is the best of messing with the listener’s mind. They enjoy it. In case My Bloody Valentine didn’t already mess enough there’s this just as a totally demented track. Headphones are highly advised for this track. 

9.       Wonder 2 

Yes they really enjoy the drum and bass influence on this one. A keyboard comes in right as the guitars soar while a drum continues to hyperactively run around. ‘Wonder 2’ feels overstuffed. Maybe this is to completely overwhelm the listener. No element seems to dominate. What results is a disorientating experience. Ending it with this feels like My Bloody Valentine wants the listener to know who is in charge.

                While My Bloody Valentine fails to outdo ‘Loveless’ they do prove that their work wasn’t for naught. Overall the album shows that My Bloody Valentine is at least returning back to their period of inspiration. Hopefully the next album (or release) won’t take another two decades.

Pink Playground - Destination Ecstasy 7.9

                Pink Playground reminds us how good shoegaze can be. I’m reminded strongly of another, also Texas-based band: Experimental Aircraft. This is a good thing. Both bands have an obvious knack for an overwhelming, near-sky like feeling of gigantic sound. Whereas Experimental Aircraft are a bit more decipherable, Pink Playground enjoy a bit of distance, a bit of haze lovingly dolloped over the whole endeavor. 

                After the introduction “Fuck the World” we’re treated to one of the most memorable pieces on here “Sunny Skies”. I liken it to an old Cocteau Twins song. Yes, it is that good. The vocals are nearly unrecognizable. “Sunny Skies” pulses with energy. Personally, this is one of my two favorites on the entire short album. 

                “Never Was” is the winner for me. Love this song. It sounds rainy, warm and gray. If I saw it raining outside I’d be extremely tempted to put this on and stare out my window watching the rain fall down on the poor suckers outside. Every element: the slow tempo, lumbering bass and lazy vocals works so well for me. 

                “Dark Bloom” reminds me of Blonde Redhead just a little bit. Perhaps it the near-surf nature of the sound but I think of water all around whenever I hear this one. Ending the album on this note is a positive thing.

                Destination Ecstasy” is the long-awaited full length album from these guys, who have been active with EPs for a little while. It’s nice to see them spread their wings and soar. Hopefully there will be more from them in the near future.

I want a Low-Octane Performance.
Reading about concert reviews, I stumbled upon a Rihanna article. It stated how Rihanna rocks in a sudden surprise show in Manhattan. Everybody all around Times Square started singing with her, glad to have her bestow her presence on mere commoners. They are pleased to see her on such a small stage, it is so exciting.

I hear these words describing concerts all the time. Honestly, I’m a little tired of these performances showing “enthusiasm” for the audience. Rather than these high-octane performances, I want a low-octane performance. When I enter that concert hall, I want the singer or performers to be half-asleep or fully asleep.
There’s a few ways this can happen, and it already looks like pop and indie music are converging on the same point. Pop musicians lip-sync like it was nobody’s business. So you get to watch your favorite artist dance right in front of you. Since they’re performing to a pre-recorded track, they really can give it their all dance-wise. Of course they can go further. Whitney Houston doesn’t lip sync; she just kind of stands there and forgets the lyrics of most of her songs. Perhaps if she decided to get a beer in the middle of her concert as the rest of the band sort of mumbles, then I might want to see her live. 

Indie music as well includes similar forms of sleepiness. Some entire genres are based exclusively on not interacting with the audience. Off the top of my head, I’d say shoegaze does a great job of embodying that non-performance I want others to strive towards. Unable to be bothered with even looking at the audience, they merely play their instruments and stare blankly at their Converse sneakers. 

Outside of rock, there are those legends. Salem could not care less whether or not you enjoy their performance. In fact, when they were asked about their dreadful appearance at South by Southwest, they stated that “Who cares about performing live, we wanted to take a nap. Those audience members should consider themselves lucky to see us. Screw our fans, those guys suck.”  After the fall out and receiving only a 7.5 on Pitchfork for their album, they have since shied away from such middle finger invoking statements. I guess most of the buzz-o-sphere wants musicians who ‘care’ about what they do, rather than having them rap while on psychotropic substances.  Nonetheless, they take “Not giving a fuck” to a whole new level. 

My ideal low octane performance might be an even more lethargic slow version of Sigur Ros. Instead of standing up for the performance, the attendees bring blankets and pillows. As the band begins, they move at a sloth-like pace. Slowly, things build down to the absolute basic parts of the music. Think of a stripped down version of Low and you’re halfway there. Eventually the drummer falls asleep and the guitars play so rarely all you hear is the ghost eminence of what had been a chord. The singer brings all of the band members together and they spoon on stage before falling asleep completely.

I really hope that someday these indie and pop bands will realize how much easier things can be if they take this approach. That way energy could be used more productively by updating their twitter, posting songs up on pitchfork/youtube, and partying hard. Bands, you’re welcome. Audience, buy some sleep attire. May I suggest matching pajamas?

I want a Low-Octane Performance.

Reading about concert reviews, I stumbled upon a Rihanna article. It stated how Rihanna rocks in a sudden surprise show in Manhattan. Everybody all around Times Square started singing with her, glad to have her bestow her presence on mere commoners. They are pleased to see her on such a small stage, it is so exciting.

I hear these words describing concerts all the time. Honestly, I’m a little tired of these performances showing “enthusiasm” for the audience. Rather than these high-octane performances, I want a low-octane performance. When I enter that concert hall, I want the singer or performers to be half-asleep or fully asleep.

There’s a few ways this can happen, and it already looks like pop and indie music are converging on the same point. Pop musicians lip-sync like it was nobody’s business. So you get to watch your favorite artist dance right in front of you. Since they’re performing to a pre-recorded track, they really can give it their all dance-wise. Of course they can go further. Whitney Houston doesn’t lip sync; she just kind of stands there and forgets the lyrics of most of her songs. Perhaps if she decided to get a beer in the middle of her concert as the rest of the band sort of mumbles, then I might want to see her live. 

Indie music as well includes similar forms of sleepiness. Some entire genres are based exclusively on not interacting with the audience. Off the top of my head, I’d say shoegaze does a great job of embodying that non-performance I want others to strive towards. Unable to be bothered with even looking at the audience, they merely play their instruments and stare blankly at their Converse sneakers. 

Outside of rock, there are those legends. Salem could not care less whether or not you enjoy their performance. In fact, when they were asked about their dreadful appearance at South by Southwest, they stated that “Who cares about performing live, we wanted to take a nap. Those audience members should consider themselves lucky to see us. Screw our fans, those guys suck.”  After the fall out and receiving only a 7.5 on Pitchfork for their album, they have since shied away from such middle finger invoking statements. I guess most of the buzz-o-sphere wants musicians who ‘care’ about what they do, rather than having them rap while on psychotropic substances.  Nonetheless, they take “Not giving a fuck” to a whole new level. 

My ideal low octane performance might be an even more lethargic slow version of Sigur Ros. Instead of standing up for the performance, the attendees bring blankets and pillows. As the band begins, they move at a sloth-like pace. Slowly, things build down to the absolute basic parts of the music. Think of a stripped down version of Low and you’re halfway there. Eventually the drummer falls asleep and the guitars play so rarely all you hear is the ghost eminence of what had been a chord. The singer brings all of the band members together and they spoon on stage before falling asleep completely.

I really hope that someday these indie and pop bands will realize how much easier things can be if they take this approach. That way energy could be used more productively by updating their twitter, posting songs up on pitchfork/youtube, and partying hard. Bands, you’re welcome. Audience, buy some sleep attire. May I suggest matching pajamas?

The Fun Years – God was like, No 7.7

Let me take an opposing viewpoint on this. A lot of people are comparing this to Tim Hecker or Fennesz. The Tim Hecker reference comes from his use of warm, fuzzy drones. But unlike his stuff, there’s no sterile editing to perfection. Imperfections in the music (like at the end of “Breech on the Bowstring”) are kept in, rather than edited out. Fennesz makes a bit more sense, but again, he’s fonder of cleaner edits without the muck these guys roll around in. So neither one of these really describe what is going on. 

A guitar leads each one of these songs, giving a sort of structure to the often chaotic drones explored. If I had to pick someone similar, I might choose Janek Schaefer. Like him, they kept a lot of the sounds pretty open, often deftly dealing with the edits. This has an analog heart, not the digital one possessed by Tim Hecker or Fennesz. You can feel it, grasp it, and hug it. It is the sound of pure life.

Using a guitar makes the songs feel that much more alive. Hardy any percussion exists on the album, “And They Think My Name is Dequan” being the exception to the rule. After this track we get the most abrasive one the obnoxiously titled: “Get out of the Obese Crowd”. 

Most of the material on here owes some sort of debt to shoegaze. The rhythms are slow, often melodic, and surprisingly catchy. And if I had to pick what might be a single “Makes Sense to Me” would be the easy pick. By bringing in mellow guitar to plod along the drones makes them that much better. 

So if someone says this is like one of the first two, take exception. The editing on here isn’t that meticulous, the cuts are rawer and more visceral than that. You’re better off for it.