May 30, 2008
Heloise & The Savoir Faire
On the 2008 release Trash, Rats, and Microphones, the gritty glam band Heloise & The Savoir Faire deliver slick, Scissor Sisters-style neo-disco, but with a tough undercurrent that wouldn't be out of place in a hard rock club. Nice!
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Oddjobs - En Pocket
Tortoise - Firefly
Force of Angels - Dune
May 29, 2008
Apparat Organ Quartet
On the late 2007 self-titled release by Apparat Organ Quartet, we're treated to some jazzy & crunchy techno workouts, vaguely reminiscent of Jaza Jaggist but with a bit more muscle. Apparat continues to smack it out of the park for me.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Dabrye - Encoded Flow (feat. Kadence)
Ella Fitzgerald - Heart and Soul
GOLDEN APPLE CORPS - Bluey-Green
May 28, 2008
Sasquatch Music Festival - redux
I just got back from this year's Sasquatch Music Festival over at the Gorge. I'd never been to this festival before, but I was enticed by the line-up this year; plus we found a nice off-site campground that made our lives calm and tranquil when we weren't at the show. It was particularly nice to be surrounded by so many music nerds for three solid days; I had as much fun talking about music as I did listening to music. Those conversations inspired me to do a quick write-up of my impressions of all the acts I wound up seeing, to see if I can continue some of those conversations on line. Join me, then, on my electronic tour of Sasquatch, won't you?
Fleet Foxes - This Seattle-based band with burgeoning buzz opened the festival on the main stage. They rely on rich CSNY-style harmonies and a light rock touch to create songs that I remember more as soundscapes. It was a very mellow way to kick things off, and I will probably try to track down their debut EP if it occurs to me.
Dengue Fever - If you like this sort of thing, I guess they're a reasonable example of it.
Beirut - I have only recently come to appreciate Beirut; it's been growing on me the more I've heard the records. The live show was quite rich, with strings, horns, accordion, and the like, and of course, the lead singer's rich, lovely baritone. My only quibble was that by the end of the show, the arrangements were all starting to sound the same to me, with variations in tempo being the only real distinguishing feature; even the lead vocal lines all sort of follow the same patterns and land within what seems to be a somewhat limited range. It's not a crime for a band's repertoire to sound self-similar; but this did get me thinking about what aspects of music cause a person to tip over from being a casual fan with only slight appreciation for what's happening with a given artist, to being a "true" fan who internalizes each song in specific ways. At any rate, Beirut was pretty nice to listen to while lazing on the hill in the sun.
Ozomatli - This was the first band that motivated me to head down off the hill, onto the main floor where sudden outbreaks of dancing were spreading like wildfire. I have a feeling that the recordings of this band don't do justice to their live sound, which is thoroughly energetic and exciting.
Rainn Wilson - Apparently the National's bus broke down, so we were treated to a surprise visit from Rainn Wilson, at the fest to promote some new movie of his. He was hilarious as he first tried to convince us we were about to see Loverboy, then introduced Fleet Foxes to come back on to take this slot by doing a dramatic reading from the Wikipedia entry on foxes. However, all day long we were also treated to one of those small planes flying overhead with an advertising banner trailing behind it, also promoting the movie. Memo: the Pacific Northwest is a region where people on the ground were questioning, without irony, the carbon footprint of this tedious marketing tactic. Way to pollute the skies in multiple ways so that Jack Black's next flick can have a slightly bigger opening.
The New Pornographers - Appearing with Neko Case. I'm not into this band, but as their set opened, two different fans mentioned to me, "They sound off." I split before the set was over, but later reports indicate that by the end of their set, they had relaxed, found their groove, and finished with a bang.
Crudo - My first visit to one of the side stages was to see Crudo, the new Mike Patton & Dan The Automator project, appearing in their second show together. From the moment we realized they were opening with a cover of Van Halen's "Running With The Devil," we knew we were in for a demented set, and they did not disappoint. Their set was like Gorillaz on an ether binge, very danceable but infused with Patton's ability to make any moment seem just this side of lunacy. At one point, he made eye contact with a little girl in the audience, and somehow convinced the girl's father to bring her up onstage so that he could croon to her; it tickles me to think that for the rest of her life, whenever that girl hears the phrase "WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?", she'll flash back to Patton's leering face. (Okay, maybe she won't hear that phrase very much, but still.) They played one Lovage track that I recognized, but really, the new stuff was plenty engaging; I saw Lovage a few years back and this new line-up and approach seems a lot more my speed. The band's secret weapon: their keyboardist happened to be Butterscotch, who delivered a blazing beatbox solo in the middle of the set that, I must admit, caused impure thoughts. The band capped off their set with a cover of Bowie's "Life On Mars" - you know, just because.
M.I.A. - I freely admit that I am one of the few lonely souls in the free world who doesn't understand the appeal of M.I.A. I mean, I thought Arular was a nice record, but I was tired of hearing it before it even fell out of heavy rotation on KEXP; and her second album didn't even register with me. But her fans are totally rabid, so I wanted to see a bit of her set just to make sure I wasn't missing something obvious. She and her small crew (a turntablist, a dancer, maybe a backup singer?) were dwarfed against the massive main stage with the whole Gorge behind it. The beats were certainly loud, although at that volume, they seemed even more repetitive than usual, and M.I.A.'s chanting seemed forced and almost canned, as though she was just lip syncing to her own record. She was the only artist who didn't let the festival broadcast her set on the Jumbotrons, preferring instead to show music videos to accompany each song; but that only reinforced my feeling that I was watching Karaoke M.I.A.
The National - So the bus eventually made it to town, and the National were wedged onto the miniscule Yeti stage with an abbreviated sound check. I was only able to stay for the first song, which sounded a little chamber pop-ish to me, but that's probably a hasty first impression; sound problems cropped up almost immediately, as we got to watch a pretty dynamic violin solo but we certainly couldn't hear it. Fans who stayed for the whole set, however, said the band warmed up and put on a gorgeous show; they're on my short list for further investigation.
Modest Mouse - Another band I'm not really into. My wife Jen likes them, though, and she said their set was good. The grating lead vocals made it hard for me to appreciate the music.
R.E.M. - Saturday's headliners. I was only briefly into R.E.M. for maybe two albums back when I was in college, so I sat up on the hill and read email on my phone while Jen and friends headed down to the floor. She had seen them ten years ago and was excited to see them again; fair enough. Every now and then a song would come on that I recognized and I'd bop my head briefly, like when you're in a bar and something you know comes on the jukebox. The band was projected onto the Jumbotrons, but they used a number of weird filters and distortions and other effects to spruce up the image during the entire show. Jen said that Michael Stipe sure looked young for his age, and our friend Kirby replied, "He's painted orange with a bunch of static all over the screen - that's so you can't tell how old he looks." Actually, this was probably a set by the touring animatronic R.E.M.-bots, appearing at festivals, theme parks, and Chuck E. Cheese's all summer long. At any rate, Jen thought they did a great job mixing older material and new stuff, and she intends to track down their new album.
"Awesome" - The fantastic Seattle art rockers "Awesome" opened day two on the main stage with a tight, entertaining set; they seemed upbeat and relaxed, and that vibe spread quickly to those who braved the smatterings of rain to hear their set. The show was full of signature "Awesome" moments, such as John A. quipping, "We'd like to thank R.E.M. for opening up for us, and sorry about the twelve-hour delay, we had technical difficulties..." Or John O. holding down a guitar line while cleverly playing the theremin with his elbow. But aside from that, the seven members of the band - several of them multi-instrumentalists - delivered a catchy, good-spirited show that was well suited to the size of the stage. If you haven't been turned on to their beautifully crafted record, Beehive Sessions, I have reenabled downloads on my earlier post about that disc so that you can check it out. They clearly made an impression on people; when I stopped by the Easy Street Records booth the next day, both of the band's albums were sold out.
65daysofstatic - Insanely good. They play an intense, experimental fusion of electronica and rock, without bothering to muddy things up with lyrics; their live set is pretty much just as compelling as their recordings, if you like this sort of thing. The only "off" moment was when their main dude pointed out the beautiful Gorge in the background, then contrasted it to the fact that he was standing on a stage sponsored by Xbox, and remarked in a dry, apocalyptic manner, "This is the society we've created for ourselves." Dude - it's the same society that created your guitar and the plane that flew your grumpy British ass over here, so stuff it.
Blue Scholars - One of my friends thinks this Seattle hip hop act is overhyped, but after catching their set, I think they're appropriately hyped. It's entirely possible that the Seattle scene is just so excited to have such a talented act on its hands that the local buzz might seem disproportionate. But I don't think the hype has spread as far as it should for this talented duo; in particular, rapper Geologic's intensely rhythmic delivery is so good it's almost hypnotic. Members of another rising Seattle hip hop group, Common Market, joined them during the set, and they were great; but the Scholars didn't really need the reinforcements.
Cold War Kids - I'd never heard this band before, and as they started, I turned to a friend and said, "They're sure bringing the cacophony." I thought it was going to be some kind of weird "Neil Young on a massive dose of LSD" kind of thing, but it eventually settled into a weird and unpredictable indie rock groove that will warrant further investigation at some point. One important note: as they opened their set, a lone yellow maraca sat upon one of the keyboards, and as we all know, if you introduce a maraca in the first song, you can pretty much guarantee someone will be playing that maraca before the set is over. In point of fact, for the last number the band was joined by a whole chorus of maraca players. I've never seen such maraca mayhem. These details are not that important, obviously.
Reggie Watts - My only visit to the comedy tent was to see former Maktub singer Reggie Watts, in his new incarnation as avant-garde stand-up comedian. Watts is rightfully compared to Steve Martin, in terms of gleefully avoiding stock punchlines or joke formulas. Instead, he careens through elaborate stories that eventually devour themselves, or dense philosophical treatises that suddenly evolve into multi-layered beatboxing, delivering unexpected humor almost as a constant afterthought as he embraces a surprisingly smart absurdist aesthetic. His most priceless moment was his deadly accurate M.I.A. impersonation, using a loop station to build up a parody that distilled all of the tics and mannerisms and conceits of her sound into a hilarious Reader's Digest condensed version.
The Presidents - I don't really get this band. They kept reminding me of Phish, actually, in terms of their loopy, peppy, earnest rock stylings. Kirby said, "Wow, that old guy can sure rock!" I'm not sure if he was being serious or not.
Mates of State - A friend said these guys were good, which is why we wandered by, but I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree. They were bad, painfully bad. The vocals were an unappealing combination of screechy and bleaty, and the songs never seemed to go anywhere. We fled.
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Michael Franti was annoyingly preachy, and yet, I'm not sure he ever really managed to say anything of substance. In multiple songs, he rattled off lists of countries he'd been to or read about as though that designates him an expert on global politics; he generalized to the point where it was impossible to disagree with him, as though anyone in that crowd was likely to be anti-love or pro-bombing people. At one point, he rapped, "This track combats genocide," and I just thought, "It does? Really? That track? Does the U.N. know about that track? Why only that track - shouldn't they all fight genocide?" But for all his cajoling us to rise to his level of awareness, he offered no path to follow - should we register to vote? Join the Peace Corps? Join a rock band? Is it all the same? Anyway, he also sang flat the whole show, which drove me nuts. The reason to stay for the whole show: Spearhead. They were explosively good. They were the first band to truly unify the entire festival - from the hill, we could see tens of thousands of people dancing their happy, oblivious asses off, jumping up and down together, rocking out. It was inspiring.
Death Cab For Cutie - I specifically wanted to see this show because I've never understood the fuss about this band. Kirby said it's because I don't like simple, pretty melodies; he thinks I just go for more "pizzazz." When he said that, I briefly imagined Ben Gibbard doing jazz hands, which is not relevant, but still. Kirby also said he really likes their lyrics, and I admit, that's my Achilles' heel when it comes to music appreciation; it takes me a long time before I even notice lyrics, and a lot of records just don't get played often enough for the lyrics to sink in. Someone else I talked to said she grew up in the Northwest listening to Death Cab, so those songs had emotional weight for her, reminded her of times and places; it definitely made me realize how far behind my childhood was in terms of the music I was exposed to growing up in Iowa. (She added that if she were just now hearing them for the first time, she'd probably think they sucked.) At any rate, Kirby said their set was a lot more "noised out" and less mellow than he was expecting, and others agreed; it was a heavy, rock-oriented sound, perhaps reflected on their new record, which no one around me had heard yet. I wound up almost won over by them. Not that they'd ever admit this, but it really seemed like they were truly enjoying the hell out of being in that band and playing those songs.
Christmas On Mars - I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for the premiere screening of the new movie by the Flaming Lips, called Christmas On Mars, apparently just wrapping production after seven years. The Flaming Lips were the other band at the festival besides Death Cab that I really wanted to try to understand better; my impression of their music has always been that it seems too contrived for my taste, but they clearly inspire legions and legions of fans. In line for the movie, I was introduced to the band's drummer, Kliph, and I told him flat out, "I don't get your music yet." He said, "Have you seen us live? It'll make a lot more sense when you see us live." He also made it clear that I shouldn't base my judgment of the Lips on seeing Christmas On Mars; fair enough. Inside the movie tent, I was surrounded by such fandom that I felt like an interloper amongst the faithful; when the lead singer, Wayne, came out to personally introduce the movie, the place went nuts. At any rate, the film is a low-budget, mostly black and white sci-fi movie about an American outpost on Mars in some distant future. The crew has been there for a year, during which time they've all slowly begun to go insane from the isolation and the unbelievable nature of their situation; a recurring theme is "Man was not meant to live in space." It's Christmas Eve, and a scientist played by Steven, the band's guitar player (who turns in a surprisingly good performance), is trying to organize a singing of Christmas carols to help lift spirits, but the guy who is supposed to play Santa goes crazy and throws himself out a hatch onto the surface of Mars. As they go to collect the guy's body, an alien super-being appears, played by Wayne. He never speaks. Meanwhile, some clueless technicians accidentally destroy the last remaining oxygen generator thingie, so they're all going to die. Oh and also, the movie starts with Wayne the alien super-being spitting some weird cosmic ejaculate out of his mouth that flies through space and impregnates what turns out to be the only woman you ever see on this outpost, played I believe by Wayne's wife. So they're nursing this weird space baby in her womb by keeping her in a bubble and injecting vital fluids into her womb via this weird aperture on her stomach. Eventually Wayne the alien super-being is put into the Santa suit and the movie ends with a weirdly hopeful deus ex machina, which ordinarily would irritate me - but in the context of this film, it doesn't matter. The texture of the movie is what's important, and despite the Solarisesque pacing, we were constantly rewarded with surprising character moments, unexpected imagery, and intensely loud surround sound; it stayed linear enough to keep my attention, while regularly hitting me with completely surreal images just for good measure (indeed, I never knew how much I needed to see a vaginal-headed marching band until I saw this movie). Sharp little details in the background (like a sign that read "CAUTION DO NOT START THIS MACHINE") kept sliding past; the low-budget aesthetic was embraced with many clever, deft touches (at one point, we barely catch a tray of lab gear being pulled from what looked like an old, dressed-up electric stove). In a recorded introduction, Wayne said his subconscious influences for the movie included 2001, Eraserhead, and The Holy Mountain; but I also saw this as a clear descendant of the underappreciated Dark Star in terms of its bleakly comic approach to the existentialism of deep space. Christmas On Mars is clearly not for everybody, but it's nevertheless a beautiful achievement. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and can't wait to foist a DVD screening on my friends someday. (View the trailer, which contains a small amount of footage that didn't make it into the final cut of the film.)
The Cure - The headliners for day two. I made it back from the movie in time to catch the Cure's second encore, which lasted a crisp five songs. They sure can rock out. Plus, they brought their touring light show and it was very pretty. I was never a Cure fan, but the hard core fans in our group said the show was pretty great - not the best they'd ever seen, but still pretty great.
Dyme Def - As Kirby said, "I don't need another generic hip hop group in my life."
The Choir Practice - I was pretty psyched to check this group out. Festival guides described them as a big group of vocalists formed by a member of A.C. Newman's band who perform original pop or folk tunes; I was thinking they might sound like a Free Design kind of thing, and plus, I'm a big a cappella nerd. Sadly, they were a big disappointment. For starters, I'm not sure why they thought they only needed six microphones for nine vocalists; was the sound crew at the Yeti stage (or as Kirby called it, "the Afterthought stage") really unable to track down three more mics? Did the band actually think that trying to share mics was a good idea? I hope it wasn't the latter, because the mic technique on display was ridiculous; the women who were forced to share mics all seemed to think they needed to stand up to a foot away for some reason, which meant a) we couldn't actually hear them that well, b) the three people who had their own mics were drowning everyone else out, and c) the sound guy felt he needed to crank the shared mics up to try to pick up the singing but consequently, the wind blowing across the stage was also heavily amplified to the point of distraction. Ugh. What we could hear turned out to be simplistic, repetitive, and lackluster, accompanied by one woman playing acoustic guitar (so they weren't even a cappella); the whole thing came off like glorified camp fire songs. We fled.
Yeasayer - Fortunately, fleeing the Choir Practice meant I got to see the entire Yeasayer set instead of just catching the end of it. I'd heard rumors that these guys were great live, and they did not disappoint; the show was pretty captivating the whole way through. Plus, their singer gets the award for being the twitchiest at the festival; the way he would occasionally writhe around while singing, I kept thinking he was going to lose his balance and tip over backwards. Perhaps my only quibble is that the lush vocals on the album, particularly in a song like "2080", were a little shaky and thin live, but the band made up for it with its intensity and drive.
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - I'd only learned about Thao Nguyen's music just a few weeks ago; her recent record made a very good impression on me, so we were excited to check them out. Turns out, the power trio format of the Get Down Stay Down flattened the arrangements for me, made them seem a little blander than the quirky indie pop arrangements I was expecting. As the set progressed, there were definitely several tunes where we were fully engaged and bopping around; but by the end, we got restless. Maybe it was festival fatigue, but too many of her songs started to sound identical. However, Kirby's lady friend Audra was impressed enough by what she saw, buttressed by my recollections of what I liked about the album, that she'll probably track the album down at some point.
Say Hi - We had some dead time to fill, so we tried to listen to a band called Say Hi, which festival guides misleadingly led us to believe might be some kind of electropop act. However, the singer was pretty much awful - managing the more difficult task of going sharp all the time instead of going flat. We fled.
Built To Spill - I'd never knowingly heard a Built To Spill song before the festival (I know, it's amazing I survive in the face of such massive ignorance). But people kept saying we should check them out, so we watched the whole set. It was enjoyable, in a sort of "these are not my people, but with time, I'm sure we can learn to live together in peace" kind of way: a front line of three guitarists produced a rock'n'roll wall of sound, which I presume to be - what, indie? Hard? Alt? I don't really know anything about rock, when you get right down to it - which is funny, given that when I was growing up, I had every incentive to try to get into rock and roll ("you mean, you won't beat me up if I like Led Zeppelin? OK... well how about Dire Straits, do they count?"), but the closest I got was a fascination for the theatrics of Queen. Anyway, Built To Spill - in addition to sounding nothing like Queen - were entertaining but uninspiring to my ears. I believe I "get" the craftsmanship, but I didn't feel any spark from it.
Rodrigo y Gabriela - This was the one act that the Flaming Lips drummer said he was planning to check out on Monday, so on the basis of that recommendation, I made sure to be there. Rodrigo "and" Gabriela (if you don't mind my crass English translation) are two virtuoso guitar players: Rodrigo played lead acoustic guitar, while Gabriela played rhythm acoustic guitar. And by "rhythm," I literally mean, she incorporated a huge amount of percussion into her playing, slapping the front panel of the guitar while smacking root chords on the strings in a motion so intricate and fast, I had a hard time parsing what I was seeing on the Jumbotron. The two of them together were completely dynamic, surprising us with the notion that two acoustic guitars, with no vocals or drums or any other accompaniment, could bust out such intricate hard rock jams; I guess it's not totally surprising, given that they both came from a Mexican metal band, but still. That said, one of our friends said their live set wasn't as varied as the recording he was familiar with (possibly because the two use overdubbing in the studio?); and I sort of felt that way myself by the end, although it wasn't at all unpleasant. I will definitely be tracking down their recorded output for comparison.
Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground - We only caught the last two songs by this dense, psychedelic, chamber rock group, but it was all I needed to add these guys to my short list of bands to check out in the very near future.
Battles - We kept hearing that Battles put on a preposterously good live show, so we trudged over to see them. They were certainly energetic. Their intense math rock attack was anchored by a drummer who played so fast that I literally thought he looked blurred; Kirby noted, "They must have told him he would be replaced by a drum machine if he didn't get his BPM up." But I must certainly have been feeling the effects of festival fatigue by that point, because I kept wondering why I had to think so hard to keep up with their set. Let's be clear, I liked their last album, and I get the appeal of their set: they are FAST! INTRICATE! LOUD! But by that point, I was perhaps too crispy to really get into it.
Flight of the Conchords - Funny; pointless.
Jamie Lidell - The first time I heard a track from Jamie Lidell's new album on KEXP, I was intrigued; his brand of swank modern soul stood out amidst the typical wall of indie rock that KEXP serves up. But when I got around to listening to the album straight through, I was disappointed; it sounded canned, unoriginal. However, Kirby and Audra had seen him at Coachella a while back and encouraged me to give him a second chance. His live set here was certainly interesting. For starters, he was backed by an impressive band who clearly understood the style and took no prisoners. He was imminently danceable, and his fans were clearly enthusiastic. The high point for me came in the middle of the set, when it seemed as though he had sampled riffs from several of the band members; the band left the stage, and he layered the samples along with his own rather excellent beatboxing to create new beds for him to sing against. It was a pleasing fusion of his old life as an IDM artist and his new life as a soul crooner. Unfortunately, none of that fusion is featured on either of his recent albums, and when he switched back to just straight up soul, we got restless. His vocal mannerisms seem borrowed, not inherent; every stylistic tic seemed to be a reference. I started to feel like I was watching an awesome casino band.
The Flaming Lips - The final headliners. This was apparently the first stop on their "U.F.O. tour." An enormous, orange, flying saucer-shaped lighting rig descended from the sky, lighting instruments firing off in every direction, from which the band emerged. Waves of people in Teletubby costumes appeared on each side of the stage, cheering on the unfolding mayhem. A massive, beautiful LED screen lit up at the back of the stage, upon which we were treated to beautiful animations, multiple videos of naked women cavorting (including one who looked suspiciously like the woman in Christmas On Mars, although the image was too distorted to say for sure), short films in which grown men punch and kick children to the ground (until they eventually rise up, kung fu style, and DOMINATE), and the glorious glow of video feedback forming a halo behind Wayne's head in between songs. Immense amounts of confetti and streamers were fired into the crowd; six or seven naked women flanked Wayne during one song, seemingly painted in gold and silver (or maybe that was just a trick of the light) and dancing gleefully; a gigantic balloon centipede released its cargo of confetti-filled balloons into the crowd; and did I mention the enormous amounts of confetti? The closest thing I've ever seen to this level of spectacle was the last Peter Gabriel stadium tour in the States, but this clearly took the grand prize. Meanwhile, as the set progressed, I leaned over to some Lips fans in our group and asked, "Does his voice always sound like that?" The universal consensus was no; Wayne's voice sounded absolutely thrashed that night, hoarse and weak, surprisingly so. As for the band's music... well, who really cares what I think about that? The Lips drew by far the largest crowd of the festival; maybe it's because there was heavy rain during R.E.M. and light rain during the Cure, whereas the Lips had clear skies. But I think if you're faithful to a band, you don't give a shit about the rain. The Lips had more faithful (and more curious bystanders like me) on hand than either of the other headliners, and when you looked out over the crowd, an absolute sea of camera phone view screens replaced the now-abandoned trope of the cigarette lighter held high in the sky. The most engaging moment, however, caught me by surprise, even though I'd read that this moment was a staple in their shows: at one point, Wayne approached his microphone with a bugle in hand. As he explained, this bugle was modified with an electronic device inside the horn that would play "Taps"; the device had been created because the Army was apparently experiencing a shortage of experienced bugle players who could play "Taps" at military funerals. It has apparently been the band's custom to play "Taps" at every one of their shows since the war began in Iraq; and as Wayne fired off the Casio-sounding bugle device, the other members of the band joined in with their own haunting, melancholy accompaniment. As I type this, it sounds a little crass, but music communicates on many more levels than words do; it was the only point in the entire festival where I genuinely felt moved by what I was hearing. The two times that Wayne gently exhorted us to "do something in November" - in other words, get out and vote - were vastly more compelling than all of Michael Franti's self-aggrandizing gesticulating. In the final accounting of this event, I believe I may have become a Flaming Lips fan, even if I suspect I will continue to dislike their music. As Wayne reminded us in his intro to Christmas On Mars, art is very much what you make of it, and the Lips' hippie-meets-space-alien-meets-what-the-fuck-rock aesthetic is pretty sympatico with me, whether I want their records on my MP3 player or not.
My only real complaint with the programming at Sasquatch was the lack of electronica. As far as I can tell, only one electronic act played the festival: Truckasauras, a new band that was tucked safely away on the Yeti stage. If this rock-laden line-up can support three separate hip hop acts, two of which played the main stage, surely it can support some reasonably well-known electronic acts? Maybe something in the vein of Four Tet, or Ulrich Schnauss, or... something? I'm not asking for a full electronica tent like Coachella and Pemberton; I'm just saying, there's room on these stages for a little more something something.
Here concludes my Sasquatch ramblings. If you have your own impressions of Sasquatch you'd like to share, or if you'd like to share your impressions of my impressions, the comments are open, as always. Our regularly scheduled MP3 blogging will resume on Thursday.
May 26, 2008
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Mr Scruff - Truth - Excellence Is Thy Name
Digital Jockey - Ach Ware Ich Ein Zug , So Fuhre Ich Dein Herz
Radar - Arabiant
May 23, 2008
If you're not familiar with Kelley Polar's crisp and classically-informed style of dance music, you are definitely missing out. Initially rising to prominence as the string arranger for Metro Area, Polar has since embarked on a solo career; his sophomore effort, 2008's I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling, is an excellent addition to his growing catalogue.
As a bonus, here's a snazzy remix from the excellent Entropy Reigns EP:
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Fischerspooner - Emerge (Junkie XL Remix)
Funki Porcini - Tales Of One Speed
Alpendub - Schaffnerin Mix3 Master
May 21, 2008
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Jazztronik - deep into your throat
DJ Shadow - GDMFSOB (UNKLE remix feat. Roots Manuva)
Miho Hatori - The River Of 3 Crossings
May 19, 2008
Thao makes sprightly, Feist-like indie pop with a bit of a wacky flavor to it. For some reason, it feels like summer music; maybe it's just the sudden appearance of sunlight in Seattle that is having that effect, but these bouncy tunes seemed to fit right in. From the 2008 release We Brave Bee Stings and All.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Viva Voce - Red D-Lish
Yukari Rotten - break (original)
Blackalicious - Aural Pleasure
May 16, 2008
The 2007 record Little Kingdom by Citay is a gorgeous, lushly-produced, epic indie rock record, calling to mind harbingers of old classic rock (I could have sworn Brian May was doing guitar duty on several tracks; the vocal production often calls to mind ELO) but weaving the elements together into a rich, almost-but-not-quite modern prog.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
TRS-80 - to explain grades of beef
Dueljazz - Psychedelic trips of drunken people in public places
Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren - Boom-Biddy-Boom
May 14, 2008
For no apparent reason, I picked up the 2003 Warp Records release Empty The Bones Of You, by IDM artist Chris Clark. It's good old-fashioned crunchy bleepy stuff, which apparently I'm still in the mood for every now and then.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Shpongle - Around The World In A Tea Daze
Tosca - Busenfreund (dZihan & Kamien Dub)
New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble - Mood Indigo
May 12, 2008
The netlabel act Prologue has released a beautiful self-titled record that is highly evocative of the Art of Noise's Seduction of Claude Debussy record, in terms of its integration of techno, hip hop, and classical elements into a unique fusion. Prologue is a bit more polished & less experimental than the Art of Noise (not surprising); at times, the works of Craig Armstrong or Graeme Revell are called to mind. That's quite a headful of awesome for an album that is totally available for your downloading pleasure, thanks to the netlabel Share My Wings.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Sneaker Pimps - Empathy
Swayzak - Keep It Coming
DJ Vadim - London Mind State
May 09, 2008
Friday grab bag
I should absolutely know better than to fall prey to yet another thumping little track directed at "party people," but this one slipped right past my defenses. From the album Microphonepet, by Mochipet.
Fat Planet recently turned me on to this delectable little electropop gem from Danish act Birk Storm, which I am dutifully reposting here mostly to remind me to pick up this gent's album when it comes out in August!
Here's a band that Ulrich Schnauss described as "an incredibly exciting, radical fusion of shoegaze and electronica elements." They're called Elika, and their new record, Trying Got Us Nowhere, is over much too fast.
Sorry for the delay in getting today's post online. I was busy not caring a whole lot. I will probably care a little more next week.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Julia Lee And Her Boy Friends - Lotus Blossom (Sweet Marijuana)
Susumu Yokota - Tears of a Poet
Mint Royale - Show Me (feat. Pos from De La Soul)
May 07, 2008
Today brings highlights from a lovely EP of surprisingly melodic abstract ambient. The artist is Chikiss, based in Russia, and the EP is called Untitled Vitamin, which you can download all for free and stuff.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Stetsasonic - Talkin All That Jazz (Extended Vocal Mix)
Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band - Casino
Jurassic 5 - Join The Dots (Ft Roots Manuva)
May 05, 2008
Pattern Is Movement
Pattern Is Movement present a beautifully unexpected fusion of chamber-oriented prog rock and show tunes - the stylish, charming quality of the vocals sound like they are straight out of some off-Broadway musical comedy, while the arrangements, strings and all, are complicated and bizarre, yet somehow restrained and elegant at the same time. It's a remarkable synthesis that I never would have expected. From the 2008 release All Together.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
Ustad Sultan Khan - Caravan [Karava] (Remix by Brainpolluter)
Oddjob - Clr Home (Redo from Start)
Skalpel - Break In (Plugexpert Remix)
May 02, 2008
What do you mean, you don't listen to Hasidic hip hop? Actually, neither do I, but my excuse is that I am almost willfully oblivious to what's happening in hip hop these days. But this record by Y-Love sure sounds unusually sharp to my ears, passionate and distinct. From the new release This Is Babylon.
Recently on Comfort Radio:
DJ Ming & FS - Madhattan Bound
Slim - Abducted
Beastie Boys - Shadrach