by: Kyle Olson, KUCI Music Director
I hope you all survived the weekend. I, personally, managed to claw my way through the weekend with a brain that still feels slightly mushy from lack of sleep and extremely loud music. When your weekend plans involve a concert, you are probably in for fun. If the directions to the venue include “find the alleyway between 3rd street and main”, and you’re in downtown Los Angeles, you are either in for LOTS of fun, or a night you will later be describing to authorities. Since I’ve worked up plenty of positive karma in my “reading to blind puppies” non-profit, it was the former. The venue, known as “The Smell”, is, for those who aren’t familiar, more of an art-space, and features generally “arty” music, which can range anywhere from really intricate and interesting music performed well and with passion, to folks in facepaint where you turn to your friend and inquire, “This is a joke, right?” Our night included 8 bands, so we got the full gamut. Bands from Japan playing 20-minute long, hypnotic songs. Bands from San Francisco shrieking into telephones-turned-into-microphones. Bands from Oympia playing a unique brand of deranged blues-rock (truly the highlight). I mean, if you’re going to dance in an alley in downtown LA, you want deranged blues-rock, don’t you?
After getting to bed at 4am (losing an hour for DST), I crawled out of bed and headed to KUCI to see Do Make Say Think perform in the lobby. Packing our humble little lobby with eight multi-instrumentalists, and all their gear, and all the DJs who showed up to watch, made for a warm little intimate gathering. It was such a thrill to sing along with them in a wordless choir and clap along with a band I enjoy. That number of musicians then lets the music take a slow, cinematic crescendo into such a powerful and redemptive wall of sound that it is blowing right through your body in a way that I really have to assume will be discovered to cure cancer by medical professionals in the future. I always begrudge wearing earplugs to concerts, but that’s the only volume that this effect can be achieved through. Anyway. Enough of that, I gotta get this shit done.
Panda Bear – Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Easily one of the best CDs I’ve heard all year. If this doesn’t make year-end best lists, I would be horribly shocked. Panda Bear is one of those dudes from Animal Collective. He released a solo album a couple years ago that was this sort of ethereal singing and guitar angel-song collection of untitled works. Now he’s back with an album that’s way more accessible, but still as beautiful and unique. If pop died, and it’s soul became an angel and got itself a little harp (well, sampler in this case), and totally awesome wings, and could live in a cloud and play you the catchiest twelve-minute songs in history, it would be this album. Nothing I’ve added this year has as high a recommendation as this album. If this album were a girl, I would work up my courage to talk to it all night, and then chicken out and feel badly about myself for days afterwards.
LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (Capital)
If you are still unfamiliar with this band, I am going to spend the next few days wondering how you managed to completely escape the miasma of hype which has completely drenched the music criticism world well before his debut album dropped. James Murphy has apparently ingested every krautrock and disco album ever, and now, like a mother bird, he has regurgitated musical nutrition to keep you alive. And when I say “alive”, I mean “dancing forever until you are so exhausted you can no longer use verbs, but rather need to just point at things and make crude mimings of what you need them for.” When you put this CD on, you feel 10 times sexier. That is based on rigorous scientific studies I have done. About sexiness. The results are published in the “Journal of American Sexiness Studies and General Bad-ass-ness.”
Cyann & Ben – Sweet Beliefs (Ever)
You know M83? No? Have you ever seen an independent movie trailer? OK. You know that song they play? That’s M83. Well, probably. Anyway, these dudes roll with that band. But while M83 makes these pixilated digi-scapes of beautiful electro-drone-rock, C&B want to throw down some actual instruments, and more singing, and come from a bit of a folkier background. It’s from France! They have food there!
Low – Drums and Guns (Sub Pop)
Dude, if you’ve never heard of this band, how do you have a show on college radio?
Maps & Atlases – Trees, Swallows, Houses (Sargent House)
This is like some crazy mix of Don Caballero, Hella, At the Drive In, and Cap’n Jazz (but noisier). INSANE guitar and drums doing SICKENINGLY INTRICATE music with TOTALLY AWESOME time signatures. I figure, if I e-yell at you, you’ll listen to me. This is really catchy and exciting. Like, it’s all jittery and running 1000 miles and hour, and I want to just start kicking things and shouting! Yay!
Drakkar Sauna – Jabraham Lincoln (Marriage)
Ever so often, Portland, Oregon’s Marriage records drops a huge package of their stuff in my lap, and I smile a little because their stuff sounds so..unique...most the time. This band sounds like some sort of lo-fi Beirut/Avett Bros/Animal Collective kind of thing (much more the first two). If you’re sick of the rest of the shit I add, may I point you towards this album? Man. As this album plays, and I write this, these kids are winning me over with their charms. Damn this job, and the never ending bitch-slap it gives my wallet (because I’m not going to just download it illegally, you philistines).
Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday (XL)
“Kyle. This album is getting a lot of hype, and it’s good. Add it.” “Dude, it’s folky indie stuff and everyone is sick of it.” “Add it.” “Fine, but it’s gonna chart one week, and no one will play it again. Mark my words.” Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong. (Yes, I say things like “mark my words”. Because I am a B-movie villain.)
Germans – Cape Fear (Arena Rock)
Did you guys see the Cape Fear? DeNiro is pretty rad in that remake. (This sounds like Pavement, Broken Social Scene, and Flaming Lips. Can you tell I’m tired and want to go home?)
Kinetic Stereokids – Basement Kids (Overdraft)
So, it says they’ve opened for Explosions in the Sky, Trail of Dead, Secret Machines, and Wolf Eyes. That last one HAS to be a typo though. This is like, lo-fi Elliott Smith-ish stuff. Wolf Eyes is like getting your ears’ balls kicked by a horse on fire. It gets a little lofi-raw and distorty, but it’s not squealing walls of metal-made noise. That’s for damned sure.
OK. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna eat a quick dinner and go see “The Host”. I have a particular fetish for Korean people being eaten by monsters, and I’m glad a film has finally decided to pander to my perverse tastes. I bid you good night.