Wednesday, November 26, 2008

local: Julianna Barwick

"Come Around"

Some of the most beautiful new music I've heard this year comes from Julianna Barwick. The Brooklyn based sound collage artist's take on loop based ambiance feels like it was birthed during a year long dream. It is devoid of space and time, and exists in the invisible ether surrounding us. It is both timeless and space-age. Mournful and uplifting, like the dawning of a new day. While it was her remix of Radiohead's "Reckoner" that initially drew me to her, it's her phenomenal Daytrotter session that got me hooked (not a surprise). Highly rec'd seeing Julianna 12/6 at the Cake Shop, where you can pick up a copy of her 13-track, 23 minute record Sanguine. For a taste of Julianna's dreams, check out this set from Greenpoint's Cafe Grumpy, courtesy of Sing Like Buildings.

Julianna Barwick- first song

Julianna Barwick- fifth song

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

morning music: Grouper

"I'd Rather Be Sleeping"

One could argue that Grouper doesn't make music, they (aka Liz Harris) make dreams, or vignettes of noir-consciousness. They are understated, foggy and often drift into your psyche like a lost breeze, until you find yourself cold and in need of a blanket (or seal pelt). However, these wafting bits of semi-consciousness tend to linger longer than a breeze, following you like a shadow until your alone in the dark with no choice but to drift off into a sea of dreams. With day light savings behind us, and a rainy morning upon us, there is no better time to explore the haunting beauty of Grouper than today. For fans of Kria Brekkan, Lau Nau, Islaja and Paavoharju.

Grouper- Heavy Water/ I'd Rather Be Sleeping

Grouper- Heavy Water/ I'd Rather Be Sleeping

Monday, November 24, 2008

we saw: Stars of the Lid

"Tired Sounds Of..."
(Photo by The Roaring Twenties)
As expected Stars of the Lid took everyone to the astral plane on Friday night. A heavy combo of ethereal arrangements and intergalactic visualizations made me doze off a few times, but in the best way possible. Not only that but SOTL finished with the epic opus "December Hunting for Vegetarian Fuck Face." Mort's text to me, twelve and a half hours after the show ended, sums it up perfectly: "WOW! That was incredible. Felt like I was on another planet." Me too, Morto.

(Photo by Mercurian)

Stars of the Lid 12/15/2007 Prague, Czech Republic

Friday, November 21, 2008

video: Chad VanGaalen

"I'll Find You & I'll Kill You"
Featured on the latest Bobkast, the video for the haunting "Molten Light", from Chad VanGaalen's Soft Airplane (Sub Pop), is a twisted pyschotropic nightmare that somehow comes off as playful, regardless of the dour lyrics and sort of horrifying animation. It should also be noted that even though we've never discussed Chad before, Soft Airplane is quickly becoming one of my favorite records of 2008. It's full of slow-folk trips down memory lane that meander like endless drives and lilting melodies that soar like hot air balloons over ancient valleys. Throw in some sound manipulations, a few electric beats and you've got yourself a winner. Now if Sub Pop would just release it on wax (along with Sera Cahoone and the Ruby Suns) the world would be complete.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

black session: Jesus and Mary Chain

"I've Been Swimming Where The Fish Won't Go"

Known as much for their outlandish live shows, acid use and bad (ass) haircuts as their bubble gum meets screeching fuzztone sound, the Jesus and Mary Chain are undoubtedly one of the most influential bands to come out of the 80's. In the post-Lost In Translation world this seems rather obvious, especially with the rise of bands like Crystal Stilts and the Vivian Girls. For fans familiar with the bands debut masterpiece Psychocandy (home of "Just Like Honey"), this Black Session, recorded with Bernard Lenoir in France in 1994, is a grand collection highlighting the bands later, slightly-less shoegazey, sound. A great collection for newbs and hardcore JAMC elitists alike.

The Jesus & Mary Chain- Black Session 1994
1. Snakedriver
2. Hole
3. Girlfriend
4. Head On
5. Dirty Water
6. Come On
7. Teenage Lust
8. The Ghost of a Smile (Pogue's cover)
9. Far Gone & Out
10. She
11. Save Me
12. Everybody I Know
13. Reverence
14. Sidewalking

The Jesus & Mary Chain- Black Session 1994 (download)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

old: Giorgio Moroder

"Surrounded and Confounded"

It's no secret that we are big fans of Giorgio Moroder. His lifelong commitment to pushing synthesizers on the world has lead to an extremely long, incredibly impressive curriculum vitae (Scarface soundtrack, Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", Top Gun soundtrack, his own "From Here to Eternity", and "Flashdance...What A Feeling", just to name a few). However, until recently we had no clue the dude also had an affinity for far-out psych rock. As evidenced by the first two tracks on 1972's Son of My Father, Moroder's got a thing for both San Fran and Mark Bolan, especially on "Automation", which could easily be a long lost T.Rex demo. While these are certainly choice cuts, they act more as a stepping stone to the arpeggiated, oscillations of his late 70's work with Donna Summer. If you are unfamiliar with it, do yourself a favor and pick up Donna Summer's On The Radio: Greatest Hits, which was mixed (exceptionally), and produced (mostly), by the Italian Knight in White Satin. Looking for a Moroder history lesson, peep the promo video below.

Giorgio Moroder- Son of My Father
Giorgio Moroder- Automation

Giorgio Moroder Promo Video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bobkast #19: Where Do I Start, Where Do I Begin

"Maybe I'm a stupid fool / Chasing butterflies like you"Believe it or not this bobkast began with mostly new songs. In the end however, only the Rosebuds, Juana Molina, and Chad VanGaalen survived. It brings me great comfort to think that should the world turn out like Footloose or that goofy Queen musical, we've at least stockpiled enough good music to last us a few more years.

So in honor of all things fall (mainly snare brushes, sonic swelling, and acoustic rhythm intros) I bring you the 19th installation of The Bobkast. Take this one for the cold walk home on a windy November.

Bobkast #19: Where Do I Start, Where Do I Begin
Annuals - Brother
The Rosebuds - Hello Darling
Juana Molina - Vive Solo
Destroyer - European Oils
Clem Snide - Evil vs. Good
Iron & Wine & Calexico - 16, Maybe Less
Devendra Banhart - Korean Dogwood
The National - Green Gloves
Howling Bells - I'm Not Afraid
Radiohead - Gagging Order
Badly Drawn Boy - Camping Next To Water
Califone - The Orchids
The Chemical Brothers - Where Do I Begin?
Swan Lake - Widow's Walk
Chad VanGaalen - Molten Light
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Honey Child What Can I Do?

Bobkast #19: Where Do I Start, Where Do I Begin (Download: PC- right click + save as; Mac- option + click)

Monday, November 17, 2008

new: Deerhunter

"With Elaborate Designs"

If you follow the Deerhunter blog, or attended their hometown Halloween show in ATL a few weeks back, you probably already knew about On Platts Eyotts Island. Deerhunter pressed 200 limited edition cassette copies of the session, which features stripped down versions of Cryptograms gem "Spring Hall Convert", as well as some choice Microcastle material, and you can now listen digitally courtesy of 4AD. From the press release:
This session was recorded during the evening of the 15th of September at Studio Plateaux, a DIY studio nestled on the Platts Eyott island - a nature reserve with the western end designated as Green Belt - on the Thames - London.

The idea behind the session was in memory of John Peel and his famous Radio 1 sessions. The studio equipment is a rare collection of vintage Ribbon microphones, preamps, tape machines and effects, all resourced over many years and sourced from around the world.

Bradford Cox recorded the songs like a continuous stream of consciousness; the session intended to be listened in order and uninterrupted. Kristian Craig Robinson (Capitol K) produced and engineered the session, while Bradford reworked several songs from Microcastle, a ne version of ‘Spring Hall Convert’ from Cryptograms and a couple of unreleased songs.
Track List
1. Cum horizon (improvisation)
2. Spring Hall Convert
3. Microcastle
4. Saved By Old Times
5. Never Stops
6. Backspace Century (Version II)
7. Calvary Scars

For a chance to win one of the pink cassettes, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

next: Rose Hill Drive

"Tearing my body all apart"

Rose Hill Drive is one of the few bands nowadays with both the chops and the cahones to successfully cover Jimi Hendrix (see above). As you can hear in their sound, they were big fans of all things Hendrix while growing up in the mountains of Boulder, CO.

So for those wondering who will carry the torch of this raw hard rock sound as the legends continue to pass away (RIP Mitch Mitchell), look no further than Rose Hill Drive. Equipped with nothing more than guitar, bass, and drums, the trio creates a wall of sound that literally dropped jaws when they opened for The Who on their most recent world tour.

Rose Hill Drive performs TONIGHT at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. Stream the opening track from their second album Moon Is The New Earth below.

live: Why?

"Will they map my skull and wrap my bones when my wig is gone?"
We wrote about Oakland hip-hop/rockers Why? earlier this year; their newest album, Alopecia, has been a 2008 Bobka fav (yes, we've got a bunch of those). Thankfully the good peeps at Dublab recorded a killer live set with Why? way back in January.

The strength of their live material lies in the combination of simplified hooks and the articulated lyrics of lead singer Yoni Wolf (examples below). Even better articulated is the album's logline from Why?'s myspace page:
In short, Alopecia is a collection of hard rhymes and raw-spun songs forced through the stubborn smile of a life-lover scorned and reborn. In long, this is an album of bone-dry jokes, suicides played out in poem, musings on final moments written inside of restrooms, begrudging self-affirmation, and the grit and glories of every day living.
Well put Yoni.

Here's a few samples of Yoni's poetic abilities as well as his knack for unique irony:

"Your cat clawed out my eyes while I was distracted by your smile /
and now my sockets sit like empty catcher's mitts waiting /
and you ask me if there's anybody else that I'm dating"

"Sucking dick for drink tickets at the free bar at my cousins Bar-Mitzvah"
"Using Purell 'til my hands bleed and swell"

Highlights from this set include "By Torpedo Or Crohn", "These Few Presidents" and "Fatalist Palmistry".


A Sky for Shoeing Heroes Under
By Torpedo Or Crohn
Brook & Waxing
These Few Presidents
The Hollows
Fatalist Palmistry
Good Friday
The Fall of Mr. Fifths
Simeon's Dilemma
Song of the Sad Assassin

Why? - Live at Dublab 1.18.08" [right click to save]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

new: Bon Iver EP

"Forever Ago"

It's been over a year since Justin Vernon self-released the phenomenal For Emma, Forever Ago and alot has changed since his first NYC appearance. A lot. First off, Bon Iver sold out two nights at the legendary Town Hall, and tickets are going for over $150 on Craigslist (!). Luckily for the Brooklyn faithful, Bon Iver added a third date at Music Hall, which sold out in 13 minutes (but we got ours). Now, our good friend and west coast correspondent Dura notifies us that JagJaguwar has a webpage for a CDEP/12"titled Blood Bank, due out 1/20/09 (aka inauguration day, aka Animal Collective release day). From JagJaguwar:
The four song Blood Bank collection continues down the path forged by 2008's critically acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago.

While still tied to the identity of the place where it was born, Bon Iver is no longer an unplanned entity synonymous with Justin Vernon. It is an idea, a place and sentiment that has now become as international as it is timeless. From the title track's remembrance of the winter warmth we seek, to the summer love tribute of b-side gem "Babys," Bon Iver's snow-blanketed harmonies live across the seasons. Still, there is a reverence for sabbatical, solitude and the winding down of time. As much as Emma is about the cold, the Blood Bank collection is about the warmth that gets you through it. You can feel the air move. Like a fire you've been stoking for hours and finally got to sustain itself, the heat blisters your face while your back is frozen solid.

Bon Iver has grown to include more than what was available at the much-fabled Wisconsin cabin, such as piano, slide guitar, and vocoder. As Justin layers on harmonies in the meditative R&B a capella "Woods", he declares "I'm building a still to slow down the time." It is as poetic as it is necessary. Both expansive and intimate, these four songs explore the darker and lighter natures of the seasons and what they signify, and offer a dynamic glimpse into the natural energy and refined craftsmanship that characterize Justin Vernon's music.
Blood Bank
Beach Baby

You heard it here first people. Make sure you thank Dura next time your in the Haight.

we saw: Frida Hyvonen

"Winter Knows Best"

Last night Swedish songstress Frida Hyvonen played her last Stateside show before returning to Sweden. Lucky for her the transition back to Swedish live shouldn't be so tough, as last night's show was held at the Church of Sweden, a lovely Scandinavian chapel located in the heart of Midtown (E. 48th & 5th). The second floor of the Chapel, with its incredibly gothic windows, and almost Medieval chandeliers, gave the small room an incredibly warm and intimate vibe. There were candles everywhere, and even a Swedish minister. Frida, with just her piano and a friend to accentuate the backing the vocals, played a short set heavily focused on her recent release Silence is Wild, including opener "Dirty Dancer", "Birds", "Why Do You Love Me So Much" and "Science." I noticed it on her records before, but Frida really is like 21st century, Swedish Joni Mitchell; strong voice (both literally and figuratively), passionate, often self-deprecatingly witty, lyrics and an absolutely instinctual feel for her instrument. Yes, her "piano fingers" were sprightly last night, and the acoustics of the upstairs chapel at the Church of Sweden were pristine. Until Death Comes classic "Once I Was A Serene Teenage Child" was my personal highlight of the evening, with its sardonic lyrics ("You said you were a poet/ but your poetry wasn't obvious to me/ when you said you had the stuff to drive me/ wild"). As expected with any intimate show in a church, "the feeling of power was intoxicating magic." I highly rec'd Frida's latest on Secretly Canadian (Silence is Wild) for fans of St. Vincent, Joni Mitchell and El Perro del Mar.

Frida Hyvonen- Enemy Within

Frida Hyvonen "Dirty Dancing"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

covers: Vashti Bunyan "Martha My Dear"

"Hold Your Head Up You Silly Girl"

Bill posted this incredible cover of the "typecasted eternal hippie" Vashti Bunyan re-imagining the Beatles White Album classic "Martha My Dear." Bunyan's hushed vocal, coupled with the songs lo-fi production and the majestic harp, really lend this cover a woolly, winter mornings feel. Sort of the musical equivalent of taking a really hot shower after riding your bike home through the chilly Autumn air. To be greatly enjoyed while cocooned in a blanket, starring at the looming dawn and drinking hot tea. 

Vashti Bunyan & Max Richter- Martha My Dear (courtesy of SoundBites)

video: Fleet Foxes

"Over Near Tennessee"

Two of my favorite songs of 2k8. Casey adds some melodica to Blue Ridge Mountains, a perfect, almost Parisian, touch to the Appalachain hymn. Once again, go see le Fleet Foxes ASAP.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

cat's pajamas: Absentee

"Watching fat girls in cafes / Eating cakes like they're biting on hand grenades"

In an effort to be as eloquent as possible, I have "borrowed" from the tool box of emissaries like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jack London, and that dude who used to be the President of Hamilton:
Born to the sounds of Barry Manillow and The Carpenters, raised on romantic comedies, and schooled in failed love and misfiring lust--Absentee emerge well-versed in the rigors of romance with their finest album to date, Victory Shorts.

But seriously, British swoon-rock outfit Absentee released their third album, Victory Shorts, overseas last month and for the first time in a while I'm not bitching about getting raped by the exchange rate (is $25 USD too much for a vinyl? talk amongst yourselves).

While lead singer Dan Michaelson can't help but resemble bass-laden crooners like Johnny Cash, Steve Berman, or Tom Waits, his band mates support him in a refreshingly sincere way using all the instruments that make us Bobkats giddy (melodica, glockenspiel, lap steel).

Like most great pop albums, Victory Shorts is an easy listen that only becomes more enjoyable with time. The quiet opener, "Shared", is more than just Dan Michaelson 101. Melinda Bronstein's backing vocals and gentle piano riffs evoke R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts". When Absentee stretch their legs on the beat-driven "Bitchstealer" and the excellent closing track "That Old Ghost", we feel an amazing sense of exploratory profoundness. Quiet when they want to be; loud when they don't; happily, Absentee never leaves us asking why.

Absentee - The Nurses Don't Notice a Thing [from 2008's Victory Shorts]

Monday, November 10, 2008

we saw: Deerhunter @ Music Hall

"Light of My Focus, Light of My Bed"
(Photo by t-fal)
Friday night we saw Deerhunter for the third time since Microcastle leaked in June. While their LPR show was outstanding, the show at Music Hall had all the trappings of a classic rock show, minus all the cliches. The band jumped right into killer material ("Cryptograms", "Never Stops"), building momentum through kraut-rock rhythms and an absolutely bombastic wall of sound. As per usual, MHOW sounded impeccable, as you can tell from NYC Tapers recording (equally as impeccable, as expected. Dude srsly's got it going on.) After "Never Stops", Bradford and Co. dropped it down a knotch for Flourescent Grey's "Dr. Glass" which seamlessly segued into Cryptogram's "Hazel Street." Reverb and Delay pedals were in full effect. Things were getting epic. At this point there had been maybe two lines of banter, pre-show at that, making this show inherently different than LPR's Bradford story-teller show. They were on fire. The crowd knew it. And I think they did as well.

If that wasn't enough, they segued "Hazel Street" into "Nothing Ever Happened", arguably the most in your face (and poppiest) of the Microcastle material, and easily one of the best Deerhunter jams for highway rocking. 5 songs in and they were absolutely murdering it. The first part of their set took the ole North 6 to the astral plane, where they brought out parts of the Microcastle suite and "Flourescent Grey." The only thing missing was "Strange Lights", but no complaints on our end.

Get the show from NYC Taper asap.

Never Stops
Dr. Glass
Hazel St.
Nothing Ever Happened
Vox Celeste
Saved By Old Times
Fluorescent Grey
Calvary Scars II > Aux Out
encore break
Microcastle Intro
Twilight At Carbon Lake

Friday, November 7, 2008

in rotation: Forest Fire

"I Don't Like What I've Become"

I have no idea how I found out about Forest Fire, but two days ago their infectious "I Make Windows" came on shuffle. After a little sleuthing, I found out that Forest Fire are a, surprise surprise, Brooklyn band, by way of Portland, specializing in atmospheric, bourbon soaked, tin-shack country folk. Sure, they fall into the extremely broad "Indie" category, but the songs off their record Survival feel more like urban twang or industrial hymns written in an abandoned warehouse in Bushwick than freak folk or goth folk or whatever the sweet folk the kids are digging this week is. Survival, released this summer, is an understated, overlooked gem that feels more like a stepping stone to something bigger than a master statement. Their bio notes that "Survival was recorded over an eight month period in two locations - Brooklyn, New York and Portland, Oregon. “Not all the members of Forest Fire live on the same coastline,” Mark Thresher explains, “So when certain friends roll through town, things happen pretty quickly.” Many of the tracks were recorded live in less than five takes, then maniacally overdubbed by a variety of players. Sometimes there was only one microphone for the entire band. Sometimes they pulled out a few more." If that's not enticing enough, NYC Taper favorite Sharon Van Etten and Nick Deiffs of the Shaky Hands lend their vocals on a few tracks. Oh yeah, and the album is available for free on, so what are you waiting for? Snatch Survival here, then go buy Cotton Jones Basket Ride's The Archery EP and chew on the wonders of the new East Coast atmospheric folk scene.

Forest Fire doesn't have any dates scheduled, but you can catch The Shaky Hands at the Mercury Lounge Saturday and Sharon Van Etten at Zebulon on Sunday. Both are Bobk-approved and highly recommended.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

lost classic: Sun Dial Other Way Out

"Mystic Sounds of A Magical Fun Fair"

In terms of meandering, reverb drenched psychedelia, there aren't many who do it better than Sun Dial. The band, which emerged from studio experiment band the Modern Art, plays explosive, other worldy guitar based psychedelia, similar to first wave San Francisco psych acts, as well as the ecstasy fueled 80's Madchester gaze (Spacemen 3, Stone Roses). Dark, and best enjoyed whilst sitting under a black light, Sun Dial are truly far out, constantly reaching for the outer membrane of the atmosphere, while tugging at the core of your mind with blissful, often floating jams that would feel at home in the deepest, darkest part of a pyramid. Their debut record, Other Way Out, is a bonafide, under rated (and perpetually out of print) classic, composed of 6 extremely far out tunes, the sort of songs that easily could've been on the soundtrack to a film like Dazed and Confused, if Dazed an Confused were more like the Nicholson/Fonda/Hopper film The Trip or Holy Mountain. The opening cut, "Plains of Nazca", is a mountain climbing LSD adventure, a total trip, propelled by atmospheric keyboards and Jim Cippolina-esque guitar. The band specializes in climatic explosions of sound, but also knows their way around a hellbent ballad, best displayed on "World Without Time", which starts with acoustic guitar and is bolstered, and blown out of this world, by an absolutely massive, Middle Eastern riff which soars like Osprey in Hell's Canyon. A must for anyone with an affliction for lava lamps and good herb.

Sun Dial- World Without Time
Sun Dial- Plains of Nazca

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

new morning music: Kria Brekkan

"It Sounds Wonderful!"

(Photo from NYC Taper)
I finally got around to listening to NYC Taper's phenomenal recording of Kria Brekkan's semi-recent set at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Greenpoint a few months ago. Whoa! I remember the evening feeling as if the basement of the church were some hideaway on the great astral plane and the Taper's recording only cements that feeling. While the set isn't without its warts (chairs moving, blips, clicks, etc), it is an absolutely phenomenal capturing of an extremely intimate moment, one I haven't been quite able to shake since the evening. Kria's eccentric, hushed, utterly ethereal sound scapes are the stuff winter dreams are made of. That said, download this set asap before the chill of winter sets in and you feel like hibernating. It will aid greatly in the process.

PS-NYC Taper's got a new server and downloads are super fast. Highly rec'd snatching as much as possible, ya know, for the future.

Download Kria's set (and more) at NYC Taper.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day: A Change Is Gonna Come

"Long, Long, Long Time Coming"

Vote. Then keep your fingers crossed. Optimism is the best policy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

new: Beach House

"It's Not The Same As It Used To Be"

One hell of a magical song from the new Beach House single, Used to Be b/w Apple Orchard (4-track demo).

Beach House will be in Brooklyn, Tuesday December 9th at MHOW. Tix still available.