Saturday, 23 June 2012

Please Step Out of the Vehicle

A long, long time ago (I can still remember), back before they were shit, I interviewed Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster from The Thermals. Indeed, it was the first band interview I'd ever conducted after a missing dictaphone had put paid to a rendezvous with Wolfmother the previous week. (Considering most of the questions I'd prepared for the Aussie band were along the lines of 'Do you know Mowgli from The Jungle Book?' and 'You all have very similar hairstyles – did this have any bearing on your decision to form a band together?', it was probably for the best.) Midway through the conversation, in a surely misguided attempt to impress Hutch and Kathy with my knowledge of their local music scene, I dropped the name of Portland's Please Step Out of the Vehicle. Their drummer immediately laughed and left the room. "What was that about?" I enquired. "Oh nothing," Kathy replied. "He just really hates Please Step Out of the Vehicle." I know now that man was an idiot.

So obscure, Please Step Out of the Vehicle have never been photographed in the wild; the only indication of what they look like is this artist's impression (or rather, so often do they change their composition around frontman and lone constant Travis Wiggins, he told me I was best off using the drawing). An indie pop band with a strong emphasis on experimentation, bleeps and bloops are rarely far from the strum of a guitar or the blast of a trumpet, with Wiggins joyously yelping his way along. What's more, Travis is a good guy – he said I could share with you as much of the band's music as I wished. I'm a good guy too though, so instead of taking advantage and uploading their entire back catalogue, I've decided to limit myself to 'We Will Go Everywhere (Part 2)' from Sleeping Right and the Best in Homeopathic Magic. It's fairly typical of that album's sound, and over the years has genuinely become one of my all-time favourite songs.

Please Step Out of the Vehicle – We Will Go Everywhere (Part 2)

Sleeping Right and the Best in Homeopathic Magic is available from Lucky Madison, where you can also preview the rest of the album.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

New Muscles!

Dispute with record label now seemingly over, Muscles is set to release his first new music since 2007's Guns Babes Lemonade, in the shape of 5-track EP, Younger & Immature. Five tracks. Don't push yourself Muscles, yeah? It'll see the light of day on October 29th through Modular. (PS – I fucking LOVE the cover.)

The first (and probably only. How many singles usually get released from EPs? One? Two? I'd release one. I think that would be the wisest business model) single from the EP, 'Girl Crazy Go', had its premiere on Triple J a few days ago, and since I couldn't find it anywhere else on the internet, I've created a rip to save you going through all their podcasts yourself. Seeing as that's only a couple of centimetres down, I won't bother telling you what it sounds like, just... you know... listen.

  Muscles – Girl Crazy Go (radio rip)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Angil and the Hiddentracks have a new album out

Which isn't the sort of thing I'd usually bother telling you, but no one else seems to have picked up on it, so I thought I might as well. Seriously, it's ridiculous how conflicted I feel about this. Album reviews? Release news? That's not what I had planned. Anyway, just know how much it pains me to put this picture of the cover up:

As you may be able to see (if you're not distracted by all the pretty colours at the top), it's called The And, a reference to the fact that all but two of the tracks (and even those feature allusions to the overall theme within their respective titles) are duets, mainly with French women. The most noticeable exception is 'Unbroken Hearts', featuring Emma Pollock, a.k.a. the only guest on the album I'd actually heard of.

At first, this disappointed me slightly. While frontman Mickaël Mottet, or 'Angil', hardly has the best voice in the world, it was nonetheless a key element in defining the aesthetic of the band's previous album, Ouliposaliva, and part of the reason I loved that record so much. So with the opening track focusing more than would be desired on the vocal of somebody called Brigitte Vautrin, the first listen through made for an initially unsatisfying experience.

Fortunately, as the album progresses, Mottet manages to gradually impose himself upon it, as well as improving the quality of his song-writing. In fact, the collaborative nature of the record may well prove to be a point in its favour, diluting as it does what, on Ouliposaliva, could at times be an overwhelming sound. Otherwise, it's more of the same blend of pop, jazz and folk, with perhaps a greater musical singularity than before to draw together the many disparate voices.

MySpace: (where lots of tracks from the new album are currently up, so I'm not even going to bother trying to get away with an mp3 upload)

Album available from CD1D.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Single Frame

Okay, I'm going to come clean: I'm full of shit. I'm a faker. A charlatan. Because, when I say I like a band, what I usually mean is, "I like one or two albums by them. I haven't even heard the others." Thus far in this blog's unproductive history, that hasn't really been an issue, since all of the bands I've previously recommended have only released one or two albums, if that. Now, however, it has become one, for Single Frame have released THREE ALBUMS. Three! And EPs! And I've only listened to one! Their debut, Wetheads Come Running! (Admittedly, one of those three is primarily a collection of remixes, but I nonetheless feel unable to claim in good faith that I am endorsing the band's entire creative output. I am not.) So basically, this is an album review of the very type I set out to avoid when I started Days Like Television, but since it's a review of an album released seven years ago that no one has heard of, I think I'm in the clear.

Back in 2003, when Wetheads Come Running was re-released for the first and only time, people liked it: Pitchfork gave the album 8.5 out of 10, along with their controversial 'best new music' tag; Tiny Mix Tapes, having discovered the album as a result of that review, exclaimed "I absolutely love the internet" and awarded it 5 stars; and a few years later, when they were compiling their 'Top Albums of the '00s So Far' list, Cokemachineglow named Wetheads as one of the best full-lengths of 2002 (the year of the album's original release). By the time it came to putting together their end-of-decade lists though, the album had either been forgotten or was neglected by all three of the aforementioned publications.

Within my own end-of-decade list (available upon request), however, Wetheads Come Running was positioned firmly towards the top. Predominantly an indie rock/pop record, the band employs synths and found sounds to differentiate themselves from the guitar-led masses. That goes some way towards conveying how diverse a range of influences are displayed across the album, with post-hardcore and hip-hop also playing their part in shaping the overall sound: 'Mod Style '68' in particular owes more than a small debt to Fugazi, and while the latter genre's impact is maybe less obvious - 'Taxidermy Heads', with its beatboxed percussion and rapped vocal, and the previously mentioned 'Mod Style '68' arguably being the only two tracks explicitly affected - it is nonetheless pervading, especially in determining the structure of the record as brief instrumentals separate most of the 'proper' tracks like indiefied skits.

Thematically, the album embraces those two great indie standards of paranoia and depression. If that suggests there's anything one-paced about Wetheads though, then it couldn't be further from the truth. From the abrasiveness of '3 Bloodless Shadows' and 'New Car Smell' and their screamed vocals, to the more melody-driven 'Comm. Jet (Creepykid Remix)' and 'Post Daydream Forecast Endeavor', the apathetic dejection of 'Eavesdropper Goes Solo' and the more boisterous 'I've Been to a Party at His House', stark shifts in tone ensure that boredom never sets in, even if the lyrics occasionally instil a sense of déjà vu.

Single Frame - Spacedust and Handcuffs

Comm. Jet (Creepykid Remix)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Kenton Slash Demon

In my last proper blog entry, I mentioned that I'd "become a bit bored and disillusioned by [guitar music's] constant inability to surprise, looking instead to hip-hop and more ambient fare for innovation". That was almost a year ago now and is largely irrelevant with regard to my current outlook on music, but it segues nicely into what I'm about to write, so bear with me.

Kenton Slash Demon are Danish production duo Silas Moldenhawer and Jonas Kenton. They first caught my attention with their name, partly because it's just a cool name, but mainly because I am from a part of London called Kenton and a massive narcissist. To be honest, I don't really know much about the sort of music they make (other than that it's awesome, obvs), so I'm just going to quote Dazed & Confused: "[Kenton Slash Demon] inadvertently lead the ethnic/tribal influenced tech-house movement with their Khattabi EP, and have already moved on to a more raw, organic take with their new single 'Sun'". I'll take their word for it. All I can say with certainty is that listening to the aforementioned EP makes me want to go out and start my own painfully hip club night.


Friday, 20 November 2009

New Cobras Cobras Cobras!

I actually started writing this entry purely with the intention of linking to a copy of the band's debut EP, since it's now out of print and the band have given me permission to upload it for public consumption (that actually happened ages ago, but I didn't want to post two Cobras Cobras Cobras entries too close together, so I've only just got round to uploading it now), but in doing a bit of research regarding the band's current activities, I've discovered they now have four brand new tracks - 'Wallsaw', 'Hotel California', 'Homeschooled' and 'Four' - available on their MySpace, and naturally I thought it would be churlish not to share. So that's what I've done. Shared. Hooray for you.

Of course, if you still want a copy of that debut EP (it's called Cobras Cobras Cobras Are Zombies, by the way), you can have that too. Just click here.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Okay, fuck it

I've been putting off this entry for a good few months now - despite knowing exactly who it was going to be on (a band called The Memories Attack) - I guess because I wasn't really sure exactly what I wanted to write, but fuck it, I just listened to a track by the band for the first time in a while, and even if I still wasn't sure what I wanted to write, I sure as hell knew why I wanted to write it. Which is all that matters, right? Obligatory band photo coming up...

The Memories Attack partially pick up where Eric's Trip left off, counting as they do former Trip guitarist Chris Thompson amongst their members, and that gives you some indication as to what they sound like. There's no real departure from Eric's Trip's sound here, with the exception of the occasional embrace of electronically generated sound. In fact there's no real departure from the sound of countless bands. If you want something new and exciting, The Memories Attack probably aren't going to be for you. What they will give you, though, is the at times expert convergence of feedback, melodies and assault on the drum kit - the key components of great indie rock. This is great indie rock.

There's something somewhat inappropriate about the fact that I'm posting about this band now. Two things, really. The first is that the song in question - the song that I double-clicked in iTunes a few minutes before I started writing, thus providing me with the immediate compulsion to write this entry, and the song that I'm about to post a link to - is called 'Summertime'. Indeed, I initially wanted to post this in the middle of July and we could have all appreciated it in a way befitting its title, but while summer seems to cling on to the Northern hemisphere more stubbornly with each passing year, I think it's safe to say that that ship has just about sailed.

More significant, though (I think), is the fact that guitar music hasn't really been of much interest to me lately. I've just become a bit bored and disillusioned by its constant inability to surprise, looking instead to hip-hop and more ambient fare for innovation. So it's all the more impressive that, even in this state of ennui, The Memories Attack can still do enough to truly, genuinely excite me. Like I said, is not as if they're doing anything particularly ground-breaking either, it's just that they're doing what they are doing really fucking well.

So I'm going to post a link to 'Summertime' now, not because I strongly believe in your right to have illegally downloaded music stored on your computer or even because the band don't have a MySpace where you can listen to some a number of their songs to your heart's content, but because they don't have a MySpace where you can listen to this song to your heart's content, and in case you haven't guessed from the enthusiasm with which its caused me to write about the band so far, it's a song which is just about perfect. The solitary bassline at the start, the way it builds... I don't want to ruin it for you, nor do I want to contradict the philosophy I carefully laid out when I started this blog, but it's a song I feel I have to say something about. If The Memories Attack have a mission statement in musical form, this is it. And if there's one song which is going to make you want to hear everything else the band's ever recorded, this is that too.

(Note to band (everyone else stop reading) - If you don't think that's a good enough reason for me to give one of your songs away for free, by all means, let me know and I'll delete it. I just want to give your music the exposure it deserves, not rip anyone off. Note to everyone else (band stop reading) - 'Summertime' is from the band's first album, but ironically, their second album is the stronger as a whole and this one track is probably more indicative of what you get from it than of what you get from the first, so if you want to investigate further, the direction of the second album is the one I suggest you head in. And just to complicate things a bit more, both albums are self-titled.)

The Memories Attack - Summertime