Archive for November, 2009

Girls: “Hellrole Ratrace”

November 21, 2009

Of all the bands these days eking irony out of choosing a misnomer of a moniker, Girls is hardly the first, nor is it the most scandalous. Starfucker, for one, wins in both the shocking and incongruent categories. Besides, lead singer and co-founder Christopher Owens wears his dirty blonde locks long and is, in all honesty, prettier than me. But his story isn’t. Not to harp on everyone’s tough luck in these trying times, but this frontman spent his childhood as a member of the Children of God cult, which sometimes forced his mother into prostitution and let his little brother die due to an unwavering aversion to modern medicine.

Unlike Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, however, his savior came in the form of a millionaire he met in Texas (where he had escaped to as a teen) and swept him off to San Francisco, where he met Chet “JR” White, with whom he formed Girls. In true down-this-destructive-dirt-road form, the pair dallied in drugs while writing their debut, Album, but they managed to strike a chord that was equal parts Beach Boys and heartache (as it’s mostly about a breakup with a girl). Girls performs at Swedish American Music Hall tonight and at Bottom of the Hill on Saturday.  If you don’t have tickets yet, the tough luck is yours—both shows are sold out. 

Girls – Hellhole Ratrace

Who: Girls

What: Album

When: 9.22.2009

Where: San Francisco, CA

Why: “I’m sick and tired of the way that I feel / I’m always dreaming and it’s never for real.”

How: True Panther


Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson: “The Sound”

November 20, 2009

milesbenjaminanthonyrobinsonWith a name like that, it’s a shame Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson isn’t planning on pursuing the presidency. But even if he were inclined, he’d have the road before him paved with obstacles beyond our current commander in chief sharing a name with a particularly unpopular dictator, like a history of drug abuse and bouts of homelessness in which he often made benches into beds on Coney Island. Oregon-born, he spent much of his youth traveling around with his comedian father—but after moving to New York and trying to make it in bands that never made it big, he started on a downward spiral that got him kicked out of the very clubs he was playing.

But things are looking up for the recently reformed singer/songwriter. Having released his much-lauded eponymous debut last year, Saddle Creek signed him this August, and the new record, Summer of Fear, was produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. As he can also claim TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone as his friend and co-collaborator, he probably won’t be drinking—or sleeping—alone this holiday season. He’s currently touring with These United States, and if you missed him at Hotel Utah on November 6, check out his tour dates elsewhere.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Sound

Who: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

What: Summer of Fear

When: 10.20.2009

Where: Brooklyn/Oregon

Why: “Sometimes it fills you up / Most times it lets you down.”

How: Saddle Creek

Phosphorescent: “Wolves”

November 11, 2009

phosphorescentYou know when you fall in love with a song so completely that it seems as though, if you were unceremoniously banished from your current life and relocated to the outermost recesses of the world—say, on the smallest island on an archipelago off the coast of Antarctica—and forced to live in solitude without books, crossword puzzles, or any type of human contact, as long as you were able to listen to that one splendid song nonstop, that would be food enough to feed your soul for the rest of your living days?

Well, that’s how I feel about “Wolves.” One-man band Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck) brings us his slow-burning, Southern-tinged sound from Brooklyn by way of Athens, Georgia. Listen to every second of the six-plus-minute song below, or check him out live in KEXP’s Cutting Room Studios here. The second LP since 2005’s Aw Come Aw Wry, and the one that fell right before the band released To Willie (a—you guessed it—Willie Nelson tribute album), Pride impresses with Houck’s strong songwriting skills and untarnished, organic feel.  Currently touring in the U.K., hopefully Houck will bring his beard back stateside soon.

Phosphorescent – Wolves

Who: Phosphorescent

What: Pride

When: 10.23.2007

Where: Brooklyn, New York

Why: “Mama, there’s wolves in the house / Mama, they won’t let me out.”

How: Dead Oceans


Yeasayer: “Ambling Alp”

November 6, 2009

Yeasayer72At the risk of making a habit of highlighting more upbeat tunes (and interrupting my generally steady stream of virulently melancholy indie rock), I bring you the new single off of Yeasayer’s highly anticipated sophomore effort, Odd Blood, due out in February. I was especially pleased to learn of the free download after enjoying the genre-scoffing band’s “Tightrope” this morning at yoga class as my instructor played Dark Was the Night in its entirety. There is a reason I get up at 6 am on Thursdays, and it might have as much to do with Erika’s like-minded music selections as it does with my downward dog.  

For some reason I’m getting an image of Daniel from Karate Kid in my mind when I listen to the chorus: “You must stick up for yourself, son / Never mind what anybody else done.” Potential Bat for Lashes and Yeasayer collaboration? “Daniel” + “Ambling Alp” mashup = genius. I think the previous Orwellian apocalyptic vision Yeasayer painted in “2080” (off of debut All Hour Cymbals) would meld well with Natasha Khan’s nightmarish cinematographic aesthetic. No tour dates announced yet, but it’s only a matter of time. For what it’s worth, at least we have the track list:

  1. The Children
  2. Ambling Alp
  3. Madder Red
  4. I Remember
  5. O.N.E.
  6. Love Me Girl
  7. Rome
  8. Strange Reunions
  9. Mondegreen
  10. Grizelda

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp

Who: Yeasayer

What: Odd Blood

When: 2.9.2009

Where: Brooklyn, NY

Why: “You must stick up for yourself, son / Never mind what anybody else done.”

How: Secretly Canadian

Land of Talk: “Some Are Lakes”

November 3, 2009

elizabethOh, Canada. You lay claim to a cornucopia of maple products, hockey, and inhabitants who are friendly but have funny accents. Thank you for giving our comedians a wealth of fodder—there is much to chuckle aboot. Montreal-based band Land of Talk, however, is no laughing matter. (Especially with lyrics like “Maybe when I die / I get to be a car / Driving in the night / Lighting up the dark” from “It’s Okay.”) Two years after releasing the well-received Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP, a full-length album arrived in the form of 2008’s Some Are Lakes, and the title track alone likely has sated the thirst of all of those left parched while waiting for a proper debut.

The band currently consists of singer and guitarist Elizabeth Powell, bassist Joe Yarmush, and drummer Andrew Barr (of The Slip). Pitchfork reports that Some Are Lakes was produced by Justin Vernon, the backwoods music master behind Bon Iver; one of the tracks, “Troubled,” was recorded in the same cabin in which Vernon recorded his Lazarus-like, falsetto-full For Emma, Forever Ago. So rest assured that, even with more upbeat, punk-inspired numbers, this record runs the emotional gamut, with Powell’s ethereal vocals stealing center stage. Come show your support of our northern neighbors at Café du Nord tonight. Eulogies and Nightmare Air open.

Land of Talk – Some Are Lakes

Who: Land of Talk

What: Some Are Lakes

When: 10.7.2008

Where: Montreal, Canada

Why: “We’ve seen how sick wind blows / But I’ve got your bovine eyes / And I’ll love you like I love you / Then I’ll die.”

How: Saddle Creek