IF July 2010
Vol. II, No. 6
fullpitchforkfestivalcoveraGe a talk with Sharon Van Etten IFâ€™s Top 25 Band Names reviews: M.i.a., inception + more
IF STAFF Editor-in-Chief James Passarelli Layout Kathryn Freund James Passarelli Ainsley Thedinger Featured Writers Taylor Catalana Bryant Kitching Hans Larsen James Passarelli Ryan Waring Photography Andy Keil (Beatcrave.com) - Jon Spencer Page 6 Chris Parish (Harmondrive.com) - Cover photos + All Page 4, Titus Andronicus Page 5 Local Natives Page 6 James Passarelli - Ferret Photos Hans Larsen - All Others Web and Logo Design Greg Ervanian Rob Schellenberg
contact us Tom Kutilek: email@example.com Hans Larsen: firstname.lastname@example.org James Passarelli: email@example.com Ryan Waring: firstname.lastname@example.org General Inquiries: email@example.com Check us out online at: inflatableferret.com. Become a fan on Facebook or follow us on twitter at: twitter.com/inflatablef. We gladly welcome any criticism or suggestions. If you have any ideas for the magazine, or if you would like to be a part of it, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep your eyes peeled for daily news/updates on the website!
VOLUME U II No. 6
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Pitchfork Hans Larsen and Ryan Waring give a Pitchfork Recap, inc. their top 8 performances
Interview IF talks to singer-songwriter and Pitchfork performer Sharon Van Etten
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Reviews Reviews of M.I.A., Johnny Flynn, Private Dancer, and Inception
25 Best Band Names IFâ€™s James Passarelli lays out the 25 best band names of all time.
Playlist Then, check out a song by each of the bands that made the list.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2010 Words: HANS LARSEN AND RYAN WARING
PITCHFORK 2010 HOW IRONIC IS IT that shortly after the Miami Heat edged out the Chicago Bulls in the LeBron James sweepstakes, the literal heat posed the biggest threat to the success of Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival held July 16th-18th? Despite adding a comedy stage to round out the Chicago-based blog’s first full three-day event in the festival’s six-year history, the blazing furnace of Union Park was no laughing matter. The staff halved the prices of water and even distributed an overabundance of bottles and ice chips to accommodate the festival faithful who endured the oppressive sun for 9+ hours during sets from such Pitchfork-christened “buzzworthy” artists as Modest Mouse, Big Boi, Panda Bear, Broken Social Scene, Sleigh Bells, Freddie Gibbs, Wolf Parade, Bear in Heaven, and Neon Indian. D e v o t e d fans, however, weren’t alone in their discomfort. The summer swelter along with several other undesirable circumstances subjected many Pitchfork acts to the hot seat, be it leadoff act Sharon Van Etten breaking a string, Raekwon’s and Sleigh Bells’ set delays due to technical difficulties, or “Rockin’” Ryan Murphy’s puzzling introduction before Pavement’s closing performance on Sunday. But the festival’s adept lineup viewed the adversity opportunistically. Van Etten, skillfully retuning her guitar and repositioning its clamp, adjusted fine before Modest Mouse lent a replacement. Raekwon literally did not miss a beat when his suspect sound system cut out one time too many, breaking into freestyle and inviting four youth, break-dancing siblings onstage. Sleigh Bells upped the energy and volume once their crew fixed the mishap. Indie rock legends, Pavement, amid a long-sought reunion after ten-year hiatus, quickly placated the insulted crowd with the cult anthem “Cut Your Hair” before fans could even process frontman Stephen Malkmus’ verbal cue to the band. Pavement delivered every number in their deep cata-
log of hits to the weekend’s most reactive audience, and in doing so, satiated the withdrawals of their fervent followers. Yet despite Pavement exceeding the reunion’s hype, Saturday night’s headliner, LCD Soundsystem, the alias of hip quadragenarian James Murphy, stole the festival with a show the alternative dance scene will surely reminisce once he himself retires at the end of his current tour. Blending hits from all three of his LPs, including singles “Pow Pow” and “Drunk Girls” from 2010’s critically acclaimed This Is Happening , Murphy and his backing band gleamed beneath the shimmer of a disco ball as their infectious rhythms generated a thick dust storm from the park’s dirt infield. That, along with the liberated streams from the water bottle surplus, prevented dancing one’s self clean. The performance was so commanding it left each member of the vast crowd with a helpless look of abandonment at the show’s end. The Bulls may have fallen short during NBA free agency, but for 90 minutes on July 17th, Chicago had its King James.
During our visit we made sure to keep track of our eight favorite shows...as well as a few of our favorite t-shirts.
LcD soundsystem What? You want more from LCD Soundsystem’s set. No problem. Murphy led off the show with a version of “Us V Them” that should’ve been a clear indicator to Freddie Gibbs, who was just wrapping up his set over on the B stage, that the rapper might want to consider surrendering his mic. It was obvious from the mantra-like echoes in the audience during that song’s chorus, that LCD Soundsystem was building some kind of army on the main stage. As the drill continued into the second half of his performance by now, LCD called upon the paradoxically concise and lengthy “Yeah” to appropriately capture the positive vibes felt everywhere. I hate to be cliché, but the only negative was that it did end, leaving a palpable sense of regret as if the show were so good, we were better off having never experienced it.
Pavement Yeah, I know. We probably should be obligated to award the alternative rock demigods the top spot. The hype, the wait, and the timeless cuts are too ponderous for any other act to overcome. Runner up does not at all suggest the highly anticipated set was a disappointment, however. The Stockton, California quintet’s performance rather exceeded those lofty expectations, as they masterfully delivered the most warmly received set list they could have given. After inviting “‘Rockin’” Ryan Murphy to introduce the group with a dubious speech (in which he dubbed Pitchfork the “minor leagues” of Lollapalooza, promoted music pirating, and lamented his inability to “break” Pavement), Stephen Malkmus swiftly called upon their enduring ballad “Cut Your Hair,” effectively pacifying the crowd after Murphy’s intro. From that moment, I felt as if I really did not deserve the experience, but I was eternally grateful for it. They continued, belting out all the familiar tunes to a sing-a-long crowd only outmatched in my concert going experiences by Paul McCartney’s.
big boi Even without fellow Outkast member Andre 3000, Big Boi, one of Atlanta’s finest hip-hop veterans, had no troubles demonstrating his right to his own stage. He performed Outkast classics like “Ms. Jackson”, and “B.O.B.”, then gems from his brand new LP Sir Lucious Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, “Shutter Bug” and “Fo Yo Sorrows”. A group of young break-dancers at the end of the show put the final seal on Big Boi’s outstanding performance..
st. vincent Annie Clark may have just replaced Kylie Minogue as my Lady Inamorata (sorry that I have such a weakness for the Australian diva). Clark, with that honey pot of a larynx and supple frame, may at first appear to be the unlikeliest of rockers, but when the charismatic Siren wasn’t enamoring her male following, she was punishing her whammy bar and evoking David Byrne tics to a soundtrack of swelling feedback.
No band at the festival was more aggressive than Glen Rock, New Jersey group Titus Andronicus this weekend. Frontman Patrick Stickles particularly seemed to have more control (and by that I mean controlled anger) than any of the festival’s leaders, almost assuming the identity of a general from The Monitor, the band’s 2010 Civil War-themed album, and meriting the Shakespearean Titus Andronicus moniker. Stickles enjoyed some crowd surfing and a few personal asides spread the love to the rest of his band and a couple of friends who made guest appearances.
Jon spencer blues explosion Trust us, we’re not just throwing a bone to last issue’s featured artist. Check out a Blues Explosion show sometime, and you’ll see exactly why they’re on the list. Guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins might be the only two guys who could keep up with Spencer’s rowdy rock ‘n’ roll attitude. The chemistry is enough to cause music fans from any generation to get in touch with their animal side.
local natives I only caught the tail end of Local Natives’ show, after nodding off during Beach House, and found myself futilely weaving nowhere between the densest crowd at Pitchfork this year. Once the young LA group ended their set with a stunning live rendition of “Sun Hands”, I chalked that decision up as my schedule’s most glaring error. Maybe it was just the groove into which Local Natives worked itself during the performance, but by the end of the set, the boys looked as if they had been touring for years.
It’s definitely impossible to describe the circus that was Major Lazer’s Pitchfork performance, but I’ll give it my best shot. Sunday, 6:15 p.m. marked the time when a pair of Chinese dragon-headed figures leisurely pranced towards opposite sides of the Aluminum stage. The monster was just one ingredient in the energetic onslaught that would soon hit sun-beaten spectators. Major Lazer, accompanied by their trademark female dancers in attire suitable for guerilla warfare, eventually uncapped a bottle of Hennessey and shared gulps until only glass remained. The show concluded with raunchy dancing and Major showing WWE talent by leaping from a ladder onto the ecstatic fifth row fans. Luckily what Major lacked musically he compensated for with his ghoulish R-Rated antics.
Sharon van etten IntervieW: JAMES PASSARELLI
sHARON VAN ETTEN INTERVIEW Z E B U L O N . B R O O K LY N , N Y HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DRIVING home from work or school during rush hour traffic, flipping
through ten or fifteen obnoxious car commercials, finally finding solace in the tender caress of your local classical station? Nothing hits the spot quite like a soft piano solo, and those beautiful string sections are the perfect ally against this month’s MONSTER 0% APR FINANCE DEAL. But there’s something even more soothing than this, something no instrument can reproduce – the palliative sound of a female folksinger’s voice. And they don’t get much more soothing than Sharon Van Etten. The New Jersey-born twenty-nine year old has just one album under her belt, and its simple acoustic style is almost as modest as its creator. Because I Was in Love features little more than Van Etten’s voice and her soft guitar strings, but her follow-up promises to leave that simplicity in the dust. Epic, due out October 5th on Ba Da Bing! Records, was recorded with full band and backing vocals. A few days before the Pitchfork Festival, Van Etten played a free gig at Brooklyn’s famous Zebulon. She talked with IF’s James Passarelli beforehand.
Sharon van etten Interview continued melodies and everything, and I guess the lyrics came later. IF: Would you just think of them and remember, or did you have a notebook all the time or something like that? SVE: I had a notebook, I had a handheld recorder, I had a laptop that I used the internal mic on, so I had many different things that I had to filter together. IF: One of the great things about the record is that it’s so simple. Was that something you knew going into the recording process, or was that more of a production choice?
Inflatable Ferret: You’re originally from New Jersey, and then you spent some time elsewhere. Sharon Van Etten: Yeah, after high school I moved to Tennessee, and then I moved back to New Jersey, and now Brooklyn. IF: Where did your love of music come from? Were your parents big into music? SVE: Yeah, my dad was really big into vinyl, so he always played me Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Jethro Tull, The Kinks, all that kind of stuff. And my mom was really into folk mu-
sic. She also took me to Broadway shows and stuff, and my dad would take me to big arena concerts. IF: What were some of your favorite musicals? SVE: I really liked Westside Story and Fiddler on the Roof and Peter Pan. IF: For your first album, Because I Was in Love, how did the writing process go? Lyrics then music, or together, or what? SVE: It was a lot of streamof-conscious writing. I had
SVE: It was kind of both, because, you know, all the songs I wrote for just voice and guitar. And then when I went into the studio I wanted to keep it simple, because I’d never had a band or anything. So, I didn’t want to create something and then know I couldn’t reproduce it live. But by accident, when I recorded the record, I forgot to tune my guitar - it’s only in tune with itself. So, when we tried to add stuff over it just for fun, we couldn’t figure out what it was tuned
“When I went into the studio I forgot to tune my guitar, so we couldn’t really play much over it anyway.”
Sharon van etten Interview to, because it wasn’t ever a whole step or anything. It was always, like F sharp and a quarter, or something. So, we couldn’t really play much on it anyway, so that kind of made us stick to our rule of keeping it simple. But we wanted to do that anyway.
time. IF: You did play at that benefit for Chris Knox, though. SVE: Yeah. IF: How did that go?
IF: You talked about your parents, and you’ve also cited Diane Cluck and Meg Baird as influences. Who are your other main writing influences? SVE: Well, it’s constantly changing, but lately She Keeps Bees – who are local band that I love. Scary Mansion, who is probably the first singersongwriter out of Brooklyn to start a band. And it was kind of jarring at first, because she’s always so soft that when she formed the band it made me think, “Oh yeah, I want to rock out too.”…um…I’ve been really liking Tiny Vipers – loved her last record. Also, Lower Dens. I don’t know, that’s what I’ve been listening to lately.
SVE: Really great. We raised over $40,000 for him. And my friend made t-shirts, and we sold a lot of those. I got to meet Jeff Magnum and Claudia Gonson. Everyone was great – Kyp [Malone] played, and The Clean played.
talked to friends about this – whatever you think about Pitchfork as a blog is fine, but you can’t deny that their lineups are always stellar. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bad artist on their lineup. SVE: I’m pretty nervous. I’m the first artist on the first day, so it’s a little nerve-racking. But it should be fun, and there are a lot of bands I want to see. IF: Touring-wise, have you gotten around the West Coast a lot or the Midwest? SVE: I haven’t played t h e West Coast in a really long time. I ’ v e been through the Midwest a couple times. I’ve been mostly doing East Coast lately, and this is my favorite place to play. This is the first place to ever ask me back in New York.
“This is my first time with a drummer and bass player... It’s kind of the opposite of my last record.”
IF: It feels like there’s a kind of camaraderie between a lot of Brooklyn bands. Besides those bands, are there a lot of artists with whom you’ve kept in contact? SVE: Yeah, besides those ones, Rain Machine has been really supportive, and Matt Pond has been really supportive…Ariel East, Michael Leviton, Shilpa Ray, there have been so many people who have been really supportive. And we try to do shows together when we can, but lately our schedules have been so busy that we’re never in the same city at the same
IF: Yeah, what’d you think of The Clean? SVE: Great! So good – I love New Zealand noise stuff so much. And the band Coasting – they’re actually from here. And it went really well – everyone was really happy. IF: Because I saw the tickets were $75, and they sold out so fast. SVE: Yeah, we were really struggling, because we were like, “Well, it is a benefit - we want to make a lot of money for this guy.” So, everyone agreed it was a fair price – I mean, for that bill? Yo La Tengo? It was amazing. IF: And you’re also playing at the Pitchfork festival coming up. And I’ve
IF: Really? I’ve seen a few shows here, and it’s always a good time. SVE: Yeah, this place is my favorite, and number two is Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. IF: They’re playing this movie The Builder tonight before your set. And what’s the deal with that? They used your songs for the soundtrack? SVE: I wrote a song that they’re using for the film. IF: Just that song?
Sharon van etten Interview
SVE: Mhm. Bon Iver, I think, did most of the soundtrack. And I haven’t even seen it in its entirety yet. I felt bad, because they sent me the DVD, but it skipped, so I couldn’t watch it. It’s like, “I’m an asshole!” IF: Well, there’s nothing you could do about that. SVE: Yeah, I tried, I tried. IF: Alright, I’m going to put you on the spot. But, who are your three favorite old-time artists. SVE: Neil Young, Doc Watson, and Loretta Lynn.
IF: Wow, well played. Yeah, I’m hoping to see Doc at the Newport Folk Festival this year. SVE: Oh, cool. I got to see him play with Roger McGuinn. Roger McGuinn was kind of cheesy, but you gotta love The Byrds. IF: Of course. And I do have to confess, there’s one down side to your music that I noticed on the subway the other day is that you can’t really listen to it all the time.
er, it’s just soft. And I kind of wish I could turn it up louder. SVE: Well, that’s what this is the beginning of. The new record I just finished is full-band. And this is my first time playing with a band tonight – well, live. I mean, Megafaun backed me up live once, but this is my first time with, like, a drummer and a bass player. Just to see if I can reproduce the songs I wrote on this – it’s kind of the opposite of my last record. IF: And when does that come out?
SVE: (laughs) I know, I know. It’s kind of a downer record.
SVE: October 5th
IF: Well, it’s not even that it’s a down-
IF: Great. I’ll be sure to get it.
(N.E.E.T.) AFTER THE SUCCESS OF HER FIRST ALBUM, Kala , (and by “Kala” I mean “Paper Planes”) M.I.A. did not need to make a record like the hotly anticipated Maya. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see her become Lady GaGa with more neon and political consciousness. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Maya Arulpragasam. Instead she gets angry as hell, unleashing 12 tracks full of bullet holes and bomb shrapnel. Unlike any artist since Public Enemy or N.W.A., she embodies the vicious battle between the oppressed and the oppressors, a battle in which violence sometimes is the answer. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that M.I.A.’s music is politically charged. However, as the infamous interview that ran in the New York Times made clear, it seems as though Arulpragasam often tries to wear the scars of political injustice, war, terrorism, famine, etc. the same way someone might wear jewelry around her neck. She identifies herself as quite literally a part of
the struggles she sings about, yet I highly doubt any refugee from Darfur flies like paper or gets high like planes. The daunting task I faced while listening to Maya was trying to separate these apparent contradictions with the music itself. Maya (stylized as /\/\ /\ Y /\) is a militant record to say the least. The album leads off with “The Message,” which is more of a mission statement than it is a song. A nameless voice drones, “Hand bone connected to the iPhone, iPhone connected to the Internet, connected to the Google, connected to the government.” This serves as a brazen call to arms, literally, as every forthcoming track is more confrontational than the last. The first proper song is the exceedingly glitchy “Steppin’ Up,” which utilizes drill sounds as a primary instrument. This, not surprisingly, is as annoying as it sounds. Dropping f-bombs left and right with lines like, “You know who I am, I run this fucking club,” it’s almost as if M.I.A. is telling all of the high school girls and moms who loved “that song from Slumdog Millionaire” to leave the room. Now. Next track, “XXXO,” is an unexpectedly sexual club banger with shades of the aforementioned Lady GaGa. So much so, with the song’s straightforward chorus and double entendres (“you’re tweeting me like Tweety Bird, on your iPhone”), that it sounds awkwardly out of place. Take the firestorm of a first single “Born Free” for instance, complete with its incredibly NSFW music video and Suicide sample. The track rages like an army of tanks, and it’s too
in-your-face to ignore. In fact, with very few exceptions, Maya is more Flying Lotus than Lady Gaga. The best example of this is “Teqkilla,” an excessively glitchy track that, at over six minutes, runs about three minutes too long. As with most of the songs on Maya , the extreme use of sirens, drills, chainsaws, beeps and boops sound overwhelming and off-putting at first, very unlike instantly danceable tracks like “Boyz” or “Jimmy” off Kala. However, once I got past the sheer intensity and ferocity of Maya, the tracks immediately became more enjoyable. Granted, this took a few listens to accomplish, which is a few more listens than many fans will unfortunately give Maya . The album does not come across as a simple pop record, which is most likely what many were expecting from M.I.A., who has achieved household name status since her last release. Maya is most enjoyable when it dials down the gunfire and electronic flash. The reggae tinged “It Takes a Muscle” stands out as one of the albums best tracks because it is one of the few times where the actual music takes the drivers seat, as opposed to being beaten over the skull with sentiments of political oppression. Similarly, “Tell Me Why” also brightens up the album’s second half, despite the song’s Lilly Allen sounding chorus where M.I.A. asks the rhetorical question, “If life is such a game, why do people all act the same?”. The track also contains probably one of my favorite one liners of the year: “I drink alcohol, know the words to ‘Wonderwall’.” The biggest downfall of Maya
music reviews continued is its choppiness. It’s confusing to hear her sing about throwing bombs into Mecca on one track (“Lovalot”) to hearing about which alcohol she downs the fastest (“Teqkilla”) on another. Maya has little or no flow, but
Private Dancer Alive in High Five (Learning Curve)
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST ARE INEVITABLE. When it comes to journalism, however, the matter is especially delicate. It’s easy to speak your mind about Jay-Z and Hanson, but how do you handle criticism of people to whom you actually have to answer? It’s precisely this kind of dilemma that causes New York Mets play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen to deliberately avoid personal relationships with players. It’s not a bad approach, but I guess I just don’t take myself seriously enough as a music critic to go to such lengths to ensure my own credibility. So, I was more than a little nervous when Private Dancer’s Jesse Kwakenat sent me the band’s second album, Alive in High Five , for review. But sometime between mysecond and third lis-
taken track by track it can be quite the experience. M.I.A. has hardly left her politics behind her on Maya , as they, for better or for worse, strongly shape her music. This brutally harsh electro cavalcade may not be what
most fans were looking for or expecting, but heard through the right ears and right mind, Maya is an adequate piece of music and political statement.
ten to the ten-song, twenty-fiveminute, forty-five second album, I breathed a sigh of relief. I liked the record, and it wasn’t a fluke. Private Dancer features current and former members of three different Minneapolis bands (STNNNG, Vampire Hands, and Hockey Night), and both of their albums do sound like side projects – not because they’re thrown together, but because they’re so laid back. The band is right at home on the grassroots Minneapolis label Learning Curve Records, the same label that brought you albums by noise bands The Blind Shake and Gay Witch Abortion, and, most notably The Hold Steady’s 2004 debut LP Almost Killed Me . Like their label predecessors and colleagues, Private Dancer are pros at causing a ruckus, but their spacey, introspective guitar melodies give them brief moments of refuge from the bar band tag. Alive in High Five is framed by the spectacularly airy, postrock instrumental tracks “2000 Year Wave” and “2000 Year Wave Reprise” (a continuation of sorts from “1000 Year Wave” from their debut LP Trouble Eyes ). For the rest of the album, the freakishly similar-sounding Alex Achen and (STNNNG guitarist) Nate Nelson trade vocal duties with their best Craig Finn impressions. The country-tinged “Diane” and
“The Riders” see the band at its most relaxed, while the party anthem “Weekend” sounds almost carefree enough to be an early Red Hot Chili Peppers creation. “Mississippi, take her with me,” sings Achen in “River Please”, an ode to the big muddy stream that winds its way through Private Dancer’s beloved Twin Cities. Backup “Ooh”s and “ah”s find themselves onto almost every track, sometimes even when they’re unwelcome (namely, “Community Gardens”), but that’s the album’s only major flaw. The trophy track appears towards the end of the record, and it’s well worth the wait. The nostalgic “All Souls Eaters Day” hits the mark, expertly blending Private Dancer’s trademark feel-good rhythm with their uncanny knack for an unforgettable riff. Keep that one in storage for your Best of the Year list. The album’s tight tracks, all clocking in at less than three minutes, leave little room for fluff. And it’s obvious these dayjobbers pour a little bit of their fun-loving selves into everything they record. With only five hundred vinyl copies being pressed, Alive in High Five won’t reach nearly as many people as it should. That only make the listen even more special for you and me.
- Bryant Kitching
- James Passarelli
Johnny Flynn Been Listening (Lost Highway)
EVER SINCE NOAH AND THE WHALE declared that there would be sun, sun, suuuun all over our bodies, British indie folk rock, sometimes labeled nu-folk, has been burbling up to the mainstream music surface and finding a more universal audience. In with the ranks of Emmy the Great, Slow Club, Mumford and Sons, and Laura Marling comes Johnny Flynn with his sophomore effort, Been Listening. Flynn, a blue-eyed Brit every part the city/country mouse in his flannel and aged-to-indie-perfection Justin Beiber haircut, debuted with, A Larum. He was, in every sense of the word, on every track of that album, a troubadour. Set to squeaking violins, plinking guitar, and sometimes the almost drunken crash of symbols, he poured his bluesy little soul into songs teetering somewhere between the present and past, the world at large and a deserted roadside in the English fog. He sang of cold bread, brown trout, and the ten thousand graves in Hong Kong cemetery. A Larum – the title taken from Shakespeare’s stage notes, naturally – was such a pristine piece of folk music rooted in his home country that it even
continued contained a song called “Wayne Rooney” (thank you for clearing that up for me, World Cup). Been Listening further explores the colloquial in localities beyond Flynn’s own. Opening track, “Kentucky Pill,” proves this immediately with its mariachi band-horns and the lyrics, “Kentucky pill and a cow tipping expedition.” It seems this troubadour has made his way through the American backwoods. It is a bigger sound - more layered than the faster paced A Larum - a jaunty, homegrown party song. It shows a different, more raucous side to Flynn, although it seems to fall short of his full potential. “Lost and Found” comes in next, like a cold chaser, sounding like a scrapped track from A Larum , scrapped simply because it sounds just like every other slow paced warble from the debut. The pace picks up again with “Churlish May”, a water-logged “Kentucky Pill”, folksy in the bard-like recitation of former loves, yet given a spine by the lazy squawk of Big Easy-style horns. Following is another slow drawl, the underwhelming title track, which is then picked up by an ode to the confusion and yearning of youth, “Barnacled Warship,” a subtle kind of piratey pub song strung together with surprisingly resonating lyrics like “Think I’ll fight a war/I don’t know what for/but I’ll learn when I get my gun.” Flynn then hops on a gypsy caravan to sing “Sweet William, part 2”, a satisfying dive into folksy mystery, finally really utilizing his team of backing vocalists, who are always able to bring depth, liveliness, and a sense of camaraderie to his songs (most perfectly on A Larum’s “The Box”). Trailing lithely is the album’s easy commercial attention grabber (at least in indie circles and iTunes popularity), “The Water”, truly the simplest of folk songs yet made magic by the duet of Flynn and nu-folk’s First
Lady, Laura Marling. They sound like true Dickens-era orphans, a more authentic Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists. It is disappointing because of the imagined potential from the collaboration of their respective talents as songwriters, but pleasing in its lullaby-like sweetness. It provides a soft interlude into the darker, deeper tracks waiting. Throughout the rest of the album, Flynn channels American rhythm and blues (“Howl”), Death Cab for Cutie-esque piano (“Amazon Love”), and spotlight-soaking, storytelling ballads (“The Prizefighter and the Heiress”). But the album’s best track, where Flynn really flourishes as a harbinger of folk into the modern age, is “Agnes.” He is so very British in his delivery of lines like “St. Agnes, put your hair down/Tell your man to go to bed”, but the music recalls the jittery, pelvis-stimulating sounds of Elvis Presley. You can almost hear Flynn’s excitement at broadening his musical horizons, even if it is slowly, experimentally. It is a more electrified, modernized “Leftovers”, and the result, on this track, is invigorating. Where and how can American rock traditions and British folk marry again in such a pleasing way? Hopefully “Agnes” is a glimpse of the future not fully realized on Been Listening. This album is a good departure for Flynn, but not enough of a break from his foundations and not enough of a tie to them. He flirts with both directions but ends up committing to neither. Not as captivating as A Larum , and a bit of a letdown following last winter’s Sweet William EP, Been Listening is indecisive but enjoyable - proper background music as opposed to meditative, soul-scouring magic. - Taylor Catalana
Christopher Nolan CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FIRST FEATURE-LENGTH FILM, Following, was shot around the schedules of its actors, who continued to work their day jobs during production. Nolan’s latest movie cost some $160 million and its success at the box office suggests that studios will happily provide oodles of cash for his next project. Throughout the twelve years that saw Nolan move from no-budget to big-budget, he evinced a unique and consistent style that both makes one wonder at and explains his blockbuster status: while Nolan often uses disjointed, non-chronological plot structures (to which Hollywood is not usually endeared), he can also tell an exciting story when he chooses. In the world of Inception , a person’s subconscious is accessible to others, allowing for shared dreams. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his associates use this technology for a new kind of theft: that of ideas. They fash-
ion facsimiles of reality out of whole cloth for their victims to occupy; the targets move about these mentally-constructed environments with their secrets, unaware they are in a dream. Cobb, however, is approached by a man—a man who can reunite Cobb with his children—with a novel, seemingly impossible task: the implantation of an idea in the mind, not its theft. The mechanics of this sort of dreaming occupy much of the first half of the movie; these portions play out with all of the wit and pacing of an instruction manual. Nolan can have some serious problems with plot structure and pacing: in The Dark Knight , Two-Face seems tacked on from another movie, with an extra hour to show for it. Here, the details of shared dreaming are explained with clumsy dialogue Sure, there is the occasional gem in this stretch—DiCaprio on the unfettered creative potential of dreams, for instance. But until we get to the central dream of the movie, we have to endure a flat script bursting to the seams with exposition. Inception suffers from the reverse affliction that DiCaprio’s last flick did: while the pat explanations of Shutter Island weaken its ending, the preliminary explanations of Inception weigh down its beginning. But Inception also has the strengths of TDK, including natty dressers, a dense Zimmer soundtrack, and good old-fashioned thrills. The multiple layers of subconscious that the characters create—making dreams within dreams—is riveting to watch as they grow and teeter. There is even some poignancy in how the mission is carried out. The zero-gravity scenes (all accomplished without CGI) are outstanding. Some critics have de-
cried a lack of feeling at the base of the movie: there is no reason we should care about these characters. Whether or not you care as much for them as for any made-up people, Inception is undeniably cool. If there is such a thing, Nolan is undoubtedly an auteur; he tells stories in a way and with ideas unmistakably his own. Inception , his first original story since his first movie, is another fine addition to this still, in all its messy and fascinating glory. - James Emerson
IF’s 25 Best Band Names Of all time
words: James Passarelli
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE has a finite – well, somewhat finite – number of words. With Merriam-Webster constantly adding slang words like “xtreme” and “webisode”, I suppose you could argue that the number is ever expanding. So, what does that say about the future of band names? Everyone’s heard or said, “all the good ones are taken.” And most of them are. After decades of musicians laying claim to their favorite monikers, desperate emerging artists often look to obnoxious repetition, puns, punctuation, and non sequiturs just to find anything half-way original. Names like Panic! At the Disco, Everything Everything, I’m From Barcelona, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Wakey! Wakey! hint at an impending demise of band names in general. I imagine a dystopian music society in which bands are identified only by numbers, and album names merely by letters. But just as musicians manage to produce unique and exciting sounds with a seemingly finite group of notes and instruments, new artists continue to contribute worthy additions to music nomenclature. We took a lengthy stroll through the history books to find our twenty-five favorite band names of all time and matching songs that make them chime all the better.
#1 joy division
Draw whatever conclusions you like about the name’s reference, religious or otherwise, but music genius/band leader Trent Reznor will deny them. He told an Axcess Magazine interviewer in 1994 that he stuck with the name because it “looked great in print” and “could be abbreviated easily.” But we chose the name not because of how it looks, but because of how it sounds. And interestingly enough, it’s one of just four band names on this list that makes use of alliteration.
It’s astounding that a name so beautiful could come from something so terrible. The legendary post-punk band was named after the section of Jewish women in Nazi concentration camps who were forced into prostitution. In much the same fashion, the foursome’s two albums worth of music is wonderful despite lead singer Ian Curtis’ deep inner pain. Before his tragic suicide at the tender age of 23, he was an integral part of some of the greatest musical achievements of all time.
#2 nine inch nails
#3 hindu love gods
R.E.M. - Michael Stipe + Warren Zevon = Why did this band only record one album? That self-titled album is a collection mainly comprised of covers of old-time artists, including Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, and Woody Guthrie…and one cover of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret.” Not sure how Kamadeva and Rati (the actual Hindu love gods) would receive the album, but it sounds damn good to me.
It makes sense that the crunchiest band of all time should have one of the best flowing names. Yeah, so what if “crunchy” is an inadequate adjective to describe the Stones? It’s fitting nonetheless. Legend has it that Brian Jones’ idea for the name came from his randomly glancing at the track “Rollin’ Stone” on a Muddy Waters LP.
#4 the rolling stones
#5 rage against the machine Originally intended to be the name of a record by Zack de la Rocha’s previous band Inside Out, RATM seemed to suit his new band better. Few musical acts are more appropriately named than this one. De la Rocha’s trademark rapping and Tom Morello’s equally unique screeching guitar riffs make for one ferocious mixture. It’s the reason they’ve dominated rap metal for twenty years.
#6 built to spill
It wasn’t until I started this list that it struck me how few one-syllable band names there really were. And a high percentage of those fall in the horrible-to-mediocre range (Blur KISS, Muse, Beck, and Queen, for instance). Not the case with Eric Clapton’s blues rock outfit. With the help of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, Clapton produced some of the dirtiest, bluesiest, most iconic songs of the 60’s. The name is simple and smooth, and it encapsulates the confidence of one of the greatest trios in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Rules are meant to be broken, and contained liquids are meant to be liberated, at some point at least. The indie pride and joy of Boise, Doug Martsch’s crew are going on eighteen years since their first album hit stores, thanks in no small part to their excellent name.
#8 scraping foetus off the wheel You could say this is wrong on so many levels, but it’s really only wrong on one. This is definitely the most disturbing band name I could find, but it is so outrageous and provocative that I absolutely could not resist putting it on the list. It turns out Scraping Foetus is just one of many monikers adopted by industrial mastermind J.G. Thirlwell (which include Foetus Under Glass, You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath, and several other less horrifying names).
#9 the velvet underground Named after Michael Leigh’s book about bizarre underground sexual activity, The Velvet Underground is the epitome of early alternative rock. And something tells me you just don’t become the epitome of anything without a sweet name. Okay, so I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule, but this isn’t one of them.
#10 the contortions
Ever since my first episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I can’t help but picture Meatwad when I hear this name. If that’s not a good enough reason for you, I’m open to other suggestions.
Of the countless “The” names out there (Killers, Doors, [insert random plural noun here], I chose only seven. And only three of those are followed by just one word. I chose this particular one for two reasons: a) the image finely compliments their harsh, twisted saxophone melodies, and b) “contortion” is just an excellent word.
#11 meat puppets
I could probably repeat that name for somewhere between forty and fifty minutes and keep myself happily amused. Not sure what to make of the Denton, Texas alternative country outfit’s music, but the name enough is music to my ears. Slobberbone…Slobberbone…okay, I’ll spare you the rest.
The second of three one-word “The” names on the list packs the punch of Built to Spill and the simplicity of Cream all scrunched into one five-letter word – that is, if you’re not counting the “The” (The The… say, that sounds like an excellent band name).
#14 widespread panic
#13 the clash This one makes me picture a crowd full of WSP fans having bad trips while the band members continue casually shredding their instruments with expressionless faces. You might not be into drugs, and you might not be into jam bands. More specifically, you might just not be into Widespread Panic. But you can’t deny that it’s one hell of a name.
#15 the dresden dolls Want to hear a hilarious self-proclaimed music genre? How about Amanda Palmer’s description of her band’s music as “Brechtian punk cabaret”? She came up with it (I assume tongue-in-cheek) to avoid her music being deemed “gothic.” And according to Palmer, the name originated from a number of things, including the famous World War II firebombing of Dresden, a song by English post-punk group The Fall, and a reference to a V.C. Andrews’ book Flowers in the Attic. I cannot read or say this name without smiling. The band’s music has been described as “serious indie rock”, but it appears the members of this Austin five-piece seem to have quite the sense of humor. One of the very few marathon band names that works.
#16 i love you but i’ve chosen darkness
#17 blind pilot
Everything about this Portland band is delightfully simple, from their unassuming folk music, to their wordpress website, to the modest cover art on their first and only album to date. So why should their band name be any different? It’s a simple, ironic image that gives new bands hope - not every good band name is taken.
#18 sly & the family stone Sly Stone – Sylvester Stewart’s stage name is indicative of both his sensual side (Sly) and his musical force (Stone). Stewart and his brother Freddie, both performing with the last name Stone, started out leading two separate bands. But Sly & the Stoners and Freddie & the Stone Souls were destined to form the world’s most daring and influential R&B bands. Seattle grungers Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell serve up a rather disturbing image with their famous name (although not nearly as disturbing as some – see number 8). The boys adapted from Staley’s earlier band called Alice ‘N Chains, I suppose after realizing grammatical incorrectness wasn’t going to get them anywhere.
#19 alice in chains
#20 darker my love If there is one name that conjures the sounds of 60’s and 70’s soul music, it’s probably The Delfonics. I searched long and hard for the origin of the name, to no avail (please drop me a line if you know it). Part of me wishes I never find out – the mystery only adds to its beauty. As lovely a name as it is, its beauty can never compare to the delicious melodies the band manufactured.
So, you might consider this name too close for comfort to I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, but it has a slightly different vibe to it. And it sounds a little more serious. This one came from a song by longtime Long Beach punk band True Sounds of Liberty.
#21 the delfonics
continued Yet another example of a great band having a great name, and I would like to think that this name might be on the list today even had they not made ten of the downright best rock albums of all time. Fortunately for everyone, we will never find that out.
#22 led zeppelin This one might win the contest for “most outrageous band name origin.” Steely Dan is the name of a steel vibrator in Naked Lunch, the novel by William S. Burroughs. As uncomfortable as it might make you feel, it works amazingly as a band name.
#23 steely dan
#24 the tony danza tapdance extravaganza
The name has the same kind of swing and charisma to it that Mark Knopfler’s smooth guitar and smoother voice share in common. After releasing one of the truly great rock albums in 1977, the English band went on to crank out jams that had fans all over the world screaming for their MTV.
As much as I love Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, the Tony Danza reference gives these guys the edge over any other celebrityrelated names. And the fact that they’re grindcore can only make it more ridiculous and awesome.
#25 dire straits
80 minutes OF MUSIC FROM THE 25 BANDS WITH THE BEST namess WE COULD HAVE come up with another theme for this issue’s 80 minutes of music, but we figured we’ll have plenty of time to do that. Instead, why don’t we let you listen to a delectable track by each band from our Top 25 Band Names of All Time list? It also serves as a more compact list of each band. How covenient. Playlist: James Passarelli
1 2 3 4
Joy Division 2:26 “Interzoner” Like any Joy Division song, “Interzone” gives you the inescapable urge to dance, despite the depressing lyrics.
Nine Inch Nails 3:32 “The Hand that Feeds”
This Woody Guthrie tune is one of the highlights of the outstanding cover album.
The Rolling Stones 2:56 “Stupid Girl” There are some really awful bands out there with songs titled “Stupid Girl.” I don’t need to tell you that this is not one of them.
Turn that shit up!”
“Would you bite the hand that feeds? Would you chew until it bleeds?”
Hindu Love Gods 2:56 “Vigilante Man”
Rage Against the Machine 3:26 “Guerilla Radio”
Doug Martsch’s straightforward guitar shines through in this brief ditty from the band’s 2009 album There Is No Enemy.
2:26 12 Slobberbone “Engine Joe” Warning: This song was chosen because it fit our 80-minute timeline. Hey, we’ve got to do it sometimes.
Clash 4:20 13 The “Hitsville UK” Like many of The Clash’s songs, this one bashes the major labels and sellouts of the music industry. The thing that makes this one different is that it’s in the form of a duet between Mick Jones and his present girlfriend.
The Velvet Underground 2:50 “Who Loves the Sun” I, for one, love the sun. How about you?
Cream 2:07 “Four Until Late” One of the many beautiful products of Robert Johnson’s influence on Clapton. They really don’t make the blues like this anymore.
A classic Puppets tune from an era when they still kicked ass.
Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel 3:31 “Hot Horse” With metallic snares to kick things off and Thirwell’s pained vocals, this is the perfect industrial metal track for your cult parties.
Built to Spill 2:40 “Pat”
Puppets 3:44 11 Meat “We Don’t Exist”
The Contortions 3:21 “Don’t Want to Be Happy”
“I only live on the surface. I don’t think people are very pretty inside,” sings Chance semisarcastically.
Widespread Panic 3:00 “Send Your Mind” The first track off the band’s self-titled second album is one of a handful of Van Morrison covers they’ve done throughout the years.
The Dresden Dolls 4:19 “Gravity” Palmer’s deep fauxcals and heavy piano wonderfully compliment her strange, perhaps suicidal lyrics.
Love You But I’ve The Delfonics 2:33 16 IChosen 21 Darkness 2:30 “Down is Up, Up is “The Owl”
Don’t know about the love part of the equation, but this track makes it clear they have, in fact, chosen darkness.
Wonderful brass. Wonderful strings. Wonderful song from their 1970 self-titled LP.
Pilot 4:31 “One 17 Blind Red Thread”
It’s no surprise this beautiful ballad is the first song listed on Blind Pilot’s myspace page. They’ve got several tracks about which to boast, but this one’s a true standout.
Zeppelin 3:17 22 Led “The Crunge” A funky and underrated track from 1973’s Houses of the Holy.
Dan 3:45 23 Steely “Kings” Not hard to pick a great song from these guys’ fantastic body, so this one off their debut album was pretty random, I must admit.
& the 18 Sly Family Stone 3:01
“If You Want Me to Stay” Quite possibly the band’s greatest song of all time, it features Sly at his most woman-like.
in Chains 4:15 19 Alice “No Excuses” I’ll be honest, I haven’t made time to listen to their 2009 album Black Gives Way to Blue, but I’ve always liked this one off their 1994 Jar of Flies EP.
Darker My Love 2:15 One of the heaviest tracks from their latest album 2, “Waves” sees DML at their fastest and most frantic..
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza 3:31 “I Am Sammy Jankis” Who says all grindcore sounds exactly the same? I do. But you’ve got to love the reference to Christopher Nolan’s 2000 flick Memento .
Straits 2:58 25 Dire “Southbound Again” Knopfler’s obsession with travel and directions has never been so groovy.
Published on Jul 29, 2010
Volume II, Issue 6 is out. Inside you’ll find coverage of the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, including top shows and an interview with Broo...