Ten Tapes We Like From 2012 a list from our friends at decoder of the best of 2012 (so far)
Liz’s picks: Favors – Keeper (Future Push) Filled with allusions to technology, love, and various time periods, Keeper (Favors’ sophomore album) flows perfectly from hit to hit; each track kicks off with hard-hitting, distinctive beats that I can’t seem to get out of my brain. The man behind FAVORS, David Mohr, seems to have carefully picked up influences from all over -- managing to combine Talking Heads-esque lyrics, polished, robotic Devo-inspired rhythms, and bits of 90s dancehall flair to make an album that truly stands out among all the other flat, banal electronic records these days. New Scans – S/T (Future Push) New Scans’ self-titled debut is stuffed to the gills with 80s synth, funky beats, and a sprinkling of samples to keep it feeling fresh. The six track long instrumental dance pop album flows beautifully from one nerdy dancefloor jam to another, though I particularly enjoy “Night Cell” and “Smooth Interval”. ADULTROCK – Loves (Long Lost Records) Out on Dublin label Long Lost Records, ADULTROCK’s Loves is nine tracks long (eight originals and a remix), and the album is chock-full of freshly-baked experimental electronica. All of the tracks manage to come across as a combination of both simple, catchy repetitiveness and intricate, intelligently woven beats; they wave and shimmer like various florae in the summer breeze. We particularly love the song “Hermione”. South Bitch Diet – S/T (Whatever Forever Tapes) Whilst enjoying South Bitch Diet’s self-titled album, you get a good sense of how varied his (Bruce Potucek’s) music can be, though there is a continuous thread of musical simplicity throughout the album; another commonality are Potucek’s idiosyncratic vocals that run the gamut from Lou Reed-esque to David Byrne-ish. The songs themselves range from lo-fi, beat-driven, experimental tracks to garage-psych romps. One of my favorites is “New Job Blues”. Free Weed – Beer On The Drugs (Beer On The Rug) Erik Gage, founder of Portland label Gnar Tapes & Shit and member of White Fang, has also recently taken on another moniker, Free Weed. While one might characterize the music of Free Weed as “bong pop” or “spliff riffs,” let’s be serious for a second. It’s actually really good, straightforward rock with a strong backbone of electronic beats; Erik’s deadpan vocals work perfectly within psych-rock guitar licks to keep every track on the new album, Beer On The Drugs, sounding as fresh as some seriously dank nugs, though my favorite is probably the album’s opener, “Sci-Fi”.
Dwight’s picks: Sangre de Muergado – S/T (Brave Mysteries) Though this Galician psych-folk band has apparently been around since 2005, their self-titled debut album, self-released in 2011 shortly after the death of the band’s leader, got an American reissue this year from Brave Mysteries, the Wisconsin imprint of artist and producer Nathaniel Ritter. Some might recognize the band’s origins in black metal and punk through their heavy emphasis on themes of nature and human agency, but even more so in their varied palette of naked, complex strings. What really elevates the album are its more traditional elements; flutes and strings that can almost sound like shtick, but that really represent an authentic fusion of those elements with a deep-folk instrumental sensibility. Get it at bravemysteries.com. Nate Henricks – Close Encounters with Green Magic (Patient Sounds) Nate Henricks and Patient Sounds, the cassette imprint of Fort Collins poet laureate Matthew Sage, celebrated this year’s 420 by accepting preorders for Nate’s label debut, Close Encounters with Green Magic. Sage compares the tape favorably to Elephant Six. So do we, but even in the midst of his sound collages, Henricks never languishes and the album’s poppier moments, however brief the snippet of song in question might be, jump nimbly from one instance to the next or more grandly spin into the network of interconnecting segues that make his digressions so interesting. Get it at patientsounds.blogspot.com. Daniel Emmanuel – Echoes From Ancient Caves (Sun Ark) A reissue of healer and composer J. D. Emmanuel’s 1981 opus. In a nutshell, this is some intensely relaxing synthesizer music; minimal and with an emphasis on tape loops and ambient drone. Though it makes frequent use of sounds that will be familiar if you know the stable of typical new age flourishes, its minimalism has prevented any sense of datedness and given today’s proclivities, it may even sound contemporary to some ears. For the same reason, it is a particularly timely release. Get it at sunaraw.com. Beaunoise – Ambient #2 (Tall Corn Music) This is the second in professional producer and electronic composer Beau Sorenson’s Ambient series, begun last summer. Some folks may know him as a member of Clive Tanaka’s “orquesta,” made famous by their album Jet Set Siempre 1°. Beau tends to range a bit farther into the darker end of drone music and Ambient #2 continues that exploration, though it frequently pulls out of its desolation with joyously swollen synths that pervades this particular installment, giving it a more coherent sense of the dramatic. It’s sold out from Tall Corn, but there are still copies at burgerrecords.com. Magnetophonique – Tales From the Earth, and Beyond (Sunup Recordings) Released on Marcus Eads’ adventurous and prolific home-dubbed tape imprint Sunup Recordings, Magnetophonique’s second album under that name is a great fit for the label, both pioneers into lo-fi and experimental electronic music. Magnetophonique is a new and glorious entry in the small list of avant garde auteurs that truly dive into their found-sounds, making highly melodic sound collages that can occasionally, if totally incidentally, pass for pop. Get it at sun-uprecordings.bandcamp.com.
be sure to visit decoder at www.secretdecoder.net and follow them on twitter @decodermag! 3
this issue is brought to you by blue tapes.
Single of the
This track comes from the latest off of Miscreant Records and the full-length from our featured artist! Enjoy “Point Nine,” the first track off of the lovely full-length Loveseat by QUARTERBACKS! 4
Let’s get weird by binta jammeh The latest playlist from my Cray Cray Jamz series of playlists is the best yet- 30 sleek and simple tracks featuring the latest and greatest from some of my favorite summertime artists. From a little bit of Motown soul to indie dancehall tunes, Cray Cray Jamz Pt. 6 has a little bit of everything for everybody. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.
Shake, Shake, Shake by Bronze Radio Return Trojans by Atlas Genius Glitters Like Gold by The Cribs Tightrope by Walk the Moon Make it Better by The Knocks Velvet Elvis (RAC Remix) by Alex Winston Wait for the Summer by Yeasayer Mornin’ by Star Slinger Que Veux Tu (Madeon Remix) by Yelle Changing by The Airborne Toxic Event Nothing But Our Love by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Will Do by TV On the Radio If I Had A Heart by Fever Ray This Is The Day by The The Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (feat. Nina Persson) by Manic Street Preachers Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran Michigan by The Milk Carton Kids Golden Cage by The Whitest Boy Alive There, There by Radiohead Don’t Give Up On Me by Solomon Burke Knock On Wood by Eddie Floyd Sweet Soul Music by Arthur Conley River Deep, Mountain High by Ike & Tina Turner Raggamuffin by Selah Sue First Love by Adele Cats and Dogs by The Head and the Heart Something’s Going To Come by Adem Obsessions by Marina and the Diamonds Lover of Mine by Beach House Love in A Trashcan by The Ravonettes
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CASSANDRA ON ANDREW BIRD by cassandra baim
Andrew Bird came to me at a very crucial time in my adolescence. I was a junior in high school, on the brink of turning seventeen, and like every other teenager ever, I had never felt more isolated. One night, while diligently working through the many homework assignments that came with maintaining my class standing, a strange, new, wonderful sound came through my laptop’s speakers. The song, just another track Pandora found for me using my love of Death Cab for Cutie as guidance, was Andrew Bird’s “MX Missiles,” off of his 2005 album Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs. I fell in love with him four years ago, but only recently did I finally get the chance to see him perform live. On May 12th, 2012, I had the pleasure of joining my two closest friends to see Andrew Bird’s Chicago stop on his Break It Yourself tour. Our shared love of this man is such a big part of our friendship that it only made sense for us to share this moment together. The girls spent most of our subway ride to downtown Chicago telling me how much I was going to love the performance, how I would be moved to tears (false: I never cry), and how I would want to listen to nothing but his music from that night until the day I die (true: I’m already guilty of that), etc. but I didn’t need their words of encouragement, I knew I was setting myself up for two hours of pure eargasmic joy. I stepped into the ornate Auditorium Theatre to see the end of the opener, a massive, loud, and silly but very committed to their music and very, very fun marching band called Mucca Pazza. They were really neat, but I didn’t put on a nice new dress and haul ass to the Auditorium Theatre to see them. I patiently waited for
my self-proclaimed soul mate to take the stage. Finally, after an impassioned introduction by an esteemed Chicago radio DJ, the sound of swelling violins in “Hole in the Ocean Floor” filled the auditorium. I’m not quite sure what my initial reaction was, but I think there was squealing involved. After “Hole in the Ocean Floor” and “Why?” he played most of his new album, inviting Chicago-based musician Nora O’Connor to join him on “Lusitania.” The second half of his performance was much more bluegrass-influenced. Though the Auditorium Theatre is huge and every seat in the house was filled, the bluegrass tunes made me feel like he was playing solely for me. He closed his performance with “Tables and Chairs,” my favorite song from Mysterious Production of Eggs. I was disappointed he didn’t use Ms. O’Connor’s beautiful voice for the song but in all honesty I found it difficult to vocalize that one complaint. As he and his accompanying musicians walked off the stage, looping violins playing throughout the whole auditorium, I immediately jumped out of my seat to join the entire audience in a standing ovation. His beautiful three-song encore (a cover of The Handsome Family’s “So Much Wine,” Charley Patton’s “I’m Going Home” and “Fake Palindromes”) left me speechless, and I stood there, mid-clap, stunned still at his versatility between the intimate bluegrass/Americana of “So Much Wine” and the theatrical, percussive, and frenetic “Fake Palindromes.” I always feel lucky to be from a place like Chicago, but that night especially. Andrew Bird is from Chicago himself and his joy at being back in his home city showed on stage, and I could feel his enthusiasm all the way in my box seats. Besides his songs, he came to the performance with warmth, charisma, and all sorts of stories behind his music that gave his performance not just aural power, but a tangible and intimate charm. I have the opportunity to see Mr. Bird again in early July. He’ll be playing in a minor league baseball stadium with another incredible Chicago-based band, Wilco. As the president, founder, and sole member of The Greater ChicagolandArea Jeff Tweedy Fangirl Club, I could say I’m excited, but that would be an understatement.
QUARTERBACKS an interview by the miscreant
QUARTERBACKS have just released their first full-length album, LOVESEAT. With big things on the horizons, Dean, Tom, and Max prepare to go on tour and explore the country. Here, Dean tells the Miscreant about the band’s origins and what the future holds. The Miscreant: So, you guys play football? Dean Engle: I like NFL football more than anything else in the world (not kidding), but yeah... no. However, I did play alto sax in my high school pep band (a la Taylor Swift in the “You Belong With Me” video).
TM: Where does the band find its origins? DE: I started QUARTERBACKS about a month into my freshman year of college. I was way too in love and wrote like ten songs in a week. The girl those songs were about drummed in the band for awhile.
TM: What were the first shows like, with the original line up? DE: They were pretty bad... we only had a snare drum and I was even worse at guitar back then. I used to tell a lot of jokes to distract the crowd from how bad we were.
TM: What made you decide to revive QUARTERBACKS? How did you guys get together as a new version of a seasoned project? DE: QBs 1.0 never really recorded, so I had a whole bunch of songs just sitting around for two years. At the very end of 2011, I was drinking too much orange juice and watching Sportscenter three times a day when I realized that two of my best friends would 8
make ideal bandmates. Tom’s an incredible songwriter and Max is the best drummer I know. I’m an idiot for waiting so long to ask for their help.
TM: Your genre classification is a highly debated subject among fans. What do you see yourselves as and why? DE: I usually say we’re “twee punk” (which is just a dumb genre I made up) or “guitar pop.” I’m okay with people calling us whatever they want. We play our songs really fast and the chords are really easy, so the classification (twee vs. indiepop vs. punk vs. whatever) usually depends on the other stuff the person is into. We get a lot of wacky comparisons, but my favorites are weird power pop bands that I only know about because I bought a lot of those $7.99 Warped Tour compilations.
TM: Talk about your relationship with the twee community. DE: I’m personally really into the K Records and Slumberland and Sarah Records stuff, but our community connections are mostly based in where we live rather than what we sound like. Max and Tom don’t really listen to indiepop so I think we primarily see ourselves as a Hudson Valley band. Plus, a lot of people now use “twee” to mean, like, “uses ukuleles”... which is cool and fine and not bad but not really what we’re after. I’m more interested in how the word dials into the Marine Girls/Beat Happening/Talulah Gosh tradition of making weird music that’s a little too honest.
TM: Who would you cite as musical influences, for QBs in particular? DE: Early on, I was listening to loads of Tiger Trap and Go Sailor and Heavenly, and since then I’ve gotten into some newer bands like Hunx and his Punx and Cloud Nothings. 9
The QBs lyrics definitely owe a lot to songwriters like Paul Baribeau, and Jonathan Richman. Also, there was a period in late 2010 when all I did was play “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3” and listen to Grass Widow’s discography over and over, so maybe that’s in there, too.
TM: “LOVESEAT” is just about to come out. What was the recording process like? DE: We recorded the album on Tom’s Tascam 424 four-track tape machine with busted mics and a whole lot of patience. Max and I recorded our parts at the same time with both of us standing in Tom’s bedroom, where we had the drums. The guitar amp was in the adjoining bathroom on top of the toilet (we snaked the guitar cable under the door). This set-up meant I couldn’t hear the guitar at all while we recorded, but honestly I’m so crappy at guitar that it didn’t matter. Once everything was recorded, getting it off the master tape proved problematic (we refer to our early attempts as the “Shit Mix”). Luckily our buddy/ savior Paris Leach helped us re-do the vocals and mixed the thing for us. So yeah, we spent at least a hundred hours on a sixteen minute album.
TM: When were most of the songs written? Were some new and some old ones from the original line up? DE: Half the songs were written in 2009 with the original line up, four are new tracks, and I wrote two of them when I was seventeen (I’m 21 now) which is really weird to think about.
TM: What is the story behind the album artwork for the tape? DE: We took the picture on a Saturday morning up on the mountain that sort of looms over New Paltz. I’m the slouchy guy standing sideways and then from left to right it’s Tom, Alison Czinkota, Kevin Cudahy, and Morgan Smith (pretty much a list of my favorite people). Our friend Katie Truisi (who is an awesome and very professional photographer) had some camera trouble and ended up taking the photo using Alison’s Hello Kitty 35mm 10
point and shoot. The inside of the insert is a combination of a picture I took from an airplane window and a gorgeous photo by Elizabeth Scafuto, the same artist who illustrates The Miscreant. The picture on the fold-out panel is from QBs superfan Meagan Gregg and features our labelmate Ray McAndrew from SSWAMPZZ.
TM: What else does the future hold for QUARTERBACKS? DE: We’re headed out to Bloomington , Indiana at the end of June for Plan-It-X Fest and then touring our way back, one week each way. Keep an eye on our various internet profiles for updates (the “Shows” page of our tumblr has all the dates), but we’re definitely hitting Syracuse, Bloomington, Cincinatti, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. Then we’ll record in the autumn and have a new EP early in the new year. Gotta stay famous, ya know?
Catch quarterbacks on tour! Mark your calendars: 6/30/2012 NYC [w/ MADELINE AVA]
6/25/2012 COLUMBUS [OH] [w/ MADELINE AVA]
6/29/2012 VINYL LOUNGE, NYACK [NY] [w/ MADELINE AVA]
6/23/2012 BLOOMINGTON [IN]
6/28/2012 LULU’S,BROOKLYN [w/ MADELINE AVA, FOR SERIOUS THIS TIME, GALAPAGOS NOW!] 6/27/2012 MAGGOT HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA [w/ MADELINE AVA] 6/26/2012 3611 BOULEVARD OF THE ALLIES, PITTSBURGH [w/ MADELINE AVA]
6/19/2012 RAKE’S END, CINCINNATI [OH] [w/ WEREWOLVES, HOMEMADE DRUGS] 6/18/2012 HOUSE SHOW, AKRON [OH] 6/17/2012 SYRACUSE 6/16/2012 BACCHUS, NEW PALTZ [w/ BATTLE AVE, SHANA FALANA, BREAKFAST IN FUR]
Nothing Gold Can Stay by wes wren
I remember spending most of the past four years trying to devour as much of this “60s” revival as I could. (To call it solely another garage rock revival would miss the point of a lot of the bands, I digress). The great thing was that there were always bands popping up, and doing something relatively new. They were taking girl group pop, surf rock, and garage music and blending them together, and throwing in dashes of modern rock. It was a beautiful thing. Bands like the Dum Dum Girls, Jay Reatard, The Lords of Altamont and The Black Lips (to make a short list), were leading the pack around 2009. They were creating a lot of buzz. Then came Best Coast, Wavves, and the rise of Ty Segall, and the entire San Francisco music scene. Jay Reatard died two years ago. In those two years there have been countless bands that have tried to stick to the formula that he had, and that many other bands had used to create an interesting sound. I loved all of it. Every band with a lot of reverb was okay with me. However…I’ve recently learned that the music just feels lacking. What I loved about this newest revival was how much emotion was in it. How personal all of the music tried to be. With the release of their new album, Best Coast seem as commercial as ever. Every band that wants to make a name for themselves has a lo-fi, reverb-drenched EP on their bandcamp that sounds just like a Ty Segall release from 2008-9. It now looks like the whole global “scene” might shift to country music and 80s synth pop. I think that might be a good thing for the evolution of music. Mostly so bands that would be writing garage rock music anyway will still be doing it. People will start doing it out of love again, and not the possibility of commercial success. This is all coming from a pissed off, and jaded, hipster. So take it all with a grain of salt. P.S. Listen to the Half Rats from Lafayette, Indiana. They’re really great. 12
PARIS HILTON ASCENDS ON ELECTRONIC MUSIC by miss sarah shelton
Yeah, I thought we had gotten rid of her too. But when the cat got out of the bag that she was seeing popular Dutch electronic music producer/DJ Afrojack (Nick van der Wall), the heiress was propelled right back into the limelight. Sure, it was no big deal at first, and the two even denied on multiple occasions to the media that they were seeing each other, claiming to be nothing more than “good friends” (We’ve all heard that one before). After six months of dodging prying press inquiries and finally making their debut at public events together (i.e. Coachella), there was no hiding what was going on. Good for you, Nick. She’s rich, pretty, and does have a certain infamous sex tape… WARNING: It’s all downhill from here. Early this month, it was announced that Ms. Hilton would be making her “DJ debut.” Not at some shanty little basement show, or even some mid-range dance club. No – Paris Hilton is set to perform a one-hour set next month IN FRONT OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE at the Pop Music Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She claims to be “very excited” for the festival and can’t wait to share her “passion for electronic music and hard work” with the world. Any loser with a laptop can be a “DJ” these days. Are you a skeptic yet? Here’s an example of just how much Paris Hilton loves EDM: In 2009, Paris threw a hissy fit because Steve Angello, 1/3 of the powerhouse group Swedish House Mafia, wouldn’t stop his killer set to play some stupid hip hop song she requested, so she unleashed her body guard on him. A quote from one of Steve’s representatives describes the incident: “Steve plays dance music, he just doesn’t play hip hop. He politely refused Hilton’s requests but she got more and more agitated, and it escalated pretty quickly. Out of nowhere one of her security guards smacked Steve in the face. Steve is a quiet guy, but he had to act in self-defense and fought back. He started pounding on the guy and it suddenly turned into a full scale fight in the DJ booth...” Sure, Paris, you definitely “get” it. Worse, still: Low and behold, Paris’s new single “Louder” dropped this week. She hooked up with pop/hip-hop producer Flo Rida and electronic music producer David Guetta to make this horrible train wreck happen. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the song even samples Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Due to the possibility of a good chuckle coming out of this, I pressed play on the thing. And please, believe me when I say I have never, ever turned off a song faster than I did as soon as the first note of her overly-autotuned voice hit my ears. If you don’t want to take my word for it, have yourself a listen – but do yourself a favor and keep your finger on the mute button. Oh, but don’t worry folks – there’s a whole album of this quality content on its way! Thanks a lot, Afrojack.
Being an Outsider pt.1 by kastoory kazi
I was born in Dubai to Bangladeshi parents. When people ask where I’m from, this is what I tell them. What I find harder and harder to explain is that where I’m from is a myriad of places, events, imaginings from my childhood to this moment right now. I’m from the desks I hid under when I was depressed in high school as much as that country where all the fancy hotels are being built right now. I’m from the rides at Coney Island I used to go on as a child when we first moved here and my parents were looking for fun cheap things for me to do. I’m from that secret staircase in high school that led to nowhere and was big enough for one person to sit in and listen to music while cutting class. I’m from the children’s room in the town library where I could hide behind shelves and let books take me to far away lands. (Those lands are home too.) I am from those rooms in college where we all slept in a big sexless pile on twin beds pushed together. I’m from the darkroom of the photography studio where the dim lights and chemical smells make me feel like I’m dreaming. I am from sweaty dance floors, shadowy rooms filled with candles, the picnic benches on the lawns. For some time, I believed that I could shed my skin and disappear. I would dream of the other forms I could take: salt in the ocean, sand on a beach, foggy halos around streetlamps. I am from those places too. In my early days back in Dubai, with the sun so bright you always see mirages, and the red and orange flowers that looked like miniature poppies, there was a sense of belonging so deep that I didn’t think there was any other way to feel. I had friends and playmates, classes and picnics. While my parents and their closest friends had all night dance parties, the children would have sleepovers in another room. We’d wake up to be piled into cars and driven to the beach to watch the sun rise over the waves. I was in a jumble of arms and hearts and breaths. I was smack dab in the middle of my own life. Then there was New York, and the cold, and the strangers. And my life as an outsider began. From being threatened in public schools for having a posh accent (I was taught British English in Dubai) to not understanding my place in this strange new world. I became that person on the sidelines, observing, devouring the way people interacted with each other. Trying to learn how I could fit in, failing miserably over and over again. My parents achieved the American dream: They started their own business. They moved us from dangerous neighborhoods to sheltered ones in the suburbs. There, our color was an immediate difference from the norm. When people asked me where I was from it was part curiosity and part categorization. I remember the tall blonde quarterbacks and cheerleaders needing a place to put me, a safe little box of ‘other’ to check. That was the biggest lesson of being an outsider; sometimes where you’re from isn’t just a city, town, or country. Sometimes where you are from is an innate way to see who you are as a person. And that’s why I hate answering that question. Because I still haven’t gotten it right.
the latest by quinn donnell
So far, 2012 has proven to be an exciting year for new music. Over the past six months, I’ve found some tunes that I’m sure we’ll be discussing when everyone makes their end-of-the-year lists. In no particular order, here are my favorite tracks of 2012 so far: “Emmylou”—First Aid Kit: I know I said these songs are in no particular order, but “Emmylou” is the first song that comes to mind when I think about my favorite songs of this year so far. First Aid Kit is a folk duo of two Swedish sisters, and their recent album, The Lion’s Roar, is full of these sweet, slide-guitar-filled, harmonized, banjo-driven tunes. “Friends of Friends”—Hospitality: There’s something about Amber Papini’s voice that is unique to the indie-pop genre, but it’s that distinguishing style, juxtaposed with her guitar riffs and the band’s horn accompaniment that make this song so great. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”—Father John Misty: I’ve never really been able to get into Fleet Foxes. I don’t know what it is; maybe I just haven’t given them enough listens, but Josh Tillman, Fleet Foxes’ former drummer, recently came out with “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” under the pseudonym Father John Misty, and the simple combination of drums and guitar with a chorus like “we should let this dead guy sleep” has me sold. “Simple Song”—The Shins: I really enjoyed the Shins’ new album, Port of Morrow. Because several of the album’s songs caught my attention, I had some trouble deciding which one I wanted to use for this list, but I ended up picking “Simple Song” because I think it exemplifies exactly what the Shins are about: great, simple pop songs. (Shout outs to other candidates on Port of Morrow for favorite songs of the year so far: “It’s Only Life,” “No Way Down” and “September”) “Drifting In and Out”—Porcelain Raft: Porcelain Raft is a solo project started by Italian musician Mauro Remiddi. “Drifting In and Out” is the opening track of his recent debut album, Strange Weekend, and it perfectly sets the tone for what Remiddi describes as the album’s “sleepwalking pop” style. “Don’t Let It Get to You”—Rostam: This is the first song released by Rostam Batmanglij as a solo act. I’m hoping Rostam and the gang will find some time to make a new Vampire Weekend album in the near future, but if he keeps coming out with these uplifting songs composed of strings, flutes, and beats that sound like kids beatin’ on trash cans, I will be rather content. “The Only Place”—Best Coast: I don’t have an undying love for cats; I don’t generally listen to songs about wanting a boyfriend; I’m not familiar with going to the beach every day and living the California lifestyle. These are reasons why I couldn’t totally get the first Best Coast album, but their new song, “The Only Place,” adopts everything that I did love about their first album: fairly mindless pop music that just makes me happy. “Ho Hey”—The Lumineers: This song has a serious I’m-in-a-bar-with-people-singing-and-raising-pints-of-beerand-stomping-their-boots feel. Personally, that element alone makes a song iPod-worthy, but the Lumineers take “Ho Hey” to another level with the utilization of some fantastic acoustic guitar.
how to write a song: a step by step process by sam kogon
(See Issue 21 for steps 1-5!) Step 6: What came first, the music or the lyrics? This is a question that many songwriters will ask themselves. Nine out of ten times, the music will come first. Don’t go by this rule all the time. You might just find yourself writing a poem and a year later writing an epic instrumental piece. Somehow, you get the strange idea to put the two together and, voila, musical perfection! Don’t go about songwriting like it’s a task. Don’t think that everything you write must become a song. You’ll feel it if it works and if it doesn’t work. It’s so easy to save the words or chords by writing them down or recording them. You could find yourself picking and choosing from things you have worked on in years past. Step 7: Wait a minute! We have been talking a lot about lyrics. Didn’t I just say that the music is the most important thing? If you skimmed that part, let me re-state myself: MUSIC IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN A SONG. Like lyrics, the simpler the music, the better. If you are willing to be viewed as a “sell out” by the hipster community, then why omit I - V - vi – IV? If you’re in the key of C, this is C - G - A minor - F. Those chords have been used in everything musical genre from The Beatles to Journey to Jason Mraz. There are far too many to list. A quick search on YouTube should show you just how many are in existence. With all of that being said, one would think that people are starting to get sick of this progression. If anything, mainstream music culture is welcoming songs with this as well as many other over-exploited chord sequences with open arms. If you’re not afraid to be judged by the audiophiles and music junkies, then what harm will adding one more to the list really cause? That’s the beauty of music. If you don’t like what you hear, you can change the radio station, click thumbs down on your Pandora app, leave the tiny, hole-inthe-wall venue where the walls appear to be sweating, or make a tortilla chip bowl out of the crappy record you bought for a quarter. If your song appeals to someone else besides yourself, great. If your song appeals to 10 people, great. If your song sells thousands of records, great. It’s all about what your goals are. Step 8: Mazel tov! You wrote your first song. It’s a true high, isn’t it? Now that you’ve got the first notch in your belt, it’s time to reflect on what you want to do with this song. Don’t be shy with sharing. Start simply by sharing the song with a friend. This will help get rid of the fear of sharing it with a stranger. Don’t listen to what your friend says, even if they tell you it’s the best song they’ve ever heard. They are probably lying. Say thank you and then, if you are feeling daring enough, go to a local coffee place that has open mic nights and play the song there. Tell people that it’s a song you wrote. Don’t tell them that it’s your first song because then they will say, “it was great, for your first song.” You never know who is going to be in the audience. There could even be a label scout or someone who knows someone who knows someone!!! For all they know, you’ve got a stock-pile of originals at home. Play your song and learn a few covers. Pick some easy songs that you like that are cohesive with your original. If you stole a riff from a Hendrix song, then maybe it’s best not to play your song and his back to back. Don’t close your eyes while you perform your original. Look, listen, and feel the audience’s response. If they are engaged just during the first minute of the song and then become uninterested, take note of that. If the audience starts to leave during the first few measures, really take note of that! If you have the audience’s attention throughout the whole song and receive a standing ovation, then you’ve got a potential hit on your hands.
Step 9: So you didn’t get the standing ovation and everyone left before you opened your mouth and proceeded to wet yourself? Maybe it’s time to look at how you present yourself and your song. To start off, if someone asks you what you do and you embarrassingly answer with “I’m just a songwriter, I’m not that great and you’ve never heard any of my songs,” then you’ve just guaranteed yourself never appealing to anyone. You don’t suck, and if you do, you still can get on the radio (Top 40 hits anyone?). If you think that your song is great, maybe some of your ego will rub off on the audience in the right way. Think about it --if you don’t like your song, then why is anyone else going to? Love your music, don’t shove it down anyone’s throat, just love it. Be thankful that you have been granted with the gift of song. Just be aware of when it’s appropriate to talk about your music and when it’s not. There’s a fine line between self-respect and snobbery. If you meet your favorite musician, it’s not the best idea to throw your demo in their face and then ask for their signature and run off screaming “I just met Bruce Springsteen”. Maybe, if they aren’t on a busy tour, ask them if they’d like a local person to show them around town. If you can do this, you’ve just increased a connection with someone who has their foot in the door. Have a few beers, get them a little buzzed, and then maybe slip in: “You know, I write songs.” Don’t just ask someone in the music field to make you a star, ask them for some advice. If they offer to listen to your music, then fine, but not everyone is going to do that. Remember, there are million other people with the very same dream of having their song on the radio. Step 10: The Radio is dead. Oh, were you expecting to read “how to get on the radio”? Let’s face it, like the newspaper; the radio is on its way out. Besides college radio and other free-format stations, most radio stations nowadays are controlled by conglomerates such as Clear Channel. Basically, Clear Channel is a corporate run radio in which DJs are just pawns and are told what songs they can play from a list. This is why you will hear that same annoying Adele song on one station and then hear it on the next station, and then the next after that. Unless you are Adele, Coldplay, or Lady Gaga, you’re not going to be on mainstream radio for a very long time, AND THIS IS OK. Mainstream radio exhausts your average listeners with a song by a band or a singer for months until people can’t take it any longer. Only then will they pick the next “hit” song to use on the masses. This system slurps up, chews, and spits out musicians on an almost timed cycle. If you just want to be a one-hit-wonder, then this might be ok with you. For the rest of us, this is the last thing anyone would want. Think about it. Do you really even need to be on a label anymore, with a recording contract? With such user friendly home recording gear, Kickstarter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace (yes, it’s still alive), Bandcamp, and many others, it’s no wonder more and more songwriters are shedding the notion and obsession with “getting signed.” It’s frighteningly easy just how fast you can get your song heard across the world. That’s the beauty of living in such a technologically advanced society. It is also the same reason why many songwriters consider technology a curse. Being able to write a song, record it, and have someone across the world listen to it the very same day is a miracle. That being said, millions of other songwriters have the same tools at their disposal. Some consider this an annoyance, while others consider it a way of making yourself the very best songwriter you can be in order to get your voice heard through a sea of other songs. Say, if you think about it, one thing you can do to give yourself an edge is waking up early. Set you alarm clock for 6:00 a.m. You’ll have a four hour edge on your contemporaries. Using those four hours for hard networking and songwriting over time might just be enough to get you more noticed. It’s easy to fantasize about how much easier it was “way back then” to be a famous songwriter. While it might very well have been easier in many ways, there’s no magical time machine that is going to take you back to a pre-Beatles America where you can release “She Loves You”. It’s best not to think of the past and the future. Think in the present. Think about your music. Think about what message you’d like to share with the world. Do not get consumed with trying to “make it big.” If it happens, it happens. It could take years, or it could take just days. Many roads can take you there, it’s all a matter of what you’d like to accomplish. The most important thing is to not waste more time thinking about it. You now have the tools to begin your songwriting career. Use them wisely.
Fat History Month’s Fucking Despair by sir tj stevenson
Maybe this review is just me being impulsive. I’ve been obsessing over this record for the past two days or so. Even if this is the result of some random fixation, I plan on pursuing it, because the world needs to know the truth. I managed to catch these guys once at good ol’ Purchase this past fall. Two strange, awkwardly nice dudes from Boston with low voices playing some sick tunes on broken cymbals and a Travis Bean guitar (you can Google that, you’ll shit when you see the price tag). This band seems to defy classification: noodly guitar and baritone voices are juxtaposed to nonsensical lyrics, spoken word passages, and technical phrases. The best analogy I can come up with is that it sounds like what would happen if your dad picked up a guitar and started listening to Don Caballero and Faraquet. That can either be the best or worst thing for you, but in the words of Clark Gable, I don’t give a damn. I’m not gonna sit here and do an overview of every goddamn track on the album, because then we’d both be bored at the end of the whole thing. So we’ll start comprehensive and I’ll get a little picky, eh? The opening track, “Free As A Cat,” starts off low and eerie, but don’t let that scare you off. “Old Lady Smokers” comes in next as an anthemic, delusional ode to exactly what you think: “This is an ode, to all old lady smokers. I wish you could wear your sticky black lungs as a bra.” “Things I Enjoy” starts off strong with tight, fingerpicked guitar hooks, and builds into brief crescendos, followed with spoken word passages that fulfill the song’s namesake. “You Can Pick Your Nose, You Can Pick Your Friend’s Nose, But You Can’t Escape Your Horrible Family” probably could stand in as the album’s epic. Clocking at just under twelve minutes, they take their time building the song up, with intensity ebbing and flowing like tide. “No Safe” is the last track to speak to me on the album, another brief songwriter-style jam from these guys, and it’s just as fun as the rest of the album. But don’t let me lead you astray. This album is great in its entirety and deserves a full listen. You can pick it up on their Bandcamp, or from Sophomore Lounge Records. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch them live again. At least I’ll know what I’m walking into when that happens.
MOVING OUT & SUMMER JAMS by tori cote At some point in every young person’s life, they come to the realization that they have to leave the comforts of home or college, and make it by themselves in the big bad world. This might mean you move with your bestie to a studio apartment in a shitty part of Brooklyn, or you you hike out to California by yourself and have to figure out how to drive a car in LA traffic. For me, I chose to move to Austin, Texas where I had a solid internship and knew maybe a couple of people. Moving by yourself without schoolwork or parents tying you down is exciting and scary. Here is my li’l mix to explain how I feel about moving to a place where everything is bigger than me. 1. At first, when you are in the plane/car/ train, you start thinking about all the ‘cool’ times you are going to have. Are you going to like your roommate? Are you going to find a stupid job? Are you going to look really badass because you just got barely noticeable blonde highlights? Are you going to get trashed at a hip bar and become a superstar where everyone starts chanting your name because you are incredibly awesome and no one else could ever compare to your greatness? Nothing is better than the the unknowns of traveling, especially when you have a bad case of wanderlust. I recommend listening to this: Elephant Gun // Beirut 2. After you settle in, you start to realize that you’re going to live in this place. This is not just a fantasy you’ve been daydreaming about during Economics, but a legitimate and actual plan you have devised for yourself for the summer. You’re kind of sick to your stomach because what the actual fuck are you going to do with yourself for the next few months, but you still want to explore and make new friends. Listen to this it will make you feel better: Let’s Go Surfing // The Drums 3. You just met actual people and did actual activities and you’re basically a native now so you’re on top of the world. You run this shit. You were born for this shit. Don’t forget it: Primadonna // Marina and the Diamonds 4. If you are like any moody young adult, you will probably start to miss people you can’t see for a while. Maybe it’s your friends, parents, fake boyfriend/girlfriend, real boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe you sort of just made someone up to miss because you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to do. Or in some events, you miss no one at all but are having one of those ‘I’m-a-moody-bitch’ days. This one’s for you: Our Deal // Best Coast 5. After going through some of these emotional highs and lows, you’ll settle. This trip you are partaking on is an adjustment, but part of your life nonetheless. It’s going to be a lot of fun and there are going to be shitty moments, just like the rest of life. My advice is to say yes as much as possible, leave your comfort zone, stay safe, go see some shows, and try local foods. Just do you. As a great wise friend of mine once said to me, “Let a dog be a dog”. Which doesn’t really make to much sense in context to this situation, but sounds kind of cool. But I guess you can just take it to mean don’t try to be anything your not and just take your new adventure for what it is. Here’s a jam: Oblivion // Grimes
JAMIE AND MIKE by andrew mcclain
I’m not the most qualified person to talk about the “state of hip-hop,” but I’ve been known to take a crack at it. Now, if you follow the money, it’s not hard to find the governing trends in hip-hop right now: the YMCMB crew (Drake, Nicki Minaj, the decreasingly relevant lynchpin Lil Wayne), Jay-Z and Kanye West, and the industry’s brave investment in more niche acts like OFWGKTA and A$AP Rocky. The geographic lines that used to govern hip-hop are disappearing quickly. The aforementioned crews are, respectively, New Orleans-based (but includes natives of Toronto and Trinidad), from New York and Chicago, from California (but indisputably a product of the Internet) and from New York but with an overt fondness for Southern rap. With the crossover success of Internet rap, who becomes the new face of alternative hip-hop? It turns out that the result is just as unexpected as the people running the mainstream and just as boundary-spanning. Back in September, a video was released for a track called “The Last Huzzah!” from Harlem rapper Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s mixtape “Lost In Translation.” The track was a 90’s style posse cut with a gritty beat by Necro, featuring Despot, Kool A.D. and Heems from Das Racist, Danny Brown, El-P and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. The video recalled the Bad Boy posse cut “Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)” with the five rappers in a white room with bizarre props. That video, to some of us, felt like a very important moment. These five guys in a room together was somehow odd, menacing and drunkenly jubilant. Despot, a young white rapper who signed to El-P’s Definitive Jux label shortly before it went on hiatus, the two guys in Das Racist who are confined to their
own corner of nerd rap, being neither black nor white nor “street.” And Danny Brown, a hardened veteran of Detroit who was (and is) finally having his “moment.” And Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, a heavy, gold-toothed Harlem rapper with a penchant for gross-out rhymes about fried food, alcohol and thick women. And El-P, standing there with shades on, looking a little like a mustachioed Tim Heidecker with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, holding a beer bottle and a can of Sterno, spitting sixteen bars that cleverly count up to sixteen with each line, ending with a triumphant “and every time you think my fifteen minutes of fame are up, I spit another sixteen and prove to the world I fuckin’ own it.” El-P (real name Jaime Meline) is a veteran of underground hip-hop (and one of the few Caucasian mainstays) sitting with comfortable status as he eases towards middle-age. I haven’t been following his career very closely, but I get the sense that it looked like he had peaked and/or fizzled out for a little while. Maybe this comes from the fact that his well-respected record label is now defunct, or maybe it just comes from the fact that his output over the past 9 or 10 months sounds like a defiant comeback. El-P’s production style is unique. It’s a callback to early-90’s boom-bap, but with heavy, dark textures and futuristic synth sounds. Try finding a review of “Cancer For Cure” that doesn’t use the word “dystopian.” It stands in stark contrast to the slurry, dreamy stuff that accounts for most of the alt-rap zeitgeist. So El-P is arguably the center of a tiny renaissance in alternative hip-hop once again, this time cobbled together from all corners of the industry, destroying old ideas about “street cred” and putting an emphasis on a pure love of hip-hop. So it makes sense (in that it sort of doesn’t) that El-P would collaborate with Southern rapper Killer Mike (an old affiliate of Outkast) to produce his new album, “R.A.P. Music” and release his first full-length rap album in five years, “Cancer For Cure” within a couple of weeks. Killer Mike sought out El-P’s distinctive style, saying that he’d always wanted to make a one-rapper, one-producer album. On “R.A.P. Music” there’s a moment where the music stops and Mike says “This album was created entirely by Jaime and Mike.” It’s fun to watch these guys who have status among other rappers and producers but could have just as easily slipped into obscurity. This pair of albums is an absolute triumph, if I may speak about both of them at the same time, (and while they have some significant differences, they share a sound) between them, they make up the left-of-mainstream’s “Watch The Throne” – it’s massive-sounding, made by an odd pair displaced hip-hop veterans and now everyone’s paying attention. On “Butane (Champion’s Anthem)” from “R.A.P. Music,” El says “Mike, they fucked up, putting us together, man.” 21
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SWEET TREAT REVIEWS by queen samya hamrebtan
Lianne la Havas - Banana Split - What a perfect after dinner treat! The La Havas’ fruity split will have you satisfied, indulged, yet left feeling like you have done something really good to yourself - and when we say really good we mean in a five-a-day way. The honey dripping through her sweet vanilla-y vocals is a perfect complement to the bite she gives with her lyrical sprinkles. Top Banana. Tripple Nipples - Bubblegum Cheeseburger Flavour Ice - Not one for the faint-hearted. The waiter will probably throw the dessert at you whilst you’re trying to read Sartre. In a darkened room. Whilst wearing speedos. Proceed with spoon at own risk. Boy Friend - Choc Ice - Remember those salad days when your parents offered you a Choc ice as a tasty snack for being good? Remember the disappointment of the taste of paper snaking through the chocolate and the ice cream being that little bit more ice than cream? There lies the key problem with Boy Friend’s Great Escape sugary performance. If the memory of their record was mistily good for you then we say keep them as a sweet sweet record reminiscence. Oliver Tank - 99 - When we were looking for the original and the best Oliver ‘99’ Tank was definitely providing the flake to our Mr Whippy daydreams. Smooth, moreish, sweet and decadent, the complex synth mixed with strawberry sauce lamenting about loves lost definitely ruled Brighton beach. Oh, and don’t forget his Snoop Dogg sampled, James Blake/Flakish turn on Beautiful. Perfecto. Gabriel Bruce - Magnum - Let’s keep things simple; Bruce gave us a little taste of the bygone Kingdom of all musical ices. Taking his stage presence from Sinatra and Elvis this full-bodied, vanilla pod studded act kept us listening till our last lick. With a heady chocolate-like vocal and a creamy dreamy lyricism, the songs were perfecto to remind us of summer days in the park after a picnic with (insert appropriate sexbeast’s name here). We’ll certainly be going back for more.
making the great escape by queen karen millar
So, two weeks after The Great Escape I have finally recovered. Three days of Jagermeister, nursing hangovers on the beach and excessive letching on bearded men transfigured a thinly veiled excuse for networking and furthering future career opportunities into the best post-exam blowout any self respecting (mature –eugh) student could ask for. So aside from the near misses when it comes to the sexual offenders register and a downwards spiral into casual alcoholism, what really made my weekend? A number of things. The free food in the delegates’ center was obviously a bonus, but in terms of the actual music (that is why we were there, apparently) there was a veritable feast of delights on offer to actually remind me why I had forked out $500 for a hotel room. If you’ve been reading my contributions as meticulously as you should have, y’all will be more than aware of my current fad with Londoner, Gabriel Bruce. Performing a set at The Guardian’s ‘New Band of the Day’ showcase, I am still struggling to understand how a man singing with nothing more than a backing track ominously emanating from a MacBook Pro, can turn what should have been deemed as a performance akin to the sort of karaoke I partake in upon my bi-annual drunken seminar on how to lose friends and alienate people into one of my musical highlights of the year thus far. With a voice to rival that of Leonard Cohen and the captivating presence of some sort of motivational speaker/ Jonestown aficionado, Bruce almost seemed to hypnotise the crowd into thinking he was good, even if he wasn’t. But he was, so there’s no point in getting into an argument with myself as those of you who know me personally will understand that it will take another 3 issues at least before I’ve resolved the issue. ANYWAY, check him out, (even though you already should have when I demanded it a few months ago.) ‘Sleep Paralysis’ will make you weep with joy/ empathy of his plight. Onto the next one: Oliver Tank. I went to see this Sydney native 4 times in a week. That says it all. I told him this and I think I’m probably going to be forced into signing some sort of restraining order, but still - at least it was good while it lasted. His EP ‘Dreams’ is available for streaming on Spotify and as amazingly wonderful as it is, I feel the oddly intimate nature of his ambient electro music is meant for live-listening. He also does super cool shit like cover Snoop Dog’s ‘Beautiful’ in a way I never thought possible and throw in a sample of ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ for good measure. What’s not to love? Exactly; please accept my proposal of marriage if you’re reading this. Another standout act I saw was my lovely friend’s two-piece (that sounds like a euphemism – it’s not) Foreign Skin. Nepotism aside, Fla and her musical compatriot, Danny, further my sudden delve into the world of electronic music. I won’t say too much as I’m planning an interview for a future issue, but believe me when I say they could give Mount Kimbie a run for their money. Check out their shiz, you will not be disappointed: www.soundcloud.com/foreignskinmusic I feel I’ve exhausted what I can say in relation to TGE now; I told you last issue my schedules never worked out as planned - (un)fortunately I was more concerned with happy hour in the Latino restaurant. But in other news, aside from being a victim of xenophobia on the tube (don’t start with me) and accidentally becoming the face of a photography exhibition (I’m secretly really smug: www.outsidethewhitecube.com), I went to see Jay-Z and Kanye West perform their final sell-out show at the o2 Arena. The fact they played Niggas In Paris 6 times just says it all really. That shit cray. What is also ‘cray’?
WANT MORE MISCREANT? What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been! Iâ€™d like to start off this note by giving a HUGE thank you to Corey Tegeler for putting together the newly launched MiscreantRecords.com. It looks amazing. I am so thrilled to have this guy on the Miscreant team, and lucky to have him as a friend. Also, of course, I want to thank QUARTERBACKS for being this issueâ€™s featured artist. Dean just stopped by my apartment and picked up a bunch of LOVESEAT tapes to give to you all while they tour. Be on the look out! And most of all, I want to thank all of you who submitted and read this here issue 23 (!!!!). I know it sounds sappy, but you all are really making this dream of mine a reality. As we round out a year of putting out these bad boys, I realize more and more how blessed I am to have all of you in my life. All right, everyone, you know the drill. Send your music-related writing (reviews, interviews, stories, playlists, and so on) to: email@example.com! And, those across the pond send your work to Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org. all my love, the miscreant
miscreant comix by hughbot