The Perhaps Unnecessary Note In Which I Remind You Of Kate Bush’s Relevance by kenzie weeks
I first heard Kate Bush when I was eight years old, staring pointedly out the window of my father’s car. Over the years my father and I have developed what I like to refer to as a mutually symbiotic relationship: we feed off of each other’s highly erratic, constantly evolving obsessions and glean immense personal satisfaction from proving ourselves more cultured/hip/ progressive/etc. than the other. At the time, however, (and really up until I hit my teens) I unreservedly revered my dad and made few efforts to conceal the fact. He and his early guidance were the source of a fair chunk of my post-adolescent personality traits: my bookishness, my fascination with Bob Fosse and musical theatre, my energetic immaturity, my penchant for campy 70s horror and science fiction, my muted form of social retardation. But, and perhaps most significantly, my dad was also the provocateur of my ongoing and torrid love affair with Kate Bush, the ladylove of my life. To an eight year-old, and honestly to about 85% of adults I know, Kate’s ethereal warbling is a little terrifying. Shit, it’s fucking eerie. Seeing me cowering under my seatbelt after the intro track of her compilation album, “The Whole Story,” my dad took out the CD from the car deck and handed it to me, urging me to listen to the whole thing. In his words, she was fantastic, 2
surreal, just to-dieeeeee-for. Color my elementary self skeptical. But that night I put her into my combination CD/radio/alarm clock and gritted my teeth. See, I was still afraid of the dark, I’ll admit it—a fear that made my chronic insomnia all the more cruel. But as I lied there in the dark, peppered by glow-in-the dark-stars puttied to my ceiling, I felt a strange lifting. As Kate basically orgasmed out the name of a Bronte character, I suddenly “got it,” you know? Kate had everything I was, everything I wanted to be somehow all compounded into this defying-the-laws-of-physics, ripping-out-your-umbilical cord package. Her music is both intelligent and intensely personalized- unique, bizarre, even. She can sing about Flowers for Algernon in falsetto or the slaughter of Aborigines in a theatrical Steve Irwin-esque accent and, goddamnit, she makes you think everyone else is juvenile for not following suit. Kate so completely encapsulates herself in the life of each of her songs that it wouldn’t be hard to believe that every song on The Whole Story was performed by a different vocalist. Such is the power of her seemingly endless vocal range, both in octaves and in its ability to emote across multiple spectrums. One second her voice throbs in a deep, testosterone-fueled roar and the next it catapults into an airy, lilting soprano with the ease of opening a door. I think what makes me love her the most is her preoccupation with the details. Of course, every song ever written is about love, sex, and death, but Kate transcribes those subjects into unexpected, almost absurdly specific situations- like the testing of an atomic bomb in Nevada- that make the listener feel as if they’re watching an intricately-plotted drama rather than listening to a three-minute track. Kate’s idiosyncratic songs have been covered by a wide variety of pop artists, ranging from the Futureheads, Nada Surf, Ra Ra Riot, and Pat Benatar to White Flag and Wild Nothing. In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, Big Boi of Outkast cited Kate Bush as the only artist he wanted to collaborate with on his new album, saying, “[Kate has] got a new album coming out in November, so I’ve got my management team and record company, I’ve got little babies and squirrels looking for her. That’s the only thing that I want to happen right now. She’s an all around artist — producer, songwriter, performer.” Kate Bush is a little bit of everything, of everyone, and nothing ever for long. She’s a British staple, an American oddity, a soft love epic, and a guttural, nihilistic howl. For an eight yearold just starting to suck in little pieces of the world, trying to forge some sense of identity, she was a buffet of possibility. Here was a person, and moreover a woman, who had tried it all—who was being it all. And still now, thirteen years later as I listen to her in my bedroom at night, that dizzying thought is what envelops me. Like darkness, her music offers both vast, unexplored potential and stifling emptiness—and both are equally terrifying and exhilarating. 3
this issue is brought to you by all the bad lieutenants out there.
Single of the
This week’s track comes from Max + the Moon’s EP, The Way I See. “Out of My Head” offers a wonderfully catchy hook and a danceready melody that’ll have you on the dance floor in two shakes of a lamb’s tail! 4
ALBUM REVIEW: Madeline Ava’S Still Gonna Be Fine (Huge Mistake Records) by alex ash On Bloomington, Indiana based artist Madeline Ava’s second full-length album, nothing changes from her full-length debut, last year’s For All The Shy Punk Kids. The whole album is stripped down and minimalist, just her and her ukulele. She sings songs about friends, college, and fears, on “All This Time” she sings about how hard it is for her to just talk to someone, in a delicate voice accompanied by her bright, enthusiastic ukulele playing. But it’s not all just about fears and growing up, she also includes songs that give listeners hope and confidence. On “Advice” she spends the whole track giving very worthwhile and positive advice, such as “try not to worry so much” and “don’t hate yourself all the time, we all know there’s golden things about you.” The record feels intimate, like she’s playing songs on your living room floor, and endearingly awkward, her shy personality coming through on each song. While touring and on her past albums, she has embraced the DIY ethic, usually playing house shows without a microphone and this album doesn’t sway from that viewpoint. It’s simple but wonderful in its simplicity. When you listen to it you aren’t thinking about anything else but her lyrics and it puts you in a great state of mind. Ava is unsure, timid, honest and adorable; this album is like she’s letting you listen to pages out of her diary.
THE TEXAS TRANSPLANT by miss tori cote
5 REASONS WHY YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF THE NORTHEAST, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE THE NORTHEAST OUT OF THE GIRL 1) If you’ve met me, heard about me, or even seen me from a distance, you probably know I’m a pretty nice girl. I don’t like to think of myself as sickeningly sweet, but I won class optimist and class ‘cute-as-a-button’ in high school, if that means anything at all. Put me in Texas though, and everything is a completely different story. Everyone here is so nice. They say hi to you in elevators and smile at you when you’re walking down the middle of the street. Because of all the ~niceness~ surrounding me, I find myself being a tad bit sassy. It’s as if I suddenly had to represent for the sassy girls I love and hang out with up in Boston and in New York. I’m not saying that I don’t like that everyone is extremely welcoming, but I’m not used to it and therefore have deemed it weird. 2) I’m a weird girl when it comes to men. I don’t date/talk to/whatever musicians, boys who care about their hair more than I care about mine, or boys who ask me for nudes after I have had coffee with them once. Oddly enough, I have encountered mostly these types of men since being in Austin. I’m not even trying to find a 6
boyfriend, or even a hook-up for that matter, but if I was playing that game while I was here, I would probably be mildly shocked. Actually it’s not the men that are the problem, it’s the rush to get married that scares the shit out of me. Married at 23? Maybe some people can do that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be doing that. Actually I am 90% I’ll be a music industry slave trying to keep it together to pay rent in the city, so yeah definitely not going to be married anytime in the foreseeable future. 3) I am not very hip. I think maybe at one point I was a little bit more hip than I am now, but right now I’m definitely not cool. That being said, I am cool enough to be friends with the hip people of Austin, but not cool enough to be seen as a hip person of Austin. The thing that makes me cool, in fact, is that I am not from Texas. On the complete other side of the spectrum, I am not a girly girl. I have attributes that are extremely girly, but I’m not going to own a neon bra and technicolored nike shorts anytime soon. This doesn’t really have anything to do with being from the Northeast, but as much as I adore Austin, Texas, I am not going to change for it. I will continue to wear my outfits of black and wear my hair wild and curly as soon as I’m home, and out of the heat. 4) I WILL NEVER GET USED TO THE HEAT. I don’t care if ya’ll (see what I did there?) are complaining about your ‘heat-wave’ in NYC, but that heat wave is now my life. I plan my life around the heat. Have you ever sweated your make-up off at the bar before you were even drunk? No one should have to go through that. I love a good rooftop bar don’t get me wrong, but fuck get some fans or something I can’t handle 100something degree weather. 5) I feel like these five point are me slamming Austin. So let me set you straight, I love Austin. I have made some incredible and probably lifelong friends, have done so many things that you can only do in Texas (well, in my mind at least), and managed to work at one of the best venues EVER. (ACL-Live, try and see a taping if you’re here for SXSW and thank me later) Living in Texas has taught me a lot about myself (cliché) and about how to interact with other people. It has also taught me how to value my upbringing. I would be a different person if it weren’t for picking apples in Upstate New York, laying on the beach in Maine, or messing around the city streets of Boston and NYC. I love Texas and everything it has to hold, but I’m a Northeast girl at the end of the day. 7
MAX + THE MOON an interview by the miscreant
Four guys, Matt, John, Dillon, and Zachariah, formally got together almost three years ago and started Max + the Moon. Now, they’ve released a new EP, writing for a full-length album, and relentlessly playing shows. Here Matt Couchois talks about where these guys come from, and what’s next for Max + The Moon. TM: How long have you guy been playing music together? Where did you meet? MC: John Velasquez and I met in junior high when we were 12. We started skateboarding together and have been friends ever since. Three years ago we decided to start our own band in order to sing and write songs based on our own personal experiences. After being in a number of other bands as either a guitarist or a piano player/drummer we felt it was the right time to make the leap. We wrote our first demos with just us two and eventually brought in Dillon to play drums and Zachariah to sing and play bass. That was about two years ago and has since been what is presently Max + The Moon. TM: You guys have a pretty unique sound. What was the process like getting to the style you’re at now? MC: The sound really stems from a number of influences. Mostly the sounds are a fusion of John’s love for vocal jazz music/anything soulful and my insanely musical family. The melding of styles has been brewing for almost three years now and it’s been one of those things that have slowly found us. As far as the EP, we really wanted to create something organic to our growth so we wrote a number of songs and picked our favorite four to record. 8
TM: What do you like most about the history of the indie music scene in Los Angeles? Do you draw any inspiration from that? MC: It’s funny to have watched the indie scene from a young age and have all these wild thoughts about the type of badass musicians that defined the scene. When we were young, “Indie” meant you were an independent artist devoid of a record label. Now it’s more of a genre/culture. To be slowly making our way into it feels great. Watching the evolution of indie becoming a culture has been amazing. We love to pull inspiration from bands like Local Natives, Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, and Grizzly Bear; groups that epitomize “Indie” but also that utilize pop sensibility. Local Natives are an Orange County band we’ve watched evolve from the ground up and have learned a lot from. As musicians and professionals running a business they have created a tremendous amount of momentum and success. TM: How do you guys feel like you fit into the Southern California scene? MC: We’re not quite sure at this point. We know we want to make music we love and we find our inspiration wherever we can. We just happen to live in SoCal so our music turns out to be pretty upbeat and “sunny” in a way. We did at one time write pretty sad tunes but I think we quickly got that out of our system once we started singing more harmony. It’s really hard to sing three-part harmony and not want to write happy music. TM: Who do you guys consider your biggest influences to your music? MC: We draw from straight up pop music to the super indie. We enjoy everything from Coldplay, Passion Pit, Local Natives, and Fleet Foxes to Motown, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles—Basically, anything and everything that can light our creative spark. If the band sings in harmony, that’s just icing on the cake. 9
TM: Are you guys working on recording a full-length album? MC: Yes! Right now we are writing as much and as often as we can. We plan on doing a full length next but we have no idea where this EP will take us. We may even have something in the works to release this summer but we’ll keep that a surprise! TM: What is the project that you’re working on with Trail of the Dead? When will that be released? MC: The Trail of the Dead is a three-part music video series that will be coming out this summer. It consists of a music video for the song “Out of my Head” and “Light House” and a short film. The first of these films will be the music video for “Out of My Head,” out early this month! TM: What do you guys bring to your live performance that’s unique to you? MC: We love harmony and percussion! So we definitely incorporate that into our live performance as tastefully as possible. We try to bring a lot of energy not only in performance, but through our vocals as well. It’s important that the people in the crowd are having as much as fun as we are so we try and play every show like it’s our last. You know, to make it count. TM: Do you have a favorite song to play live? MC: It’s different for all of us. Personally I feel like the band has the most fun with “Out of My Head” or “Light House.” Those both have a lot of energy and a lot of emotion behind them, but at heart we are songwriters so playing new songs usually takes the cake no matter how much we love our current stuff. TM: What big live shows do you have coming up? Playing any festivals? MC: Right now we have a few exciting things going on this summer. We’re playing EAT SEE HEAR Festival on July 14th in San Pedro and the 98.7 FM 10
Summer Series in Huntington Beach on July 27th! We have some other fun local gigs as well. You can check out all the dates on our Facebook and website! TM: When you guys go on tour, where do you most look forward to playing? MC: Anywhere and everywhere! We really want to see New York and especially Europe. We look forward to wherever our music can take us and weâ€™re hoping to be hitting the road sooner than later! TM: What else does the future hold for Max + The Moon? MC: Right now weâ€™re focusing on writing and developing as artists. As far as what the distant future holds; music, shows, touring, traveling, writing, more shows, new record, and did I say more shows?
Getting to know miscomunicado by miss liz kenny
MISCOMUNICADO: noun Miscommunication. I sat in my neighbor’s apartment staring at the wall at a quote that said “play positive” on the very top. Their wall was covered in permanent marker art, but somehow that quote stood out. I immediately asked and was told by my friend Allie that it was a motto her boyfriend lives by and makes T-shirts of. It intrigued me, and from there on I was told to check out MISCOMUNICADO, a group her boyfriend, Dan, is a member of. They are all about evoking positivity in themselves, those surrounding them, and their listeners. I was drawn in from that day on. After being handed their first album I was told there would be a second; I then was lucky to be one of the first to hear it. MISCOMUNICADO describes themselves as psychedelic, blues-rock; yet, there are a few other genres you could add to the list. Their sound is absolutely unique and I absolutely enjoyed their evolution as a band in their sophomore album, The Golden Teacher. Each of the songs has its own life; each tells a different story of about actual life happenings of the guys of MISCOMUNICADO. One can feel different emotions and an eclectic variety of tones throughout each beat and lyric; however, MISCOMUNICADO’s distinct sound keeps it all glued together. The group describes The Golden Teacher as a “very [loose] concept album” due to the fact that it is their musical form of explaining their life stories of 2011; yet, their multi-meaningful lyrics have a certain direction led with vague detail that allow anyone to relate with and find their own, personal, take to. The group describes “On The Bus” as a song about those who “get IT” being “on the bus,” while those who don’t, just don’t. It’s a simple idea that MISCOMUNICADO translates with a song that sounds as if its an invite to living a fulfilled life. “Sex” and “Drugs” are songs about life’s transitions, specifically their move out West after being raised in Philly. The guitar riffs in both are somewhat similar, but with individual energies that are drowning to the listener in the best possible way. Each song is its own adventure- from the light and fun sounds of “Calling Home” to the darker instrumental overtones of “Sound Goggles” this album is definitely a rare journey to hear within an album. MISCOMUNICADO is definitely a band to follow if ones into any genre from those they label themselves as and also punk, jam… really anything, give or take. I admire the way each song is personalized to their lives, but very open to be interpreted by their audience. The Golden Teacher is a gem of an album, with talented musicality that I cannot even put a label to and singing that is reminiscent of the male singers I crushed over in my adolescents, with its poppunkish sound, in the most heartwarming way to anyone in their twenties. Although their name (a made up word) means miscommunication, this album takes one away from world issues and individual problems, provoking it’s listeners to discover his or her own enlightenment. 13
better late than never by miss cassandra baim
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the throes of a new musical obsession. The artist? Chris Thile. The instrument? Mandolin. His presence in the world of bluegrass? Established already for years and years. I perused Spotify and Wikipedia, only to find years and years of Chris Thile’s solo work, along with his two bands Nickel Creek and The Punch Brothers, and countless collaborations, and I got to thinking about music fandom, and if being in the immediate know really always helps. I have never been the first to know anything. My family didn’t hook up our house to the Internet until I was 11, and we didn’t get an Internet speed fast enough to download anything until I was nearly 17. I didn’t learn how to stream video or torrent albums until I reached college. I spent most of my adolescent years reliant on friends’ iTunes libraries and the public library’s (thankfully very large and well-rounded) album collection for new tunes. As my junior year of high school began, my parents sprung for the high speed Internet, and I discovered my online music savior: Pandora. Along with the discovery of Internet music streaming came a whole slew of bands I now hold very near and dear to my heart. That year I discovered Neutral Milk Hotel, Belle & Sebastian, and Sufjan Stevens, three artists I play on repeat. I remember the exact moment I fell in love with each of those artists, the place being my bedroom, the time being long after they were firmly established in their respective genres. I couldn’t share 14
my newfound discoveries with my peers, out of fear they would scoff and say “Jeez, Cassandra! In the Aeroplane Over the Sea came out in 1999. Where have YOU been?” I tried to shrug those fears off and continued discovering already-hip artists until my music library became the 50gig monstrosity it is today. There are times when I still feel self-conscious over my lack of music hype. My best friend will casually ask, “Hey, do you like [insert buzz band here]?” and I, never having heard that name before in my life, will fumble for words as I stammer “Oh, yeah, they’re uh, really cool!” while making a mental note to run a Wikipedia search and check their Pitchfork rating when I get home. I’m the kind of girl who never likes to admit that I’m wrong, and I never like to appear at a disadvantage. The music business, especially music journalism, is very much a survival-of-the-fittest industry, those who are aware of the newest and hippest buzz bands eat, and those who don’t get eaten. Please don’t misunderstand me. I also have a massive amount of respect for those who are hyper-aware of all the newest music. If someone has the passion and commitment to listen to all the new bands and then always be thirsty for more, he or she is a true music fan, and I salute them. Here’s the thing, though—I care just as much as they do. Just because I discovered Jeff Mangum’s raw lyrical power eight years after he unleashed his talent on the rest of the world doesn’t mean I love them any less (besides, how many eight-year-olds did you know who were well versed in the world of independent rock?). Recently my roommate discovered rapper Childish Gambino (also known as Community’s Donald Glover). She admitted to me that she was very late to the game, but her excitement over his music had the same magnitude as someone who had been a fan of his since he released his first EP. Being the first to know music’s next big thing is great—you have the power to spread the word, increase awareness, and give the latest buzz band the recognition they deserve. That takes talent and dedication, but the other true music fan is the one who adores a band no matter if they reached the height of relevance ten years ago, or ten seconds ago.
And I Try at Eulogizing The White Stripes by andrew mcclain One day in April, I found out within the span of an hour that not only was I at the final White Stripes show, but it was officially recorded and released as a live album. Upon listening to said album, it gets me thinking about my feelings. Some of these feelings are outlined here, some are best left in the confines of my weary heart. And while only a few thousand of us got the kind of remarkable closure of being at that last concert, I’ll maintain that the Stripes’ six-album run might be all we need to get by in their absence. The White Stripes announced on February 2nd, 2011 that they were breaking up for good. Their website says “The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health. It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way… Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who’ve shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.” So many artists’ careers are cut short by death or infighting, or extended long past their prime by greed, so as a White Stripes fan, this news sits well with me. They’ve left us with six excellent albums, the worst of which is still fascinating. I’ll never forget this: I’m sitting on my bed after school, scanning the radio channels for something interesting because tired of all the CDs I have. I’m twelve years old, or thirteen, maybe. Some obnoxious DJ on Little Rock’s mostly-intolerable modern rock station says “Alright, so I just got a call from Julie in Bryant who says her five-year-old daughter wants to hear ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes,” and I’ll never forget the way he feigned discomfort, chuckling and saying “Huh-huh… I don’t know what to think about that…” as if it were disturbing to him that a five-year-old liked The White Stripes. I’d never heard The White Stripes before, so I listened intently for what could be so subversive about The White Stripes. This was a time when modern rock radio was flooded with the heroin-grunge of Tool and Godsmack and Nickelback’s sentimental-but-sexualized Neanderthal buttrock. Rock n’ roll was still hung up on the grunge sound, which was ten years stale at that point. So as I listened to that simple, clear bass guitar sound, I listened hard for what might have made that DJ think it perverse that a five-year-old would like it. Lyrically ambiguous, Jack White doesn’t seem to be saying anything in particular in “Seven Nation Army,” but he was shaking up the world of mainstream rock with his still-distinctive guitar sound, which owes much more to 60s garage rockers and Delta bluesmen than to Kurt Cobain. That was subversive. After buying all of The White Stripes’ albums and obsessing on them for a good while, I began to read more about the band and find it more and more ironic that some grungy dude at the radio station would make a dumb comment about finding it disturbing that a child would like The White Stripes, because a childlike simplicity is actually one of their driving ideals. Their ideals, part of their carefully-crafted brand are, in fact, a large part of what makes them so intriguing. Jack White created a distinct,
beguiling persona and mythology for his own band, as intentional as any image manufactured by a major record label for one of their pop stars: Jack, vocalist and guitar prodigy, playing hard-edged blues-rock on a cheap toy guitar while his little sister, Meg bangs along clumsily on the drums. These two, black-haired and pale-skinned, wearing only red, black and white, they play music because it’s fun, and they make it look easy. They sing about simple things and yearn for simpler times. Jack’s charming is lyricism filled with multiple allusions to the number three, redheaded women, and one song on each album with the word “little” in the title. In reality, Jack Gillis married Meg White, legally taking her name. Marriage and divorce certificates confirm that the two were married for four years before The White Stripes gained any fame, though neither has acknowledged this. However, this is what made their dynamic commercially viable - just like any pop act, it was very easy for us to wrap our mind around The White Stripes; they made perfect sense. All we had to do was buy the myth and trust in their childlike wisdom to save us from the irrelevant, pandering, sentimental post-post-grunge. Over the course of their six albums, The White Stripes progressed from lo-fi blues rock (with occasional basic organ or piano sounds) on “The White Stripes” and “De Stijl” to a gradually more polished sound on “White Blood Cells” and “Elephant,” which brought them into the public eye. Nearly every “alternative” band that sees sudden fame releases an overproduced crowd-pleaser of an album as a follow-up to their initial success, but The White Stripes, like shy children pushed onstage, their kneejerk reaction to their sudden ubiquity was to release “Get Behind Me Satan,” an offbeat, experimental album with weird, haunting marimba ballads, piano rock and a goofy bluegrass number about being in love with a ghost and a song about meeting (deceased) movie star Rita Hayworth in a seedy bar. “Get Behind Me Satan” is one of the most interesting things about The White Stripes to me, because every artist with a notable discography has a low-point, a throwaway - an album that true fans prefer not to talk about. Many artists aren’t even able to bounce back from this album, but The White Stripes managed to hit their “low” without compromising their integrity. Instead, they exposed us to the most experimental set of songs they could write, and see if we’d still love them. As it turns out, the album won a Grammy for “Best Alternative Music Album,” earning The White Stripes our tacit permission to do whatever they liked. After effectively getting away with “Get Behind Me Satan,” The White Stripes decided they’d just as soon revisit their garage-rock and country influences with “Icky Thump,” two years later. “Icky Thump” was a personable return to everything we have ever loved about The White Stripes - it’s all there, like a greatest-hits collection with all-new material, plus the usual stylistic curveballs. It’s a more perfect final album than any artist could ever hope for. So what happens next? Who’s stepping up to the plate and saving rock n’ roll like the White siblings? It might be no one (and please don’t tell me it’s the Kings of Leon, because it’s not). All the real innovation in pop music in the last 20 years has happened within the realm of hip-hop, and it seems as if rock n’ roll with pedigree is basically extinct or hiding in obscurity. I’m not trying to be melodramatic, but an obituary for The White Stripes may be a eulogy for mainstream rock n’ roll itself. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, either.
Swear And Shake
Maple Ridge Release Party with: These Animals Tall Tall Trees Friday July 6, 2012 Doors at 7:00 p.m. Mercury Lounge New York, NY $10 17
Confidence And Music by victor nicholas massari
Music has changed a lot over the past couple of years. Our culture has come to thrive on what is popular in clubs, with a loud thumping bass. Radio has found comfort in these genres, like pop and rap. Some say music is less daring, which is sometimes hard to disagree with based on what is out there. But for the most part, it is split 50/50. There are plenty of bands out there, mainstream or not, that generally remain complacent and soulless, but at the same time, there are plenty of bands out there that try new things and break boundaries. Though hard to believe, the underground and mainstream exist on the same plane. People forget that at times, but they cannot be considered separate. It is still music all the same, and we attach ourselves to it for the same reasons. It isn’t popularity that makes people like a song, but the palpable feeling of confidence. Confidence does not come easy in music. What makes us perceive a song as emotionally engaging is a highly complicated development. A lot of it has to do with our preconceived notions that make us feel engrossed in a song, or turn us off from one. For example, why is it that when we hear Rebecca Black’s, “Friday,” we are so quick to assume pretentiousness? Is it because she is young, a bad singer, or the poorly written lyrics? I couldn’t tell you which it is, but it is definitely not the lyrics. Have you ever heard the “Bob Dylan” cover of “Friday?” That version felt so much more real. Words that originally 18
sounded superficial appeared to have depth. It is not only a song’s production that plays a large factor in the honesty of a song, but the demeanor in the vocals. That, more than anything can make or break a song’s “confidence.” This is one of the many reasons that fake emo bands get flak. They are too timid. No one is going to believe anything they say, whereas real emo bands exert their voices and expose their stories sorrowfully. Whether you’re Nicki Minaj, or Henry Rollins, people will believe a sincere voice. There are some genres, like hardcore and rap, that have so much certainty in themselves that they have become eternal. When you think about it, there is no difference between a hardcore band and a rap group. People both enjoy those genres for the same reasons. Rap and hardcore music both have highly energetic vocals and a strong live presence. This is why these genres get away with monotony. They are dauntless in their endeavors. Although they both take a route of simplicity, and have songs that sound similar, they still manage to get the point across. This proves that confidence can make up for a lacking in certain areas. Although Nicki Minaj has largely bitter lyrics and an obnoxious voice, she still has the spunk to say the things she does. And even though hardcore songs play the same three or four chords repeatedly, the passion in the vocals makes you relate to their words. Much of our perception of confidence in music comes from a band’s boldness to sound different, but hardcore and rap shows that is not always the case. These are genres that can manage to maintain their appeal through tenacity, but still remain complacent. Uniqueness in one’s sound is an important instrument for popularity, but ultimately it comes down to a brave voice. Confidence is the driving factor of a good song, and has many interpretations. Whether it’s confidence to sound loud, sexy, mean, smart, or lazy, someone will find a way to invest in the music. Depending on our interests, we project these versions of confidence onto ourselves. It is a reflection of the confidence people wish they had. Even though mainstream music isn’t always in good taste, it’s confidence is respected. There is hope in the crossing of musical communities knowing that there is something they all share.
check out more from victor on his blog, sweet nothings! also, keep up with what he’s listening to on twitter at @sweetnothingsvm. sweetnothingsreviews.tumblr.com 19
The Bitching Hour by benjamin bondy
About a week ago I decided it would be really cool to post a song I had recorded on my piece of shit computer with a piece of shit microphone onto my piece of shit Tumblr. I’m sure you are all aware of what Tumblr is, but if not, let me explain. Tumblr is a place where both fourteen year old girls go to look at .gifs of cats getting tickled and and painted fingernails, and 20 year old men go to jerk off their inflated egos. It’s a really a great place if you like any of the following: cats, expensive clothes, second rate memes, girls with body image issues, the band FUN, cats . I digress. So I posted this song that I recorded, that I guess kids these days call “garage rock,” while I prefer the term “butt-rock” mainly because it fits better. Just think along the lines of Nickelback, Creed, Disturbed, Hanson. You get the picture. This kid whom I have conversed with in the past over power-violence, art, beer: you know, manly stuff, swiftly after my post, posts the following: “lets try to make this the year that lo-fi fuzzy garage ‘punk’ dies a horrible death while basking in it’s own pre-teen depression fetishized summertime deluge.” I sort of scoffed, and responded to the post with “ouch” because I’m easily butt-hurt and a pussy-baby. I would agree with him mainly because I strive be really different and hate on everything because that’s what I do, it keeps my life exciting, but I don’t think that this is the year for that at all and here’s why. First of all, I thoroughly enjoy the sound of blown out guitar speakers and buckets in a bathroom as a pathetic excuse for drums. It’s just better that way. It gives me something to relate to. The awful sound reflects on my awful personality, and that’s just something I need around. I need music that makes me feel worse about myself, but also assures me that I am still in fact better than you. Secondly, I do not appreciate the fact that he specifies ‘pre-teen’ because I am an adult, a full-fledged grown up man. I have a beard. I just happen to have the musical and intellectual comprehension skills of a thirteen year-old mall rat girl named Heather ( you know the type). My appreciation for music comes from how catchy and easy it is for me to understand what is going on, I.E. what the fuck is math rock? Ya boi just wants to nod his head and maybe move his feet, more better known as the ‘white boy shuffle.’ I just need this music around so I can feel relevant before more complicated music gets popular again and I fade into underground pop-culture obscurity and turn into a hairy, sweatpants wearing pile of shame. I would now like to focus on the ‘fetishized summertime deluge.’ Because that is my favorite part. First of all, nice use of the word ‘deluge,’ very post-modern, and congratulations on the use of ‘fetishized,’ because that’s a new word! Anyway, I think that this is exactly what makes butt-rock awesome! Who doesn’t want to hear Chris Owens sing “I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine,” because honestly who doesn’t? I guess this goes back to my inability to comprehend anything less shallow than the inflatable pool in my backyard. I just want to hear music that compels me from the deepest of my loins to dry-hump a braces wearing Fara Fawcett look-alike in the back seat of a Toyota Camry in a sweaty frenzy of summer-time ‘pre-teen’ lust. Legs sticking to the pleather, panties at the ankles, white sneakers still on. Honestly, there ain’t nothing wrong with that, not a damn thing. Trust me, I’m an experienced fetishizer. Anyway, viva la garage rock (butt rock) because without it I would just be another nerd listening to Radiohead. Let us pray that this is the year that depressed, pre-teen, fetishizers get laid while listening to Girls.
for the music by patrick mitchell
The sun was long past its peak and quickly falling, beginning to fade from the sky. In a last ditch effort to stay, it cast out sun rays, splattering the overhead clouds with violet and orange. Only the tips of the trees were tall enough to catch any remnants of light. The rest was cast in shadow. A warm breeze skipped across the open field, weaving in and out of the crowd of chattering people, waiting for the outdoor show to commence. I stood on the edge. I was alone. Nobody by my side. But it did not matter, because I was there for the music. That sweet, sweet sound of harmonious instruments in unison is all that mattered. My arms nestled in each other’s embrace, as I took in the moment, wondering how the spectators will react to the magnificent event of sound they were about to witness. Will they do as I did the first time and lose all control? Will they lose themselves to the music? Will they lose themselves for the music? Only time can tell and when it does, I will know. As I scanned for posers, many of which I found immediately, I saw a hand wave in my direction. The hand was attached to a girl I had become acquainted with over the last year. I say “was” because the hand has since been removed. She lost it in a freak vending machine accident. The details are not important; the only thing that matters is that it was not for the music. I digress. She invited me over to her group of friends, a few of which were members of a band. There was a hesitation to sit down for I did not appear worthy of the real rockerz, who humbly sat on the grass like any other plebian. But I swallowed my fear and sat cross-legged next to them. We exchanged words as the first group to set up their instruments. A thousand thoughts ran through my head: Thoughts of distress, anxiety and nerve. But I slowly left them behind as I convinced myself that every look of disgust was in my own head. I was here for the music and if that means not showering, then so be it. The hooligans that toast plastic were barely men, but full of vigor and passion. The same for the spooky boys. Each began their youthful ululations, in order to save the sun and quell the night beasts for another day. They banged on their bear skins and plucked their goat intestines in ritual, hoping their melodic invitation will bring the sun’s return. The crowd approved, but did not show the same zeal I once did. They were obviously not there for the music. I, myself, would have danced and sang for the music but I was under the eye of the rockerz, so I bit my tongue, for the music. The sun had lit the final ray and departed from the sky, but revealed the ceremony’s success by leaving the moon to protect us from the beasts so it could rejuvenate it’s noxious gases for the next day. The nocturnal insects rejoiced in chaotic dance at the sun’s absence, feasting on the blood of humans. Many could not stand their constant attack and began swatting and spraying, but I stood my ground, for the music. Then Real Estate started playing and I was out of there quicker than a monkey at an orangutan convention. Great show, Toasted Plastic and Spook Houses! You nailed it like always and did it for the music.
Upon Landing on brooklyn by queen karen edith millar
I’ve been back in the city I love the most for more than a month now and I fall harder for it every day. The mosquito bites, constant sweat dripping down my forehead/back/legs and fartoo-easy access to bagels 24 hours a day are a small price to pay for the wonderful people I’ve met and ‘only in New York’ things I’ve seen. (My personal favorite so far is a corpulent African American woman on a mobility scooter, blasting Biggie from a portable sound system for the benefit of everyone in Fort Greene. She’s my new role model.) Other than spending my time eating carbohydrates at the worst possible times of the day and finding humor in the lives of those seemingly less fortunate than myself, I have actually made more of a conscious effort to immerse myself in more of the local music scene and in doing so have found myself further questioning my ability to actually get back on the plane to London come mid-September. I’m sorry England, I love you, but Brooklyn bands do it better. My first new discovery (thanks to my lovely roommate) are the wonderful Tall Tall Trees, whose live act consists of one man with a banjo and a loop pedal. And boy, does he work it. Music which I would (probably wrongly) describe as a fusion of Mumford and Sons and Broken Social Scene this is one special act. Check our their most recent album ‘Moment’ and just let it play straight through - you will NOT be disappointed. My personal favorite on the record is ‘Men and Mountains’. Too sassy. The next band y’all need to hear to make your lives infinitely more awesome is Xylofaux. 22
Making music that would quite easily give Death Cab a run for their money, they are probably the best unsigned act I’ve seen; ever. With a new album coming in the fall these guys could be on course to blow up big time. As we sit in wait for the new record check out this live recording of one of the new tracks from the upcoming record. It’s hella good. http://xylofaux.bandcamp.com/track/lenox-to-union All I’ll say is - watch out Ben Gibbard. So, I feel I’ve provided you with musical information that will somehow be enriching to your everyday lives. Or not; whatever. Love y’all regardless. Now excuse me whilst I attempt to wash away the sin from my very happy 4th of July. Speak soon, bitches.
ACROSS THE POND IN NYC PLAYLIST 07/06/12 Hearbeats - JOSE GONSALEZ To Your Health - KEATON HENSON Broadtripple Is Buring - MARGOT & THE NUCLEAR SO & SO’S Dirty Paws - OF MONSTERS & MEN Climax - USHER (Keepin’ it real bitches.) Hey Rabbit - HEY RABBIT Wide Eyes - LOCAL NATIVES Empire State of Mind - JAY Z Hold On Hope - GUIDED BY VOICES Beach Baby - BON IVER Flattened Spoons - XYLOFAUX 23
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Hello my fellow miscreants! First of all, I am so thrilled to have Max + The Moon as issue 24’s featured artist. These guys are creating excellent pop jams that are going to have you dancing all summer long. I feel like each band that we feature brings something different and exciting to the table, and represent different styles. M+TM are the first pop band that has been on the cover, and they’re the first west coast-based band we’ve featured. To me, this symbolizes an important step for the zine. I want the Miscreant to represent all genres from all over. With each issue, there are more new contributors with diverse perspectives. And I am more and more overjoyed by all the different voices that come together in the Miscreant. Speaking of which, I’d like to thank all of the awesome people who have sent in their work. There are some new bylines in this issue, and I can’t wait to see more from these folks. There are also some people who have been sending in their writing for a while, some since the birth of the Miscreant. It means the world to me that there are so many talented people who are getting involved! Now (sing it with me), it’s time to submit your writing. Send your reviews of your favorite new releases, your reasoning behind your favorite Sebadoh song, your list of the most life-changing concerts you’ve ever been to, whatever you have to say about the music that moves you. Email your work, as well as any questions you might have about getting involved, to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to check out the artists featured in this issue! Look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more. All my love, The Miscreant