Sunday, December 9, 2012

Top Albums of the Year

Top Albums of the Year

1. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

On the way back from Louisville, Kentucky, my roommate and I put this on. For the duration of the album, we said nothing to each other. The windmills of Indiana cloaked our background. The lyrical mix of musings on love and religion spoke to us the way that a mother does when she is lulling her child to sleep. On the last song, “So long you pretty thing,” Jason Spaceman starts singing with his child. The song starts at a pinpoint and expands to a cosmic rumbling before you can almost hear the opening lines of genesis. As the song faded out, we kept out eyes forward on the road before one of us said “I bet he’s a great father.”

2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

When I saw Frank Ocean at Lollapalooza, I went by myself. Everyone else went to Red Hot Chili Peppers. I knew that what I was about to see would be historic. Even by the standards of Lollapalooza, the show would be intimate. But it’s easy to do that when your music reads like disturbed diary entries. Ocean’s lyrics are peppered and haunted by shadows of drug use, a coming to terms with oneself, and unrest. Those subjects lend to a multitude of song structures, crooning methodologies, and heartbreak. 

3. Swans - The Seer

This album has the lyric “your light pours into my mouth.” I feel like this album was written and recorded by a pack of gypsies in flight from an insane asylum that was hidden away on K2 or something. This album has another huge variety of songs on it from the folk-drawl of “Song of a Warrior” to the explosive drone of “lunacy.” The textures of unease is rampant throughout. Michael Gira apparently dropped acid 300 times before he was 14. On an album like this, I can believe it.

4. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...

There’s enough that’s been said on Fiona Apple’s life, lyrics, and pain. So I won’t go there. What I will say is that this album is honest. I took my sister to her show at the Chicago Theatre. Apple’s set features a lavish backdrop of talented musicianship. This feature applies to the songs on this album, somewhat less manic than “extraordinary machine,” less visceral than “When the pawn...” but somehow more resonating. Fiona doesn’t hide what she’s trying to say in metaphor because the metaphors she uses are so on point that the listener doesn’t even think of them as such. There’s a lot of hope on this album and a lot of love.

5. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

The first day I bought this album, I listened to it six times in a row. Just flipping one side to the other while reading. I remember the first time I heard the nearly-nine-minute slaughterhouse of “wasted days,” and Dylan opened his vocal chords like a gash to the wrist - he screams “I thought I would be more than this!” And god, it makes so much sense since Steve Albini produced this album. But Dylan is like 20 years old! Of course he’s gonna be more than this - he’s like 1/4 of the way through his life! These songs are so mature that it’s easy to forget that this songwriter is only a kid. Man, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

6. Spider Bags - Shake My Head

Well these guys definitely get band I saw the most of 2012. My buddy Kyle and I saw these guys like three times in two weeks. Dan McGee of Spider Bags actually gave me this CD like six months in advance.  There’s so much country swagger to these guys that it’s easy to forget that Dan doesn’t drink beer because it disagrees with his stomach. This album was recorded with Memphis Rock Royalty, a la the boys who run Goner and alike. It’s easily the most rock n’ roll oriented of their albums and easily the best. “Simona La Ramona” has such a great build and swell to it that at the end, the cajoling falsettos sound like a touchdown celebration. Really fun stuff here.

7. Woods - Bend Beyond

“Find them Empty” was one of my favorite 7”s of 2011 and when I found out that it was gonna be on “Bend Beyond,” I was beyond psyched (didn’t mean to use beyond two times in such close proximity but I’ll take it). When I popped this on the turntable, and the swamp-like growl of the guitars on the first song “Bend Beyond,” I knew I was in for a completely different Woods record. Slap on the San-Fran-psych-rock of  “Cali in a Cup” directly after and I’m hooked. This record is so much fun and a real joy to drive to. Or clean buckets to. Yeah, I did that.

8. Ty Segall - Twins

Yeah, he did it. Ty Segall released three amazing albums in one year. I think Ty just won music. This album most closely resembles a typical Ty Segall album, meaning that there are creepy lyrics, rock n roll revelry, and energy. Ty clearly has a soft spot for classic rock, which comes across in this album. “Thank God for Sinners” is an anthemic tour de force. When Ty played this on Conan, I could almost hear a generation murmur “Oh, so that’s rock n’ roll! Hey, i kind of dig that.” Thanks for the lesson, Ty, and for G-d’s sake, don’t stop believing.

9. Stripmines - Crimes of Dispassion

This is the best hardcore album of the year. I actually had an interview lined up with these guys. I had been corresponding with lead-singer Jeff Young for a while. And then the band broke up. Whatever. These guys are one of the latest and greatest bands from the Raleigh Hardcore scene fueled by the amazing label “Sorry State Records,” which seems to never put out anything but hits. The first song “Hate Crime” has a powerviolence blast of energy to it, but then breaks down into a percussion-frenzied ending. If you’d like to know more about these guys, they had a really good interview with Maximum Rock n’ Roll. Really hope they keep making tunage like this in other band capacities.

10. Converge - All You Love You Leave Behind

Converge has never put out a bad album. In fact, Converge has only put out amazing albums. These guys are fronted by Jacob Bannon, an artistic wunderkid who seems to be able to do almost everything. His prints are rich with religious puzzlement and splatters of metallic-tinged color. He’s also in what I believe to be the best metalcore band of all time. This album varies up the pacing a little bit, evident from even the first song “Aimless Arrow,” which starts with a more human sounding Jacob before spiraling into what I picture as him as a demon, screaming above a double-kick drum. This is some aggressive stuff and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

11. Death Grips - The Money Store

I still don’t know whether this band is a gimmick. All the press behind these guys is absolutely baffling. First, they decide to release two albums this year. Secondly, they put a phallus as the image to indicate the second album (put simply, there’s a penis for the second album cover) and then they release that album for free even though they’re signed to a major label. Is this the punkest thing that happened this year or incredibly contrived? I really have no idea. At any rate, this album is totally trans-genre and has some really fun songs on it. “I’ve Seen Footage” is an ode to the digital era of Youtube and other hit movies. It’s also got an amazing swirling background. These guys probably eat adrenaline all day.

12. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

Ariel Pink is my favorite modern-day songwriter. He’s also the person who has influenced my music the most I think. Ariel doesn’t have a certain sound. He’s got an ethos and a methodology which is that he records everything into his phone via his mouth, including vocals, drums, and guitar lines. Then he plays that for his band and they figure it out. It’s a really neat idea and shows how someone who writes a 60’s throwback like “Only in my Dreams” can be the same person who wrote “Good Kids Make Bad Grown Ups.” A lot of people think of Ariel Rosenberg as an elaborate prankster. Does he really think he’s making good art? Like his music, Ariel’s answer changes in nearly every interview (probably due to the plethora of drugs he consumes at all times).

13. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City

I really didn’t do my fair share of hip hop listening this year. I think I listened to probably five hip hop albums of 2012. I listened to exclusively hip hop and latin music until I was 17, but I truly started listening to music when I was 14 and my friend Shaun and I were amateur b-boys, trying to figure out how to get more than two spins on our heads. It sounds weird because I obscenely embody White-people stereotypes now, but whatever, it’s the trooff. This album kind of gives me more hope about where mainstream hip hop is going now. It shows that a great lyricist can still sign to a major label. But more than that, it shows how the trend of hip hop is going towards honesty. There’s still a need for drama in this album and still an emphasis on bravado and a need for mind-altering substance, but it’s rendered with an almost regret. The ending of this album shows that there is hope and it’s evident because it’s easy to see where Kendrick has gotten. Everything that his posse Black Hippy does is pretty great - I’m not a huge Schoolboy Q fan, but I’ll listen to it. Ab-Soul rocks. But Kendrick is the monolith around which the artists gather. He’s the man with the plan. (Insert another generic compliment here).

14. Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine

I got into black metal hard this year after I saw Liturgy perform at the Duke Coffeehouse. You read that right. Liturgy performed at the Duke Coffeehouse. IT WAS AWESOME. But once I saw them, I realized that there was a huge deficit in my knowledge of music and that was metal. I started listening to second-wave norwegian black metal and when I moved back to Chicago, I found out that we actually have an unreal metal scene. And these guys are my favorite. Blake Judd, lead singer of Nachtmystium, has this piercing howl (or is it a growl?) that fronts an always changing sound. It’s common knowledge that this band’s last two releases were more psychedelic metal than black metal, but then they decided to make (in Judd’s words) “a fucking black metal album.” I still hear a good deal of the psychedelic in this album, but it’s definitely more true to black metal form. There’s also a lot of pop in this album. The choruses and hooks will bring you back. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to that. But these songs are all based on pop-structures, which is cool.

15. Cult of Youth - Love Will Prevail 

Sean Ragon jumped off the stage at the end of this show and ran into an alley and I followed him where we talked about his return from rehab, his need to shelter himself in a room in order to write songs, and his first beer after giving up drugs. It was really cool to see a songwriter that I really admire be so open with me. I hung out with his band all night and they were really welcoming, which made me feel awesome. The songs on this album lose a bit of the celtic-centricity of his previous works, but they really amp up the energy, which is evident on songs like “Love Will Prevail.” 

16. Horseback - Half Blood

This band is incorrectly labeled as metal. That’s not to say they aren’t inspired by metal, but aside from Jenks Millers’ vocals, there’s not a lot of metal on this. There’s a LOT of americana though. It’s something you hear very rarely - if not exclusively on a Horseback record. Horseback had such an awesome year with the release of this record on Relapse records, the reissue of part of their first record on Three Lobed (a label which seems to always just get better and better), a split twelve inch with Chicago noise band Locrian, a seven inch, and a new cassette on All-Day Records. These guys and California’s Crowhurst got me into noise music this year. I don’t see myself looking back any time soon.

17. Ty Segall & White Fence - Hair

Dreams do come true. Tim Presley and Ty Segall made an album together. There is so much psychedelic swagger to this record it’s not even funny. The song “I Am Not a Game” is a huge song. It sounds so big. And the rest of the album is varied like a White Fence record. He released a double album this year called “Family Perfume vols. 1 & 2,” but I feel like that was a subdued version of what was on this album. The songwriting on Family Perfume is incredible, but I felt like the production limited it, otherwise, that album would have made the list. Ty and Tim really balance each other out on this as you can see from the raucous volume but also the precise songwriting. I really hope this is indicative of more collaborative works from these two.

18. Mean Jeans - Life on Mars

This album is a party. The first song “Ready 2 Rip” is totally the perfect way to start any day, especially if you’re about to go to the beach (surf’s up). The album never loses any momentum and never has any pretensions over what it is, which is a rock n’ roll record.

19. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

One of my happiest moments this year was when I saw that Japandroids covered The Gun Club’s “For the Love of Ivy.” I must have looked like an absolute goofball with my giddy-smile that I’m sure stayed on my face for a week. The production on this album is much better than their first album, but the sustained adrenaline is still there, which is cool. Songs like “Continuous Thunder” also show that the band doesn’t need to simply wallop you over the head every time. It plays a similar role to “I Quit Girls” did on their first record. These guys also have some amazing lyrics. It’s the story of adolescence compressed into forty minutes.

20. King Tuff - King Tuff

“Bad Thing” is the best song on this album. The line “Cause all I ever wanted was everything” is one of the coolest lines I heard. I remember running to that song on repeat. And we’re talking like a 40 minute run. The whole time I listened to that song. And then I think I made some spaghetti to it also. That’s gotta be like 60 minutes of badness. Pretty cool. I actually prefer this to Tuff’s other band “Happy Birthday,” who released a sweet record on Sub pop a couple years ago. The songwriting on here is more forward and straight up. It’s also really fun. “Swamp of Love” has some really fun lyrics. It feels like if someone’s 80’s prom actually were in a swamp. How about that.

Best Reissues:

William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops
Royal Trux- Accelerator
Horseback - Impale Golden Horn
Mount Moriah - s/t
Feedtime - The Aberrant Years
Donnie & Joe Emerson - Dreamin’ Wild
Sleep - Dopesmoker
Royal Headache - s/t

Best 7”s:

Total Control - Scene from a Marriage
White Mystery - People Power
All those awesome Double Negative 7”s
Whatever Brains - RSD 7”

Best Live Acts:

Frank Ocean
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Double Negative
Ty Segall
Fiona Apple
Spider Bags
Cult of Youth

Labels of the Year:

Dirtnap Records (White Wires, Guantanamo Baywatch, Mean Jeans)
Sorry State Records (Stripmines, Joint D, All those awesome Double Negative 7”s, Whatever Brains [2012])

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moon Bandits - Straight Thinking Means Plain Speaking

Moon Bandits Live
Folk-punk is awesome. It's a style of music that seems to be built upon sincerity, activism, and the questioning of all aspects in society. Its roots can be seen from artists like Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, but it has continues to grow and stay relevant through artists like Ramshackle Glory, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Ghost Mice, Rosa and Moon Bandits.

Moon Bandits are a two-part DIY folk-punk band out of Los Angeles. Tommy plays banjo and Astrid plays the violin and they both sing. Their beliefs, lyrics, and ethos stems from the idea that a person should aim to make him or herself better and more conscientious of the people and world around them each day. For this reason, they are straightedge vegans that enjoy traipsing through the woods, climbing mountains, and making awesome (vegan) food. You can check them out on Facebook HERE

They currently have two records, a demo and an EP, which can be listened to and downloaded for free at their BANDCAMP.

Their new EP "Straight Thinking Means Plain Speaking" is a romp in the socio-political aspect of being a human. What should a person do in order to be the best that he or she can? What makes a responsible human being? The EP comes across as honest, down-to-earth and hopeful in spite of the fact that a person's life sometimes "makes [him or her] feel like a victim," according to their song "Pedestrian." 

Lyricism plays an important part of the EP. The music drives the narrative, but the lyrics demonstrate two people who are willing to take a microscope to themselves in order to see the good, the bad, and the improvements that should be made.

In an age where music on the radio becomes something not unlike cookie-cutter chord progressions and nonsensical words spewing the merits of partying and a person's primal instincts, a record like this seems not only welcome but necessary to remind us why we listened to music in the first place, which is both for enjoyment as well as an understanding of a bard who creates stories through auditory pleasance.

Check it out.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Big Eyes

Happy Saturday everyone,

About a month ago, I picked up the newest edition of Razorcake, probably my favorite zine. For those who don't know, Razorcake is an absolutely incredible compilation of goings-on, interviews, columns (not strictly limited to music), reviews, and comics (Ben Snakepit is a regular comic contributor). I couldn't tell you how many amazing bands have been featured in it. I bought LPs from each of the bands featured with interviews in the last month (big eyes, wreck of the zephyr, and lenguas largas). Each band was radically different from the others, especially in terms of ideology and ethos of their music and I could talk about each one, but today, I'm writing about the band Big Eyes.

Big Eyes are a powerpop/punk band out of Seattle, Washington who are about to embark on a ludicrously long and dense tour throughout the United States, including stops in Chicago and Asheville. They have a raucous intensity backed by impeccably catchy song structures.

The band consists of three people - 2 New Jersey Natives and A Reno-ite. Kate Eldridge plays guitar and sings. Chris Costalupes is on the bass. And C.J. Frederick is on the drums.

They have a few releases so far - a great first LP called "Hard Life" and a 7-inch. They also have 2 split 7"s. One with the Mean Jeans that will be on Dirtnap Records and one will be with Audacity on Volar Records. They are sure to be two of the year's great singles, especially since those line ups are stacked! I will definitely be ready 2 rip (you can check out my interview with Mean Jeans HERE).

They have also recently put up a mail-order page on their website, which can be found HERE and includes tour dates as well as links to streams of their albums, which are absolutely definitely worth the listen.

You can also check out the band on FACEBOOK

Hopefully, Chicagoans will be able to check them out at the Subterranean.

Happy Saturday listening!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Oslo's "Riots"

Cover of their Newest LP

Norway is most (in)famous for being one of the main birthing grounds for the popular Black Metal scene. When you do a bit of research into Norway, you can see that there is a real conflict of culture there from the Pagan history to the Christian takeover. Norway, like many modern countries, is a place based in a bit of conflict. This sort of past makes room for a lot of different views, both positive and negative. Likewise, there is a huge wealth of music springing from the country along all genre definitions.

I am a proud member of the Dead Beat Records distribution and label newsletter (order today, ship tomorrow!) and I saw a really cool package from Oslo's Riots getting a sweet distro there and I bought it. One morning, as I was doing a quick workout, I decided to pop in the LP and I was blown away. The lyrics of Riots have a tremendous depth that pervades social, political and perhaps even spiritual problems.

That and their music kicks ass! Pounding drums reverberate throughout the record and the guitar line merely bolsters the sense of disillusioned unrest of the vocalist. It's an incredible record and still has an awesome package for all the punx out there! I strongly recommend picking it up, which you can do HERE

This record is going to definitely make my year-of list. I think it's amazing.

You can learn a lot about the band ON THEIR WEBSITE and see a bunch of live clips ON THEIR YOUTUBE CHANNEL


Jordan: When did the current band Riots start and what was that process like? Some of your members had played in the band Goldcrush, but when did the idea for Riots come along?

Paul: - Riots really started back in 2000. we were called Goldcrush then, we changed vocalists in 2007, and really should have changed the name as well. In 2010 on the European tour we passed under a bridge in Germany where someone had spray painted Riots on the wall, I thought that was a good name and one that suited our musical style better. We did eventually get round to changing the name in November 2011.

Jordan: Why did you name the band Riots? What political implications are there from your music? There seems to be a lot of disillusionment in your lyrics, but also a sense of pride.

Gisle: - Seeing it as I am an anti-capitalist I feel the need to express this. And we lefties love a good riot :P But jokes aside, I feel that music, all music, should express and comment on the world it is created in. I have a need to say these things.

Jordan: Your new release "Riots" is a short but poignant blast of punk rock. Which musicians, lifestyles and events inform the music you have made? In short, what makes a Riots song into a Riots song?

Gisle: -As I said, music should reflect the world it is created in. Things going on in this world, they need someone to talk about it. And there are enough love songs out there. But not too many songs deal with the real world.

Paul: - Thanks. I think we are affected by what goes on around us. It's very easy to write songs about things that piss you off and day to day life. We sometimes work on a riff, sometimes either Gisle or Mathias comes with a finished song. We have made songs before, and realized after playing them for a month or so, that it really isn't a Riots song, so we scrap it. 

Jordan: What is the scene in Oslo like? Is there a big punk scene? Who are some bands that you all are currently enjoying?

Paul: - There is a very small punk scene in Oslo, we found it very difficult to actually get gigs in Oslo, and we struggle still. We decided a few years ago that it just wasn't worth playing gigs in Norway, we get little feedback and it's frustrating and there are great distances between larger cities and it takes hours to drive and is expensive doing this. If you think we play festivals in China where they have a circle pit going, mad stage-diving in Czech Republic and Germany. We played a festival in Poland where we had to stop in the middle of our set for 20 minutes as someone got knocked out in the pit and the ambulance had to drive into the field, pick the poor guy up and drive out again. It makes Norway look very tame. I saw Cross-Stitched Eyes a few weeks ago in Oslo, they were really good. I am also listening to Whores, Cellos and Kerouac at the moment, sort of having a re-live the 1990's moment for the time being. I listen to UK/US punk rock. Anything really. Some I like, some is too predictable. I probably have the largest The Jesus Lizard vinyl collection in Europe. Been collecting since the 1990's. Thankfully I nearly have everything now. But what a band.

Gisle: - as Paul said, the scene is not that big, may be too much oil made all the punks go away… Eye for an Eye from Poland at Blitz, in Oslo this summer was a good show!

Jordan: You have been touring Europe a lot recently. Do you have any plans to eventually come Stateside for a tour or a few shows? What would need to happen to realize that?

Paul: - For us, Europe is where it is. We get the best crowds, best food, best beer, and we are due for another visit there soon. We've been asked to go back to China in 2013 and that we really have to do, because it was superb the last time, and we are trying to get some shows in Sweden sorted soon, but to get 5 or so shows in the USA would be great. Charlie Harper from the UK Subs thinks we're great, so he's asked us if we want to support them on their UK tour in 2013, some shows in May + June, so that will be a blast.

Gisle: - USA, USA, USA! Hehe… a US tour would be great. A lot of cool bands form the good ol’states.

Jordan: What makes for a memorable Riots show? Are there any standout performances?

Paul: - Well there was that ambulance incident in Poland, but another memorable day for me was when we played Midi Festival in Beijing during the day, and the Temple Bar in Beijing in the evening. We were treated like big rock stars, given VIP treatment, 5 star hotel and we played a great gig during the day, endless supply of alcohol, I was pretty wrecked by the end of the day, then we had to get on a bus and drive 2 hours through Beijing to a small pub venue, where everything was chaos, then played what felt like a really sloppy set. Tip. Don't drink beer all day then try to play drums. I managed to scrape through, but I will always remember this as a day where we experienced near enough everything within 24 hours. the first 5 star hotel I have ever stayed in my life, and I was out partying/sightseeing well into the early hours, ended up getting 45 minutes sleep there. Typical

Gisle: - Podebrady in Czech Republic was insane. Small spa town, mainly for pensioners, and we packed out a club for some crazy Czechh punks! That was so surprising and so great. And the last show in china, a really good crowd and a show that was super intense! Great stuff man.
Paul: - It was also a very good show. When we finished the set and I tried to get off the stage. One man wouldn't let me off, he wanted more, so he picked me up and put me back on stage. Hint taken. We just were the backing band for Charlie Harper out of the UK Subs, here in Oslo, belting out a blinding set of UK Subs classics with Charlie singing, so that for me goes down as a great performance.

Jordan: How is it working with different record labels in order to reach an international audience?

Paul: - I though that this would be the best way to get physical copies of our music out to people. For us to send 1 x 12" vinyl to the US it costs as much as the vinyl itself, so it was better to find willing distributional partners in these far off places. We did distro deals with them, they take 20 of our vinyl, we take 20 of theirs to sell on our merch desk. The best thing for us would be to get a label in Germany + US interested in doing a release with us. There is a lot of emphasis on digital distribution at the moment, and that works ok, but I personally like a cd or piece of vinyl in my hand. Our vinyl sounds so much better than the cd or download, it somehow makes the sound even rawer

Jordan: What are the future plans for records and releases?

Paul: - We have several new killer songs, so it won't be long before we start to think about doing some new recording. I would like to think after Christmas we'll start the ball rolling, hopefully we'll have a new 7" vinyl out March time. I am in talks with a German label now about a split release between our own Subversive Records and them.

Jordan: Anything else you'd like to say?
The Band members

Gisle: - Don’t be a fool, stay in school!

Paul: - The more you drink, the better we sound

Interview with Justin from Far Corners

One of my all time favorite bands is Mr. Airplane Man, a female-fronted garage rock band that used to be on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label, one of the old pinnacles of garage rock (White Stripes started on this label). They put out some amazing releases but eventually went defunct before returning from the mean-ol-grave in 2011. A couple months ago, I sent out a tweet saying - "anyone know how to contact Mr. Airplane Man?" and I got a response that led me to another band that has Tara from Mr. Airplane Man in it. The name of the band was Far Corners, a garagepunk band featuring Tara and her husband Justin who writes the music for the band. I was directed to the band's FACEBOOK PAGE, where luckily I could listen to the band's music and I was extremely happy. Not only had I found out what Tara had been doing, but I found another band that I really liked and wanted to put on my website.

So I got in contact with Justin and we started e-mailing each other. He said he'd be down for an interview, which definitely made me happy.

The band is noisy. It's got almost swamp-like distortion followed by eerily piercing guitar wails and a ghostly scream of a voice, that all but front a blues-rock sound. Doesn't that sound awesome? Spoiler alert - It is awesome.

You can hear a cut from their new 7" HERE. And you can see a video of them live HERE

I also couldn't find many pictures, so I put up some of their posters from gigs.


Jordan: What's Far Corners? Who's in it? When did it start? How did it start? 

Justin: The band started about 3 years ago when we formed out of an old band we were in. I was writing new songs that were different from the old stuff and wanted to kind of start over.  It's me, Tara and Sean.

J: What has influenced your sound? I take it that you have been in bands before, so how did you arrive at Far Corners?
JU: Swell Maps, X (Aus.), Simply Saucer, Wire, Blue Cheer. Tara (the drummer) and I were in a band in Boston before we moved out to New Mexico, when we got here we hooked up with Sean and he started playing bass with us. After a year or so it seemed like we should just start over with a new batch of songs and just make it a different band.
J: What all have you guys released so far and what has the process been like in terms of recording and getting your music out? 

JU: We've got two 7" out, one on Limited Appeal and a split with Earthmen & Strangers on Dirt Cult. The third will be coming out on Volar hopefully in the next few months. So far, we've recorded the stuff ourselves onto 4 track cassette. It's been cool recording our own stuff, also a pain in the ass. I guess I'd rather be frustrated with myself then with someone we were paying to record us. Oh yeah, Mads from Cola Freaks was supposed to put out a 7" on his label Mastermind. Maybe if he reads this that'll put the squeeze on him!

J: Who writes the songs? What is the process like behind getting a song written?

JU: I write the songs, sometimes they take awhile to come together. Other times they're pretty much vomited out. Lately it's been, "Here's one part, and here's another part. That's a song."

J: Do you guys play shows or have any plans to play more shows?

JU: Yeah lately we've just been playing local shows, this band hasn't been out on tour yet. Hopefully we can pull that together relatively soon.

J: You've said that you have a new record coming out soon - what does the record sound like in comparison to what you've released? Have there been any changes in roles in people in the band during this new stage?

JU: It's weird thinking that's our new record because we recorded it over a year ago. Hopefully it's different from what we've done before, I'd like to think we're always changing a little. I was trying to write stuff where the bass and guitar are playing separate parts instead of chugging along together the whole time. 

J: How are you releasing the record? Are you doing it through a label or self-releasing or what?

JU: Volar is putting it out. I think he's doing Eat Skull, Cosmonauts and a few other records at the same time.

J: What else is in the future for Far Corners?

JU: We need to record soon! We've got a bunch of stuff ready to go, hopefully we can get it to tape and move on to the next batch.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interview with Fancytramp!

A female centaur playing the git-box under "Fancytramp"

Every now and then, I'm hanging at my pad (probably eating rice) and scouring the internet for new stuff. Then usually my buddy Kyle turns me to Get Bent for a band he really likes. I don't know what it is about Rice ad Kyle (possible link since they both use long "i" sounds in their names - must continue research) Kyle's got great taste in music so I generally take him up on that. And usually, amid mouthfuls of rice, I, for lack of a better word, lose it because I am so impressed with the quality I hear. That's exactly what happened when I first heard Fancytramp. These guys rock in the best way possible. Think Golden Triangle met PJ Harrvey and then Ty Segall decided that he had crushes on these two girls and needed to impress them by playing guitar (for free!) for them - it's got a powerful female singer backed by a relentless howling guitar over some rickety rocking drums.

So I bought the EP off their bandcamp, which you can listen to for free as well, which can be found here - I usually include links up here at my description before the interview, but Fancytramp incorporated them into the interview, so I figured I didn't have to. Sorry if I let anyone down though.

The band is currently on a short tour, which I unfortunately missed in Chicago, but the band is sure to please and seems to have a lot of shows so I wouldn't be surprised if they get to your city some time soon. Here's a video of them performing "Fault Lines Fact" live and it's AWESOME

They also have a casette of their current EP out as well, so you can e-mail the band for that.

The Band

I e-mailed them and they e-mailed me back. So we set up an interview. Here, without further ado, is that interview

Jordan : When did you start the band? Who's in it and how did you meet each other? We're oh in different bands before?
Fancytramp: Fancytramp started as Olivia Scibelli's solo project and morphed into a full band with Katie Banyay on bass and Matt Manning on drumbs in April 2012. Matt and Olivia worked together at the Groove (local record store). Olivia tamed Katie's hair (and she continues to do that....well) and they instantly clicked. Matt previously played drumbs in Nashville's Big Whig.

J: Your band name comes from a Charlie Chaplin film. Are you guys big into movies? Do they inform your work or output? What kinds of movies do you like?
F: We love movies and we hope to one day create a score for film.
Playing in a Store

J: On Get Bent you guys were likened to an amalgamation of grunge icons. I didn't really buy it, but I liked the thought. How would you describe your musical influences? How did you arrive at your sound? Who ends up impacting the music you make?
F: We all came together with the love of heavy rock and melodic music. Olivia's lyrics are influenced by poetry and punk. Email us at and we'll make you a mixtape!

J: Does the Nashville scene inform you guys a lot? Who are some of your favorite bands from there? Any favorite labels or venues?
F: It inspires and motivates us to continue on our path of making music and to try to bring something new to the table.

Crybaby, Ascent of Everest, Those Darlins, Ranch Ghost, and RI¢HIE.

Stone Fox, The End (RIP Brad & Stacey), and Marathon Music Works.
The album cover of the available EP

J: What releases do you guys have? How do you decide when a release is complete? Do you guys do physical releases? What do you think is the role of physical media in today's music climate?
F: Yes we have an EP on tape called Singing Tower at Sunset. Owning a physical copy of any type of music is so important. It allows the band to compile lyrics, artwork, and share anything else they please. We cannot wait to release music on vinyl because we're all collectors of it.

J: How do you record? Is there a decided songwriting role for each person? How does a song become finished? Do you use analog or digital recording?
F: We record at Battletapes. Olivia creates the skeleton, melody, and lyrics. Matt and Katie help with working on the structure. We've used both to record.

J: What can you say about your upcoming release? You mention something about a tentative summer 2013 release. How did you arrive at that? What are you all doing until that comes out?
F: We are in the process of writing and recording songs for a new record between touring, so we get in the studio when we can. We will release a 7" beforehand hopefully by winter.

J: Can you say anything about your current tour?
F: We are currently driving our beloved minivan Ursala in Kentucky with our beautiful merchmaiden, Coco. We're playing through the Midwest for a week.

10/4: Bloomington, IN
10/5: Chicago, IL
10/6: Detroit, MI
10/7: Cleveland, OH
10/8: Cincinnati, OH
10/9: Bowling Green, KY

Check our Facebook for more deets.

J: Anything else to say?

F: You can listen and download our EP at:

Email us anytime!!!! We would love stories to read while in the van!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Interview with Corey Cunningham from Terry Malts

Terry Malts Hanging Out in Hats and Clothes
When I lived in Durham, my favorite live venue was probably The Pinhook. One reason behind this was that it had character, in addition to great bar specials. The second was that it was run by Kym Register of Midtown Dickens, who rocks. And then Bull City Records' Chaz Martenstein was always presenting shows there, such as the Gross Ghost, Terry Malts, and Spider Bags show. I was acquainted with both Gross Ghost and Spider Bags before this show, on account of them being from the area and a nearly ubiquitous presence for anyone who listened to rock n' roll in the community. Terry Malts, however, were foreign to me.

It's no secret that I like to enjoy a fine malt beverage from time to time. Earlier that night, I had bought Dan McGee a Gin & Tonic, because he can't drink beer, in return for a cup of fine Andre champagne he had given me at the Golden Boys, J Wes Coleman, Spider Bags show.

Terry Malts rock in the best sense. The three members, Corey, Phil, and Nacie play their hearts out and have some serious swagger as they perform. I didn't know any of the songs, except for their cover of Black Flag's "Six Pack" at the end, which, of course made my night. I bought the band a round of PBRs after and talked for a while about their music. These guys were super nice. It really made it easy to like their music, since they're really swell folks.

A Live Show
To get to know them, you can check out their FACEBOOK PAGE or check out their artist page at SLUMBERLAND RECORDS. They're about to start a tour on the West Coast with the Fresh & Onlys. Check 'em OUT!

Jordan: What is a Terry Malt?

Corey: It's drunk-speak. We are inebriated so often that sometimes it becomes necessary to understand each other in an alternate vernacular. I think it originally meant "paper bag outside of a tall can".

J: Who all is in the band? How did the band start? What makes you tick? How did you arrive at the set up that you have when you play?

C: It's me and Phil and Nacie. We've played together in a bunch of different bands over the past 10 years- some rather serious and some jokey ones. I think Malts is a little bit of both. My favorite jokey one was one I played drums in with Phil called "Youth Decay". It was a hardcore punk sort of thing. Like Jerry's Kids but two guys.

J: Do you feel like there are any clear influences in your music or people that you associate your music with or even just friends/bands you like to play with?

C: When we started we had two philosophical keystones: "Black Tambourine Flag" and "Tall Cans, Poppers, and Feedback". We've pretty much stuck to those ethos. I really like my friends and their bands but identity is more important to me than being part of a cohesive scene and adapting to someone else's sound. That being said it's always fun to play with Permanent Collection, Dead Angle, Sea Lions, and Plateaus.

J: What was the process behind "Killing Time" like? It's a real rock n' roll record so where did you guys record it and how long did it take?

C: We actually tracked it all ourselves in our practice space. I wanted to limit how good the recording would sound without getting too lo-fi. That seems like such an obvious sound for bands to bury themselves in. So the first thing I did was tracking the drums in a really limited and stripped down way. I only used 3 microphones mixed down to 2 tracks. All-in-all with the guitars and vocals added it didn't take more than a few days. Most of the takes on the album are first or second takes. We wanted it to be a very simple record so it's really funny to me when we get reviews criticizing us for making something simple (as if we didn't realize what we were doing)!

J: Do you feel like there is any difference between the recorded Terry Malts and a Terry malts live show?

C: On the first album I think we're a bit restrained because there may have been an unconscious desire to play more towards the pop side of our sound since it was our first album for Slumberland. But knowing Mike better and knowing how eclectic his record collection is certainly inspired us to embrace the same sides of our collection and allow our new material to go in different, more natural places. So, in a sense, the first record is not quite as unpredictable as our live shows. This next record will probably be a lot more loose and closer to what we do live in that regard.

The Killing Time Cover
J: What do you all like to eat/drink when you're on tour? Specific foods or beers? Certain places you always go in different towns?

C: For me it's important to try all the crummy local beers. I don't mean the fancy microbrews! I mean things like Olympia, Old Style, National Bohemian, Lucky Lager, Black Label, Rainier, Old German. I love that stuff. A few of our favorite places to stop on tour are Shorty's Clown Alley in Seattle, Ruby's in Austin, Gold Room in LA, Ground Kontrol in Portland. Glad you didn't ask about record stores. That list would be really long.

J: How do you guys know the Fresh & Onlys?

C: We played shows with them in our last band, Magic Bullets. But I feel like I just knew them from Amoeba Records (where some of them have worked at various points). I can't tell you how many times I had to sell vinyl there just to pay rent. I definitely spent my fair share of time there since moving to this city.

J: What is the upcoming tour with the Fresh & Onlys going to be like? It's all on the West Coast, but do you plan on touring together at all after?

C: It's going to be a blast. We've been touring for so long that it's just second-nature to us. After a while you learn when to turn on and turn off. You learn what you need and what you don't need. Also it's good to familiarize yourself with your band-mates moods. Sometimes it's good to know when someone just needs their time to turn off, too.

J: What do you guys plan on doing for the rest of the year in terms of recordings and in terms of live performances?

C: We're about to track the second record and it should be mixed by the end of October. Other than that we don't expect to play a lot after this tour unless something special comes along.

J: What do you like to do when you aren't playing or doing music? Or does it never really end?

The Upcoming Tour with the Fresh & Onlys
C: I do a label with one of my best friends, Matt Kallman. It's called Body Double and we only do reissues. It's also an imprint of Captured Tracks. Our first two releases come out in November. I hate not being busy so I'm always coming up with something to do. I want to write a script next. Nacie loves to play golf. Phil is an avid illustrator and quite a good one at that.

J: Anything else that you'd like to say?

C: I have a few books to recommend. Try Nick Tosches' "Hellfire", Mark Yarm's "Everybody Loves Our Town", and Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon". All very good.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Alex from Running

Cover Art for Running's First Record

Ariel Pink may be my favorite songwriter of all time. It's between him and Tom Waits - put Kurt Cobain there hell, ok, Bjork can come too. The point about Ariel Pink, and the rest of those musicians, is that they come from a long line of history, most of which results from some sort of Blues derivative, even though for Bjork and Ariel, it may seem a bit less bluesy. Ariel Pink writes really really poppy songs - poppy not in the sense of Rihanna vs. Chris Brown, but in the sense of the good ol' days, like if Tom Petty did a lot more mushrooms and Bruce Springsteen sang about gender change, all the while Kraftwerk is dancing on the recording device. That's a terrible comparison. I'm just having fun.

The point here is that Ariel Pink worked with a lot of different people early on, most visibly John Maus, synthpop savant extraordinaire, and Geneva Jacuzzi, a brunette pixie who appears in Pink's newest Video "Only in my Dreams." A little bit less known is Gary War, who I saw at the empty bottle last week. Before Mr. War emerged onstage, however, a little band called Running played and they blew my mind. I don't know if I've ever seen drums played as hard as Alejandro plays. Jeff, the guitarist, hunches over with a classic sneer and eyes the crowd and the singer. And then Matthew, vocalist and bassist, gives his everything as he is carried away by the tubthumping rhythm of his bass.

I had to get to know these guys so I approached them and asked for an interview and they were kind enough to give me one. I also picked up their awesomely-titled Asshole Savant. It's a one-sided 12" with an etching that comes with a flexidisc, making for one hell of an odd package. I loved it. It sounds awesome. A lot like their live show.

A Live Show
You can pick up their earliest release at THE PERMANENT RECORDS WEBSITE. You can also check out their record Asshole Savant HERE And this is their Website - there isn't much on it.

Jordan: Who all is in the band Running and how did you guys meet each other?

Alex: Jeff, Matt, and Alejandro. 3 guys. We met here in Chicago, met Jeff hanging out around town, met Matt in some dark bleak corner.  Running started in 2009, August for sure. Our relationship blossomed right away

J: When did you first come up with the idea of being in a band together? Had you guys been in bands together or bands in general? 

A: Possibly when some Wolf Guys were playing some flutes made out of toilet parts at the now defunct Mopery, then Matt slurred the words let's start a hardcore band and i said fuck yeah homey. We had never played music together. Then, same week I saw Jeff, he looked very tired, and I asked him, how about you and me in a punk rock band?

He nodded, he was in. We jammed, he busted out that heroin-skronk guitar tone--we were all in love.

J: How important is the music scene in Chicago to the band? Have you guys always been here?

A: Running is a Chicago band--a sweet place to be. People are supporting, friends play killer jams, you chill. Love the many gigs at weird basements, creative spaces, and other wacky places. 

J: What do you all do when you aren't making or playing music?

A: For Internal Revenue Service reasons we cannot disclose that information, we are fully, and legally employed. 
Running works but fuck it, I'll tell you everything. Matthew is the CEO of a multi media empire known as Priority Male ®, Jeff and I just count wads money and gamble other people's money and homes all day at the Chicago Board of Trade. Do you PayPal?

J: What is the process like for making a song with you guys? Do you have set times in which you're specifically "writing" a song, or does it kind of just end up happening?

A: We get drunk, and bang some instant classics, recorded on an phone. Its simple, Running pays the rent for a space, our instruments live there. 

Asshole Savant Cover
Personally, I just listen to The Fall, I hate everything else, and I rip off their drums, often, very often, but its just like their old fuck M.E.S. stealing all kind of tunes--and making them better, of course.

J: Do you ever have to consider the label that you're working with in order to come up with a product, or do you take a mostly finished idea to someone when you want them to put it out?

A: We typically put together a recording and know who we need to hit to find out if it can be released. Permanent Records picked up the first one, and I think it happened when their minds were blown when they connected the dots that their pals Matt, Jeff and I were Running and knew each other...WOW! Liz loved #1 Dad (a Running song, the slowest and longest), so I knew they were giddy about releasing that slab. They released our first piece of wax, with beautiful art made by a machine, depicting Chicago's grid, definitively a wolf in sheep clothes. Then when CAPTCHA honcho's Mr. Funke asked us to release something, we knew about his roster of bands and got pretty excited. He also experienced the excruciating pain of dealing with Running making an art statement on wax, kindly baptized Asshole Savant.  We had the songs, took them to a studio, Cooper from Cave manning the board, Asshole Savant was born. Funke paid the bill, it was that simple.

J: How did you arrive at your present sound? Is it a conscious thing as well, or did it just happen because of noises that you all enjoy?

A: Naturally, we play loud, to make sure we are effective at ignoring the sounds of our own tormenting thoughts, you know, about life in general in this mundane world, paying the bills, drinking pale ales, skeletons biting bird's asses, common things. I enjoy harsh damaged sounds, and Jeff delivers then pretty well as I've seen tweakers looking even weirder than their regular selves during a Running set. 

J: How would you say that one of your records translates into a live show?

A: Personally I like the live shows because people smoke me out and i get free drinks.  Live is where is at for me but Running on record is the awesomest shit i've ever done. I have played in other bands and I have never listened to my own shit as much as I listened to Asshole Savant. I stare at it constantly. Running sounds like the record, and the record sounds a lot like Running think its sounds live. 

J: What makes a good show for you guys in addition to free beer and getting paid?

A: People getting wasted, buying our record and leaving it behind at the pisser. Girlfriends telling their boyfriends: What have you done with your life? Why aren't you in Running? Pass ME the CornNuts ®

J: What are some upcoming shows of yours that we can look forward to?

A: Good question! November 8th with Cave at the Hideout (I think) kick off show for the Cave/Running tour 2012. 
Maybe somewhere before that, just google Running for more information. 

8 - Chicago, IL @ Hideout
9 - Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
10 - TBA 
11 - Easthampton, MA @ Flywheel
12 - Boston, MA @ Great Scotts w/ People of the North
13 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ White Hills
14 - Brooklyn, NY @ Kent 385
15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas w/ Purling Hiss
16 - Pittsburgh PA @ 6119
17 - Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
18 - Detroit, MI @ TBA

J: Are any of you guys actual runners, or is the name just something you thought was cool?

A: Frankly we do not remember why we are called Running. My dad was a runner, a marathon man, he had a bunch of trophies, I made "smoking devices" out of them. I would love to teach a workshop on that, 2 week internship. 

J: What can we look forward to in the future of Running's output?

A: Expect more tapes and bullshit gimmicks we'll be peddling at shows but, if you want less uncertainty in your future, do not fret,Running is excited about this Castle Face release.. GROUP FLEX II - SON OF FLEX is almost ready to go. This playable flexi book features new and exclusive tracks from Warm Soda, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, The Mallard, Running, The Fresh & Onlys, Kelly Stoltz, White Fence, Blasted Canyons, Sic Alps, and Burnt Ones. It's going to be see through, and kinda 3D, and awesome, so get ready. Joe Roberts did the art and it's insane and we should be doing presales once we're a little closer to getting it made but we're really excited and wanted to get some details in people's brains.