April 20, 2011

Of Montreal//Doing Nothing

Man, I am having a hard time getting going on today. Chalk it up to a too-late bedtime last night or a weird dream or this strange three-day stretch of overcast weather we're having in LA...who knows? I just can't seem to wake up or do anything truly productive.

This jangley baby about doing nothing always seems to help a little. I first got into this song, appropriately, in college where I often was doing a lot of nothing. Or at least it felt like that sometimes. I had to review this album for The Michigan Daily. These articles always tended to be butchered in ways that I could never understand by editors (ie. weird cuts that didn't make sense or changing my "disc" to "disk"...come on, guys). What wasn't fucked up by the higher-ups was a testament to my own limited adolescent writing abilities.

Still, I basically stand by this review. The best thing about Of Montreal is that they don't take themselves too seriously. We should probably all try to follow their advice, at least from time to time..

Doing Nothing.mp3

We're doing nothing.

April 14, 2011

Young Marble Giants//Final Day

I've been thinking a lot lately about technology. And the endtimes. Haven't we all?

I've especially been thinking about how in all the old Sci Fi movies and tv shows, everyone had some kind of personal communication device. These sleek little gadgets are not unlike the actual gadgets we have today. In fact, it seems like the modern smartphone is practically modeled on something imagined as "the future" and thrown onto the props table.

As if to confirm this, a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation came on last night. Anika and I watched as members of the starship Enterprise tapped their Communicator Pins in order to call each other.

Here's where I think this gets really funny: whether it's a Communicator Pin or a more complicated device that can pull information out of the air, characters on these fictional imaginings of the future never overuse their gadgets. Sure, if Character A needs to get in touch with Character B, they call. If a space explorer needs some important information on the quick, they'll use their retro equivalent of Google, get the facts and get out. Texting and email never got written into the script. Sci Fi didn't think to account for Facebook and Foursquare and Twitter and Blogs and Social Media, which is hilarious, really. If we were so interested in getting these magical little gadgets in the first place, why wouldn't we have trouble ungluing our eyes/fingers from them once we got them? If these mind-blowing little guys open up all kinds of new ways to interact socially and gather obscure information, why wouldn't we treat them like any new toy? Why wouldn't we simply move all of our human ways of being into the technological realm, instead of letting the technology be a helpful addition to our daily lives in reality? Sci Fi fail.

Which brings me to the endtimes...

I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I can barely even remember anything anymore, having outsourced all my information to the long-term receptacles of the web. Shit, guys. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS LIKE THIS?

But, I also don't want you to take away Angry Birds.

This song is about the apocalypse. It comes complete with a scary theremin, analog synth and eerie lyrics, mainly because of how relatable they are to right now.

Also, I've exhausted myself with this technology rant, but you should really know more about Young Marble Giants. There, I saved you the search.

Final Day.mp3

When the rich die last,
Like the rabbits
Running from a lucky past
Full of shallow cunning
And the world lights up
For the final day,
We will all be poor,
Having had our say.

April 4, 2011

Earth Girl Helen Brown//Hit After Hit

A Month of Mondays: Monday Mail
What is Monday Mail?

Earth Girl Helen Brown's biography reads like a Lifetime made-for-tv movie waiting to happen. Don't believe me? Check out this note from Tyler at Banter:

Helen Brown was born in Vancouver, Canada, but raised in an Athens, Georgia-based religious cult, and was blinded in one eye from a childhood baseball injury. As an adult, she dropped out of Evergreen and traveled the country for a while as a nomadic psychedelic folksinger, before forming her first band One Eyed Tramps. For years, she lived alone in a mountaintop in southern Alaska, where she befriended a Cherokee Shaman (later revealed as a fake) who encouraged her to pursue a frustrating academic career. Rampant drug use, frequent fainting on stage, and occasional self-inflicted knife wounds on stage led to more interest in her stage antics than her music. However, a few sides did emerge in the late ’90s (recording dates unknown), which feature a unique mix of country, girl group, R&B, and ghoulishness. Crude and amateurish at best, these recordings are appreciated for their sincerity and intensity of feeling.

Earth Girl Helen Brown comes to us from Sonny Smith's (Sonny & the Sunsets) uber-ambitious 100 Records project.

If it seems like something is shady about all this, it's because it is. Earth Girl Helen Brown is actually a fake band brought to life as part of Sonny Smith's (of Sonny and The Sunets) 100 Records project. More on Smith and his own band at a later date. From Pitchfork:

He made up names and song titles for 100 fictitious bands, then sent them out to 100 different visual artists, who made up fake record covers for all the fake artists. Then Smith recorded 200 different songs (A-sides and B-sides) for each of these fake artists. Which is nuts.

This sounds exactly how you'd think: two parts Grace Slick, one part The Mamas and The Papas, one part subdued Aretha. The vibe is psychedelic cultish spooky with a sprinkle of backwoodsy mountain weirdness. Tape hiss and analog fuzz run alongside the recording as a constant backdrop to the melody. Weird as this hoax/art project might be, this turned out mighty fine. So fine, in fact, that the real players behind EGHB, Smith and Heidi Alexander of the Sandwitches, decided to live on as an actual group. This song, from their first EP Story of an Earth Girl, was released about a month ago. Learn more here.

Hit After Hit.mp3

Hit after hit I took for you.