Lewis and his Blog January 2013 Mix
Congratulations! You made it through the first month of 2013. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. Honestly, we both do. In celebration of your success at surviving this cruel and confusing world, give a listen to my first Monthly Mix of 2013. If you’re unfamiliar with my monthly mix series, the concept is fairly self-explanatory; every month, I publish a 10 track mix via 8tracks, featuring some of my favorite new music that I heard that month. You can find all of my monthly mixes HERE, at my “Monthly Mix” tag.
This month’s mix features tracks that came out in January, many of which are from forthcoming albums. Stream the entire think at the embedded link below, and read up on each track below that. Thanks for listening and reading!
Permanently-disaffected mumblecore rapper Milo (aka Rory Ferreira) kicked off his new EP Things That Happen At Day with an uncharacteristically hopeful cut that seems to promote self-acceptance even in the face of an unwelcoming world. On “Sweet Chin Music,” Milo waxes poetic about his love for pro wrestling, Delta Force 3, and “egg fried rice and fruits,” occasionally dipping out of his distinctive monotone and into a sumptuous half-sing. He reminds himself, rather soothingly, that he “[doesn’t] feel the need to be the best thing ever.” That self-awareness is not entirely anomalous within Milo’s body of work, but it does stand in stark contrast to the material on his darker accompanying EP, Things That Happen At Night. Pick up both of the records at the HellFyre Club bandcamp page.
2. A$AP Rocky - “Long Live A$AP”
Unlike the lyrically-focused and DIY-motivated Milo, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky bases almost the entirety of his appeal on image and aesthetic. Frankly, the extremity of this image is what makes Rocky such an interesting figure; he is very much a mirror of rap’s fascinatingly narcissistic cutting edge. “Long Live A$AP” is the title track from his major label debut, a triumphantly hi-fi explosion of a record that manages to say absolutely nothing substantial in the best way possible. The song itself is representative of Long.Live.A$AP as a whole, presenting Rocky as the 2013’s greatest hip-hop paradox. He is, at once, a youthful legend, a geographically-transcendent New Yorker, an underground sellout, and a deeply insecure popular kid, both as self-conscious and self-obsessed as only a true narcissist can be. It’s not conceit if you’re right, and Rocky forces us to wonder just how right he may be. Pick up Long.Live.A$AP via iTunes.
3. Beach Fossils - “Generational Synthetic”
With their forthcoming LP Clash The Truth, Beach Fossils are poised to once again usurp the throne of Brooklyn’s guitar pop scene from their overrated labelmates DIIV, who are led by former Beach Fossils member Zachary Cole Smith. Beach Fossils might not have DIIV’s marketably nihilistic look or vague conceptual coherence, but they make up for it in song quality. “Generational Synthetic” toes the line between pop and punk, and although the singer doesn’t lyrically commit himself like a true punk frontman, there’s enough grit to rock out to. Clash The Truth is out February 19th via Captured Tracks.
4. Bleeding Rainbow - “Pink Ruff”
One part shoegaze, one part noise pop, and one part sugary female vocals, Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow are a delectable duo with a lot of potential. Formerly called Reading Rainbow, the band had to change their name in lieu of a potential lawsuit from PBS, but the name change shouldn’t do much to stop them from winning over your heart. Fans of Dum Dum Girls should enjoy “Pink Ruff,” off their latest LP Yeah Right, for its subtle juxtaposition of garage-rocking minor key power chords and infectious pop melodies. Pick up Yeah Right via Kanine Records now.
5. Iceage - “Coalition”
Iceage’s sophomore LP You’re Nothing leaked well in advance of its release, but if you haven’t gotten on the bandwagon yet, now is the time. Lead single “Coalition” is probably poised to be the consensus standout track on the new record from these Danish, mostly teenage punks, and for good reason. In just over two minutes, the band reaches peak levels of catharsis, thrashing about with dualing guitars and cymbals blaring while frontman Elias Rønnenfelt drags himself out of his usual nihilistic apathy and lashes out in an impressively vigorous display of energy. Like the best moments of their last LP New Brigade, “Coalition” is also deceptively catchy, but this track manages to accomodate aggression and pop sensibility in nearly equal measure. You’re Nothing is out February 19th via Matador.
6. Comadre - “Hack”
The best description I’ve heard of Comadre’s aesthetic is that they “graduated from the Fucked Up school of yelling over what is essentially straight up indie rock.” It’s a true description, but the comparison to Fucked Up ends there; unlike their Canadian contemporaries, this Californian punk group doesn’t seem to take themselves so seriously. Their sound benefits from this looseness, allowing them to experiment with sounds and themes that are generally considered ‘outside’ of the realm of punk. On “Hack,” from their new self-titled record, the vocals are as throat-shreddingly aggressive as anything, but the instrumentals contrast starkly, blending shoegazy guitars with a theremin-reminiscent organ patch. Pick up Comadre via Vitriol Records.
7. Junip - “Line of Fire”
Although I’ve grown increasingly apprehensive about listening to sad singer/songwriters playing solo with acoustic guitars over the past few years, I think I’ll always appreciate the presence of a great songwriter singing over full band instrumentation. For this reason, I like Jose Gonzales’ group Junip more than his solo material, although I appreciate the precedent that he set on his own. Though a great song in its own right, “Line Of Fire” just benefits tremendously from the added texture and energy of the synths, drums, and backing harmonies; they actually make Gonzales’ signature Spanish guitar sound even better. Junip’s self-titled LP is out April 23rd via Mute.
8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “So Good At Being In Trouble”
This single from Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s sophomore LP (creatively titled II) is deceptively, subtly infectious. Stripping away some of the more psychedelic aspects of their sound, the group took a decidedly low-key approach on “So Good At Being In Trouble,” an analog R&B jam that harks back to the more soothing, gentler side of 70’s Northern Soul. With an earworm chorus and an arsenal of effects pedals at their disposal, Unknown Mortal Orchestra could have easily turned this cut into an anthemic, festival-ready banger, but they didn’t; this restraint is admirable, even though part of me would like to hear them rock out on this track. II is out now on Jagjaguwar.
9. Yo La Tengo - “I’ll Be Around”
New Jersey stalwarts Yo La Tengo may be the most dependable band in indie rock. Until the release of their new LP Fade, I was hesitant to fully commit myself as a fan, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of their genre-sweeping aesthetic on this record. Fade veers, calmly and tactfully, from the psychedelic heft of “Ohm” to the horn-laden grace of closer “Before We Run,” stopping briefly to catch its breath on tracks like the lovely, gentle “I’ll Be Around.” It’s a mostly acoustic piece with subtle inflections of modulated keyboard — the perfect aesthetic for a great romantic mixtape. It’s a respite on the record, but a highlight in its own right as well. Pick up Fade via Matador Records.
10. Christopher Owens - “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I actually like Christopher Owens debut solo album Lysandre quite a bit more than some of Girls’ material. Girls’ records had the ambition and aesthetic prescience, but Lysandre has the heart. As evidence, look no further than the highlight closing track “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue),” a heartbreakingly bittersweet Dylanesque anthem that subverts the guitars and harmonica of “I Want You” into something entirely personal to Owens and yet entirely relatable to us. As a songwriter, Owens’ greatest strength has always been forging this balance, and that above all is what comes through on Lysandre.
Stream the whole mix HERE via 8track. Thanks for listening and reading, and have a great February!
menteparalela asked: Hi, you probably got this asked before but how was the performance and vibe of A$AP Rocky and A$AP mob @Pitchfork festival?
It was a fun set, but if you have any apprehensions about getting pushed around or shoved by rowdy people in the crowd, I’d advise against seeing them. There was a really high concentration of jerks in that crowd, and a lot of people got stepped on and trampled. Anyway, I actually enjoyed the parts of the show when Rocky was out there on his own more than the songs that the mob came out for. We had to cut out before he played the big hits to see Japandroids, but it was an enjoyable time while it lasted.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 1 Recap
The Olivia Tremor Control
The introduction. We arrived via El Train at Union Park before 3 PM, only to be met with a torrential downpour. We stood in line for upwards of half an hour, getting soaked with hundreds of other misanthropic festival attendees. Hearing that the gates were going to remain closed until 3:30 elicited a number of groans from the line, but soon enough the rain stopped and the gates were opened. Lower Dens delivered a strong set on the red stage that got more impressive and engaging as it went on. We cut out slightly early to get a decent spot for The Olivia Tremor Control — an Elephant 6-affiliated psych rock revival band from the 90s — who happened to have Neutral Milk Hotel’s Scott Spillane playing sousaphone and trumpet for them. Jeff Mangum was nowhere to be found, unfortunately. I’m still hoping for a full on NMH reunion in 2013. Before the OTC wrapped things up on the green stage, we bunny hopped one stage further to catch Willis Earl Beal on the blue stage. During the portion of his set that we caught, Beal delivered songs ranging from foot stomping, bellowing dirges to slow, heartfelt ballads. His versatility as a songwriter and his hoarse, mighty voice drew comparisons to Tom Waits, as did his affinity for liquor; Beal downed the majority of a freshly opened bottle of Jack Daniels during his set.
We felt the need to run over to the red stage once Beal finished in order to catch A$AP Rocky, but, of course, Rocky and his crew didn’t go on until well after their posted set time. That turned out to be par for the course with most of the rappers I saw at the fest, but I’m not complaining. Rocky’s set was actually pretty great, even though his crew looked a little ridiculous onstage playing hype-men (Also, who’s that one white dude? He sucks.). Unfortunately, we had to jet before we got to hear “Peso” because we wanted good spots for Japandroids. We arrived just at the end of Tim Hecker’s set, which was pretty depressing and miserable. Honestly, I like Tim Hecker on record, but I don’t think a single person there gave a fuck about him in that moment. The vast majority of the crowd was definitely there to catch Japandroids, who were supposed to play at 6:15 but ended up going on late.
Because of the late start time, Japandroids’ set was clipped to just 8 full songs. Nevertheless, it was an awesome and intense experience that will probably go down as the most enjoyable (if not the absolute best overall) set from Pitchfork 2012 for me. Plus, as both Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock prove, sometimes 8 songs is just the right number. Highlights included the opener “Adrenaline Nightshift,” which incited a mosh pit within 5 seconds of its opening chord, and the closer “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” which segued into “Sovereignty” at the end. The segue was a nice way of acknowledging the band’s older fans, many of whom recognized the deep cut.
Bruised, battered, and absolutely loving life, John and I managed to crawl our way over to the red stage just in time to catch the beginning of Dirty Projectors’ set. The setlist mostly focused on stuff from Swing Lo Magellan (which is excellent, by the way), but they also busted out some Bitte Orca art rock classics, including “Useful Chamber,” which was extremely intense live. Other highlights included the rousing new single “Gun Has No Trigger” and the gentle love song “Impregnable Question,” during which frontman David Longstreth and guitarist/vocalist/Longstreth’s girlfriend Amber Coffman seemed to be making heart eyes at each other. Mostly, I was just amazed at how tight the band was instrumentally and vocally. The four part harmonies, which are so jarring and angular on record, are equally attuned live. It’s almost scary how good they sounded.
Dirty Projectors were the last band on Friday that I really wanted to see, so after their set, John and I just hung around for a while, catching the first half of Purity Ring’s set before heading over to the green stage to catch the rest of Feist’s. I’m not a huge fan of either group, but both their sets were enjoyable. The highlight of the latter set came at the end, when Leslie Feist and her band transformed the gentle title track from 2004’s Let It Die into an arena rock-worthy power ballad. Watching from a distance, I was able to appreciate the scope of Feist’s vision, and in that moment I understood exactly why she was headlining Day 1.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Overall Recap
Well, that was a weekend. This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park was my first experience with a big out of state festival, and all in all it was an overwhelmingly positive one. Along with my great friend John Branch, I saw a ton of bands — many more than I actually expected to see — and immersed myself in the festival lifestyle to the extent that I genuinely felt at home as I stepped off the El Train platform each morning at the stop outside of Union Park.
Over the course of the past three days, I got the chance to see some of my favorite currently active bands perform. Many surpassed my expectations, delivering electrifying and engaging live sets, while others paled in comparison to their recorded material. Some bands even managed to surprise me with sets that far outshone their records. Overall, the performances were great, and I left the park each day viewing the music of numerous artists in a very different, more positive context.
The community at the festival was also wonderful. For the most part, the loud, snapback-wearing bros stuck to the shadows, coming out in full force only during the sets of acts with larger draws, such as Sleigh Bells and A$AP Rocky. Elsewhere, from the visceral moshpits at Japandroids and Iceage to the massive, silently adulating throng watching Beach House, the crowds were largely engaged and intentful listeners. Even though everyone was ultimately at the festival with the vague motivation of “having a good time,” the music was mostly respected. That made me happy.
Speaking of which, I must say that it was absolutely incredible and awesome (if a bit strange for me) to be approached by so many people who recognized me either from this blog or from The Needle Drop. I got to meet up with a lot of internet friends and met a bunch of new ones who appreciate my work. It’s especially funny to me because I had never been to Chicago prior to this weekend.
Anyway, in the next couple days, I’ll be rolling out recaps of some of my favorite (and least favorite) moments from this year’s festival. To view a complete list of all the bands I saw, head over to the Lewis and his Blog facebook page and check out my complete set of photographs from the festival.
Anthony Fantano found me at A$AP Rocky yesterday. There are so many white dudes in this shot that at first I thought it was at Japandroids.
Lana Del Rey - “National Anthem” (Official Music Video)
In this extended new clip from Lana Del Rey, rapper A$AP Rocky stars as president John F. Kennedy and Lana stars as both Marilyn Monroe and the president’s wife Jackie O. It’s pretty… stupid.
Anyway watching this was the first time I’ve listened to any Lana Del Rey song except for “Video Games” and “Born To Die” and man, this is literally one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I don’t really know what they were going for with this but wow the result is awful. This is what I get for ignoring Del Rey’s music until now. I’m genuinely surprised at how bad this is. I don’t even know why I’m posting this except for the purpose of conveying my shock and surprise right now.