Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 2/1/13
We were having some technical difficulties in the studio at WNHU last night, and the online stream may or may not have been working for the entirety of the broadcast. Anyway, if you did get a chance to tune in, or if you’re just interested in what I played, here is the full playlist from Left of the Dial last night. I won’t be doing my show next Friday because I’ll be seeing Jeff Mangum, but be sure to tune in the Friday after that for another live broadcast.
Stream the available tracks from the playlist below via Spotify.
- 1. The Antlers - “I Don’t Want Love”
- 2. The Velvet Underground - “Beginning to See The Light”
- 3. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “A Teenager In Love”
- 4. Los Campesinos! - “Romance Is Boring”
- 5. Grimes - “Genesis”
- 6. Wise Blood - “B.I.G. E.G.O.”
- 7. Dirty Projectors - “Gun Has No Trigger”
- 8. Animal Collective - “Also Frightened”
- 9. Primal Scream - “Higher Than The Sun”
- 10. The Beach Boys - “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”
- 11. The Stone Roses - “Waterfall”
- 12. Elvis Costello - “The Greatest Thing”
- 13. Cat Power - “Manhattan”
- 14. The xx - “Islands”
- 15. David Bowie - “Sound and Vision”
- 16. The Jam - “Start!”
- 17. Titus Andronicus - “Ecce Homo”
- 18. The Modern Lovers - “Roadrunner”
- 19. LCD Soundsystem - “Beat Connection”
- 20. Tame Impala - “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
- 21. Iceage - “Coalition”
- 22. Bright Eyes - “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”
- 23. Crystal Castles - “Untrust Us”
- 24. WHY? - “These Few Presidents”
Stream via Spotify:
Photos: The Antlers live at Center Church. New Haven CT - 9/23/12
The Antlers played an absolutely heavenly headlining set inside New Haven’s colonial-era Center Church last night, and I was there to behold the majesty. Check out some of my photos above, and read my full review of this show HERE.
You can find more photos from this and other shows at the Lewis and his Blog facebook page!
THE ANTLERS live at Center Church. New Haven CT. 9/23/12
As the sun began to set on the New Haven Green yesterday, a legion of pale, shivering couples huddled close to each other outside of Center Church, waiting to get inside. Fall was in the air, and The Antlers were in town to ring in the new season with their emotional brand of atmospheric pop. Although the band’s music has become increasingly dreamy as they have evolved, seeing them at the onset of autumn provided concertgoers with the opportunity to nostalgize the cold months of 2009, when I and so many others clutched our copies of Hospice and sobbed until long after the final acoustic plucks of “Epilogue” had faded into the ether.
But just as the seasons change, so too must bands develop. By the release of last year’s visionary full length Burst Apart, Peter Silberman’s pet project had solidified into a full band, and with this development came a profound stylistic shift. Garish bursts of lo-fi shoegaze gave way to lucid guitar lines, and pining acoustic elegies were replaced by mournful dream pop. The Undersea EP, released earlier this year, marked the completion of this shift; it was utterly (and disappointingly) aqueous in both form and concept.
Even though their earlier work will always be most dear to my heart, it’s clear that the Antlers’ new direction has struck a chord with some younger artists. This was undoubtedly evident during the performance of Port St. Willow, who opened the show around 8 PM to a raptly attentive audience inside the colonial-era church. Much like The Antlers once were, Port St. Willow is officially a solo project; however, frontman Nick Principe is being joined by a keyboard player and drummer on this tour. Together, the power trio created a remarkably expansive sound that reverberated through the walls of the church. They opened their set with a continuous 30-minute suite that channeled the post-rock catharsis of Sigur Ros and the atmospheric qualities of The Antlers’ own records. Principe’s voice in particular — a lofty coo with seemingly limitless upward range — strikingly recalled that of Peter Silberman. The band performed music mostly from their new full length album Holiday, which is available to stream or purchase now from Bandcamp.
Port St. Willow’s meditative, restrained energy provided a perfect introduction to The Antlers’ headlining performance, which began shortly after the openers left the stage. Despite operating with the same four-piece lineup that they had when I saw them play at The Space in June 2011, it was remarkable to me how immediately different the atmosphere of this show felt. Part of that was due to the venue — a beautiful old church built in the 1600s — which added a gorgeous amount of natural reverb to the band’s collective sound. This effect was demonstrated rather by accident during the opening song “Drift Dive,” when the PA cut out towards the end and the band went on playing without vocal amplification or microphones until the song was over. In the final few seconds, Peter Silberman set down his guitar, and with his hands cupped around his mouth like an emphatic preacher, he projected a wordless wail down the old church’s central aisle. It was a surprisingly audible moment that, for a moment, felt nothing short of miraculous.
Once the PA began working again, the band settled into a set that leaned heavily on newer material, from the slow burn of Burst Apart’s “Rolled Together” and “No Widows” to Undersea’s dragging “Endless Ladder,” which built itself up in its Pink Floyd-reminiscent first half only to dissolve into a sonic puddle in the final four minutes. Thankfully, the rest of Undersea (which they played in full) sounded much more convincing at high volume. Although there was something oddly jarring about hearing the moody, sexualized throb that pervades Undersea’s “Crest” and most of Burst Apart in such a sanctified setting, it would be hard to describe the breathtaking climax that the Antlers brought to “Rolled Together” last night as anything but divine.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show for me was the way in which the band amended and changed the older material that they played. A three song suite from Hospice occupied the middle of the set, and although the songs themselves had not changed, the live arrangements were drastically different in some respects from the recorded versions. “Kettering” was slowed down to a sludgy, glacial pace that made it seem frustratingly aimless, as did the final verse of the anthem “Sylvia,” in which Silberman traded the subtlety and nuance of the album version for Burst Apart-reminiscent vocal theatrics. Despite these disappointments, it was a treat to hear the Hospice deep-cut “Shiva,” which was brought to life in a dream-like waltz. The band wrapped their set up shortly afterwards, and returned for a two-song encore set that closed with the Burst Apart closer “Putting The Dog To Sleep,” a fear-of-death anthem that topped my Favorite Songs of 2011 list. With its doo-wop chord progression and gospel-influenced harmonies, it was a fitting closer for a rather heavenly night.
The Antlers Setlist - 9/23/12
- 1. “Drift Dive”
- 2. “Rolled Together”
- 3. “No Widows”
- 4. “Endless Ladder”
- 5. “Kettering”
- 6. “Sylvia”
- 7. “Shiva”
- 8. “Crest”
- 9. “Hounds”
- 10. “Zelda” (Encore)
- 11. “Putting The Dog To Sleep” (Encore)
Peter Silberman of The Antlers taking a walk down the aisle at last night’s show at Center Church in New Haven.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 8/10/12
Thanks for tuning in to my radio show Left of the Dial last night on WNHU. I hope everyone who listened liked the show.Here’s the full playlist below. If you’d like, you can stream the Spotify version of the playlist at the embedded link below that.
- 1. Destroyer - “Streethawk I”
- 2. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy - “I See A Darkness” (Now Here’s My Plan version)
- 3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Mature Themes”
- 4. The Mountain Goats - “Cry For Judas”
- 5. Defiance, Ohio - “Horizon Lines, Volume and Infinity”
- 6. Yo La Tengo - “Autumn Sweater”
- 7. JEFF The Brotherhood - “Country Life”
- 8. Now, Now - “Thread”
- 9. Dum Dum Girls - “Lord Knows”
- 10. Hop Along - “Tibetan Pop Stars”
- 11. Liars - “No.1 Against The Rush”
- 12. Ethan Uhl - “self help books”
- 13. Crystal Castles - “Plague”
- 14. Animal Collective - “Today’s Supernatural”
- 15. The Antlers - “Drift Dive”
- 16. Mount Eerie - “Waves”
- 17. Desaparecidos - “MariKKKopa”
- 18. Desaparecidos - “Backsell”
- 19. Wavves - “Hippies Is Punks”
- 20. I Kill Giants - “Life Instead of Sleep”
- 21. Punch - “Time Apart”
- 22. White Lung - “Thick Lip”
- 23. Grizzly Bear - “Yet Again” (requested by sea-fence)
- 24. Jens Lekman - “I Know What Love Isn’t”
- 25. Ty Segall - “Goodbye Bread”
- 26. Slow Warm Death - “Kill You”
- 27. Modest Mouse - “Paper Thin Walls” (Requested by anonymous)
- 28. Jaill - “Horrible Things (Make Pretty Songs)”
- 29. Perfume Genius - “Dark Parts”
- 30. TNGHT - “Bugg’n”
Stream via Spotify:
The Antlers - Undersea EP (2012)
The Antlers are headed in a new direction. From their last full length Burst Apart, released just over a year ago, to their subsequent electronic remix EP, that much is clear. Is their new EP Undersea the culmination of this directional change, or merely a brief stop along the way? After listening through it a number of times, I’m hoping that it’s the latter. Although it has been touted in press releases as a highly conceptual record that transcends its brief, 22 minute runtime, this does not seem to be nearly as ambitious or as developed a work as many of their past releases.
The Antlers have implemented conceptual themes into their music before, but Hospice this is not. The concept here is more general and a lot more vague than that of their landmark 2009 full length; essentially, it has something to do with… being underwater. The album is a four track EP, featuring subtle, ambient sonic textures that recall the more subdued moments of Burst Apart, which came it at number 3 on my top albums of 2011 list. The synth-laden, atmospheric soundscapes invoke the underwater theme, and the lyrics attempt to do the same throughout with limited success.
On Burst Apart, The Antlers’ approach was defined by a singular mantra repeated throughout the album’s fifth track: “Rolled together but about to burst apart.” On Undersea, they’ve lost that spark — that condensed, suppressed fire that made tracks like “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” so emotionally wracking. Instead, Undersea finds the band embracing complacency and, as per the aquatic allegory, going with the flow. There is no offender on Undersea worse than the 8 and a half minute “Endless Ladder,” which, true to its name, drags on for what feels like an eternity with an obnoxiously tedious-sounding loop and lyrics that, for the most part, make no emotional impression whatsoever. “Crest” shows promise with synths and jazzy horns that recall Burst Apart, but its lyrics go nowhere, and the song buckles under the insufficient support of its sensuous atmosphere. On the whole, the sound textures of Undersea are very pretty and do a good job of conveying the kind of subaquatic feeling that the band strives for, but aesthetic alone isn’t enough to make this EP worth listening to repeatedly.
The moments of transcendance from the suppressive, ambient atmosphere on Undersea are few and far between, although it is worth mentioning that they appear on at least half of the songs on this 4-track EP. Lead single “Drift Dive” took some time to grow on me, but I finally came to enjoy it quite a bit, largely because of its gorgeous falsetto chorus, but also because of one particular line in the first verse in which frontman Peter Silberman sadly, knowingly croons, “the planet drowns in a hundred days.” To me, that line (and the subsequent chorus) is the lone moment on which the “undersea” concept works on an emotional level, although it’s frustratingly short-lived. In its quiet, minimalist first verse, closing track “Zelda” also hints at something more fulfilling for Undersea, but it soon resigns itself to the same atmospheric meandering that defines the rest of the record. Ultimately, The Antlers are a singer/songwriter act, and with such a diminutive lyrical presence on this EP, it’s hard to not feel utterly disappointed while listening to it.
Everything about the presentation of this EP, from its garish cover to its bizarre aquatic themes and lyrics, feels not uninspired but rather mis-inspired. It’s as if Peter Silberman and company conceptualized an idea for the EP that only they thought would actually make sense, and nobody stopped them from going forward with it until the recordings were already completed. The result is a record that not only feels utterly drained of emotion and energy, but also seems conceptually out of touch and misguided. It’s a frustrating album on both counts, and an unfortunate low point in their otherwise excellent discography.
Key Track: “Drift Dive”
Undersea is available now on ANTI- Records.
The Antlers - “Drift Dive”
If one were to examine The Antlers’ work strictly on a musical level, it’s fair to say that they’re getting softer. Hospice — that shockingly great 2009 LP that found the Antlers condensing into a trio for the first time — mixed dream pop undercurrents with abrasive shoegaze textures. On Burst Apart, the smoothed out 2011 followup, much of that abrasion was removed, or at least tempered. Now, on the new material that the band has debuted from their upcoming EP Undersea, it seems to have disappeared entirely.
Along with “Crest,” which is streaming now on NPR Music, “Drift Dive” is one of those tracks, a supremely gentle, reverb-laden whisp of a song that would I would probably label “ethereal” if I didn’t cringe every time I read that word in a music review. It’s a nice enough listen, with a chorus that displays Peter Silberman’s trademark falsetto in all its soothing lustre, but it’s a little lacking in genuine emotion — the kind that was present in spades on both Hospice and Burst Apart. I’m worried that the band is starting to sacrifice lyrical depth and emotional delivery for sonic quality — a slippery slope for singer/songwriter types to climb.
Stream “Drift Dive” above. Undersea is out July 24th on ANTI- Records.
Alright… will someone please explain to me what the hell is going on with this band now?
This is their new “official tumblr page.”
The Antlers Announce New Release: “Undersea”
The emotive dream pop band The Antlers, who were responsible for writing my third favorite album of last year, have just announced a new release of some sort. Earlier today, Anti Records uploaded a mysterious video to their youtube channel with the headline ‘The Antlers ‘Undersea’ Available July 24.’ The video doesn’t provide any hints as to what kind of a release this might be, but it does include what sounds like some ethereal new music from the Antlers, overlaid with some grainy subaquatic footage.
Could Undersea be a new album from the Antlers? Check out the press release video below and see for yourself.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 5/4/12
On last night’s show, I paid tribute to the late Adam Yauch (aka MCA) by playing some of my favorite Beastie Boys songs over the course of my two-hour airtime. Check out the full playlist below, and stream the embedded playlist below via Spotify.
- 1. Dum Dum Girls - “Bhang Bhang, I’m A Burnout”
- 2. The Antlers - “I Don’t Want Love”
- 3. fun. - “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)”
- 4. Beastie Boys - “Johnny Ryall”
- 5. Beastie Boys - “Egg Man”
- 6. The Men - “Turn It Around”
- 7. PS I Love You - “Facelove”
- 8. Sparklehorse - “Rainmaker”
- 9. Japandroids - “The Night Of Wine And Roses”
- 10. Beastie Boys - “Pass The Mic”
- 11. Death Grips - “I’ve Seen Footage”
- 12. At The Drive-In - “Arcarsenal”
- 13. Flying Lotus - “Do The Astral Plane”
- 14. Beastie Boys - “Paul Revere”
- 15. De La Soul - “Plug Tunin’”
- 16. Holy Ghost! - “Wait And See”
- 17. The Hold Steady- “Most People Are DJs”
- 18. Nana Grizol - “Less Than The Air”
- 19. Beastie Boys - “Sabotage”
- 20. Beastie Boys - “Time For Livin’”
- 21. Hallelujah The Hills - “Hungry Ghost Extraordinaire”
- 22. The Spinto Band - “Oh Mandy”
- 23. River City Extension - “South For The Winter”
- 24. Spider Bags - “Blood For You”
- 25. Beastie Boys - “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”
- 26. Joy Division - “Shadowplay”
- 27. Grandaddy - “Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)”
- 28. Bright Eyes - “Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh”
- 29. The Microphones - “Headless Horseman”
//Stream via Spotify://
Listening To: The Antlers - Burst Apart (2011)
An unexpectedly rainy week in New Haven has led me back to Burst Apart for the first time since January. This was “our album” for my ex and me, so I’ve avoided listening to it since we broke up, but it still holds up well after the fact. Listening to it outside of that context has revealed a dark and unstable kind of sexual energy in tracks like “Parentheses” and “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” that I’m not sure if I picked up on in my original review last year. Either way, this record matches the weather and the strange mood I’m in very well right now.
Check out the video for “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” below if you haven’t seen it already.
Well I guess this would be a good song to have sex to if you both wanted to kill yourselves afterwards.
The Antlers - “Sylvia”
That message about Shoegaze got me thinking some more, and I just started listening to some shoegaze records I hadn’t heard in a while. Although The Antlers’ Hospice is not strictly a ‘shoegaze record,’ this song exemplifies exactly what I was trying to get at in my response to that message.
The structure of “Sylvia” is focused on the delicate balance between loud and soft. In the verse, the music and vocals are incredibly quiet — almost whisper thin — with distant, distorted guitars producing a subtle atmosphere in the background. Then that gargantuan chorus comes crashing in, guitars flaring, with Peter Silberman practically screaming the song’s title as the music writhes and surges underneath. It’s a powerful spectacle to behold, and certainly one that has brought me to tears on more than a few occasions.
Moments like these, in a sense, represent what I like about shoegaze as a whole. That first, sudden chorus of “Sylvia” wouldn’t be nearly as powerful or as immediate without the quiet verse as a counterbalance. Similarly, the crescendoing instrumental climax two thirds through the song wouldn’t hold much water without the propulsive choruses backing it up. The best shoegaze is neither too loud all the time nor too quiet; it’s all about exploring the extremes in equal measure.