Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Old Favorite

So I think in some posts now I'll take a break from mentioning new "cutting-edge" bands and maybe just talk about some of my favorite bands that have really impacted my musical taste. First off is my favorite band in the world, Modest Mouse. I'm only gonna mention their Pre-Good News stuff, because it's completely different and, in my opinion, better (which is not to say their newer stuff is "bad" it is just different and I prefer their older work).

First things I'll mention are some early demos: Uncle Bunny Faces and Tube-Fruit, All Smiles, and Chocolate. These were both released on tape in the early 90's and are pretty rare/hard to find. I found a download of Tube Fruit online, but I've yet to find Uncle Bunny. I really like tube-fruit. It's really lo-fi, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and it's interesting to see the beginnings of MM. It sounds sort of like the Microphones mixed with MM, and what I like a lot about it is how private it sounds. It sounds really intimate, like it was just recorded in Isaac's bedroom late at night and that it was never really intended to be heard by people other than maybe a few friends. I'd really like to hear Uncle Bunny, so if anyone has a download link if they could send it I would really appreciate that.

Next up is Blue Cadet-3, Do You Connect? It was their first official EP I think and all the songs were later released on Sad Sappy Sucker (pictured above) which came out in 2001 but was actually recorded to be their debut album. It was produced by Calvin Johnson which is pretty cool I think. I haven't listened to SSS as much as I probably should have because on the version I have the tracks are messed up and some are mistitled, which really bugs me. I've been meaning to get a new one and I probably should sometime soon. It's really a good release, definitely underappreciated I think. All the members were quite young when it was recorded and I think that's probably why it comes off as really real and you can tell they really meant everything. The songs are all succinct and they manage to say a lot with so few lyrics and relatively simple music. Listen to: "Worms vs Birds" (

Next is the Interstate 8 EP. This is one of my favorite things they've put out. All the songs except "Pushing the Buttons" are incredible. It's one of first release where their own unique sound is apparent and developed. Both the songs "Broke". "Edit the Sad Parts" and "Positive Negative" are really, really good and the low quality of the recordings makes them seem more personal and emotional I think. Most of the songs on this EP were later re-recorded and released on Building Nothing Out of Something, a b-sides and rarities comp that is almost as good most of the regular albums. They add in some new verses and lines in some songs, and they're really good additions that don't change the spirit of the original, but just make it better. Both are definitely worth a listen. By far the best song on it is "Baby Blue Sedan" which is a little repetitive, but everything about it is completely great. The repetition works out well I think and serves to emphasize the message instead of just being a way to make the song longer. Check Out: "Broke" ( "Edit the Sad Parts" (

The next album to mention is their first official full length, the great This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. It came out the same year as Interstate 8 (although I'm not sure which came first) and has two of the same songs on it. Every single song on here is great. It starts of with "Dramamine", arguably one of their best songs that opens with such a great into, that loops and keeps adding layers. Other favorites include the song "Ohio" (about a bus trip, with the incredible line: "rows of lights to illuminate lines, why can't they turn them off and let us see night") "Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset" and "Make Everyone Happy/Mechanical Birds" (which segues pretty seamlessly from a pretty soft relaxing beginning (with the dank lyric "And I said you can't make everybody happy. He said you'd like to at least make yourself happy though") to an instrumental section where the guitars sound somewhat like a screeching bird call). I think this album is sort of underrated. It's really quite good, especially for a debut, and it has some really, really, incredible songs on it. The only thing I don't really like is the song it ends on. I think it should have ended on "Make Everyone Happy/Mechanical Birds", but maybe that's just my opinion. Hear: "Dramamine" ( and "Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset" (

The last album I'll really mention is The Lonesome Crowded West. It's my favorite of theirs and arguably their magnum opus (although I'm sure a lot of people would say that The Moon and Antarctica is better (it's a great album too, but i just prefer this one)). It starts off with one of my favorite songs ever "Teeth Like Gods Shoeshine" which realy shows how Isaac can jump between singing/shouting and how MM will make use of dynamics in their music. It has too many great lines/lyrics to mention just one, but I will say that if you listen to only one of the songs I put in this post it should maybe be this one. My second favorite song off of this is "Trailer Trash" which is quite emotional, even for MM, and really easy to relate to. When the fuzzy instrumental bit kicks in near the end it's such a nice feeling. Another song I want to mention is "Shit Luck". This is a song that took me a while to like, because it's kinda abrasive and noisy and chaotic, but once you listen to the lyrics and think of the song more as a concept then it's awesome. It also features "Bankrupt on Selling", another song which has too many great lines to only mention a few. It's short and acoustic and incredibly emotional. It's definitely one of their best I think. I feel like this post's maybe too long, so to be brief, I'll just say that I also love "Doin' the Cockroach", "Cowboy Dan" (Cowboy Dan's a major player in the cowboy scene, he goes to the reservation, drinks and gets mean. He drove the desert, fired his rifle in the sky and said, "God, if I have to die, you will have to die), "Polar Opposites", and the closing track "Styrofoam Boats/It's All Nice on Ice". Please, please listen to: "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine" ( "Trailer Trash" ( and "Bankrupt on Selling" (

I skipped over some very good things, but I think there is just too much to mention about Modest Mouse for one post, and I think I need to draw it to a close. I really hope you listen to the songs I posted, MM is my favorite band ever and I hope that you like them too.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

David Galletly

Sorry I'm late, let's talk art! Alec's friend brought this guy to my attention and for that, I am very thankful. Pretty neat, right? Well, according to his site/portfolio, "David Galletly is a freelance artist, illustrator and graphic designer living and working in Stirling, Scotland. He graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2004. David has exhibited throughout the UK, Europe and the USA." From that description, David really seems to be living the kind of life I am gravitating towards, so to see his stuff is really cool on a personal level, for me. That being said, I'm certain his work can be appreciated by most anyone. When I first saw the work on his site, I could not rid myself of mental images of the work of Marc Johns and Nicholas Di Genova. If you're familiar with their work, I'm sure you'd agree that there are some stylistic similarities, though they are still distinctly different.
I think this picture pretty well epitomizes the combination of Marc Johns' quiet simplicity and Di Genova's complex juxtapositions of simple patterns. A notable difference is the plausibility of the subjects that Galletly features, compared to Johns and Di Genova. That might sound strange, but most of his pictures are of pretty normal stuff, whereas you'd find antlered men and bird guns with the other two.This is not to his discredit by any means, because he demonstrates a pretty clear capacity for drawing strange things. Evidence:
Bam. This picture brings me to something I really like about his illustrations. Gallenty has managed to incorporate some pretty playful colors that you don't often see done in a tasteful way. Really, it's just red and blue, but in a very pleasant combination that serve to clarify his purpose - notice the distinct areas of red and blue in the picture above. I can't really say a whole lot about the deeper side to his work because for the life of me, I can't see it, myself. It might have something to do with the relatively small number of pieces on his site, and if not, that's art, right? Sometimes you just don't get it.

I hope you like what you've seen, and maybe you can make some more sense of it than I could.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh my, two bands! Ringo Deathstarr + Gliss

First up in this post is a lil' band named Ringo Deathstarr. I say little because, they are, pretty small and unknown. They're a 4 piece band from Austin, Texas, and at the moment they've only realeased a self-titled EP, and several 7"s. They'll soon be releasing a split with The Depreciation Guild, another rather excellent band, who mixes shoegaze with the blips and bloops of an NES. They rule, excellent live as well, check 'em out. Anyway, back to Ringo.

Ringo Deathstarr's a shoegaze/"nu-gaze"/chillgaze (as described on their myspace) band. They, like many of their contemporaries, heavily borrow from older bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. While their sound might be less than completely original, it's hard to call this a fault, because they pull it off really well. Their music's really swirly and atmospheric, with walls of sound at times. The singer definitely emulates Jim Reid more than Kevin Shields and others, and I think it matches their sound really well. The highlights from their EP are probably the songs "Starrsha" (my personal fave) and "Some Kind of Sad" (very, very JAMC like). Are they a completely new sound? No. Are they enjoyable? Very. One of the best new shoegaze bands around in my opinion, and I think they've got a bright future ahead of them. For fans of The Depreciation Guild, JAMC, MBV, Skywave, A Place to Bury Strangers.

On to Gliss! Gliss is a self described "hazy experimental fucked up pop" band from "los angeles/copenhagen". While I'm not sure about their location (all the info I find points to them currently being in LA, so I assume they are just of Danish nationality), they have a fairly accurate description of their sound. They blend elements of shoegaze and noise pop to create a fairly unique sound. Their closest match would be fellow Danish band, The Raveonettes, largely due to the female vocals they have over most of their songs. On a few songs there is a guy singing (and he sounds quite similar to the guy from Phoenix I think), and he's just as good as the gal'.

They have a few albums out I belive, but all I've heard is their most recent effort Devotion Implosion. It's a pretty solid album, and it succeeds in at least sounding like an album, with all the songs in a similar vein, blending into one another. The highlights, I think, are "Morning Light" (the opening track, which begins with the heavily, heavily, heavily copied boom, boom, cha drumbeat (from "Be my baby" by the Ronettes but thankfully soon transitions out of it) and "Lovers in the Bathroom" (a good ol' dreamy, swirly track). They also have a blog (which unfortunately hasn't been updated since March, but is still worth a read)

Anyway, to sum it up. Two great swirly, dreamy, atmospheric, nosie popp-y, shoegaze-y bands.

- Alec

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This post will be good for you if you're not big on reading, but you are big on looking at kind of weird pictures.

Hey! I'm not going to lie, I'm get pretty stoked every time I look at these pictures. I recently grabbed a Moleskine sketchbook, because I felt like I had too much money and I wanted to have none. I like the color of the paper and I guess it's stimulated my creativity gland, because on Monday, I came up with this fella:

Well, he's a little rough, and I tend to like to replicate and perfect the stuff I draw, so after a page of failures, I came up with these two:
click to enlarge
I know there are some flaws, but I really like these bird-mole things, and I think I will try coloring them. Related: I recently figured that wet acrylics look kind of like watercolors, so I will be experimenting with that. One last guy:
click to enlarge
He's definitely the most complex of the group. Again, there are some flaws, but I think it shows that he's the most recent one. I say this a lot, but I really hope you like these.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness is a stretch of wilderness along the Sierra Nevada in California. After hearing their music, it's pretty obvious why they chose it as their name. Their music is dreamy and reverb-drenched, almost delving into "chillwave", much like Pure Ecstasy. It's very introspective, and perfect for listening to outside, on late summer nights. Unfortunately, they've recently broken up, but they've put out enough music (2 Full lengths, an EP, and some 7"s) to last you for a while. Since the breakup, singer Nic Zwart has started a new, quite similar band, Electric Sunset, if you really, really, want something more.

My favorite songs of theirs are probably Boardwalk Theme, and San Francisco 2 AM. Lala shut down a while ago, so I no longer have a way to stream songs, but you can on RCD LBL

enjoy - Alec

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hark! A Vagrant

I am excited to write this post, and I am kind of surprised that I didn't write it a while ago. Probably my favorite webcomic is Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton. Here, I snipped a few strips from a recent Macbeth post.The whole set can be found here.

I've started reading webcomics last year and there are few that I follow closely, with Hark! securely in the lead. Kate Beaton is a Canadian with a degree in History and Anthropology and a silly wit to her comics. Her education has an obvious influence on her comics. Many of her characters are drawn directly from history, and I think a fair deal of humor lies in the sheer absurdity of seeing venerated historical figures portrayed as less dignified, but perhaps more accurate caricatures of their popular representations. Some of her other characters are her own improvisations to illustrate a specific setting in time. Others still are completely her own, existing within narratives of original inspiration. I also dig her strips that are just about herself and her life; she's got some funny stories to tell.

Something that I dearly appreciate about Hark! is the frequency with which Kate posts. It bugs me that many other comics post sporadically, often failing to adhere to their own schedules. She, however, can be relied on to post at least once a week with a fairly large set of strips, and sometimes multiple times a week, with smaller sets. I think this eagerness is a manifestation of a passion for her subjects that shines through in a big way in her comics.

Art is, unsurprisingly, very important to me in webcomics. Beaton's art features a familiar comic style with a certain sophistication that ink seems to lend to those that can use it properly. I may be biased, because I feel my own drawing style seems made for pen and ink. At any rate, her characters are distinct, which is essential to a comic that is trying to make jokes with the hope that the audience will know who is telling them. Hark! could be considered a comic for smart people in that a knowledge of western history is not required, but many of the jokes make reference to specific events or individuals.

I would be a fool not to mention the costumes. Kate Beaton seems to have a pretty serious eye for historical fashion. I might be something of an oddity, but there is something strangely satisfying about looking at the clothes and facial hair (especially facial hair) of people in the past.

I think you will enjoy reading Hark! A Vagrant.

THIS is my personal favorite.

I will probably do some more web comic posts in the future, so get pumped for those.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Show Review!: Young the Giant and Minus the Bear

First off, thanks to Daniel to the review of Everest. I mostly agree with him, they really were (to quote a review I read) "terribly loud, by which I mean terrible. and loud." The only point of discrepancy was that I thought the bass player was the worst part of the band (he really was just everything I hate about certain bass styles). Also, another thank you to him for taking some pics (and uploading them).

To start things off, we had Young the Giant (who formerly went by The Jakes). These guys are a small band from L.A. (their debut full-length will come out later this year). They were the band I was least looking forward to, from what I'd heard on their myspace they sounded like your generic-uninspired-soft-"indie"-pop-rock band. But, they were actually pretty good. They had really good energy (all the members of the band moved around the stage, switchin' positions and dancin' about) and I liked how the singer jangled about a tambourine or maracas on most songs. Also, the rhythm guitarist (seen in the right of the above pic) would dance about, sort of stumblin' and bumpin' into the other members, but you could tell that they were all really enjoying it and were all friends who were super psyched to be in a band, playing music and tourin'. They're definitely worth checking out and they're quite fun to see live (Daniel said he liked 'em more than Minus the Bear).

(Minus the Bear is a surprisingly bearded band)
On to Minus the Bear!! I was pretty excited for these guys. Even though I'm not the hugest fan of their new album (OMNI) they're among my favorite bands (mostly for Highly Refined Pirates, their 1st album), and their guitarist, Dave Knudson, is pretty inspirational, I think. They opened with Drilling (one of their best songs I think), and they kept a pretty good energy and feel going throughout their entire set. Their music is pretty mellow and relaxed for the most part, but it still felt pretty lively during the show, I think mostly due to their excellent drummer. They played a really nice mix of old and new songs (mostly old, and they played all the new songs I wanted them to), including a favorite of mine, Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo. They came back for an encore and played Into the Mirror, and Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse (arguably their best song, my favorite). And they had really good lights.

Here's my gripe with the show. Minus the Bear attracts rowdy bros. There was a guy and his friends who were pretty wild and yelling out lyrics and stuff a lot (the wrong ones too and at the wrong times) and dancing wildly/sort of moshing. He kept trying to justify it by saying it was his birthday and they were his favorite band, so I cut him a little bit of slack, but thankfully they calmed down after a bunch of people asked them to stop. There was also this other bro who was a total douchebag, knocking into everyone and just being a complete jerk. Basically everyone around him (including me) told him to fuck off and stop, but he wouldn't. However, he got what was coming to him when he kept yelling a song request and the singer told him to shut up and that he wouldn't do anything for a guy like him. And then when he kept being rowdy security pulled him out, so a big thank you to them. Anyway, overall a pretty good show.

- Alec

p.s. I sincerely apologize if I at all offended the "bro" denomination of our readers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Show Review!: Preview!: Everest!

Hey, I'm going to get something out of the way so that when Alec Does his Show Review for Minus The Bear, he won't have to talk about this very much.


Everest was the second of three acts last night. I didn't really like how these guys looked or how they sounded. I lacked the foresight to look them up beforehand, but Alec had, and he said they were pretty quiet, so I wasn't expecting what I got.

I snapped this nifty photo with my phone's camera. I only took a picture of the bassist because he played rather well and I think he was really the only interesting looking member of the band, beside the shockingly greasy lead guitar. Their music was not very good. They were not as bad as James Husband, but they definitely reminded me of him; loud, forgettable rock, suffering from the common problem of a singer almost entirely drowned out by drums and guitars. The tragedy of it is that the stuff on their myspace is quite good, and very unlike their live music. Last Word: Listen to their recorded stuff, but try to avoid seeing them in concert.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bad Art

Bad art is not hard to find. I think a lot has to be considered when judging art, but I also think that I am of fair mind to make such a judgment. I'm not sure everyone is capable of making good art, but I think we can all agree that anime-style is a pretty common crutch for those who mean to fake artistic ability. One could claim that I simply do not understand the subtleties of eastern cartooning, but that is far from the case. I have seen the other side, and have a cursory acquaintance with the artistic styles of numerous cultures, so it is not a mere ignorant narrow-mindedness that fuels my opposition to the broad practice of the style.
Manga has come to be a serial art form with proliferation that rivals street art. I think a major difference between the two is the relative absence of pretense in street art; art detatched from the artist, and thus, largely free from the ad hominem influence that you get from manga that you might stumble upon on the internet or in real life. I may be desensitized to manga, but when I see pictures like the ones above and below in the volume that I do, it becomes irritating, like a student in my art class who would insist upon showing me each of his thousands of throwaway sketches.

Beyond its apparent omnipresence, I have some gripes with the literal attributes of the art form. The faces bother me. Those smooth, big-eyed small-nosed faces are an absolute abortion of the basic rules of dimension that most semi-realistic styles follow. I am generalizing about anime artists and their individual styles, but so common are these bizarre, crudely expressive mugs that I cannot help but decry their absurdity. To make a concession, anime artists seem to have a grasp on fabrics and body proportion (with the exception of those that draw chibi.) If this post seemed too negative, I apologize, but I wouldn't want to give the impression that I am an indiscriminate lover of art. It's all about perspective.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


In my next post, I will explain why I am showing you this picture.Right now, I need to sleep.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Post B: Things I like/Kind of Like/Don't Like

Things I Like: The Potential of the Chinese Music Scene

China has a humongous population, so I suppose it's logical to assume that there are quite a few great bands from there. You don't really hear much about the Chinese scene (or at least I don't) but I recently found two bands that have me clamoring for more. First up is Carsick Cars ( They basically sound a lot like Sonic Youth only Chinese. This is a good thing though. They don't sound exactly like a clone (which is great) but their influence is definitely obvious. They played SXSW this year which was their first time in America, but hopefully they will come back, because they are pretty darn good.

Next up is Xiao He ( I don't really know how to describe his music. He's in his own class of weird. His stuff's experimental with an obvious eastern/asian influence (especially noticeable in the vocals). His myspace says he plays guitar for Glorious Pharmacy, who I have yet to check out, but probably should. He played a show in DC near the end of 2009, which is how I heard of him, but I didn't go (which was a complete mistake).

Anyway, I think China's definitely got potential, music-wise, and I'll have to explore it more in the near future.

Things I Kind of Like: MGMT's Congratulations

So, Congratulations. Seems to me like one of those things you either get or don't get, there's not too much of an in-between. Loads of people hate on it, wishing they had more pop songs like Kids, Time to Pretend, etc. I think it's better than OS though. Definitely more cohesive. The good songs are pretty good (Congratulations, Brian Eno), but the bad songs are really quite bad ( Lady Dada's Nightmare). It's not a great album, but it's pretty enjoyable I suppose.

Things I Don't Like: MGMT's Congratulations Artwork

I mean really, what the hell.

- Alec

Post A: Show Review! (Los Campesinos!/Cymbals Eat Guitars)

Well, I've come to realise that my show reviews are kinda lame. I'm okay with that, and I'll keep doing them, but they will probably not be whole posts by themselves. Also, Daniel just got accepted into a Carnegie-Mellon art summer program, and I think some congratulations are in order.

(this is a pic I took, unfortunately the only one of the night to actually develop)
Anyway, this Tuesday I saw Los Campesinos! and Cymbals Eat Guitars. I'd seen them both before (and they ruled) so I was prety excited to see them again. The picture above is of "Joseph Ferocious" the singer/guitarist for Cymbals. His singing sounds quite a bit like Tim Kinsella, and he's really pretty awesome. I like how he can do softer vocals and then go right into more yell-y bits (in the vein of Isaac Brock, I suppose). He's the sort of guitarist who makes really goofy faces while he plays, but he's really amazing, so it's okay. I'd probably say he's among the best "new" guitarists out there. The band sounds really full, which is a feat, considering they have only a guitar, keyboard, bass and drums. I think most credit for this ought to be given to Brian Hamilton (who I talked to for a bit after the set, he's quite a cool guy. (builds pedals under the name SmallSound/BigSound (check 'em out here:, the keyboardist, who gets really nice almost atmospheric sounds out, often by tinkering with his various pedals. One of the things I like most about them is that their songs often have a groove to them (their slower songs are the exception, but they're quite amazing themselves and often have a shoegaze-y feel) so you can dance/sway/bob the head to them. Really really great, they're gonna be on tour for a bit so go see them.

And then Los Campesinos! What a band. I think they're my second favorite band in the world maybe, and they've put on the best live shows I've seen. They go completely wild, often running into the crowd near the end and passing the mic around to let the fans scream/shout/chant parts of their amazingly catchy tunes. One of the things I like best about their shows though, is that everyone sings/yells along and dances and stuff. It's basically impossible not too. They played really well (better than the other time I saw them) and had a really nice mix of stuff off their new album (Romance is Boring) and their other two (Hold On Now Youngster... , We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed). They've got a really good sound, that, to quote a lyric of theirs, sounds like "the perfect match between pretentious and pop". The original twee-ish sound that they started with has definitely matured (most obviously on The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future, which is an absolutely amazing/stellar, gloomy as fuck track with amazing lyrics) but they're still catchy, witty, dance-y, and completely loveable. I also like how they seem like normal guys. Neither singer is exceptionally talented, and they all look pretty normal (Gareth even comes out with his inhaler). It's sort of inspiring I suppose. Anyway, they're the best live band I've seen, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone.

Additionally, lala closed down so I suppose I'll ahve to find a new way to link songs.

- Alec

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flash Post!

Heya, Singin' In The Rain opened on thursday at our high school. I'm working tech and Alec is playing in the band, so we've been pretty busy for the past few days. It has come together in a way that nobody really expected, and we have the last two performances today. If I can get my hands on a video example, I will be sure to post it. Keep it real.