Monday, April 18, 2011

[VIDEO] The Victory and Associates record, THESE THINGS ARE FACTS!

Hit the Like Button for Victory and Asssociates here:

So this is pretty amazing actually. Local Oakland band, Victory and Associates, has recorded their first, full-length album after many singles, compilation appearances, and touring. Highly anticipated by fans and locals of the SF Bay Area, this album is being recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios and mixed by John Congleton.

Watch the video, then head over to Kickstarter to pledge your support and reserve your copy of this amazing album!

Social Links:!/VictoryAndAssoc

Hit the Like Button for Victory and Asssociates here:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Minus the Bear - They Make Beer Commercials Like This (2008 Remaster)

Artist: Minus the Bear
Album: They Make Beer Commercials Like This (2008 Remaster)
Released: June 3rd, 2008
Label: Suicide Squeeze
Style: Indie / Rock
RIYL: good music

If you never heard this, you missed out on one of the best albums of the last ten years. Not to mention probably the most talented and inspiring band of the 00s. Minus the Bear are one of those bands that were at the forefront of the indie thing while hipsters all over the united states were still figuring out the indie thing was happening, and how you got to be a part of it. There used to be a time when authentic hipsters were distinguished by there amazing knowledge of bands that would blow your mind out if you heard them. Later on in indie history, scenesters were created to distinguish the real cool kids from their tail-biting, name-dropping counterparts. These scenesters were liable to jump at any new band that nobody had heard of yet. With all this new fan base (buying their merchandise, attending their shows, etc), these minor label bands were gaining great acclaim, converting the 'mainstream' within a few years from the terror extracted upon them that was the 90s music, and dropping sales of major labels all across the board.

This was supposedly due to, according the major labels and their pet government agency the RIAA, internet pirating. The humanity! All these people can get our bands' albums for free, and somehow that increased exposure is doing us harm in record sales! Whatever happened to any publicity is good publicity? Well, that's exactly what was working so well for indie labels. All this new circulation of their bands material was literally exploding their market. Labels like Sub-Pop and Polyvinyl were seeing record sales, and actually began to purchase bands from other labels, playing like the big dogs! And where was all this money coming from? The wallets of people trying to get in on the hipster scene, though I guess this demographic didn't know what the internet was back then, and still did things the old-fashioned way buying actual albums. So where do you go to buy indie albums though? Blockbuster doesn't carry them? Of course, you go to record stores, a key part of modern music sales that major labels appear to have forgotten exist in the free market. And thus, the tight-pants wearing, internet-diving hipsters had actually scared the music kings. The need to be cool, which apparently could not be fulfilled anymore by the mainstream music scene, had actually driven America's music budget underground until the record labels could come up with something good.

At about this time major labels started picking up indie standards like At the Drive-In, Modest Mouse, and later Death Cab for Cutie. Now suddenly, credible hipsters didn't have a leg to stand on. The bands they had established their cool credibility with were suddenly playing all over the radio, international tours, and worse yet.. we kind of liked their new pop-sensible, indie hooks. Meanwhile, since indie was such a huge hit, major and minor labels alike started churning out no-name freshman-singles and debut albums with only minimal listenership, only to blow them up extravagantly on their sophomore release, claiming them as the next big indie thing within circles of supposed cool, in-the-know (read: internet savvy) scenesters. This is how we got legends like The Strokes at first, but it's also how we now have Fallout Boy and Panic At The Disco today (or 2 years ago haha, my how the mighty fall), so be careful what you wish for I guess. You might just get more bands than you could ever possibly keep up with, and become obsolete and uncool to younger, more ambitious scenesters.

Anyway, that's my hipster rant. Within any respectable hipster's r'epertoire in 2002 you would have surely found a copy of Highly Refined Pirates. The really cool kids were already diggin' on This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic in 2001 (I was not among them, I hopped on in '02, admittedly) After a 2 year break, in 2004 both They Make Beer Commercials... and Bands Like It When You Yell "Yar!" At Them were released back to back, simultaneously blowing fans' minds yet again with their ability to create amazing, indie-rock music with no dilution.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Artist: Death Cab For Cutie
Album: Narrow Stairs
Released: May 2008
Label: Atlantic
Style: Umm...Corporate Indie? I think they call that Alternative..
Buy From: Anywhere, it's not like they're on an indie label or anything.

Track List
1. Bixby Canyon Bridge 5:15
2. I Will Possess Your Heart 8:25
3. No Sunlight 2:40
4. Cath... 3:49
5. Talking Bird 3:23
6. You Can Do Better Than Me 1:59
7. Grapevine Fires 4:08
8. Your New Twin Sized Bed 3:06
9. Long Division 3:49
10. Pity And Fear 4:21
11. The Ice Is Getting Thinner 3:45

Ok, since I had such harsh words for the new single off Death Cab For Cutie's new album, Narrow Stairs, I decided I should say some nice things about the album overall. Despite the bands inevitable fall to a major label, abandoning their former Barsuk in favor of an international contract with Atlantic (read: CHING CHING MOTHERFUCKERS $_$), they are still very talented musicians, and no amount of corporate influence can take that voice away from Ben Gibbard.

Though I must say, the money's got some strange things coming out of his mouth these days. Narrow Stairs has got to be one of the most emotionally charged albums I've heard from them, and that's saying a lot considering the content of most of their earlier albums. Considering Gibbard is making more money now than he ever has in his whole life, you'd think he might start writing happy songs finally. Or maybe even a cool, kind-of-jammy singalong like Transatlanticism turns into at the end of the title track. Anything, but I guess that emo stuff sells, so what can you do?

This one hits those heartstrings heard though. I think it's probably a combination of a few things for me. First, this album is so epic. There's all kinds of build-ups that end in a capella, Gibbard hooks, or the 6-minute lead in on Possess Your Heart. I know I already talked extensively on that lead in, but seriously it doesn't get any more epic than that. And to seal the deal, the production crew at Atlantic is flawless; they really know how to make those notes hit home with ringing clarity.

Still though, it's all about that voice. I've been listening to all their older material and the new album on shuffle, just to try and pick out the differences, and really..I don't hear much besides the production quality and some major label garbage that just has to be there - e.g. the breakdown on Possess Your Heart; why does that part sound so horrible to me? Anyway, my point is I don't care what the albums sound like from now on, it's not bad and all I care about is Gibbard's voice. As long as he keeps singing, I'll keep listening to their albums. Case closed.

Edit 5/27/08 : Ok, so I continued my DCFC-discography, shuffled playlist and I decided that this is definitely not the most emotionally charged album I've heard. It is very well engineered, and those emo hooks are quite..emotional, but nothing compares to the raw power of Tiny Vessels and the rest of the tracks on Transatlanticism. Perhaps my pain, reminiscing of my teenage years first hearing that album, is blurring my judgment. I'm glad they didn't have emo when I was a teenager. We were all indie kids, united under one name! Now there's a million tiny scenes to be part of - screamo, emo, hardcore, grunge, grindcore, diy punk, no wave etc - some of which have just been re-adopted by todays youth. Unbeknownst to them, they're not doing anything new or unique. Just dividing themselves up into different categories, further separating themselves from one another by drawing imaginary lines in the sand based on what bands they like. Then they all talk shit on each other, that's the worst part. The state of "the scene" today is weak, man. Where is the love?

In closing, I just want to say this: I think emo is an attempt for music corporations to recover from the idea of naming a genre (indie, short for independent, as in independent label) based on the fact that the music isn't released on a major, or even well-known, label. Now, instead of indie-kids, they're emo-kids. All the music being released on Atlantic, and other big labels, that would normally have been classified as indie, is emo. The connotations are sickening though. I mean, seriously, what band isn't making music that is emotional? That's why we make music; we're emotional creatures, and we need to express ourselves. It's just ridiculous to say "These people over here are emotional." What does that mean for the rest of us? It means nothing, because emo is a made-up term (bastard step-child of the old punk scene, and I won't get into that but you can read about it elsewhere) that has been capitalized upon by music corporations. It means nothing now, and I wish all the black-haired, hoodie-wearing, myspace-supporting youths of our nation would wise up to this, and stop lining music corporation pockets with their misguided emotions.

Nothing against Death Cab though, it sounds like they're doing the same thing they have been all along, except now they're getting paid what they deserve for it. Cheers guys, the new album sounds great to me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dibidim - Riders

Artist: Dibidim

Album: Riders

Released: January 2007

Label: Protest Recordings

Style: SynthPop



  1. (4:42) Flagel Flygel
  2. (4:11) Gefeeling
  3. (4:26) Don't Play With the Gun
  4. (4:32) Sailor
  5. (3:50) I Woke Up
  6. (4:09) She Turns to Gold
  7. (3:59) If I Were a Cowboy
  8. (4:23) Lifeguard
  9. (4:54) Angelhorns
  10. (4:52) By the River

Playing Time : 43:58

Dibidim is Jeron and Jonas, two guys apparently from Badminton Bay in the UK. From what I can gather, which is very little, they're on this really rad label called Protest Recordings, which is a netlabel whose motto is exactly what I've been saying all along. I'll quote:

"Protest [Recordings] was borne out of a desire to set straight the shortcomings of the existing music industry, which has let down music lovers all over the world by placing undue emphasis on sales, and manipulating tastes by means of mass media - overpricing music whilst the artists themselves are left with potentially tiny royalties and little scope for creative expression."

Need I say more? Major labels are ruining the music industry, and stifling true creativity. You need look no further than The Mars Volta on that one. I remember the haydays of Cedric and Omar, in a band called At The Drive-In. And what are they now? They can't even release their albums on their own record label anymore. And for what? That damn, major-label check. Consider this: Is the music made inside your own space, when you had nothing better to do than express your emotions musically, the same as the music made in a studio, that you go to as a job, with the expectation of a paycheck at the end of your session?

Enter Dibidim, netlabel and all. No PFM review, no flash website, no tour. Just good beats and a myspace page. Now that's how you start a band these days. Just make some goddam music, then give it to everyone for a while. If it gets good response, you should probably cut a record. These guys needed to cut a record, this is mind-blowingly good material. Imagine, if you can, Air. The Air we remember from Moon Safari, the feeling that album gave you, then continue through the years with 10,000hz Legend and on through the discography until you come to Pocket Symphony. As an Air fan, I was a little disappointed with Pocket Symphony. It didn't have that same pop-sensibility that I remembered, nor the Brazilian influences (Azymuth in particular) that heralded them such a wide spectrum of fanship in the first place. It seemed very technical to me. Riders is a lot like what I would have expected Pocket Symphony to sound like, based on the sound of Air's previous albums, and the challenge of coming up with something enjoyable and engaging for new and old listeners ten years later. It's not exactly like any one Air album, it's just a sound that I could picture them coming up with on their own; I don't know why they didn't, but you could probably consider my question posed in the previous paragraph for some insight.

Riders starts slow, and stays that way aside from a few songs. It's nice though, because it builds a lot. You can tell that they worked on it through the winter. It just has that wintry feeling. The pace is really mellow. Most songs don't start with the hooks, you gotta wait for it. Also, it's pretty soundscapy, like lots of dream rushes (like where the drum goes whooshhhhhhhh, If I Were a Cowboy is the one I'm listening to now) and echoey space sounds, and of course it's all synth. The guys harmonize so nicely though, you wouldn't expect it from the beards. The whole album is pretty much synthy goodness and the guys' beautiful harmonies. Lifeguard sounds a lot like Kraftwerk, though. And on Angelhorns they use an Accordion, which makes me feel like I'm in Italy for some reason.

All in all, this is awesome. I'm going to be listening to it for quite a while, I'm sure.

UPDATE: I talked to Jeron via the MySpecs and he says, "we are making our second album early next year followed by a gigantic world tour with a massive psychedelic pop big band." I'm so excited! FTR, the psychedelic pop big band is NOT The Flaming Lips, despite my initial enthusiasms upon reading that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart (New Single)

Artist: Death Cab For Cutie
Album: Narrow Stairs
Single: I Will Possess Your Heart
Style: sellout, would-be, indie legends
Label: Atlantic Records (Vinyl on Barsuk, so at least there's that to look forward to)

Death Cab For Cutie return to the corporate-sellout, indie pedestal with their new single, I Will Posess Your Heart, off the new album due out May 13th entitled Narrow Stairs. I actually really like the new direction the album seems to be taking. This single is a jim jam jimmy jam jamma, clocking in at over eight jammy minutes! All the Can references were true =0 The intro is completely bass driven, accompanied by piano (in true Gibbard style) and backed by a solid drumline. The chords echo with slight variations for four and a half minutes until Gibbard chimes in with his eagerly-timid vocals. To match the repetitive instrumentals, the lyrics are mostly chorus (with increasing cryptic voracity with each repetition) and a few fatefully-tragic, wintry verses ammounting to a mere shell of the shining indie songs from Death Cabs early career. A shell containing no nucleus, growing no greater form inside of it, tricking us into thinking that real, artistic creativity still exists, as opposed to profit-driven creativity which seems to be all a lot of bands I used to love seem to have left.

I miss songs like Photobooth, the sad songs with inspiring lyrics and catchy, drum-sequencer hooks. Now we get repetitive 6-minute-long intros with weak writing. I think if they stop writing songs for money, and went back to writing songs as a form of expression, the final result would be a lot more powerful in the ears and emotions of their fans. But I'm not them, and I don't have the options they have, and if I did I'm not certain that I wouldn't make the same decisions as them if I did have those options, of which I have no idea about anyway so I probably have no room to criticize them, as people at least. I'm here to criticize the music. And that is, in short, I like the new direction, but it has nothing for substance, musically and lyrically. That's not something I can overlook as a fan, and I'm not that jazzed to hear the new album based on this new single. I bet they didn't spend very much time at all creating it, perhaps even of tracks that didn't make previous albums, just strung together and produced the shit out of into a listenable collections of songs that Gibbard likely had to sit up until 4am for a week trying to think of lyrics for.

But that's my opinion, and I'm jaded. The song isn't really that bad, except the part where he starts "You reject my advances, in desperate plea" that part is really awful and is only made up for a little by being followed by solo Gibbard vocals, which I like when used in good taste. But damn that little breakdown part is bad. It ruins the song a lot for me. The rest is ok, just a little uninspired for my taste.

Emo kids need not get their boxes of kleenex however, this one isn't much of a tear jerker. Hope for a more solid heartbreaker on the rest of the album perhaps.

Also, I was going to put a copy of the song up to listen to like usual, but it's too big for my box widget. You'll just have to hear it at their Murdoch Space.