Cinematic: The Social Network Trailer + Radiohead

from Columbia Pictures Honestly, I don’t see many movies, and I see even fewer in the theatre. But the new “Facebook” film The Social Network has a very intriguing trailer, was directed by David Fincher (“Seven”, “Fight Club”, “Zodiac”), and features a great rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” done by the Belgian girls’ choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers. The trailer alone is grand artistry – I’ll just call it the best music video I’ve seen in years. “I want you to notice when I’m not around…” What a masterful way to revisit that song.

Here’s the trailer:

The Social Network trailer

Worth Shouting About: SUFJAN, SUFJAN, SUFJAN!

via Asthmatic KittyFirst we get a new “EP” (All Delighted People, with an emphasis on the “extended”), now we get news of a new LP (The Age of Adz, so much for the 50 states project???), and a sample track from the album. Give it a listen below:

The Asthmatic Kitty website has this to say about the album:

“It’s much too soon to cast descriptive lots, but we can say the new album sounds nothing like the All Delighted EP (although it shares similar themes of love, loss, and the apocalypse). Nor is this new album built around any conceptual underpinning (no odes to states, astrology, or urban expressways).

We can say it shows an extensive use of electronics (banjos and acoustic guitars give way to drum machines and analog synthesizers), and an obsession with cosmic fantasies (space, heaven, aliens, love), to create an explicit pop-song extravaganza, augmented by heavy orchestration, and maybe even a few danceable moments. Enjoy Your Rabbitmeets the BQE. But with songs. Verse, chorus, bridge, backbeat. Gated reverb. Space echo. Get your boogey on.”

Gotta admit, I’m still holding out for My Olde Kentucky Home: Colonel Sanders’ Mutant Fried Chicken Extravaganza, if for no other reason than to hear some cosmic, hardcore bluegrass from Dr. Stevens’ lab.

For a guy who has supposedly been “all quiet” for a few years, Sufjan in reality has remained surprisingly prolific. This will be his fourth major release in two years (BQE, Rabbit, All Delighted, and Age of Adz). Dude is anything but lazy!

Worth Shouting About: “Every Breaking Wave” from U2

U2’s last LP, No Line On the Horizon, was a little bit disappointing to me. I really liked “Magnificent”, but that was about it.

That being said, I really like this new track (“Every Breaking Wave”, via Stereogum):

So Bono, if you are listening (and I know you are), more like this please.

Worth Shouting About: Free EP from Follow The Train!

The Great Disturbance EP

Well that’s just too cool — the apparently re-united Louisville space-rock powerhouse Follow The Train is giving their 2005 (out-of-print) EP The Great Disturbance away for free on their newly re-vamped website. So give the second track, “Wake Up”, a listen below, and then head on over and download some costless goodness. And while you’re there, you may as well pick up Mercury or A Breath of Sigh, excellent releases in their own right…

If you’ve never heard Follow The Train, you’re in for a dose of anthemic, dreamy rock that is part-U2, part-Pixies, part-Afghan Whigs, and part-Cure. That is to say, there is a late-80’s indie throwback feel to their work, a sound I’m happy to hear making a resurgence in their little corner of the music world. Enjoy!

Download Follow The Train’s Great Disturbance EP for free.

Listen to “Wake Up” by Follow The Train:

Worth Repeating: Keith Phipps on Unintelligible Lyrics

Great article by Keith Phipps over at the AV Club blog on unintelligible REM lyrics:

“Yet to see Stipe’s lyric laid out without any ambiguity, even for just one song, felt a bit like a shock…He sometimes sounds less like an active participant in the recording than a spirit haunting the song. It’s often not clear what he’s singing, and when the words are discernible they’re evocative fragments and not fully developed thoughts: “Lighted in a room.” “Calling on, in the transit.” “So much more attractive inside the moral kiosk.” They’re confounding. And perfect. And much of the pleasure comes from not quite understanding them.”

Read the whole article here.

And an early performance of “We Walk”:

AlbumNotes: Kathryn Calder’s “Are You My Mother?”

via radio3.cbc.ca

  • I’ll admit I was skeptical about Kathryn Calders debut when it was first announced a few months back. I didn’t know about her work in Immaculate Machine, and she’d only managed to make a star appearance on a few New Pornographers tracks since joining the band mid-decade. And anyway, the circumstances of her joining the band oddly struck of nepotism.
  • Any doubts that I had have been blown away. Are You My Mother? is a solid debut. Great melodies, fun arrangements, diverse rhythms, and crafty wordplay. It plays like one of Uncle Carl’s solo records, maybe less angular. I’ve been telling everyone I can about this record.
  • My favorite tracks are “If You Only Knew”, “Follow Me Into the Hills”, and “Slip Away.” Additionally, “Day Long Past Its Prime” sounds like The National fronted by a female vocalist. Really good stuff.
  • Apparently, it’s a very personal record as well. Calder’s mother died in the process of recording it. For anyone who has ever read the children’s book that gave her the album’s title, there’s plenty of emotional resonance here.
  • I’m thinking this one will probably wind up on my top 10 albums of 2010. At that point, I intend to give it the appropriate write-up.

Top 10 Tracks of 2010 (Midway)

from thesecretstereo.com

This is a bit hastily thrown together, but here it is, 8/23, and I haven’t done it yet, so here goes. No comments, no order, only criteria is that it was released between 1/1/2010 & 6/31/2010. Links provided for samples:

Follow the Train – “Movin”
New Pornographers – “Crash Years”
Memoryhouse – “Sleep Patterns”
Stars – “Fixed”
Cerebellum – “Crawl Out of the Water”
Wye Oak – “I Hope You Die”
Beach House – “Walk in the Park”
Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”
Venice is Sinking – “Tugboat”
Strand of Oaks – “Bonfire”

So there.

Yours?

Career In Brief: REM’s IRS Years

from Amazon.com

Career In Brief: REM’s IRS Years

REM are to indie rock what Rome was to European civilization. Arising out of an unlikely, cultured-though-backwoods town (Athens, GA), achieving early, sweeping victories (their entire IRS catalog), ascending to epic and glorious hegemony of mainstream popularity (Out of Time through Monster) and then coasting into curiosity ever since, they are undoubtedly one of the greatest rock bands of all time, at least in the top 50 and maybe in the top 20. For what it’s worth, they are definitely in my personal top 10.

While their major label career has been strong and certainly spectacular at times, in this post I will be focusing on their “IRS years”, the string of recordings that established them as one of the greatest indie bands of all time and, in all reality, have held up best over time. You’d be hard pressed to find an unbroken streak that strong anywhere in popular music (maybe Elvis Costello’s early years, or the Rolling Stones’ 1960’s albums), and I will strongly recommend that anyone who dares call themselves a fan of rock music should own everything they released on IRS, with the exception of the puzzling and incomplete sampler EPONYMOUS.

20-Track Sampler
Wolves, Lower
Gardening at Night
Stumble
Radio Free Europe (Murmur version)
Sitting Still
Catapult
Talk About The Passion
Harborcoat
So. Central Rain
Rockville
Maps & Legends
Driver 8
Life and How to Live It
Can’t Get There From Here
Cuyahoga
These Days
Fall On Me
Finest Worksong
One I Love
Exhuming McCarthy

MAJOR/NOTABLE RELEASES

Chronic Town EP [1982] (A+): Now found on the “odds n’ ends” collection DEAD LETTER OFFICE, the 5 songs that make up CHRONIC TOWN reveal a band heavily influenced by the angular post-punk of bands like Television and Gang of Four, all the while hinting at that “something else” that can only be described as the sound of the south. I’m a sucker for a strong extended player, and this is one of the best I can think of. “Gardening at Night” is the acknowledged classic, but I’ll put a plug in for my personal favorite, the frantic “Wolves, Lower.” (R: “Wolves, Lower”, “Gardening at Night”)

Murmur [1983] (A+): Instead of speeding into their debut full-length, MURMUR is the sound of a band taking their time to craft a record both precise and pastoral. The result is a masterpiece. “Radio Free Europe” eschews a classic rock brilliance, the sound of a band making music history, while plaintive tracks like “Moral Kiosk” and “Pilgrimmage” create a template for the band’s future commercial success. Lesser known tracks like “Catapult” and “Sitting Still” re-introduce some of the CHRONIC TOWN angularity without feeling retro-fitted. A must own. (R: “Radio Free Europe”, “Talk About the Passion”, “Catapult”)

Reckoning [1984] (B): Where MURMUR’s strength was found in taking its time, RECKONING accelerates into brilliance and then slowly and inconsequentially fades out. RECKONING announces both the end of the band’s formational era (“Rockville” and “Pretty Persuasion” both pre-date CHRONIC TOWN) and the inauguration of their early “experimental” era. Side One would have made as strong an EP as CHRONIC TOWN. Side Two, though decent (and briefly excellent in the countri-fied “Rockville”), pales in comparison. Still, RECKONING is more upbeat and poppy than MURMUR, and hints at the commercial direction the band would take in years to come. (R: “Harborcoat”, “Seven Chinese Brothers”, “So. Central Rain”)

Fables of the Reconstruction [1985] (A): The most obtuse album in the band’s IRS catalog, FABLES is the band’s experimental detour on the way to stadium-filling anthemic glory. “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” is an incredibly strong statement from a band that had opened their two previous albums with their hookiest songs, but it is also an epic re-casting of the band’s artistic vision. It becomes clear throughtout the record that the band has mostly grown beyond its post-punk roots, but the jangle and southern gothic vibe are still firmly in place on tracks like “Driver 8.” I once bad-mouthed this album. I’d like to retract that here, and one day I’ll get around to writing a full-blown salute in reparition. (R: “Feeling Gravity’s Pull”, “Life and How To Live It”, “Driver 8”)

Lifes Rich Pageant [1986] (A): PAGEANT, in hindsight, comes across like an Americanized version of Oasis’ debut DEFINITELY MAYBE. Reaching back to the self-assured “taking my time” approach of MURMUR while turning the guitars up to “11”, LIFES RICH PAGEANT contains some of R.E.M.’s most recognizable songs, especially the classic alterna-folk of “Fall On Me.” “Hyena” and “These Days” rock with fiery conviction, while “Swan Swan H” points ahead to the hushed acoustic aesthetic the band would explore on both OUT OF TIME and AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE. All in all, another classic record, if not altogether perfect. (R: “Fall On Me”, “Cuyahoga”, “What If We Give It Away”)

Document [1987] (B+): DOCUMENT is the most earnestly political record in the band’s catalog. If there were a large American Socialist Party, “Finest Worksong” might as well be its anthem. Simultaneously, the catchy, grooving “Exhuming McCarthy” rails against the mid-80’s political environment by recalling the political environment of the 1950’s. But for all of the album tracks that go unnoticed, DOCUMENT will always be the record that gave us “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” and “One I Love”, classic rock radio staples to this day. Not their best, but no slouch of a record either. (R: “Finest Worksong”, “Disturbance At The Heron House”, “The One I Love”)

Rarities: Most of these can be found on the collection DEAD LETTER OFFICE, but there were a few (forgettable) found on EPONYMOUS. Additionally, their IRS catalog is being reissued with early live performances and unreleased demos. I think it is easy to say that early live REM is worth hearing. (R: “Crazy”, “There She Goes Again”, “Burning Down”, “White Tornado”, “Toys in the Attic”, “Ages of You”)

I Heard The News Today: RIP Michael Been

via the-call-band.com

Buddyhead is reporting the death of The Call’s Michael Been at 60.

What can I say? I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a musician who made such beautiful music directly from the heart. From everything I know, he was a total class-act. And that voice – magnificent and so human

The Call’s Red Moon is a classic and completely under-considered album. Here are some of my favorite lyrics from that album’s great lead-off track, “What’s Happened To You”…

What’s happened to you
You used to look so tired
Now there’s a spring in your step
And your words are on fire

Did you hear some great secret
Did the words ring of truth
Did you rise from the ashes
What’s happened to you

Where the four winds meet
The world is so still
The waves are not pounding
And the hungry are filled

Our shadows have crossed here
Where the sun touched the ground
The gathered are singing (ooh)
What a beautiful sound

Here’s a list of some of my favorite tracks by The Call:

Red Moon
What’s Happened To You
I Still Believe
Everywhere I Go
Let The Day Begin
You Run
I Don’t Wanna
Closer
A Swim In The Ocean
Like You’ve Never Been Loved
Become America

And here’s a clip of “Like You’ve Never Been Loved.” Godspeed good sir.

Worth Shouting About: A new Real Estate 7″

via TruePanther.com

Now that I’ve gone ahead and pre-ordered my own copy of the new Real Estate 7″, I’ll go ahead and join the rest of the indie-snob blogosphere in announcing a new Real Estate 7″ heading our way in October. The A-side, “Out Of Tune”, is familiar to followers of the band at this point. Not a radical change in approach by any means, but why mess with the formula when it works so well? I’m not sure if I’ve heard the B-side, will have to go back and check the untitled bootleg tracks.

Anyway, click through to True Panther’s website and listen to “Out of Tune”, and then pre-order your copy.

UPDATE: Don’t forget about their recent Daytrotter session. Good intro to the band, and the track “Untitled” is actually “Out of Tune.”