Thursday, March 26, 2009

Singles Club: Dntel's Loneliness Is Having No One to Miss

Well, the bad news is it looks like the District will continue to sleep alone again tonight and probably for the foreseeable future, as there is no news of an impending Postal Service reunion. The good news, however, is that one half the band, Dntel, has released a boatload of his early stuff in a new 3-CD package entitled, Early Works For Me If It Works For You II. It includes the first two Dntel releases on the Phthalo label, as well as a previously unreleased set of more early works, composed slightly before his third album, Life is Full of Possibilities.

And here's a sampling for your listening pleasure. It's got all the electronica love of Dntel's more recent work, but you'll have to make due with the vocal stylings of, well, anybody, as it's an instrumental piece (with the exception of some vocal samples here and there.

In the Maestro's own words:

"These early tracks, inspired by Aphex Twin, Mu-Ziq, Warp Records and anything else I'd been listening to, were all instrumental (save a few vocal samples) and created using one sampler/synthesizer (a Kurzweil K2000s) and some basic midi sequencing software. I was always really interested in adding vocals to weird electronic music, and by the time 'Early Works for Me If It Works For You' and 'Something Always Goes Wrong' were released I finally had a computer with the capability to record full vocal tracks more easily. This led to the next Dntel full-length, Life Is Full Of Possibilities, which was released in 2001 on Plug Research. I haven't really done much instrumental work since."

While it isn't new, it certainly shows how one of the indie kids' faves started cutting his teeth back in the day. On top of that, there are some pretty dope beats here, which is nice. Check it out.

LP Lust: SXSW Edition

In Austin, Texas there is a very, very wonderful place. It's a magical place, filled every which way with good music, as far as the eye can see. Locals and visitors alike rave about this place, some have called it the best of its kind in the world. It is legendary, and no stop in Austin is complete without a visit here. Of course, friends, I couldn't leave Austin without a visit to this special place. What am I talking about, you might ask? Waterloo Records, of course!

Waterloo was spectacular. So much new vinyl it was hard to keep myself in check, and the used section was great as well. If only I had had more time to paw through the 25 cent records as much as I would have liked. In any event, I managed to do some damage. Below is what I procured from this fine, fine establishment. Also, the last album listed wasn't purchased at Waterloo, but is the only other album I bought while at SXSW, purchased directly from the most excellent, amazing, you'll-be-hearing-me-foam-at-the-mouth-about-them-soon Ringo Deathstarr.

*The Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost

*Dent May - The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

*The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

*Darker My Love - Darker My Love

*Cut Off Your Hands - You and I

*Die! Die! Die! - Promises, Promises
*Frank Sinatra - My Way
*Ringo Deathstarr - Ringo Deathstarr

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Album Review/Contest Time!: Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson

If you don't already know who Serge Gainsbourg is, well, you're going to need to look up his credentials on your own. Suffice to say, he's considered one of France's finest musicians, and his back story is just messed up enough to keep the audience entertained. He's been sampled and/or covered by everyone from De La Soul to Tricky to Michael Stipe to Portishead. Clearly, not only do the critics love him, but the masses and artists do, too.

So it's pretty kick ass that Light In the Attic has seen fit to re-issue Monsieur Gainsbourg's masterpiece, Histoire De Melody Nelson. It's a tale of seduction between an older man and a young girl, a la Lolita, it's in French, it sounds vaguely nasty throughout and is so damn funky you're probably going to have to scrape your speakers clean when you're done listening. It's all here--70's-style guitar licks, thumping bass lines, full string orchestras, choir choruses, little girls laughing in an obviously naughty way--damn good stuff, from beginning to end.

But there's no need to take my word for it. In addition to providing the track below, the fine folks at Light in the Attic are giving away one free copy of the CD to LET readers! Simply email us with your favorite French song (bonus points for sexually explicit content in the spirit of Serge) to: by April 3, 2009, and we'll announce the lucky winner on April 6.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW: According to the Spinto Band

It's approaching the end of SXSW, and I figured it was about time to finally put a little somethin up here about it. Austin has been a mad, mad, mad, mad time. I think the city is pretty much bursting at the seams with musicians and the industry folks who love them right about now. It's a madhouse, and I absolutely love it. In the spirit of the fest, I wanted to share this video with you. SXSW participants the Spinto Band cooked up this adorable little video about the joys of SXSW, and it's hilarious. Enjoy, and I'll be back with more on this ridiculously wonderful festival soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Album Review: Chuck Brown - Timeless

There are some folks that you owe it to yourself to check out if they're not already in your musical repertoire. These are the cats you should always see at least once when they come to town, whose CDs you should have at least one of, etc. If you're a true blue, hardcore music geek (and you may well be if you're reading this), genre is irrelevant. Artists of this caliber have proven their chops and consistently impress, and you'd be a damn fool not to try them out yourself. George Clinton comes to mind as quickly as does Willie Nelson. Particularly if you're a NoVa resident, Chuck Brown makes the list, too, hands down.

So it was with great relish (and various other condiments) that I listened to Chuck's latest, Timeless
. Mr. Brown, in addition to being the Godfather of Go-Go, also has an obvious love for more traditional jazz, and here he explores that love more closely than on his previous effort, We're About the Business. It's much closer in spirit to The Other Side in that sense.

Timeless contains some classic jazz standards, and does a bang-up job of showcasing Brown's immaculate vocals. The man sounds like caramel coming to a slow boil; there's really no other way to put it. Some of the tracks are a bit heavy on the vibrato for my ears, but to each, their own, I always say. Also, the material here is autumnal, both in tenor and stature, from the sound of Chuck's voice to the choice of song subjects (getting older, remembering good times past, etc.).

For fans of the go-go sound, the final track, "Caravan", succinctly combines the jazz/funk feel of both genres, proving Chuck has by no means lost his chops, even during exploratory ventures such as this.

This probably isn't the best starting point for one first coming into CB's sound, but it certainly is a strong showing regardless. Imagine if your Gramps was the coolest cat on the planet and he just put out a new CD. That's what is brought to the table here. Timeless, indeed.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Untitled Interview #26 - SXSW Edition: Starring Eli Moore (LAKE)

Seeing as it’s getting to be springtime around these parts (yay for the second-best season of the year), I find it necessary to listen to bands that, quite simply, sound a little bit like spring themselves. You know what I mean. Bands that have a certain joie de vivre, and perhaps just a little bit more of a spring in their step than most. Bands that when you listen to them and close your eyes, you see all sorts of things like sylvan, sun-drenched woodland scenes, full of dew-covered foliage and bounding deer and sky bluer than you can comprehend.

Enter LAKE. Hailing from Olympia, Washington, LAKE definitely gives me that springtime feeling. Try ‘em out for yourself, give “Oh the Places” or the fantastically ridiculous “LAKE Sandwitch” a listen and see if you don’t come down with a mild case of spring fever.

And oh, by the way, it just so happens that they’re one of the heaps of bands playing SXSW 2009. They’re also doing a rather extensive West Coast tour, so friends out west, don’t be remiss in checking out LAKE.

Mr. Eli Moore, himself a member of said LAKE, was kind enough to answer my thematic questions pertaining to said SXSW. Read them, and then go track down some LAKE-ian tunes for your collection.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Eli Moore: We're driving down to SXSW in our van.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
EM: I will definitely forget to pack my toothbrush and my Gameboy.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
EM: We're playing 4 or 5 shows in the time we'll be in Austin.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
EM: Rafter.

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
EM: Set up our instruments and start playing the show.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
EM: My uncle used to live in Upstate New York. We snuck into Woodstock '94 when I was visiting him when I was 14!

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
EM: Running into people you know, friends, surprise sightings!

[Photo by Sarah Cass]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

LP Lust: March Madness Edition

It's that time of year again, sports fans. Not a time of year that particularly does anything for me, of course (being a college football fan), but the season for going stark raving mad for college hoops. Since my local team just won their conference and is now headed to the big dance (go VCU!), I thought I'd go ahead and give this post a basketball theme, an homage, if you will, to bracket busting and being on the bubble. After all, the way some people feel about March, I tend to feel about records. Just on a year-round basis.

This installment of LP Lust covers two shopping trips. The first was visiting the Unique thrift store in Merrifield. It was...unique. That visit yielded but two records:

*The Philadelphia Orchestra - Pictures at an Exhibition/Firebird Suite

*Various Artists (Bobbie Gentry, Nancy Wilson, etc.) - Something Special

My next trip, however, was a little more fruitful. I've decided the key is to let at least a week elapse between visits to Plan 9's den of records, thereby allowing for plenty of new vinyl to arrive. Here's the haul from my most recent trip:

*Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly

*Buck Owens & His Buckaroos - Your Tender Loving Care

*The Golddiggers - The Golddiggers...Today!

*Duran Duran - Duran Duran

*Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell - Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell

*The Guess Who - Shakin' All Over

*Chubby Checker - Let's Twist Again

*The Dream Syndicate - Medicine Show

*Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme Back My Bullets

*Jethro Tull - Stand Up

*The Rolling Stones - Goat's Head Soup

*Cream - Wheels of Fire

*Paul Butterfield - Put It In Your Ear

Yes, I know I said I was going to reign in my record expenditures, but as you've guessed, I'm not so good at keeping that kinda promise.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Singles Club: St. Vincent

Have you heard the new St. Vincent single, "The Strangers", yet? It's from Actor, due out this May. I've got to say, I kind of like it, just a little bit. Annie Clark sounds like she's remained true to the sound her glorious debut, Marry Me , but seems to have updated things, slightly as well. Ms. Clark's ethereal vocals play marvelously against a backdrop of lush, lightly tinged electronica and odd instrumentation, creating quite the sonic palette.

I understand the CD was in part inspired by her viewing of classic Disney movies, and I'd like to say for the record, I'm all for her scoring the next Grimm bastardization.

Since you were kind enough to stop by here to get your St. Vincent fix, how about a little something extra, too? Here's St. Vincent's take on the Beatles classic, live at Ft. Worth Modern.

mp3: The Strangers

mp3: Dig a Pony

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Untitled Interview #25: Starring Stevie "Sunshine" Stapleton (Your 33 Black Angels)

Don't let the name fool you, there are not in fact 33 members in Your 33 Black Angels. There are a lot of 'em, though, truth be told. This gaggle of New Yorkers is out on the road supporting their super spectacular, rather fetching second album, entitled "Tales of My Pop-Rock Love Life." It's an appropriate title, really, since the album is choc-full of plum pop-rock nuggets. And as we all know, I'm a sucker for a good pop song. They're well-written, well-composed, well-executed...and I like each and every song. And I've gotta say, I've been finding "Cannonball" pretty dang sublime these days.

I managed to coerce bassist Stevie Stapleton (nickname: Sunshine) into answering my fairly usual line of questioning. Read on, gentle reader, to see what Stevie's been reading, what he's been listening to, and how he answered my favorite question (y'know, Beatles vs Stones of course). As you'll see, he cheated, but I'll let it slide.

For you Richmonders, head on over to the Camel this Sunday night to see Your 33 Black Angels in the honest-to-goodness flesh. I'll be there for sure, you should be, too. Pencil it in. In fact, go ahead and use a Sharpie.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Stevie Stapleton: I'm itchin' to hit the road. It's the real life.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
SS: I'm listening to Mountain Battles by The Breeders right this instant.

LET: Playing music is ___
SS: like painting the inside of people's ears.

LET: What album most made you realize that you wanted to make music?
SS: I don't know the names of many of the albums, but growing up I constantly heard albums by Deep Purple, Queen, Duran Duran, The Sundowners, The Partridge Family, Neil Diamond and Eddie Rabbit, so maybe they have something to do with it. I really, really love a rainy night.

LET: Beatles or Stones?
SS: Ramones.

LET: What're your top 5 albums (of ever, of this week, of this minute)?
SS: Road to Ruin by Ramones, The Cymbal and the Skull by Heavy Creatures, Ragin' Full-On by fIREHOSE, The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks, and Must've Been High by The Supersuckers. It's hard to choose.

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
SS: Along the Way from Bad Religion. It documents their Suffer Tour, and Greg Hetson tries to explain to a German reporter what Blades of Steel is. It's wonderful.

What city or venue would you like to play, but haven't yet been to?
SS: Why is it so Gosh-darn hard to book a show in the worst city in the world, Boston? On second thought, we don't need to go to Boston. We're from New York City. So I guess my answer would have to be Salt Lake City because I'd like to teach the people there how to rock.

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
SS: There is no half-empty.

LET: Apart from your band, which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
SS: Oh, boy. One of my favorite things about being in a band is being able to play with bands like Apollo Heights (NYC), Madam Robot and the Lust Brigade (NYC), Hank and Cupcakes (NYC), Scary River (Baltimore, MD), Slick (NYC), , The Hall Monitors (Washington, DC), Slaraffenland (Denmark), Teedo (NYC), Transmission Fields, Hollands (NYC), Discovery (NYC), Bone Cave Ballet (Seattle), International Graduate University (Washington, DC), Cheap Wine and Poetry (Seattle)...the list goes on and on and on...

LET: What's the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
SS: These days? Damn it's cold.

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
SS: LUNA Music in Indianapolis. Hey Todd! What a bunch of cool people that work there, who really give a damn about what they do and really know how to treat folks right.

LET: If your band was a movie, you would be:
SS: A History of the Travelling Pants but without four annoying broads.

LET: What was your backup name, in case Y33BA had happened to already have been in use?
SS: A no-brainer. My 22 White Devils. M22WD for short.

LET: Last book you read:
SS: Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson. Some call it cyberpunk, but it dealt with drugs and guns and Sumerian mythology and the ever-creepy thing called the internet and what might happen to it in the future and all the bad things that technology might bring and the mafia and death and all cool stuff. It is one of my favorite books ever. Highly recommend it. Two thumbs WAY, WAY up.

LET: What's the longest flight you've ever been on, and where were you going?
SS: It was a 64 hour plane ride to hell. Hell's Kitchen, I mean. Actually, it was a car ride. But we played at Siberia, so in the end it worked out all right.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
SS: From the bottle

LET: If you weren't in a band, you'd be:
SS: there's nothing else, so I suppose I'd be a dolt.

LET: Best song ever written?
SS: It's a toss-up between "Tales of My Pop-Rock Love Life" written by Tim Mumford and "On Days Like This It's Good to be Alive" written by Josh Westfal or "Step Aside" by Sleater-Kinney.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Untitled Interview #24 - SXSW Edition: Starring Jason Russo (Hopewell)

You should already know by now that I rather enjoy Hopewell. Something about the sonic spacebending and throwback meets nouveau whirling dervish soundscapes concocted by this merry band of New Yorkers has always struck me as more than just a little bit wonderful. They put on a heck of a show, too, so please file them away in your "to go see live" file for when the time comes.

However, if you're going to be in Austin with me, that time is rapidly approaching. If you're a newcomer to Hopewell, my friends, you won't be disappointed. Putting it mildly, this band knows how to put on a show. And they're nice guys, too, so feel free to buy them a beverage and tell 'em how much you enjoyed them.

Taking time out of his preparations for SXSW/global domination with the release of yet another album, friend of Les Enfants Terribles Mr. Jason Russo sat down and said a few words, the text of which you can read below.

Did I mention how good they are? Make hast, friends, and procure some Hopewell. Your life will thank you.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW: plane, train, or automobile?
Jason Russo: Me and Lyndon are driving the van down. The rest of the band is flying in. I think. I hope.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
JR: My peace of mind? This year we are bringing our neti-pots. Hopefully we will remember to use them.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
JR: 5.

LET: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
JR: Uh...Jane’s Addiction?

LET: What's the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
JR: Peeing.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
JR: Geeze...ancient history. I guess my first festival was some random Belgium thing in the 90’s? Oh no wait, Lolapalooza when I was a kid! That was a blur.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
JR: The sheer amount of people I guess. The feeling of being a worker among workers.

Quote of the Day: #2

hen I was a wee lass of 16, Oasis at George Mason University's Patriot Center was my first ever live concert experience. As an impressionable teenager I had fallen head over everything for the Gallagher brothers, not only for their music, but their, well, antics. I loved hearing them fight ("Wibbling Rivalry, anyone?), I loved reading in Q or Select or Mojo their latest, oft-nonsensical quotes. I also had quite the crush on Liam Gallagher, for a year or two.

Eventually, my Oasis-centric phase subsided (pretty much after the release of their third album, which the critics gave a hard time, but I think is actually a rather good album). I moved on to many other bands, became enamored with many more musicians. But looking back through my collection of quotes, the brothers Gallagher are certainly still good for a chuckle.

And so, dear friends, on this fine Thursday morning, I give you, Mr. Noel Gallagher:

"Sure I love Liam - but not as much as I love pot noodles."