i don’t celebrate halloween. at my old house where kids used to come by trick-or-treating, since i’d never have any candy for them, my door always gets painted with confetti instead. so this picture is the closest you’d get to a halloween special from me (i really hate tomatoes, so this is a big deal). anyway, our blood-red trick-or-treaters today are anavan, a trio who’s emerged from the famous/infamous l.a. smell scene with what must be a killer electrorash that’s just gotta be scratched. the band has an album cover story that’s coming out in two weeks, and because i’m just so fickle deciding what to post, i’ll post two tracks today. while “perfect sound” embraces everything pop with its instantly frenzied synth-sequence, “boom” takes time to build up, but when it does it morphs into a dancefloor-pleaser that’ll leave you itching for more. have a great weekend.
mp3: anavan – the perfect sound
mp3: anavan – boom
cover story will be released on november 11 on slanty shanty records, where it’s available for pre-order now.
last night’s camera obscura gig was a lovely but strange affair. the glasgow band faithfully belted out their best-loved hits, from “suspended from class” to “lloyd, i’m ready to be heartbroken”, but the vastness of the esplanade concert hall would always prove to be a country mile to climb, since i think the band would’ve been a lot more at home in a more intimate setting (like my living room). in the end, it took the rolling drum intro of “if looks could kill” to get the singaporean audience on their feet, and what made the night special was the sneak peeks into the new songs from their upcoming album, the upbeat “french navy” and “swans”, and a fulfilled request for abba’s “super trooper”, which i have here for you from their performance at the dermot o’leary show’s saturday sessions.
mp3: camera obscura – super trooper
thanks siti for the great photo!
well all of this talking made us sick, proclaims joey siara of the henry clay people. clearly preferring to let their music do the talking, the band has a hard-earned reputation as “the most intoxicated band in austin” for their chaotic and high energy shows. this november, their new lp for cheap or for free will be out on autumn tone records, an album that’s such rolling, raucous fun you’d be forgiven for thinking it was recorded live. in “rock and roll has lost its teeth”, the band saunters down the shady lane of their old pavement records, leaving the loose ends flailing in the wind, but always sober enough to pull the slack and tie things back neatly together. that rock and roll sensibility is precisely what makes this song and the whole album for that matter such a disarming and engaging experience.
mp3: the henry clay people – rock and roll has lost its teeth
for cheap or for free will be released on november 4 on autumn tone records. be sure to get your copy then!
sorry for the lack of updates over the long weekend. i just got back from cameron highlands, and it’s been a good time of rest and fresh air, just the thing i need. predictably, “strawberry fields forever” kept playing in my head – at least the bits i remember it for most: the typically quaint mellotron ditty that pops up here and there after opening the song, the ominously descending horns and strings, and the slightly constipated drum sequence every time john sings “let me take you down”. it’s funny how songs sound when they’re recalled at specific moments, playing like an imaginary soundtrack that you almost have full control over in orchestrating the whole thing perfectly to your every step and sideways glance.
mp3: the beatles – strawberry fields forever
i hope your ears bleed is a blog i’ve stumbled across recently, right in the middle of their october avalanche series. it’s a very well put-together introduction and survey of the avalanches, with generous helpings of their first el producto ep, and choice cuts from their only album to date, the classic since i left you. it’s hard to put down in words what the avalanches are about or sound like, but they do a really good job with this series that should appeal to anyone from the curious to the diehard fan. i’ve been a fan for a while myself, and for me, since i left you is an album i’ll never grow tired of. there’s just so much happening, but at the same time, it’s an impressively coherent collage that’s more than just random patchwork. since i’ll be away til monday (cameron highlands, here i come!), i’ll leave you with a something to tide you through the weekend – the avalanches’ gimix, a whopping 46 minute mix that blends their own tunes with many of their influences (where else would you find dylan, cyndi lauper, morrissey, michael jackson and the beatles all in one mix?). thanks mykel for passing me this years and years ago.
the avalanches – gimix
i’m still waiting for that second album!
our guest blogger this friday is tracyanne campbell from camera obscura. the scottish band will be stopping by singapore next week, playing at the esplanade on 29 october. we catch up with tracyanne, who shares a bit on a cover she’s planning to do:
my favourite song at the moment is called ‘one in a million’ by steve miller. it’s really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it’s a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn’t matter. i wish i’d written it. in fact i’d love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space…
mp3: steve miller band – one in a million
thanks tracyanne! looking forward to that cover!
you know how you end up wearing the same few t-shirts cos they’re always on top of the pile in your wardrobe? it’s the same for me and my cd’s, and one of the albums that’s had the dubious honor of being right at the bottom of the pile for the last couple of months is sam sparro‘s self-titled electro-soul debut. i rescued it today, and i think it’s a promising start for the australian currently based in la, though honestly the album is a hit and miss for me. one of the hits, though, is the sublime “black and gold”, which sees sam pondering the existence of God as he stares at the sky. it’s perhaps the closest you’d get to personal reflection on an electro track, but the glam and glitter of the dancefloor seems to create the space and place for stargazing. a symphony to God this is not, but it sure remains an earnest plea for a revelation of sorts.
if you’re not really here, then the stars don’t even matter.
mp3: sam sparro – black and gold
after more than sixty episodes, it was only a matter of time that black cab sessions finally featured everybody’s favorite balladeer from gothenburg, jens lekman, performing (no prizes for guessing) “black cab”. in the cab, jens opted for a stripped down version of the song with just him and his thumb piano, which sounds like someone squeezed a mini glockenspiel inside a musical box. it’s beautiful in its own way, but it’s still a far cry from the lo-fi splendor of the studio version, which always sets me in a mood for daydreaming (for me, that’s not very hard, really). when the song hits the oh you’re so silent jens/ maybe i am, maybe i am section, i find myself saying the same words with equal resignation and a knowing smile that stays on long after the song’s over.
mp3: jens lekman – black cab
exactly a day after signing a record deal, chase duncan of the interiors became the unfortunate casualty of a brutal chicago wind which was responsible for a metal door shutting on his hand, leaving him with half an inch less of an index finger. it was a cruel joke, but that adversity nonetheless brought out the best in duncan and the band as they eventually completed and released their self-titled debut album this summer. their tenacity is evident in tracks like “ghosts”, a song driven by an unrelenting, pounding beat and resounding melodies, carried through with blistering pace and an unrepentant swagger. this is a band that doesn’t need your sympathy; it demands your respect.
mp3: the interiors – ghosts
the interiors is available now on 54º40′ or fight!
while post-rock has been most noted for its post-shoegaze turn in recent times, with the proliferation of lengthy noise rock bands from mogwai to explosions in the sky and of course the mighty gy!be, the early paths trodden by pioneers like tortoise remain somewhat deserted in comparison. to be fair, there is more to the bands in the former category than full mastery of the loud/soft formula, but honestly it’s the experimentation of the latter that remains closer to the edge of that fringe, where the meaning of rock itself is questioned at its crossroads with jazz and other genres. that’s perhaps the briefest possible context for listening to tortoise’s thrill jockey label-mates, pit er pat, the three-piece band that also hails from chicago. in “evacuation days”, the pre-apocalyptic urgency of the title sees the band pursuing a direction in between the forward-thinking aesthetic of tortoise and the otherworldly mysticism of the fiery furnaces, yet another thrill jockey-er. the result is a dark, brooding track that takes its time to explore new grounds in that direction, and like the studio work of tortoise, leaves you curious and thirsting for a live interpretation.
mp3: pit er pat – evacuation days
pit er pat’s new album high time will be out tomorrow on (you guessed it) thrill jockey.