Getting deeper into the new Panda Bear album, I can’t help but be reminded of Jean-Luc Godard’s response when asked to explain why his 1965 film Pierrot le fou featured a copious amount of blood — the cavalier French filmmaker replied that “it’s not blood, it’s red”. A dense and lustrous sonic spree that builds on and yet departs from the kaleidoscopic pop of his third album Person Pitch (2007), Noah Lennox’s new songs have the tendency to slip into streams of wild abstracted beauty that make for some of the most illuminating moments on Tomboy. Take “Last Night At The Jetty”, a daytripper’s threnody seemingly executed in slow motion, its vistas of sound and undersea melodies lined together in hallucinatory dreamtime. – Keith.
Before his performance at the Esplanade Recital Studio, we managed to catch Conor O’Brien of Villagers for a short live session at the legendary Snakeweed Studios. Time was tight, and we were all excited and raring to go. We were relieved to find Conor to be as affable as we had imagined, and even with his Mercury Prize nominee credentials, he still stunned us with how perfectly he nailed his takes. Album title-track “Becoming a Jackal” was crisp and urgent, dripping with a deadly honesty that rang long after the last whispers of the song and the breath-bated stillness that followed.
Riding on that hushed silence, Conor’s delivery of “The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)” was by comparison restrained and deliberately paced. Tensions build slowly through the song, finding glimpses of release only near the end. It all seemed rather effortless, if not for the reminder at the start of the video of all the dedication and hard work that had gone into this. Before we knew it, we had to rush him off for his Esplanade soundcheck, but his songs and personality continued to ring true in our hearts. – Dan.
This is Pearl Jam rehearsing “Not For You” on Saturday Night Live in 1994. Stumbling upon it accidentally, I was reminded of how much grunge and ‘noisy’ music I listened to when I was younger, particularly when I was in junior college and in the army as a conscript. In grunge music I heard everything I wanted to say, and that was why it was everything I wanted to hear.
I was always more attracted to Nirvana, whom I thought were cleverer and more ironic than the very earnest Pearl Jam. Still, two decades into their career, Pearl Jam are plodding along, cranking out their brand of 70’s-inspired rock in a way that we now expect them to – a gravelly, stoical voice propped up by heavy guitar riffs, all firmly anchored to a trusty rhythm section.
When Cobain quoted Neil Young’s lyric “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” in his suicide letter, it sounded heroic; but in our current age of media-fuelled fads, the lyric sadly sounds more like an advertising slogan than saintly wisdom. I now have even more admiration for artists who achieve longevity. For this reason Pearl Jam are finding favour with me, because I understand how difficult it is to do the same thing for 20 years. My Twittery fingers can’t do it.
This “Not for You” video happens to exemplify Pearl Jam’s workmanlike nature. It’s a rehearsal but they’re taking it very seriously, and when the song climaxes, the band stomp their feet empathetically as the guitar strumming and drum hitting get harder. But that’s all to it. No fireworks, no surprises, no wigs, no wheelchairs, no angels’ wings or foetuses. When Pearl Jam claims the song is “Not for You” I believe them, because I see a band doing their own thing out there. – Song-Ming.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… DJ Koflow – Make Your Hands Clap, Toes Clap
DJ Koflow is one of Singapore’s most celebrated DJs. His claim to fame started when he won the national DMC Championship in 2003, and he continued to skyrocket by receiving many honourable mentions in local and international media. He dropped his debut album The Turntable Instrumentalist despite a heavy production and performance schedule, with the record speaking volumes of his myriad influences. Jazz, hip hop, funk and soul all seamlessly flow together in the hands of one of the country’s brightest mix masters. – Brian.
How can we explain the recent success of House of Balloons, the debut album/mixtape released by Canadian duo The Weeknd? One would typically cite Drake’s stamp of approval combined with its free download distribution strategy, the latter playing no small part in working up the music blogosphere’s hype machine. More insightfully, the record’s indie appeal has been attributed to its critique of R&B’s VIP area hedonism. Or we could even consider the hegemonic impact of Pitchfork, not simply in proclaiming its Best New Music status, but in regularly assuring the music world that R&B does indeed have a place in the indie world.
Or do The Weeknd know something that we don’t, as they seem to imply in album closer “The Knowing”? I have my doubts. The album is an enjoyable enough listen, with its R&B slow jams fed through the most broodiest soundscapes of the day. Yet, sticking to a formula, however current and fashionable, has never assured one of indie success. At the same time, though, it’s probably unfair to put it down to good luck, as much as that must have played a part. But I talk too much, and don’t spend enough time admitting how much I love House of Balloons, an album that simply sounds great at this point of 2011, for reasons perhaps only the luxury of hindsight will reveal. – Dan.
Guitar instrumental music isn’t supposed to sound like this, so leave your romantic notions at the door before stepping into the world of Bill Orcutt, reissued in its shockingly raw entirety in a compilation titled A New Way to Pay Old Debts. Armed with nothing but his downtuned four-stringed vintage acoustic Kay guitar and DeArmond pickup, Orcutt’s repertoire is emotionally intense, a picture of the artist completely absorbed in his craft, capturing through the most limiting yet familiar of instruments the myriad ideas that must be firing from his brain at any one time. “My Reckless Parts” exemplifies this in most frightening terms, with Orcutt’s yells punctuating the start-stop madness of his hardcore blues, delivered with nothing but wild abandon. You’ll probably never hear anything else like this again. – Dan.
Yes, this sounds a little too much like “Red Right Hand”, that haunting trail of suspense building upon itself from the crackling introduction, that dark baritone delivering a chilling tribute to Nick Cave, impressive though a far cry from the master. But all is forgiven of young Nicolas Jaar when it becomes evident where he takes the track from its beguiling starting point of muder balladry, or at least what he dares to try. The wayward strings are his weapons of choice, with its precise old school horror film inflections forming a surprisingly fluent bridge to what seems to be Act Two, where different elements converge to build a stronger, more resolute rhythm. Even if somewhat abrupt in conclusion and slightly underdeveloped at parts, Jaar’s imaginative use of shifting ideas and moods in musical space is an experiment that’s gripping enough to warrant repeated listens. – Dan.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
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
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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