Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Parasails-Skylife

I got this tape in the mail the other day.  I am actually a little surprised that I haven't already seen this tape plastered all over the internet.  "Skylife" by The Parasails is another beachy, Jersey Shore influenced alias taken by Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate.  If you are a fan of either of those two bands than "Skylife" should pretty much be a no brainer.  I like the fact that Mondanile and a majority of the Underwater Peoples seem to remain true to their overall aesthetic regardless of whatever alias is being used at the time.  When buying records I have always appreciated this approach because it shows that more thought is being put into their releases farther than their sound.  We are all familiar with groups who become dependent on this idea, using it as a gimmick but I think they set a good model by keeping it fairly vague and focusing mostly on the music over anything else.  

With all that said, this tape fits nicely into the rest of what he has done but still differentiates enough to take another title.  Throughout "Skylife" there seems to be about nine different tracks which change and progress at about the same pace as his earlier tape "Ducktails II".  Even though this is a limited run tape it has a lot of variety, there seems to be a good balance between the different styles we have heard from him in the past.  Although it might not seem like it but this would probably work as a pretty good introduction to all of the bands he has been involved in.  If you listen closely you will even recognize what might have been a demo for the Real Estate's "Atlantic City".

This tape was released on a label called El Tule Tapes which I wasn't familiar with before.  The tape looks and sounds great and the shipping was super quick so I will definitely be ordering form them again.  If you do decide to order this tape, which you should, I would also recommend checking out their tape from Women In Tragedy.  It was recently posted along with a few other releases on the No Not Fun Not No blog that can be found in our blogroll.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Band

It's hard to explain how much The Band was an influence on my taste in music. When I first heard Music From Big Pink (named after the house The Band lived and recorded the record in Woodstock, NY), I was completely blown away. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. When the record first came out, people like Clapton and George Harrison thought it was unbelievable, and All Things Must Pass showed Big Pink's influence. I remember reading somewhere that people at the time were blown away with The Band opening the record with a slow song (Tears of Rage). At the time, it was considered a risk. What bands wanted to do was to hook people in with powerful, fast songs. The Band, who's direction was mostly led by musical guru Garth Hudson, thought it better to focus on the quality of their songs rather than trying to hook people in with quick, powerful songs. I heard a story that when Hudson joined The Band, fearing that his parents would be furious that he was throwing away his musical knowledge in a rock and roll band, charged each member $10 a week for "music lessons". He was so knowledgeable musically that if any member had a question regarding music theory, Hudson was the first person they'd turn to, and he always had the right answer. Also remarkable is that every member of the band could play at least 2 instruments except Robbie Robertson (guitar). After the release of their second album "The Band", it was evident that The Band had created a new style of music, based off of country and toeing the rock and roll line. They had even been dubbed "Country Rock", a new genre named for their style that they were hesitant to accept. They didn't want to be stuck in any single genre at all. They had some success with "Stage Fright", "Cahoots", and "Northern Lights - Southern Cross", but The Band was beginning to fall apart. Robbie Robertson was becoming overly authoritarian and Levon Helm took offense. Robertson was putting only his own name on the writing credits of songs that had been written by others in the band, or the band as a whole, and the rest of the members weren't happy. With touring taking its tole on all of the members, and their health beginning to decline, they decided to have a last concert which they called The Last Waltz. They invited friends from throughout their career. Fan favorite Richard Manuel (who song on the beautiful Whispering Pines and In A Station) ended up hanging himself in 1986, ending any hopes of a reunion with all of the original members. Rick Danko would die in 1999. Hudson, Robertson, and Helm still perform.

I saw Garth Hudson 6 or 7 years ago and although he is noticeably aging, he can still rip the piano and saxophone like you wouldn't believe and you could see the emotion in his face when he performed The Weight and I Shall Be Released.


1. Tears of Rage (from "Music From Big Pink")
2. The Weight (from "Music From Big Pink")
3. This Wheel's On Fire (from "Music From Big Pink")
4. Chest Fever (from "Music From Big Pink")
5. In A Station (from "Music From Big Pink")
6. Across The Great Divide (from "The Band")
7. Up On Cripple Creek (from "The Band")
8. Whispering Pines (from "The Band")
9. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (from "The Band")
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (from "The Last Waltz")
11. Don't Do It (from "The Last Waltz")
12. Such A Night (with Dr. John) (from "The Last Waltz")
13. Helpless (with Neil Young) (from "The Last Waltz")
14. 4% Pantomime (with Van Morrison) (from "Cahoots")
15. Life is a Carnival (from "Cahoots")
16. Acadian Driftwood (from "Northern Lights - Southern Cross")
17. Ophelia (from "Northern Lights - Southern Cross")
18. The Shape I'm In (from "Stage Fright")
19. I Shall Be Released (from "Music From Big Pink")


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cold Cave-Love Comes Close

Fortunately for us Heartworm decided to make the LP of "Love Comes Close" one of the pre-order options on the Insound site.  If you haven't taken advantage of Insound's pre-order deals before I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for them in the future.  I like the deals mostly because you are guaranteed a record that would probably sell out in stores super quickly and they send you the album you pre-ordered in mp3 format on the release date.  If you are obsessive about release dates like me than you can probably relate to the agony of knowing that a record you have been waiting for is sitting pretty in the new arrivals section of your favorite record store while your copy is in the mail somewhere.  Getting the album you pre-ordered in mp3 format on release day will at least make the wait for it to arrive in the mail feel a little shorter. 
 Sweet deals aside,  I have looked forward to all of Cold Cave's records so far which have been mostly 12 inch singles and I was excited to see what they would do with room to stretch on an LP.  A handful of the tracks might look familiar from the most recent "Edsel and Ruby" EP and one more from "The Trees Grew Emotions and Died" EP but they all sound as if they belong together on the record, by no means is this a compilation record.  My favorite track so far is "Youth and Lust" which reminds me of one of the more synth heavy tracks from New Order's "Power, Corruption and Lies".  Another track I especially like is "Heaven Was Full" which kind of sounds like Gary Numan & the Tubeway Army in the best way possible.  The addition of Caralee McElroy of Xiu-Xiu, who plays synths and sings, rounds out their sound making them sound much more like a fleshed out band. On their past records I always thought it sounded like writing traditional songs was backseat to experimentation and creating an atmosphere kind of like Blues Control does.  I am not saying these bands sound anything alike, I just think that Cold Cave's early recordings have that in common with them.  I am going to hold off on posting anything from this for now because you should all buy a copy from Heartworm.  You can find a link to their site in our links section and you would be a fool for not checking them out.  Aside from awesome records by Cold Cave, Prurient and Nisennenmondai they also release a ton of awesome printed material.  I really enjoyed the recently released book "23" which is a collection of short pieces and art by a number of interesting and familiar voices such as Wes Eisold, Kid Kongo Powers and Mark McCoy.  The book was compiled by Max G. Morton of Cold Cave who also includes ten new pieces of writing.  Everything Heartworm has released so far has appeared to be painstakingly thought out and I think out of the multitude of things they are involved in there is at least something of interest for anyone.