Archive for May, 2011

Album-Release Tuesday

Welcome back, everybody. Another album-release Tuesday here at theanimalscankillyou.com , and we’re yawning our way through this one. After last week, this most recent class of releases is, well, kind of lacking. When the best album coming out in a particular week is the new Death Cab for Cutie, you know how bad it is. Kate Bush is also releasing her DIRECTOR’S CUT, an amalgamation of re-imagined tunes from earlier albums, but she largely bores us anyway. Revamped Kate Bush is still Kate Bush, and is still irrelevant in terms of what we listen to here at tACKY. Much like last week’s live music schedule in the Triangle, this week’s album release schedule is just begging for you to take a week off. So do! We’ll be posting a full review on the new Death Cab later in the week for anyone who is interested.

Album Review: D (by White Lies)

White Denim
D

01. It’s Him
02. Burnished
03. At The Farm
04. Street Joy
05. Anvil Everything
06. River To Consider
07. Drug
08. Bess St.
09. Is And Is And Is
10. Keys

White Lies have been one of the most talented indie rock bands that no one ever really talks about since 2007 when they jumped onto the scene with their debut LET’S TALK ABOUT IT EP. This could probably be attributed to their wide range that covers everything from garage rock revival to Kooks-esque indie pop, as you never quite know what to expect from the London trio. For the most part, their music has been a throwback to English post-punkers like Joy Division, who are an obvious influence for the band, but you have hardly heard that in the singles that make it to radio, like “Regina Holding Hands”. Wicked guitar lines and rowdy drums are less prevalent in their public face, but anyone who has delved into their albums (especially FITS) knows that thrashing rock and roll is where White Lies really thrive.

Their 2011 release, D, brings much of the same, in that it’s a little all over the place. The post-punk base is a little more subtle, and the influence from other indie pop artists (like Dirty Projectors) is a little more evident. For instance, the third track, “At the Farm” is a wild journey that seems more akin to jam music than any indie comparisons that can be drawn. And they jump straight from that into a tuned-down slow song, “Street Joy”, and then right back into a song (“Anvil Everything”) that sounds like a soft-voiced indie rocker joined forces with a metal guitarist. The lilting guitar lines are incredibly well-written and executed with talent and precision, but are a distraction at times.

This jumping around continues on through the rest of the album, but I won’t bore you with the details. D is a wonderful album, but is a disappointment for anyone who was hoping they might really explore their post-punk roots. They do get around to that at times, like “Is and Is and Is”. This is a phenomenal track that brings post-punk and Black Lips-like rock revival together and after a slow start, really blasts away. But then they go right back to lacking focus, with a folksy closer (“Keys”) that has no business following the previous track. But that’s right in line with the rest of the album, I suppose.

I’d call it a step in the wrong direction, but that assumes it’s a step in any particular direction – it’s more of a dizzying spin that sends your ears dashing in about eight different directions. I can’t say it’s bad, by any means; I can only say it is incredibly unfocused, but at the same time a hell of a lot of fun. Should you check it out? If you use Pandora or Rhapsody or some other music service to do so, absolutely. I wouldn’t go buying the LP, though, until you’ve made that judgment for yourself. Instead, get their first album or their debut EP. Both are much better after several consecutive listens, and much better additions to your music collection.

All in all, I can’t crush White Lies for this one, because of the obvious effort they put into it and the fact that the final product was not unbearable, but their lack of focus that has been a minor issue in the past is exacerbated and taken to a whole new level, and is a huge distraction to the enjoyment of the record.

Week in Preview

Okay, so let’s jump right into our week in preview with a look at live music around the Triangle. We’ll start with King’s, who have a much improved schedule this week. Monday, the Donkeys are playing (Young Volcanos supporting). Should be a cool show, but I can’t speak from experience on this one — I’ve just heard good things about both bands. On Thursday, it’s Holy Ghost Tent Revival with Dirty Bourbon River Show and the Woes opening. Holy Ghost Tent Revival usually put on a pretty wild show, so definitely get over to the Barcade and check this one out if you’re in downtown Raleigh. (It happens to not be the big show of the night, but certainly the biggest in Raleigh). Then, on the 3rd Kings has Raleigh locals, the Bleeding Hearts. These guys have a pretty cool sound, and they’re hometown guys, so I can’t imagine that being a bad show. Static Minds and the P-90’s will be opening.

Cat’s Cradle also will be making up for last week’s lackluster schedule with two huge shows this week. The first, on Wednesday, is one of the biggest tickets they’ve had in weeks, maybe months – Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus, and Future Islands are all playing together. This is a ridiculous line-up, as any of the three would have a good shot at selling out the Cradle on their own. One of the best undercards I’ve seen come across the schedule in quite a while. Okkervil River, although I have yet to see them live, is definitely near the top on my list of bands to see (we’ll say, top 15). I love their studio albums and all the live recordings I’ve listened to, and have heard from reliable sources that they kick ass in person. Titus Andronicus, on the other hand, I have seen multiple times and have never been let down. They are freaking raucous live, as you might imagine. And Future Islands, while they aren’t quite at the popularity level of either of the first two, still perform well live and pull quite a crowd here in the Triangle. This show is SOLD OUT, so if you don’t have tickets, I wish you the best of luck. Also sold out is the Cat’s Cradle’s other big show, the next night – Matt and Kim with the Hood Internet opening. I feel like Matt and Kim’s last album was a little bit of a step back from their previous work, but I hear they still put on a hell of a live show, and the Hood Internet should be a fitting opening act. Even though they’re a little different sound than Matt and Kim, they are equally as good (or better).

If you can’t get tickets to either of those shows, I wouldn’t worry too much. They are both sure to be phenomenal shows, but I think the better shows on both nights are going to be taking place just blocks down the street. The 506 continues to bring it, as they have for the entire Spring concert season. Sure, they’ve got Bad Manners on Tuesday. And Dinner at the Thompson’s on Wednesday. Both of those will be cool shows, certainly. But Thusday, they host Times New Viking and the Toddlers. This is, in my opinion (and I’ll have to see it before I can verify this), one of the top shows of the year. Times New Viking is a theanimalscankillyou favorite – loud, distorted, and beautifully artistic – and a band we here have been dying to see in person. The Toddlers should be a good opener, but admittedly I know considerably less about them than TNV. Friday, the Local keeps it rolling with Twin Sister and the Ropes performing. Not quite as exciting as Times New Viking, but honestly – what is? So that’s not a fair comparison. Don’t know much about either band, in terms of their live shows. I’ve heard studio work from both, and can’t really envision it being a disappointing show. So if you’re left out in the cold (or the sweltering heat of early June in Chapel Hill, as it may be), don’t sweat it. Just walk on down to the Local and check out the less-publicized but more brilliant shows that will be rocking Franklin Street.

iTunes Ineptitude Leads to Bon Iver Leak

Apparently, iTunes was set to release Bon Iver’s new single from his upcoming self-titled album this week. Certainly that, in and of itself, is big news. The truly big news is how badly they fumbled the situation. It seems they uploaded the entire new album to their store, and with the current media atmosphere where anything that is said or done is reported within minutes, the album has hit almost every major media pirating site on the internet.

This is great for the fans that are hungry for more from their favorite alt-folk artist, but quite a debacle for the music store giant that is usually quite on top of things of this nature. Sure, they removed it from their storefront as soon as the mistake was known, but by then the damage had been done. I’m sure you’ve found it already if you’ve done even a minimal amount of poking around on the internet (if you’re inclined to do such things). We’ll hold off here at tACKY as far as releasing anything that Bon Iver did not wish to be released yet, but look for the single in our “Folk with a Twist” playlists later this week.

New releases, noteworthy shows

Welcome back everyone. Today we’re going to go ahead and take a look at the new releases making noise this week, and a couple of shows around town that are worth noting. We’ll start with new releases though, since we missed that yesterday.

Much bigger week this week than last in terms of album releases. The highlight is clearly the new David Bazan LP, STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS. His last album, CURSE YOUR BRANCHES, was pretty good and well-liked by the tACKY staff, but felt lacking in some regards. More of a singer-songwriter expression of a struggle with faith than a rock-n-roll album, it was good but not necessarily what you’d expect from the former Pedro the Lion front man. Any notion of a repeat of that is dispelled immediately with STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS. The first track, “Wolves at the Door”, is a kick-ass opener that sets the table for everything else to come. It has a very PJ Harvey/Land of Talk feel to it, in terms of composition and the guitar line, and yet has a very distinctive Bazan sound. Without going into too much depth (we’ll have a full review later), the album is louder, more wide-open, and more fun than CURSE YOUR BRANCHES. All in all, great work. We’ll be playing a lot from this one once we get through with the folk playlists that we’re hosting this week.

We’ll also be digging into the new Art Brut this week. Their new album, BRILLIANT! TRAGIC!, falls pretty much in line with their older stuff. Really loud. Really British. Really quite good. I actually like this a little better than most of their work. It’s more mature and more refined, while still having a little bit of that dirty Brit-punk feel to it.

Similarly, the new White Denim album, simply titled D, is a solid step forward for those boys from Austin, TX. It holds true to their garage-rock/psychedelia roots, but offers more to the unfamiliar listener. This reminds us a lot of SAY IT from Born Ruffians. There isn’t a huge shift in sound or ideals, but is just a little cleaner and seems like it might be a bit more inviting to those who may not have really gotten into their last few albums. There are a lot of different sounds, from the feral Islands-esque jam “River to Consider” to the bluesy acoustic “Street Joy” to the fast-paced guitar-wracked “Bess St.”. Truly a phenomenal benchmark for their relatively-young career.

I feel obligated here to mention the new Friendly Fires. Their first album made a few waves in the electric pop/dance scene and gave them some crossover appeal, and this is sure to do the same. It’s further over-the-top and not quite as good at walking the line between dance and rock. But whatever, it seems pretty fun and more well-thought-out, and I’m sure will receive a lot of attention and publicity from major music news services and the like. Don’t expect to hear a lot of it here, but maybe we’ll work in a track or two next time the opportunity arises. Maybe.

Oh yeah, and new Backstreet Boys/New Kids on the Block this week. Okay, can’t even address that album with a straight face. I mean, for god’s sake, it’s titled NKOTBSB. Really? I suppose there’s an audience for everything.

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Live music in the Triangle this week… Just take the week off. Next week is jam-packed and this week is the opposite. Sure, there are some interesting shows, but nothing I’d put my stamp of approval on right away. 506 has Matthew Mayfield this week, as well as the Biters later in the week. Lincoln Theatre, Cat’s Cradle, and Kings Barcade all appear to be taking the week off, and so we’re taking the week off from talking about them.

What’s New, What’s Going On

What’s up guys, Brandon here. Today we’ll run down all the live indie music around town this week, or at least the shows that are on our radar. It’s kind of a quiet week around the Triangle area, with one major exception. Local 506 has a really great line-up coming, starting yesterday with Fake Problems, Pomegranates, Laura Stevenson and the Cans, and Into It. Over it. I couldn’t make it to the show, but it should have been a phenomenal one. Here We Go Magic and Caveman are playing tonight at the Local, but you have to choose between that and Junip, playing Cat’s Cradle a few blocks down the street. Thursday, you’ve got Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Generationals, and then Friday it’s Elizabeth & the Catapult, with Harper Blynn supporting. And then, Gruff Rhys on Saturday! Solid schedule at the Local 506.

Cat’s Cradle is pretty good this week to. We mentioned Junip (the Acrylics opening). Junip was phenomenal with Sharon van Etten in November. Especially the encore cover of U2’s “With or Without You” with both bands on stage. Great stuff from the Swedes, as usual. Dawes, Luego, and Wylie Hunter on Wednesday, and the Old Ceremony on Saturday.

Not much in Raleigh this week. Two Cow Garage is playing Kings Barcade tonight, but that’s about it.

On to new releases. New Dangermouse came out today. It’s a collaboration with Daniel Luppi, titled ROME. Other than that, quiet week. Next week will be much more eventful with Art Brut, Friendly Fires, Dave Bazan, and others all pitching in with new material. Expect to hear some new Dangermouse on the playlists this week, and if we’re lucky, maybe a preview of next week’s releases.

News and Notes

Moving forward, we are restructuring the website and our weekly schedule. A little insight into the plans:

Schedule:

Mondays, we’ll give a run-down of live music in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region and tell you what shows we’re going to, and so on.

Look for listenable shows posted on Wednesdays and Fridays. These will mostly be random in their make-up, usually comprising what we’ve been listening to recently, and tunes we think you guys want to or ought to hear. Occasionally, we will set these to relevant themes, but mostly this will be our little-bit-of-everything radio feature. Perhaps will expand to three days a week down the line.

On Tuesdays, we will be posting the contenders for our albums of the week feature. This will, more often than not, include one new (within the last year or so) album, and one older (at least five or six years old, I’m thinking). The two albums will usually have something to do with each other. For instance, one week they might be two albums from the same artist at different points in their career, or might be within the same genre, or perhaps one that influenced the other. Lots of directions we can go with that, I think. Until a few things get settled around here, I will be the only one working on that segment, and as such will just be reviewing the two albums. Eventually, I’ll be joined by a second reviewer and we will be pitting one album against the other in a debate-like format. This will be similar, at its roots, to the Wednesday Night Film Fight — a popular weekly segment on the Petros and Money Show in which the two hosts debate movies. The yet-to-be-titled segment will feature myself and a a variety of co-hosts (friends, guest musicians, other writers for tACKY), and will be posted on Thursdays. This will start the week of 5/8.

Over the weekends, keep your eyes peeled for our Genre Focus and/or Artist Focus pieces. In the Genre Focus, we’ll discuss music from a particular genre (post-punk, indie pop, chillwave, etc.). This will likely include new releases, but will be more centered around the history of the genre and our thoughts on musicians who have really mastered or defined that particular sound. The Artist Focus, likewise, will feature an artist with some depth to their discography, and we’ll just have a general discussion about that artist. Likely, we will start with some of our all-time favorites in that category, so look for stuff on bands like the Mountain Goats, Yo La Tengo, the Clientele, Times New Viking, Magnetic Fields, and so on. Tentatively, we’ll plan on Sunday being the day for posting the Focus segments.

Now, for the non-schedule-related changes…:

Site redesign. This could be as soon as this weekend, or could take a couple weeks. Not really sure when to look forward to the new-look theanimalscankillyou.com. But it is coming. This will be both a structural and aesthetic redesign. Structurally, I am hoping to simplify finding your way to the various new segments and shows, and to just generally clean up the site. I also will be hoping to have the newest playlists posted on the main site, making it simpler and quicker to begin listening. Looks-wise, I’m weighing a couple different options now, but am open to suggestions and/or assistance.

Later down the line (this is going to take quite a while to work through, I think), we’re hoping to start podcasting. At least in its infancy, this will include our commentaries, the Thursday album debate, and perhaps even the Genre/Artist Focus pieces. Later on, we’ll hopefully be podcasting our listenable playlists.

Please continue to be patient with us, with regards to all of these changes. It will be a slow process, but with a little hard work and dedication, we’ll be in business soon enough!

Back And Better Than Ever

Well, it’s been a long time, folks, and I’m glad to say we’re back.

The next few months will bring a lot of changes to theanimalscankillyou. The most notable is a format change. We are going to be reviewing one classic indie album and one new album every week, often in an old vs. new context. More details on this coming soon.

But for now, let’s get back to the music! We kick off our comeback with some brand new stuff, and some classics that will make you move. Aberdeen, off of the BATTERY POINT compilation (Sarah Records), some Clientele, new Fleet Foxes, old Death Cab, and a bunch of other really cool stuff. Enjoy! We certainly are.

Aberdeen – Fran (Battery Point)
The Clientele – Impossible (Ariadne EP)
Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap (The Boy With The Arab Strap)
Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie (Helplessness Blues)
Beach House – Real Love (Teen Dream)
David Karsten Daniels – Every Time A Baby Is Born (Fear of Flying)
Local Natives – Cards and Quarters (Gorilla Manor)
Laura Veirs – Life Is Good Blues (July Flame)
Elliott Smith – Angeles (Either/Or)
Blitzen Trapper – Furr (Furr)
Girls – Lust For Life (Album)
The Watson Twins – Dig A Little Deeper (Fire Songs)
Bon Iver – Team (For Emma, Forever Ago)
Sharon Van Etten – One Day (Epic)
PJ Harvey – In The Dark Places (Let England Shake)
Death Cab for Cutie – We Laugh Indoors (The Photo Album)
the Magnetic Fields – Epitaph for My Heart (69 Love Songs)
Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Heavens Gonna Happen Now (Belong)