never fully dreaming

Cloud Boat – Carmine

Cloud Boat first caught our attention with the lovely “Youthern.” More recently they’ve released “Carmine,” complete with a weirdly compelling video where nothing much happens but a lot of intense eye contact and lyric-mouthing in a laundromat. The video is somewhat reminiscent of the ever-mysterious “Just” by Radiohead in the coloring and that I don’t understand why the person involved decided to lay on the ground, but is quite a bit different in tone. If you can figure out the secret to either, let me know.

the rhythm section: great drum beats – a mix by california wives

When I first heard California Wives, I thought I was in love. Then I went to see them live, and I knew it. After their excellent set I hit up singer Jayson Kramer and guitarist Graham Masell and chatted about touring, communicable disease, and the excellence of hair metal. Since we got on so well I thought I’d invite them to make a mix, and with the help of their lovely manager Tom got this love letter from the band to the rhythm section in return. Ranging from sleek new wave to shimmying soul, this mix has wide appeal. If you get the chance to see California Wives on tour, do, but until then check out their SoundCloud page to see how their musical tastes influence their own work.

The Rhythm Section: Great Drum Beats
01| Human by Human League
02| Race: In by Battles
03| Rosanna by Toto
04| Jazz (We’ve Got) by A Tribe Called Quest
05| He Would Have Laughed by Deerhunter
06| Solitude is Bliss by Tame Impala
07| Peg by Steely Dan
08| Myxomatosis by Radiohead
09| Pictures of You by The Cure
10| I Will Possess Your Heart (Album Version) by Death Cab For Cutie
11| I Wanna Be Adored by Stone Roses
12| The Payback by James Brown

sun-fed shapes

As the sun set on Lake Mendota, Brooklyn’s Inlets played a cozy show at the Gates of Heaven Synagogue in Madison, Wisconsin on April 29, 2010. The tiny venue, featuring not much more than an altar and a lofted area, created a complete immersion of sound for the crowd and decimated the barrier between listener and performer.

Inlets’s recent release, Inter Arbiter, features rolling guitars, tapped percussion, and orchestral touches. It’s as if the first two-and-a-half minutes of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” got stretched out and developed into its own album (and that’s a good thing). Live, songs like single “Bright Orange Air” were a little bit darker and heavier than their recorded counterparts, but it worked and made for a unique experience.

Opening the show was Wisconsin one-man show Yellow Ostrich. The charmingly awkward Alex Schaaf used a guitar, tom, and loop pedal to create lush layers of sound and choir-like vocals appropriate for the synagogue setting. In addition to his own material, he also did a lovely cover of “Androgynous”, prefacing the song by saying that “it’s by The Replacements – they’re a band.” Truth.

Visit the Inlets website here.
Visit the Yellow Ostrich Facebook page here.
View photos from the show here.

like dry ice in the summertime

Depeche Mode – Wrong (“Karma Police” meets “Burn My Shadow“)
DATArock – Give It Up (they wear those suits in real life, too)
Conor Oberst – Souled Out!!! (love the salon/barbershop portion)
French Kicks – Abandon (pretty pity party)
Yeasayer – Tightrope [Live on The Current] (so soothing)

that’s like me asking you to take out your shoe laces

Neko Case  РPeople Got A Lotta Nerve (weird and lovely illustrations)
James Morrison – Nothing Ever Hurt Like You (pounding soul chorus)
Ezra Furman and the Harpoons – Take Off Your Sunglasses (Dylan-esque retro goodness)
Company of Thieves – Oscar Wilde (more proof of Wes Anderson’s influence)
Bat for Lashes – Daniel (crazy and Radiohead-approved)
Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band – Cheer For Fate (destructive forces)
Shocking Blue – Mighty Joe (they can’t keep a straight face)

and, for the throwback:
Sleater-Kinney – You’re No Rock N Roll Fun (love the overheads)

before you’re lost between the notes

Radiohead’s new album is okay. Yep, just okay.

There are a couple of tracks that I love. “All I Need” has a vaguely 80s tinge to it in the vein of Depeche Mode et al and features deep, fuzzy bass tones against tinkling bells that give a desolate feeling that increases as the song swells. Similar is “Videotape” whose sad and haunting piano line ends up being rather beautiful. On the whole the track gives off an uneasy feeling that is oddly satisfying.

Aside from those two tracks, however, the album is underwhelming. Many of the tracks did very little for me – “15 Steps”‘s lazy guitars and beatbox, Yorke’s high falsetto on “Reckoner”, and the stream of consciousness delivery on “Faust Arp” all made me just shrug. The chill sways of “Nude” and urgent swells of “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” were mildly interesting, but really only in contrast to nonstarter “House of Cards”.

Lyrical themes of self-loathing, failed romance, sin, and death dominate In Rainbows, causing the album to come off as more of an oral diary than an album, compounded by the general lack of noteworthy instrumentals. Perhaps Yorke says it best with the line “what’s the point of instruments?/words are a sawed-off shotgun” – but then again for this to apply the lyrics on this album would need to be considerably stepped up.

In Rainbows dropped 10/10/07.

Download the album for free here.

listen up: love is a tired symphony you hum when you’re awake

Just in time for fall: a new mixtape. Kind of a downer and strings-heavy, it’s just right for the fading of summer.

Love Is A Tired Symphony You Hum When You’re Awake Tracklist
01| Summer Overture by Clint Mansell
02| Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars
03| Skelton Key by Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
04| Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez
05| Lion’s Mane by Iron & Wine
06| One More Day With You by Chauntelle DuPree, Zac Hanson, and Jon Crosby
07| The Waltze of the Tennis Players by Meg Baird
08| Swans by Unkle Bob
09| New Fall by Matt Pond PA
10| The Engine Driver by The Decemberists
11| A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie
12| Breathe Me by Sia
13| Breaker by Low
14| Calculation Theme by Metric
15| Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead