What Have You Been Listening To Lately? FIDLAR, Parquet Courts, Beach Fossils, YLT, etc.
The thing is, I feel bad about not putting anything down here. It’s been a long ten days and since. And I want to keep you all informed on my musical intake. As work fills me with terror and complaints about the world of daily content turnover (that, quite frankly, no one has the patience for – even a radio lover like myself) some days go by where I just do work and listen to the radio. It’s usually Sirius XMU or otherwise the channel I schedule, Classic College Radio (we play the likes of The Smiths, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Low, Galaxy 500, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Pixies, GBV, R.E.M. and well, you get my point.) My other favorite is Soul Town, the greatest radio playlists known to human beings (Marvin Gaye, Aretha, The Temptations, Diana Ross, James Brown, etc).
But what, you ask, have I been listening to as my own human being? There have been a number of playlists floating around my iTunes, as I’ve recently joined the gym to shape up and de-shape my swollen hands (you know, the ones I mentioned full of swollen tendons.)
There’s this amazing new band out called FIDLAR. Album opener, “Cheap Beer,” almost turned me off. It was the soul swallowing screaming. But the back beat and dirty garage guitars couldn’t leave my heart alone – like they never can. The video also has that low-res lo-fi look to it. I learned from the great Chunky Glasses’ Chunky Carrie that FIDLAR, actually stands for “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk,” apparently a skate motto – and a good one at that. These LA skate punks tell it like it is. “Stoked and Broke” might be one of the best songs of the year:”I just wanna get really high/smoke weed until I die/I don’t ever wanna get a job/cause I’m fucked up today/and nothing’s wrong.” No one will argue with you about that. I believe it was Emily White who said “No Waves” should be in every high school stoner movie from here one out. This band is telling us that ‘all their friends are pieces of shit,’ and sometimes I get the sense that I know what they mean – I mean, don’t we all see that once and a while? RELATABLE. The rest of this self titled piece is full of really fun thrash-your-body songs, like “White on White,” that has an unforgettable riff [below]. And “5 to 9” and “Wake Bake Skate.” All these tracks fill those teenage anthems your brain needs for those day dreams, because hey, you might not really like your day job. And that’s why man’s greatest gift to man – rock and roll – exists so we can soundtrack out lives and get through the day.
There’s also this other band the internet has been BUZZING about. Parquet Courts sound like they don’t give a shit – with songs like “Yr No Stoner” – but their opening track “Master Of My Craft” tells me they put care and love into every line. Even if that echoed line they say-say “for-get-about-it” tries to tell you otherwise. “Borrowed Time” has been lighting up the radio air waves, in places other than just Sirius XMU. NPR told us that public radio can’t stop playing this track. It’s no joke either – not only because it’s NPR – but because the song is 2:32 of perfect punk-surf-complain-uber-fun rock. Call it what you want. It’s electric and it’s calling your name. With a hook like that and a simple solo that you can shimmy to, it even has a chorus that speaks to us all “seems these days/I can’t even miss/borrowed time.” Some of these tracks are even under two minutes, and some are barely one – like “Light Up Gold I” and “Light Up Gold II” (which is just :19.) These songs speak to those of us who love everything about feedback mid-song and who don’t mind repetitive instrumentation that doesn’t get in the way of itself. “Yonder Is Closer To The Heart” tells us that Parquet Courts are doing everything right. It’s the detail in the opening single-note bass line. “Stoned and Starving” soundtracks every street-walking mind-wanderer “I was walking through Ridgewood Queens/and I was flipping through magazines/I was so Stoned/so Stoned and Starving.” Then the single note guitar solo hits, remnants of the Velvets flash through your mind and then the track progresses, reminding us that The Courts have had their full music history lesson. They know how to fill in the blanks. Light Up Gold has been out since August even though The Fork just reviewed it (but something in me suspects that they reviewed it a long time ago and re-released their own review.) Out on Dull Tools – you can buy it here for $7. GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY. They’re out on tour and are big enough to play the Black Cat here in DC. Get ’em.
Unlike the previous, this next one is a band that’s close to me. Not physically, but – Beach Fossils managed to soundtrack that time in my life that I relive every day in my brain. Let’s just call it Spencer. So when I got the news that new Beach Fossils are releasing Clash The Truth on February 19th (on Captured Tracks) I was definitely excited. Described by the internet as a lo-fi surf rock band, people complain that all their songs sound the same. Which is definitely true, but it is with this record that I understand why people are frustrated. This new piece, Clash The Truth, is OK. The first half is full of more developed songs than their past Self-Titled and What A Pleasure EP. But the second half kind of loses it’s luster. (Maybe because its 14 tracks long? I mean, how many can we take?) Since we all were subject to DIIV taking a massive dump on our Beach Fossils filled hearts, I was happy to hear that on this record BF advanced their sound without leaving it behind. There are still reverb soaked vocals and trembling guitar solos that you can picture them swaying back and forth to, but there are also snare drum rolls, there is acoustic moves like on “Sleep Apnea” [below] where they slow it down. “Careless” sounds like those late 80s indie guitar fueled records. Parts of it sounds too sped up, but its a nice improvement. “Modern Holiday” is 1:22 of droned, echoed, violin sounding guitar smears. It leads into “Taking Off” which has those single-note lines (looks like we’re seeing a trend here) and lines like “I’m taking off again/it feels like it’s so soon/am I excited/or am I just so confused/my head is numb/my hands are tied/and I can’t remember what it’s like/get out of this place/goin’ through/I’m taking off/and I’m asking where are you?” A beautiful ‘where am I?’ ‘where am I going?’ and ‘what’s next?’ soundtrack – kind of like the literal Graduate – or if you prefer Garden State. What’s next? I’m hoping the answer isn’t a career of so-so records that I’ll always give a chance to because of what this band means to me. They are comforting, for a time when friends were pissed, dudes were unsure and life was moving too fast for anyone to decide what to do. And, as it turns out, still no one is sure. “Where are you?/I can be found somewhere” sounds like the new motto of twenty-somethings. And Beach Fossils seem happy to provide the soundtrack.
And before I try to embarrass myself by telling you about the new Yo La Tengo record, let me direct you to Chunky Glasses’ Rusty – who knows more about this band than about life itself. Fade is YLT’s 13th record – out now on Matador – and it is better than I remember this band has ever been. The Tengo has been around for 30 years. You know about their Hanukkah shows: they’ve been playing 8 night stands at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ since 2001. And you know about Popular Songs and 1997’s I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One – noted as one of the greatest records of the 90s. You might remember the time they took a wheel on tour and had the crowd spin it, deciding what they would play. The night I saw them with Rusty at DC’s 930 club probably close to two years ago, Rus spun it and they opened with a 40 minute under the sea soundtrack drone from The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science in 2001. Fearless and being who they want to be, Fade is a treat with songs like “Stupid Things” that remind us of the ease of life and “I’ll Be Around” makes you want to be around them. “Cornelia and Jane” spreads the love of Georgia’s voice and album opener “Is That Enough” features her husband, Ira, as most tracks do. Just another band in the long list of lead vocal sharing between a female and male voice. A test to how and why this band can continue to go on forever – OK, one of the reasons. (If you need more proof, I hear this is a perfect indicator.) Acoustic, charming and soon to be favored by the entire world – if not already – The Tengo’s Fade is a great record, with a great album cover to boot.
If you also haven’t heard, yesterday The Strokes released a new song – soon to be followed by their new album due out later this year. It doesn’t sound like them – which may or may not be good. Casablancas is full of himself and that whole band kind of pisses me off. The only one I prefer is Is This It? which, hard to argue otherwise, is an incredible, brilliant rock record. But the rest of their stuff, …MEH. I don’t like this piece, but you decide.
Vampire Weekend’s third studio is coming out May 6 – and it even had a nice, entertaining hoax story already. This ought to be good. We also have new Fitz & The Tantrums AND new Surfer Blood to look forward to this year. SO GET HYPED. More on new releases this year, here. And if you haven’t started reading Noisey, please start. They’re good people.
The Coachella 2013 lineup was released this week and well, it’s weird. Aside from LOU REED playing it, I’m not sure what’s happening in the world. Other than people don’t know who The Stone Roses and Blur are and someone was kind enough to compile their stupidity to a tumblr.