ChunkyGlasses readers might be most familiar with Iain Matthews for his part in the Beach House-organized Gene Clark No Other Band that made a stop at the 9:30 Club a few years ago, where he sang lead on the songs “Silver Raven” and “The True One.” But while faces like Daniel Rossen and Robin Pecknold might have been more familiar to the indie rock audience, Matthews’ nearly five-decades long career has cemented his place as a music legend. Matthews began his career as a founding member of seminal British folk-rock band Fairport Convention (performing on the band’s first two albums) before striking out on his own both as a solo artist and as the leader of several other bands including Matthews Southern Comfort (who had a hit in 1971 with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”) and Plainsong.
This week on the podcast: How easy is it to trick a music blogger? Apparently hilariously so if you’re using Wayne Coyne as bait! The gang discusses a hilarious prank that was recently pulled on the blogosphere, and its implication for the sad state of modern music journalism as a whole.
Then we’re heading over to the jammy side of town, as we dig deep into two of this year’s best releases. First up, Athens, GA’s Futurebirds are back with their unique brand of cosmic twang on their new album Hotel Parties (22 min mark). Then, Megafaun’s Phil Cook has made a career out of playing with some of the biggest names in indie rock, but with the hugely soulful Southland Mission, he may have crafted the album he’s waited his whole life to make (51 min mark).
Last but not least, Meow The Jewels is here and it’s exactly what we expected and more. So that happened.
Get comfortable and hide the cats, because here comes a super-sized shot of the “23rd most influential” podcast in the land, it’s Episode 135 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
On a hot late-summer afternoon on Saturday, a group of Baltimore bands of various genres, both veterans of the scene and relative newcomers, came together at Pier Six Pavilion. Organized to raise money for the Living Classroom Foundation’s Believe in Music program, which supports music education in Baltimore, the Windjammer Festival served as not only a celebration of the city but also as a chance for the musicians to give back to the community and to help enable the next generation to follow after them. The sold-to-capacity venue cheered as Dan Deacon spoke sincerely and eloquently in the middle of his set to the importance of being able to learn music as a means of self-expression, and it was clear throughout the day that the other performers on the bill shared his sentiments.
Beach House drifted into D.C. last week, bringing along an extra drummer and stage props designed to look like an abandoned industrial warehouse, and the 9:30 Club turned into a film noir set for a night. The Baltimore based band is synonymous with dreamscape-ish atmospheric pop, and Wednesday’s show, the final performance of the American leg of their Frightened Eyes tour, showcased the recent work of a group you'd expect to see playing in the background of a bar scene in Blade Runner. Performing songs drawn primarily from this year’s Bloom and 2010’s Teen Dream, Beach House mesmerized the audience, who stood transfixed for most of the evening as songs broke over the densely-packed house like waves next to, uh, a beach house.
Alex Scally walked onto a dark stage and played the opening strain to “Wild” to start the show, joined by touring drummer Daniel Franz on a simple snare line. When Victoria Legrand emerged a few minutes later and took over center stage, the mostly somber crowd reacted with the largest outpouring of emotion of the night, singing along as Legrand growled, and “My mother said to me, that I would get in trouble...” Legrand’s live voice was raw and almost guttural at times, but blended beautifully with the layers of looping vocals running in the background. It’s not a secret that most bands now play loops of prior-recorded material during their live shows, to mimic the way a song is constructed on the album, and electronic-based bands rely on this technique even more - the only glitches were a few occasions where Legrand pulled her face away from the mike to swing her fantastic mane of hair, clearly no longer singing, while the vocals continued on without her. She wasn’t lip-synching, because her mike was louder and more distinct than any of the back-up vocal tracks, but it was still a bit of a disconnect to hear lyrics while visually seeing no mouths moving on stage.
What happens when you put a bunch of music nerds in a room and ask them to talk about their favorite music of the year so far? Why you get a Top Ten List of course! There's been a metric sh@# ton of great music this year, with new releases from the likes of Punch Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Alabama Shakes and more, but ultimately there can be only TEN that make the cut.
With over sixty albums mentioned the whittling down process was arduous and sometimes painful, but in the end we came together and saw our way through the adversity/diversity to deliver unto you this list of the best that 2012 to date has to offer.
#10 Hospitality - Hospitality
KEVIN - New York hasn’t sounded this cool since the glorious heyday of CBGB’s, Blondie and The Talking Heads. Complex, confident, and unabashedly poppy, this is easily the most memorable debut record from any band on a long, LONG while.
ANDRE - I recommend talking to Kevin on this one. Just remind him that the first step is accepting you have a problem. I dig it as well, just not as much as Kevin...because that's impossible.
Since their 2006 eponymous debut, things haven’t changed much for Beach House. They still peddle in immense amounts of reverb, elementary drum machines, Alex Scally’s trilling guitars, and Victoria Legrand’s soaring vocals. But why should it change? Artistic “growth” is overrated when you create beautiful work. AC/DC managed to keep the hits coming until the early Eighties without changing any of its elements. On the other hand, bands like Interpol keep mixing up the beans, cheese, and meat of its music to diminishing results.
Thankfully, Beach House’s “Bloom” fits into the AC/DC mold. The band grows a little by stripping away some of the haze away from the vocals, improving production, and turning up the guitars. But this is more tinkering of the Beach House RV, rather than a new engine or even a different muffler.
I caught Beach House for the first time at the ACL Festival this year, and all I can say about that is that the sunlight isn't exactly kind to these guys. The performance that day was anticlimactic, a little awkward, and all in all just sort of disappointing. Beach House's hyperatmospheric take on surf music doesn't belong outdoors. Hell, it barely belongs outside of your headphones, so if you put them on a stage in front of a couple thousand people in the middle of a field, in the middle of the day, IN TEXAS...it's proably not going to work out to well. And it didn't. Needless to say, it left me with some feelings of trepidation. Fact is, some bands just don't do it live. It happens, and it's OK. Making a record and then PERFORMING that record are two entirely different skill sets and while I love Teen Dream the record, if Beach House just couldn't pull it together in a live setting then that was how it was going to be.
Luckily, when in the correct setting, they not only pull it together...they knock it out of the f@#@ing park.