Part razor-sharp condemnation of our modern world, and part journey through Jana Hunter’s recent reidentification as “they/he,” Lower Dens’ The Competition utilizes the power of the dance floor to make a case for love and acceptance not just in dangerous times, but as the law of the land. It’s a powerful and ultimately uplifting statement from this revered Baltimore-based band and not just the best album of their careers, but one of the most essential listens of 2019.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman Ruban Nielson may have relocated to Portland, Oregon several years ago, but his home country of New Zealand still lays claim to him, as evidenced by his band’s win of “Best Alternative Album” and nominations for “Album of the Year” and “Single of the Year” in the New Zealand Music Awards for their latest album, Multi-Love. It’s only a small part of the success story of UMO in 2015, as the release catapulted them from cult band status to the limelight in seemingly no time. That accomplishment was shown on Wednesday night in Washington, DC, as the band played their first (nearly sold-out) headlining show at the 9:30 Club after having been at the much smaller U Street Music Hall only eight months earlier.
In our latest podcast, the TIDAL wave of fail continues for Jay Z’s newborn streaming service. CEO firings and cold calls from Jack White? We dish the latest news on TIDAL, then dive into the messy realities of “poptimism” and what it means for you. PLUS!! The gang takes an Ivy Tripp with singer/songwriter Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee, and Escape From Evil with one of Baltimore’s best, Lower Dens. It’s a jam/schadenfreude packed hour of deep feelings, hard truths and a bit of outlaw country on Episode 113 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
SOUNDS LIKE: Beach House, Chromatics, Wye Oak
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: A charity track coming from Charm City’s under appreciated indie band is always welcome.
Hundred Visions – Permanent Basement
Good morning class, my name is Dr. Jim Sullivan and I’ll be your instructor for this semester’s class; Introduction on How to Rock Face 101. Here is your first assignment. I want you to go home, put on Hundred Visions Permanent Basement and loosen up your rock maneuvers along with some serious rock face. Although, there is one condition, you cannot, and I repeat, do not, at any point in this exercise rock face to this album into or near a mirror or any other reflective surfaces. I’ll see you all tomorrow for our discussion.
Welcome back class. Well, based upon the look on all of your melted faces, you probably think that I’m disappointed to see that you all have failed to follow the instructions. Billy, what was the last instruction I gave? Uhhhmmm, don’t look into a mirror or reflective surface while rocking face to Hundred Visions? Correct Billy, and based on your experience, why would I give you that instruction? Uhhhmmm, because even the reflection alone of how hard this album makes us rock face would cause us to melt our own faces off? Correct Billy, but sometimes the best education is experiencing the true power of rocking face first hand. You can thank Hundred Visions for that one. Good job class, now let me tell you about an album I like to call U.F.O.
Damien Jurado - Maraqopa
Similar to Jim Sullivan’s 1969 masterpiece U.F.O., Maraqopa is a lush, multi-layered and mysterious sounding folk album that may not get the credit it deserves in its day and age. This album is also one of the few examples of how to tastefully use strings and choirs in modern music. But, like a fine wine, this one will definitely age well and stand the test of time so that it can be lauded when the Space Jesus returns (listen to podcast 17, time stamp 52 minutes for further explanation on that front.) I just hope Damien doesn’t mimic Sullivan and decide to walk into the desert and get summoned back to another planet where the general public appreciates his music in the time when it is actually happening. So, as Carrie would say, sometimes you have to ask yourself What Would Alien Jesus Do? Well, apparently he would listen to Damien Jurado.
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.
Unless you live under a rock you know that this week Lower Dens unleashed their masterful new album, Nootropics upon the world. They've recently kicked off a world tour in support of that record and tonight the quintet will make a stop in their hometown of Baltimore at Ottobar, with a bunch of their friends in tow.
We'll be traveling up to see the show tonight FOR WHICH TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE and couldn't be more excited to see what they do with this new material live. You can read our review of Nootropics here, but suffice to say, this record is a giant step forward for this band and big things are in store for them in 2012.
Check out the video for "Brains" below, and for a taste of what you're in for tonight head on over to nyctaper.com where they've posted a recording of the band's May 2nd performance at Glasslands.
We'll see you at the show TONIGHT!!
"For any band, Nootropics would be considered a triumph of a record. For Lower Dens though, this record is a declaration of intent. I won’t go so far as to suggest that this is their Murmur, their Funeral, their OK Computer, but damned if it isn’t a giant step towards that end..."
If you look up the term “Nootropics”, you’ll find that the term refers to a class of pharmaceuticals often known as “smart drugs.” The goal of these substances is to enhance things like cognition, memory, and even intelligence. And while the efficacy of these drugs has yet to be determined in any good measure, it’s safe to say that the effectiveness of Lower Dens latest album by the same works in equal measure to both challenge and delight.
Here at ChunkyGlasses we listen to a lot of music. And by a lot I mean OMFG THERE IS SO MUCH MUSIC OUT THERE!!!! But the sad fact of the matter is we can't get to everything that we think you might want to hear, which is why today we're starting up our new column, Lost In The Shuffle. Hopefully this will continue to develop and grow as time goes on, but for now this is as bare bones as you're going to get. No commentary, no background info, just quick dirty and to the point. Now let's get to it.
Sounds like: Joy Division, The National, Dundalk
Why you should care: Hometeam, yo!
In 2010 Lower Dens put out one of the more criminally underated albums of the year. Heavily referencing the murky, synth driven sounds of 80's bands Joy Division and Depeche Mode, Twin-Hand Movement proved that not only was that particular style of music not dead, but that it's future was being rewritten and reimagined in the recent hotbead of musical innovation that is Baltimore, MD.
The only thing visible besides the silhouettes of the assembled musicians is the occasional glint of a flash off a guitar, or the blinking lights of a random effects pedal. The crowd that has assembled listens eagerly as a dark, man shaped shadow explains from the stage how even though McComb’s is somewhat of a transitory musician, Chicago now claims the singer/songwriter as their own. Members of the crowd shout back “Baltimore!” (which is where his Wikipedia page claims he’s based. He’s not.) but the shadow from the stage isn’t hearing it. Instead he continues to run down the list of everything that makes Cass McComb’s music great. He’s the perfect hype man, though McCombs doesn’t really need it. He finishes, the band takes the stage in front of panels of blinking and shifting lights, and as they opening strains of “Buried Alive” hit the audience, it’s as if a bubble closed tight around the room, and we were all suddenly transported somewhere else.