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NYC Popfest: Day 1 (and events leading up to it)

Is there any U.S. festival more exciting for Popkids than the NYC Popfest? Only the UK’s Indietracks is as heralded the popworld, and rightly so. The chance to see indiepop’s biggest bands amidst the backdrop of America’s biggest city is an adventure, especially for those of us who don’t live in that city. Whereas Indietracks is a festival that everyone takes a sort of “vacation” to get to, and is almost in an idyllic “Indiepop Dreamscape1” of classic trains and bucolic station-facing main stages and secular popchurch and even acoustic sets on the train, the NYC Popfest is scattered at venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, making the city of New York the backdrop to it all and thus a meaningful part of the experience.

Popfest isn’t just the bands and shows: it’s taking the Subway from the day show at the Cake Shop to the night show at Baby’s All Right; it’s going for a slice and seeing indiepop power couple Elizabeth Morris and Ola Innset (from Allo Darlin’ and Making Marks respectively) walk by; it’s colossal bear hugs from dear friends that you unfortunately only see at Popfests because everyone lives somewhere else; it’s walking to the afterparty to hear Fortuna Pop‘s Sean Price DJ and encountering a widely diverse series of New Yorkers out at night for whatever their weekend will bring and laughing in a large group, ready to dance till you can’t feel your feet any more; It’s running to whatever omnipresent corner deli is nearest for a veggie sandwich with Elia of Scotland Yard Gospel Choir; or drinking good NYC beer and talking indiepop between sets with Lio Kanine; it’s late nights at a Williamsburg AirBnB around a bottle of whiskey or porch cigarettes with newly-made friends who just happened to be outside. It’s the wild rush of life moving at its frantic city pace, as those of us on indiepop vacation get to experience the gentle voyeurism of the traveler, while also contributing to the experience of the city.

I think there is some truth to the Tom Wolfe quote of “One belongs to New York instantly; one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” And that wonderful sensation one has in New York where it feels like every night is a Saturday night, and that we are all walking on history at the same time as we are making it, past buildings that would lean in and say, “Hey Bub, lemme tell you a story”, if only we would listen, but feverish with excitement we all run past things that could enrapture us for hours, had any of us only had the sense of stillness to listen, and if the gentle popkids don’t have time for it right at this moment, then who ever will? But unbeknownst to us from elsewhere, for every unaware footstep, there is also a self-appointed street historian taking note of who went where and why. And this is similar to your humble narrator’s mission here: to provide some some armchair history of this great DIY pop event that has came and went.

Popfest began for me a day early2, but was a series of odd near-misses and confusion due to my own haste. Had train trouble, and missed Alpaca Sports (backed by Lisle and Kristine from Tiny Fireflies), who strangely went on first(!), but at least I got to CBTweeB’s in time for Matt Harnish from Bunnygrunt’s set (who are playing the newly resurrected Athens Popfest, curated by the peerless Mike Turner of Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records),

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I then left for Alphaville to try and catch Bill Botting (from Allo Darlin’) and the Two Drink Minimums, and Pale Lights but missed them and caught the end of Kyle Forester‘s very competent 70’s style soft rock act that I just wasn’t feeling, though due to no fault on his end. Didn’t realize he was in Crystal Stilts and Ladybug Transistor, since this was a pretty large stylistic departure from the reverby garage pop of The Crystal Stilts and the sunshine dreaminess of Ladybug Transistor. I called it a night precociously, saving as much energy as I could for the busy weekend ahead. 

The first venue for the actual first night of Popfest was Le Poisson Rouge (and there was a red fish in the tank hanging above the stairway precariously from a chain…or maybe it was a Goldfish). This was easily the largest Thursday night venue and crowd that I can remember, since I’ve been going to Popfest, at least. 

I just missed the ironically-named, local Brooklyn power trio “Big Quiet”, unfortunately (more train chaos. I finally just quit and started cabbing it after that), but all the reviews from sage popheads like Chris Mac and Michael Zakes were super positive. One of their songs has the best name I’ve heard for a song in a minute: “Punk Floyd” (though the actual song has a “jangle ska” feel through most of the song). Check out the highly infectious and energetic “Maura and Dana” if you’re looking for an entry point into this band.

Next up were Philly’s “Free Cake For Every Creature” who are normally a quartet, but tonight were a two-piece (lead singer and guitarist Katie Bennett told the crowd that the drummer just graduated from SVA and was “out getting drunk somewhere”). IMG_1019

The songs consisted of very understated vocals over Katie’s guitar3, reminiscent of what a sincere version of Kimya Dawson might sound like if stripped of the twang or the sometimes painfully-forced whimsy. The earnestness of the performance was a welcome relief, since, based on the name alone, I had feared that we were in for something cloyingly precious to the point of insincerity, like The Smittens. Instead, these songs were wonderfully direct and heartfelt, with the effect of somehow turning that giant stage and the crowd gathered in front of it, into something as intimate as a living room performance. It was like seeing Chan Marshall only playing her quieter songs, but without the drama or volatility4, but with all of that immense talent.  Katie was backed by a member of her band on backing vocals, and I was struck by the boldness of what it must feel like to be on stage as a two-piece, and only singing occasionally, without the benefit of an instrument to “hide” behind. If this was nerve-wracking or daunting, neither let on, though it was clear that both felt honored to be on this stage.  Katie told the crowd, “4 years ago we started with the dream of playing Popfest and here we are”.

Up next were Mel Whittle’s Hermit Crabs, from Glasgow, Scotland with Jeremy Jensen of Idaho indiepop stalwarts “The Very Most”  sitting in on guitar (and occasionally keyboards). The band set up is that of a 5-piece, with singer Mel on an acoustic guitar, and also backed by Jeremy on a telecaster (and a magic one at that! More on that later) , a gentleman on keys, another on bass and a drummer.

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Despite the folk-tinged indiepop style of The Hermit Crabs, the drummer is wearing a Motorhead shirt, which is one of the many great things about indiepop; yes, there is a certain style that is decidedly indiepop (cardigans, solid color Peter-Pan collared dresses from the late 50’s and early 60’s, horned-rim glasses, Oxfords or Chelsea boots, striped shirts, bowlies and anoraks, etc.,) but it is far from being a uniform, and the scene is inclusive of all kinds of styles, be they musical or otherwise (Sometimes to the detriment of people like Roque and myself who want to hear *actual* indiepop DJed on indiepop nights, instead of hip-hop or something else modern being played with an ironic wink, in between all the usual suspects).

At some point, someone in the band took notice of the shirt and mentioned that “This next one is for Lemmy“, before launching into “Correspondence Course” on the Matinée CDEP of the same name. After the show, Jeremy was telling me that the drummer felt a bit apprehensive about wearing the shirt, but everyone reassured him, “This is indiepop! Wear whatever you like or feel comfortable in;  no one will mind!”

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Jeremy was getting a really sweet, bright, and bubbly tone from the telecaster he was borrowing from Andreas (I think?) from Alpaca Sports. I’ve never heard a sound so warm from a telecaster before, and he played such wonderfully delicate and fitting additions to each song, in addition to jumping on the keys for a song! Jeremy really is like the indiepop Dave Grohl, because it seems like he can masterfully play any instrument you put in front of him and always seems ready and able to sit in with any talented band that asks him to, like when he sat in on vocals at a moment’s notice on “Darling Please Come Home” when Charles with The Math and Physics Club lost his voice at a Popfest a few years ago. He got a great response from the crowd when introduced, to the point that someone in the crowd started a “Jeremy! Jeremy!” chant, to which Jeremy replied, “That guy! That guy!” while pointing at the person who started it, in a move indicative of his typical magnanimity.

Mel opens the song “Should I Drop You Off” from their most recent album “In My Flat”, by calling it “a country song”. It made me think that all indiepop is “country music”; it’s just that the “country” is Scotland.

Since both Jeremy and Mel play in the Eardrums Pop-facilitated supergroup Baffin Island, so-named by being the halfway point in Canada between Mel’s Glasgow, Scotland and Jeremy’s Boise, Idaho. In light of that, I was hoping to hear my favorite song that either had been a part of, the perfectly wistful You Make Two Weeks Two Days, but for whatever reason, that wasn’t in the cards.

I was joking with Jeremy later that it almost seemed as if the night was a EardrumsPop night, since that label featured releases by The Very Most, The Hermit Crabs and the next band due on stage,  London’s brilliant duo Young Romance, featuring Claire on (standup!) drums and vocals and Paolo on that scorching, effect-heavy guitar.

I first became aware of Young Romance from the aforementioned EardrumsPop label (who I really can’t say enough good things about) and their cover of Lulu and the Lampshades’ “Rose Tint” for one of that label’s featured co-releases with Oddbox Records. I was lucky enough to see them at the opening night of the London Popfest in 2013, where they kicked off the festivities on a Friday night at Brixton’s Grosvenor (RIP to a wonderful and historic venue).

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Their set that night was much more sedate, in comparison to the rowdy and energetic NYCPopfest performance. This was a bit of a surprise, and almost like seeing two different bands, but a pleasant one. It’s close, but I liked this heavier style a bit more than the more delicate and restrained version.

I think of recordings like the aforementioned “Rose Tint” or “Twenty Five” from the stellar Nobody’s Business comp put out by beloved Dutch zine/record label Candy Twist that showcase their more deliberate side compared to songs like “Follow on Your Own” which show hints of that noisy edge, but were also tempered by a bit of polish and the sweetness of Claire’s vocals, that are both strong and gentle/delicate in that magic indiepop way, as does “Break My Heart by Morning”, which has a bit more of a skip in that drumbeat, but still is a pretty clean and poppy-sounding endeavor (which later appeared on the B-side of their “Pale” 7″). Live at Popfest, these last two songs really opened up into raw and wildly exciting noise.

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As is unfortunately the case in this heteronormative and patriarchal society, inevitably any time there is a male and female musical duo, questions and assumptions will inevitably arise about their romantic involvement, in a way that wouldn’t if the pair were of the same sex. These questions tend to be exacerbated when the band name is as provocative as “Young Romance” is. However, the pair are best mates, of the sort that often finish each other’s sentences. The band name comes from a 1915 silent movie they found themselves enamored with.

I always find it strangely compelling to see a stand-up drummer using what’s known as a “cocktail kit” . You see it in bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground, The Raveonettes, Violent Femmes, Low and Jellyfish, but I find it the most compelling in indiepop. As far as I know, only Tali from The Lucksmiths and Claire from Young Romance also tackle lead singing duties while drumming, which seems like a real challenge, despite the both of them making it look so natural and easy. I really enjoy the setup, because it seems to create for a more egalitarian stage setting. You see the Lucksmiths live, and they are all equals in a line, instead of drums being relegated to the back, or as is sometimes the case, to the back and on a riser. The stage set for Young Romance places Claire stage left and Paolo on the right, creating a dramatic binary between the two. Claire is necessarily stationary, belting out vocals with one of the strongest voices in indiepop, on a level nearly approaching Emma from Standard Fare/Mammoth Penguins (who, to myself and many others, is the powerhouse, um..standard — if you’ll forgive the pun, by which all others are judged in indiepop, and honestly, elsewhere as well

Although  Young Romance was easily the rowdiest band of the night and the crowd reacted accordingly (well as rowdy as indiepop gets, anyway) to Paolo’s effects and calculated feedback-heavy guitar playing and Claire’s aforementioned powerhouse vocals (and were the band I responded to most favorably on a night of consistently great music throughout), especially among the younger set, the excitement brewing for the headliner was very palpable. The Trash Can Sinatras humbly took the stage with little fanfare on their part.

 

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The band introduced the opener, “Easy Read”, by saying something to the effect of “this is a song about disco dancing,”, which is the sort of understatement that verges on being self-effacing, that is typical of this incredibly clever band.

Next song they played, “Best Days On Earth”, was from the new record, “Wild Pendulum”. Predictably, about 5 of the 16 songs they played were from the new album, as can be expected for a band touring in support of a new project. Surprisingly, for a band as venerated and long-standing as The Trash Can Sinatras, all the new songs held up as well as the old ones, especially the aforementioned second song, but also the funky-for-indiepop “All Night” and the crooner “What’s Inside The Box?” which both also found their way into the set. It seemed to me these new songs were as well-received by the crowd as the old favorites.  The Sinatras have this hyper-melodic way of writing songs so infectious that they sound instantly familiar, as if you could sing along right away, but without reminding you of an antecedent. With flawlessly executed harmonies and clever and intricate lyrics, often in some narrative persona, such as “Hay Fever” from 1993’s “I’ve Seen Everything” that they played somewhere in the middle of the set.

Some of the other high points from their set was the title track from “I’ve Seen Everything” as well as the two songs “Only Tongue Will Tell” and the crowd-pleasing encore “Obscurity Knocks” they played from their debut album, 1990’s “Cake”.

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A satisfying end to the night, and I think we were all secretly grateful that there was nothing else organized that night for Popfest, since we’d all need all the energy we could muster for the three very full days remaining ahead of us.

Stay tuned for Day 2 and beyond, coming to these “pages” soon.

-Feck

1: No, not these guys, though they were there at Popfest! Some of them, at least. 

2: A few days before and a few days after are always a great time to be in the area for any city-based festival, since bands traveling from far away (especially those who rarely travel) are often willing and eager to play shows with different bills, and often at venues more intimate than the festival itself, which may surprise Popfest goers, since many of the venues aren’t exactly arenas.  To give away a secret, showing up early is also one of the best ways to do some crate digging before the other popkids, and that’s how I was able to secure these two rare beautiesIMG_0985

That’s the first Jesus & Mary Chain 7″ (US release on Rough Trade) and the first Josef K 7″ that Postcard put out.

But there are many other reasons to hear out early or stick around late than mere record shopping. I’m thinking in particular about 2014’s The Aussie Hangover at Otto’s Shrunken Head (a great little Tiki bar that never charges a cover and has cheap-for-Manhattan prices on some wild drinks in crazy mugs that you can either keep and bring home, or return and get $6 back; the place is rundown and ramshackle in all the right ways) where all of us leftover traveling popkids, and the Popfest locals gathered to see Monnone Alone, Bart & Friends, The Zebras, Mid-State Orange, Nina Rene, and Olson, Rydholm, & Forester of Ladybug Transistor. 

Or the next day, seeing Gold-Bears at Shea Stadium (no, not the former baseball field in Queens for the Mets that is now a parking lot for the grossly-named corporate City Field, but the awesome Brooklyn DIY band venue) in a sweltering upstairs room that necessitated set-break emergency scrambles out onto the balcony, but jumping once more headlong unto the breach indoors as Gold-Bears picked up their instruments, because having seen them just a few days ago, I knew how unmissable even one song is from them.

Or seeing The Spook School and Heathers a few days later at Bar Matchless and hugging Niall from The Spookies when he was happy to see me wearing my Team Ireland jersey (because it was the lightest and most breathable thing I owned and it was bloody well hot!) and joyfully discovering that we were both Irish, or talking with Cloudberry‘s Roque — the man who is single-handedly keeping the true spirit of Matt and Claire’s label alive with his heartfelt praise & Proselytism, be it by blog or by Sarah-esque missives on the inserts of 45s, not to mention his daring willingness to be refreshingly candid about his displeasure when warranted (consequently, is there any feeling as good as earning his praise since you are absolutely certain it is sincere?) — about bands we like and DJing.  Later, talking outside among the smokers to the highly esteemed Michael Grace Jr., — the eminently-quotable Oscar-Wilde-meets-Hieronymus-Bosch of indiepop, and keeper of the Gloominati flame — about ritual and  The Velvet Underground, and then there’s the photo that’s floating about somewhere of Papa Death Party and I showing our mutual fawning admiration for Evans-The-Dan Moss.

The point? It’s always worth it, if one can swing it, to find a way to spend a few days before or after a festival, especially the NYC Popfest.

3: a rarely-seen-in-indiepop Fender Strat

4: or that slight meow-y yarl in her voice, which is wonderful when Chan does it, but would just seem like a plagiaristic affectation from anyone else.

Best Albums of 2014

12: -Alvvays – “Alvvays”:
So much more than just “Archie, Marry Me”, though a listener should be forgiven for an inability to get beyond that song, which is just *the* perfect pop song of 2014. I know they’re supposed to be pronounced “always” but feel free to go ahead and pronounce them like they’re spelled (and sound like Bela Lugosi in the process). Just solid and effortless-sounding pop from this Toronto 5 piece.

11: -Beach Slang – two eps: “Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street” (Sept.) and “Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?” (May)
The best Replacements cover band that don’t even bother to play a Replacements song. They capture that wild, just-barely-duct-taped-together feel of the Replacements, with comparable hooks, but without the occasional-but-inevitable train wrecks (and worse dull songs) that the Replacements had (I’m looking at you, “Lay It Down, Clown”). Their bandcamp page comes complete with a header that’s a mini-manifesto.  The sort of thing I would write on my wall while still in high school. The sort of thing I might pretend to be embarrassed of later, when I grew up, but would still secretly believe with all my heart:

There are days when you feel so alive your teeth get electric.
When that happens, play this. And play it loud. That thing that’s burning your guts, scream it out. That junk that bullies your jaw, punch it off.
We were never going to be okay.
All of this much is the good stuff. That stuff that steadies your spine. Fuck being accepted.  You already belong.
Go to a basement show and sweat out songs with kids fighting the same good fight.
Stay up. Stay young. And makeout.
You’ll write about all of this some day. And it’ll crack your lips crooked.
The louder the speakers, the brighter the hearts.
And we are shining.

This band just *is* what Parquet Courts is trying so hard to be, (and I like Parquet Courts, despite the vocals) Wearing your influences on your sleeve is never a bad thing as long as you create from that wellspring instead of merely ape it, and this band just gets it right. Would honestly be higher if there were more songs.

10: -Cayteana “Nervous Like Me”
Rough and raw pop from three amazingly talented women from Philadelphia who write songs about those important moments that sneak in and you become aware of, little details like how a switch in cigarettes types somehow mean something bigger, in songs like “Dirty Laundry” that like the best things in life are over before you realized how much they meant. The songs are full of lyrics that mourn and glorify all the urgent mistakes of youth, like:
“Well I switched back from the yellow to the orange pack
And you shaved your beard, just to sit and watch it grow back
It’s funny the things we find comfort in
It’s funny the things that make us feel again
I still want you in a bad way
I wanna see you on your bad days
Oh I want you in the worst ways
I want you in the worst ways, yeah
I’ll lay here with my endless guilt
And you’ll force photos of the life you built
Enough to make you feel better
It’s not enough to make you feel better”
or
“I came here alone
And I plan to leave that way
But I find comfort in
All of the things you say
My heart unthawed
And my brain unstalled…
And we’re both prone to misery
But you still get drunk
And wanna hang out with me
And I’m at my best
When I’m sleeping alone
It’s funny how time stops
And starts on its own
I came here alone
And I plan to leave that way.”

Aching pop with a hard edge forcefully played by powerful women. That pretty much checks off everything I’m looking for in a song.

9: -Dum Dum Girls “Too True”
The Dum Dum Girls always had a mild flirtation with the gothic, but it was always tempered by other influences, like indiepop and punk (check out their radical reinvention of The Misfits’ “Last Caress” on their Slumberland 7” “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout” or their somewhat more faithful cover of “Throw Aggie From The Bridge”, complete with that ethereal distance in the guitar sound that Black Tambourine mastered, or consider their cover of Strawberry Switchblade’s “Trees and Flowers”, which seems like a band that Dum Dum Girls were created to cover). On this album, Dee Dee Penny embraces it fully, with danceable beats and darkly pop hooks reminiscent of Siouxie and the Banshee’s best work. I knew right off the bat that this was gonna be an album that I was gonna take to when I found out there was a song comparing a would-be lover’s eyes to Rimbaud (although she butchers his name, pronouncing it “Rim-bo” instead of like the Sly Stallone character forged to life from the wet dream of a dementia-ridden Ronald Regan—who was probably saner in his late stages than he ever was in his post-broadcasting political life).

8: -Katie The Pest “Other Cities, Other Girls”
This band skates in on a technicality, as these songs were recorded in 2007 but remastered and released in 2014, but the heart of these wonderful songs from this Long Beach noisepop band lie firmly in the mid 90’s. “Spit It Out” is the real standout on this release, with its full tubey-distortion opening into its jangly-distorted verse and earworm of a chorus, “If you knew what you had, then you wouldn’t be spitting it out”. This is a song that Velocity Girl at their fuzzy best would have given anything to have written. This entire album (and its predecessor “This Giant Will Kill You”, with easily a top 10 all-time dessert island song “Golden”) just reminds me of everything I loved about mid-90s indie music, back when that meant “Band That You Found Out About From A Zine” instead of “Pitchfork Gave This Band On A Major Label An 8.2”.

7: -Eagulls “Eagulls”:
Once again, here’s another band that you have to first be willing to get behind the puke-inducing cutesy/clever name. Once you do, you’ll find nothing either cutesy or clever, just straight-forward high energy post-punk. Yes, the lyrics are cringe-worthy reading from the high school “everyone’s a phony” Holden Caufield/punk-rock cred playbook with lines like “THINK UP YOUR COUNTERFEIT MIND AND KEEP BOTH OF YOUR EYES PEELED UP FOR NOTHING IN DEPTH”, but the intensity and songwriting are so present that it’s easy to forgive the utter banality of the lyrics. And let’s be honest, if you’re into hardcore or post-punk for the lyrics 98% of the time you’re gonna walk away disappointed if you can read above a 9th grade reading level. This is the band that Palma Violets could be if they stopped checking their own reflections in the mirror long enough to really just let loose. This is heavy, forget-yourself-in-the-storms-of-youth music, which is a thing I will never tire of when done right. Besides that terrible name, they get it right.

6: -Literature “Chorus”
Here’s where it really starts getting tough to assign a number rank. Numbers 6-2 could all easily swap places with each other, since the songwriting and the execution are just top notch from these following releases. I put the work from this high-energy Philly powerpop at #6 mostly in the attempt to feign some sort of journalistic integrity, since my band opened up for them at a Portland tour stop this year. Upbeat jangly guitar weaves its way around clever lyrical turns of phrase that linger pleasantly like aftertaste notes on a high end bourbon. Easily the best-looking release this year, with a purple splatter on the Slumberland vinyl. Even if you just picked up this record just to see this visual, it’d be worth it, but the songs are so good that you’d be wise to prepare for that album to camp out on your turntable space like a broke college kid at a coffee house.

5: -PoBPaH “Days of Abandon”
Great artists do not merely recreate their past successes with only slight variation—they reinvent themselves. This album is a reinvention from a reinvented band and that might frustrate some people who want to hear again the loveletter to MBV, Ride, Black Tambourine and Sarah bands like The Field Mice and Another Sunny Day that the perfect first, self-titled, album of fuzzy goodness and Moz-level wordplay was. This newest direction is a more delicate, and sunny turn after sophomore effort “Belong”s foray into a heavier, Butch Vig-era Pumpkin’s sound. Firmly in place are the lyrical strengths Kip is famous for: that impossibly rare combination of allusive and clever while still being heartfelt. With a new lineup, enhanced by the stellar backup (and sometimes lead) singing of Jen Goma (from “A Sunny Day In Glasgow”) and the able backing of Able Body this release shines with songs like “Kelly”, “Until the Sun Explodes” and the track Hershey’s used to score a commercial “Simple and Sure”. The real gem on the album is the Greek myth transposed onto a failed relationship that is “Eurydice” with its brightly building chorus against a backdrop of a buzzsaw MBV-esque guitar that crescendos into pure pop bliss. This necessarily makes the narrator Orpheus, and after hearing that song, I’m not so sure what Simonides wrote about was mere myth.

4: -Gold-Bears “Dalliance”
In a nod to the closing song on their debut album “Are You Falling In Love?”, this follow-up on Slumberland begins with a song also called “Yeah, Tonight”, but what completely different songs! Although they tread somewhat similar lyrical ground, both dealing with a failed relationship, that’s really where similarities end. The former begins somehow simultaneously wistful and mournful, with an acoustic guitar an initially hopeful, reverby plea of “Yeah, tonight we’ll fall in love and love again”, implying that the couple have fallen out of love, and weaves a series of invocations to possibilities. This could be a tender song by itself, clocking in at around three minutes, but instead of gently slipping away, singer Jeremy Underwood smashes the fourth wall, telling us “…and then the drums come in.” and the song explodes in a noisy powerpop crescendo, that both resolves everything and yet still leaves them ambiguous. Is the musical explosion the realization of the hope and a magic reconciliation? Is it the dissolution of relationship in a fireball of beauty? Either way it’s perfectly fitting. Whereas the “Yeah, Right” on Dalliances shoots out of the gate like a Roman Candle, with Jeremy trading vocals and then harmonizing with Emma from Standard Fare/Without Feathers/Mammoth Penguins. It’s a testament to how compelling Jeremy is as a songwriter and as a singer that he’s able to craft such a song and then keep perfect pace with the person who in my never-humble estimation has the most powerful voice in indiepop (I’d say Rachel from Flowers has the most delicately enchanting voice in indiepop, and I’d give next to anything to see these two share a stage together, in much the same way that I’m firmly convinced that the sounds of heaven are not Handel’s “Messiah” or angels playing a harp, but Juliana Hatfield and Harriet Wheeler harmonizing together). While many of these songs clock in at a bit over two minutes, Gold-Bears are one of the few bands that write songs that can hold my unflagging attention for five minutes when they decide to go that long as they do on the jangly “Hey Sophie”:.

Crashpop is the perfect term to describe this band, because these songs tumble around the room, knocking things around. These are songs to sing arm-in-arm stumbling down the street at night after a few too many, when you’ve drank enough to believe the best in people, even when you know the worst. Yeah, these are full of poppy hooks, but they’re hooks because they cut into you and make you bleed. There is far more instrumentation than the standard guitar, bass drums, but none of it ever presents itself as obtrusive or gimmicky, only another tool in service of the song. This is punk without the bs machismo and noise without the interminable length or the impermeableness. Most of all these are songs, meaning you hear them, they stay with you and you want to sing them yourself. As great as the first release was, this is just more.

3: -Flowers “Do What You Want To; It’s What you Should Do”

On their label’s website (The stellar Kanine Records) the claim that “the reception at live shows has been nothing less than rapturous” may sound like hyperbole; having seen them perform both at the 2013 London Popfest and the 2013 NYC Popfest, I can assure you it’s no exaggeration. From the heartbeat-doing-a-waltz opening drum beats of “Young” till the final note on the single-stringed bass at the end of the utterly mesmerizing “Stuck”, Flowers delicately enchant with musicianship that is elegantly understated, yet complete. Truly a perfect name for this band because, very much like how flora cannot be improved upon with artifice since they are already perfect on their own (hence the phrase “gilding the lily”), these songs are as marked by their restraint as they are by the talent of the musicians involved. This is stop-you-in-your-tracks, silence-a-boisterous-crowd music that commands you to stop, take note and leaves you in awe at what you have just experienced. If you have not fallen in love with Flowers yet, it is merely because you have not yet heard them. So what are you waiting for?

2: -Martha “Courting Strong”
An absolute firecracker of a debut album from this vegan, straight-edge, Anarchist, queer-positive group of North England powerpopsters on the verge of punk. Super high-energy, shout-along music with snaky and jangling guitar lines. The songs will “break your heart and your double helix” but the harmonies will sew them back together for you. I challenge you. Listen to “1967, I Miss You I’m Lonely” and try to get it out of your head. I double dog dare you. Crack open a bottle of Irn Bru and do it. Clever lyrics shout-sang in an unmistakable and charismatic brogue. Easily one of the best live acts I’ve seen, as well. Truly kinetic, in the sense that seeing them will fill you with more energy than chugging a 32oz of cold brew coffee from Heart would.

1: -Hobbes Fanclub “Up At Lagrange”
Like I said, #6-2 were painfully hard to pick the order of, but #1 was easy. This debut album from Bradford, England’s trio was so hotly anticipated by me, and yet it was one of those rare moments in life where excited buildup actually paid off instead of disappointed. 36 all-too-brief minutes of achingly heartfelt effects-heavy guitar creating hooks that push dreaminess into edginess. This is the album you always wanted Ride to make, the one where the songwriting caught up to the clever level of effects. Or maybe it’s the album you always wanted the “Frosting On The Beater”-era Posies to make, where the wall-of-sound would be as daydreamy as the songwriting. 2012’s Shelflife single “Your Doubting Heart” makes a redone appearance, as does the lead song off of Cloudberry’s self-titled ep “The Boy From Outer Space”, but these beloved gateway drugs into the band’s music give way to the harder stull that the last three songs comprise: “Why You Should Tell The Truth”, the eponymous “Up At Lagrange” and the breathtaking closer “Sometimes”. The only problem I have with this album is that I want more of it. A lot more.

Honorable Mentions:

-The Luxembourg Signal- “The Luxembourg Signal”
If Shelflife Records was a baseball player, you’d have to walk them not to get hurt, because they never swing and miss. Every release is a hit. When you realize the pedigree of the people in this amazing band, it’ll make perfect sense. This would definitely make the list had I spent enough time with this album; I just haven’t since I haven’t scooped it on vinyl yet and suspect it’s long gone.

-September Girls – “Veneer”.
If this wasn’t an EP, this would have definitely cracked the list.

-The Hotelier – “Home, Like Noplace Is There”
What emo once was, not what you think of now and cringe.

-Fear of Men – “Loom”
I slept on picking this up on vinyl (to my great discredit) and this is certain to be my first purchase of the new year. I just haven’t had the chance to give it a close listen, but just based on that first cursory digital pass-through, I’m certain it should rate.

-Tape Waves – “Let You Go”
How can music this good come from just two people? One of the highlights of this year’s NYCPopfest. South Carolina dreampop.

-Honeyblood – “Honeyblood”
Good pop with an edge. Wish I spent more time with this one.

-Taylor Swift – “1989”. You know you love it. It’s ok. Everything will be alright in the end.

2014 Fall Mix Tape

Expect a bit more noise on this site in the next few days, starting with a write up of the songs included here. Till then, enjoy this track listing of fall-sounding songs from then and now. If you’re in Portland, ask me for a hard copy. I’ll have about 12 to give away at tonight’s Allo Darlin’ show!

Fall 2014 Mix Tape

1: “Shadow”  –  Wild Nothing

2: Heart Drops  –  Phantom Lights

3: Don’t Cry No Tears (Neil Young Cover)  –  The Wedding Present

4: Can The Haves Use Their Brains  –  McCarthy

5: Let’s Make The Best Out Of Our Lives  –  Nixon

6: By the Way (Built to Spill Cover)  –  Heavenly

7: Chester  –  Tiger Trap

8: Back To The Tricks  –  Brilliant Colors

9: Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan  –  The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

10: Anti Parent Cowboy Killers  –  Joanna Gruesome

11: Port Of Shadows  –  Pale Lights

12: Ghost Postage  –  Franklin Bruno

13: Hollow Inside (The Cat’s Miaow Cover)  –  Fireflies

14: Talking  –  September Girls

15: Call Me in the Day  –  La Luz

16: Your Woman (White Town Cover)  –  Cats On Fire

17: Can You Ever Trust A Man Who Thinks Matt Damon’s Really Cool?  –  The Spook School

18: Chapel Hill  –  StarTropics

19: You Invited Me  –  Baffin Island

20: Husker Dudes  –  Pet Milk

21: Why I Try To Look So Bad  –  Comet Gain

22: Into The Night  –  The Hobbes Fanclub

23: Zombie Haze  –  Burnt Palms

24: Falling In love  –  Sambassadeur

25: Your Name  –  Oh! Custer

26: All the Umbrellas in London  –  The Magnetic Fields

Spring 2014 Mix Tape

I’ll have a write up to follow soon, but I wanted to at least get the track list up for those of you who already have the CD. If you don’t and you’re at POPFEST, come by, say “hi” and get one from me!

1:  “The Absolute Magnitude of Negative Five” – Poastal
2:  “The 189” – Skeletal Shakes
3:  “Today It Is Even Better” – The Very Most
4:  “Arab Spring” – Literature
5:  “Propped Up By Affection” – Mammoth Penguins
6:  “I Close My Eyes To Think Of God” – Comet Gain
7:  “Wildfire” – StarTropics
8:  “Agnes Martin” – Fear of Men
9:  “Never See This Place Again” – Flowers
10: “Line Up on the Solstice” -Space Daze
11: “Sure As Spring” – La Luz
12: “Judy Is A Punk” – Horowitz
13: “Fear” – Heathers
14: “My Very Own You” – Little Big League
15: “Working Class Jacket” – My Favorite
16: “Hollow Body” – Pity Sex
17: “Hope Is Still On Your Side” – Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
18: “Cockroach girlfriend” – Secret Beach
19: “Sometimes” – This Many Boyfriends
20: “Rose Tint” – Young Romance
21: “No. 21 (demo)” – Hearts & Tigers
22: “Eden” – Astro Children
23: “Wealth of Nations” – Tortilla
24: “I Don’t Believe In The Sun” – Rose Melberg
25: “Home” – Fake Nails
26: “Alice, Sweet Alice” – Fine Pets
27: “On The Short Side” – TeenSpot
28: “Piggyback” – Week of Wonders
29: “Endless Summer” – SUN+FUN
30: “Hey You, Get Off My Moon” – Velocity Girl
31: “Notarized and Signed” – Imaginary Pants
Secret Track

Totally What I Do…

THIS

I know it’s the band is who is ostensibly being sent up in this brilliant Onion piece, but the real brunt of the joke is on the fictional writer of the WordPress blog. The band, however horrible they may be, are at least creating something. The blogger is just a gormless audiophile, a self-declared arbiter of cool, parading about on the internet with delusions of grandeur as if the second coming of Lester Bangs (T.H.O.)1, always at least once removed from the music they love…or something. No, *you* stop looking in the mirror! Anyhow, I found it funny.

-Feck

1: T.H.O. = Tedious Hipster Observation. Today’s is this: Lester Bangs was overrated. Take any average complaint registered today about Pitchfork and it could just as easily be said to be true of Bangs, yet so many see him as the alpha and omega of music journalism.  If it is, as an uncatalogued quote from a Sarah zine insists upon, that pop music is meant to be ephemeral, it’s actually music journalism that proves itself most to be ephemeral. We are the lonely set of ears, listening in the dark, reaching out to grab the light and coalesce some of the experience of it, to somehow make it last longer; to make it more intense.

No, *you’re* a bleedin’ Feckin’ hippie!

Social Justice Fail…

So, I know I do a lot of calling out, but I’ve got to call myself out when I feck up…and it’s gonna happen; see, it’s right there in the feckin’ name: I’m a right bloody Feck-up at times.  Being aware and attentive to social justice issues is something that’s important to me, and as a cis white straight male, and the attendant privilege that comes with that, I’m not always gonna get it right. At the very least, I (and anyone else concerned about social justice, and not enforcing the negative, regressive norms of society that we are bombarded with) can call “bullshit!” when I see it.

Anyhow, in my haste to display my enthusiasm for the band in my last post, I made two missteps which I feel I should point out:

#1 I mentioned in passing how attractive one (actually, all) of the members of the band was.

#2 I took the piss on Shane McGowan’s appearance.

These two are closely related, in that each one leads to what is problematic about the other.

#1: Pointing out who is attractive marginalizes who is not, and these are subjective and exclusionary terms that in the end do a service to no one. No one wants to be seen as “unattractive” and yet those who are declared to be attractive are thereby alienated from their actual identity by the lens of this arbitrary feature. It reduces a person to this singular trait that is ephemeral from who a person is.

It can also cause those who are deemed “attractive” to value and promote this trait at the expense of other, worthwhile things, and also creates a pool of doubt: “Am I attractive enough? Am I loosing my looks? Is this all that anyone sees when they see me?” etc. So the very thing intended to be complimented serves to undo itself. Also, most importantly, there is a societal construction of how we expect women to be measured, and it creates a standard that is both more difficult and incorporates less important (read: unimportant) criteria.

#2 By talking about someone and how they are unattractive, (even someone who is in the public sphere and accordingly is seen as part of the public discourse), this again rarifes away the fundamental human qualities about the person (though there is another point here about fame and media perception; one a bit more obvious about how people are pigeonholed). It reduces the person to their appearance, and even though the person has notoriety through fame, what does this say for people who do not have this level of fame? It’s a way of writing people off.  Sure, Shane might have done it to himself, with his drunken barfights & what not, but the very basic idea of holding forth for public discourse features of appearance all feeds into this idea. Regardless of the cause, when a person (in this case ME) shames a person for their appearance, the person shames not just the person, but other people who may see, rightly or wrongly, something of themselves in the shamed person. It polices norms of how people “should” look, when the reality, there is no “should” to how a person should look. To suggest otherwise is actually hateful.

Even without the shaming aspect, there’s a real problem with anything that implies that what people look like are things that we should be talking about. The reality is there is far too much talk already about people’s appearance.

Perhaps you say, “wait, people are going to look at and be attracted or not-attracted to whoever they are going to be and so it’s foolish to try to stop anyone from doing that.”  That’s not what I’m trying to do.  Of course we all see what we see and like what we like; what I’m saying is that *choosing* to talk about that is a political choice, whether one chooses to recognize it or not and that choice comes with societal consequences that are far from innocent, regardless of how pure one’s intention may be.

I insist that my intentions were well-meaning. That doesn’t make them any less harmful. “Good intention” without attention to result is an empty nicety, and that is just as much of a problem as direct hostility. It’s a real question of “How then can we know what we don’t know?” The answer? Listen. Listen harder. Keep checking in. Don’t assume you “know”. Like I said, I’m not gonna always get it right. I’m not gonna stop trying.

Back to the question of “looks”, we may not be able to avoid noticing these arbitrary values we have internalized, but there is no need to point them out in any sort of public discourse, be it either complimentary or otherwise. Both have a negative influence, be they born of condemnation or of compliment. They both have the same result: over-valuing appearance in a way which serves to perpetuate male privilege and undermine gender equity.

Were we in a truly post-oppressive social balance, perhaps we could talk freely about appearance in a way that was observational instead of oppressive, but the fact of the matter is that as it stands now, conversations of aesthetics in the public sphere for the most part only serve to police the status quo. Not a good look if you want to change it. HOLY FUCK do I want to change it.

It’s April in 2013 and here’s what artists like Grimes STILL find themselves facing. Talking about the physical appearance of women serves to undermine the legitimacy of their accomplishments, since it feeds a trivial feature which society has made central.

I know my sphere of influence is small, but in those two errors I made, I was unwittingly on the wrong side of progress. So this is me calling myself out. I’ve decided (for now) to leave the post as-is, so you, dear reader, can see the mistake and the correction.  It’s a fuck up, and I take full responsibility for this, and apologize to you, dear reader, for it.

Forgive the digression; let us now turn back to the music in a way that I hope calls attention to where we want to go, instead of what we want to get away from.

Apologetically yours,

-Michael Feck

There’s plenty of room at the front of the stage– and at the back of the room– and at…

So I went out to see this band the other night. I’m gonna be intentionally oblique, because I’m going to say some unpleasant things. And I don’t like doing that. I’ve tried my best to stay away from that type of thinking in this space. I think the things that are bad point themselves out. They don’t need me to do it. Saying nasty things1 is the mark of an amateur, of someone trying to prove they are discerning. Great, kid. You can say something snarky about someone else.  Good for you. What do you love, though? Do you have the guts to be forward about that? This is one of the projects of this blog.  Trying to be forward about what I love, and share a bit of that with you, dear reader.

That said, I’ve still got that axe to grind…or rather, odd ground to cover.  I’m not actually going to say anything unpleasant specifically about a band, so put away the torches, villagers.  Those aren’t bolts in my neck; they’re headphones.  I’m going to point out a situation that is not flattering and this is my indictment of the situation rather than the band or the people. Enough beating around the bush; here it is.

So I started the night at a free show. A band that was doing that whole 1970s Cheap Trick meets Led Zepplin thing. Talented at it, but it kind of bores me. There’s no vitality there; it’s all retread. They’ve got a lot of friends in town and they gig heavily. I respect that. I like them, actually. Nice bunch of people and they’re good at what they do, even if they find a thousand other flags already planted when they make their peak assent.  For all these reasons, there are a lot of people at the show.  It’s also a free show and there are kegs.

This doesn’t matter. What does is that I split. I find myself at one of my favorite venues. A surprisingly small crowd is there. It costs double digits to get in. I never pay double digits to see a band I’ve never even heard of. It’s a weekend & I’m stir crazy.

The crowd is older. Not terribly hip, either. I’m trying not to care. The band takes the stage. They’re quite good, but not too terribly unique. Very much like the first band I’d seen tonight. But maybe they rock a little harder. Put a little more into it. Are more intense, less caviler. 

This band is not great, but they’re good. Good enough to have more people here than this. So, where are they? This is a band that has gotten to where it is by having friends, not being bad & not fucking up. That said, they’re also confounded by their own mediocrity. Worse yet, the march of time. Those friends who used to pack those rooms to see good things made momentarily great by the blinding bonds of booze-filled camaraderie have all left. They have spouses and children to go home to. Mortgages to pay, yards to weed, hedges to prune and gutters to dredge. There’s work early in the morning. There are the advancing stages of life, that while your mercurial & humble narrator may seem, so far, to have staved off, still impends largely on many in the crowd tonight at the first show and has hit those not at the latter. A before and after of sorts.

This band plays on, loudly, desperately & urgently, as they have for somewhere past a decade and shy of two, but the audience is thinner, much like the hair of a few bandmembers.

There is something lost and lonely here and I cannot pretend that I don’t see it or am unaffected by it. The band carry on, in good humor, despite it all. There is honor in the way these musicians execute their art, even with the hooded, scythe-wielding figure invisibly in the room and people in their late 40s awkwardly moshing to the last song.  The band is quite literally playing on, as the ship is going down.

So what is it? Is it age? I don’t think so. Look at Thurston Moore. Look at Fred & Toody.  Iggy Pop.  Patti Smith. David Bowie. Look at countless others that still have their finger on the pulse of what’s cool. It’s just that it gets harder as you grow older. And the stakes are higher. The nights, lonelier. And at the end of the day, it’s hard not to imagine someone asking, “what’s the point?” and there not being a satisfying answer, even if a quick one materializes.

But much of the music that has changed my life, has done so despite crowds and cool, not because of them. So even if this particular band on this particular night doesn’t reach me, it doesn’t mean that they are “bad” or should quit. Hell, I’d like to think that I’d rather hang it up then ever play to a room of people that I didn’t relate to, like Kurt refusing to play for the guys that beat him up in high school. I am self-righteous enough to insist on something as superficial as how fashionable the crowd is to determine my level of engagement & I’d rather break my guitar than do something to bring a smile to the face of an MRA or someone with a Romney sticker on their car.

But looking around, I don’t think that there’s anyone around here that’s necessarily like that. No one here is clearly a bad person. No one seems uncomfortable being here, but I am. And that’s why I write this.  Desperately trying to make sense of what is weirding me out about this whole thing.

The band turns their attention away from their ample body of work, which for better or worse is at least theirs and closes with a 1970s glam rock song cover, that is uninspired and feels like a concession speech to the ghosts of rock past.  The band is merely going through motions that the don’t seem at all to care about.  The crowd likes it, though.  There is an air of the posthumous in the room, and I feel bothered.  Distant. Emotionally affected.  Wanting hope.  Or a stiff drink.  I find neither immediately accessible to me.  

At least until the next morning when I start thinking about it again.  I think about the faces in that thin crowd, caricatures I’ll not draw for fear of reducing people to their inessential qualities.  It’s dehumanizing, really, no matter how either appealing or offensive the content may be.  But I think about the faces of the people I saw.  I think about the voices calling out for songs by name. I think of the line by the merch table and how each and every single person who was at that gig got in that line.  I then think about how little superficially I have in common with those people, and their advanced age, their bridge-and-tunnel clothes and the music they listen to.  I think about this and then I think about how much I actually *do* have in common.  My relationships with the bands that meant everything to me and fell out of the scope of popular fashion.  Standing in line, nervously eager and talking to the musicians who just sang my life to me by singing theirs out loud so someone else could hear it.  I think about this, and about some of the crowded “hip” shows that I tend to find myself at, not the big ones that get the media or the small ones that only the most “enlightened” (or obsessed, really) go to, but the shows at those places. I’ll not mention the names, but you can guess, Portland.  The places where it’s see-and-be-seen.  I think about the numbers of people I see at the merch table afterwards (next to no one) and the look on their faces (perfunctory) and I realize the music is ephemeral to these people.  That’s fine.  Pop music is *supposed* to be ephemeral.  But I’m a fucking anorak.  A nerd.  It’s not ephemeral to me, and it never was.  The thoughtless word uttered to the wind; this is the one that haunts in my ears.  The song not considered by the author in the long years since creation: this is the field where my victory dance is made, these are the songs that held me as I punched the wall and cried, alone and unloved, even when I was neither, and I know I always was neither. But the secret trick that life plays on you is that it never *is* about what it actually is; it’s always about how it feels.  Anything else is sterile and conjectural labwork.  And that’s what I’ve always felt.  Like an August shoe stepping on a hot cement wad of gum, I couldn’t shake it.

No, Mr. Azarad, it’s not that this band *could* be my life: it’s that it feckin’ well *is* my life.

-Michael Feck 

1: I’m not one of those people who are opposed to what people call “negativity” for it’s own sake. That said, I think there is far too much “negativity” i.e., people saying nasty things to try and make themselves look better by comparison or seem sophisticated. There’s a time and a place for measured and aware criticism, and this thing I’m talking about isn’t that. Call “bullshit” on things whenever you can, but make sure it’s for the right reasons. If its some music or fashion that rubs you the wrong way, take note of that if you like, but feckin’ move on. It’s not a thing to get worked up about. Racism, misogyny, homo/transphobia, classicism, fat-shaming, bullying: *these* are way worthy of taking up rhetorical arms against; a band “sucking” because you don’t like them or a person being “horrible” because they are wearing the wrong beanie? Fuck. That. Noise.

Very clearly, you can see this is something I struggle with, and often revert to superficial judgement against my best intentions, because the things we wear are in fact trying to communicate some things about ourselves to the world whether we chose to make this explicit or not. So guy wearing a “shocker” shirt: fuck you and what you’re trying to say to the world. Person wearing the dorky-looking jeans or odd shirt: good on ya, mate. You just keep doing you, even if it isn’t something that I might care to join in on. Another big reason for the decided anti-negativity stance is that it’s directly what leads to this.(Great song; horrible thing to experience & oh hell have I been there & then some) Finding fault in everything leads to the inability to feel pleasure. Anhedonia is more than just the original working title to “Annie Hall”.

House Show & Upcoming Show & Exciting News…

It really has been forever since I put something up, but rest assured, popkids, I’ve got plenty of stories to tell & as soon as I get a minute to breathe, I will get you lot all caught up.

Three of my favorite Portland bands are playing on Tuesday, Feb 26: Tender Age, Souvenir Driver and Soft Shadows are playing my favorite venue in town: Valentine’s (1). Just caught Tender Age on Saturday at a house party where they sounded amazing!  (I split early, though, because everyone was smoking weed in the showspace & I didn’t want a contact high.  I’m a super-duper lightweight with weed & don’t care much for the high.  More power to those that do.)  Were I not in England for the London Popfest, I’d be at this show.  Hell, I’d go there and then right that second, turn around and walk back in and walk out again and walk back in just so I could say that “I’m so there, I’m there times 3″…No *you’re* a dork. Oh yeah, did I mention that I’M BLOODY WELL GOING TO THE LONDON POPFEST TO SEE STANDARD FARE’S LAST SHOW?!?!?!  Also can’t wait to see The Orchids, September Girls, This Many Boyfriends, Milky Wimpshake, and Flowers…there’s more I’m forgetting, but that’s what I’m most excited about. Also, Standard Fare! Their last show!  And I’m going to be there! Eeuqs!

Yeah, that’s right.  I just got so excited I “squee“ed backwards.  It’s a thing.  Or it is, now.

-Michael Feck

1: Miss you, Boom Bap and Ella St. Social Club!

A lot going on, a lot to be excited about…

Hoping to get caught up sometime soon, transcribing some handwritten notes from shows past onto here, but there’s *a lot* going on to be excited about right now!

On a personal note, your humble narrator had a wild weekend up north in Seattle, where I got to meet with my favorite client (an 83-year-old gent whose memoir I’m editing), then catch up with a great old friend & drop in on the NW barista regional championships, which is sorta like the Superb Owl that everyone has been talking about but for coffee nerds like myself.  (Oh yeah, & The Sonics & Mudhoney played.  NBD.)

More importantly, some big things happening in music, both local and far away.

Everyone & their 2nd cousin, twice-removed all know that MBV released songs on their site this weekend and even more people know that it’s awesome. (Yeah, I know, the hipster in me bristles at the fact that it’s so big that even Time Magazine is in on this— and lest you forget that fact, dude namechecks Erik Satie. Whatever. It’s so damn good if Hugh Hefner wants to call a national press event to talk about how awesome Kevin Shields is; you know, that’s um…like, cool or something? One of the hardest things for this kid to handle is just accepting the fact that PEOPLE YOU DON’T LIKE suddenly LIKING A THING YOU LIKE *doesn’t* then make that thing no good. Life’s hard.)

One friend, who’s wicked smart with all things musical…and otherwise, really (who I’ll just call here “The Percolator” since I haven’t asked if I could refer by name) calls it the indiekid “Chinese Democracy”. I rebutted that it’s a bad analogy, because it actually took longer  for the MBV follow up, since the “Use Your Illusion”s came out in September of 1991 (the same week “Nevermind” came out, for a little bit of historical perspective) and “Chinese Democracy” came out in 2008.  We’re forgetting about “The Spaghetti Incident” because well…wouldn’t you if you could?  “Loveless” dropped in November of 1991.  If “Loveless” were a person, it could meet you in the bar for a pint & wouldn’t need a fakie; “Chinese Democracy” couldn’t even vote…and not for reasons playing on its name.

Other big news?  So the new and much ballyhooed Veronica Falls album dropped today. I just got a limited edition white vinyl from Mike over at Slumberland in the mail today. So. Damn. Excited! Lyrics like, ““You’re a broken toy, it’s true, but I am broken too, broken just for you.” are gonna melt me quicker than an ice cube dropped on Chicago pavement in August (the cruelest month, by far). Also, their 2nd covers album is en route to me from Rough Trade. It’s not like I’m jumping up & down about it in anticipation or anything (TOTALLY JUMPING! UP AND DOWN! Deep breaths…)

On the local front, they are coming to town in March and I CAN’T WAIT! Also, appearing with them will be Brilliant Colors who I’m just as excited to see.

This week, the other big show of 2013 that I’ve been super duper extra excited times a million kerbillions or so to see is Seapony, Rose Melberg & The Happening at Mississippi Studios! SRSLY: *Squee* just thinkin’ on it. Expect to see the full write up here, soon enough afterwards.

Thursday is Naomi Punk at Holocene, and I’m told that the lads in Hausu will be playing a show sometime this week, undisclosed-as-of-yet time & location. These guys are playing some of the most exciting post-punk with just enough mathiness to be novel & exciting w/out delving into wonkiness. SRSLY, if “Bleak” doesn’t move you on their bandcamp, we might need to check yr pulse. Check-check-check it out if you get a chance! They played the Malt Ball this weekend, which I was of course out of town for, but they tore it up from several accounts of friends who were there.

Good things in the works, friends. Good, good things.

-Michael Feck

Wow!

Got more posts in the works, but just had to share this super exciting news with you all!  Two of my *favorite* bands covering each other’s music!  On one of my all-time favorite labels!  And it’s FREE!

Go. Here. Now.

Baffin Island covering a Tiny Fireflies song & vice versa! So good!

I love the good people at EardrumsPop! and the great music and art they consistently provide from exciting new bands.

I can’t wait to hear the next release from Jacob Borchard & Laura K.!

Hope you lot enjoy this as much as I have.

-Michael Feck