New Breeders (and some old)

The Breeders' Mountain Battles comes out officially in April, about six years after their previous, the underappreciated Title TK. Whereas Title TK took the Breeders' hooks and made them sound in-your-face and had a first-take kind of feel, Mountain Battles for the most part goes in the opposite direction, layering overdubs and sounding more atmospheric than any of their previous releases. There are certain elements of Pod that I hear, mostly the moodiness, but also just the bit-more quirky and inventive chord changes. A couple of the more upbeat songs like "Bang On" and "German Studies" mostly work, but others like "Walk It Off", "No Way", and "It's The Love" don't do anything the Breeders haven't already done better, and sound obligatorily included. The strengths, however, far outweight the weaknesses. The swooning guitar and laid-back feel suit Kim Deal's raspy plaintive singing so well on this album. The simple country heart of "Here No More" is more real than anything you'll find on FM country stations. And they are obviously experimenting more than ever before, especially on tracks like "Istanbul" and the droning closer "Mountain Battles", the almost Go Team!-style beats on "Bang On", and a song in Spanish despite no ability to speak the language. I predict many of these songs, especially the ones where they take the time to let the music stretch out, won't age as much for me the way some of the older Breeders has. It sounds more designed for at-night bedroom listening, at least more than their previous work. It's really only a few mediocre tracks which will keep this from the upper echelon of albums of the year.

And here's a couple of live tracks from a bootleg called "Double Trouble", which compiled tracks from several Breeders shows in 1993:

Be sure to check the Breeders' music page for lots of mp3 downloads, and preorder Mountain Battles now from Insound on CD or vinyl.


Dan Friel of Parts & Labor

I've been on an electronic kick lately, no doubt bolstered by Holy Fuck's blistering set (opening for Super Furry Animals) a couple of weeks ago. And not just any electronic music, but artists who are tinkering with and creating new equipment and sounds. People not just aping Kraftwerk and Devo and Autechre, but using their electronic tinkering as inspiration for their own unique circuit-bent beat-laden explorations. If you know of some great bands like this, by all means name-drop them in the comments section, because like all of you I'm still exploring and finding things I wish I would have found sooner. Like Dan Friel. I (finally) got turned onto his band Parts & Labor last year while listening to music I hadn't heard from people's year-end best-of lists. His myspace describes his sound as "shit broke", and he says: "If you have old toy keyboards, walkie talkies, or R/C car remotes that you don't want, get in touch. I'll trade you a cd for them." The difference between Parts & Labor and this Dan Friel solo EP Sunburn (2004) that I just found is that with Parts and Labor he seems more interested in getting the electronics to work with more of a guitar-driven sound, whereas solo he seems more willing to try more outlandish things that rely on more syncopated electronic beats, but no matter the name his music usually soars and exhilarates. It's not hard to imagine the arsenal of pedals and Casio keyboards with wires sticking out all over the place and home-built gizmos and joysticks while listening to this (there's some good live footage on his site), but he's clearly not willing to let the sounds go wild - he pulls these disparate sounds together and makes rhythms out of them, trying to make them cohesive. A couple of tracks like "Death" and "Seven Sisters" have driving anthemic guitars that would fit onto a Parts & labor album, and though he's the musical voice of both acts, this solo EP has that extra bit of experimenting that is just what I've been looking for: listenable avant-garde.

The cheapest I found Sunburn for was at Tonevendor - Buy it!


2 Hour Mix For The Lunar Eclipse

There were two other recent total lunar eclipses, but this will be last the one for almost three years, and the U.S. is lined up to get the best views. This NASA eclipse page has some good info, including exact start times of the different phases of the eclipse. The total eclipse, where the moon is completely shadowed by the sun, will last for almost an hour, beginning right at 10:00PM EST (9:00PM CST), and this mix is designed to be started about half an hour beforehand. This is also a good time to brush up on some knowledge about our large moon - there was an excellent show on Discovery that just aired called "If We Had No Moon" (available on Youtube) that shed some light on just how much the moon affects us. Also, the origins of the moon have been fiercely debated for eons, but it has only been in the last couple of decades that we have come to realize how the moon formed: a giant collision. A giant planet-sized object collided with Earth early in its history, and its remnants plus the material blown off the Earth are what formed our moon. Enjoy the mix and the eclipse - if you don't want a 175MB two-hour mix (download link is next to flashing red arrow), a few of the tracks are below individually.

...but hopefully at least a few of you will play the whole mix during the eclipse, there's also some good samples and bits in there - if one of you plays it on a boombox in the desert or woods with a body full of drugs or liquor, then all the time will have been worth it. The link for the whole mix is on sendspace, though, so it won't last too long.


Vampire Weekend

This exchange in my 'best of 2007' post comments pretty much sums up this band:

Anonymous said...
"I'm really hating The Vampire Weekend. I don't understand what all of the hype is about."

funeralpudding said...
"I've read reviews that talk about how Vampire Weekend are a love em or hate em band, and in a way I can see why. It could be a bit too precious for some. I listen and I hear talent and catchy songs. Basically I don't know what else to say, this is one of the reasons I hate putting words to music. To me, it just clicks, it works, the hooks hit me and make me want to snap my fingers and sway my hips. To each his own."

Thanks to taper markp for sharing this on Dime so quickly, and to flickr user dazzling velours for the pic.

Buy the new self-titled debut from Vampire Weekend for 11 bucks, plus a 7" and other merchandise from Kung Fu Nation.