Jenny Hval's Innocence Is Kinky is one of the strangest pop records released this year, and perhaps one of the most slept-on. You'd think that starting your record by whispering, “That night, I watch people fucking on my computer,” might turn a few heads? In places, her sound seems to fit alongside the immaculate but off-kilter melodies of American artists like Julianna Barwick or Julia Holter. But her music is just as likely to disrupt itself with jagged bursts of electric guitar as it is to settle into some uncanny, angelic coo. That it was recorded with the help of John Parish, best known as P.J. Harvey's long-time band member and producer, makes a perfect sort of sense.
Tonight, the Oslo-based songwriter and her band perform their first live show in New York City at Manhattan's Mercury Lounge. Tomorrow, Brooklyn gets its turn when they play Glasslands in Williamsburg. We talked to Hval as she prepped for the much-anticipated U.S. dates, finding time to rehearse in a schedule filled with conceptual sound installations and experimental choir projects. She fretted over the expectations of American audiences, explained how her love of the spoken voice influenced the choices she made on her record, and made a very important point about the danger nostalgia poses to modern art.
Following in the steps of Rough Trade, Fool's Gold and Saddle Creek, homegrown record label Captured Tracks has officially spawned a brick-and-mortar record shop, damning the belief that they're a dying breed of commerce. Because this isn't a typical record store, for one. Under label founder Mike Sniper, they've portioned off their new office space at 195 Calyer Street in Greenpoint into the type of of place Rob Gordon-types daydream about but also less intense (less nerdy) music fans should feel comfortable hanging out in. The plan is to complement a constantly rotating stock of new and used records and tapes with anything that might pique Sniper's, and likely your, as a culture-obsessed Brooklynite, interest: art books, posters, vintage pedals, amps, synthesizers. Mid-century furniture? Sure, why not. A small collection might pop up if that what Sniper is drawn to on his cross-continental buying trips. With an arcade game or two to keep the room from getting too stuffy and some listening booths near a bay window, the space promises to become how you always dreamt your bedroom would look like as an adult crossed with a proper record shop that doubles as a trading post where people swap their old records for other merch (because it's that too).
At its core, though, is the music. Culling from Captured Tracks roster and far beyond, the store prides itself on consistently refreshing its stock: "The death of any record store is having the same record at the same price in the same bin for three years; people just stop coming back," Sniper told Billboard. So that explains the pileup of merchandise handpicked from all corners of the world that's currently in stock. Needless to say, there's a lot to navigate. Below, Sniper and Captured Tracks General Manager Katie Garcia guide you through the bins, recommending deep cuts from records you can buy at the shop. You should do that, speaking of. Buy lots of records. Let this whet your appetite:
For as long as I've known about Nirvana's In Utero, which turned 20 today, fans have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out if there was an authentic, pure "Albini mix" of In Utero. There's some good information about that story in his Reddit AMA from last year, but it hasn't stopped me from dreaming of the nigh-mythological "100% Albini mix." Until today.
I've been anxiously awaiting the "Super Deluxe 20th Anniversary" edition of In Utero after hearing Albini speak to Vish Khanna on his podcast Kreative Kontrol. Disc 2, the "2013 mix," is actually a brand new mix of the record by Albini, Noveselic, Grohl, and Smear. To me, this was as close to getting the Albini mix I've wanted. And, I'll tell you, it's totally ace. In this write-up by Khanna, Noveselic states that the new mix would be for fans who would listen in for small differences and additions. Below, I've outlined what the 2013 mix adds or detracts from the 1993 release. For your reference, I used the original 1993 CD release ripped into a variable bitrate against a 256k version of the 2013 mix.
For two years in a row, Los Angeles songwriter Julia Holter has made one of our favorite records. Last year her second album Ekstasis used the easy layering of modern home-production software to sound as if she were existing alongside the ghosts of old literature and film, and maybe even a few past selves. Loud City Song, released this summer, is a more refined studio production that fuses the Paris-based bustle of the 50s musical Gigi with ideas about the high-volume cultural din of today's media. Though she's university trained in composition and continually draws on high-brow source material as a prism to reflect her own ideas, her songs have a light and playful touch. Taken together, the recent work marks Holter as one of the most thoughtful and original pop musicians of the moment.
Ahead of a tour that brings her to Brooklyn tonight to play The Music Hall of Williamsburg, we talked with Holter about the how music might be personal without being confessional, how people who assume she is obsessed with the past are wrong, and the way in which she considers herself the opposite of Taylor Swift.
Another day, another study in which we learn that the average American bumbles through their day like a terrified, ignorant child. Today's example: flushing the toilet with your foot, which 64 percent of Americans regularly do. As Atlantic Cities point out, this isn't too dissimilar from the behavior of chimps, who have a tendency to pick things up and perform minor tasks with their feet.
Last Friday, just as people were starting to turn their attention toward the weekend, the internet gave us a parting message of sorts, something that felt like homework, even: video of a Louis C.K. appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien during which the comedian shared his reasons for not allowing his daughters to have cell phones. First, he says, cell phones preclude us, and especially children, from feeling empathy—it's easy to say hurtful things via text message because you're spared the awkwardness of having to see the other person's reaction, thus making it easier to just go on saying even more hurtful things to even more people. Simple enough. It was the next part, though, that really got everyone clicking the share button.
Submit your favorite story from your experiences as a bartender for a chance to be featured in an animated short film and a chance to win a trip to the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN. Just email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm not one for exercise or moving my body at all, really, but if all 40-day cycling trips are as pleasant as the band Daytona makes them sound on their new single "The Road," then perhaps I should reconsider. Cobbled together from members of former and current garage-rock fixtures Wild Yaks, The Siberians and Harlem, Daytona takes their stress-free, tumbled-together sound—one that we're quite fond of, if you recall a certain "8 Bands You Need to Hear" issue—and drags it through the American landscape. Chronicling a bike trip from North Carolina to New Orleans that frontman Hunter Simpson and drummer Christopher Lauderdale took before moving to NYC, the single journeys across cultures and styles: piny folk is shot through with prickly Afro-Caribbean rhythms, working its way up to a happy-sad swell about a "road that never seems to end." You don't want really it to in this case.
There's a new wave of bands emerging, young kids who've been deeply shaped by a formative love of late-90s pop-punk. Hell Bent, the first record from Northampton, Massachusetts, punks Potty Mouth should shoot them to the top of that list. The band's reach has been small, so far. Their free time's been dictated by the school vacation schedule of college-age members, leaving them only able to tour in towns that were a quick drive or easy sleep-over away. Now though, with members gradually graduating and a sharp, melodic debut in shops starting today, the band seems perched on the cusp of a breakout year.
We talked with Potty Mouth's youngest member singer/guitarist Abby Weems, a 2012 high-school graduate, about how tricky it is to make an original punk statement in 2013, the comfort an all-female band can bring to female musicians just starting out, and the generation gap that tragically keeps her from enjoying The Gin Blossoms.
According to Hudson Valley paper the Daily Freeman, officers pulled over the 1990 Ford pickup truck that Smith was driving after he made "several vehicle and traffic infractions," resulting in a pileup of misdemeanor charges between he and Ferreria, including "criminal possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest" for the Brooklyn prom queen and "two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of stolen property, and one count of aggravated unlicensed driving" for her king. (Also, violations of an unregistered motor vehicle, driving without insurance, and having an inadequate exhaust system.) A registration check showed the truck's license plates belonged to a stolen vehicle, while Smith turned up as wanted by the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office for an outstanding vehicle and traffic warrant.
Dispatches from Blink 182's intimate benefit show last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg report the ageless pop-punk champions opened their encore with "Carousel," a cut from their loose and fast 1994 debut Cheshire Cat. Logic suggests that whether this was one of the more memorable three-minute spans of someone's concert-going experience or just a sweaty start to the end of the night comes down to two factors: (1) a person's age and (2) their natural reflexes to nostalgia. But logic can be misleading. Last night determined that, though the age-level entry point for Blink 182 fandom has stayed put over the years at around 12 or 13, it's not contained to one generational pool.
Photographer Nadia Chaudhury and I stopped by Music Hall an hour before doors opened—before the 140-character cries of this being the best night everrrr(!!!!) rang out in bulk and three grown men suspended in their teenage years wreaked havoc—to talk to the fans whose love for the band runs deep, whether or not "Carousel" soundtracked the peak of their hormonal awkwardness in 1994.
P.S. A 22-year-old would've been 3 when Cheshire Cat was released.
If there were any indication that some people might take Brooklyn a little too seriously, it would be this: Moscow-based burger-makers Ferma & Williamsburg—wait for it—are set to make their Brooklyn debut at Smorgasburg this Saturday.
Chefs Tadatyan and Livsi joined forces to start the company "amid a wave of Brooklyn lovers and copycats," Eater reports, and started as a "catering company that featured bearded, flannel-clad waitstaff serving food cooked on a grill and plated on distressed wooden planks." This turned into a burger stand in Moscow's Gorky Park, where the two sling burgers and other Brooklyn (or just American?) fare.
Arizona psych-punks Destruction Unit play the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan tonight with local noise music star and Sacred Bones label mate, Pharmakon. It's far from the first time they've played in town this year, one that's so far featured the release of two separate full-length records, Void in February and Deep Trip last month, and near constant touring, both for the band and its members' numerous side projects. Deep Trip is especially good, a loose but savage collection of menacing rock n' rock that's had critics deploying all sorts of rocky desert imagery when trying to explain its sinister appeal.
We caught up with singer and guitarist Ryan Rousseau by phone a couple weeks ago as the band vanned it through a Wyoming landscape that "looks like Mars." Speeding through a land of limited phone reception and even more limited rock n' roll clubs, Rousseau chatted briefly about the brutal Phoenix weather, the small, tangible products made by the Ascetic House label Destruction Unit helps run, his time spent in bands with the late, great Jay Reatard, and the thrill of making such distinctively bad-mood music.
This past weekend, I again found myself in lush and lovely Raleigh, North Carolina, for the 4th annual Hopscotch Music Festival. Even after becoming quite impressed by it last year, I wasn't sure that I could make it down for the sequel. But then I did. (Yes!) But only for the last two days. (Oh no!) These thrilling details are not important. What's crucial to note is that Hopscotch's combination of shrewd programming and compact location makes the music fest dream of catching a zillion disparate bands in a short amount of time more achievable and pleasurable than most any other event currently running.
The programming spans from cult-metal to SoundCloud buzz bands, from of-the-moment hip-hop to alt-rock and punk icons, at least giving the impression that the planners are more concerned with artistic import and eclectic variety than bottom line big-dollar draws. The best part is, you can bolt from any show at any time, for whatever reason, and be reasonably sure that you can find something else compelling. Something that you'll have no problem getting into on a whim! A write up by critic Gary Suarez on MySpace called it "America's (Secretly) Best Festival." There's so many to choose from at this point that the claim is a bold one. Yet, with two years under my belt it's one I can definitely understand.
Here's what I saw this year...
There were times when I convinced myself I did—"This dance-punk groove really digs in!" "French is a pretty language!" "Conga drums, man!"—but each sentiment of goodwill were only momentary delays in coming to terms with the fact that on their fourth album, one of my favorite bands has maybe shed all my favorite parts about them.
Merry Muthafuckin' Christmas - Eazy-E is def my favorite These two dudes hanging Christmas lights…
In my defense, it works either way, & I love your stuff...
Ha - never mind, just re-read it properly for the 1st time (LOL)