The Chilliest Wave of Them All

October 30, 2010

Yeah.  It’s the new buzz term.  Any band you may have heard for the last three or so months has probably been called “chillwave”.  Based on the description of said genre, a large amount of bands you may have liked for the last 5+ years may also may now be looped into the descriptor of “chillwave”.  Nothing is beyond it’s grasp.  Do you like Ariel Pink? Best Coast? Panda Bear? Boards of Canada? Beach House? m83? The Avalanches? Deerhunter? Broken Social SceneFennesz? Well my friend… you like chillwave.

“Wait,” you say, “all those bands existed years  BEFORE this newfangled term.”

Yes, but all of that is irrelevant now.  The wave is upon us.

I’m writing a few little posts about it, the first one is up now.

  1. The strange origination of Chillwave
  2. The bands of Chillwave
  3. The aesthetic of Chillwave

Indie Rock: For Sale

December 7, 2009

So, in advance of my trip overseas for New Years, I figured I should clean house on my CD collection and sell some on eBay.  With the advice from TeeCycle Tim, I bundled them in groups of 5 to 10 based on categories.  Some of the categories are a bit of a stretch, but I think I did a good job.  If you’re curious…

  • 6 Rap / Hip Hop CD Bundle here*
  • 6 CD Bundle: Folk and Indie Singer/Songwriters here
  • 9 CD Bundle: Emo Punk Rock here
  • 6 CD Bundle: Brit Pop and Brit Rock here
  • 9 CD Bundle: Alternative Grunge 90s Rock here
  • 6 CD Bundle: Female Singer/Songwriters here
  • 7 CD Bundle: GREATEST Rock Artists of All Time here
  • 8 CD-DVD Bundle: Rock and Pop here **
  • 5 CD Bundle: Punk Indie here
  • 6 CD Bundle: Punk Indie Emo here
  • 7 CD Bundle: Indie / Pop here
  • 8 CD Bundle: Indie/Electro here
  • 6 CD Bundle: Indie Rock here

*(yes, I purchased a Limp Bizkit album.  I was young).

**(Hilarious.  Though, I will defend to death why I bought each of these albums)


Interview with indie-popper When I Was 12

November 5, 2009

*cough* Hi… well, um, Twee is back, sorta.  You know?

Depending on which circles you hang around in, Twee is either hailed as “punker-than-punk“, or maligned as “music for bedwetters.”  Nevertheless, the most misunderstood pop genre continues to tout cuteness over coolness and has the market cornered on Growing Up Awkward.

Twee has always been the most unapologetically emasculate sect of “Indie”, but it always seems to hover, smirking, just on the outskirts of popular music.  It’s too catchy to ever be marginalized, but it’s just too fey for the trampy-or-macho American taste.  Pitchfork’s excellent essay of all things Indie Pop, “Twee as Fuck” said it well:

…”indie” and “alternative” became popular in precisely the hard-rocking, masculine, centralized form that indie pop usually shied away from. The mainstream honed in on the underground’s hard-rock side, and, acts like Superchunk and Modest Mouse would go on to become Important Bands; acts like Tiger Trap and Heavenly would, for good reasons and bad, fade into history. And there on the television, ironically, was the K-tattooed Cobain, still wearing his cardigans and covering songs by the Vaselines.

So there twee sits, like the kid not picked at recess, rewarding anyone willing to seek it out.

Maybe it’s because of the excellent Juno soundtrack, but twee artists seem to be on the rise again.  The playfull Architecture in Helsinki, sallow Vivian Girls, the spider-fearing Boy Least Likely To, and the self-referential spunk of Los Campesinos!, have all attracted the blogosphere masses in the past few years (and, oddly, a large number of television commercials to boot). Fast on their heels are artists like New Jersey’s When I Was 12 – producing the sonic equivalent of a painfully joyous (or joyously painful?) prolonged adolescence.

I ran across WIW12 searching a now-defunct music site and really enjoyed their aesthetic.  The endearing strum-hook-and-harmony style burrows deep into your head and doesn’t go away — like a library volunteer into Franny & Zooey.

Earlier this year their principle songwriter, Adrianne, was nice enough to swap a few Q&A emails with me before their first non-basement gig of her young career:

Brian B (BemBang): First things first… Who’s in the band, or is it a “swinging door” type thing where there’s a core and people come and add vocals and accompaniment etc?

Adrianne Gold (When I Was 12): First things first… When I Was 12 consists of two main members: Adrianne Gold and Camille Bayas. Then some other beautiful revolving members; our friend Brianne Evans did some harmonies on “Dear Eskimo” with her angelic voice, and my guitar teacher, Mike Yelle assisted with lead guitar. When we play live friends Jenn Diaz plays bass, and Will Samtur on drums. We are so lucky to know so many wonderful people.[ …] It’s been a little hectic we’ve been getting offered shows and things lately!.

BB: Good to hear you’re busy… I hope things are going well. Is there some sort of tour in the works? When I hear the name “When I Was 12″, I immediately think of both the charming and awkward aspects of that transitional age… was that the aim?

AG: We still have two more months of high school so we’re not exactly planning a tour but we’ve been getting offered a lot of shows lately! I suppose so about the name, I mean we definitely try to be charming and I definitely am a bit awkward!

BB: Ha. Since there’s not much info about you guys online I couldn’t tell if you were in high school, or if you were just channeling your inner-highscooler to write the songs.

Your music, lyrics, production, etc seem very attuned to what I would consider classic indie-pop/twee. That is to say; sweet, clever, and fixated on youthful experiences… even when the person singing may be 30+ years old.

Ha. You’re the real deal, apparently.
What inspiration do you draw from … musically or otherwise?

AG: We are the real deal! We write about things on a high school level because it’s what we know! It’s what we are familiar with. But like I said only until June! We are so excited for summer and then of course for college! We are inspired by so many things.

Camille really likes bands such as: Los Campesinos! Beirut, The Submarines, and Seabear. I on the other hand am insanely inspired by Bright Eyes (of course, who isn’t!) Tilly and the Wall, Mates of State, and Saturday Looks Good to Me. We were actually just featured on an online mix CD, “Birdsongs, Beesongs – Eardrums Spring Compilation 2009″ and so was Saturday Looks Good to Me! So that was exciting to see!

Inspiration otherwise would of course include every boy i’ve ever known, even if only for five minutes. The boys who’s hearts I’ve broken, the boys who have broken my heart, and the boys who have yet to break my heart. Boys in bookstores, coffee shops, New Brunswick basements, and any other place you can imagine. However! I did write about my grandmother, “You Me & Symmetry” is about my grandmother, I love her. We still do arts and crafts together.

BB Hahahaha yes, the album is definitely heavy on the boy-crazy.
So…  you brought it up…  you’re from Jersey.

NJ tends to get a bad rap; some of that probably because you’re so close to the self-proclaimed cultural capital of the world.

Many big names spent time in New Jersey… , George Clinton/P-funk, Les Paul, Sinatra, Springsteen among them. What are your feelings about ‘repping from a place that has been home to many musicians but also the target of many a joke?

AG: Well I’m going to college in Philadelphia so soon i’ll have that rep and I can’t wait! It’s such a great area and so many opportunities arise there! However New Brunswick is a pretty fun area in New Jersey just last friday, we played a basement show there! Such a great vibe, I mean those are people who love and understand music! Unfortunately I cannot say the same for those at my high school!

BB: Congrats on going off to school next Fall… where in Philly? You’ve started playing a few shows in the area — will you be doing that this summer as well?

AG: Yes! We have a show tomorrow in fact, and then another one this coming friday and then the next! It’s all very exciting, I’m even starting to manage my stage fright a bit! I’ll be attending Drexel University actually so I’m absolutely pumped!

BB: That’s really cool that you were on the same comp as Saturday Looks Good To Me. How did that whole Birdsong, Beesongs thing happen? Are you familiar with any of the other artists on the album, or are they from all over?

Do you find yourself playing alongside / opening for the same bands… like, is there a like-minded scene in Jersey, or are you on your own singing to whoever listens?

AD: To be honest I am not sure how we were spotted but I am glad! The band Thunder Power from Omaha Nebraska on Slumber Party Records spotted us on the compilation and have now asked us to play a show when them they come through New Jersey touring! And we got invited to play a show in Brooklyn! We’ve been having so much fun and meeting so many wonderful people!

BB: What happens after this Summer. Will Camille be in the general area? Will When I Was 12 go on the back-burner once you start school up again?

AG: Camille will be attending Cornell, (Congrats to her! It’s really a great accomplishment!) On the contrary, once college begins, I hope When I Was 12 will be going full throttle! Because I write most of the music, melodies and lyrics, I am going to look for permanent members once I arrive on campus! You’ll have to wish me luck!


Best Albums of the last 12 months or so… Hood Internet

April 30, 2009

Hey.  It’s prettymuch May.  Can I slack any more?  I figure, since the year is nearly half over, I’ll just post 12 or so albums I liked over the last 12 or some months…

The Hood Internet – The Hood Internet vs. Chicago Mixtape

(#2 of 12 in no particular order)

Comprised of DJ STV SLV and ABX, The Hood Internet represent the future of the mash-up. Gone are the days where you mix one song with another song just because you can, or because they share a strange time signature, or because they make a hilarious song title. Technology is such (and GirlTalk has shown) that there is a way to mix any song with any another song and make it sound good. The next step, the step Hood Internet is going in, is voluntary restraint for the sake of clarity and craft — in this case, restricting the mix to only bands that share the city they all hail from.  Also, it’s my City, so I’m biased.

The best part?  It’s a Mash-Up so it’s FREE


Geronimo Jackson: LOST Rock Found

April 24, 2009

The Fictional Geronimo Jackson -- they look like Sawyer's people

Except for a few times in Season 1, when the lovable Hurley would put on his Discman to listen to some god-awful Grey’s Anatomy reject songs while observing life on The Island in slo-mo, the two things I  tend to obsess over — LOST and pop music — rarely come together.

But lo and behold, hipster culture dictator Pitchfork Media broke a VERY interesting development a few weeks ago:  The story of a fictional classic rock band Geronimo Jackson / real San Diego throwback rockers The Donkeys. The Phork reports:

On a recent episode, the character Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) is heard listening to a Geronimo Jackson song called “Dharma Lady”, and last week, the song appeared as a free download on iTunes. Over on the “Lost” message board Dark UFO, someone noticed that “Dharma Lady” is almost the exact same song as “Excelsior Lady” by the Donkeys

The non-fictional Donkeys

Well played Dark UFO dude!  Pitchfork, thorough journalists as they are, took it straight to The Donkeys’ label, Dead Oceans, to pose the question, “Are the Donkeys Geronimo Jackson?”.  The reply was revealing, also, hilarious:

“It seems as though it’s possible that the Donkeys also existed as Geronimo Jackson in 1977. It might be possible that they were part of a Dharma Initiative experiment on time travel … Geronimo Jackson is likely to appear on extras of the season five ‘Lost’ DVD, where they will feature the band recording ‘Dharma Lady’.”

Hahahah.  It seems they did indeed.  Alrighty then.  A simple “yes” would have sufficed.

Anyway, Geronimo Jackson seems to be a recurring reference in the show — on T-shirts, on posters, but most prominently in the scene below.  Hurley and Charlie (who could easily pass for clerks at Championship Vinyl) sift through the Dharma record collection and come across the GerJack LP Magna Carta…

Innnnnnnteresting Charlie.  Hmmm.  You say you’re an “expert of all things musical,” but you’ve never heard of them, eh?  Hmmmm.  Maybe that’s because YOU’RE IN THE BAND in the past (future episodes)!?!?!  Wha? Sounds ridiculous, but why not?

I personally like to think that Charlie is bound to show up again.  First of all, one of the lesbians hiding in the Looking Glass told Charlie that the stations’ passcode was the song “Good Vibrations” and that it was originally programmed “by a musician”.  That’s a weird tidbit of information to throw out there as your dying words, isn’t it Bonnie?

Also Charlie gets the code on the first crack before he drowns.  Is it too crazy to assume that Charlie himself wrote that passcode?  I don’t think so.  Meaning, Charlie didn’t die at that point, and is sure to have lived and done other things, like, ummmmm, jumping through time and forming a band in the 70s. It’s possible.  After all, we’ve seen people we thought were dead come back to life in the show before.   Isn’t it possible that Charlie is in the band Geronimo Jackson?  Could be.

Also, is it at all possible that Geronimo is actually the name of Jack’s son?  Doubtful.

You can down the Donkey’s on music blog Gramotunes.com: The Donkeys – “Excelsior Lady


Who’s NOT Playing Pitchfork This Year

March 26, 2009

Thanks to the idiotic “Radius Clause” inflicted on Chicago every summer, while we eagerly anticipate which bands are announced to play its  two major music festivals every year, we know immediately who WILL NOT be playing.

"Sad hipster" courtesy of Aubs on Flickr

Time Out Chicago explained it well last year:

For 60 days before and 30 days after their Lollapalooza appearance, Lolla performers are prohibited from booking a show within 250 miles of Chicago (which includes Madison, Milwaukee, Champaign, Indianapolis, Ann Arbor and Iowa City)

Because of these bullshit protectionist agreements we know that any band that plays P-fork (July 17th to 19th) cannot play Lolla (Aug 7th to 9th). Boo, fucking, hoo. But it gets more interesting than that.

Provided that Pitchfork also follows these festival rules we know that any band playing between ~May 18th and ~August 16th will not be sweating it up on stage in Union Park.

This includes TONS of bands, most of which are inconsequential. But there are a few groups that are well-regarded by the haute-indie online tastemakers that now cannot play. (Pitchfork ratings in parenthesis):

I’m especially suprised to see SXSW * bloggy sweethearts School of Seven Bells and Passion Pit on this list. St. Vincent, though only registering one album on p4k, has been a favorite over the years.  As has Art Brut who will be doing a 5-day residency at Schubas over the summer.


Indie Fantasy

March 26, 2009

With Fantasy Football a long ways away, and with Fantasy everything else sucking, we have created the obvious next step in “fantasy gaming”…. Fantasy Indie Rock.

Is there any better way to monitor the commodity that has become “indie” than by drafting artists as properties and tallying points?  I don’t think so.  It’s a simple formula:  Their name gets mentioned on Pitchfork or Stereogum news, you get a point. Simple as that.

So me, Curran, Kenny, Matt and Rob sat down and did our inaugural “Indie Rock Draft” this week, and began tallying points.  The scoreboard is on a Google cloud spreadsheet so everyone can make changes and update their rosters as need be.

I’ll keep you updated on it’s progress, but for your enjoyment (and so I can tag the shit out of this post), here’s how the draft went (please note, Matt came late):

Round 1

  1. Curran    Kanye West
  2. Kenny    Wilco
  3. Rob    Animal Collective
  4. Brian    Colin Meloy

Round 2

  1. Brian    M.I.A.
  2. Rob    Lily Allen
  3. Kenny    Radiohead
  4. Curran    The Decemberists

Round 3

  1. Curran    Neko Case
  2. Kenny    U2
  3. Kroll    Conor Oberst
  4. Rob    Girltalk
  5. Brian    Death Cab For Cutie

Round 4

  1. Brian    Peter, Bjorn & John
  2. Rob    Sigur Ros
  3. Kroll    Ladyhawke
  4. Kenny    Andrew Bird
  5. Curran    Grizzly Bear

Round 5

  1. Curran    Jane’s Addiction
  2. Kenny    Bruce Springsteen
  3. Matt   Jesus Lizard
  4. Rob    Dangermouse
  5. Brian    No Age

Supplemental Draft

  1. Matt    Crystal Stilts
  2. Matt    Pains of Being Pure At Heart

The strategies were interesting… do you draft small-time bands with their SXSW stock rising, do you try to take a big guess on who’s going to be announced at Lollapalooza (or the billion of other festivals doing press releases),  do you risk taking the frontman of a band in the hopes you can double-up on points for their solo AND group material, or pick-up a producer who has his hands in a LOT of recordings but sometimes isn’t mentioned in shorter news articles.  Ohhhh, strategery.

If you’re curious, here are the top-5 scorers as of yesterday, 3/25:

1. Animal Collective – 6
2. Dinosaur Jr – 5
3. Death Cab For Cutie (tie) – 4
3. Passion Pit (tie) – 4
5. *13 bands tied with 3 points each* Beach House, Billy Corrigan, Black Lips, Conor Oberst, Department of Eagles, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Jimmy Chamberlin, Kanye West, No Age, Soundgarden, Vivian Girls, Yeah Yeah Yeahs