"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Today, what I consider two very exciting projects get the spotlight: Midnight Magic and Memory Tapes (Dayve Hawk of Hail Social! And Hail Social get some old-school love, too.
SEE ALSO +++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS
Midnight Magic are one of the few bands from 2012 that have been on regular rotation in my listening queue. Earlier this year, they released their What The Eyes Can't See EP and Holy Ghost!'s fucking amazing remix of "Drop Me A Line" (which, next to the Gui Boratto remix of Battles' "Wall Street", remains one of my favorite remixes of 2012). "Diamonds" from their upcoming LP, Walking The Midnight Streets, both mellow things out way hard by keeping all of the nine-piece's usual brass and electronic elements and removing the consistent house beat, and "Same Way I Feel" gets lethargically dubbed out, disco-style (see full post). They self-release their debut full-length on November 13th, and it's ridiculous that the album will be their debut.
Midnight Magic tour dates coming soon, including a Halloween date with The Miracles Club at Mississippi Studios, with Litanic Mask...!
Midnight Magic - "Diamonds"
Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals. Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone releases her solo project, with a remix by Jensen Sportag, and Chicago's Another offers up an entire remix EP, with standouts from LUST and Ambinate.
Erika Spring - "Hidden"
Singer and keyboardist of Au Revoir Simone, Erika Spring, has just released a self-titled EP from the experimental pop label Cascine, which is curiously a record label guided by intuition. A quick browse through their catalog reveals a series of clever, often female-fronted forays into gentle pop music. "Hidden", Erika Spring's first single, comes with a burning underlying synth line that adds a depth to its already sultry qualities. The remix by Jensen Sportag throws a mellow haze atop it, in some senses, while picking up its dancing in the bedroom potentialities.
Erika Spring - "Hidden" (Jensen Sportag Remix)Erika Spring - "Hidden" (Original)
Bleep is a column focusing on varying degrees of electronic music news, videos and MP3s. This week we feature a new announcement from Com Truise as well as tracks by Neud Photo and Clark. Read previous Bleep columns here.
If everything Com Truise does sounds like it's ripped from a cheesy '80's movie, does that mean his newest collection of early recordings and b-sides should sound like '70s psych rock? Regardless, the analog feind is back at it again in 2012, only this time he's peddling some of his older material for a collection titled In Decay. And although I haven't always agreed with his more recent foray into dub and live performance pandering, the first glimpse of this new -old- material is surprisingly spectacular. "Open" doesn't reinvent any genre, but it certainly shows that the New Jersey artist and designer has an ear for what he enjoys. It's undeniably retro and dripping with '80s nostalgia, but it's energetic and completely now, what with its schizophrenia beats and booming bass. In Decay will be released July 17th on Ghostly. - EB
By Surprise have a song called "Daggermouth Is Playing At My House" which led me to believe that they were another band aping the pop-punk-hardcore-easycore genre. That said, I was pleasantly "surprised" (see what I did there?) when I listened to "Mountain Smashers" from beginning...
To go along with Screaming Females' community-based concept, DoodleDrag is this DIY animated film for "Wild." Black-and-white drawings provide the backdrop as a kooky photography-based figure, reminiscent of Bert from Sesame Street joining faces with Homer Simpson, takes center stage.
Artwork and animation by Tiffany Cheng...
Although it may be difficult to confine the music by multi-instrumentalist Chico Mann to just one genre, it is safe to say that his sophomore release, Analog Drift, is a quintessential New York album. With a heavy Afrobeat and Cuban influences, vocals in both Spanish and English, and a number of synthesizers in hand, Chico Mann, aka Marcos Garcia, creates a melting pot of soulful and sexy sounds, much like the city that never sleeps.
Previously released digitally through Garcia's Website, Analog Drift is now expanding its audience through Wax Poetics Records and is ready to be played on the dance floors. Right from the first beat, a listener will want to put on a fedora hat and take over the town.
As we find ourselves suddenly thrust into the midst of the information/overpopulation age, some unsettling realities about the nature or our species' brilliant endeavors become harder and harder to suppress from our collective psyche. We know that our government starts wars solely to funnel money into the military/prison industrial complex. We know that we've sold out our political voice to those of inanimate corporate deities. Our excess is gleaned from the blackened heart of human exploitation and spiritual vacancy. These things have become increasingly obvious, and yet, your average person is ultimately powerless to change them on a grand scale. The overwhelmingly tragicomic trajectory of our collective plotlines can possess anyone with the urge to detach themselves from what some people still call "reality".
Spring 2010 Interview
But it's not all unsettling. There's a transcendent beauty lurking in the depths of our current art explosion. With increased technological advances, more people than ever can exteriorize their internal realms of consciousness for less. It's this desire to distance oneself in an alternate universe of creative information, combined with disgust at America's obsession with "power of positive thinking" mind rape psychology, that inspired Liars' latest album, Sisterworld. Following a string of brilliant full-lengths, Sisterworld finds the band continuing to challenge themselves. Some artists find their sound and pummel a pattern ad infinitum, but it's always more exhilarating to watch artists take serious risks -– which is something Liars have never shied away from doing. Combine this with a fervent dedication to the visual side of the project (the full-length DVD companion to Drums Not Dead is a lo-fi video art masterpiece), and it's not surprising that art rock megaliths Radiohead hand-picked Liars to open for them on their last tour.
On the verge of their latest release, Aaron Hemphill and Angus Andrew were nice enough to answer a few questions via e-mail. (Editor's note: All formatting from their responses is original!).
ARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW
Liars "Scissor" from A Bruntel on Vimeo.
One of the underlying themes of Sisterworld is how people form their own worlds and social networks to deal with the continuing onslaught of our society brought forth by population expansion and new information technologies. Where'd the idea for this theme come from, and how do you guys personally build your own "sisterworlds," as it were?Angus Andrew: AARON AND I BEGAN TALKING ABOUT HOW WE OFTEN FEEL DISLOCATED FROM WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND US. SOME KIND OF LACK OF CONNECTION WITH THE MILIEU. WE SPOKE ABOUT THIS GENERALLY AS IT RELATES TO MUSIC AND CULTURE, AND THEN REFINED THE IDEA AS WE FOCUSED MORE ON LOS ANGELES. I THINK MUSIC IS OUR SISTERWORLD, BUT WE EACH HAVE LOTS OF WAYS OF CREATING THE SPACE WE NEED. FOR EXAMPLE WE'RE ALL PRETTY AVID GARDENERS.
Aaron Hemphill: IT WASN'T REALLY THE EVENT OF ARRIVING AT THIS IDEA, MORE THAT ANGUS' AND MY SUBJECT MATTER AND MUSICAL MOODS CONVERGED ON THE SUBJECT. THIS WAS THE COMMON SUBJECT... ONE THAT COULD UNITE A BROAD SPECTRUM OF SOUNDS AND STILL BE COHESIVE. THE MORE I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF, THE MORE DETAILED AND SPECIFIC THE WORLD I FEEL I FIT IN BECOMES... THIS ADDS A LOT OF FEAR AND PARANOIA AS TO WHETHER OR NOT A PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION WILL EVER BE FOUND.
I personally use information technology as a means to deluge myself with a constant stream of art, books, movies, music, blogs, graphic novels etc. in an attempt to exist in somewhat of a parallel dimension of my own design. On that note, what other bands would you recommend right now for someone looking for a good escape from the horrors of our times? What kind of other artists, regardless of medium, have you been geeking out on as of late?Andrew: I LIKE TO READ A LOT. FOR ME, A GOOD AUTHOR CAN TAKE YOU ELSEWHERE. LATELY I'VE BEEN REALLY INTERESTED IN FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS. TOM MCCARTHY, STEPHAN HALL, STEVE TOLTZ, JOSHUA FERRIS -- ALL HAVE WRITTEN INTERESTING NOVELS RECENTLY.
Hemphill: NDS: THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, SIGHTINGS, ONEIDA, PINK DOLLAZ, WU-TANG CLAN, KING TUBBY, CHOPIN, MORTON FELDMAN. ARTISTS: CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI. SADLY, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN'S DEATH HAS PROMPTED ME TO REACQUAINT MYSELF WITH HIS WORK.
Since your sound seems to vary so much from album to album but still retains a similar vibe, I was wondering how your songwriting process typically works. Does one person usually bring in most of the ideas or is it more collaborative? How does a typical Liars song come forth into the world? Do you conceptualize it beforehand or is it more of a spontaneous process?Andrew: WHEN WRITING FOR AN ALBUM, WE GENERALLY DISCUSS CERTAIN IDEAS OR MOODS WE'RE INTERESTED IN. THEN WE GO AWAY AND WORK INDIVIDUALLY ON CREATING SONGS THAT EXPRESS OUR OPINION OF THAT MOOD OR IDEA. ONCE A GOOD AMOUNT IS COLLECTED, OR ENOUGH TO MAKE US FEEL CONFIDENT THAT WE'RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK, WE'LL LISTEN AND TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT THE MATERIAL. IN THE FINAL STAGES, WE DECONSTRUCT THE SONGS AND RECONFIGURE THEM IN THE STUDIO.
Hemphill: TYPICALLY, ANGUS AND I PRODUCE FAIRLY COMPLETE DEMOS AND SHARE THEM WITH EACH OTHER. FOR THIS ALBUM, WE ALLOWED MORE TIME FOR EXPANSION AND REVISION DURING THE "SHARING" PHASE OF THE PROCESS.
The last time I talked with you was right before you went on tour with Radiohead. How was that experience as a whole? Are those guys really telepathic androids from the 5th dimension phase shifting through our time space in order to blow our minds, or are they fairly down-to-earth guys? If you had to pick one nugget of wisdom you took away from the whole experience, what would it be?Andrew: YEAH, THAT WAS A REALLY GREAT EXPERIENCE. AND THEY ARE EXTREMELY DOWN-TO-EARTH GUYS. I THINK ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO WITNESS WAS HOW EACH OF THE MEMBERS IN THAT BAND CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO THE SOUND THEY CREATED ON STAGE. IT REALLY SEEMS LIKE EACH PERSON IS ABSOLUTELY INTEGRAL TO HOW THE BAND FUNCTIONS. THERE WEREN'T ANY TRICKS, EITHER; IT WAS ALL REAL.
Hemphill: GREAT. NO. THERE'S NEVER AN ACCEPTABLE AMOUNT OF PRESSURE.
You'd also mentioned before that you intentionally induce insomniac states as a means to bring about creative inspiration. Any such practices involved with the making of Sisterworld?Andrew: YEAH, REALLY, WHENEVER I HAVE THE CHANCE TO GET FOCUSED, I LOSE THE NEED FOR TIME. MY BODY CLOCK GOES OUT THE WINDOW, AND I LET THE WORK DICTATE REST. OFTEN I FIND MY IDEAS GET LOOSER AND MORE UNINHIBITED IN THE HOURS BEFORE COLLAPSE.
Hemphill: I HAD 2 SEPARATE INCIDENTS OF NERVE DAMAGE TO MY SKULL DURING THE WRITING AND RECORDING OF THIS ALBUM. WHAT THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED IS LEFT ANSWERED BY THE LISTENER, I SUPPOSE.
As someone who thinks in a more shamanic or magickal context, I think dreams are often direct communications with what some would refer to as a "holy guardian angel." With that in mind, what's the weirdest dream you've had in the last year or so, and what do you think it was trying to tell you if anything?Andrew: THE FIRST TRACK ON THE ALBUM WAS A DREAM. I DESCRIBE IT PRETTY LITERALLY IN THE SONG, BUT BASICALLY IT FELT LIKE SOMEONE CLOSE TO ME WAS DYING, AND I WAS INCAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING TO HELP HIM OR HER. I WOKE WITH A HORRIBLE SENSE OF GUILT AND SOMEHOW FELT LIKE I WAS BEING REMINDED THAT I NEED TO BECOME MORE ENGAGED WITH MY SURROUNDINGS AND THE PEOPLE IN IT...
Hemphill: DREAMS FOR ME REMIND ME THERE'S A LARGE PORTION OF MY MIND I CANNOT CONTROL OR SUMMON. SCHIZOPHRENICS OFTEN RELATE THE LACK OF CONTROL IN A DREAM STATE WITH THE LACK OF CONTROL CONCERNING THEIR AUDITORY OR VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS. THAT BEING SAID, THE MOST HORRIFYING DREAMS I HAVE ARE FRIGHTENING DUE TO A LOOK OR DESIGN THAT IS COMPLETELY FOREIGN TO MY FAMILIAR TENDENCIES OR PRACTICES, YET OBVIOUSLY PRODUCED BY MY MIND. FOR EXAMPLE, I HAD A DREAM THAT TOOK PLACE IN A FUTURISTIC ENVIRONMENT WITH VISUAL ELEMENTS I WOULD NEVER CHOOSE, NOR IMAGES I WOULD INTENTIONALLY RECORD FOR MEMORY. THE FRIGHTENING THING IS THAT THERE IS A PORTION OF MY MIND THAT IS VERY ACTIVE, AND UNCONTROLLABLE.
Starting strong with those home-styled, apple pie sensibilities, You Didn't Know I Was Alphabetical quickly declines into another emo-folk album -- a hair shy of Conor Oberst and not quite as satisfying.
"You, Too" opens the album, a heartfelt and sentimental track with light, folky instrumentation...
There are few bands from the 2001-2003 screamo explosion that have lasted as well and as long as Thursday has. While some bands (Finch, Glasseater) broke up or reformed, others such as Thrice and Senses Fail have altered their sounds dramatically to stay as relevant...