When you have over 60 international bands touring Australia at the same time, a number of things can occur… The Poms frequently get sunburnt, the yanks usually get arrested & the kiwis just never end up going back. But there’s one thing that can always be counted on… Photo shots with koalas and kangaroos. Here’s Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz fulfilling his tourist visa obligation.
Down under, we must also look like guinea pigs or something. On the one day at the Soundwave Festival 4 weeks ago, I personally witnessed multiple new songs from bands eager to test out their new tunes on a hopefully welcoming audience. The Blackout, The Bronx and There For Tomorrow are all outfits who took the opportunity to do so, since they have new albums coming out soon. But the most intriguing band to perform a new track was New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem.
Still unknown as to whether this was an offcut from ‘The American Slang’ sessions, a new track for a forthcoming album, or just some awesome ditty that a talented bunch of guys can write and dispose of when they see fit, the song is called ‘Biloxi Parish’. Now I could break it down for you with paragraphs of descriptive analysis, but all I really need to say is “The Gaslight Anthem” and you should already know the quality that you are in for.
Or should you? For – as can be seen on the humorous, if mumbled, preamble on…
Hosted by Drake, who in spite of his show-leading six nominations left empty handed, this past weekend’s Juno awards were somehow pretty entertaining. Sure they made Canada’s music scene seem like little more than a conglomeration of ageing hippies and filthy hipsters, but…actually, that’s pretty much what the Canadian music scene is.
One of the biggest surprises of the night, other than Neil Young’s inexplicable victory for Artist of the Year and Shania Twain’s reference to her “Canadian Bush” was Drake’s job as a host. From his before-show Skype skit with news anchor Lloyd Robertson and Justin Bieber to his Chilly Gonzales accompanied rendition of Snow’s “Informer”, Drake was a surprisingly personable and entertaining host, but perhaps no part of Drake’s hosting turn was as goofy and peculiar as the skit you’re about to see. In it, Drake plays on the “Young Money” label by, well…harassing a bunch of senior citizens. Cuuuuuute?
In the hours following my blog post on Black Robot vs. Bl_ck R_b_ts, I received an email from the former’s PR person, Jenn. She’s given me permission to publish our correspondence verbatim.
As someone who works for the band in the US, I just wanted to clarify a few things that your story missed:
First, the Irish band came to our attention after someone posted about them on Black Robot’s Facebook page. They appeared to be getting ready to release a new CD and it’s pretty impossible for two bands to share a name (as you can imagine). We initially tried to deal with the Irish band privately. From the start, they were mocking the US band and making a joke of it. They also published all private messages. We realized we would get no cooperation and had no other choice but to let FB and Myspace review and handle it. This was a decision of management, first and foremost.
Second, you refer to “cyber bullying” in your article, when in fact, it was NOT on our part. We have had to ban no less than 25 people including band members (all from Waterford or nearby) for coming to Black Robot’s page and posting negative comments including insults to their music, age, appearance, etc. No band member, friend or fan of Black Robot (US band) went to the Irish band’s pages and retaliated that we were ever aware of,…
See, I just wanted an excuse to post a South Park clip, although everybody knows that Randy Marsh has convincingly overtaken Cartman as being the funniest character on the show.
No, no, it wasn't me – it was a SPOOKY GHOST!
All tangents aside, the review covered Digital Daggers’ debut EP, entitled Human Emotion. Sonically, it sounds a bit like Frou Frou meets Boards of Canada. The group is comprised of Andrea Wasse (The Weekend, not to be confused with newcomer artist The Weeknd) and Space (he of many hats, including his solo effort, Memento, and Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts), the band has garnered a bit of buzz from their covers of “New York New York” (Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra) and “Head Over Heels” (Tears for Fears), not to mention their original tunes being spotted in various television shows (“Surrender” on ‘One Life to Live;’ “No Easy Way” on ‘Nikita’).
Today, I wanted to highlight the title track, which is my personal favorite from the EP.
Digital Daggers – “Human Emotion”
Never again with your human emotions
I won’t take the hate from your heart
I’ll take my chances outside of your kingdom
You know when I stop I won’t start
I long to be where the stars still shine brightly
You know they won’t breathe where…
I miss big ideas. I lament their loss, in fact. I miss the sweeping gestures once made that attempted to understand oneself, a body of people, humanity as a whole, the very world entire. I was not around for these grand ideas (or, at least not in the intellectual capacity I possess now), yet I feel moved to write in elegiac prose as if I mourn the loss of something very dear. Before falling into a vast pit of hyperbole, I will make clear exactly what I mean by a ‘big idea’ through examples. Hegel’s dialectic is a big idea; Marx’s proletariat is a big idea; Freud’s archive is a big idea; Spivak’s postcolonial readings of Victorian texts are a big idea; these are attempts to explain the metanarrative of the human condition, the human struggle, the way in which the human acts and thinks and why. I do not necessarily lament the passing of the ideas themselves—any good close reading of these ideas reveals there many contradictions and faults—but rather I miss the attempt implied by these ideas. It seems to me that in our great postmodern idiom we have narrowed ourselves into a tautological spiral of refining and redefining and infinitely categorizing these ideas into sub-ideas and sub-sub-ideas. It is a phenomenon that is plaguing the music community as well, and this is what I lament the most.
I am not, nor am I attempting to, bringing anything new to the discussion at this point. Anyone who…
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry.”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry who?”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry and I’m suing you.”
“No, seriously, who the fuck are you?”
I wasn’t there for the first email exchange between Jonathan Brightman – ex- of sentimental LA hard rockers Buckcherry and, since 2008, of sentimental LA hard rockers Black Robot – and Waterford’s finest punk rock duo, since 2006, Black Robots. But if I had been there, I imagine that’s someway along the lines of how it would have gone.
As a matter of fact, I jest. I wasn’t there, but thanks the wonders of leaked email correspondence, I do have an exact transcript of how it went down – and it wasn’t all that different to the hilarious children’s joke outlined above.
A few short weeks ago, Irish two-piece Black Robots were contacted by Brightman’s Black Robot – their web manager, to be precise – to inform them that their names were too similar and that his trademark was being infringed. They were told in no uncertain terms that they had been reported to Facebook, MySpace, etc. and that they would be well-advised to begin the process of changing their name before their pages were deleted.
A subsequent email by Brightman referred to this as “courteous gesture.” This seemed odd to me because I, too, in my time as Sputnik editor, have received similarly courteous gestures that have left with…
In a culmination of all that is funny about “Average Homeboy,” “The Renewed Mind is the Key,” Jon Lajoie, cults, children, epilepsy, urine, old men dressed as God, and ponytailed Aryans, comes “Pee Pee.”
John Legend posted a cover of Adele’s hit song “Rolling in the Deep” for instant download to his Soundcloud page on Wednesday evening. The cover is entirely a capella, and continues to rise Legend’s stock in my book. The harmonies are smoky and perfectly minimal, setting the perfect tone for Legend’s famously soulful pipes to belt the song’s memorable melody.
Believer have released the second track from their upcoming album, Transhuman. The song is called “Mindsteps” and it is the final track on the album. Whether you’re a long time fan or just curious, you should really check out the other song released for this album, “G.U.T.” — Go Here. I say that because “G.U.T.” is already a large enough departure from the band’s typical technical thrash style, but it’s not nearly the change that “Mindsteps” is. “Mindsteps” is a change in so many ways that it’s hard to even know where to begin. To begin with, it is easily one of the most laidback songs in the band’s history. The riff is a start/stop semi-proggy thing that is accompanied by warm synths and the occasional undulating synth. As if that wasn’t enough, the vocals have entirely changed from the nasally rasp that has been employed on every Believer song (if you don’t count the opera vocals). I won’t ruin it for anybody, but I will say that they’re really damn good.
“G.U.T.” had me curious about what this album would sound like due to the slight vocal departure and the less thrashy musical direction, but “Mindsteps” has thrown me for a loop. Believer is a great band that seems to be able to pull off whatever they do and if Transhuman ends up being a straight forward, progressive metal album that has more in common with Devin Townsend (or something similar) I believe they can do that…
The Suburbs suffers the same fate as its predecessor Neon Bible, and that is basically that it isn’t Funeral. But outside of its failure to live up to the unreasonably lofty expectations of the band’s debut, this is yet another triumph for Arcade Fire, a band that has basically stamped its name as one of the most important musical acts of our generation. The Suburbs fuse the band’s trademark grandiose nature with a sound that is geared more towards straight-up rock than it is indie, but the results of this album rest more within minor details than they do in Arcade Fire’s overall sound (which most of us have already become aware of and accustomed to). The subtle backing vocals of Régine Chassagne, the alternation in phrasing structures, the increased presence of synthesizers, and the surprisingly large role that the basslines play in establishing a groove all make The Suburbs an album worthy of high acclaim in its own right.
The Suburbs serves as something of a bridge between Neon Bible and Funeral. It shows momentary flashes of what made Funeral such a landmark album, but also maintains a great deal of the sleek, sometimes even Bruce Springsteen-like moments on Neon Bible. But if there is one…
I’m really not sure what to think of the new Justice song, which premiered in an ADIDAS commercial you can check out below. It definitely has a killer beat, and I like that the French electro duo is sticking to the sound that made them one of the preeminent voices in the dance explosion of the late ’00s. But it does kind of sound like they just made a point of throwing as much random shit into the song as possible. To be fair, however, it does make more sense in the context of the commercial (which is awesome, by the way). Look for a probable extended mix of the tune on their upcoming album later this year.
On Soundtrack to A Vacant Life, Benn Jordan seemed like he was on the verge of death. All but consumed by emotion, bleak and foreboding, his 2008 LP was intriguing in its dark soundscapes and irking ambience. Flash forward to 2010, and is The Flashbulb coming back to life. Infused with energy and spunk, Arboreal is an active listen. The artist mixes up a cascading string movement, a little melancholy piano piece, and a choppy electronic sample simultaneously, and the outcome is more organic, perhaps, than the clear-cut emotional platitudes of Vacant Life. The transitions, like always, are holy. Jordan’s ability to create beauty from a chaotic mess of disparate elements has never been this forthright, as he weaves and bends together the many aspects of the music like an artisan. Long-hailed as sit-down, concentrate, absorb-with-tender-ears kind of music, The Flashbulb manipulates this axiom of the genre into an album teeming with life. Some longtime fans expressed surprise, disgust even, at Benn Jordan’s new artistic aims; but I couldn’t be happier that The Flashbulb has found a new spring in its step, and is crafting more impressive music to complement this newfound atmosphere. - SeaAnemone
BBC’s Radio 1 premiered another new Fleet Foxes song set to appear on their forthcoming album Helplessness Blues. It’s not quite the warm, sprawling title track released a month ago, but further establishes that Helplessness Blues will be more of the same good old folk that made everyone fall in love with their debut album. I’m usually one to criticize a stagnant sound, but personally, I’ll never tire of Robin Pecknold’s voice.