Washed Out - Within and Without

I'm currently enrolled in a Music Criticism class at NYU.  This was an assignment for a 400 - 500 word review.  Thought I'd throw it up here.  

Best album art of the year?
In late 2009 a buzzword started floating around the internet describing the lo-fi electronic micro genre that was permeating the blogosphere.  Chillwave, as it was named, had arrived.  Characterized by bedroom production, echoing beats, processed synthesizers and a nostalgia for the 80s, the music intentionally sounded like your most played new wave cassette tape had been left crashing in the surf, only to be bleached by the sun as the tide receded. 

            2011 has seen the follow up releases for many of chillwave’s front-running artists, including 27 year old Georgia based Ernest Greene, who produces under the name Washed Out.  But with waning interest in the genre, it’s hard to know what to expect in new releases from these young artist.  Two years since chillwave’s appearance and it already seems like a fad, a flash in the pan.  Can these artists continue to entice with new sounds, or will chillwave prove to be nothing more than a production technique used to drown recycled ideas in reverb? 


The Shivers

An old friend from Jackson Hole who also now lives in Brooklyn invited me to see this band the Shivers tonight at an old schoolhouse thats been converted into a loft - art space thing.  After seeing Wilco play an amazing set in Central Park, visiting JHer Mike Brin and I headed back to BK for this show, only to show up late and only catch the last two songs.  But it wasn't a total bust - in researching the band today I had one of those why-have-I-never-heard-this-fucking-song-before moments with this one:

The song is Beauty, off The Shivers debut record Charades from back in '04.  I've had it on repeat all day, maybe cuz someone special decided to move to Ireland yesterday, maybe cuz its just a dam beautiful song about the things that songs discuss best.  

this one ain't too shabby either: 

The Shivers - Just Didn't Need To Know 

With 6 releases under their belt, I'm looking forward to finding a few more gems from these guys.  

Things I saw on the street yesterday

More after the JUMP


Art of Flight

I caught this premier 2 weeks ago and reviewed it for JHunderground here.  Thought as the movie starts to tour, its worth mentioning that the music is spectacular in this film.  A bunch of great stuff from the Naked and Famous and M83, as well as M83's collaboration with Art of Flight filmmaker Curt Morgan which is featured in this trailer.  I love to see ski movies that trade in the usual mountian dew fueled butt-rock for indie music.  The sweeping electronics of M83's Alex Gonzalez give the film that extra epic push (as if the beauty of the shots alone were not enough) 

New track from M83 off of his forthcoming double disk Hurry Up I'm Dreaming (not featured in the film that I remember, but it rules!):

Midnight City by M83

"Young Blood" from The Naked and Famous's 2010 release Passive Me, Aggressive You:
This track is used in a ridiculous tree jibbing scene ala the films predecessor in this scene.


Lia Ices

Sunday morning is my favorite time for listening to music.  It is, in fact, part of the inspiration for the name of this site.  There's nothing quite like waking up on a sunday morning, laying around with the stereo on, sipping coffee, making breakfast, reading the paper.  Sitting lazily in your slippers till the football game starts.  

I'm going to try to start posting my favorite Sunday morning music on, you guessed it, Sunday morning.  So here we go with the first shot at that.  

I first discovered Lia Ices through her collaboration with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, which is featured on this record as the second track, Daphne.  Vernon's name has been everywhere the last couple years, from his colab with post rock band Collections Of Colonies of Bees known as Volcano Choir, to his R&B super group Gayngs, to his well documented presence on Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  It's almost starting to feel cliche, and i'm worried about a possible burn out as the addition of Vernon's affected falsetto continues to pop up all over the place (see: the upcoming James Blake EP).

With that said, if it wasn't for press coverage of Vernon's presence on the above track, I never would have found this amazing record.  This is an ideal Sunday morning record, beautiful and soft with mellow pop hues and enough variation to avoid fading into background music.  The textures of off center sounds, matched with Lia Ices' beautiful voice allow each track to build into small victories.  


Young Man

One of my most played records of the summer, Young Man's Boy EP, is gonna see its proper full length follow up at the end of the month.  I somehow missed the EP last year, pretty sure it was released in August when I was on an epic cross country move.  But one day my roommate was playing it off a Urban Outfitter comp or something like that and I had one of those "I have to know what this is right now" moments.  The sound is has a super mellow beach vibe with hints of psychedelia, like a combination of Panda Bear, Beach Boys, and a nerdier Jack Johnson.  I loved the EP, but didn't fully realize its awesomeness until lying around in bed on hot summer mornings.  Opening track, "Five":

The new record is out 9/27.  Here's the video for the first track "Enough"

 Buy the EP, pre-order the LP here


downtempo vibes from Shlohmo

Just in time to re-enter study mode, where I listen almost exclusively to music without words, comes the debut release from 19 year old LA producer Shlohmo.  This guy brings dark, dreamy broken beats with R&B flourishes, borrowing themes from some of my favorite downtempo and post-dubstep (thats right, post-dubstep) producers.  The track bellow has been on repeat for me lately.  Dig the the haunted coffee house vibe, like the ghosts of some late 90's R&B group sipping lattes by firelight.  
Shlohmo - Bad Vibes


new Air France mix

Air France barely left my stereo in the summer of '08.  It's hazey nostalgic sound was a the perfect soundtrack for what I remember as carefree summer spent between KHOL, the Snake River Brew Pub and the Cache creak trail system.  There has been little output from these guys since, a couple singles here and there, which left me wondering what happened to them as the genre they more or less helped to create (chillwave, whose rise and fall represents to me one of the more interesting trends in micro-genres) took off.  
Well, here they are with a mix that does not disappoint.  The band says of the mix “it’s September soon, and it may be audible in the mix. It’s a beautiful month, but also a month of changes, both good and bad, you know?” I'd second that.  More info on the mix at FACT's website here.
From their incredible 2008 EP No Way Down

Check out the mix here.


Siskiyou - Twigs And Stones

Back in NYC, doing some catching up on music listening before another semester begins next week.  I was scouring some of my favorite blogs today and found this track on muzzleofbees and have had it on repeat since.  Such a jam, has elements of some of my musical features: mellow intros, epic chorus, non-funk horns, and mountain metaphors.  Will be eagerly looking forward to the release of this album, titled Keep Away The Dead, in October.  


Yellow Ostrich - Mary (Alternate Take)

I've been loving this song all summer.  Yellow Ostrich's album The Mistress was self released on the artist's Bandcamp page in 2010, and recently re-released by Barsuk records after some much deserved praise.