The Pitchfork Music Festival, Rating: 8.6

Friday Night—Part of the “Don’t Look Back” thing, which I don’t know anything other than someone in Old Britain somehow convinces creepy old dudes to play their best or seminal (ie, not their best) album in its entirety live. One watches with grotesque curiosity at degenerating bodies flubbing their own lyrics. It was a pleasant warm cloudy day.

  • Mission of Burma (Rating: 7.1) My exposure to Mission of Burma far exceeds my appreciation of them. I have 3 albums and have seen them twice and I don’t get their celebrated status. Probably having something to do with when—not what—they played. That said, this wasn’t too bad since they were restricted to playing their best album in its entirety. But that “roman empire” song stinks, even in context.
  • Sebadoh (Rating: 6.5) I don’t remember Bubble and Scrape and I don’t think I would have liked it that much if I had. My experience of Lou Barlow begins with the beautifully sadsap Bakesale, and seeing this album in its live entirety kind of wants me to keep it that way. Lou delegated too many responsibilities back then it seemed.
  • Public Enemy (Rating: 7.0) Everyone but me seemed to be swooning with anticipation. Britt Daniel even came out and stood next to me (I asked him to not suck). Never got into these guys and I lack the capacity to fake enthusiasm. Their songs seemed to die when Flavor Flav did that “Yeah Boy” thing and Chuck D seemed to be stuck in one militant mood. Still, Flav’s television stuff and notorious undependability brought some celebrity and tension to the night. Was Flavor going to flake? But for missing the first song, he put in a solid show. Whatever people like of these guys, they liked this. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 1: As the crowd boos Flav for hawking his next reality television show (it’s on Wednesday nights!), he responds “Why you booing? You a bunch of ghosts? Don’t boo me, you fake ghosts!” Zing and zung.

Saturday—It poured all morning and was not letting up. It was far far from the nightmare that was Woodstock ’98. Still, the sogginess would persist for the rest of the festival. And then arose the dancing mud people. Oh, dancing mud people, what do you do when you’re not doing your filthy jive? Do you have jobs? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving with family? Do you even read blogs?

  • Boban I Marko Markovic Orkestar (Rating: 8.5) Late start because of rain, but still kind of a nice way to begin the festival proper. Nothing of the raucous show they put on a few days before in Millennium Park. Yet, the unpretentious galvanizing gypsy horn tunes served as a nice palate cleanser. It’s like they were wiping the slate clean for us, but we still end up chalking the same shit.
  • Titus Andronicus (Rating: 7.9) I do like them. And I think they did well in the rain. It’s still early Bright Eyes to my ears, but I don’t prize originality that highly. I like the combination of modern overeducated-underexperienced disaffected white boy angst with unhinged 50’s garage rock type pop. Reminds me of my dad. They didn’t need to be on such a big stage, though.
  • Jay Reatard (Rating: 6.4 by day; 9.1 by night) I’m a big fan of 2 minute songs. Get in and get out. And Jay is a master. No banter. Names the song title and boom he’s going. But it doesn’t work too well in the big outdoor setting. Way better for a musky windowless black room (where I would see them later that night).
  • Caribou (Rating: 7.6): Much more rocking than expected from the ethereal Andorra album, but not that much more interesting. Stayed for a few and scooted.
  • Icy Demons (Rating: 7.9): Way more interesting. And not so tricked out in weirdness, but definitely looking for new territory. Didn’t close the deal for me, but I’m not walking away yet, either.
  • Fleet Foxes (Rating: 9.1): I’m pulling for the Foxes to not be destroyed by their ridiculous press. They make pretty sounds, but they need better songs. But I think they’re all only 12 and I need to work through some jealousy. Nonetheless, they do a great job of translating their 70’s country folk sound live.
  • Fuck Buttons (Rating: 3.2): Knob rawk, don’t waste my time.
  • Dizzee Rascal (Rating: 5.1): Oh Rahzkooh, why do you hate us?
  • The Ruby Suns (Rating: 9.1): Their show minted at least one new fan. The breezy disjointed Carribean grooving were an unexpected treat as the sun came out.
  • Vampire Weekend (Rating: n/a): Didn’t see them. Just wanted to say again that I think they’re the Jar Jar Binks of Indie Rock. That’s copyrighted, btw.
  • Elf Power (Rating: 5.0) They’re like the Platonic Ideal for 90’s indie rock. If we ever do one of those satellites we fill up with crap to launch into space for aliens to find and then use to conquer us (wa-wah), we could do worse by throwing in an Elf Power CD. Completely what you (or I) would expect. Stayed for 2 songs. The aliens will have our number, for sure.
  • !!! (Rating: 6.2) I probably needed to be closer to appreciate this show. I had my !!! experience 2 years ago and was content to keep it distant. And it’s hard to get into dance-punk with a backpack. The kids seemed to like it, so good for them.
  • The Hold Steady (Rating: 9.2) I spent the first 3 songs trying to will myself not to like these guys. And I can’t do it. It’s almost un-American. Fist-pumping sing-along anthems about the self-destructive brats. They have embraced they’re place in pop and made it they’re own. I’ve heard Craig Finn say 3 separate times that there’s so much joy in what they do, I almost believe it.
  • Jarvis Cocker (Rating: 9.6): Holy mole, this guy puts on a show. I have a solo album and liked it alright. I liked Pulp, but then my exposure was only through albums there, too. The performance is a revelation. How can I become Jarvis?
  • No Age (Rating: 8.7): Wanted to see more, but was delayed by being unexpectedly impressed by and unhealthfully wanting to be Jarvis. Then they were having problems and I’m like the wind. I got to hear “Teen Creeps,” the Pitchfork 08 anthem I think.
  • Animal Collective (Rating: 9.2): Knob rawk, but on a much higher level. I was expecting something much more sloppier, befitting an Umphry’s McGee (or whatever) opener. These guys were tight. And efficient. They came to work. I wasn’t putting up with much by then. I just might learn not to regret buying “Strawberry Jam.

Sunday—It was a scorcher. Applied sunscreen 4 times to my sweat-slick forehead and I’ll still burn. But it was cost effective. Made 4 beers feel like 8.

  • Times New Viking (Rating: 7.3) I was expecting both much worse and much better. Their ridiculously low-fi ecstatic recordings portended either a brilliant live show or just sloppiness. Nonetheless, the short set of minimalist bursts of atonal poppy screaming didn’t offend or inspire.
  • The Dirty Projectors (Rating: 8.1) Maybe I’m just overly impressed that they can play Dirty Projectors’ songs. So oddball and overly constructed. But they sounded like the recordings. No fist pumping sing-alongs, though. And did they need to be on the big stage? Stay in the library, you nerds. I change my mind. 4.3.
  • Boris (9.1 for content; 4.3 for length) Japanese lady shreds. Drummer wears white gloves and plays a gong. But the token metal group only goes for 25 minutes? They flew from Japan for just 25 minutes of stage time. What kind of carbon footprint did that leave? Drummer says something about “electrical problem” but I can’t understand him.
  • Apples In Stereo (Rating: 8.5) Exactly what I expected. More nerd pop. At least these nerds were trying to be likeable. They were the eager-to-please waterboys to the indie jock squad.
  • King Khan and His Shrines (Rating: 10.0) I pretty much hate anyone who has not seen King Khan live. That casts pretty big net, I know and sorry. But by missing the rarely US-touring Canadian-Indian paunchy naked-but-for-lavender-hotpants-and-a-gold-beaded-head-dress Memphis-style soul-punk KING, it probably says something about them missing something rare and essential to life that I just can’t abide. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 2: I score a press pass gaining me front stage access. While the KING unnecessarily pantomimes lyrics from their transgendered anthem “I Want To Be A Girl,” my head ends up about a foot from where he has unsecurely tucked his manhood, exposed for all to see. Some see too much.
  • The Dodos (Rating 8.2) They probably need a smaller stage and to not come after King Khan, still the 3 guys do pretty well for the little instrumentation they bring.
  • M. Ward (Rating: Whatever) I’ve seen this guy so many times. And he doesn’t need anymore press.
  • Les Savvy Fav (Rating: 7.80 They’re alright I guess, but I’ve seen too many unappealing naked bodies today to be shocked by this guy’s antics. But still, they do an old school Superchunk cover. 
  • Spiritualized (Rating: 6.9) I really like Songs in A&E. But this seemed kind of boring here. But maybe I’m still coming off my Khan high. Too bad. He had some soulful backup singers that ended up doing too much of the lifting. Saw 3 songs and moved along.
  • Bon Iver (Rating: 9.3 for the originals; 1.2 for the Talk Talk cover) There were some really nice moments here. The crowd participation was well managed and made the experience almost cozy in the overflowing crowd. Pitchfork Priceless Moment 3: Bon Iver makes a very wrongheaded detour with an overlong cover a forgettable Talk Talk mess. The confused crowd politely applauds and yet someone shouts “More Talk Talk!”
  • Dinosaur Jr (Rating: 7.9) Holy guacamole, J Mascis is old. He now reminds me of this creepy dude who used to clean the pool at our YMCA when I was a kid. Or a short pudgy Gandolf the Grey. And say what you will of his reunion with Lou Barlow, I’m not too sure they deserved the prize spot they get in the schedule. But it was sweet that people still seem to like them. For me, that ship has sailed.
  • Spoon (Rating: 9.0) They did their job as headliners. Nothing too mindblowing, though. Speaking of jobs, I have one to wake up to tomorrow in 5 hours. I’m no dancing mud person.
Advertisements

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #1: January-February

I buy a godawful way-beyond-my-budget amount of music. It’s becoming a problem. I’m on a 90-track monthly subscription to eMusic*, but even that does little to satiate this hunger for sound. I’ve already bought over 200 songs this year, and they were like so many cocktail weenies down a well**. I need to  appreciate more, unless my hyper-consumption strip my capacity to appreciate. So this year, I will take account of every album I acquire.

Little Amber Bottles by BlancheBlanche, Little Amber Bottles

I got duped by an NPR show. It lead me right for A Sunny Day in Glasgow, but they dropped the ball on this one. They’re like a polished version of the Handsome Family, who aren’t in need of any polishing. So you get this mundane glossy americana gothic sound. Glossy goth is not good market-wise (too gothic sounding for contemporary country scene, too glossy for the americana goths…they wear chaps AND fishnets). 

Basia Bulat, Oh My Darling

I like that she’s bringing back the autoharp. And she can sound like Tonya Donnelly, which appeals to this dark place in me. The album doesn’t hang together, but there are some real nice moments.

Ra Ra Riot,  Ra Ra Riot

Some tunes can sound like tossed off Police B-sides, like right when Sting started discovering his world music lameness. But still most of the tunes got an optimistic hop to them. I’m digging it.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Scribble Mural Comic Journal

I read a lot, so I need noise to drown out the everlasting bong convention in the apartment next door. This one does the job nicely so far.

Mark Lanegan, Bubblegum

I downloaded this one by accident. (It was only a matter of time…I’ve been visiting the page for a daily for updates since I heard about the upcoming Mark Lanegan-Greg Dulli collaboration “the Gutter Twins“…which I have a sneaking feeling will be terrible…these guys have like the combined age of 158 and they want to be called “twins”?) I was surprised to discover PJ Harvey on 2 tracks,  but I think this gets cancelled out by 2 choads from Velvet Revolver on 1 track. That leaves Lanegan’s gruff coolness that can sound a little manufactured to these authentically cool gruff ears. But still, I don’t mind that I have these.

Bon Iver,  For Emma, Forever Ago

I’ve been looking forward to this one. With the anticipation that usually leaves me feeling tricked. But not here. It sounds like TVOTR’sTunde Adebimpe, but like stuck with Iron & Wine’s touring band. I am very excited. Canon-bound.

Some Racing, Some Stopping, Headlights

It’s not going to blow any minds, but it may tap some feet. I like it better than their last album, which I liked alright. Maybe they’re a Death Cab for Cutie-type that I’m not embarrassed to listen to.

High Places, 03/07 – 09/07

More fractured soundscapes for reading. But a little more upbeat.

Beach House, Devotion

I could only get 8 of these tracks, and it’s driving me nuts. I loved their last album, and I’m thinking this one is a step up. The composition is a little more complex, without sacrificing the sparse ambiance of their first tracks. There’s even a cool Daniel Johnson cover. Instant canonization.

Puerto Muerto, Songs Of Muerto County

Their performance 2 years ago left an indelible impression on me. The wife stentorian, banging on a tom while the husband is all snakey on guitar. It’s taken me that long to finally buy something, but it was worthwhile. This one also appeals to my weakness for concept albums. It has something to do with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I have now idea how, and what a terrible movie, but I’m glad I was suckered. “Josephine” alone has made this one Canon-bound.

Black Mountain, In The Future

PASTE Magazine kind of panned this album, which is making me reconsider my subscription. No wonder they give them out free. This album is excellent. Amber Webber is more prevalent, which is a great thing (check out her excellent project, Lightning Dust). The songs can get a little jammy and he can sound too much like Mudhoney, but it’s still pretty great. Canon-bound

Breathe Owl Breathe, Ghost Glacier EP

Of course I love this. It’s like it’s been custom designed for me. But now I need to buy this guy’s entire oeuvre. Oh the obligation of discovery.

Evangelicals, The Evening Descends

I really like this. It’s a like spooky Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There’s a moment in “Skeleton Man” (you’ll know it when you hear it) that has failed to not give me chills.

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon by Devendra BanhartDevendra Banhart,  Smokey Rolls Do…

I’m not a really big fan of this guy, but I still manage to have every album. How did this happen. I’ve never listened to Television, I’m not too sure who John Cale is, and yet I have over a hundred songs by this unwashed Lindsey Lohan ex. Still, this one’s better than the rest.

He Poos CloudsFinal Fantasy, He Poos Clouds

To be honest, it was the title. And I got what I paid for. I’m sure what to make of it. It sounds pretty complex and strange, but I’m not sure it’s good. I might have to be patient with this one.

 Glass Candy, Beat Box

This could be a little too trendy, or I could be going through some sort of phase (a breathy-vocals-over-chintzy-beats phase), but I’m loving it now.

Disco RomanceSally Shapiro, Disco Romance

Another by-product of my breathy-vocals-over-chintzy-beats phase, but not as satisfying as Glass Candy. I think I just want more Glass Candy. Still, it’s cute.

JukeboxCat Power, Jukebox

Not as good as her last cover album. Holy mole this is becoming a long post.

Every Joke Is Half the TruthScary Mansion, Every Joke Is Half the Truth

I think I got this one only because I was disappointed by “Jukebox” so much. Scary’s being marketed as (or described like) early Cat Power. So that may be influencing my expectations overmuch. I need to just buy more old Cat Power and come back to this when I can listen to it one its own terms.

Little HappynessThe Aluminum Group, Little Happyness

Eyah. Even though it comes from Chicago, it’s still lame euro disco pop. But I’m still listening to it. And it nauseates me a little. The electronica binge stops now.

Times New Viking, Rip It Off

I’m very excited to see these guys and gal live, but the rough recording makes it kind of hard to find the song through the mess. I know it’s intentional, but I can’t help but feel a little, yes, ripped off. But what I’ve found, I’ve liked so much.
 Tiny VipersTiny Vipers, Tiny Vipers

I blew it here. This is some kind of live album, and it’s not playing to her strengths. She has some fine buzz, but this recording is not a very good introduction. But I think I just want the Bats for Lashes album. But it’s not on eMusic. I’ll have to buy the CD. Must…resist…the…compulsion.

*I am not a shill for eMusic. I am a fan, however. There is a diff.

**Pardon the mixed metaphor.