Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Whatever

Via some wonderful music publicists (notably Jessi Hector at Goldest Egg), here are a few free downloads -- "gifts," if you will. Because even though you're regifting your dead grandma's used curling iron, you don't have to deprive yourself, for Pete's sake. (Notice the tactful abstention from the C-word in that last exclamation; even I have my scruples at this time of year.) Right-click on the links to download these songs.

Golden Shoulders, "Mountains": The first track from the California collective's May 2009 release Get Reasonable. A very solid album, filled with a toe-tapping, down-home indie aesthetic. Fitting, then, that Golden Shoulders' most recent tour was completed without mics, amps, or any other electrical appliance whatsoever. You can practically hear the thwap of the gut-bucket.
Real Ones, "Every Dog Has His Day": It may seem sacrilegious, but I really do think the lead singer of this Norwegian band sounds strikingly similar to David Byrne. The similarity ends there, though -- and by the time the banjo and weirdly political lyrics kick in, I start to regret the comparison. Still, it's got a fun, Afro-pop vibe to it.
Dragon Turtle, "Island of Broken Glass": Complexly layered instrumentation; drifting, ambient melodies; vaguely intelligible lyrics. Early Grizzly Bear, anyone?

Karin Park, "Ashes" (and other tracks): Another Norwegian-based musician, but this one's of Swedish extraction. I have a soft spot for Karin Park because she plays a keytar; if you're a fan of Lykke Li or The Knife, you'll find your own reasons to like her.

Little Girls, "Growing": I find this song title/band name juxtaposition a little weird, especially since Little Girls is an all-male band -- but whatever. The lo-fi Canadian group sounds a lot like Joy Division, but with more atmosphere and (slightly) less malaise. [To download this and the following tracks, follow the link and click 'download' under the embedded player.]

Surfer Blood, "Swim": A bunch of plaid-clad Floridian boys, Surfer Blood were the golden children of CMJ 2009. They're equal parts surf-soundtrack and late-nineties alt-rock, and are all-around perfect for forgetting this miserable wintry hole we seem to have found ourselves in.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Out in the cold, Rick Moody turns to music

I need to preface this by saying that I'm a big Ice Storm fan, and I have nothing but respect (and a little nomenclatural envy) for Rick Moody -- but I can't help but wondering if he didn't go and form a band because the literary world has become a little less than hospitable. I only recently learned that Moody sings and plays guitar in a old-timey Brooklyn-based group called the Wingdale Community Singers, but it's no secret that he has long been the most famous target of outspoken critic Dale Peck (in a 2002 New Republic column, and later the memorably hostile collection Hatchet Jobs).

That was back in 2004, but when I shared The Wingdale Singers' MySpace link with a few print-media colleagues earlier this week, they both shot back Peck's infamous dig: that Moody is "the worst writer of our generation." Now, I can't say I agree with them -- in fact, I'm a little scared to even be on the same page as Peck, as he's highly combustible -- but I also can't deny the convenient connection between the general hostility I'm sensing and Moody's creative lane-changing. (The fact that he put his blinker on around the time of Peck's suckerpunch only reinforces it -- the Wingdale Singers formed in 2002, the year of The Review.)

Speculation aside, though, I like what Moody's doing here; the music has an O Brother Where Art Thou vibe, he and his bandmates are on point, and Nina Katchadourian is their bassist. I'd be curious to hear Peck's opinion, but he's basically been pushed from the herd. (Maybe he'll start a band, too. Something like this.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Girl Talk is cheap ... free, even

Remember when Radiohead tried that whole pay-what-you-want model back in early 2008? Seems to have caught on; now the subversive indie label Illegal Art is giving away its entire back catalog, including Girl Talk albums Unstoppable (2003), Night Ripper (2006), and Feed the Animals (2008). His debut, Secret Diary (2002), will be available in early January.

None of these Girl Talk albums could have been all that costly to make (being basically, ahem, other people's music and all), so it's not like Greg Gillis is going to be putting himself in a hole by going this route. Still, you have to respect a guy who's willing to give his entire oeuvre away for free -- especially when he's simultaneously releasing one of the freebies (Night Ripper) as a $100 two-LP limited-edition vinyl set. All the proceeds are going to a clean-water charity but, good cause notwithstanding, methinks he'll have some trouble selling the cow.