Author Archives: dlee

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use.

January 18, 2018 — “I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman

King Woman

If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman (2018, from a digital single). The original song was an anthemic hit for The Stone Roses from their self-titled album in 1989. Interestingly, that single never charted in the UK, but it was pretty huge in the US. That album was really successful, but we all know what happened after that.

King Woman is a doomgaze quartet from San Francisco. The band is fronted by Kristina Esfandiari, who used to be in Miserable, and also in Whirr. You may remember that I featured King Woman’s amazing cover of “Fond Affections”. We knew that as a This Mortal Coil song, but that was itself a cover of a song originally done by Rema-Rema. You may also remember my account of some dude falling asleep while leaning against me at a King Woman show last September at Hopscotch. The point is that we really like King Woman.
I just read about this cover of “I Wanna Be Adored”, which was released yesterday. Before I even listened to it, I knew that it would be my song of the day. Just as I suspected, it’s a very dark, but marvelous cover that breathes different air into a brilliant song.

The song is obviously about fame and getting there with or without a Faustian deal.

I don’t need to sell my soul
He’s already in me
I wanna be adored

The original is low-end heavy, but it’s still bright and shimmering. This is dark and gloomy. It has a completely different texture and a different mood. It’s longer by a minute, and sounds like Bauhaus if Bauhaus had been on Quaaludes instead of cocaine. It’s Bauhaus with the music pitched way down and the vocals pitched up. The sludgy quality that I was expecting makes it a much better version of the song in my opinion.

“I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman

You can barely make out the lyrics because it’s so incredibly sludgy. Except, of course, that bit in the bridge before the last chorus when it’s just “Adored. Ad-ooooooooored”. We love how heavy and gloomy this is

I really like the original, and I always have. This has it beat, though. At least in my book.

Get your digital download of the song here.


January 17, 2018 — “Ariadne” by Typhoon

Typhoon

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Ariadne” by Typhoon (2018, from the album Offerings).
Typhoon is an indie rock/orchestral rock/post-pop band from Portland, Oregon. There may be anywhere from eight to eleven members depending upon which source you rely. They’ve been around since 2005, but they really started to gain recognition five years ago. You may remember that I fell in love with their 2013 album White Lighter. I called that album my third favourite album of the year, and that was a REALLY good year. They’ve taken some time off since then, and the new album –their fourth– has just been released via Roll Call Records.
With no past and no future, there is only suffocating, annihilating present, looping on and on ad infinitum (to me, one plausible definition of hell) and the best you can hope for is that somewhere in the void there exists some small, irreducible certainty—a fragment, a kernel, something—that you may have the good fortune to stumble upon before it’s all over.

The new album is massive. It’s a little lengthy at 70 minutes, and it’s got some enormous sounds. But it’s also massive in the sense of its theme. Frontman Kyle Morton has described the opus this way:

It’s a record from the perspective of a mind losing its memory at precisely the same time the world is willfully forgetting its history. The urgent question becomes: without causality, without structures of meaning, without essential features of rational thought, is there anything that can save us from violence / oblivion?

You know, a boy/girl-meets-girl/boy-everyone-dies-in-botched-attempt- at-neo-pagan-sacrificial-ritual-on-global-scale kind of thing.

There’s a lot of stuff about memory, memory loss, the desire to rebuild memories. And it’s meant to be a story in four parts as the character of the story goes through four stages: (1)Floodplains; (2)Flood; (3)Reckoning; (4)Afterparty. The vinyl is a 2XLP, and I imagine that each stage of the story is its own album side.

For a lot of reasons, I’m reminded of the remarkable Hospice album by The Antlers. Incidentally, I was a little late to the game on Hospice, but I would have named it my absolute #1 album of that year. Like that album, there’s a running story. Like that album, the character of said story is going through some tough stuff. Like that album, I can’t get enough of this. Offerings is half again as long as Hospice‘s 45 minutes, so it requires much more of an investment, but it’s well worth it. It’s a really beautiful album that is certain to end very near the top of my list and a bunch of other lists.

I somehow missed the advance push on this album, but I was intrigued by a quote from the venerable Bob Boilen over at NPR’s All Songs Considered. He sent the following text to the show’s co-host:

Good lord, this Typhoon album is brilliant… haven’t cried listening to a record since Carrie and Lowell

He’s referring to the 2015 album by Sufjan Stevens. This is extraordinarily high praise from a dude who listens to boatloads of records. Frankly, though, I have to call Boilen out. If he didn’t cry whilst listening to Phil Elverum’s (Mt. Eerie) A Crow Looked at Me last year, then he’s a complete monster.

Anyway, this album knocked me out the first time I listened, and this song, from the final part of the story, is one of my favourites.

“Ariadne” by Typhoon

One of the things that I love about this song is the same thing that I love about most Typhoon songs. It has distinct parts while being a small part of a really big picture. There are ebbs and flows within the song. Quiet/loud/quiet. Dark/light. Tempo changes. Changes of instruments. All of that and more. There’s something about Morton’s voice that reminds me a bit of Peter Silberman out of The Antlers. And as I said before, this record has other elements that remind me of Hospice. Plus, I have vivid memories of falling in love with Hospice on a snowy day in January 2011, just as I am falling deeper in love with Offerings on a snowy day in January 2018.

There is also tons of rich imagery in the lyrics. The song plays a big part in the theme of our world falling apart around us while we try to forget:

Images of the primitive awakened from a dream
Console yourself with the morning bells
But you can’t shake the feeling of being tied down to a table
The guests are sharpening their teeth

Everyone is a hostage
How will we ever get free?
We can’t even go a minute without trying to burn an effigy

Go ahead, get comfortable, forget your past lives
You find the devil’s mansion has many rooms inside
There’s no features, there’s no furniture
But you got nothing to hide

Everyone is a terrorist now
Don’t you know the neighbor?
And if there’s any chance of getting out
You gotta make yourself remember

There’s a lot to unpack there, but the things that stand out the most to me are the “we can’t go a minute without trying to burn an effigy” and the “if there’s any chance of getting out, you gotta make yourself remember”.

There’s also a line that seems a little out-of-place with the theme of the song and also with the overall theme of the album, and it’s a difficult bit to swallow:

I wanna love you. I just don’t have the time

There’s also a bit of spoken dialog at the end of the song. I don’t know if it’s created for the album, or if it’s been lifted from some source, or if it’s a field recording, but there’s a line which is the first thing on the album

Of everything you’re about to lose
this will be the most painful

That line is repeated as part of a longer bit at the end of this song:

The spiral is unspooling, the center couldn’t hold
We choked on our inheritance, and hell on earth is cold
I forgive you — brothers, sisters — thread my neck into the noose
It’s my only offering, and I pray that you refuse
Of everything that you’re about to lose
This will be the most painful

Again, there’s a lot to unpack in those 53 words, and I’m not equipped to do it. The listener has to do her own work on that, but it’s really powerful and really beautiful.

This is a stunning, if not perfect record that I urge you all to listen to repeatedly. You can buy it from the Roll Call Records store here.

The band is currently on a tour that will have them cross the North American continent from west to east and back again. Check the tour dates here. See them if you can.


January 16, 2018 — “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

Anna Burch

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch (2018, from the forthcoming album Quit the Curse).
Anna Burch is an indie pop singer-songwriter working out of Detroit. Years ago, she was the front of a band called Failed Flowers, and she had been in other bands, but she took some time away from music to go to grad school. After that, she moved to Detroit and started a solo career. She got a big break when she was spotted by fellow Michigander Fred Thomas, who was once a member of His Name is Alive, and was also the front of the indie pop band Saturday Looks Good to Me. Thomas has also put out a few solo records and contributed to dozens of albums across many genres. As the story goes, he sent her demo to Polyvinyl Records with a note that said “This is not a drill. You need to hear this”. They liked it, and they quickly signed her. Her debut album Quit the Curse will be out on February 2.
This has all happened very quickly. Thomas sent the demos in the summer of 2017. She had a bunch of songs written, and she had also caught the ear of Collin Dupuis, who has mixed records by Angel Olsen, Mynabirds, The Black Keys, Grant-Lee Phillips, and many others. He helped her fine-tune those songs, and the end result is Quit the Curse. Only six months passed from the time Thomas said “listen to this” to the time Polyvinyl said “We’re putting this record out”. They announced the signing in late October and started promoting the album in November. I’ve been getting emails about a couple of the songs, and with the release date just a couple of weeks away, it’s time.
Some say she sounds like the brilliant no-fucks-given mid-90s indie rock of Liz Phair. Some people say she’s like Courtney Barnett. I get that, but I hear other things like the precision, power and punk-lite beauty of That Dog combined with the gritty and angular but silky smoothness of Julie Doiron. Boil all of that down, add a dash of Mitski, and I get Anna Burch. I love all of her songs that I’ve heard, but I love this one the most:
“Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

I love it. And I love that it’s just a song about raw emotion. It’s not about romance and all that stuff: it’s about sex. Or wanting someone really badly. There’s one bit about not playing the game of trying to be wooed

I forgot to fake
the way that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late
All my cards are showing

and then the other bit about again accidentally-on purpose putting the ball in her own court:

No you can’t come up
Who am I kidding.. I would drag you up

But then there’s the bit where the other person might not feel the same:

What was that you said
That I don’t exist inside your head

Ouch!

There’s also some line about making a fool of herself in the interest of getting with this person. It may be to no avail, but she takes it in stride:

So I made a scene
I can think of things more embarrassing

Of course she really lays it on the line at the end:

You’re all I wanted
You’re all I wanted

Everyone understands these kinds of emotions. Everyone –well, mostly everyone– has given their unrequited love before. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. See also: “Your Best American Girl”.

There’s also a video of the song, and the video is another thing that makes me think of Julie Doiron.

Quit the Curse will be out on February 2, and you can pre-order it via Polyvinyl here. There’s a cool “pink/white starburst” vinyl in a limited run of 300 as well as a green vinyl, cd, cassette, and digital versions.


January 10, 2018 — “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

Corniglia

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia (2018, from the album Corniglia).
Corniglia is an indie rock/psychedelic/dream-pop duo from Perth. Matt Irwin is the primary songwriter, while the Italian-born Chloe De Paoli is the singer. They just released their self-titled debut album yesterday, and I got a thing in the mail bag about it. The great Australia-centric indie music magazine Happy has also really been pumping their tires a lot, which drew my attention even more.
To be fair, the email promised “psychedelic infused shoegaze”, which got me really excited. There’s a lot of wonderful shoegaze coming out of Australia these days, and I thought this would be an addition to the ever-growing list. I’ve listened the whole album, and there just isn’t much about this that makes me think of shoegaze. I like it a lot, but it’s dream-pop at best. I definitely get a lot of psychedelic and some ethereal vibes. Classify it however you want: it’s still pretty damn good.

Thanks to the organs/synths and the delay on the vocals, it’s a little hazy and a little cloudy. It may be Australian summer, but this song doesn’t make me think of driving around with the windows open, the birds singing, and the sun beating down on my shoulders. This makes me of driving around at night with only the moon and the stars above. It it makes me feel good.

“Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

I’ve just listened to this song a few times in a row, and I like it more with each listen. Chloe’s vocals remind me of someone, but I can’t quite figure it out. No matter what, I like it and I’ll look forward to more from this group in the future.

You can buy a download of Corniglia via Bandcamp here.


January 9, 2018 — “Fool’s Gold” by S. Carey

Sean Carey

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Fool’s Gold” by S Carey (2018, from the forthcoming album Hundred Acre).
S. Carey is the stage name of Eau Claire, Wisconsin indie-folk rocker Sean Carey. Although he’s put out two solo albums and a couple of EPs, he’s probably most known for being a vocalist and one of two drummers in Bon Iver. The first two records —All We Grow (2010) and Range of Light (2014)– had “generally positive” reviews, and the forthcoming Hundred Acre is getting tons of advance praise.

The new record, which will be out on February 23 via Jagjaguwar Records has been called his most personal work yet, and like the first Bon Iver record, it’s “basic” and beautiful. It’s stripped down: guitar, strings, pedal steel, synths, drums, and Carey’s dulcet vocals. Carey is challenging the listener to join him “to strive for a near-utopian ideal of returning to a simpler way of life, and loving those around you, to heal personal wounds.” That’s from the press release back in November. I’ve just gotten around to listening to the new song, and I really can’t wait for the full album. This is that song:

“Fool’s Gold” by S. Carey

The slide guitar is brilliant. There’s a fine line between “enough” slide guitar and “way too much” slide guitar. They’ve found the right side of it. The balance of the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar is amazing. Carey’s vocals are perfect. Beautiful and heartbreaking. I absolutely love the sparseness of the whole thing. Best of all, though, the lyrics don’t get in the way of a beautiful song like they might with a Sun Kil Moon song. Oh no. This is the kind of song that Mark Kozelek wishes he could still write.

This is also the kind of song that reminds us why we loved Bon Iver in the first place. To be honest, I didn’t care for the newest Bon Iver record, but I still hold For Emma, Forever Ago (2007) in the very highest regard. Certainly one of my favourite records of the first decade of the 2000s.

You can and should watch the below video of Carey’s band playing the song:

The album doesn’t come out until February 23, but you can pre-order it via Jagjaguwar in your choice of physical formats including “translucent green” vinyl and “blue haze” vinyl here. You can also order a digital copy via Bandcamp here.

Finally, you should also go catch S Carey on tour. Bon Iver will be at Austin City Limits later this month, then the UK this March. Right after that S Carey will tour the east coast and midwest US. See the tour dates here.


January 8, 2018 — “Petal” by Hovvdy

Hovvdy

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Petal” by Hovvdy (2018, from the forthcoming album Cranberry).
Hovvdy is a slowcore/bedroom pop/”pillowcore” duo from Austin, Texas. Yes. Another band who uses a “double-v” in their band name in lieu of a “w”. Will Taylor and Charlie Martin, who are both drummers, met in 2014, and bonded over their love of downtempo pop music. They recorded some stuff in bedrooms and living rooms, and in 2016, they released their debut album Taster via Sports Day Records. That album was re-released by Double Double Whammy Records last year. Their sophomore album Cranberry is due out on February 9 via DDW. They’ll follow the record release with a mini-tour that features three shows in Texas, two in Mississippi, two in Tennessee, one in Louisiana, and one in Brooklyn.

I had never heard of the band before I got something in the mail bag about them. As everyone knows, I love DDW Records, and the email had a bunch of alluring press clippings. After giving a quick listen to a few songs, I really like what these guys are doing. There’s something really familiar about their style, and it took me a while, but I ultimately decided that they sound like Matt Pond doing early Built To Spill covers. Today’s song is my favorite of the three that I’ve heard, but they’re all great.

This is that song.
“Petal” by Hovvdy

Whichever one of the guys who does most of the singing has a nice falsetto that reminds me just a little of Doug Martsch out of Built to Spill. This guy sings better than Martsch, though. The song structure is a little like a lot of Built to Spill songs. Specifically, I’m thinking of “Car”. Except it’s slower-paced and much prettier. Like the way it might be if done by MPPA.

You can pre-order a digital copy of the album via Bandcamp here. You can also pre-order physical formats including a “cranberry red in milky clear” vinyl via the DDW web store here.

You can also see the beautifully shot video below. Bicycles. Pickup trucks. Dogs. Tree-lined streets. It’s got everything. Plus it’s got the band playing the song.


January 5, 2018 — “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations (2018, from the forthcoming album Dead Vibrations)
Dead Vibrations is a noise pop/shoegaze/psych rock quartet from Stockholm. They’ve been around since 2015, but they just released their first EP Reflections last year, and they’re all set to put out their eponymous debut album on January 26 via Fuzz Club Records.

The band has already been getting a lot of good press, and this new album should push them to the front of the Scandinavian shoegaze scene. I had never heard the band before, but I got something in the mail bag suggesting a sound reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and the Seattle grunge scene of the 1990s. In today’s song, there’s a small bit that absolutely reminds me of “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees. Painted with broader strokes, today’s song reminds me more of Swervedriver than of the Mary Chain. On other songs, there’s a more viscous texture, and I’m reminded of Sonic Youth. And these are all fantastic things to be reminded of.

“On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

The part where the drums come in at 0:32 up until where the vocals come in at 1:20 is the bit that reminds me of that Screaming Trees song. Then it gets noisy and has me thinking about Mezcal Head. There’s a bridge that’s a little Sonic Youth-esque, then back to that drumbeat at around 3:40.

I like this a lot. And I love the rest of the album. The rest of the album is a little sludgier and packed a little tighter. They don’t breathe very much, but that’s okay. This is meant to be sweaty and beer-soaked.

Look for the album on January 26. You can pre-order the vinyl here. It might be kind of fun to play that record with the pitch adjusted down to make it even sludgier. Pre-order the digital version here.

You should also check out the video of the band doing this song on a rooftop:


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