Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back To April

And here it is- turning another page in the calendar. The last 30 days or so have been filled with the good (seeing Pulp in NYC, seeing The Horrors upon my return to Boston the day after, rediscovering my obsession with industrial music), the bad (increased stress at work, The Futureheads releasing an a capella album), and the unexpected. It was one of those months when looking at my own Tweets in the hopes of retracing my steps to see how I had been spending my time still didn't provide any clear-cut answers. And though I've been neglecting the blog, I've still managed to continue my neverending search for that perfect beat. So with that, here's the April installment of my "Monthly Favorites Mixtape" series. It'll be a listen filled with swirling synths, fuzzed out guitars, and big choruses...just the way things should be.


April 2012 Mixtape
1. Spiritualized, "So Long You Pretty Thing": I think it's safe to say that Spiritualized has been one of my favorite bands since about 1997. It's a very specific time because that was the first summer I spent in Boston which was pretty much soundtracked by Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Their latest album is downright stunning. This song closes things and it showcases a side of the band that I can only describe as damaged beauty. 

2. Brendan Benson, "The Light Of Day": Somehow Brendan Benson manages to quietly yet consistently release solid records. His latest, What Kind Of World is no exception. This one is a power pop gem that I've come to expect from him. It's no wonder Jack White is a believer.

3. Lotus Plaza, "Monoliths": One listen to Lotus Plaza and it won't be a surprise that lead man, Lockett Pundt is also the guitarist of Deerhunter. He's picked up some tricks from Bradford Cox one of which is a knack for catchy yet hypnotic songs like this one.

4. Bear In Heaven, "Sinful Nature": On this Brooklyn band's latest album, I Love You, It's Cool they dive a bit deeper into the euphoric psychedelic synthpop hinted at on their 2009 breakthrough, Beast Rest Forth Mouth. Though the album's lead single, "The Reflection Of You" might be its best, "Sinful Nature" is the record's most seductive moment.

5. Motor, "Pleasure In Heaven" (feat. Gary Numan): Motor's first single this year was the killer, Martin L. Gore-assisted EBM stomper, "Man Made Machine," incidentally the title track to their latest. And while the electronic duo are comfortable on a techno dancefloor, here they slow things down and get a little help from guest vocalist, Gary Numan. This track leads me to believe that there might be a "Gary Numan Rule" which would be extremely similar to both the "Robert Smith Rule" and the "Zola Jesus Rule" (both of which were explored here.

6. School Of Seven Bells, "Kiss Them For Me": This 7" release was the main reason I celebrated Record Store Day this year after last year's abysmal RSD experience in New Jersey at Vintage Vinyl. And contrary to what my coworkers believe, Record Store Day is a real day (, one I did not make up...although I admit, it does sound like something I'd make up. Anyway, SVIIB is another recent favorite band of mine which is an obvious choice since they mix electro-pop, dreampop, and a touch of goth. This song definitely touches on the goth side of things since it is an excellent cover of a Siouxsie & The Banshees song.

7. The Raveonettes, "Into The Night": Another Record Store Day release. This one was a surprise as I remember walking into Newbury Comics in a desperate search for SVIIB and finding the Into The Night double 7" from this Danish noise-pop act (yes, another favorite of mine over the years.) I had no idea it was even coming out. Thankfully, all 4 songs are if I expected anything less.

8. Jack White, "Sixteen Saltines": It's hard to believe that after all these years, Blunderbuss is Jack White's first proper solo album. Of course, it's pretty excellent probably closest, sonically, to Get Behind Me Satan. This one is just a scorching guitar rocker which is also a good description for Jack White, himself.

9. Japandroids, "The House That Heaven Built": About 30 seconds. That's how far I got into this song before I realized it's awesomeness. This Vancouver fuzz-punk duo keeps things simple relying on plenty of "oh-oh"'s in just about every song - yet instead of sounding repetitive or lazy, it makes their songs instantly catchy. And then there's the lyrics. Simple and to the point delivered with such conviction that a line like "And if they try to slow you down / tell them all to go to hell" is a moment of clarity. Seriously, this song is the definition of "instant singalong." Their new album, Celebration Rock, is due out in June and there's no doubt  in my mind that it'll be awesome. Really, Japandroids Rules, OK?!

Bonus track:
One last thing before I go. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Adam Yauch. I was genuinely saddened to hear the news of his passing. Beastie Boys are one of those acts that transcended what they started out as and becoming one of the most important and well-respected groups ever. Everyone swears by Paul's Boutique, but for me, Check Your Head was their moment of perfection.

I actually saw Adam Yauch on an Amtrak train a few years ago. I was on my way to New Jersey to visit my family and as we were stopped at New York Penn Station to let on new passengers, I look up and there he is waiting on the line to depart the train. I couldn't believe it was him. I kept looking at him and looking around at everyone thinking "how does no one here know who that is?!" So instead of causing a scene, I waited until he was a few feet from where I was sitting and in a volume loud enough that I knew he would hear me, and with a bit of disbelief in my voice, all I could say was "MCA!!" He looked at me and nodded. It was one of the coolest things ever...and that's coming from someone who has met Joey Ramone and Robert Smith.  On the day of MCA's passing, I took to Twitter and posted the following:

The first ever mosh pit I was ever in was during the Beastie Boys at Lollapalooza 1994. RIP MCA. You're already missed.

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