Bands seldom have names that describe what it is that they do. In fact, more often their names have nothing much to do with the kind of music they play. Canada’s The New Pornographers obviously don’t do what their rather risqué name suggests. Neither does Portland’s electronica band STRFKR do whatever you may think they do once you put all the missing letters back into their name. So when I came across a New York band called Endless Boogie, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d got a lead on them from a blog and when I checked them out I realised that they might be one band that lives up to its name. Read more
The box set comprising the entire second season of Treme had been lying on my bedside table for months without being watched. One reason for that was, of course, time. Watching a box set can become an addiction and even if you start by watching the first couple of episodes, before you realise it, you’ve spent the entire night, eyes glued to the television screen, watching the entire truckload of episodes and, in effect, killed any prospect of functioning normally at work the following morning. Read more
Sometimes when you’re searching for new musicians you need look no further than the record label that publishes their work. Sub Pop is one such label. Set up in Seattle 25 years ago, it was a independent label that made a name when it signed up the vanguards of the Seattle grunge rock movement—Nirvana, of course, but also Mudhoney and Soundgarden. Those three bands may be legendary in rock music’s history but the list of great bands that have worked with the label is impressive—Sonic Youth, Death Cab for Cutie, White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Built to Spill, Foals, The Smashing Pumpkins…. It’s a long list of stellar musicians and bands. So, although Sub Pop is not really a kosher indie label any longer (Warner Brothers has a biggish stake in it now), many people trust the label so much as to blindly pick up albums by new artists that it signs on. I tried Wolf Parade, Vetiver, CSS (Cansei der Ser Sexy, a very agreeable Brazilian band) and many other bands that I’ve become a fan of now simply because they have worked with Sub Pop. Read more
It is likely you may not have even heard of S Carey, leave alone heard his music. I hadn’t a clue who this guy was till I accidentally caught a set by him and his band at a free live gig in Brooklyn recently. Carey (whose real name is Sean Carey) plays the drums with a flair that shows his influences – shades of percussive jazz. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Carey has been surrounded by music all his life (he’s probably still in his twenties) as a son of a music teacher in Wisconsin. His set was full of brooding, inward-looking tracks, made all the more deep by his bandmate Mike Noyce who adds layers of low-frequency string sounds on an upright viola. Carey, who self-released his debut album, All We Grow, this year, plays what you could call chamber pop with a touch of folk music and a non-intrusive, ambient nature. Read more
My trainer is an ogre and I’m his guinea-pig. Or, his lab rat at the gym. What else could explain the torture he subjects me to every morning? Pull-ups, push-ups, presses of different kinds, squats, deadlifts…. till everything becomes a blurry haze and my body feels as if someone’s put it through a sugarcane juice maker. Of course, I willingly do his bidding—in what you could call a valiant attempt at postponing the sag of age with the help of a quotidian dose of extreme physical discomfort. It would be unfair to blame my trainer for what I go through every morning because the poor chap is only trying to help me do what I’ve signed up for. But it is a tough proposition: he is an insistent coach, firm and no-nonsense, but that alone is not nearly enough to see me through my workouts. For that I have to reach out for music. Read more
There’s a 1999 three-disc album called Everything Is Nice: The Matador Records 10th Anniversary Anthology. If you like indie, alternative bands, you ought to own that album of 43 excellent tracks by a bunch of super talented bands and musicians. If you’re a die-hard indie fan, I’m sure you probably have the Matador anthology or, at least, have heard of it. If not, here’s a sneak peek at that 12-year-old album. Artists featured on the album include indie star acts like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and Modest Mouse but also lesser known bands such as Chavez, Bardo Pond, Solex and Khan.
I don’t know how many people read this column regularly (four, perhaps?) but ever since Download Central began a little over a year back, I’ve heard one common response: “Why do you write about bands that we’ve never heard of?” This has become such a refrain that I’ve often felt a twinge of self-doubt. Am I really writing about completely obscure bands that no one knows or cares about? If that was indeed true, what was the point of writing the column?