Music for winter

My least favorite time of year is upon us. The cold and lack of Vitamin D aren’t exactly uplifting, but I have to admit winter does have a certain melancholic beauty.

To best describe the characteristics of winter beauty I use the Japanese word edaburi, which translated as near as may be, means the formative arrangement of bare branches on a tree in winter.

And there are many songs I think of as winter songs. These songs tend to be sparse, minimal and a more about space than mass, just like the tree in winter as opposed to the tree in late spring.

Winter comes as close to nothingness, to the void, as we can get. So then, it’s also the time of year I read Beckett. It helps to think of winter music in terms of Beckett’s style, or maybe International Modernist architecture. All the excess is cut away, and only the essential meaning is left.

Some choice winter tracks are after the jump.



In Samuel Beckett related news, there is an upcoming production of Krapp’s Last Tape at JHU starting February 16, and running for five performances.

New Music for your Manic Monday

Some cool stuff coming up:

– This week, we see the release of the 25th Anniversary edition of Thriller, Michael Jackson’s landmark pop-transcending musical opus…you know, pre-albino freak-out. CD has a bunch of remixes tacked on and comes complete with music videos including a digitally re-polished “Thriller” as well as live performance footage.

Since Jack-o seems to have enthralled YouTube into preventing embedding of his video, I have taken the liberty of embedding the Indian version, musically less entertaining, but comedically much better than the original.

– Everyone’s favorite indie-pop jokers We Are Scientists are releasing their latest LP, Brain Thrust Mastery in the UK and parts of Europe on March 17th. Video for lead single “After Hours” after the jump.

– Self-described “art-pop” kids in HIJK combines pop-punk vocal delivery and melodic direction with technical details constructed using post-punk nuts and bolts. Most notably, the angular and interesting guitar work as well as the truly kinetic bass work to deliver some enjoyable gems that often surprise and defy description. Maybe its the inspired and varied instrumentation…je ne sais quoi. Check their first video for “Paper Boat” after the jump.

Tracks from the 2007 LP The Pen and the Letter:
Paper Boat
Hey Sleepy Smile
Center of Things

– News and interview from local shoegaze darlings Thrushes, forthcoming…

Indian version Thriller

We Are Scientists – After Hours

HIJK – Paper Boats

Review – Matmos @ Floristree, Baltimore

Last night’s Matmos performance at the Floristree was mixed, but to be fair to Matmos it wasn’t their fault. The performers and the audience were not on the same page. The audience was younger, hipper, and more attractive than me, but then again I was there for the music, not to get drunk and bolster my social status. Matmos’s music does take a little bit more effort to digest.
Read the rest…

Beach House record release show

Dream-pop band Beach House, the child of Baltimore’s own Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, will be preforming at the G-Spot on the 28th in support of their second album, Devotion (due out the 26th on Carpark Records).

A a quite pretty video for “Master of None” follows.

Read the rest…

Sweet holy jeebus.

SXSW lineup

Over the horizon: this weekend

This weekend will be a good one for local music lovers.

Big shows comin up this weekend:
White Williams
w/ Ecstatic Sunshine, Rings and Smarts
Doors 9PM, show 10PM

J Roddy Walston and the Business
w/ Glenmont Popes, American Aquarium
$10, doors 9PM, show 10PM

Transmodern Age Benefit Show featuring:
$10, 9PM.

The Aquarian Birthday party featuring:
w/ the Gold-bug, Los Doggies (NY)
Metro Gallery
$3 doors, 8PM , BYOB.

Vampire Weekend, goddamn bloodsuckers…

It’s here. Last week, NYC’s Vampire Weekend dropped their hotly anticipated, highly hyped, self-titled and first LP on XL Recordings.

Reading more and more of the hooplah, reaching supernova levels, I really wanted to hate this release. But goddammit, every once in a while, there’s actually something that comes out that meets the expectations. For me, this was like Michael Bay’s Transformers. I didn’t think I liked the people behind the scenes and I thought they didn’t know the material they were working with and were just delivering phoned-in approximations and reinterpretations.

Man was I wrong. More comments to come. Anybody else that can’t get this damn CD out of their player/MP3s out of their MP3 player?
Read the rest…

Stripped down punk warmth, courtesy of the Thermals

I have a confession. I am addicted to Portland’s most-prominent purveyors of earnest, politically charged punk, the Thermals. I drove to NYC this past August to catch them with Ted Leo in the basin of NYC’s largest pool, drained, in the middle of McCarren Park.

I didn’t want to tell Ted, but I was there more for Hutch and Kathy.

Behold, the latest Daytrotter session here. Wherein the Thermals are doing their thing. Albeit with a little less of the frantic, lightspeed tempo of their reputed live shows.

And apparently, with hints of what the new album will sound like…and I personally cannot wait. Couple vids off The Blood, The Body, The Machine for you after the jump.

Has dissent-punk ever been this endearing, heartfelt and fun? And during this election year, has it ever been more needed?

The Thermals – “Pillar of Salt”

The Thermals – “Returning to the Fold”

Leaving a big hole in my heart.

I know that this post is somewhat out of place, but I can’t help but comment on it.

More than I actually listen to music throughout my day, I listen to the local NPR station, WYPR. Supposedly that acronym should stand for Your Public Radio. Yesterday, I turned on the radio at work in the morning, and at 12, waited for the always illuminating Marc Steiner Show to come on. It didn’t. I assumed I must have been accidentally picking up DC’s WAMU (88.5). I wasn’t.

Photo credit: Steve Ruark, Special to the Sun

In something reminiscent of the Colts leaving Baltimore in the middle of the night, WYPR had decided to fire Marc Steiner, a founder of the station, without warning. A half-assed excuse of “ratings” was given as the reason for his termination.

In Baltimore, the name Marc Steiner is synonymous with Public Radio. By hemorrhaging this connection, WYPR has effectively stunted or stopped the growth of public knowledge of Baltimore City politics and news. They have also broken my heart. Where else can I turn for in depth, accessible, coverage of candidates’ positions before election day? Where else can I listen to well moderated and well planned discussions of things I didn’t even know I was interested in before I turned on the radio? These things, and many more that I’m not cognizant enough to list right now, were the reasons I became a member of WYPR. The destruction of these things will be the reason I reconsider staying a member of WYPR in the future.

For more information, please visit Marc Steiner’s blog.


BAM (also known as Brooklyn Academy of Music) is holding their 2nd annual Brooklyn Next Fest from February 15-24. The festival is tasked with the unenviable job of celebrating that stagnant music scene up in Brooklyn (sarcasm).

Notable performers include the excellent White Rabbits, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, epic heartbreakers the National, My Brightest Diamond, country-folk artist Laura Cantrell and a healthy dose of electronica from Excepter.

Check the official site here for more info.

And as usual, some vids/tunes after the jump for your perusal.


Excepter – “Rock Stepper”

The National – “Fake Empire”

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