Friday, July 20, 2007

upcoming schedule

i'm going to see battles tonight, and if you're not, you should be fucking jealous.

i'm going to boston tomorrow to see the red sox kick some white sox ass and go drunk bowling.

i'm going to scotland on monday to work at the edinburgh fringe festival. i'll still be updating mr. mammoth regularly, but with concerts that happened in scotland instead of new york.

you might have to wait a bit until i post the battles review, as a result of my non-stop traveling. breathe deep, and we both just might make it through this.

iron & wine at pitchfork

you are all no doubt smothered by the absurd (unjustified?) level of press about the pitchfork festival, so i'll be brief. iron & wine played a set. he covered "no surprises" by radiohead. he played a lot of new songs from the shepherd's dog, coming september 25 on sub pop. josh at blogs are for dogs has posted a .zip of the whole set. so stroll on over and check it out. but be warned when he says the audio quality isn't very good - it's not. but if you're frantic to hear some tracks from the shepherd's dog (and who isn't?), it might be your best shot to do so (legally - the shepherd's dog has already leaked to the torrent sites).

further thoughts: "boy with a coin" is intoxicating. i listened to it six times in a row while writing this point, and i want more.

a week in EPs day #5: land of talk - applause cheer boo hiss

i mean, after this and this, were you honestly expecting something else? i don't think it could be much clearer than land of talk is one of my new favorites, and that applause cheer boo hiss is one of the best albums i've heard this year (it was released last year, but i was slow getting on the wagon). i know i've dumped a lot of land of talk on you lately, but bear with me, and if you glossed over the last posts cuz you're not a fan, let me try and change your mind.

land of talk's sound is huge - much bigger than the three people in the band. that much is obvious at first blush, the captivating "speak to me bones," the album's first and most engaging track. what a hell of a way to introduce your sound - a long, distorted note, backed by a steady, sparse drum beat for eight measures, and then to introduce a new riff, under the old one, so that you would never think there was only one guitar player, who also does double duty as vocalist. lizzie powell fronts the trio, and is obviously the main creative force behind their sound and success. her voice is given a bit of echo in production, which definitely adds to its allure, but their powerful live shows prove that she can sing on her own two feet. her voice is husky without being sensual, raw and untrained - the depth of her range complements land of talk's heavy sound perfectly. powell's voice and lyrics are like a skinned knee - it's not deep enough to hurt, but you can still see the blood oozing through. the anxiety of her voice propels "speak to me bones" through all of its three-and-a-half minutes, and the deliberate abruptness of her guitar, coupled with the constantly resounding cymbals and accelerating tempo, increases the feeling of unease in the music. land of talk may be one of the few bands that presently, obviously traces its lineage back to grunge and riot grrl rock of the early 90s - everyone else seems in a big hurry to forget that time. even if applause cheer boo hiss is nothing else, however, it is proof that we all need some distortion in our lives.

after the pummeling onslaught of "speak to me bones," land of talk's bold foray into the collective consciousness, powell & co. turn the angst down a tad for "sea foam," probably the closet thing they have to a single (and that's stretching the concept). powell sagely advises her listeners not to drink when they're tired, and the music mimics the lethargy of her voice, but only for a moment. before the one minute mark, the rhythmic jitters are back, and the first evidence for harmonizing with it. i am always amazed when vocalists manage to sing and play guitar at the same time, and powell's instrumentation, both here and throughout the album, is so deft that her multi-tasking alone should induce admiration. she is an immensely talented guitarist and songwriter, writing compelling verses and equally commanding choruses, but my favorite parts of land of talk songs always seem to be the bridges. i don't know what it is, but their bridges are so fucking good, especially in "sea foam." it practically makes the whole song, the quick and flawless time and key change that transforms the song from a head-nodder into a hip-mover and foot-stomper - the best thing is, all of their bridges are this good.

land of talk's musical savvy and ingenuity alone would set them apart from many bands, so the quality of powell's delivery is like icing on the cake. as i said above, the tenor of her voice complements their dusky, nearly lo-fi sound extremely well, but songs like "summer special" and "all my friends" are even better because of powell's words, and the way she sings them. "summer special" has the lyric "look at those girls / so young so young / still piss their pants," which catches any casual listener's ear, delivered in powell's blase, matter-of-fact voice. "all my friends" on the other hand, has less out-and-out enjoyable lyrics, but it does have applause cheer boo hiss's sole curse - powell drops the f-bomb in every chorus. "all my friends" has a sweet-ass breakdown in the middle of the song that features some of the dirtiest guitar work on the whole album, and the slight distance in the vocal production makes the whole song sound rawer than the music alone would.

applause cheer boo hiss is seven songs long, which has led to it being called a "mini album," but i don't really buy into that. my definition of an EP is any musical work that isn't a single and is less than 30 minutes, and applause cheer boo hiss comes in just under the wire. like woman king, applause cheer boo hiss is more than a conventional EP, perhaps, though i would suggest that almost every EP i've reviewed this week falls into that category. land of talk's charisma is crystal clear on every song, and this is a case where more of the same is never a bad thing. "breaxxbaxx" and "magnetic hill" are the physical heart of the album, the fourth and fifth songs, the real aural meat. while both are excellent, neither is truly a standout - i'm trying to delicately describe these two songs because i don't want you to get the wrong impression. if this album was released this year, it would definitely be in my top list, despite the fact that i'm have trouble keeping "breaxxbaxx" and "magnetic hill" separate in my head. they are excellent songs, and whenever i listen to them, i enjoy them, but there isn't anything different between them and the rest of applause cheer boo hiss. powell's voice is just as rough around the edges and the music is just as distorted (and the bridges are just as good), but they are somewhat indistinguishable for me. it doesn't affect my overall appreciation for land of talk (obviously), but it's still tricky. my suggestion if you haven't heard them yet: go buy the album, and you decide. it's pretty fucking worth it.

land of talk - "sea foam," "all my friends" - buy applause cheer boo hiss here.

latitude 2007 - owen and paddy

with his cheeky grin and gentle charisma, owen pallett had most of the audience in complete awe of his beautiful beautiful music. playing in the middle of the woods in the sunrise arena, he tinkered around with foot pedals and looping to create an experience similar (i imagine) to swimming in a sea of liquid heaven. listening to his recording, you don't really get the idea of how much looping is going on, and he adds many extra layers of sound to the live performance. hence it took ages for him to set up, sound-checking all the different loops and each string on each loop - i think it's always a good sign when the artist sets up their own equipment. so, owen came on in his dapper t-shirt-with-tails and slowly started building the layers for his first song. he started with just the bass string on the violin, thumping in the speakers. then, whilst it continued thumping, he played new loops, building the sound thicker and richer. although his speaking voice barely raised beyond a whisper, he had everyone laughing when he suddenly stopped, mid-passage....cheekily grinning again and saying,

"sorry i just forgot something....(pause)...nothing to do with the show, it was about my clothing",

then carried on merrily with the passage, having completely won the attention of the audience. he was definitely the most talented musician i saw all weekend, with an impressively ranging gentle voice, an arresting, yet modest stage presence, obvious talents playing complicated violin passages, but most of all, an amazing ability to coordinate many different loops, playing at different times, whilst simultaneously singing or playing his fiddle. magnificent multi-tasking owen.

after putting up that video, i've just realised that "the dream of win and regine" is referring to the arcade fire lead singers. forgive me if everybody has already worked that out before me, ehem...

he was obviously well aware that his set clashed with jarvis cocker's set on the main stage, and joked around that everyone would probably leave to hear jarvis cocker's one-and-only-hit at the end of his show (he didn't even play common people anyway), then modestly joked about how final fantasy had no hits.

i was lucky enough to be pretty much in the front row and i think the tent was a great setting for him to play in - i think he would be completely lost in a bigger setting or a huge outdoor stage. i definitely recommend his show to anyone who has the chance to see him, as aside from marvelling at his immense skill, he creates a rich and beautiful patchwork of sounds.

at the end of his set, people were shouting for 'the lamb sells condos', and we were not disappointed. i hope you enjoy this video i found on youtube, take notice of him scratching his back with his bow while the sounds still continue - talented, cheeky, and a GREAT show off.

despite being friends and sharing a love for showing off, violins and camp dressing, patrick wolf's performance could not have been more different from final fantasy's modest, quiet performance. always the master of melodrama, patrick was on fine form on friday night on the uncut stage. lapping up the audience's admiration and campingitup to excess, it was definitely the most entertaining show of the weekend. for an idea of his lavish performance style click here (warning: avert your eyes if you are easily offended by naked bottoms). nevertheless, his melodrama was not cringemaking nor irritating, and, like owen, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. at times triumphant, singing loud, soaring passages, at times atmospheric, slow and silent... this was a concert of contrasts and (dare i say it), their combination made for a flawless performance.

my view is perhaps somewhat biased, seeing as i am a huge fan of mr. wolf, but i heard many people speaking highly of the show, and his was the only t-shirt on the merch table that seemed to have run out of most sizes. dark and atmospheric, patrick came on stage to a flutter of dramatic animal noises, dressed in a sparkly blue sailor jacket, with shorts displaying his smooth glittery legs. beginning with 'overture', one of my favourite songs on the album, he improvised around the violin passages, and many more layers were added, making an even richer sound. on stage with him, he had a band playing double bass, horns, drums, percussion, another violin and a guy with a laptop making crazy sounds. the total effect was of massive orchestration and a truly epic sound. his passion is obvious and he jumps around on stage, coming up with dance moves, and general writhing around. he switches between being vampish and dripping with sex to being an excitable schoolboy jumping around like a child.

his volatile personality (which comes across in his emotion-ridden music, and his recent press attention over apparently threatening to quit music) makes for a great show. and he is a clear control freak, from ordering around the band ("more bass drum"), to telling the lighting designer what he wants ("give me some strobe please"), to designing all his t-shirts, and re-tuning his ukulele (to make it deliberately out of tune) whilst on stage, even though we had watched it being painstakingly tuned by a roadie before he came on. yet he does not come across as arrogant, merely passionate and committed to his own sound and image. in between songs, his persona suddenly switches from writhing and howling on stage, to coy conversations with the audience and shy giggles. his show can perhaps best be described as playful, and creative energy was zinging (is that a word?) off him with everything he did, from balancing on the huge amps, to poking the surly security guard in the back of the head as they watched out over the unruly audience.. this was obviously a highlight, seeing as security guards at concerts are usually the spawn of the devil.

'tristan' had the audience (embarassingly) acting like lusty teenagers as he oozed sex appeal and dove into the crowd. it was funny that a mixed sex audience mostly over the age of 20 were reaching out desperately to touch him and screaming like crazy. beatlemania meets patrick. haha. other highlights were the uptempo 'get lost' and a quadruple-time version of 'the libertine'. halfway through the show, he turned the tent into a rave and did a brilliant cover of rihanna's (awful) song 'umbrella.' he then brought the tempo down for 'the stars', gently slowing the audience right down with the swirl of a mirrorball - it was magical. finishing with 'magic position', the audience went crazy and were screaming for more of this emotionally unpredictable loaded cannon. he jokes about how he would love to have a show with pyrotechnics and moving stages, but his melodramatic performances would be merely comical if they didn't match his music, which, despite being hugely melodramatic itself, is undeniably filled with fiercely honest autobiography.

there are two good interviews here and here, the latter with owen pallett interviewing patrick wolf. buy the magic position (and other patrick wolf stuff) here; he poos clouds and other final fantasy gear available here. all video footage in this post was found on youtube.

final fantasy - "many lives -> 49 mp" (houston, 8/17/06 - get the whole show from lullabyes)
patrick wolf - "moon river & the stars" (recorded live at xfm)

apparently, tis the season to say goodbye

first shameless complacency, now salon: audiofile. what a fucking bummer. salon and emusic are like the only two places on the 'net i get legitimate free music, and now my legal selection is cut in half. salon: you break my heart. audiofile was great for artists i hadn't heard of, and new songs from those that i had (like the final fantasy version of "your ex-lover is dead"). audiofile has been up for two and a half years, but i only discovered it a few months ago - still, losing it kills me. at least the archive of songs is staying up, but the end of audiofile is a serious loss to the independent music community. we all should mourn its passing.

final fantasy - "your ex-lover is dead" from stars' do you trust your friends? available here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

a week in EPs day #4: the decemberists - the tain

i first found out about the tain completely by accident, because i was in a literature class about j.r.r. tolkien (yes, THAT tolkien), and we were investigating his influences, which included norse myths, beowulf, and an 8th century irish epic entitled the tain. because i wasn't a very diligent student, i didn't actually read the tain, and, as a result, i can't tell you if the decemberists' version is at all like the original (though one would guess not very much, since meloy's lyrics reference motorcades, among other modern amenities). anyway, i was googling the epic, to find some clues as to what the story was about (since i couldn't be bothered to read it), when, lo and behold, i came upon an EP by the decemberists. this was in 2006, so the crane wife had yet to be unleashed upon the world, and i was still very much in love with picaresque. what a shock it was to me, then, to hear the decemberists' own epic, with a storyline far more varied than that of "the bagman's gambit" or, even, "the mariner's revenge song." the 18 minutes of the tain are divided into five parts, appropriately (if unimaginatively) named pt. I, pt. II, pt. III, pt. IV, and pt. V. it was even more shocking to learn that the tain had been recorded and released before picaresque, as the tain is probably the most sophisticated and mature piece of songwriting meloy & co. have ever pulled off.

the work opens with a spare, finger-picked guitar line, almost lecherous in intent, foreshadowed by the imperfect letters and foreboding clouds on the cover. these beginning notes are bent to the point of being crooked, reverberating within the guitar's soundbox. throughout the song, meloy inhabits different characters, from a (undoubtedly) wizened old crone at the start (and end) of the album, to a husband, a captain, a soldier, and a mother, in what pitchfork calls a relatively faithful reinterpretation of the tain bo cuilange, the work's original name in irish. like i said, i'm not here to debate that point - what i am here to do is tell you why this EP kicks some serious fucking ass. which, in case you were wondering, it definitely does. there is melodrama here that is more pronounced than in any other decemberists song, before or since, with the notes so spaced and rickety that one can nearly see the crone limping with one hand on her cane, scolding in a eerily high voice that seems closer to a shriek, meloy's tenor notwithstanding. the tain also features one of the few naughty words in the decemberists' catalog - in pt. I, the meloy crone talks of incest (as far as i can make out), how "your sister" has "your cock in her kisser" - suggestive words for such a pg rated band. pt. I is over almost before you notice - it's only two verses, each with its own musical postlude, before it seamlessly segues into pt. II. seamless though the transition is, it doesn't take long to realize that there is something rotten in the state of ireland. the music shifts from a focused, creeping evil that sends shivers up your spine to a harder, rockier groove with a pronounced guitar line, that nearly has a chorus. jenny conlee adds some simply electrifying organ parts to complement meloy's dismal lyrics, which (i think) are about conscription. the music has a much steadier rhythm, almost like a military march, yet the minor key suggests that all the conscripts are riddled with fear, and are about to break ranks.

even if the piece was not deliberately and noticeably divided into five parts, with liner notes and such, the decemberists have not made much of an attempt to connect each of the five songs in any sense beyond the transition from one to another. a simple change in the key signature and fade take us from pt. II to pt. III, but the necessity for connectivity is not great - that's why the divisions are obvious. the energy of the first two parts quickly fades and is replaced by a deliberate fear that connotes a watching soldier, stock still, as the enemy unlooses their super weapon, as his mind begins to contemplate his own death. nate query uses a bow for his bass in the section, adding further melancholy and distance to this section, as meloy softens his own sharp voice, lending their blunt edges to the overall feeling of stunned silence, of shock, as even the chaplain surrenders himself to the sword of the enemy.

pt. IV is the evening after the battle, the accordion-led shanty of the widows that implies more theft than bereft, as rachel blumberg, the pre-john moen drummer, whispers lyrics of longing and of ghosts on their march to the afterlife. the irreverence of her lines is echoed in the interlude between the verses, a raucous, bilge-swilling shanty that would be better suited to a rolling deck that a battlefield, speckled with chromatic scales and the clanking of tin cans. on the other hand, it could hint at the leisure these ghosts will enjoy, now that their number has been called, and the song ends ambiguously, as if refusing to answer this question. a quiet roll on the snare haunts the silence between pts. IV and V, before meloy enters, sotto voce. this part of the tain is marked by sharp dynamic shifts, between the near-silence of meloy, with only the snare for company, and the sharp organ/guitar led parts interspersed between. with less than two minutes left in the epic, the decemberists finally all join together for some good old fashioned fun - heavy on the harmonies, gentle acoustic strumming, you know the drill. but just as you think all is well, they return to the treacherous melody of pt. I, and the voice of the crone. s/he sings us out, accompanied only by the faintest of guitar pickings, as we "go wandering home."

varied and dynamic, the tain represents the most diverse and disciplined work in the decemberists' catalog, a work that is unlikely to be equaled. looking at their chronology, it seems surprising that they didn't learn any lessons from the tain for picaresque, but the crane wife at least has "the island" - a direct descendant of this, their first lengthy epic. as it is, the tain is too good to hope for a reprisal - i prefer to think of it as a brief, bright spark in the decemberists universe. with it clocking in at 18:35, live performances of the tain are few and far between, but, luckily, there was one quite recently, when the decemberists performed with the l.a. philharmonic. i've posted it below. you can download the rest of the show here, and get all your decemberists merchandise here and here.

the decemberists - "the tain," live at the hollywood bowl, 7/7/2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

bidding farewell to shameless complacency

dear kyle -

we've never met. you probably have never read my blog. but i read yours, a lot. there are some bands you couldn't stop talking about that i've never really liked (read: smashing pumpkins), but i appreciated your insights and your news. so i'll just say goodbye, and thanks.

-mr. mammoth

a week in EPs day #3: belle & sebastian - i'm waking up to us

you couldn't possibly expect me to go through great EPs without hitting up any from b&s, could you? i could write a week of belle & sebastian EPs, and have stiff competition for the 5 that i pick! these guys are way too prolific, and it's next to impossible to pick one EP from the 12-15 they have and call it their best. but i have done so with i'm waking up to us, and i will defend my choice to the death.

belle & sebastian EPs have either three or four songs, making them much shorter than your average EP, but b&s never really intended their EPs to be used in the same way that most bands do. for belle & sebastian, EPs aren't a midway point, or an experimental departure - EPs are a few songs that they've written for fun (and perhaps to make a quick buck). regardless of their motivations, these EPs are literally a treasure trove of great songs that, until the release of push barman to open old wounds, had a very small audience. thanks to matador's brillance, seven of belle & sebastian's best EPs are available all together, including the inestimably awesome i'm waking up to us.

i'm waking up to us does not have belle & sebastian's best song - that honor goes to sing jonathan david, with "the loneliness of a middle distance runner." i'm waking up to us does not have belle & sebastian's boldest works - that song is "your cover's blown" on books. what i'm waking up to us does have is the most solid twelve minutes of music belle & sebastian have ever written - "i'm waking up to us," "i love my car," and "marx & engels." all three songs have the everpresent wistfulness that we've come to know and love about the scottish neo-folksters, the unredeemed pessimism of stuart murdoch's lyrics coupled with the ironic cheerfulness of belle & sebastian's musicmakers. from the opening verse, we are treated to a soliloquy of loneliness and unappreciation, those wistful lines "i need someone to take some joy / in something i've done." the strings that add a touch of chamber to the chamber pop are only the first in a selection of atypical instruments that b&s use throughout both this song and this EP. the winsome harmonies buttress murdoch's sung melody, which comes as no surprise, but the bassoon is an unexpected and brilliant addition, as are the brief and precise notes of the flute that flutter above the other instruments. the song is technically perfect, as most belle & sebastian songs are, and has the enviable janus effect of matching murdoch's cynical verses with uplifting music, which produces the odd result of being able to sing along to sad lyrics with a smile on the face and a bounce in the step. and even though the lyrical tone of "i'm waking up to us" is somber and regretful, a song of unpleasant discovery about a significant other, b&s shelve this outright sadness for the rest of the EP, which leads to more understandable smiles and bouncing.

leading the charge against dreariness is the first minute and a bit of "i love my car," a two-tiered instrumental that begins with a pleasing harpsichord and guitar duet before rumbling into a half-time rhythm with an all-too-brief trumpet solo, even before murdoch sings about all the love he has for his car, his cat, and the rat that lives in his floorboards and eats novelettes for sustenance. but one of the things that murdoch (with a mellow organ backing him) does not love is you, who are obviously on the cusp of deserting him. but this song, unlike so many others in the b&s catalog, does not privilege lyrics - the point of this song is the wonderful, amazing, inestimably great jazzy bit at the end of the song, which is kicked off by the sound of a car chugging away. there's a ukulele (i think) and the return of the trumpet, but the clarinet solo steals the show. along with the accordion, i think the clarinet is a much-too-ignored instrument, and i would love this song just for its solo.

and, finally, this brief EP is rounded out with "marx and engels," another in a long line of murdoch songs about unrequited love - what sets this girl apart is that she's a pinko communist. this is primarily a piano and guitar song, but it doesn't feel stripped down, even after the orchestral abundance of "i'm waking up to us" and "i love my car." a nice treat of this song is sarah martin's quietly sung verse, underlying murdoch's second, with only a few distinguishable words, the most notable being "bourgeois." her voice, so rarely heard, is especially pleasing here, and adds an unanticipated depth to this simple song, so that i'm waking up to us leaves the listener with a smiling yet resigned happiness, an effect which is absolutely furthered by murdoch's last acapella verses as the song fades into silence.

belle & sebastian - "i'm waking up to us," "i love my car"

buy push barman to open old wounds here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

latitude festival pregame

hello mammoth fans! tearknee here, just returned from a glorious field in suffolk (england), slightly sunburnt and in need of a shower. have just finished a weekend (and a bit) of musical hedonism at latitude festival and will now be contributing for the first time to this fine fine blog...

dubbed by the british press and comedians as the "pretentious" festival, latitude was indeed full of those eating humous and chomping on organic fruit, whilst watching poetry, shakespeare, literature, comedy, cabaret, film, and a brilliant line up of some of the best music of the year. however, as one slam poet majestically and hilariously put is great to not be ashamed to 'embrace the wank' and celebrate intellectual masturbation on many levels.

each and every single one of the hundreds and hundreds of artists over the weekend were edgy (with the exception of jarvis cocker - eurgh), although often a little strange (e.g. an interpretive dance of h.g. wells' war of the worlds - enacted by a frolicking lady dressed in white with a big hat). pretention aside, the festival had a really relaxed feel with a hugely varied audience and has been described as "everything glastonbury once was." so without further ado, let me thank mr. mammoth for letting me unashamedly revel in the brilliance of this weekend by re-living it in detail over the blogosphere....

some multicolored sheep!
this is the obelisk arena, a.k.a. the main stage this is my tent!
this is the sunrise arena, where i saw final fantasy!

over the next few days, i'd like to post on the many unknown (to me) bands that surprised me, bands i know and love that thrilled me and bands that disappointed me a wee bit. so stay tuned for my reports over the coming week!

a week in EPs day #2: gogol bordello - east infection

i'll admit that i only had four EPs in mind when i decided to write "a week in EPs," a not-so-risky proposition, i had thought. after all, i have many EPs, and i thought finding another one to write about would not be a problem. but i placed so many restrictions on myself that i soon found myself seriously, categorically assessing my music library for a worthy extended play album. major restriction: it couldn't be a fleshed-out single; that automatically dumped caribou's yeti, radiohead's my iron lung, the decemberists' billy liar, the dismemberment plan's the ice of boston, and all of my sigur ros EPs. i still had some really solid contenders for today's slot, with the yeah yeah yeahs putting up a good show with their breakout self-titled EP, which is one of my all-time favorites, but i had forgotten about east infection. and then i remembered about it, so that's the story behind today's EP. i've got the next three days planned out (but i can't tell, it's a surprise), so no more ambiguity, just the rock solid criticism you've come to expect.

i fucking love east infection. as an EP, i think it's pretty damn close to perfect; it made me hunger for more more more from the punks on the lower east side. no need to pretend you've got balkan rhythms here, because everyone in gogol bordello is actually from the balkans (quick bit of trivia: oren kaplan, half of balkan beat box, mixed several songs on this EP). lead singer eugene hutz has, by now, become ensconced in indie lore for his ludicrous self-presentation and supporting role in the film adaptation of jonathan safran foer's everything is illuminated, with good reason. hutz is fucking crazy.

gogol bordello is hutz's band. his charisma and exuberance are evident from the very beginning of east infection, gogol bordello's third release. you don't even need to listen to the album to get a sense of what he's all about - just look at the cover. there is no possible way a man like that will make bad music. this cover says one thing to me, and one thing only: FOR GOD'S SAKE, PLAY ME, AND LOUDLY! it's better not to argue.
east infection kicks off with a song of the same name, appropriately enough. it takes a few listens to decipher to words hutz spews through his pronounced accent (or possibly drunkenness), but the words are pretty much inconsequential. at 2:20, the song doesn't have the time to say much, and if GB is trying to get a message across, they basically fail. but, honestly, who gives a fuck? the accordion is boisterous, the drums are relentless, the fiddle is practically spastic with energy, the guitars are both tireless and nuanced, proving that gogol bordello lacks for neither talent nor style. the song is marked by periods of manic intensity, with hutz wailing at the top of his lungs about god knows what and the band plowing through their parts as if whoever finishes first gets a prize, alternating with pin-drop moments of absolute silence, like the calm before a storm. hutz's tourette-esque singing visually reminds me of roger rabbit - tongue-flapping, face-twitching spasms that start at the mouth and spread to the entire body in seconds - an aurally-induced seizure. they say sex is the best exercise, but a gogol bordello experience is probably a close second.

the rest of east infection is less spastic, though no less energetic. the EP has two obvious standouts, "mala vida" (which is actually a manu chao cover) and "copycat." apparently, hutz is also fluent in spanish, though he sings so quickly that trying to understand anything is an exercise in futility. i really love how much gogol bordello emphasizes their accordion, an oft-undervalued instrument. in "mala vida," the accordion gets to take the melody, giving manu chao's world sound a distinctly balkan bent, though hutz's heavily accented spanish adds to the eastern flavor - even in this wonderfully lyrical and rolling language, he still sounds like he's spewing consonant-flavored spittle all over the microphone. this version of "mala vida" is sweaty and filthy, spurred on by almost-unnoticeable handclaps, a chorus of voices behind hutz rowdier than a drunk frat party, and the constant churning of an electric guitar propelling the song ever forward (and on the beat). the high energy of "mala vida" is followed by a deep bass rumble which marks the opening of "copycat," a sneer anthem against imitation with some of hutz's most understandable lyrics (meaning, of course, that you can recognize about a third of them, most of which are curses). this song is stripped down in terms of instrumentation, gogol bordello having left the accordion, violin, and acoustic guitar at home. the song mostly consists of hutz singing "copy-copy-copy-copy-copy cat" over and over, though it has a special spot in my heart because of his acapella lines at the end: "copycat steals the towels / from your girlfriend's parents' house," delivered in his trademark accent.

only one song from east infection is repeated on gypsy punks underdog world strike, "ave. b," though the versions are somewhat different. but we're here to talk about the EP, so we will. "ave. b" is east infection's most laid-back tune, with delicate finger-picked guitars and a complacent accordion (woo!), as suits a song about sitting in a bathhouse. the song appropriately picks up when hutz sings about arguments bathing members have, like selling weapons to chechnyan rebels, and there's a kickass accordion solo in the middle, but this is the closest gogol bordello gets to a ballad on this album, and thank god for it. "strange uncles from abroad" is another excellent tune, with more of the stomp that we've come to expect from hutz, and a prominent violin line as well. the only song on east infection that doesn't do anything for me is gogol bordello's take on a roumanian folk song, "tu jésty fáta." it's slow, it's somewhat tedious, and it doesn't sound all that balkan, if you ignore hutz's unmistakable balkan-ness. anyway, it's at the end of the EP, so it's pretty easy to gloss over.the funny thing is, i didn't like gypsy punks very much. this EP is just bursting at the seams with quality and excitement and fun and sweat, and gypsy punks underdog world strike just didn't do it for me. so, as with beirut (and all the EPs this week), east infection symbolizes the way i wish gogol bordello had gone, instead of the way they went.

gogol bordello - "east infection" "mala vida"

buy east infection here.

photo appears in the phoenix review of gogol bordello.

Monday, July 16, 2007

land of talk @ soundfix, 7/15/07

land of talk two times in two days! a dream come true. after hearing my fave new distortion rockers at citysol on saturday, i found out about their instore appearance at soundfix, so i hustled on over there to see them again (why not, eh?). though the sound was not so good this time around, one can't really complain - after all, the bar/soundfix lounge probably wasn't built for bands with the kind of big sound that LoT has. however, land of talk amazed and pleased me again, and i'm now doubly anxious for their full-length, which has no announced details yet (with all their touring, i doubt they've even hit the studio yet). the set was shorter than at citysol, with fewer "hits" (i.e. songs off applause cheer boo hiss, which fucking rocks) and more new songs. i was a little sad not to get another kick-ass rendition of "all my friends," but we got what i believe is a rare performance of "street wheels," in addition to "yuppie flu" and "young bridge," like the day previous. a special treat was the set closer, "death by fire," the b-side to their recently released 7", and guaranteed to be on their next album. unfortunately, my camera died just as "death by fire" started, so there are no movies of that to share, but i've uploaded a version from the lullabyes show for your listening pleasure. i did get some movies, which i'm in the process of uploading to my youtube account, and i've put "breaxxbaxx" below for your viewing pleasure. as always, your pleasure is our foremost concern, here at mammoth HQ.

i got a chance to talk (read: ask for autographs) from the band after the show, and i learned that the present drummer, eric, only joined LoT some three months ago, but that he's here to stay. for my part, i thought eric was an excellent drummer, and really led the band in being a little more relaxed and organic at the soundfix show, laughing and changing beats mid-song, mindful of the heat and the just-there-for-a-good-time crowd. both land of talk performances have been great, and i won't get tired of their music anytime soon.

land of talk - "death by fire." it's a live version, so there's some (understandable) dead air at the end of the track, but don't let that deter you.

land of talk - "breaxxbaxx." buy applause cheer boo hiss here.

npr for the streets

one thing i didn't do last week - which upsets me every time i think about it - is miss diplo at the apple store. even until recently, i knew of diplo more by reputation than by his music - things like his production of m.i.a.'s first album or discovery of bonde do role - but any regular reader of mr. mammoth will know that to pass on free music fills me with shame and sadness. these feelings have only been exacerbated since i found out about the mad decent podcast, which i havent been able to stop listening to. this monthly podcast is made up mostly of just live diplo mixes, though he occasionally hands the decks to mad decent signees and other guests. while this month's 'cast hasn't come out yet, june's was from tel aviv, and is ridiculous, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. my favorite one so far is february's mix, from darwin, australia, which is nearly an hour long, and jam packed with the illest beats and samples, including balkan beat box, bonde do role, and smashing pumpkins (how's that for a curveball?) anyway, you're only fucking yourself if you don't check this out.

mad decent. diplo.

a week in EPs day #1: beirut - lon gisland

i have always had a love affair with EPs - i believe they most often capture the best an artist has to offer, instead of thinking of them as a placeholder between albums. EPs, simply by virtue of the fact that they are not LPs, have to stuff an inordinate amount of quality into less than thirty minutes, to assure that they are purchased. while some EPs are dreary and tedious, mere precursors of what to expect on the artist's next full-length, the best are works in their own right, perhaps a time for a band to go in some new directions or experiment with different sounds. even when EPs are not adventurous, however, they can often contain an artist's best works. so, for a change of pace from all the concert reviews lately (and those still to come), i have selected this week to be my week in EPs, where i will re-review some (five) choice EPs that i really like. some are new-ish, some are old, but they're all excellent.

today's EP is lon gisland by beirut.

i remember being really excited about gulag orkestar before even listening to it last year, when it came out - the glowing review in pitchfork and subsequent inundation of beirut news left me with the impression that zach condon had practically recruited a roving band of hairy gypsies as accompanists to his balkan-influenced music. how disappointed was i, then, to hear the thin and repetitive sounds of "postcards from italy," or any of the other songs on that album. where was the furious fiddling? or the devil-may-care attitude? this was no gypsy music. and i'd be damned if any eastern europeans played such stripped down folk - the tendency is to use as many instruments as possible. so it was with skepticism and trepidation that i even gave lon gisland a spin on my radio show, playing "my family's role in the world revolution" merely because i liked the name so much. and was i rewarded. this new beirut seemed positively raucous compared to the straitlaced sounds of gulag orkestar, even going so far as to fuck around while taping. and the rhythms were new too, driven by a piano and trumpet with nary a guitar to be heard. this track was the first that i had heard that could warrant the "balkan stomp" label that pitchfork had so thoughtlessly awarded to gulag orkestar, smacking of vitality and energy as it did. when i finally sat down and gave the whole EP a listen, i was very pleased.

the EPs' opener, "elephant gun," is obviously the most mature song condon has written to date, seamlessly layering the simple ukulele line, first under the accordion, and then the full line of brass, to say nothing of what he has learned about vocal production. no longer is he the solo vocalist; he uses the voices of the rest of his band to flesh out his own, rather nasal, voice, giving "elephant gun" a lilting and epic feel. and, of course, the best part is the false ending, when the melody we've heard throughout the song dies out, only to be immediately replaced by another, propelled by double accordions and sprinkled with treble trumpet notes, bolstered by a tuba or trombone. i played "elephant gun" on the air before i had listened to it, and the false ending totally threw me for a loop. i had to apologize to my listeners on air.

the rest of the EP doesn't disappoint, though the other three songs are not as outstanding as the first two. "the long island sound" is a more sturdy version of "elephant gun"'s false ending, and "scenic world (version)" starts off sounding like a busker at a french amusement park (which is definitely not a bad thing). "scenic world" also has a nice bit of violin, and, in what was clearly a moment of sheer genius, bongos. the hand drumming new level of sophistication to the beirut sound, which is also evident in "carousels," the last song of the EP. that song begins with a rousing downbeat and a cute half-hidden piano part playing peek-a-boo with the snare, placed at the forefront for this song. partway through the song, all of the instruments, save the piano, drop out, while the whole cast of beirut add their voices to condon's. "carousels" is really indicative of the changes lon gisland has wrought for this band - a maturation of sound from a rather boring, stripped down pseudo-balkan folk band into a fleshed-out, true orkestra, that assembles its sounds in a charismatic way, layering brass upon string upon bellows (accordion), provoking a re-evaluation of a band once written off. though beirut still doesn't sound balkan to me in the slightest (i get more of a french street band feel), i hope lon gisland will represent where they're going, instead of just being an experiment.

beirut - "elephant gun," "my family's role in the world revolution"

buy lon gisland here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

citysol @ stuyvesant cove park, 7/14/07

first off, citysol itself was a really great time. it was a beautiful day (as o'death's greg jamie commented about three or four times) and solarone (the sponsoring organization) had set up some cool things. there was this really neat semi-enclosed food/beer space which seemed to be made solely of prefabricated wood pieces and zipties, an art exhibit (maybe?) with lots of white shirts flapping in the wind, lots of earth friendly retailers, including a lady who only made bicycle art that i wanted to buy but was too expensive, and an action booth where you could sign petitions and write letters to your assemblyperson about congestion pricing.

by the way, if you're reading this and it isn't july 16 yet, and you live in new york, please please please call your local representative and urge them to vote for congestion pricing. it is a super critical issue, especially for those of us who bike, and will bring a lot of needed tax dollars to new york, as well as cut out a lot of the smog. if you have an email address that ends with an .edu, you can sign up to read the new york times for free online, and read this article by ken livingstone, mayor of london, who imposed congestion pricing on an unwilling public some years ago, and now the measure is supported by over 2/3 of all londoners. here is a link to a photo of the flyer transportation alternatives is handing out, with all the benefits of congestion pricing, and the phone number of sheldon silver, speaker of the new york state assembly, is (212) 312-1420. i sincerely urge everyone to call him to urge him to vote for congestion pricing. thanks.

back to citysol. just a quick disclaimer - if you're looking for a les savy fav review, i can't help you. i arrived just as OCDJ was ending, so i can't tell you much about his set, except that he wore some strange muppet-esque mask over his face. but o'death - o'death was fucking awesome. i'd been waiting to see them again after the art brut show they opened, and they've only gotten better since then. frontman greg jamie told us they had just returned from europe (where one assumes they did fairly well), and they had a brand new bunch of stompers for us. now, i'll be honest - i haven't bought head home yet, but it's not because o'death doesn't kick ass - i think the production is really lousy, so i'll stick with seeing them live until their next album. as a result, i don't know most of the song titles, beyond what i've been able to glean from the hype machine. but names are neither here nor there, especially because you can hardly understand a word from greg jamie's lips. the songs are straight-up country stomp/appalachian death blues, and all of o'death looks the part, from drummer davd rb's wild eyed devil glare (especially with chain wrapped around his neck) to bassist newman's proudly displayed beer belly and armpit tattoo ("rats get fat while brave men die"). everyone has some bit of facial hair, and every one looks as if they could be carted into town to be hanged for some egregious offense when the sheriff comes to town. i was in west virginia once, when i was younger, and i was actually rather disappointed that all of its inhabitants didn't look one lick like o'death. maybe i was in the wrong (or right) part of town.
o'death's sound, so tame on the album, is blistering live. all five band members turn red in the face as they all yell into whatever microphone is nearby and kick their heels up in the middle of songs. a cup of whiskey was being passed around, which no doubt aided their performance. their entire set was outstanding. what was ostensibly their set closer, "nathaniel," started off as a slow dirge, jamie's vocals fleshed out by four riotous others bellowing sounds that weren't quite words, yet the song quickly sped up into a rampaging anthem that would not have sounded out of place in 1933 campfires, sung by men preparing to shoot it out with g-men. each and every o'death song is like having a bottle broken on your face, or feeling the white-hotness of a bullet in your side, or some human sacrificial ceremony, a raw, unblinking look at the grim actualities of life, where the first person to blinks loses. o'death is raw, desperate - they call their own sound "blackgrass" - the sound of men who have nothing to lose, singing about the things they've lost.

each time i've seen o'death, i've been struck by the simple, yet potent, d.i.y. punk aesthetic they proudly wear. greg jamie's guitar is 100% acoustic (you can see the mic cord running into it in the photo), fiddler bob pycior's bow was in tatters before the set ended, and drummer dave's kit consisted of a bass drum, two floor toms, a plastic bucket, and a ragged, jagged cymbal with pieces carved out of it. on more than one song, he used a chain to coax the right sounds out of his drums. greg jamie did not wear shoes at all during the set.

o'death's sound is one of carefully calculated anxiety - playing in minor keys; quick, nervous fiddle parts; arbitrary wails, as from a dying man, inserted in the middle of songs - the speed of their songs alone would create a deep feeling of unease in anyone, except that they are all so joyful in their performing. on songs like "adelita," they all stood up for a mid-song stompfest onstage, to bellow with equal parts of joy an sorrow for what has been and what could have been. the real set closer was an acapella rendition of a folk hymn, the name of which i (stupidly) neglected to write down. i know, shame on me. anyway, during said folk hymn, the four in the front - jamie, newman, pycior, and banjo/ukelele-ist gabe darling - dropped their instruments to caterwaul around the stage and belt out the lyrics at the top of their voices. however loud they were, it would not surprise me to learn that the only member of the band to lose his voice yesterday was davd rb, the drummer, who let out more than intermittent woops, as was most noticeable in "down to rest." o'death played one of the new songs from their daytrotter session (still untitled, as far as i know), and you can download all four songs here, and i would definitely recommend that you do.

in short, an o'death performance is not to be missed, no matter what. fortunately, they have some shows coming up, including an in-store at soundfix a week from today (the 22nd) and they're playing spiegeltent for the second year in a row on august 29. you can buy head home from ernest jennings here. there's also a video of "only daughter" below, and all of my videos from yesterday here.

the besnard lakes sucked. i don't like their music at all. what kind of band actually NEEDS three guitarists? also, it was like 4 times too loud. let's move on.

land of talk. good god, i've been waiting to see land of talk pretty much since brooklynvegan called applause cheer boo hiss, their 2006 ep, one of his favorites of the year. i just found out that they are playing soundfix later today (3pm), so i'm gonna put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and kick the ass out of this post so i can make it down there.

land of talk fucking rocks. until i saw a video for "sea foam" they recorded for aol last week, i had no idea they were only three people - they sound much louder than that. they lived up to everything i had hoped for yesterday, and with only a seven song ep to their name, they played all my favorites (check the video for "all my friends" below and five (jeez) others at my youtube page). writing about land of talk reminds me that i may have spoken too soon in my built to spill post about the death of distortion, because land of talk has it in spades.

frontwoman/guitarist elizabeth powell masterminds every song, skillfully alternating between burrowing heavy chords and sharp individual notes, all while singing huskily into the mic. what sets land of talk apart from all the other canadian bands (seriously, they're like a plague!) is how fucking hard they rock (that, and they don't have 12-15 members). powell's voice is dynamic, able to sound entreating, commanding, naive, and ancient all at once. but in addition to powell's obvious singing/lyricist skills, she is quite the songwriter. no land of talk song is complete without jarring, frantic chords played against quick bursts of needled melodies, or off-tempo crashes followed by darting notes.
in addition to basically every song from applause cheer boo hiss, land of talk favored us with some new songs, which you can download at lullabyes. the new "some are lakes" was, as powell disclosed, was virtually written by her father, with the lyrics taken from a letter he had written to her mother. "yuppie flu" was another strong new one, as was "young bridges," a song about misheard lyrics. and speaking of misheard lyrics, i was able to clearly hear some in "speak to me bones" that had been mixing me up - a slight mistake, to confuse "stop spitting on girls you love" with "stop hitting on girls you love," especially because they're sung back-to-back, but i was pleased to hear the difference at last.

land of talk are studious performers, as is evinced from powell's fastidious tuning between each song, and it paid off. their energy was high and their personal enjoyment was obvious. powell seemed to go into a trance when she played, her eyes focused on some point in the distance, and when land of talk gathered in front of the drum kit during instrumental sections, she rarely turned towards the audience, but i don't think it's stage fright. it seems more like that miss powell gets into the zone when she plays, and nothing is going to take her away from that special place she goes to. land of talk's set was rock-solid, and i'm thrilled as fuck that i have another chance to see them today. i encourage you all to go out and see them (again) at soundfix at 3, and pick up a copy of applause cheer boo hiss while you're there. i bought my copy last night.

land of talk's sound is a descendant of dinosaur jr. or sleater-kinney, but powell adds a new level of dynamism that neither of those bands (love them as i do) have. land of talk are simply master songwriters who know their sound dynamics, the power of abrupt changes in sound levels, though they certainly know a thing or three about the importance of tempo and key versatility - in short, all the elements of songwriting that keeps music alive and fresh even after listening to it for month after month. having learned much from punk and grunge, land of talk has improved on it. their future will be bright, and, hopefully, i will be standing in the front of the crowd to see as much of it as possible.

buy applause cheer boo hiss, released by the rebel group, here.

o'death - "only daughter"

land of talk - "all my friends"

Friday, July 13, 2007

menomena - south street seaport - 7/13/07

were i a superstitious mammoth, i might not have gone to this show tonight. but, thankfully, i do not suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia (stump your friends! amaze your enemies! define that word!). the show tonight, simply put, was AWESOME. rarely have i been to any show, free or not, that has matched their acts with such foresight and aural appreciation. i have gone, in the span of a few mere hours, from not knowing beat the devil in the slightest to cursing myself for not being in the country for their july 26 show at the cake shop - that's how good they were.

this week's show was infinitely better than last week's, on basically every level. i made sure to arrive early, as i was super psyched to see menomena live for the first time, and i was sure it would be crowded (it was. menomena themselves declared it was the largest crowd they had ever played to). though there was some jostling and repositioning from behind annoyingly tall people, by and large, it was a comfortable show, physically. when i was younger, i had the conceit that, no matter what gig i went to, i would know someone there. well, i gave that idea up ages ago, though it still sticks in my mind every time i go to a big/free show (i.e., last week's bts, any river to river gig), and, wonder of wonders, i ended up knowing a girl standing directly behind me. will wonders never cease. anyway, enough chit chat. on to beat the devil.

from the moment singer shilpa ray took the stage with a large snow shovel in her hand, i figured we were in for something good. my excitement only mounted as bassist mishka shubaly marched through the crowd with what is presumably beat the devil's mascot - a marching bass drum with beelzebub's unholy gob painted on it, beating the thing with maracas, no less. despite the song's lack of a melody, or anything besides ray's voice, her snow shovel, and mitchell key's drums, it spoke volumes about the potential for beat the devil's set - potential they lived up to and surpassed.

beat the devil's sound reminded me most of the dresden dolls (albeit with a serious blues bent), and was driven by ray, who did double duty as vocalist and harmonium player. unfamiliar with a harmonium as i was (i only learned its name from the press on beat the devil's site), i can only say that it looks like an accordion, cut in half, and lain down on a table (is lain the correct past participle of lay?). she pumped away on the harmonium throughout the show, creating a sound that seems repetitive at first - a regular drone, very similar to the sound of an accordion - that would give beat the devil an almost folky sound, were it not for the regularly scheduled breakdowns that make their live show a hit. ray's voice alternates between raw vocal chords-inducing screaming and dark bluesy suggestiveness with total unpredictability, especially for one unfamiliar with the beat the devil sound. though key and shubaly are important to the band, it is obviously ray who drives it, whether endlessly pumping the harmonium, screaming herself hoarse, or dancing around on stage. the best song came in the middle of the set, blissfully heavy, that had two kids in the audience raising the traditional metal salute in honor and rocking out. ray thrashed about, her hair a virtual halo from the movement, all while keeping her left hand pumping the harmonium's bellows and her right pressing the keys, a study in musical multitasking.

beat the devil was a perfect precursor to menomena, as both bands take great joy in their vitality and the importance of musical surprises. though beat the devil operated with far fewer instruments than menomena, they kept their sound fresh throughout the set by taking each song in a different direction. i wish i could see them again on the 26th - it will definitely be worth it. i'm going to stay tuned to beat the devil, because whatever they do next will be worth paying attention to.

ah, menomena. how i was looking forward to your set, and how was i rewarded. i'm going to list my grievances now, and get them out of the way. 1. why was there no "airaid"? what the fuck, menomena. that's like the 2nd or 3rd best song off friend and foe - how could you have overlooked it? 2. where the fuck was the encore? it wasn't river to river's fault - fujiya & miyagi went until 10 last week, and your set ended at 9.30. are you like tool, do you not play encores? cuz that's fucked up. everyone wanted to hear more songs - i would've liked "airaid" (obviously) or "running." i disapprove, especially because you mentioned how much you liked this crowd several times, and new york. new york would've liked you more, had you encored.

that being said, new york liked you pretty fucking plenty - you played a great set, menomena. i can't remember what you opened with, but your second song was "the pelican," the first song i liked off friend and foe, the song that made me think that my initial disapproval was selling you short. and, man, did you guys nail it! i had no idea all three of you were vocalists, and when danny seim started singing, while pounding on his drum kit, i was totally shocked. but it made perfect sense - i had always assumed the full, strong vocals on the record were a result of great production, when it should have been obvious that other people were singing along with you, justin harris. brent knopf's guitar was just as jarring and angular as i had hoped, and the vocals were much richer in a live setting.

menomena, you played songs from i am the fun blame monster as well as friend and foe, bringing a new depth to all of them. i was more familiar with your friend and foe material, but "strongest man in the world," with its a.d.d. instrumental beginning, captured (in a nutshell) the essence of menomena, a restlessness that clearly comes through with the spastic drums, the abrupt fade-ins and -outs, the lazy arrogance of the guitar lines, the determined and resolute piano. no two menomena songs sound the same, because you can barely hear the connections within one song - it's almost as each section of the song is cut and pasted from an arbitrary elsewhere. i know a lot of fuss has been made about your "deeler," the digital looping recorder that you yourselves invented, but i couldn't really tell which parts were looped and which weren't, except, of course, when none of you were playing. your instrumental versatility - justin, how you switched seamlessly between bass, guitar, and baritone sax, and brent, how you would play keyboards with your guitar swung around your back. your set, though not as long as some would have preferred, was jam-packed with everything that makes you my favorite band of the moment, and that has kept friend and foe on constant rotation since march. "rotten hell" was superb, "my my" was great. "the monkey's back," the set closer, was amazing. but what made me happiest was "evil bee," my standout favorite off friend and foe. how touchingly did brent sing "oh, to be a machine / oh, to be wanted, to be useful" - i taped it, and you can see the video below, along with another for "strongest man in the world." you can see all of my videos from the show here, including two from beat the devil and two others from menomena.

in short, menomena was outstanding live. danny seim especially impressed me the whole set through with his energy and enthusiasm on the drums, but the whole band was fantastic. i can't wait to see them again, and maybe with an encore this time?

buy friend and foe here.

menomena - "evil bee"

menomena - "strongest man in the world"

i'm on the hype machine!

this week has been very exciting for me, blogwise. three massively awesome things happened: firstly, i got this nifty new map widget on the sidebar, and i have visitors who live in places where i don't know anyone! visitors, please consider yourselves my friends, and come and enjoy mr. mammoth whenever you'd like. to the person in what looks like holland, thank you. secondly, i got contacted by a promotions company, offering me free music! so fuck yeah! because, here at mr. mammoth, there is nothing better than free music (stay tuned for the report on the menomena show). thirdly, i got listed on the hype machine! true, they only have two tracks, from 9 days ago, but i have faith they will catch up and show all my mp3s soon., why haven't you listed me yet?

i just wanted to share these exciting pieces of news with you. thanks everyone.

some brief updates.

i've had a hell of a time trying to blog this week, after last weekend's frenetic five-posts-in-three-days, even though you're owed a full detailing of the excellent tortoise show i went to, so hopefully these tidbits will tide you over. all three have been making the rounds, so you probably have seen them already, but it gives me something to do as i try to form the tortoise experience into words.

so, news item #1 - there's a free panda bear dvd coming out.

mike over at eattapes is generously putting together a dvd of live panda bear performances from his recent person pitch tour. including footage from new york, philadelphia, and baltimore shows. the dvd, entitled people party, has no present release date, but mike is obviously hard at work on it. personally, as a non-fan of animal collective, i would normally be totally uninterested in this, but person pitch is such a good album that i can't wait to get my hands on this dvd. while the dvd is free, and can be mailed anywhere, a $250 filming fee at bowery ballroom has caused mike to create a deluxe package, on a donation sliding scale (between $5 and 10). the deluxe edition contains a bonus disc with all three performances and bonus art, an interview with noah lennox (a.k.a. panda bear), and other fun stuff. rock on, mike!

2. new built to spill tracks (broken by stereogum)

like anyone with half a brain, i like built to spill (read my live review directly below this post). and i liked you in reverse, especially "mess with time." but i think the first new song goes a little too far. "they got away" is a straight-up dub song, albeit with some serious distortion, that doesn't really show promise for what bts does next. "rearrange," on the other hand, is just plain. it is always hard to hear one of your favorite bands move in a direction you don't appreciate, and i hope that if this is what built to spill chooses to sound like for the future, i can appreciate it. but listening to these two singles (especially with you in reverse as a reference point) just makes me yearn for the absurdity of a younger built to spill, that sang about brontosauruses and that would randomly insert a seriously rocking section in a song, for no other reason than it pleased them. "they got away" gets tired before the 3 minute mark, yet stretches past that for nearly another 4. and while "rearrange" does end on a distorted note (along with marimbas), it has that slow, sweeping sound of "else" that has never been as good as their heavier (relatively speaking) songs.

i just checked back at stereogum...apparently, warner music group (that bestial hegemon and built to spill's label) made a boo-boo by allowing stereogum to put the songs up for download. so, fuck warner, here are the songs:

built to spill - "they got away"
built to spill - "rearrange"

3. menomena is playing tonight at south street seaport, courtesy of citysol.

friend and foe continues to be one of my favorite albums of the year, and i'm thrilled at getting a chance to see them. a review of that album is on my perennial to-do list, and i'll crank it out sometime soon, i promise. but trust me - it's fucking awesome. opening is beat the devil, whom i've never heard of. citysol (in part sponsored by brooklyn vegan) continues all weekend, with a bitching show tomorrow that includes o'death, land of talk, and les savy fav. in addition, if you bring your con ed bill and switch to green energy, you get free brooklyn beer. and life does not get better than that.

check out brooklynvegan's schedule here.

menomena - "evil bee" (live at sxsw 2007)
beat the devil - "plea bargain"