Four Tet is actually Kieran Hebden, a post-rock/electronic musician from London. Dubstep producer Burial, after a great deal of speculation, finally owned up to being William Bevan. Hebden and Bevan are mates, as they say across the pond, which is why they collaborated for the two tracks on a super cryptic, just-released-last-week 12-inch called Moth/Wolf Cub.
Since this is post-rock—or whatever—it’s recommended that you listen to the tracks from this new collaboration while in a state of altered consciousness. If you’re cool, man, you will achieve this altered state by doing drugs. This isn’t disco or pop, so using coke, amphetamines, speed, ice, glass, crystal, crank, or study drugs won’t be necessary. We rather recommend weed, marijuana, pot, opiates, opioids, barbiturates, benzos, lysergics, dimethyltryptamines, psilocybins, Sherman Helmsley, Kojak, Bob Hope, trollers, strollers, slowmos, goofballs, screamers, squeamers, porkers, dorkers, fudgies, huffers, gaggers, gassers, poopers, ‘ludes, scrudes, ‘tudes, dudes!, doobles, triple doobles, no-take-backs, mulligans, double taps, chicken feet, fire drills, bus stops, spanks, cheeseballs, cheez-its, meesters, menthols, shmegenoids, or wet sticks. Or all of the above.
For you “proud to be drug free” types, there are plenty of other ways known to induce hallucinations: Try taping ping pong balls to your eyes, eating fish, spinning around really fast, meditating on a koan, or taking one in the jewels. The best non-pharmacological way to generate a preparatory altered state for listening to this Burial and Four Tet collaboration, however, would be to listen to this Burial and Four Tet collaboration. For an added consciousness boost, try listening to this collaboration at the same time, i.e., play the song linked below simultaneously in multiple browser windows. It’s hard to get synced up, but well worth the mind-blowing difficulty.
And a final note: As diligent readers no doubt have noticed, there has been a dearth of recent activity here on the Digest. This is due largely to the editors being involved in the development of new projects; as such, the Digest as we’ve known it will cease to exist, and this is the final post. We hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you’ll come back to see where these new developments take us. We heart you. —Erik Bryan, May. 13, 2009
Less than a month has passed since up-and-coming Austin act VEGA, who were pretty well-received at SXSW earlier this year, allegedly stole Crystal Castles’s guitar pedal, and yet we’re all just barely getting over the conflict. Two full weeks later, the questions that remain are still gnawing at us, like, “Crystal Castles plays guitars?” and, “Don’t you mean—as Teen Vogue so adroitly reports—one of those other ‘crystal’ bands, one better known for playing guitars?” and, “Are you sure? Because I was under the impression that Crystal Castles was just a guy who played 8-bit stuff through computers and a chick who yelled stuff over it?”
Well, as hard as it is to believe that one of our fleeting hipster-centric interests (the Castles being so 2008) which is still pretty cool to listen to while riding the train and also has a cute/insane frontwoman can have stooped to such low, self-important, hipster-centric-hype-of-last-year tactics, the band VEGA, who allegedly stole their precious guitar pedal, is coming out of the whole fracas seeming like an unfortunately beleagured set of polite, underdoggedly good guys. In anticipation of their debut EP, Well Known Pleasures (obviously a direct answer to Joy Division’s more cryptically titled debut album), the band has released their first single, “No Reasons.” The song is a very retro, sunny take on 90s club music, which means it may be heralding a revival of the genre, cyclical as these things tend to go. While the merits of such a revival are extensively debatable, VEGA’s bellwether is perfectly innocuous and fairly infectious, and the people over at Gorilla Vs. Bear are calling it a contender for “summer jam ‘09,” which everyone knows is the most coveted title in music each year. Good luck, contestants. —Erik Bryan, May. 6, 2009
The Dirty Projectors sound weird. Not weird like never letting your children celebrate their birthday, or like an extensive collection of Beanie Babies. The Dirty Projectors are weird like people who refold their napkins when getting up from the table, if only for a bathroom break, or like a bunch of guys who grows mustaches together, or David Byrne. Fitting then, that the Dave Longstreth-led revolving cast of a band recorded a song with Mr. Byrne earlier this year for the Dark Was the Night charity compilation.
Late last week, a new Projectors album (Bitte Orca, which I believe is German for “please kill a whale”) was leaked on the internet. The band’s label, Domino Records, is doing a bit of damage control by going ahead and releasing the track “Stillness Is the Move” on their site. The music on this new album is somewhat of a departure from their last, 2007’s Rise Above, but that’s to be expected considering that it was a cover of Black Flag’s Damaged entirely from memory. Practically everything is a departure for these guys, which is refreshing. On the single, singers Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian seem to take a more central role in the proceedings, but Longstreth’s mashed up, herky jerky songwriting makes it all possible. His guitar sounds kinda weird, too. —Erik Bryan, Apr. 14, 2009
For those of you with a guilty conscience looking to sit out the battle between the record labels and the maniacally shortsighted (though preciously so) “everything should be free” people, look no further than the new Free Music Archive. Brought to you in large part by the guys and gals of WFMU, the FMA is just what it sounds like, “a social music website built around a curated library of free, legal audio.” Unlike plenty of other free music sites, this one is being carefully curated by the participants and boasts in its tagline, “It’s not just free music; it’s good music.” Of course, there’s no accounting for taste, and the “Most Interesting” top ten list on the FMA’s homepage regrettably features the Vivian Girls, but to their credit they also currently have tracks up by Max Tundra, the Lucky Dragons, and Kurt Vile, which are great. Also, some people calling themselves Psychedelic Horseshit who totally deliver on that premise.
Not that I’m any more right in my opinions. The whole reason to have things like FMA is to share music and stir up a dialog. The more people use and contribute to this site, the bigger and better its potential. Curator Jason Sigal gets things started with a track from some of Dan Deacon’s Baltimorean associates, Teeth Mountain. Their track “Keinsein” sounds like a joyful collaboration, ragged at the edges, but decisively cut of its own cloth, much like the Free Music Archive it’s being freely used to kick off. —Erik Bryan, Apr. 8, 2009
Winning is hard, really for two main reasons: first, you have to win. The best winners make this look easy, but it never is. The second reason concerns what happens after you win. All the striving and dedication to your craft has paid off, but it puts you in a dangerous position. Not only will everyone who supported your rise to the top expect the same results from you every time, but everyone looking to make a name for themselves will be gunning for you. You might think that these eventualities only pertain to athletics, homecoming queen elections, or high finance, but rock bands are just as likely to win, too.
Take Phoenix, for example. They win. This French indie rock outfit has a new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, due out in May, but, wouldn’t you know it, the whole thing’s leaked online already. And the preliminary reviews are quite positive. Maybe not everyone agrees that Phoenix is winning at the moment, but those who disagree are just wrong. Their sound is fun and washy and dramatic and beepy and the singer has a sorta wussy voice. They sound like your childhood getting out of school for the summer. This band is screwed. Down the road, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to impress us again, but it probably won’t sound as fresh and exciting as this album does right now. Luckily, it’s still now now.
There are so many great songs to recommend from the album (some of which are scheduled to be performed on SNL on April 4), so it’s fortunate that the site Et Musique Pour Tous has corralled a bunch of them for your perusal. (Fair warning: the writer seems a bit hung up on Sophia Coppola, the lead singer’s wife.) We’re recommending “Fences,” a groovy pop song not unlike those regularly produced by of Montreal, although “1901” is the already-released and nigh-universally enamored single. Well done, Phoenix, and God help you. —Erik Bryan, Mar. 31, 2009
It’s always a special thrill to see a band that forces itself to do
more with less. Not only do they end up finding all sorts of ingenious
backroad ways to arrive at their music, but their shows seem to
radiate with this funny, inspirational charm. It’s a little like
watching that video
of the kid with autism who got to play on his high school basketball
team for one game, except that it’s art and it’s totally not nearly as
Buke and Gass, a budding two-piece from Brooklyn, is one new band whose
ramshackle approach continues to make me smile. Their sound consists
of what they call a “buke” (a six-string baritone ukulele), a “gass”
(a guitar-bass hybrid they invented), some bells, and a kick-drum.
Each member plays both strings and percussion simultaneously, even at
live gigs. Impossible, you say? Exactly what I would have said—until
my mind was utterly blown, that is, by the musical advent of
Even more amazing, Buke and Gass’s live shows actually sound a lot
like their recordings. What does that sound like? Well, folks,
it’s complicated—but I’d venture to say they’re a mainstream mix
between DNA and The Carter Family (though for the reductively
inclined, a folkier Yeah Yeah Yeah’s would be a safe bet, too). Their
tinny, rankled chords at times sound like sawing sheet-metal, their
kick-drum like a hammering in the next room. Yet this is pop music,
people. And it makes me happy. —Matt Robison, Mar. 26, 2009
“Regarding our absence, sometimes one needs to disappear in order to
regroup; situations change and human beings are swept here and there
by the marvelous ebb and flow of culture.” Such is the explanation—noticeably void of definitives, of real cause and effect—posted on the Voxtrot website. This is clearly a different age and time, when a brief two year interlude between the release of their self-titled debut album and a performance at their hometown’s SXSW festival demands an explanation, an excuse note. Such a hiatus, perfectly understandable in decades past, now seems to imply a tragedy, or, if nothing else, an imposition on hungry listeners.
Listen, Voxtrot: It’s ok. Shit happens, right? Not everyone can walk in your shoes. We’re just happy to find this new single, produced by that dude from Spoon, manifesting itself on our blog-trolling radar. It’s a nervous song, pregnant with suspicion and expectation. The mix of live piano and raggedly enveloped keyboard (Casiotone? If I’m not mistaken?) is a fitting juxtaposition, reflecting what was both lost and gained by your absence. The lyrics seem to weave around the same themes, but in a linear fashion, a sine wave progressing, swirling along the x-axis, drilling a hole in our heads. —Erik Bryan, Mar. 18, 2009
Under most circumstances, a tonal shift in a band’s entire sound is a signal of desperation. Perhaps they are past their prime, perhaps they aren’t selling out the same venues they used to. But sometimes it’s the sign of a truly restless creativity, one that informs a scorched earth policy toward their past success. It’s certainly the more dangerous approach, but it can lead to brilliant rewards for faithful listeners (cf. Radiohead, circa 2000). Such is the case for the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, It’s Blitz!
Gone are Nick Zinner’s mercilessly screeching guitar, gone are Brian Chase’s frenetic drum fills, but, strangely, it still feels like the same Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The attitude that propelled their first album, Fever to Tell, to nearly instant ubiquity is intact, and, if anything, Karen O.’s voice is more refined and suited to this bold new venture. Some will decry the almost total wash of synthesizers over the duration of the album, but this can easily be seen as a plus as it gives the band a fuller range of sounds and tools to experiment with in their quest to put feet on the floor. However, saying that the album is “experimental” is not really accurate. Granted, it’s a departure of sorts for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but firing straight for the heart of New Wave dance pop is hardly a gamble in these deeply nostalgic, dance-friendly times. You will hit your mark.
The entire album was made available digitally yesterday on the band’s site. While there, check out the super-fun video for album opener, “Zero.” Linked below is the mildly darker second track, “Heads Will Roll,” in which Karen O. assumes a Queen of Hearts brutality toward the dancefloor. —Erik Bryan, Mar. 11, 2009
Last week, amid a crush of evening commuters, I stood slackjawed on the L train platform and witnessed what I could only assume were two grown men, one in a blue Cookie Monster-ish costume, the other a pink gorilla [turns out it was Jon Singer and Bridget Kearney—ed.], playing rollicking ragtime on a xylophone and a stand-up bass, respectively. Quite apart from the spectacle, what was most impressive was how accomplished this duo is, both clearly masters of their instruments despite the movement-encumbering shaggy costumes they performed beneath. Heavy is the head that wears a Muppet.
They call themselves Xylopholks, and though the linked YouTube clip can give an idea of seeing and hearing them, nothing could have prepared me for the uncontrollable smile that forced itself onto my face that night. They are an artistic assault on the sensory order of nitrous oxide. I don’t care that they’ll never win a Grammy or show up on MTV or probably even record a full album. As a random burst of amiable strangeness, so particular to New York City, they are perfection. They also play parties. —Erik Bryan, Mar. 9, 2009