I don't remember exactly when Ned White & I stumbled on JUNGLE via their Soundcloudbut it was before they got signed to XL Recordings.
Once XL is involved, you know this is potentially a game-changing artist, so we've been paying close attention, really enjoying each consecutive new song.
Ned got guest-listed for a secret TUMBLR show at the Wick & I gratefully tagged along. JUNGLE's sound is hard to describe. Its closer to 70's funk than anything currently popular. While the live show is cool now, what will be exciting is when they have the resources to bring a big badass brass section like Tower of Power on tour with them.
The whole thing does feels a little branded, marketed & controlled, but the bottom line is, its wicked music & better than every other branded, marketed & controlled thing that's out there!
Until about three months ago I don't think I knew anything about War on
Drugs other than that they were the Philly band that Kurt Vile had left. So
when my friend Greg Hoffman came into work raving how their new album
was the most important American record of recent years, I thought I'd
better give it and them a listen. I am now one of the faithfully devoted! On
Friday, Greg mentioned he had a spare ticket to see the band at the
Northside Festival in Brooklyn, and I gratefully jumped at the chance.
What a wonderfully strange and extraordinary show; strange simply
because I was able to gradually walk to the very front of the massive
stage, through the most polite and subdued crowd of any show I’ve ever
been to. Also strange because, by all the normal accounts, this is a
band that should not be having success in 2014. To me, they feel
completely out of time and place, and really don’t fit in this era. Their
obvious influences are Springsteen & Tom Petty in the 80’s, when
they & producers of big American rock first started using synths.
But I also feel Adam Granduciel (who is really War on Drugs) is
channeling some true guitar love from the 70’s, such as Dave Gilmore,
with more effects pedals than I’ve seen in a couple of decades. He also
sings in a very Dylan-esque style. Nonetheless, I love that they do
exist and, by all accounts, are finding an appreciative fan-base now. Anyone who loves oceans of reverb, with untold layers of echo & delay, The War on Drugs are for you.
Adam Granduciel taking a Polaroid of the crowd.
Here’s one of my fave tracks if you want a taste..
I have to admit I was a hater of the early output from Liars, it just went way over my head. However when they started experimenting with dance beats, I fell madly in love. Their last two albums have both been, and still are on heavy rotation in my shuffle. The three piece band was incredible, all playing a verity of both analog & new school gear.
Many thanks to my friend Scott Porter, for showing us around his his whole operation over there, which includes the spectacular venue The Wick, another connected venue, The Well & recording studio Room 17. The Wick, where the Liars played is kind of like my dream venue, raw, cavernous & loud.
For anyone still not familiar with Liras, check these..
One sad reality of both a full family life and an aging body is that I go to way fewer shows than in years past. A band that I still make every possible effort to see live are The Horrors. When I heard they were doing a secret show in London next week, I jokingly wrote to my pen-pal mate Patrick Johnson at XL, the band's label, telling him he should convince the powers to fly me to London for the gig. He instantly responded saying he could possibly get me into the NY show tomorrow night!
While I still think of them as a relatively young band, they’ve actually now been together for close to ten years and are releasing their forth full album, Luminous, next month. They are a perfect example of a band not afraid to both clearly love & reference past genres, distorting & blurring the lines of what those genres are, while also pushing hard to create something sonically new. Truth be known, when they first exploded I largely dismissed them as UK press hype. I wrongly thought it was simply hype based on their wicked image & the fact that legendary director Chris Cunningham offered to direct their now punk anthem, Sheena is a Parasite. So when XL signed them I was surprised & thought there must be more to them than being stylish, neo-goth punks. How true that has turned out to be. They’re able to fuse 60’s California Garage Psych with 80’s Synth Pop into something wonderfully original. The new record, the first produced solely by the band, is still too new to me to know if I love it as much as their Skying album, but it's so sonically dense that I’m devouring it simply for the production right now.
Below is the first song that dropped from Luminous, & below that is "Still Life," which has possibly now gone into my top ten songs of all time.
Live performance is also great, part Shoegaze, and by projecting real 16mm film loops on hung sheets for a screen it's part DIY hippy Warhol/Factory vibe. My only criticism of last night was that the sound was akin to a dustbin, with some of the band playing in another room. I’ve no idea if that's simply the norm for the House of Vans--which is an awesome skate room but not necessarily a great venue for a band that obviously cares so much about sound. But because it was some kind of secret/industry gig, Ned & I were able to place ourselves dead center in front of the stage. :)
Knowing that both Swoon & Ai Weiwei have exhibits on at the museum, I decided to take a walk up there with a seven, a nine & a thirteen year old yesterday.
Walking around with them having a good time was strange mix images & emotions.
The young girls loved the Weiwei giant metal boxes that one had to clime up steps to see down into. Explaining to them that the scenes in the boxes were from when the artist had been arrested and held prisoner for eighty one days, kind of put a damper on their enjoyment of the running from one box to the next.
I accidentally had my color filter on the iPhone boosted to maximum overdrive, giving the whole day over saturated hues.
Its difficult to see the desired effect of 2008’s Moon Chests, but they are still beautiful objects in their own right & fun to look through.
The artists most moving work for me is “Straight”, the one relating to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It was not that easy explaining to the girls that names walls were of more than 5,000 children killed in badly built schools that collapsed. Max was super intrigued/angered by how this could have happened, and how the Chinese authorities chose to deal with it.
The whole Weiwei exhibit also made me reflect, and explain to Max, that while I may complain about a lot of the west’s policies, standing there in the museum, I feel grateful for them.
Eve & Edie decided to rest, then pose, as others starting taking photos of them, wondering were they part of the Weiwei exhibit.
Even with Max in front to show scale, its hard to get a sense of the enormity of the dream like Swoon installation.
Swoon’s dripped wall’s were not really as yellow as this.
About three years ago Eilon Paz interviewed & shot me for his awesome vinyl record collectors site, Dust & Grooves.
He’s spent the last couple of years tirelessly working to create a book. The book is done & its beautiful. It features just some of the hundreds of interesting people & their crazy collections that he’s shot over the years.
I was invited to be one of twenty DJ’s to spin ten minutes worth of records at the fun release party last Sat night.
So, I’m feeling honored that I made the cut to be included in the book. I actually have two full spreads! Also feeling lucky, because while I love showing off my records, I don’t really like seeing myself in pictures, and he chose great photos where I’m not that visisible ;)
Anyone looking for good gift ideas, this is a great book. Also, he self published, so you will be supporting individuals, not cooperations.
Wandering around the LES yesterday with my friend Jeff Newman, not knowing what was showing, we decided to check out the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
It's an exhibition exhibition titled "Big Girl Now" of new ceramic sculptures by Czechoslovakian-born and Sweden-based artist Klara Kristalova.
The name didn’t ring bells for us, but we both felt like we’d maybe seen this somewhere before. I thought maybe it was in the Rubell Collection, or maybe it reminded of others, it has a slight Marcel Dzama feel, or maybe its just the stuff of sub-conscience dreams.
The sculptures are largish, slightly unsettling hand-painted figures, that felt like they are all innocent and yet disturbing, dreamlike and even nightmarish, but for me feel very much feminine.
This is was not expected & really something special.