I've been pretty stressed with work on top of work on top of work lately, but music is a beautiful relaxer. Below are the videos for Grizzly Bear's Take Away Show shot some years back. They're amazing. "Plans" is definitely my favorite.
So I guess this year's New Moon soundtrack is this year's Garden State, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine...well, you get the point.
I recently spoke with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and we discussed the idea of having lesser known bands being a part of a mass marketed soundtrack or compilation.
Let me make this clear, I'm not opposed to great underground artists using these channels to get their music out there. I just have no faith in the system. The one example I can think of is the Guitar Hero/Rock Band franchise.
Beginning with classic shred tracks, the video games now contain choice cuts from bands we would have never expected to see on such a mass level. Many of my friends who don't normally listen to the artist they were now introduced to, only listened to those tracks, and nothing more - singles on their iPod.
When Juno came out, we had calls every hour at the KLSU radio station to hear "Anyone Else But You." Oh, Inverted World is my favorite Shins album, but many friends have only heard the two cuts off the Garden State soundtrack.
Like Taylor had said, it is a way to make money. That's not selling out considering that leaks and illegal downloading has hurt the pocket books of many underground artists who still work 9 to 5 jobs. If it helps put back into a great band putting out more great music, then I say go for it.
Since we now have the ability to buy in a pick and choose digital market, it's great to sift through the filler as a Top 40 listener, but for those of us who still are enthralled with the idea of an album, and great albums at that, it seems like a double edged sword to move your music in one song units above the hazy underground line.
What do I know? Maybe it's my cynicism and fast paced views of popular music that will not change. Maybe if one person hears the soundtrack and they put down their Breaking Benjamin albums for a Muse or Bon Iver one, then it's a win on many levels. In the end, that's all I can hope for.
Thank the heavens for a thing like Craigslist.com. I should have known LSU pulling it out today would be a good omen.
Couldn't get a ticket, or a decent priced one, until 7pm off a refresh to the pulled up Craigslist page. Face value, nothing more, nothing less. (Funny story: I was third in line, and around 8:30 p.m. a guy pulled up, got out, and sold two tickets for a third of the cost to two lucky people. Congrats to them!)
Anyway, a sold out show at Emo's is pretty sweaty, so that, along with the rain, made everyone left waiting with little to no patience - and more than enough anticipation.
Beach House opened with a beautiful set. There was a calming feeling, like they were meant to settle the crowd before the main act took it over. Great beats, and front women Victoria Legrand has an elegant voice.
Grizzly Bear took the stage, with what looked to be "crowd mics," but I'm unsure if that means a live cut or not. Anyway, the band went straight into "Southern Point," and it did not disappoint. You're not going to get the full produced sound in the band's recorded catalog, but what you will get is something so close, in encapsulates your mood anyway.
There was a balanced set-list, and cuts such as "Lullabye," "Ready, Able," and "Colorado" were all choice cuts, but it was the live version of "Foreground" that was truly captivating. While some people after the show were arguing if they were better at South by Southwest or earlier today at Austin City Limits or the present show, I say it was a pleasure to simply see a band pull off a grand scheme live, even if there wasn't every intricate detail present.
The band all harmonize just as lush live as on their recordings, and all switch off on instruments, giving a wider range of creative input. Simply put, it just looks like four guys making music. No gimmick. No bullshit. Awesome.
If you get the chance, I highly suggest checking them out live - I will be again. If you don't know who this band is, or have never heard any of their songs -- go now.
Well, we all waited in anticipation, and the day has finally come. To used a tired expression, the cat is out of the bag, and the music world will be changed forever yet again.
Jay-Z loves Grizzly Bear.
Oh, you thought I was going to talk about the leak of one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and the fact that many are wondering what the band feels about it, and the reactions and arguments across the sixteen thousand forums across this site.
Fuck that. Did you hear me? Jay-Z loves Grizzly Bear. One of hip-hop's most talented spitters, who single-handedly put the knife through the cold mechanical heart of "autotuners" across this great nation, loves a band that is proving themselves one of the most valued musical assets to come along in some time.
It's not the fact that Jay-Z likes Grizzly Bear, it's what he has to say about the musical scene they are associated with. When Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles were spotted at Grizzly Bear's free show Sunday in Brooklyn, he was interviewed by MTV yesterday, explaining his appearance -- as if that was even necessary.
Jay-Z tells MTV, "They're an incredible band," he said. "The thing I want to say to everyone — I hope this happens because it will push rap, it will push hip-hop to go even further — what the indie-rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring. It felt like us in the beginning. These concerts, they're not on the radio, no one hears about them, and there's 12,000 people in attendance. And the music that they're making and the connection they're making to people is really inspiring. So, I hope that they have a run where they push hip-hop back a little bit, so it will force hip-hop to fight to make better music, because it can happen, because that's what rap did to rock."
For that quote, Jay-Z makes a valid point, and one I've been stressing for the past few weeks: What is next for us, and music in general? I'll argue that music is so far genre defying and full of mixed ideas, that it's hard to say what the next "big thing" for music will be.
Sure, there are bands like Grizzly Bear keeping music fresh, among countless others, but I don't believe any of these bands have the ability to change a landscape of precedent at the moment.
What's interesting about the MC's point is how hip-hop changed a landscape based on word of mouth, the same way the indie scene has flourished across blog spaces on the Web. Grizzly Bear make great music, and then people talk about it, and then Jay-Z is stoked to see 12,000 people at a show with not much radio play, which we all know is controlled anyway.
Saying Grizzly Bear is an important role in the evolution of hip-hop is even more promising. Something I've learned, everyone loves hip-hop, especially indie bands, and it reflects well in their music. Even more powerful is that someone from the other side with pull, such as an artist like Jay-Z, has the ability to open up discussion across the musical board of listeners and creators alike.
Does this mean that since Jay-Z loves Grizzly Bear that we are going to see some surreal avant-garde hip-hop for the sake of redefining what we already know -- probably not, but each day is a new surprise.
The reflection is one that I liked when I read an article on Lil' Wayne sometime back. (The magazine escapes me. I believe it was either Maxim or GQ.) The article, very well written, was from the perspective of the journalist in one of the MC's studios. In a well descriptive part, Wayne talks about landing a drum beat like My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade." Not only could he not think of the band or song at the moment, he didn't look at the song as part of "its scene," or a "single," he looked at it for the impact of its music on the listener, and more so, what caught their ear and made it a success.
Before this gets winded, Jay-Z's remarks are one that gives hope to all we complain about. It's hope that music will continue to be fresh. Hope that artists will continue to try new things, and we as listeners should give it a better try, and maybe we'll see a higher appreciation rate for our selections.
I have a lot of thoughts on how this ties into Brand New's new album. About the cover reflecting what's inside; the length of songs; the approach; etc.
I need to collect my thoughts first, after at least 30 listens. I'm on 21. Results look good. I wonder what Jay-Z thinks of it.
Pitchfork:The record leaked online before its release. Was that a disappointment?
ED: Well, it happened, literally, maybe five days after we mastered it. That was a really huge shock because it came from a really sort of shady-- no one ever confessed to it, but something sketchy happened. It was a really huge bummer that it happened so soon. We knew it was gonna leak and we were prepared for that, but really, the biggest bummer for us was that we spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into making sure that it's a really rich recording-- recording it to tape and doing all these nice sonic details-- and then it leaked and I remember listening to it and it sounded like an underwater YouTube stream or something. It was really, really bad. And so it's just a bummer to think of everyone's first impressions of this album being this horribly compressed, terrible-quality version of the album.
But that said, the excitement behind it and everyone's reaction was really encouraging and exciting for us to see. I think people find their own way of showing support, whether it be through an album sale or coming to a concert or even just telling some friends about it. Obviously, the leak didn't hurt us because we debuted in the Top 10. You've gotta be sort of Zen about it. I would never be angry at someone for downloading the album. Sometimes people just wanna listen to it first to see if they like it and that's totally fair. I'm as guilty of that as anyone else. The only thing I find a little strange about the download culture now is that people have so much music at their fingertips that it's really easy to dismiss an album quickly. I'm speaking from my own experience, where I've caught myself downloading a bunch of albums and then I sort of listen to one and I'm like, "Eh." And I wasn't really giving it my all or listening to it in the right order. I caught myself one day where I was like, "What am I doing? This is so not how this artist intended it to be."
Pitchfork:There was time to develop that relationship. Now I feel like it's so hard to develop a relationship with anything because music moves so fast.
ED: There are so many more releases that people have access to. I don't know, maybe there were this many releases when I was growing up and I just didn't know where to look for them. That's probably very much the case. But it just feels like there are a billion [new records] every year. A lot of people are curious and excited about stuff, and one of the great things about the Internet is that people are excited about music and wanna hear a random album from a band somewhere in Romania or something, and to listen to all sorts of stuff from around the world. They have access to new stuff that they would have never had access to [before]. But sometimes I feel like it's a total overload. Where you're like, "I can't even focus anymore." You know?
Pitchfork:Sure. Everything feels disposable.
ED: It is definitely much easier to feel that an album is disposable-- to dismiss an album or delete the tracks you don't like or to just throw it into shuffle or whatever. But that being said, it's a case-by-case situation and that's the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it. People digest and process music differently, and I'm sure that was the case even when I was a kid. I'm not critiquing the general public, I'm speaking from my own experience of being guilty of deleting a track that I didn't like. Then I'm like, "Wait a second, that's not fair. Why am I doing that?"
I raised the font of the points that hit my thought process the most: (a) supporting artists after downloading (pre-post leak) (b) not spending enough time with a particular album and (c) having such a huge library of music, that like a Wikipedia page, it's disposable.
I agree with all of Droste's points. I wonder if the last point will weed out the first two, or if it contradicts why we hate the major Top 40 industry to begin with? If we can critique music quickly, the public could in fact dismiss good bands, and the elitist might not let others grow.
Droste's point of using a leak as a judge is a good one, but with artists changing their Myspace pages to allow for complete streams of their album, the idea is still an illegal one that can be gotten around. I'm listening to the new Poison the Well album right now, but still understand that I can't just take it with me on the go, and maybe that's one of the main points to obtaining a leak.
Another thing I've been thinking about is criticism and avid opinion judged against a wide critical panal of tradiotional magazine reviews and niche blogs and Web sites such as Pitchfork and Absolutepunk. I think we're getting keener as readers to say, "Well I like indie music, so the new Sunset Rubdown must be one to check out," or "I really like post-hardcore, and Drew says he really likes the new Devil Wears Prada album, so it must be worth checking," and so on.
I think we should all take advice from Droste and really sit down with the albums we hear a buzz about. We should sit down with new albums from our favorite artists and try to understand their progressive ways. In the end, maybe it'll change our view on music as we knew it, and open us up to something new, instead of disposing of a new creative direction.
Those iPod gigs are getting bigger, but how much music do you have that's just there taking space? Go, listen, and see why someone told you to check it out. You already got it illegally, at least make the best of it.
Either I'm getting too old too fast, much more pretentious, or I've been a sucker for classical arrangements all along-- a closeted Baroque lover.
Whatever the case may be, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest is a beast that has had little time away from my stereo since Monday. This is definitely this year's Fleet Foxes: lush, harmonious, and rich compositional texture.
If you don't believe me, or Travis Parno, here's five distinct reasons to take note of Grizzly Bear's newest gem.
1) "Two Weeks" - While the first single's video is unsettling to watch without thinking about how crappy that movie Dead Silence was, the song is elegance spit-shined and glowing like the band members' video faces. The piano vamp is catchier than the swine flu, but as a whole, the single deserves a sunny day's drive through the neighborhood, around a lake or the drive home from work.
2) "Able, Ready" - Easily the standout track for me. The song stabs at my weakness of building instrumentation and density in music. The haunting beginning vocal line is inaccessible at first, but the dormant seed of a guitar pick blossoms into a strong sense of musical purpose. It is a reminder of why we fell in love with the band (even more so) on Yellow House, and how they've tighten that sound with their latest effort.
3) "All We Ask" - Most of the beginning of this track is less than memorable compared to other points on the album, but the closing rhythmic festival and repetitive vocals will stick. It just goes to show that choruses are catchy, especially with clapping, and simplistic lyrical thought.
4) "While You Wait For the Others" - Pop music can be as creepy as it is harmonious. The shaky guitar riffs and distant rhythms all bloom into solid choruses that flutter up from the angled drop leading up to them. The bridge is just another outstanding showcase displaying that one vocalist is never absolute.
5) "Foreground" - The crawling closer is where Grizzly Bear sneak in distant sounds and angelic choruses over a driving piano. While it would sound upon first listen like the band rides the "creative Radiohead/pop building accessible Coldplay" line, they ride it so well that it becomes their own. If "Southern Point" rose like the sun, this song sets in the West with a beautiful aura.
I've just got done reviewing the Dark Was the Night compilation for the site. Wedged in between all the great and "eh" indie music (depending on your taste) the comp has to offer, is a great collaboration between Feist and Grizzly Bear. Feist has a "more than stunning" voice, but is wrapped around the landscape that is Grizzly Bear's knack for beautiful, yet weirdly angled sounds. It's for a lack of a better word: perfect.
I've been thinking a lot about the idea of moving across music as I get older. I purchased Thursday's new record this week (which, don't get me wrong, is Thursday-- and amazing) but I just feel I would have been more excited about it two or three years ago, than I am about it now.
I sometimes wonder if its boredom or the idea of music shifting shapes to the ear. Whatever it is, I understand that a band like Grizzly Bear is a band that deserves a lot of recognition and praise. Yellow House is a record that encapsulates everything great about music: It's never dull; always crescendoing and decrescendoing to build and keep attention; consistantly changing out different instruments and sounds while staying dynamic, yet accessible. Yellow House is Grizzly Bear at their finest, and music in general at a prestige peak of glory.
I anxiously await the band's next record. And though I wasn't as happy with Wolf Parade and At Mount Zoomer, here's hoping Grizzly Bear don't change things up too much, but if their song "Deep Blue Sea" has any insight, I'm not worried at all.