Throughout Idle Time’s first decade, one of our favorite insults to bandy back and forth was an accusation of narrow musical interests. With the probable exception of WH, who admittedly has the broadest appreciation of styles and genres, we have all been guilty of locking in to a certain “jam.” Some of us embraced it (MI, DH); some of us resented it (me, RF); and some seemed oblivious (EH).
So it is with deliberate effort that I start the next decade, The Turnaround me, with as much new as I can handle.
I’m used to responding to “What kind of music do you like?” with the blanket I-like-everything remark, but do I mean it? The other night I was asked if I liked reggae. Ask me that ten years ago I would have said no… But the other night, again, elicited the “everything” reply.
I’m listening to more, but I’m also hearing more.
I wouldn’t have embraced this track by Argentinian artist Cineplexx had it not been for a remarkable series of events that led me to the Catalan band Manel (and their song “Al Mar” in particular; gracias MMJ). “Te Quiero” is the first single off his forthcoming album, Florianopólis, released on April 7 on Nuevahola Records.
And how’s this for cross-culturalism? A great Cineplexx interview on NPR’s Latino USA website. Yeah, I would also love to see this guy work with James Murphy. Make that happen.
Has it really been almost three years since w h o k I l l? The third tUnE-yArDs LP, Nikki Nack, comes out in May and the first single, “Water Fountain,” is just begging to be heard (and seen) live.
Since Merrill Garbus lives and records in Oakland now, advantage Bay Area. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve had a chance (or a reason) to go to The Fillmore (The Promise Ring reunion in ’12 maybe?) But she’s beloved in this town, which means, now, booked among a depressing plethora of adult contemporary and graying jam bands, tUnE-YarDs hits that wonderful iconic brick façade at the corner of Fillmore and Geary.
June 6, my friends. And… Sylvan Esso is opening. Freaking Candyland.
I’ve been listening to The Decemberists a lot these last few days. No particular reason, really, but I started thinking about The Walkmen’s debut in ’02, and that led me down a train of thought to other debuts… ’02 in particular… and one of the greatest first albums by any band ever, regardless of year. Castaways and Cutouts is as much a gem out of time as a timeless classic. “Grace Cathedral Hill” still tugs at my heart, and it sits among all of my Favorite Song lists. “July, July” was a staple of nice-to-meet-you mixes throughout the Idle Time decade. I have fond memories of singing “The Legionnaire’s Lament” on training runs during rainy Golden Gate Park weekends.
I’ve been having some of the most interesting conversations lately about… well, about conversation. About traveling and communicating. Understanding and wanting to be understood. About the architecture of it all, and how brilliant it is to be surrounded by people in places that are both unfamiliar and strangely inviting at the same time.
And as a result, I heard “Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect” very differently this time around…
I may be nothing of a builder, but I continue to dream of the design. I want to see the pieces fit, on paper and in my head. I want the sounds of words and the ballet of gestures to reverberate ceaselessly around me.
But to do that, I need to keep dreaming of being an architect. And I need to keep communicating. Especially with those beautiful, courageous people who want so badly to simply be understood.
Y’all know what a sucker I am for a pretty Scandinavian voice. Since hearing “Runaway” by Monica Birkenes (AKA Mr Little Jeans) streaming around the blogosphere two years ago, I’ve been waiting patiently for the Norwegian electropop artist to release a full-length album.
She’s given us two additional singles in the last few months, “Oh Sailor” and “Good Mistake,” which successfully built up my anticipation for Pocketknife, out this week on Harvest Records.
And because this blog is all about me wandering around loving and living a music-filled existence, I’ll be at Rickshaw Stop on April 3.
I love being surprised by a cover tune. I have a playlist devoted to covers that elicit an oh shit! Where have I heard this guy before..?* One of the few remaining mental music trivia challenges that doesn’t lend itself to immediate surrender and an internet answer.
Take this track, for example. “Total Control” covered by Maigret Jnr and Misfit Mod. Fantastic! Who did it first..? During a Bandcamp Weekly episode a few weeks back, I had until the end of the song before Andrew Jervis basically said, time’s up: Motels.
Speaking of Bandcamp, if you head on over to Maigret Jnr’s page, you can download this tune gratis.
And for good measure, check out this live performance of the original. Martha’s eyes… that vanishing cinder of a cigarette… love.
*in Red River? Or A Place in the Sun? Maybe The Misfits? From Here to Eternity…
As a member of the local band Honeycut, Bart Davenport was a live favorite here in The City. As a current LA resident, now touring to support his new LP Physical World, he’s earned a place in the annals of my favorite live performances of all time.
The album is pretty good, and the first single, “Wearing the Changes,” has maintained its place in my New New Stuff playlist despite kicking around for a few weeks. It repels reorganization.
Last night at The Chapel was a good night. Reminder: I’m out of the pseudo-music-reviewing biz. All of us at Idle Time are. I’ll sum this up in The Point sometime in the near future, but suffice to say that the Institute’s efforts to rate, quantify, and chronicle pop music started to feel like homework right around the same time that real-world shit got crazy. Seemed like a foregone conclusion: Idle Time had timed out. As the 2014 dawn reflected off the settling dust specks, however, I remembered what made us so passionate about music in the first place. Why we first debated with one another, made each other mixes, and flipped flashcards of obscure album covers with kung fu rapidity.
It’s about the music of course, but it’s also about the places we inhabit, the things we do, and the people we’re with when that music happens.
And last night at The Chapel Bart Davenport made it happen.
His new album may not make any best-of lists of import, but it’ll show up among my favorite records of the year because it is permanently linked to an evening of new friends, old (sorely missed) emotions, and a singular sense of peace with the universe that I haven’t experienced in far too long.
If rumors of The Walkmen’s demise are true, at least they left us in Heaven.
Of course… I can think of at least one other outfit that had a nice ten-year stretch from 2002-2012, then seemed to call it quits, but is now starting to emerge in 2014 in fits and starts, so…
Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s solo offering, Black Hours, comes out May 6. The first single, featuring an assist from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, is already rattling windows on my morning commute.
Other collaborators on the album include members of The Shins, Dirty Projectors, and the don’t-believe-they’re-gone Walkmen. What will be gone, very quickly I suspect, are tickets to Leithauser’s May 7 show at The Chapel. Snatch ’em up.
Partisan Records was kind enough to release Sylvan Esso’s new single, “Coffee,” on their Spring Sampler a few weeks ago, and I’ve been abuzz with an electropop caffeine high ever since.
The label’s website says that the track “sparkles and quakes, patiently rising from a muted spell of seasonal affective disorder to a sweet rupture of schoolyard glee. ” Sweet, sweet rupture. The song is fantastic. And so is their live show.
At Bottom of the Hill on February 13th, Amelia Meath gave Valentine’s Day the middle finger with a recitation of Richard Brautigan’s “Love Poem.” Then she and Nick Sanborn finished entrancing the crowd with one of the most energized sets I’ve seen a duo perform in a long time. Love at first beat.
The album comes out in May, and I’m patiently awaiting news of their impending tour stop in town.
After a solid decade of heated, friendly debate with my Idle Time cohorts, the energy peaked, the real world got crazy, and the empire imploded.
But the enthusiasm didn’t die. Nor did the music.
We still love it, follow it, and react to it. We have no plans for another List, much less the completion of the long-delayed and ultimately forsaken Ultimate Mixtape project. But we’re still family, and out of the ashes of a challenging 2013, this family is having a reunion of sorts in 2014.
My contribution will start here, on another rarely visited corner of the internet. Heavy rotations, shows of note, and assorted rankings. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure what’s going to happen here, but it feels good to start something again.
And with that, I just dropped five CDs in the mail for my Idle Time brothers and sisters. New music for a new start.