Silver lining to favorite band (maybe) breaking up: solo projects.
Two years following Heaven, allegedly their final album, we’re gifted with three releases from former members of the The Walkmen. Walter Martin’s We’re All Young Together came out in May, followed by Hamilton Leithauser’s Black Hours in June. The frontman’s solo album is already one of the best things I’ve heard this year, soaring with a lot of the passion and eyes-shut streelamp intensity that made the last few group recordings so timeless.
I was already envious of VCO Vault’s creativity, energy, and vision. It seems I am now also envious of his work commute.
Earlier this week, Gridwalk Labs released the first musical project from VCO Vault, who, although no stranger to experimental soundscapes and electronic melodymaking, had been, thus far, using this particular pseudonym solely for forays into visual media. His signature GIF-based live projections can be seen at 8BitSF events (including this past weekend providing visuals for GRIMECRAFT) as well as occupying the focal point of CODAME’s .GIF Happy Hour (the next one is this Thursday!)
Common Gateway is the first musical release from VCO Vault which, much like his visuals, comes with a unified aesthetic. The EP was made entirely with Nanoloop for iPhone during daily trips on BART. The name Common Gateway is a reference to CGI scripts, (common gateway interface), as well as the fact that smartphones are becoming an increasingly common gateway for users to connect to the world.
Heading into last weekend’s Cultivate Festival in Golden Gate Park, I was admittedly more excited about the beer and wine tasting than I was about the musical performances. And while I’m not saying anything changed, necessarily, at any point during my Saturday afternoon*, I did have a great time from my stage-right lawn vantage. No surprise, I suppose, considering how much I enjoy a good cover tune…
The day started, as all good weekend mornings should, with brunch and nerdy music arguments. IP’s assertion that the best Shins song is their cover of Postal Service’s “We Will Become Silhouettes” was less controversial from the perspective of a Shins fan (I think I was the only one) than it was from the general music fan’s stance on whether or not any band’s “best” song can be a version of someone else’s song.
Disagreeing with IP only makes him more resolute. Jimi Hendrix was invoked, but nobody seemed to want to weigh in on “All Along the Watchtower.” But when he dared suggest that Starfucker’s finest track was their Cyndi Lauper cover, shit got intense.
“You can say that it’s the best version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” argued RF. “But you can’t tell me that it’s their best song.”
“Sure I can.”
“There’s something wrong with a band whose best song is a cover.” Everyone at the table agreed. Except IP.
I met WH in 1999, and a few years later, just in time for the ’02 World Cup in South Korea, he introduced me to the infectious genius that is Air Miami’s “World Cup Fever.”
Whether or not the D.C. band actually gave a crap about The Beautiful Game, the song could just as well have been a clever attempt at connecting with the biggest sporting event in the world, and cashing in on the international obsession.
Sadly, of course, this tune never stood a chance against the truth-telling hips of Shakira, or even her African encore. And for the current World Cup, with so much good music coming out of Brazil in the last decade… do I really have to listen to Pitbull and J. Lo?
No, no I do not. I’m streaming the hell out of every game I can, clinging tightly to a narrow lead in my World Cup pick ’em pool, and alternating between my Forza Azzurri attire and Red White & Blue regalia. But the audio is all 1995.
Before there was Outside Lands, there was TIMF. Still twice as cool, and three times as radioactive. The lineup for this year’s festival was announced today and I’ve promised myself to learn from past mistakes (the aforementioned Golden Gate Park party), and not miss out on tickets this time around.
Some of my favorite festival memories were made at prior Treasure Island weekends. Some of the hottest days I’ve experienced in the Bay Area smashed abruptly into some of the coldest nights of my life. I love this town, and I love seeing it flicker in the fog beyond the Tunnel Stage.
French Exit, the debut full-length from TV Girl, makes me a believer.
I can believe that SoCal summers are more soaked in wonderful sonic fog fuzz than grimy sunblock smog noise. I can also believe, in general, that the world is a better place. Free to love and leave, sigh and start over, and move deliberately through life without missing a chord.
The two major differences between RF and myself are height, and the fact that his intoxication threshold for karaoke comes well before his threshold for dancing in public, whereas I’m quite the opposite.
Welcome back to The Fillmore. It’s been far too long. Where have all the shows gone? I used to line up religiously on Sunday mornings to check tickets off my wish list. This was my first time back in almost two years, and I’d almost forgotten how much I love this place, and its place in the City.
Appropriately enough, my first show with RF in over two years was this weekend on the corner of Fillmore and Geary. He drank enough to dance; I was trashed enough to sing along to every song I was able (and some I shouldn’t have attempted). If we had stumbled a little farther down Post, post-show, I don’t doubt that we would have closed out Do Re Mi instead of Dimples. Continue reading Eyeballs and Fangs→
Local band The Y Axes released Sunglasses & Solar Flares a few weeks ago, and, despite the dogged social media efforts of lead vocalist Alexi Belchere (follow her on Twitter; she’s rad), I came a little late to the party.
And what a party it is.
Their Bandcamp bio reads: “We are not the future of pop music; we are pop music from the future.” If that’s the case, I’m happy to report that the future is going to feel like a late 90’s Lookout! Records bash, but with more video game noises. Two minutes into “Neon Street” and my zip-up hoody has transformed into a pullover. My hair is longer (and less gray). I may or may not be wearing a white belt.
I’m still pissed at myself for missing the album release at Hotel Utah on May 17. When they play in town again, I may or may not dig up some retired clothing accessories.
I’m not getting into the ever-increasing irony of the “alternative” music designation. Live 105 bills itself as The Bay Area’s Alternative, but their annual BFD event is barely distinguishable from any other corporate radio one-day music fest. Lots of mainstream bands (who would like to think they’re defying the mainstream) playing in front of lots of kids (who would like to think they’re defying their parents), trying to intersperse harmless pop music with world-changing revelations for the next generation. My favorite, from some dude in Foster the People: “Isolation is the enemy and apathy is its friend.”
But I’m not one to turn down a ticket to a show, and I have to admit… I was a little bit curious to see what the kids are into these days… Continue reading I Blame eCigs.→