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Monday, October 27, 2008

This is where I get off.

Just want to let all my QBiM readers know that there are some changes afoot, and I want to make sure I'm not losing any of you in the process.

As of RIGHT NOW, QBiM will be accessible by visiting www.quickbeforeitmelts.com only. Some of you may still be going to our original Blogger URL http://qbim.blogspot.com, but this will be the last post on that site.

Consequently, anyone who's reading this on the RSS Feed will also want to go to the new Quick Before It Melts RSS Feed and start subscribing to the feed there.

You may have noticed that some posts over the last few weeks have been disappearing, including a post I made on Friday about this very issue. The long and the short of it is that QBiM has come to the end of the road with Blogger, and it's time for this site to fully move into its new digs. Up until now, www.quickbeforeitmelts.com was using redirect and mirroring to the Blogger site, but if all goes well and according to plan, then QBiM should be up and running there by teh time you read this post, presuming that Blogger isn't going to try taking this post down, too.

Well, I guess that's it, then. I'm open for business at the new site, so thanks to all loyal readers ready to make the jump with us, and hopefully a few more will find their way to our new home, too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

These days mean nothing to me.


There's something immediately familiar about Montreal's The High Dials. When you first listen to their new album, Moon Country, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the album as a long lost 60s psychedelic pop treasure. The High Dials do retro without any irony; they've tapped into a groove and energy that is honest and driven by solid playing and songwriting. That's not to say that there are no modern embellishments to their songs. "Invisible Choirs" has a shoegazey drone to it that would have fit nicely onto an early Ride album, while "Oisin, My Bastard Brother" sounds like the hybrid offspring of Sloan and Okkervil River.

Moon Country is out now through MapleMusic, where you can pick up a signed copy of the band if you're quick. Check out their Myspace page for tour dates across the U.S. this month, too.
MP3: The High Dials "Invisible Choirs"
Video: The High Dials "The Holy Ground"
Myspace: The High Dials

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday's post has no title.

It's been a while since I posted anything remotely dance orientated, so when a heard the new track by Pallers, a recent signing to Swedish Labrador Records, I immediately wanted to share it with you. Labrador is home to QBiM favourite Pelle Carlberg and an impressive roster of indie-pop artists, so Pallers is something quite different for them. It's dance music for the lazy, the blazers and for the slightly depressed," read the accompanying email, and that is as fitting a description as I could have come up with. "Humdrum" is filled with subtle nuances that reveal themselves slowly, growing from a swirl of tribal percussion into rhythm and melodies that wouldn't sound out of place on a Junior Boys record. Pallers debut EP, Humdrum, is scheduled for release in December, and if the title track is anything to go by, it's going to be a welcome addition to the Labrador Records canon.
MP3: Pallers "Humdrum"
Myspace: Pallers
The CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival kicked off yesterday in NYC, and everybody and their brother is apparently playing/showcasing/presenting something or other. Too many shows to name here, but a quick click here (and then a click to here!) will reveal all the details.

Bloc Party released the physical/digital version of their latest single, "Talons" this week. The multiple format release features the last ever Phones (aka Paul Epworth) remix, and a rare acoustic performnace of the track. Intimacy, Bloc Party's third album, hits shops next week, after having been released as a digital album last month. As if you didn't already know that.
Myspace: Bloc Party
Video: Bloc Party "Talons"
Fujiya & Miyagi have given Mercury Rev the remix treatment for their last single, "Senses On Fire" as part of a remix package available soon. The 'Rev have released two albums simultaneously, Snowflake Midnight (from where "Senses On Fire" comes) and a companion instrumental album, Strange Attractor, which they've made available free from their official site (after signing up for their mailing list).
MP3: Mercury Rev "Senses On Fire (Fujiya & Miyagi Remix)"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Disclaimer

photo: Liam Maloney
A few weeks ago on on www.thedears.org, Murray Lightburn posted an email exchange between he and a friend about the fact that the new album from The Dears, Missiles, leaked to the internet. It was a pretty straightforward three email exchange that sums up the situation of these modern times: "Albums get made, then they get leaked, then they get released. Oh well."

"While we are 100% appreciative that people care enough, The Dears are still pretty old-school," the post goes on to say. "...Even though it's kind of cool, we can't help feeling a little bit devastated." Noting that fans can either a) download the leaked album right away, b) wait and buy it when it's released, or c) both, The Dears say that "whatever option you choose, we truly hope you enjoy it. We are excited and terrified all at once."

No need to be scared, Mr. Lightburn. Pardon the pun, but Missiles is a direct hit. It is the band's finest work to date. Missiles is a huge album that cannot be contained by traditional pop song constructs; the shortest song here is 3:43, the longest 11:21; the rest fall within the 4:00 to 8:00 minute range. They manage to sustain interest not through repetitive chord changes or elongated space rock jams, but through pure, honest to goodness songwriting that compels you to listen to find out how the melody is going to resolve itself, or where the song is going to go next.

That aforementioned shortest track, "Crisis 1 & 2" is a perfect example of this. It begins with Natalia Yanchak (Mrs. Murray Lightburn) sweet singing over a slightly stuttering classic Dears drum and bass line, that opens up via some crisp guitar licks that almost sound late 70s California-rock inspired; then around the 2 minute mark things get a big darker, a bit slicker, and Lightburn and the Mrs. change vocal positions (he sang backing for her on the first half of the track) until the song's close.

Missiles is a massive, multi-layered affair, and it's in no hurry to get from here to there. It's a decidedly downtempo pace throughout the album's 10 tracks, but when the music is this beautifully rendered you don't mind taking your time to stop and smell the roses. Lyrically speaking, the mood is all about atonement, redemption, and rebuilding what once was. Lightburn repeatedly asks the listener for forgiveness or for a second chance, or to scrap everything and start all over again. There seems to be more religious references than on the band's other songs here to, the most overt being the album's epic closing track, "Saviour". "Dream Job" has my favourite Lightburn vocal performance on the album. It's not his greatest lyrics, but his voice is the most emotive and emotional I've ever heard it sound, especially in the chorus when he says, "You've got dreams of taking someone else's dream away". he sounds tired, war weary, and says "I'm sick of playing the blues". Tear-inducing, and poignant, given the fact that Lightburn and Yanchak were the only two band members left by the time the album was finished. Some day, the story of how this album got made is going to make a great addition to the 33 1/3 book series.

The Dears will be playing across the U.S. this month in support of Missiles. You can check for dates in and around your present location on the newsletter page of their official site. Missiles is being released by Dangerbird Records in the world outside Canada, MapleMusic will still be carrying them in the True North, Strong and Free.
MP3: The Dears "Meltdown In A Major"
Video: The Dears "22: the Death of All the Romance"
Video: The Dears "Ticket To Immortality"
Myspace: The Dears

Saturday, October 18, 2008

52 girls on film


I'm currently reading Love Is A Mixtape by Rob Sheffield, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, which is billed as a memoir about "life and loss, one song at a time". Each chapter's starting point is a mixed tape that Sheffield--or someone close to him--created at certain life intervals that carry with it the spirit of it's time and the essence of the place and moment the tape was enjoyed. For an old fart like me, who remembers countless hours sitting by the tape deck assembling mixes from weekly America's Top 40 countdown, Sheffield's musings hit home. I don't think about those old mixed tapes I made too often, but every once in awhile, I'll hear a song from the past, and immediate expect to hear a certain song by another artist follow it, because sometime ago, those two tracks sat side by side on a Maxell 90 minute tape and became forever linked to one another.

How does the book link to this post about Brooklyn's dynamic duo Matt & Kim? Well, one of Sheffield's chapters focuses on the synth-pop duos of the 80s, and their mythical lore and power to sway music lovers. In particular he focuses on the girl-guy duos, like Yaz, who seemed to brood with sexual tension and aloofness in a way that a couple of Pet Shop Boys never could. That sort of reminded me about Matt & Kim, who are not a synth-pop duo, but are definitely a part of the ancestral hierarchy of those bands. Where Matt & Kim strike their own path is that, like the White Stripes, the girl plays drums and does a bit of singing, while the guy takes the mic. Their dance/punk/electro sound isn't as easy on the ears as their forefathers, but that makes it all the more fun. Matt & Kim have been working on the follow-up to their self-titled/self-made debut album. The new disc is called Grand, and although release dates don't seem to be confirmed as of yet (just some time next year), it looks like Green Label sound will be carrying it. For now, here's a little taste of what you can expect.
MP3: Matt & Kim "Daylight"
Myspace: Matt & Kim
Video: Matt & Kim "Yea Yeah"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Classical records


It's getting harder and harder to keep track of who is from what band and which solo/alternate project are they working on now. Department of Eagles often gets tagged as a Grizzly Bear side project, which isn't true; Daniel Rossen started Department Of Eagles well before he joined the Grizzly Boys in and around 2003. Department Of Eagles is Rossen and his roommate Fred Nicolaus, who've been making music together since 2001. They never really intended for the music to go beyond their circle of friends, but good music is hard to keep to yourself.

There's a lot of similarity and familiarity to Grizzly Bear's magnificent Yellow House album and Department Of Eagles's new full-length, In Ear Park. That's understandable, since a good number of Rossen's Grizzly Friends ended up playing on the album. Some media outlets have spun this into a story suggesting that this new DoE album is signalling the end of Grizzly Bear, but Rossen dispelled those rumours with a recent post to the Grizzly Bear blog.

In Ear Park is one of those amazing little jewels that can easily get lost in the crush of other, more high profile releases. They've been garnering a fair bit of attention mind you, with a spot on Conan O'Brien the other week and some rave reviews in the press. But don't let that sway you; experience DoE for yourself and see hear what the fuss is all about.
MP3: Department of Eagles "No One Does It Like You"
MP3: Department of Eagles "In Ear Park"
Myspace: Department of Eagles

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beware our nubile miscreants


I think that you have to take Of Montreal at face value and not think too much about it. It also helps to avoid reading any reviews of their latest album, Skeletal Lamping before hearing the actual recordings because it can skew your opinion. That was my mistake--and I made it more than once, since I read about three different reviews, each with a different opinion. One flat out hated it, calling it schizophrenic, misguided and overdone. The second loved it, calling its patch work of musical collages inventive and intoxicating, like a sonic cocktail. The third review didn't quite know what it wanted to say, and jumped all over the place, simultaneously celebrating the fact that Skeletal Lamping has moved on from its predecessor Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? and lamenting the fact that it's not quite the same beast. I don't blame the reviewer for being unable to settle on an opinion one way or the other, Skeletal Lamping isn't an album that lends itself to being neatly encapsulated in 500 words or less. If I based my opinion solely on the reviews, I'd probably not even have considered it for a post, much less giving it a listen. curiosity always gets the better of me, and I have to listen and judge for myself. I'm glad I did.

The album is very much a patchwork of random musical moments of varying tempo, style, and length, pieced together to make whole songs that inevitably end up miles away from where the began. In lesser hands this would be an absolute mess, but Kevin Barnes is no slouch when it comes to musical composition. In my opinion, Barnes is in a compositional league by himself, elevating the standard pop-song elements into orchestral, epic, 5 minute movements that manage to never sound overblown and forced. case in point: "Platis Wafers", the album's longest song, gets the most mileage from this quilt-like construction. It begins with a disco beat that melts into some rock star guitar work in chorus before spiraling into a more laid-back chill-out groove; from there it devolves into a mess of percussion and echo-drenched vocals, but not before it takes a couple steps forwards and back again along the way.

I liked Hissing Fauna... well enough, but I'm loving Skeletal Lamping more and more with each successive listen. It may seem clich├ęd to say, but it's true: this album reveals something new with each listen. You know how some songs become permanently embedded in your brain after just one or two listens? Well, you'll never be able to fully wrap your head around these 15 tracks for all the changes they go through from start to finish. Suffice to say that each time, it's like listening to the album for the first time. how long that lasts remains to be seen, but for now, I'm joining the "love it" camp; Skeletal Lamping, YOU are the destroyer, laying waste to all other comers. The album should be out on October 21st (it was initially scheduled for yesterday) on Polyvinyl Records.
MP3: Of Montreal "Id Engager"
Myspace: Of Montreal
Video: Of Montreal "Gronlandic Edit"
Stream: Of Montreal Skeletal Lamping