Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Polarities and Spectrums (with a Halloween Treat)

Currently, I am highly preoccupied with our (now) annual trip to the Netherlands for ROADBURN. Yay!

There are already 40 bands confirmed. This year I find myself coming into the festival knowing even fewer bands than last year. My worse fear is discovering that I love a band two weeks after I had the opportunity to see them live in Tilberg. Terrible, terrible!

Soooooo...I am on musical recon, baby!

First, if y'all have never been to this site:

It gives a handy-dandy breakdown of alotta bands without too much muss or fuss and I like having ready access to discographies and geographic origin without having to do a google search every time I have the thought.

The first band I checked out was Blues Pills.

I went to them first because I love Graveyard and when I heard about another Swede band rockin' the blues I got very excited. The opening retro wah/fuzz guitar/funfest of their first song, Bliss (on their EP of the same name), immediately put a big fat happy smile on my face. So promising! So true blue-blues-rock and roll! And then...

...the girl started singing....and she sings on every track. I checked.

I have a difficult time with female vocals in rowdier music. But this little gal Elin has a real set of pipes. Jury is still out. Y'all check it out and tell me what you think.

Is she laying it down with the righteous right hand? or over singing? Her sounds make me sort of uncomfortable sometimes but the music makes me so happy...so confused...

On the other end of the vocal spectrum there is Wo Fat. Between naming themselves after an O.G. Hawaii 5-O villain and being from Texas they pretty much had me at Wo.

I love their singer (for lack of a better word). He is awkward and seems to struggle from time to time getting the words out and in the right place in the music. It bothered me for a split second until I realized that he was a redneck not a singer. I love rednecks. I am a redneck. Rednecks are bad to the bone. When you have a band committed to spending an entire album educating the too-modern-for-their-own-good masses about the Noche Del Chupacabra (that's "Night of the Chupacabra" and you may want to google "chupacabra" if you are too North of Mex to know) and using songs like "Bayou Juju" to do it, darn straight you want a hill billy telling the story.

But they are also not afraid to let the music do the talking as demonstrated by the title track. Please enjoy the next 15, singer-less minutes of butt kickery accented by voodoo drums.

They have four full length albums. If there is a fun, rock and roll bone in your body, you will own at least two of them. They are going to be amazing live.

I also checked out A Forest of Stars and their album A Shadowplay for Yesterdays, which they will be playing at Roadburn. Immediate frowny face. It listens like Dio doing really theatrical books on tape. Here is a 30 second clip. I dare you to check it out and come up with a more appropriate description. (You won't.)

Just to show you that context is EVERYTHING and the power of CG shadow puppets (I do so love shadow puppets!)...give yourself a Halloween treat and take 8 1/2 minutes to watch the video for their song Gatherer of the Pure. It took a full year to complete. It is hands down the coolest music video I have ever seen...and your life is not complete until you've seen a shadow puppet take it in the eye with a pair of scissors.

If you are a 90's music kid like me, Alcest and their album Les Voyages de L'ame (live at RB, too!) is a dream come true. Also to be greatly enjoyed if you have secret emo tendencies (Dan!) or are a total sucker for straight up, often lovely, evocative sound (Ross).

It is not the most musically brilliant album but it has ethereal layers, amazing production and very solid musicianship. Alcest is very, very French to me. This can be awesome or terrible dependent upon your feelings toward, well...French things. And be forewarned, sometimes the singer has to scr-emo it out.

The more I listen to this album, the more I listen to it. My love for it has somehow crept into a full enjoyment of everything this band has put out. They are quickly becoming one of my favorites for Evoking or Sustaining a case of Mood.

So there you have it. 

Have a lovely All Hallow's and pay some respects to your ancestors in some small way. 

Okay? OK. More to come.


  1. Thanks for the valuable recon work Kim. I haven't been able to check out your whole post yet but I wanted to say that I too love Wo Fat I was so pumped when they were announced as playing Roadburn. That might have been what sealed the deal for me. They are the expected highlight on my end so far. I gotta say though Kim, I know you're from Texas and all but I'm not convinced that you're as redneck as you want to believe. I spend a lot of time in rural BC (I am currently writing this email from a community of ~60 people that will be effectively snowed in during the 4-5 month avalanche season) and I regularly interact with some undeniably proper rednecks. You might argue that up in BC our rednecks are a bit different but let me assure you that they are no less legit. Would you confirm, Boss? To be clear, I mean no disrespect but I have a feeling that the tiny dog and Volkswagon would leave the denizens of this mountain redneck hive feeling confused and uncomfortable at the very least.

  2. Roots are roots, man. Movin', buyin' stuff, don't change who you are. Not on intrinsic levels.

  3. I disagree. I don't buy that intrinsic levels shit. Interior 'truth' or 'self' is a phantasmal effect of performed acts and assumed proclivities etc.

  4. I loved Wo Fat! Now am very excited to see them at roadburn! Alcest was pretty good too. I also could'nt get down with the female vocals of Blu Pills. I kind of felt like they were a touch too much.

  5. I loved Wo Fat! Now am very excited to see them at roadburn! Alcest was pretty good too. I also could'nt get down with the female vocals of Blu Pills. I kind of felt like they were a touch too much.