Archives for posts with tag: American Football

Earlier this summer I made it to a couple of noise shows and since then, I’ve eased off the gas. A couple of albums have grown on me in the meantime, and I also made it to a Lightning Bolt concert. Here’s an end-of-summer recap:

Eluvium – Similes – Temporary Residence – 2010

This is an album that I remember had a tepid response (at least on the internet) when it was released, because it famously was the first Eluvium release in which Matthew Cooper employed percussion, verse-chorus structure, and even singing. My response was similar- I liked the dreamy music still, but nothing could touch some of his previous works, we thought (my favorite description I saw once likened 2005’s droney epic Talk Amongst the Trees to “weepcore”). But my most reliable music tastemaker raved about it. KZSU’s Your Imaginary Friend (broken link? uh-oh) had very positive things to say about it, comparing it to Eno, which was not the first and will not be the last time the comparison is drawn. I played it a few times on the radio, but it wasn’t droney enough for me, or a useful cog for sound layering at the time.

Thanks to my spring trainee DJ Away (your next KZSU star), who called in a Similes request one night, I reexamined and relistened to the record a bit this summer. Both YIF and DJ Away are spot on in their praise (I wish the general populace was as privy to the impeccable curatorial tastes of Your Imaginary Friend as I am privileged to be). Cooper took four years in between Copia and Similes seemingly to develop this sound. These songs and pieces are fully formed; they’re near perfect and stunningly beautiful when you let them under your skin. The lyrics are wonderful, too, something I did not pay attention to the first time around: abstract yet grounded in human questions and emotions. It wasn’t until listening to “The Motion Makes Me Last” while drunkenly riding a bus home one night did I realize how meaningful the album was to me. The waves of melodic washes buoy the blissful frame, while every word, every piano asecent, and every echoey chordal descent helped me make sense of the world. If it’s been a while since you’ve listened to Similes, I recommend revisiting it.

Owls – Owls – Jade Tree Records – (2002)

I don’t know what it is but I am a sucker for team (Mike) Kinsella. Owen has officially claimed the throne to my last.fmCap’n Jazz has these great melodic moments, but their sound is a little bit frenetic, angular, and shouty for me. I’m glad I’ve given them a shot and I recognize the band’s importance. American Football had, like, the greatest melodic rock album of ’99 (not unlike that Eluvium record I just mentioned in terms of fully-formed, intricate, commanding perfection). So I guess in some sort of attempt at completion-ism, I tracked down the Owls record (on which Mike K drums and Tim K sings, and the rest of the original Cap’n J lineup returns) that I had read about so often over the years.

It’s impenetrable at first- really mathy stuff that twists and jerks around interesting guitar work, but there are hints of anthemic melodic bits. Those teases brought me back for more and I slowly embraced all of it. I’ve been on a freaking kick and I’m trying to not get burnt on the album because I’ve been listening to it so much in the last week or two. It kind of makes me want to put more time into Cap’n Jazz, if the brief moments of greatness expand to encapsulate the whole thing.

It’s kind of weird that Owls reformed, and I’m not sure what to expect when the album is out… But what’s next for me, Joan of Arc?

Lightning Bolt live, courtesy

That Lightning Bolt show was fun at the Rock ‘N Roll Hotel on Aug 21st. As I expected they were quite loud. The duo played for about an hour before calling it quits on this tour supporting (I believe) an upcoming rarities release on Load Records. Brian Chippendale is certainly the main attraction as he hammers the drums all night while screaming into his “face,” a mic’d Elmo mask on our Tuesday night performance. I’m glad I got to see Lightning Bolt finally, but I’m not sure I’ll make a trip to see them again- their performance is not a gimmick, but a lot of songs sounded similar. The opening act was an Animal Collective-aping Hume, equipped with hipster Asian guitarist and two drummers providing ‘dem tribal beats. It was okay music to nod along to. I read positive reviews of the first act, Les Rhinoceros about something krautrock or another, but I was at the show for a friend’s birthday, so the bar was more of a destination for us at the time.

So that’s that. I will aim for brevity next time. Happy Labor Day?


I’ve decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve been listening to lately. It’s summertime, which means I’m in a foreign country and instead of spending all of my time interacting with the locals, I walk around like a hip American with my headphones listening to depressing music.

Owen – I Do Perceive – Polyvinyl Records

I only discovered Owen recently, thanks to many conversations with dj partner Luke about the 90s band, American Football. Owen is the solo project of Mike Kinsella, formerly of American Football, Cap’n Jazz, and others. It’s bedroom-constructed melancholy pop. Throwing the ’emo’ tag around sells this short. Layers of acoustic guitars and drum machines build up to blissful, lush melodic stretches under tender, fractured vocals. I haven’t made one of those all-time lists in a while, but this has climbed into my hypothetical top 50 within the span of weeks. I think my favorite songs on here are the dreamy, depressing, “Bed Abuse,” the My Bloody Valentine-meets-Elliott Smith, “Lights Out” (yeah, really), and the bouncy opener, “Who Found Who’s Hair in Who’s Bed.” Also check out the like-minded ep, (the ep). Fans of Elliott Smith, Mark Kozelek, and American Football take note.

Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen – Mute Records

At this point there is no album this year in the same league as Josh T. Pearson‘s Last of the Country Gentlemen. Oh my goodness. Crawling spindly folkish acoustic dirges wallowing in the misgivings and imperfections of humanity. This album is an hour long and is seven songs long. That is pretty typical for what I usually listen to, but this album also has lyrics on every track. I feel like I’m already failing to promote it by attempting to describe it or how it makes me feel. The songs hinge so much on Pearson’s emotions that I’m pretty sure this is a textbook example of how not to keep time (my lack of being a musician may be showing here). Lush strings are added tastefully here and there, only augmenting the drama and pathos. For the most part, however, the songs are structured around a repetitive guitar pattern that varies slightly with the slowly unfolding confessional narratives about alcoholism, lust, and religion. Every song is an absolute gem. I’m going to do my darndest to try to see him in continental Europe in August.

Coastal – Coastal – Words on Music

This one may be a little bit more obscure. It is a sin to admit, but it’s true that I found this artist on pandora. I don’t remember what sort of situation I was in, in which I decided to listen to that sinful device, but it was the least of whatever evil I was faced with choosing. In any case, I’m glad I found Coastal. Low impersonators they may be, but I cannot get enough of that hazy, dreamy, slow, simplistic navelgazing pop. Just extended, languid songs that slowly bob along blissfully.  I imagine that it may be difficult to find a lot of information about this band. Thank goodness for KZSU. Who would have thought they came from Utah? Oh wait, the Low thing makes even more sense.

Thanks for reading and geeking out with me.