Titus Andronicus

TDoL Best of 2012: 15-11

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 | musiX | No Comments

11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

12. Titus Andronicus - Local Business (XL Recordings)

13. Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair (Drag City)

14. Plankton Wat – Spirits (Thrill Jockey)

15. Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory (Carpark Records)

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The Days of Lore Best of 2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010 | musiX, pdX | 6 Comments

Wait, weren’t we just here? Like, in 2009? As I hinted at in last year’s TDoL year-end extravaganza, making these lists is always a tug-of-war between what feels good and what actually is good. But if it makes you feel good, it must be good … right?

So here’s the process: I frantically assemble my list. Move things around. Re-listen to records. Cut one here; add another there. Anxiety sets in. I lose sleep. Get a few more gray hairs. Stop eating solid foods. I don’t bathe. I empty out my bank account on overpriced vinyl (including Rush records, for crissakes). I ignore my fiancée. Drink heavily. Call in sick to work. Stop returning phone calls. Kick my (imaginary) dog. Resort to drugs (prescription and non). And stand on the corner in the cold holding one of those signs that say “Will blog for food.” The list goes on—all so I can compile this silly list for you.

OK, it’s really not that bad … although I do like to kick my (imaginary) dog every now and again. I will say this: As someone who overthinks everything (e-ver-y thing), the early process for these year-end lists can be a bitch (which then I kick). But once I let touchiness and feeliness be my guides (more fartsy with the artsy) things always fall into place.

So here it is. I’m sure this is only one of dozens of lists you’ll read. I think it’s a good one (obviously), but it doesn’t mean you have to. Click the album covers to purchase, and add your own list in the comments section. And let the civil discourse take us into 2011, where we can be certain of two things: We’ll all be one year older, and we will definitely be sick of hearing about how incredible that Kanye West record was.

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15. The Goodnight Loving Supper Club – The Goodnight Loving (Dirtnap Records)

Though the band has shaken some of the folkier elements found on their debut, it takes only a few notes to know where Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s The Goodnight Loving are coming from (Milwaukee, duh). While there’s a certain innocence to their music—’50s rock ‘n’ roll meets honky tonk—the band has won over the cold hearts of those who like their music a little more, shall we say, grimy. Picture a sock hop with an open bar.

“The Pan”The Goodnight Loving

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14. American Gong – Quasi
(Kill Rock Stars)

It was a busy year for Quasi, who released their first record in four years and toured all over including several dates with Pavement. The band entered the studio for the first time with bassist/Jick Joanna Bolme, and what they got was a huge-sounding rock record. This thing is LOUD. As drummer Janet Weiss told TDoL earlier this year: “We wanted to capture what it feels like to be at a live show or be in the room with all of the molecules banging around.”

“Repulsion”Quasi

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13. Montañas 10″ – Montañas (Gramaciones Grabofónicas)

I’m always digging for music from other countries only to come up with bad techno in one hand and even worse metal in the other. I was beside myself when I discovered Montañas, a trio from Northern Spain that plays a shit-gazey hybrid of garage rock and post-punk. Their 10-inch (that’s 10 solid inches of vinyl) has a fistful of threadbare 90-second gems—guitars bend in and out of tune, the drums sound like sticks on old seat cushions, bass is non-existent. Sounds ugly, but it’s really quite perfect.

“Yo Conduzco, Ella Me Guía”Montañas

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12. How I Got Over – The Roots
(Def Jam)

I guess there are benefits to being Jimmy Fallon’s house band. The Roots’ ninth studio record sounds like a group that kicks out the jams every night. The songs are shorter and scrappier. Black Thought’s gritty rhymes glide from his lips. And ?uestlove’s boom-bap is as snappy as it’s ever been. How I Got Over also features a slew of unexpected guests—from Dirty Projectors to Monsters of Folk—all of whom become small, yet integral brush strokes on The Roots’ brilliant canvass.

“Dear God 2.0″The Roots

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11. The Dirty Future – Old Light (Arena Rock)

The first thing you’ll notice on Old Light‘s debut long-player are the harmonies, which bring to mind the sunny vocal stylings of Crosby, Stills & Nash. But that’s where the similarities end (thankfully). The Portland four-piece—led by a 6-foot-5 Sabbath lover—throw in stoner riffs, autoharp, and lyrics about death. It’s the kind of record made to be listened to from front to back; and the more you listen the darker it gets. Which is how we like things around here.

“Pretty Machete”Old Light

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10. The Monitor – Titus Andronicus (XL Recordings)

These guys took a left on E Street and ended up in the Deep South. Using the American Civil War as a metaphor for the wacky game of life, guitarist/vocalist/beard aficionado Patrick Stickles leads his motley crew through 10 punk rock epics that give equal nods to the drunk singalongs of the Pogues as they do Jersey’s favorite son (hint: not Jon Bon Jovi). An album about America’s bloodiest war by a band named after Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy can be nothing but a bloody good time.

“A More Perfect Union”Titus Andronicus

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9. Soft Crash – Nothing People
(S.S. Records)

It’s a given that any year Nothing People put out a new record it will end up on a TDoL year-end list. Because this mysterious trio from the sticks of Orland, California (where, coincidentally, there is a high incidence of UFO sightings) has yet to put out a bad album. Soft Crash is these beings’ the band’s third full-length, another dark, sci-fi creepshow oozing with mangled guitars, spaced-out synths and echoed vocals. This is the sound of the future. And the past. Listen up—Nothing People are watching you.

“Avoiding Needles”Nothing People

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8. Songs For the Ravens – Sea of Bees (Crossbill Records)

If you haven’t heard the voice of Julie Baenziger, aka Jules, aka Sea of Bees, then you’re missing out on something special. The 24-year-old Californian had barely been in a band when Tape Op honcho John Baccigaluppi heard her singing in a Sacramento studio. She recorded 2009′s The Bee Eee Pee soon after. Her followup is lush, yet spare, showcasing Baenziger’s Björk-meets-Leigh Nash register in addition to her musical ability (she plays everything but drums). Can you say wunderkind?

“Wizbot”Sea of Bees

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7. Astro Coast – Surfer Blood (Kanine Records)

I never shook Surfer Blood‘s Astro Coast. These baby-faced Floridians have put out one of the best guitar records of the year—songs, hummable; riffs, air-guitarable; cheeks, pinchable. Vocalist John Paul Pitts croons like Steven Patrick Morrissey while the band dashes out wicked indie rock with the occasional Afro-Cuban break. Many a fickle blogger has probably spat the band out like a wad of chum. I’ll wait for the next record to decide whether or not they’re just another flavor of the month.

“Floating Vibes”Surfer Blood

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6. Before Today – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (4AD)

I became completely fascinated with Ariel Pink this year simply because he’s an honest-to-goodness weirdo. I’m not very familiar with his older material (dozens of self-recorded mixtapes, EPs, singles …), but I do like Before Today—a modern, lo-fi take on that magical and funky era from 1977 to 1983. Bottom line: Whether his songs are pretty and vulnerable or completely grating and bizarre, by the end of the record you know the eccentric/recluse thing isn’t an act.

“Beverly Kills”Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

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5. The Grand Theatre, Volume One – Old 97′s (New West)

My beloved Old 97′s discovered the fountain of youth in 2010 (what, you didn’t read about that?). Not since 2001′s Satellite Rides has the band fired on all cylinders—energy, songs, production. It’s all here. No fat. No filler. The 97′s are still the best at blurring the lines between British Invasion and Texas Twang, and this time around they do so relentlessly, while incorporating garage rock and power pop into the mix. On a side note, I had the chance to meet them this year. I wept only once.

“Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)”Old 97′s

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4. Failed Graves – The Lights (Wäntage USA)

Seattle’s The Lights are sort of oblivious to what’s going on around them, cranking out cranky rock ‘n’ roll that sounds as if it could have fallen from a ’90s wormhole. Failed Graves (only their third LP in more than a decade as a band) might be mistaken for straight-ahead rock. Nonsense. Guitars snake around throbbing bass-lines while the drums fill empty spaces and vocals drone in and out of key. Think Mudhoney meets Pavement meets Spaghetti Western. Really, what’s not to like?

“Puerto Escondido”The Lights

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3. Melted - Ty Segall
(Goner Records)

San Francisco is quite the hotbed of rock (no, I’m not talking the San Andreas Fault), including the manic Thee Oh Sees, the Sandwitches and Sonny & the Sunsets, just to name a few. But there’s something about Ty Segall. Melted is the most visceral and fun 30 minutes I’ve experienced in some time—I mean, it’s saying something if a song makes me want to pogo and do the Mashed Potato. Naked. “Girlfriend” and “Imaginary Person” can do that to a person. This I promise you.

“Girlfriend”Ty Segall

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2. Mines - Menomena
(Barsuk Records)

Menomena‘s Mines is a stunning piece of work. The fact that it was pieced together by three members who hardly spoke throughout the process makes it even more incredible. Mines is less spastic then previous records, but no less intricate. Drums are bombastic, while synths, guitars, sax and other noises creep in and out of earshot. It’s an immense collage of sound, and every sound has purpose. No wanking here—this is a band unafraid to throw it all in your face and leave your ears ringing.

“Five Little Rooms”Menomena

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1. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter (4AD)

Bradford Cox is a music fan, first and foremost—a guy who pines for those days when you waited for release dates and plastered your walls with pictures of rock stars ripped out of Creem and Rolling Stone. That spirit runs throughout Deerhunter‘s Halcyon Digest, a record that brings all of the band’s powers together. When I say “powers” I mean the ability to embrace inanimate drum loops, bleeps and bloops as well as flesh-and-blood rock ’n’ roll without ever losing sight of a good hook. I can’t think of another band aside from Radiohead that can pull it off. I also like the fact that there are loads of bands doing the garage rock thing—looking the part, recording through shitty mics—and here’s Bradford Cox writing some of the best garage pop out there without really trying. Halcyon Digest is a seamless album that’s simply fun to listen to. Easy listening for people with impeccable taste.

“Revival”Deerhunter

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The Rest of the Best of the Rest

Lupon - Y La Bamba (Tender Loving Empire)

That’s How We Burn – Jaill (Sub Pop)

Transference - Spoon (Merge)

The Great Return – Purple Rhinestone Eagle (Stank House)

Pop Negro – El Guincho (Young Turks)

Equilibrio! – Wow & Flutter (Mount Fuji)

Crazy For You – Best Coast (Mexican Summer)

At Night We Live – Far (Vagrant)

Man Pop – Graham Repulski (Shorter)

No Great Lost: Songs, 1979-1985 – Kevin Dunn (Casa Nueva)

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Getting Chummy: TDoL Summer Mix 2010

Monday, July 26th, 2010 | musiX, pdX | 3 Comments

Summer is finally here in Portland … at least for a few days—’tis the season for barbecues, tubing down the river, bottomless ice chests and summer jams (Jams? JAMZ!).

TDoL spent countless hours in a dark room assembling your summer soundtrack for 2010, a mixtape filled with singalongs, un poquito de español, noise (Noise? NOIZE!), a few breezy numbers, a handful of Portland cuts, and loads of hand claps … we’re talking more clap than a state school fraternity house. Most of the music on this compilation has been lovingly featured on The Days of Lore. You should totally buy the records.

Grab the full mix in a convenient zip folder by clicking the link below. Pairs well with road trips, good barbecue and cheap beer, as well as bad trips, good times and cheap friends.

TRACKLIST:
1. “Guadalajara” – Pepe Guízar
2. “Girlfriend” – Ty Segall
3. “Too Young to Burn” – Sonny & the Sunsets
4. “Free Association” – These Hills of Gold
5. “Better Surrender” – Far
6. “Beverly Kills” – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
7. “Flashes” – International Waters
8. “Miss Metro” – The Knuckles
9. “Starting Over” – Typhoon
10. “The Ghost Inside” – Broken Bells
11. “Bad Buzz” – The Mint Chicks
12. “Get Around Town” – Revolver
13. “Juniper” – Y La Bamba
14. “Evening Star” – Blitzen Trapper
15. “TAOS” – Menomena
16. “La Barra” – Montañas
17. “Cars and Explosions” – Kevin Dunn
18. “Doesn’t Shake Me” – The Goodnight Loving
19. “Floating Vibes” – Surfer Blood
20. “Atom Bomb” – The Apples in stereo
21. “Sidepain” – Sea of Bees
22. “A More Perfect Union” – Titus Andronicus

DOWNLOAD: Getting Chummy: TDoL Summer Mix 2010 (117 MB ZIP)

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Titus Andronicus: Baby, we were born to die

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | musiX | No Comments

A concept album loosely based on America’s bloodiest war? By a band named after Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy? Fucking count me in.

New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus brings us The Monitor (XL Recordings), a record that could have easily buried itself under all that angst and pretentiousness if it wasn’t so much fun. It works because the album perfectly skirts the very fine line between artiness and drunkenness (both of which bookend godliness). We get sloppy 2 a.m. singalongs, we get not-so-subtle references to the American Civil War and the Garden State’s favorite son (not this son), and we get heady lyrics delivered with melodramatic rancor (not this Rancor) by guitarist/vocalist/mastermind/beard devotee Patrick Stickles. It’s a punk rock record on which half of the songs clock in at over seven minutes (“The Battle of Hampton Roads” is an epic 14). Opener “A More Perfect Union” is the album’s defining momentif you don’t get goosebumps while listening, place your middle and index fingers in the hollow of your neck and feel for a pulse.

Of course, no one had to convince me. The band’s debut The Airing of Grievances made TDoL’s 2008 year-end list, and the performance I caught that same year was a sweaty heap of rock ‘n’ roll fun (though the multiple guitarists failed to do anything more than just make things louder).

Titus Andronicus is currently on—wait for it—The Monitour, and is even offering free admission in exchange for a floor to crash on. Five intoxicated, unbathed rockers in your living space into the wee hours—sounds like a bloody good time.

“A More Perfect Union”Titus Andronicus

Video for “A More Perfect Union”

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Aqui. Ahora. En el futuro.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 | musiX | 1 Comment

I come to you from the past. I wrote this almost a week ago so that it would reach you in the future … as we meet here at this very moment in the present. ¿Confundido?

As you read these words I am in Guanajuato, Mexico—the birthplace of Diego Rivera—perhaps inside the very house he lived in … that or I’m looking at dead people at the Museo de las Momias. And there’s a very good chance I have a cold Negra Modelo in one hand and a fish taco in the other (TDoL likes to multi-task). Or there’s a chance my tender, white flesh is cooking on a beach in Melaque (with a cold Negra Modelo in one hand and a fish taco in the other). I can’t really tell you because … well, I’m not even here yet. Or am I. Am I not?

That said—this is all you’re going to get from The Days of Lore until el 15 de marzo. So I’m taking this time to tell you what’s on the horizon. First off, I’ve been listening to Soft Crash, the new LP from Orland, Calif. trio Nothing People (whom I’m convinced are actually from a distant planet), and it is creeping me out … in a good way. And Titus Andronicus‘ new album The Monitor is teaching me what really happened during the Civil War—it rocked! Look for more thorough reports on these and much more upon my return. If I return.

But the big news here at TDoL HQ is that I’m gearing up for the first-ever The Days of Lore Presents show on April 16 at the Doug Fir that will include The Mother Hips along with a couple of great Portland bands in Jared Mees & the Grown Children and Monarques. It’ll be an unforgettable night of rock … and with any suerte I will have a Negra Modelo in one hand and a fish taco in the other. Look for giveaways of some Mother Hips goodies in the coming weeks.

I leave you now with a little slice of Mexico with Los Dug Dug’s, a band out of Durango that created their psychedelic sounds after hearing the Beatles in the late-’60s. The band’s self-titled debut is still one of my favorites … probably the best 127 pesos I’ve ever spent.

“Let’s Make It Now”Los Dug Dug’s

“Eclipse”Los Dug Dug’s

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