D é N O U E M E N T S

How To Dress Well: “Ocean Floor for Everything” (MP3)

There is no other way in listening to How To Dress Well’s music. Love Remains demands much introspection and the EP Just Once pleads for the  quiet, two solid work from an artist that take an alternate path in popular independent music, but both challenges us to credit his vision with our heart. Give him the bareness of each thread of emotion he can elicit from you and he provides us more discoveries the best way he knows how— providing hymns, clouded in a haze of atmospherics and web-thin persona feeding from his reluctance and shyness. How To Dress Well seems to understand loss in a language that draws these songs together to a common spindle. Ever since the death of his best friend, HTDW’s Tom Krell has weaved out personal sets that homage to the memories and the pain of such experience. As the follow-up for Love Remains, the upcoming record Total Loss seems to explore more of these territories as the first track from it is released— “Ocean Floor for Everything.” Krell writes in his blog that the song is “it’s a v personal song” and has, more than ever, provided a quite detailed picture of the friendship between his muse and him. The lyrics for “Ocean Floor for Everything” I have taken off his blog and can be read below. To download the track, get it HERE.

“i know u were always ready for me baby, way before we met— i got there just to say ‘hey.’ and you were hoping for the days when u could say safely: ‘i have my place, i have my home, i have my future.’ but we never really plan for the worst of things do we? and then something like this happens — for the sake of me? who? me? who? we? we’ve got feeling, got strength, and got the right thing for each other. there’s an ocean floor for everything: for me, the sun, and he, gone.”

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The Walkmen: “Heaven”

“Remember, remember? All we fight for?” 

Hamilton Leithauser could be addressing his bandmates in The Walkmen’s new single “Heaven” as he sings those lines. The track, which happens to be the title track of their soon to be released album, sees the band pushing forth into ten years in their career. With a record almost every two years, totaling to Heaven being their sixth, fans have seen the original Washington DC band developed not only their sound but how they literally grew up performing. Personally, I like the band’s rough-around-the-edges sound, the band sounding both celebratory and reckless that eventually get polished in You & Me. Not that the sophistication of that record and Lisbon hurt the direction the band was gearing for. However in “Heaven,” The Walkmen seem to have loosen up a bit albeit the structured, tighter drumming. With the theme of remembering “lamented tale of distant years” supported with images of children, juvenile idealism and the torture of seeing those frozen memories change are all tensed in this track. At the end, Leithauser pleads of not being left alone, sounding all throaty and desperate. In the stream provided by the band’s label Fat Possum, it says “Radio Edit” which could mean that with the story edited in its shy of four minutes length lie a longer document, a clearly told lamentation that would delight us when the record is finally out.

The track can be downloaded/ previewed via iTunes or an MP3 link here. By now, you must know how to do it via Soundcloud as well.

The Walkmen: “Heaven”

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Burn Like Fire: Interview with Vacation’s Wayne Memmer

Last year, The Cure performed their 1981 album Faith together with two other records for the four-hour Reflections concert at the Sydney Opera House. Hailed as a historic performance, Robert Smith and Co. ran through three big sets consisting of Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and then Faith. For the latter, the band picked up “The Holy Hour” as the 32nd track in the performance— the first from that record and being on the side one of the original tape release. The clamor for a reunion album with The Cure’s original key players Lol Tolhurst and Roger O’Donnell (as they played in Reflections) were loud but nothing materialized after the shows. Now and then, a The Cure tribute album (like NME’s Pictures of You, Just Like Heaven: A Tribute to the Cure and many others) surfaces to celebrate the music created by the band and nurtured thereafter by the fans. The need to remember the psychedelic melancholy and of course, much like in any other tributes, the nostalgia that Smith and his crew started in the suburbs of Crawley in ’76 visited the indie fence, this time initiated by the New York band Vacation. The Holy Hour, made up of ten The Cure standouts, were curated by Vacation’s Wayne Memmer and Rachel Asher with some help from nine other bands that are wildly talented on their own. Memmer took some time to answer some questions about the compilation and plans about his band Vacation. (Listen to the The Holy Hour in full here.)

Finally I found the time listening to The Holy Hour last night and the opener “Fire In Cairo” by Brown Bread was just the best way to kick it off. How were you able to gather these interesting artists for the compilation?

Wayne Memmer: Well, some of the artists I know in “real life” and other artists I was just a fan of their music, either by seeing them on a blog or playing a show with them.  I’ve been friends with Becky (Brown Bread) for a long time.  We used to be in a couple bands together, too.  I’m also very good friends with Tim Dunne who records under the name Pedenenious.  

Some well-known The Cure tracks are in the record, some of them so classic other bands might not try to shake them a bit. I noticed a lot of variation with the bands’ takes on them like Setting Sun‘s take on “Pictures of You” or probably the most famous one “Friday I’m In Love” done by Four More Years (which sounds to me like listening from a tape). How was it for the bands doing those songs, I mean, was it a specific intention to not be like the original?

Well, I can’t speak for the other bands, but as a whole it does seem like all the artists involved put in a lot of work to make each cover sound like their own and I think every artist succeeded in doing so. Speaking for Vacation, I know that we definitely wanted to put our own spin on “Close To Me.” We saw no reason to record the cover exactly like the original. There isn’t much fun in doing that. 

Kelly Schirmann: “A Night Like This”

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YEAREND LIST: 2011 Best Album Picks

Music authority comes from those who have expertised in criticism, have written serious music journalism and have stood for years in the industry. We base our taste from them, or at least compare theirs on our own, and in a way improve our playlist due to their influence.  A small blog like mine has nothing to boast but the passion it has for music itself, closely knitted with the love of words. While I was tempted to make my quintessential Best of the Year list, I had thought of letting a group of people share their own instead. The project of asking musicians, directors, artists and writers (from the US, Canada, Russia, Sweden, France, Switzerland, the Philippines, Australia, Iceland and Norway) for this yearender project has been a great experience, and I feel deeply honored that they took the time to work on their submissions. Who can give better insight of what a year it has been for music than the people who closely or relatively worked, in one way or another, with music for production, employment and inspiration. While it can be an almighty task to dish out a list on my behalf, it is more remarkable to know what these people have listened to instead.

Now with this humbling experience, here is the 2011 Best Album Picks.

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Interview: A Blissful Dose of Sad Souls

INSPIRATION. One thing that Tom Auty does not lack of is inspiration. Spanning four mini-releases this year, it is only due that I offer my last interview of 2011 to the guy who has made his music relevant to the true fans of independent music in and out of his native Ann Arbor— highlighted when Apeiron was picked up by the Japanese label Nature Bliss for a CD release in February next year and when he was featured as one of the city’s pride on Soundcloud’s Local.

Sad Souls, Auty’s moniker, is not exclusive to the forlorn. In fact, most of his songs are like musical haiku weaving every tune and mood to honor the nocturnals and the dreamers. Sifting through the stillness of the night, his acoustic, ambient efforts tiptoe on the delicate, translucent paths that rays of light diffract before hitting our eyes.

It is not that Sad Souls sounds like nobody before him or is incomparable to other members of indie rock class of 2011 especially in this genre-bending stage in music.  But it is that Sad Souls’ music captures the essence of how technology and talent come together, reaching out to people with the absence of hype and gimmickry but with a chanced discovery and revelry of that fated encounter. An encounter to a known feeling represented in beautiful harmonies and calm, in deep wallow of melancholia or independence. Much like how it was for me. And this fact ranks his music important to many, to us, who brave to hear what it feels like to be awashed in a reverie of being in a forest with leaves in our hair.

Links: Bandcamp. Souncloud. Facebbook.

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