The deal with The Deal

Stephen Frears‘ 2003 TV film, The Deal, about the political relationship between former and current British PM’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is being released on DVD tomorrow. You can read my review here.

Portishead remixes

If you were sort of underwhelmed by Portishead’s return, Third, I suggest downloading the remix album by Noise/Floor Crew. They definitely amp the atmosphere up, turning the album’s many moody songs into club bangers, but it works. According to a press release, they’re eager to “challenge sampling law,” perhaps making them the next Danger Mouse? Seems they have a debut full-length on the way as well, and are now being courted by the majors. I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more from them soon. Download here.

War on Drugs review in SF Weekly

One of my favorite records of 2008 is The War on Drugs‘ Wagonwheel Blues. Read my review here.

Interview with Angus Andrew of Liars

I recently interviewed Liars singer Angus Andrew for a piece I did on It was a fairly interesting discussion, so I’m posting the entire conversation here. Enjoy.

What are you doing in Portugal?

Angus: We just played a show last night in what is actually the first city of Portugal. We played in a castle. It was quite an exciting event for us. We now leave today for Dublin. We’re kind of trying to wrap up Europe before we get back to America.

Are these festivals you’re playing?

Yeah, most of them are festivals. Actually, all of them, really.

I wanted to ask you a few questions about the new digital EP. Why did you decide to put this out?

To be honest, I can’t really tell you that much. What we wanted to do was get that song out a bit more, the “Freak Out” song. We were certainly finding that when we were playing live across America and Europe, that somehow was the audience favorite. So it would be good to get that out to people, I suppose, like a single, but not… I don’t know. It really is more of a record company decision. In the middle of the whole thing, we’re like, “Awesome. Do it. Whatever.” It’s got some videos. We’ve had some issues with getting the correct videos on our singles because we do videos that are late. But this is a bit of a compilation of the singles’ videos.

We’re in an age when videos aren’t the first thing on a lot of bands’ minds. But it still seems like an important part of the process for you.

We’re in the midst of a revolution right now in the music world. I think, at this point, it’s sort of like anything goes. When we were doing the Drum’s Not Dead record, we really felt like it’s a situation where the album or CD is kind of dying. People are all pointing fingers at each other. The listener’s pointing at the record industry, and vice versa. When it comes down to it, it seems that the responsibility rests on us to make something that is worth paying actual dollars for. Anytime we have the opportunity to further the medium and get more elements involved, then we do it. With today’s technology, it’s so easy to do it. In a bedroom, you can make three different versions of a song. It’s fun that way. And I think, finally, I’m sure it’s true people aren’t looking towards the video in the same we were once with MTV. But with YouTube and MySpace and the Internet, I find that the video is coming back very strongly, actually. It’s no longer the regular outlets that anyone’s looking to. It’s actually just the viral aspect and how it just gets out there. That’s where we’re out right now with the whole medium. Dealing with it is anyone’s guest. At the moment, it seems the best way is to get it to people and let them use it.

A couple of you went to CalArts. Did that influence your visual approach, as far as videos are concerned?

Yeah, absolutely. Being in art school is awesome, particularly CalArts. It’s not so stringent on defining a particular aspect of an art form. So even though you can enter in with photography, it’s a multimedia challenge. Going to art school, I was rifling through mediums, whether it be computers or sound or animation, even performance. It wasn’t until I came across music and the idea of functioning as a band that all these mediums could be utilized for the one goal. It seemed to me that actually music is the best umbrella to be able to work under.

Is the video for “Plaster Casts of Everything” influenced by David Lynch’s Lost Highway?

That would be my guess too. What was interesting about doing that video, particularly, was we had never really handed over the reigns of creativity to anyone before. Even remixes were difficult for us. We met up with Patrick Daughters, an old friend of ours, and basically just gave him free run. In the end, we were just directed as actors in it. It wasn’t until it was finished that we saw it. That was a really exciting process for us. I certainly saw that element in it. I think his vision of it possibly went beyond any… that anyone who had given him any opportunity would allow. He really got off on the freedom of it.

Is the process of working with someone like Patrick, more of an outsider, different than working with Julian or Karen?

It’s more like a decision that’s made beforehand whether or not we’re gonna be involved creatively. If you make that decision, that road is endless. Obviously, we’re all very creative people. We actually argued for months about it. If we, at the outset, make the decision that we’re not going to be involved, that’s a real big difference. It’s really enjoyable when you get to just participate in someone’s vision of your music. It’s a really exciting thing to do. A lot of artists don’t do their own video, but tend to get very involved in the details, much to the director’s chagrin. I think we also were excited about what would happen if we didn’t get involved at all.

Can you talk about the “Army of Me” cover you did for the Stereogum compilation?

We were on tour somewhere and I got an e-mail from Stereogum. They told us they were doing this project. All of us are huge Bjork fans. This prospect was so exciting for me. I couldn’t sleep that night, I remember, because I was trying to figure out which song we should attempt to cover. I don’t think we had a copy of the record, so we were all sitting there trying to come up with them all. I’ve always been in love with this song. It’s just a killer song with a killer bassline. As these things go, it’s sometimes misconstrued as an attempt to outdo the artist’s initial work. But that’s obviously nothing like it. It’s really a meager an attempt to try and understand what they went through when they were making it. That’s what’s exciting for any artist who participates in that type of covers project. It’s hard for the listener to understand or digest those projects, but for artists and the people who get involved in them, they’re really fun. It would be great if there were more of those. It’s tricky because people hold these artists in huge respect and don’t want to see them covered, really.

Have you done other covers?

Oh, yeah. We did this Doors cover of “The Soft Parade,” which is about 13 minutes long. We do a Germs cover. We do this Nirvana cover when we play live. Those things are fun to do.

Speaking of live… When you come back to the States, you’re touring with Radiohead. Last time I saw you was with No Age here in LA. What’s the adjustment you have to make between these types of tours?

You certainly start to think more about who’s out there in this massive audience. When we do our own headlining tour, we know the people in the crowd are there for a reason and want to see us do our stuff. Our goal on supporting tours is obviously quite different. We’re there to get these people ready for what’s gonna happen. They’re all so excited to see Radiohead. There’s a euphoria there that’s pretty palpable. It’s quite fun to work off that. We certainly tailor what we play. We’re not going to come out and do our most aggressive and abstract stuff. It’s a fine line, with the music we make. The best way for us is this idea of being there to watch and learn from a band that does so well at translating their records to the stage. We’re constantly faced with the challenge of how to recreate that atmosphere. It’s really what this tour is all about for us.

The bands Radiohead choose to take along are interesting. Playing in these gigantic venues must be really different.

It’s daunting and frightening, yes. It’s a whole different, flipside of it. It’s a different medium, referencing what we talked about before. When you play a regular show, people are in your face and you can look in their eyes. When we open up for Radiohead, there’s generally… All the people who paid for all the far-back tickets on the lawn, they’re all there. But the front area where people have more expensive tickets is empty. You find yourself projecting football fields away, which is a fantastic opportunity and challenge to be able to undertake. I really get off on every… It’s just fun.

One more question… are you working on any new stuff?

Basically, what we’re doing is theorizing and trying to conceptualize the steps that we need to undertake practically to start our next album, which will be recorded in LA around September. At the moment, we’re finishing up tour. We look to eventually record over the new year and then have a record out hopefully by about this time next year. But we’re not going to rush into anything. We want to get into the thick of the LA vibe.

It’s a very thick vibe here.

Oh, that’s where you’re calling me from?

Yeah, I live in LA.

Cool. Where?

I just moved to Glendale.

Cool, man. We’re gonna be there. It’s a good time. There’s lots of music coming out of there. And you’re calling from AOL?


Do you know what AOL stands for?

America On Line.

I thought it was Australia On Line.

Maybe there’s two.

Pickles 1 – Half Sours

This past Christmas, my girlfriend, Hannah, gave me The Joy of Pickling. As an avid pickle eater and appreciator, I couldn’t wait to begin micro-pickling. Of course, life being what it is, it took me more than six months to make my first batch. I chose an easy kind, the first recipe in the book, half sours. The results? Definitely not the best pickles I’ve ever had, but not bad for a first attempt. It was quite easy as well. These are brine pickles, so I combined sea salt and water with dill seeds, dill sprigs, coriander seeds, garlic, and a serrano pepper in a mason jar, and left it out for a week. After popping it in the fridge for three days, the pickles were ready to eat. The serrano peppper definitely gave them a zing, but they were crunchy, dill-infused, and pleasantly tart. Here are some pics:

Liars Liars Liars Liars Liars

Talked with Mr. Angus Andrew of Liars for a article for Spinner this past Friday about their forthcoming tour with Radiohead, making videos, and their next album. Read it here.

Santogold + Diplo = The Clash (“Guns of Brooklyn”)

Yes, Santogold sounds an awful lot like Tegan and Sara, especially on her hit single, “LES Artistes.” But this collaboration is pretty nice. Diplo maintain the spirit of The Clash’s original, “Guns of Brixton,” but infuses it with dark echoes, stuttering snares, and an overall hyper-dub workout. Santogold sounds nasal and semi-tuneless, and her voice is way back in the mix, but it works all the same. I’m not sure if this is really due to the thrill of hearing this song covered, though, instead of the actual talent involved. Let’s compare:

Guns of Brooklyn

LA Weekly article

I have an article running in this week’s LA Weekly about the Scion mix CD series, specifically the company’s relationship with LA Riots and IHeartComix’s Franki Chan. Read it here.
(The Weekly site is jacked up from time to time, so hopefully this works when you click on it.)

New songs from The Streets

New material from The Streets has surfaced at his MySpace page, bundled into minute-long clips compiled into one track titled, appropriately, “the new album deep.” What does it sound like? Well, listen for yourself, but seems to range from sentimental schmaltz with sweeping guitars to silly circus beats with bleeps and bleats to disco funk, but all thankfully anchored by Mr. Skinner’s engaging everyman personality. He says the album’s “biggest” song is tentatively called “Everything is Borrowed.” “I know the title sounds like a Kaiser Chiefs song but I promise it will be better than that.” Can’t be that hard to be better than the fucking Kaiser Chiefs, now, can it?
Here’s the good (old) shit:

Dilla’s brother

It’s been a few years since the untimely passing of producer extraordinaire J Dilla, but thanks to the wealth of beats he created in his lifetime, fans have been treated to a few posthumous albums. Enter Illa J, Dilla’s younger brother, who’s set to release an album on Delicious Vinyl in the near future. Illa raps over a bevy of unreleased Dilla beats, many from the days of The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia, and sounds awfully similar to Dilla in both cadence and tone. There will never be another Dilla, but his music keeps on keeping it on.


Looking for a new Wu-Tang affiliated “supergroup”? Look no further. Acclaimed producer Bronze Nazareth has hooked up with M-80 (yeah, never heard of this guy, either) to create Almighty. Other members include the formerly excellent Killah Priest (maybe he’s still got it), the hard-to-like C-Rayz Walz, 5-Star, and Son-One. Here’s a little promo.

Jaguar Love

Pretty Girls Make Graves and Blood Brothers are no more, but Jaguar Love is holding the torch aloft. The band is made up of BB’s Cody and Johnny and PGMG’s J Clark. Think ’60s pop bounce with screechy BB-style vocals on the top. The band is coming out with an EP on Matador in August, but in the meantime, check some audio here. Of course, it’s nowhere near the awesome power of PGMG’s first album, Good Health, but it’s an interesting new beginning.

Godard’s Contempt

A new print of Jean Luc-Godard’s 1963 film, Contempt, is screening at the Nuart in West LA this week, and will be showing in other cities throughout the country over the summer. Go see it, it’s a masterpiece. But first, read my review here.

XX Teens

Channel Art Brut, the Sugarcubes, The Cure, PIL, and NYC no-wave all at once may seem like a contrived and silly idea, not to mention more than a little tiresome, but it turns out that it’s not all that bad. XX Teens are a new band on Mute Records, releasing their debut album, Welcome to Goon Island, this fall. To whet your appetite, they’ve got this video running on Mute’s YouTube channel:

Adult Swim music

Adult Swim has been doing some cool things in the world of music over the past year or two, collaborating with Stones Throw, releasing the interesting Warm & Scratchy compilation, and now Worldwide Renewal Program, full of decent tracks from the likes of Cool Kids, Kovas, and Push Button Objects. Stream or download here.