Portrait

Not-so-starving artist. Literary genius. Weasel under the cocktail cabinet.

In other words, the inimitable Tess Grover.

Address commentary, questions, and prepositions to orphicfiddler AT gmail DOT com.





Following:

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"Say That" - Toro Y Moi

A good deal of the drive behind Toro y Moi’s most recent album, Anything in Return, lay in the challenge of creating a pop record that wasn’t “processed and bubblegum.” And, you know, I think Chaz Bundick got a real handle on that. The solution, it seems, is to funk up the beat and play with the bass more than your usual superstar. Oh, and mellow those vocals. No divas here.

Also, the video for “Say That” is so unbelievably dorky that it propels itself into endearing. Good luck figuring out that mix, Lady Gaga.

 

"I’ll Be Around" - Yo La Tengo

Still catching up on notable releases of this year so far. (And still going through albums that were released in January. Holy hell, there’s been too much music in 2013 already.)

I’m extremely neutral toward Yo La Tengo. I certainly don’t hate them - how could you, really? they’re so pleasant - but I can’t quite comprehend their cult status either. I suppose I’m just not one for indie-pop of the acoustic guitar persuasion, unless it’s very very interesting. Fade's a peaceful album, anyhow. There's nothing whatsoever to dislike about it. But there's also not a whole lot to fuss about either. It's just something relatively calm to listen to.

At the very least this video will teach you how to make tortilla soup, and that’s worthwhile.

 

"Spectral Split" - Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory

It’s like electronica in a cathedral. Featuring the bell carillon, a gigantic instrument made up of 50 bronze bells.

 

"Here We Go Again" - Christopher Owens

Girls was a bit of a meteor band - a quick rise and a complete break-up in the space of only two albums. I liked them well enough. “Honey Bunny” was great, and “Vomit” had its perks. They were interesting, anyway.

In the space since their last album release in 2009 and the ex-lead singer’s first solo album, Lysandre, Christopher Owens has managed to go from Kurt Cobain wannabe to mopey, lovey-dovey singer-songwriter. (Hyphens! So many hyphens!) There’s a little of the old Girls in “Here We Go Again,” but Lysandre is, for the most part, a trite reflection on Owens’ brief affair with a girl he met on tour in Paris. The repetition of the Lysandre theme is cute and creative, but the rest is so unoriginal it puts my ears to sleep.

 

"The Equestrian Vortex" - Broadcast

Broadcast’s creepy side combined with Italian horror cinema of the ’70s? This is what I get for being a musical hermit under a rock for the past year. From the OST for Berberian Sound Studio, a 2012 film about an English sound engineer providing the squelches and squeaks of an Argento-esque movie.

Why oh why did Trish Keenan have to die? Let us lament.

 

"Losing You" - Solange

Catching up on the major and interesting releases of 2013 so far. Solange’s first EP, True, came out January 8th, and while I don’t usually dig  pop, she’s got enough of an indie/experimental electronic vibe going on (ohh, that bass in “Locked in Closets”) to pleasantly surprise the snobs.

 

"All Lips Go Blue" - HIM

Finnish band HIM has a new video out today full of dark Alice in Wonderland chess-y-ness. Good guitar solo, but  most of what I’ve heard from Tears on Tape hasn’t been particularly exciting. (Finnish metal has also gotten astonishingly poppy lately … )

In other news, lead singer Ville Valo has been waylaid by some complication from pneumonia recently, and HIM has cancelled their US tour. Hopefully they’ll reschedule. Because as lackluster as I’ve felt the new album is, I would still love to gawp at them live.

 

"Family" - Hanni El Khatib

The bluesy boy is back with a video that looks like something Takashi Miike might work on in his spare time. Now if I could only find a good place to catch octopuses bare-handed.

(Random fact of the day: Octopi is not actually the plural of octopus. You been doing it wrong, teachers of my past.)

 

Music From Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby [Album Stream]   →

The soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s new glitterfest has been almost as anticipated as the film itself. I think most of the tracks have shown up on YouTube by now, but if you’re interested in the entirety of it, head on over to NPR and have a listen.

Neutral Milk Hotel Reuniting for Tour   →

I had the unexpected opportunity to see Jeff Mangum when he dropped by Seattle last year. It was really rather a surreal experience - I remember Mangum calling out for the crowd to sing along, and everyone (myself included) being unusually wary to do so, fearing we might somehow drown out this voice we’d never really hoped to hear in person.

And now the whole crew is back together and touring again. So far, only a handful of dates have been announced in October and November, but the website assures us of more. And a tiny part of me that almost doesn’t want to curse the possibility by voicing it wonders if there’s any chance at all of a new album.