Monday, October 31, 2005


A theme I know I am going to come back to over and over again is joy. Some music you listen to when you feel like smashing someone's face in, some music you listen to when you want to drift off to sleep. But my favorite type of music is stuff that connects to me and goes straight to my happy place. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but it's a natural high when natural highs are becoming increasingly scarce.

San Francisco's Oranger is one of those bands that make me happy. If you've ever seen them play live, the joy is overt and obvious. Singer Mike Drake always sounds like he's smiling when he's singing, and seeing him onstage bears that out. You'd be hard pressed to find a time when bassist Matt Harris isn't smiling. Keyboard ace Patrick Main should probably wear a helmet, the way he dances. All this comes through in the music. Of course it doesn't hurt that they are excellent musicians, that Drake writes melt-in-your-ears pop songs, and that Mike and Matt sound like they were created to sing harmonies together.

They've got a new album out, New Comes And Goes, and it was recorded a lot faster and dirtier than their previous three albums. Still sounds great, and holy shit do the new songs cook live. Having a full time second guitarist in Bob "Porcupine" Reed really fills out their sound, and new drummer John Hofer has aptly filled the imposing vacancy left by the departure of Mooniac Jim Lindsay. Go see 'em when they come to your town, go buy an album if they don't. They go well with beer, tequila, and dancing in place.

This cut was particularly choice live, and it's my favorite from the new album.

Fetch the mp3: RadioWave


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Since I blabbered on about Boards of Canada and bands that sound like them, I really should go ahead and plug the new Black Moth Super Rainbow. It's not that I think BMSR sound all that much like Boards, it's that they invoke the same kind of nostalgic joy when I listen to them. They have a new 12" EP out, which you can order at

I ordered mine yesterday. Every single thing I've heard from them is a lovingly imperfect treat. There are song samples on the site, and I went and coverted the m4a from the new EP to an mp3 for easier consumption.

If you ever liked the theme from In Search Of, you need to hear this band.

Fetch the unmastered version of the title track from the new 12" : Black Moth Super Rainbow - Lost, Picking Flowers In The Woods


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Human Television

The problem with music review sites, especially brand new ones like this and ESPECIALLY little ones that narrow their focus to stuff the writers like rather than trying to review everything, is that there’s no frame of reference. Sure, I think the shit’s good, but who am I? Some dude. Some dude full of unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned Human Television is the single greatest band on the face of the planet. It’s like someone was doing market research and concluded that I buy enough music that it would be worthwhile to custom-tailor a band just for ME. And they’re from Florida! Impassioned indie pop from fucking FLORIDA! I mean, it’s a tropical paradise and whatnot, and yeah, it’s home base for Iron & Wine, but an indie wellspring it ain’t.

To date they’ve released one three-song ep (“Orange”), and one mini-album (“All Songs Written By Human Television”) that includes re-recorded versions of the “Orange” songs plus 4 more tracks). They’ve got a full-length in the can (heh… full-length… can…) with nine brand new tracks and a probably re-recorded version of “Mars Red Rust,” previously a vinyl-only bonus track. I’ve included the “All Songs Written By…” version of “Automobile” for your listening pleasure. It sums them up pretty well – fractured jangle-pop marked by Mario Lopez’s galloping drums and frontman Billy Downing’s lazy, wistful delivery. He has a very effective tendency to cram a few extra syllables into each line, and, well, “Your voice is like a bridge to the moon?” Gorgeous.

I’ve seen these fine fellows play a few times and their live show is a huge disappointment. KIDDING! C’mon haven’t you caught on yet that these guys can do no wrong in my book? They rock it effortlessly, and if you’re lucky Billy may open the show with his one-man rendition of “All I Have To Do Is Dream” – CHOICE. And they use capos - that always gives me a boner for some reason. Be warned though, besides the fact that I might be there with boner in hand, Human Television may roll into your town accompanied by several rowdy University of Florida grads. They’re buddies who knew the band way back when and who will be getting AS DRUNK AS POSSIBLE and flailing around with unbridled enthusiasm. A bit scary for the uninitiated, but they’re good folks. If you ever saw Guided by Voices play in Ohio, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Hell, if you ever saw GbV play ANYWHERE you know what I’m talking about.

Fetch the mp3 here: Human Television - Automobile
great radio interview and performance here:


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Boards of Confusion

OK, so this is a bit convoluted. Earlier this year, it was announced that the new Boards of Canada record, The Campfire Headphase, was coming out in October. This was pretty exciting news for some of us, who had been clamoring for some new BOC since their last release, Geogaddi, three years ago. What's the first thing you want to do when you hear about a favorite band's new stuff? You wanna hear it, so you try to find it. Soulseek is a fine place to look, particularly for electronic stuff.

Now, the two Scots who are Boards of Canada are reclusive, and the wraps on this new album were being kept rather tight. Yet, advance copies were being leaked almost immediately on Soulseek. Well, sort of. It turns out that people were making their own versions of the album, with the actual song titles, but using all kinds of crazy shit to actually comprise them. From what I've read on various message boards, there are like 4 or 5 different fake versions.

I had downloaded one of these fake versions, but only listened to a few tracks, not wanting to spoil the fun of buying it when it came out, while at the same time feeling contented that I could listen to the whole thing if I really wanted to. Of the two songs I picked out (I always pick track #7) to put on my iPod, '84 Pontiac Dream was really moving me. Then I find out that what I have isn't the real album, and that the real '84 Pontiac Dream is twice as long as the fake I have. Fine and dandy, but I really liked the fake version, and had no idea who it really was.

One of the theories I've read is that some of the fake Campfire Headphases were constructed partly from Freescha, Arovane and Casino Vs. Japan songs. I spent a while downloading all the things I could find by those bands, and came up no dice. (This actually turned out a pleasant experience though, because they are actually quite good, and definitely have heard a BOC album or two.) Another theory is that someone made the songs themself in the style of Boards of Canada - there's no way for me to know if mine are those. And they say some of the tracks came from old BOC demos and remixes. That could be, but I've heard a lot of those and didn't recognize anything.

So do I have a point? Well, yeah. I love this song. It's Roygbiv's woozy cousin. If it's not actually Boards themselves, it's a top notch replication of their sound. If it's another band, shame on them for copping the sound so blatantly, but bless you for making it so good. Maybe someone will hear this and be able to tell me what it really is. I kept my fake version of the album, because it's like a little puzzle to solve.

And what of the actual new Boards of Canada album? I've only gotten to spin it a few times, but it's already growing on me. There's actually some guitar on it, kinda like the work of Bibio. It would be interesting if he actually influenced them this time around. And wouldn't ya know it, the real '84 Pontiac Dream is a good song too. Maybe all you have to do is name a song that, and it becomes magically delicious.

And here is the so-far mysterious fake version: ??????? - ???????


Monday, October 24, 2005


Loyal Black Houses readers (ha!), I present to you: Music from the near-future that sounds like it’s from the near-past! If you’ve visited Europe recently or read Vice Magazine, then you know that the whole dang continent is really into grunge right now. Yeah, I know. It’s weird.

Bitch Alert is a two-girls-and-a-guy power trio that recreates the early 90’s with hilarious accuracy, and right now they’re FUCKING HUGE in their native Finland. Their official site is full of asinine non-descriptions like “loud, fuzzy, angry rock music yet full of pop hooks,” which sounds a lot better from a PR standpoint than “we sound exactly like Babes in Toyland.”

There’s nothing wrong with being revivalists, but when your sound is this (bear with me – I swear I’m not trying to bash them!) derivative, it puts greater-than-usual pressure on the songwriting. Ever heard any of those Chinese punk bands that sound exactly like Operation Ivy? Brain Failure? Anarchy Jerks? hello?… anyone? I think it’s cool that they’re raging against the communist machine and all, but the problem with those bands is that they end up sounding like… a shitty version of Operation Ivy. Luckily, THESE bitches weren’t lying about the pop hooks. “Kill Your Darlings,” the album that this track came from, plays like the long-lost stepsister of Hole’s “Live Through This.” Bitch Alert play these songs with such passion that they actually sell throwback lyrics like “you make me so scared of myself” and “Jesus would like to ride my bike.” It’s the kind of thing that should make Kim Shattuck proud and Billy Corgan jealous, and it kicks the living shit out of Saliva Seether.

If you’re a Hives fan, you know that the mechanisms that bring Scandinavian bands to the masses can move slooooooowly (compare the discography on Bitch Alert’s English language site to the one on the Finnish one) , so you’ve got a good year or two to pass this track on to your hipster friends and claim it’s a radio hit from 1993 that only you remember – you are SO cool.


Fetch the tune:

Late Night Lullaby

CORRECTION: Okay, while i do believe that Bitch Alert's grunge
revivalism beats the shit out of Saliva's southern rock revivalism,
the band I was actually thinking of was Seether. You know, the band
with the single that sounds like Nirvana ("Remedy") and who
inexplicably seem to have taken their name from a Veruca Salt song.