But You Don’t Really Care For Music, Do You?

30 01 2009

Coachella 2009 Lineup

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Download It) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/13-halleluljah2.mp3″

(Saturday needs a little work, though)


Parallel Lines #2: A Saviour In These Streets [Guest Post by Erin from Uncomplicatedly]

28 01 2009

Dear readers,

It’s my privilege to present to you a guest post from my friend, colleague, and fellow Heaps-member, Erin, aka Uncomplicatedly. Erin contacted me a couple of weeks ago to say that she had an idea for a post in the Parallel Lines series I started with this post on Modest Mouse and the Talking Heads. She asked if she could make a couple of guest posts. I liked the idea so much that I’ve decided to open this blog up to other contributors. Songs About Radios is now soliciting requests for guest posts. If you’re someone I know in person in some capacity, and you have something you want to say about music in a public forum, send me an email with your idea!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s Erin’s Parallel Lines post:

You can hide ‘neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now I’m no hero
That’s understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl
Is beneath this dirty hood

—Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road” (Download) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/01-thunder-road.mp3″

Bruce Springsteen - Born to RunLike many of Bruce’s songs, this one offers a glimpse of a renegade heaven. Bruce promises Mary that they can “trade in these wings on some wheels” and ride out tonight to “case the promised land,” as though salvation is something that can be stolen or negotiated for. In these lines, he’s disdainful of Mary’s equation of love with traditional piety; the mistake of “praying in vain / for a savior” is the mistake of “hiding,” of refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. Bruce claims initially to not be a hero, but he is, ultimately, offering redemption– it’s just a different kind of redemption, one you go out and take rather than wait patiently for.

I’ve been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I’ve been raising up my hands– drive another nail in
Got enough guilt to start my own religion

Why do we crucify ourselves
Everyday I crucify myself
Nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Everyday I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being in chains

—Tori Amos, “Crucify” (Download) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/crucify.mp3″

Tori Amos - Little EarthquakesThe first two lines of this excerpt are so similar to Bruce’s song as to suggest direct influence– Mary “hides ‘neath her covers,” prays “for a savior to rise from these streets,” and is offered redemption that comes from “beneath this dirty hood.” In this song, Tori plays Mary’s part, perhaps in an effort to show us that it’s not as easy as Bruce says to just hop into some dude’s car and ride off to the promised land. Tori says elsewhere in the song that she’s got “a kick for a dog begging for love;” she rebuffs Bruce because “I’ve gotta have my suffering so that I can have my cross.” These lines are certainly ironized; she would love to be able to liberate her heart from its chains, but she can’t. In the context of Bruce’s song, her assertion that “nothing I do is good enough for you” becomes a revealing accusation. The way Bruce frames the problem, all Mary has to do is decide to be happy and decide to come with him– but Tori feels judged by him, judged because she can’t do those things.

The only crack in Bruce’s polished bad-boy seduction persona comes in these lines: “I know you been waitin’ for words that I ain’t spoken / But tonight we’ll be free; all the promises’ll be broken.” Here, he seems to acknowledge that he’s not offering Mary love, at least not with a capital L and a fairy-tale ending. A lot of seducers don’t hesitate to promise love falsely, but Bruce is nothing if not sincere. Tori may be right to be offended, but Bruce has correctly observed that the L-word has a dangerous power over Mary, who “makes crosses from her lovers”– she crucifies herself, and this is what Bruce wants to save her from.

He Speaks In Tongues #1: Migala – Instrucciones Para Dar Cuerda A Un Reloj

26 01 2009

Migala - Restos de un incendioBecause I’ve spent the last few years of my life studying other languages, a lot of the songs I’ve come to love aren’t in English, which I realize is a barrier to a lot of the people with whom I like to share music. So I’ve decided to start a new series where I post songs in Spanish or French along with translations of the lyrics in the hopes of convincing you that these songs are worth your time.

Julio CortázarThis first track, “Instrucciones para dar cuerda a un reloj” (“Instructions for Winding a Watch”) is a piece recorded by Madrid-based Migala using a recording of my favorite author, Julio Cortázar, reading the preamble to a short prose piece of his of the same name. Cortázar, whose short stories play with the unities of time and space, and whose best known novel, Rayuela (Hopscotch in translation), involves reading and rereading the same passages in different orders according to detailed instructions, uses fantasy and allegory to draw out the hidden economies behind the apparent banality of everyday life. The low register of his voice and his grave delivery are given depth by Migala’s atmospheric guitars, in a simple post-rock style whose most recognizable reference point today is probably Friday Night Lights regulars Explosions in the Sky.

Migala, “Instrucciones para dar cuerda a un reloj” (Download) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/instrucciones-para-dar-cuerda-a-un-r1.mp3″

Preámbulo a las instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj.

Preamble to the instructions for winding the watch.

Piensa en esto: cuando te regalan un reloj te regalan un pequeño infierno florido, una cadena de rosas, un calabozo de aire. No te dan solamente el reloj, que los cumplas muy felices y sí esperamos que te dure porque es de buena marca, suizo con áncora de rubíes; no te regalan solamente ese menudo picapedrero que te atarás a la muñeca y pasearás contigo.

Think about this: when someone gives you a watch as a gift, they give you a flowery little hell, a chain made of roses, a prison cell made of air. They do not give you just a watch, may you have a happy birthday and, yes, we hope it lasts you because it’s a good brand, Swiss with a ruby clasp; they do not give you just that minute piece of stonework that you will tie to your wrist and carry around with you.

Te regalan -no lo saben, lo terrible es que no lo saben-, te regalan un nuevo pedazo frágil y precario de ti mismo, algo que es tuyo pero no es tu cuerpo, que hay que atar a tu cuerpo con su correa como un bracito desesperado colgándose de tu muñeca. Te regalan la necesidad de darle cuerda todos los días, la obligación de darle cuerda para que siga siendo un reloj; te regalan la obsesión de atender a la hora exacta en las vitrinas de las joyerías, en el anuncio por la radio, en el servicio telefónico.

They give you – they don’t know it, the terrible thing is that they don’t know it – they give you a fragile and precarious new piece of yourself, something that is yours but is not your body, that you have to tie to your body with your strap like a hopeless little arm hanging itself from your wrist. They give you the need to wind it every day, the obligation to wind it so that it keeps on being a watch; they give you an obsessive need to pay attention to the exact hour in the shop windows of jewelers, in the commercial on the radio, in the phone service.

Te regalan el miedo de perderlo, de que te lo roben, de que se te caiga al suelo y se te rompa. Te regalan su marca, y la seguridad de que es una marca mejor que las otras, te regalan la tendencia de comparar tu reloj con los demás relojes. No te regalan un reloj, tú eres el regalado, a ti te ofrecen para el cumpleaños del reloj.

The give you the fear that you might lose it, that it might be stolen from you, that it might fall to the floor and break. They give you its brand, and the certainty that it is a better brand than the others, they give you the tendency to compare your watch with other watches. They don’t give you a watch, you are the one given as a gift, they offer you yourself for the watch’s birthday.

There is No Need to Fear: High Places & Zombie Public Speaking

23 01 2009

Tuesday night, I had an unexpected break in my hectic tutoring schedule, so my friend Milo Cantos and I took the opportunity to check out a show on campus.

Zombie Public SpeakingFirst things first, let me introduce Milo Cantos and his new blog, Zombie Public Speaking. Milo has been writing and recording music with a variety of projects over the years, his latest project being a little band called the Heaps in which I happen to play keyboard (more on that later). Zombie Public Speaking is a new space for Milo to share his work. He’s currently featuring a solo cover of Destroyer’s “School and the Girls Who Go There,” a tribute to the Muffs by the original Heaps lineup (before I joined), and a pair of hip hop tracks recorded under the moniker The Beat Conflicts. I’ll let you know as soon as anything from the current Heaps lineup goes up.

Anyway, Milo and I decided at the last minute to check out the most recent show from Acrobatics Everyday, a student organization “working to bring rad musicians and artists to the UC Irvine campus, filling the void and closing the gaps.” Last year, I caught Dan Deacon at Acrobatics Everyday’s inaugural show. Since then, they’ve brought a number of artists to campus, including the Mae Shi, Mount Eerie, Parenthetical Girls, Parts & Labor, Ponytail, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, and even Ian MacKaye (for a Q & A session, though, not a performance).

High Places celebrate Acrobatics Everyday's first birthday

High Places celebrate Acrobatics Everyday's first birthday

This time, we went to see High Places, a charming electronic duo that uses a variety of loop effects, lots of reverb, and polyrhythms reminiscent of calypso to create chill, graceful, danceable beats with a sort of childlike sweetness drawn from singer Mary Pearson’s layered vocals. When I saw them at Pitchfork Music Festival this past summer, it felt as if the quietness of their approach allowed some of the subtlety of their sound to get lost in the open air. Here, in the intimacy of a small room in UC Irvine’s student center, in front of a much smaller crowd (maybe 30-50 people? I’m bad at estimating crowds), it was much easier to appreciate. One of the nice things about these Acrobatics Everyday events is that the crowd generally seems rather unabashed about dancing, and I couldn’t help but follow suit.

High Places - 03/07 - 09/07Anyway, here’s one of my favorite High Places songs, most easily found on their collection 03/07 – 09/07:

High Places – Shared Islands (Download) (Buy It) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/shared-islands.mp3″

Best Music of 2008, Part III (Albums 10-6)

20 01 2009

{{{ Sunset }}} - Bright Blue Dream10. {{{ Sunset }}} – Bright Blue Dream (Buy It)

Highlight: “Bright Blue Dream” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/06-bright-blue-dream.mp3″

Track 3 of Bright Blue Dream starts early: 47 seconds of a faint, rumbling bass note, and Bill Baird coughs out the first lyric, “Paper clips and…” then stops abruptly, begins the song again, and corrects his placement of the lyrics. The stutter is an outtake, an artifact of the recording process that Baird has let accumulate alongside the detritus of his waking life: paper clips, motorcars, dry-eraser stains, etc. The first half of Bright Blue Dream concerns such detritus: “diamond studded caskets that roll around on wheels,” “the only free ferry left in the states,” the tattered life of a broken friend, etc. Baird, formerly of SOUND Team, whose Movie Monster LP made my list of top albums of 2006, has been releasing pieces of these songs for years on a jumble of lo-fi cassettes, CD-R’s and mp3’s formerly available on his formerly maze-like website. Bright Blue Dream puts the pieces together into a world-weary collection of forgotten songs which, while not technically a debut, will serve for many as the first introduction to {{{ Sunset }}}. In that first half of the album, images build like a thick, sedimentary residue on the conscious mind, just as Baird’s production layers lethargic, apathetic, somewhat facetious vocals like “we will, we will,” “I love my job” and “just try to smile” on faint, vaguely psychedelic arrangements of warm electronic tones, blunted percussion and muted chimes.

Midway through, though, the album takes a turn with the title track’s exhortation, to “sleep, sleep darling…as you dive into a deep blue dream.” For the next 14 minutes, “Bright Blue Dream” jettisons the images of sleepwalking through our waking state and gently wake-walks the listener into a dream. At the end of the next track,”Moebius,” after nearly 20-minutes of lulling, ambient effects, we emerge on the other side of the dream and into the warm embrace of “Old Sandy Bull Lee”:

Sandy Lee, Sandy Lee, hold your head up high
When you die you will turn to cosmic stardust in the sky
When you were a child, running brave and free
That’s how your world will be again and that’s where you’ll find me

Our love will feel new again like when we first met
We’ll laugh at silly things and share cigarettes
So tear up my ticket, melt it in the snow
The glow of your skin supplies all I need to know

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes9. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Buy It)

Highlight: “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/04-tiger-mountain-peasant-song.mp3″

Dear shadow alive and well, how can the body die, you tell me everything, anything true…

The best description I’ve read of this album comes from an incidental comment in an Animal Collective review: “a time capsule from a great American past that no one has ever experienced but have somehow remembered upon hearing.” Fleet Foxes is a beautiful pastoral album filled with exquisite harmonies and some stunning moments, such as when the instruments drop off at the end of “Oliver James” and Robin Pecknold’s voice rings out by itself all echoey, “Oliver James, washed in the rain, nooooo lonnnnggeeerrrrr….”

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! (Buy It)

Highlight: “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/dig-lazarus-dig.mp3″

Meanwhile Larry made up names for the ladies / Like miss Boo and miss Quick / He stockpiled weapons and took potshots in the air / He feasted on their lovely bodies like a lunatic / And wrapped himself up in their soft yellow hair

I can hear chants and incantations and some guy is mentioning me in his prayers / Well, I don’t know what it is but there’s definitely something going on upstairs

Dig!!! Lazaurs Dig!!! begins with an urban retelling of Lazarus’s resurrection, Larry reborn as a lowlife, dopefiend, womanizing hipster thug just dying to crawl back into the grave. The rest of the album follows suit, asking, “Does Jesus only love a man who loses?”, mining the language of resurrection and salvation for all the filth of original sin. Cave and his company are profane in a way that even the Stooges weren’t ever profane, slow, stewing, comfortable in their profanity, without all of that pent up aggression pulling them outside of themselves. Dig!!! Lazaurs Dig!!! wears its filth on its crusty sleeve, not only in the Howl-ish pseudo-spiritual sleaze of its lyrics, but also in every element of the sound. From Nick Cave’s voice like Neil Diamond run through a meat grinder, to the scuzzy bass lines, slick guitar bends, and hollow percussion of the Bad Seeds, this is an album that oozes filth like a syphilitic corpse in a house of ill repute, without joy or remorse, with only that smirk of the profane.

Shearwater - Rook7. Shearwater – Rook (Buy It)

Highlight: “Rooks” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/02-rooks.mp3″

When the swallows fell from the eaves and the gulls from the spires / and starlings in the millions will feed on the ground where they lie / the ambulance men said there’s nowhere to flee for your life / so we stayed inside / and we’ll sleep until the world of man is paralyzed

Rook (n.): a slight, fragile thing, harbinger of storms, that, when surrounded by other slight, fragile things, speaks for its life, lest it be torn to pieces in a cacophonous flutter of black wings

Among the slight, fragile things on this album are a harp, a glockenspiel, a dulcimer, various woodwinds, a piano, and the trembling voice of an ornithologist who once sang with Okkervil River.

The Walkmen - You & Me6. The Walkmen – You & Me (Buy It)

Highlight: “On the Water” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/03-on-the-water.mp3″

So here’s one to the pigeons / And the tugboats on the river / Here’s one to you / For walking in my shoes

You & Me is, for the Walkmen, the equivalent of what happens when you stand next to your TV antenna at the exact right angle so that the static clears and the picture finally comes in clearly. Oh, so this is what they’re supposed to sound like! Strip away the haze of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone‘s merry-go-round pianos and the bitter sting of Bows + Arrows‘s angular fuzz and it’s suddenly clear that what made those albums great wasn’t their post-punk pretensions, but the straight-up rock chops underneath. Cleaned up and allowed to resonate, the Walkmen’s guitars and organs take on a new gravity, while Hamilton Leithauser’s characteristic dry-throated howls, seething with a singular choked-back bitterness, add a road-weary resignation to lyrics of well-traveled loneliness and disillusionment. In addition, Matt Barrick once again proves himself one of rock’s best contemporary drummers as the Walkmen work waltzes into rock & roll and mine deceptively simple, plodding melodies for the weighty anticlimaxes they portend and struggle to restrain.

Fever Ray – “If I Had A Heart”

15 01 2009

Dear girl I haven’t met,

Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray from the video for "If I Had A Heart"Matt from Songs About Radios wearing a Halloween Mask based on The KnifeIf you wear this (image left) next Halloween, I will wear this (image right) again. We won’t speak the whole evening. To anyone. Our friends will run in terror, and we will have the dance floor to ourselves.

Songs About Radios

P.S. Here is the video from the debut single, “If I Had a Heart” off the forthcoming self-titled LP by Fever, AKA Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Knife. The video speaks for itself. The album is bone-chilling.

(Download “If I Had A Heart”) (Buy Fever Ray)

Best Music of 2008, Part II (Albums 15-11)

12 01 2009

Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls15. Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls (Buy It)

Highlight: “Where Do You Run To” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/06-where-do-you-run-to.mp3″

“It’s alright, just leave the light on; I will never ask you why.”

In a year in which the Jesus & Mary’s Chain’s blend of pop melodies and heavy distortion was a reference point for so many newish bands (No Age, Times New Viking, Crystal Stilts, Wavves, etc.), the Vivian Girls were the best of the bunch. “Where Do You Run To” is easily my favorite song of 2008. The chorus’s refusal to resolve makes it the perfect infectious little earworm, and yet there’s so much there behind the pop veneer. As for the album, 10 songs in 22 minutes makes for great pop, but I was ready at first to dismiss all but a couple of songs as charming yet forgettable until I heard Greg Kott and Jim DeRogatis’s review on Sound Opinions. The turning point was Jim and Greg’s explanation of the source of the name “Vivian Girls”:

Jim: …named for the outsider artist from Chicago, this man who was a janitor, Henry Darger. He’s really controversial because, on the one hand, it’s very naive youngster art … these young, sort of sexless naif children, but he invented this fantasy world where these children the Vivian girls were slaves and they were tortured by unseen, evil forces; it’s very disturbing stuff. The Vivian girls are playing with this in terms of, on the one hand, we’re pretending we’re 9 years old, we just picked up these instruments, on the other hand, it’s very sophisticated music.

Greg: I think the Darger reference is very apt because Darger talked about this collision of innocence and extreme violence in that epic work that he created, and I think that’s what we’re hearing here [on “Tell The World”]. Those innocent voices against these scuzzed up guitars and these trashcan drums; it’s intentionally lo-fi, the production is … it’s not about the production, but there is a sound here and it’s a cool sound; I think that’s an absolutely haunting song; there are these explosions of exhiliration where they’re talking, I want to tell the whole world about the new love that I found, and then there’s a dark undertone on a song like that where they almost seem haunted by this idea of walking into this new world or this new love and finding out what it means.

Jim and Greg say it better here than I could have. This is the proof that the Vivian Girls get it, that unlike so many J&MC knock-offs, the Vivian Girls know what they’re getting into. Their description puts the Vivian Girls into a logical line of descent from some of my favorite girl group hits of the 60’s: the Shangri-La’s “Leader of the Pack” and “Remember,” Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” and “What am I Gonna Do With You?,” the Crystal’s “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss),” Dawn’s “I’m Afraid They’re All Talking About Me,” etc. The essence of these songs is to uncover in the basic material of pop music (the most ordinary experiences of teenage romance) something powerful and unsettling that pop music is just unable to deal with. These songs leave a residue, an uncanny feeling that our most familiar, most common experiences are perhaps unfamiliar even to ourselves.

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular14. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (Buy It)

Highlight: “Electric Feel” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/04-electric-feel.mp3″

“I said ooh girl / shock me like an electric eel / baby girl / turn me on with your electric feel “

I read a post on a message board in which the poster said he couldn’t understand how anyone too old to raid their parents’ liquor cabinet could still listen to this album. That’s sort of how I feel about it too, and yet here it is at #14 of my top albums of 2008, and I’m 27 years old. Listening to this album involves some cognitive dissonance. I feel a mixture of joy and revulsion. It’s a perfect example of the “life affirming” music I talked about in an earlier post, one of my brother’s top 2 or 3 albums of the year, I think. It’s an album about growing up, about dragging that “live fast and die young,” “do what you feel” mentality into the world of office jobs and morning commutes. It’s full of cliched nostalgia (“I’ll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms”), wide-eyed optimism (“And in spite of the weather, we could learn to make it together”) and only the faintest traces of fear (“Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do?”). It feels like it’s overcompensating – these kids singing about finding models for wives are about to graduate from college into the second great depression; they have no idea what they’re in for, and yet they’re just so excited to be growing up.

So it surprises me somewhat that I keep coming back to this album. Is it just that these songs are incredibly catchy, that “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” and “Kids” are three of the best singles of the year, that the mixture of groovy bass lines, aqueous synth reverbs, and falsetto vocals are just indie enough to avoid being disco, and just disco enough to shock me like an electric eel? Or is it some mixture of escapism and vicarious pleasure? Is anyone else experiencing the same conflict with this album, or is it just me?

M83 - Saturdays = Youth13. M83 – Saturdays = Youth (Buy It)

Highlight: “Kim & Jessie” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/02-kim-jessie.mp3″

“Kim and Jessie / They have a secret world in the twilight / Kids outside worlds / They are crazy about romance and illusion

Somebody lurks in the shadows / Somebody whispers / Somebody lurks in the shadows / Yeah yeah yeah”

Much like Oracular Spectacular, this album should be someone’s favorite album of 2008, just not mine. M83’s 2003 debut, Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts, is a masterpiece, and I know at least one reader who would agree with me. But Saturdays = Youth is just so…naive. So youthful. And jaded at the same time. It makes that contradiction make sense. Its comes from a perspective that takes so much joy in a nostalgia for an innocence that it has lost that it becomes innocent all over again. But the youth it eulogizes is already a fucked up sort of innocence. These kids are weirdos, outsiders, maybe too weird to know how fucked up they are, maybe too fucked up to realize how normal they are. Graveyard Girl writes in high school cliches that are all the more touching for being cliche:

I’m gonna jump the walls and run
I wonder if they’ll miss me?
I won’t miss them.
The cemetery is my home
I want to be a part of it,
Invisible even to the night.
Then I’ll read poetry to the stones
Maybe one day I could be one of them…
Wise and silent.
Waiting for someone to love me.
Waiting for someone to kiss me.
I’m fifteen years old
And I feel it’s already too late to live.
Don’t you?”

That already too late to live, as if her heart weren’t made of bubble gum, as if she’d reached some sort of modernist epiphany, as if that modernist trope weren’t just something she learned in an English class, as if there wouldn’t be another moment when it would be too late to live, when waiting for someone to love her would seem precisely like life, when she would be wise and silent and hear the echo of her question and want to be 15 again…

Deerhunter - Microcastle12. Deerhunter – Microcastle (Buy It or Buy Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. together for a couple extra bucks)

Highlight: “Nothing Ever Happened” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/09-nothing-ever-happened.mp3″

“Nothing ever happened to me / Nothing ever happened to me / Nothing ever happened to me / Life just passing, flash right thru me

I never, saw it coming / waiting for something, for nothing / I never, saw it coming / waiting for something, for nothing”

I can never seem to remember having listened to this album. I think it’s intended to be that way. The tracks blur together in memory, wrapped in a luscious, dream-like haze. The lyrics escape into faint echoes resounding around an absent center. There’s something hiding here, which refuses to stick in the net of the conscious mind. Microcastles is the residue of a trauma. No matter how vehemently Bradford Cox insists that nothing ever happened to him, every song vibrates under the sedimentary weight of an event, a faint pulse that never stops, that resounds with the constant tremor of Deerhunter’s guitars. “Agorophobia” wills blindness so that it can avoid naming the source of its pain. “Little Kids” submerges a double violence – a man is burnt alive by a pack of drunken kids for seemingly no reason, but the act itself is mentioned only briefly, drowned out by feedback, leaving no mention at all of the even more haunting psychological violence that must have driven these kids to the act. Songs like the title track and “Activa” are paratactic and impressionistic, leaving gaping wounds dripping between sodden, ambiguous phrases. Deerhunter wraps these wounds in thick, gauzy rags still stained from My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Chord structures are often simple and plodding, but distorion and reverb wax and wane with a masterful imprecision that works the gravity of each note like the moon does the tide.

I don’t particularly like Bradford Cox – I especially dislike the way that Pitchfork fawns over every piece of excrement that comes out of his mouth – but Microcastle is the album he was born to write.

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer11. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer (Buy It)

Highlight: “California Dreamier” (Download) https://songsaboutradios.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/05-california-dreamer.mp3″

“And I think I might have heard you on the radio, but the radio waves were like snow”

At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade’s follow-up to their already classic 2005 debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, starts off in familiar territory. Opener “Soldier’s Grin” is a typical Dan Boeckner song that could just as easily have been saved for his side project, Handsome Furs, while I wouldn’t be surprised if Spencer Krug had originally written “Bang Your Drum” with Sunset Rubdown in mind. Fans of Apologies will be most at home on the first four tracks, but things really begin to get interesting with the fifth track, “California Dreamer.” While preserving the jittery rhythms, ragged stomps, competing melodies and richly metaphorical lyrics that made Apologies my favorite album of 2005, the second half of At Mount Zoomer sees Wolf Parade explore richer arrangements and a wider palette of ideas, including a brief lapse into 7/8 time signature on “Fine Young Cannibals” and a wicked 11-minute proggy monstrosity of an album closer in “Kissing the Beehive,” all of which makes At Mount Zoomer yet another point in the column of reasons why Spencer Krug is my favorite contemporary artist.