Family Band /// “Night Song”

Since our last post was a video, it makes sense that our first post in a thousand years is a video. And what a video!

From Family Band’s new album, “Grace and Lies.”


Japanese tribute to dead racehorse + Nina Nastasia’s “We Never Talked” = I made a music video!

Japanese tribute to dead racehorse + Nina Nastasia’s “We Never Talked” = I made a music video!


The music video for Crystal Antler’s “Two Way Mirror” is the coolest video I’ve seen in a while.


– Graham

Dance Minimix #38: I hate to watch you dance

It Hurts to See You Dance So Well, The Pipettes

Dancing on my Own, Robyn

I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie, God Help The Girl

– Graham

Track: “What About Us” by Handsome Furs

What About Us” by Handsome Furs

I think Dave is going to talk more about Handsome Furs later, but until then, here’s “What About Us,” a New Wave recession jam with sexytimes.

– Graham

So, Emmy the Great

Emmy the Great’s first album First Love (2009) is the kind of super-uneven debut album that makes music listeners (me) go crazy waiting for album #2 just to find out which half was the fluke — the great stuff, or the crap? Well, now that Emmy’s 2nd album (Virtue) has landed, we (I) know the answer.  But I’m not going to tell you yet, obvs.

Emmy (close enough to her real name that I’ll just use it) is a singer-songwriter out of London. The core sound on First Love is her voice, which is just… awesome. It’s just awesome.  Lightly accented, melodic, clear, sweet, it’s finding a hundred bucks in your couch. It’s so goddamn nice. Which can make the venom it spits pretty surprising.

The best moment on the album is the opening section of the third song, “We Almost had a Baby,” which is worth transcribing here in full:

Well you didn’t stop / when I told you to stop / and there was a month / when I wasn’t sure / if the next time I saw you / out on the road / I’d have something to say, other than “pay / all of the money that you owe” / and I would have liked to, to have something above you /  to have something to hold, / and know I could choose to let it grow / and I would have called you / and I’d have said “Hey– you know I’m in control, and I’ll let you know / if you have to come and choose a name.”

Whoa, yeah? It’s monstrous, sympathetic, manipulative, pathetic, sociopathic, and totally convincing. Moments like this are sprinkled throughout the album, like the titular song, or “On The Museum Island,” which is about Emmy’s friend inheriting a lot of money and turning into a dick. And then she’ll drop a line like this: “But if you go to sleep tonight / you will be older when you wake.” UGH. You killed my buzz, homie! The song that line is from is called “24,” and it’s about Emmy’s boyfriend watching a full season of the show 24 in one sitting. She has another song called “Mia” which involves her confusion about whether you pronounce M.I.A.’s name as Mia or M.I.A.. Pop culture ephemera is sprinkled throughout the album: Emmy is determined to remind you that she and you live in the same world.  Sometimes this works great, like the sly appropriation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on “First Love,” or “Canopies and Grapes,” (not on First Love, but whatever) which is a nonstop celebration of how human bonds are cemented with artistic appreciation, and a reminder of how those albums, books, and movies last and lacerate after the relationship has failed. Sometimes it’s dull and unnecessary, like in “Mia” or “24.” First Love is a good album, half emotionally tough confessional, half insipid non-lyrics and cultural references.

Virtue‘s not too great.

– Graham

Tracks: We Almost had a BabyCanopies and Grapes

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The Absence of Light: Tiny Vipers’ “Life On Earth”

Life on EarthImagine you’re in a tiny submarine. It’s a small hard sphere dropped 1000 miles underwater, with one window. At first, the window’s pretty neat: it lets light in and you can see fish and stuff out there. That’s nice. But as you sink deeper, the window, a source of comfort, becomes this terrifying vulnerability in your little craft. You can’t help but envision the tons and tons and tons of water pressing in on that window, one hairline crack away from pouring in and drowning you. You sink past where most life can exist, past where any sunlight can reach. The window now reveals nothing: there is nothing out there to see. The window has no purpose but to expose you to the endless indifferent force that waits to kill you. Eventually you turn way from the window, even though that’s meaningless, even though it’s completely dark no matter where you look, avoiding the window allows you to forget the crush of pressure that surrounds you.

Listening to Life on Earth (2009) is turning to face the window, to stare through it, to acknowledge the destructive forces outside and try to pick out the rare, rare lights of glowing fishes, to search for any kind of twisted thing that might exist in such a hostile environment. Tiny Vipers is Jesy Fortino, and Life on Earth is built out of just her voice and her acoustic guitar. This is a slow, bleak, devastating record that confronts (or perhaps embraces) the elemental forces we exist within: time, death, decay, loss. The title’s no optimistic celebration: Fortino’s understanding of “life on earth” is demonstrated on the title track: “Today there is life on earth and it may be dancing all around us / Well, tomorrow’s only dying.”

Not to say there isn’t beauty here. The sublime “Dreamer” presents us with a woman who is frustrated with meaningless introspection (“I could spend my time wondering who I was / and I could count the times that I had lost or won / And I could turn toward you and ask you what you saw / But what do these feelings mean?”) and instead turns toward experiencing life with another (“Come meet me on this path of wonder / Take my hand, I’d like to share with you / What can we learn when we can’t understand?”). Ultimately though, even this can’t defeat the fundamental confinement of life. When her voice breaks on the final line, it’s with all of the captured frustration and longing of a life spent in the wrong place. Life itself is the wrong place.

It’s hard to overstate the barrenness of these songs, and their simplicity, their austerity, their nudity, is both intense and numbing, like holding your hand in cold water. Fortino is sharing something dark and internal here, for you inside the submarine, and she doesn’t promise that looking out that window will reveal anything more than the endless and waiting void of the water:

“And don’t look back toward me / I’m as empty as the sea / back before there was life on Earth.”

– Graham

Tracks: DreamerTwilight Property

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