Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shine A Light

Hello again. After a three year hiatus from LL, I’d like to re-introduce myself via an indispensable track.

As LL’s primary purpose is to promote Goldroom and Flight Facilities, I thought I’d maintain the status quo by promoting the upcoming Flight Facilities album. Doing this without reposting Two Bodies for the millionth time proved to be difficult, however, so I thought I’d delve into one of my personal favorites from Oz, their remix of the C90’s Shine A Light

It’s hard to believe three years have passed since this gem was released. While it was ultimately lost in the buzz surrounding Crave You and Foreign Language, I would argue this as the quintessential FF track. No matter what’s happening in my life, this is one of those tracks that makes my problems melt away. Beautiful lyrics, a catchy chorus, and an introduction that grabs you in with cascading synths and simple, steering piano.

Kudos to Grand Theft Auto V for featuring this song in-game… during a mission where your character takes acid and jumps out of a plane. Well played.

Photo Via

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Righteous One

We’ve all been there: Girl meets boy. Boy likes band. Girl forces herself to like band. It’s a tale as old as high school. Except sometimes it can happen in your mid-twenties. That’s how I—rather appropriately—discovered The Orwells.

Early this year, a guy I was really into told me I should listen to The Orwells. He sold them as “The new Strokes.” I listened. They weren’t. But I was really really into this guy, so despite their inability to fill the gaping Julian Casablancas-sized void **OMG PUN INTENDED** in my music library, I gave them another chance. And another. And then another. But they didn’t click. Their scuzzy, simplistic garage rock was catchy enough, but it lacked that certain something that I could either relate to or revere. Eventually, the guy and I had a falling out and I no longer had anything to prove, so I gave up on The Orwells. I chalked them up as one of those indie things I would never “get”, like Grimes. Or almond milk.

But then by happenstance, I started following The Orwells on Twitter. And suddenly: I got it.

I don’t often let musicians’ internet personas dictate my opinion of their artistic output, but in this case it made all the difference. I’d read profiles on the band, I knew their general backstory and style, but it wasn’t until I saw them referencing my old stomping grounds that I began to understand their point of view. You see, The Orwells and I have a lot in common. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, not 20 minutes from their hometown of Elmhurst. I too felt completely smothered by the suburban tedium surrounding me, misunderstood and maligned and totally claustrophobic. We both used music as an escape—The Orwells formed a band and toured the world, I shipped myself off to boarding school to study opera. It’s the same thing, really.

Their Twitter’s plucky, cynical commentary on pop culture, the music industry, and this suburban world I know so well resonates: they echo many of the sentiments and frustrations I’d had when I was their age. (Though fortunately, when I was their age we had AIM status updates in lieu of Twitter; I could have gotten into a world of trouble as a teen on Twitter.) And when I began to understand their teenage ethos, and to remember my own, I began to connect to their music. A night of hiding in your car to drink underage, followed by puking on the bathroom floor? Been there. Lamenting a town where everything closes at midnight? Done that. The Orwells are angsty suburban kids, and though I’d like to believe I’ve transcended, inside I’m probably still just an angsty suburban kid.

And so I realized I’d been approaching The Orwells all wrong. The Orwells are not The new Strokes by any stretch. The Strokes weren’t relatable—they were iconic. No one listened to Is This It and thought, “Oh yeah this describes my life.” The Strokes were cool: they lived in the cultural epicenter of America; they went to elite boarding schools in different countries; they had absent parents; they undoubtedly had access to the most incredible drugs. The Orwells, on the other hand, are not cool by cool’s standards: they grew up in the Midwest; they went to public school; their parents probably drove them to soccer practice; and—speaking from experience—the weed out here is shit. The Orwells make garage rock for people who know what it’s like to have an attached garage. The Orwells are one of us. I get it. I totally get it.

It’s fitting that I came upon The Orwells by rather immature means, as they seem to inspire the younger, rawer me. What other band could get me to show up to a 12:45 set at a music festival? Literally, none. I’ve never done that. But I’m so glad I did, or I would have missed the best moment of Chicago's Riot Fest, when frontman Mario Cuomo brazenly proclaimed ”WE’RE FROM THE SUBURBS” before launching the band into a song about the mall. It was punk as fuck. And for a moment, I was a little jealous of the teenage girls in the front row.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Red Eyes

I’m seeing The War On Drugs this weekend.
I needed to get that out first and foremost, because I’m so stupid excited about it. You know who else is excited about it? My dad. Yes, my dad and I are going to see The War On Drugs together this weekend, and that’s amazing.

It should be noted that this isn’t a common occurrence. At least, it hasn’t been for a decade. In the early 2000s my dad came to concerts with me — I needed a ride, and he thought it kept him hip. (He still pats himself on the back when he recognizes an Interpol song.) But I grew up, moved away, and could drive myself, so my dad and I haven’t had reason to see a concert together in ages. But The War On Drugs are special. Really, really special.

You’ve probably heard at least some of Lost In The Dream—the band’s marvelous third album—by now. If we’re friends, you better have. It is the rock album of the year. (And yes, I’ve already listened to the new DFA1979 album.) You’ve heard of a road movie, right? Well, this is a seminal ‘road album’ if I’ve ever heard one. It’s the musical equivalent of Easy Rider for the millennial set, with the heartbreak to match. Adam Granduciel has woven the ultimate soundscape of disappointment and longing, at once expansive and deeply personal.

Granduciel hasn’t set out to reinvent the wheel; he’s polished it. Indeed, this album could have been released any time over the last four decades and would have held up just as well. Granduciel has spent a lot of time absorbing the influences of his idols, from Dylan to Springsteen to Stewart, and it shows. While he pays tribute, he exalts himself to their level by doing it just as well. That’s what makes this album so special, and why it translates across generations. Many artists play homage to their influences; few are able to capture their essence so completely that they could be counted as contemporaries. This is an example of stylistic mastery—take note.

But anyway, dads should love this shit. Mine does, at least. You know who else will love it? You will. I promise. Just listen to the single Red Eyes. Or go a little deeper, and listen to the album's 9 minute-long opening track, Under The Pressure. You'll get it.

The War On Drugs play the AV Festival this Saturday in Chicago (with a slew of other great acts including Valerie June, Empires, and Mac DeMarco). Look for me; I’ll be the adult woman rocking out with her dad.