Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Frank Review - Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong



Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Album - Belong
Release - March 29 2011 Slumberland/Collective Sounds


Yesterday a study was released that stated what most of us already knew, there is a correlation between the effects of physical pain and social rejection. Is it a coincidence that this interesting, if not painfully evident, information was released on the same day as Pains of Being Pure at Heart's highly anticipated Belong? Yes, but what a fun coincidence.

Unfortunately I have recently felt the pain these doctors speak of. No, I did not have my heart broken by a woman - Frank has built up a heart of stone, tempered with glass that is capable of withstanding any mortal females unpredictable whims- but it was instead Pains of Being Pure at Heart themselves. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I am in fact outgrowing the primal emotional that noise pop speaks too. Or maybe they have put out a disjointed, confused recording that is trying  too hard to emulate heroes instead of further carving their own sound. Of course the right answer is the latter.

My main problem with the album is the production by one of those old "alternative" work horses Flood. Through out the 80s and 90s Flood's production on titles, especially one's from emerging artist like PJ Harvey and Nick Cave helped artist on the rise gain a larger audience by producing material that made  the work more accessible without compromising the vision or talent. I think that the production on To Bring You My Love forced her to tone back as a performer but not as a artist which lead to some fucking  powerful music. But with the type of music Pains are making, the production causes the ideas to sound forced. PJ Harvey's songwriting lends itself to the shine and grandness of Flood's productions. The bands rough yet character filled craftsmanship has given way to the whims of sophisticated production.


The album feels very disjointed due to the many things that it attempts to accomplish. A common theme when reading any kind of criticism of Pains is their strict focus on Slumberland inspired noise pop. It is through this focus and admiration that the band began to form their own voice. While the remenants of early 90's indie music can be heard loud and clear on the self titled and Higher Than the Stars EP, the songs still bore the stamp of a band honing in on their sweet spot as a collective.

On Belong there is point where the music almost borders on plagiarism. At least for you and I, the discerning college rock listener. Example: Take the opening track Belong and now listen to My Bloody Valentines's Soon. You can do this with pretty much every song on the album and a song from Jesus and Mary Chain, Stones Roses, Smashing Pumpkins (cringe)  and  Goo Good Dolls (super cringe). Not City of Angels Goo Goo Dolls mind you but some of the tracks could be mistaken for Superstar Car Wash outtakes. The songs all really do sound nice, but listening to most of the tracks I find myself longing for the original. Except with the Goo Goo Dolls of course.

 Let's see what else... Oh yes. Kip's voice should not be so up front or undistorted. The nasal quality works great when it's sung into a pawn shop microphone, but the clarity in this recording is a bit too much. I love Heart in Your Heartbreak, but we have been listening that song, the lead single for a couple of months now so I was already looking forward to it.

Obviously I would not be as disappointed in this album if I did not have such a fond admiration for the band's precious work. While not wholly original, their previous two releases felt more like a love letter to a very specific music lover. I give this review such a low score with a very heavy heart. Kip was the first interview I did over at weshotjr and I have to say that he was one of the coolest dudes I have ever met. A total spazz music nerd with a focus on noisy pop saccharine. It was like looking in the mirror. I know in my heart that the band's intention on this release were 100% pure. And FUCKING BRAVO for staying with Slumberland. You can read my interview to see how that is a classy move on so many levels.

 This is by no means a sell out record or the nail in the coffin that some revivalist hating reviewers have been waiting for. I just believe it is a bit of a miss step. Although I do agree with the general consensus that this album is going to shoot them into the big leagues, which I hope to the non-existent god happens. I am still excited to see what is in store for these guys. For my money, Let England Shake is the best album of PJ's career.

Frank's Final Verdict = C+

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frank Review: Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You

I am going to start posting reviews when I feel like it. More than likely the review will be over something I really love or really hate. Regardless there will be a grading system of A to F. Here is the first...



Artist - Acid House Kings 
Album - Music Sounds Better With You 
Release - March 22 2011 Labrador Sweden


Acid House Kings have a lengthy but sparse career as one of the many Swedish twee/indie/ironically sensitive pop bands of the last twenty years. While their sound has always been great, I have never held in the same esteem as I do other contemporary pop out fits like Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura or Jens Lekman. With Music Sounds Better with You their first album since 2006's Sing Along With the Acid House Kings, the band have hit the other world popedelic atmosphere.

The band's previous releases found the trio consistently honing in on that perfect pop sound. While this sound tickles the ears and the heart, their interpretation lacked the character which really make the aforementioned groups stand out. This releases breaks that trend by picking up the tempo early on and never letting go. There is not one shoe-gazey foot dragger on here. Through out the album is a certain joyous air that strings together the ten songs. The album is a consistent, captivating listen by never second guessing the delivery of that joy, indulging in the graces of vocal harmonies and syncopated hand claps.

While the back beat stays thumping, the heart does skip a beat here and there. It is hard to convey melancholy and or romantic dread through the lens of shiny pop music with out coming off as hokey or over indulgent. AHK pull it off brilliantly here, offering the world another avenue to smile through the ache. While the song writing remains fairly obtuse, this is music inspired by and written for those who have had, or hope to one day have, their heart broken.

FRANK'S FINAL JUDGEMENT: A-


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Saturday, March 12, 2011

35 Conferette : EXPOSED Live Feed Special Report - Paperstain Day Show #1

Some videos from the Paperstain Show yesterday. I only have video for this show because it is the only one I went to. Never got around to picking up my Conferette wristband, which sucks because I was looking forward to some of the stuff later in the evening but I was too exhausted to party past the break of midnight. That will not be the case tonight. I'll be doing a 35 round up commentary next week but there is no time now.

One media outlet that has had the time to offer some criticism. dfw.com's Preston Jones posted an article today addressing some of issues that the festival faced on Thursday, summing up the misteps he writes "it's the details that need to be addressed in order to make this an event to anticipate, rather than dread." I just wanted to address a couple of the points because I think the author blew the situation out of proportion.

Issue #1 - time delays

Yes this sucks but was totally expected so I guess I wasn't too shocked when it happened. In fact I was relieved because time shake ups were going to allow me to catch both Violent Squid and Pains of Being Heart. In the end sadly this was not the case but that would have been the same situation if the acts played at their scheduled times. Plus it was the first day and there was tons of staff on hand to help out and answer questions about delays. Jones says, "I managed to see 16 bands altogether, but it was far more frustrating than it should've been." Sorry seeing 16 bands in one night is not as easy as listening to a Ipod playlist. I'm not saying that this isn't a issue which I hope is fixed for the rest of the fest, but it's not a deal breaker.

Issue #2 - cloth wristbands were not available yet

Seriously, Who gives a fuck? The thing I was worried about was waiting in an obscenely long line and/or my ticket not being available, neither of which happened. I was disgusted by the use of Ipads by the people working the wristband booth. This all could have been done on  netbooks which cost $300 less than an Ipad and don't look so ridiculous. I saw people at the Paperstain show Friday with wristbands so I guess they are available now.

Issue #3 - "Some sort of system needs to be in place to let those of us attempting to see more than a single venue's showcasing artists if there are delays or other hiccups at the other venues" (sorry couldn't think of a way to summarize this #notarealjournalist)

The main stages and clubs are ridiculously close to one another. It takes less than two minutes to walk between them. The walk between the main and free stage is a bit of a further walk, like 4 minutes or something. I think that the stage placement was very smart. People from the festival traveling to the free stage are greeted by many of the local eateries and drinkeries between the two. Maybe Flemmons does have a little business sense in him after all...

OK enough of the brown nosing here are some issues I have...

Issue #1 - COPS FUCKING EVERYWHERE

And I mean everywhere. Of all shapes and sizes and various styles of dress. It has not boaded well with my Tumblr series "Best Places to Sneak a Doob at 35c" But the good news is I have not heard any stories of out of line rookie cops or unjust man handling of suspicious characters. And trust me the people I roll with would be the first one's to relay those stories.

Issue #2 - I smell terrible

I am sick of typing, time to watch Bill Maher while showering and getting in the zone for todays events. See you on the flip side. I have videos from more of Thursday's shows (I even got Sarah Jaffe!) but I have my priorities so without further ado here are the videos.







Friday, March 11, 2011

Live Feed - Violent Squid @ 35c

Damn dawg what a performance this was. More videos to come once I have the time/sobriety to process the video.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

35 Conferette : EXPOSED - What Frank's Checking out Thursday...


And so it begins. Here is my schedule if you wanted to stalk me... or just see some good shows...



6:30 - 7:15
Secret Sisters



The Secret Sisters are one of the few contemporary country artist doing anything worth a damn. Stuck somewhere between throwback and contemporary style, these "sisters" utilize the intimacy of country music to create a beautiful, warm sound that should appeal to anyone with a heart and penchant for solid singer songwriters. I especially appreciate this video of the duo performing inside of a Wal Mart.








7:15pm
Free: Violent Squid 
Wristband: Pains of Being Pure at Heart



There is no telling how many times I have seen Violent Squid perform over the years, 10? maybe more. Squid's ever revolving line-up is helmed by Ty Stamp who does what he can to keep the improvisation focused with out loosing spontaneity the experience is based around. Most times I have caught Violent Squid it is playing to smaller audiences which is understandable but it will be nice to see the band playing to a large, wristband-less audience. 




Pains of Being Pure at Heart are one of my favorite indie pop bands around, keeping alive a long tradition of sensitive fuzz pop. One of my first assignments at weshotjr was interviewing lead singer/songwriter Kip before their performance last year. Some times in life there are moments when you feel like you are the only person in the world who feels the way you do, and sometimes you meet people that make you feel a little less alone in the world. That was the was I felt shooting the breeze with Kip. Check back here later this afternoon because I plan on posting the audio from this interview so you can hear what I mean.  Oh yeah and they put on a killer live show.



10pm - Hydrant Cafe
Heartstring Stranglers

A few hundred miles of land and ocean couldn't keep former Dentonite and current Budhapest resident  Frederick Shulze and his long term musical project Heartstring Stranglers from missing out on the Conferette action. This is going to be a streaming performance live from Budhapest, you can consider this the techno portion of the festival. 





11pm - J&J's
Geistheistler 


Pizza, Schlitz and dissonant noise rock is how I will be closing out the first day of activities. Why the early night? Hey some of us have to work in the morning...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

35 Conferette : EXPOSED - Interview with Paperstain Day Show host Nick Foreman



A highlight from last year's North by Conferette was the two day Paperstain Day Show which took place just a couple of blocks away from any wristband inspectors. The shows were hosted by Dust Congress front-man and pretty good basketball player Nick Foreman. Even though the event is in no way connected to the 35c, it does work as the perfect companion piece to the larger scale festivities.

If you are too poor to afford a wristband (if you live in Denton this is probablly the case) these shows will give you the opportunity to check out some of the better local acts playing 35c along with some acts exclusive to the showcase.

Most notable from that later category is the debut performance of Most Efficient Woman playing early on Saturday. MEW features Britt Robisheaux formely of Nouns Group and one of the higlights from last year's Paperstain show, Drug Mountain. Accompanying Britt on stage (or area carpet as the case may be) are members of Drink to Victory, Zanzibar Snails and other Drug Mountain buddies. It's going to get loud in there.

The Paperstain Showcase will be held Friday and Saturday with the line ups listed below. I'll quit my jabbering, here is the interview with Nick. Check back here later for thoughts, predictions and places to sneak an in-between show doob for Day One of 35c. Get live updates via tumblr.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

35 Conferette : EXPOSED - Interview with 35c Top Cock Jaime-Paul Falcon


It was this gentleman reporter's pleasure to conduct a discourse with Denton's Top Cock, Jaime-Paul Falcon, over a generous serving of tapioca pudding with crisped mint spears. He demonstrated his rare mastery of the English language, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of internet videos. "JPF", as he is sometimes known, was quite patient with the under-aged and under-skilled waitstaff. Our discussion unfolded thusly:


HB: You were a controversial topic amongst the internet users of 2010. Do you plan on keeping a lower profile this year?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxxPLDZnqwA


HB: Is it pronounced "Falcon" like the bird, or "Falcone" like the murdered Italian judge?

It's pronounced "Smith", I think....not to sure, it really depends on if I'm in Mexico or the US....in Canada it's "Robertson".

HB: What is an El Kabong?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49lFPyzTfjw


HB: Is it better to be loved or feared?

I like to cuddle, so I'm gonna go with feared.


HB: Hypothetical: You rejected my band's application to play the 35 Conferette. I confront you in an alley. What do you do?

Would you like a beer?


HB: Was Mister Heavenly booked because of their quality music or because they will bring Michael Cera to town, and Michael Cera sells wristbands?

Who is Micheal Cera, why the hell do people keep mentioning this guy to me? All these Cera questions have been keeping me from devoting my full attention to Astros spring training updates (we might not suck this year!)


HB: What kind of police presence can the well-intentioned people of Denton expect to see at the festival?

Ever seen the Battle of Seattle, it'll be the complete opposite of that.


HB: How many Paperstain day shows will you be attending this year?

Honestly, it depends on the times, we have bands playing outside during those shows and it's gonna be hard to pick between someone like G Side on our stage and whatever act will be there, so all of them.


HB: I see that bands won't be playing at Boiler Room/Abbey Underground this year. Is that because everybody hated it?

We regrettably didn't book Oso Closo or Snarky Puppy, so Boiler Underground decided they didn't want to be apart of this. Preferably in the port'o'pottys, but if someone is busy fucking in one, mosey over to Abby Underground


HB: If I attend the 35 Conferette, where will I use the bathroom?

Preferably in the port'o'pottys, but if someone is busy fucking in one, mosey over to Abby Underground.

35 Conferette : EXPOSED - Interview with 35c Den Mother Natalie Davila


As you may or may not know I am in love with Denton and have been for the past ten years of my residency here. It is the quiet, small town vibe that permeates throughout the Golden Triangle's northern corridor along with the dynamic musical landscape of Denton Rock City that keeps my heart locked tight as I brush off advances from other hip and more metropolitan cities.

I hate music festivals, especially when they are hosting artist that I want to see. While the commercialization aspect certainly plays a part, the main reason is because I hate being around large groups of people. I like seeing music in intimate clubs or venues where fans are gathered to dedicate their attention to a musical performance. Festivals tend to have that cattle call feel, bands go on in their alloted time and place for an audience that may or may not know who they are. Most festival goers are either enjoying music or meander about drunkenly weighing attendance options.

 So how do I feel about 35 Conferette, the local music festival with a big heart and Camel sponsorship? Over the next couple of days leading up to the festival and including the festival itself I will be doing some hard hitting investigative reporting and Nobel worthy commentary. The whole team will be here to provide you with ground floor coverage without the crutch of a press pass.

We are going to start this thing at the top with festival co-organizer Natalie V D├ívila. Check back the rest of the week for more interviews with elite people, movers and shakers. You will also be hearing from some of the new staff here at Phosphate on Film. STAY TUNED!

Also you can be-friend us on Facebook and Tumblr. Joy.


FP: How does 35c compare to the Warp tour?

ND: 35c is pretty tight and all… but I feel like Warp Tour is just… legendary. You can’t compete with that.

How much does everyone love the new festival name?


Well you want something short and sweet… that isn’t easily misspelled or pronounced incorrectly… so I really feel like we hit the nail on the head with that one.

Do you think next year you will be able to afford all of Outkast?

Next year I plan to reunite Naughty By Nature…

How do you feel the the festival will affect the local music scene once the festival is over?


It will probably collapse in on itself like a dying star..

Do you know which hotel Ramona Gonzalez is staying at?

Her room is right next to Michael Cera’s…

Do you think she needs a place to stay?

Please see answer to previous question.

 Is she dating that guy from Wavves?

I heard he cries a lot… on stage.

If you could invite any dead president to appear as a MC who would it be?

Calvin Coolidge. I bet he’d be pretty chill.

Why are there no other music festivals in Texas other than NXNW which is really just a week long industry event?

Mafia ties.

 What frightens you most about this weekend?

Chupacabras and/or drunken idiots.