The New Decay

for those who love myusik

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Himalayan Bear Attacks the Air ... Frog Eyes Goes After the Valedictorian

After watching the Sens suffer another frustrating loss against the dreaded Ducks (how can anyone cheer for a team named after a kids movie, and that promises to bring the cup down to Disneyland?), I headed over to the Collective to witness the onslaught of yet another Frog Eyes show.

In case you didn't already know this, I LOVE Frog Eyes. There's something about Carey Mercer that's so intriguing, but I can never really figure out what that exactly is. I had also heard good things about opening act Himalayan Bear, so needless to say I was somewhat pumped for the show.

It started with Winnipeg's All of Your Friends, who played an underwhelming set. They're a band full of promise, but they just aren't quite there yet (not to harp on a local at, but that's just my opinion). However, Himalayan Bear followed, and absolutely destroyed the place, with his quiet, swooning songs. He was absolutely awesome. His guitar, his vocals, his lyrics were all stunning. A wonderfull mix of fragile sounds that rest gently on the strength of the songwriters words. I can't remember the last time I was this shocked by a new act. I picked up the album, and have only listened to it once, so I can't really say much yet, but on first listen I am EXTREMELY impressed. It's kind of likeDevendra Banhart but more interesting and less 'look at me I'm a hippy! You should be impressed.'

Then came Frog Eyes, with Himalayan Bear adding some guitar to fill in for the absent Spencer Krug. The songs on Valedictorian are the most intricate songs they've put together thus far in their career, which translated well into the live setting. As much as I enjoy their records, there's something about seeing this band live that just adds to their music. Carey Mercer sings as though these lyrics have been living stagnant in his body for 26 years just waiting for this one opportunity to burst out in a fury. It's really something to witness. He's one of Canada's most exciting artists, and last nights show illustrated this yet again.

Basically, it was all that I had wanted and more. Himalayan Bear lulled us to a pleasant sleep, and then Frog Eyes rudely woke us up. They really worked well together, and I hope they come back again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Facebook, camping, work, and All Star Baseball 99 are taking over my blogging life!

So it seems like ages since I've gazed upon that orange-encapsulated 'B' and written something on here. For those of you who wait in eager anticipation of what I've got to say next (of which I'm sure there are many) I apologize. As the title suggests I've spent way too much time on Facebook, and playing N64's 'Allstar Baseball 99' lately to do much writing on music (plus work's been crazy and it's camping season!). Anyways here's what I've been listening to, and what I've been disappointed with lately.

Frog Eyes - Tears for the Valedictorian (Scratch/Absolutely Kosher)
Instead of saying much about this album, I'll point you to Carl Wilson's review for Pitchfork. Wilson has this knack of always saying what I'm wanting to say, but better. Like he says, this is the best Frog Eyes album yet (which is saying something), although I reserve the right to reclaim 'The Golden River" at a later date. 'Bushels' is possibly the best song I've heard in years!

Sunn O))) - Oracle (Southern Lord)
This tour-only Ep (which clocks in at 1 hour 21 mins), is an excellent companion to 2005's disturbing "Black One". Oracle is a captivating listen as it develops it's 'metalness' without resorting to typical metalisms, opting for the haunting aspects of found sounds (including birds, jack-hammers etc...) rather than distorted guitar. In fact, it's only after 20 mins that we get our first glimpse of anything that closely resembles metal guitar work. With Oracle, Sunn O))) yet again serve as a haunting reminder that something must be going wrong in our society for something so haunting to sound so contemporary.

David Bowie - Low (From 1977, RCA)
My show on Friday focused around the life and death of Ian Curtis from Joy Division. As I was putting the show together I was caught off guard at how indebted JD was to Bowie, and in particular the B-side to his wonderful introduction to the Berlin-trilogy Low. This is as dark, and disturbed as Bowie gets. It also happens to be the most complex sonically (thanks to Brian Eno's production), Bowie has yet to be. Many consider this to be his triumph, and I have to say that I'm starting to agree.

The National - The Boxer (Beggars Banquet)
Let the great triumph begin! Oh wait, aren't The National supposed to be all about moral victories correlating with failure? How can a band so focused on their own inadequacies sound so triumphant at the same time? This album has all the fixings to take The National into the mainstream with boatloads of success. The only thing that may be stopping them is themselves.

Not so into...
Battles - Mirrors

I really wanted to like this album, but so far have not been able to get behind it one bit. It's just too much for my liking. There's no subtlety, nothing left open ended. Everything just pounds you over the head, from the huge drums sounds all the way to the staccato guitar. In fact, I had to interrupt my first time through the album by listening to Sunn O))) just to allow my ears to take a breath for a while. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if, a few months down the road, I finally am able realise what it is I'm apparently missing with this album.

Spiderman 3
Okay, so this isn't really music at all, but I have to say that this movie is the biggest disappointment of the year so far. I truly enjoyed the first two Spiderman movies. I found them both to capture the essence of the comic books extremely well (Spiderman 2 in particular). They were funny at the right moments, they were ridiculously cheesy at the right moments, and they were romantic at the right moments.

I can't say the same with Spiderman 3 primarily because it feels at once WAY too full and yet extremely empty. Spiderman has to deal with so much throughout the movie (the four villains - himself, the young Green Goblin, the Sandman, and two incarnations of Venom, plus his dwindleing carreer, fame and a iffy relationship with Mary Jane), that the movie isn't provided with the space necessary to truly unpack all that Spiderman is going through. The end result is that you just don't care ... well at least I didn't.

Interestingly enough, whereas in the previous two movies the weakpoints were located primarily in the acting, with Spiderman 3, the acting is its greatest selling point. Kirsten Dunst does a good job capturing the life of a superheroes girlfriend, Tobey Maguire is awesome as an Emo-kid, and Topher Grace makes Venom as enjoyable as he can be. Unfortunately, Raimi's writing and directing are so poor they overshadow all of this excellent work.

That said, the movie is still entertaining and at times, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sadly, its shortcomings are so great that entertaining just isn't quite enough this time.