Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Random notes

Lots of stuff going on lately. I've been a bit too busy to bother with any of it. So here's a diatribe on all of it.
There are a ton of new midwestern CDs coming out. Hopefully I can get around to doing some new interviews with these groups soon.
In Cincinnati, there is the Music Now festival (going on all this week). Check out Each Note Secure for more info.
I've still got my eye on the Forecastle Festival and what bands will be chosen to perform. Will it be the same four Cincinnati bands that always play everything (Bad Veins, Turnbull ACs, Lions Rampant, The Read, etc.)?
Nothing against these bands - I like them too - but for god sake festival organizers there are a ton of talented bands out there.
I got a few emails from bands promoting their new CDs. Namely, The Voodoo Loons, Lonely the Seabird's very last CD, Philly's The Hermit Thrushes are going to be in Iowa City July 24 in support of new releases.
PWAH favorite's Dayton-based Squids Eye Records is releasing the new Neotropic "Whiter Rabbits" CD, and on April 29 will release the work of Jesse Remnant "The Human Cannonball" and The Gluons "Meet the Gluons."
Both of these bands are pretty outstanding. Remnant's voice is killer and his music very melodic. Something must be in the water he and his brother Rem drink back at home.
I mentioned before how I enjoy The Gluons. They seem to be Dayton's answer to the Columbus shitpop wave. But unlike a lot of the Columbus bands, you get the feeling these young dudes came up with their sound all on their own and without influence by their surrounding contemporaries. Just give them a listen and judge for yourself.
I also got an email from Chicago band The Fake Fictions, a fuzz-pop band with a new album called "Krakatoa" coming out on Comptroller Records on April 18th. It is a concept album about the world's deadliest volcano explosion and its impact on modern society. They sent me a link to hear the CD early. I still haven't checked it out yet, but I want to try and get to it today at some point.
The thing is, I have heard of this band before. So my guess is that I liked them before, if I filed their name away in my dust-rattled head. Once I give them a listen I'll post a bit about their songs too.
Other than that, I noticed some Columbus folks are having a spirited debate on about production values.
Are too many Columbus CDs "over-produced?" Is it possible for a indie band to be over-produced? What constitutes being over-produced? Does Pro-tools suck?
I can confirm that Pro-tools does suck hard. Avoid it at all cost.
I guess some people think lo-fi CDs just sound better. I can agree with this stance to a certain extent.
Take Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." What I always liked about it is that you can hear the room the band is playing in. You can hear the music bouncing off the walls. It just makes it sound more intimate and provides a picture into the performance. There is a warmth there that was created by recording more lo-fi.
Neil Young's "Tonight's the night" record is recorded about as lo-fi as it got back in the 1970s. Yet it's clean and pure. Is that over-produced by today's standards?
Then you got other CDs that sound as if the person is singing into a digital microphone. It just sounds dead and lifeless because they are trying too hard to make things sound clean and clear.
My feeling is that it doesn't matter how something is recorded. You can't polish a turd and you can't fuzz out a turd into white noise and call it shitpop.
Let's face it, The Beatles "Abbey Road" is totally produced to sheer pointless cleanliness, but it fucking rocks.
Times New Viking write great songs, so does Psychedelic Horseshit and The Gluons - yet they are recorded in a haze of dirt like the Dust Bowl just exploded. But they fucking rock.
I think there is an important middle ground to look at here. A strange dichotomy exists within the current shit pop trends. Being "over-produced" is looked down upon, but isn't "production" what it is entirely based upon?
They are making CDs sound extremely lo-fi. Isn't that being "over-produced" too?
Just something that came to mind.

Oh yeah. The Ranconteurs are coming through the midwest.
Um, $30-$40 a ticket?
Great band, but fuck them.


nick of the fake fictions said...

nick from the fake fics here. kind of funny that you mention our new cd in the middle of your post about eschewing protools and other digital fanciness ... we went back to a total diy cassette tape recording process for the new album after some shit results with computers for our last album, and decided to just totally embrace the tape hiss and blown-out sound. trying to avoid being too self-promotional here but we kept a band blog during the recording process that covers some of these issues. you might find it interesting. thanks for dropping our name.

Christopher Animalhead said...

I just think it took a while for musicians to realize that, after spending a decade trying to make music clean enough to be played on the radio, that they weren't ending up on the radio anyway. Justin Timberlake was. So ever since the 90s ended and we rolled into a new decade, a lot of bands said fuck you to that stuff, realized the computer made recording MUCH cheaper and easier. So they went that route, but didn't know what they were doing yet. Slowly they all are realizing that Pro-tools made everything sound thin and lifeless. So in the past several years, the natural progression toward recording on tape again has come full circle.
I remember last year writing about how the new "sound" of underground indie rock was that thin buzz of bad microphones plugged into computers. But even that concept has become outdated. There seems to be a natural trend toward recording minimalism coming out of 2008. At least the good music.
Then there's Vampire Weekend.
Man, I hate that band.