When you name a song “Fat Belly,” there’s obviously not some deeper meaning to decipher or literary metaphor to unravel: Homeboy Sandman is a fan of food and he’s going to write a damn rap song about it. So there.
We all have some weird relationship with food: We eat too much of it, not enough of it or post pictures of it to Facebook. When there’s so much anxiety about what we’re eating (“recent studies show that … “) and what it means for our image, I love that Homeboy Sandman can just celebrate food for what it is, free of all the guilt.
There’s some great, feel-good one-liners in here with a little clever wordplay: “If you’ve ever seen me turn down pasta / I promise you it wasn’t me it was an impostor.”
“Fat Belly” is part of the White Sands EP, with beats by the London-based producer Paul White. Dig it, on Stones Throw.
If their show earlier this month in New Orleans was indeed their last – they previously announced a hiatus – it seems to me that the Walkmen went out on their own terms and still in prime form.
Still, I wasn’t expecting something Walkmen-related so soon. But a solo venture from singer Hamilton Leithauser is officially underway. His album, Black Hours, is due out May 6 on Ribbon Music.
On this first single, “Alexandra” (co-written and produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend), Leithauser’s voice sounds warmly familiar – all throaty/boozy and slightly imperfect. He tells NME that Sinatra inspired the new album, so the video’s loosened-tie, lounge-singer vibe makes sense (even that album cover recalls something in the Blue Note vein).
Pre-order Black Hourshere and check the tracklisting below.
The Silent Orchestra
11 O’Clock Friday Night
St Mary’s County
I Don’t Need Anyone
Bless Your Heart
The Smallest Splinter
Waltz (deluxe edition)
In Our Time (I’ll Always Love You) (deluxe edition)
Utrecht (deluxe edition)
I’ll Never Love Again (deluxe edition)
I ask for forgiveness – and I also ask that the band return to play Phoenix again (we have such great memories).
Let’s start my road to redemption by posting this video for “Backyard Skulls,” a song off Pedestrian Verse, which along with Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts, has so far commanded most of my attention in 2013. Here the band performs at what appears to be the remnants of some high school dance, a seemingly innocent scene set against the sort of harsh truths for adulthood to come: “Backyard skulls / deep beneath the ground / those backyard skulls / are not deep enough to never be found.”
Lately, I’m constantly reminded of albums I overlooked or neglected to pay enough attention to in 2012. Cadence Weapon’s Hope In Dirt City falls into the latter category.
The third album by the Edmonton rapper (born Rollie Pemberton) is a bit of a mixed bag stylistically – more challenging of a listen, if not a touch incohesive. What remains a constant is Cadence Weapon’s awareness of his surroundings and his ability to sharply criticize all manners of culture (he is a former Pitchfork contributor, after all).
Hype Man takes a shot at the rap game. It’s a two-verse track, with Cadence Weapon playing the part of both sides: the ego-driven rap star (“At the strip club make sure that my song plays”) and the inglorious hype man, begging for a break from his famous connection (“I’d take a bullet / I’d probably pull it”). The tension comes to a head at the end of this video, co-directed by Cadence and George Vale.
I love this track because I’ve always been sort of fascinated by the tragic character that is the hype man, who dutifully waves his towel and drops in for every fourth word at a live show. And in this instance, the video draws a conclusion that you couldn’t really expect just by listening to the song. It’s the demise of the lowly hype man. There will always be another.
For some reason or another – no time or interest or just out of sheer laziness – I abandoned the obligatory year-end list-making chores. When I was a dutiful blogger, I’d typically post about my favorites albums (about 10 of them) and then have a post about a favorite song of the year. Had I done that for 2012, Father John Misty’s “Only Son of the Ladiesman” would have taken top honors.
It was (still is) my surefire go-to – the song I wanted to hear at any moment, the song I thought I could sing in the car, the song I’d annoy my wife with because it was the only song I wanted to keep hearing. Something about the lyrical imagery captured my imagination: “They tied down his casket with the garter belt / Each troubled heart was beating in a sequin dress / Someone must console these lonesome daughters / No written word or ballad will appease them.”
I missed Father John Misty when he came to Phoenix in October, but I shall rectify that by seeing him in San Francisco this Friday, when he opens for the Walkmen. I’m sort of excited to see the dance moves live (no, I don’t have a man-crush, why do you ask?). To celebrate this trip, here’s something I neglected to post last year from May, when FJM did his thing on Late Show with David Letterman.
I’ve been sold on PAPA since seeing them last January in an opening slot for Handsome Furs. After releasing a great EP, A Good Woman Is Hard to Find, in late 2011 – listen to it, for God’s sake – Darren Weiss (ex-Girls) and Daniel Presant are allegedly (hopefully) due to release their full-length debut sometime this year.
Presumably, “Put Me To Work” will be on that. They released the song in October and now have given it a visual companion, directed by Jonathan Hausfater, who’s also responsible for two previous PAPA videos. As noted on Buzzbands.la, the video took an inspirational cue from the ’90s Nickelodeon TV series Pete and Pete. Weiss said they wanted “to make it funny, sad, strange, and beautiful.”
Nobody does a hip shake in a white suit quite like Father John Misty, eh? Only the man born Josh Tillman would be so bold to wear white after Labor Day. You might ask if I’ve developed a man-crush. It’s very possible.
Tillman and his band performed Monday on Conan, doing the song “Nancy From Now On.”
I’m really bummed to have missed his show in Phoenix last month, though I hear his dance moves were impeccable. For the Conan performance, Tillman, as usual, seems to pull off this weird blend of sincerity and snark. He’s definitely not laughing with us – he’s laughing at us. Only I’m not sure what the joke is.
It’s mid-October, which means a couple of things: 1.) I haven’t posted in almost a month (crap). 2.) Music bloggers/nerds are already freaking out about year-end lists. I haven’t really done one in about two years, but if, say, I were to create one this year, it would be difficult to envision a list that didn’t include Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve heard Attack on Memory before – in a previous life, sometime in college, so many years ago. I know I’m starting to sound like a nostalgic asshole, but I mean it more as a great compliment. The instant comparison for me is Pinehurst Kids, but Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi, 20, was probably about 4 years old when Pinehurst Kids formed, so who knows if he’s ever heard of them.
Regardless, I’d encourage fans of Cloud Nothings to check out Viewmaster, the 2000 release by Pinehurst Kids. The similarities are eerie, if not pretty comforting – Cloud Nothings are more punishing musically in spots but no less melodic.
One of the finest albums in my collection – and if you own it, I guarantee it’s one of the finest in your collection, too – is old enough to have a drink. So break out the shot glasses and raise a toast: We’re getting The Low End Theory shit-faced tonight.
I probably thought this last year, when Low End Theory turned 20, or in May, when Adam Yauch died, or even last week, when the formerly flannel-wearing masses celebrated the 20th anniversary of the movie Singles, but holy crap, I’m getting old.
If you’re asking me to pick a favorite album by my favorite group, I’m going to tell you Midnight Marauders. But that’s not fair: I’d never ask my parents if they like my brother or me more (it’s probably me, though).
I won’t go on and on here because 21 is sort of an arbitrary number, and the occasion never would have crossed my mind if not for this Q-Tip tweet. I’m glad I saw it, though. You really don’t need a reason to listen to Low End Theory, but I’ve got a good one today.
Just as my blogging ennui threatened to extend into its third week – my god, have I really not posted since Aug. 27? – it was going to take something pretty special, something different to snap me out of this. Thank you, Calexico.
I’m not sure how a band manages to inject so much earnestness into such ’80s pop cheese, but Calexico has done it here with a cover of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as part of the Onion A.V. Club’s excellent Undercover series. A song that possesses such a cartoonish quality has been transformed into something with a touch of sincerity, and the finishing flourish feels inspiring. It would have been too easy for any band to cover this ironically. Calexico is too damn good for that.
Says frontman Joey Burns when asked if he knew “any of the other lyrics” before tackling this cover: “I didn’t know the lyrics, no. But I had fun learning the lyrics and looking at what I could do to shape ‘em. So I just kind of edited out a bunch of lyrics. Then I wound up having fun figuring out a melody I could sing them with. So we kind of went the O Brother, Where Art Thou route.”
Calexico, a band all Arizonans should be proud to call their own, released its new album, Algiers, on Tuesday. The band will be at Crescent Ballroom for a two-night stay Oct. 27-28.