There’s never a dull moment for The Flaming Lips. Whether they’re filming NSFW videos with Amanda Palmer, beating Jay-Z’s record for most live concerts played in 24 hours, releasing music inside of gummy skulls, or rolling around in giant plastic balls at their live shows, Wayne Coyne and company are always on the lookout for their next thrill. So of course, the announcement of the April 2 release of their album The Terror wasn’t complete without an additional surprise out of left field; this Super Bowl Sunday, they will be performing a new song, “Sun Blows Up Today,” in a Hyundai commercial during the big game. The 60-second spot, an advertisement for the Hyundai Santa Fe, will feature the band hanging out on a suburban rooftop playing the new tune, which will be available for 100,000 free downloads from the Hyundai website and as a bonus track on the digital album.
According to Coyne, the “great, very strange, beautiful, emotional record” was written between sessions for the band’s previous 2012 release The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. You can find the official track list for The Terror, as well as a still from the upcoming commercial, below the jump.
It sounds like Cat Power has had a tough couple of months. Last night, the singer posted a cryptic Instagram photo with a long, confessional caption. According to the post, the singer has recently been struggling with bankruptcy and other health problems including Angioedema, the rapid swelling of subcutaneous tissue. Cat Power, whose real name is Chan Marshall, supposedly became sick the day that Sun, her ninth album, came out in September. Given her recent health struggles and possible bankruptcy, the singer is contemplating canceling her upcoming European tour dates. Marshall has had a difficult time maintaining her health in recent years. In 2006, the singer struggled with substance abuse and a mental breakdown that replaced the tour for her new album The Greatest with a stay in Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Marshall’s struggles with her health may be unique, but her financial woes are not uncommon for even top independent artists. A recent Vulture piece revealed that Grizzly Bear, the poster boys for large-scale indie success, struggle to afford health care, and that lead singer Ed Droste still lives in the same 450-square-foot Brooklyn apartment that he inhabited during the recording of the band’s first album. Marshall may be going through a hard time, but she can at least take some solace in knowing that she’s not the only one.
Check out OurStage artist Jesse Lafser if you’re a fan of Cat Power!
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Indie blogosphere darlings Yeasayer have bucked the boom and bust trend of internet hype once already. Following up their buzzworthy 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals with the grand experimental pop of 2010’s Odd Blood, the Brooklyn-based band proved that it’s possible to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump that too often accompanies massive amounts of online exposure. Now, more than two years later, Yeasayer are back with Fragrant World, their third full length and most ambitious record to date. We caught up with bassist Ira Tuton to talk album art, film scoring, and the process of writing and recording Fragrant World.
OS: During the writing and recording process, you guys reportedly had enough material to do two separate albums: one of three-minute pop songs, and the other of more experimental tunes. Which type of album did Fragrant World ultimately end up becoming?
IT: I’m gonna go with the poppy one, just because we’re dealing with hooks, refrains, verses, and choruses. I think we used a lot of the ideas involved with making an experimental record and translated those aesthetics into the format of pop songs. We just honed down our focus and both types of music kind of bled into each other.
OS: Is there any chance we’ll ever get to hear some of those sidelined tracks?
IT: Yes, totally. I’d also love to explore some long-form compositions in the future. It’s something we haven’t really done. There are a lot of things we haven’t done, so we have the opportunity to move in many different directions in the future. There are certain things that didn’t make the record that are going to come out in the next year. Right now, though, the whole focus is on the album first. There’s so much thought in terms of that, because it’s not just the release, but it’s also dealing with our live show, making sure the arrangements are where we want them to be, and perfecting the visual aspect of our live show. A lot of things are more pressing matters on our end at this moment.
You don’t have to be stoned to be psychedelic. Sure, people tend to tag psychedelia as trippy, but that appellation has as much to do with the transporting quality of the best psychedelic music as it does with anything Timothy Leary ever espoused. After all, even Jimi Hendrix himself famously described the titular satori-like state described in Are You Experienced? as being not necessarily stoned, but beautiful. But if you’re after a more modern example, turn toward The Sufis, a young Nashville-based trio of psychedelic rockers whose driving force, Calvin LaPorte, observes, Bands who say they’re psychedelic but don’t really sound like they are, we encounter them all the time, and it’s pretty much guys who just smoke a lot of weed, and the music sounds better when you’re stoned. I think that’s what that kind of ‘psychedelic’ is, but we wanted to hone in more on the arrangement of psychedelic music.
Together with guitarist Jay Smith and drummer Evan Smith, multi-instrumentalist LaPorte pays homage to the swirling psych-pop sounds of the ˜60s on The Sufis’ self-titled debut album. And while his primary influences were making records before he was born, LaPorte comes by his inspirations naturally. He was first bitten by the paisley-patterned bug as a child, via his father’s record collection. I’ve been listening to that kind of stuff since I was six or seven, he recalls, The Beatles, I heard [Pink Floyd‘s Syd Barrett-fronted 1967 single] ˜See Emily Play’ really early on, seven or eight. And he [LaPorte’s father] had a lot of Beach Boys, that’s definitely one of the big influences. (more…)
The holiday season is supposed to appeal to all of our finer instincts as sentient earthlings ”at least that’s the idea that’s been inculcated in us practically since birth. So why is its annual arrival commonly greeted with the kind of dull-eyed existential dread otherwise reserved for tax audits, traffic court and other such frivolities? Maybe it’s because of the stress that comes along with finding just the right gifts for all the loved ones on our lists. After all, some folks are a snap”another Xbox game, Scotch bottle or sweater, and they’re set”but everyone’s holiday shopping list always contains at least one or two of the type we’ll term “The Difficult Ones.” Their tastes are micro-specific, and they usually seem to want nothing, already have everything or both. With that in mind, in the interest of sucking some of the stress out of the season, here are a few humble holiday gift suggestions for “The Difficult Ones” in your own life, conveniently organized by personality type.
The Classic Rockers
Jimi Hendrix – Winterland
Do you have a dude in your life”and in this context, “dude” couldn’t be a more appropriate designation”whose idea of extreme sports is playing air guitar to Bachman-Turner Overdrive while pedaling his exercise bike? Someone whose TV remote has somehow been programmed to never depart from the VH1 Classic channel? He may already have every classic-rock reissue, remaster and repackaging you could conceive of, but he hasn’t gotten around to this one yet”five live discs featuring Jimi Hendrix in his prime at the legendary Winterland Ballroom. Iit’ll send any card-carrying Classic Rocker into a state of six-string ecstasy.
When Crystal Stilts‘ first album, Alight of Night, appeared in 2008, it announced the arrival of a gang of New York City psychedelicists who owed as much to the fuzz-drenched, ˜60s-informed sounds of ˜80s bands like the Spacemen 3 and The Jesus & Mary Chain as they did to the first-generation garage-rocking wonders of the Nuggets era. And as likeminded locals Vivian Girls and Frankie Rose & The Outs emerged”Rose having played with both the Girls and the Stilts”the indie-rock blogosphere smelled a scene and went hog-wild. Two-and-a-half years down the road from Alight, Crystal Stilts have solidified their position as Brooklyn’s premier garage-psych sorcerers with their second full-length, In Love With Oblivion.
While the band hasn’t necessarily ventured far afield from the acid-soaked, reverb-happy sounds of their debut, the follow-up is a richer, fuller-sounding affair, boasting a more vivid”and just slightly wider”sonic and stylistic palette. Sure, those snake-charmer organ riffs, bottom-of-a-well guitar tones and Ian-Curtis-on-an-acid-trip vocals are still front and center, but tempo and dynamics are more varied”there’s even a touch of glam on Through the Floor and a visit to Velvet Underground territory on Prometheus At Large.
Guitarist JB Townsend, who first began the Crystal journey with singer Brad Hargett some eight years ago, feels the difference between the Stilts’ two albums is more about time thantoil. A slight change is natural, I think, says Townsend, First thing that comes to mind with bands that have albums that sound alike is that they were most likely recorded very close together. But there’s been some expansion in the ranks as well. This is an album that is a window into the band as a five piece in 2010, he explains, Whereas the first one was Brad singing and me doing the music. The first one is a little more stripped sometimes.
Pondering the scratchy guitars, minimal, Mo Tucker-ish beat, and plinking piano that evoke vintage VU on the aforementioned Prometheus at Large, Townsend says, It wasn’t totally deliberate initially. We recorded that one in one take and just had a very rough sketch of it, and wanted it to be spontaneous. There are very few bands that I would have no shame in blatantly ripping off, and VU’s one of them. I don’t want to be a VU cover band though.
While there’s little danger of anyone mistaking Crystal Stilts for any kind of cover band, they seem to feel comfortable sporting their influences on their sleeves, a trait they share with their fellow travelers Vivian Girls and Frankie Rose. We played with them a bit when they first started out a few years ago, he says of the former, Frankie played drums with us for awhile too. Sweet ladies all around. Asked if there are other current bands, inside or outside the New York scene, with whom he feels a connection, Townsend replies Yes, definitely, reeling off a roster of psych/stoner soldiers. Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Tyvek, Psychedelic Horseshit, TNV, etc., etc.
But beyond the ˜60s psych influence, there are other aspects of the Crystal Stilts’ sound that aren’t touted as often”touches of everything from post-punk to krautrock. Asked about the band’s less obvious inspirations, Townsend observes Well no one ever nails us for sounding a bit like the Troggs, but I think we do sometimes, adding cheekily, We also sound a lot like Funkadelic, but no one’s picking that up, so I guess we dodged a bullet there.
In my ideal world, everyone would have access to a vinyl press in their own backyard. Cutting discs would be as easy as ripping a CD. Until this happens, I will be digging in the OurStage archives each month to bestow upon the reader an artist whose music I would love to hear on vinyl. This month, the psychedelic sounds of New Jersey’s own Grip Weeds grace the virtual turntable.