Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Video: Pet Shop Boys - "Vocal"

One of the best tracks (of the many) on Electric, the latest album from Pet Shop Boys, "Vocal" gets a video that documents the late 80s rave culture in the UK. The grainy footage is the perfect compliment to this brilliant closing track.

Jam of the Day: Marlene - "Bon Voyage"

Seriously, what the hell is up with Sweden? They have cornered the market on female pop singers. Here is another great pop track from our Scandinavian friends.

Album Review: Annie - The A&R EP

The A&R EP
Rating: Grrrr

Norwegian pop star Annie has teased us for years with only 2 albums and a series of one off singles and collaborations that always keep her in the mind's eye. Indeed, if anyone would benefit the most from the use of the extended play, it would be Annie. She just doesn't really fit into the typical album-oriented playbook, with her singles usually outshining the album material, notably on 2009's somewhat lackluster Don't Stop. Aside from her spring single "Tubestops and Lonely Hearts," Annie has been fairly quiet this year, until now, with the release of her first EP, The A&R, her 5 track collaboration with frequent songwriting partner/producer Richard X (Sugababes, Roisin Murphy, Goldfrapp, M.I.A). With nary a weak track, The A&R is a brilliant collection of dance-pop tracks that all work together, yet each stands alone. The tracks move effortlessly from cheeky pop to dark and sinister without any blips or throwaways.

Starting out with the lovely dance floor anthem "Back Together," Annie hits the ground running with this 90s leaning pop track. Her deliciously coy vocal fits perfectly over the swooning synths and blooping keyboards, the thumping beats bringing it all home.

"Hold On" is a delightful house leaning pop track, with Richard X's production creating a lovely, nostalgia feeling while Annie's sweet and airy vocals are the right fit. In days gone by, you could easily see this lilting track shooting up the charts.

For complete non-guilty pleasure, pop perfection "Ralph Macchio" is a goofy, 8-bit love letter to Annie's 80's crush Ralph Macchio.

Things take a slightly darker turn on the rave-inflected club banger "Invisible," with Annie lamenting a failed relationship, both parties giving their sides of the story. Whether it is Annie singing both parts, with her lover's voice being highly processed, remains to be seen. It does create a creepy, sinister take on things though, and is the most striking track on the record.

Things close out on a slightly brighter note, with the skycraping synths and beats of "Mixed Emotions." Richard X's production is typically immaculate and pristine, providing the perfect backing for Annie.

In fact, Richard X always seems to be perfectly in sync with Annie when it comes to producing for her. His music backing is always interesting yet not showy, never overshadowing Annie, letting her voice be the focal point. It is one of pop music's best duos when it comes down to it. Hopefully, they will give us a lot of more collaborations in the future. For now, The A&R is a brilliant look into their collaborative process, and is one of the best collection of dance tracks this year.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New: TV On The Radio - "Mercy"

First single from TV On The Radio after they left longtime label Interscope. It's a different sound for the band, forsaking experimentation for a distinctly direct take. It's a barn burner. You can listen to it here at Consequence of Sound.

Jam of the Day: Fuck Buttons - "Hidden XS"

An almost unbearably dense build is the focus of this amazing closing track off Fuck Buttons' brilliant third album Slow Focus.

New: Nine Inch Nails - "Copy of A" and "Disappointment"

From South Korea's Ansan Valley Music Festival, Nine Inch Nails showcased two new tracks "Copy of A" and "Disappointment."

Album Review: Deafheaven - Sunbather

Rating: Woof Daddy

San Francisco based band Deafheaven are the buzz band of the moment in indie rock circles, as well as a highly contentious part of the black metal scene, getting dissed by their peers as being part of "hipster metal," for their combination of elements such as post-punk, shoegaze, post-rock, and alt-rock into their sound. I can't claim to be an expert on black metal or any metal for that matter (my friend Tradd, on the other hand, is my spiritual guide into such matters and gives me good recommendations and advice), but I generally know what I like and what I don't like. Traditionalist or not, Deafheaven's second record Sunbather is an exciting record that focuses on the band's almost innate ability to flawlessly juggle loud/soft, beautiful/harsh moments and create a record that straps you for a journey that lingers long in the memory. And truly is a journey through alt-rock/metal from the past 3 decades, taking metal and cloaking it with influences like The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division (in fact, singer George Clarke bears a resemblance to Ian Curtis), My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive (their band name is a homage to them), Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, and Godspeed!You Black Emperor, Mogwai, and even current buzz acts like Fuck Buttons. All these influences make for a more varied and interesting experience than the usual "pure" black metal record which tends to get caught up in the same dynamics over the course of a record, deadening the impact.

On Sunbather, Deafheaven masterfully control where their sound is going, but never doing anything predictable. Where you think a song is going to explode, it descends into ambient washes, when you think it is going to fade out into gorgeous bliss, it erupts into pure noise and scrape. There are moments of acoustic metal folk, spoken word interludes, pure alt-rock sweep, surreal samples, and electronic experimentation. That all of these elements mesh into something so intricate and well thought out is a miracle. The production and pacing of Sunbather is practically perfect, its hour run time almost sliding by unnoticed.

The album starts out with the clarion call of "Dream House," a nine minute force of nature featuring some powerful drumming and intense washes of shoegaze bliss that would make Kevin Shields envious, moving effortlessly from pure washes of noise to melodic turns of guitars hitting the midpoint with a gorgeous guitar interlude, before concluding with an eruption of guitars and Clarke's guttural howls punctuating the mix.

Which leads into the delicate piano and guitar interlude "Irresistible" which initially feels out of place but is the perfect segue into the frontal guitar assault of title track "Sunbather," as intense washes of guitar float over pummeling drums and Clarke's furious vocals. It is the encapsulation of the entire record, gathering all the above listed influences into one intense yet beautiful track.

In between these amazing full throttle tracks are moments of transcendent introspection and experimentation. "Please Remember" features a lengthy reading by Alcest's Neige of lines from Milan Kundera's novel from The Unbearable Lightness of Being that touched singer Clarke. The track erupts at the middle with an almost unlistenable flash of white noise before breaking apart into acoustic loveliness. While "Windows" is an almost found-sound sonic collage of spoken word, backwards masked guitars, drones, and piano stabs, creating a spooky tableau between two of the most assured tracks on the record. "Vertigo" is an amazing 14 minute exploration of Deafheaven's sound. Beginning from a bed of gorgeous intertwining guitars, the song ebbs and flows with amazing waves of processed guitars and metal interludes, Clarke's maniacal voice joining the fray. It's an awe-inspiring track that shows how fluid and aggressive the band can be.

I didn't think the band would be able to outshine "Vertigo" until the blistering opening of closing track "The Pecan Tree" blew up my speakers. Breaking from the maelstrom into a midsection calm of gorgeous post-rock guitars that intricately play among each other as a bold piano melody takes its turn in the mix. The song turns it up several notches as it builds from this oasis back into the furious storm of guitars.

As I mentioned previously, I am not a metal purist by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am not a music purist for any genre at all. To me, if the songs are good, what does it matter how it was created or what influenced it. I happen to like metal, post-punk, and post-rock, so I have no issue with all of these genres getting together and doing their thing. Sunbather is just a fantastic metal record that kept my attention from the beginning and has grasped hold of me with every subsequent listen. It is simply one of the best metal records of the year, and one of the best records of the year, period.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

Video: Fryars - "Cool Like Me"

I'm starting to like the songs I am hearing from Fryars. This latest is a summery, chilled out track with a strange, fish out of water video to go with it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jam of the Day: Basecamp - "Emmanuel"

Sleek, modern R&B from Nashville trio Basecamp.

Video: Icona Pop - "Girlfriend"

The Swedish duo get all Thelma and Louise on this chirpy EDM track.

Album Review: AlunaGeorge - Body Music

Body Music
Rating: Grrrr

UK duo AlunaGeorge, made up of Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (production), has teased us over the past year with several amazing singles that threw them into the spotlight along with other upstarts like Disclosure who mined the 90s for inspiration. AlunaGeorge's debut record Body Music is definitely the more poppy of the two bands' records, unabashedly calling to mind Aaliyah's work with Timbaland, TLC, Brandy, Sade, and Neneh Cherry with nods to more contemporary artists and styles like The Knife, The xx, and James Blake along with 2-step, glitch hop, and UK bass music. Despite all these varied influences, AlunaGeorge has created a cohesive record with each track standing out individually, but also working with the others to mesh well as a whole. Aluna's vice is simultaneously breathy and controlled, youthful and mature, one that doesn't bash you over the head with its strength but more drawing you in subtly before enveloping you. Likewise, Reid's production is never too showy, always providing the right backing for Aluna's lovely voice, but always being distinctive and not just fading into the background.

Body Music collects all of the singles that AlunaGeorge has released in the past year. While the new tracks on the whole don't reach the perfection of their earlier singles, they show that the duo are able to branch off from that base and make a varied and beautiful collection of tracks that make up one of the best pop records of the year. Of the previous singles, my favorite is "Your Drums, Your Love," with its skittering beats, jazzy keyboards and synth washes, and a deeper, more restrained vocal turn from Aluna. There is so much going on in this track it is amazing it doesn't all fall apart. And I love the lyrics to this track, with Aluna getting more and more frantic, singing "I've been treading water for your love/Whether I sink or swim, it's you I'm thinking of/I've been treading water for your love/As my light grows dim maybe I'm not strong enough."

But of course, it is hard to dismiss such pop perfection of tracks like "Attracting Flies," with its thumping beats, quirky samples and keyboards, and Aluna cooing "Little grey fairy tales/And little white lies/Everything you exhale is attracting flies;"

"You Know You Like It" with its bloopy keyboards, synth washes, drunken drum programming, and Aluna's sexy delivery;

while "Just A Touch" trades in chirpy samples and rough synth rumbles over muted beats and Aluna's in control vocals.

The rest of the new tracks, while not being as completely off the rails distinctive as these singles, have their own subtle charms that blend well with the former standouts. Title track "Body Music" is a lush, haunted ballad that focuses more on the vulnerability in Aluna's voice,

"Friends to Lovers" is a jazzy ballad that reveals the amazing breadth in production skills that Reid possesses,

while tracks like "Lost and Found" and "Bad Idea"are club bangers with funky drum programming and rumbling basslines.

The only time the record doesn't really work is when some of the tracks feel like they are on auto-pilot, following too much of a pattern, and not adding anything interesting in the ways of production. Most notably, the pleasant, but wan ballad "Diver," the lurching and bland cliches of "Superstar," and the misbegotten cover of Montell Jordan"s "This Is How We Do It" which plays it safely by the book.

Overall though, these tracks are still listenable and enjoyable, they just don't stand out as well as the other tracks. Body Music is an assured debut from AlunaGeorge that, while not necessarily reaching the amazing heights of peers Disclosure's Settle, still has its giddy charms and amusements. I would like them to continue to push their sound like they did on the early singles, rather than try to buff things into more standard pop territory, as it is telling that the quirkier productions stand out much more. Too soon to say where this duo will head in the future, but for now, they have my attention.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: RJD2 - "Her Majesty's Socialist Request"

First taste from RJD2's upcoming record More Is Than Isn't is a sludgy, riff-heavy instrumental number which you can listen to here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Live: Nine Inch Nails - "Find My Way"

Nine Inch Nails debuted this new track at the Fuji Rock Festival.

Jam of the Day: Raleigh Ritchie - "Stay Inside"

Gorgeous R&B from UK singer Raleigh Ritchie.

New: Four Tet - "Kool FM"

Strange, experimental take on club music from Four Tet.

Videos of the Week

Here are the videos this week that got me over my Post-Bear Week Depression:

Hyper-stylized video from Franz Ferdinand.

Interesting video from Fiona Apple, directed by her former paramour Paul Thomas Anderson.

Lush, and slightly trippy video from Washed Out.

Dark and intense video from Kanye West.

Slippery synthpop track from Soft Metals gets a sexy video clip.

Gorgeous clip from Braids.

Watery clip from Moby.

Futuristic clip from The Weeknd.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New: Girls Against Boys - "60 Is Greater Than 15"

90s aggro post-hardcore band Girls Against Boys reunited earlier this year and now release this single off their upcoming EP called The Ghost List.

Jam of the Day: Balance and Composure - "Reflection"

Solid alt-rock from Balance and Composure.


PTown bellies.

MUNI hottie.

I might need a ladder to climb that.

I want thighs like that.

Spotlight in red.



Beef asleep.


So sexy, and the slight hint of the zipper down is mesmerizing.

Sexy ginger.

Sexy profile.

Sexy Charlie.

Tweak the nip.

Papa bear.

Muddy buddy.

Just a peek.

Cutie bro brah.

Beefy slab of ginger.

Handsome hipster.

Such a beautiful view.

Love the salt and pepper in the beard.

Sexy smirk.

Gorgeous beard.

No idea who this is, but would love to know.


Super nips.

Très beau.


Hot fur.

So damn sexy.

Beautiful eyes.

Sexy belly.

Smoking aside, very handsome and hot.


Very hot.



Love the belly on him.


Hotness at dusk.

Silver daddy.

Hot view from below.

Beautiful beard.

I am sure he is trying to call me.

I am finally back from vacation to Provincetown, Massachusetts and the infamous Bear Week. Almost too difficult to put into words what an amazing time it was. I have never been with that many gorgeous and nice men in my life. To be in a place where you can truly be yourself without worrying about what others are going to think or do to you because you are gay is a particularly meaningful experience. I truly was able to let my hair down and be myself and be completely open with myself, my partner Andrew, and my friends (both old and new). If you have the chance to make it up there for any week, I highly suggest it.

Based on my experiences this week, here are my impressions and observations of Bear Week:

It takes a couple of days for your brain to get acclimated to the fact that you are in the gayest place on earth. It was so nice to be able to walk down the street and hold my partner's hand without getting strange looks.

It is imperative that you have a place in town. Our house was a good 25 minute walk from center of town and it really was a hindrance at times.

You need to pace yourself. By Wednesday, we had been going full throttle and hit a wall of grumpiness. Take time to just relax and chill out.

Talk to anyone and everyone. For the most part everyone there is completely friendly. A nice little furry belly rub is sometimes the easiest way to start a conversation.

Germans are the friendliest people I have ever met. Well, so are the Australians. And of course the Spanish. But who could forget about the English/Irish/Scottish! Oh Hell, all the guys we met from around the globe were so lovely.

The all week package wasn't really worth it when it comes down to it. Save your money and just pay for what you want to go to.

There are way too many hot men there.

When you pack for the trip, take out half of what you put in. Seriously, I think I wore a tank top every day and needed about 3 pairs of shorts.

It is very difficult getting used to the bars closing at 1am.

Take a day to wander in and out of the art galleries.

I mentioned that most everyone was very friendly. The only people that I had a difficult time with were some groups of guys who only seemed to acknowledge men that looked exactly like them. I don't really understand that mentality.

I met so many people I have been Facebook friends with but had never met before. Was so nice to actually meet people in person.

On a related note, it was interesting how many people I saw that I know from Facebook who never even acknowledged me or Andrew. I'm not saying they have to be my best friend, but a simple "hi, nice to meet you" goes a long way.

Lobster rolls at Burger Queen are amazing.

Making definitive plans during the week is almost impossible.

Tea Dance at the Boatslip is consistently fun. Those planters punches will knock you on your ass though.

When you are booking your house always try to negotiate a clause where you can get some money back should the house not live up to what was warranted.

Be sure after mid-week to wash out your bathing suits, as the combination of sweat, sunscreen, and pool chlorine can wreak havoc on them.

Apparently, according to my friends, I had too many pics of me taken while shirtless.

You find out a lot about people when you travel with them.

There are always going to be people who complain and not have a good time. Best to ignore them.

I liked the west end of town better than the east end.

The Provincetown Inn pool was the happening place to be all week.

We deemed our house the Weasley House after Harry Potter. It was just completely weird. Not to mention dirty.

If there was a box on the dancefloor, inevitably I would see either my friend Eddy, Donovan, Chris, or Justin on it.

You can not underestimate the amount of sunblock you will need.

While Spiritus Pizza is the place to go after the bars close, it is definitely not the best pizza in the town.

If you don't like crowds, you will not enjoy Bear Week. Provincetown is a small place and the huge influx of bears makes for some claustrophobic conditions. Definitely check out Provincetown during one of the non-theme weeks. It is even more charming.

I got to see John Waters, Armistead Maupin, Andrew Sullivan, Joe Jervis, and Bob Mould.

There really is a thing called PBWD (Post Bear Week Depression).

There were several days where I didn't check my phone all day long.  It was nice to decompress and not have the outside world intruding on my relaxation.

Several people came up to me and thanked me for my blog.  It really came at a great time as I have been debating shutting it down for awhile.

The Fireman's Ball on Friday night was by far the best party and ended perfectly with an amazing remix of Erasure's "A Little Respect" and Andrew and I both proposing to each other.

Being nice is the sexiest thing. Cockiness is not.

Somehow I lost 8 lbs last week.

Why do people feel the need to post spoilers?

Just because you like to do something doesn't mean everyone is going to like doing it. Pressing me on it a thousand times is only going to irritate me.

Allegedly some royal child was born to someone somewhere this week.

Before you start on a rant about how awful and evil lawyers are, you may want to check that none are in your immediate audience.

I have debated sending this to several people.

I think it has rained in Atlanta every day for the past 3 months.

True Blood has been disappointing for the past 3 seasons and yet I still watch.  This season has been surprisingly entertaining though.  I am wondering when it is going to go off the rails again.

I don't think Bruce Willis ever ages.

I sincerely don't understand the appeal of "Blurred Lines."

I want!

I picked the right week to go on vacation. No work for that week, but immediately hit the ground running crazy when I get back.

I really hate the smell of room ionizers.

I'm glad I got my ass back to the gym after a week off on vacation, but damn it has been difficult to get back in the swing of things.

I agree.

What is happening in Russia regarding their Draconian anti-gay laws is simply shocking in this day and age. How anyone can justify going over there for the Olympics and spending money there is completely beyond me.

It's interesting how up in Boston it is a very Dunkin Donuts kind of town, and Atlanta is a Starbucks town.

Disintegration from The Cure is perhaps the best album ever.

I'm very lucky to have a man in my life that can cook, clean, sew, and do small jobs around the house.

This never fails to crack me up.

Body Music from AlunaGeorge is starting to gather steam against Settle from Disclosure. But I love both albums to death.

We have no plans this weekend. I think this is unprecedented.

I don't get all these generic "relationship" books and articles. I really don't think there is any one right way to develop a relationship. What works in one situation is not necessarily going to work for another.

Some people may call them cliche, but Nasty Pig does make the best jocks.

Your cute for the day.

Lyrics Rattling Around My Brain

"Your drums, we're drumming, your drums
Your drums, we're drumming, your drums

You can't say that I'm going no where
'Cause you don't know where I'm coming from
And you can't say that I'm going no where
When I have been trying to reach you for so long

Your drums, we're drumming, your drums

Friends say I've got something wrong,
'Cause I've been trying to reach you for so long
For so long, I've tried
To reach you, baby, don't you know that

I've been treading water for your love,
Whether I sink or swim, it's you I'm thinking of
I've been treading water for your love
As my light grows dim maybe I'm not strong enough, oh

Your drums, we're drumming, your drums."

"Your Drums, Your Love"

"In the middle of the highway
Me and my babe
R. Kelly on the radio
Let it play
It's funny I ain't even drink shit
And I'm so intoxicated
I think I'm over my limit
When you're near me

You've got your hands on my thigh
I've got my hands on the wheel and the other...
I'm driving my pleasure
I'm running every light
I can't concentrate on... the road
Losing all control

All because I'm driving under
The influence of your love


"This is how we do it
La ra ra ra ra ra...

This is how we do it.
It's Friday night, and I feel all right
The party is here on the West side
So I reach for my 40 and I turn it up
Designated driver take the keys to my truck
Hit the shore 'cause I'm faded
Honeys in the street say, "Monty, yo we made it!"
It feels so good in my hood tonight
The summertime skirts and the guys in Kani
All the gang bangers forgot about the drive-by
You gotta get your groove on, before you go get paid
So tip up your cup and throw your hands up
And let me hear the party say

I'm kinda buzzed and it's all because
(This is how we do it)
South Central does it like nobody does
(This is how we do it)
To all my neighbors you got much flavor
(This is how we do it)
Let's flip the track, bring the old school back
(This is how we do it)."

Montell Jordan
"This Is How We Do It"

"I've been taking my time for a long time
Putting my feet up a lot
Speaking English as a foreign language
Any words that I haven't forgot
I've been thinking how I can't be bothered
To wash the dishes or remake the bed
What's the point when I could just... instead?

I've been hanging out with various riff raff
Somewhere on the Goldhawk Road
I don't think it's gonna be much longer
Till I’m mugging up on the penal code

Love is a bourgeois construct
So I've given up on the bourgeoisie
Like all their aspirations, it's a fantasy

When you walked out you did me a favor
You made me see reality
That love is a bourgeois construct
It's a blatant fallacy
You won't see me with a bunch of losers
Promising fatality

Love doesn't mean a thing to me
Talking tough and feeling bitter
We're better now, it's clear to me
That love is a bourgeois construct
So I've given up the bourgeoisie."

Pet Shop Boys
"Love Is A Bourgeois Construct"

Appealing Things

Getting engaged to Andrew Ikall
Fried chicken tacos at Tap
Monster slices at Camelli's
Penny Sparkle from Blonde Redhead
Non-cargo shorts that fit me

Annoying Things

Flat Dr. Pepper
People who have to be catered to all the time; grow the fuck up, manchild
The odd callus that formed on my left foot big toe from walking all over Provincetown for a week