(The) Melvins, embarking on a 30th-anniversary tour (in both standard and Melvins Lite variations, depending on date) on July 12 alongside Honky, is releasing a covers record April 30. Entitled Everybody Loves Sausages, the album showcases the band’s many talents by covering artists as diverse as David Bowie, Queen, The Jam, and Venom. It also features myriad guest stars, including JG Thirlwell, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Jello Biafra, and more.
Over at Kickstarter, singer-songwriter John Vanderslice has been taking pre-orders and offering a crazy amount of special packages in anticipation of two new self-released albums — Dagger Beach (full of originals, again with Minna Choi’s Magik*Magik Orchestra) and a start-to-finish cover treatment of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.
Though the words David Bowie and Tilda Swinton should be enough to get you to click that little “read more” button, the new video for Bowie’s “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” directed by Floria Sigismondi, is a pleasure to watch. Starring the strikingly similar entertainers as a suburban married couple, a bit of David Lynch-esque intrigue is injected when a celebrity pairing shows up in town.
Record Store Day has made the third Saturday in April an audiophile holiday for five years now, and they will continue that streak on April 20, 2013 with exclusive releases from At the Drive-In, The Flaming Lips, Hüsker Dü, Buddy Guy, David Bowie, Best Coast, Mad Season, Paul Weller, and more.
Melvins: “The Water Glass”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/melvins_thewaterglass.mp3|titles=Melvins: “The Water Glass”]
Last year, sludge-rock band the Melvins released its 20th album (and third since linking up with Big Business members Jared Warren and Coady Willis). That album, entitled The Bride Screamed Murder, is emblematic of what the band has done its whole career: tweak its signature sound — part anthemic classic rock, part avant-garde heaviness — to present something entirely new yet quintessentially Melvins. That willingness to shake things up has been a major factor in the band’s longevity.
After last year’s release, the band undertook a tour in early 2011, playing a different album from its back catalog each night. As the saying goes, you get what you give, and in this case, the Melvins’ 30-year history of experimentation has continually rewarded the band with new experiences. Dale Crover, drummer and founding member, recounts the band’s some of the most memorable recent experiences below.
Endless Residency Tour
by Dale Crover
The Melvins did a residency every Friday night last January in Los Angeles. To make each show unique, we decided to play a different record from our ever-growing catalog of releases. It seemed to go over really well, and since we took the time to learn all these records, we decided to take it on the road. Here are some highlights from the “Endless Residency” tour.
Austin Texas: Austin shows are always great, except for the heat. It’s 100 degrees out, and of course we’re playing outside! The show goes well, but by the end, the “costume” that I’m wearing feels like a soaking-wet sleeping bag. The next day we meet up with our friends from the band Honky to get lunch. Everyone I know that lives in Austin says that the BBQ downtown is average, and they know where the best is. We drive miles out of town to a place in Spicewood, Texas, called Opie’s BBQ. We’re greeted by a guy who opens a large trough with 10 different kinds of smoked meat. We let the Honky boys order for us, then sit down to stuff our faces. It was certainly worth the trip, and I highly recommend the spicy corn! After the feast, we stop by Willie Nelson‘s recording studio. Honky just recorded there. No Willie, but we got the full tour, including seeing the tape vault with Red Headed Stranger master tapes! I was also highly impressed by the nine-hole golf course next door. Maybe we’ll do our next record there!
Grails: “I Led Three Lives”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Grails-I-Led-Three-Lives.mp3|titles=Grails: “I Led Three Lives”]
The newest album from Portland, Oregon-based instrumental-rock band Grails, Deep Politics, got a nod in a recent installment of This Week’s Best Albums. Mixing cinematic compositions with worldly sounds and a little ’60s psychedelia, it encapsulates, perhaps better than any of its other releases, what Grails is capable of as a band.
For its guest playlist, Grails made 11 picks based on a new, tongue-in-cheek method of determining a song’s quality.
The 11 Best Songs for OD-ing
Emil Amos: At a shitty party some years ago, a man was heard to have said in a drunken defense of the Eagles, “More people have shot up and died to this band than will ever hear ours!”
That man was me. After this rip in the logical fabric of the universe was torn, a new yardstick was introduced to the high-record-collector culture around the concept of “Can you OD to it, though?” And then the inevitable schools of thought naturally followed: “Is it a harsh track to OD to, or more mellow/inviting?”
See what you can get out of these, enjoy yourself, and don’t die!
Tangerine Dream: “Ricochet”
The War on Drugs: “Comin’ Through”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/cominthrough.mp3|titles=The War on Drugs: “Comin’ Through”]
Though it won’t be the top result in a typical Internet search, Philadelphia-based The War on Drugs is definitely taking the title of America’s longest-running, most counter-productive conflict and making it its own. Aside from the very specific cultural reference and obvious inclination toward psychedelia, “The War on Drugs” is a vague band name — referentially devoid of musical context. That’s exactly why singer-songwriter Adam Granduciel was first attracted to the name when he came up with it years ago, drinking wine with a friend in Oakland, California.
Almost 10 years later, Granduciel and The War on Drugs use a discordant miasma of oblong and tangled tape-loops, anxious drum beats, gnarled knots of guitar riffs, and a dissociative lyrical narrative to speak to forgotten, lovelorn have-nots. The trio has undergone various lineup tweaks, including the subtraction of band co-founder Kurt Vile to his solo project, but it has continued to successively build upon its uncanny sound with each new release.
On its most recent release, Future Weather, the group’s sound moves away from the classic-rock influences to more ambient landscapes where Granduciel can better articulate the lachrymose environment that surrounds him. Yet, through the course of the album, The War on Drugs ultimately ends up in the same rustic dust storm of a musical illusion that it started in: translating the hum of a busy train station, crafting nomadic anthems for vagabond romantics with enough self-awareness and ambition to stave off desperation.
In advance of a North American tour with Destroyer, Granduciel recently took some time to answer a few questions about The War on Drugs, its “Americana” sound, and how it’s really just a kind of jam band.
From the live shows that I’ve seen, there seems to be a somewhat raw or spontaneous musical aesthetic rather than a polished one. Does that play a factor in how you prepare for live shows? Do you like to work out songs in a live setting as a way of making each show different from the last?
I don’t know which shows you saw because, really, it probably went one of two ways — the other way being legendarily sloppy, yet hopefully somewhat inspiring. We don’t really over-rehearse, though — just jam the songs for a few days before a tour, and things usually come together pretty quickly. After our practices for this tour, I’m really, really excited for the growth that we’ll see on this Destroyer tour.
Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.
Smith Westerns: “Weekend”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Weekend.mp3|titles=Smith Westerns: “Weekend”]
Known primarily for its lo-fi blend of ’70s glam and Nuggets-era garage rock, Smith Westerns has discovered a sweeter, cleaner sound on Dye It Blonde, its sophomore LP on Fat Possum Records.
A hearty leap in production value is the most significant shift from the band’s 2009 self-titled debut. Gone are the fuzzy, washed-out melodies and underwater vocals of early recordings. Yet Dye It Blonde feels just as youthful and energetic as anything the band has released to date.
Though Smith Westerns has largely abandoned the murky, homespun sound that ignited the blogosphere only two years ago, fans of the band need not worry – Dye It Blonde is filled with jangly guitar hooks and young heartbreak. With the help of producer Chris Coady and an increased studio budget, however, Smith Westerns delves even further into the Brit-pop canon, culling inspiration from the likes of Suede, David Bowie, and T. Rex.
Destroyer: “Kaputt”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/06-Kaputt.mp3|titles=Destroyer: “Kaputt”]
With nine full-length albums under his belt as Destroyer, Dan Bejar is still managing to find ways to reinvent his lush, self-coined “European Blues” style. Bejar also has made a name for himself writing songs in a different vein for bands such as The New Pornographers and Swan Lake. ALARM contributor Tom Harrison talks to Bejar about his new album, Kaputt, and what lies ahead.
Kaputt reminded me of Station to Station — not lyrically, but they’re both funk/jazz/electronic-style albums from artists who weren’t generally known for that at release. Which artists influenced you to pursue this style?
[David] Bowie sounds so uptight on Station to Station. Not sure cocaine abuse has to go that way. He sounds way younger than I do on Kaputt. I didn’t listen to that or any of his Berlin records, though I like ’em all to varying degrees. I did think about Bowie for the first time in probably a decade — specifically, two songs he did for two very different movies. In order of importance, they are “This Is Not America” (ft. Pat Metheny) and “Absolute Beginners” (12-inch version).
Avalon and Bryan Ferry‘s ’80s stuff was more of an influence on this record, as well as people who started off as major Roxy [Music] acolytes but shucked off that mantle and became way cooler (David Sylvian and Talk Talk). And maybe some minor Roxy acolytes, now that I think about it (Blue Nile) — the electronic songs “Getting Away With It” and maybe “Disappointed.” I always liked those in my youth. Some stuff I’m probably forgetting about…some jazz records, like this one Andrew Hill record whose name I’m forgetting…so good…and a lot of soundtracks.
The songs on Kaputt sound like a definite shift away from the instrumental aesthetics of your earlier work. Was it a conscious decision to write songs that would sound this way?
No, writing for me is unconscious. You know those movies where the private eye has a little tape recorder that he talks to every once in a while in his car as he spies on people? That’s me. Then an album happens. It was a conscious decision to use the instruments, and the specific players of those instruments, that we used and no others. It was also a conscious decision to blend programmed drums and percussion with “played drums.” The choice in synth sounds were pretty conscious and in line with the initial idea of the record.
The idea of getting [soul singer] Sibel [Thrasher] to sing was extremely conscious. But, you know, everything changes no matter what. It was a conscious decision to not question the questionable treatment that I thought these songs demanded, especially since much of it seemed barely recognizable as what I’d learned to call songs.