mass culture


Going Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
May 17, 2007, 11:46 am
Filed under: Album Preview, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, MP3, Spoon

gaga.jpeg

I finally got a copy of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the latest work of the always fabulous Austin, TX quartet, and I have to say I’m very impressed. It’s fresh, strong, melodic, and of course totally groove-worthy– but that’s all I’m going to say. Take a listen to the samples below (right click to save):

Don’t Make Me A Target (5MB)

The Ghost Of You Lingers (5MB)

You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (4MB)

The Underdog (5MB)

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga drops July 10 on Merge (not available for pre-order yet).

 



Thanks. Sorry. Yeah.
April 10, 2007, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Mass Culture, Personal

Mass Culture is currently on a brief hiatus until the first week of May.  I simply have too much going on in my life right now to keep up with this insanely fast-moving industry.  But, as soon as May rolls around, I’ll have more than enough time.  Thanks for reading, and see you soon.

Mass culture



MASS OF MP3

Sorry for the lack of updates this past week. I’m a busy man, you know? Well, you probably don’t know.

So, to make it up to you, here’s a bunch of (mostly) brand new MP3’s for you to enjoy. Give the Charles Manson song a shot. It was recorded before the murders and seems a bit… hopeful? I don’t know. It’s still creepy.

downloadthis.jpgThe Hold Steady – “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” – [DOWNLOAD]

YACHT – “See A Penny (Pick It Up)” (from I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real) – [DOWNLOAD] [PURCHASE]

Frankel – “X Marks The Spot” (from Lullaby For The Passersby) – [DOWNLOAD]

Page France- “Hat And Rabbit” (from Page France And The Family Telephone) – [DOWNLOAD]

Feist – “Sea Lion Woman” (from The Reminder) – [DOWNLOAD] [PURCHASE]

Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin – “Half-Awake (Deb)” – [DOWNLOAD]

Calexico- “Ocean Of Noise (Live Arcade Fire Cover)” – [DOWNLOAD]

Charles Manson – “Eyes Of A Dreamer” (from Lie: The Love And Terror Cult) – [DOWNLOAD] [PURCHASE]



Bloc Party announce US tour
March 28, 2007, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Bloc Party, Tour Dates

bloc-party.jpg

Though their last record might not be exactly what we wanted, Bloc Party can still put on a pretty awesome live show .  So, lucky for us, the Brits will be heading to the states for a tour in May and June.

From the official mailing list:

May
27 : Pompano Beach, FL – Pompano Beach Amphitheater
28 : Tampa, FL – USF Sundome
29 : Orlando, FL – UCF Arena
31 : Atlanta, GA – The Tabernacle

June
01 : Myrtle Beach, SC – House of Blues
02 : Winston Salem, NC – Millennium
03 : Washington, DC    – DAR Constitution Hall
05 : Upper Darby, PA – Tower Theatre
06 : Asbury Park, NJ – Convention Hall Complex
11 : Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theatre
12 : Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
13 : Las Vegas, NV – The Pearl
16 : Alpine, CA – Viejas Concerts in the Park



SXSW: Photos (Complete)

This is a collection of photos taken throughout SXSW. All Photos by Mass Culture


Fujiya & Miyagi


Peter Bjorn & John


Beirut


Aziz Ansari


Beach House


Girl Talk


Menomena


Peter Bjorn & John (at Emo’s)


The Pipettes

MANY more photos of each artist after the jump!

Continue reading



SXSW: Report (Complete)

Originally written between March 15 and 17

There’s a reoccurring trend at South By Southwest. Each year, among the hundreds of artists showcased in Austin at the largest music festival in the world, only a select few stand out. These “buzz bands,” as we know them, attract an immense amount of attention, and not only play more than the others, but usually remain in the spotlight for the rest of the musical year.

This year, it’s my mission to find these acts. I’m currently in Austin, surrounded by thousands of talented musicians, all hoping to find success at SXSW. After two days of label showcases and parties, the verdict is still slightly vague, and a completely different story when compared to the past few years. By this time last year, everyone knew who was going to be big.

I do have some leads, though, and was (and will be) lucky enough to see most of them at the same venue. Thanks to Seattle’s 90.3 KEXP, Peter Bjorn & John, Fujiya & Miyagi, and Beirut were booked to perform at the ever-so-excellent Austin City Limits studio. Each of these bands reached some form of success this past year, and KEXP’s brilliant planning has placed them all under the same roof to play live on the air (and online) with the best sound equipment available at SXSW.

So far, during my stay in Austin, and through various casual interviews with attendees, PB&J, Menomena Fujiya & Miyagi, and Beirut have popped up more than anyone else, and the vibe surrounding each has been nothing but positive. So there’s my SXSW-educated theory on who’s who in 2007, and ironically their breakthrough albums were all released last year.

Peter Bjorn & John’s performance was surrounded by trouble. Their bass was stolen the previous night (Bjorn joked, as a warning to the thief: “Sure, it looks really awesome, but it’s a really bad bass… so give it back”), and the acoustic guitars didn’t make it to Austin on time (the set was intended to be all-acoustic). But PB&J pushed through the unfortunate events and played a very interesting set, with only “Young Folks” and “Let’s Call It Off” in their studio format. “Amsterdam” was completely redone, with Peter fingerpicking the melody while Bjorn gently crooned, his Swedish accent shining through with full force. “Objects of My Affection” began with John counting off in his native tongue before exploding into a fast and frantic jam. And oh how high those Swedes jumped.

Fujiya & Miyagi performed their signature kraut-rock revival to a half-empty studio, but the energy was the highest of any set I’d seen all day. Tight rhythms and vocalist/guitarist David Best’s freakishly accurate whispering ensured that their set was easily the day’s best, good enough for the announcer to forget to return to the air. “Collarbone” was easily the highlight, with its infectious beat and clever lyrics. However, most interestingly, the sheer volume of the song and the group of hipsters dancing in-sync amplified its feeling, clearly giving everyone in the room Goosebumps.

I can only hope that Beirut’s evening set tomorrow can match the quality of my other two picks, but with Zack Condon’s history, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Other big events tomorrow (Friday 16 March) include the highly anticipated Pitchfork Music Festival party, with sets from Menomena, Girl Talk, Beach House, The Pipettes, and many more. I’ll be there to cover the entire event, and hopefully Menomena will end up being all they’re cracked up to be.

Today (Friday 16 March) was long, ceaseless, never-ending, hot, sweaty, smoky, and claustrophobic. I’d need a thesaurus to keep going, but I won’t need to because the bands I saw made it completely bearable, absolutely worth it, and easily one of the best [musically involved] days of my life. Questions have been answered, predictions have been made, and plenty of music was spread around to all.

I spent most of my day at a single (two staged) venue that was filled to capacity. Emo’s has always been one of my favorite venues—excellent sound, plenty of lounging space, and a (mostly) friendly staff, and today was no exception. The Pitchfork Music Fest hosted a very robust lineup of some of the best bands at SXSW, including Peter Bjorn & John, Girl Talk, Deerhunter, Menomena, Fujiya & Miyagi, RJD2, The Ponys, The Pipettes, Do Make Say Think, Simian Mobile Disco (DJ Set), Beach House, and Marnie Stern.

And oh how great it was.

The Pipettes and their outfits (as well as schoolboy vest-clad backing band) kicked off my day (I had to wait in line during Do Make Say Think) with an excellent, though predictable set of tracks from “We Are The Pipettes.” The whole thing was a bit awkward, though. The girls kept insisting on making the crowd dance, and they didn’t seem to be having any of it. However, they rocked the smoke-filled half-outdoor stage at Emo’s, once again proving well… who knows. Girl Power, I guess.

Beach House haunted all within listening distance from Emo’s Jr., which was perfectly sized for the duo from “the greatest city in America.” The definite highlight was their album-perfect performance of “Apple Orchard,” leaving everyone with chills.

Fujiya and Miyagi played essentially the same set as the night before, only louder. I really love this band, but I think I’m going to need to see some live percussion to stay interested next time. Or maybe they could dance. Or anything. Please.

Menomena played one of the best sets of the day, performing all songs from “Friend And Foe” with indubitable sincerity that shined strong through on “Wet And Rusting,” “The Pelican,” “Weird,” and closer “Rotten Hell.” They seemed to be having quite an excellent time in Austin, which was clearly increased by the audience response—it was the first set of the day where everyone was actually into the music. They might not be one of THE bands of SXSW, but they certainly knew how to please. And they were really nice and shot a sweaty portrait with me:

Moving on, RJD2’s new record isn’t so good. Neither was the live set (with a full band?), though I stuck through hoping I would hear something interesting. Unfortunately it didn’t really happen.

But something interesting did happen soon afterward: Aziz Ansari was suddenly onstage, which I was hoping for, ever since I spotted him in the crowd earlier in the day. He broke some of the tension caused by extreme heat and impatience for the Girl Talk set with his offbeat humor. And he definitely offended some hypersensitive lady with a (clearly non-offensive) joke that mentioned rape (By bikers. I mean, come on. That’s funny.).

When Gregg Gillis finally took the stage in a sweat suit, the crowd went insane. They were already pushed up to the front like preteens at a Justin Timberlake concert, but for some reason, everyone felt some need to get disgustingly sweaty.

And from there it only got nastier. The room filled with (various types of) smoke, and Emo’s made the quick transition from hipster hangout to dance hall. Through various crowd dives, table jumps, confetti tosses, and millions of point-and-shoot camera flashes, Gillis managed to completely change Austin for his non-stop 45-minute set. The breaking point had to be when Peter Bjorn & John and Grizzly Bear were mixed in with early 90s hip-hop. That’s just plain awesome, and everyone agreed. It appeared that Girl Talk was the crowd favorite of the day.

Until the Swedes invaded for the second time in two days.

Peter Bjorn & John have, without a doubt, proved themselves to be THE band of SXSW 2007. Their set at Emo’s was full of surprises (including “I Don’t Know What I Want To Do,” which was long-awaited) cheesy hats, and just plain fun.

Playing plenty of tracks from “Writers Block,” PB&J simply got everything right. They even got a new bass guitar, which was proudly hailed as the “Texas Bass.” The crowd was awe-inspiring, singing and clapping along to almost every track, whistling and dancing to “Young Folks,” and collectively sighing when Emo’s staff kicked them off the stage. Why couldn’t they play one more song? We really needed to hear a decent version of “Amsterdam.”

It didn’t really matter, though. By braving all the sets from 11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., we all got what we wanted and heard even more than we expected. Many (many) drinks were had, hips were shaken, and the scene was set for 2007.

Before I ended up going home on Saturday (I got pretty sick for some reason), I made sure I caught Beirut at the ever-so-wonderful Austin City Limits studio for what was easily a top five performance at SXSW. Zach Condon and his underage band played an intensely melodic and visually inspiring show of songs from “Gulag Orkestar” and “Lon Gisland,” and “Pompeii,” including “Elephant Gun,” the show-stopping “The Gulag Orkestrar,” and an amazing untitled song.

Zach switched between horns, ukuleles, and an awesome megaphone during the KEXP-sponsored performance, and managed to draw in the only crowd that completely filled the studio, even the floor. Not even PB&J or Fujiya & Miyagi managed that.

The new tracks he played give me nothing but high expectations for the follow up to “Long Gisland,” which we will hopefully hear later in this year we call 2007.

SXSW was quite an experience, both musically and mentally. Austin: Your streets are so confusing for being so simple. Event coordinators: SXSW is too expensive. Everyone else: thanks. It was definitely a fun one.

Here’s to you, 2007. Keep it coming.



Say goodbye to wordpress
March 20, 2007, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Mass Culture, Modest Mouse, Page France, SXSW, voxtrot

Hello readers,

Sorry about the lack of updating (I know I’m still lacking a final SXSW post, It’ll happen soon, I promise), but I’m in the process of relocating massculture. WordPress has been great, but with a growing blog such as this one, I’ve decided to move to my own server. Within the next few days, I’ll be transferring everything, and should be running again by the end of the week.

So expect a fresh new look, more content (more space for that), and a new web address. I’ll be ditching wordpress and moving to MASSCULTURE.NET. I’ll let you all know when that actually happens.

While you’re waiting, check out the new records from Page France, Modest Mouse, and Voxtrot. Maybe that’ll tide you over.




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