\\Notes From Downriver//
\\Punk (La Vie Antérieure)//
\\Minimal Techno//
\\(Co-Dependent) Independent Jangling//
\\Occasional Modern Classical//

By James Harbard

Panda Bear - Live in Austin TX (14/9/2014)

Remember Governor’s island? The set that unleashed Tomboy? Noah is an interesting liver performer and this is most definitely our first real taste of his new record after that club based mixtape that surfaced over the weekend. It does indeed feel more nighttime ready, It’s also very hard not to get even more excited about it, which I’m sure is the point.

Fantastic quality bootleg/ this is probably the best thing I’ve listened to in the last couple of weeks.

That (Mr)? Twin Sister record is great too though, they stepped it up. 

Panda Bear - Mix Ticks (Self Released -2014)

As if the hype for his next record couldn’t be any greater over at this camp (I want “bros” at my funeral and I’m not even joking) this mix has done a fantastic job of me getting all worked up, There’s little hints of things to come in here if you listen hard enough, and in the first light of spring there’s very little better than the promise of new Noah.

It’s hard to know when we’re going to get our first real taste but since the release of “Slow Motion” and the very different final masters of Tomboy was cut by a canyon sized gap in time it could be a while, somehow I managed to live out that record in that gap in time though, we got different versions of most of the best cuts. The point is who knows what the fuck is in store for the future except that this mix will be my spring. I’m also praying that new Radio Dept. track means what I think it does…

The Radio Dept - “Death to Fascism” (Labrador - 2014)

Just the other night I put on the Radio Depts. wonderful Clinging To A Scheme I think because I felt actual distress, a feeling I hadn’t felt in it’s purist form for at least the last six months or so. It’s also a record I probably haven’t touched in the last two years.  Then all of a sudden as if they heard themselves leaking from my headphones they give me this, “Death To Fascism” takes off where the the Knifes political bent broke them in two (Literally)  a smoky, gnarled looping electronic that predictably gives way to a sea of absolute bliss when it turns on its head. A typically sweedish sounding guitar rolls in and breaks the loop and makes everything ok. These guys are so good at doing that. Air France are still a little bit alive in these guys, albeit in a different form.

Aphex Twin - “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix” (Warp - 2014)

Where were you the day he came back and the collective consciousness of the world of electronic music that had just spent thirteen years catching up had to rearrange themselves yet again? The shock of hearing a new BOC track last year was something, but the shock was more in how dissonant they had become, so removed, their elevation was complete in a strange way. This is another thing I never thought would happen, but the shock here is just how impressive and big this feels. It’s overflowing with ideas but still feels like a streamlined class act, it’s a mess, but in the same way a beautiful girl looks better with her hair everywhere.

Hold onto your seats I guess.

dd elle - “tell Me” (Secret Songs - 2013)

Koolhaas, people I had so admired, removed themselves from the critique and largely removed their peers with them as well. Koolhaas would talk of the downtown athletics club, he would talk of the Rockefeller centre, he would talk about the world war two remains of smouldering Rotterdam, a task I tried to take on as well. Venturi would talk of vernaculars. When would we look at each other?

This is why they invented headphones. This is the sound of them hearing each other and not listening.

Tobais Jesso Jr - “Just A Dream” (Self released - 2014)

I can’t explain the world to you, or how this exists, but I’m glad it does.

J Mascis - Tied To A Star (Sub Pop - 2014)

J is a perpetual downer. Although he’s attributed the bummed out success of his incredible enduing discography to a now famous lost high school love, you can’t help but think that Tied to A Star would have happened even if he’d married her. Dinosaur jr’s last outing was one of their strongest ever, and Tied to A Star continues this high caliber streak and more than matches his last solo outing. Where that record peaked at it’s downer points like “It is Done and the stoner drawl of the wonderful title track, this thing feels more driven and optimistic. Although drive and optimism are not something anybody really looks for in a J Mascis record, Tied To a Star negotiates middle ground well “Every Morning” is pretty much the only misstep and it’s only because it’s wanting to be a fully electrified Dino J song but somehow lands closer to it’s sugar ray acoustic namesake.

I’m thankfully joking, although excusably lacking in eclectic power, and lacking in the surprise that he’s still good without it, this record still feels like a statement that goes beyond tools. It got me, I didn’t expect to fall as hard as I did for this record and although opener and highlight “Me Again” (possibly the most outre thing he’s ever written), suggests that he’s been listening to more bonny bear than he has himself, there’s still nobody this side of Daniel Rossen in indie rock that can play a guitar this distinctively.

Le Deon - Cassette (Aught - 2014)

Just pretend there never was a problem to solve, there never was a history, but here’s a set of tools that are used to create something.

Do your best to re-create that something.

This is music that seems to operate under the bounds of influence as hit and miss as the results are it’s rare you hear something that manages to do that, especially in beat based electronic music.

Merchandise - After The End (4AD - 2014)

Merchandise are the coolest band in the world. Period. Born from a hardcore scene that never raised them they are basically the only band in the world that managed to be a highly celebrated pop band in a non pop context. After “Figured Out” spelt the end of the old Merchandise, IE the Merchandise that wrote “Anxiety’s Door” with a serial killer steel gaze, they’ve and turned their hearts towards more streamlined, less sinister celebration of what they are or have become. “Little Killer” the seventh song on their first proper full length for the mainstream 4AD records is a starry eyed pop song with an addictive hooky chorus. It’s the song they’ve always had in them but always held back from delivering, preferring to drown themselves, see Totale Nites highlight, “Winters Dream”. The title track is the only song here that really pushes time limits, and its not in a hurry to kill anyone. “Green Lady is a gorgeous thx tech track that takes a lot of risks and runs, and “True Monument” is one of those super ballads they’ve always done streamlined, they are wide screen tracks for a band that sounded great on the small screen so you can only imagine what they sound like IMAX sized. It’s fucking impressive.

The King is now truly dead, World Peace was none of his business and if Morrisey being dumped yet again for being antagonistic for the wrong reasons was a sign that these guys really needed to take over and After the End has come at the right time, the smiths baton is theirs. Merchandise were always meant to be this band but I can’t help but I know I will miss a band raised on blood that praised healing because the type of healing merchandise were practising on Totale Nite was one of healing via revenge, things went full circle. But what is left here, is relaxation, a look at a world where you can walk down the street on the first day of spring and push malevolent serial killer thoughts aside for a hour. These guys have been there done that. After The End is the post mortem from a time in punk music history where everyone joins them for a drink.

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lose (Barsuk/Tough Love - 2014)

For a band raised on a sort of ritualistic, heartland approach to indie rock,  the kind that screams records about homes you don’t go to anymore, Cymbals Eat Guitars took their time actually making a record that said something about them. They’re notorious borrowers and while the trend continues here, opener track “Jackson” is essentially a gritty Bright Eyes song with a dinosaur jr solo at the end but the stories that pepper the thing are all theirs. On Jackson they talk about driving to wait in line at six flags, and for some reason that line stuck with me as something you just don’t make up. It’s very everyday poetry.

"Jackson" sets the rest of Lose up as a type of proto-emo reflective piece of music and it is, but it fluctuates wildly in its modes of delivery (or what it chooses to pinch from). “Chambers” is essentially an early Shins song with the volume of their latest and none of the shiny studio pretension. Big choruses float around everywhere, and while enjoying “Chambers” you can be forgiven for wondering just how they managed to do such a good job of this. The fucking going for it vocals and even the (finally) personal nature of these songs, kinda makes this feel like a happier jangle rock freindly twin to the Hotelier’s incredible debut form earlier this year, but Lose for all it’s bargin bin grabbing feels like a singular personal achievement from a band that seemed content to never make one.