murmur DC http://www.murmurdc.com What's Happening in the DC Metro Art Community Fri, 10 Dec 2010 13:24:50 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.4 en hourly 1 Dimitri Max Featured on Open Bar: Deep House 8 http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/10/dimitri-max-featured-on-open-bar-deep-house-8/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/10/dimitri-max-featured-on-open-bar-deep-house-8/#comments Fri, 10 Dec 2010 13:24:50 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4221 Dimitri Max is starting to set the tone for house music in the DC area.  His remix of Quell’s “Army of Lover” is featured on the Open Bar:  Deep House 8 album, which was just released December 7th.  Dimitri can also be found on Traxsource’s Top 50 Best Selling Jackin House Tracks of 2010 with his tracks “Don’t Want You” and “Can’t Stop Me,” #5 and #31 respectively.  Both tracks come from his Neighbors Hate Me EP.

Listen to Quell – Army of Lover (Dimitri Max You’re My Only Mix)

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In The Spotlight: Slow Hands (w/ Interview) http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/02/in-the-spotlight-slow-hands-w-interview/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/02/in-the-spotlight-slow-hands-w-interview/#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 19:33:10 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4194 All who are familiar with the Wolf + Lamb label, know it to be an inspiring group of assorted personalities with a plethora of talent.  One of the newest members, Ryan Cavanagh aka Slow Hands exemplifies that persona to the fullest.  Having only debuted a year ago with his 2009 release “Fast Tongue”, Ryan has quickly gained recognition with a full head of steam.  He carries with him a fresh approach, having been into electronic music for a short period of time.

While listening to Slow Hands, you’re left to decide whether to make out with your girlfriend or reincarnate as a Rick James loin cloth.  He combines the best of both worlds, incorporating the sexy and cool, the salty and sweet, the blood thirsty and free.  It’s what many DJs aspire to do, and what many people wish to be.

As of late, he’s had a lot going on, which includes touring, producing tracks, and talking with us.

Interview by Scott Ahn

Special Thanks to Audiology’s Gabe Rojas for coordinating the interview

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SA:  It’s impossible to find a biography on you, so what is your background?  Where did you go to school?  Where did you grow up?

SH:  Ha! Addressing my lack of internet presence seems to be the theme of the week to all those attempting to promote me!  But to elaborate a bit, i grew up in a small town called Manchester, Vermont, studied jazz & classical guitar and eventually went to University of the Arts in Philadelphia to further my studies in composition and guitar.

After a year spent in a 10 ft by 10ft practice room (of which a grand piano took up most the space), I left due to a peaked interest in the local and international DJ/electronic music scene. Hocked all my guitars the first year to pay rent and taught myself how to engineer and sound design. Eventually i moved to NYC, started writing music and DJing with my friend John (other Worst Friend) and kept practicing my producing.

Eventually bought some new guitars and started basing my productions around their sound as well as other live instruments some more.

Think that brings us roughly up to speed!

SA:  There’s an obvious eclectic mix of different genres and modes of influences in your music.  What were some of your biggest music inspirations growing up?

SH:  Eric Clapton, The Allman Bros, Steely Dan, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Bill Evans, Peter Gabriel, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Coltrane, Santana (pre Rob Thomas), anything on Bad Boy (pre ’98).

SA:  Was there a specific experience that made you want to become a DJ/Producer?

SH:  This may sound so lame, and will also show how long i have listened to this style of music, but when I heard “Heaven’s Scent” by Digweed & Muir (Bedrock) I lost my mind. I think i listened to that track on repeat for nearly 2 months straight. I have wanted to be a musician since i picked up the guitar at 15 years old, but that made me want to learn how to make music for DJs.

SA:  What many appreciate about the Wolf + Lamb label is their wide range of music personas, which gives the label as a whole its own unique identity.  You’re a healthy addition to this mix of talent, but how did the guys from Wolf + Lamb discover your talent?

SH:  I had done a live set to perform (as Addled at the time) for my friends that own More Or Less in Baltimore. My friends Sam Valeniti and Jakub Alexander over at Ghostly International were kind enough to forward this recorded live set to Gadi & Zev. They were looking for local talent, and so we met up at The Marcy and went through my music.

A couple days later Gadi called asking about the stuff I gave him with the name Slow Hands, and that he loved it. I told him that was the moniker I used to produce slower and more live instrumental oriented music . . .  we ran with that!

SA:  Listening to your sets just within the past couple years, there’s an apparent transformation and reshaping of your style.  For me, this is exciting to hear because it’s less predictable, compared to other DJs where you know exactly what to expect.  Is this something you’re going to try and maintain?

SH:  Most definitely. DJing (and being a musician) is a constant learning process, sometimes what makes one audience go absolutely mental makes another audience walk off the floor. But what makes a DJ a great DJ, in my opinion anyway, is their ability to suck an audience in with tracks they know work in an effort to play more obscure (style defining) tracks. This is what i hope i do!

Sorry, but if i went and heard a DJ play, and they played “Without You” (Art Dept.), into “Look Right Through” (Storm Queen), into “Time For Us” (Nico Jaar), into Soul Clap’s “Extravaganza” Edit, I would go home and watch True Blood reruns. All those tracks are awesome, but what’s the risk in playing all tracks you know work? I am not getting anything out of that as an audience member, this DJ obviously doesn’t do his job in researching music, it’s not artistic . . . it’s safe.

SA:  Now that you have made a name for yourself that people are getting excited about, do you notice a transformation in your audiences, compared to when you first started out?

SH:  Well, I play in Europe occasionally now, so there are a lot more people with accents than here in the States.
You get away with a lot more outside NYC, because people aren’t as used to you I think, so they definitely respond to this style of music with more enthusiasm at times. Not to say that New Yorkers don’t, they responded like mad at the W+L Halloween Party! . . . before it got shut down.

But, that being said, I find people to be a lot more aware of me than they used to be a couple years ago, which is really, really nice!

SA:  Was there a particular experience you had playing that may have been either embarrassing or sticks out in your mind as something you don’t want to see happen again?

SH:  Ha, too many to count . . . or account! But i did have one recently:

I play on Serato and vinyl (the debate over what DJs use could go on forever, so we won’t get into that). Anyway, i started a set a few weeks ago after someone using Traktor, and I plugged everything in and it seemed to be working fine, but i started my set by playing records. I played about 6 records, then went to play a track off Serato, and NOTHING was working. The record eventually ran out and I was frantically trying to fix everything, I looked like a total ass, it was really embarrassing.

Fortunately my friend Crazy Larry was there to fix everything, thank god! He is a true technician, not to mention an amazing producer!

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SA:  Following that up, is there an experience that happened which you may consider the pinnacle of you career?

SH:  Wow, hmmm. Well, I would say the most defining thus far was my first gig for Gabe & Mo (Jubilee) at Napolean in DC about a year ago.

I am pretty neurotic about my sets, and at least having a plan laid out to start with and get comfortable on is imperative to my playing (when playing solo anyway).

So Mo was nearing the end of his warm up set, absolutely destroying the place, and I went on with the intention of starting my set at 95 bpm (Mo was playing at 120 bpm). I had written a track on the trip down that started out at 120 and ended at 95, with the full expectation of being in the exact situation I was in. And, I absolutely despise the lack of respect DJs often pay to opening DJs by not mixing out of their record, and restarting everything.

The track I was mixing out of my original was Morgan Geist’s remix of Hot Toddy’s “I Need Love”, it was a fairly new release at the time (an absolute bomb!). It was a fairly risky move at the time, to go from 120 to 95 in the middle of a night, and try to maintain the energy. I knew that it would either be a style defining moment of my DJing, or an absolute fail.

People started to feel the bpms slow, and their reactions were quite confused, meanwhile I was biting my nails in anticipation. I dropped the Geist remix, and as soon as that piano came in, people lost it. . . the rest of the set went off. It set the standard for the rest of this past year I think!

You should have seen the initial look on Gabe’s face when I started playing though! I thought he was going to shit himself.

SA:  What do you think you would be doing now if the DJ thing didn’t work out?

SH:  Still bartending and trying to figure out how to be a musician/DJ!

SA:  What should we expect from you in the future?  Any new endeavors, projects?

SH:  2 remixes of Greg Paulus coming out on Double Standard, an EP on More Or Less out of Baltimore should be out around March, a Jan/Feb Worst Friends release on Internajional, a Worst Friends remix of Voices of Black on W+L, and a few other big things in discussion with Prins Thomas about more releases on Internajional.

For more info:

www.wolflambmusic.com

www.geist-agency.com

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Daniel Barojas’ Falling Whistles Necklace Line http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/01/daniel-barojas-falling-whistles-necklace-line/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/12/01/daniel-barojas-falling-whistles-necklace-line/#comments Wed, 01 Dec 2010 20:29:55 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4157 One of our favorite artists in the area, the versatile Daniel Barojas, has collaborated with Falling Whistle to help the children in the Congo who are being put out on the front line.

Daniel Barojas explains:

“Falling Whistles is an organization that helps war-affected kids in the Congo.  The children, when they are too young to hold a gun, are sent to the front line with a whistle to spot on enemy locations.  This not only is extremely dangerous, but is also an abuse to these children. Falling Whistles sell their whistles as a symbol for peace, and asks you to become a whistle blower for peace by wearing your whistle and creating dialogue and spreading the message.

Falling Whistles provided the whistles and I provided all the jewelry  materials and put the jewelry line together myself.  The Falling Whistles & R5 jewelry line consists of  hematite beads, shell pearls, silver clasps and re-purposed bullets with  shell pearls on the tips.

I re-purposed the bullets also to use  something meant for weaponry and war, and place it into a different context with  perhaps a bit of added consciousness.

Falling Whistles is waiting for a unique retail opportunity in which to market this necklace line, no further news untill then.

My good friend Joey in NY was wearing one, who is close friends with Sean one of the main people running Falling Whistles.  After I made my initial necklace for myself, I sent pics to Joey who sent them to Sean and this is how the collaboration was born.”

For more information, visit:  www.fallingwhistles.com

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PREVIEW: The RVAnthology Graphic Novel http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/11/16/preview-the-rvanthology-graphic-novel/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/11/16/preview-the-rvanthology-graphic-novel/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 17:15:55 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4138 The RVAnthology (pronounced R-V-A Anthology), is a graphic novel composed of five short graphic stories written and illustrated by five of Richmond’s rising illustrators including Chris Visions, Eric Pfeiffer, Richie Pope, Julia Scott and Nate Nelson.

The mission is to inspire other young artists to create their own future, to collaborate and work towards achieving even their most seemingly impossible goals.

The RVAnthology graphic novel, prints, original pages as well as select personal work from the contributing illustrators being sold during the group exhibition starting Dec 10th at the Whitley Gallery 29 N 17th St Richmond VA 23220.

First Edition Promo Posters

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Previews

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EVENTS: FotoWeek DC 2010 – Nov. 5 to Nov. 13 http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/11/02/events-fotoweek-dc-2010-nov-5-to-nov-13/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/11/02/events-fotoweek-dc-2010-nov-5-to-nov-13/#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 19:38:49 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4133 Coming up this week is the annual FotoWeek DC, which celebrates photography and new media.

In just three years, FotoWeek DC has become one of the most significant and respected photography festivals in the world. The 2010 International Awards Competition has received a record-breaking 6,500 entries. This year, FotoWeek DC and its partner, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, have significantly expanded the festival events. The 2010 lineup includes innovative, high-caliber, and inclusive exhibitions and lectures that provide a high-visibility platform for professional and amateur photographers alike.

“This year highlights a shift in the path of FotoWeek DC’s exhibitions, as we place a greater emphasis on key genres such as social justice causes and advocacy taking place around the globe, environmental issues, and fine art,” said Theo Adamstein, President and Founder of FotoWeek DC. To that end, festival visitors will be treated to a wide range of international photographic work and initiatives in print and projection form, and discussion form; much of it never before seen in the region.

The following are highlights of the November 5-13 festivities:

Events

The FotoWeek DC Awards Ceremony and Launch Party set the festival in motion on Friday, November 5th, awarding over $23,000 in cash prizes to the competition winners. The festival closes with a celebration at the House of Sweden on Saturday, November 13th.

FotoWeek Central

The Corcoran will serve as FotoWeek Central and host the FotoWeek Launch Party on Friday, November 5, Portfolio Reviews on Sunday, November 7 and lunch-time lectures from Monday, November 8 through Friday, November 12. Visitors to Corcoran will also view the award winners exhibition and participate in additional photographic programming.

NightGallery

The city becomes an after-dark art gallery that illuminates DC with photo projections focused on human rights, the environment, and fine arts. Images will be projected on the facades of landmark buildings.

Satellite Central ~ The satellite location in Georgetown will compliment the events taking place at the Corcoran. Projection theaters will spotlight cutting-edge work focused upon social justice, fine art, and environmental issues. The 6500+ entries to the International Awards Competition will fill giant contact sheets as part of the Thumbnail Exhibition. Additionally, FotoBooks will feature recently published photography books by leading national and international publishers.

NightVisions

From 6pm-6am on November 6th, photographers throughout the DC metro area can submit work for this year’s theme: DC Portraits. Photographers capture images around the city and submit their work digitally to photo editors at FotoWeek DC Satellite Central in Georgetown. Editors will select one photo per entrant and amass a new exhibition to be shown throughout the week.

Lectures/Seminars

Renowned photojournalists, fine art and commercial photographers, curators, gallery owners, photo editors, and professors share their knowledge and know-how. Rarely has the public had such an opportunity to listen and learn from such a concentration of the photography “rock stars.”

Portfolio Reviews

An unparalleled opportunity for amateurs and professionals to have their work critiqued. Renowned curators, educators, photo editors, and experts in the fields of commercial, fine art, photojournalism, multimedia and documentary provide frank and insightful evaluations. Reviews include appraisals and helpful advice on how to rise to the next level of photography.

FotoWeek DC’s extraordinary week of programs runs from November 5th through November 13th. For more information or updates on any program please go to: http://www.fotoweekdc.org

ABOUT FOTOWEEK DC

FotoWeek DC was founded in 2008 and has evolved from a city-centric photography festival to a multi-season tribute to photography in all its forms. The festival celebrates the transformative power of photography through the exhibition of inspiring and provocative images, diverse programming, and collaboration with the local and international community.

ABOUT THE CORCORAN

The Corcoran Gallery of Art, a privately funded institution, was founded in 1869 as Washington’s first and largest nonfederal museum of art. It is known internationally for its distinguished collection of historical and modern American art as well as contemporary art, photography, European painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. Founded in 1890, the Corcoran College of Art + Design is Washington’s only four-year college of art and design offering BFA degrees in Digital Media Design, Fine Art, Fine Art Photography, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Photojournalism; a five-year Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Master of Arts in Teaching (BFA/MAT); and two-year Master of Arts (MA) programs in Interior Design, Exhibition Design, Art Education, and at the Book, and New Media Photojournalism. The College’s Continuing Education program offers part-time credit and non-credit classes for children and adults and draws more than 2,500 participants each year. For more information about the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, visit www.corcoran.org

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PHOTOS: The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/31/photos-the-rally-to-restore-sanity-andor-fear/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/31/photos-the-rally-to-restore-sanity-andor-fear/#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 15:57:29 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4095 Written and Photographed by Scott Ahn

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, brought on crowds of people from all over the country.  In fact, it was so crowded that I wasn’t able to see shit.

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Raju Singh’s Bodies of Work http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/15/raju-singhs-bodies-of-work/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/15/raju-singhs-bodies-of-work/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 20:02:51 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4076 Raju Singh’s photography would be difficult to place in a single genre, as it can be considered both portraiture and landscape.  What makes his work unique is the fact that he’s able to imagine the human body as something beautiful in its simplistic curves.

Raju Singh:

“Taking” a picture ? No. I rather prefer the idea of “receiving” one, like a fragile and precious gift. This magic moment when all seems to be perfect cannot be achieved without the consent of one’s subject. Be it a landscape or a person. Going after such moments is the challenge … and the focus of my photography.

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, from Indian and Belgian origin, I have been living for the past couple of years in Bethesda, MD. An essentially self-taught photographer, I have inherited the love of photography from my father. My work has been on display around the Washington area, at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, and has been featured in Best of Photography 2006.

View more of Raju Singh’s work at www.rajusingh.30art.com

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Let The Great Experiment Begin: Music Condoms! http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/14/let-the-great-experiment-begin/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/10/14/let-the-great-experiment-begin/#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2010 22:53:55 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4065 Written by Nick Leitzke

We take many things in life for granted. An endless supply of essentials seems to surround us. We will never deplete the resources that are necessary for our survival, and we can live our lives knowing that everything is in the black. My car is always on a full tank of gas. My bank account is always ready to accommodate my rent. Starbucks will never run out of freshly brewed coffee. These are a given. The very notion that any of these resources will run out is absurd, because we sit on an endless reserve of everything. This is America where plenty is an entitlement. Don’t ask me about emergency plans because people who speak American don’t have “emergency” in their vocabulary.

But the necessary things never last. I will eventually have to break down and fill my tank. I will have to check my online statement to make sure my balance is roughly where it was last month. There will be that one busy day where the line is out the door and I might have to wait four minutes for a fresh cup. Exhaustion of any or all three of these things will derail a good day. Lack of plenty – that is the one thing Americans refuse to accept. The day a lack of plenty hits America is the day the Earth stops spinning on its axis. (But isn’t there a recession going on? Shhh-shut up!)

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Then there are the things I know I can’t live without. Recently I made a discovery that turned my world upside down. I am the kind of music collector who treats his collection like a collection. Any real comic book connoisseur will house his collection in plastic sleeves with proper cardboard backing to preserve the newsprint and the spine. The same is true of a music collector. Stick those records in plastic sleeves if you have a shred of decency inside you. Is that CD in a cardboard digipack rather than a plastic case? Get yourself some CD-size sleeves and protect that thing, you unruly savage. Preserving the collection ought to be priority one for the collector. Before that album goes on the shelf, make sure you have it taped shut and safe from the elements.

Crisis struck when I ran out of record sleeves. Every time I bought a new record I took another sleeve from the pack, well aware they would run out one day. I had no need to worry, though. This is America where nothing runs out. Records stack easily, as long as you stack them upright to maintain their integrity. The day arrived when I pulled the last sleeve from the pack, and I didn’t worry too much. Just stack them next to the player so they’re already in grabbing distance. The stack is growing larger? We’ll get more sleeves eventually. Don’t worry.

Denial is the real American virtue. The scope of the crisis didn’t fully hit me until two weeks ago when I made the most shocking discovery of all. My CD sleeves ran out. Not only did my CD sleeves run out, but I had multiple Amazon orders en route. This can’t be! My world is…I don’t even know. What am I going to do with all of my new children? It’s going to mean going online to the place I purchased all my sleeves to begin with, but what will I do in the meantime? Think man. Think.

If there is one thing that times like these call for it’s cleaning house. Take a good long look through that collection and find the pieces you haven’t touched since the day you bought them. Ask yourself if you really need them and then make that difficult but necessary decision. The choice is hard, but there are any number of sleeves in this collection that could be used for new acquisitions. Do I really need this copy of CCR’s ‘Pendulum’ that’s all scratched to hell? No. Will I ever listen to Pearl Jam ‘Live On Two Legs’ on vinyl? No. Do I really need to hold onto this Screaming Trees single that isn’t even the Screaming Trees everyone is thinking of? Absolutely not.

As I went through my collection I realized it had become just that – a collection. There are records I still listen to and pieces of this collection I can’t let go of, but as with any collection there is dead weight. There is dead weight occupying space that new, more exciting, more logically acquired pieces can occupy. I wondered how so much dead weight could accrue in a collection, and I realized it’s because I defined my collection not by what I enjoy but by what I deemed collectible. I don’t particularly want or need a large number of albums in my collection, yet they are still there. I combed the shelf and managed to create seven empty sleeves. This didn’t even reduce the freestanding stack by half, but it’s a start until I buy some more sleeves. It’s progress. I’ll take progress for now when my collection has so much dead weight.

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Then I came to the most critical part of the endeavor – the CD shelf. I have a bookcase that’s designed solely for CD’s, and it’s not even halfway full. My goal in life is to fill this case, but when I ran out of CD sleeves I had a moment of clarity. There is a lot of stuff on this shelf that I don’t listen to, and a lot of the stuff I don’t listen to I just don’t like. I bought something a few years ago because it was the current big thing or I saw a video on Subterranean, and then I regretted my decision after one listen. Then there are the albums I bought, listened to once, and then forgot about because something else came along and grabbed my attention for three months. Going along one shelf of my CD collection I found a dozen titles that I could make a case for dumping. The heartless businessman in me wants to drop the ax without a second thought, but after what happened this spring with the National I don’t think that’s fair. Whether or not I liked something the first time I heard it, everything deserves another listen. Opinions and situations can change over two or three years. I can’t just drop the ax because I forgot about something when I discovered a new indie Mecca. It’s time to give everything the second chance it deserves.

So let the great experiment begin! In the spirit of fairness I will be giving five CD’s another chance before I decide whether or not to send them to the consignment store. ‘Some Loud Thunder’ by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, ‘In Case We Die’ by Architecture In Helsinki, ‘Widow City’ by the Fiery Furnaces, ‘Real Emotional Trash’ by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and ‘Show Your Bones’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s will receive the rotation treatment while I play Resident Evil 4 on a cleared game, background music while I shoot parasitically infected Spanish villagers with fully upgraded weapons. I see good times in my future, regardless of how the experiment turns out. Truth be told, I will be listening to more than five CD’s while I decide what stays and what goes. These five are just the five I’m going to talk about.

Post image by Sean Mograth
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Something Old, Something New, Two Reviews for the Price of One: Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/08/13/something-old-something-new-two-reviews-for-the-price-of-one-wolf-parade-and-arcade-fire/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/08/13/something-old-something-new-two-reviews-for-the-price-of-one-wolf-parade-and-arcade-fire/#comments Fri, 13 Aug 2010 18:39:28 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4049 Written by Nick Leitzke

2004 and 2005 were big years for music. Both years saw the release of any number of albums that I return to over and over again. I try not to let my musical tastes be defined by a few albums or a few bands, but it’s hard to deny that the music released in 2004 and 2005 left a lasting imprint on that first decade of the twenty-first century. Not the least of these albums are ‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire and ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ by Wolf Parade. They’re the kind of albums I look back on and remember where I was the first time I listened to them. When I listen to them now I still have moments where I hear a new phrase, be it lyrically or musically, and I get goose bumps as though I’m hearing it for the first time. And they’re the kind of albums that a single live performance can amplify one hundred times.

The problem with albums like these is that everything Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire do afterward will be compared to these debut successes. If someone’s first impression is a homerun, everything else that band does has to live up to or exceed that initial impression. Albums like these become the high water mark. It’s an unfair standard to hold someone to, but it’s the way the art world works. I try my best not to live by that standard, but with albums like these you’re almost afraid of what the follow-up will sound like. Will they be able to live up? In the end it doesn’t matter because the past is the past and you have to accept it. Five or six years down the road is a long time, and you are not the only thing that has changed. That being said, Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire have released albums worthy of attention this summer, and they both deserve a lot of praise.

‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ was one of those albums that I knew right away I loved. The first time I listened to “I’ll Believe In Anything” I listened to it two or three times before I could let the rest of the album go. The only other song that’s done that to me is “Modern Girl” by Sleater-Kinney, but I digress. It was obvious listening to ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ that Wolf Parade is a collective with two distinct creative voices in Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner. This became even more obvious in subsequent years with the success of their respective side projects, Sunset Rubdown and the Handsome Furs. Early in Wolf Parade’s life that distinction was almost a dichotomy, as though the voices of Krug and Boeckner fought each other and drew their strength the way complimentary colors fuel their opposite. I even had friends who split themselves into opposing camps – the Krug side and the Boeckner side. I’ll admit I leaned towards Krug (see my love of Sunset Rubdown), but I loved everything about ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary.’ This was an album that lived in my car for weeks, that accompanied me to the laundromat or to the garage waiting room, and I learned to love every song.

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In 2008 Wolf Parade released ‘At Mount Zoomer,’ which admittedly was not ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ but by no means did it fail. I knew going into it that three years had passed, and I like ‘At Mount Zoomer.’ Krug and Boeckner had married their dichotomous sounds into one entity, and the music benefited. ‘At Mount Zoomer’ was not a bad album, but it was not one of my favorites of 2008. I don’t think it even made my top ten. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I liked everything Wolf Parade did with it. I liked that they made an investment in their future. Listening to ‘At Mount Zoomer’ I could tell this was a stronger band, a more unified band. The album itself didn’t have quite the staying power that ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ had, and I delegated it to iTunes rotation rather than popping it in the CD player during downtime or on snow days. It was time to wait and see what Wolf Parade did next.

Now it is 2010, and on June 29 Wolf Parade released ‘Expo 86.’ Whatever Krug and Boeckner did to marry their sounds has blossomed into something extraordinary. ‘Expo 86’ doesn’t wait to get going. The first track, “Cloud Shadow On the Mountain,” kicks in without hesitation, and that’s the attitude Wolf Parade create with ‘Expo 86.’ This is an album to be listened to loud. ‘Expo 86’ is a voyage of highly danceable synth rock, and it is an album I want to hear performed live. It’s as though Wolf Parade cares. They care enough to make an album so infectious and so listenable that you want to hear it reverberate in an auditorium. You want this music to vibrate through every cubic inch of your body because listening to it on a stereo isn’t enough. Lyrically I need to sit with ‘Expo 86’ a while longer, but in “Two Men In New Tuxedos” Spencer Krug addresses the issue of dichotomy with Dan Boeckner. “You’ve got the promise that I gave you,” Krug says. “You’ve got the strongest one/ We are two oxen under one whip/ We are two men in new tuxedos/ And we are ready to jump from behind the wall.” Anyone who thought Wolf Parade could never surpass the high water mark of ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ can go to hell. Living up to the past doesn’t matter. ‘Expo 86’ is the present and I’ll listen this stupid thing to death.

Where ‘Expo 86’ is Wolf Parade at their infectious best (so far), Arcade Fire released an album last week that is nearly on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is going to work against them, and I think that’s entirely unfair. Let’s get the reminiscing out of the way right now. ‘Funeral’ is a modern classic. Enough has been said about ‘Funeral’ by too many people since it converted so many in 2004. One of the things I love bout Arcade Fire is that their albums make me sit for a moment after I listen to them. I’m not immediately blown away by their albums, but the first time I listened to ‘Funeral’ I knew it would be something I loved. There was enough happening on ‘Funeral’ that I had to sit with it and experience it two or three more times, and I did, and two or three listens later I was looking up the French translation for those lines in “Une Anee Sans Lumiere” and “Haiti,” driving with the windows down and screaming along with “Wake Up,” and thinking “I carved your name across my eyelids/ You pray for rain, I pray for blindness” was the only line in any song that ever hit the heartbreak nail on the head. And then reality quickly sunk in. After enough listens and loving ‘Funeral’ as much as I did, I realized there would be a follow-up album.

The Arcade Fire

‘Neon Bible’ is a great album. It’s not ‘Funeral.’ Arcade Fire will never release ‘Funeral’ again. If they do release ‘Funeral’ again, they are doing everything wrong. I don’t want Arcade Fire to repeat themselves. They are better than that. They are more creative than that and they have so much more to say. If you’re expecting everything Arcade Fire does from now until the end of time to sound like “Rebellion (Lies),” you can keep waiting while the rest of us move on. ‘Neon Bible’ was an outstanding follow-up to ‘Funeral,’ another one of those albums I knew I would love after two or three listens, and I did. I was lucky enough to see Arcade Fire three years ago at DAR Constitution Hall, and it made ‘Neon Bible’ that much more memorable. Too many people didn’t like ‘Neon Bible,’ or they say the same thing, that it took them a while to get over ‘Funeral’ and give ‘Neon Bible’ a chance, but it will never live up to ‘Funeral.’ An outlook like that is symptomatic of a serious case of tunnel vision. With an outlook like that you’ll never fully appreciate Arcade Fire’s third album, ‘The Suburbs.’

Last week (on August 3) Arcade Fire released ‘The Suburbs.’ Already people are writing it off as a failure. I’ve heard it called repetitive. I’ve heard it called a disappointment. I’ve heard it called simply ‘meh.’ What seems to be the common factor among negative reviewers is the lack of a catchy tune on ‘The Suburbs,’ that ‘The Suburbs’ has good lyrics but you can’t dance to it. I don’t think dancing is the point here.

As with ‘Funeral’ and ‘Neon Bible’ I was not immediately drawn into ‘The Suburbs,’ but the difference between ‘The Suburbs’ and its predecessors is that when ‘The Suburbs’ ended I didn’t just sit for a moment. I found myself locked in a lengthy philosophical analysis of American quality of life. ‘The Suburbs’ is an album very much of its time. It is an album about economics, about struggle. ‘The Suburbs’ is an album about coming home after escaping from the prison of youth and realizing home is even worse now than it was ten years ago, but you wish with all your might that it was still ten years ago and you were locked in that old prison of youth.

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‘The Suburbs’ is not a musically daring album, but it doesn’t need to be. The strength here is in the lyrics. In the title track’s opening lines Win Butler captures every kid’s desire to escape, “In the suburbs I learned to drive and you told me we’d never survive/ Grab your mother’s keys, we’re leaving.” What our parents built meant nothing to us at the time, but now that it’s falling apart we find ourselves falling apart vicariously. “So can you understand why I want a daughter while I’m still young/ I want to hold her hand and show her some beauty before all this damage is done.” This album is all about watching the markets crash, running through wilderness streets and searching vainly for an echo, folding your arms tight in youthful defiance without realizing you can’t lift yourself up with folded arms. Much of ‘The Suburbs’ is about driving, about learning to drive and driving through the sprawl as though the simple act of driving is enough to break free. Sprawl is the key word here.

The best track for me is “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” “Living in the sprawl, the dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains/ And there’s no end in sight.” Go for a drive today, tonight. Drive to the fringes of urban sprawl. Or just drive to the suburbs and see what it’s really like – all the shopping plazas full of empty storefronts and beyond them the new shopping plazas where new stores will be dead within five years, only to have even more shopping plazas built beyond them. Go for a drive through economic low tide and tell me it’s not the most depressing thing you’ve ever seen. People grow up in the sprawl and want to get the hell out. Yes, ‘The Suburbs’ can be repetitive at times, but this is the sprawl. This is the repetition of dead shopping malls in the suburbs. I think people don’t like ‘The Suburbs’ because it hits too close to home. By no means is ‘The Suburbs’ the catchiest album of 2010, but I would call it the most thoughtful. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an album that has me wanting to write a forty page essay. I probably could write a forty page essay about Arcade Fire, but I’ve already written enough (for now).

Like Wolf Parade, a fellow Montreal band that found success in the early 2000’s, Arcade Fire have proven they don’t need to live up to a meaningless high water mark. They know we are living in the sprawl. Get up and dance if you want, but you can’t deny this is a new wasteland. Maybe dancing to Wolf Parade is the only way to keep our sanity when faced with all the dead things left in the recession’s wake.

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murmur Van: Art Transportation Services http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/08/06/murmur-van-art-transportation-services/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed http://www.murmurdc.com/2010/08/06/murmur-van-art-transportation-services/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2010 17:27:57 +0000 admin http://www.murmurdc.com/?p=4038 We at murmur DC are thrilled to announce that we now have a yellow van, owned and operated by contributor/painter Jeremy Arn.  He is transporting fellow artists’ art, which includes DJ equipment, musical instruments and amplifiers, large canvases, sculptures, and anything that may be too large to fit in a regular-sized vehicle.  His services will be available to the Richmond and DC metro areas.

Rates

It’s been acknowledged that the average artist probably doesn’t have a large income, so the service charge is negotiable.  The rates vary depending on the location, distance of transport, gas prices, and items being transported.

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About the murmur Van

  • aerodynamic in build
  • large storage space
  • yellow

For more info

Contact Jeremy Arn at jeremyarn@gmail.com

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