Xiu Xiu Interview 2008

•July 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Interview With Xiu Xiu

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My Thoughts On The Finale Of LOST (Spoiler Free)

•May 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It could not have ended any better.

From the first to the last frame, It was epic, sad, heartwarming, redemptive, and ultimately beautiful.

This episode, “The End” tapped into something so profound and so essential to the story of Lost it’s was hard not choking up(the second time through I balled my eyes out) , but aside from the riveting and intense story telling.  I think more importantly, the show goes way beyond all of the twist and turns, the science fiction elements, beyond the symbolism, beyond the love stories, beyond the characters, and is almost  a way to understand our own lives, I know it’s a far, far stretch, but in my mind(as of right now) it isn’t.

We all have people in our lives who mean a lot to us, and within those contexts, situations arise where we co-exist. In this co-existence; there is joy, pain, heartbreak, loss, forgiveness, understanding, and it is these parallels into our own lives that have always made the show work.

There are people in my life, who will always be important, and though I will be seeing some these people in a little over a week. I feel so far away from these people, and this ending just made me miss them more. I feel the best way to describe the ending in non-specific terms is to go back to something I wrote a while back, which had nothing to do with LOST. Yet, as life often is, some of the words seem to be the perfect way to sum up my feelings on the last episode, and in some ways the series…….

“I believe that there are inherently evil people in this world, I believe that good people can do horrible things, I believe that good people can find the strength to be good, and do the right thing no matter how painful.  I believe in forgiveness, I believe in love.

I believe that we can rise above the ashes of yesterday.
I just want to say right now to anyone who is reading this. Anyone who is burdened by whatever problem- big or small, find something that makes you smile.

This life is temporary(and who knows what lies ahead after it) but the impact we can have on both the earth and each other is forever.

The Future is Today. ”

-Excerpt from Today (original source can be found @ https://manwithamegaphone.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/today-and-tomorrow-the-universal/

Medium Lights: A wonderful new blog.

•March 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My good friend John has started a blog. It’s primarily going to be an arts/music one.  John’s got a great taste in music and really has his finger on the pulse of the independent world of art and music, so I highly suggest you check it out(I know I will be)

medium lights

best,

Justin

New Music Review: Murder By Death- Good Morning, Magpie

•March 25, 2010 • 1 Comment

Very rarely am I left speechless. After I first got to listen to my promotional copy of Murder By Death’s sixth record  Good Morning, Magpie, I was left with very little to say. I think I told myself in my head, “I just listened to the best album of 2010” after repeat listens, I still feel that way. Except the record is better every time. So what does that say exactly? I’m not sure, expect that Murder By Death have released their magnus opus.

Murder By Death have not been a band that has shied away from concept records, and never have had a lack of stories to tell. They’ve put out a record that tells the story of Man that fights the devil in a texas town a tale that is detailed lyrically like a mini-series in their wonderful second album Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them, They’ve based on Dante’s Inferno(In Bocca Al Lupo) and based a record around a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyeson(Red Of Tooth and Claw) The only record out of their catalogue is their debut Like The Exorcist, But More Break Dancing; still even that record had a bit of concept behind it as most of the songs(including the band’s name) is based off a movie or a play on words of one.

The concept has been dropped on their latest offering Good Morning, Magpie – though honestly the twelve songs that make up Magpie flow so well that it’s hard to believe that there is not a theme that weaves them together. Though their is one element that does string the record together, the initial writing for these songs began during a 2 week camping trip taken by lead singer and guitarist for the band, Adam Turla. Turla went into the woods and came out with 11 songs that the band would shape into Magpie, and the songs are great achievements of how a band can grow and get better with each release.

The one thing that I’ve always admired about the band, is they do what they want. They are hardly influenced by the world around them. Instead they take the route they want to, and tell the stories that they want to. Magpie is dark thematically and musically  like previous Murder By Death records have been- “The Oceans will seize and have no reprieved for the weak or the damned”  sings Turla on the wonderfully twisted “White Noise,” but it’s not all dark in fact, Magpie has a bona-fide love song, well a Murder By Death love song at least in the beautiful and uplifting tune “Foxglove,”

It’s the music that makes this record not only better than the rest of Murder By Death’s previous record(there is not one MBD record I dislike) It’s the production of these 11 songs, that really showcase just how great a band like Murder By Death is. Never before have you noticed how much the cello adds to the song, the drums are a bit stronger, and more subtle at the same time. And the bass is literally felt in every song.

Good Morning, Magpie begins with a short 30 second ditty, that sets up the record with Turla singing that we can’t choose our family, where we were born, but we can choose our drinking partners and, it sets up the glass and pours the”Kentucky Whiskey,” and that takes us into the drinking song of regret  “As Long As There is Whiskey In The World,” which is a fast driven  sorrowful song. It almost is as if it starts out positively and then as the song continues, you can hear the misery in the narrators song. Now don’t think that the whole record is only about alcohol, because well that is not true. Though enjoying a night listening to this record with an adult beverage is certainly an option.

I can’t pick a favorite song off of this record, which I can do on each of their previous records.  What I can say is, this record should really be a huge success, and should easily end up on people’s top ten records of the year.  The sound of these songs is just breathtaking, and I mean breathtaking.  Whether you’ve heard Murder By Death since 2001 or this will be your first listen, you will love it. In every song you can hear each instrument as it adds a layer, and as each song bleeds into the next, you will have hard time not being able to turn the record off. Every time I play it, I find myself starting it over the second it is done.

Every song is great. 11 songs written in the woods, that have now become the masterpiece that is known as Good Morning, Magpie, I plan on writing more as this record gets closer to release.

Speaking of that, you can own Good Morning, Magpie on April 6 via Vagrant Records.

Also if you get a chance to see them live, do it. One of the best bands touring today.

Music review: Josiah Wolf- Jet Lag

•March 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Have baggage. Will Travel-

by Justin Drabek

Josiah Wolf’s debut for Anticon records is a personal full of observations, doubt, questions, loss, and search for something more.


“Well I’ve done my share of dreaming/In fact that is all I do”

I’ve just spent the past couple hours reading reviews of Josiah Wolf’s first solo record.  I’m not surprised at the words I’m reading- from Pitchfork to Popmatters to Rolling Stone;  it seems everyone is pretty intent on saying this record is for all is a boring and far too personal record for a debut.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Sometimes I wonder if density is something that some reviewers just don’t know how to comprehend, because there is so much going on in Jet Lag. It’s insane to think that a record  such as this is not getting as much craze and praise it so ultimately deserves.

For those unfamiliar with Wolf- he is the elder brother and bandmate of Yoni Wolf, who leads the band Why? (Yoni, also mixes Jet Lag) Jet Leg is an intimate wonderfully composed document of man who is searching for something. A man who went through a divorce after an eleven relationship came to an end, a man who has traveled far and wide playing in Why?(hence the title Jet Lag)  A man who has lived in the chaos that can ensue in  the bay area of California. A  man who uprooted himself from that chaos back to the sanctity of the midwest.  Jet Leg is his story, as always it’s one sided but it’s honest and beautiful.

“California, what have you done to me?” (The Master Cleanse)

“For eleven years we didn’t touch another/And now I can’t sleep/Cause it’s the kind of jet lag that makes a man want to weep” (Skull In The Ice )

“But when you said I wasted your twenties, I didn’t know what to say” (The New Car)

Jet Leg as is evident in the lyrical samples above- is his story, it’s one sided but it’s honest and beautiful.

Maybe it’s this fact that Josiah is all too honest in his lyrics, or that maybe there is no song that can be construed as a single. Even with all of the blasé press, I understand exactly why Anticon(Wolf’s label) wanted to put this out(and it’s not because he’s in Why?). It is because this is a record that really can have a huge impact on it’s listener.

As opposed to Why?’s often hip-hop bent. Jet Lag is more of as straight folk record with the same building moments where if you put on head phones you will hear so much of how intricate and truly accomplished these songs are.

This is not a record to be missed. It’s one that is truly honest, and intimate, and truly grand.

Very rarely do we get such an honest and not overbearing portrait of life after a relationship and of a man questioning science and faith at the same time.

So maybe Density is such a bad quality after all.

Enjoy.

Music Review- Broken Bells- “Broken Bells”

•March 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Broken Bells is a collaboration between James Mercer and Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse, they have gone at great lengths to say, that this not a one time deal, but this is a band.

Two friends writing music in privacy and then quietly releasing their first release before anyone could spend a year contemplating what such a duo would make.

Broken Bells the album is a fully realized record,  the production is quite possibly among the best of Danger Mouse’s illustrious career;  Burton has produced everything from Gorillaz to Gnarls Barkley, to The Black Keys. Needless to say he has the chops to make records go to the next level. Here we find  him back in a creator role as he co-wrote each and every one of the songs that make up Broken Bells.  He even took part in writing the lyrics which on top of all of the beautiful sounds that the band produces -it’s the lyrics that truly make this record soar.

James Mercer, for those familiar is the front man and band leader of Portland Oregon’s The Shins. His voice is instantly recognizable and familiar, and here he uses those qualities to say something, the record is lyrically about loss, and when you hear Mercer sing, you know that he has lost something.  When he sings “Darling, I was lost then/and I’m lost now/and I doubt I will ever know which way to go” on the wonderful track “Vaporize,” it sounds like he is singing to someone specific, this directness in voice  is found in every song. Chances are he is singing to someone specific.

Broken Bells is all the better for it.

Musically, this record is a journey. It goes a thousand places in one song; it’s as if Broken Bells are inviting you into their world. A place  that is both sonically beautiful, and haunting, hip, tragic, hopeful, and full of funk, folk, pop, rock, and true musicianship to make it all flow perfectly together.

It’s the little moments in this record that make it stand out amongst most music today; it has great production, phenomenal song structure, great lyrics, and wonderful sense of sequencing, sure single songs are great but one would be doing a disservice not to listen to it as an album.

We are all on a journey, now we have soundtrack. This is a powerful record, please listen to it.

Interview: Freddy Ruppert from Former Ghosts-

•February 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

Former Ghosts is a band that was started by Freddy Ruppert(formerly of This Song Is A Mess But So Am I) and is rounded out by Jamie Stewart(Xiu Xiu) and Nika Roza(Zola Jesus) though the later each take the lead vocal spots on two songs, this band is the brain child of Freddy Ruppert.  Late last year they released what to me is the best record of 2009.. “Fleurs”

“Fleurs” is a record of emotional testimony that documents both the hope, and failures of a relationship. The music is dark, haunting, and utterly beautiful.

Freddy was nice enough to answer some questions for Man With A Megaphone in a two part interview.

Facing Your Ghosts: An Interview With Freddy Ruppert part 1

by Justin Drabek

Man With A Megaphone: The songs on “Fluers” started out as just songs you posted on your personal blog right? When did the idea of “Fleurs” as an album truly come to fruition?

Freddy Ruppert: Yeah, the songs originally were just posted on my personal blog. I think the idea of collecting these things came into an album after playing some shows and there was a response from people who were relating to the songs and Upset the Rhythm showed interest in releasing it. Also someone in my life at the time kind of pushed me to start doing music again and to really continue doing it. Making music is a daily struggle for me.

MWAM:  Was it difficult to get back into the swing of things after putting This Song Is A Mess but so am I to rest, how did it feel when you realized that these songs were more than ideas in your head, but an actual album you were going to release?

FR: I’m not sure, after quitting This Song Is A Mess I tried doing some brief instrumental type things and then ultimately just gave up on doing music altogether. I sold all my equipment and just wasn’t interested in it at all. And then I was hit by a muse and I remember running out to Guitar Center to buy some basic things I needed to record something and then the song “Unfolding” just came out of that and then I mailed it to the person. The idea of doing a record hadn’t occurred to me. When it came time to release it as an album I had a lot of hesitation. The relationship I was in had kind of fallen apart, these songs were attached to that, and I was like well, do I still put this out? Is this pathetic? Is this now just a weird breakup album? There was a period I decided I wasn’t going to put it out and wasn’t going to do it anymore and then Jamie kind of convinced me otherwise.

MWAM: Former Ghosts is a heavy emotional out-pouring and the listener is really rewarded because of this, is it hard to recreate the emotions when you perform these songs live?

FR: I’m not sure it’s really about recreating the emotions in the live setting. I think for the most part when I play live I’m just wherever the song is and I’m not aware of much else, its just the song. It’s not something I really think about. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it isn’t.

MWAM: Where did the name fleurs come from?

FR: Jamie, Nika, and myself were all trying to come up with a one word title for the record. Nika came up with Fleurs and I liked it instantly. It seemed to capture the subject matter of the album and what was going on.

MWAM: Speaking of Nika,  You recently performed your first show with her awhile back? How was that?

FR: It was really, really exciting. It was also the first time we had ever met. Which was crazy. We met a few days before the show, practiced a couple of times and then did the show. She is an amazing singer, just completely unreal and it was amazing to get to be able to play In Earth’s Palm and The Bull And The Ram live for the first time ever.

MWAM: Have you begun any work on new songs?

FR: I’m currently recording and sketching out the next record. Jamie and Nika both have some files as well. There was also a bunch of stuff that wasn’t on Fleurs. So I don’t know, we’ll see how this comes together. A lot of the themes for the next record seem to be focused on jealousy at the moment. We’ll see how this goes, I’m not sure where it is going yet.

MWAM: What has been the biggest influence on your life in regards to music?

FR: Life.

MWAM: Read any great books lately? Watched any great movies?

FR:  I’m not a big book person to be honest. As far as movies go I recently saw Antichrist and I enjoyed it. I watch Synecdoche, New York over and over again. That movie kind of destroys me it is so intense and sad.

MWAM: You and I both have a love for the greatness of peanut butter, do you have a favorite brand? Or is there anything that has been made with peanut butter that has literally changed your life?

FR: At the moment I’m just eating store brand peanut butter because it’s the cheapest for the largest amount and it is actually not too bad. As far as something with peanut butter that has changed my life: Godiva has these peanut butter cups with dark chocolate that are so amazing. The chocolate peanut butter combination always gets me, but Godiva dark chocolate with peanut butter?!? Heaven.

MWAM :What current band is constantly inspiring you?

FR: There are a few. My friend Dominic does this project called Felt Drawings that is unbelievable. He heavily borrows a lot of elements from current top 40 and then reinterprets it into his own experimental electronic vibe. His songs “In My Room” and “Barriers” make me cry. Really heavy break up songs. Also the band Tearist. I cannot say enough good things about Tearist. I think the first time I saw them I was reminded why I love music in the first place. Yasmine is unreal and in the live setting she is completely vulnerable and right there within the song. It is a rare thing to see and it is mesmerizing. I also find whatever Nika does in Zola Jesus to be inspiring and mind blowing.

MWAM: Favorite book of all time?

FR: “Mary” by Nabokov

MWAM: In two of the songs you specifically  reference the person  for who those songs are about by name? Was this a by product of the songs when you first wrote them and posted them on your blog, did you think about removing her name or did that even cross your mind?

FR: The idea of removing the name from the songs didn’t really cross my mind. I would say most of the songs were written simultaneously to the relationship, even up to the point of most of the songs being turned in to Upset the Rhythm in their final stages, so it wasn’t anything I ever thought about at the time. Sometimes you have these huge, naive, ridiculous romantic fairy tale ideas like “this is the person I’m going to be with forever” and this record is just going to be a document of shit we went through and so it’s fine. But it didn’t turn out that way and the name is still there and it is still fine. I think.

MWAM: Do you watch any TV shows regularly?

FR: No, I don’t have a television and I’m to lazy look up shows on the internet. My internet computer is kind of old.

MWAM: Do you think the internet has helped or hurt bands more in the past ten years?

FR: This is hard to answer. I think there are great arguments for both sides. The internet has definitely changed the way music is consumed. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not sure. One thing that I definitely think is good is the level of interaction between music lovers the internet has allowed. The wall between “musician” and “fan” is being torn down. And I think that is important.

MWAM: What is the best show you’ve had in the tours for fleurs?

FR: They’ve all been kind of special, weird, crazy, bizarre, really good, strange… It is hard to pick out just one. Some really memorable ones was the first show Jamie and I played together in San Diego where this guy ran in with this gigantic head wound yelling for help, Monkeytown in NYC, Comet Ping Pong Pizza in D.C., Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago, The Orange Show in Houston, and an art gallery in SLO.

part 2 coming soon….

for more info on Former Ghosts-

Former Ghosts

myspace

Four Paws Media

*Pictures not used with permission. If there is any problem with the posting of these in this post by the photographers who took them, please contact me and they will be removed immediately. Thanks.