Here’s a show with something good for everybody. And by “everybody” I mean about 3% of the population, but if you’re reading this you’re probably in there somewhere. El Ten Eleven brings instrumental rock out of Southern California, needing only two band members to build the kind of post-rock ballads you expect to hear spilling off of stages crowded with guitar players. But two stringed instrument here (well, three if we’re counting by the number of necks). And only one drummer (well, many more if we’re counting drum machines and looping pedals). Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty’s method for building tracks piece by piece makes for a captivating live show; last year’s live set on KEXP should give you an idea of what to expect.
To honor our remix showcase at Mermaid, “The House of Tasteful Remixes”, we examined the different ways artists name their tracks when publishing remixes. Some keep it simple and tasteful
; others dress up their tracks with a gaudy assortment of self-congratulating bombast. Guess which one sucks.
Remember when remixes were called remixes? Or just mixes?
You know what I mean.
Today’s grievance deals with the increasing trend of artists applying grand names to their remixes instead of doing the polite thing: simply identifying the original song. Things have changed, I get that. At this point it seems at least 1 in 10 tracks (baseless estimate) published online are remixes (or whatever), covers, or tracks otherwise built on the shoulders of others’ work. Unlikely sounds are emerging and unlikely collaborators are collaborating. It’s a pleasant thing, so of course that means it’s endangered by an increasing volume of insincerity and exploitation.
Here’s a summary of common issues with remix track titles:
- The remix artist is leaking pride by adding a fancy name
- The remix artist is taking some ownership of the track they depended on for listening appeal
- Corniness, failures at wordplay
- Artistic insincerity, in general
Of course this is all subjective, and really, we’re just having some fun here. That said, here are some proposed guidelines on remix naming:
This spring, The Postal Service is setting out on a world tour to celebrate the release of their landmark debut album, Give Up. Jeff Mangum is out of hiding and playing Neutral Milk Hotel tunes again. Chris Carrabba is back to fronting Further Seems Forever. Conor Oberst is touring with Desaparecidos. All of these developments are thrilling for a fan of moderately underground emo/indie music, but a quick look at the concert dates yields a surprise: It’s not 2003 at all.
Ten years after the perceived heyday of the “Nothing Feels Good” crowd, there is a much-heralded wave of comeback singles and “X artist playing Y album” shows that seek to reunite woebegone groups with an audience that hopefully still exists. Any speculation on the motivation for these new tours is dicey, but it may have to do with the fact that their brand is simply more profitable this decade than last, thanks to Web 2.0’s redemption of the DIY culture and the burgeoning wallet-space of their aging fan base. It was difficult to connect with audiences ten years ago, due to a nascent internet and lack of record label funding for extensive tours or radio play. It’s hard to say that any of these groups were “ahead of their time”, because as time has worn on it has become obvious that quite a few groups mimicked Pavement, Black Flag, Morrissey, My Bloody Valentine, or all of the above. Yet in the current state of mash-ups and remixes these sins aren’t even sins anymore, and whether or not any indie bands of the era were truly groundbreaking is a subjective argument at best. But at the time they exuded an
“almost there” sensation in all phases of the game, and for teenage me, that was precisely what I liked.
As a youngster growing up in the ex-ex-urbs of an already gamma-class American city, exposure to these groups was mostly through the recommendations of a couple of casual friends who always wore Hot Topic shirts and recommended downloading albums of bands with obscure names from KaZaA or god forbid, LimeWire. One could only hope to get a few tracks a night, as downloads averaged 4 kb/s if Al Gore was feeling charitable. And this is if you could even find Texas is the Reason tracks among the ten different versions of Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” and Eastern European porn clips. If you grew up near a legitimate record store, consider yourself fortunate. Years later I still sometimes find out that I had been listening to demo versions of my favorite songs all along.
At first I was quick to label these comebacks as our generations’ version of the yearly grab bag tour of whatever combination of Foreigner/Styx/Foghat/Blue Oyster Cult/Night Ranger, and although that’s a valid approximation, it wasn’t rock radio perpetuity that indoctrinated this generation of listeners. What makes the indie groups of the early 00s unique is that not only did these bands feel like “our bands”, encountering them was a different kind of mythical experience than seeing Whitesnake or the Grateful Dead. No one says “Man, I followed Jets to Brazil around for most of 2001. Greatest summer of my life.” The experience of much of this era of music was done exclusively in private. These bands existed more or less in your personal space. Unless you lived in or near a major city, you likely never got to see many of your favorite groups play at all. Everyone does have their go-to legendary story of seeing Alkaline Trio play in a Jaycee’s Hall or how you didn’t even realize at the time how tremendous that Brand New/Hot Rod Circuit/Eisley lineup was, and it’s no different than your dad’s story about how he drank beers with Ric Ocasek backstage at the ’81 Ohio state fair. In his case, we are talking about a time when the radio routinely played Barry Manilow and Captain and Tenille, so listening to Molly Hatchet was pretty damned cool, so give him a break and let him flirt with disaster while he works on the hot water heater. You’re gonna have to do it someday.
Identifying with an outsider music culture has always included some degree of collecting reputable experiences. At times it becomes an exercise in expression through conglomeration, and there was always the central matter of how amazing and perfect those lyrics were about your exact life situation. When iPods showed up they became the de facto indie-cred litmus test. If you’re gonna let someone else have a look through your library, you’d better have Pinback on there, because people will judge you if you don’t (PS: It’s not too late: they’re currently on tour supporting a great new album).
It’s hard to predict whether these resurrections will be successful or not. Recently I attended Jeff Mangum’s show at the Beacham in Orlando and found it to be just as powerful as it could have been in its original state. Perhaps ten years has been the proper amount of time for Ben, Jimmy and Jenny to make sure that “Nothing Better” will live up to its name. The Postal Service’s tour stands to be the latest battle in the timeless struggle of “Better Late than Never” versus “Is it better to Burn Out, or Fade Away?”, playing out on mid-size stages across the country. Or is it just the live demo version of the battle?
Has it been 10 years? Damn nearly. The mini-supergroup that is Postal Service–one half Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), one half Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel, Figurine)–have announced that they will be embarking on a tour to promote Give Up…. a few years behind schedule.
Florida? Yes. The Service will make a drop at Hard Rock Live in Orlando on June 5th. Tickets are sold out, however (we would have told you sooner, but we were in line). Seriously, though, the tickets were gone within an hour of posting.
Give Up Reissue
The tour was announced along with news of a 10-year anniversary reissue of Give Up that will feature some new tracks (–!). Here’s a timeline of how all this unfolded:
- 1/21: Postal Service website updated: “Postal Service 2013″ 
- 2/4: Tour (with Jenny Lewis) announced/confirmed
- 2/22: (Most) tickets went on sale
- 2/22: (Most) tickets sold out
There are tickets floating around in the aftermarket, but if you want them you’d better have $100+ and some patience.
Here it is. A near-exhaustive survey of music around the state has produced one of the most heavily researched posts we’ve ever done. There’s a playlist below, so jump right in
2012 was somewhat of a landmark year for Florida capturing some cred across a variety of new music scenes. For years I’ve lived here and watched with envy as exciting music scenes were born and flourished in other US cities. While Florida has had a smattering of promising artists the last few years, there still hasn’t been much of a local scene anywhere to support growth. Intriguing artist collectives, online labels, and upstart self-promoters have been popping up all year, thanks in large part to culture shifts at some of our big state universities, . It’s exciting to see, and it has me feeling hopeful that Florida’s close to gaining national esteem–not just credibility. Maybe, hopefully, eventually, our friends will stop talking about their plans to move to [insert cool city here].
Here are Brasky’s favorite tunes from Florida in 2012 (ordered only for playlist continuity).