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MUSIC | The Hobbyists
Currently viewing the category: "MUSIC"

Photo: Michael Macaulay

We had just finished with Pitchfork’s Peoplelist and compiling a list of the best albums from 1980 – 1995 with some friends when we cracked this beer. To say we were hugely nostalgic for the ’90′s would be an understatement. This was the perfect compliment!

This is an interesting beer on many levels. First, it was brewed by Seattle based Elysian to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the cities Sub Pop record label which rose to fame in the Seattle grunge scene as the first home of Nirvana, Mudhoney and Sound Garden but has also been home to recent acts such as the Shins, Fleet Foxes or Iron and Wine. At times in their careers Sebadoh, Dinosaur Junior and Sonic Youth have also called the label home. They’re kind of a big deal and we’re sort of fans! We originally thought the name of the beer was actually a reference to the Beck song but it turns out that Odelay was put out by Geffen (not Sub Pop) so we are not really quite sure where it came from. The ‘90’s were a bit of a blur.

Second, this beer is a might unusual as it uses the incredibly hard to find (but amazingly delicious) Sorachi Ace hop to create a very unique pale ale (the only other beers we can think of that use Sorachi Ace are the Brooklyn Brewing saison of the same name a couple of companies that have used it as part of a single hop IPA series). Elysian beers tend to have a signature malt base that is sweet and syrupy. Strong maple and peach flavours. That is still present here but the Sorachi ace provides an interesting twist. There is a hint of lemon citrus to counteract the sweetness and an overwhelming creamy or buttery taste that means the beer goes down really smoothly and lingers on the tongue for a while. It’s nicely carbonated which helps to keep it light.

Definitely a beer that is worth trying because it is wildly different! Put on that old copy of Nevermind gathering dust on the shelf (OK, use your iPod if you must, but that really is selling out) and relax with this easy drinking pale ale. The slogan Corporate Beer Still Sucks, originally Corporate Beer Sucks when Loser was first bottled in 2009 is a reference to a shirt Kurt Cobain wore when Nirvana first graced the cover of Rolling Stone which pronounced “Corporate Rock Sucks” (shout out to #pdxbeergeeks for that tit bit).

After a SXSW hiatus – and, admittedly, a post-SX recovery hiatus – our Travel List series is back to help you toss around ideas about just which book will make it into your suitcase this Easter weekend. Post-SX, what better kind of author to consider than a music writer? Rob Sheffield has written for SPIN and most recently pit out two musically grounded memoirs of diffthirst periods in his life. While we missed meeting him at SX where he was signing books & getting some love, we still love him and think this is a truly great read.

Rob Sheffield – Love is a Mix-Tape (Life and Loss One Song At A Time)

For anyone with the slightest nostalgia for the ’90s, Sheffield can instantly take you back with this great tribute to both that decade’s music and his wife who he lived the music with. Framed in the context of the mix tapes that these two music lovers, and eventual music journalists, made for each other, the book will have you wishing you never threw yours out years ago. Each chapter starts out with a scrawled out cover of a mix tape that either he or his then girlfriend, soon to be wife, made for each other and for distinct moments of their lives, Sheffield takes you into his relationship as they experience the 90s opening up a whole different era of music as first Pavement and then Nirvana changed everything.

Sheffield’s book is, at the same time, poignant and heart-wrenching, with the risk of a few tears as Sheffield takes you back to this moment in his life – but which leaves you looking ahead with him and with no shortage of music to unearth. Full disclosure…This book holds a special place in my own memory today, having read it on my first trip to Austin almost two years ago, only to discover that Pavement was playing the last night of their reunion tour (after a 20 yr bitter musical divorce) on my last night in a city I was fast falling in love with, admittedly at a velocity something less than the guy I was falling in love with here. Tickets bought instantly, it would be my first of many concerts to catch at Stubb’s. And Sheffield’s mix tape lists have stirred a lot of sessions of digging up old 90s albums, our own tapes sadly having long been tossed out.

 

Montreal’s Yamanataka have a sound that reminds us of somewhere in between Asobi Seksu and Sleigh Bells – which is a great combo – and the video for Hoshi Neko off their debut album Sonic Titan has a whimsical mixed- media quality that we enjoy.  It reminds of the doodles you made in the margins of your class notes come to life.

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Portland’s Yacht can be a little hit and miss for us, but Shangri-La is a definite hit and the video reminds us of all the things we love about the wacky West Coast.

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This week’s featured book in The Travel List series is Patti Smith’s – Just Kids.

Smith chronicles her artistic diaspora from the Midwest to NYC in the late ’60s to seek out her self-definition as an artist, where she almost immediately has a chance meeting with Robert Mapplethorpe. The two go on to have an intense relationship, with a bond that endures until his death, while each forges their respective identities as artists, finding their respective practices that launches the two of them into the avant-garde of music and photography. For a close, exquisite and raw glimpse into NYC during the late ’60s and into the ’70s, this book takes you there. The details Smith gives of their time living in the eponymous Chelsea Hotel make it almost tangible and give life again to several characters now long gone who spent time there – Janis, Jimi and others.

Considering the contributions that Smith and Mapplethorpe have each made, and in her case, continue to make, in the worlds of art and music, to have such an intimate view into where this started for the two of them and how it came to be took my breath away. It felt like walking alongside two friends as they found themselves as artists, each working so desperately to find the medium that allowed them out of themselves – and almost not finding that medium altogether. Smith’s candid account of how they came to be where they are truly gives you some insight into the near misses of many artists and musicians that we have come to know today – if all it took was someone putting a Polaroid in Mapplethorpe’s hands.

This book rendered me speechless at times – and almost as fast, ensured that I could not talk about anything else for at least a month, buying copies for friends to pass along. The accolades that she received for Just Kids - the National Book Award amongst countless other nods and great reviews – could not surprise anyone given the poignancy of this book and its amazing prose. There are lines within it that just stun, leading you to read them over and truly understand that you are reading the prose of a poet – and poets, like Rainer Maria Rilke and others have proven to make excellent novelists and prose writers time and time again. Given the door that Patti Smith opens onto her relationship with Robert, if you can read this on a plane or a beach without some tears, it will be far more than just surprising.

This will definitely be coming with me to NYC in May for the inaugural Frieze NY…an appropriate re-read given the context. I may just have to make a few Patti-inspired pilgrimages to Coney Island and the Chelsea…

For anyone that went to the Watch the Throne Tour this Fall, this video is the perfect momento.  Like being there all over again… well if you play this on repeat 8 – 10 times.  Also a few clips that take you back to Paris.  Good 2011 revisit for a few of us.  Enjoy!

Since it’s the time of year that people are generally grabbing a plane to find some real estate on a beach somewhere,  a reading list seems like a good place to start before packing. It’s the least that we could do – to help marry up your wandering mind with what it will truly need while you’re laying on a beach or a boat somewhere. The key is to find the right one – that either piques your interest based on where you’re going or just grabs you on the right level, just where you need to be to get the most out of your trip.

Thanks to Tablet for shooting out its list, “Book It: Winter Reads”, of what to read where. Any list that includes Alain de Botton deserves instant credibility and caught my attention right away. The trip envy that that list engendered in me fueled this list. So, over the course of the next several weeks, this list will grow to include books that have been with me on great trips, many of which I would take again for a re-read without hesitation. Enjoy and hope that at least one of these gets you where you need to be on your vacation.

Keith Richards – Life

Because this book is a trip in itself. Need I say more?

Having not been able to put this down myself on my last vacation, I can’t begin this list without it. I was reticent about reading it given Keith’s notorious slagging of Mick in it – with Marianne Faithfull coming to his defence – but then, wouldn’t we all have a little to say about our brothers after a five decades of hard living while running a business together?

Keith takes you from the South in the ’60s back to growing up in postwar Britain and then right along for the ride chronicling how the Stones got to where they are today – and through all the dirt along the way. For the Stones lover, he’s got you. For the guitarist, there’s so much material there. For the music historian, a glimpse at 20th c. blues and rock & roll doesn’t get much better than this. For the pure celebrity of it, well, Perez Hilton has nothing on Keith with the walk-ons of so many interesting characters over the years that he sets out for you. His perspective of these years and how it all fit together for him was what struck me the most about the book – and has stayed with me since returning home and pouring through some of their older albums.

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Happy New Year! May 2012 be filled with fun, hobbying and real issues not much bigger than these!

Austin got some well needed rain the third morning of FFF – while it didn’t do anything for the dustbowl that was Auditorium Shores, this didn’t seem to really bother anyone. Glasses on, scarf over face and people were set.

Austra. A TO-based group led by opera-trained, Katie Stelmanis, were fantastic. Also leading the charge of Kate Bush-influenced groups working today, Austra has a full, voluptuous, sonic aura to it, led a captivating show and are definitely worth you checking them out.

Architecture in Helsinki. Cut Copy’s little cousin new on the scene played yesterday afternoon on the orange stage to a full crowd. Definitely check them out – and their version of Need You Now –  at: http://cutcopy.net/. A very fun group from Melbourne that would be very fun to see in a small club to get your dance on.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Loved, loved this show. So good to see them after having seen them many years ago at the Halifax Pop Explosion (thanks to mikethehobbyist). Together now for over a decade together and they’re still putting out a great sound with a lot of energy and character. Yesterday, though, they put out the funniest – and most rewarding – show at FFF with Ted Leo as Danzig at the end to pull off amazing covers of the Misfits tunes that fans missed on Friday night. Yes, wig, whining and all. It was pure genius and had the place going mad. Apparently this is not a new thing, having just pulled off a Misfits cover gig on Hallowe’en – but the timing to pull this out again could not have been better.

Master Pancake’s Video Jukebox. We whipped over to the blue stage where our local favourite comics from Alamo Drafthouse fame were doing their video jukebox…Sadly we had missed most of the tracks, but came in just in time to see them rip into the Hoff. And then more gingerly into Henry Rollins, who was waiting in the wings to go on with his spoken word. Too tiny to actually see Mr Rollins at the packed blue stage, this little hobbyist could definitely hear the booming voice as he waxed poetic on his views on Austin as opposed to the rest of Texas, and reminisced about playing old shows in his Black Flag days. After Danzig’s episode, culturemap’s been calling Rollins punk’s new uncle…

Diplo. Hardest working DJ around these days. He’s got a solid sense of sound with a style that grabs a lot of people and certainly didn’t miss the mark at FFF.

Del. One of the funnest acts to see in hip hop for years, he’s got a great rhyming style and loved hearing him. Del’s definitely dabbling in that strand of an overly rock-produced flavour to hip hop that’s come out in recent years (think Mos Def’s miss: The New Danger). But once he got to his old stuff, it was all good.

Black Lips. Had never heard them before, but was promised an entertaining show by not less than the FFF organizers themselves and some of our group. Wildly entertaining and raw, these Atlanta-based guys are self-described “flower punks” – right. And Mary Poppins dances with Henry Rollins. Going from making out together, to impromptu vomiting and lighting off fireworks – and not stadium rocker fireworks, but ones bought in a parking lot on a frontage road somewhere – these guys are insane, but manage to sound great at the same time and had a crowd in front of them eating it up, giving the show some of the best energy of any of the acts this weekend. Never seen a guitar actually beaten up then handed out to the crowd, but hey – their producer, Mark Ronson, has the cash to front for guitars at every show.

Slayer. For the sake of seeing what all the fuss was about & why we were seeing every Slayer shirt ever made all weekend, we stopped by for a couple songs. Not our thing at all, but listen, they were people lined up all along the bridge and on the slope of the Long Centre behind Auditorium Shores to see these guys so having booked these guys, Graham Williams made a lot of people pretty happy this weekend.

Blonde Redhead. Great band with a beautifully melodic quality to them with a sound coming through as clearly and focused as if we were at home in our living room listening to them. Which, after several standout songs, we decided to just do after a long weekend of being on our feet in a dustbowl…a truly amazing dustbowl full of gems, some music education and a whole lot of great sound experiences. Great festival that is unlike anything we’ve seen – with almost perfect timing in most cases, having side-by-side twin stages for bands to alternate, and having an eclectic and thorough mix of independent music of several important genres.

*For some truly great, up close photos of the weekend from folks who had press passes, check out austin.culturemap.com

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Let’s just say that coming home a bit late Saturday night (we’ll blame it on daylight savings) put a late start to getting us back to Auditorium Shores for Sunday – so our posts from funfunfun fest got a bit behind! All signs of a great weekend…So here goes, day two and three in a suite.

Day two got off to a great start with The Joy Formidable – a truly fantastic Welsh group, whose album The Big Roar we’ve been wearing out since we caught wind of it. Currently on tour with FooFighters, they came down to FFF to play just a spectacular show. With some stuffed Japanimation-style creatures guarding the stage. Great to hear them live & think they gave OccupyAustin something solid to start their day off with across the 1st St. Bridge. Definitely check them out. Full post to come soon on the album…

Then onto Wugazi. Figured since we had missed Joe Lally earlier in the day, we had better catch Wugazi:) and were reminded of their lineage when Cecil Otter cheekily shouted out for everyone to be sure to buy Joe Lally’s album at FFF. Great show that everyone got into, not least of all because they were clearly loving putting out a great show.

The sense of humour at FFF started coming out in full force on Saturday – combined with a pretty decent sense of pride in what the festival is about and all the work that Graham Williams has put into it since 2006. So Danzig was fair game for the rest of the weekend after starting his Friday set 45 mins. late to promptly start whining about being cold – to then go on and cut most of the Misfits tunes that a lot of people had shown up to hear. That show should have made the festival for so many – and just didn’t. Funniest thing ever – in a sad, princess-like musician sorta way – is reading the facebook page post from one of FFF’s organizers to get the whole scoop:

Hi. I book the fest. Those that are hating could NOT be more wrong. Yes, someone has your money and ripped you off. His name is Glenn. Stop by his house in LA with some kitty litter in trade for your refund, but we still had to pay him and he didn’t deserve it after what he pulled. Here is how it went down…check the timeline:
-glenn flies in this morning and says he has a cold and doesn’t want feel like playing the show. he demands french onion soup and vitamins brought to his hotel suite. he wants to soup now and wants it hot. we get it.
-glenn says it’s freezing in austin and he can’t go on. says it’s going to be 28 degrees tonight and he won’t perform (keep in mind, it’s currently 71 and sunny with a night forecast of maybe 50+). he says we have to move the show/festival inside if we want him to play (obviously, that’s not possible).
-we rent stage heaters (no other bands, public enemy, mcd, passion pit, etc need or want heaters on stage…it’s warm up there and not cold out) for glenn per demand, as well as bring in an onsite doctor to make him happy and be there if his cold doesn’t go away.
-agents and managers assure us he’s going to play now.
-glenn’s band/crew arrive before him in the afternoon and load gear. they said it all works, they get up the danzig banner, check lights, are happy.
-glenn arrives at 7:45 (half hour before showtime, they go on at 8:15 exactly and have a 90 min set…park curfew by the city/police is 10pm sharp)…when he arrives, he says he’s not going to play. says he doesn’t like how the banners are hung on stage and doesn’t like the lighting or stage size (all this was advanced in email and phone well in advance and the band/crew loaded in mid day and were happy with it and said it would work…stage wasn’t small at all). he wouldn’t leave his trailer to go look at the stage, though, so the lighting company drew up specs for him to look at of the stage lighting 50 feet from his trailer and brought it to him to look over and prove him wrong.
-in the meantime, glenn’s bodyguard gets pushy (literally) with murder city devils manager and tells them they can’t have their friends watch MCD from stage and wants them to cut their set. kicks them off stage and gets physical with the band and stafff….oh, also danzig says he’s just as big as slayer and slayer is playing a bigger stage on sunday and that’s bullshit and wants to play the same stage slayer is playing…or won’t play. makes him look bad.
-it’s now 8:15 and time for them to go on. the band is ready, corpse make ups done, guitars tunes. glenn says he’s not playing and that it’s too cold outside. he said big stages should have windscreen so wind can’t blow on him from the side. the stage managers then goes and gets tarps and tarp the entire side of the stage so now wind will hit him.
-it’s now 8:40. we explain that it’s cutting into the set and he’s going to have cut the 90 min set if he doesn’t play soon, as park curfew is 10. he says he doesn’t feel like playing. says “i got a deathbug. if i go on stage and get sick, i’ll die. i’m not getting sicker for this show” (NOTE: he totally looks and seems fine…no coughing, no paleness, no vomiting, just some balding and a gut, from what i can tell). we get the Dr and he says he can do a b12 shot or anything he needs if he feels bad…danzig says he only treats illnesses naturally, so won’t do that. we finally get him to agree to play and have already informed his crew that it’s only 60 mins (9pm at this point) and they start cutting some songs from the set list, so they can still do misfits, but obviously didn’t cut enough.
-they went on almost and hour late due to the HANDS DOWN biggest rock star moment we’ve ever dealt with and then he tries to start a riot and blames the fest, the city, the cops and everyone, but himself. goes backstage and tries to fight a few ppl and get in the van and leaves.
the end….
we’re bummed to. we wanted to hear Skulls.

Needless to say Danzig’s whole routine made for some funny quips for the rest of the weekend – stay tuned for the best part of this on Day 3.

M83 played one of the best shows this weekend. Their sound translated so well to a live outdoor show – much better than you may have expected. Playing every one of their greatest songs from the past two albums, they gave up a dish of dreamy pop that the audience ate up with vigour. The size of crowd gave you a sense that these guys have really made it defining indie dream pop.

Kool Keith replaced a broken-footed Rakim on the blue stage at the last minute. Bummed not to see Rakim for the first time, we headed over to check out Kool Keith. Have to say, while this hobbyist was thrilled to check out a legend in hip hop – especially after having just missed him in Savannah, GA while hobbying through the southeast this summer – his rhyming got dulled quick by too many trashy slags about women and just no solid content. Any message got lost in it, and certainly lost us quickly. Hip hop has had a whole lot more to say than this for a while so I expected more from one of its long-standing guys. Just not my thing.

Lykke Li packed the orange stage and did not disappoint with such a powerful, sexy and stunningly aesthetic show. She gave an hommage to Kate Bush – think a new, slightly darker, but definitely more raw Kate with a powerful sense of rhythm and drums – an hommage that definitely comes out in a lot of new indie pop these days (thinking ahead to the Austra show on Sunday or Florence’s new album Ceremonials, to be posted about for sure). She had the audience in her hands, just mesmerized with such a great sound, raw vigour and what was truly the best stage set up and most asethetic show this weekend. Loved it.

Thrilled to then finally catch former Austinites, Spoon, live in their hometown since they’ve relocated to Portland. It was great to see them take over the orange stage as the last act on Saturday night – an honour that was not unnoticed, but that they even rued that it was at the same time as The Damned over on the black stage. They played a fantastic set with all of our favourite tracks…before, sorry, guys, we too had to head over and catch some of The Damned’s set.

The Damned. Dave Vanian. Capt Sensible. Amazing. This hobbyist got an education in punk Saturday night. After having thought I had a grasp on early punk through to the beloved Sonic Youth, these guys gave me a true education revealing that I had yet to discover these legends & one of the greatest groups in punk hands down. These guys were the first British punk band to release a single (yes, before that other group led by Mr. Rotten) -New Rose in 1976. Technically gothic punk, Vanian had killer style then – all slicked back hair, proper dress shirt and suspenders – which continues today on their 35th anniversary tour. Their sound is so solid – and clearly has inspired so much that has come since. We loved every minute of it and it definitely made the weekend for some of our hobbyist contingency.

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