Thursday, January 27, 2011

You Missed Out: Nightlands

(originally published at

When was the last time you heard a guitar solo from the stage of the Empty Bottle? Honestly, I’m not sure if I ever had before last night. Dave Hartley could apparently feel the tension in the crowd, and halfway through his set apologized, “sorry for all of the guitar solos.” His jams weren’t exactly the Carlos Santana brand, but closer to John Fahey’s. So in other words, he didn’t really have to apologize to us.

Hartley was performing songs from his latest project for Secretly Canadian, Nightlands. Perhaps better known as the bassist for his full-time band, The War on Drugs, Hartley’s new project is less Springsteen-meets-Arcade Fire and more Eno-meets-Fleet Foxes.

Playing just his fourth show, Hartley’s Chicago set began with a few songs alone with his acoustic guitar and some drum machine samples. Apparently having already mastered looping effects, Hartley was maintaining a strong vocal presence without any accompaniment, but opening act Houses joined him for the final two thirds of his set anyway. They brought with them a mandolin, louder percussion, and a noisier electric guitar. Live drumming was essential to Suzerain, the highlight of Nightlands’ debut full-length, Forget the Mantra. And the additional set of voices enabled even more dynamic harmonies, especially for their chorally exultant closer, 300 Clouds.

The Empty Bottle’s stringed Christmas lights softly accented Nightlands’ dreamy compositions, but the visual supplements were strongest at Hartley’s merch table. Hartley sold his 2010 full-length and a tour-only 7-inch called All the Way, both of which feature cover art by modernist architect Paul Rudolph. Rudolph’s art looks like something you’d find in an old LIFE magazine article from the 60s’ about what they think the future might look like in the year 2000. The wistful ambitiousness of both artists is complementary and strangely enchanting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (1/26/11)

Not even February and the hot 2011 albums are already dropping. New music from Destroyer, Deerhoof, Parts & Labor and Akron/Family showcased my shift last night. But there's so much more on the way. Stay tuned for new Low, Wire, and Mogwai in the weeks to come, along with the new artists that will surprise all of us. Boy, I love CHIRP. We celebrated one year of live online broadcasting this month, and it feels like we've garnered the support of the entire music scene in Chicago over the past 12 months. I know that 2011 will only bring bigger and better things, so keep supporting the station. Chicago has needed this for years. What a sigh of relief to finally have a station we can be proud of.

12:03AM Nightlands 300 Clouds from Forget the Mantra (Secretly Canadian)

12:07AM Destroyer Kaputt from Kaputt (Merge)

12:14AM Ben + Vesper Understruggle; Yay, Win from HONORS (Sounds Familyre)

12:18AM British Sea Power We Are Sound from Valhalla Dancehall (Rough Trade)

12:24AM Unwed Sailor Numbers from The White Ox (Burnt Toast Vinyl)

12:29AM Glasser Mirrorage (Lindstrom Remix) from Mirrorage (Feedelity)

12:37AM Gangrene Wassup Wassup (featuring Fashawn & Evidence) from Gutter Water (Decon)

12:41AM Demdike Stare Viento de Levante from Voices of Dust (Modern Love)

12:48AM Deerhoof Qui Dorm, Nomes Somia from Deerhoof Vs. Evil (Polyvinyl)

12:53AM Wire Too Late from Chairs Missing (EMI)

12:57AM Lifetime Theme Song For A New Brunswick Basement Show from Jersey's Best Dancers (Jade Tree)

1:01AM HEALTH USA Boys from ::DISCO2 (Lovepump United)

1:05AM Sandwell District Speed + Sound [Endless] from Feed-Forward (Sandwell District)

1:11AM Why? Fall Saddles from Elephant Eyelash (Anticon)

1:14AM Games Midi Drift from That We Can Play EP (Hippos in Tanks)

1:16AM Ghostface Killah Ghetto (feat. Raekwon, Cappadonna and U-God) from Apollo Kids (Def Jam)

1:22AM Parts & Labor Constant Future from Constant Future (Jagjaguwar)

1:25AM Neu! E-Musik from Neu! 75 (Brain)

1:34AM The Six Parts Seven A Blueprint For Something Never Finished from Everywhere and Right Here (Suicide Squeeze)

1:41AM Sleepover Peace Buds from The Sun EP (Circuitree)

1:44AM Jens Lekman Cold Swedish Winter from When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog (Secretly Canadian)

1:50AM Fergus & Geronimo Michael Kelly from Unlearn (Hardly Art)

1:54AM A. C. Newman Submarines Of Stockholm from Get Guilty (Matador)

2:00AM Dosh MPLS Rock and Roll from The Lost Take (Anticon)

2:03AM Shapers Virginia Reel from Virginia Reel 7" (Whistler)

2:06AM The Parting Gifts Staring from Strychnine Dandelions (In The Red)

2:11AM oOoOO Hearts from oOoOO EP (Tri Angle)

2:16AM Geotic The Sprawling, Glorious Newness from Mend (self-released)

2:20AM Can Paperhouse from Tago Mago (Spoon)

2:30AM Blitzen Trapper Black River Killer from Furr (Sub Pop)

2:33AM Lia Ices Daphne from Grown Unknown (Jagjaguwar)

2:40AM Akron/Family Silly Bears from S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (Dead Oceans)

2:46AM Wanda Jackson Rip It Up from The Party Ain't Over (Thrill Jockey)

2:48AM Mew Why Are You Looking Grave? from And the Glass Handed Kites (Sony)

2:53AM James Blake Wilhelms Scream from James Blake (Atlas)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

DJ set list, darkroom (1/21/11)

I should have done this for my night at The Burlington too, but from now on I'll make sure to post my set lists on this blog. Just for general record keeping. Last night I was at darkroom for an hour and a half. My first Friday night DJing at a legit club. Small crowd due to 0 degree temps and short notice promotion, but the few dozen people who showed up danced anyway. Here's what happened:

Tom Ze - Filho Do Pato

John Mayer - I Don't Trust Myself With Loving You

Notorious BIG - Big Poppa

Paul Young - Every Time You Go Away

(you wouldn't believe how fun the mashup of those three songs is. Come out to my next night and I'll do it again.)

Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground

Out Hud - 2005: A Face Odyssey

CFCF - You Hear Colours

Big Boi - Tangerine

Toro y Moi - Low Shoulder

Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

GusGus - Polyesterday

The xx - Intro

Al Green - Love and Happiness

HEALTH - Nice Girls (Little Loud Remix)

Mount Kimbie - Before I Move Off

Dennis Brown - At the Foot of the Mountain

Genesis - I Can't Dance

CFCF - Big Love

Chicago Bulls theme

Daft Punk - Da Funk

Public Enemy - Bring the Noise

Herbert - Something Isn't Right

Robyn - Hang With Me

Cut Copy - Take Me Over (my favorite song of the night. Nobody knew what it was. But it's been stuck in my head for the past two weeks and it felt great to play it for a crowd. So fun.)

Crystal Castles - Pap Smear

Ratatat - Shempi

Prince - Erotic City

Nikita Warren - I Need You

Kanye West - Dark Fantasy

De La Soul - The Magic Number

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (1/19/11)

Come to darkroom in Ukrainian Village this Friday night. I'm DJing, and there's no cover. You might hear some of these songs I played on CHIRP last night. Bring friends. It's the weekend in Chicago. Let's enjoy ourselves.

12:03AM Disappears Halo from Guider (kranky)

12:06AM Iggy Pop Neighborhood Threat from Lust For Life (RCA)

12:09AM Dinosaur Jr. The Wagon from Green Mind (Sire)

12:16AM The New Pornographers The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism from Mass Romantic (Mint)

12:20AM The Decemberists Rise to Me from The King is Dead (Capitol)

12:26AM Damien Jurado Letters & Drawings from Rehearsals For Departure (Sub Pop)

12:33AM Tapes 'n Tapes Mighty Long from Outside (Ibid)

12:39AM Free Energy Bad Stuff from Stuck on Nothing (DFA)

12:45AM Igor Boxx Street Fighting from Breslau (Ninja Tune)

12:48AM Portishead All Mine from Portishead (Go! Beat)

12:54AM The Damned Feel The Pain from Damned Damned Damned (Stiff)

12:58AM Silver Jews Party Barge from Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)

1:01AM Cains & Abels Killed By Birds from Call Me Up (States Rights)

1:06AM Robyn Hitchcock Ye Sleeping Nights Of Jesus from I Often Dream Of Trains (Midnight Music)

1:10AM Bishop Allen Busted Heart from Charm School (Champagne School)

1:16AM Crystal Antlers Swollen Sky from Tentacles (Touch and Go)

1:20AM Campfires Chasing Planets from Chasing Planets single (self-released)

1:24AM Atlas Sound Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) from Logos (kranky)

1:29AM Thank You Strange All from Golden Worry (Thrill Jockey)

1:34AM Ducktails Art Vandelay from Arcade Dynamics (Woodsist)

1:40AM Charlotte Gainsbourg Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes from IRM (Because Music)

1:44AM Daniel Martin Moore Set Things Aright from In The Cool Of The Day (Sub Pop)

1:47AM Death Cab for Cutie A Movie Script Ending from The Photo Album (Barsuk)

1:53AM Fujiya & Miyagi Minestrone from Ventriloquizzing (Yep Roc)

1:58AM Fang Island The Illinois from Fang Island (Sargent House)

2:02AM Charles Mingus The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers from Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife (Columbia)

2:13AM De La Soul The Magic Number from 3 Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy)

2:19AM Charles Bradley Lovin' You, Baby from No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

2:21AM Vellela Vellela Hey Cuz from Atlantis Massif (self-released)

2:26AM Jarvis Cocker Leftovers from Further Complications (Rough Trade)

2:32AM Coins Bullghost from Recital Pressures (Plustapes)

2:38AM Julio Bashmore Battle For Middle You from Everyone Needs A Theme Tune (PMR)

2:44AM Blank Dogs Insides from Land and Fixed (Captured Tracks)

2:48AM Verma Dust Commander from Verma (Plustapes)

2:53AM Rollo Tomasi Mustache from Coward (Shakefork)

2:55AM Refused The Deadly Rhythm from The Shape of Punk To Come: A Chimerical Bombation In 12 Bursts (Burning Heart)

Monday, January 17, 2011

DJing at darkroom, this Friday, 1/21/11

Happy MLK Day people. Enjoy the day off. Think about peace. Pray for it if you need it.

And here's my announcement. I'm DJing at darkroom in Ukrainian Village this Friday. Maybe you guessed that from the title. It's true. From 9pm to 2am, I'll be playing tunes with a couple other DJs throughout the night.

So if you still feel bad about missing my first gig at The Burlington last month, here's your chance for redemption.

No pressure of course. There's no cover and it'll just be a fun time more than anything. Don't come just to appease me, come to darkroom if you want to feel good on a Friday night in Chicago.

Honestly, I haven't been to this place before. But I've heard that it's cool. Local photographers' work is showcased on the walls apparently ("dark room." get it?).

Alright that's it for now. Hope to see some familiar faces this Friday. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (1/12/11)

I usually post something other than just CHIRP playlists on this blog, but last week was the worst writing week I've had in over a year. On Thursday my tooth began to ache. Every three hours I was waking up with pain in my jaw. Turns out I just needed a double root canal. So that happened yesterday, and then I dedicated my show to the horrific event. Notice the themed music below:

12:03AM Sandwell District Falling the Same Way from Feed-Forward (Sandwell District)

12:09AM Eluvium Leaves Eclipse the Night from The Motion Makes Me Last (Temporary Residence)

12:14AM Wilco Summer Teeth from Summerteeth (Reprise)

12:17AM Seabear Wooden Teeth from We Built A Fire (Morr)

12:20AM Baby Teeth Celebrity Wedding from The Baby Teeth Album (Lujo)

12:25AM Ryan Adams Ultraviolet Light from III/IV (Pax AM)

12:29AM Bardo Pond Just Once from Bardo Pond (Fire)

12:38AM Morphine Cure For Pain from Cure For Pain (Rykodisc)

12:41AM Aphex Twin Corn Mouth from Richard D. James Album (Warp)

12:44AM St. Vincent Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood from Actor (4AD)

12:48AM John Roberts Ever or Not from Glass Eights (Dial)

12:55AM Orange Juice What Presence?! from Coals to Newcastle (Domino)

1:00AM Belle & Sebastian Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying from If You're Feeling Sinister (Matador)

1:03AM NOMO Hand & Mouth from New Tones (Ubiquity)

1:08AM Yo La Tengo The Pain Of Pain from Ride the Tiger (Coyote)

1:16AM tUnE-yArDs Hatari from BiRd-BrAiNs (4AD)

1:21AM The Afro-Soultet Slave Traders from Afrodesia (Luv N' Haight)

1:28AM Clap Your Hands Say Yeah The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (self-released)

1:34AM Indian Jewelry Pain Reliever from Sangles Redux (2005, Girlgang) (Girlgang)

1:37AM Demdike Stare Hashshashin Chant from Voices of Dust (Modern Love)

1:44AM Blank Dogs Elevens from Land and Fixed (Captured Tracks)

1:50AM Purling Hiss Beautiful Earth Creature from Public Service Announcement (Woodsist)

1:52AM Lord Huron When Will I See You Again from Mighty EP (self-released)

1:57AM Donovan Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do from Summer Day Reflection Songs (Sanctuary Fontana)

2:00AM TV On the Radio Dreams from Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go)

2:05AM Light Pollution Good Feelings from Apparitions (Carpark)

2:12AM Iron & Wine Teeth In the Grass from Our Endless Numbered Days (Sub Pop)

2:14AM Califone Black Metal Valentine from Roots & Crowns (Thrill Jockey)

2:21AM Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore Man or Ray from Three Kinds of Happiness (Not Two)

2:27AM Radio Citizen Move from Hope and Despair (Ubiquity)

2:34AM The Parting Gifts Keep Walking from Strychnine Dandelions (In The Red)

2:37AM Eux Autres Take It or Leave It from Broken Bows (Bon Mots)

2:42AM Midnight Juggernauts The Great Beyond from The Crystal Axis (Siberia)

2:50AM Danielson Lil Norge from Best of Gloucester County (Sounds Familyre)

2:53AM J Dilla Lightworks from Donuts (Stones Throw)

2:55AM RJD2 Exotic Talk from Since We Last Spoke (Def Jux)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

CHIRP Playlist (1/5/11)

It's a new year. CHIRP will have a broadcast signal before you know it. I'm hanging onto the midnight shift for another few months though. Here's what the first one of 2011 looked like:

12:02AM Reading Rainbow Animals Take Control of Me from Prism Eyes (HoZac)

12:09AM Dum Dum Girls Baby Don't Go from I Will Be (Sub Pop)

12:12AM Built to Spill Stop the Show from Perfect From Now On (Warner Bros.)

12:18AM Dusty Springfield Willie & Laura Mae Jones from Dusty In Memphis (Atlantic)

12:20AM Matt & Kim AM/FM Sound from Sidewalks (Fader)

12:25AM Kurt Vile Sad Ghost from In My Time single (Matador)

12:30AM Elliott Smith Independence Day from XO (DreamWorks)

12:32AM Dustin Wong Infinite Love 4 from Infinite Love (Thrill Jockey)

12:36AM Frightened Rabbit Skip the Youth from The Winter of Mixed Drinks (FatCat)

12:43AM Wild Beasts Hooting & Howling from Two Dancers (Domino)

12:49AM Glenn Kotche Mask from Introducing (Quakebasket/Locust)

12:55AM Black Flag My War from My War (SST)

1:01AM HEALTH Perfect Skin from Health (Lovepump United)

1:05AM Bibio Cry! Baby! from Ambivalence Avenue (Warp)

1:09AM The Shangri-Las I'm Blue from Myrmidons of Melodrama (RPM)

1:14AM David Byrne and Brian Eno Strange Overtones from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todomundo/Opal)

1:18AM Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra Swan Lake from Hooked Up Classics (Ubiquity)

1:20AM Cansei de Ser Sexy Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above from Cansei De Ser Sexy (Sub Pop)

1:26AM Kisses A Weekend in Brooklyn from The Heart of the Nightlife (This is Music)

1:31AM Roxy Music A Really Good Time from Country Life (Island)

1:34AM Soft Circle Light Bright from Shore Obsessed (Post Present Medium)

1:39AM Simian Mobile Disco Casu Marzu from Delicacies (Wichita)

1:47AM Hot Chip No Fit State from The Warning (Astralwerks)

1:53AM Royal Baths Nikki Don't from Litanies (Woodsist)

1:57AM Best Coast Space Baby from Where The Boys Are (Blackest Rainbow)

2:01AM Desaparecidos Greater Omaha from Read Music / Speak Spanish (Saddle Creek)

2:05AM Blonde Redhead Water from Fake Can Be Just as Good (Touch and Go)

2:09AM The Olivia Tremor Control No Growing (Exegesis) from Music From The Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle (Flydaddy)

2:14AM Dizzee Rascal Stop Dat from Boy In Da Corner (XL)

2:17AM Royksopp The Fear from Senior (MB3)

2:26AM The Good Ones Umuhanano from Kigali Y' Izahabu (Dead Oceans)

2:29AM Xiu Xiu Bunny Gamer (b) from Fabulous Muscles (5RC)

2:32AM Pan American Dr. Christian from For Waiting, For Chasing (kranky)

2:39AM Tennis Take Me Somewhere from Cape Dory (Fat Possum)

2:41AM Birds & Batteries Panorama from Panorama (Velvet Blue)

2:45AM Weekend Youth Haunts from Sports (Slumberland)

2:52AM Boards of Canada Happy Cycling from Music Has The Right To Children (Matador)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

As for Film: Meta-Mocks

Donald Kaufman reminded us that, "There hasn't been a new film genre since Fellini invented the mockumentary." But we need an addendum to that scene of Adaptation. In the past year, two movies were released that blurred the lines between documentary and mockumentary. The more popular was I'm Still Here, the "hoax" film about Joaquin Phoenix's downward spiral out of show-business. The more interesting film was Blood Into Wine, the story about how Tool's Maynard James Keenan shifted his attention away from rock and roll and decided to create a winery in the Arizona desert.

Neither of these films are documentaries in the traditional sense. Ken Burns probably wouldn't endorse either of them. Documentaries, as Michael Moore boldly claimed when he won his Oscar, deal with non-fiction. I'm Still Here and Blood Into Wine are unclear in where their "non-fiction" is based. And yet, they are not exactly Guestian mockumentaries either. There is reality inherent in these films, in spite of vehemently false aspects. Let's call this new genre, the meta-mock.

Postmodernism triggered a self-conscious ambiguity in film. Zizek asserted that the virtual is now the reality, and he's right. Hence the popularity of reality television, online social networks, and this new film genre that straddles the fence of documentary and mockumentary. Due to this paradoxical genre's simultaneously real-yet-false qualities, the virtual is more real in a meta-mock than the "non-fiction" Bowling For Columbine was.

Meta-mock is like the filmic version of Kierkegaard's philosophy: truth is subjectivity. Just as Nietzsche and Sartre would be nothing without the existential groundwork of Kierkegaard, I'm Still Here and Blood Into Wine probably would not exist without the trailblazing of Werner Herzog. He directs both fictional and non-fictional (documentary) films, but the latter are never straight-forward. Herzog has a keen sense of what makes a subject interesting, and may linger on it for over an hour, without narration. However, he is never afraid to insert his own opinion into a story. His own subjectivity may enhance the overall quality of the film.

In Grizzly Man, Herzog decides to not reveal the video or audio of Timothy Treadwell's bear mauling. He insists that it is too gruesome, and must not be revealed to the world. He even says that the tape should be destroyed.

What nerve.

To have non-fictional material that documents a major event in the film, and to throw it away. For a "documentary" filmmaker, how can Herzog make such a decision?

Now we can begin to see the blend. Before, we assumed that all documentaries were true, and that all mockumentaries were jokes. Meta-mock is intentionally indeterminate, and would rather leave questions out there for us to ask for ourselves than give us objective information. Herzog did not want to tell us what happened in Treadwell's final breathing moments, he wanted us to imagine it instead. What is this material that is so horrific that it cannot even be seen or heard on film? Truth is subjectivity.

In Adaptation, a movie that is neither a documentary or mockumentary, but is meta-aware of its guile, Charlie Kaufman toys with what a film means to reality. Is it meaningful? Is it true? What do we come away with in the end if not a fleeting feeling of being entertained? In meta-mock, these questions are cornerstones, but are altogether more introspective. Appropriate to their content, the major theme in both I'm Still Here and Blood Into Wine is self-discovery.

I'm Still Here is about one man: Joaquin Phoenix. His character believes that to be himself, to follow his dreams, he must give up acting to pursue the art of hip hop. It doesn't matter that this isn't the true desire in Phoenix's physical reality, because it is the true desire of the character in the film. Every protagonist has a desire. This is another reminder from Adaptation's McKee.

The protagonist in I'm Still Here goes about his journey in an important setting: the real world. Camera phones, blogs and real human eyes are perceiving this performance piece not as such, but as an actual man who has lost his mind. Have they been tricked by Phoenix? Not really. Because his performance was intended for the film all along. The final product needed real camera phones, real blogs and real human eyes. The character wanted to take a journey of self-discovery, not simply trick consumers of popular media. How can you discover your self if not in the setting of real world?

Unfortunately, the point was missed by most critics. They felt tricked. They thought this was some sort of attempt at a post-Andy Kaufman stunt. But where Andy made his trickery a 24/7/365 gig, Phoenix was only playing a single role for a short amount of time. Andy was also a comedian. Phoenix is not. Big, big difference.

I'm Still Here is a movie about embracing individual reality. Did the Phoenix character find what he was looking for? That's for the viewer to interpret. But the more important question to ask is, are we on similar pursuits? Are we being true to ourselves, or are we fooling ourselves? What does it mean to be an actor? What does it look like when we're faking it?

Blood Into Wine asks these same questions, and self-discovery is also at the film's core. But this film lets the forgeries roam freely. Tim and Eric open the film as the hosts of a fake talk show called Interesting Things, in which they ask Maynard questions about his winery. Right at the start, real and fake are colliding in a meta-mock world that can only exist in cinema.

Throughout the film, recurring disorientation pummels the viewer by way of new age healers, comedians and gag scenes which cause us to question the non-fiction aspect of the whole thing. Everything that is intentionally supposed to look real, (the wineries, interviews, product designs, etc.) all looks convincingly real.

Is it really real though? There are staged scenes, that is certain. But where is the reality?

By the end, just when we think that there really might be a winery in Arizona ran by Maynard James Keenan, he looks at the camera and says, "Who knows what happened when the camera was off? We could have set up this whole thing. This could all be bullshit... As soon as the camera's on, people act different. That's the nature of reality TV. This may not be how I am." Why would he even need to say that if everything is real? Because this is a meta-mock. Its joke is on itself. It knows that it's not reality. And yet, there is still communicable life and inspirational power in those recorded sounds and images. The viewer is in real existential reality, but that LCD/Netflix mirror in front of us is there to help us question ourselves.

As the father of meta-mock (Herzog) propounded: "Ecstatic truth. I've always tried to strive for a much deeper truth in the images, in cinema, in storytelling, on a screen, so whether I've achieved it or not remains to be seen..." Only through subjective eyes may we see it. And in this way, welcome our newest film genre--the meta-mock.