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Music You Should Know: London Plane – Room City

A few days ago, on facebook, Cici James (co-founder of Singularity and Co books in Brooklyn, responsible for the Save The Sci-Fi kickstarter, all around badass) posted that her band, London Plane, had just released an EP.0005230960_10

The EP is called Room City, and it’s available on Bandcamp for $4.

I’ve listened to it several times a day since then. It’s fuckin’ great. The music has a nice, dreamy, new-wave synth feel to it, harkening back to some of the underground sounds of the 80s, without feeling self indulgent or nostalgic. It helps that, every once in a while, Cici’s vocal performance sounds just like Alison Mosshart.

Check it out.

Perfect for fans of: The Casket Girls, Blondie, Television, Talking Heads, Keyboards.

Favorite Track: Cloud Light

 

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Lou Who?

Lou

Before I began researching Lou Reed for this article, my knowledge about the proclaimed “godfather of punk” was extremely minimal. I knew he was the key member of the Velvet Underground, that he had ups-and-downs with part-time pal David Bowie, and most recently, that he released the critically panned “Lulu,” a collaborative effort between Reed and Metallica. Aside from the above, my only exposure to Reed was the admittedly exquisite “Transformer” record, which is why I found myself to eager to write about the legendary artist. As I began my journey through Lou Reed’s dark life, I quickly found myself going down a rabbit hole of sex, drugs, abuse, and even accounting. The more research I did, the more fascinated I became. Reed was an enigma. He was an ornery, yet soft-spoken man that was never afraid to take chances or offend someone. His embracement of alternative lifestyles at a time that was harsh and unforgiving paved for the way for generations of young men and women. In short, Lou Reed didn’t invent punk rock, Lou Reed embodied punk rock.

Reed was an artist that always seemed to have his finger on the unique beat of the counterculture crowd. He was a man that seemed to have a deep passion for his home state of New York, and found a way to distill what made the 1960s and 1970s such a turbulent time through his works. Reed was never a man to shy away from the seedier side of life, and often, seemed to prefer the darker and more mysterious to the lighthearted. While it may seem cliche, Reed’s mainstream hit, “Walk on the Wild Side” is a perfect example of his attraction to the broken homes and hearts that lined New York City. A tale of crushed dreams, drugs, anger, and androgyny, Reed wrote about the seedier side of the glitz and glamor of city life and the broken characters that inhabited it. Even Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground outlined his fascination with S&M, sex dungeons and drugs, though it’s hard to expect anything else from a group mentored by Andy Warhol.

He was an artist that dealt exclusively with the realities of life, no matter how harsh or unforgiving that picture was. At a time where music was becoming increasingly more shallow and meaningless, Reed turned the aural world on its head, as he held a mirror up to society through his music and spoken word pieces. It wasn’t until years later that it was revealed how much Reed suffered in his personal life. “White Lightening/White Heat, one of the more eye-opening tracks Reed penned, was written about his horrific experiences with experimental shock therapy his parents inflicted to cure his bisexuality, and the irreversible damage it did to his mind.

It seemed that, most of all, Lou Reed was a storyteller at heart. Whether through spoken word, lyric, or poetry, there was always a story to be told and a point to make. Though the stances Reed took were certainly controversial for their time, it’s the agent Reed most often used to get said points across that stand out. Double entendres seemed to be Reed’s preferred mechanic, and for good reason. “Perfect Day,” for instance, is one of the most delightfully deceitful tracks released. Detailing the throes of heroin addiction, the true intents of the piece is cleverly hidden in what seems like one of the classic love songs that drew Reed to the world of music in the first place. It isn’t until the last moments that the track takes a sinister tone, with the repetitious warning, “you’re going to reap just what you sow.” It’s the tracks like “Perfect Day” that showcase Reed’s primary talent — writing. The man had the ability to write prose that was simultaneously thought provoking, frightening and engaging.

There’s something engagingly vulnerable about Lou Reed. It is, in part, the pain reflected in Reed’s works that draw audiences in. Beneath the sex and anger, there was a real human being with real pain that seeped through the fuzzy guitar tones. There’s something wonderfully brave and romantic about an artist refusing to bow to anyone, and Lou Reed personified exactly that concept. An individual in every respect, Reed was always going down his own path and never adhered to what others thought best. Even in his later years, Reed refused to become a greatest hits act when he toured, forsaking some of his more popular tracks in favor of whatever Reed himself felt like playing in the moment.

Known for his often antagonistic personality with the public, Lou never pandered to an interviewer and told them what they wanted to hear. He was a straight shooter, always speaking from his heart, often at the risk of offending or insulting. Though he was abrasive to the core, Reed’s devil-may-care attitude never faltered, lasting to the end. Even Reed’s final studio release, “Lulu” showed a thirst for artistic fulfillment instead of audience appeasement. Regardless of one’s opinion of the record, it’s clear that “Lulu” was a pure passion project for Reed, and while the record was panned by most critics, Lou made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t concerned with how the record would be received.

It seems a bit too simple to ask why Lou Reed was such an influential force. While his works provided countless influences and innovations to the music scene, it’s what those works say about Reed that feel so noteworthy. Lou Reed was more than just a talented lyricist and musician. He was a human being, with thoughts and feelings, who used his unique and poignant views to speak about the state of humanity as he saw it. Perhaps that’s the most wonderful thing about the man. Sure, he and the Velvet Underground single-handedly pioneered an entire style of music, but Lou Reed never seemed to lose his sense of self. He ignored critics, detractors and even fans, choosing to speak from a wonderfully vulnerable and real place, and as overly sentimental as it may seem, I feel as if that very refusal to back down is just as critical to the art world as Reed’s music itself.

After reading and listening to Lou’s work, I struggle to believe that he would approve of reminiscent articles such as this one. If anything, I would expect a profanity filled rant. While it’s a somber thought to realize we’ve heard the last of Lou Reed, he left behind a legacy that will no doubt live as long as lo-fi music and distorted guitars are played. Generations to come will discover the Velvet Underground and Reed’s massive body of solo work, but one can only hope they come to equally appreciate the unique and complex source of that gloriously existential sound.

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Dog Years – We Thought We Were So Cool

Every so often, the musicians of the Metro-Atlanta DIY scene seem to quit the band they are in, only to resurface in another a few months later. It’s the same group of people, in different pairings, playing various sub-genres that originate from punk; if you go back far enough. Due to the reputations of the projects in the members’ past, these new bands are frequently hyped up to be local “super groups”.

That’s exactly how I viewed Dog Years when I first heard about them this past June. With members coming from some of my local favorites (Astro Jones, Jebediah Springfield, Places to Hide, Microwave, and Caverns), they were bound to be a local legend for years to come. Their debut release, “We Thought We Were So Cool”, is a good start.

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The EP starts out calm and relatively quiet with the track, “Return Address”. The guitar and drum driven introduction quickly retreats to make way for singer, Ben Lively’s rough-style vocals, reminiscent of post-hardcore outfit Balance and Composure’s, Jon Simmons, or even Chuck Ragan of the late 90’s emo punk group Hot Water Music. The blunt opening line, “I never thought I’d buy such a load of bullshit,” begins a story of a dishonest lover. The chorus breaks into the full sound of the band, featuring interrupted but driving instrumentation that follows each vocal line closely. The second verse and chorus is more of the same but flows nicely into a bridge. Finally, the group vocal anthem at the end repeats, “I’m not calling back again,” which promises audience participation when performed live.

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Aside from enticing the listener to listen through to the last track, I see no reason why a great song like, “Jesse Can’t Hang,” wasn’t the opener. It continues the mellow but emotional approach of the previous track, complete with a quiet drum and guitar based introduction. The catchy chorus will more than likely get stuck in your head, especially if you can relate to “shotgunning beers in the basement” or know a guy name Jesse who, apparently, “can’t even hang”. The third verse features the line that inspired the title of the EP, “We threw it straight down in high school. Fuck that shit; we thought we were so cool.” Notably, Dog Years enlists the voice of Tyler Seaman of the Atlanta based band, Good Thoughts, to sing the bridge.

 

No matter what genre I’m listening to, long songs have a way of drawing me in and capturing my attention. “Homer” is no exception. It starts of with an ambient guitar and adds a dark bass line, a minimalistic drum beat, with Ben’s unrelenting voice on top. The chorus is where the song really shines and hits harder than ever, using drummer, Noah Linn’s, heavy fills as its backbone. For its length, the song is lyrically lacking but instrumentally, this is their collective musical talents at their best.

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Overall, this EP is a good but short introduction to what will hopefully be a long lasting musical endeavor.  If they improve upon their already great quality songwriting, Dog Years will be the talk of local music listeners everywhere. “We Thought We Were So Cool” is available on their Bandcamp page, iTunes, and Spotify.

 

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Born To Be Mild Release Party

 

Born to Be Mild!

 

Analog Revolution Presents:

An intimate performance of Confessional Poetry and Loud Music

With music from:

And poetry from:

In celebration of the release of Born to be Mild, the new EP from The Shepherde’s.

 

RSVP on Facebook.

 

Listen below.

August 14th

7 pm

$5

Analog Revolution/Swazye’s Venue

2543 Bells Ferry Rd

Marietta

borntobemild

 

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Fences, Twitter, and Lesser Oceans

There are a lot of exciting albums coming out this summer. One of them is Lesser Oceans by Fences.

Christopher Mansfield is Fences. I saw him open for Against Me! at the Masquerade Atlanta in 2011. During the drive home, the coma of bruises, body odor, and ear-ringing muted every thought but one: I wanted to listen to Fences. I drove in silence trying to remember what he sounded like.

So I did what any web-savvy millennial would do. I Googled “fences band,” and soon enough I had the entirety of Fences’ first album pulled up on a Bandcamp music player.

https://fences.bandcamp.com/

Go ahead, give it a listen. That album is gentle, honest, and all those other things that are great when you want to feel vulnerable. It was produced by Sara Quin. She’s the “Sara” in Tegan and Sara.

Those of you who are more attentive to indie rap might recognize Fences’ soft-sung vocals from the intro to Macklemore’s Otherside.

(You don’t have to watch the whole thing. Just the first bit until the singing stops, just enough to get the gist of it. )
Sometimes Fences tweets about what it’s like working with such a popular artist!

“Just because I work with Macklemore doesn’t mean I want sad white boys spamming me with their rap. Sorry you sound like shit. Bye. Cool?”

FENCES

Which brings me to his Twitter: @FFEENNCCEESS. It can be a dark place. His tweets oscillate between the abrasive:

“Holy shit American Idol makes me want to start a fire with all my guitars as wood and throw myself in it.”

“Stop blowing those noise maker horn things in my hallway. I know you’re working through some issues and this means a lot to you but stop.”

“The Oscars huh? I’ll be smoking in my bathtub listening to Tutu by Miles Davis. Seen enough bow ties and gowns in my life.”

the surreal:

“tried stealing a horse head from a billionaires house last and ended up rolling in hay kissing a dad from wales. life is fucked.”

“Tweeting from under a bed in a place with many trees. Fire hazard cigarettes and climbing giant bones to avoid the flood. My reality, now.”

“I keep having recurring dreams about the soft spot behind the same girls knee. I touch it and then flood waters come or I die from drugs.”

the whimsical:

“Every once in a while 80 year old shit faced polish guys from Greenpoint wander a little too far and end up in Williamsburg. I LOVE THEM.”

“music is a fountain pen with an antenna attached to it.”

“Just put on Haddaway, What Is Love really loud and danced till I couldn’t breathe. I recommend it.”

and the profound:

“I’m no fashion expert but I would say wear whatever makes you feel brave and or invisible.”

“Yes, I know I am a cry baby and selfish ego maniac who seeks trivial sadness to feed his self imposed image. So are you.”

“Can’t a twitter be dark and vague without it being a cry for help? Life is non-linear and complicated and grey.”

But whatever Fences says, you know he’s being sincere. He signed to Elektra this year, but that doesn’t change a thing. That only helps him reach more people. This is what music is made from. Genre: Human Being.

I.. am not ok.

wait. im ok. or… no. hey guys this is hard on me. cool? is that ok to feel that?

It’s just… this was my bedroom band. songs for girls. now were on a major label. but listen…

I will ALWAYS play what I want and for the ears of the slouched soul. Trust me. I am with you. Skin, chords and watering eyes.

I’ll be alright I just feel overwhelmed. thank you for listening . bdndjdishdbejshdbdbd

With all that being said, I love Fences. The casual tenderness and painstaking honesty leave a mark in your mind you won’t soon forget. I want to hear Lesser Oceans, but I’ll settle for happy suspense until it’s ready.

“While I recognize it is a blessing to have eager ears I also only feel anxiety when I am aggressively told to release music.”

Christopher Mansfield is Fences. He graduated from the Berklee School of Music, and he loves dogs. Listen to his art sounds.

“For real I am thankful to all who get something out of our music. I love that and I love you. Trust me.”