Hoax Hunters

Hoax Hunters

Look at you. You’re exhausted! This week has taken its toll, hasn’t it? What’s that? You say you’re just going to pick up a six-pack on the way home and drink it in your pajamas while watching episodes of Pawn Stars you’ve probably already seen before? That you’re going to use the weekend to “recharge the ol’ batteries”?

That’s crap, and I have just the thing to wake you up from your weekday-weary stupor.

To mark the second anniversary of its first release, Negative Fun Records just released a Hoax Hunters bonus track titled “Manteeth” — an evolutionary version of the song that first got me listening to Hoax Hunters. It’s about as fast and direct a blast of energy as you can get without breaking the law or consuming 2000% of your daily recommended B6 intake.

Listen to “Manteeth” below and click here to snag Hoax Hunters’ full-length, Comfort & Safety.

Hoax Hunters — “Manteeth” [Bandcamp]

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Butcher Brown

Butcher Brown

Posting may suffer a bit as I work on year-end/top-10 stuff. I never used to be this interested in making lists (and the whole concept of ranking art is more than a little objectionable), but looking back at the songs and albums that stood out and why seems to be getting more fun and important to me with each passing year. Maybe because it gives me an excuse to go back and write about albums I already wrote about and would write about over and over if I didn’t think it would be annoying. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe both.

It’s both.

ANYHOO, I thought I’d share some whistle-while-I-work music.

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Early 2015 Album Preview

impatient

Damn. It’s December? Who let that happen?

It’s hard to believe, but year-end lists are starting to appear. I just saw Rolling Stone’s, which placed the U2 album at #1. OK then. My top-10 is in the works… sort of. I’ve been keeping a list of every new album I’ve listened to in full — first time I’ve done that — and I’ve made a spot in my living room for the albums released in 2014 that I bought on vinyl so I can give them a few extra listens. I’m certain this means they’ll get preferential rankings, but whatever.

While I’m in the process of making lists and checking them twice, I thought it would be fun to preview a few of the albums I’m looking forward to in 2015. You know what? “Looking forward to” is putting it mildly. I’m like a cat staring at a printer, impatiently waiting to grab what comes out. Here’s why:

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Happy Thanksgiving, y’all

Daniel Johnston

In a few hours, I’ll be heading home to Norfolk for Thanksgiving for the first time in a handful of years. Normally I’d post a YouTube video of someone lighting a driveway on fire while trying to fry a turkey, but recent events have brought the holiday’s shady origins a little too close to the front of my mind, and it just doesn’t seem funny this time around.

Instead, I’ll leave you with a song about going home that contains the following verse, which seems fitting both for the holiday and for this particular moment in history:

Gee, it’s great to be alive
Takes the skin right off my hide
To think I’ll have to give it all up someday

That’s where being truly thankful starts. Hope everyone reading this has a great Thanksgiving.

Daniel Johnston — “To Go Home” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Olivier Messiaen

Messiaen2

I’ve been listening to Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (“Quartet for the End of Time”) quite a bit lately. I stumbled across a copy at Goodwill — the version with a shattered swastika on the cover. Remembering that Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has cited Messiaen as a major influence, and that Greenwood’s brilliant application of the ever-spooky ondes Marteno owes a great deal to Messiaen, I decided having the record was worth the dollar I’d pay for it and the intense awkwardness I’d experience when handing the cashier something with a large swastika on it. (That same discomfort is why I didn’t include that version’s cover at the top of this post. I love vinyl album art, but it’s a little hard to stomach.)

A little background on the piece: Messiaen was a soldier during World War 2, and in 1940, he was captured by the German army and placed in a POW camp located in what is now Poland. Detained in the same camp were a violinist, a cellist and a clarinetist, and Messiaen set about to write (“finish writing” might be more accurate — I read that some sections were built on existing compositions) a piece suited to the players who were imprisoned with him. A sympathetic guard provided a pencil and paper for composing, and the authorities eventually furnished his quartet (Messiaen on piano) with the instruments they needed to premiere the piece in January of 1941. It’s weighty, as you might imagine, drawing on themes related to the book of Revelation — pillars of fire, heaven, eternity — but there are these wonderful contrasting moments of levity. Whole movements are inspired by bird songs (Messiaen was big into ornithology), making for wonderful light/dark clashes. Thunder and lightning, hand-in-hand. Powerful stuff, especially when you consider the conditions in which it was composed.

I listened to “Quartet for the End of Time” again this morning, looking for something that could measure up to the weight my heart was and still is feeling.

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The Budos Band

Budos Band

My metal-loving and -practitioning brother-in-law (who just became a father — congrats, Brian!) sometimes uses a word that I’ve always understood but hadn’t learned to fully appreciate until this weekend.

“Riffy.”

Technically speaking, I’ve known the definition of the word “riff” for years. As an awkward early teenager milling about the guitar store, unsuccessfully giving off the vibe that “No, of course my mom didn’t drive me here,” wanting to touch and play everything but not wanting the other millers-about to know how few chords I knew — riffiness was everywhere. In that situation, you are the riff and the riff is you. People are loudly showing off their “Crazy Train”s and their “Enter Sandman”s — the phrases everyone’s ears know. I can remember feeling jealous about not being able to play those riffs. It didn’t matter that the slightly older teenagers playing them didn’t write them. The power of the riff endures, no matter who is doing the conjuring.

At the time, it seemed like that power was magical. Like the person who wrote the phrase tapped some vital life force or attitude and injected it into the notes to make them bigger than the sum of their parts. And I think there will always be a part of me that believes that. But this weekend, as I was listening to the new Budos Band album Burnt Offering for the fifth or sixth time, two things struck me:

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Yellow Ostrich

David Bowie

The picture of David Bowie above does two things:

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