Bryce Rudow is a freelance political/pop-culture journalist and he likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow. Go to his website: BryceTaylorRudow.com
Hey! How’s it going?
Not everyone has the time or lack of a social calendar to keep up to speed on semi-irrelevant music news, so here’s some music-related news you should know:
– Vice, that media company that everyone loves to love because they’re edgy and the voice of our generation is taking some heat because their new 60,000 SQUARE FOOT warehouse space in Brooklyn (with a $6.5 million tax break from the NYC government bonus) is causing the closure of Death By Audio and Glasslands, two well-respected DIY venues in the city . This kind of thing is inevitable because #gentrification but just know that those awesome Vice documentaries come at a price.
– Earlier this week, a hacker got one of Drizzy Drake’s new album’s songs and leaked it. Aubrey, not to take that kind of shit sitting down, ended up releasing it himself AND two other singles. They’re pretty good too.
That wasn’t an EP. Just 3 songs that I knew some hackers had. But enjoy! Back to this album.
— Drizzy (@Drake) October 25, 2014
– Daniel Radcliffe aka ‘The Boy Who Lived’ was the first kid in his class to learn the lyrics to “The Real Slim Shady” and made Blackalicious proud on Jimmy Fallon last night:
– I officially launched BryceTaylorRudow.com! Yes, you can now find EVERYTHING I’ve ever written about music, politics, sports, and pop culture in one, fully-responsive place. I learned HTML for you all, so enjoy the casual perusing (and the Spotify playlist embed because that one was a doozy).
As always, please follow the Tunes You Should Know In 2014 Spotify Playlist.
On to the music!
- Misun – “Superstitions”
Last week, Misun, a band who formed in DC and claims DC on all social media but who actually lives in L.A. and hasn’t played a show here in forever, released “Superstitions,” the lead-off single from their upcoming debut full-length.
And it’s okay. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it’s not going to win any awards. It’s Oklahoma City Thunder-level good. Which got me thinking…
Are Misun Wojcik (the vocalist you’re hearing) and Nacey (the man behind most of the other sounds) indie pop’s Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? Are they two talented players who may love each other but whose styles just aren’t capable of bringing out the best in each other?
Let’s take a look at their track record:
When Misun first started getting attention it was for The Sea EP, a 6-song collection of ‘aqua pop,’ with stand-out songs like “Coffee” and “My Time” showing an interesting mix of strong female vocals and smart pop instrumentation. During live shows, front-woman Misun Wojcik was a force to be reckoned with, immediately helping set this group apart from similar outfits.
They followed that EP up with a handful of more intense but advanced singles like “Battlefields” and “Harlot,” and “Sharpshooter.” However, while the production and song-writing were better than ever, “Sharpshooter” was the first time Nacey really took the reigns, rendering Misun’s voice undistinguishable thanks to well-executed filters and distortions. It’s one of their best songs, period, but it was a very noticeable departure in sound. And in general those songs — like “Hills and Trails” that I included above — may ooze with Misun’s personality, but Nacey’s laying the real star-power behind them.
Which — music journalist blind guessing time — I think explains “Goodbye Sasha.”
For those that were fortunate enough to forget, almost exactly a year ago, Misun released a song called “Goodbye Sasha” that was popular/well-marketed enough to be reviewed by even the likes of Pitchfork. It was a Russian-esque odd bit of dancefloor pop and it most certifiably and unarguably sucked. Misun’s voice was rendered grating and Nacey was all over the place with the sonic direction. It was like they were both trying to ruin the song for the other one.
Now this normally wouldn’t be a big deal — bands release shitty songs all the time — but my blind speculation is sure that this was at least Locker-Room-Fight bad because if you try and find “Goodbye Sasha” on the band’s Soundcloud page or YouTube page now, it’s been mysteriously erased. In fact, if it wasn’t for pirated YouTube versions and my Google skills, you might never be able to hope Sasha never comes home again:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNEjyNHADVw
And this all happened three months after they released a mixtape of remixes done by Nacey OF THEIR OWN SONGS called Summer Bootlegs. You know who puts together an album of redone versions of his band’s songs? Someone that isn’t content with what the originals sounded like.
On top of that, in the time since they said goodbye to Sasha, Misun hasn’t only been releasing a swath of completely disparate-sounding music to mixed results (“Eli Eli Eli,” “Goodbye Summer,” “Sleep”), Nacey has been gaining professional notoriety as a solo producer. The man who can’t stop releasing remixes — including one hell of a remix of Purity Ring’s “Belispeak” — nailed a single with Angel Haze, “I Own It,” meaning now he has access to other, possibly more talented partners (like when Durant was on the Olympics team?). It’s not unreasonable to assume he’s going to want the proverbial ball more now that his star power is rising.
Except Misun, the lead singer and natural point guard, is still an asset
Blonde female vocalists are a dime a dozen, but one that has a distinct vocal sound and stage presence and isn’t some cookie-cutter image (and whose name is just really fun to say) aren’t as common. Misun Wojcik, in the world of indie pop, is still a valuable commodity.
So that’s where they were at going into this album.
Unfortunately, “Superstitions” isn’t much of a tell-tale sign of what to expect because it’s a pretty safe-sounding single but come November 11th we’re going to have a pretty good idea about what we can expect ceiling-wise from this group. It should be interesting.
PS: Just to add another wrinkle, a little birdie hinted to me the other day that Misun and Nacey have ‘made their professional relationship more intimate’ if you know what I mean, which, if true, makes everything I said that much more complicated/fun to speculate about. Word of advice: don’t fuck your bandmate; take it from Fleetwood Mac.
Or No Doubt:
- Penguin Prison – “Calling Out”
I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Penguin Prison other than he doesn’t like when people fuck with his money, but when now-fiancee Mollie was playing DJ around our apartment the other day and filled our cramped lovepad with this song, I had to know who was behind it.
It’s just so…fun? 80’s? 70’s? Hall and Oatesy? Carsy?
It’s just so something.
I do wish he had owned the throwback vibe completely and killed the stolen-from-Justice ‘hey, hey, hey’s so that there’s no way you would know this is a new song/so that I can better bask in that fuzzy guitar solo, but that’s just sonic nitpicking.
Besides, this is the kind of song you’re supposed to not think about.
Just enjoy the something, whatever it is.
I know that was a lot of words on Misun earlier, and our guest writer this week — USA Today’s Nathan Scott — fanboyed out a little hard below, and I have probably already written upwards of 5,000 words on Chance on this column throughout the years so I’ll keep this third blurb short…
Chance is wonderful.
And he doesn’t really hate you.
Well, not like hate hate…
And now it’s time for a very special edition of…
AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS: Nathan Scott Edition
Editor’s Note: I saw this band with Nate a few weeks ago at a one-night-only DIY venue and the only thing better than the performance was the shit-eating grin on Nate’s face the whole time. Fun fact: When I asked him if he wanted to write up this song for the column, he had this in my inbox in approximately 48 seconds. The man has a problem.
- Caddywhompus – “Entitled”
So, full disclosure, asking me to write objectively about Caddywhompus’ music would be like asking your mom to fairly assess whether or not you’re the specialest, most adorable baby who ever was. It’s just not happening.
I’ve known Caddywhompus since I first saw them play a house party back in New Orleans back in probably 2008. It was just two of them–Chris Rehm and Sean Hart–a guitarist and a drummer. Rehm was standing next to a teetering stack of amps that were (and I know this seems far-fetched, but I swear this is what I remember) held together by duct tape. Hart was hunched over a tiny drum set, and both of them were beating the everliving shit out of their instruments. Rehm was pigeon-toed, bouncing up and down, how he always plays; Hart was hitting the drums like they had wronged him in some real way. They were my favorite band then — they were everyone in that scene’s favorite band — and they’re my favorite band still.
Caddywhompus’ songs are tough to explain. It’s still just the two of them, and a lot of their recordings are intentionally lo-fi. Rehm usually sings in falsetto, and his lyrics are often indecipherable. On top of that, for a band that’s been together for over a decade they’ve recorded maybe a couple dozen songs. But these songs, man…every one has more ideas than you’ll find in most bands’ entire albums.
“Entitled,” the newest track off their new album Feathering The Nest, is a perfect example of a great Caddywhompus song, and it’s one of my favorites they’ve ever recorded. It’s not really one song, though, it’s about five songs, packed into a little under 5 minutes. What starts as a Built To Spill-esque 90s alt-ballad quickly morphs, via a breakdown that’s so good it had me and All Things Go editor Adrian Maseda typing HOLY SHIT over and over to each other via GChat, into a rollicking headbanger. The time signatures are all over the place, the instrumentation and pedal effects flying left and right.
Despite all this, you never get the sense that Caddywhompus are out of control. When you see the band live, one of the most startling things is how, for how loud they are, how completely in control they are at the same time. This is a band that walks the line between math and noise, order and chaos.
It sounds fantastic, too. I have no idea where Rehm’s bass notes come from, but he gets them, and Hart is as technically gifted as ever.
Whatever. I’m done geeking out. This band isn’t for everybody, and I know this because I’ve dragged several confused girlfriends to shows. They’re loud, they’re brash, their songs can be depressing and then, a moment later, violent, then, another moment later, uplifting. Don’t worry about following along too closely, though. It’s music. Enjoy it.