Exclusives

GMG 41: of Montreal: Silence in Heaven

By Kyle Lemmon; photos By Trompe L'Oeil Photomagique; clothes Provided By Agora on October 12, 2012

 

GMG 41: of Montreal: Silence in Heaven

Kevin Barnes wants to be alone right now. He contemplates his next aesthetical move like a chess player hunched over the battlefield. “I want to imagine myself on this island where I don’t have to engage with anybody else,” says the Athens, Georgia, native of his current situation. “The process becomes so much more meditative and therapeutic in that way.” Barnes recently woke up from a creatively fertile six-year period, or his “zombie state,” which exploded outwards from 2007’s depression-addled concept album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Personal strife at home, audacious rock-opera tours (2008’s Skeletal Lamping) and time spent under the tutelage of Los Angeles composer/producer Jon Brion (2010’s False Priest) dot of Montreal’s recent timeline. It’s a variegated résumé that is unique amongst most indie-pop musicians, but Barnes wants to clear the high bar he’s set for himself.

Polyvinyl Records’ fall release of the 17-track of Montreal odds and sods compilation Daughter of Cloud is seen by Barnes as a great crossroads, a place from where the artist can reflect on past laurels and restructure a mind that’s always bubbling with volcanic activity under its surface. Ten of the album’s songs are previously unreleased, while the other seven were originally issued on limited, rare or out-of-print CDs and seven-inches. Let it not be unsaid that of Montreal knows how to provide unequivocal fan service.

All this hand-wringing over a new musical chapter is warranted, considering of Montreal’s 11th full-length, the self-produced neo-prog suite Paralytic Stalks, which was released in February of this year. It’s a Princely sequence of shifting musical compositions that play with method like a house cat bandies a terrified mouse. When presented with his recent dalliances in cosmic outlaw country as a potential escape hatch from his typical psychedelic experiments, Barnes is diffident about tossing yet another country release into the public arena. “I feel discouraged, even though I know I could do it. I could do it on a weekend and the music could touch a lot of people or no one. I want to make something more original. Everything is slowly evolving in my head… Up to this point, every musical change has happened organically.”

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GMG 41: Tough Crowd: The Students of 826LA Review the Songs of Culture Collide

By Staff on October 11, 2012

 

GMG 41: Tough Crowd: The Students of 826LA Review the Songs of Culture Collide

This fall, FILTER teamed up with our friends at 826LA to teach a seminar on music reviews for students ages 6 to 18. After learning the in’s and out’s of hard-nosed sound breakdown, these budding critics were played songs by international artists appearing at Culture Collide and put their new skills to use (revamping the ol’ “blank-out-of-5 stars” method to incorporate their own inspired measuring sticks). Not since Lester Bangs has a reviewer been this entertaining, inspired and unflinchingly honest.

For the rest of the reviews, visit CultureCollide.com and 826LA.org. To hear the songs, click here for a sampler!



Boxer The Coeur
“Stormily Reassuring”
The song I hear is from Italy. It is about a festival. It looks like the singers go under the water. There is a group of people singing. It is a type of rock and roll. It is a little bit funny. It makes me happy and silly. The drums went so fast. It has a lot of beats. It reminds me of nothing but after all they are good and sometimes they rap. JASIEL AVILA
3/5 “nothings”


Coldair
“I Won’t Stay Up”
Coldair is from Poland. It makes me feel like I want to cry too much. It’s pretty good. They use horns and a guitar. When I close my eyes I see me walking with a boy. When I close my eyes it’s cold when I walk in the park. I really like it. I really want to see them. I’ll give it 5 out of 5 tears because he shows his emotions. Yay. HEYDY VASQUEZ
5/5 “tears”

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GMG 41: Another Day: Dean Wareham and the Timeless Sound of Galaxie 500

By Alejandro Rubio; Photos by Michael Macioce/macioce.org on October 5, 2012

 

GMG 41: Another Day: Dean Wareham and the Timeless Sound of Galaxie 500

In 1962, the Ford Motor Company introduced its new full-sized sedan, the Galaxie 500. For over a decade, it conquered the streets, selling millions of models until it was dropped from production in 1974. And despite the automotive industry’s nostalgic tendency to repackage and reintroduce models like the Challenger, Camaro and even the Fiesta, the Galaxie 500 remains largely forgotten.

But there was another Galaxie 500. Formed in 1987 by Harvard alumni Damon Krukowski, Naomi Yang and Dean Wareham, this Galaxie 500 was a rock band, recording three studio albums—Today, On Fire and This Is Our Music—while lasting only four years before abruptly disbanding in 1991. And unlike the Ford, which remains on blocks in the back of our minds, this Galaxie 500 refuses to be forgotten as its records continue to intrigue and indulge its legions of listeners.

But for 20 years, the band’s songs were confined to those sparse recordings. Following the breakup, Krukowski and Yang formed Damon & Naomi and Wareham played in Luna and then Dean & Britta (with his wife, Britta Phillips). Then, in 2010, Wareham decided to hit the road and give the songs of Galaxie 500 another life. The Guide caught up with the singer-guitarist as he prepares to bring “Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500” to this year’s Culture Collide festival in Los Angeles, reminiscing about his time with the band and how it feels to come back to these songs after being apart for two decades.

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GMG 41: Breakestra’s Guide to Los Angeles

By Bailey Pennick on October 4, 2012

 

GMG 41: Breakestra’s Guide to Los Angeles

With 3,792,621 people (give or take) living within Los Angeles’ official limits, it’s fair to say that it is a city with something for anyone and everyone. But let’s get a few things straight: LA does have “weather” (officially ranging from “pretty chilly” to “the gates of Hell”), not everyone is in the movie business (everyone is just trying to get into the movie business) and, yes, earthquakes are a constant occurrence (you simply don’t feel most of them). Now that we’ve cleared all that up, let’s turn this over to a real Angeleno to help us discover the best that the real Los Angeles has to offer.

Growing up in LA, Miles “Music Man” Tackett—the mastermind behind the funk/hip-hop fusion ensemble Breakestra—has had ample time to explore and experience the myriad tiny pockets of his sprawling hometown. His conclusion? It’s virtually impossible to pick favorites in a town with so much to offer. Here, Tackett guides us through the creams-of-the-crop of his Los Angeles, including the best places to flip through dusty old vinyl, see a movie and dance a Monday away like there’s no work tomorrow. So after Breakestra kills it at FILTER’s Culture Collide festival this October, you can follow Tackett and company to one of two—make that three—no-longer-secret spots to grab post-gig fish tacos.

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GMG 41: Upright Citizens Brigade: Changing The Game

By Bailey Pennick on October 2, 2012

 

GMG 41: Upright Citizens Brigade: Changing The Game

There is a mysterious allure surrounding comedy. It’s an amazing talent to be able to make people laugh, but no one really knows what it takes to keep jokes flowing unless you’re on the inside. The Upright Citizens Brigade—a Chicago comedy troupe originally composed of Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh and Matt Besser—founded its first improv and comedy theater in New York in 1999, before setting up a branch on the West Coast in 2005. The UCB sometimes seems almost as indefinable as the dedicated talent that puts on sold-out shows seven nights a week. Started as a response to the stifling nature of the brick-wall world of stand-up, as a school as well as a theater, it has transformed into a launching pad for some of today’s biggest names in comedy, including Los Angeles branch veterans Aziz Ansari, Maria Bamford, Doug Benson, Ed Helms, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Scheer and Jenny Slate. It is inclusive and exclusive all at the same time, while continuing to redefine what is funny in a new age of technology. For us outsiders, the question begs: What is the Upright Citizens Brigade really? And where is it going from here?

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FILTER 48: Sigur Rós: A Far Off Place

By Breanna Murphy; photos Lilja Birgisdóttir on August 16, 2012

 

FILTER 48: Sigur Rós: A Far Off Place

It begins with a resonating buzz in your ears. Slowly and sadly, the strings begin and crescendo, connecting with a palindromic, music-box piano refrain that sounds like it’s twinkling underwater. The structure winds, dissolves and continues until the arrival of an audible, purposeful breath inwards—and out pours an emotive, legato verse of unfamiliar syllables and words. You have no idea what the voice is saying, it’s in a language you’ve never heard, but somehow you know exactly what the music means. It’s sad. It’s beautiful. It’s wondrous. It’s joyful. All heartbreakingly so. When a brass ensemble joins the plaintive celebration, you could be in tears. By the time the faint sound of fireworks is keeping tempo, softly cracking low in the background, you’re probably smiling. A million emotions in six-and-a-half minutes—and you have no idea what the voice is saying. But you saw it in your head, and you felt it in your soul. And it was real: It’s called “Starálfur.”

To visit the mysterious and complicated universe of Sigur Rós is as intrinsically simple as listening to one of their songs. Every album is an opportunity for a journey. Press the button, flip the switch or drop the needle anywhere on any of their records and it will transport you to all the destinations you’re meant to go. A hum begins, and a place starts to take shape. It’s blurry at first, appearing in glimpses—the mercurial way light behaves at dawn, and dusk—and then it comes sharply into focus, into reality, inviting you in right on cue. The band’s music is lushly cinematic, wordless choruses painting vivid scenes and instrumentals constructing myriad emotional displays upwards and downwards, from solemn contemplation to ecstatic triumph to a fury of noise. The places Sigur Rós take you are hard to shake, long after the music ends and silence returns.

For 18 years—now six albums, two films and hundreds of notable live performances—the Icelandic quartet of Jón Þór Birgisson (who goes by Jónsi), Orri Páll Dýrason, Georg Hólm (often called “Goggi”) and Kjartan Sveinsson has been building imaginary worlds inside of listeners’ heads. With each successive release, the landscapes get more expansive, adding new and gorgeous details to an ever-adapting universe that occupies the space from one ear to the other. As subjective as the experience might be, it’s also a universal one; the band’s international popularity speaks volumes.

But, the commonality of their music’s effects doesn’t necessarily make them comprehensible. Sigur Rós is a band veiled by its own mystery and imagery, both real and imagined. To everyone who’s not from Iceland, the band hails from a strange, unknown country, makes records with unpronounceable album titles and composes music whose genre is unidentifiable and lyrics that are unfathomable. Their music is frequently cited as “inaccessible,” which probably relates to its lengthy, enigmatic and experimental nature—not to mention the majority of their songs are sung in Icelandic (a complicated and gorgeous language with roots in Old Norse and North Germanic dialects, spoken by less than half a million people) or Hopelandic (a made-up singing-construct language, spoken by no one). The “otherness” sets it apart from everything else but, more so than any other band before or after, that unique nature also offers Sigur Rós’ audiences a blank slate upon which to build their imaginations and emotions from musical experiences.

The picture you have in your head is certainly vivid, but it’s also a destination that exists nowhere and everywhere. It’s foreign and familiar, alien and welcoming. Or, perhaps, in the real world, it’s a much more specific place of opposites: where mountains erupt in flames, and then are cooled by layers of ancient ice; where days sometimes never end, and other times never begin; where the new modern is forced to adapt and cohabitate with the old world, and not the other way around.


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This article is from FILTER Issue 48

GMG 40: Passion Pit: Hold On Tight

By Laura Studarus; photos by Jason Nocito on August 15, 2012

 

GMG 40: Passion Pit: Hold On Tight

Michael Angelakos chooses his words carefully. Not prone to verbal fumbling, the Passion Pit frontman speaks in deliberate fits and starts as he searches his mental data banks for the proper shade of meaning. That is, until he hits upon a particularly intriguing line of thought, sparking a queue of rapidly falling conversational dominos that seemingly stretches into the distance, his narrative tenses slipping from first person to second person and back. “Sometimes I’ll get fixated on a certain subject and I’ll just go off,” Angelakos says good-naturedly, after a question about sincerity in indie rock turns into a rant about guilty pleasures. (For the record: he’s anti-guilt.) “Stop me if I keep going,” he laughs, aware of his ability to get swept away in an idea.

It’s a light moment for the Passion Pit frontman, who admits culling much of his band’s material from his own inner turmoil. Having first achieved notoriety on the strength of its 2008 debut EP Chunk of Change—recorded as a belated Valentine’s Day gift for Angelakos’ then-girlfriend—the band (which also features Ian Hultquist, Jeff Apruzzese and Nate Donmoyer) followed it up with a proper debut, Manners, in 2009.

Although Angelakos admits that he hasn’t idealized the life of a full-time musician since aspiring to the position at the age of 6, the rapid shift from unknown tunesmith to blog fodder was a difficult transition. Faced with the pressure of creating a follow-up and compounded with events in his personal life that he’s hesitant to discuss, Angelakos entered what he calls a “very dark period.”

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GMG 40: Riding on the Edge: The Return of Twin Shadow

By Daniel Kohn; photos by Tina Tyrell on August 8, 2012

 

GMG 40: Riding on the Edge: The Return of Twin Shadow

Moments of clarity can happen at the most obscure times: when you’re in the shower, before you go to bed or, in the case of George Lewis Jr., zipping up and down the treacherous hills of his Silver Lake neighborhood at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. Riding a motorcycle in the serpentine Los Angeles enclave isn’t the best of ideas even under perfect circumstances, but doing so at nearly 100 mph? One reckless mishap and the consequences could have slammed the brakes on everything. Yet, for the 27-year-old musician known as Twin Shadow, the risks and thrills provided a jolt that Lewis desperately needed to regain his swagger.

Zigzagging the neighborhood on a 1972 vintage Triumph at top speeds allowed Lewis to realize that he could accomplish anything he wanted to, and the rides ultimately became a metaphor for him getting past a horrible case of writer’s block.

“At the beginning of the record, I was frustrated that I couldn’t get into it on an emotional level,” Lewis confesses via phone during a night off from a European tour. “The only enjoyment I had at the time was riding my bike. I guess I needed to scare myself a bit to focus on what my life’s priorities were. When you do something dangerous, there’s something that happens that makes you connect a bit more with the world, even if it’s stupid, to get that feeling back.”

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GMG 40: Everybody Loves (?) Chris Rock

By Ken Scrudato; photos courtesy Magnolia Pictures on August 7, 2012

 

GMG 40: Everybody Loves (?) Chris Rock

A funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century. As music, film and literature bought into postmodern narcissism and confessional angst lock, stock and barrel, comedy emerged as the true voice of contemporary resistance and dissent. While the artistic output of so many indie authors, songwriters and filmmakers droned on insufferably about parent-and-relationship-inflicted emotional “damage,” the likes of Jon Stewart (political and corporate corruption), Bill Maher (religion, ignorance, religion), Dave Chappelle (race), Louis C.K. (hypocrisy), Janeane Garofalo (third-wave feminism), Sacha Baron Cohen (xenophobia, homophobia), Stephen Colbert (see: Jon Stewart), Sarah Silverman (social uptightness) and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (everything) raged against the bullshit machine with an eviscerating incisiveness and, more importantly, side-splitting hilarity that has constituted nothing less than a genuine golden age for the business of making people laugh.

Chris Rock beat most of them to the punch line. His now-hallowed 1996 HBO special Bring the Pain caught him at the very moment he emerged as perhaps the most scathingly brilliant comedian of his generation. His shockingly fearless 80-minute tirade saw him stalking the stage like a paranoid panther, while he verbally lacerated a rapidly escalating culture of systemic pre-Millennial venality (regarding Marion Barry: “How are you gonna tell little kids not to get high when the mayor is on crack?”). And were it coming from anyone else, his unflinchingly controversial “niggas versus black people” bit might have caused a career-toppling furor. But behind it all was an indisputable passion for truth and, dare we say it, moral accountability.

Rock has continued to be one of the giants of this great comedic renaissance, his stand-up having matured without losing a whit of its caustic edge. He’s also become a major movie star, though it’s an entirely different Chris Rock that is generally found occupying the silver screen (which is why they call it “acting”). If we’re being honest, though, he’s really yet to secure the sort of iconic role that made comedic celluloid legends of Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. His newest film, the Julie Delpy–written and –directed 2 Days in New York (oui, the sequel to 2007’s 2 Days in Paris), will not remedy that situation. But it will, mostly due to him, make you laugh a lot. 

In it, Rock plays Mingus, the live-in boyfriend of Delpy’s Marion, she having moved from Paris to New York with her young son—who, most amusingly, refers to Mingus as “fake daddy.” Marion’s almost-clichéd French family (the dirty old socialist dad who keys a Hummer, the hot nymphomaniac sister that likes to walk around the house in le buff) comes to visit and it all quickly descends into slapstick lunacy. Mingus, the rational one, eventually turns to chatting with a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama in a futile search for sanity. 

2 Days comes to a fittingly existential and culturally biting climax (it is French, after all), with artist Marion conceptually selling her soul to the ever-unpleasant Vincent Gallo essentially playing Vincent Gallo (he lacks the substance to actually play Beelzebub himself). In the film’s best moment, a pigeon shits all over him (Oscar, Oscar!).

What 2 Days in New York does reveal is how Chris Rock can still be the funniest guy in the room even when he’s playing the straight man. But for those grown anxious to see Rock, the peerless, thundering comedic force, once again stalking the stage, indications are that it won’t be a long wait.

Bullshitters, consider yourselves warned.

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GMG 40: 21 Years of Peace and Celebration: Perry Farrell’s Guide to Lollapalooza

By Adam Valeiras on August 2, 2012

 

GMG 40: 21 Years of Peace and Celebration: Perry Farrell’s Guide to Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza found its beginnings as a goodbye. Back in 1991, just after Jane’s Addiction formally announced their break-up, lead vocalist Perry Farrell planned and curated the first-ever “Lolla” as a rollicking farewell tour for his group. Since that first happening 21 years ago, the festival has had its own series of break-ups and revivals—perhaps echoing the “are they/aren’t they” nature of Jane’s Addiction themselves—but now, in its 16th active year, Lollapalooza has found seeming permanence in the open fields and open arms of Chicago’s vast Grant Park.

The success of Lollapalooza rests heavily upon Farrell who, since the festival’s conception, has not once stepped down as curator and producer, leading it to become one of the most beloved and acclaimed music events in the country. To celebrate, the Guide went right to the source and asked Farrell to take us on a stroll through Lollapalooza’s history—a question for each year and one extra for good luck—from performers past and present, heat strokes and hailstorms, international expansion and, naturally, sexy ladies.


Photo by Steve Wrubel

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