Thursday, February 24, 2005

Modernage/Book Of Lists (indie reviews)

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have promo CDs mailed to me; rather than scouring the internet for new music, it arrives in my mailbox and it doesn't sound like it was recorded underwater. This month, I received two discs -- one from Vancouver, Canada, and the other from Florida.

The Modernage press release attempts to catch your attention with everything we expect to see these days from a hot indie band -- mentions of "post-punk," "moody," and "dark." Comparisons to Interpol, The Stills, and Elefant. Live gigs with Magnet and The Walkmen, and references to NYC club nights Rothko and Tiswas.

Don't let this put you off, jaded indie fan. These guys are actually good. Sure they wear their influences on their collective sleeves, but where many of their contemporaries have the depth of a cheap flash, The Modernage build their songs around genuine hooks and uncontrived emotion. They aren't a marketing ploy. Strong vocals, the requisite one-two basslines, and precisely placed guitars are all mixed together surprisingly well for something that arrived as a CD-R.

Expect a full six song EP (titled Receiver) to be released in April. The title track, Headlights, has been on repeat at my place for some time now.

On the other end of the production spectrum, Vancouver's Book Of List's debut EP (picked up by Global Symphonic, who also released early work by The Organ) is all feedback and delay. While fuzzy production can often reflect poor mixing, in this case, it's obviously an intentional choice made by the band.

Each of the tracks on the EP has a distinct feel -- even the vocals switch up dramatically. Early Smile/Nowhere-era Ride is a good reference point, but this is a much more mature band when it comes to songwriting (much of which may be attributed to the participation of Radio Berlin's Chris Frey).

Feeling like The Jesus and Mary Chain channeled by Paul Simon, this is a really unique EP, regardless of my name-checking and comparisons. Nice to see another solid band added to the already impressive local indie scene coming together in Vancouver. Book Of Lists are one of my favorite new artists in the early months of this year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fucking youth, working youth

Early last year, my friend Lana and I decided we were going to put together some kind of online photo journal. She was going to take the photos, and I'd put them up. Somewhere between drinks we lost track of the idea, and it was shelved until recently.

It is now online at:

Tristane emailed me and asked if the name came from a line in a Sonic Youth song. YES IT DOES. Congratulations, Tristane, you're a way bigger nerd than I ever imagined.

Photographers from Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, New York, and Tokyo are all taking part in the archive. It'll be fun to watch it develop and define itself. The concept is fairly open right now, although it does revolve around art, culture, and, as a result, people.

The Fucking Youth agenda:

Our purpose is to visually document independent art, music, and culture.

We are aware of the pretentious nature inherent in any undertaking of this kind. This awareness is our apology to those who would level self-righteous arguments against us.

We will not take ourselves too seriously.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My fragile friend

This is a story about a friend of mine. I've known him for a long time. It's the kind of relationship where if one of us goes away for a while, things are always the same when we meet again. It's comforting.

Anyway, today he came to me with a real problem: He wasn't good enough.

Not good enough. What for?

For anything. For everything. He wasn't good enough at relationships, he wasn't good enough at his art, and he wasn't good enough at his job. He talked about all these other people who are wildly successful, and who are five years younger than him. He compared himself to all of these imaginary ideals and standards, and came up short in every case.

When people look at him, he felt they saw someone who, like almost everyone else, would fall into the crowd of faces you forget as you walk down a busy street. Average. Maybe slightly above average, but certainly not that different from everyone else, and if there were differences, they were probably deficiencies.

He looked at me, and I didn't know what to say. What could I say to him? "You're right, man. Actually, I forgot that you'd been out of town the last couple months, so when you knocked on my door, that's why I didn't ask how your trip was."

Earlier in the day, I had been talking to another friend (this one from London) using an online instant messenger service. She suddenly said something that made no sense -- words had appeared on her screen; the sentence: "Was it worth it?" It appeared, and disappeared and she promised me it had been there, and that she wasn't going crazy.


That's what I thought about as I was standing in my apartment, facing someone who I couldn't bare to answer with the truth.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I put my hand down his throat to shut him up, ripped out his heart, and left him laying in the entryway with the whole bloody mess hanging out of his mouth.