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TAS Features

Frank Ocean, Alt-J, Django Django And More On TAS Staff 'Best Of 2012' Lists

Never mind the naysayers — 2012 was a great year for new music. The Alternate Side staff cheated a bit by coming up with a six month list earlier this summer, but as we edge closer to the end of the year, our final "Best of 2012" tally of music faves includes Frank Ocean, Alt-J, Django Django, Poliça, Tame Impala, Bob Mould, Public Service Broadcasting, Divine Fits, Beach House and much more.

And what was your favorite music of 2012?  

Russ Borris
Assistant Music Director and Host of The Alternate Side on FUV

Frank Ocean, ChannelORANGE
Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It
Tame Impala, Lonerism
Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Alt-J, An Awesome Wave
Lost In the Trees, A Church That Fits Our Needs
Father John Misty, Fear Fun
Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man In the Universe
The Walkmen, Heaven
Willis Earl Beal, Acousmatic Sorcery

Songs: (alphabetical)
A.C. Newman, "Not Talking"
Aaron Freeman, "As I Love My Own"
Bob Mould, "The Descent"
Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball"
Hot Chip, "Night and Day"
Icky Blossoms, "Babes"
The Magnetic Fields, "Andrew In Drag"
The Tallest Man on Earth, "To Just Grow Away"
Twin Shadow, "Five Seconds"
Zeus, "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" 


Alisa Ali
The Alternate Side Host, Producer & On-Air Interviewer for WFUV

Alt-J, An Awesome Wave
Ben Howard, Every Kingdom
Dinosaur Jr, I Bet on Sky
Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods
Father John Misty, Fear Fun
Geographer, Myth
Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Nada Surf, The Stars are Indifferent to Astrology
Niki & the Dove, Instinct
Poliça, Give You the Ghost


Eric Holland
Host, WFUV, FUV Music and The Alternate Side

Top 10 Albums:
Bob Mould, Silver Ag
Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Rodriguez, Searching For Sugar Man
Dr. John, Locked Down
The Walkmen, Heaven
Shearwater, Animal Joy
Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
Dinosaur Jr, I Bet on Sky
Liane La Havas, Is Your Love Big Enough?
RNDM, Acts

New York City Albums:
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel
Nada Surf, The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
Patti Smith, Banga
Shemekia Copeland, 33 & A Third
Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts
Nonah Hendryx, Mutatis Mutandis
Betty Lavette, Thankful and Thoughtful
KJ Denhert, Destiny
Donald Fagen, Sunken Condos

Top Ten Concerts:
Roger Waters, The Wall, Yankee Stadium
Bruce Springsteen & E St Band, Fenway/Gillette Equally Epic
Neil Young & Crazy Horse/Black Keys/Foo Fighters, Global Fest In Central Park
Soulive, Brooklyn Bowl
RNDM, Bowery Ballroom
Buddy Guy/Quinn Sullivan, Bb Kings
Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples, The Beacon
Green Day, Iriving Plaza
Jack White/Alabama Shakes, Roseland
Radiohead, Prudential Center

Kara Manning
Web Editor for The Alternate Side, On-Air Interviewer/Sub Host for WFUV/The Alternate Side, 

Passion Pit, Gossamer
Likely the most joyous-sounding album about crippling depression that I've ever heard. Gorgeous and painful at once.
Public Service Broadcasting, The War Room EP
Ingenious London duo weave vintage newsreel and film samples with propulsive Krautrock and electro-pop. Debut album due out in 2013.
Django Django, Django Django
Brash, buoyant and percussively driven roux of stuttering dance rock and lush pop. Like rifling through a DJ's great record collection.
Field Music, Plumb
The Brewis brothers craftily travel down eclectic byways of majestic prog-rock and angular pop, all coalescing into one luminous album.
Tame Impala, Lonerism
Kevin Parker's sumptuous sophomore collection demands a lava lamp, headphones and the time to revel in its dreamy, psychedelic soundscapes.
Frank Ocean, ChannelORANGE
Emotional, bold, candid, smart, brave and unlike any other R&B album this year.
Wild Nothing, Nocturne
Jack Tatum's hazy and sweet blur of a second album reveals an even stronger songwriter.
Cat Power, Sun
The big surprise of the year; the best album of Cat Power's career. Sadly, its release coincided with some severe health problems for the singer.
Damon Albarn, Dr. Dee
A peculiar, pretty and meditative mix of pop and English opera, accompanying the production in London and Manchester. Really beautiful and unexpected from the Blur/Gorillaz frontman.
Toy, Toy
Dappled with psychedelic pop, a motorik pulse and melodic shoegaze with catchy hooks, Toy's debut album isn't just a studio creation; the UK band is just as potent in live performance.

Liars, "Brats"
From the outstanding album WIXIW; a brilliant, visceral scrawl of a dance track.
Public Service Broadcasting, "Everest"
Another glorious single from the London duo behind The War Room EP, EP One and "ROYGBIV."
Daughter, "Youth"
This raw, aching track from The Wild Youth EP is one of several unforgettable songs from the London trio, set to release its debut in early 2013.
Alt-J, "Tessellate"
From their confident debut album An Awesome Wave — which has won a boatload of awards — this single remains a highlight.
Dutch Uncles, "Fester"
The first single from the Greater Manchester band's upcoming third album, Out of Touch In The Wild, is a quirky, marimba-driven mathematical equation that builds to a tempest.
Fiction, "Careful"
Yes, it conjures up memories of Prefab Sprout, ABC and Orange Juice, but the London band also brings its own contemporary edge to this wiry track.
Orbital w/Zola Jesus, "New France"
The best slow build of any song this year. The moment when Zola Jesus' vocals really kick in around 1:52 is a thrill. From the very good Orbital album Wonky.
Kindness, "House"
Beautiful song from Adam Bainbridge's debut album, World, You Need A Change Of Mind
Melody's Echo Chamber, "Crystallized"
A sweet blend of fuzz and ferocity, the song takes a explosive left turn near its midway point that is simply fantastic. Produced by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker
Underworld, "Caliban's Dream"
In a difficult year, one of the better memories was Danny Boyle's breathtaking Opening Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympics ... and Underworld's stellar musical direction, including this original song which underscored the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.


Sarah Wardrop
Assistant Program Director, FUV Music Weekend Host, TAS Sub Host

Albums: (alphabetical)
Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls
Calexico, Algiers
Cold Specks, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Dr. John, Locked Down
Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur
Aimee Mann, Charmer
Bob Mould, Silver Age
Poliça, Give You the Ghost
Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
The Walkmen, Heaven

Songs: (alphabetical, and Aside from the Unavoidable "Call Me Maybe" or My Willie Mae Rock Camp Band's Song, "Kites")
Alunageorge, "You Know You Like It"
Diamond Rugs, "Blue Mountains"
Heartless Bastards, "Got to Have Rock and Roll"
Kelly Hogan, "We Can't Have Nice Things"
Lianne La Havas, "Is Your Love Big Enough?"
The Lumineers, "Ho Hey"
The Magnetic Fields, "Andrew In Drag"
Regina Spektor, "Small Town Moon"
Tegan & Sara, "Closer"
Zeus, "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?"


Rita Houston
Music Director/The Whole Wide World Host

Favorite Albums (in no particular order):
Ben Howard, Every Kingdom
Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls
Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
Mumford and Sons, Babel
Bhi Bhiman, Bhiman
Beach House, Bloom
Calexico, Algiers
Rufus Wainwright, Out of the Game
Gary Clark Jr, Blak and Blu
Frank Ocean, ChannelORANGE

Favorite songs (also in no particular order):
Citizen Cope, "One Lovely Day"
Cope writes another classic — the kind of song that people will get married to, make babies to, and play at funerals. A classic!
Rufus Wainwright, "Jericho"
Songwriting is an art and a craft — Rufus excels at both on this song, with barely a word out of place.
Bonnie Raitt, "You Can't Fail Me Now"
A beautiful ballad, written by Joe Henry and Loudon Wainwright III, which Bonnie nails with a heartfelt vocal.
Willie Nelson, "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die"
Not just because of Snoop, not just because it's such a crowd pleaser live, and not just because this year I rode on Willie's bus, but just because it's great.
Dayna Kurtz, "Don't F*ck Around with Love"
This girl can sing, and cursing always makes a song better.
Cory Chisel, "I've Been Accused"
Cory Chisel writes another one straight from the heart. He's a true artist who will find a huge audience someday.
Mumford and Sons, "Lover of the Light"
A live staple and a powerful singalong. The song actually got even better for me after seeing the artful video.
Bhi Bhiman, "Time Heals"
One of my favorite new artists of 2012. It's hard to describe him — part Nina Simone, part Richie Havens. A poet, really.
Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball"
Made me cry every time. Especially live
Emeli Sandé, "My Kind of Love (Live at FUV)"
A great singer. Pop star in the UK just getting discovered here. Check out this live WFUV performance from her American radio debut (our most watched video). [video:]

Gold Fields: Tour Diary

When Australian quintet Gold Fields visited The Alternate Side's Studio A earlier this year for a session, they had just released a self-titled EP which housed their catchy pop hit "Treehouse."

Fast forward six months and the band — Mark Robert Fuller, Vin Andanar, Ryan D'Sylva, Rob Clifton and Luke Peldys. —is on the brink of releasing its debut album, Black Sun, on February 26 on Astralwerks. The Ballarat group is currently touring North America   — they play New York's Bowery Ballroom on December 4  — and TAS asked Gold Fields' frontman Mark Robert Fuller if he'd keep a fall tour diary of their travels which he did, noting everything from a first Stateside Halloween to filming a music video to an encounter with a peeved police officer in New Mexico:

Wednesday, Oct. 24
Sleeping on the floor at an airport is a lot better than trying to sleep in the van. And flying is a lot quicker than driving. But after paying $700 in excess baggage, I can see why we usually drive everywhere. But we have a show tomorrow, so we're leaving New York for LA to start another tour, this time with Diamond Rings. 

Thursday, Oct. 25
Before the Diamond Rings tour kicks off tomorrow, we're playing a one-off show in LA at the Capitol Records Tower. Weird. LogitechUE are throwing a party in the car park there and we're playing it. LogitechUE have said they'll support the band from here on in and give us in-ears and stuff. So everything about this is awesome. Until about half an hour before we went on and I started vomiting and learned I had food poisoning. The show went well and I kept it down but again afterwards I was spewing my guts, up all night into the morning, as we headed to the airport on no sleep to fly to Chicago. This was also our last show with our sound guy, Damo, who has to fly home to Australia because he fractured his ankle at our show in Salt Lake City the other week. 

Friday, Oct. 26
I had one last big spew before we boarded the plane and started to get pretty worried about tonight's show. The first show of our tour with Diamond Rings. We hadn't slept a wink so all the other guys were tired but in good spirits. I felt like absolute s**t. We landed and went to the hotel and got some sleep. I woke feeling heaps better and everyone was feeling good. The show was good. The crowd was dressed in Halloween costumes. Of course, none of them knew who we were but they seemed to warm to us gradually. It was our first show with our new sound girl, Lucie, and she did a ripper job; we're pretty excited about having her — she's great. I didn't vomit again.

Saturday, Oct. 27
Minneapolis is f**king cold. After an early lobby call and an 8 hour drive, we hit 7th Entry and found out The Wallflowers are playing in the big room next door — Bob Dylan's son's band. We got to watch them sound checking while we loaded in. We finally met the Diamond Rings crew properly and got a bit of a chance to hang out; they're all super nice. Doors opened and the smallish room filled up quickly. The show was great. Afterwards, the big room next door, where the Wallflowers played, turned into a big house superclub with thousands of people dressed up in Halloween costumes. Probably one of the best parties I've ever seen, alas we are all buggered and have another show tomorrow, so home to bed at about 2 a.m.

Sunday, Oct 28
Today we got a sleep in which is the best feeling ever on tour. Lobby call was 10 a.m. so we're all feeling rejuvenated and fresh. The drive to Madison flew; tour manager Jon drove the whole 7 hours and when we drove into Madison, parts of it are reminding us of home. Especially the big lake. We loaded into the Frequency and down in the backstage area they had this awesome ice hockey table. Like a foosball table but ice hockey. There was nobody in the venue, but when we went on, about 30 people came from the front bar and filled up the small space. Again, the show went well; It feels like we're getting pretty tight on stage. Afterwards we went to the pub next door for late night burgers and a beer. Rob and I played pool. It was very American in there despite being an Irish pub. Bed by 2 a.m. and tomorrow we get another sleep-in. We're all looking forward to tomorrow.. Our first day off in weeks.

Monday, Oct 29
A 10 a.m. lobby call for our drive to St. Louis. When I think of St. Louie, I think of Nelly so I had "Ride Wit Me" in my head the whole drive. Which is a good thing. We love playing shows, but having this night off was awesome. We went to an American BBQ joint for dinner and then drank beers and sat around the hotel pool before bed. Our new sound girl is a legend.

Tuesday, Oct 30
Had a big sleep in and then headed to Walmart to get some Halloween costumes for tomorrow night. It's our first ever Halloween in America, so we're pretty excited. Picking our costumes was pretty fun and we took way too long in Walmart. We loaded into Off Broadway and set up. We knew there wouldn't be heaps of people there tonight, but this venue would be so good to play in front of a big crowd; definitely want to come back here one day. Diamond Rings was great and Lucie is doing their sound too now. We hit up some late night Denny's on the way back to the hotel. 

Wednesday, Oct 31
Our first ever American Halloween. We are bloody excited for tonight's show in Nashville. We got up early and made the drive and loaded into the High Watt. Again, the venue looks great and there's a lot going on.. Three rooms/venues in one big building. We ate some awesome Japanese where the waitress was calling herself "Momma" and then got into our costumes. The show was awesome. Afterwards we stuck around and drank and danced to Soulwax, Justice and the Presets.. We gave the DJ our ipod. This night was unreal, probably the best night we've had in America. 

Thursday, Nov 1
Apart from a few sore heads, today was nothing but a mammoth drive to Austin. Our GPS fucked up and had us arriving at our hotel at midnight but when we arrived at our "destination" we learned we still had 4 hours to drive. Finally got there about 4am and died in bed.


Friday, Nov 2
I don't know what it is but the vibe at the moment is just really chilled and it seems like we're all having a good, easy time with all this driving and all these shows. Maybe it's the fact that the weather in Austin is amazing today and we have the day off again.  We all had a huge sleep in and then did our own thing for the arvo [afternoon]. I slept by the pool for a bit. Funfunfun fest is underway today, tomorrow and Sunday. We play tomorrow, but we're all keen to see Santigold and Run DMC tonight so we had some beers and then went to the festival to scope it out and see what our stage is like. The festival is awesome. A lot like a summer festival back home and right in the middle of the city. It ended up being a pretty big night for everyone bar me; I phantomed back to the hotel around midnight while the other guys hit da clubz. I'm too wrecked and need a good sleep before the show tomorrow. And I wanted to Skype my girlfriend. 

Saturday, Nov 3
Luke uses the worst alarm sound on his phone. It's that loud beeping siren-alarm-buzzer s**t sound and it's the worst thing to wake up to. Anyway, woke up to that at 8 a.m. and quickly got ready and headed back to the festival. The guys are telling stories about Vin starting a stage invasion at some club last night. Sounds like they had an awesome night. It is stinking hot again today. Refused are headlining tonight and they were soundchecking, so we got to watch that before we started setting up. We could already tell it was going to be a massive s**tfight to get our set right today with five-minute changeovers, so we had our game faces on when there was a few issues with our line check while a decent sized crowd was gathering in front of our stage. We were running a bit over time because of those issues and they ended up cutting the PA halfway through "Treehouse." We couldn't f**king believe it, but I guess they need to stick to their schedule. Lucie went pretty nuts at the bloke who did it, but the crowd was really good about it and just cheered. First time for everything and, besides being cut off, the show was pretty good. It was so bloody hot and we had to leave straight after our show to drive to Tucson (15 hours), but we stopped at the Barton Springs Pool on our way out of Austin for a swim and a cool down. We've been driving now for nearly 10 hours and we're about to stop at hotel to sleep.


Sunday, Nov. 4
4.00 a.m. We just got pulled over by the police on the border of New Mexico. We were on the side of the road with the cop for almost an hour. Apparently our van isn't registered properly for a "commercial vehicle." Apparently we need to register our van as a commercial vehicle. Ryan was driving and he needs to go back to New Mexico to go to court in a month. Happy days ....

Sunday, Nov. 4 (after sleeping)
Driving into Tucson, we weren't feeling the greatest. Our tour manager, Jon, was stressed about the whole police thing and he'd been up all night trying to sort it out. We were all just buggered. As we got into town, we noticed a few freaks walking around — like people in Halloween costumes again. And some of the streets we were trying to drive down were blocked off, which was pissing us all off.  Little did we know this was to become another absolute highlight of the tour. It is the "Day of the Dead" or "All Souls Day" and there are people in amazing costumes and make-up filling the streets where we're about to play. Then we learnt our show with Diamond Rings is the afterparty for all this. The show was amazing and afterwards we had drinks, danced, and drowned our sorrows away. It was pretty unreal.

Tuesday, Nov. 6
After a couple of days off/driving, we got back to LA to play the infamous Viper Room. This show wasn't supporting Diamond Rings; we were opening the night with a few local bands. We've known of this place for a long time, so we were looking forward to seeing it and pretty nervous about playing it. Plus, it's a Tuesday night.. So we expected the crowd to be small and, on top of that, our set was at 8 p.m. and we had a 10:45 p.m. flight from LAX to San Fran for a show tomorrow. How was that going to work? Well it did. And for some reason the venue was packed when we played. I think there was a fair few people there from the record label — which helped — and we played pretty well so it was good. We packed up in 15 minutes (absolute record timing by far) and loaded the van and bailed to the airport. We made it easy. 

Wednesday, Nov. 7
We had a nicer hotel than usual last night: it was an actual hotel. Bar in the lobby and all. I think that's because today's show was a showcase show for iTunes. The venue was a massive Greek ballroom and the iTunes guys all sat at dining tables, eating really nice food, while we played. It might sound extremely odd and it definitely was. But it's stuff like that that keeps things interesting for us. We're used to playing in a dark, smoky, hot pub underground in front of a bunch of people off their heads. This ballroom had full-grown palm trees inside it, on either side of the stage. The food was amazing too and all the iTunes people were really nice. Especially Justin, who talked about Bang Gang and then had me going on about Third Class for ages. Big Boi played the show too and we got to meet him. He said he loves Melbourne. 

Thursday, Nov. 8
Back to LA today to film the video for "Dark Again." Aside from the shows, today was the best part of this tour. It's pretty amazing to have all these people, who are so good at their jobs, come to work one day to make something we want come to life. And that's exactly what today was. I haven't seen any edited footage yet, but it was looking pretty amazing and the whole day was awesome. 

Sunday, Nov. 11
Portland seems a fair bit like Melbourne. After a couple more days off, we're in Portland playing the Doug Fir Lounge which was one of my favourite venues from the whole tour. We stayed at the accommodation right at the venue which made things really easy. We also got to take a tour of the LogitechUE building and they showed us how they make all their stuff — pretty mind blowing what goes into making the in-ear monitors we wear.  The show was really good, the crowd grew gradually throughout our set, and by the end everyone was dancing and it was lots of fun. 

Thursday, Nov. 15
The last show of the tour supporting Diamond Rings is at the Crocodile in Seattle. I feel like a bit of a d**k because I've said all the shows were awesome or really good but it's the truth. We've been really pleasantly surprised at the shows and especially the crowds by the end of our set. Tonight was no exception to that and, if anything, probably stands out as a favourite. Diamond Rings came onstage during our set and we did the same during their [set]. We'd had a few too many drinks by then, but all in all this was such a good night to finish the tour on a high. It's been an amazing ride and there's plenty more to come. Now we’re about to do it all again, this time supporting St. Lucia on tour around America. 

Mark Robert Fuller
November 2012

Gold Fields' Upcoming Fall Tour Dates:
11/29 Kansas City, MO Czar Bar
11/30 Chicago, IL Twas The Night Before
12/4 New York, NY Webster Hall**
12/6 Philadelphia, PA The Barbary*
12/7 Cambridge, MA The Middle East*
12/8 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg*
12/10 Montreal QC Divan*  
12/11 Toronto, ON The Drake*
12/13 Washington, D.C. U Street Music Hall*

*As special guests of St. Lucia
**As special guests of Diamond Rings


How To Help: Sandy Relief Efforts

The tri-state area is still reeling from the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but there are many ways you can help your neighbor via donations or volunteering. Here's a list of where to start:

California Wives: TAS Interview And Free Download Of 'Blood Red Youth'

California Wives' synth-sweetened brand of indie pop strays, spiritually and sonically, towards the UK rather than the Chicago band's sturdy Midwestern roots.

The quartet — vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Jayson Kramer, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Dan Zima,  guitarist Graham Masell and drummer Joe O'Connor —  just released its debut, Art History, earlier this month on Vagrant Records. They're now touring with Stars and Diamond Rings, playing a sold-out show at New York's Webster Hall this Saturday, September 22. The tour wraps on October 20 in San Francisco.

The Alternate Side chatted with California Wives' drummer Joe O'Connor about the band's many influences — their affection for New Order even led to an opening slot with Peter Hook and the Light in Chicago. Below, download a track off of the album, called "Blood Red Youth."

TAS: You're headed to New York this weekend with Stars. Both you and Stars definitely have an affinity for New Order and other UK synth bands. What's the appeal of that particular sound to you? How has it inspired you as a band?

Joe O'Connor: I think those bands active in the 80's had a really good handle on how to mix synths with guitars. In a lot of my favorite New Order songs the guitar is actually the driving force, or adding a very essential flavor to the song. When we started as a band we wanted to mix and guitars and synths so we looked to the best example for inspiration. We've since strayed a little bit from that formula, but that's what it's all about. There's already one New Order; two is one too many.

TAS: Your debut album, Art History, has songs that evolved from the years you've been together as a band, both old and new. What really binds the tracks together ... and what's the most recent one written?

Joe: The most recent song written would have to be "Light Year." It kind of came together in its present form towards the end of the our time in the studio. Jayson [Kramer] writes a lot about growing older and I think the songs all reflect that.


TAS: Where does the track "Blood Red Youth" fit in that mix?  

Joe: Jayson wrote Blood Red Youth about people he encountered who put on a front. I think he noticed that once young people graduate from college or start careers they need to act a different way. That is one aspect that can make aging hard. You see people change because they believe that society expects them to act a certain way, and they don't really consider the alternative. You would hope that people live their lives the way they want to and not the way someone else does.

TAS: If you could choose one song on the album to be remixed by anyone you'd like, what would be the track and who would you choose?

Joe: I would love to hear Four Tet remix "The New Process."

TAS:  Most inspiring or unusual advice you ever received from another band?

Joe: One band we played a show with in Omaha pointed out how important having unique merch to sell can be. They had bars of soap with their name impressed on the top. It was pretty awesome. They said they had sold plenty to people who looked at it and thought, "I forgot to buy soap!" and bought it just so they could shower the next morning. We haven't found that item to sell that will be ours alone, but I've been thinking about it ever since. We are meeting up with Stars tomorrow and I'm sure they will have plenty of good advice for us.

TAS:  We've got soundtracks on the brain here at The Alternate Side - favorite soundtrack of a film? Favorite score?

Joe: I've always really liked the soundtrack to "Snatch." It's a really cool mix of different types of music that works in every scene of the movie: Oasis, The Stranglers, Massive Attack, The Specials, Madonna, and then "Hava Nagila"  thrown in for good measure. Anyone who saw that track listing before seeing to the movie had to say to themselves,"What is going on in this movie?" Favorite score has to be "Blade Runner." I love that movie and sometimes the best parts are the aerial views of future Los Angeles set to Vangelis. We do have a soft spot for John Carpenter scores too. Everybody knows the "Halloween" theme, but the score to "Escape from New York"  is awesome too. It's amazing that he scored those movies in addition to writing and directing them.

TAS: The band's name will definitely invite a lot of questions — so we have to ask. Where in the world did it come from?

Joe: It has invited plenty of questions already. Our older relatives are the most confused. It was really just something one of us said once. It's been so long I can't remember exactly who said it, or what was said. "Something something something California Wives" is all I remember. We still didn't have a name at that point and another one of us said, "What if that was our name?" I think every band wants a name that is unique enough that people can easily identify it with the kind of music they make. I hope that's what we've got with our name.

TAS:  Finally, knowing you're big Cure fans: If you met Robert Smith and could ask him one question, what would it be?

Joe: I would ask him if he got guff for his look when he started performing and if he ever felt vindicated later. I'm sure there were people who hated on him for that, and he's definitely the one laughing now.

Efterklang: TAS Interview

Efterklang's fourth studio album, the intricate, haunting Piramida, is streaming now via WFUV and NPR Music prior to its release next week on 4AD, but New Yorkers who haven't seen the innovative, daring Danish band live have a unique opportunity to do so this Saturday, September 22, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the moment, that show (nearly sold out) will be Efterklang's only Stateside concert this autumn and it will also be steamed live on the Met's site.

Efterklang will join the Wordless Music orchestra, a collective that has also played with Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum, Panda Bear and Deerhoof, for a concert performance of the new album. It's one in a handful of special concerts that Efterklang has planned worldwide this fall, with a few shows in Denmark and an October tour in the UK also slated. For their live performances, Efterklang has also recruited Budgie, drummer for Siouxsie and the Banshees, singer/songwriter/pianist and frequent collaborator Peter Broderick and vocalist Katinka Fogh Vindelev.

In addition, Efterklang will also play a free concert at the Apple Store in Soho next Tuesday, September 25, at 7 p.m. EDT.

Piramida is Efterklang's first release as a trio — drummer and trumpet player Thomas Husmer amicably left the band earlier this year to focus on his personal life. The band's last release, Magic Chairs, was an ebullient, tightly-crafted record, nudging Efterklang to a more structured pop sound. Piramida breathes more delicately with a complex latticework of ideas, reminiscent of Efterklang's earlier work on Tripper and Parades. The new record's instrospective, even lonely mood was deeply influenced by a journey the remaining three members — Casper Clausen, Mads Christian Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg — made to an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement in Norway called Pyramiden, deserted in 1998.

The Alternate Side caught up with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Stolberg over email to discuss Piramida, the band's journey to the ghost town that inspired the record and what Danish bands deserve more recognition Stateside:

TAS: How did you manage to connect with [curator of performance] Limor Tomer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to do this upcoming concert with the Wordless Music orchestra? Was the collaboration with the orchestra conceived by Efterklang or was the match made later?

Rasmus Stolberg: We got in touch via Ronen Givony from Wordless Music who got to hear about the premiere of The Piramida Concert at the Sydney Opera House through local composer Missy Mazzoli who arranged four of the songs in the concert for orchestra.


TAS: You're working with different orchestras in every country, like Major Lift Orchestra in Ireland and the Northern Sinfonia in the UK. How will your older music figure into your current tour?

Rasmus: The Piramida Concerts are heavily based on the new album, in fact we play the entire album from start to finish. We do however also throw in a few oldies. Working with orchestras is amazing. A lot of hours and preparations go into making it happen, but when it does the payoff is equally bigger. Usually we have two days of rehearsals with the orchestras and then we go on stage. This is quite standard in the classical world, but something we had to get use to when we started playing all these concerts with orchestras.

TAS: The story behind the album's genesis sounds fascinating — you went to a ghost town, called Piramida, on Spitsbergen near the North Pole. Was it your intent to spark that new project or was it happenstance?

Rasmus: We went up there in August 2011. Our plan was to start the album in that specific location. So all three of us in the band have the exact same starting point and reference point for how this album came to life. It has been extremely inspiring for us. We never know where the making of an album will take us, but we can control the start of it all. We basically sampled this entire ghost town and used the material for making beats, ambiences and instruments which we then later used for writing all the songs for the album.

TAS: Is there an overall thematic drive behind the album? Decay, change, temporal boundaries? 

Rasmus: Yes I think you could say that there is a overall theme and decay, change, temporal boundaries are all elements of it, but what ties it all together has to do with a splintered relationship. I think Casper was able to reflect on this relationship and compare it with the feelings we had when visiting the ghost town.


TAS: Listening to Efterklang's exciting evolution, it seems that — especially with Piramida — you've strayed a bit from intricate experimental and classical compositions into something that's warmer, more intimate, yet slightly more traditional, as far as song structure is concerned. In building this album, how did you see it in terms of Efterklang's past releases?

Rasmus: it is nice for us to hear that you hear warmth and intimacy in the music — we feel the new music is darker than the previous albums. We tried to restrain ourselves from using too many layers and focus on a more direct and sparse sound. There are some songs on the album that have a somewhat simple structure like "Apples" and "Sedna," but there are also songs like
"Hollow Mountain", "Black Summer" and "Between The Walls" which, in the way they are structured, have much more in common with songs from our first two albums, Tripper and Parades, than the previous one, Magic Chairs.

TAS: There are so many intriguing, wondrous sounds filtering their way through the tracks. What is the sound in the beginning of "Dreams Today" which seems to be skipping? To pull that together ...  is that a painstaking process?

Rasmus: The sound in the beginning (and through out) of "Dreams Today" is Casper running and Mads stamping you can see it here:


The sound in the beginning and throughout of "Hollow Mountain" is from this. Mads spends a long time experimenting with this kind of stuff and it is big deal of what we do. The whole songwriting process for this album started out with these sonic experiements using the sounds we collected in Piramida in Spitsbergen

TAS: How do you realize this onstage or is it your aim to allow the songs to breathe and expand in different ways?

Rasmus: We can play a lot of these constructed sounds on our keyboards and we have a really great live band we love this flexibility. It sounds one way on the album another when we play with an orchestra and again another when it is just the 6 piece live band. It keeps things fresh and interesting for us.

TAS:  Aside from traveling to remote mining towns, what have you all, as a band, been listening to as well? Do you tend to pay close attention to other production techniques on albums?

Rasmus: Some of our longest standing inspirations are Talk Talk and Einstürzende Neubauten — perhaps Piramida is the first album where that really shows. We love both bands for all aspects of their music. Songs, production, process

TAS: On a side note, given UK and US excitement over Danish TV drama, like "Forbrydelsen" or "Borgen" — the entire Nordic Noir movement — are you rather hoping that love affair expands to Danish bands as well? You have your own record label, Rumraket, and are ardent champions of other Danish bands — who else should we be looking for and listening to coming out of Denmark?

Rasmus: The Late Great Fitzcarraldos, Sleep Party People, Pinkunoizu, Choir of Young Believers, When Saints Go Machine, Murder, I Got You On Tape, Thulebasen, Selvhente,  Frisk Frugt ... there are many really great bands in Denmark!!


FUV Boat 80s Flashback! The TAS Staff Picks Our Decade Faves

Break out the vinyl! WFUV and The Alternate Side are going back to the future on the FUV Boat time machine with an 80s-themed dance party. The big bash, a fundraiser for WFUV and The Alternate Side, sets sail on Friday, September 7 from 7-10 p.m. EDT. Head to for tickets and details. 

Along with WFUV's Darren DeVivo, The Alternate Side's own Russ Borris and Alisa Ali will DJ that night and to get everyone in the mood, the TAS Staff dug out our vinyl, parachute pants and VHS tapes to come up with a list of our faves of that decade:


Russ Borris, Host of The Alternate Side and WFUV's Assistant Music Director

Five favorite songs:
Depeche Mode, "Somebody" (live version from 101)
Dio, "Rainbow in the Dark"
Grandmaster Flash, "The Message"
The Outfield, "Your Love"
The Smiths, "Sweet and Tender Hooligan"

Five favorite dance tracks:
New Order, "Blue Monday"
Oran "Juice" Jones, "The Rain" (more of a slowjam, but contains the best kiss-off ever)
Salt-n-Pepa,"Push It"
Shannon, "Let the Music Play"
Yaz, "Situation"

Five favorite albums:
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
Men at Work, Business as Usual
The Cure, Disintegration
The Replacements, Tim
Tom Waits, Rain Dogs

Okay, fashion errors. 'Fess up:
I don't know who decides they were errors. Thick neon shoelaces were awesome and hipsters are wearing Members Only jackets in 2012. Looking back, I was a visionary.

The 80s movies you love:
Back to the Future
Blues Brothers
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
This is Spinal Tap

If you were a John Hughes character, which one would you be and why?
I don't think I can settle on one. I feel like I share traits with Clark W. Griswold, John Bender and Keith Nelson, though.


Alisa Ali, Host of The Alternate Side, WFUV Producer:
Many of my all time favorite albums and songs came out of that period," says Alisa. "I find making definitive lists so challenging, because I consume music based on mood which, for me, changes like a Flock of Seagulls.  If I've missed anything, please be sure to tell me on the FUV boat. If you come up to me and tell me that it would make your night if I played a certain song, well, I'd love to make that happen for you."

Five favorite songs:
Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime"
New Order, "Age Of Consent"
Pixies, "Gigantic" 
The Smiths, "This Charming Man" 
Men at Work, "Overkill" 

Five favorite dance tracks:
Michael Jackson, "PYT" 
Prince, "Let's Go Crazy" 
The Bangles, "Walk Like An Egyptian"
Soft Cell, "Tainted Love" 
Madonna, "Into The Groove"

Five favorite albums:
Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique
INXS, Kick
Pixies, Doolittle
The Smiths,  Louder than Bombs (A compilation album.  Maybe that's a cop-out so I don't have to choose my favorite Smiths album. But I think it's fair to choose this one, because I did listen to this album a lot then and now)
U2, Joshua Tree

Disastrous Fashion Decisions:
Acid Wash, Excessive Shoulder Pads, Jelly bracelets (actually I still like them), those Triangle Cone hair things, Plastic Members Only jacket...uh. What else? I'm sure I've made all of the mistakes.

Favorite 80s movies:
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

If you were a John Hughes character, which one would you be and why?
I'd probably be Jeanie Bueller. (from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," of course.) She went from being a total b***h to being really cool after she has a life-changing experience with a super-stoned Charlie Sheen (Ah, Charlie Sheen, you used be so cool. Sigh.) She's pretty bad ass the way she does that triple kick to Mr. Rooney's face.


Eric Holland, TAS/WFUV Host:

Five favorite songs:
Killing Joke, "Eighties"
Prince, "Darling Nikki"
Devo, "Whip it"
AC/DC, "Shoot to Thrill"
Paul Simon, "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"

Five favorite dance tracks:
Frankie Goes to Hollywood, "Relax"
Eddy Grant, "Electric Avenue"
LL Cool J, "Dear Yvette"
Cameo, "Word Up"
Rick James, "Superfreak"

Five favorite albums:
The Clash, London Calling (released January 1980 in the U.S.)
Replacements, Let it Be (1984) 
REM, Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
Nirvana, Bleach (1989) 
Pixies,  Doolittle (1989)

Okay, your biggest fashion faux pas:
Having hair on my head (the horror). Having a Spuds MacKenzie shirt  and tucking my jeans behind the tongues of my high-topped sneakers.

Your personal best 80s movies:
The Princess Bride

If you were a John Hughes character, which one would you be and why?
Ferris Bueller because life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.


Kara Manning, Content Editor/Writer and On-Air Interviewer

Five favorite songs:
The Sundays, "Can't Be Sure"
Talk Talk, "Life's What You Make It"
ABC, "Be Near Me"
The Cure, "In Between Days"
Altered Images, "Love To Stay"

Five favorite dance tracks:
New Order, "Blue Monday"
Dominatrix, "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight"
Madonna "Borderline" or "Into The Groove" (tie)
The Stone Roses, "Fool's Gold"
Tom Tom Club, "Genius of Love"

Five favorite albums:
The Cure, Disintegration
Scritti Politti, Cupid and Psyche 85
Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies
Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden

Big fashion errors:
My cropped Prince-like baroque jacket. A summer of dressing like Madonna in the "Borderline" video. My Betsy Johnson daisy dress (later spotted in R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" video) and a Janet Jackson "Escapade" tuxedo coat. I still sentimentally own the latter two items as future museum donations.

Favorite 80s movies:
Local Hero
Hannah and Her Sisters
Desperately Seeking Susan
Wings of Desire

If you were a John Hughes character, which one would you be and why?
A hapless cross between Sam Baker and Watts ... although still waiting for those diamond studs and would like my knickers back.


Jukebox The Ghost: TAS Tour Blog

Since Jukebox The Ghost's freewheeling, effusive new album is christened Safe Travels and the Brooklyn-based trio is tirelessly touring North America this year (they return to New York to play Irving Plaza with Motion City Soundtrack on November 6), The Alternate Side asked Jesse Kristin, Tommy Siegel and Ben Thornewill if they'd keep a blog documenting the very start of their summer tour.

The trio, slated to play Riverside Garden Park in Red Bank, NJ on August 3, supplied photos too, courtesy of their intrepid tour manager, as they navigated bowling, burritos, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, long drives and "the nicest fans in rock 'n' roll."

The van outside of the Jukebox the Ghost's practice space in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

Boston to Cleveland Drive, July 5:
Despite two days loaded with sun and a little too much of everything, I woke up on the 5th well rested and ready to head to the Midwest with newfound energy. To what do I owe such a feeling? The assurance of black coffee in the near future and fans showing up to fill in these much-anticipated shows. We've been getting lucky lately. So, after a shower, some packing of the fresh-laundered clothes, a donning of my silly driving day attire (complete with a peach tank top, frayed jean shorts, boat shoes, and a straw hat), and with Bad Brains waking me up with brilliant ferocity, I left my mother's house in Massachusetts. Our tour manager Charlotte [Zoller] is a fellow Masshole so we met and hit the Mass Pike harder than that song by The Get Up Kids. Did I just reveal my age? Our itinerary: Boston -> NYC (to pick up Tommy and more CDs) -> hotel in West Jesus, PA -> Cleveland airport to get Ben in the afternoon the next day. — Jesse

Tommy and Jesse at a rest stop somewhere between NYC and Cleveland, OH. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

So we, um, rode in a van for many hours. Highlights: Charlotte drove the whole time like a crazy person. Tommy brought sour apple Bubble Tape a fan gave us and it knocked us on our asses. We went to Wawa. We went to Sheetz. We woke and blasted T. Rex. Now we are on our way to grab Ben from the airport (he was at home in Kentucky for the 4th) and we are gonna hit up that there Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (clearly a business expense). Many Instagrams to be had. Big day. Do we have any more Bubble Tape? — Jesse


Jesse getting ready in the hotel before driving to Cleveland. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

Cleveland, July 6:
I started the day flying in to Cleveland from Louisville where I was home for the Fourth of July (huge annual family celebration, parade, disco suits, fried chicken). After sitting next to various professional types with tucked-in logo-emblazoned pastel polos I deplaned, found the band van and was told, “We're going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

I'll leave the detailed explanation of the Hall of Fame to Jesse (see below), though it is worth noting that I arrived hungry to the RRHOF and after finding the "café" was recommended the beef burrito by a 17-year-old culinary expert in tie-dye. Halfway through my slop-filled tortilla, Jesse appeared and said, “You excited for Chipotle later?” Yes, the Grog Shop (where we were playing) is next to a Chipotle and, sadly, no, I was no longer excited for burritos. The show (since this is a tour blog, it seems appropriate to mention) was a delight — the heavily tattooed, long-goateed, career-smoker security guard said that we had “the nicest fans in rock 'n' roll." I happen to agree.

A group of girls had made us t-shirts that said “No Bassist We're Doing It Right” and on the back it had our names and the Ghost logo. Unfortunately they were made on child's extra-large belly tank tops, but we donned them for the encore and played "Good Day" with our midriffs showing. — Ben


Ben, Tommy and Jesse outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

Last February my father and I embarked on a road trip plagued and undone by sudden painful wrist inflammation (mine), a stomach virus (his), and sleep deprivation (both of ours). We left our hometown of Boston excited to journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville, Graceland and Memphis, but sadly never got as far as even our first destination. Regrettably, we turned home from Buffalo with the only thing on our minds being rest and recovery after too many strokes of bad luck in a 48-hour period; the odds were just stacked against our trip.

Driving the whole way home with my good wrist, I optimistically said, "We'll go in the spring when the weather's beautiful. It'll be way better." However, my father and I would never get to complete our rock and roll voyage, since he passed away at the end of March after a long battle with melanoma. The day of our Cleveland show, I finally got to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and certainly had my father there with me.

I was glued to the Elvis section (partially compensating for not going to Graceland) and watched lightheaded, motionless and filled with inspiration, as he sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I don't think I'll ever forget it. To the filmmaker taping the show that night, I shake my hip to you.

On top of the exhibits showcasing paraphernalia and factoids about the great major classic rock artists, I regularly found myself transfixed and geeking over displays I didn't expect to see. These included a section devoted to Joy Division/New Order artifacts, and particularly a small section devoted to one of my favorite bands, the Replacements. We had to get to the club for load-in and soundcheck before I could see everything, so next time I'm in town I must try to find the Smiths, T. Rex, and the Beach Boys (still kicking myself for neglecting the Beach Boys display). Before leaving, I picked up postcards from the giftshop — with the photographs of Bob Dylan and John Lennon in pensive "downtime" poses — for my father. Modest little sentiments for the wallspace above my desk. Quiet reminders of the calm side to rock and roll that my father appreciated and understood with a sacred fascination.

For the other side — those evenings spent as a kid cruising in the backseat of my his red convertible with the sun setting into wild colors and our favorite mixtape blasting against the open air, mingling with nature — I have a plan too. When I make it to Graceland, I'm going to pick up something nice and loud for him. — Jesse

Tommy inside the AV Club studio at the Onion in Chicago, IL. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

Chicago, July 7-8
After waking up to the lullaby-like rhythms of motel air-conditioning, we set off on a relatively short drive (in tour-speak, that's anywhere from two to five hours) to The Onion office in Chicago to perform a cover song for an online video series they produce.

There were only a few choices remaining by the time we made it to the list, so we ended up with Lana Del Rey's "Blue Jeans," though in hindsight I'm glad we did. Ben came up with a great arrangement that we did a few takes of in the Onion's totally-circular performance room (whoa) before being treated to a big box of sandwiches they'd bought for us (along with a gift bag of Onion-related stuff that I totally geeked out about).

I'm majorly addicted to the Onion crossword, so I asked the staff if the creator was in the office. They said he was a solitary man who didn't seem to see the office (or daylight) often, which makes a great deal of sense. The show itself felt like a culmination of years of playing Chicago; it was hard not to get a little emotional finding out that we'd sold out Lincoln Hall for the first time after god-only-knows-how-many-times we've played the city since 2007. Plus, we had a green room well-stocked with Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Finally, Ben made a pretty great photoshop-ish picture of Jesse on some new iPhone app. Enjoy! — Tommy


Minneapolis, July 9:
Minneapolis was one of those rare nights on tour I knew I'd remember for a long time. Our last time through town had yielded a few dozen attendees, but we somehow managed to sell out the same venue on our return trip on Monday, which left us all glowing (quite literally; from spending so much time in our heavily-tinted van, we've all developed the same biological mechanisms for mate attraction as fireflies). I was also astounded, as I always am when we come to Minneapolis, that an actual restaurant exists named "Thom Pham's WONDROUS AZIAN KITCHEN" (inconspicuously emphasized by neon lights that would be more fitting for a Vegas strip club). We've yet to actually eat there, but it remains a serious future goal. — Tommy


Jesse in front of the Replacements star at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

Drive Day/Day Off, July 10
The drive to Kansas City the following morning featured a lengthy stopover in Des Moines where we played six games of bowling in a row, during which I accomplished an all time high-score. As a side-note, Jukebox the Ghost would've quit being a band and become a professional bowling team long ago but we didn't think we'd be able to handle all of the beautiful women and great power that comes with the major leagues. Plus, being really good at bowling is one of those odd sports where taking it seriously is somewhat loathsome, like people who are really good at cell phone games, eating vast quantities of hot dogs, and playing Guitar Hero. It implies time poorly spent. Our tour manager Charlotte also returned to bowling for the first time in eight years (AMF welcomed her with open arms). —Tommy


Ben bowling in Des Moines. Photo by Charlotte Zoller.

The TAS Staff Picks Our Top Albums And Singles Of 2012 ... So Far

The first half of 2012 has already come and gone. The Alternate Side staff, looking at the scores of WAV files, MP3s, CDs and even vinyl singles we've trundled through over the past six months, is slightly overwhelmed by the abundance of good music, so we've made some midpoint selections for our top 10 (or 11) albums and tracks of the year thus far.

We have the freedom to change our minds completely by December, but in the meantime, bands and artists like Japandroids, Jack White, Hot Chip, The Walkmen, 2:54, Zeus, Public Service Broadcasting, Alt-J, Father John Misty, Cold Specks, Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn have made the cut:

Russ Borris (Host of The Alternate Side and WFUV's Assistant Music Director):

Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man in the Universe
Father John Misty, Fear Fun
Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Lost in the Trees, A Church That Fits Our Needs
Perfume Genius,  Put Your Back N 2 It
The Walkmen,  Heaven
Willis Earl Beal, Acousmatic Sorcery Songs
The Magnetic Fields,  "Andrew in Drag"
Twin Shadow, "Five Seconds"
Zeus, "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?"


Alisa Ali (Host of The Alternate Side, Producer and On-Air Interviewer for WFUV):

Poliça, Give You The Ghost
Jack White, Blunderbuss
White Rabbits,  Milk Famous
El-P, Cure For Cancer
Hospitality, Hospitality
2:54, 2:54
Jaill, Traps
Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Mynabirds, Generals
Alt-J, An Awesome Wave  


Eric Holland (TAS Weekend Host, WFUV Presenter):

Miniature Tigers, "Sex on the Regular"
Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
Shearwater, Animal Joy
Metric, Synthetica
The Walkmen, Heaven
Jack White, Blunderbuss
Guided By Voices, Class Clown Spots a UFO
Dr. John, Locked Down
The Hives, Lex Hives
Howler, America Give Up


Kara Manning (TAS Content Editor/Writer, On-Air Interviewer for TAS/WFUV):

Hot Chip, In Our Heads
Public Service Broadcasting, The War Room (EP) 
Damon Albarn, Dr. Dee
Field Music, Plumb
The Magnetic North, Orkney Symphony of the Magnetic North
Liars, WIXIW
Peter Broderick,
Poliça, Give You The Ghost
Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
Grimes, Visions
Clark, "Secret" from Iradelphic.
And looking forward to the official release of Wild Nothing's Nocturne (8/28), Purity Ring's Shrines (7/24) and Lucy Rose's Like I Used To (9/24).


Sarah Wardrop (TAS Substitute Host, WFUV Assistant Program Director, WFUV Music Weekend Host):

Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls: Sure it doesn't have the full energy of the band's live show, but that doesn't mean it's lacking. At all.
Cold Specks, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion:  Songs that sound simple yet continue to reveal new layers amaze me. This album is full of them, and of course, having that voice singing them doesn't hurt either.
Dr. John, Locked Down: Rebennack and Auerbach. Whoever is responsible for that pairing, thank you.
Jack White, Blunderbuss: An impressive solo debut. That comment is partly a joke, but even with his catalog, this album does feel surprisingly fresh. Rock 'n' roll remains in good hands.
Zeus, Busting Visions: Classic rock is a sentimental favorite for me, so I'm all for it when those sounds are embraced in the present... especially by Canadians with stellar mustaches.
AlunaGeorge, "You Know You Like It": Part flashback, part current groove, and part of a setlist I put together for The FUV Boat, but I for some reason didn't play it. Ah well.
Beck, "I Just Started Hating Some People Today": This song doesn't reflect my general outlook, but I first heard it on a very fitting day, and it made me laugh.
Diamond Rugs, "Blue Mountains": I immediately thought about The Replacements when I heard this, and I always consider that a good sign.
Kelly Hogan,"We Can't Have Nice Things": Welcome back to one of the great voices out there, and props to Andrew Bird for adding some quirk to a song that could have stayed dark.
Regina Spektor, "Small Town Moon": I love the lyric "there's a small town in my mind", the way Regina sings "moon", and the fact that, despite the subject matter, she sounds like she's having so much fun creating.
Aimee Mann, "Charmer": Hmm, from @#%&*! Smilers to Charmer... Is there a thematic connection? The title track of Mann's next album is available online, but we have to wait 'til September to find out the full story.
Ben Howard,"Call Me Maybe": Volunteering at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls involves a lot of music, including hearing the campers' latest pop favorites, repeatedly. While Ben Howard can certainly write his own songs (definitely check out his album, Every Kingdom), he also did a version of Carly Rae Jepsen's crazily huge (and yes, crazily catchy) song for BBC Radio 1, so I thought I'd share that version with you instead.



TAS Interview: Brian Borcherdt Discusses Dusted And The Future of Holy F***

Never one to stand by idly, Brian Borcherdt has long split duties between his ambiently aggravated band Holy F*** and outside or solo projects. His latest endeavor is the lovely, lo-fi Dusted, a collaboration with producer  and drummer Leon Taheny who has worked extensively with Owen Pallett and Sebastien Grainger.

The duo's debut album, Total Dust, was just released this week on Polyvinyl/Hand Drawn Dracula. Although the spare, fuzzed-out and mellow album was written by the Toronto-based Borcherdt in an isolated cabin, it wasn't quite a frostbitten, woe-is-me-in-the-snow Justin Vernon escape, nor a Twin Sister party house retreat; Borcherdt just needed space to think after six years on tour with Holy F***. However, Total Dust isn't completely divorced from Borcherdt's other band — Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid and Brad Kilpatrick appear on the Dusted track "Property Lines," streamed below.

Borcherdt and Taheny toured earlier this spring with A Place To Bury Strangers and will headline at Manhattan's Cake Shop tomorrow, July 12, and Brooklyn's Glasslands on July 15. Two Toronto gigs are also in the works, at the Mod Club (July 26) and the Open Roof Festival (August 16).

The Alternate Side caught up with the traveling Borcherdt over email and he not only discussed Dusted, but the immediate — and very rosy  —  future of Holy F***, headed for a studio this very month to do some recording:

TAS: How does Dusted allow you to explore other ideas or sonic stories that you might not explore within Holy F***? 

Brian Borcherdt: I rarely introduce any of my own songwriting into Holy F***. With only a few exceptions, Holy F*** write songs while touring, on stage or in the studio. This way the songs become the four-headed monsters they are. Outside of that world I write often, as a personal outlet.

TAS: Did you and Leon Taheny surprise yourselves with the raw, more melancholy mood of the songs on Total Dust, like the beautiful "Low Humming" or "Bruises," that seem totally different from Holy F***'s sound?

Brian: Dusted is finally a suiting medium for that. Leon and I knew that we wanted to make a moody, minimal record. The trick is to stick to that goal — not get distracted and make a more typically multi- layered rock record. I think we saved enough of the minimal live-off-the-floor vibe to give the album an overall tone. We could sometimes stray into other territories without losing that gauzy, blurry focus.

TAS:  What is it about the artistic/creative dialogue between you and Leon that invigorates you? Do you both work in a similar fashion or is it your differences that keep things moving?

Brian: I had songs written and ready. And Leon had the tools and the space. That was the first attraction. But as we continued to work together we realized we had overarching ideas in common. More philosophical, I guess, at least in terms of aesthetics and work ethic. We felt that we could actually do this as a band and not just as a studio collaboration.

TAS: You seem to relish a loose, dirty guitar sound - and many of the songs are guided without drums, or just barely, and almost feel like demos. What was your vision behind the sound? Did you move quickly through the recording process? There's an intuitive, spontaneous feeling to the album.

Brian: Sort of .... I learned with Holy F*** that for me to be truly excited about something, I need to be given an aesthetic blueprint early on so that the texture becomes part of the song right from day one. I found that by playing the songs, as they were, through blown-out amps, while singing through blown-out amps, it gave the songs a sound, almost like they were mixing themselves from the first moment we hit "record."  And still, the songs were remaining true to how they were written: sparse, guided by guitar and voice, not drums and bass. I learned from mistakes in the past; when I tried to blow up my little songs on to a bigger canvas, I ended up losing the aesthetic in which they were written. They became less special to me and more akin to a band I might hear once and lose interest with. They became kind of rock or something.  

TAS: You seem to come from a long line of musicians who've recently locked themselves up in a cabin to write a wonderful album; what are five things that a musician should always bring to a remote cabin in the woods? What would you recommend leaving behind?

Brian: Well, first, a collection of Bon Iver records, lots of chamomile and tears, throat-coating tea, and make sure to leave your beard trimmer behind. Naw.... I don't know. I grew up in the woods. So I frequently write, record, hang out in remote spots, whenever I can get away from downtown Toronto. For me, the essentials are my guitar and something to write in. Something to record your ideas is a smart idea, either a laptop or cellphone (I know, not very romantic). For me the guitar is what I need to help me write songs, and then I can do that anywhere: a hotel room, back stage, my kitchen. The woods for me is better for recording 'cause you can focus. There's no hurrying with the final guitar overdub so that you can just barely make last-call at a bar somewhere close by.

TAS: You have New York shows this week. What are your favorite places to hang out in the city?

Brian: It's been a while. I would always stay at a friends in the Lower East Side. So everything was easy. We'd ditch our van in an underground lot and then take subways or walk. Happy Hour (anywhere) and pizza slices (for every meal). I'm always too excited to sit still in a restaurant; so I miss out on the finer dining. But then again Toronto has all that. It's all about friends, record shopping, and um... drinking (but I suppose Toronto has that too). Oh, one time I slept in a construction site across from Music Hall of Williamsburg. My phone died, my bank account was empty. I had been given the wrong address to the hotel. So, what else could I do?

TAS: Where do things stand with Holy F*** right now? It's been two years since the release of Latin.

Brian: We took time off, initially to record. But we realized we couldn't just do it all over again without some much needed downtime. Touring for six years straight can be fun,  but our friends don't even recognize us any more. We grew weird humps and deformations, our skin grew scaly and our hair and teeth fell out. So know we feel well rested, revitalized. We are recording again, starting this month.


Dusted - Teaser 1 from Hand Drawn Dracula on Vimeo.