Something To Look At

photos taken by Kyle Martin

Nathan Williams, Living the Dream

Before I get too far into this post I want to make two things clear: First, I realize that the second Wavves related post in as many days has us venturing towards the single-focus days of the "Grizzly Blog" when it seemed like all we did was gob on about Veckatimest. Second, I never thought I would be coming to the defense of Nathan Williams.

Nathan Williams, best known to most as the driving force beyond beach punk outfit Wavves, has been the target of a load of criticism ever since his freakout at the Primavera Sound Festival a while back. Those who saw Wavves success as riding on a tsunami of hype and inflated reviews took no pains in dragging Williams over the coals. Let me clarify this: by no means am I a huge fan of Williams. Do I enjoy Wavves' music? Yeah, its great for cruising down the highway with the windows down and sunglasses on. Do I think its worthy of the collective load being blown by the big-name reviewers? Not really. Does he deserve the vitriol for his colossal fuck up in Barcelona? Sure. He's a musician, people paid to see him perform and he didn't. Do your job, or take the heat.

I'm not writing this to say that it's ok to blow a show and that people should stop picking on Nathan. The reason I'm writing this is to implore everyone to put themselves in this kid's shoes for awhile. He's 22. Until recently he was unemployed and living with his parents, recording his songs on GarageBand. He was living the life he sings about in "No Hope Kids": no car, no money, no girlfriend. Now go from that to suddenly being an indie sensation and a music blog darling. For somebody that's clearly starved for attention, its like taking an anorexic to Cici's. Then, he goes to Europe, with no responsibility but to play music. This is what everyone our age dreams about. You're in a place where you can do almost anything and still get away with it. And he's doing it. Is it a shame that it's affecting his music? Yes. Would I do the same thing? Absolutely.

Aside from the awful haircut, I would love to be Nathan Williams. I watched the video for No Hope Kids and through the whole thing I kept thinking, "Damn, I wish I could do that". Which one of us wouldn't want to drink beer and smoke weed all day, only to hang out in some of the coolest rock clubs we'll never see by night? Who wouldn't seize this amazing opportunity to live their wild and glorious youth to the absolute abandon? And I'm not kidding myself for one second, I would do it the exact same way he's doing it: acting like a complete asshole. Perhaps there is no better symbol for our generation than Nathan Williams: young, self-centered, and increasingly self-destructive. And maybe that's we all need, someone that makes us say, "Hey, everybody, stop acting like a bunch of punkass bitches." But, hey, don't blame me if I reply, "Not yet, I'm having too much fun."

The Bulleted List, June 30

People I Want On My Side In A Bar Fight

  • Charles Barkley
  • Aragorn
  • Tyler Durden
  • Iorek Byrnison
  • Jack Daniels

New Dirty Projectors Video - "Stillness Is The Move"

The standout track from one of 2009's standout albums, Bitte Orca, now has an unexpected music video. What's even more unexpected is that it's actually kind of cool unlike most music videos these days. Well enough blabbing, I don't want to keep you any longer from listening to Amy Coffman's gorgeous voice featured in "Stillness Is The Move".


New Wavves Video - "No Hope Kids"

Apparently this Wavves video was shot some time back in February, around the time WAVVVES came out. So indeed this video came a good time before the ecstasy, xanax, and valium fueled breakdown on stage across the pond at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. Watching this video, there are just too many lines to pull on poor Nathan as we watch him smoking (pot & cigarettes), pole vodka, eat some delicious breakfast burritos, and generally just cause an absolute ruckus over in Europe. Perhaps this video brought a bit of 'too little too late' foreshadowing. Nevertheless, Nathan has apologized and actually talks about it here to Pitchfork. Hmmm...I wonder what has been running through Pitchfork's mind through all of this, after best new musicing
their debut, watching the torrential collapse in Barcelona, being the first to interview Nathan since the collapse, and also hosting Wavves' first performance since the meltdown at their annual Pitchfork Music Festival later in July. Hmmm...

Wavves "No Hope Kids" from Pete Ohs on Vimeo.

When I was in the DR...

Before I even bored a plane for my trip to the Domincan Republic, my friends joked about how I would come back and constantly barrate them with stories. Each and every one they imagined would start with me ranting, "When I was in the DR..." The thing is they were right, know that Im back I do this all the time. So simply to spite them thats how I'll start this story too.
When I was in the DR, I learned alot. I learned real compassion, that the seemingly theoretical agapic love truly exists, that technology is the main indicator of a countries success, that I need to take more time to stop and enjoy life, and that I need to be more thankful for the blessings and choices that Ive been gifted with. Just as my friends theorized how my storytelling would go, so too could someone have guessed all the above listed lessons. However there was one thing I learned that I did not expect and that is the uniting power of music.
When I left I knew about as little Spanish as someone could with only taking two years in high school. I communicated through awkward hand gestures and broken spanglish. But some things in life dont require such formalities and break down the barriers of language. From the moment we stepped off the plan we were greeting with a up tempo electric guitar and steady bass. Music is incorporated into every aspect of Dominican life. City kids only hangout outside shops with radios (or in clubs where the decibal level can be felt as you walk in the door). Their best advertisments on the radio are made to put to music. The different styles of music that exist in mainstream Domincan culture are distinct but not unique from what I hear at home. Merengue is king in the DR. It has an uptempo 1,2 beat that is perfect for their fast and improvisational dancing. Bachatta is a close second. This sound has a 2.5 beat that similar to alot of R&B. The self proclaimed Kings of Bachata, Aventura, are one of my favorite bands. On their recent album they even recruited Akon and Ludacris to transform their sound. Reggaeton is another big player especially in clubs and among the younger generation. This equivalent to rap is what the more is becoming more and more popular down there with Wisin and Yandel and Daddy Yankee being the stars.
When I was in the DR I saw houses with one bedroom for 8 people that had bigger stereos than at my house. Some may call this stupid and wastful and it might be. However I believe music is the thing they love more than anything else. The thing that can bring a smile to a little girls face when shes living in a house with a dirt floor. When I was in the DR I met a kid named Juan and we talked about what Domincan music we both liked as we walked and worked all morning. I had to leave him to go eat with my group but when I came back in the afternoon he had dug out his sisters mp3 player and told me we had to listen to a song. This song was a combination American hip hop and Domincan bachata which made a great fusion of sounds. Juan then said to me, "Es como nos" or its like us. He was absolutely right I brought went down to the DR and taught Dominicans about American culture and they taught me new an incredible amount that has already been incorporated into my lifestyle.
When I went to the DR I learned that cultural differences are alot smaller than cultural similarities. Music is my example of that.

The Bulleted List, June 29

Things This Job Makes Me Want To Do

  • Kill myself

You're a Young Man

Like everyone else, I'm getting older. A week or so ago I celebrated my 21st birthday, the last birthday of importance. However, like many our age, I felt coldly indifferent to this milestone. Having consistently been in possession of some form of fake ID since age 18, the freedom to buy alcohol as I please seemed old hat. Still, in the face of this, I sauntered down to the local watering hole for a few b-day cocktails. Since I wasn't in Omaha surrounded by dozens of bad influences, I didn't plan on getting blackout, keeping a quiet, dignified evening of silent stupor in the plans. This was not to be so. As we walked into the bar (at exactly 9:20 pm), the infamous Constantine loudly announced that it was my 21st birthday. Promptly, the bartender sent me a free Crown & Coke. Flattered, I gulped it down and ordered a Coors Light, which disappeared in equally short order, quickly followed by a second. This was when the shots began to arrive. First, a 3 Wisemen (Jack, Jose, Jim Beam) from Constantine's sister. Second, a water glass full of a godforsaken concoction of 151, tequila and "something minty" that was served ablaze. In a text message to my friend Zaps, this was described as "#2. Something huge and on fire!!!!!". And that was only the start. Some hottie bought me a Nazi Taco (Jager and Jose) and my high school business teacher sent me a Prairie Fire (Jose and Tabasco). It was about 9:45 at this time. The shots began coming in faster, as more people joined the fun. An Irish Car Bomb, Lemon Drop, another Nazi Taco, Scooby Snack, Vegas Bomb, Goldschlager, and straght-up Wild Turkey all made ther way to my table. Common sense and etiquette suggest spacing these drinks out, taking one every 10 or so minutes, keeping a steady, measured pace. Those of you who know me know that if there are two things I struggle with, its common sense and etiquette. Oh, and moderation. So, being the complete idiot I am, I drilled these shots the second they came to my table and no later, even getting to the point of quaffing the Goldschlager and Wild Turkey simultaneously. This all took place before 10:30. It may come as no surprise that at this point, my behavor became "erratic". Swaying on my stool, I ranted and raved, my hands gesticulating like some kind of Edward Scissorhands, knocking over the collection of empty Coors Lights I had managed to knock back between shots. I was, naturally, blackout at this point, so my choice words had to be recounted back to me the next day. Allegedly, I called some girl a bitch, and, when asked why, shrugged my shoulders and frowned, then proceeded to tell my friend Jake I would not be at his wedding unless he beat me at arm wrestling and named his first born child after me. He destroyed me. I capped this tirade off with a boastful claim and saucy point of the finger to the bartender that I was "running his shit like a marathon". He smiled, and served me up what some might call a conflict ender: two shots of Patron. Glinting like gasoline, the shots mocked me. I grabbed one in each hand, tossed my hair, grinned a shit-eating, and took them both. I fled the scene, and would later be found puking in the lot adjacent to the bar. It was 11:15.
The night didn't end there, though. Soon my "ride" arrived to pick me up. I have, to thus point, neglected to mention that my ride home from the bar was my dad. So, there I was, lying on my side in a gutter, dry heaving, when both my parents pulled up and my friends unceremoniously piled me into the car. The ride home was relatively uneventful, highlighted only by my stirring rendition of "Project Bitch" and upchucking into my own lunchbox. When we finally reached my house, my dad told me to sit down on the porch until I "cooled down". Apparently my drunken ramblings had left me unfit for the house, and unable to sit I stretched out on the porch, puking into the flowerbeds as the rain poured down on me. Oh, yeah, it was raining. Things become fully blank here, but the next sequence of events was accounted to me thusly; amid a great deal of swearing I was moved from the porch to the bathroom, where my mom proceeded to Google search the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Finding me free and clear, my parents left me for the night. I awoke the next morning with a hangover like a hurricane and was skipped work entirely, electing to spend the day sipping Gatorade in the basement with my sunglasses on, preparing myself for Thursday night dollar bottles.
I end this long winded yarn with a snippet from an interview Conor Oberst once gave. After a particularly boozy performance, a reported asked the troubador, "Conor, how drunk is too drunk?" to which everyone's favorite suburban navel gazer replied, "Well, if you die...that's a bummer."


Shows and Stuff

So the end of the month is basically here and I guess I thought I would sit down and reflect on the few shows I've seen thus far this summer. I really haven't been to that many shows, but the few I have been to were worth the cash. This upcoming Tuesday (6/30), a few of us are planning on catching the Japandroids show at the Slowdown as I am really looking forward to the duo's live performance and can only hope that it's as good as their debut. They are performing with Dim Light. The $8 show starts at 9PM.

Going back to mid-April, I saw Bonnie "Prince" Billy play at the Waiting Room in Omaha, NE. I kind of feel like the Waiting Room was an ideal venue for someone like BPB. Regardless if you listen to his music or not, he is an excellent entertainer and definitely worth the $10-15 you will most likely pay to see him. I will say his music isn't necessarily what I always like to listen to, but he is a talented artist and I very much enjoyed his show.

At the beginning of this month I saw St. Vincent play at the Slowdown here in Omaha. This again was a really entertaining show. Right away from the beginning, I was blown away at how talented of a guitarist she is. Her set started off with "Marry Me", which surprised me, but got the show off to a great start. Right after she played this, she had everyone's attention for the rest of the night. Obviously her vocals sounded amazing and I expected that, but her skill of guitar play was impressive. "Actor Out of Work" really seemed to get the crowd going and moving a round a bit. They really jammed on this song and sax part sounded great live. "Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood" (my personal favorite from the new album) was especially great guitar play by Ms. Clark where she showed off with intricate strums and amazing ad lib in the middle of the song. The show had a lot of energy and kept me on my toes all night. The show was really intimate as well since it was on the stage up front by the bar. Overall the show was very good and I would recommend attending if given the chance. A solid show, but their really isn't much else to be said about it.

The last show I have seen thus far here in June is when I traveled up to Minneapolis with my girlfriend and met up with a couple friends to see Grizzly Bear at the Cedar Cultural Center. Here We Go Magic performed before Grizzly Bear. The Cedar Cultural Center is a cool little venue near the University of Minnesota's campus. It was an intimate venue that really didn't a have bad place to stand in the whole place. Here We Go Magic took the stage after a long wait and maybe that was part of their detraction, but I really never got into their set. I really like some of their tunes on their self-titled album, but even the songs of theirs that I like didn't really stand out much. The set just didn't seem to have a lot of energy to me. Immediately following Here We Go Magic's set, Chris Taylor came out onto the stage and started fiddling with shit for about 10 minutes. It was amazing to see how much care and handling they put into their set and equipment. Taylor is obviously an expert and the brains behind bringing their stage show together. Once their set began, it was evident that all the care and handling that went into setting beforehand would definitely pay off. The set started with "Southern Point" and never looked back. Southern Point has a lot of energy on the album, but not nearly as much as it had it during their set. It was a great way to start off the show. During their set, I noticed them trying out quite a few different electronic effects on different songs, whether it be vocally or just with the different soundboards that Taylor and Droste had next to them. Most of the effects I really enjoyed and some were quite different. From there, they went right into "Cheerleader", which they just played this past Friday night on Jimmy Fallon. Next they played a couple of favorites from Yellow House, "Little Brother" and "Knife" which were both fantastic. They really rocked out on "Little Brother" and "Knife" just blew me away with Taylor's background vocals and the cool effects he used on them. They next played a hidden gem off Veckatimest, "Fine For Now" and without completely ending their sound, Rossen set his guitar down and sat in front of the keyboard and played the always warmly welcomed and long-awaited "Two Weeks" where Droste used some more cool electronic effects near the end during the chorus. This song was definitely a show-off moment for drummer Chris Bear, who was absolutely fantastic the whole night. The band mellowed things out a bit with a tranquil rendering of “Colorado” that was carried by Droste’s mesmerizing vocals and Taylor’s constant tinkering with the sound, layering radio jams and a muted saxophone over the lulling melody. Each song was met with warm, appreciative applause, causing Droste to riff a bit on a “Sunday night feels right in Minneapolis” improv, and led the band to thank the audience repeatedly during the set. But their stately and ornate songs were thanks enough for the crowd, none more so than on the pure bliss sound of “Ready, Able,” which was simply stunning and stood out as a very dignified pop moment. That was quickly followed by the harmonizing medley of “I Live With You” and “Foreground” that was a shining example of the simmering atmospherics the band can create with their music, which can be as much about mood as it is about melody at times. “Foreground” was especially diaphanous, with Droste’s delicate vocals easing the fragile timbre of the song gently onwards. Another beloved track from Veckatimest, "While You Wait For The Others" was really one of my favorite moments of the night where everything seemed to come together and was kind of the climax of the set. The subtle vocals of Rossen were complimented so nicely by his impressive guitar play while blending so well with the rest of the band and all the harmonizing "Ahhs" in the background of the song. It was pure sublime. Following this, there was a special treat of a cover, while Rossen again led the band in a Department of Eagles cover, "No One Does It Like You". Grizzly Bear closed their set with the faster half of “On A Neck, On A Spit,” (another Yellow House tune) which played as kind of a 'thank you' to the appreciative audience, and found the band really rocking out to the finish line in classic manner. It was an exuberant exclamation on a set filled with countless highlights. This was one of the best shows I have seen. Recommended (to say the least).


St. Vincent

1. Marry Me
2. The Strangers
3. Save Me From What I Want
4. Happy Birthday [Traditional]
5. Now, Now
6. Actor Out of Work
7. Paris Is Burning
8. The Bed
9. Laughing With a Mouth of Blood
10. Black Rainbow
11. Marrow
12. Just the Same but Brand New
13. The Party
14. Your Lips Are Red

Grizzly Bear

1. Southern Point
2. Cheerleader
3. Little Brother (Electric)
4. Knife
5. Fine For Now
6. Two Weeks
7. Colorado
8. Ready, Able
9. I Live With You/Foreground
10. While You Wait For The Others
11. No One Does It Like You (DoE cover)
12. On A Neck, On A Spit

(Sorry couldn't find a setlist of Bonnie "Prince" Billy show)

Actor Out Of Work - St. Vincent

Wet Hair - Japandroids

I Am Goodbye - Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Fine For Now - Grizzly Bear


Nice Shoes

This morning as I pulled my car into a parking space to go into work, I noticed what looked to be an abnormally chipper hobo. The company I work for is located on 25th St across the street from Salvation Army, which in case you didn't know is an area in Omaha where you could find almost any kind of person. As I meandered my way toward the front entrance, he walked past me and commented "nice shoes" with a hint of cheap booze clinging to him as a seemingly natural scent. Catching me completely off guard, I really didn't respond at first, only with a blank stare. Seeming to realize this, he spoke again, "No really, those shoes are fantastic" in what was a rather dull, unenthusiastic voice. After he said this, I looked down at my shoes, a pair of well broken-in hand-me-down penny loafers from my father and just as I was about to look up and muster a response, the old hobo-esque man with a grizzly, peppered beard and black sailor's beanie kept walking down the side-walk in his worn-in pair of $10 grey velcros from WAL-MART. I was wearing the exact same shoes that man had on yesterday.


The Bulleted List, June 11

Coolest Ways To Die
  • Gunned down in blaze of glory
  • Shipwrecked, swallowed by angry sea
  • Eaten by a polar bear
  • Suffocate in pool full of pudding (chocolate)
  • Trampled by chinchillas
  • SARS


The Bulleted List, June 4

Things I'm Not Quite Sure About

  • Whose apartment I woke up in this morning
  • How many blocks I had to walk to get home
  • Where my watch went
  • Why I smell like campfire
  • Where the mud on my jeans came from
  • Why I'm still alive
  • How rainbows are made


Stream Dirty Projector's Bitte Orca

If you've only read about how terrific the new Dirty Projectors album is, change that with this full album stream at NPR. Album's out 6/9 via Domino.

Stillness Is The Move - Dirty Projectors


Grizzly Blog

To begin with, sorry we have not had as many posts lately. I am trying to play catch up as I move into my new place so thanks for bearing with us. Covalt just got back from grizzly land and Peter is in the D.R., the other two have no excuse. Yeah, with all this stuff being released by Grizzly Bear and about Grizzly Bear lately, you would swear they have a new album coming out or something. First off, we'll start with the new video for the single "Two Weeks". Patrick Daughters took Grizzly Bear to church for "Two Weeks." True. But the video for the Veckatimest standout (though, some would argue all of it's a standout) is not what we were expecting. Don't wanna give too much away, but 'heads-up' on an 'explosion' of a video.

The band played a short acoustic set for WNYC last night and host David Garland sent us the photos from it that accompany this post. Here's how "Two Weeks" sounded with piano instead of omnichord:
Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks" (Live On WNYC) (MP3)
You can hear the rest ("All We Ask," "While You Wait for the Others," "Foreground," "Dory," "Too Little Too Late") at NPR.org.

And there's a new Black Cab Session performance of "All We Ask" here.

via Stereogum

WAVVES Cancel Rest of UK Tour Dates

Nathan Williams's pitiful, beer-soaked non-performance at Barcelona's Primavera Sound Festival was more of a mess than Psychedelic Horseshit's anti-Wavves rant, if you can believe it. Pitchfork recounts the final minutes of the crappy late night set and directionless, off-key musicianship:

Finally, fed up with Nathan's petulant behavior, Ryan ran out from behind his drumkit and poured a full cup of beer over Nathan's head. The act would be met with their most enthusiastic applause of the evening.

At 3:00 a.m. sharp, having dodged their share of bottles and even a shoe (neither Nathan nor Ryan was hit, although Nathan likely made impact with some unlucky attendee upon forcefully returning the latter object back to the crowd), the show mercifully came to a screeching halt: Ryan ran offstage, throwing his drumsticks at Nathan. Infuriated, Nathan screamed into the mic, "Come back here, motherfucker, we're not done yet!" Immediately, stage crew appeared, breaking down Ryan's kit. "Fuck!" Nathan shouted, "Stop doing that!" They didn't, so Nathan decided the show must go on. Helplessly, he strummed his guitar again, clearly intent on playing another song. But as he stepped back to the mic, he realized it had been cut. As the crowd booed, the house lights came up, and a defeated Nathan Williams threw his hands up and left, along with the few remaining attendees.

It was the band's second date on a European tour.

UPDATE: Nathan explains his behavior on the band's blog:

I think in the back of my head I knew I wasn't exactly mentally healthy enough to continue to tour the way I have been since February. Honest truth is this has all happened so fast and I feel like the weight of it has been building for months now with what seems like a never ending touring and press schedule which includes absolutely zero time to myself. I'm sorry to everyone who has put effort into this and to everyone who supported me. Mixing ecstasy valium and xanax before having to play in front of thousands of people was one of the more poor decisions I've made(duh) and I realize my drinking has been a problem now for a good period of time. Nothing else I can do but apologize to everyone that has been affected by my poor decision making. I made a mistake. Not the first mistake I've made and it for sure wont be the last. I'm human. Don't know why I chose the biggest platform I could imagine to lose my shit, but that's life. You live and you learn.

via Stereogum; Pitchfork