Music Features

Noisepop cracks up: trading jibes with Patton Oswalt

Plus more NoisePop picks
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Our little bundle of noise is almost all grown up. Damning the brooding tradition of adolescence, Noise Pop has learned to laugh at itself — and anything that involves swigging beer and heckling Patton Oswalt without a two-drink minimum sounds like pure fucking genius to me. I recently spoke to Oswalt on the phone from Burbank. After soaking in enough indie to keep you cloaked in scene points until next year, you may want to check out his act alongside fellow comedians Brian Posehn and Marian Bamford. (K. Read more »

New mutants

Surrender to the psych-noise assaults of Eats Tapes
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A-ha. Baltimora. Missing Persons. Those bands probably have an emblematic significance to any Brat Pack–emuutf8g, spring break–starved teenager affiliated with the MTV generation of the 1980s. But as the '90s beckoned, feathered hair and talking cars gave way to the Urkel and Mentos commercials, and all the while, another compulsion began to render our motor skills useless. Only this one came in the form of a heather gray plastic box, and its mascot was a mustachioed plumber with a Brooklyn accent. Read more »

Raising the BARR

The life and times of multitasking multimedia maven Brendan Fowler
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"I haven't lived anywhere since April for more than 12 days." Brendan Fowler tells me this on the phone from New York, where he's dug in to prepare for a national tour — his first with a live band — supporting BARR's new album, Summary (5 Rue Christine). He's a little out of breath from racing up apartment stairs while hyping the band ("I think it's going to be bananas. I totally started crying the other day when we were playing songs for the first time. Read more »

Feeling the spirit

Ghostland Observatory want to rock your body
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Yeah, I was a club kid once. It's a bit of a blur, but somehow somewhere in the '90s I went from punk and indie to baggy pants and glow sticks in the flick of a switch. I put away my Fall records and picked up endless white-label 12-inches and compilation CDs with titles like Ultimate Techno Explosion. Or something to that effect. Like I said, it's a blur. I remember the dancing, though — suddenly my punk ass liked to shake! It's a shame most of my indie friends chose to stay behind, but this was the '90s. Read more »

Noise Pop: Revisiting the Clinic

Clinic returns to form
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Liking a band for more than three albums is getting harder these days, as many fall apart by that point. Even when groups do make it, most stop being musically interesting or otherwise start sucking. Clinic almost did that: Their third album, Winchester Cathedral (Domino, 2004), wasn't bad but didn't find the band progressing. Their distorted Farfisa started to sound routine and cliché; their trance-inducing rhythms begat yawning.

Clinic's recently released full-length, Visitations (Domino), finds the Liverpool quartet back in form. Read more »

Noise Pop: Basking in their luster

Or harshing their mellow? Brightblack Morning Light
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Oh me, oh my, love that country pie, and oh me, oh my, the influence of Devendra Banhart and Will Oldham is now as long and thick as their beards. Actually, Brightblack Morning Light's Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes were opening for Oldham when Banhart was making the leap from homemade cassette to Young God. Read more »

Noise Pop: Nilsson rating

You may not have heard of Harry Nilsson, but you sure as hell have heard his music
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You may not have heard of Harry Nilsson, but you sure as hell have heard his music. The singer-songwriter was responsible for everything from "Without You" ("I can't live, if living is without you") to "Coconut" ("You put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both up"), from "One" (famously covered by Aimee Mann for Magnolia) to "Everybody's Talkin' " (which he sang for Midnight Cowboy). So why haven't more people heard of Nilsson, one of the most prolific, talented, and experimental artists of his generation? Read more »

Noise Pop: Blag, guts, and pussy

The Dwarves' star shines punkly, 24 years along
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Love 'em or hate 'em, the Dwarves are as close to punk rock royalty as San Francisco is ever gonna have. They've been in the game since emigrating from Chi-town in the '80s, with nary a letup for soul-searching acoustic meandering or trips to rehab.

"What you wanna do, B? What you wanna do?" a voice queries in "Demented," from 2004's The Dwarves Must Die (Sympathy for the Record Industry). Read more »

Noise Pop: Cats have nine lives

Sebadoh have at least three
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Few numbers are as loaded as three. From the Holy Trinity to the three main spiritual channels in our bodies described by kabbalists and yogis alike, spiritual triads exist alongside musical forms of threeness: the exponential sound of the power trio, great albums named III, and, indeed, Loudon Wainwright III.

The trio Sebadoh, early harbingers of indie rock, had their own III back in 1991, trading off instruments and artistic wills to make 23 wonderfully unpredictable tracks of folk-core meanderings and spastic noise rock shape-shifting. Read more »

Noise Pop: Miss him?

The psychic ills, family feuds, and resilience of Roky Erickson
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The first time Roky Erickson performed in San Francisco was in the summer of 1966, fronting his Austin, Texas, band the 13th Floor Elevators, whose garage rock classic "You're Gonna Miss Me" was rising up the national charts. Sharing the bill at the Fillmore with Grace Slick's first band, the Great Society, Erickson sang of psychedelic reverberations and reincarnations in both sagely reassuring croons and blood-curdling yelps. Read more »