Ch-ch-ch-changes

December 30, 2012 in Miscellany

As you can likely tell, Everybody Talking at the Same Time is (technically) no more. In conjunction with setting up a new photography portfolio site, I decided to come up with a name that’s a bit catchier and less clunky. Thus, Noise Floor was born. With 2013 rapidly approaching, a facelift for the site seemed in order anyway. Nothing major will be changing. I’m even keeping the old URL so I can cling to my beloved Tom Waits reference a little longer.

Be on the lookout for a properly explained top albums of the year list in the next few days, and stay tuned for plenty more photos, show reviews, think pieces, lists and whatever else I come up with in the new year. Everybody Talking had a solid run in 2012, and I can only hope that 2013 brings even bigger and better things. Thanks for reading/looking/caring.

The exciting world of social networking

June 24, 2012 in Miscellany

Everybody Talking has finally jumped on the bandwagon and gotten itself a Facebook page! Like us and get show reviews, photos and commentary delivered straight to your news feed. While you’re at it, why not follow me on Twitter? I’m funny sometimes!

Enough shameless self promotion. Reviews for Sandro Perri/Destroyer and Built to Spill shows at the Paradise last week are forthcoming. Stay tuned!

“How far does your road go? Oh no, you don’t know.”

June 20, 2012 in Miscellany, News

Hey everyone. As you might have noticed, Everybody Talking has been rather sporadically updated in the past few months with pretty much nothing but show reviews. I’ll attribute this partially to my own laziness, but also to an unexpectedly high volume of non-music things happening in my life. Regardless, starting today I’ll be returning to more regular updates with news and editorial-type things. Show reviews for a ton of exciting things will continue through the summer, as well as festival coverage! In July I’ll be at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival as well as the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, reporting back with photos, reviews and whatever else is interesting enough to print.

For today though, some thoughts on a fascinating new Modest Mouse documentary from Pitchfork.tv and that NPR intern everyone is so angry at. Read the rest of this entry →

Record Store Day 2012: The Aftermath

April 23, 2012 in Miscellany

So, this year’s annual Record Store Day has come and gone, and what have we learned? For one thing, record collectors (and reseller scumbags) are taking this event more and more seriously with each passing year. My store of choice was the original Newbury Street location of Newbury Comics, where people had apparently begun lining up at midnight for a 10am start. When the doors finally opened, something resembling a stampede took place as the crowd poured into the store and immediately realized they weren’t actually sure where their personal treasure was to be found. In what was either a stroke of genius preventing a riot taking place around a single rack or a malevolent plot to drive music geeks desperately seeking that new St. Vincent 7″ insane, the Newbury employees had spread out the RSD exclusives throughout the store. It was a stroke of luck to stumble across what you were looking for without having to shove through/crawl under a wall of people or yell for someone to hand you something you couldn’t reach and hope they complied. In short, it was probably the most chaotic record buying experience of my life. Read the rest of this entry →

Ultimate first world problems…

March 21, 2012 in Miscellany

…I buy depressing records and then it’s far too nice outside for me to listen to them. Recently arrived from eBay are: Tom Waits – Rain Dogs, Neil Young – On the Beach, Leonard Cohen – Songs From a Room and Leonard Cohen – Death of a Ladies Man.

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These are all in somewhat sub-par condition, but then again they were also quite cheap. Rain Dogs is also admittedly not very depressing. Waits does sounds great on vinyl though, in spite of the abundance of surface noise on this particular copy.

On the Beach and early Leonard Cohen are an entirely different story on the ‘depressing music’ front. On the Beach is widely regarded as one of Young’s bleakest records, and rightly so. Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs From a Room and the like are the albums you put on when you’re feeling melancholy at 3am. I may or may not have had experience with this last weekend.

Death of a Ladies Man is actually not early Cohen though. It’s his 1977 Phil Spector-produced ‘baroque pop’ record. It’s also the only one of these albums I haven’t heard before. Needless to say, I’m curious.

I’m still gonna go with 3/4 albums as depressing though. Leonard Cohen has a tendency to spread melancholy wherever he goes, Phil Spector or no Phil Spector.

Vinyl and such – 3/10

March 10, 2012 in Miscellany

It hasn’t been too evident since I’ve started this blog (because I’ve mostly been going broke due to concert tickets), but I’m a huge record nerd. I love vinyl for both its sonic and aesthetic qualities, and I think there are few better ways to spend an afternoon than browsing through a well-stocked record store. Thus, I’m adding a new vinyl category to the site today. This will consist of me documenting/commenting on my vinyl purchases, as well as discussing vinyl news and local record stores. Hopefully a few people will find all of this as interesting as I do.

I took a trip to Warren, Rhode Island today to check out the third and final In Your Ear Records location (the other two being in Boston). Neat little store. There’s a lot of vinyl to browse through, even if there doesn’t appear to be on your first glance through the door. Lots of stuff in bins on floors and underneath other bins, which are sometimes blocked by additional bins. It took some navigating, but I ended up with some nice finds. Left to right, top to bottom: Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, Marianne Faithfull – Broken English, Elvis Costello – High Fidelity 12″, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, Nick Lowe – Pure Pop For Now People (a US repressing of Jesus of Cool), Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man, Atlas Sound – Parallax, Elvis Costello – Armed Forces (UK pressing on Radar with alternate cover):

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I should clarify that Parallax is actually from the Atlas Sound show the other night. More on that when I get around to writing about it, but trust me, it’ll be worth the wait. Great, great show.

As for the records, I’m especially excited with the Leonard Cohen. Discogs tells me it was a steal for $9.99. Spinning that one right now actually. I still think I prefer Cohen when his arrangements are more restrained (his first few records, and his latest), but I’m getting accustomed to his more overstuffed material lately. The songwriting is still phenomenal, even if the production choices are occasionally questionable.

Finding a UK pressing of Armed Forces was a cool surprise. The tracklist is almost identical to the US version, but excludes the closing cover of Nick Lowe’s ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding.’ Kind of odd, considering Costello’s version is one of his more well-known songs. The main attraction, though (if you’ll forgive the pun), is that bizarre alternate cover featuring a stampeding herd of elephants. I’ve always thought the more colorful cover of the US LP was more fitting for some reason, but this one is pretty cool as well. And I’m enough of an overzealous Costello fan to feel that owning both is wholly necessary.

“Do you guys like krautrock?”

March 8, 2012 in Miscellany

We’re all familiar with that guy who thinks he’s the funniest, hippest hipster in the room by yelling an ironic request for ‘Free Bird’ during a show. Most of us think that guy is an idiot. All musicians think that guy is an idiot. Most will ignore him. Some, like Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, will call him out on it (a pretty hilarious example of this is documented on MM’s live album Baron von Bullshit Rides Again). Then, there’s Deerhunter/Atlas Sound front-man Bradford Cox. Cox was evidently in no mood for joke requests in Minneapolis a few nights ago. Or perhaps this was the ultimate mood for joke requests. He not only called that guy out, but indulged his request for The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ and turned it into an hour-long krautrock jam session featuring both of the show’s opening bands.

This article tells the story in all its glorious detail, but the short version is that Cox looped the song’s bass line, sang and drummed by himself for a few minutes, and eventually invited his opening bands to join him in a performance which involved the whole audience briefly waving folding chairs above their heads, as well as the original request-yeller being called on stage and commanded to strip. The whole thing was bizarre to say the least. But it was also pretty awesome. If there’s a better way to take out frustration on a heckler while simultaneously putting on an unexpected and incredibly entertaining looking show, I can’t come up with it. This is the ultimate response to that idiot. It’s hilarious, it’s ballsy, and it’s about as punk as you can get these days. Neither Deerhunter nor Atlas Sound fall under ‘punk rock’ exactly, but in interviews Cox has always come across as someone thoroughly enamored by the whole idea of being ‘punk.’ As he restates in the interview/diatribe regarding this show that was published on Pitchfork today, he gives no fuck about how people perceive his words or actions. He performs what he damn well pleases, and whoever doesn’t like it can be directed toward the door. That’s the essence of punk as an attitude I think, and it’s an admirable one in an age where an artist’s every move is being recorded by a hundred different iPhones and uploaded to YouTube within the hour.

Personally, I think the performance sounds massively entertaining. I wish I’d seen it myself. Cox seems displeased that it became a news story, but that part of it doesn’t bother me. I’m glad I managed to hear about it. It is disheartening, though, to see that the prevailing attitude towards the whole thing is one of snarky derision rather than amusement or admiration. Some people apparently became uncomfortable as the performance progressed, but no one was forcing them to stay and watch. To hear Cox describe it, most people were enjoying themselves anyway. It’s not even like the attendees had a right to feel ‘ripped-off’ somehow. The ‘Sharona’ endeavor didn’t take place until after a nearly full-length set of Atlas Sound songs. In Cox’s own words, “They got the full fucking set of emotional fucking sincere whiny white people music. And then they got fucking ‘My Sharona’ as interpreted by Faust.┬áIt was like a death trance.”

In short, it’s unclear to me what people have to complain about regarding this show. There have been plenty of accusations of pretension, obnoxiousness and even insanity thrown about both implicitly (the news stories) and explicitly (the comments sections to all of those news stories) over the past day. And you know what? They’re all bullshit. I commend Bradford Cox on pulling off something so genuinely unexpected and exciting. I only wish I could’ve witnessed the whole thing firsthand. I’m positive the shaky YouTube footage doesn’t do it justice.

Atlas Sound will be at the Paradise in Boston tonight, so be on the lookout for a review which probably won’t have anything quite so exciting to report.

The weekend so far in music

March 3, 2012 in Miscellany

I’m not feeling like writing anything particularly coherent tonight. On a bit of a Touch and Go Records kick right now. I’m midway through the Don Caballero catalog, and I’ll probably finally get around to listening to my vinyl copy of Shellac’s At Action Park after that. Don Cab is one of those bands that you listen to and either get inspired or totally discouraged by. The pessimistic side of me sees it this way: they are immensely more talented than you will ever be, and their records exist only to prove the kind of crazy shit they can accomplish with guitars, a bass and drums that you would never even dream of. The optimist in me views this ridiculous display of talent in timing, rhythm and precision as a reason to go pick up my guitar and immediately start practicing, with the hope that someday I will be able to match Ian Williams tap for tap. My inner realist then reminds me that I’ve witnessed Ian Williams single-handedly produce music which should have required at least three different people during a Battles show. Manipulating two keyboards, a guitar and a complex looping system simultaneously is likely not something I will ever master. At this point I do my very best to shut down the raging argument between optimism, pessimism and realism and go back to appreciating the fact that Don Caballero was a damn good band. They were not only one of the best and most astoundingly talented math rock bands, but also gave us one of the coolest album covers ever. Additionally, they were really good at song titles: ‘Delivering the Groceries at 138 Beats Per Minute,’ ‘You Drink a Lot of Coffee For a Teenager,’ ‘Details on How to Get ICEMAN on Your License Plate,’ ‘Stupid Puma,’ ‘Let’s Face It Pal, You Didn’t Need That Eye Surgery,’ etc.

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Meanwhile, Radiohead continue to fill me with indescribable rage by playing awesome shows in Florida, Georgia and Texas while still not announcing any East Coast tour dates. Tonight’s show in Houston saw the tour debut of ‘There Are My Twisted Words,’ one of my favorite recent Radiohead tracks. New song ‘Identikit’ appears to be a staple during these shows, which is good, because it’s wonderful. Thom and Ed have some lovely interweaving vocal melodies. It should be a phenomenal track in its finished studio form.

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I need to give the new Magnetic Fields album another listen, but I’m honestly kind of dreading it. Love at the Bottom of the Sea does deliver on the promise of a return to a synth-based sound, but regrettably does not bring the superior songwriting of earlier Magnetic Fields albums with it. I fear that Merritt may finally have gotten too silly for me. Regardless, though, I’m still looking forward to the band’s appearance at the Berklee Performance Center next month. I’ve been promised a three hour show at which the audience is admonished for clapping, and that is precisely what I will expect.

So, how ’bout that Sleigh Bells backlash?

February 21, 2012 in Miscellany

Reign of Terror, the new record from Brooklyn-based ‘buzz band’ (officially the worst ever descriptor for ‘band Pitchfork likes’) is out today. Pitchfork loves it, because of course they do. Consequence of Sound likes it as well. Reviews elsewhere seem middling but not particularly inflammatory. So far, the critical reaction has been about what I expected. There’s not that much to discuss beyond how this record refines the blown-out insanity of Treats by turning down the volume in a few places and shifting from cheerleading chants to actual lyrics in others. Personally I think it’s pretty solid. It’s fun noise-pop with a slightly more serious edge than the previous album. It’s got a more shoegaze-y feel, and it’s certainly a less grating listen than Treats could be at times.

What really fascinates me about this band, though, is the incomprehensible rage they inspire in certain individuals. I follow New York-based concert archivist Dan Lynch on twitter, and he is apparently one such person. “Anyone who has ever given a positive review to Sleigh Bells is hereby banned from giving any future opinions on music,” reads one particular tweet from this past weekend. Generally I like Lynch, and I think his site is an absolutely fantastic resource for live music. I just fail to understand what exactly about Sleigh Bells inspires hatred of this sort, which I’ve recently seen reflected in various blogs and comments sections. There are hyped up bands that do nothing for me (I still don’t quite get Tune-Yards), but why be so hyperbolic about it? Part of the issue seems to stem from Sleigh Bells’ performance on SNL this weekend, which featured its two primary members plus an additional guitarist performing in front of a literal wall of Marshall stacks. Patrick Stickles (of Titus Andronicus) posted an amusing series of tweets about the consumer’s right to know how many of those amps were actually turned on (‘stack transparency,’ of course). Admittedly, they didn’t sound great on SNL. but who does sound great on SNL? The show is notorious for making 90% of bands, credible or not, sound like garbage. Other than the subpar mixing though, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the performance. Sleigh Bells are a noise-pop band prominently featuring girl-group pop vocals, metal guitar riffs and distorted drum machines. They deliver what they promise. They are not the most talented or important band out there right now, but they also don’t claim to be. I get that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but nobody’s forcing you to listen to them. It’s not like ‘Born to Lose’ is an inescapable radio smash.

I realize that musical backlash is not a new phenomenon. It just seems like there have been unusually high levels of energy and time poured into the internet hate machine over the past few days. I should probably know well enough by now to expect that when there’s a hyped record on the way. Better start the preparations now for the inevitable shit-storm over the forthcoming Odd Future tape.

The Grammys were on last night

February 13, 2012 in Miscellany

The last several years have seen me avoiding the Grammys for some pretentious reason. I guess I thought it sounded cool to talk about how I was above paying attention to an awards show that regarded Katy Perry and Bruno Mars over my beloved indie acts. It occurred to me this year, though, that in order to work toward my goal of becoming ‘that guy who knows music,’ I probably should just watch the Grammys along with all the real music critics out there. Ultimately, it turned out to be a pretty good decision. The Grammys are ridiculous on a number of different levels, but all that ridiculousness makes for a pretty entertaining three hours of television. That being said, there were still plenty of things to complain about. Here are my own personal pros and cons of the night:

The Good:

-Bon Iver wins Best New Artist, Best Alternative Album. Is Justin Vernon actually a new artist? No. His second record came out this year. Was it the best record of the year? No. It was somewhere in the top fifteen or so. The Grammys have an odd definition of what constitutes a ‘new artist,’ and it’s easy to decry them for making an extremely safe choice in handing off Best Alternative Album to a quiet and folksy indie record. These things being said, I still enjoy Bon Iver and think Justin Vernon seems like a genuinely decent guy, so good for him. His characteristically humble and awkward acceptance was one of the better speeches of the evening.

-Surprisingly, The Beach Boys. I say ‘surprisingly’ because the addition of Maroon 5 and generic indie poster-boys Foster the People to the on-stage reunion signified an impending trainwreck to me and everyone else I discussed it with. Thankfully though, a trainwreck it was not. The two supporting acts taking on Beach Boys classics (‘Surfer Girl’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’) was certainly inessential, but far from terrible. When surviving members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks finally took the stage for ‘Good Vibrations,’ they actually sounded quite good, despite bearing just the slightest resemblance to zombies. Energetic stage presence will not be a virtue of their impending 50th anniversary tour.

-The amiable Dave Grohl and his Slayer t-shirt appearing roughly every twenty minutes. I’ve admittedly not listened to a whole lot of Foo Fighters, but Grohl has always seemed like one of the cooler and more down-to-earth rock stars out there at the moment. That awkward collaboration thing involving Deadmau5 and David Guetta was pretty ill-advised, but otherwise I took no issue with the ubiquity of Foo Fighters throughout the night. And it’s pretty damn cool that they won a Best Rock Album Grammy for a record they recorded in a garage.

-Paul McCartney. There’s not a whole lot that needs to be said about this. Sir Paul remains vocally and musically gifted. And the show-closing jam on Abbey Road‘s side b song suite was a definite highlight of the evening.

The Bad:

-Speaking of ubiquity: Chris Brown. Fuck Chris Brown. The internet has already driven this point into the ground, but it bears repeating that Chris Brown is not a good guy. He’s an abuser and otherwise pretty awful person. Things he is not include talented, interesting or important in any way. Why, then, did the Grammys subject us to multiple Chris Brown appearances last night? We will likely never know.

-A distinct lack of Kanye. While the bad-crazy of Chris Brown ran rampant throughout the show, the good-crazy of Mr. West was absent despite his being nominated for (and winning) several awards. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy being denied even a nomination for album of the year was some complete bullshit, so perhaps he chose not to show up as some form of silent protest. Or he just had somewhere more important to be. I’m happy in assuming that it’s the former.

-The less said about the Deadmau5/David Guetta/Foo Fighters/Lil Wayne/Chris Brown collaboration incident, the better. Lil Wayne’s enduring popularity continues to astound and confuse me. I listened to a good half of Tha Carter IV last year, and yes, it was that bad.

The Unclassifiable:

-Nicki Minaj’s part-film, part-performance art, part-musical event drew the biggest WTF of the evening, by far. I think there was an exorcism happening at one point. There was definitely a priest. And a good deal of fire. I can’t say that I understood much of this, or that I will ever want to hear that song again, but I commend Nicki on pulling off something so thoroughly bizarre on network television.

So yeah. I’ve left plenty of things out, but it wasn’t all worth documenting. I still don’t think people should take the Grammys half as seriously as they do, but watching them proved to be pretty worthwhile in at least a few ways this year.