Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Tiny – Last Weekend [Video]

The Tiny, a Swedish pop-folk ensemble, is one of the best bands on earth. If you don’t believe me, just listen to a few tracks from their previous album, Starring: Someone Like You, especially “Everything is Free,” (a Gillian Welch Cover) that can double as a swan song for both truly independent music and print media. But that they continue to produce such beautiful, almost mind-bogglingly complex works of art makes “Everything is Free” more a vision of the future than a too-late tear for the present.

The video above is from The Tiny’s new album, Gravity & Grace, which hasn’t been released in the U.S. yet, but can still be gotten to thanks to the wonders of the internet.

OK, enough words. Just check it out.

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Defeater – Lost Ground [Review]

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Charlie Parker used to hang out in Charlie’s Tavern, a musician’s bar in midtown New York. To the dismay of his acolytes, he liked to play country records on the jukebox. There was reluctance to question the taste of mighty Bird, but finally a brave jazzman asked him. “How can you stand that stuff?” Bird looked at him and said, “The stories, man. Listen to the stories!”

I have a tough time with lyrics. I generally don’t care what an artist has to say, and I’m frequently disappointed when I focus in on the words in a song I love, only to find that the lyrics are slapdash, cliche, or try way too hard. It’s like finding out what someone’s symbolic tattoo means (dignity, obviously). You can’t unlearn the lyrics; you can’t bring it back to gibberish. In my mind, a truly great song, or album, is one that can tell a good story, evoking not just time-lapse Adamsesque landscapes (I’m looking at you, post-rock) or ubiquitous-yet-overworn interpersonal issues. It’s not easy, nor should it be.

Defeater, a Boston hardcore band, have two releases that stand apart from their peers based on their willingness to take chances with storytelling. In an interview, their guitarist has said, “[w]ith no disrespect to any bands out there I would say that hardcore has enough songs about straight edge / unity / family / etc.” Acting on this impulse, their first LP, Travels, recounted the life of a broken-down man from unwanted birth to church-steeple suicide. It was like Luke the Drifter gone hardcore, and it’s still one of my favorite albums from 2008. With Lost Ground, Defeater spins-off the story of a bit player in Travels, the homeless vet from “Prophet in Plain Clothes,” to great effect.

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On Tour Now: Wild Yaks

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I just told a friend that writing up this blog post about the Wild Yaks was like, “trying to explain why you love your mother.” I laughed about it, but I’m still here, somehow lost for words on a band I’ve seen live more times than any other. Their debut album 10 Ships (Don’t Die Yet!), out on local Brooklyn label Ernest Jenning, is a mix of sloppy, heartfelt punk songs and bluesy, slightly Americana-influenced slow jams that will make you want to scream the words along with the band as loud as your lungs will allow and then hug your best friend.

The music itself is easier to explain, as you can see. There’s something else, however, that you get from the songs but is all the more evident when you see this band live. Now I’d have to imagine anyone who is in a band that’s touring and making records is probably 100 percent into it, but the Wild Yaks and especially Rob Bryn (lead singer/guitarist) just project an unmistakable enthusiasm. There is no denying it. And it’s that unconcealed passion that makes you want to love what he’s doing as much as he loves doing it.

The Brooklyn four-piece are playing their last show in town this Saturday at Bruar Falls before they take off down the East Coast for a two month long cross-country tour. If they are coming to your town, do not miss them. The regret will wear on you. Many friends have joined me at Wild Yaks shows before and the worst review they ever got was, “They were pretty sloppy.” And that is sort of the point. River May Come off of 10 Ships, is embedded below for you. Tour dates after the jump.

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Apple Unveils Tablet / New Way of Ruining My Social Life

Every blog in the universe is buzzing today about the release of Apple’s new “Tablet“. This may or may not be a rumor, but whatever it is, it’s the most important thing Steve Jobs has ever done in his life. The announcement will be made at 10:00am PST / 1:00pm EST and you can follow the event live on Gizmodo.

No matter what happens, this new product will most likely be purchased by me and will add a another reason to the list for not wanting to leave the house (mainly because I’ll be broke after purchasing it, eating cat food to survive).

We’d love to know your thoughts on Apple’s new invention, so come discuss with us in the comments!

A History of A&SB / Programming Schedule

Back in aught aught eight, New Jersey Hipster Association President Jason approached college newspaper editor Bassey with a plan to create a website where they might recommend their favorite media. Bassey countered with his vision to create a blog where he could spread vicious rumors about musicians who had attracted his envy.

But I should start at the beginning –

Originally A&SB was made to spoil the endings of movies for people. Then it became the number one source for vintage Pog trading back in 1995. It was grossly unsuccessful. After that it became eBay. It has now evolved into a media blog.

Thusly, A&SB was formed of the molten iron of wills that girds its WordPress dashboard to this day. (Note to WordPress: Thanks for getting all that molten iron off our dashboard.) Then in aught aught nine, Bassey approached Jason with a plan to create a website where unpaid, underemployed writers could create blog posts based mainly on uninformed speculation. Upon being told by Jason that The Huffington Post already exists, Bassey went about recruiting a team of writers who, for the price of a biweekly turkey sandwich, would do all of his work for him.

In conclusion, welcome to Air & Sea Battle.

Here is your programming schedule:

Sunday - Tim Williams (Column)
Monday - Joey (Movie Monday), Nick (Review)
Tuesday - Spanky Rodriguez (Hip Hop review)
Wednesday - David Debiak (Springsteen Wednesday), Ashley (Review)
Thursday - Mark  Rowan (Brooklyn Scene)
Friday - Jameson (Review)

Varying Weekly:

Vanessa Sorenson (Music Video of the Week)
Justin Ryan (Art and Design)
Lauren (TV Watch)

Chief Bloggers/Editors:

Jason
Bassey

Record Label & Exclusives:

Jason & David Debiak
(we will be posting more soon about the new A&SB Records!)

A&SB Presents: Movie Monday [omfg]

It is not yet proper Minnesota winter on a balmy Monday night in late November. I am playing third wheel to my friend and his lady friend, who are on a movie date. The rendezvous is a brand new, all-digital projection movie theatre in a suburb of Minneapolis. I read about their recent opening in the local paper when I stopped in at the library for a “print fix.” (The eyes can grow quite tired scanning these pixels for news and insight, don’t ya think?) No worries finding a parking spot in this would-be mall complex that surrounds the theatre; the kind of place that probably has a Chili’s, Applebee’s and a T.G.I. Fridays. While maneuvering through the various corridors from parking garage to theatre lobby an eerie feeling begins to set in.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. I like movies. I like people. I like art. I like my girlfriend. I like politics, but the people’s movement kind, not the circus show of the two-party system. I like a freshly made Wendy’s five-piece chicken nugget. This blog will mainly concern itself with two of those things, movies and politics. Movies have nothing to do with politics, you say? Tell that to the Vatican and the Chinese government. They saw Avatar and found a threatening agenda amid the visual spectacle. It is the contention of this writer that good movies comment, in one way or another, on the world they inhabit. A political message, whether directly relating to government or something else in the cultural landscape, can be read from quality works of film. Considering the message of a film is one thing you can expect from this blog.

As the escalator ascends towards the theatre lobby I notice that there are more employees than patrons. Before purchasing my ticket I am asked by the clerk to select my seat from a display on her computer screen. After receiving the stub I wander over to the concession stand. I am in awe of the giant row of high definition flat screens displaying the same exact menu. Besides a couple and a small family waiting in line, the place is empty. Another employee takes my ticket and escorts us all the way to our seats. In the theatre there are maybe six other people. The plush chairs are comfy as shit and the picture onscreen is vibrant and clear. The 21st Century movie experience appears to be well-worth ten dollars. Then I start to notice the pixels on the screen. Continue reading