Monday, September 27, 2010

Unknown Instruments: The Omnichord

Very few people know about this interesting analog synth. It was produced by Suzuki in the 1980s, with a modern digital version that was released today.

The instrument, which can frequently be found on eBay, is basically an electronic autoharp. It plays the chords that one pushes, as well as having a strum pad. The sound is very cheesy, but it is valued for its timbre and kitch persona.

I owned one for a while, but had to sell it because of underuse. It is still a pretty fantastic instrument, and should never be overlooked when considering strange musical synths. Many bands have used it for their recordings including The Arcade Fire, David Bowie, and Half Handed Cloud.

Interesting, eh?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review of "Belle & Sebastian Write About Love"

Stuart Murdoch and friends are back. After some time doing other projects and "having lives," the crew has reunited for Write about Love. Written and recorded in a short span of time after touring, this album is, well, everything you expect from a Belle and Sebastian album. That, of course, is a double-edged sword.

The album is, per usual, full of wit and catchy, well-written songs. "Come On Sister" is a personal favorite, as well as "I Want the World to Stop" and "Write About Love." Norah Jones is featured on a very good song, as well, and her whispy and creme-y voice works very well with Murdoch's.

Before this album, Murdoch gave us The Life Pursuit. It was an incredible album, and though it was full of the positives expected from the group, it also had a nice and welcomed stylistic shift. Write about Love has no such shift- it sounds like if Dear Catastrophe Waitress and Tigermilk had a baby- and where the hell did the funk go? Also playing into Belle & Sebastian cliches and tropes, occasionally, are the lyrics: love is like a blossoming flower, yeah, but it just causes listeners to cringe when said on this album.

Overall, its a solid listen. There is enough here to enjoy the album, but some people are just getting bored of it all, I guess. I write this review with a might bit of regret- I think we need a group like B&S around to just keep pumping out good tunes while other groups do the experimenting. But this album feels like Stuart has lost the effort he put forth on records like Waitress and Tigermilk.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Detroit pop band interview

The band recently released a “mixtape.” Prussia Goes to the Disco: A Summer Mixtape has some very entertaining stuff, but it seems pretty clear that you don’t want this to be considered the next Prussia album. Why is that? How did this project come about?
It is a Prussia album, but we want the mixtape to be a more viral thing. We want people to burn it for their friends, spread it on the internet, etc. We are very proud of it. We made it at our house while we were recording Poor English in a studio. We spent five months writing Poor English and, like, six months recording it. The mixtape was written and recorded in about three months. It’s our pop record. And hip-hop as fuckkk.
Prussia puts on a damn entertaining live show. Interestingly enough, the EP version of “The Witch Was a Preemie, God Bless Her Evil Soul” is markedly different from the version you performed live. Why is this? Is live performance an important aspect to your music?
Our live show changes pretty often. We try to recreate these songs that we make in the studio the best we can live. We experiment with things in the studio that would be impossible to do live.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
We’re influenced by a lot of things. Musically, it’s hard to say. I’ll like one thing, and everyone else will hate that- and then Brent or Drew will like something that I think is shit. We all influence each other by being very harsh critics of one another.
How about your biggest influences within the local music circle?
Local music doesn’t influence our music. We’re friends with other local bands and have a lot of fun hangin’ with them and playin’ with them, but we don’t sound like other local bands- not on purpose. We just like things that they probably think sound like shit and vice versa. The local bands that I do listen to are my good friends: Coyote Clean UpLord Scrummage, and Cap’n Jerry and the Mermaids.
If each member had to pick an album- any album- that is very influential and personal to them, what would they pick?
I’m not sure how everyone is going to answer this, but we all talk about it enough for me to give an alright example of what certain members “favorite” albums are. Drew, he likes a lot of stuff. Right now, I hear him listen to Joanna Newsom and the new Walkmen album [Lisbon] a lot. Adam, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Brenton, Wire’s 154. Andrew, Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin. And for me, Bob Dylan’s Another Side Of.
When and where will the album Poor English be available?
No idea. It’s finished, but we gotta get a label to put it out. Otherwise, it just won’t come out.
Any upcoming tour plans?
We will be touring extensively this spring. All over the U.S.

-End of Interview-

So readers, of course this means you will do your best to catch any nearby Prussia shows, right? As I said, their live show is fantastic, and with the possibility of the availability of a new album, the ends really justify any means.
If you are interested in obtaining past albums, check out their blog, which is also frequently updated with Prussia’s comings and goings (also, their MySpace and Facebookoffer similar information).