A look at the hype that shapes our world.

American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative, “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” (Vice
All-star musical collaborations go hand in hand with tragedy, and
this is a satirical poke at the phenomenon — ring-led by Nick Diamonds (ex-Unicorns),
produced by Steven McDonald (ex-Redd Kross), and featuring an assortment of
indie-identified guest stars who will appeal to hipsters young (Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
the Arcade Fire, Devendra Banhart) and old (Sonic Youth, Roky Erickson, Beck).
The press release says it’s a response to other benefit songs’ “misguided, somewhat
patronizing attitude,” but the post-Katrina timing is off. It’s hard to fault
the parties involved (they’re giving the proceeds to UNICEF), but frankly, after
Kanye West’s controversial candor on NBC’s televised Katrina benefit, this indie-rockin’
gesture seems particularly ineffectual. Official Website: https://www.vice-recordings.com/halloween/

Festival Madness
What’s more worthy of protest is the explosion of
Coachella-inspired, niche-oriented music festivals popping up like mushrooms
at a Dead show. October alone brings us the Download Festival in Mountain View,
the hippie/indie mix of Las Vegas’ Vergoose and the alt-rock-flavored Across
the Narrows in New York. Am I the only one who prefers to see my favorite artists
à la carte, rather than being force-fed a whole buffet?

TV on
the Radio
“Dry Drunk Emperor” (Touch & Go) Speaking of Bush-bashing black
people, listen to this mostly African-American indie rock band: “Did you buy
the bull they sold you/that the bullets and the bombs/and all the strong arms/would
bring home security?/All eyes upon/dry drunk emperor.” Free on their label’s
Web site, the song — dedicated to Katrina victims — sounds fuzzy yet luminous,
apocalyptic, biblical; filled with massed vocals that belie a band with many
strong personalities. Also notable: Lichens’ The Psychic Nature of Being (Kranky),
a new solo project by TVoTR associate Rob Lowe (ex–90 Day Men). Dry Drunk Emperor
mp3: https://www.tgrec.com/media/3544.mp3

Mobius Band/Matisayahu
Has there ever been an odder couple than these two,
who toured America last month? Hasidic Jewish reggae performer Matisayahu, popular
on the jam-band circuit, is reliant on novelty, while also reclaiming a genre
long obsessed with Lions from Zion. By contrast, the Mobius Band makes subtle
pop laced with electronics and sung in melodic deadpan by vocalists Peter Sax
and Ben Sterling. Their song about cubicle life, “Twilight,” is about 99 times
more relevant to most listeners than a million songs of romance or protest:
“I will keep my shit office job/Sideline dreams are run from the law/You
should always try/Not to aim too high.”
Twilight mp3: https://indiekids.org/Repository/MobiusBand-Twilight-1.mp3

Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike (SideOneDummy)
Eugene Hütz is an anarchic urban gypsy from the Ukraine; a flamboyantly mustachioed
scenestealer in the new film Everything is Illuminated; and a minor NYC
celebrity for his DJ gig at the Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. There he pioneers mash-up
genres like Balkan reggaeton and klezmer dub. His punky, multi-culti band Gogol
Bordello, who played 2005’s Warped Tour, has long tried to conflate those sounds
with Hütz’s iconic persona; this Steve Albini–produced album succeeds, presenting
memorable songs and a fully formed worldview — one part politics (“Immigrant
Punk,” “Underdog World Strike”) and many parts libidinous party drunk (“Think
Locally, Fuck Globally”). Not a Crime mp3: https://www.sideonedummy.com/jon/notacrime.mp3
Official website: https://gogolbordello.com/

Tom Vek,
We Have Sound (Startime International) Biographical
details on this 24-year-old Londoner are elusive, and his music is equally mysterious.
The ambiance is lo-fi and reminds me of the Strokes’ faux-garage production,
but Vek’s songs are funky, future-focused and reliant on OCD rhythmic details
— ringing guitar strings, tight drum patterns, repetitious bleeps. He shares
affinities with the stuttering electronic musicians on Warp Records, but Vek
isn’t just a freak for new soundz. He also contributes elliptical, emotionally
resonant lyrics. In an era of Gang of Four ripoffs, Vek is the rare musician
to improve upon their expertise in concision, emotional politics, and danceability.
“I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes” mp3:

Wolf Parade,
Apologies to the Queen Mary (Sub Pop) It’s
hard being the “next big thing” from the “next Seattle” (née Omaha, Brooklyn).
Not so hard is touring with the Arcade Fire, having your debut produced by Modest
Mouse’s Isaac Brock and getting it released by an indie juggernaut. This Montreal
buzz band couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, but I’m impressed by their
eccentric use of keyboards, their names (Spencer Krug! Hadji Bakara!) and their
song “I’ll Believe in Anything” (“Nobody knows you/And nobody gives a damn”).
It’s as inspiring, sad and profound as an indie-rock anthem could be. I'll Believe
in Anything mp3:
You Are a Runner mp3:

The Curious
Case of Green Day
The new clip for Green Day’s power ballad “Wake Me Up
Before September Ends” was made by the director of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen
Spirit” video, and it’s similarly daring. It begins with two lovers in a field,
sharing intimacies. Later, during a melodramatic interlude, the girl expresses
shock at something horrible the boy has done. Cheat on her? Commit a crime?
No, he’s volunteered for the war in Iraq. Cut to scenes from the battlefront.
Horrible and criminal? Very possibly. An interesting extension of punk rock’s
emotional range? Yes. Green Day play the Home Depot Center in Carson, October
7-8. Wake Me Up Before September Ends video: https://www.warnerreprise.com/qtref/greenday_

Lightning Bolt, Hypermagic Mountain
(Load Records) If you prefer punk that’s
pure and obscure, this duo from Providence, Rhode Island, are as credible as
they come. Bassist Brian Gibson scribbles furiously distorted riffs over low
drones, while drummer/vocalist Brian Chippendale babbles away and attacks his
set like a jazzman during an extended solo. It’s dense and hyperactive, much
like their live show: They set up in the middle of the crowd and just go, forming
a cyclone of bodies around them. Their fourth record would be more listenable
if it were more varied, but I guess you don’t go to a slaughterhouse for fresh
fruit. Official website: www.laserbeast.com

John Loder (1946–2005)
On the morning of August 13, John Loder died of complications
stemming from a brain aneurysm suffered in 2004. We’ve lost a great man. Loder
was sound engineer on classic albums by bands like the Jesus & Mary Chain, Fugazi
and Crass, but his true achievement came farther behind the scenes, as the shrewd
and honorable businessman in charge of Southern, a stridently independent distribution
network that has supported a boggling array of bands and labels. Loder’s eccentric
tastes and fiercely self-sufficient outlook are, in many ways, the Rosetta stone
for indie rock. Or as Ian MacKaye put it on the blog Loder’s daughter created
in his honor: “His distracted ease behind the wheel of a car could at times
make for a harrowing ride, but we always made it there.” The world of music
is not the same without him. Memorial: https://johnloder.blogspot.com

LA Weekly