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Music You May Not Know: DESTROYER

May 15, 2014
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 …..Destroyer songs are more essays than fictions. But hopefully super passionate essays, where the world is at stake

 

What is it that prompts us to purchase an album, let it sit in our iTunes library (or for older people SHELF) for years or months never listened to, to then come around and unexpectedly blow our faces off? What drew us to that album to begin with? A friend’s recommendation? The art? A single? A glimpse of a performance?  Catching their set at a festival? Some reason prompted the purchase, but the connection didn’t happen then. I discovered My Bloody Valentine due to their CD’s proximity in the racks to another band I like, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Eventually my love for MBV superceded my like for MLWTTKK.  I wouldn’t have found one without the other…and you never know when those queues can happen. I discovered The Raconteurs at Coachella and they blew me away even with 60,000 people around me! That says something. I bought Consolers of the Lonely immediately when I returned home.

When thinking about festivals like Coachella, people oftentimes seek out the acts they already LIKE, as opposed to attending shows of acts they’ve never even heard of. For this reason I love that Coachella started webcasting their first weekend. In the two years I went to Coachella, I didn’t see as many new acts as I hoped. It’s hot, crowded and ends up pretty exhausting to walk from Gobi to Sahara to Coachella to Mohave to DoLab stages all day….it ends up  you can’t even attend all the acts you even went there to see. The webcast allows you to click through three channels over the course of many hours and three days! After breaking my foot in 2011 a couple weeks before Coachella I hunkered down with the webcast and discovered Destroyer.

I clicked over to Destroyer expecting metal…or hard rock. It wasn’t just the sound of Dan Bejar’s voice…but how densely the lyrics fell through the songs…and that cadence! I hadn’t been exposed to anything like this in a long time and sat transfixed to my computer screen. The music was so slick too, so clean compared the staleness of droning indie rock that’s so pervasive these days. As soon as it was finished I bought three albums off iTunes: Kaputt, Thief and Trouble in Dreams.

Yet…then my computer died and I lost everything. It took me a couple years to get everything back and this past fall I went DEEP into Destroyer. Kaputt being my favorite, with Thief coming in right behind. Trouble in Dreams didn’t grab me like the other two. Then in March after just the perfect amount of tequila blanco (sometimes I get drunk and buy music). I bought Streethawk: A Seduction, Five Mexican Songs EP and Destroyer’s Rubies. Streethawk again blew me away. I’ve turned into that person who finds Jesus or a new diet and can’t stop talking about it to everyone. Maybe it really just hit me at the right time….I’ve been working and inundated with electronically produced dance music….Destroyer’s delicately poppy tunes with vocals a la Nick Cave/Dylan/Bowie….but uniquely their own. It’s obvious the lyrics and vocals stand out, but the music is allowed such space each instrument and voice combines together to make a perfect whole. It’s so intensely heartfelt that the 80s pop thematics, which could potentially drop the song into corniness, can’t even touch the deep feeling emanating from Destroyer.

I’ve probably listened to the album Kaputt at least 100 times, sometimes starting it again immediately after the last song ends. If I owned it on CD it would have stayed in my car stereo for two or three months. Kaputt is perfectly produced in my opinion, each song setting up the next exquisitely. It’s like a 5 star chef producing a meal where the sight and smell takes you somewhere far away, yet composed of flavors recognizable throughout parts of your life, coming together to form something completely new to wholeheartedly gratifying.

Dan Bejar, while the only consistent member of Destroyer, doesn’t fall into the category of musicians who claim HE is Destroyer, and then books musicians around him. To him, Destroyer is a band the current line-up from Destroyer’s Rubies is the final line-up. He also is a member of Matador Records recording artists The New Pornagraphers, and Destroyer finds their home on Merge Records (home of Arcade Fire, Magentic Fields, Spoon and Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few).

 

And how about this incredible video for the title track of Kaputt?

Click for this incredible video for the title track of Kaputt
Click for this incredible video for the title track of Kaputt

 

“Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”

CLICK FOR "SUICIDE DEMO FOR KARA WALKER"
CLICK FOR “SUICIDE DEMO FOR KARA WALKER”

 

“Savage Night at the Opera”

CLICK FOR VIDEO FOR "SAVAGE NIGHT AT THE OPERA"
CLICK FOR VIDEO FOR “SAVAGE NIGHT AT THE OPERA”

 

[cs_button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” src=”http://thequietus.com/articles/06411-destroyer-dan-bejar-interview”]READ MORE ABOUT THE RECORDING OF KAPUTT AND DAN BEJAR[/cs_button]

 

 

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OH FESTIVAL! MY FESTIVAL! West Coast May through mid-July 2014

May 15, 2014

 

So we are a little late…time and life got ahead of us. No worries…sometimes you have to just surrender to the flow. We are dropping some love to our favorite festivals May to mid-July. Obviously we can’t cover them all…and we are leaving out giant corporate festivals and focusing on our independent friends. Something about these have more vibe, more love and more interesting line-ups. What we’d love to see at these festivals is MORE LIVE MUSIC (hint hint, festival promoters)

 

May 15th-19th Belden, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*
May 15th-19th Belden, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*

It’s this weekend so we kind of missed the boat for our left coast bass head friends! Belden Town has been the home to Emissions for a few years and it’s a great spot for intimate festivals. Plus Emissions goes hard for BASS. You won’t find much steady beat music here so if broken beats with a ton of bass are your thing…this is the festival for you. River swimming (bring your floaties!), cabins, restaurant and bar, big sound and good people make this a great kick-off festival for the northern portion of the west coast.

Don’t miss: Starkey, Smasheltooth, Sylust Beats, Quarry, Bleep Bloop

 

May 23rd-26th Bradley, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*
May 23rd-26th Bradley, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*

Another favorite of ours and we are really looking forward to re-connecting with friends from across the US at this original revolutionary f estival. I think a lot of west coast events can point towards LIB as a huge inspiration for their events. With a new home in Bradley, CA and closer to Northern California, LIB is poised to create another once-in-a-lifetime experience by creating atmospheres and environments that wonder and excite. Whether you want to fill your weekend with art, music, wellness or putting on your rage face…it’s all here.

Don’t miss: Sabo, Natasha Kmeto, Whitney Myer, J.Phlip, Thomas Jack

 

*CLICK FOR INFO*
*CLICK FOR INFO*

A new home in Mendocino, located among the redwoods with a river running on the edge of it looks promising for Enchanted Forest. They had to reduce their numbers due to their smaller venue, and this event is apparently already sold out….grape job EF!

Don’t miss: Opiuo, Buku, PsyFi, Pumpkin, Kayla Scintilla

 

 

*CLICK FOR INFO*
*CLICK FOR INFO*

One of the staples of the west coast festival circuit since as long as I can remember, Raindance celebrates it’s 10th year and returns to it’s “normal” weekend. Raindance has always featured a really good diversity of music, ranging from temple-step, trip hop, house, bass music, downtempo and breaks, to name a few. Shpongle, Bluetech and EPROM are the headliners for this years, with a ton of great acts from top to bottom. Don’t miss: Worthy, Zach Rawlinson, micah j, Christian Martin, Russ Liquid

 

*CLICK FOR INFO*
*CLICK FOR INFO*

We’ve never made it to Sonic Bloom, but Janover and Co. have been building an impressive festival with great intentions for years. In a new venue with a line-up that sides more on the ethereal and temporal parts of your brain (two sets of Tipper? Yes please!), we feel its worth the trip out there if you are so obliged. Write a review for us! We’ll publish it!

Don’t miss:

Don’t miss: Tipper, Quantic, Break Science, Fort Knox Five, The Librarian, Ott, Mikey Thunder

ALSO THIS WEEKEND: What the Festival (Oregon), Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (California), Conscious Culture Festival (Washington)

 

Laytonville, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*
Laytonville, CA *CLICK FOR INFO*

Most of us like more than just electronic music. Everyone’s ears (and brains) need a break and we can’t grow as humans if we don’t experience new things . There is nothing compared to people actual PLAYING instruments and singing. Try something new…you’ll be glad you did. If soulful music with a focus on acoustic instruments and voices interests you…check out Kate Wolf Music Festival. Located in the previous home of Earthdance and Hog Farm, it has a great line-up of musicians this year and from what we’ve heard an incredible family vibe.

Don’t miss: Paper Bird, The Wood Brothers, Los Lobos, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott

 

*CLICK FOR INFO*
*CLICK FOR INFO*

Without question one of our favorites. One of the oldest west coast festivals, High Sierra’s #1 mission is LIVE MUSIC…and tons of it. Every 4th of July weekend Quincy is pretty much the place to be with unprecedented vibes and a diverse musical line-up. After midnight the late nights rock with separate late nights happening in two different rooms. While some people complain the late nights cost extra, this blogger feels it keeps the late night energy high, as only people who REALLY like the act will pay to see them (again…the acts always play a festival set too). If you don’t want to do that, get some much-needed rest, hit up the Silent Frisco, OR seriously just walk around and talk to people. So much fun…we’ve been going since 1997.

Don’t Miss: The Budos Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Darkwave, Boombox, Stanley Jordan Trio, Punch Brothers

 

That’s it for this episode. We’ll follow up with a look at mid-July to end of year. See you on the dancefloor!

 

 

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Let’s begin with the past in front…..14 YEARS LATER: WHITE PEPPER

May 14, 2014
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 May 2000. Where were you? I was in Cincinnati, essentially waiting to move to Lake Tahoe until my friend’s second child was born. About a year before, I was living with them…Uncle Steve living in the basement (under the staircase even…which sounds creepy especially since it was an unfinished basement). I look back on that time really fondly, as not only did they give me a comfortable landing pad after moving back from upstate New York, but one of my duties was to help with their first child, my goddaughter, Halley. We had a little dance to Ween’s song “Big Jilm” from Pure Guava. Seems everyone likes Ween, including 4 year olds.

Daily life with a kid is non-stop preparation and clean-up. Sean and Robin were married really young, expecting their second child, and Sean still says that my moving in helped saved their marriage. Whether or not that is true, I did realize having a kid, while at the same time preparing for a second (or third, or fourth, etc), is a pretty arduous process. Plus, after the labor, feedings, clothing, potty training, and everything else that goes into raising a kid, you don’t really know what all your efforts did to the thing you popped out until many years later. “Did I screw this kid up?”

Maybe I was too supportive?
Maybe I was too supportive?

Recording an album is kind of like that. Writing, arranging, re-writing, recording and tracking, engineering, post-production, track order, art…so many things go into making an album, I would imagine the artist sometimes wonders if they the album they popped out will be a “good child.” I always wonder with some of my favorite albums, as well as seminally classic albums, did they know they were putting out one of the greatest albums from start to finish? Did The Beatles realize The White Album was as good as it is? Or The Stone’s Let It Bleed, or The Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, or Metallica’s Master of Puppets? Did WEEN realize that all the work that was put into White Pepper would create a child that after 14 years still stands up to all the greatest albums put out? Some may say so since the title is believed to reference The White Album and Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, two albums that are considered “the bests” of The Beatles.

 

Let’s get a few things out in the open first. Number one, since 1995 I’ve never gone through period when I didn’t have Ween music around. Masters of all genres who can not only write truly emotional songs dealing with heartache, but also can flip on dime to sing about genitalia waving in the breeze, lost cheese and horses, love for guacamole and setting things on fire with gasoline. Number two, when WEEN would enter the studio, they would write around 40 songs, then pick the best 11-15 that get on the record. You read that right…FORTY SONGS. Can you imagine if all bands did this? This is why no album by Ween has truly ever sucked, just some you like a little less. Each has it’s own vibe, which allows for personal taste to truly dictate a favorite and this favorite changes throughout your day, week, year, decade, or current state of mind. Thus I’m not really writing to dictate which is best, but without question White Pepper was a major turning point for Ween.

 

Ween live. No words really can describe this experience
Ween live. No words really describe can this experience

 

Rogers/Gilmore, McCartney/Lennon, Garcia/Hunter, Jagger/Richards are a few of the most renowned songwriting teams and I place Dean and Gene Ween in with this alumni. Difference with Gene and Dean….these guys always sounded like they could be your buddies or next-door neighbors. A lot of us understood their jokes, their tongue-in-cheek humor resonated with us, but…we were also emotional humans that desired that aspect as well. Ween brought all that to the table…and more. They exposed us to new genres, new thoughts, one of the greatest live rock experiences ever, and most importantly a new demon-god,  THE BOOGNISH!

The demon-god Boognish
The demon-god Boognish

 

All the records before White Pepper were cut with Gene and Dean writing and recording most of the instruments, yet with White Pepper it was their first album to record with their touring band: Claude Coleman on drums, Dan Dreiwitz on bass and Glenn McClelland on keys. The effect was dramatic. The album sounds fuller and more refined, yet stayed true to their “masters of all genres” that people expected from Ween. Muscle car rockers a la Motorhead (“Stroker Ace”), gentle love ballads (“Stay Forever,” “She’s Your Baby”), island calypso (“Bananas and Blow”), beautiful instrumental (“Ice Castles”), and late-era sounding Beatles songs (“Flutes of  Chi”) were all perfectly arranged and produced to create one of the strongest song-to-song albums in rock history. So it’s really fruitless extract breakdowns of songs on the album…listen, feel it, and make your own decision.

White Pepper isn’t a singles album…it’s an entire piece of art, meant to be experienced from start to finish. Do yourself a favor…listen to it by clicking on the image below.…then support Ween and purchase it. After that….go deep. You have literally years of enjoyment digging into Ween, then even more years enjoying their side projects The Moistboyz, Aaron Freeman, Dean Ween Band, etc. No one makes music like this band.

Purchase all Ween music through www.ween.com. Listen to full album by clicking image.

CLICK TO LISTEN TO ENTIRE ALBUM
CLICK TO LISTEN TO ENTIRE ALBUM