Guess who’s back in the musicmakin’ game? Yep it’s your buddy William N. Dalton and his imaginary band Erno, with his first new song since P.G.R. was released in August.
This one’s heavily influenced by h-pop and experimental music I’ve been listening to recently: Rangers, Ducktails, Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro. The basic structure is very much Rangers, maybe too similar to ‘The Mule’ but nevermind. Then there’s a whatevs lead guitar, and - get this - A DRUMKIT! Not a real one, but a GarageBand fake one. And hey, with a heck of reverb, it sounds good. I couldn’t do pots n’ pans percussion this time (living with other people who might not ‘get it’), so instead I keyboard-typed the drums. And it sounds decent.
Also, there’s a dab of occasional phaser-drenched ‘slap guitar’, which is kinda inspired by Blood Orange’s album Cupid Deluxe, which is an excellent PBR&B album, let me just say. Anyway there’s offbeat slap bass in that so I included a bit of offbeat ‘slap guitar’ here.
Hope y’all like it, hopefully this song will lead to a release at some point in the next few months. When I get back home for Christmas, and back to my bass (the bass in ‘Woodland Point’ is faked), maybe some of the rest of the ideas I have floating in my head will find realisation. It’s weird how this song basically wrote itself, and it’s so simple… a bleak riff became the bassline, the strumming is just Em and E, alternating, then the lead guitar is noodling on the Em scale. Yet this song, of all the songs I’ve written, has the firmest musical foundation: strumming, bass and drums all seem to form one coherent chunk, like a granite block at the centre of the song. The lead guitar noodles its way on top of that, and at some points the fabric is changed slightly (drums stop, more static, etc), but that foundation is still there. Huh, weird.
OK, so I usually write some sort of blog post when it’s my birthday. In earlier years a post would go on Johnspace, or my Twitter, or god even my Facebook. This year the only place I see fit for such a post is here, on my Tumblr.
This year (yesterday) I’m 19. Which feels really, really big. 18 means you’re an adult and 20 means you really are an adult, but 19 is some uni age in between. Fittingly, I’m at uni now (Central St Martins, London) and making new friends and having new experiences and everything. It’s hard to keep track of what’s going on, really. I don’t have much to say here. Maybe I’ll summarise it better at a later date.
I’ve been busy with uni which means there’s little progress with What Hype 2, which I’m sad about, but we all have to accept. Also, I finished a collection of short stories about a month ago which is called So Far, it’s a collection of my writings from the past few years, with a few photos. I’m in the process of perfecting the design, then maybe I’ll write up about that when it’s done.
A couple of albums I’m listening to at the moment:
New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies (1983) [not sure exactly what this is all about, considering I’m not a Joy Division fan, but for some reason I like the dancey post-punk-meets-electronic thing these guys have got going on. ‘5 8 6’ is too good to ignore.]
Deap Vally - Sistrionix (2013) [two women make blues/hard rock that sounds like something the White Stripes might’ve made if Jack White was a) a feminist b) a woman and c) a bit shit at playing guitar. Nonetheless the singer has a brilliant voice.]
SKATERS - ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’, ‘Deadbolt’ (2013) [these guys are from NYC but sound like some Cali indie favourites like Howler or FIDLAR. They’re a bit less snotty and a bit more RnB and electro, but they’re super catchy. Look out for their debut album, I bet it’ll be great.]
Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (1975) [way back when I was a kid, my dad used to listen to a lot of Dr. Feelgood, who were a blues rock band from Essex, England. They’re a bit corny but they got groove. Just, just, just listen to ‘Roxette’]
KissKiss Karate Passion - I Can’t (2013) [I came across these guys on a blog featuring garage rock bands, but I can’t necessarily say they’re garage rock. They’re French, and really weird, writing songs about shooting dogs and not being able to have sex (for some reason). However they run a pretty tight sound. Don’t judge them on their singer’s weird voice, and maybe start with ‘Long Hair BB’.]
Haim - Days Are Gone (2013) [I try my best to stay away from the mainstream, and not listen to what everyone else is listening to, but hell I just can’t ignore Haim. I’m putting my snob hat away and saying, I love this album. It’s not fluffy 00s/10s pop, it’s like a classic 80s pop album, with gorgeous melodies and a healthy balance between modern pop’s electronic touches (‘If I Could Change Your Mind’) and traditional guitar music (‘My Song 5’). Maybe not a classic, but certainly damn good.]
MGMT - MGMT (2013) [Yeah, I’ve lost track of where MGMT are going. Oracular was fantastic in its own way, then Congratulations was - a curveball, yes, but still a classic, of a different kind. Now, with their third album, MGMT have delved deeper into the universe of Congratulations, and we’ve lost them to their whimsies. It has its moments - ‘Alien Days, ‘Cool Song #2’, ‘Plenty More Girls in the Sea’ - but ultimately it’s a disappointing mess. So much for MGMT.]
Fuzz - Fuzz (2013) [I love Ty Segall as much as the next - erm, OK maybe it’s just me who loves him. Anywho Fuzz is a bit too intense, a bit too heavy for my liking. It has some great bits - ‘Loose Sutres’ and ‘Sleigh Ride’ - but there’s no break, it’s just full-on for 8 tracks, which then makes it fairly monotonous. ‘Loose Sutres’ nailed it by contrasting loud with quiet, using drum solos as a break. But sadly the album as the whole doesn’t have enough time to give ample contrast to the volume.]
The Dirtbombs - Ooey Chewy Gooey Ka-blooey! (2013) [Pitchfork may have slated it but I find there’s a strange part of me that loves the Dirtbomb’s bubblegum opus. It’s awful, it’s corny, it’s cliché, and yeah maybe the singer’s voice isn’t correct for bubblegum, but these guys nail it nonetheless. The only problem is that there isn’t really place for a straight bubblegum record in today’s industry, so sadly Ooey doesn’t have much longevity.]
Perfect Pussy - I have lost all desire for feeling (2013) [demo from angry no-fi punks who, if you’re into that, are pretty fucking good. I’m not really a massive fan of noisy, scuzzy hardcore punk, but there are times when the singer’s voice is just perfect, like a slice of humanity in the middle of chaos. I guess that’s just riot grrrl, though.]
The Strange Boys - Nothing (2007) [EP from lo-fi 60s-throwback band that you can probably imagine pretty well in your mind. The riffs are simple, but effective. Just give the descending melody of ‘Nothing’ your time, it’s good fun.]
Bazooka - Bazooka (2013) [Speaking of fun, these Greek garage rocker’s debut album may at first seem incredibly referential (‘Summer Song’ is a carbon copy of a Ramones song), but admire their skill. It’s a crazy, loud, energetic album. You just can’t help thinking they know what they’re doing, like on my album highlight ‘Mountain S.A.’, when a crazy whammy-bar breakdown builds until it bursts into the chord progression again. Glorious.]
Rangers - Suburban Tours (2010), Pan Am Stories (2011) [Rangers is lo-fi murk of the murkiest order. Just think of Real Estate's happily mundane riffs and blurry psychedelia. OK, now move from Real Estate to Ducktails. Imagine that as an arrow and follow that arrow far, far, far away, and you’ll find Rangers. It’s lo-fi psychedelic soundscapes that are so lo-fi and so psychedelic that they’re musical blurs. First album Suburban Tours bundles Rangers’ sound into manageable songs, whereas Pan Am Stories lets them run free a bit more, such as in ‘Zeke’s Dream’. For some reason I find myself liking Pan Am Stories more, but they’re both quite tough listens.]
Also listening to, but not yet formed an opinion on:
Bill Callahan - Dream River (2013)
Bonobo - The North Borders (2013)
Destruction Unit - Deep Trip (2013)
Foxygen - Take the Kids Off Broadway (2012)
Joy Division - Closer (1980)
The Reatards - Teenage Hate (1999)
Royal Headache - Royal Headache (2012)
The Stooges - The Stooges (1969)
Tyvek - Nothing Fits (2012)
Waxahatchee - American Weekend (2012), Cerulean Salt (2013)
The Weeknd - Trilogy (2011)
Woods - Bend Beyond (2012)
Where did this come from? Ehhh?
(Arcade Fire teaser video for Reflektor, with footage of Haiti and some groovy music)
Hey yo I’m at uni now, having a great time, it’s midnight and I’m wide awake and feel like writing some quick album reviews because I haven’t in so long. Here goes.
Mikal Cronin - Mikal Cronin (2011)
I love me some Mikal Cronin, whether it’s as part of Ty Segall Band, or on his own. His latest album, MCII, was pretty good but has its flaws, and the exact same flaws are visible on his 2011 debut. It’s just a straight 7/10. Mikal makes some beautiful tunes, with catchy-ass verses, but it’s just not enough to carry a whole album on. He never really rocks, he just croons over a fuzz pedal. There’s no solid, powerful emotion, it’s more like a generic, album-wide, vaguely longing feeling.
Pond - Xanman (2013)
A disgrace. Beard, Wives, Denim was the perfect space/glam/prog rock counterpart and contrast to Tame Impala’s perfect psych albums. It was perfectly imperfect, a lot of crazy, stoned shit went down but you felt like it was worth it because they had a good time making it. Even the album title was fun; it told you Pond weren’t here to be overly referential, or sound like Lennon, or bring back a psych rock revival. Nick Allbrook’s voice sounds awful. They were here to rock out and have fun. On Xanman, however, the whole thing falls apart, bringing us sprawling messes of songs, overlong and overcomplicated. Allbrook’s voice becomes annoying, grooves become obviously stolen from somewhere, and the only redeeming feature of what is a thankfully short album is the bassline in ‘Xanman’.
Bass Drum of Death - GB City (2011)
On their latest album, Bass Drum were torn to pieces for being too similar to Ty Segall. It’s not hard, as he’s pretty awesome and all. But, on their debut, the far superior GB City, those inspirations are only visible, way off in the distance. They have their own style, they’re jamming out and making good ol’ fashioned garage rock about beaches, girls, getting high and surfing. The second half of the album drops the standard slightly, but it’s worth a listen if only for the first two tracks. And yet, even this far better produced album pales in comparison to Segall’s bass-drum-and-guitar self-titled debut. That kid’s just got talent.
Ty Segall - Sleeper (2013)
Speak of the devil, here’s his latest album. No single, no advertising, very little information, it’s a purposeful lull. Segall’s step-father died, his mother did some shit things, he left San Francisco to live closer to his sister. And naturally, if Segall leaves SF, he’s gonna leave his fuzz pedal behind. It only appears once on Sleeper, on a well-placed and much-deserved solo at the end of ‘The Man Man’. Nonetheless, an acoustic album of surprisingly well-written and catchy songs, Sleeper is a testament to Segall’s innate talent. Now, let’s bring back the fuzz pedal.
Arcade Fire - ‘Reflektor’ (2013)
Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs ignited my passion for music, and now finally they’ve got something new going on. Everything they ever do is epic and oh so exciting, and their first single from their new record, ‘Reflektor’, is released today at 9pm, but has already leaked in a sadly poor-quality format yesterday. It’s dancey, it’s 7 minutes long, but it’s just a reflektor. HAHAHA JUST KIDDING LOL IT’S AMAZING IT’S REAL CATCHY AND REAL DISCO THANKS JAMES MURPHY AND DAVID BOWIE!?!?!?!?!
Excuse my fangirling, let’s be serious again. It’s pretty good. The lyrics don’t mean much, and I’m not especially digging the less-orchestra more-synth direction, but I’m excited anyway.
R E F L E K T O R
I don’t know if you know yet but for some odd reason I’ve been making music this summer. I’ve never been into making music before (usually just an avid listener), but I lost inspiration to do anything visual and taught myself the guitar to avoid revising for my A-Levels so, somehow, music was made.
Anywho, I’m moving into my halls on Sunday so I’m collating my musical efforts into a record for you all to hear and appreciate (hopefully). The album covers (front and back) are above, and the details are below. I just need to redo ‘September’ and give ‘Go Getter’ an edit and then it’s done. Ermagerd.
Erno - P.G.R. (2013)
1. Weekend Casual (3:11, acoustic guitar, electric guitar)
2. Tuesday Blue (??:??, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano)
3. Drummer (1:51, electric guitar, drum)
4. Go Getter (??:??, acoustic guitar, piano, etc)
5. P.G.R. (Interlude) (2:48, electric guitar)
6. Post-Grey (4:58, electric guitar, bass, drum)
7. Impression (0:38, bass)
8. September (??:??, piano, etc)
The album will be available to listen to here: http://erno.bandcamp.com/
And listen to demos of some of the songs here: https://soundcloud.com/wndalton
Thanks, and when this is done, back to the usual graphic design/photography/filmmaking I guess. And uni, hooray!
ps. Erno is a name I was initially going to use for a magazine project of mine, it’s from Erno Goldfinger if you were wondering. I figured it was ambiguous enough to name whatever music I came up with. And ‘P.G.R.’ are the initials of a roundabout near my house, which is kinda crucial to the album.
Another new song. This one’s an instrumental.
My original plan for this evening was to record and perfect a song/strumming pattern/chord progression I’ve been working on for a couple of days. The problem is, the strumming’s great but it just won’t fit within any beat. So, I’m finding it difficult to choose a suitable drumming pattern for it. Chances are it’ll be done all on my electric guitar, so it won’t be appropriate for this EP.
Anywho, that song wasn’t going anywhere so I started experimenting with a little fingerpicking doodle I’d originally planned to add into the song. It’s all in E, and inspired massively by the experimental genius of Jandek.
The EP will be called P.G.R., which are the initials of a roundabout where I live. The roundabout is my route to anywhere else; to drive somewhere you have to drive to that roundabout then take the appropriate exit. It’s like the little suburban hub of my neighbourhood. This instrumental - cyclical, regular and a little dull - turned out to be just the perfect soundtrack to laid-back, empty suburban evenings like this one. And the perfect soundtrack to the roundabout itself (at night). So I went out and recorded some ambient sounds of cars passing by, constant but never regular. You can hear the cars drive past. Initially I felt like lining them up to the beat, but I prefer it naturally irregular. It represents what the roundabout is and what that experience was.
It’s strange, five songs in and my music’s starting to become a really obvious form of my art…