Not that anyone goes out of their way to point it out, but I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of the fact that fads don’t last forever. They may be revived years later, but that will still be short-lived. Each new fad brings about new bands that thrive in that atmosphere. Take this current resurrection of 80s culture, for example. I would say that it’s been happening for the past year and a half. Out of it has emerged many, many bands. Some with new ideas and some without. However, both sets of ideas are appreciated. In the heat of the moment–the moment in question lasting several years’ time–one doesn’t waste their time with worrying about originality or creative progress. In fact, as a consumer, it’s natural to simply want something that does the trick regardless of quality. This opens us up to just about anything we come across which in turn provides countless opportunities for bands to show us that they have ‘the right stuff’. Now, once all of that is surpassed and a band has become a functioning part of the fad-based community in which it has been accepted, the only thing left to wonder about is whether they can stay there after the trends die down.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve spent hours on end wondering which bands, of the many that have crawled out of the woodwork, will stand the test of time. Sure, I have guesses. But the beautiful thing about guessing is the ever-lingering possibility of being wrong. Therefore, I always take myself with a grain of salt.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have released the b-side to their new single, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”, and if you recall my post about the a-side, I wasn’t too fond of this new direction. However, I did say that the track might be a ‘grower’…and it was. It really, really was. The same can be said for this track. It’s different than their previous work, but if you get past the fact that they have cleaner production, you still have a good song. Check out “The One” below.
Fortuna Pop! has already released the single in Europe. It will be released stateside December 14th.
Or you could get it here, whatever.
New York’s The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have just released the first single from their upcoming sophomore album coming out on Slumberland Records next March. It’s called “Heart In Your Heartbreak”.
The single will be released on Slumberland December 14th and will feature “The One” on the b-side. Listen to “Heart In Your Heartbreak” below.
I’m not too sold on this yet. It’s written like a good pop hit should be, but something about it doesn’t quite sit right with me. It sounds like the band is missing that youthful fury that we could hear on their first album; hell, even on the most recent single, “Say No To Love”. However, I won’t be passing judgement on this just yet. I’m still looking forward to the album. Maybe this track is a ‘grower’; you never know.
(From L-R: Kurt, Kip, Alex, Peggy)
Brooklyn’s dream-pop sensation The Pains of Being Pure At Heart are just coming off of their tour time and have a new single coming out soon!
This is pretty exciting news, guys. I’ve been waiting for something to stir from this band since the release of their Higher Than The Stars EP last year.
It would seem that my waiting paid off. :) The single is called “Say No To Love” and will be backed with a song called “Lost Saint”. After it’s release on June 8th, the band will embark on a short tour of the lower East coast of the country with Surfer Blood and Hooray for Earth. Once the tour’s complete, the band will begin working on their sophomore LP. Naturally, the single’s coming out on Slumberland Records.
6/3 Milford, CT Daniel Street
6/4 Rochester, NY The German House
6/5 Buffalo, NY The Tralf
6/6 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom
6/8 Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe
6/9 Birmingham, AL Bottletree Cafe
6/10 Tallahassee, FL The Engine Room
6/11 Orlando, FL Club at Firestone
6/12 Miami, FL Grand Central – Poplife 11
6/13 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits
6/15 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
6/16 Washington, DC Black Cat
I can only imagine what this single will sound like; probably the same format the band’s always had. But hey, it’s not like that’s going to stop you from listening to it. Plus, dig that artwork. :)
This has been said by everyone(probably because it’s fucking true), so I’ll get it out of the way before anything else: 2009 was a fucking great year for music. Great bands have resurfaced, new bands are taking up space on people’s iPods–hell, even shitty bands have had a good year. With all of the wonderful music that was released this year, many an album was donned ‘favorite’. However, for the sake of the blog and simplicity, I have whittled down my list to 10 albums. These 10 bands have written songs that won’t get out of my head. Each of these 10 albums’ artwork has been burned into my brain. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you…
10 of the Greatest Albums of 2009!
10. Japandroids – Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl)“Young Hearts Spark Fire”
9. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Self-Titled (Slumberland)“Young Adult Friction”
8. Cass McCombs – Catacombs (Domino)“Dreams Come True Girl”
7. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches (Barsuk)“Please, Baby, Please”
6. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2)“1901″
5. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains (Self-Released)“And The Hazy Sea”
4. Girls – Album (True Panther/Matador)“Lust For Life”
3. Mission of Burma – The Sound, The Speed, The Light (Matador)“1, 2, 3 Partyy!!”
2. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)“My Girls”
1. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)“Useful Chamber”
FYI: To purchase any album on this list, click on the label links ;)
The Photon God, 2009.
(From L-R: Kip Berman, Alex Naidus, Kurt Feldman, Peggy Wang)
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have been mentioned on this blog before. They have been traveling the world in support of their self-titled debut and their latest EP, Higher Than The Stars, which was released last week on Slumberland and Fortuna Pop.
I recently had the pleasure of catching their show in Austin at the Mohawk and was able to speak with the band’s singer/guitarist Kip Berman and keyboardist Peggy Wang for a bit beforehand. It was a conversation filled with laughs, Jim Reid look-a-likes, and lots and lots of impressions.
The Photon God: Ok, I just have a couple of questions.
TPG: To begin with, the album was released earlier this year. Did you expect that it would be such a big hit with a lot of people?
Both: No. (laughs)
Kip: Not at all. It was way beyond anything we could have expected. A lot of the bands we loved growing up were never that successful—
Kip: Immediately or just recognized outside of sort of die-hard people like me and my friends. We always were intensely into music but a lot of the bands we liked weren’t big, well-known bands so we never really anticipated that anything would be different for us.
Peggy: We kind of went in with the intention that we would be the kind of band that maybe people would be obsessed with but not a lot, you know? Because [with] a lot of the bands that me and Kip bonded over, it was kind of that way. Like, bands that have really hardcore fans but I guess kind of really—um…
TPG: A smaller population?
Peggy: –that are obsessive, yeah. (laughs)
TPG: Just all pure, die-hard fans.
Peggy: Yeah but like, two of them. (laughs)
Kip: Yeah, hopefully they can find each other through the internet.
TPG: Yeah, and they’ll probably have their own little community somewhere. So how long have you guys been on tour with Cymbals [Eat Guitars] and Depreciation Guild?
Peggy: A few weeks. We have one week left of this tour.
TPG: And then you guys are heading to Europe, right?
Peggy: Yeah, in November.
Kip: Yeah, we’re going to Spain, France, and the UK which is pretty cool.
TPG: You have a date in Glasgow I believe?
Kip: It’s going to be awesome. That’s always something we’ve really wanted to do.
Peggy: That’s my favorite city.
TPG: You’ve never been there before?
Kip: No, we have.
Peggy: We’ve been there twice but only for like, 24 hours each time.
Kip: Yeah, so anytime we get to go there is super cool. There’s so many bands—
TPG: Do you like the landscape?
Kip: Yeah I just like the city.
Peggy: It’s beautiful and it’s…I don’t know, it’s so fun.
Kip: (to Peggy) Lot’s of hot dudes…
TPG: European dudes…
Kip: That’s probably the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Peggy: Yep…Jim Reid. (laughs) Dot-Blogspot-dot-com. (laughs)
TPG: What’s that?
Peggy: (laughing) We have this joke about guys who look like Jim Reid-dot-blogspot-dot—just like, starting a website of guys that we see in European countries that look like Jim Reid.
Kip: Just like, photos. We won’t actually do this but if we see a guy who looks like Jim Reid we’re like ‘that’s one for the website’ haha.
TPG: I believe there’s a Tumblr blog somewhere that’s similar to that. It’s called “fuckyeahindieboys”.
Peggy: Oh, really? Yeah, I know there’s lots of those single-serving sites. Like, there’s ‘Hot Girls Picking Up Dog Shit’. This is kind of like an indie-pop version of that. (laughs)
TPG: Haha more or less. So earlier this week on Tuesday, Higher Than The Stars was released.
TPG: It sounds really great, four new songs…uh…sorry, I kind of had a bit of a brain fart.
TPG: Are there plans for a follow-up to the self-titled album?
Kip: Sure, these were songs we recorded in the Spring in between tours and these have been songs that we’ve been playing live for a while or had been written after our first album was complete. So, we really wanted to put them out there and give people access to them. Since we were playing them at our shows and stuff it just seemed nice to add on to the album in that way. As for a proper follow-up, we’ll probably start working on that after we’re done touring this winter. Maybe in early 2010.
TPG: That lets you relax for a bit.
Peggy: I don’t know if that’s in the cards. (laughs)
Kip: Yeah, well our tour goes through December and then we might have some other dates a little bit after that but yeah once that’s all done we’ll just go into the studio and start working on our next album which is something we’re all really excited about. It’s just a really fun process that’s going to be starting over again. It’s nice.
TPG: Yeah you get excited…
Kip: Yeah, you get all excited again. Honestly, from the moment our first album was done, we’ve been excited about what we would get to do for the next album.
Kip: Our album hadn’t even been released yet and we were excited to start working on the next one so finally we’ll get that chance. Hopefully. Knock on wood. (knocks on table)
TPG: So now you get to travel the world. Compared to your first couple of shows—you’re from New York, right?
TPG: Did you just play a couple of clubs around there while starting off?
Peggy: Yeah, Cake Shop was pretty much the only place that would book us for a while. (laughs)
Kip: Yeah there was a club on the Lower East Side called Cake Shop that we would play a lot.
Peggy: All our friends worked there.
Kip: And yeah we would play some other shows around New York but for the most part if we were playing a show it would be at Cake Shop. Our friends worked there, the guy that books it is pretty open-minded. He’s not one of those guys that’s like, “What’s your draw?”
Kip: You know? He’s not like, “How many people can you bring out to the show?”, “How many drinks will they have?” and there’s some of that in the other clubs so it was really refreshing to play in a place that’s like, “Yeah, your band’s okay. You can play.”
TPG: That’s really cool. Pretty ‘open arms’.
Kip: Yeah, definitely there’s cool places like that all over but it might be a little bit more rare in New York City to have clubs that are less financially-oriented like that.
Kip: ‘Cause it’s so expensive just to maintain a venue in New York City that it’s pretty rare that people can just be kind of into whatever. (to Peggy) We do like a lot of weird stuff though.
TPG: Yeah, it’s kind of where all the creativity kind of lies, I think. So, in the mindset that you are in now, do you think you’ve grown as a band? Or as individuals since then?
Peggy: No, still 12. (laughs) I’ve probably de-evolved.
Kip: Yeah, still waiting for puberty. I’m going to get that low voice one of these days. It’s gonna happen, c’mon! (looks in shirt) C’mon, chest hair! Grow! Grow!
Peggy: I feel like I’m kind of the same. Pretty much.
Kip: Yeah I mean, as people we’re totally the same. I think maybe we’ve gotten better at playing live through the experience of touring a lot but in terms of emotional or sexual maturity we’re still kind of—(laughs)
Peggy: –the same place we’ve always been. (laughs)
Kip: Yeah, I think we flat-lined a long time ago. (laughs)
TPG: (laughing) Well, I guess that’s a good thing, you’ve stayed the same. Ok, now the sound of the band. You’re kind of drawing from Joy Division, The Smiths, that era from the 80s, shoegaze, etc. Personally, I don’t see it so much as reverting to that kind of sound, which a lot of people do because it’s something that was first put to the public back then. To me, it’s more like something where you take those elements and bring them to the modern age. Reinventing them, giving them your own spin, etc. What do you think?
Kip: I think at the core we just think of our songs as pop music and not—and of course we grew up with a lot of bands and maybe subconsciously we embraced a lot of sounds growing up. A lot of the bands that you mentioned are huge, iconic, awesome bands and any time we’re compared to something like that is really flattering. But, the influence was kind of subconscious growing up listening to a lot of music and we’re just trying to write pop songs. It’s not super intentional, how they sound. That’s just the natural way it sounds when I play guitar. Like, Kurt [drummer Kurt Feldman] will make fun of me when I write a new song because it basically sounds like another song I’ve already written. (laughs) Not to be overly mean to myself but I really like to play guitar with big chords—
TPG: Letting them ring out and stuff—
Kip: Yeah and lots of fuzz and the way it will ring out with a lot of energy and stuff. That’s just the sound I like. I just hope they’re good pop songs and people understand them as such.
TPG: If you don’t mind my saying, I think they are really good pop songs.
Kip: Oh! Well thank you. I definitely don’t mind that, no. (laughs) It’s not an offensive comment. (turns to point at Peggy with an angry face) “You write good songs!”
TPG: Haha well some people get apprehensive when people are nice to them.
Kip: Nah, it’s cool we’re into it.
Peggy: Yeah, we like it.
TPG: My favorite actually is Ramona.
Kip: Oh, cool yeah I like it too. I’m really glad we were able to release that. I think it’s really important to–it’s fun—seven-inch singles have become kind of expensive to make and buy.
Kip: Well, I think there was a time when it was a cheap way to check out a band and see if you like it. But I think for whatever reason, CDs are so cheap to make and seven-inches are kind of expensive so it’s like, you only get two songs but it costs five dollars where you get a whole album for maybe ten dollars so it’s important for us to have good b-sides so people don’t feel ripped off and more people have a reason to actually buy it so I’m glad you like it.
TPG: One more big, philosophical question.
TPG: What do you think of the state of music as it is right now? More bands popping up with a different sound or bringing elements from other influences and making music vibrant and interesting, putting Nickelback on the back burner…for good hopefully, you know what I mean? What do you think?
Kip: (impersonating Chad Kroeger) Yeehhh!
TPG: (laughing) That was nice.
Kip: I don’t know, I feel like I’ve talked more than Peggy. (to Peggy) Do you want to go first on this one?
Peggy: Hm. The state of music today…
Kip: By Peggy Wang.
Peggy: (laughs) By Peggy Wang. A personal essay.
Kip: …how I spent my summer vacation… (laughs)
Peggy: Um, I mean, I don’t know. There are a lot of new bands that sound awesome. I was always a believer in that it doesn’t always matter how a song is recorded. If a song is awesome and it’s a good pop song, you could have a string section, you could record it on a four-track, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve always been kind of partial to things that were hissy or noisy or fuzzy or distorted. It seems like there’s a lot of bands coming out that fit in with my aesthetic so I guess that’s really exciting.
TPG: Yeah it’s just the timing, maybe.
Peggy: Yeah and it’s helped us make a lot of friends with other bands and stuff. We go see a lot of shows whenever we’re in New York. I definitely feel excited about new bands.
Kip: I definitely agree. Some people have this knee-jerk reaction to think that everything in the past was like, awesome, and everything today doesn’t really measure up but I feel pretty much the opposite. I think right now is a really exciting time for music. I think technology has made it cheaper for bands to record the way they want to record and not have to take huge advances from labels or mortgage their house to do it or just never even get a chance to do it. It’s made it so more bands are able to make music which is awesome. I feel that the Internet allows you to just hear stuff–it might not be a band that has played in New York before but I’ll get to hear them, know about them and other people will too.
TPG: Yeah, through MySpace and stuff like that.
Kip: Yeah through MySpace or through file-sharing or whatever. I think it’s genuinely an awesome thing for music. I think right now there’s probably more good exciting bands than any other time. There’s lots of small labels and you don’t have to like, give your demo tape to someone in L.A. to try to get your song on the radio for people to hear; that model is pretty much gone. So I don’t think the past is a totally perfect way of music being created, there’s a lot of great bands. Now, there’s so many contemporary bands we love. We formed on part because we were excited about other contemporary bands that were happening like The Manhattan Love Suicides, Titus Andronicus, Crystal Stilts, and Cause Co-motion!, there was cool stuff happening around us that we were just really inspired by.
TPG: You wanted to be a part of it.
Kip: Yeah, we wanted to be a part of it. We wanted to get to play shows with those guys. So we’re definitely in the ‘now it’s a good time to be alive’ camp.
TPG: I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Kip: Plus! You can still listen to all the old bands you want.
Kip: And there’s some live obscure ones that you probably would’ve never heard but they get unearthed and re-issued. So you have total access to basically the last forty years of western music if you want. And it’s on something the size of your thumb! You don’t have to walk around with like, 8,000 cassette tapes or whatever to hear everything you want. It’s like, I can have this device that has 172 days of music on it if I want to.
Peggy: Yeah, I mean, I miss those days. It was perfect, when I was in high school, the fact that the obscure music was really hard to find but now that I’m older, I have a job and I’m busy, it’s kind of really nice that it’s all like-
TPG: You don’t have to use so much effort.
Kip: It’s flattering that we get accused of ripping off bands that have only played five shows.
Kip: It’s the greatest thing when people are like, (deep voice) “of course, they’re totally influenced by Black Tambourine!” And it’s like, “yeah, we are” but it’s cool because a band that played five shows and might not have ever been heard–now through modern technology, everyone’s heard them and everyone knows they’re great, and everyone has access to them. You don’t have to be one of the 82 people who saw them in like, 1990 to experience the music. There’s kids today who are 17 who are like, “yeah Black Tambourine’s awesome. Of course.” you know? It’s like, “Duh.” And they only have like, nine songs and they only played five shows and one of them was a reunion show and it’s an ‘of course’ now.
TPG: It almost makes it like a ‘lost treasure’ kind of thing.
Kip: Yeah, it’s great. And it’s a really fun, wonderful thing that young kids can really just—if you’re curious—all you have to do is be curious and interested and you can find anything and learn about it.
Peggy: I think the idea of ‘word of mouth’ still exists. Like, yesterday we played Fort Worth and I met this guy from Plano, Texas who was like, ‘yeah, you know, a friend of a friend told me about you…” you know, these kind of weird things.
TPG: And then he made it out to the show.
Peggy: Yeah, and then he came to the show in like, an hour and it didn’t seem like he was with anyone there so I was like, “he came by himself to come see us?” and that means a lot, you know? People still make an effort to do it.
TPG: Yeah, and it’s totally worth the trip. I mean, I drove six hours to get here.
Kip: Are you serious?
TPG: Yeah, I live in an area called the Rio Grande Valley. It’s…the lowest point in the US almost.
Kip: That’s insane…
Peggy: Oh my god…
Kip: What, in Texas?
TPG: Yeah, it’s like, an hour from Mexico.
Peggy: That’s crazy.
Kip: You’re gonna stay over night though, right?
TPG: Yeah, my brother lives in town.
Peggy: Oh, that’s good.
Kip: Yeah that’s further than we came. It’s amazing how huge Texas is. We were driving through Tuscon and we get to the border and then we’re like, “Awesome, we’re in Texas, finally.” and we look at the GPS and we’re like, “How much longer to Fort Worth?” and it’s like, nine hours and that’s like, the middle of the state. It’s a massive, massive place and it’s been pretty eye-opening to get to experience it.
TPG: Growing up, I actually didn’t know that that was that great a distance. I thought it was normal to see all of this greenery and these wild animals in between where I live and say, Austin. Then, I grabbed a map and compared the size of other states compared to Texas and it’s completely different.
Kip: Yeah you go from Philadelphia to New York and it’s like, ‘that’s a two-hour drive!’ Like, you go from Boston to Philly in less than six hours. It’s definitely a different experience. I think nowadays I think it’s even better technologically if you’re not living somewhere where bands come through a lot, you can still hear everything and know what’s going on. I like it that you don’t have to live somewhere—even though we live in New York it’s like, you don’t have to live in New York to know about this stuff anymore. It’s cool.
TPG: Yeah, it’s one e-mail away, one instant message away.
Kip: Yeah, seriously. Plus, half of my friends growing up were on the internet, anyway.
TPG: One last question, would you guys ever consider going down to the Rio Grande Valley to play?
Kip: Oh, sure. Yeah for like, the lowest show on earth! I remember that Spiritualized played the ‘highest show on earth’ on top of the World Trade Center [it was actually Toronto's CN Tower.] and they made a lot of jokes like, “we played the highest show on Earth!” but yeah especially if it would break up the drive. That would be nice. If we had two six-hour drives instead of one thirteen-hour drive, that would be fun. We probably won’t be touring for a while but that would be a cool place.
TPG: Yeah whenever you do, it would be a good thing to look into.
Peggy: We’ll keep it in mind.
TPG: Yeah, it’s really cool. There’s some good guys over there called Goodbar who put on good shows.
Peggy: That’s awesome.
TPG: Yeah they’re bringing in more bands; Wavves is coming in October.
Kip: Wow, that’s cool.
Peggy: That’s awesome!
TPG: Yeah it’s grown a bit.
Kip: That’s cool.
Peggy: I would want to go to Mexico too.
Kip: Yeah, I’d love to go to Mexico.
TPG: Careful, though. The border’s got a bit of friction there.
Kip: Yeah it’s been a little weird. We were looking at places to stop along the way and we saw this place called Juarez…
TPG: Ciudad Juárez?
Peggy: I thought we were going to have to drive through Juarez. This is going to make me sound so stupid… but I thought it was Juarez, New Mexico because I was routing it on my phone and it looked like the line was going through Juarez and we were trying to find a city that we could stop in that would be interesting to hang out in and so I did some research on Juarez and it was like, “48 murders in 48 hours!” and just this really insane murder rate. Then I realized that it was Juarez, Mexico and we probably couldn’t stop there if we wanted to.
Kip: Yeah it’s not a great picnic destination. But Depreciation Guild went to Mexico to play a show once and they said it was awesome. They said that the people were so psyched that they came and they had a really great experience. So I really hope we get a chance to travel over there. Especially in the winter time where it’s kind of miserable in New York we could be like, “let’s go to Mexico for a week!”
TPG: It would be a little warmer.
Kip: Yeah, and we get written to a lot on the internet from people in Mexico. There seems to be a really—especially MySpace comments like “Come to Mexico!”.
Peggy: I think it would be great!
TPG: They write to you in English?
Kip: Yeah they write in English. Babel Fish is amazing. And I think that people in Mexico know English better than people in America know Spanish.
Kip: There’s some pretty devoted people. I mean, the people that brought Depreciation Guild were really big fans and set it up and just bought them plane tickets. It’s not impossible to do it, it would be a really fun experience. I’d really like to do that. If my life was normal and I wasn’t in a band I’d never get to go anywhere or do anything at all. I wouldn’t have done one-tenth of the things that we get to do. I just figure that we should try to see places we’ve never been before and play shows. It seems like it would be a really fun thing to do.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars