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The Illin' Music Thread

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Tag Archives: Punk

In my ongoing quest to discover the zeitgeist of the times, I present to you: VACATION DAD.

My friend Mark brought this dude (the drummer of FARMS) to my attention a month or two ago after discovering “ihopeyrfavoritecoloriseverywhere” on some music blog. I’ve been listening to him basically non-stop since then… I’m not really sure why I haven’t posted him on here yet. Better late than never, I suppose.

His EP is more atonal and drone-y than his newer stuff. You can definitely hear FARMS all over this EP–giant swells of sound, blissed-out sonic soundscapes, but a noticeable lack of drums. In the back story to this EP, you can see why Vacation Dad is an artist of the times:

i started flirting with this girl
she was married
then we sex in a tent one thing led to the other
we dated for a while
then we broke up cause i suck
then i got laid off cause the economy is bad
i had a real job one with
concrete
and wood
and hammers
and nails
and forklifts
and racism
i recorded this to make myself feel good

Anyways, I’m not posting the EP for download, so whatever. Download it off his myspace if you’re interested. However, the melancholy sentiment of his explanation for recording his EP carries on to his newer songs.

Since he’s a drummer, his tracks have kick-ass percussion. The drums sound HUGE (especially on “Hemp Scented Body Lotion”), like strange futuristic machines making music because there’s no need to make anything else anymore because IT’S THE FUTURE and the humans are gone. And also these machines have found out how to love. Like Wall-E except less heartwarming and family-friendly.

The synths are also boss. Fuzzed-out to the max, thundering, with gigantic amounts of reverb. The 8-bit tones almost sound like they’re lifted from Super Mario World or something. Mix in some crazy, ecstatic yelps delayed-the-fuck-out with a massive, bleating dance beat (I’m talking about “Dream Boat,” here) and you’ve got a recipe for some nice risotto/balls-to-the-wall awesome song of the summer. Some people are talking about a “chill-wave” “movement” thing, and maybe this “qualifies”, but I don’t really know because I don’t read pitchfork. “whatever” “man”

I like his newer stuff a bit better than his EP. He’s releasing a split with Truman Peyote later this year (“Dream Boat” is a sneak preview from the split), and the songs are amazing. Don’t miss out on this dude–you’ll be hearing about Vacation Dad in the future.

Click here to download “ihopeyrfavoritecoloriseverywhere”!

Click here to download “Hemp Scented Body Lotion”!

Click here to download “Dream Boat”!

Grant, OUT!

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I am in the middle of an absolutely gigantic amount of work this week.  Final papers are kicking my ass, I’m trying to organize rehearsals for my multi-movement music composition, and I have yet to figure out how to get all of the crap home that I won’t need while I’m staying here over the summer.

Yet, I still have time to write about the Wonder Years on the Illin Music Thread.

Why?

Because they’ve crafted a freaking awesome pop punk album that moves beyond the normal high school milieux of the genre and deeply resonates with me.

Why?

Because I have moved beyond high school as well, and I’m always searching for bands that can speak to my current stage in life. Making this search easier is the fact that though I’ve gotten (a little bit) older since high school, my love for “punk/pop punk/whatever you want to call it” has not waned. Despite the fact that people degrade it for being juvenile, simple, or boring, I still enjoy it, and you know what?

I don’t care.

Part of what makes the Wonder Years so relatable for me is that the lead singer was an English major (holla!) in college while he wrote and recorded The Upsides, the band’s sophomore album.  Although people generally relegate feelings of otherness and isolation to high school, this is a straight up lie.  These feelings crop up at tons of other points in life.  If they didn’t, well…we wouldn’t be human.  College is the other main time in one’s life for feeling like this, and the lead singer of The Wonder Years captures this sensation perfectly.  The album’s positive message about moving above and moving on, and the motivic refrain of “I’m not sad anymore” that repeats throughout various tracks on the album also really hit me because of where I am at in my life right now.

Here are some excerpts of reviews for The Upsides, their sophomore full-length:

“The Wonder Years have crafted a passionate testament to the confusion of being twentysomething with The Upsides, their sophomore full-length. If you’ve grown up and care about more than just girls, but still love Say It Like You Mean It, listen to the Wonder Years.” – AP

“This is the album that makes it alright to still be listening to pop-punk well out of your teens, in fact it should be compulsory listening.” – DIESHELLSUIT.co.uk

Finally, after all of my talking, here is “My Last Semester” the opening track of collegiate loneliness/confusion on The Upsides

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Grant, after reading your last post and remembering the way that we always drive around the suburbs/city at night blasting music (which is one of my favorite activities,) I couldn’t help but putting up two tracks that I have been absolutely loving recently that would definitely fit into this same category of late night stereo blasting.

The band in question is Banner Pilot, a Minneapolis punk band with members who have deep roots in other pop punk bands from the area.  Minneapolis is noteworthy for my musical taste specifically because it is also the birthplace of another band that I love: The Replacements.  Something about the city just breeds great music, and Banner Pilot is no exception.  The impassioned vocalist yells out meaningful lyrics about being young, confused, and generally not sober with the perfect amount of grit to keep the poppy melodies edgy.  From the very first lines of “Skeleton Key” and “Greenwood,” I knew that I would love this band.  Listen to that guy’s voice!  You may not love it, but you have to agree that it has so much character, it’s astounding.  The lead vocalist has definitely been places, and has things to say about where he has come from and where he is going.

The main thing that distinguishes midwestern punk bands from bands from other parts of the country is the presence and timbre of the bass in the mix.  On every single track of Banner Pilot’s new album, “Collapser,” the bass has enough high end to noticeably stand out in the mix, but enough low end to sound like a chugging freight train that is on its way off the tracks.  Just check out how it thunders below when the entire band comes in during the first verse of “Greenwood.”  The distinctive bass presence has definitely become one of my favorite elements of Banner Pilot’s sound.

Another thing that is noteworthy about the band is that they look just like average guys.  There is no punk rock pretense about these dudes.  They are the real deal.  No spiked hair, no studded belts, and definitely no safety pins.  Banner Pilot sticks true to their music without subscribing to any prefabricated image about what they should look like.  And damn, is their music good.

They also manage to say a lot in some very brief phrases.  My favorite line: “No my dear, nothing much grows ’round here.  We carry our roots with us, a couple of weeds pulled up.” – Skeleton Key.

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