Frontier Psychiatrist

Archive for January 2011

Destoyer - Kaputt

The time has come for devoted fans to admit: Destroyer is never going to make it big.  The band’s mastermind, Dan Bejar, has been churning out records under the Destoyer moniker since 1996 (when you were either in high school or college), and yet you’ve likely never heard one of his songs.  In fact, if you have heard of Bejar at all, it is likely through his role in The New Pornographers, a pleasant yet car-commercial-friendly side project in which he is at best an ancillary member.  And so, when I tell you that Destroyer is the best band in the world today, you will likely shrug off my hyperbole with indifference.

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Because we still care about music videos, and we think you should too, each month we’ll be bringing you our five favorites from the previous 30 days.  In our first installment, we find murder, intrigue, robots, broken furniture, and the Japanese.  Please enjoy:

5. Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill

Just one man fewer between you and Alexis Krauss

Vodpod videos no longer available.

4. Deerhoof – Super Duper Rescue Heads!

It doesn’t take a genius to tell that the Japanese were involved in the making of this video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

3. No Age – Fever Dreaming

Directed by Patrick Daughters, creator of such recent music video successes as “1, 2, 3, 4” and “Maps,” this video depicts what unfolds when the 2nd law of thermodynamics is unleashed on an Ikea showroom. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2. Times New Viking – No Room To Live

“Each frame printed from real video, then hand drawn, colored, or decorated and put back together.  Nearly 3,000 individual frames, completed by around 40 artists from Columbus, Ohio and elsewhere.”  Pretty cool. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

1. She & Him – Don’t Look Back

An early contender for video of the year, this video has everything you could possibly ask for: anachronisms, pretty girls, and references to Orpheus.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Over the past nine months the Frontier Mixologist has taught us all how to get inebriated in a cultured, historically informed fashion.  While we have learned a great deal about certain classic cocktails (the Manhattan, the Negroni, the Jack Rose), we have also been treated to five never-before-mixed cocktails, drinks conceived and lab-tested in the Mixologist’s private but ample bar.  Today we bring you a recap of our original cocktails with the hope that, rather than grabbing another six-pack or bottle of wine this Friday night, you’ll pick up a few more adventurous ingredients and mix up something unique and delicious.

The Preakness Cocktail (FP Version)

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey (preferably Pikesville Rye)

0.5 oz Maraschino liqueur

0.5 oz Benedictine

2 dashes aromatic bitters (e.g. Angostura, Fee Brothers)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Shake briskly with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This drink of kings is a modification of the original, inferior Preakness Cocktail.  It’s a delicious Baltimore-inspired concoction, the kind of drink that would make Omar Little exclaim “Oh, indeed.”  The whiskey, benedictine, and Maraschino can be purchased at any liquor store (even a store you think only sells wine…just look hard or ask), and the bitters can be had at your local grocery.

The 25th Hour

1 ½ oz.  vodka (Absolut Brooklyn if you can find it)

1 ½ oz.  applejack (if you can get the 100-proof, use it)

2 dashes aromatic bitters

2 oz.  ginger ale or ginger beer

Stir vodka, applejack, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice; strain into an old fashioned glass, and top with the ginger ale; garnish with a slice of apple, if desired.

Your stuffier mixologists abhor using multiple base spirits (applejack and vodka?), and the use of vodka would be frowned upon in some circles.  But, here at FP, we are mixologists of the people.  The drink is balanced, invigorating, and hazardous to your judgment.  If nothing else, please buy yourself a bottle of Applejack. If you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, just go to the liquor store and ask for a bottle of “Laird’s, 100 proof if you’ve got it.”  Trust us.

The Hawaiian Lady

1 oz. light rum

1 oz. dark rum

1 oz. egg whites (from an egg whites carton)

½ oz. lime juice

½ oz. rich pineapple syrup

dash of Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish, if desired, with a speared pineapple chunk.

This particular libation was cooked up in honor of our interview in the Hawaii Women’s Journal, a publication which, once you’re done with this column, you should go read.  We are aware that it contains egg whites and two types of rum; suffice it to say that, if you’ve never mixed a drink before, you’d probably be best advised to start with an Old Fashioned instead.  Once you feel comfortable with that swizzle stick in your hands, however, turn to The Hawaiian Lady for some assistance in advancing your skill set.

The Dark and Stirred Fantasy

2 oz. dark rum

3/4 oz. Amaro CioCaro

1/4 oz. Licor 43

2 dashes Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

If you recognize half of the ingredients in this drink, you either work in a bar or have a problem.  Nonetheless, you can track them all down in your local urban liquor store, say Dry Dock or Smith & Vine should you reside in Kings County.  It’s worth the search: after a few of these, you won’t be able to get much higher.

The Frontier Psychiatrist

1 oz. applejack

1 oz. rye whiskey

½ oz. dry vermouth

¼ oz. Amaro CioCiaro

¼ oz. peach liqueur

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir all madly with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; enjoy without a twist, preferably with carefully selected musical accompaniment.

It’s like an FP party in your mouth.  And there ain’t no party like an FP party.

Drink Up!

After a sad, sugarless breakfast, during which she watched her boyfriend eat a large crepe with Nutella and bananas, she went to la pharmacie. The sky was gray and sad; it had been for days.

Inside the wide glass doors she saw two people behind the counter: an older gentleman, whose attention would be extremely embarrassing, and a sympathetic-looking lady who was wrapping up someone’s package. She timed her arrival so that she would get the lady. Unfortunately, there was a small traffic jam and a lot of “excusez-moi’s” in the entrance, and by the time she arrived at the counter she was met with the smiling face of the older man. She opened her mouth to say something and realized she hadn’t the slightest clue how to explain her problem. “J’ai une probleme,” was as far as she got, before she realized she couldn’t go further without motioning to her crotch, which she really did not want to do in the middle of the busy pharmacy.

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Cake, Showroom of Compassion

Showroom of Compassion (Upbeat Records) is the first new Cake release in seven years. Best known for their 90s break out hit “The Distance” and 2001 chart topper “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”, they continue to deliver more of their signature head nodding grooves and funny lyrics.

In his signature off-beat and snarky manner, vibra-slap master and Cake boss John McCrea promised that this record would sound much different than previous efforts. How? “More piano and more reverb.” Indeed the production displays new sonic depth when compared to earlier tracks. Produced in Cake’s own Sacramento studio, the care and effort are apparent in the lush mixes and broad palettes. But the Cake essentials are still there. The solo trumpet work of Vince DiFiore weaves in and out of the arrangements. The solid and imaginative bass grooves of Gabe Nelson anchor the syncopated lyrical forms of McCrea. The shout-out call and response choruses takes us right back to those mid-90s college parties.

Those are the similarities. The differences are more subtle. Cake has made a living baking songs with plenty of irony and smirk. Remember their cover of  “I Will Survive?” Here we have a more earnest and sincere band mellowing out as they approach middle age. Even though we get some of that proto-hipster shoulder shrugging (“I’m so sick of me, so sick of you, so sick of me”) the tone of the work certainly references the “compassion” in the album title. Beyond lyrical tone, the song writing has some tasty twists and turns while still managing early 90s alt-rock joie de vivre.

Cake, Federal Funding

“Federal Funding” is a nice little poke at recent economic events. It also features a vocal drenched in reverb, a production technique that McCrea has shied away from in the past. Like most of the songs here it features the Cake essentials while delivering a mid-tempo head-bob inducing groove.

Cake, Teenage Pregnancy

“Teenage Pregnancy” is a rare instrumental. It will remind you of “Moonlight Sonata” but only briefly. The trepidation and sadness evoked here work nicely with the more sensitive emotional slant to the record, and demonstrate that Cake can communicate effectively even without McCrea’s vocal work.

Cake, Sick of You

“Sick of You” represents the radio shot for this record. Clocking it at just 3:14, it features the shout-out chorus that made “The Distance” so distinctly different in its day. And just like that hit, the middle of the song features a rapping McCrea propelling us to the end of the tune. Ultimately, Compassion demonstrates that Cake knows not to change the delicious recipes that have been so successful over the last twenty years.

Taken at that park across from the National runway? I think so.

Despite what many Washingtonians may say, life is good. We haven’t had too many WMATA faulted deaths, we’ve had a better winter than most and even Congress is trying to be “bipartisan”, as evidenced by last night’s national pat on the back State of the Union Address. But in order to “win the future“, as President Obama implored last night, we need to reflect on our past. And that’s exactly what happened last weekend for The Dismemberment Plan‘s reunion extravaganza.

In conjunction with a first-ever vinyl pressing of Emergency & I, The D-Plan announced a series of reunion shows, which included a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and three shows around D.C. Sunday night’s final 9:30 Club performance was both triumphant and sad, much like the music they write. The hype around the D.C. dates was overwhelming. Tickets sold out in a matter of minutes when they were released back in August. A combination of high national hopes and even higher personal pressures, it would have been understood, if not permissible for the band to suck this weekend. Luckily, that was not the case.

Passing through all the frenzied and subdued highlights of their career, The D-Plan surpassed the greatness of any and all of their recordings. The vivid instrumentation matched with their uncanny knack for pop-weirdness plays out far better in person, and that’s saying something. New life breathed in the decade old songs like “Spider In the Snow”, “A Life of Possibilities” and “Following Through”. The band was as comfortable as ever, which is exactly as they should be for their homecoming. Singer Travis Morrison, who has routinely shot-down the reunion idea multiple times was exceptionally ecstatic, beaming along with the crowd.

The outer limits jittery post-hardcore-Talking Heads-esque-punk (huh?) of The D-Plan is infectious in the weirdest way possible. It forces one to reflect on the oddity of day to day life, and the regular strangeness that too often goes unrecognized. This unique sound mashed with palpable excitement at the 9:30 made for a one-of-a-kind concert experience. Everything came to a head when Morrison and band-mates invited the crowd on stage for the encore of the new classic “Ice of Boston”.

The D-Plan are a Washington indie-rock cult-phenomenon; an eccentric, indefinable group that came in the tail-end of the Dischord Dynasty that seemed to march to the beat of their own incomprehensibly talented drummer, so to speak. Their career was a quietly successful one, but they never reached widespread breakout recognition. Emergency & I, their 1999 genre defining tour de force has been heralded as one of the best of a generation. Through this time, the band built a dedicated and close-knit following based on their high energy concerts and relatable, yet quirky recordings. After releasing four well received full lengths through the end of the 90s and into the oughts, the band called it quits. Other than a one-off reunion show for charity, members of The Dismemberment Plan haven’t been on stage together until now.

Despite a fantastic performance, the growing popularity of reunion shows should be troubling to the new generation of musicians. Who do we have that will cause as much of an uproar when they reunite in 10 years? It’s part of this whole culture based on idea-cycling rather than ideation. Is it fair that the biggest show in all of the District this winter is a defunct band? The Dismemberment Plan are by far the most meaningful band to come out of  D.C. since Fugazi, and yet they’re 10 years gone. What’s the deal, D.C.? Cat got your creativity? Now that we have taken the time to reflect on creativity past, lets look forward.

Peter Lillis is a staff writer for Frontier Psychiatrist. He lives in Washington, D.C., and is sometimes very happy about that.

Hercules & Love Affair - Blue Songs

Hercules & Love Affair’s impressive debut included “Blind,” a pulsing, emphatic dance track (featuring the lovely, melancholy vocal of Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons) that ushered in a throwback to long play disco. On their sophomore release Blue Songs, band mastermind and New York-based DJ Andy Butler assembles another collection of soulful dance tunes —an engaging, fresh exploration of disco and house.

The tracks, mostly clocking in over five minutes, are epic. Opener and album highlight “Painted Eyes,” beautifully sung by Aerea Negrot, employs stuttering bass and glittery synths with orchestral elements (flutes, sweeping strings). Lead single “My House” and its sublime music video (with its tongue-in-cheek commercial break) are gleeful forays into early-‘90s club nostalgia. There’s a joyous, Sylvester-like quality to the brassy “Falling” rare on today’s dance records. The pace slows down with Shaun Wright’s “Boy Blue,” a folky electro number that recalls the best of Erasure, dissonantly moving into the minor on the lyric “I’m grateful / for the words you chose.” It’s difficult to sit still to the funk of “Leonora,” with its rolling piano sample, the electro beat of “I Can’t Wait” and Technotronic-inspired “Step Up” featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. The lyrics are a bit generic on Sterling Void’s closer “It’s Alright,” but it’s a nice, gentle reassurance that things will be OK, even if a good party is over.

Jeffery Berg is a poet who lives in Manhattan. His last piece for FP was a review of Twin Shadow. He edits poetry for Clementine and Mary and writes about film, guilty pleasures and various obsessions on jdbrecords.

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Listening To:

Sons of Dionysus

A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.