THROWBACK TUES: Interpol – ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’


Though released in the summer of 2002 and discovered while getting accustomed with the discomfort of adolescence in Canada, Interpol’s inaugural Turn on the Bright Lights will always be inextricably linked in my mind with two things: winter and New York.

From the opening chords of the LP appetizer “Untitled” to the doleful refrains that close out “Leif Erickson”—the whole album’s defining sound shimmers under the cool detached vocals of Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler’s angular guitar strokes–their tone straddling the line between crisp and harsh, balanced against the ebullience of Carlos Dengler’s bass. The whole rhythm section so strongly grounds the understated groove of the record that when it drops out during a few notable moments (the intro on “The New” for example), you can’t help but lean in closer, only to have the warmth of the band’s full sound return to swaddle you.

For all the derision aimed at Banks’ lyrics (fair) and the similarity to Joy Division ‘s Ian Curtis in his warbled delivery, it’s the quality and stylistic consistency of Interpol’s sound that makes the album still resonate so palpably fifteen years later. Be it the opening riff of “Obstacle 1,” the hopeful restraint of “NYC,” or even the sinister whispers underneath the knife-edge creepiness of “Roland,” each component and passage fits together with the same painful detachment that underpins the album.

It’s no coincidence that I’m pressed to look back on this record tonight as New York braces itself for Winter Storm Stella, evoking the title of the eighth track and fan favorite of the compilation. As I sit here overlooking the traffic of 2nd Avenue trickle to a slow drip in anticipation of the impending snowfall, I can’t help but look back on the years since this seminal album cemented itself as a permanent part of my rotation.

Raised in a snowy Canadian town on a constant glut of awareness and appreciation for the city (my mother landed in Queens after fleeing Iran), coupled with the post-9/11 zeitgeist in those years that refracted New York anywhere it could, it’s really no wonder I make the association. Maybe this album was really written by and for turn-of-the-century New Yorkers, taking bumps off their keys somewhere in the stairwell of a Brooklyn walk-up, but frankly, if this stuff doesn’t remind you of the time and place where you started abruptly becoming acquainted with your interior self, then you missed out.

Now that I’ve been lucky enough to live in the city awhile, if ever I’m wandering around in the snow as I’m wont to do in the coming days–turning on this record is one of the few things that will make me reexamine the sights I’ve become prone to ignore—and admire the bright lights anew.

Chelsea Wolfe – After the Fall


LA’s very own dirge queen, Chelsea Wolfe is set to release her new album Abyss on August 7, and from the sounds of the third single “After the Fall” she’s on course to deliver another masterwork of ethereal sludge. The track proffers a slight but welcome evolution to the tried and true sounds Ms. Wolfe has perfected on earlier releases: crushing bass distorts, a jagged synth interlude rings out, and drums like distant thunder are battered into moments of sparse echo by one hell of a fuzz pedal — all laced together by those signature throaty wisps. It amounts to a dystopian love song, which according to a press release ‘attempts to capture the frustration of being stuck inside a dream, unable to wake up.’ Hear it below.

Panda Bear – Boys Latin


“Boys Latin” is the second single off the new album from Noah Lennox — aka Panda BearAnimal Collective’s ursine contemporary. As with the best of his previous offerings, the track subsists on chunky, grooving drums and a fried bassline that sounds reminiscent of the chattering low end of a Van de Graaff generator. The rhythm section’s groovy bedrock lays a great foundation for Lennox’s echoing vocal repartee to bounce across the left and right channels, suspended in that dreamy snapshot of exploring the woods that Panda Bear’s boyish voice so readily evokes.

Lennox’s new LP, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper — in which the themes of death and personal growth are explored — was released earlier this month via Domino Records and is available for purchase on iTunes.

THROWBACK THURS: Yo La Tengo – ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One’


Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo have made it 30 years into their career, and what better way to celebrate than to listen to them a lot and catch them on their 30th Anniversary Tour. Husband-and-wife duo, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, along with bassist James McNew, have crafted a fantastic catalog over the last three decades, making it damn hard to choose just one album to highlight for a throwback. Alas, after much deliberation, 1997’s LP I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One seizes the spotlight.

From the instruments used to the genres explored, this is an album that boasts exceptional variety — with shades of the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement slammed jarringly against lounge and folk. Song to song, the album sounds directionless, but played together, each track acts as respite from one to the other.

Boasting one of the greatest consecutive four tracks of any record, the span from the frenetic “Sugarcube” through the greyed-out “Shadows” is a prime example of YLT deftly executing and balancing the album’s variety of styles. Sandwiching the dulcet “Damage” between the classic trappings of lo-fi and shoegaze in “Sugarcube” and “Deeper into Movies,” each genre feels like a refreshing change of pace. The album continues its trend of experimentation until it concludes, producing some of Yo La Tengo’s best work — among them the calming ache of “Green Arrow,” and “We’re an American Band,” which showcases Ira’s understated but superb guitar work.

What makes this compilation stand out isn’t that YLT can play ten genres on one album, but that its disparate nature evokes a complete picture when viewed as a whole. Listen to it a few times and you’ll be left with a distinct impression of the more salient moments of your formative years. I Can Hear the Heart is replete with all of the hopeful, painful ingredients: the anticipatory excitement that precedes an overdue reunion, the feeling of freedom you can only experience when you’re young, the kind of longing you can feel on a back porch in July, and the sense of accomplishment at having grown up a bit after having felt all those things.

Stream the album in full on Spotify, and check out their remaining tour dates below.

Upcoming YLT Tour Dates:

12.3 – Town Hall, New York
12.4 – Town Hall, New York
12.5 – 9:30 Club, Washington DC
12.6 – Trocadero Theater, Philadelphia

[GIVEAWAY]: TV On The Radio @ 9:30 Club on 11/16


Gather ’round Coke Can denizens, we’ve got two tickets to give away to the sold-out TV On The Radio show on Sunday, November 16 at DC’s 9:30 Club. If you missed your chance to grab tickets to see Tunde, Kyp, and the rest of the lads make music, well now’s your chance. Enter to win by leaving a comment below or sending a tweet to @CokeCanPoetry.

They’re sure to be in good form as they parade their latest wares from their forthcoming album Seeds, notably among them the new single “Happy Idiot” (which you can preview below). Even if you’re new to TVOTR’s scheduled programming, we highly encourage you to check them out. Their recent fare boasts seriously catchy melodies backed by resolute basslines, while their older releases run the gamut from lo-fi funk to semi-orchestral threnodies.

Standout tracks from their back catalog include “Ambulance,” “Will Do,” and “Wolf Like Me.” To whoever wins: if they play “Blues From Down Here” or pull out their a capella cover of the Pixies’ “Mr. Grieves,” please leave our contributor Jon a message telling him how it was.

Ready, set, good luck!

Flying Lotus – Never Catch Me (ft. Kendrick Lamar) // Coronus, The Terminator


Flying Lotus’ suite of singles off the upcoming You’re Dead! LP — slated for release October 7 — runs the gamut of diametrically opposed servings we’ve come to expect from cutup savant Steve Ellison. Clocking in at 2:40 and 3:54, “Coronus, The Terminator” and “Never Catch Me,” respectively, are two of the longer cuts on an album comprised of uncharacteristically short tracks. Thankfully, our expectations of frenetic jazz samples and live recordings mashed together with the warmth of Flylo’s signature production are met on Lotus’ latest release, harkening back more to the psychedelia of Cosmogramma than the laconic Until the Quiet Comes.

On “Never Catch Me,” Kendrick’s machine-gun verses nicely ride the wave of Pastorius-like basslines, floating along smoothly with an accompanying piano line and slick drum programming that keeps pace with the track’s overall flow. Lotus has a keen ear for bringing experimental jazz to the fore in what is otherwise a highly contemporary package, and this track does not stray from the format.

As for “Coronus, The Terminator” arguably one of the album’s finest tracks — Lotus significantly dials up the thickness and dials down the BPM. From the opening licks of shimmering triangles and claves (it sounds like those instruments but who knows), this track is lush. Soulful melodies in the vein of an old spiritual drip viscously throughout, fleshed out by a warm lo-fi hiss. For an album conceived around meditations on death, “Coronus” drives home an aspect of weighty, peaceful release in that regard.

If you’re so inclined to see FlyLo live (with support from Thundercat), his upcoming tour should bring him to a city near you.

October 2014
• 09 Orlando, FL, The Beacham
• 10 Miami, FL, iii Points
• 11 Atlanta, GA, The Tabernacle
• 12 Chapel Hill, NC, Cat’s Cradle
• 13 Washington, DC, Lincoln Theater
• 14 Philadelphia, PA, Tower Theater
• 15 New York, NY, Terminal 5
• 17 Boston, MA, Paradise
• 18 Burlington, VT, Higher Ground
• 20 Montreal, QC, SAT
• 21 Toronto, ON, The Danforth Music Hall
• 23 Detroit, MI, Royal Oak Music Theater
• 24 Chicago, IL, Concord Music Hall
• 25 Minneapolis, MN, First Avenue

November 2014
• 07 London, The Roundhouse
• 09 Austin, TX, Fun Fun Fun Fest
• 11 Phoenix, AZ, Marquee Theater
• 12 Santa Ana, CA, The Observatory
• 13 San Diego, CA, North Park Theatre
• 14 Los Angeles, CA, Wiltern
• 15 Santa Cruz, CA, Catalyst
• 17 Portland, OR, Roseland
• 18 Seattle, WA, Neptune
• 19 Vancouver, BC, Commodore Ballroom
• 21 Salt Lake City, UT, The Complex
• 22 Denver, CO, Fillmore Auditorium

THROWBACK THURS: Aphex Twin – ‘Richard D. James Album’


Dust off your Roland cuz Richard’s back! With the release of Syro quickly approaching after 13 cold years on hiatus, there’s no better time to explore the hallmark Aphex Twin record Richard D. James Album than now. Released in 1996 from everyone’s favorite grimacing Cornwallite, RDJA serves as a clear middle ground between Aphex’s softer early-90s releases such as “On,” and his later propensity for the macabre, famously shown on “Come to Daddy.”

To this point, the album’s opener “4” has RDJ gorgeously building shimmering drum blasts, string harmonies, and warm melody lines—all of which are quickly abandoned in the following two tracks to explore more angular abrasive styles. The album is rife with this kind of interplay between facile, pretty electronics, and on-your-ass discord, making it initially accessible but ultimately challenging to fully appreciate. For its stylistic breadth, Richard D. James Album serves as a great entry point for newcomers to the genre.


Thankfully, easy points of ingress like “4” are interspersed throughout the album, be it in the playground ebullience of “Fingerbib,” the winding layers of “Carn Marth”’s labyrinthine outro, or the simmering warmth of the synths in “Yellow Calx.” RDJ’s knack for sharp drum trills remains ubiquitous throughout these songs and yet he cleverly finds a way to have them only further enhance the tracks’ lush melodies. That’s the thrust of this album’s charm; for every pretty hook, for every layer of strings he uses to brighten up a track, Aphex Twin gets you to swallow a bit more of his medicine. The parts of the album you immediately latch on to find a way to sell you on the rest — the sharp tempo changes, the frenetic bursts of synths and samples. Eventually, tracks like “Cornish Acid,” “Peek.824545201,” and “To Cure a Weakling Child,” while packed with Aphex Twin BrandTM strangeness, bloom into their own particular kind of loveliness, if for no other reason than the tight-as-hell programming and inventive sampling.

I find this record to be mostly sterile despite its ability to convey warmth and frigidity in equal measure. Whereas most of my favorite albums hold some sentimental value, Richard D. James Album makes the cut because it’s just really interesting and engrossing to listen to. The way its melodic simplicity belies a deeper complexity makes it rewarding to repeatedly absorb on a level rarely accomplished by electronic music.

The expected release date of Syro is September 22 (via Warp).

THROWBACK THURS: Broken Social Scene – ‘You Forgot It in People’


Along with myself and ketchup chips (yes), Broken Social Scene’s 2002 release You Forgot It in People is high in the running for the best thing to ever come out of Canada. The big band Arts & Crafts collective’s sophomore release unveiled their notoriously huge roster long before Arcade Fire or even The Polyphonic Spree got around to it, boasting talents like Leslie Feist and Emily Haines along with frontrunners Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning.

It’s a hard album to describe considering the sonic and tonal shifts the album manages to maneuver through. At once it recalls Yo La Tengo, Nick Drake, and a bit of Interpol but the diversity of these comparisons paint an incomplete picture of the album, and serve only to show the variety on offer. Make no mistake, the songs should be consumed together to be fully appreciated, lest the marked shift in styles and tone lose their weight.

A major inflection point occurs towards the end of the album’s first single “Cause=Time,” as the horn section’s languid outro veers the record from catchy rock into more solemn territory. The dour last half of this record, in stark contrast to its opening, presents what are arguably its strongest tracks – chief among them being the diptych of “Late Night Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries and Shampoo Suicide.”


Whereas the first half of the album sports spritely vocals and plucky bass lines, by the time BSS have made it through the eighth track they seem to be grappling with a weightier sense of both mood and rhythm. Between the plaintive vocals lacing “Shampoo Suicide,” the funereal pianos treading through “Lover’s Spit,” and the dirge-like melodies of “I’m Still Your Fag,” the record seems to somberly redden and drop away like the last weeks of summer.

This album came out when I was too young to understand it but I listened to it anyways. Eventually, I grew into and experienced what these songs were trying to express and found myself returning to it time and again. You Forgot It in People endures because in its honesty and richness, it has the unique ability to remain consistently evocative without subsisting on mere nostalgia.

Stream the album in its entirety on Spotify.