The Architects talk 'Border Wars' album and comic book... and crowdfunding

The Architects talk 'Border Wars' album and comic book... and crowdfunding

When is it not OK to crowd-fund using Kickstarter or Indigogo?

Releasing an album in what's considered a traditional rock album cycle sometimes doesn't make sense. For the teeming numbers of lost or forgotten rock records -- decent, independently-released ones -- it doesn't work at all. Some projects are too special to fall into the 2-3 year, 2-tour support, single-video-radio-album-wash-repeat. Under the folkloric, ambiguous wisdom of "spend money to make money," there will expenditures without enough knowledge from the fans' part to see revenue at the end.

Kansas City band The Architects have created a "high-concept" soundtrack album and accompanying five-episode comic book "Border Wars," and found it high time they experimented with crowd-funding. After five studio album releases and high-visibility stints with My Chemical Romance, Flogging Molly and the Warped Tour, the Architects culled the opinions of their own fans to develop an Indiegogo model and self-sustaining execution that seemed realistic (and wouldn't make their base wretch).

"Doing more creative work more often makes a lot of sense to me with respect to sustainability," frontman Brandon Phillips told me in our email interview. "That way you are entering into an ongoing conversation with your fans or supporters instead of showing up for a booty call once a year."

This week, "Border Wars" reached its kick-off $10,000 goal. Interested parties can still preorder a hard copy of the comic and album... for half a day more. Below, Phillips gives his opinion on comics, on when it's NOT OK to crowd-fund and on where Justin Bieber's records are actually being made.

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Watch a very very NSFW Flaming Lips video for 'You Lust'

Watch a very very NSFW Flaming Lips video for 'You Lust'

Not sexy, not anything: Wayne Coyne's junk

Wayne Coyne has fixations, and Flaming Lips co-member Steven Drodz says as much.

"Something must have happened to [Coyne] when he was eight or nine that completely zapped his brain. Wayne goes through phases of working with different types of imagery. In 1989, it was Jesus Christ and God. But the vaginas never really go away," he told Vice, which premiered the extremely not-safe-for-work video to "You Lust" today.

As we've noted before, there's a baffling amount of nudity in the Lips' output these days, with "lust"-death connections all over buzz-killing album "The Terror." "You Lust" is its crown jewel, with a clock time of around 13 minutes. This video is only about four. Guess Coyne and his guest can't have wires connected to their own jewels for too long.

"The nudity in the video isn’t glamorous or sexy. It’s very stark and disturbing. I think that’s a bold move. There are some shots when you go, “That’s an interesting angle to shoot a flaccid penis from...” But Wayne isn’t shy about being naked," he said, shortly before a minor launch into women's pubic hair grooming habits.

I'm not anti-nudity. Sexual violence is worth talking about. But as some short-form art, it feels yet incomplete, more of an exploitative portrait in the theme of lust.

All I'm trying to say is don't try this at home.

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<p>Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Austin Psych Fest</p>

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Austin Psych Fest

Credit: Austin Psych Fest

Listen to the 10 best live bands from Austin Psych Fest

A review of the small Texas rock fest, with a look at BRMC, Moving Sidewalks and more

I think of music festivals in terms of high school, or summer camp. Lollapalooza, Coachella and the ilk may host tens and hundreds of thousands of attendees, of varying ages and actual interest in music, but some social mechanics are all still there: what you do when you're bored, the indiscriminant judgement of character on the most petty of outward appearances, the laws of attraction, clique strata and Art School Kids.

Austin Psych Fest, hosted this past weekend at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin's outskirts, hosted fewer than 5,000  people -- about the size of a large high school. Despite having three large stage areas with attendance hardly near cap, it felt snug yet inviting, with hammocks dangling from the trees, the Texas capitols' affinity for food trucks representing, and a satisfying range of what qualifies as "psych" music.

A round of rain hardly elevated festivities from "appropriately groovy" to "post-adolescent mud-hippie batsh*t" and the crowd stayed cool, even polite, and thoroughly committed to the music lineup of this sixth annual fest. (Though, this doesn't mean it didn't make for great people watching. The gorgeous Elevation Amphitheater, with its various tiers leading down to the green creek's edge, may as well have been called the Football Stadium Bleachers. The blissfully short bathroom lines were a veritable Fashion Avenue.)

But for programming with such a genre-leading tilt, the lineup was definitely above average, delivering  long-jams, space rock, stoner punk, experimental electronica, psychedelic blues, acid, prog and world. Immaculate Noise favorites like Black Angels, Os Mutantes and Goat introduced their excellent new albums with varying degrees of success (great, cheesy, trainwreck-in-slow-motion, respectively). The fest's variety is its strength, even though sticking largely to rock. The majestic tunics on Tinariwen contrasted with the goobery costumes of King Khan & BBQ Show; Man Or Astroman's hilarious banter was near-opposite of solid shoegazers No Joy, whose stage presence lived up to its name; Masaki Batoh's fascinating Brain Pulse Music improvisations were as affecting as Boris' well-practiced deep-space drones.

I wasn't wild on headliners Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's one-noting and reunited Moving Sidewalks' drummer artlessly plodding over rock hero Billy Gibbons. The phoniness of Island Records signees Deap Vally wrecked a perfectly good Sunday afternoon slot. And It doesn't cease to amaze me that Vietnam is still a band that gets booked. And of course, you could crack the jibe that there were five bands with the word "Black" in their name, one "Wolf" band, one "Deer" band, and several with death, the dead, the dying and drugs. But what was overwhelmingly good-feeling was the diversity in performers, especially with the heartening number of bands with women in them, averaging out better than your Coachellas and Bonnaroos.

Below I outline some of my favorite live performers from the 2013 Austin Psych Fest, or as I'll call it, Psych Fest High School. Included are Tinariwen, King Khan & BBQ Show, Acid Mothers Temple, Suuns, Man Or Astroman?, Spectrum, Indian Jewelry, The Saint James Society, Tjutjuna and Dead Skeletons.

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<p>Os Mutantes</p>

Os Mutantes

Interview: Os Mutantes founder Sérgio Dias on 'Fool Metal Jack' and American politics

Songwriter talks about the Las Vegas strip and forgetting the lyrics


AUSTIN -- Os Mutantes have mutated, literally, over the course of their long history. This week marks another morphing, with the release of the Brazilian band's "Fool Metal Jack," which features founder Sérgio Dias and company performing the most English-speaking songs of any of their studio albums.
The psychedelia and Tropicália roots stemming from Os Mutantes' formation in 1966 are still there, but the personnel of the band -- even since reuniting in 2006 -- has changed. The political voice has become stronger, if not just more matured. The bobbing buoyancy has more and more hints of melancholy. After decades of influencing artists like Nirvana, David Byrne, Jimi Hendrix and Beck, Os Mutantes (Dias at least) has allowed in new influencers to the group's music, collaborating with Tom Zé, Of Montreal, Devendra Banhart and others.
I sat down with Dias, 61, over the weekend at the loud and buzzing Austin Psych Fest, where the band helped headline. We talked about "Fool Metal Jack" -- out today (April 30) -- American politics, changing band members, Paris and forgetting lyrics.
This new album has the most English language songs of anything you guys have ever done. Was there a conscious choice there, that you wanted to do something that was distinctly English speaking? And why?
I’m living here. I’m living in Las Vegas. Basically been seeing so much of the U.S. and all, the way that this is affecting the United States and myself and that’s basically what I’m talking about in the album. The first song “The Dream Is Gone” is about foreclosures. And then “Fool Metal Jack” is about you see those kids born in the Plains, dress up in the military full clothing and they have pimples and they have no idea what it is really war. And it’s been so many of them and so far nobody understands it yet. And so I made myself the “Fool Metal Jack” so I’m dying there. So it’s very graphic. And "Ganjaman" is about us and the political situation here, like Thomas Jefferson is coming from the dead for a new revolution. 
I wonder what the Fathers of the nation would think of what is happening now. Kennedy died in ‘63 and I remember in Brazil we had like a three days of national mourning. That was impressive for a foreign leader. And so I always wonder now, what would happen if something happened, if we would still have the same kind of feedback? The U.S.A. is the front of the line of the world now so there’s a lot of responsibility. How do you present yourself? How do you manage to be a leader?
So it’s very important not to forget how to be like the common people, common normal people because this is a place where there’s so much beauty and because of “by the people, for the people,” and all this. But now there’s so [many] things happening. Knowing Brazil, for example, our coup d’état, but now I see the Patriot Act, for example, that takes your guys’ rights. U.S.A. is a place where you normally get a yes as an answer. In Brazil you normally get a no, whatever you want to do is no. Even after the coup d’état died, or in ‘86, there’s a lot of remains of it, which is basically the worst is corruption. Very, very bad there.
There’s been such a political change even since you guys got back together in 2006. That is seven years of massive political change. There are so many outright political songs on this because it is overtly American, not just English-speaking.
The Bush Era was a disaster for this country I think. It was very bad. I don’t know if it’s healthy just to go for revenge. How can I say – practical. And America’s a very practical country. As a leader, you have sometimes to understand or try to understand the rest of the universe that you’re being leaders. With the Bush’s was, was so hard. I don’t understand how you guys didn’t rise up with the war stuff first, because the thing was weird.
Some people did. And that’s part of the atmosphere here: you’d think it would make a difference.
I know what it is to be in fear all the time, in Brazil for example. Even though we would be defiant, I don’t think that’s a good thing for America. You guys have to throw this fear away because it doesn’t make any sense. Because of what it is for me to be an American. So many movements came from you -- the freedom thing, [civil] rights, the women liberation, resistance to Vietnam and all this, which was fantastic. You guys were very active because of your own freedom.
Talk about musically how you have changed between now and your last album four years ago.
Well, it’s a totally different this album from the others. I don’t know because I don’t think of it when I’m writing. It just writes and that’s how I let the music come.
What lessons did you learn? What challenge did you take from on your last album that you felt like you applied to this one? 
I learned that I should always be faithful to my own music – always. Whatever what – no matter what. A lot of people try to influence this album saying that we should go to this direction, to other direction or whatever. And I just stood there and I said, “No, no, no.”
It’s been like this, in the past I had people saying, “Why don’t you make a song like the Bee Gees” or something like that. That would be the same as, “Why don’t you make something like Kurt Cobain or whatever.“ It doesn’t make any sense to us, you know. 
You’ve collaborated with a lot of new artists and a lot of artists have cited you as an influence on their music. Is there any musical artists today that inspire you?
Anoushka Shankar. She just did an album called “Traveling.” And what she did is she mixed the Indian music and the mastering of it with the flamenco thing. And that was a wow because they’re close, but they’re so distant. I mean, and you see like her playing on a sitar what Paco de Lucia would be playing on an acoustic guitar. It is extremely inspiring
Have there been many artist that you’ve wanted to collaborate with, that you have plans to collaborate with?
I want to collaborate with the guys in the subways in Paris, you know. Because it’s outrageously good. I saw this guy, he was an accordion player. Outrageous. And there were some guys at the bridge just playing flutes. And just – they’re magical. Very magical.
You’ve got a new album out this week. Do you get nervous with the release of new music now, even 50 years on?
I’m scared to death because I’m awful with lyrics and I’m scared sh*tless, pardon my French, because I know I’m gonna f*ck up.
Do you have any tricks that you do when you think you’re about to forget them?
No, it’s like a disaster always. For example, “Balada del Loco.” My God, I always mix up, always, always. The only way is just laughing of it because I gave up. 
With the personnel that you have with the band now – and it’s changed so much. What is the strength of this current incarnation, this current personnel? 
I think it’s basically to be able to portrait the original things when we were kids --which is to be a kid and be young and restless, like that soap opera. And be able to be totally free, you know. They can do whatever they want. Whatever whoever wants to do, they do it. And that’s the fun of it.
So what made you move to Las Vegas?
I went there for the Grammy because we were nominated and I never stepped on my own in Vegas. I know America top to bottom but, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, I don’t do anything. So I had that stereotype idea of Vegas. So but when I went there and I saw the mountains, you could feel the spirit of the Indians and all the stuff. It was amazing. It blew my mind. And you go like 30 miles there you have Lake Mead. Then you go 30 miles up and you’re in the snow at Mount Charleston. And you’re so close to L.A. So close to everything. And it’s a no-traffic place which is fantastic. And you can drive intelligent. The people is warm. The people is nice. I mean, Las Vegas is the most tropical place I ever seen in my life. If you go to the strip, that’s total nonsense, which is all is what Tropicália  is all about.

What factor does age play into your music? Do you ponder and work lyrics around the idea of aging at all?
Not at all. I don’t feel aged at all. I feel basically the same as I was. Of course, the body has different ideas, you know. You have like pain in your back or whatever. But I don’t know, I feel the same. It’s very good. It’s great to look back and so I look forward because my life so far has been such a magical thing. It’s been so good. I can only thank. I’ve been very lucky.
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<p>Cover art to &quot;In an Aeroplane Over the Sea&quot;</p>

Cover art to "In an Aeroplane Over the Sea"

Credit: Merge

Neutral Milk Hotel announces reunion tour dates

'On Avery Island' lineup will head back to Athens, Ga. breeding ground

That Neutral Milk Hotel reunion tour you were hoping for? The one featuring more than just Jeff Mangum? Well, so far, let's just hope you live in the South or Asia.

For the first time since 1998, the indie rockers will be performing live, with five dates announce for Athens, Ga., Asheville, NC... Tokyo and Taipei, Taiwan. On the band's website, there is the promise of "more to come," with "more" probably indicating additional dates.

The lineup will be Mangum, Scott Spillane, Julian Koster and Jeremy Barnes, which is the crew that came together to support 1996's "On Avery Island"; they all performed on 1998's masterful "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." Athens is the band's hometown.

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<p>Jeff Newburg and Will Butler</p>

Jeff Newburg and Will Butler

Arcade Fire's Will Butler scoring poetic new short film 'Home Burial'

Exclusive: Actor/director Jeff Newburg takes on Robert Frost

On the same day where Zach Braff launches a Kickstarter to raise $2 million for his film project, $10,000 sounds like a modest sum. That's the number actor/director Jeff Newburg's set for his short film "Home Burial," and with it comes a new score from Arcade Fire's Will Butler.

According to Newburg, the AF multi-instrumentalist will contribute "synth, keyboard-heavy" compositions to the Indiegogo crowd-funded "Home Burial," which is based on the Robert Frost poem of the same name.

"We both have a poetry background," Newburg told me of working with Butler, who performs in Arcade Fire alongside his brother Win. "Both in the band collectively and Will as an individual have been doing more film world stuff... [Will's] a huge film fan, so it's pretty natural for him and Win to want to bring in musical elements into film. Arcade Fire's already a pretty orchestral band. Will, with poetry, wanted to make some very personal music."

The full text of "Home Burial" can be read here.

In the Indiegogo description, Newburg describes his initial fascination with the story from his high school and college years, leading up to his adult life today. "As a husband, and now, a father (I swear that second part came after I had written this; I’m not so morose as to write such material when I’ve just had my first child), I’m looking forward to this particular exploration of marriage, life and grief."

Butler writes that, "The music for the short film will hopefully evoke Robert Frost--formal but conversational; embedded in the early 20th century but still relevant. Darker than you might expect. Bartok meets John Carpenter."

(Sample a demo of Butler's music for the film above.)

During our interview, Newburg called his friend Butler's own work apart from his band as "very much an exploration," as well.

"I would be surprised if suddenly there were a solo record. Mostly, it's up to this point very much an exploration for him, I think. It's like training. I've watched the influence of the stuff he does on his own on what the band's done over the last few years." (Arcade Fire is currently working on their fourth studio album.)

Should the film complete its funding to satisfaction, the shoot with co-director Matt Litwiller ("Telescope") begins early this summer. Butler will arrange the music around the shoot. The funds raised through Indiegogo won't go to the filmmakers, composer and actors; rather, to fees, insurance, period props and costumes, rentals and other logistics. They play on submitting the film to festivals.

"Short film and poetry," Newburg laughed. "Synergistically, I couldn't have found a more commercially viable product, right?"

You can contribute to the project on the "Home Burial" Indiegogo page.

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Grimes takes aim at sexism in music in open Tumblr post

'i dont want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized'

In a Tumblr post titled "I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living," Grimes is letting sexist music "industry" members, press, fans and others know that she knows when you're being sexist, rockist or biased, and to cut it the hell out.

The 4AD-signed singer saw great critical acclaim last year for her album "Visions" (and is an Immaculate Noise 2012 fave, and is fresh off of being one of HitFix's favorite performers at Coachella this month). But it appears that the "Visions" album cycle is "over," as she wrote last night, and  misogynistic comments to and at her are intolerable.

"I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology," she wrote in the post. "i dont want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized," she said in another line.

The list is fairly specific, on the types of comments or afflictions she's had in the past year, and perhaps refers to a point this winter when she erased her Tumblr altogether. "i dont want my words to be taken out of context," she said early on. In January February, she wrote about her fondnesses of Beyonce and Mariah Carey, as a successful female and performers. She also posted her favorite songs from 2012, for which she's got apparent grief.

"I'm sorry, but I think it's f*cking incredible that a Korean language song is the most popular thing on the planet. That's so good for humanity. PSY wrote and produced "Gangnam Style" himself and directed the video HIMSELF... I dont think it's so terrible that he's been recognized for this. It also doesn't make him evil. His art is creating a generation of kids that will grow up seeing Asian culture as being as valid as Western culture which they currently don't," she wrote then. "Racism isn't over. Sexism isn't over. The only way things actually effect social change is by hitting the audience that perpetuates these ideas. Therefore, when a deserving artist blows up its good for everybody."

In a Tumblr post directly after the initial post last night, Grimes assured listeners:

a) meeting fans is actually incredibly rewarding for me so im gonna keep doing that and if u see me on the street its like, totally fine to say hi :) 

b) i am still making music - but im gonna start working on a new album instead continuing to tour off visions...

c) ALSO - i wrote what i wrote below not to complain or make anyone sad, but because i feel like if its possible to not accept stuff i hate and live a comfortable life then i want to do it  :)  in a broader sense, ideally stereotyping of any kind is something that can eventually be overcome or at least minimized.  the fact that the response to this has been almost entirely positive is amazing and really nice and yeah.

I think that anybody who has spent time and/or their livelihood and/or their own money in creative industries will see the bias Grimes is referring to. "Popular" as inferior status... women having success by "mistake"... looks trumping opinion on output... the need to box the activism of artists as "irrelevant"... Grimes, as a young recording and touring pop artist has seen this first hand since she released "Visions" last January, and even before. You don't even need to like "Visions" to understand the validity of this venting/letter/condemnation.

May she keep this post alive and well and undeleted. She is done touring for the moment and has started work on a new album.

Read the full posts here.

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Review: Phoenix's new album 'Bankrupt!'

Review: Phoenix's new album 'Bankrupt!'

The after-party to hits-rich 'Wolfgang Amadeus'

The singles on Phoenix’s new album “Bankrupt!” aren’t there like they were on breakout “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” but that doesn’t make this new album inferior to the previous. In fact, the French dance-rockers have a much deeper and dimensional coherence to sound than ever before, making this effort seem much more complete as an album, and not just a vehicle for hits.

Opener and lead single “Entertainment” is better on repeat listens, and introduces the tonal melodies and washy, sarcastic voice of the other nine tracks.  The song titles “S.O.S. in Bel Air,” “Drakkar Noir,” “Trying to Be Cool” and “Bourgeouis” contrast with the punctuated “Bankrupt!” with an air of good fun, insinuating a superficiality in it glimmering mix of high synths and cheesy, slinky New Wave nods. The siren keys and low drones of “Chloroform” are less a warning than signals a snooty satire on bedroom-eyed R&B as “Oblique City” is a taunting workout with bleating synths reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” another disillusioned riff on fame. (It's not that, lyrically, they're saying much in-depth, but thematically it's a rich riff.)
Thomas Mars’ vocals remain as note-bendingly imperfect, like when he trots out flourishes of falsetto on “Cool” and epic standout “The Real Thing.” He stands back through the thoroughly experimental title track; it’s on this seven-minute meander we hear the quartet paint with a broader brush, letting the song build up instead of jumping right in on beat one. Surely, Glassnote would have been sweating were tracks like it the bulk of “Bankrupt!”, but then they counter with easy (if unremarkable) songs like “Don’t.” “Bankrupt!” is at times a challenge, and sometimes a breeze, and that should be enough to satisfy fans still around for the “Wolfgang Amadeus” after-party.


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Watch David Guetta's bizarre 'Play Hard' music video with Akon and Ne-Yo

Watch David Guetta's bizarre 'Play Hard' music video with Akon and Ne-Yo

Unibrows, impossible boots, dance-offs and the rodeo: This.

Here's what I'll tell you: I'd much rather watch videos like David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon's bizzaro "Play Hard" than a thousand others that feature girls in bikinis gyrating on a motorcylce and featured artists standing around trying to figure out what to do with their hands.

In this music video, there's a loose theme of blue-collar living in a primarily Latino population, and then there's spasms of camera work, dance segments, a rodeo, unibrows, twerking, impossible boots, a beauty pageant and toy cars. I can't explain much beyond "surreal," like Quentin Dupieux was given the car keys and told "Drive... there's a pile of stock characters in the back." Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon (hilariously) all show up at different points, with Guetta giddily clapping at the end.

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Listen to the new Daft Punk song 'Get Lucky,' which is awesome

Listen to the new Daft Punk song 'Get Lucky,' which is awesome

Arriving ahead of 'Random Access Memories'

The recently posted video interviews with Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" collaborators have pointed to a humanism in the machines. "Get Lucky," the first single to arrive from Daft Punk's album encapsulates that idea. And it is awesome.

Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers' funky, pristine guitar line is as much the heartbeat as the disco-clap of the beat. Pharrell's sweet voice has a little desperation and love in the pre-chorus, batting above average than any song that's far more explicit in what constitutes "getting lucky." I don't find his vocals extraordinary, but I do find it slipping slinkily into this mix. The voice box tone intermingling with the similar synths playfully makes the programmed elements seem interchangeable with its most organic. And vice versa. Good times, and welcome back.

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