Hello there. It’s time, yet again, for The SubModern Report, where this week its Pixies‘ world and we’re just living in it. Yes, Frank Black and co. top both of our charts with a new single, “Catfish Kate,” and the album that it’ll soon be part of, Beneath The Eyrie. However, they must share the #1 album spot with last week’s #1, Sleater-Kinney‘s The Center Won’t Hold, which will be out in just a couple days! Their latest single, “Can I Go On,” has slipped a bit however, down to #5.
The next album on the chart, is unfortunately there for the saddest of reasons. Just after publishing last week’s report, news broke that David Berman of Silver Jews had passed away at the far too young age of 52. Admittedly I’m not an expert on his music over the years, so I’ll leave the eulogizing to those whom his words have touched. Berman had just weeks ago re-emerged with his first album in eleven years, under the name Purple Mountains. That album and especially its aptly titled song, “All My Happiness Is Gone,” obviously got a lot of love on specialty shows this week. R.I.P. David Berman.
Continuing down the singles chart, The New Pornographers may be “Falling Down The Stairs of Your Smile,” but they rose to #2 this week. Starcrawler‘s latest, “Bet Your Brains,” basically flip-flopped with it to #3, followed by a brand new tune from Noel Gallgher’s High Flying Birds called “This Is The Place,” which I got to see played live for the first time ever last week on the opening date of their tour with Smashing Pumpkins. Juliana Hatfield is back rather quickly after her album Weird earlier this year, this time with a record’s worth of Police covers coming in the fall. The first of those covers, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” debuted this week at #6. Two “R” bands that both just released records, Ra Ra Riot and The Regrettes, have singles tied in the #7 spot and both appear in the top five albums as well. Finally, the top ten singles (which are really the top thirteen) close out with a four-way tie between Chance The Rapper (ft. Death Cab For Cutie), DJ Shadow (ft. De La Soul), Juiceboxxx, and Jay Som, whose forthcoming Anak Ko also appears at #7 on the album chart.
Just to mention some non-overlapping artists who appear only on the album chart, we have Ty Segall‘s First Taste at #5t, WHY?‘s AOKHIO at #8, and a tie for #9 including Bon Iver, Clairo, and Velvet Starlings. For more detailed stats than that, of course scroll on down to the charts below.
As always, I’ll be back next week. Until then…
|1||PIXIES||CATFISH KATE||INFECTIOUS / BMG|
|2||THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS||FALLING DOWN THE STAIRS OF YOUR SMILE||CONCORD|
|3||STARCRAWLER||BET MY BRAINS||ROUGH TRADE|
|4||NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS||THIS IS THE PLACE||SOUR MASH / CAROLINE|
|5||SLEATER-KINNEY||CAN I GO ON||MOM + POP|
|6||JULIANA HATFIELD||DE DO DO DO, DE DA DA DA||AMERICAN LAUNDROMAT|
|7t||RA RA RIOT||BELLADONNA||ROB THE RICH / CAROLINE|
|THE REGRETTES||I DARE YOU||WARNER|
|9||PURPLE MOUNTAINS||ALL MY HAPPINESS IS GONE||DRAG CITY|
|10t||CHANCE THE RAPPER [FT. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE]||DO YOU REMEMBER||SELF-RELEASED|
|DJ SHADOW [FT. DE LA SOUL]||ROCKET FUEL||MASS APPEAL|
|JAY SOM||NIGHTTIME DRIVE||POLYVINYL|
|14t||DIIV||SKIN GAME||CAPTURED TRACKS|
|THE HIVES||GOOD SAMARITAN||THIRD MAN|
|17t||IGGY POP||JAMES BOND||LOMA VISTA / CONCORD|
|TEGAN AND SARA||I’LL BE BACK SOMEDAY||SIRE|
|20t||HOBO JOHNSON||TYPICAL STORY||REPRISE|
|HOVVDY||CATHEDRAL||DOUBLE DOUBLE WHAMMY|
|TWIN PEAKS||DANCE THROUGH IT||GRAND JURY|
|WHITE REAPER||MIGHT BE RIGHT||ELEKTRA|
|24t||ANGEL OLSEN||ALL MIRRORS||JAGJAGUWAR|
|EZRA FURMAN||EVENING PRAYER AKA JUSTICE||BELLA UNION / PIAS|
|THE GROWLERS||NATURAL AFFAIR||BEACH GOTH|
|MIKAL CRONIN||SHOW ME||MERGE|
|VIOLENT FEMMES||I’M NOTHING||PIAS|
|WIVES||HIT ME UP||CITY SLANG|
|1t||PIXIES||BENEATH THE EYRIE||INFECTIOUS / BMG|
|SLEATER-KINNEY||THE CENTER WON’T HOLD||MOM + POP|
|3||PURPLE MOUNTAINS||PURPLE MOUNTAINS||DRAG CITY|
|4||THE REGRETTES||HOW DO YOU LOVE?||WARNER|
|5t||RA RA RIOT||SUPERBLOOM||ROB THE RICH / CAROLINE|
|TY SEGALL||FIRST TASTE||DRAG CITY|
|7||JAY SOM||ANAK KO||POLYVINYL|
|VELVET STARLINGS||LOVE EVERYTHING, LOVE EVERYONE||ROCK & ROLLA / SOUND x 3|
|12||VIOLENT FEMMES||HOTEL LAST RESORT||PIAS|
|13t||LOCAL NATIVES||VIOLET STREET||LOMA VISTA / CONCORD|
|MARIKA HACKMAN||ANY HUMAN FRIEND||SUB POP|
|SPOON||EVERYTHING HITS AT ONCE: THE BEST OF SPOON||MATADOR|
|16t||THE HARMALEIGHS||SHE WON’T MAKE SENSE||NETTWERK|
|HOT CHIP||A BATH FULL OF ECSTASY||DOMINO|
|THE RACONTEURS||HELP US STRANGER||THIRD MAN|
|20t||THE BELAFONTES||ROLL ON||SELF-RELEASED|
|TITUS ANDRONICUS||AN OBELISK||MERGE|
|FIRE WALK WITH ME||THE ETERNAL BLACK RAINBOW||VELVET COFFIN|
|GAUCHE||A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF GAUCHE||MERGE|
|LOWER DENS||THE COMPETITION||RIBBON|
|MINI MANSIONS||GUY WALKS INTO A BAR…||FICTION / CAROLINE / UMG|
|OH SEES||FACE STABBER||CASTLE FACE|
|SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG||SAFE AND ALSO NO FEAR||LAME-O|
Cayucas are a California indie pop band, based around the collaboration between twin brothers Zach and Ben Yudin. After four years, they’ve re-emerged with Real Life, a third album full of fun, sunny tunes, perfect for the summertime. The Yudin brothers, along with their drummer Brian and bassist/keyboardist Mischa, joined me for an interview and acoustic performance, which you can listen to in the player below.
FMQB: Can you give us a little background on the band?
Zach Yudin: It started around 2011 and ’12. We were living in Santa Monica and we’d had quite a few bands, little projects up until Cayucas. This was just a new idea. It was about three or four songs, demos that I’d written and sorta produced in our apartment. Originally we were called Oregon Bike Trails. I made a Bandcamp and posted the songs online. Blogs were really popular at that time and they just seemed to spread around really quickly to where I started getting a lot of e-mails from booking agents and managers and stuff, just based off the three songs.
FMQB: And changing the name? Did you just need something catchier?
Zach: No, we wound up signing to a record label and had a song called "Cayucos." The main guy at the label suggested maybe changing the band name to that, and we actually thought it was a pretty good idea.
Ben Yudin: That was after the album was recorded. The change made sense anyway.
Zach: Yeah, we had made this sort of California album, and then we had this name Oregon Bike Trails, and it didn’t totally fit. I still like the name, but…
FMQB: Yeah, that does seem like it’d be a totally different sounding band.
Zach: Right. And this was during the time of Portlandia and stuff, and it just felt not quite right. It was one of those things where the label wanted to do something and we agreed with them!
FMQB: So fast forward to now, after a healthy break, you’re back with your third album. Tell me about the first single, "Jessica WJ," which you’re going to play for us.
Zach: This was one of the last songs we recorded for the album. It’s based on a girl from high school name Jessica W.J.
FMQB: And it has a callback to one of the songs from your first album, "High School Lover," mentioning the character, "Elizabeth" from that song. Was that an intentional callback to the previous song?
Zach: It kinda was, yeah.
FMQB: I like when bands do that!
Zach: I’m surprised that people have been coming up after shows and pointing that out. So, people are actually figuring this stuff out.
FMQB: Were those two competing for your affections?
Zach: Actually Elizabeth was just an alias and Jessica W.J. was the real "Elizabeth." On this song this syllables fit so I just used her real name. But it’s not her real name anymore, because she has a new last name.
FMQB: And at this point, it’s twenty years later, so it doesn’t really matter?
Zach: I messaged her and asked if it was ok to use her name and she said it was cool.
FMQB: Speaking of twenty years later, you’re also going to play "Winter of ’98," but the year 1998 is also mentioned in "Jessica WJ," so its obviously an important year that you keep referencing?
Zach: Oh right. I guess lyrically it was a theme, 1998. Y’know, nothing too specific. It’s more the vague idea of 1998, the nostalgia.
FMQB: Was that year particularly nostalgic to you for a reason?
Zach: I don’t know. ’98 just sounds good, it feels right. It’s better than like ’97 or ’99.
FMQB: For rhyming purposes?
Zach: Just the overall vibe of the sound.
Find out more about Cayucas and see the animated video for "Jessica WJ" at Cayucas.com. Listen to their acoustic SubModern Session performances of songs from Real Life (and a cover) here.
By Josh T. Landow
MAKING A MESS OF THIS PLACE WITH TACOCAT
By Josh T. Landow
A few years ago at SXSW, Seattle’s Tacocat won my heart with their colorful personality, acerbic sense of humor, and thoroughly catchy tunes. They’ve done it again with their recently released fourth album (and first on Sub Pop Records), This Mess Is A Place, which I recently had the opportunity to chat about with band Emily Noakes, Lelah Maupin, Bree McKenna, and Eric Randall.
The last time we spoke was for a SubModern Session in October 2016 (listen here). Shortly after that, the world kind of changed, and I think that has a lot to do with what’s on the new record.
Emily Noakes: Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. [laughs]
So going back and writing a record after that, being the liberal-minded people that you are, how did it affect what you were writing about?
Emily: I don’t think we really set out to do anything. It was just sort of part of the landscape. When something like that happens, it’s sort of impossible to not have that get into your music, or any project, or just your whole life. So, yeah, that was a pretty shocking time for a lot of us in Seattle and in our community. It was pretty wild.
Emily: Everyone that’s on the side that we’re on.
What I take away from the album, is whereas I’ve heard plenty of music that’s been very dark and dour in this post-Trump world, you did it in different way where you’re using that to empower and to try to bring some positivity.
Emily: Yeah. I mean, we’re all pretty positive people and we knew we didn’t want to have an album that was just grim. I don’t want to reflect back, the snapshot of the time shouldn’t be what’s happening outside. It should be more positive so that it’s sort of an antidote to that, not just like “everything sucks… 2, 3, 4…”
I think listening to an album like this can really make you feel better.
Emily: Thank you, that’s very nice to say.
So, when I heard the first single, “Grains of Salt,” for the first time, I thought, “this is different, this is very different.” But it’s weird, because it doesn’t seem as different now, in the context of the record, as it did when I just heard it on its own. Does that make sense?
Emily: Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Eric Randall: Oh yeah, it’s the most different sounding song on the album. The other songs are the bridge to that sound, I guess.
Was it a later song in the process?
Eric: That was a later song. Just the actual riff took a long time in different forms. That song definitely came together later in the process. I think that originally whatever I was playing with that song sounded maybe more traditionally like us and then it just kind of clicked and… [laughs] I forgot where I was going with that.
And those keys or synths really change it up. Was that all you guys or did you have guest musicians?
Emily: I played the synth. That was kind of an afterthought. I was sort of drunk. [laughs] I had to do it in front of everyone. It was really scary cause I didn’t have anything planned and they were like, “You could put a synth part here,” and I was like, “Ooooh! I’ll try that.” So yeah. We didn’t have any guests. Just us.
Eric: But Erik Blood, who produced this album and the last album has a lot to do with the final sound. We came in with songs that were a lot more raw, and he really polished them up and had a lot of good ideas about back-ups and synthesizer, and things like that.
Emily: Totally! He’s a good wizard like that.
Well the last album was one of my favorites that year, and this will definitely be one of my favorites this year.
Emily: Aww, thank you!
Let’s talk about the video that just came out for “New World” because it’s really cool.
Emily: Yeah, it’s bonkers! Love it!
Bonkers isn’t a foreign concept to Tacocat for your videos.
Emily: Not at all! [laughs]
Well, if you want to tell me about the video and how it relates to what the song is about.
Emily: I mean, we just gave pretty much full control to Sean Downey, who is a bonkers man. And we knew that he was and just sort of let him write the thing for us. This is very much a product of his brain and his vision, so we really love it.
Lelah Maupin: I talked to Sean one on one about what his idea was, and we both agreed that it’s like a literal interpretation of the song. Like, here is a new world. It looks like this. Which I think works really well.
Eric: We had a nice time at the park [making the video], wearing giant head pieces while everyone gawked at us. It was pretty weird. One man at the very end, just kind of really got up in our… like “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?” It was pretty weird.
Lelah: It’s called art sir. Look it up.
It’s kind of a classic sci-fi concept of the alternate universe?
Emily: Yeah, but I guess you can’t have a utopia for real, cause your utopia is gonna be someone else’s not-utopia. Or that’s always when you read sci-fi, they’re like “we’re going to make everything different,” but it always ends up being oppressive. So this is just like, things are better. They’re not the best. It’s a new world, a new planet, we’re starting over. I was having writer’s block and I read a weird little cue that was like, “Try to think about the opposite of how you feel right now.” I was like, “I woke up today and everything was better!” Because that was not how it felt that morning when I had woken up. [laughs] It was the opposite!
You obviously have a sense of humor and always have on your albums. On this album, I hesitate to use the word ‘maturing’ because that makes it seem like its all serious, but there is a sense of growth and maturity, but without losing that. Just maybe, there aren’t as many overt jokes?
Emily: Yeah. I think that’s fair.
Bree McKenna: It’s like a natural progression. We always talk about all our albums as like, y’know… they change, but it’s all very natural. We don’t purposefully make a decision to do something a certain way. It’s just what comes out.
Emily: It was really hard to feel like there was any way to make really obvious jokes on this one because there wasn’t anything I wanted to make fun of. People are just living. Everything is hard. And the things I did want to make fun of were already so awful that there wasn’t a way to do good satire anymore, when it’s already self-satirizing. Which is what the song “The Joke of Life” is all about actually, that it’s like, “Geeeez, I can’t even make fun of this, it’s already so bad.”
Eric: We live in a post-ironic world now.
Emily: There used to be power in satire. Now it’s getting taken away from us, because they’re like, “Yeah, we’re awful. What are you gonna do about it?” [laughs] So that’s why I think it’s not as polemic seeming.