from the album "Carrie & Lowell"

“Carrie & Lowell” Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell Album Review

Asthmatic Kitty Records

Released March 31, 2015

Genre: Indie Folk, Contemporary Folk, Chamber Folk

With Spring comes new beginnings and warmer temperatures, but more importantly, new albums. March 31st marks the release of Brooklyn based musician Sufjan Stevens’ 7th studio album, Carrie & Lowell. As I sat down for my first listen I wasn’t sure what to expect. I went through a period of heavy Sufjan listening awhile back but have not kept up with his career in more recent years. My first thought as I listened to the album was, “What happened to Stevens in the past few years that influenced this sound?” So, as any good music junkie would, I did some research. What I found fit completely with what I was hearing in this music.

Carrie & Lowell was inspired by the 2012 death of Stevens’ mother Carrie. Although raised by his father and stepmother in Michigan he made summer trips to spend time with his mother Carrie and her second husband Lowell in Oregon. The album speaks to time spent in Oregon with Carrie and Lowell as a child, as well as Carrie’s struggle with addiction and mental disorders. Despite Stevens’ distance from his mother as a child, her death had an impact on him emotionally. In an interview with Pitchfork he described the experience of grieving, “It was so terrifying to encounter death and have to reconcile that, and express love, for someone so unfamiliar.”

If you want to sum up Stevens’ new sound I would say it’s something like Bon Iver meets The Shins meets Iron & Wine. You can find Bon Iver lingering in the falsetto employed in “Drawn to Blood” while the constant guitar chords drumming behind the vocals on “All of Me Wants All of You” calls The Shins to mind. However, what he has created is something much more intimate, and all his own. This is by far the most raw and striped down release by Stevens to date. In fact, the album is devoid of percussion. The only sense of time is imposed by an acoustic strum in the background of most tracks.

One reason I love Carrie & Lowell so much is because while the album can be broken down into individual tracks with different meanings, they all relate back to one central theme, and come together beautifully as a whole. “Eugene” is a carefully crafted memory of life in Eugene, Oregon with Carrie and Lowell. “Fourth of July” comes off as a love song of sorts addressed to Carrie and “John My Beloved” brings Stevens’ historically frequent use of both biblical and mythological Greek references to this particular album. The final track “Blue Bucket of Gold” with its slow march tempo and droning chords feels very much like a funeral song, a final goodbye.

The success of this album is a result of its deeply personal nature. There is a certain intimate, cut-down quietness, with no bells and whistles and no quirk unlike anything Sufjan Stevens has ever released before. This is the most pure version of who Sufjan is as a person we’ve ever been privy to. The album embraces a sound much like that of past tracks “Chicago”, “Casimir Pulaski Day”, and “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”- the songs I’ve always wanted more of. Sufjan Stevens has created something that can no longer be discounted in any way as simply ambient background music good for studying and late night gatherings with friends.

The experience of listening to Carrie & Lowell is like the telling of a well kept secret; something to hold closely in silence, to keep between you and the artist, to reflect upon, and to connect to your own personal stories of loss and love. As Sufjan himself stated, this album is not one of his many art projects or explorations into sound, this album is his life. It has been one step in his personal process of bereavement.

So when you get a chance, make some tea, reserve a Sunday morning, and sit down to listen Carrie & Lowell by yourself. Let the multitude of emotions present remind you of your own past and present experiences with loss and love. This album is a testament to the human experience, the circle of life, and learning to continue on in the face of death. It is a love note to those who have left us, and a reminder to hold those who are still here closer than ever.


FAV TRACKS:  All of Me Wants All of You, Drawn to the Blood, No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross, Blue Bucket of Gold

LEAST FAV TRACK: John my Beloved

Score: (9.0/10)


Interview With George Clarke and Kerry McCoy of Deafheaven! (Part 2)

Read our first part of the interview before continuing:

PNG: Are you guys excited for Primavera Sound, Bonnaroo, and Governor’s Ball?

GC: Yeah, I think Primavera mostly. All are cool. It’s gonna be weird ’cause were really the odd man out, but that’s part of what I like about it; just the challenge, and getting to experience those fests and see bands I respect. And we’ll hopefully get to meet [them]. Yeah I’m excited. Fests are cool. You know they’re hectic and kinda busy but we always have fun in that environment. I’m looking forward to it.

PNG: Since Sunbather blew up have you met anybody that has been an idol of yours in the past, or anything like that?

George:We got to meet Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine, and that was pretty huge. And then Gary Holt from Exodus and Slayer, that was cool. That was kind of unband related, but I guess it happened during the course of us being a band. We’re not really like big dogs. We haven’t really had the opportunity to meet a whole lot of people, yet. I think when we approach those festivals if there’s someone walking around that I really want to shake the hand of, hopefully I’m drunk enough to where I can. It’s nerve-wracking man. It was super nerve racking meeting Kevin Shields. So hopefully fingers crossed. Pretty much the same him and Gary Holt.

Jon: Have there been any celebrities shout to y’all because of Sunbather?

GC: Yeah no one major. There was that one dude… Fred Armisen. He likes our group.

Michael: Fred Armisen has the best taste in music.

George:  He sent our publicist like an email requesting one. Or he wanted to buy one. Him and then some other dude, that you tweeted at one time, that alt comedian. He works on Children’s Hospital.

Jon: Oh, that’s Rob Corddry.

Michael: Is he that one that always looks like…

Jon: He’s the clown.

George:  Yeah he tweeted about our record one time. That’s about it I mean nothing crazy.

Jon: Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray tweeted at us one time; that was pretty crazy.

George: Oh yeah Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind.

PNG: Oh that’s really cool!

George: Yeah that guy likes our record. He’s funny.

PNG: It’s kind all over the place.

George: Yeah it is. It kinda shows you how far it’s branched out, which is cool cause that’s something you’d never really expect.

Michael: I mean you got a guy who never really thought he’d like metal…

Jon: Yeah, he’s been trying to get me into hardcore, heavy music for a long time. He’d suggest Nails, Power Trip, and Touché, I succumbed to Touché. Then, he suggested Deafheaven-

Michael: It took him a long time, but…

Jon: He made me listen to it on vinyl, and I kind of listened to it in secret on Spotify. And then one day I went up to him like, “My God, “Dream House” is freaking amazing!” And then he’s like, “You’ve been listening to it?”

George: Yeah people get into heavy music through different angles. I’m happy you did. I appreciate it.

Michael: How did you get into heavy music?

George:Magazines. Radio, initially, then just seeking stuff out. I used to go to a record store and just pick out the most gruesome cover and then buy it. I found Hatebreed’s Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire that way just cause I thought the cover looked hard, Sepultura’s Arise, Marduk’s Plague Angel, I bought that record because of the cover. It was definitely before streaming was a thing, it was when downloading was like first starting, but I didn’t know how to work any of it. So we just had record stores.

Kerry: Mine was just pretty much from meeting him. I wasn’t into much stuff like that and then I met him and he showed me that. I showed him a bunch of punk stuff.

PNG: So do you think Cali Punk has an influence on your band at all?

Kerry: Not so much, maybe in the super early development of me as a guitar player I guess it has some influence, but not really. Not in the band.

Michael: So it’s not really like a musical influence but it’s kind of like a a motivation.

Kerry: Me as a human being.

George: Yeah just bands you get into when you get into bands.

Jon: Like gateway drugs…

Michael: So, hypothetically speaking… Let’s say I somehow convinced my principal to let you guys play in my high school auditorium, would you guys do it for a benefit show?

Kerry: [For some money]

Michael:  How much would it cost?

George: (laughs) No, we wouldn’t. I mean I appreciate it, certainly.

Michael: I ask everyone that question…

George: I mean, it wouldn’t be fun. Playing in a high school, playing what we play. Trying to do what we do and having the crowd be how we want them to. You’d have people getting dragged out. Something would happen it just wouldn’t be the full experience. And I wouldn’t want to take away from anyone who was there to see us.

Michael: I ask everyone that question cause I’ve never been to a house show or done anything cool like that, cause I don’t have anybody to go with. So I just ask everyone about house shows.

GC: Don’t trip off house shows. They’re fun, it’s just a big party.

Michael: I think the DIY culture is cool that’s all.

George: No absolutely it’s what you grow up in and what a lot of people have invested a lot of energy into. Definitely respectable.

Michael: One last highschool question: we go to an all guys school [so this is important to us], who were your highschool crushes? Celebrity Crushes?

George: Shannyn Sossamon

Kerry: I didn’t really have any…

George: Yeah just girls at school. And like hot older girls that would like go to shows. It was weird. I don’t know it’s hard. If were sticking with celebrities lets go with Shannyn Sossaman. It’s the one that comes off the top of my head.

Jon: Have you guys done anything cool since coming to Dallas?

George:  Nah we just got here. We’re just starting to hang out right now and just do our things.

Michael: Are you guys leaving tomorrow to meet up with BTBAM?

George: Yeah and then we’re going to meet up with the tour again.

Jon: ’cause we know Weekend has the day off tomorrow.

George: …we have the day off too. We’re meeting up with them after a drive.

PNG: Cause they said they wanted to see the Grassy Knoll.

George: Yeah we may, we may. It depends on how adventurous we feel.

Michael: You want to try record shopping?

George: Yeah no, no record shopping. I don’t like buying records on the road they always get messed up which is unfortunate because there’s a lot of good stores around the country, but no I keep all that stuff at home. I don’t bring any breakable things. Everything gets ruined on tour so I travel really light.

Michael: Ok, well I don’t have anything else. Thanks so much guys.

George: No problem.

Watch Deafheaven perform “Vertigo” below:

Read our review of their latest album, Sunbather


Interview with George Clarke and Kerry McCoy of Deafheaven! (Part 1)

Our palms were sweaty, our knees were weak, and we were nervous. After our interview with Shaun Durkan , I (Jon) mustered up the strength, greeted and introduced myself to the lead vocalist of Deafheaven, George Clarke. I inquired about the interview and he happily obliged. Guitarist Kerry McCoy sat next to him, idly scanning his Twitter on his phone, and bassist Stephen Clark was chatting with other bands nearby. With our questions ready, and an iPhone quietly recording, we interviewed one of our favorite bands about record players, DIY shows, high school, Shannyn Sossamon and touring.

PNG: So how’s the tour been?

George: Tour’s been good, we’re about four and a half weeks in. It’s been a longer run because we’ve been in cold weather for the most part, but uhh, the crowds have been responsive, and people in the package have been really cool. We’ve been hanging out with Intronaut every night and enjoying those guys especially. And I guess, you know, full speed ahead.

PNG: Why’d you guys decide to go to Spillover MF and not South By So What?!? with BTBAM and all those other guys?

George: Uhh that, uh, that festival wasn’t really, I dont think it would’ve been beneficial for us to play it. We’re kind of a really strong outsider, and we probably wouldn’t have done too well. I think that this [Spillover MF] is more of our crowd and we have friends playing and, for us it was just the better option.

Michael: You probably chose the better choice too. I’ve been to South By So What?!?! for two years in a row and it’s just a bunch of scene kids. (laughs)

George: I just, you know, not my thing.

Michael: Yeah, to each his own. So, what’s it like being on Deathwish Records?

George: It’s cool. Tre’s a cool dude, you know, they support us about everything we need and have a good attitude about it and are open to everything we do creatively, and that’s all you can ask for: loads of support and open-mindedness.

Michael: It seems like one big family. I know Nick from Touché Amoré did the artwork for Sunbather, am I right?

George: Yeah, us and those guys have a good friendship. There’s certain bands on the roster that we connect with really well, that we’ve sort of grown together with. And uhh, it’s a good thing.

Michael: Do you have any other best friends on the Deathwish roster?

George: Uhhh, I think we’re friends with Oathbreaker people, who are great, uhhh, (to Kerry) who else? Yeah that’s probably it. We’re good friends with the Touché guys, that’s who were closest with, and umm Nick Basset plays on a Deathwish band and he’s played with us for a while. He’s a good friend of ours.

Jon: Kerry, how do you approach riff-writing, because the riffs on Sunbather  are just sticky…


Kerry McCoy (left) and Jon Birondo (right) at Club Dada in Dallas

Kerry: I write it on an acoustic guitar first, to make sure it’s decent and then I put it into a loop station and keep adding to it until I have a full song.

Michael: How do you approach pedals?

Kerry: I fake all of it, I don’t know anything about petals. I have like a tap-tempo, digital delay, and a chorus and a reverb and I bullsh*t my way through the rest of it.

Michael: True (laughs).

Jon: So Sunbather was named Metacritic’s Number One album of the year. How did you guys react to that?

George: It’s cool. Umm, the thing about critics is that it’s something that holds weight, but really doesn’t. I’m flattered by all the positive criticism, but at the end of the day, it’s just one person’s opinion. What matters to me is getting out and playing shows for people that are really invested in the band and just connecting in that way, but it’s cool. It’s interesting.

Michael: So it’s like “Take it with a grain of salt?”

George: Very much so. I don’t like to read our press, when we get some things it’s cool, though. I appreciate it, it’s awesome.

Jon: How was the 285 Kent show? I’ve been watching those videos for the whole week and-

George: It was great! It was kinda crazy, we didn’t play until 3 in the morning, so it was hectic and long, but it was fun and good people put it on and promoted it. We’re always happy to work with people that want to work with us.


Michael: Do you prefer DIY venues or smaller venues than big ones? Does it matter?

George: I used to. I used to prefer smaller… stages. But as like our music has become more technical and we have to… you know, there are certain things that need to be heard, and there has to be a certain sound on stage. I do like playing something with a better sound system, more clarity. I think it’s better for the audience overall. But both have their advantages. Right now, I’m kinda enjoying the stage. Its fun.

Michael: So like house shows aren’t fun anymore?

George: No, I mean house shows will always be fun. It’s just if I had the preference, I wanna.. uhhh, one of the important parts of this band is sounding good. And I want it to sound like the record sounds. And in a live setting you just need a certain amount of muscle to be able to do that, and house shows, you know, just can’t provide that. House shows are really fun; they’re the funnest shows you can play. So, if and when we do them, it’s a great time, but I feel like in order to give to the audience what we want to give we need to sound how we need to sound.

Jon: Cool! What’s music, nowadays, that’s not metal, music that fans would be surprised that you like listening to?

George: I don’t know, we’re pretty open about our musical taste. I don’t know anything people would be surprised about. Stuff I’ve been listening to lately: Lots of Grouper, Active Child, lots of Spins, Nick Cave, and… yeah those three records. I’ve been sitting on them for a while. I’ll keep it at those three, it’s easy, Grouper, Active Child, and Nick Cave.

Michael: So those are the three big ones right now?

George: It’s like on a daily basis, I’ll probably hear each of these records like once a day, or every other day. I mean so much time in the band, and I kinda like soaking in a record, and so we have a good month sink them in.

Michael: Do you have enough space in the van for a record player?

George:For a record player? Oh no, oh we wouldn’t anyway… Having a record player in your van would be really inconvenient, and I would worry about it too much. No I mean everything’s just digital in a car.

Michael: Oh yeah I assumed it was vinyl…

George:Yeah… spinning record… its just the terminology I use…

Michael: Aight, I understaynd. So what do you guys aim to do the rest of 2014?

George: We’re touring a lot! The main goal for this year is to tour as much as possible, play as many places as we can play, and hopefully at the end of the year when we calm down from all the shows we can start focusing on writing new records.

Jon: Are you planning on coming back to Dallas?

George:Yeah, I don’t know… were doing a US in June. I want to say Dallas is gonna be there. I know Austin is and I think Houston is so I’m gonna assume Dallas. Right now I don’t know, I won’t know for a few weeks, but yeah, I mean I love playing here. We played here last summer, and it was awesome, and I’m happy about tonight. We’ll keep coming back.

Michael: So you guys just came back from SXSW, right?

George:No, no we’ve been on a full US tour, but we didn’t touch South By this year. It just couldn’t fit in to our plans. We’ve done South By for two years, and maybe we’ll do it next year, but for this year it just wasn’t in the schedule.

Michael: So, what was it like in the past?

George:It’s a s**t show. It’s really chaotic and suffocating, and really, really fun but really really tiring and there’s always something eventful happen. It’s a huge party that you have the responsibility of playing multiple times over the course of the couple of days that it lasts. Its fun. We’ve had wild times.

Michael: I haven’t heard anyone say it’s relaxing all over the place. So…

George: Its just really… Intense. It’s always intense.

Michael: So what were you guys doing when you were in high school?

George: Not paying attention. Going to shows. Drinking. Girls. All the things you kind of like want to do but shouldn’t do… I guess that was kind of my high school. It was good.

Michael: Do you have like a favorite high school concert memory?

George:I went to so many. I mean when I was like 16 I went and saw Mogwai with Interpol and The Cure. Probably the first Curiosa Festival. That was one that sticks out.

Watch Interpol perform “Roland”

Michael:Oh wow! (To Jon) That is YOUR lineup…

Jon: I love ALL those bands. That sounds great!

George:Yeah, it was really tight, and The Rapture opened, and then came other people. Oh yeah and Cursive played. Man that was a fun… that first Curiosa was sick! And then just punk shows, like northern California, like Bay Area, punk shows. Like everyone… that’s just what you did. I could name off a million bands that, you know, wouldn’t matter this way or that way, but were really fun to see back at that time.

PNG: Do you like to be active, when you’re at a punk show, like stage diving and s**t?

George: I mean like… I’m 25 now. I went to that American Nightmare reunion and stage dove then, and cracked the back of my head open, and I was bleeding a ton, and I went to the bathroom in the venue and I looked in the mirror and thought “eh not anymore… too old…” I mean not too old, but too old for me. I prefer just watching a band now. But yeah back in the day yeah… I got so f***ed up like we’d always leave shows with bruises, and cuts, stuff like that, or worse. It evolves.

Michael: Is it like, “I don’t have the same kind of energy or tolerance for pain?” or…?

George:I just don’t care as much, truthfully. That’s what the kids are for, and I think everyone has their moment when they want to do that, and yeah, I just don’t care enough. I’m on the flipside now where I really like enjoying watching a band perform, and I enjoy the performance, rather than the interaction of it. I like to see the way bands play, and how well they play, and things like that. Focus on that, focus on the songs, rather than just being as wild as I can and seeing flashes of the band in my periphery.

Michael: How was the American Nightmare show?

George:It was fun, it was fun. I was never like a huge… like I was never really into that band like super hard, but their drummer is a dude that we know and he hooked it up and I recognized some songs from when I was younger. A lot of friends, old friends, it was fun. They were good, they played really well, and I got a little too ecstatic at one point… front flipped and payed for it. Pretty bad.

Michael: Did you have a group of friends that you went to shows with in high school?

George: Uh… Yeah, Yeah. I think everyone does, right?. I think I went to a couple shows by myself, but only knowing that there were going to be people there with, but yeah there was always like a good group.

PNG: Yeah, all our friends like country, so we’re kind of like on our own.

George: Yeah that’s grand stuff. It happens,

PNG: I guess going to a Catholic private high school doesn’t’ help. But (laughs)-

George: It doesn’t, no you gotta go to Downey High in Modesto. Yeah Modesto’s where the cool kids are. If you wanna get high in the bathroom and talk about f**king nerve agents or something like that, go to Modesto.

PNG: Is that where you went?

George: yeah…



Interview With Shaun Durkan of Weekend!

The door to the green room at Club Dada in Dallas swang in and out as the all girl punk band The Coathangers, brought their instruments up onto the stage to prepare for their set. Meanwhile, Pretty Neat Grooves co-founders Michael and Jon, and a friend walked in, amongst the rock stars and festival staff, to the artist lounge. The cold air smelled of fresh tacos, cigarettes smoke and beer, and in the corner stood San Francisco black metal/shoegaze band Deafheaven, chatting amongst themselves near their instruments over a few beers in Pabst Blue Ribbon cups. Approaching the couch, we sat down and chatted with the lead singer and bassist of the San Francisco shoegaze/lo-fi band Weekend Shaun Durkan about musical influences, Dawson’s Creek, nature, Natalie Portman and San Francisco.

PNG: Your music sounds very[ grounded] in the 80s. Do you try to form [your music] to reflect 80s music, or do you keep it updated with modern techniques?

Shaun: I grew up listening to a lot of music from the 80s, a lot of post punk, my dad was in a post-punk band, and he’s from London. So I just kinda grew up hearing that kind of stuff, you know: Joy Division, uh Killing Joke and The Cure. So I think that, you know, when we all met we sorta just found that common ground and started writing songs just because that’s what we were interested in and it’s what we grew up listening to. With that being said, I think we’re always conscious that we want to make a record that doesn’t sound like a throwback, or a tribute record or something like that. Everything we’ve done so far has been a modern take on these influences from the 80s.

PNG: Sweet. You guys are from San Francisco, where it’s normally sunny, yet your music is very murky and cloudy, does San Francisco influence the way you make your music or are there other influences at the wheel?

Shaun: You know it’s kind of funny, people always think of San Francisco as a really sunny place but it’s really not. It’s pretty much always, like, grayish and has a pretty legendary fog that-

Jon: Oh, I’ve never been

Shaun: Yeah, that’s what the tourism board wants you to see. The reality is that it’s always in the 50s and there’s a lot of fog that sorta shrouds a lot of the Bay Area. That stuff was really an influence on the earliest record, for sure. I think being close to nature was really important to us too as far as influences in music. We live in Brooklyn now, I can’t remember like the last time I saw a forest or something. (laughs)

PNG: (laughs)

Shaun: yeah, but in the San Francisco and Bay Area, you can drive 15 mins and find like a red wood forest or state park or something like that. I think that that sort of variety of landscapes were very important when making a record.

PNG: …and were there any new influences for your new record?

Shaun: yeah, if anything Jinx was like…the last thing we wanted to do was make Sports again. You know, we’re a band that thrives on forward momentum and challenging ourselves. I think people wanted to hear a record just like Sports and we never have been interested in repeating ourselves and doing what someone else is doing. So, if anything, the main goal is to progress as a band-

Jon: Yeah, Jinx sounded a lot cleaner-

Shaun: Yeah, the production is a lot cleaner. That was a conscious decision, yeah. [Jinx] was recorded in the exact same studio where we recorded Sports with the exact same producer. It was just a conscious decision to make [the album] a bit more direct. I think songwriting was much more important this time around as far as lyrics go, arrangements and stuff. You know, when people make their first record it’s like you spend two years in a rehearsal space just jamming and then you spend a week just trying to record what [inaudible] those jams sound like. Jinx was more about creating songs in the studio via the recording process rather than just trying to document what we had done before .

Michael: So speaking of murkiness and San Francisco stuff, you think that murky environment helps you determine what you do pedal-wise? Cause you guys use A LOT of crazy effect pedals.

Shaun: I think the pedals and production stuff was lie, we just wanted to make extreme, melodic music. Around time we were writing Sports, there were a lot of sunny beach music and stuff going around: Real Estate, Girls, who else, Best Coast. You know? And we weren’t into that, we basically trying to make a record that was like “F*ck You” to that stuff, and especially a record coming from San Francisco, which was always though to be a garage city or something, or like a coastal beach vibes kind of town, we wanted to make something dark, brooding, and aggressive and create a kind of schism in the expectation of what we were gonna make.

Nate(Our friend): What are you putting your bass through?

Shaun: Like effects wise or something?

Nate: Yeah

Shaun: It goes through a tuner, MXR Double Shot distortion, Boss guitar chorus pedal, Deluxe Memory Man, Digital Delay like a DV-7, a Hardwire Reverse Reverb, and a Holy Grail…and a Freeze pedal… and an EHX Freeze Pedal…it’s a lot of sh*t.

PNG: (laughs)

Shaun: …a lot of guitar pedals.

Michael: So a quick non-music question: Have you gotten to do anything cool around Dallas?

Shaun: We got here at one, so we haven’t gotten to do much. I really want to go to the Grassy Knoll…

Jon: It’s really close

Shaun: Is it?

Michael: Yeah it’s….(to Jon), Do you know where it is?

Jon: Yeah it’s just straight down Commerce, wait, no, Elm. Head down Elm.

Shaun: Oh OK, I gotta check it out. I’m gonna check out some of the other bands later today. We have the day off tomorrow so we’ll probably go tomorrow and the next day.

Michael: Who else are you excited to see?

Shaun: Nothing just played, we’ve been touring with them. Really excited to see our friends Deafheaven a-

Nate: Oh you guys know them, cause I was gonna ask you guys, cause San Francisco… you guys know them?

Shaun: Deafheaven? Yeah, we toured with them in Europe, they’re really good friends of ours, we played a bunch of shows together when we were still in the Bay Area. They’re cool dudes…

Jon: Yeah, we’re hoping to get interviews with them later tonight…

Shaun: Well (points to corner behind couch), they’re right over there, maybe you could talk to them…

Jon: Sunbather was one of the first albums that got me, no, it was THE first album to get me into metal. Ask Michael, I’m was more of an indie kid-

Michael: Yeah he loves Best Coast, Vampi-

Jon: Yeah, then he showed me Deafheaven and stuff

Michael: Yeah that’s why I was laughing at him when you said “f*ck you” to Best Coast cause he loves them an-

Jon: Well, cause every song reminds me of California so much. I first heard them on the Santa Monica beach in the summer and stuff, it was that carefree, you know, nothing to do today, nothing to do tomorrow kind of vibe-

Shaun: I have nothing against what they’re doing, I respect that and stuff-

Jon: I can see why people hate them and stuff-

Shaun: I don’t hate them at all, I think what they do is great. It’s just we wanted to do something that was the polar opposite of [their style of music]-

Michael: Do you think they’re accidentally stereotyping the San Francisco scene?

Shaun: I mean, not that (to Jon) Best Coast, what, lives in LA right?

Jon: Yeah..

Michael: Oh I just thought…

Shaun: I think San Francisco is mostly known for like psychedelic music and garage music, but uhh, it’s funny, I don’t think San Francisco is known for anything now, other than tech sh*t. Like every single band that I know, from San Francisco, has moved out. Even Kerry from Deafheaven lives in LA now. You know, (Whacktiles?) is gone, (Tamarind’s) gone, Girls are not really together anymore, S-

Michael: What happened to Girls?

Shaun: I think Chris and JR decided not to write music together anymore. I think JR’s doing some production stuff on his own now, producing stuff. He’s working on a Melted Toys record, which is good. He’s done stuff with Smith Westerns before and he did a little bit of work with Dive. Chris is just doing stuff on his own.

Michael: Just a couple more questions…

Shaun: Yeah sure..

Michael: When can we expect new material from Weekend?

Shaun: Hopefully next year, c-

Jon: Jinx was just released…

Michael: What’s it like working with Slumberland?

Shaun: It’s just one guy, Mike Schulman-

Jon: Of Queens of the Stone Age? (For the record, the bassist for QOTSA is Mike SHUMAN, honest mistake)

Shaun: No, Mike Schulman, he was in Black Tambourine.He’s the ultimate music lover, label guy. He’s just so focused on the art side of it, he’s not gonna tell you what to do: if something’s too loud, too quiet. It’s great. he signs bands cause he loves them, and he loves what they do, sort of like the bottom line for him.

Michael: Ok, one question from me: What’s the one question you want to be asked that no interviewer ever asks you, ever?

Shaun: Uhh, I don’t know. I’m so used to the generic questions everyone asks. I think you’ve had some good ones already. I don’t need to throw you anything, you’ve got some good questions. Maybe if it’s an attractive girl that asks me for my number or-

Michael: OOH! Thanks for reminding me. We both go to an all boys catholic school-

Nate: I don’t-

Michael: (laughs) -but we’re still high school boys, so celebrity crushes are a big thing for us: So who was your high school celebrity crush?

Shaun: Like when I was in high school?

Michael: Yeah, or even now (laughs)

Nate: Yeah high school girl now haha

Shaun: Oh yeah! I have a list! No, but uh, when I was in high school, I was oddly into Mandy Moore for some reason. But uhh, I went through a phase where I would watch that movie, A Walk To Remember and for some reason-

Jon: (laughs)

Shaun: – I mean that’s really embarrassing. I was really into Mandy Moore at some point. So I would have to say that, or Natalie Portman or something predictable, boring guy sh*t.

Jon: Yeah watching A Walk To Remember isn’t embarrassing (points to Michael) he watches One Tree Hill.

Michael: You wanna hear a really girly show with an AMAZING soundtrack? One Tree Hill. They named dropped Fugazi, Hot Water Music, Sparta and the term straight edge in one episode-

Jon: -in like the same five minutes

Shaun: That writer was fired . (laughs) Never wrote another episode.

Michael: I mean, that’s not why I watch it, it’s an added bonus. There’s this one character on it and she’s like a (12/10)

Jon: (laughs)

Shaun: When I was in school, I got really into Dawson’s Creek, for a little while-

Jon: I hear that’s a good show, but I never watched it. Katie Holmes right?

Shaun: Yeah-

Michael: It was like 90s right?

Jon and Shaun: Yeah

Jon: early, early 90s

Michael: I gotta get into that… But you gotta start One Tree Hill

Shaun: Yeah, I’ll give it a shot

Jon: It’s on Netflix, go to episode one…go to episode six haha

Michael: It’s one of those shows where you like it, but you don’t know why you like it

Shaun: (laughs) I know what you mean. That’s how Dawson’s Creek was for me. I threw a party at my house in San Francisco and someone stole my box set of Dawson’s Creek…

Jon: What?!

Shaun: It was the only thing that was taken…

Michael: They didn’t take anything else? Just that…

Shaun: I didn’t really have anything valuable I guess, but yeah I had many other DVDs and that’s the one they took.

Michael: That is crazy! Someo-

Shaun: Someone out there has them-

Michael: They probably knew you and how much you liked Dawson’s Creek and they were probably liked “I’m gonna mess with Shaun”-

Shaun: -like a cruel ex-girlfriend or something.

Michael: yeah, like “You don’t have time to love me but time to love your favorite TV show” kind of crap

Shaun: (laughs) Yeah you’re just talking about Joey all the time.

Michael: (laughs) Well, I don’t think we have anymore questions, do yo-

Jon: I think that’s it, Thanks!

Shaun: Ah, don’t mention it. Enjoy the day, no problem man. Hit us up when we’re in town again.

Watch Weekend perform “Coma Summer”



My 2013 in Music: Jon Birondo




Most Overrated Artists of 2013
6) Hoodie Allen
I don’t think his flow is great or his lyricism, but the whole vibe of his songs are really fun. But in the end, they’re forgettable, meaningless and the hype he’s received over the past year is undeserving. His album? Underwhelming. Sorry.
5) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Their pop-rap hits such as “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”, I have to admit, are catchy as heck and they’re talented without a doubt. But with the level of hype they’ve garnered over the past year, their debut album, The Heist, was a bit underwhelming for the filler tracks outweighed the hits. I’m still looking forward to their future projects but they’re overrated nonetheless.
4) The Knife
There’s nothing artistic, appealing or memorable in their music. It sounds like they left video games, National Geographic documentaries and fourth grade recorder recital tapes on all at once and they keep yelling for someone to turn it off with their esoteric and annoying vocals. Please do, it’s not music. It’s a manic drum circle that lasts for an hour and a half.
3) The Neighbourhood
Their debut is composed of cringe worthy lyrics, tremolo turned up to 11 and weak hooks. I don’t see the big hype over them, honestly. Other than “How” and “Sweater Weather”, both decent tracks, the rest is as forgettable as the Ferris Bueller TV Show. That’s right, they made it a TV show.
2) Imagine Dragons
Their calculating fusion of electronic rock and alternative rock sacrifices everything that makes rock what it is in order to just appeal to pop culture and it’s something I cant deal with. The styles on Night Visions are very different stylistically, leaving you with a very disjointed experience. With only a few tracks to really enjoy, their hype is overrated. Plus I believe the radio killed them too, hearing “Radioactive” and “Demons” 1,000,000,000,000 times a day makes me hate those songs so much more.
1) Lorde
I just don’t see the appeal in an artist who creates forgettable songs with little to no musical elements and esoteric, sarcastic lyricism. “Royals” is probably the most annoying song of 2013, period.

Revisited Oldies/ Past Albums of 2013
*Some old albums that I dug up this year that are worth the time, money and listen. Yeah I listened to A LOT of albums this year. This isn’t all of it.

  • “good kid, m.A.A.d city” Kendrick Lamar
  • “An Awesome Wave” Alt-J
  • “Late Registration” Kanye West
  • “Paul’s Boutique” Beastie Boys
  • “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • “The Wall” Pink Floyd
  • “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” Wilco
  • “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” Neutral Milk Hotel
  • “Kid A” Radiohead
  • “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” The Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Turn On The Bright Lights” Interpol
  • “Bloom” Beach House
  • “Strange Mercy” St. Vincent
  • “Dirty” Sonic Youth
  • “The Year of Hibernation” Youth Lagoon
  • “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” M83
  • “Celebration Rock” Japandroids
  • “Lonerism” Tame Impala
Most Dissapointing Albums

“Comedown Machine” The Strokes 

They can’t find a step to progress from their last album, Angles, and frankly that depresses me to no end. Forgettable rock tune after forgettable rock tune. Come on guys!
“Magna Carta…Holy Grail” Jay Z   
Way too long, nothing authentic with the lyricism and Jay Z is still rapping about his money and riches. However, the instrumentation and production is solid.
Nothing memorable or catchy from them here; almost feels like they’re deliberately pushing everything we love about them away. Big disappointment.
The 20/20 Experience-2 of 2″ Justin Timberlake   
An album filled with a bunch of forgettable, lazily written, overdone and lengthy B-sides that was both a waste of JT’s time and ours. SMH JT, SMH.
Most Played Songs of 2013
*”On repeat! On repeat”
Has to be either “Dream House” by Deafheaven or “The Wire” by HAIM. On “Dream House” Daniel Tracy’s drumming still astounds me, if I can play on the drums, then I’m set. His speed is lightning fast and overall drumming, dexterous and his fills, oh his fills! On “The Wire”, the hooks are so catchy it’s ridiculous and the R&B induced vocals meet Fleetwood Mac vibe is nostalgic and great. Also maybe “I Wanna Be Yours” by the Arctic Monkeys. Upon first listen I hated it but the haunting vocals and subdued tempo are some aspects that I find calming and worth the repeated listen.
Guilty Pleasure Songs of 2013
*There’s no explanation as to why I love these songs. Just accept it and listen to them, they’re all really, really good. I have no shame in liking these songs. Whether it be satanic, hedonistic, cheesy, corny, arrogant or just plain wrong, I still love it for an apparent reason I can’t seem to find.

  • “We Can’t Stop” Miley Cyrus
  • “Blurred Lines feat. T.I. and Pharrell” Robin Thicke
  • “Applause” Lady Gaga
  • “Berzerk” Eminem
  •  “Chocolate” The 1975
  • “Cruise-Remix” Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly
  • “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” Portugal. The Man
  • “Infestissumam” Ghost B.C
  • “Story Of My Life” One Direction
  • “Timber” Pitbull feat. Ke$ha
  • “Honeymoon Avenue” Ariana Grande
  • “Work Remix” A$AP Ferg (feat. A$ap Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James, French Montana)
  • “Pom Poms” Jonas Brothers


Honorable Mentions
*Albums that didn’t make my list but deserve the utmost attention. (in no particular order)
“Acid Rap” Chance The Rapper
“Settle” Disclosure
“Is Survived By” Touché Amoré
“Vessel” Twenty One Pilots
“Paradise Valley” John Mayer
“Nothing Was The Same” Drake
“lousy with sylvianbriar” Of Montreal
“Fade Away EP” Best Coast
“Virgins” Tim Hecker
“We Are Twin EP” WE ARE TWIN
“Get Wet” Krewella
“Silence Yourself” Savages
“Doris” Earl Sweatshirt
“If You Wait” London Grammar


2013 Music Highlights
Music; Seeing Phoenix live in the front row; Seeing Twenty One Pilots live; Seeing Depeche Mode live; Got into Deafheaven; Jeromey- Romey-Romey-Rome; “Dream House” by Deafheaven, the whole freaking song; Hearing HAIM’s “The Wire” for the first time; Meeting Atlas Genius and Capital Cities; Started Pretty Neat Grooves; Yeezus; the (bagpipes?) at the end of Vampire Weekend’s “Unbelievers”; anything after the two minute and forty second mark in “Hannah Hunt”; Spotify’s app update; getting a drum set; performing live for the first time in front of people; Seeing Sugar Ray live; Seeing Smash Mouth live; Inside Llewyn Davis; Daft Punk coming back with disco balls; Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” music video with Danny Brown; Pink Floyd on Spotify; Led Zeppelin on Spotify; swaghili; getting followed on Twitter by Deathwish Inc.; Disclosure getting nominated for a Grammy;  the remix to Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”; “Do I Wanna Know”; getting an interview with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells for Pretty Neat Grooves;  Kendrick Lamar was nominated for a Grammy!; Jake Bugg; spending my allowance on CDs; Seeing Paramore live; Seeing Hayley Williams in person; Hayley Williams; Seeing Bush live; Seeing Capital Cities live; The riff on “She Will”; THE HARLEM SHAKE; Bound 3 (Vague).


2013 Music Lowlights
One Direction ripping off The Who; Big Time Rush ripping off Blur; Justin Bieber; Lorde; Imagine Dragons; The Knife; Jake Bugg not getting a Grammy nomination; Jay Z using the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hook on “Holy Grail”; “Royals”; Oasis still aren’t getting back together; Missing the Kanye Concert because of the ice, dang nature; Kanye West not postponing; Lou Reed died; the new Miley Cyrus; Robin Thicke ripping off Marvin Gaye; Seeing Falling in Reverse live; The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2; “Suit & Tie”;  RZA’s verse on “Molasses”; “Wrecking Ball”; Justin Bieber; We have to wait till 2015 for a new Dead Weather album; Detox still isn’t out; hearing “Royals”; Arcade Fire isn’t coming to Dallas; missing Alt-J and Vampire Weekend in concert; “Finger Back”. The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience getting nominated for a Grammy; Sara Bareilles getting nominated for Album of the Year; hearing “Mirrors”, “Radioactive” and “Wrecking Ball” more than 100,000 times on the radio; Rolling Stone’s review of Deafheaven’s Sunbather.