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Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Children Become Their Parents Become Their Children

Review of The Antlers' Hospice and giveaway

Photo By Ben RitterBen RitterHospice, the much-praised new record from Brooklyn solo project turned trio The Antlers, is an exceedingly difficult listen for me. The album is built around a central narrative about a man losing a loved one to cancer and it’s so successful in evoking the emotions and atmosphere around that that when I listen to it, my teeth clench and chest tightens. It’s actually physically uncomfortable.

Hospice accomplishes this by means both obvious and not. To the former, the ghostly production with its hazy atmosphere and subtle whirs, clicks and swells in the background do a good job of evoking the sterile yet foreboding atmosphere of hospitals and cancer wards, where the whiff of hope is faint at best. And Peter Silberman’s voice, all wavering falsetto, is made for gut-wrenching whispers-to-screams though that dynamic is put into effect only sparingly and thus retains its effectiveness. In less capable hands, these tools could still get the desired emotional response, but only in a mechanical and manipulative sense – the way that even terrible suspense films can still make you jump as a reflex, not out of genuine fear. Hospice, though, possesses an intangible sense of genuineness that gives its strange, haunting beauty a real and painful weight and heft that’s tinged by all-too-brief moments of uplift. All the more remarkable considering that Silberman remains coy about how much of the story played out on the record is autobiographical and how much is fiction.

So while I don’t know if Silberman has gone through the experiences he details in such clarity, I can say that while the details and settings of his tale don’t fully line up with my own, the underlying emotions conveyed definitely resonate and often feel like touching – no, grabbing and squeezing – a raw nerve. Hospice captures the anxiety, anger, fear, denial and despair of being past hope and the bleak understanding that the only way out will come with a price that can’t be comprehended but must be paid. I did not enjoy listening to this record, nor did I enjoy writing this piece, but I think it helped.

There’s an Interface session with the band at Spinner, another video session at Laundromatinee and Exclaim has a very brief interview. The band are currently on tour and will be in Toronto next Thursday night, September 24, for a couple of performances – a free in-store at Criminal Records at 6PM and a headlining show at the Horseshoe later that night. Tickets are $10.50 in advance but courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away to the show. To enter email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Antlers” in the subject and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, September 22.

MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two” (remastered)
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
MySpace: The Antlers

There’s a preview track available from Sufjan Stevens’ forthcoming multimedia project The BQE – out October 20 – and it’s a real departure, all shredding guitars, vocodered vocals and fat synths. No of course not, it’s orchestral and twinkly and pretty and has an excessively long title. Pure Sufjan. He’s at Lee’s Palace on October 1.

MP3: Sufjan Stevens – “Movement VI—Isorhythmic Night Dance With Interchanges”

GQ UK talks to Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste.

Early Day Miners give Aquarium Drunkard a tour of Bloomington, Indiana. Their new record The Treatment is out next Tuesday.

Filter talks to Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse and Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, about their Dark Night Of The Soul collaboration.

Music Snobbery interviews Anna Ternheim, in town on October 14 at the Horseshoe.

Out next week, September 22, is the self-titled debut from Monsters Of Folk – it’s currently available to stream at their MySpace. They play Massey Hall on November 2 and Reuters has an interview.

Stream: Monsters Of Folk / Monsters Of Folk

PopMatters interviews Emily Haines of Metric. They play Massey Hall on October 20 and 21.

Chad Van Gaalen, who has a show at the Church Of The Redeemer this Saturday night – September 19 – has made an EP’s worth of outtakes and whatnot from Soft Airplane available for free download at softairplane.com. His Black Mold alter-ego has also just released a new video.

Video: Black Mold – “Metal Spiderwebs”

Exclaim talks to head Hidden Camera Joel Gibb about plans to take their new record Origin:Orphan, out Tuesday, to the stage. The theatre stage, not the concert stage. Though they’ll do that too come December 5 at the Opera House. Which despite the name is not an opera stage.

Islands are streaming their new record Vapours, out next week, at Exclaim and have set a November 7 date at the Mod Club in support.

MP3: Islands – “Vapours”
Stream: Islands / Vapours

Also at Exclaim – details on the sophomore record from Basia Bulat. It’s entitled Heart Of My Own and will be out on January 26 of the new year. Here’s a taste.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”

UK electro-pop outfit We Have Band will be at the Drake Underground on October 22. They’ll have a digital EP available Grab a new remix track at RCRDLBL.

MP3: We Have Band – “Hear It In The Cans”
Video: We Have Band – “You Came Out”
Video: We Have Band – “Oh!”

J Tillman may be the drummer for Fleet Foxes but he’s also an established solo artist and he will continue to establish his solo-ness with his new record Year In The Kingdom, which is out next week. He’ll be touring to support and has a date at the Horseshoe on November 11, tickets $13.50. And if you need more reason to attend, consider the fact that he is one funny dude. Seriously.

MP3: J Tillman – “Earthly Bodies”

Denver Westword talks to The Depreciation Guild, who’ve been named as support for School Of Seven Bells at Lee’s Palace on October 15 along with Los Angeles’ Warpaint. It pains me to miss this show for Wilco, but sacrifices must be made.

MP3: Warpaint – “Billie Holiday”
MP3: Warpaint – “Elephants”

And one more September 22 release to talk about – the Higher Than The Stars EP from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The title track and a non-EP remix of the title track are available to download.

MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Higher Than The Stars”
MP3: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Higher Than The Stars” (Others In Conversation remix)

By : Frank Yang at 8:40 am
Category: Contests

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. Bruce says:

    A shot at Antlers tickets? Of course, I picked some up last weekend. Timing? Not my forte.

    I feel fortunate I can appreciate the Hospice album without the painful associations it evokes for you. Are you sure you’re ready to hear it live? It’s powerful stuff in that setting. But if it’s any consolation, the joyful moments are as magnified as the anguish, so there is balance.

  2. bobbyk9 says:

    I like the title song to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart…can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD. Hoping to catch them at the Black Cat in DC next month!

  3. Frank Yang says:

    well, I’m only hitting the in-store so hopefully it’s powerful but not too powerful. but yeah, I can take it.

  4. The Antlers at Criminal Records in Toronto | MP3 Music at MixBurner says:

    […] YangEverything I have to say about The Antlers’ record Hospice has already been said, so I’ll focus squarely on their live performance which I was able to witness yesterday […]