Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else. We present to you the third and final mystery song for Take Cover, our music contest with Howie Pyro, the grand prize for which is a brand new car! Just kidding! It’s actually a Levi’s Pioneer Sessions Limited Edition Crosley Turntable! So listen carefully, and guess wisely. We’ll announce the genius next week.
Come see Howie spin tonight in the desert. We’ve got a Desert Facial with fresh mint and your name on it. And Howie’s picking out some good stuff from his 45s…
There once was a place called the Community Shop at Ace Palm Springs. It was full of really great stuff made by real people. One handsome gent manned the counter most days, and his name is Jack Kohler. Jack is a fixture of the Coachella Valley Art Scene and a nice person. He’s in a band called War Drum, and they recently played in the Amigo Room at Ace Palm Springs. Local blog, Indiewin, interviewed them — here are some excerpts.
Describe your sound…
War Drum: We’ve heard a number of things, shoe gaze, experimental folk rock, desert rock. But we’re diverging into one direction and playing off of another foundation at the moment.
What direction are you going for?
WD: We’re still learning to play with each other…The sound we’re trying to get is heavy instrumentation, multi layers and droning notes. Self discovery psychedelic music with some eastern and folk scales.
Can you compare it to something we can recognize now.
WD: Early works of My Morning Jacket, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, Duke’s Spirit. There’s an eerie, cryptic way about our melodies and lyricism that takes over at different heights of each track.
Who put the band together?
WD: It seems like Jack did, but we all had vested interests in doing this together. At one point recently, some of us had played with the others, and it’s grown into a four piece. And if all goes right, we’ll add another.
In the process of writing, what brings that inspiration about in you and what gets that first word on paper?
WD: At this level, Jack is the lyricist, and vocalist. But there are plans for harmonies, whether it be chorus combinations or backup. There are some personal lyrics and as we continue reworking songs, the lyrics become more collective.
Jack, what exactly do you write about in your lyrics?
WD: I write about life’s reality and life’s haunts. It’s like neo-realism where it’s a span of reality and future thoughts. A few of our songs are about events, but it’s safe to say they’re mostly interpretive. Our new songs, Black Sand and Tomahawk, have a spiritual feel to them.
Ehren writes the leads to most of our songs, Carlos keeps the rhythm section and does his fair share of fills to line us up. Pete is having a good time playing an instrument other than the one he’s played for awhile now: the drums.
So what do you strongly believe took the most effort out of each one of you?
WD: Tomahawk. It was our first communal writing, the one that took all of us, whether it be effort or timing, and it wasn’t easy to work into. It was frustrating. At one practice we’d played it for something like 5 hours — granted it was our first run-through. The other new track is called Black Sand and it was played by Pete. It’s carrying our course into what we want to play. It’s a desert ode, and the words are mostly based on a drug experience: “coming through the floor, black sand, keep me warm.”
So with Black Sand, what exactly were you trying to get out of it?
WD: It’s hard to put a motive behind these kinds of songs because they tend to be free-form, as most psychedelic music is. And this isn’t us trying to do some music revival; we’re taking the best parts of different styles, and blending them in order. We’ve mentioned spiritualism earlier, and this is where it comes into play. Sometimes life shows its ugly face, and Black Sand speaks about that, in the best way. We’re not trying to condone experimentation with drugs, but we’re not going to condemn it either. If you’ve never heard it, seen it, or felt it, then you’ve never been a part of it.
Our next round of Take Cover takes it up a few notches. You have to guess the song and the artist covering it. As you may remember, this is the second of three rounds of the contest. We’re giving Ace t-shirts (and other assorted treats — whatever we feel like putting in the envelope) as the prize booty for the first two weeks. But for the third and final round, contenders will compete tooth and nail for a Levi’s Pioneer Sessions Limited Edition Crosley Turntable. Howie, our wild and punishing host, is going to find the weirdest thing he’s got. Something your iPhone has no chance in hell of detecting.
Howie’s spinning Intoxica Radio Live tonight in the Amigo Room at Ace Palm Springs. Come for a drink and see if you can pick up any clues…
The Rapha Cycle Club on Bowery is hosting an exhibition tonight showcasing the handmade bicycles from the Rapha Continental, and the bicycle builders who built them will be in attendance to talk about their trade. The show also features photography from Daniel Sharp and Chris Milliman, as well as drawings from Continental rider Peter Rubijono. Everybody’s welcome — champagne and beer are on the house. Look for this guy if you go.
Other Music are our friends. They curate selections of vinyl and CDs for the front desk marketplace at Ace New York, and this is their latest collection. You can come check it out for yourself — everything’s up on the wall by the taxidermy. If you come stay and want something good to play in your room, just call the front desk and they’ll send some things up. Here’s what OM have to say about their new favorites:
DANGER MOUSE/SPARKLEHORSE - DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
This official release comes a year later than anybody intended, with much water under the bridge, yet it allows us a fresh perspective on what brought Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse together in the first place: blasted pop songs, featuring a corral bursting with some of this generation’s great vocalists. With a guest list that includes Wayne Coyne, Julian Casablancas, the late Chesnutt, Suzanne Vega, Iggy Pop, Jason Lytle, James Mercer, David Lynch, Gruff Rhys, Nina Persson, and Black Francis, it’s tough to go wrong. Each song takes on the additional burden of seeming “of a piece” with the whole concept of the album, while being composed of singers who are, to say the least, individualistic and stylistically at odds. Linkous’ glitch-pocked alt-country turns out to be the perfect kind of loose thread that wraps everything together. Combining shimmering, tremolo-heavy electric guitars and otherworldly analog static with digital hiss, Linkous and Danger Mouse create a rough-hewn texture that molds itself comfortably around crooners like Coyne, throat scratchers like Casablancas, and angels like Vega. The lush string arrangement serves as a mirror to Coyne’s voice on opener “Revenge,” while a loping loner’s shuffle accompanies Super Furry Animals’ frontman Rhys fittingly down the road of “Just War.” In my mind, the nicest surprises come from the women of the record, with Vega and Perrson (of the Cardigans) both delivering performances that are genuine and warm-spirited.
WOLF PARADE - EXPO 86
Sometimes it can be hard to define the things that make a band. At this point, trying to quantify the past and present projects with Wolf Parade ties can be a strain on the brain. Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, the two main songwriting forces behind the Parade, have been just as prolific with their other projects as they have their better-known band. In light of increased exposure to these disparate groups, Wolf Parade starts to emerge as a precarious balancing act — one that stands and falls by how well these opposing forces can work together to spark a greater whole. Fortunately, the group sounds more like a band than they ever have here. From the start, the band have always pulled as much from art-rock and prog-rock (Bowie/Eno/Roxy) as heartland classic rock (Springsteen/Petty), creating eccentric anthems for a future breed. They keep the pillars firmly in place here, but the album benefits from better sequencing and a more seamless integration of Krug and Boeckner’s voices than we’ve previously heard. Most importantly, the band sounds absolutely on fire, coming closer than they’ve ever managed to approximating the feverish intensity of their live show thanks to drummer Arlen Thompson’s bombastic production (and tub-thumping!). For my money this band has always done the art-damaged modern anthem better than both the Arcade Fire-spawned theater troupes or the neo-Springsteen devil-in-blue-jeans contenders. Look no further than “What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way)” for proof of all this band’s legion rock and roll powers at work simultaneously. When was the last time an indie record sounded good cranked?
Guess who this is covering Satisfaction and we’ll send you an Ace Hotel t-shirt in the mail, SWAK. Howie Pyro picked this out for you and, true to form, it’s mildly terrifying. The contest is in honor of Levi’s Pioneer Sessions - artists covering the classic songs that inspire them. We’ll post another song for you to guess next week, and again the following week, except for the third time around we’ll give the winner a Levi’s Pioneer Sessions Limited Edition Crosley Turntable. What a mouthful. The name is actually larger than the deck itself. It’s compact, handsome, and sounds as clear and crisp as all of your records must have 40 years ago. Carry on, contenders! Send your guess to us with “Howie Pyro x Levi’s x Ace” in the subject line.
We’re giving away some signed copies of Jay Greene’s book, Design is How it Works. He likes the way we work design, and did us the honor of including us. Send your best photos of your favorite design and vintage aspects of any Ace Hotel. We’ll confer and nail-bite and debate passionately late into the night, and then we’ll send the winners their booty. Godspeed!