Oh, the interwebz. You give us so many awesome gifts. You even take things that are already awesome, and then you put a kitten on them and make them even awesomer. For that we thank you.
Today we celebrate Drinkify.org. This site is hot stuff this week — it’s being posted all over social media web sites and linked in emails. Drinkify is an online drinking guide that pairs the music you are listening to with a suggested cocktail. It’s kind of like having your own personal smart, crunk sommelier.
The design is simple: you type in a band name, click a button that reads “What Should I Drink” and then Drinkify sends you back a photo of the band and and ingredient list with instructions. Drinkify’s output is based on a combination of search results, including band biographies, images and top tracks. The drink suggestions are usually cocktails, and many of them are eerily-similar to the fancy-folk drinks that are served up at the Royale.
Because there is so much information available online, the results are sometimes scary-accurate. For example, if a band puts its favorite beer in its bio, that is probably the beer that Drinkify will suggest.
To test out the site and get a representative sample of the responses supplied by Drinkify, I searched for every band and performer who was nominated for our RFT Music Awards this year plus some classic St. Louis performers and a few personal favorites.
The results ranged from W.T.F. (Pokey LaFarge) to SHOCKINGLY ACCURATE (Sex Robots) to YEAH, PROBABLY (Funky Butt Brass Band) to THAT’S RAW (Murphy Lee).
Of course, there were some glitches; it’s not a perfect system. But there were some cool surprises, too. Here’s a few findings of my research:
- Drinkify didn’t offer a suggested cocktail for every band I tried or it returned the wrong result. Which is a shame, really, because I’d like to buy Magic City a drink. (Ed. seconded.)
- Sometimes Drinkify gave cocktail result but with no band picture included to certify that this drink was, indeed, for this band. I decided that these results probably couldn’t be relied upon, until I searched for .e. Drinkify says that when listening to .e, the suggested cocktail is 12 oz. of marijuana, served on the rocks. Yeah, that sounds about right.
- Drinkify is totally postmodern. It is aware of itself and of other memes. For instance, a search for the Jumpstarts resulted with a suggestion of “4 oz. of White whine.”
Whenever my fellow St. Louisans asked if I liked local favs Shame Club, my standard response was “I like them as dudes, but I just can’t hang with their tunes.” I’d last seen the band a couple of years ago and wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t at all bad, I just didn’t *get it*. And you know what’s a damn shame? That I had to come all the way to Austin to find out that my hometown band is bitchin’ after all.
I went to see the band at the Small Stone Records showcase last night and was not at all prepared for the bombastic blast. Each band member is electrifying and the dynamic combination produces everything you could want in a hard rock band: shredding guitar licks, thumping bass grooves, evil drum beats and wailing vocals. Holy shit, I’ve seen the light.
Andrew Elstner, singer and guitarist for fellow St. Louis band Riddle of Steel was along for the trip as roadie/groupie/merch dude, and it was his band that gave me a revelation about a year ago. Let’s call it the Revelation of Steel. I’d also filed his band in the “cool, but not awesome” section in the list of local bands in my head. After not seeing the band for years, I accidentally caught it at a random bar show and they blew me away. Much to my delight, practice does, indeed, make perfect and the Riddle prompted me to go back to bands I’d previously avoided and give them a second listen.
So now the same thing has happened with Shame Club. A band that was previously alright is now super tight. Man, do I feel like a tool. Hey, Shame Club, I’m down with you. And I take back any smack I’ve ever spoken about any local band ever. Don’t disregard your hometown superstars, kids. They might just rock you.
— Jaime Lees
LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled 2005 release stands as the album that made me finally, truly believe in new electronic music. But Sound of Silver was a huge step up — and my ultimate album of 2007. It had everything I wanted: fun, super-fresh style, beauty and plenty of beats. “All My Friends” is elegant and touching, “Someone Great” is bloop-bloop perfection and the hand claps and joyous shouts of “a-woohoo!” in “Watch The Tapes” are majorly addictive.
Still, my favorite part of the music year was when an android stork dropped down from outer space and delivered us Radiohead’s In Rainbows. The media hullabaloo surrounding the surprise release sucked me in whole (because I’m a dork and I love shit like that). And while I remain fascinated by the band’s alien marketing techniques, the album had the chops to back up the hype. It’s pretty, glitchy, bittersweet and epic — in short, everything you would expect from a Radiohead album. However, In Rainbows is instantly more accessible than Amnesiac, Kid A or even Hail to the Thief. Around the same time as the album’s release, the band started leaking performances on its Web site, including live versions of album tracks and my new favorite cover ever: Radiohead playing New Order’s “Ceremony.”
My heart swelled with pride when the Arcade Fire released Neon Bible, and then both fans and critics welcomed the album’s lush, bountiful orchestration. Arcade Fire fans have formed a near-cultish church surrounding the band, but their worship might be justified. “Intervention,” “Ocean of Noise,” “(Antichrist Television Blues)” and “My Body Is a Cage” are nothing short of magical and could easily be mistaken for the rapturous hymns of a new religion. Everyone was primed for a backlash against the indie darlings, but you can’t argue with songs this beautiful.
As far as independent releases, at the beginning of the year I was gifted with an advanced copy of AA Bondy’s recently released American Hearts, and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. The solo singer-songwriter put aside his former life as the lead singer of scorching glam-grungers Verbena in favor of a more earthy, exposed adventure. Bondy composes lonely tales of complicated redemption, teetering between the delicate confusion of Dylan and the hopeful pride of Springsteen. His soulful voice is soothing and softly Southern, making American Hearts a perfect Sunday-morning album.
I also happened upon tons of great local releases this year. The Humanoids’ Are Born is my favorite; the songs are pure punk and the band straight-up shames most other locals with its energy and authenticity. Rats and People’s The City of Passersby is dense and enchanting, and quite a few songs on the Bureau’s We Make Plans In Secret deserve repeated spins. Finally, Riddle of Steel’s 1985 wasn’t released until the end of this year, but I can safely predict that it will rock me through 2008. (click to read all)
— Jaime Lees
‘Tis the season, y’all: Everyone is celebrating the love and warmth that surrounds Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Festivus, but let’s not forget what the holiday season is really about: getting stuff. With that in mind, we’ve decided to choose presents for all of the bands participating in this weekend’s two-night A Very Merry Christmas Spectacular at Off Broadway. (click to continue)
Up-and-coming locals the Livers put on one of the most interesting live shows in St. Louis. Though the band consists of just two members — Scot Freeman and Luke Roulston — it multiplies its live sound by playing electric guitars in front of a pre-recorded video of Freeman on drums and Roulston on bass. (The pair has even worked out witty banter-and-joke exchanges between the band members and their video-selves.) The resulting sound is that of a full four-member band, but without the two extra dudes to drink up the beer allowance. The Livers aren’t all gimmick, though: The band impresses with sharp lyrics, searing riffs and grunge-heavy drums, meaning its songs sound like solid ’90s rock. (But in a great, Dave Grohl-y kind of way, we swear.) Plus, the Livers’ live show is fun, diverse and full of unlikely covers (like Elastica’s “Stutter”) and cheeky crowd interaction.
In the 30 years since Jerry Only joined the Misfits, he’s become a particular favorite of the band’s fans — even if saying Only is your favorite Misfit is akin to saying Ringo Starr is your favorite Beatle. Each musician’s contribution to his respective band is underrated and both have their own strange qualities that attract audiences (Ringo’s playful sideburns, Jerry’s muscular authority). After the departure of bloated former lead dude Glenn Danzig, Only continues to bring the Misfits’ classic punk/horror-style music to the masses. With backing from original Misfits drummer Robo and former Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena, the band soldiers on, still ready to induce furious fist-pumping at every stop along its tour. The St. Louis stop finds them in good company, with local punk gods the Humanoids and sludge-rockers Holy Python taking the opening slots.
Weeks before I sit down with Brien Seyle and Matt Pace of Rats and People, they predict that they will give a bad interview. We make plans to discuss the band’s new album, The City Of Passersby, but they are filled with apprehension. Reluctant to explain City‘s songs, the pair doesn’t wish to be quizzed. They’re not trying to be difficult; they’re just not sure what they will have to say.
Seyle and Pace don’t seem to understand that they’re in one of the most interesting and original bands in St. Louis. Born from the ashes of punk-pirate legends the Whole Sick Crew, Rats and People easily blends genres and invents a style of its own: post-punk folklore.
Lead vocalist Seyle maintains his nasally, Dead Milkmen-esque manner of singing, but the Rats leave behind the Irish-beer-soaked swagger of Whole Sick Crew. Genres such as folk, blues, rock and bluegrass are distorted with non-traditional instruments, such as Jeremy Quinn’s glockenspiel and accordion and Pace’s trumpet and piano. The latter — who came from local pop favorites the Baysayboos — also tackles the formidable job of arranging Rats and People’s music.
Recorded by Rats and People bassist Garry Moore (a former professional sound engineer) in what Seyle describes as “the closet of a closet,” there is nothing amateur about the sound of The City of Passersby. Despite lush orchestration, the songs have a considerable delicacy, never once sounding cacophonous or over-produced. With the exception of the gorgeous, Pace-penned “Ohio,” Seyle wrote most of City‘s lyrics, which unfold in a story-telling style of prose.
In the early days of the band, Seyle and drummer Rob Laptad and Jason Matthews (of the Monads) toiled night after night in a basement practice space. After a year of heavy frustration attempting to solidify its songs, Rats and People added Pace and the group finally coalesced. Since those first shaky months, there have been a few other lineup changes (including the departure of the busy and beloved Matthews and, more recently, fiddle player Beth Dill), but the core of the band remains strong.
With a little prodding, Seyle and Pace talked for an hour and a half straight, spilling out hilarious stories and heartwarming hopes. Gracious, quick to compliment each other and completely humble (if not self-deprecating), they conclude nearly every answer with a self-conscious roll of the eyes and an apology similar to “God, that sounds so pretentious.” They are also fond of passing praise on to current (and former) band members. While they seem to actually enjoy explaining their creative process, they are still cautious when delving into specifics, citing a mutual love for misunderstood lyrics. But the fact is, once the duo gets going, its love for the band and City won’t allow them to contain themselves.
Jaime Lees: First of all, please explain how Rats and People got started.
Brien Seyle: Robby [Laptad] and I were in the Bureau of Sabotage together, that later grew up to be the Bureau. Then we quit that band to found the Whole Sick Crew, which was a band that I dreamed of starting since I was, like, sixteen — ’cause I wanted to rip off the Pogues and sing songs about pirates. We eventually had to break up to lose the shtick factor.
Well, I liked that band.
Matt Pace: I liked that band, too!
Seyle: A lot of people liked that band, but the Whole Sick Crew were more publicly consumable because of the shtick. But more important than that is the Baysayboos, man.
Pace: [Bashfully] I don’t know if it’s more important…
Seyle: We loved the Baysayboos.
Pace: And we loved the Whole Sick Crew. We loved each other. The Baysayboos played with the Bureau of Sabotage, too. Brien looked like he was imported from somewhere. The rest of the band was, like, grooving, and Brien was doing his little spastic thing.
This seems like a very St. Louis album: There’s a fleur-de-lis in the CD packaging, a song called “Filthy Little River,” lyrics that mention red brick, a map included of what appears to be the city with neighborhoods labeled with song titles…
Seyle: The City Of Passersby is kind of St. Louis in another dimension. It’s totally sci-fi, unfortunately. I’m totally reaching for profound. I always stop right short of profound — and then it’s just sci-fi, you know? I try really hard to make lyrics that reflect different things in our lives, but since I’m so story-driven, it always ends up being totally fucking D&D [Dungeons & Dragons]. I really don’t want to be pretentious, but I also wanna try really hard and make something awesome, but that’s a fucking hard line to walk.
The feelings in the lyrics are modern, but the stories seem kind of…
Seyle: Ye oldie timey?
Yeah, are the stories related?
Seyle: I’m vehemently opposed to the idea of this album as a concept album, but together it’s easy to imagine them all happening in the same place. But all of the characters in each of the songs are all so focused on their own dilemmas that they don’t even know that one step to the right there is a completely different, just as grave, dilemma going on.
The more I listened to it, the more the stories kind of fit together, as a collection. I kept thinking of (Geoffrey Chaucer’s) The Canterbury Tales.
Seyle: It’s a catalogue of stories, yeah, but God! A Canterbury Tales album? [Laughs] Maybe we should have written the whole album in Middle English!
Well, you all seem very talented, individually. Are you all multi-instrumental?
Pace: We all jump in here and there. I play a lot of different things within the band, but if the Devil challenged us to a duel, I’d pick up the guitar.
I understand you do all of the arrangements and orchestration? You take all the pieces and make them work? You’re like the Timbaland of the Rats and People.
Pace: [Laughs] Ha! I am! [Thinks, pauses, gets serious] The cool thing about [the band] is that it’s everyone playing honestly on an instrument. You could write the coolest shit in the world, but it’s not going to sound as cool as six people playing the instrument they play, live. I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I think that’s one of the charms of our band.
What band do you feel closest to in town? Who are your contemporaries?
Pace and Seyle: [simultaneously] Bad Folk.
Seyle: Actually, we’re going to do a split seven-inch with Bad Folk, their song is “Saw a Circus” and ours is “I Sang to Heather Nethereye.” It’s about a prostitute.
Uh..”Nether… eye”? Like “down there”?
Seyle: Yeah. [Stops, looks freaked out] Holy shit! The word “nethereye” [sic] is from Chaucer! Dude, you had my number! There’s no Chaucer on this album, specifically, but Chaucer definitely plays a part… apparently.