About Dylan Hill

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Photos: Bird Peterson and Patrick Awesome

Hey guys! Here are photos from Saturday’s Bird Peterson / Patrick Awesome show. I figured out how to get decent pictures out of Der Rathskeller, so start expecting them more often.

-Dylan Hill

Patrick Awesome

Bird Peterson

Bird Peterson

Bird Peterson

Bird Peterson


Madison’s Best Dancers

Here are some pictures from last weekend. They’re a few days overdue, but I’ve been super busy, like sitting in Steenbock past midnight busy, and really the only reason you’re seeing them now is because I’m taking a ten minute break from schoolwork.

The Hercules and the Love Affair show was alright. The turnout was a bit disappointing, and Der Rathskeller isn’t the best venue for DJ sets, but given what we were up against, it was fairly successful.

I didn’t see too much of the Occidental Brothers show, but from what I saw it was very good. The was a good energy to the show, the crowd really seemed to like it, and there were a bunch of people dancing. It brought a crowd that usually doesn’t see our shows, so that’s a plus.

-Dylan Hill

First Weekend of Shows

Hey guys, welcome back! Hope you had a good break. This weekend we’ve got some shows you guys should think about checking out. On Friday, we have some regional flavor with Decibully, the Daredevil Christopher Wright, and Jookabox. Decibully are a cool band from Milwaukee who released their newest album this past December.  Fans of guys like Jets to Brazil or Wilco should enjoy. The Daredevil Christopher Wright, from Eau Claire, and Jookabox, from Indianapolis, also appear.

On Saturday, we have some more regional fare with Screamin’ Cyn-Cyns and the Pons, and Butt Funnel.  Screamin’ Cyn-Cyns and the Pons are one of the best punk bands from Madison, and Butt Funnel bring the Eurotrash.  If you’re a fan of fun, you should go. If you’re not a fan of fun, I’m not sure if we want you there.

Hope to see you there,
Dylan Hill

Review — Causers of This by Toro Y Moi

Modern Art.

Chillwave, glo-fi, GorillaVsBearCore, whatever you want to call it, seems to cause a bit of a stir in the indie community. So people like it, other people would rather gouge their eyes out with a rusty spoon. And the (very) rare rational individual can actually separate the bad from the good. Toro y Moi errs towards the good end. While Causers of This has its moments where it falls flat, on a whole it’s a good album and a promising debut.

Causers of This sees Chaz Bundick (awesome name) shed the lo-fi leanings of his earlier demos. This gives him more room to work with. Instead of trying to confine his songs to work with tape hiss, he can explore different areas – “Imprint After” is a cross between a jazz track and some disco, “Lissoms” evokes some Discovery-era Daft Punk. Even with that, he doesn’t stray too far from chillwave’s basics Most songs still inhabit the intersection of relaxed and high that most chillwave inhabits. And Toro Y Moi does their chillwave well. “Blessa” is a pretty damn hot track, as is “Minors”. It can lead to a lot of the songs sounding the same, but when the same is pretty good, who can blame him?

Toro Y Moi takes a more turntablist DJ stance than most other chillwave artists. When done well, this adds a unique and dynamic quality to the songs. “Blessa” is made by the way the backing drops in and out, and how Bundick tweaks his own vocals. “Thanks Vision” has a weird stutter about it from the way the song keeps dropping out that’s pretty cool. But on other songs, this can become really annoying. Take the title track, who’s annoyingly repetitive samples leave a bad taste in your mouth. Or take “Fax Shadow,” which sounds like two songs competing against each other. It’s a mess. There’s no continuity to the song whatsoever. An English major could maybe argue that this structure, along with Bundick singing“I’m sorry I couldn’t name the color of your eyes,” could be a way of getting across a disconnect between Bundick and the subject of the song, reflected in the structure. But that can’t excuse that it sounds terrible.

The album is a strong debut for Toro Y Moi. It has it’s faults, but it also shows promise – Toro Y Moi is only going to get better. He’s slated to release another album towards the end of the year, and I’ll be looking forward to hear his growth as a songwriter on it.

-Dylan Hill

Review — Teen Dream by Beach House

I can't see this.

I really want to love Teen Dream. Don’t get me wrong, I like the album. I like it a lot. I’m a big Beach House fan. I think that nobody does dream pop as well as they do. But I don’t love it. I don’t want to listen to it on repeat all day (this kind of happens when I love an album). But then again, I don’t love many albums. And I may learn to love it eventually. But I really want to get this review out in the public, and it was supposed to come out Monday, but I felt like I needed more time to consider the album. And I feel like I’ve got a good enough feel for the album to say some words about it. So here we go.

Teen Dream is an album that, first and foremost, rewards multiple listens. At first listen, a lot of the songs fail to differentiate themselves, but once you become familiar with the material, the songs become much better. So much of what Beach House do as a band relies on atmospherics to create a hazy, lush, almost-but-not-quite-dark mood, and Teen Dream is the best example of this in their catalog. See “Better Times”. By no means one of the best songs off the album. But one that expertly and effectively creates mood, the kind of mood that reminds you of lazy summer days. Or look at “Real Love.” The minimalist instrumentation brings Victoria Legrand’s singing into focus, and the longing in her voice leads to a stunning song. The instrumentation in general is stellar, especially Alex Scally’s guitar playing, providing enough support where they don’t have to rely on Victoria Legrand’s singing, but also not taking the focus away from Legrand. Take “Silver Soul,” where Scally’s lazy guitar line compliments Legrand’s singing, both slow, both seeming to stretch on to infinity, both magnificent. Or “Lover of Mine,” which relies on Legrand’s keyboard playing to provide a gloomy and chilling undertone that sends shivers down you back.

Not that Teen Dream is without its complaints. Legrand’s vocals on Teen Dream aren’t as solid as they were on Devotion, Beach House’s 2008 album. Some of this can be blamed on production – on Devotion, there was an more of an echo effect than on Teen Dream, and that echo effect added to the atmospherics of the songs in general. In Devotion, that echo was played to be haunting. On Teen Dream, without the echo, the songs don’t have quite as dark of a demeanor. Another issue is that, although there isn’t a bad song on the album, there also isn’t a song that blows you away. “10 Mile Stereo” comes close, but doesn’t quite get there. The when the chorus kicks in at about a minute and a half is purely radiant, and it builds slowly throughout the song, but it seems like Beach House don’t devote themselves to making this song all it could be.

The Internet seems to want to shape early 2010 to be Teen Dream vs Odd Blood, much like how 2009 essentially became Merriweather Post Pavilion vs Veckatimest. That comparison is unfair, not only because there’s a bunch of other really good albums coming out, but because these two albums are pretty much incomparable. Teen Dream is insular while Odd Blood is dynamic. Teen Dream is minimal while Odd Blood is definitely not. Teen Dream is an album that lingers in you, while Odd Blood exists in the here and now. Teen Dream is an excellent album, maybe one of the better ones I’ve heard in a long time. But to start throwing around your “>” before 2010 has even started is a bit ridiculous.

-Dylan Hill

Review — Odd Blood by Yeasayer

Trippy, dude.

Oh shit. That’s really all there is to say. Oh. Shit. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer’s 2007 debut album. But this, this is in a completely different league. Odd Blood is such a masterfully crafted album that words just escape me, that all I can do is stand here, mouth agape, in awe of how good this album is.

I’ll start with the most obvious thing: for as much experimentalism as Yeasayer wants to put all over their songs, there is an overwhelming sense of melody to nearly every song. The backing harmonies of Madder Red, and the chorus to “I Remember” are the kinds of melodies you’ll be humming under your breath for days. Yeasayer also know, even with the amount of sound in all these songs, to keep the tracks from feeling cluttered and overwhelming. Madder Red, even with its tribal drum beats and ambient textures, focuses on Anand Wilder’s vocal melody, one that is striking in its remorse and longing. I don’t remember that kind of depth and humanity being a part of All Hour Cymbals. Strong vocal melodies and especially a dynamic vocal range are an instrumental part to I Remember – when Chris Keating sings “You’re stuck in my mind all the time,” the dreamy, sing-songy way he sings it seems as though there is nothing he’d rather have than this memory. Don’t get me wrong, Yeasayer still write incredibly strange, experimental tracks, especially on the album’s second half. Love Me Girl relies on a stop-start rhythm and heavy sample usage, Rome feels almost like a swing song on acid, and Mondegreen has this weird stomp-clamp beat and big band feel that give it an almost gospel-like feel and make it arguably the most fun song on the album. But the best moments are not the experimental ones of the second half, but the more traditional pop ones on the first half.

There are a few complaints to be had. I wish the album started started with a stronger song than The Children. The Children sounds creepy and disjointed, and sets these feelings very well, but is not representative of the album. Odd Blood is warm, it’s inviting, it’s holistic, it’s everything that The Children is not. Had the album taken a different path, The Children would have fit in very nicely. It maybe could have even fit in with the second half. But as it is, it sticks out as being strikingly discordant with the rest of the album.

Even though I wasn’t impressed with All Hour Cymbals, I was excited for this album to drop. Yeasayer did a good job building up hype for the album – “Tightrope” was the best song off of Dark Was The Night, and “Ambling Alp” was a very strong track, one of the best I’d heard in the closing months of 2009. Odd Blood more than fulfills the promise of these two tracks. It is experimental without being disorienting, beautiful without losing any energy or urgency. The bar for 2010 has been set high.

-Dylan Hill

Last Weekend of Shows this Semester

If you aren’t too busy studying your ass of this weekend, come and check out our shows for the weekend. Tonight at 9:30 we have a reunited Smoking Popes in the Rathskeller. The Smoking Popes were a popular pop-punk band during the mid-90s. They reunited in 2005, and have since released two records, with another scheduled for release next year. Blackwell Beauties opens.

On Saturday we have two shows for your enjoyment. The first, at the Rathskeller at 9:30, is Headlights, with Cavalier Rose opening. From Chicago, Headlights is made up of members of experimental band Maserati and Absinthe Blind. Imagine indie rock with ambient mixed in. Our other show is the Steve Aoki show at the Majestic. One of the premier DJs around, Aoki will give Madison’s best dance party of the year tomorrow. Doors at 9:00, tickets are $14 for students and $17 for the public. Fun Cartel opens.

Smoking Popes:


Steve Aoki:

-Dylan Hill