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Pitchfork Music Festival 2015: Sunday in Photos

Join me after the jump for a collection of photos that I took on Day 3 (Sunday) of this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Photos are arranged by set time. They are also available in higher resolution on Facebook. Check out my full recap of the day, as well as all the rest of the coverage, by going here.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015: Sunday Recap

With the rain completely out of the forecast and temperatures dipping back into the 80s, things were certainly looking up for Sunday at Pitchfork. Just about all of the muddy spots in Union Park from Saturday’s storm were now cleverly covered up with some quick dry solution and a whole bunch of carpet square samples. One of the big product placements over the weekend was a company freely handing out recycled carpet squares so people could sit on the ground without getting their pants dirty. I doubt becoming patchwork quilts atop mud pits was their original intention, but at least it was functional and made walking around easier. There was plenty of great music to watch as well, so join me after the jump for a recap of the third and final day at Pitchfork Music Festival.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015: Sunday Preview Guide

If you’re attending all three days of this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and are anything like me, by the time Sunday rolls around you’ll wake up even though your body will definitely not want to. The thought that you’ll have to spend another full day standing around will seem like the worst idea in the world. Take an extra hour to rest if you must, but then you’ve got to push through and get moving, because music waits for no human. Which brings me to a couple of quick tips on surviving your weekend at Pitchfork without winding up in a medical tent or the hospital. Priority one is hydration. It’s going to be hot outside, and you’ll be standing on your feet for extended periods of time, so do yourself a favor and drink plenty of water. Save the majority of your alcohol consumption for the early evening hours when it starts to cool down. The next tip is to sit and find shade whenever possible. Yes, you want to see as many artists as up close and personal as possible, but don’t put your body at risk any more than you feel you have to. You know your limits, so be sure to keep close attention on how you’re feeling and rest when and where you can. You’ll still be able to hear the music while seated under some shady trees, even if it’s across the big field in Union Park. Wear sunscreen and bug spray. You know why, and will pay the price for forgetting. Lastly, be prepared for weather. I’ve already mentioned the heat, but currently the forecast is suggesting scattered storms pretty much the entire weekend. Definitely don’t forget a poncho, and consider an umbrella too even though you’ll likely annoy fellow fest-goers if you leave it up while standing close to a stage. Also, mud. If it rains, Union Park will turn into a large mud pit, so wear appropriate shoes you’re okay with potentially trashing at the end of the weekend. So that pretty much wraps up my Pitchfork tips. Join me after the jump for the Sunday Preview Guide!

If you missed my previous Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 posts, go here to hear/see/download songs from every artist on this year’s lineup. If you’ll be at Union Park on Friday, you may want to look over my preview guide for that day by going here. Last but not least, go here for my preview guide for Saturday.

Listmas 2014: The Top 50 Albums of the Year [#10-1]

This is it! The final post of 2014 also marks the conclusion of Listmas and specifically this Top 50 Albums of 2014 countdown. It’s been a long road with plenty of bumps and delays along the way, but we’ve finally reached the peak of this imaginary mountain. At this point I’d like to give a special thank you to everyone who read something, clicked on something or downloaded something here at Faronheit over 2014. All of the content that’s posted here is for you to discover and enjoy, and I’m grateful for anyone who visits with that intention. It hasn’t been the best year for the site content-wise, but the hope is to generate more and return to form in 2015. Typically I’d tease a bunch of new features and exciting things in development for next year, but honestly most of that stuff either gains no traction or simply falls off never to be heard from again, so let’s just stick to the mantra of more everything and go from there.

So what can I say about these Top 10 Albums of 2014? Well, like the other entries in this list, there’s plenty of variety in terms of genre and style. It goes from weird to fun to noisy to sexy to relaxing to adventurous and back again. If you’ve been following me on Instagram these last few weeks, you’ve been given access to an early preview of the eclectic Top 5, though I can assure you that #6-10 are as equally exciting and wonderful. And hey, while I wasn’t able to write a lot of album and show reviews this year, some of the ones I did write about make an appearance here. Also worth mentioning: a particular pair of artists who are members of my Class of 2014 had an exceptionally great year, helping to continue to support that program. So I’m not going to spend any extra time talking this up. Please join me past the jump for the big reveal of my absolute favorite albums of the year.

Previously: [#50-41] [#40-31] [#30-21] [#20-11]

Listmas 2014: The Top 50 Songs of the Year [#20-11]

Electronica. Indie pop. Synth pop. Experimental pop. Punk rock. Psych rock. Indie rock. R&B. You can find all of these genres and more in this next installment of Faronheit’s Top 50 Songs of 2014! Thus far, we’ve journeyed through three previous sets of 10 songs, and should you have missed them, why all you have to do is click these individual links to be taken there instantly: [#50-41] [#40-31] [#30-21]

Of course if you’d like to see all of the Top 50 Songs posts with a single click, simply choose this link. We’ve got two more rounds left, including this one right here, so follow me even further down the rabbit hole as digging continues toward the Top 10 Songs of the year. For the moment, click past the jump for #20-11!

Snapshot Review: How to Dress Well – Total Loss [Acephale/Weird World]

How to Dress Well, aka Tom Krell, doesn’t make music that’s easy to listen to or enjoy by any stretch of the imagination. That can also be considered part of his charm though, that he doesn’t bow to anyone’s standards. There are influences, that’s to be sure, and you could hear flashes of Bobby Brown or Michael Jackson in some of the tracks on HTDW’s 2010 debut album Love Remains. Those influences were filtered through Krell’s unique lens, and there was such a lo-fi, effect-laden treatment to everything that it often felt like you were listening to an R&B record underwater. Krell’s falsetto vocals also tended to sound like they were recorded from the opposite side of a room, the distance providing a chasm of disconnection against the intimacy of the lyrics. It was a symbolic gesture more than anything else, as we’d later come to find out that his struggles with depression have often kept his family and friends at arm’s length. That more or less informs how the new HTDW record Total Loss functions, although this time the production work has become more polished and easier to listen to. Krell is also much more up-front and personal this time too, and it makes for an open wound of a record that’s an emotional wrecking ball with a heavy dose of beautiful composition. The R&B flavor is still present on this album, but it’s a little more scaled back and minimalist in terms of composition. There are plenty more icy textures that glide and drift past instead of big beats and vocal posturing. If you’re expecting a bunch of “Ready for the World” clones to create clear highlights across this album, you will probably end up sorely disappointed. There are tracks like “Cold Nites” and “& It Was You” that are some of the most fascinating and complex pieces Krell has ever put together, and while their melodies affixed with accoutrements like finger snaps and intense vocal harmonies may have a lighthearted air to them, the lyrics are anything but. Where this record truly excels though are in the moments when atmosphere truly takes over and beauty shines through. There are post rock symphonic bits like “World I Need You, Won’t Be Without You (Proem)” and “Talking to You” that cut so deeply while saying so little that you halfway expect Krell to turn into Sigur Ros at times. That’s a very good thing, and it shows plenty of promise for his future records. Then again, those same sorts of elements were all over last year’s Just Once EP, and they’re only minimally represented on Total Loss. In a sense, the mixture of different styles on this record can make it seem less than cohesive at times, and the lack of important benchmarks across the whole thing can leave it feeling a little front-loaded. This isn’t a perfect album, nor does it quite accomplish the great things Love Remains was able to do. What truly holds this record together in spite of everything are the lyrics, which tend to devastate at every turn. But while this record weaves its way through darkness, the end starts to shine some light through in a powerful and meaningful way. “Set It Right,” in which Krell names the many friends and family members both living and dead that he’s loved and cared for in spite of everything, is probably the most important track on the entire record. “As far as love goes, it’s one step at a time,” he sings like somebody hoping to rebuild a long dead or dormant connection. With any luck, this album marks yet another step in the right direction for How to Dress Well.

How to Dress Well – Ocean Floor for Everything
How to Dress Well – Cold Nites (Pete Swanson Remix)

How to Dress Well – & It Was U

Buy Total Loss from Amazon

Album Review: How to Dress Well – Love Remains [Lefse]

Bedroom recordings have taken huge strides in the past few years. With the advent of better technology and the ability to purchase sampling and mixing programs for cheaper than ever before, more and more people are making music their own way on their own dime. If it’s good enough and the person or band does the right sort of promotion, the music will be heard and popularity will move up or down accordingly. One of the bigger indie successes in recent memory has to me that of tUnE-YarDs, the one woman project of Merrill Garbus. She recorded her entire debut album “Bird-Brains” only using the microphone built into her laptop, and it pretty much sounds like it. Still, poor audio quality or not, plenty of people fell in love with the songs on that album and she’s also managed to establish a bigger fan base thanks to what many call a jaw-droppingly great live show. So if the DIY star of 2009 was Garbus, there’s little doubt the 2010 one is Tom Krell, a philosophy student that records under the moniker How to Dress Well. Last fall, How to Dress Well surfaced via a blog where Krell began posting a series of EPs for free download. Thanks to that easy availability, a number of keen ears caught wind of HTDW and the press cycle began. Now a year later, How to Dress Well has only picked up more steam as his debut album “Love Remains” has finally arrived in stores thanks to Lefse Records.

For those that caught onto How to Dress Well back in the “early” days of 2009, a number of songs on “Love Remains” should be immediately familiar to you. Much of the debut album is composed of tracks that appeared on the several EPs released months back. Many of the versions that are on this record have been touched up, but never to the point where they sound in any way professional. The new songs also carry that same aesthetic, and in some of the louder moments you get the fuzz that comes with taking your recording “into the red” aka beyond the capabilities of a microphone not connected to a carefully calibrated soundboard. So what makes up the core sound of How to Dress Well? When reading most anything about the man, you’ll catch references to “strong R&B influences”. If you have listened to a lot of R&B, most specifically from the 90s, you can definitely hear pieces of it on “Love Remains”. Where How to Dress Well differs is primarily in the use of general electronic textures and overdubs to create music that’s less rhythmically inclined and more adrift in the ether. Songs flow in an almost organic way, and when it comes to beats, the unconfirmed mixture of computers and handclaps stays static no matter how fast or slow everything else might be going. It creates a few moments of what feels like imbalance, but the reality is actually a bit brilliant, throwing you just off the mark enough to take notice but never enough to ruin what’s already going. The vocals are another highly fascinating aspect of How to Dress Well. Either due to the poor recording quality or through pure manipulation, you’ll barely be able to make out a word of what’s being said at any given point in the record. Without a doubt the words are there, but they’re sung like a person who recognizes a melody from a long time ago but can’t seem to remember exactly how the lyrics go. Suddenly the spotlight and a microphone is in front of you and the crowd wants to hear you belt it out…but you can’t, so you do the next best thing which is mumble to the point where it SOUNDS like the words are right but nobody can make them out clearly. Yeah, the muffled lyrics don’t help should you want to sing along, but if you’re so inclined, feel free to hum along to the melody of a track like “Ready for the World”.

While R&B may be a standard frame of reference for How to Dress Well, should you not normally listen to or enjoy that sort of music, no worries. In indie terms, think of “Love Remains” like a less percussive, early stage Animal Collective record with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on lead vocals. Krell does sound an awful lot like Vernon, and the overdubbed and often harmonized backing vocals only add further creedence to that. Actually a great model on the whole for HTDW would be the group Gayngs, of which Vernon is a member. They’ve got a slow, soft rock sort of vibe with a hint of that same R&B flavor – the difference in the end being the high level of production and wide variety of instruments used. For a home-recorded, very limited range record, “Love Remains” does an incredible amount of things with an incredibly small number of tools. Krell’s ability to manipulate just a couple of sparse sounds on a song like “Endless Rain” into something that feels fully formed is fascinating to hear and really establishes him as a talent. That he can also pull off such a serene mess of a masterpiece without using much in the way of lyrics is even more impressive. At any moment it feels like the songs could just dissolve into nothingness or simply ambient noise, but none ever do and that’s a big part of what makes “Love Remains” such a gripping listen. It goes without saying that you should pick up a copy of this record. It’s one of the year’s finest, and might just inspire a whole new collection of musicians crafting smart music using just a handful of instruments in their bedrooms. Chances are very few will find the sort of success that How to Dress Well has, but if the next Tom Krell is out there somewhere tinkering around, we’d all be idiots to not give him or her some positive attention.

How to Dress Well – You Won’t Need Me Where I’m Goin’
How to Dress Well – Ready for the World

How to Dress Well – Ready for the World (Twin Sister Remix)

Buy “Love Remains” on CD/LP from Lefse Records
Buy it from iTunes

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