Tag Archives: Deerhoof

Big Ups: Deerhoof’s Favorite Bands on Bandcamp


Photo by Asha Shechter

Greg Saunier admits he’s a funny choice for an interview about music. For the record, the Deerhoof drummer loves the stuff—you don’t have to dig too far into his band’s nine-album deep catalog to discover his passion for producing, writing, performing, and experimenting with music. But sometimes, it can be a bit too much.

“It’s like the busman’s holiday,” Saunier explains from his home in New York. “The last thing the bus driver wants to do when he gets a break is go on a trip. Because I’m working on music so much, I like to regenerate with silence. I almost never listen to any background music. But once in awhile, if I feel like I need a crutch, if I need some help, or if I need to be in mood X but I’m in mood Y, I’ll put on a record.”

Sure he may not be blanketing his days with sound, but perhaps predictably, Saunier enjoys records where—much like his own output—musicians take risks. Genre purists need not apply. Noise rock rebels and classical heroes alike, here are five of Deerhoof’s favorite Bandcamp finds.

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Xiu Xiu Inverts the Pop Machine on “Forget”

Xiu Xiu. Photo by by Alex Brown.

Xiu Xiu. Photo by by Alex Brown.

When experimental rock band Xiu Xiu released Angel Guts Red Classroom in 2014, Tiny Mix Tapes called it “the most Xiu Xiu idea of all time and, logically, that makes it the most Xiu Xiu album ever released.” Presumably, this means that the album was somehow darker and more twisted than the band’s previous work, which includes songs with titles like “Guantanamo Canto” and “I Luv Abortion.” The sonic palette on Angel Guts Red Classroom was stripped down, throwing Xiu Xiu’s provocative melodrama into extreme relief: analog synth, drum machines, and a real live drum kit only. Frontman Jamie Stewart found it liberating to work under these constraints, and he wanted to carry that through to the album’s successor.

But when it came time to write said follow-up album, things got tricky. After recording around 30 songs that Stewart dismisses as “dumb,” he took a lengthy break from writing.  He examined the structures of pop songs from a wide range of artists, and that research informed the songs that made it that made it to the group’s latest, Forget. Stewart worked closely with longtime collaborator Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) to shape the instrumentation and production on Forget,  also bringing in two of his personal icons whom he’s newer to working with, performance artist Vaginal Davis and minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine. The results: an inverted album of sticky pop confections with Xiu Xiu’s characteristic subversive core. We spoke with Stewart about pop machine inspiration, his collaborators, and how he feels when people leave their shows partway through.

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Listen to the Death by Audio Live Compilation in Full

Ty Segall. Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Independent show spaces open and close across the country almost every month, but the shuttering of the Brooklyn venue Death by Audio in 2014 was a particularly painful sting. This is largely because the venue didn’t lose its lease to luxury condos or corporate chain stores, but to VICE, a publication that had, on its surface, long attempted to align itself with counterculture and the underground. A film about the venue’s final days, Goodnight Brooklyn, depicts VICE as tyrants and mercenaries, consistently making the venue uninhabitable in order to drive the founders out before the agreed-upon end date. The whole situation felt bitterly ironic: a large corporation that prided itself on a sense of cool actively working to unseat a venue that was, to many, the epitome of punk counterculture.

Two years later, the venue’s legacy still looms large. The triple-LP compilation Start Your Own Fucking Show Space, which we’re premiering today in full, collects notable performances from the venue’s final days, and comes packaged in a gatefold sleeve that unfolds to replicate Death by Audio’s interior, right down to the custom murals by local artists on the stage and walls. (The center panel is a picture of the stage, the left panel is the left wall, and the right panel is the right wall; if you raise the sleeve to your head, it feels like you’re standing in the space.)

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Album of the Day: Deerhoof, “The Magic”

Over the course of more than two decades, Deerhoof have found novel and gleeful ways to combine blasts of cacophonous noise, Greg Saunier’s unhinged drumming, razor-sharp guitar riffs and Satomi Matsuzaki’s obtuse sing-song into each firecracker of an album. Gradually, however, they’ve moved towards a more pop-oriented sound, and The Magic, their 13th studio LP, is their most accessible and fully-realized yet. Maintaining their knack for surprise, The Magic explores how a band that has seemingly tried everything keeps themselves excited by playing what, at first glance, seems like unabashed, surprisingly straightforward rock n’ roll.

The most captivating moments on The Magic are often the subtlest. On “Criminals of the Dream,” a gorgeous synthesizer bubbles up momentarily out of the sludge, and lead single “Plastic Thrills” packs the wallop of a Zeppelin rocker, but culminates in a hilariously languid guitar solo. The Magic swings back and forth through a hodge-podge of styles; snot-nosed punk rubs shoulders with sweet synth pop, while a bright-eyed take on glam-rock leads straight into a murky and inventive cover of the Ink Spots’ 1941 hit “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.”

On The Magic, Deerhoof show off both their practiced chemistry and the wide variety that exists within their sound while channeling the eagerness and curiosity of kids recording their first demos in the depths of a Mountain Dew binge. They make it seem effortless, however — and that’s where the magic comes in.  

Max Savage Levenson