December 25, 2009

Albums of 2009

One of my favorite parts of the end of the year are all of the year end lists posted by various blogs, magazines, and other websites. I think it's one of the best ways to catch up on notable releases throughout the year and reconsider some music I brushed off after one listen. So here are the ten albums I enjoyed the most in 2009.

01. Grizzly Bear | Veckatimest
It is hard to say that Veckatimest was a refreshing hit when it was released in the spring since two of the singles had already been receiving heavy blog play for almost a year. However this album packed a subtle punch that proved it's strength after repeated listens. Taking the ambient and orchestrated sounds of Yellow House, the four piece expanded their well crafted tunes into perfect pop snippets blended with clever arrangements of striking guitar and topsy-turvey percussion.

02. Animal Collective | Merriweather Post Pavillion
There has been apparent love for this album since it leaked at the end of 2008 and it has all been warranted. Animal Collective have been some of the hardest working musicians of the decade and MPP has been a sort of culmination record most bands dream of making. They take their strong ability to mix together folk/jam/noise efforts into pop appeal for the masses in what is their most accessible album to date.

03. Dirty Projectors | Bitte Orca
No one has timing like this band. Nothing on this album happens in the way that you would expect and that is probably the reason why one can listen to it over and over and never hear the same thing twice. The swaying vocals and off kilter guitar jams are pure art rock and the vocal work is nothing shy of a Mariah Carey R&B hit. The fact that this band can make those two things fit together is pretty impressive.

04. The xx | xx
On paper (or computer screen) nothing about this record sounds exciting. It is hollow, quiet, simple, yet oh so powerful. These London teens recall overcast 80's British post-punk and add in some dub-step for one of the most daringly plain yet understated records of the year. It seems that this record should satisfy after one listen since it is so bleak, yet the ability to draw back repeat listens is nothing short of genius.

05. Phoenix | Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
For almost a decade, Phoenix has written jubilant indie-pop smashes that have always held them just at the cusp of fame. This time around, their savvy synths launched them to stardom. "1901" and "Lisztomania" were two of the biggest pop songs of the year and the best 1-2 punch to kick off an album in recent memory. They have the rock sensibility of the Strokes and a John Hughes synth-pop power that stretches just enough past the indie scale that made these guys the biggest sensation of the year.

06. Fever Ray | Fever Ray
When the Knife released Silent Shout in 2006 the album was sighted as icy, synth driven electronica. Well that album was the avalanche and Fever Ray is the tundra. These slow driven, pulsating sounds are the calm after the storm, but are just as harsh and dense as anything that has come before it.

07. Japandroids | Post-Nothing
This Vancouver duo takes you front and center in the garage and power through eight songs of pure teen angst that combines harsh fuzzed out guitars with simple hooks and melodies. Never have two youngsters given so much grief towards aging past 25 and so much hope to live life to the fullest all at the same time. What could be better than getting to France to french kiss some French girls? Not much, but listen to this album until the flight leaves.

08. Girls | Album
Christopher Owens, the main man behind garage-surf-pop band Girls, is just as unsure about his future as you and me. The only catch, his band is rising to fame for their acclaimed songwriting not only in terms of melody, but lyricism as well. Their tunes breeze by yet their disheveled lives catch-up to them and songs begin to contort into rocking bliss. Is Owens ready to step up as the next promising artist of his generation? Probably not, but he'll take a stab at in anyway.

09. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Take one part Belle and Sebastian, one part The Smiths, and one part My Bloody Valentine and you will have yourself one whole The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. These dream-pop songs have the freshness of 2009 with the nostalgia of 1989. The hooks are monstrous and the jangly shoegaze guitar bleed in with the vocals creating this haze of beautiful pop melody.

10. Lightning Bolt | Earthly Delights
Never have two people ever sounded as loud as Lightning Bolt. The obnoxiously loud bass drones of Brian Gibson are matched by the ballistically brilliant Brian Chippendale in one of the most aggressive attacks on a drum kit (and attacks on music) I have ever heard. This album is certainly not for everyone and might be the hardest to approach on this list, but for those willing to take the journey, Lightning Bolt can certainly take your ears to places they have never been before.

December 9, 2009

Portishead - "Chase the Tear"

Last time it took Portishead almost a decade to release a follow-up to their self-titled sophomore record. Third ended up being my album of the year of 2008 so once can imagine how stoked I am that the band has already released a new single only a year later. "Chase the Tear" is up for download here and is apart of a project for Amnesty International. Enjoy the video below!

December 8, 2009

A Basic Human Right

As the topic of abortion is in the spotlight of the Health Care Bill once again, I thought I would step outside of the musical world and voice my opinion on a topic that will forever have relevance in our society. I will take the opportunity to quote a fellow Marymount Manhattan College student who once said "if it is immoral, according to some, to have an abortion, then it is equally immoral to treat rich and poor differently, and especially immoral to abandon the woman and child when her choice is removed."* If we are going to allow abortions to some of the population we must allow it to all. Discrimination against the poor and uneducated cannot take a backseat to a question of morality.

* Geraldine Ferraro (September 1989)

December 3, 2009

Phoenix play La Blogotheque

Phoenix have been gaining a lot of well deserved attention from their critically acclaimed album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix as of late and they extend this streak onto the streets of Paris in the form of a brilliant take-away show via La Blogotheque. If you read this blog you know my love for Vincent Moon and his creations and if you read almost any other indie music blog you will see that I am not alone. The recent rendition featuring Phoenix in various locations around the famed French city seem to be particularly impressive and the video for hit single "1901" is pretty awesome. The rotating shot of the band starts off as a few intimate shot before revealing a stunning shot of the guys playing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Certainly a recent highlight!

Phoenix - 1901 - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

November 25, 2009

Pixies played Hammerstein Ballroom

At roughly 9:00 Dali's Un Chien Andalou began to play and shortly afterwards the Pixies took the stage to much approval. Kim Deal quickly shouted out b-sides and the band shelled out four songs before getting into the heart of the show. The opening bassline of "Debaser" thumped out and everyone went ecstatic. The band was not very enthusiastic and lacked the high energy that their songs contain, however the evening was still every bit as memorable as I hoped. Songs such as "Debaser" "Mr. Grieves" and "Crackity Jones" got the crowd going and perhaps if it had been a night during the band's initial run int the late 1980s things would have gotten intense. Now it was more about watching these indie giants play their masterpiece. It was all about the craft of the album and hearing it played live from start to finish. The band doesn't pretend to be young and run all over the stage. They stood poised and powered along with the perfection that each one of the songs deserved. Kim Deal gave slight commentary where appropriate such as "end of side one" and "more b-sides" which confirmed the cool aura that band imparted to the audience. After finishing the album and better known b-sides, which included a slowed down version of the always excellent "Wave of Mutilation" the band rocked some other classics from their catolog and polished off the night with their best non-Doolittle songs "Where is My Mind" and "Gigantic" which Kim sang to perfection. Aside from the obviously near perfect setlist, highlights included the video screen behind the band which played excellent accompanying videos to each song. Despite the fact that playing a classic album in its entirety is becoming more and more of a tradition, it was still simply amazing to see one of the best albums from the 1980s, and possibly ever, played all the way through. Many of the songs have not been played in decades or ever at all and did anyone else know that David Lovering does the awesome vocal work on "La La Love You"?

Pixies Hammerstein Ballroom - 11/23/09
"Dancing The Manta Ray"
"Weird At My School"
"Bailey's Walk"
"Manta Ray"
"Wave of Mutilation"
"I Bleed"
"Here Comes Your Man"
"Monkey Gone to Heaven"
"Mr. Grieves"
"Crackity Jones"
"La La Love You"
"No. 13 Baby"
"There Goes My Gun"
"Gouge Away"
"Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)"
"Into the White"
"Isla De Encanta"
some of "Vamos"
"Nimrod's Son"
"Where is My Mind"

November 21, 2009

Andreas Kocks

Andreas Kocks is an artist who was born in Germany and now resides in the United States. Her works include watercolors, sculptures, and what I think are the coolest, paperworks. The above image as well as the one below are some of the paperworks that she has created. She is currently featured at the Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York until the end of November 2009. She also has an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York until April 2010.

(images from the artists website)

November 14, 2009

Solange covers Dirty Projectors

Back in June I raved about the new single from Dirty Projectors and since then it has become one of the most blogged about songs of the year and still remains one of my favorites of the year. Now the love for the song has spread. Recently New York (that's the magazine) called it the best song from Brooklyn and now Solange Knowles, who has that famous sister, has covered the song. From its release, the song has been called an R&B song for the indie kids and Solange handles the R&B with great skill. As a friend recently said "those knowles girls, love 'em." (Image and mp3 via Stereogum.)

November 1, 2009

Lightning Bolt played Above the Auto Parts Store

I am not sure if I could think of a band I would rather see on Devil's Night. Since being introduce to Lightning Bolt back in 2005, their live show has been held to such high regard in my head that I was unsure if I would ever actually be able to witness it. However about fifteen minutes after midnight on what was technically Halloween Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson began their audio assault. The space above the actual auto parts store was jammed with people and the sweat poured out the second you came in contact with anyone. While Lightning Bolt is typically known for playing on the floor of venues this was not the case for the evening, which I will admit was a disappointment for me. However the band still packed a punch with their all out driving and pounding performance. Seconds after the band started I was split up from my friends and enjoyed the rest of the show alone. Although it was difficult to see the band, Chippendale made up for it with his bombastic drumming that was unlike any I have ever heard before, and Gibson played with plenty of distortion and fuzz that it felt like an entire ensemble was blasting music in front of me, not just two men. After everything I had anticipated from these guys, they did not leave anything out. The band was a force with sonic fury that allowed nothing to stand in their way. Chippendale's screams and palpitating drumming are among the best I have ever seen and I can only hope to re-witness something of his caliber again one day.

October 24, 2009

The xx played the Apple Store Soho

CMJ is always a fun week in the city since there are countless shows to attend, however this year seemed to lack a many bands I wanted to see. The UK group The xx has been getting pretty solid reviews of their self-titled debut and while I enjoy the album it also seems to be lacking something. The sound never gets too big, the music is ultra simplistic, but the voices sounds really great. Putting a label on the sound is also rather difficult. They mix 80's post-punk, with R&B, and indie-pop. While the album sounds hollow, I figured I should not pass up a free show. The venue was pretty packed by the time the band took the stage a little after 7:00 and the band began to play pretty much straight through their album adding in a cover of "Teardrops" which is off their bonus disc. While the band did sound much fuller live, then on record, the show still lacked a certain element. The four members stood in a line behind two giant boxes with an "x" and lacked a real presence. The music is very low-key without watching the band, and the live performance did not do much to add to the experience. There were definitely some points where the crowd was feeling the energy and tried to dance and shuffle around and the dueling male/female vocals were still really intriguing and the band was loud. In all it was definitely a step up from a record that I already enjoy. However I think this is a record that will be most enjoyed super late at night. It's an after the party album best played when everyone has gone home and you and your friends are almost about to pass out. Throw on this record, sit back, reflect.

October 20, 2009

Hop Along played an apartment in Brooklyn

On Columbus Day weekend back in 2006 I was given an album entitled Freshman Year by a singer under the name Hop Along Queen Ansleis and it became one of the most sentimental albums of my college years. That was the one of the last weekends I would gather with my best friends from high school and the album was played on repeat. Three years later I was finally able to see Hop Along perform in a small intimate apartment in Bushwick Brooklyn. That album is a collective of background sounds layered under acoutic folkie guitar, however her recent demos have featured a backing band and I was very intrigued to see how this new lineup would relate to her older sounds. After three excellent performances from the other bands on the bill, Hop Along was accompanied by a drummer and bass player and began to perform her new renditions of which I can only seem to compare to Explosions in the Sky meets Band of Horses with female vocals. My friend Franny said it reminded her of Land of Talk. Either way Frances brought a rich lush sound that echoed throughout the small space and unfortunately overpowered her unique vocal styling; something that is always a problem at shows in spaces that size. This was one of the only sets from the night in which I felt the entire audience was engaged and had people singing along with Frances. She only played "Bride and Groom" off of Freshman Year, but it was performed with such perfection that it made the entire night worthwhile. After her brief set she announced she would perform a cover in dedication to the people she had been on the road with and then burst into Bush's "Glycerin" which happens to be a personal favorite of mine. The entire room erupted in a sing-a-long and provided the perfect end to an evening full of excellent truly independent music.

October 15, 2009

The Big Pink - Live on French TV

Along with The xx, The Big Pink have been one of the biggest acts from across the pond this fall. Their hit "Dominoes" has been getting pretty solid reviews as they bring forth an interesting mix of shoegaze/electro-rock on their debut album A Brief History of Love. As a whole the album is pretty heavy with loud distorted guitar sounds, driving bass, and what appears to be a pretty rockin drummer. Video above as well as one for "Too Young to Love" via P4K.

October 12, 2009

The Most Serene Republic played le Poisson Rouge

Ever since I heard the debut album by The Most Serene Republic I had been a quest to see this band live. Their interesting mix of poppy post-rock which I think of as a mix of Death Cab for Cutie and label-mates Broken Social Scene. Their records have all been easily accessible but layered with great sounds as well. All of their work is very intriguing and while they always follow their own sound each album still manages to sound a little unique. After years of trying to see them live, only to have other events get in the way, I was finally able to make it a reality last Thursday. I arrived after the band had already started, but the unusually early start time of 7:30 had granted me a good spot in the small crowd. The band powered through tracks from all of their albums and had great interaction from the audience. At one point the lead singer asked if it was worth it to buy the first Ramones album on vinyl, to which I replied with a thumbs up, and he said well alright I guess I'll go buy it tomorrow. Many reviews of TMSR have said that there is too much going on in their records and the band cannot really focus on a direction, however their live shows prove everything that gets lost in the studio. This is perhaps the most accurate way to describe the show. The triple guitars, bass, keys, drums, and a variety of other instruments all came together so well on stage. The only thing that really plagued this performance was that the band was suddenly switched from headliner to opener which drastically cut down their set time and had them playing for a much too small crowd.

October 6, 2009

Vampire Weekend - "Horchata"

Almost two years ago Vampire Weekend released their self-titled debut LP that either everyone loved or everyone loved to hate. Despite being critically acclaimed there were many who called it overrated bad pop by rich stuck-up white kids in boat shoes. I personally thought it was one of the best pop albums in recent years. Almost two years later they will release their follow up, Contra, and yesterday the band posted the first track on their website. "Horchata" ditches the poppy guitars but still sounds every bit as catchy as any song off of the first album. In a decade where very few bands have been able to repeat the same success as their debut, these kids might stand a chance.

September 29, 2009

Fever Ray played Webster Hall

(photo from Stereogum)

Fever Ray's self titled debut album is the most haunting album of the past year, and perhaps the past decade. The eerie sounds highly resemble that of Karin Andersson's first project, The Knife, and of course her vocals are unlike anything else in music today. The only downside to the record is that it seems to plateau, very highly, with the first track. It never climaxes and leaves you wanting a little something more. The show personified the record to the fullest extent and in places where you are left wanting more, the live performance filled in the blanks. The show was dark. The opening pounding of "If I Had A Heart" was accompanied with smoke and two thin laser beams that eventually opened up when the experience commenced. From that moment the crowd was hypnotized. The live band was dressed in nightmarish costumes and danced in a daze. When Karin appeared she was donned in a headdress that resembles something I wish to see in "Where The Wild Things Are." The entire show was a spectacle that was totally embraced by the music. Everything was back-lit, there was constant smoke, there were lamps that looked like they were straight from grandma's house, and there were green lasers protruding the hall and cutting through the smoke like... well a knife. While there were few glimpses of Karin's actual face, which did have some make-up, the show added to the mystery effect that is Fever Ray. You never really know what is happening. You see the body onstage the band playing live, but there is still that longing to see everything that is making this sonic pleasure. For once, Webster Hall had a great sound show. The prerecorded tracking was killer and the bass was loud. Her vocals were a little weak at times, but overall the sonic aura was amazing. Fever Ray is a mystique. There is mystery shrouded in that dark dissonant ambient texture. It captivates and takes hold of the listener and even more impressively is that it delivers better live then on record. When everyone vanished into the darkness and the lasers disappeared the house lights came on and the trance ended. For an hour it seemed as if we entered a dream and lost sense of what else was happening and then we came down shook our heads and tried to transcribe what had just happened.

Setlist (via The Music Slut)
If I Had A Heart
Triangle Walks
Concrete Walls
I’m Not Done
Now’s The Only Time I Know
Keep The Streets Empty
Dry & Dusty
Stranger Than Kindness
When I Grow Up
Here Before

September 26, 2009

Japandroids Played Mercury Lounge

Thursday had been a long day by the time 11:00 rolled around and I was in need of some energy. I got to the Mercury Lounge just in time to catch the end of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, so I grabbed some beer and waited for the Vancouver duo to take the stage. A little after 11:00 the guys came on stage plugged in and began to power away at their loud fuzzy guitar and palpitating drum sound. It was the night before their friend's wedding so they were in an extra special mood. They turned the shoegaze guitar sounds way up and Brian danced around the stage creating great energy that flowed right into the crowd. From the opening chords of "Heart Sweats" the crowd was swaying and eventually the full on rock was delivered. It has been a while since I've been to a show where not only the crowd was having a good time, but based on the actions of the band I think it is fair to say that these two guys really seem to enjoy what they are doing. They played with such passion and had everyone screaming along to "I don't want to worry about dying/I just want to worry about those sunshine girls" that you would think these guys have been stressed about this problem for twenty years. The club nature of the show was also an intricate part of the performance as it felt like these were two guys who just genuinely enjoy rocking out for their friends.

September 18, 2009

"New" My Bloody Valentine

So I guess at some point over the summer songs surfaced that were recorded by the legendary My Bloody Valentine sometime before their break up in the 90's. Sorry for the late discovery, but I was in China when this all went down and better late then never correct? Anyway there has been no new material since the masterpiece Loveless came out in 1991 and Kevin keeps saying more records are on the way, but there has been no actual evidence of this until now. While they are not up to the caliber of Loveless they are classic My Bloody Valentine sound none the less. No word on whether these are the legit names but they've been circulating the Coachella and My Bloody Valentine message boards under these aliases. Some home made artwork and mp3s below.

September 9, 2009

Revolution 09/09/09

It comes as no surprise that a Beatles review would appear on this blog as well as everywhere else on the internet today. It has been about 40 years since the Beatles split and the world still has yet to get over it. Today the entire catalog is being reissued and The Beatles: Rock Band is also being released. So why exactly is all of this so relevant? Well in a time when people don't buy music any more it is hard to imagine a time when a band changed the world. Yet it is even harder to imagine that nearly four decades after the band's demise the world is still changing. The Beatles are impossible to escape. A day like today may make that more clear then ever when everyone from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, CNN, and Pitchfork are all talking about and reviewing the classic albums, but really it is nothing new. Today just happens to be a day when all the attention is making headlines. When the Beatles Anthologies were released in the 90's the song "Free As a Bird" was released as the first new Beatles song in twenty-five years and it won a grammy. In 2008, Abbey Road was the second best selling vinyl album of the year. 39 years after is was released. The Beatles 1 is the best selling album of the decade. The Mirage hotel in Las Vegas is home the the Cirque Du Soleil show Love which is inspired entirely by the Fab Four. Entertainment Weekly claims "Forty-five years after this single hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, it's still nearly impossible to get any two people to agree on what chord that famous opening clang! actually is." The Paul is dead rumors circulated long before the help of the internet. How many bands inspired a whole generation of hair styles? And correct me if I'm wrong, but can anyone name another band to have all five of the top songs on Billboard at once? Nearly everywhere you look the Beatles literally are here, there, and everywhere. I know everyone regards the band as the most important in the history of music, but it is still impressive that they are still as big as ever. Jesus is getting tired in their shadow. Yet to me the most impressive aspect of the band is not that they are still legends after all these years, but in fact how many years they were actually a band. In less then a decade they produced thirteen full length albums, a feat that is unimaginable for any other band or solo artist. What makes it even more remarkable is that every one of those albums received rave reviews. Even the haters at Pitchfork, who must be pissing themselves at the chance to finally give the albums their beloved 10.0, gave an 8.8 as the lowest review to With the Beatles. In today's world we're lucky if a band releases an album every other year, let alone multiple albums in a single year. However the Beatles were masters in the studio. Sometimes I forget that all of their best work came after they stopped touring and hid away in the studio. The three back to back to back classics of Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper's all came about after they stopped performing and the latter two were released within ten months of each other. In fact the only year in which the band was active that they only released one album was 1968, and that album was the self-titled "White Album" which is arguably the best double album ever recorded. That alone is unthinkable. Also how many bands today wish they were psychedelic enough to record "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Within You Without You" and anything off of Magical Mystery Tour? (Animal Collective please raise your hand here.) Perhaps it was all the time in the studio which ultimately led to the break-up as was hinted in the film version of Let it Be, but it was probably worth it. The Beatles re-invented music forty years ago and are still at it today. How much more can be said that has not been said before? Not much.

So I'll leave you with this, EW just did a list of their top 50 Beatles songs and in return he are some of mine:

25. "Within You, Without You"
24. "Can't Buy Me Love"
23. "Paperback Writer"
22. "Revolution"
21. "I am the Walrus"
20. "Here, There, and Everywhere"
19. "Rain"
18. "Tell Me Why"
17. "Come Together"
16. "Eleanor Rigby"
15. "In My Life"
14. "If I Needed Someone"
13. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"
12. "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
11. "Dear Prudence"
10. "Don't Let Me Down"
09. "Something"
08. "Let It Be"
07. "Strawberry Fields Forever"
06. "I Need You"
05. "A Day in the Life"
04. "Hey Jude"
03. "Across the Universe"
02. "And Your Bird Can Sing"
01. "Tomorrow Never Knows"

Thank you Beatles, for 21 years I've been happy just to dance with you!

September 7, 2009

"Two Weeks" redone by Gabe Askew

Grizzly Bear has been getting lots of love from the rap world as of late. Jay-Z was recently spotted at their show in Williamsburg with Beyonce and then he released this dope statement courtesy of Pitchfork:
"[Grizzly Bear is] an incredible band. The thing I want to say to everyone-- I hope this happens because it will push rap, it will push hip-hop to go even further-- what the indie rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring. It felt like us in the beginning. These concerts, they're not on the radio, no one hears about them, and there's 12,000 people in attendance. And the music that they're making and the connection they're making to people is really inspiring. So I hope that they have a run where they push hip-hop back a little bit, so it will force hip-hop to fight to make better music. Because it can happen. Because that's what rap did to rock.
When rock was the dominant force in music, rap came and said, 'Y'all got to sit down for a second, this is our time.' And we've had a stranglehold on music since then. So I hope indie rock pushes rap back a bit because it will force people to make great music for the sake of making great music."

Now Kanye is showing love for the Brooklyn quartet by posting this video on his blog. The official video for "Two Weeks" already exists, but media artist Gabe Askew went ahead and made his own. It might be even better then the original.

Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.

September 3, 2009

TV on the Radio Take Time Off

Pitchfork has reported that TV on the Radio will be taking a year long break from business as usual. Since the band has put out some of the best reords of the decade this is quite a blow to me knowing that it will be awhile before they blow my mind again. However just because they are not making new material as a band does not mean I need to hold my breath so neither should you! A solo album from Kyp Malone entitled Rain Machine will be released soon and the first two tracks sound promising, not to mention the artwork is great as well. Not to be out shined, fellow TVotR member Tunde Adebimpe is featured on the new Massive Attack EP Splitting the Atom due out in October. The artwork for that is amazing too!

August 28, 2009

Ariel Lask played Kenny's Castaway

When I moved to New York four years ago I thought I would be seeing friends play shows all over the city all the time. However, as time has progressed that has turned out to not be the case. I've seen select shows by people I am friends with, but instead many by signed artists. Last night I joined my roommate in heading downtown to see one of our friends play an intimate gig on Bleeker. Despite the terrible band that went on before, the evening was great. Ariel Lask played her folk-pop tunes to a non-inviting audience, but powered through the show with a smile. The songs about love, living abroad, and discovering yourself were complimented by her low voice that was rather reminiscent of the recent British Pop sensation Adele, but you know... better. While the atmosphere was not up to par with letting Lask shine through, she held her own and joked along the entire set. The simple songs were in stark contrast to the metal act on before her, yet she was able to captivate her audience and capture the mood of a final Thursday evening in New York City.

August 24, 2009

Girl Talk played Williamsburg Waterfront

This has been a strange and long summer filled with travel and life changing experiences. Most of it took place away from the city, hence the lack of posts over the past month. However I am now back in the city for quite some time and ready to get back to the rock. One of the things I always miss about New York in the summer is that I miss all the free shit. Since yesterday was my first Sunday in the city my roommates and I headed to Brooklyn for the free Girl Talk show on the waterfront. Now say what you will about Girl Talk, essentially it is just a guy on a lap top, but the dude knows how to party. The day started off a little slow with a super long line to get in, another long line for beer, and they were out of food before the second act even finished. Even once Girl Talk took the stage things seemed to be a little off. The crowd was not dancing and the hipsters just bobbed along. However once the tunes started bumping it was hard to stand still. Classic pop songs layered over indie guitars and hip-hop made for a perfect summertime jam. He covered everything from Daft Punk to Journey to The Cranberries. Halfway through the show rain began to fall, but that did not stop the people from moving. There were a few times when the show stopped due to Girl Talk's backstage pass hitting his space bar, cords getting unplugged, and then the stage began to brake from all the people dancing. Yet it was nothing the crowd could not handle. When the sample of "Since U Been Gone" began to play everyone went nuts and the finale of Notorious B.I.G. over "Tiny Dancer" was a personal highlight. Not even the heat could keep people from dancing and crowd surfing to the biggest outdoor dance party of the summer.

June 30, 2009

Dinosaur Jr. Played Music Hall of Williamsburg

While many were out mourning the beloved King of Pop, Fareed and I headed to Brooklyn to endure one of the loudest show of our lives. We made excellent time and only missed the beginning of the Screaming Females set. This band has soared to new popularity in the past months as they have grown from a New Jersey basement band to opening shows for the Dead Weather. Fareed was highly anticipating their set and I was unfamiliar with their work, but was hooked by the time they slumped off stage. The thrio brought grunge (Fareed made an imediate Nirvana relation) and alt. rock to modern times and were a great set up for Dinosaur Jr. The lead singer thrashed the guitar and jolted around stage in true rock form. Her skills were fully displayed in a sense that almost equalled Sir J Masics himself. As Dinosaur Jr. took to the stage I was anxious as the epic erray of Marshall stacks loomed over the stage. As soon as they plugged in, the fuzz soared and the guys never looked back. They plowed through their entire catalouge and did so with every sense of ease. This is what they were made to do; come to the stage and bring the rock without any cause for concern what so ever. Just turn the amps up to 11 and never stop. Not even for a request of "Billie Jean."

I Want You to Know
Imagination Blind
Pick Me Up
Out There
Feel the Pain
Over It
Back to Your Heart
Forget the Swan
Freak Scene
Been There All the Time

June 18, 2009

Japandroids - Live on KEXP

Canadian noise-rockers Japandroids stopped by Seattle's KEXP to perform some songs from their kick ass debut album Post-Nothing, one of the year's best new albums. These guys fuse great guitar fuzz and blasting drums that mix pop-punk/hardcore/and once again shoegaze. While I am getting a little sick of this "noise/tropical-punk" phase these guys bring something refreshing to the table. Pitchfork, who also likes the album, posted this video of the guys.

June 13, 2009

Zack Morris Does Jimmy Fallon

I know this is a little late but here's to hoping for a full on "Saved By The Bell" reunion and more performances of "Friends Forever." Also major credit to Mark-Paul Gosselaar for going full out in this interview.

June 4, 2009

Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move"

When I saw Dirty Projectors open for Battles last spring in London I will admit that I was less the amazed. I was unsure of what to think after their set and somewhat disappointed due to their hype. Recently some these guys have been getting some heavy blog press so I gave their album Bitte Orca a listen and have had a complete change of heart. Their sound is so fresh and different from everything happening right now. The first single "Stillness Is The Move" was released in April and has been on heavy rotation for me as of late. The twangy guitar, off kilter drum beats, R&B influence, and killer vocal work all come together so well. This song is just one off many classics on the album. They currently are on tour with fellow Brooklyn band TV on the Radio and will play a free show in July.

mp3: Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move" (Live at SXSW)

May 29, 2009

Grizzly Bear played Town Hall

This band has been dominating my blog and life as of late. Their new album has been one of my most anticipated of the year and when it leaked in March I will admit that it did not live up to my expectation. However when the video for "Two Weeks" came out last week my hopes were once again elevated. On Tuesday I made my way to Other Music and purchased the album on vinyl and downloaded the legitimate version. Since then this album has been on repeat and gotten better with each listen. Everything culminated last night with their first of three New York shows. We arrived just after the opening act had finished and patiently waited for Grizzly Bear to take the stage. When the lights dimmed the four men walked onstage in matching outfits and quietly began to do what they do best. These guys put so much painstaking time into their music and the venue really let them play to perfection. The acoustics were amazing and really let these guys showcase their amazing talent. Quickly they launched into three tracks off Veckatimest and I was already won over. "Cheerleader" has been growing as one of my favorite tracks, but it was "Fine For Now" which really blew me away. In particular the guitar work of Rossen on these two tracks and "I Live With You" were astounding, but it was Chris Bear's flawless percussion that stole the show for me. I cannot think of another drummer that plays to such perfection as this man and I strongly encourage every fan to pay attention to the work this man has been putting on these albums. The only old tune of the night was "Service Bell" which they brilliantly transitioned into "Knife". The lighting of the show was especially aesthetically pleasing and Ed made note to tell us that was specially for New York. Overall these guys fully proved what makes them such a great band in today's modern music world. Their delicate precision and exquisite layering of their songs comes across brilliantly when performed live. In addition to thier own brilliance, they were backed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus which only added an angelic nature to the performance and easily took songs to another level. They played far fewer tracks from Yellow House, but the cover of "He Hit Me" starting off the encore really sealed the deal on the entire evening.

southern point
fine for now
service bell ->
little brother (electric)
two weeks
ready, able
i live with you
while you wait for the others
he hit me
on a neck, on a spit

May 23, 2009

Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"

This song made its debut on Letterman almost a year ago. Since then I have watched that video, listened to the mp3, seen the song live, and then finally listened to the leaked version numerous times. Yet, I have still yet to grow tired of it. This song showcases so many of the bands talents and still has the ability to sound fresh almost a year after I've been listening to it. Next Tuesday the band will finally release Veckatimest, this single is already out, and next Thursday the band begins a three show run here in New York. The first two are at Town Hall followed by a much more intimate gig at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

May 18, 2009

The Libertines Reunite

Apparently during the wee hours of Sunday morning, 3/4 of the Libertines gathered onstage for the first time since their split in 2004. The guys whipped through a brief, but I'm sure amazing, six song set. These guys rose to huge fame in England earlier in the decade with the whole garage rock revival, but for some reason they never seemed to hit it big over here in the states. Here's to hoping these guys have worked out their issues and can plan a full on reunion.

When I saw a show in London last January some Libertines tunes were played before hand and the crowd was stoked. It was nice to finally be around people who had a great appreciation for this band. I can only imagine what it would've been like to be at this.

May 3, 2009

The Get Up Kids played the Gramercy Theater

After the Get Up Kids called it quits in 2005 I was devastated that I would never get to hear "Mass Pike" played live in my home state; I can only imagine what it must have been like when they played it for the last time at the Palladium in Worcester. Well now only part of that is true. When I heard that these guys were reforming and playing some shows I knew I had to attend. Luckily I was able to find a ticket off of craigslist since it sold out so fast. When I arrived at the show I immediately headed downstairs to check out the merch table and as I anticipated there was a show poster, which I instantly purchased. The poster listed the show as the Get Up Kids and a band called Motzahs Ballzes, someone I had never heard. As the lights dimmed and I was hoping this band would play a short set so we could get to the good stuff. Yet as soon as they walked onstage I was beyong shocked to realize that infact this was Brand New, mearly listed under a false name, that was opening the show. After my utter shock rapidly turned into rampant excitement I was treated to a short set y another one of my favorite bands from high school. These guys haven't performed in a while and their sound was a little off, but I was so stoked to see these guys. While the set consisted heavily of material from their third record they threw in so classics from Deja and finally ended with "Seventy Times Seven" which proved to be a crowd pleaser even to people not expecting, or probably wanting, to see this band. After a quick set change it was on to the main event. The Get Up Kids took the stage and began to plow through hit after hit of their classic work. While four years is not a long time to be apart these guys were still as tight and solid as I would have believed them to be in their prime. The crowd was so enthused during the whole show and sang along to every song. That is what I miss the most about these emo/pop-punk shows that shaped my high school life. These are the bands that are just fucking fun to see and everyone gets so excited. There were numerous times when the crowd took over and just sang in place of the band; althought Matt Pryor's voice was still killer and has not aged at all. He still nailed every note and never once seemed to be trying to over do himself. After powering through perfections such as "Holiday" "Red Letter Day" "Campfire Kansas" "Mass Pike" "Action + Action" "Up on the Roof" "I'm A Loner Dottie A Rebel" and ending with the classic "I'll Catch You" the band came back to rock a stunning encore. They statred things off with their excellent cover of the Cure's "Close to Me" off Eudora before launching into "Don't Hate Me" "Ten Minutes" and finally bringing the night to a close with "Walking On a Wire". These guys were the pioneers of the early emo/pop-punk that unfortunately turned into that MySpacey emo garbage. In fact Fall Out Boy has stated that without the Get Up Kids they wouldn't exist. These guys were the realy deal and brought back so much nostalgia. Brand New and the Get Up Kids, doesn't get much better then that.

Brand New Set List:
You Won't Know
Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't
New Song
Jesus Christ
The Quiet Things That Know One Ever Knows
Seventy Times Seven -> Smells Like Teen Spirit Intro

April 28, 2009

Crocodiles - "I Wanna Kill"

Former members of San Diego hardcore act The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower have formed the group Crocodiles. Another addition to the growing scene of noise rock coming out of California. Their track "I Wanna Kill" has been my spring time jam as of late. There are some definite shoegaze/lo-fi/noise pop/rock elements felt on this track; notably for fans of My Bloody Valentine or No Age.

mp3: Crocodiles - "I Wanna Kill"

The group has a few NYC dates lined up:
May 22 - Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 23 - Bowery Ballroom
*both dates are in support of Holy Fuck and A Place To Bury Strangers

April 26, 2009

Good-Bye Metropolitan Social Club

Last night our friends at the Metropolitan Social Club hosted their last ever party. These guys have been offering great opportunities to see live music at a great intimate and friendly space for a while now. The studio/loft was on the outskirts of East Williamsburg and was such a great space for up and coming bands. My previous trip out there was for friends in Bottle Up & Go and the always amazing Buke and Gass. Last night's line-up consisted of the Sarah Lawrence band Big Trees who absolutely blew me away. Their sound was something of Explosions in the Sky / Broken Social Scene / Most Serene Republic. Epic post-rock elements mixed with proper rock and jazz and killer duet singing from excellent female fronted vocalists. They have a west coast summer tour on the horizon and I highly recommend going to see these guys. They really captured the intimacy of the venue and were one of the tightest bands I've seen in a long time. It was great to see that they have already established a great fan base that was present throughout the show. While they were the opening highlight of the evening the band BoomSnake followed and presented a great show as well. This band was much more straight forward rock from San Diego and mixed in a little lo-fi quality, however the vocals were giving them some trouble and it was a little difficult to make out the words. My evening ended with friends in Tall Tales. I've seen this band before and although this was a different incarnation they still killed. They really capture the lo-fi and post-rock elements that made The Microphones so great and are really able to expand and make the sound their own. Definitely looking forward to future shows with these guys!

April 17, 2009

Record Store Day 2009

Today I was reminded, much to my excitement, that tomorrow is international Record Store Day. For those who are unaware, this event was created last year in attempts to re-popularize the dying record store. Tomorrow multiple special edition vinyl and cds will be released exclusively at independent record stores in order to remind people that buying music is not only important but still possible. It is now celebrated on the third Saturday of every April at select independent stores. Visit the website to see what special editions, as well as special live performances, will be available near you!

April 8, 2009

It Was 15 Years Ago Today...

On April 8, 1994 it was discovered that Kurt Cobain, lead singer of grunge icons Nirvana, had committed suicide. 15 years later today is still a sad day in the music world. The impact that this band from Seattle had can still be felt today and Nirvana seems to be just as popular as ever. Kurt is still an icon and his name and face have still not gone away. Nirvana was one of my biggest influences in discovering new music and responsible for so many of the bands I listen to today. I can remember my dad listening to Nevermind and In Utero while I was growing up, and I still have a faint memory of my parents watching the Unplugged episode shortly after it was released. I can't really imagine what else this guy would have come out with if he was still around and how different music would be today. 15 years later and Kurt you are still missed.

In other news, April also marks the 15 year anniversary of the genocide of Rwanda. After the genocides of the Armenians and the Holocaust people still claimed "Never Again" yet here we are in 2009 fully aware of the events of the past and the current events in Sudan and other African nations. What will it take before we finally say enough? There is plenty people can do to become aware and make these actions stop. People in Sudan, Uganda, the Congo, and so many other places need help. Enough of this war on terror. Let's get the fuck out of Afghanistan and Iraq and go where people actually need and want our help.

March 25, 2009

The Return of the Music Video

While I guess music videos never went away, they're not something to which I usually pay particular attention. Until today. While not all of the following are music videos, they are all videos that contain music, so work with me.

First up we have Department of Eagles with their video for "No One Does It Like You." While this album and single were both released last year, the video received it's premiere last night at MoMA where the band also played a short live set.

The next video is also from a song that is not new. In fact, "Take Pills" by Panda Bear was released off of Person Pitch back in 2007. Not too sure why the video is just coming out now, especially since Panda Bear has only been active in Animal Collective recently and doesn't even have a solo show scheduled until September. But hey, I'm not one to complain about anything this guy puts out so if he wants to release videos at random, please be my guess.

Here is where I start to get a little off topic. Last week was SXSW in Austin, Texas and from what I've read one of the best sets of the week came from the guys in Grizzly Bear. Despite the fact that a low quality of their forth coming album has been circulating the web, "Two Weeks" has been a staple in my recent playlist. Even before the leak, the live version of the song was helping the cause that this was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Anyway the guys performed the song last week, however it was the first time the song was played with guest vocalist Victoria Legrand. You may know her as the singer of Beach House.

Finally. This is not really music related, but today the first trailer for Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are" was released today and it is soundtracked by noneother then Arcade Fire. Yes it seems as thought the band has recorded a somewhat acoustic version of their song "Wake Up" for the release of the film. Words cannot really express how excited I am for this film.

March 18, 2009

"This Song is Organic, It Contains No High Fructose Corn Syrup"**

This semester I have been taking a course entitled Edible Ideologies. We have focused largely on the way food is produced and consumed in our culture and both the positive and negative aspects. After viewing the documentary "King Corn" for class I have been greatly concerned with my intake of High Fructose Corn Syrup mainly due to the large health risks that occur with its consumption. I have notorious in my life for my soda intake and other beverages of the like. Among Coca-Cola, Snapple was a big part of my liquid consumption. However this semester I have undergone a huge effort to greatly reduce my HFCS intake as much as possible. This is not as easy as I thought since the stuff is in almost everything. However, while I was out this past weekend I looked at a beverage selection and noticed a new look to the traditional Snapple. While Snapple has always claimed to be all natural, the new label that also advertised the fact that it was made from green and black tea leaves, caught my attention. I looked closer at the bottle and the ingredients, as I have found myself doing more often, and noticed that HFCS had been replaced in fact by actual sugar. Much to my amazement I purchased a bottle and went home to do some research. While the snapple website still lists HFCS as an ingredient, I did stumble upon a New York Times article that highlighted the new direction in which Snapple was heading. Indeed, not only has Snapple revamped their outdated look, but they are now producing drinks made with actual sugar and not this chemical substitue. How refreshing! Snapple can once again be not only the official beverage of New York City, but mine as well.

*photo courtesy of The New York Times
** Conor Oberst at Radio City Music Hall November 19th, 2007

March 15, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Modern Age?

When I had the idea of moving to New York I wanted to do it for the stories. New York was supposed to be such a cool place where anything and everything could happen. In 2001 The Strokes released "Is This It?" and my world changed. I was in eighth grade and knew that New York was where I wanted to go. The classic image of the Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Television, Blondie and the rest of the CBGB's scene was reeling me in faster by the moment. Rock and Roll music was back in a new form and this era was about to be reborn. That was the year of rock. The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Hives, and the Vines were all ushering in the new sound of garage rock and it was going to save music.
Well that was 2001 and a lot has changed. The Vines dissappeared after that first album. The Hives released Tyranosaurus Hives which I still enjoyed, but they lost momentum from there. Despite what anyone says Room on Fire was still a great record, but by the time First Impressions of Earth came around the Strokes and pretty much lost their magic to me. They were badass dudes from Manhattan who wrote great songs and looked ultracool while doing it. Now it has been three years and while they state that a new album is in the works, I fear that it will not bring the same energy as their first two. I am hoping to death this is not true. Finally there is Jack White. Perhaps the decades lone rockstar. The White Stripes, while never reaching the excellence of White Blood Cells and Elephant, have continued to make good music. They bring the rock and do it with style. Jack White has the swagger and style that make a great musician. He produces new material at a rate most just dream about achieveing. In fact the man has so much he needed a sideproject, The Racontuers, to display his talent.
Aside from the lack of rock, New York has spiraled as well. CBGB's closed it's doors and John fucking Varvatos moved in. The Bowery was once a place where the ordinary man would not go after dark. It was a place where you had to watch your back. Now it has designer shopping. New York has lost it's edge. A new decade is almost upon us and we need a revitalization. I agree a safer city is best and New York is still the best place to live, I'm just asking for the spark to make it alive.

March 1, 2009

Tokyo Police Club played Webster Hall

Not too long ago Tokyo Police Club released an EP that gave them some attention in the indie world. They gained some popularity, opened for Bloc Party and even signed to the awesome Saddle Creek. Their release "A Lesson in Crime" had some highlights and poppy riffs but nothing too groundbreaking and their show was just the same. Born Ruffians started the night off with some swift beats that kept the crowd bouncing and their unique voices gave an uplifting start to the evening. When Tokyo Police Club took the stage the crowd seemed to explode with an energy not quite reciprocated by the band or even their tunes. These guys definitely appeared to be real crowd pleasers but nothing quite to my taste. However the highlight of the evening came at the encore. During the second song TPC invited Born Ruffians back to the stage to world premeire a song that they co-wrote severl days earlier. Yet something more exciting came next. To add to the stage prescene, opening act Harlem Shakes came out to help cover the Clash's epic end to their flawless album London Calling. While the whole evening was somewhat lackluster, it is hard to walk away dissappointed when the Clash are given tribute.

*video and more photos at Brooklyn Vegan

February 18, 2009

Buke and Gass played Chelsea Markets

While I definitely see my fair share of live shows around the city, I do not see as many local bands as I could and should see. There are so many bands playing good music in New York every day of the week. Last night Margot, John, and I went to see Buke and Gass play a free show at the Chelsea Markets. This duo does a great bluesy folk rock show that is reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Compared to the last time I saw them at some loft in Brooklyn, this was quite the shift. The last space (a giant loft over some industrial workshop) seemed much more their cup of tea then before the screening of and independant documentary entitled Full Battle Rattle. Their set was short and the audience was clearly there for the free beer and screening (not a bad way to spend President's Day), but these two put on a really good show. Much more of the lo-fi blusey acoustic rock seemed to come out of them from what I remember and I'm glad. Definitely an act to check out in the New York area.

February 9, 2009

Radiohead Kill the Grammys

I didn't even watch the awards this year since I haven't been impressed by them since my early high school days, but I do pay attention to pretty much all things Radiohead. Once again these guys prove why they are one of the best things out there:

Radiohead - 15 Step (feat. USC Marching Band)

And in other news, Stereogum posted this update on the new Grizzly Bear album. This is one of my most anticipated albums of 2009 and can't come out soon enough. So far we have the album title (shout out to MA!) and the (somewhat) tracklist. The new songs they played over the summer are amazing so hopefully the rest of the album will follow suit.

January 13, 2009

Top Ten Shows of 2008

Unlike albums which are consistent listen after listen, live shows are consistently changing and nothing is ever the same twice. These were the best shows I saw all year based on my personal experiences. For some these shows may have been better or worse, but these were the ones that stuck out for me.

1. Radiohead - Night One of All Points West - August - New York City
My best friends and I indulged ourselves as we watched my favorite band with the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline glowing behind us. Less than two hours later I said goodbye to my teenage years.

2. Bon Iver - St. Giles In the Fields Church - June - London
During the last week of my semester in England, in an ancient church, at sunset.

3. My Bloody Valentine - Roseland Ballroom - September - New York City
First non-festival U.S. performance in about 16 years.

4. m83 - Webster Hall - November - New York City
Sonic layers at their best.

5. Grizzly Bear - Night One of All Points West - August - New York City
Perfect blend of old goodies and new ones to come.

6. TV on the Radio - Brooklyn Masonic Temple - October - New York City
Killer horns with electric funk and their last hometown show of the year.

7. Battles - London Astoria - May - London
One of the tightest shows, rhythmically, I have ever seen.

8. Fleet Foxes - Webster Hall - October - New York City
White Winter Hymnal into Ragged Wood with Mykonos snuck in at the end.

9. Broken Social Scene - Siren Festival - July - New York City
Before the show I said if they play "7/4 (Shoreline)" it'll make my day. It did.

10. Vampire Weekend - London Astoria - January - London
Two weeks before their debut LP dropped.

January 7, 2009

Top Ten Albums of 2008

Thins got busy in December including school, work, finals, seeing Neil Young, Wilco, and CSS and then the holidays and of course the start of 2009. So in order to kick this year off I'm listing my top 10 albums of 2008.

1. Portishead | Third
Portishead made one of the most daring moves of the year. They could either: return and reclaim their greatness with just replaying all of their old classics or they could attempt to put out their first album in over a decade and hope it matched the brilliance of their previous records. They took the chance and killed all odds. This album touched upon all the greatness that Portishead had left on over a decade ago and went even further. They touched everything from trip-hop on “The Rip” to industrial on “Machine Gun” and finally folkie on “Deep Water”. They took tremendous risks and never looked back, but then again how could you with a voice like that.

2. Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes
From the opening harmonies it was hard to deny that this was going to be one of my most listened to records of the year. Everything on it just seemed to flow together so well. The voices are pristine, the rhythms are simple, and the lyrics are touching. It’s folk rock with a southern tinge at it’s finest.

3. TV on the Radio | Dear Science
For the follow up to my favorite album of 2006, TV on the Radio left nothing to chance. Dear Science is everything I love about this band. It’s chopping, crunchy, funky, dissonant and smooth all at the same time. It’s all over the place, but in a concentrated way. They challenge you to listen closely at all they do and they pay the closest attention to detail so why doesn’t the listener?

4. No Age | Nouns
5. Deerhunter | Microcastle
6. M83 | Saturdays = Youth
7. Sigur Rós | Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
8. Beach House | Devotion
9. Vampire Weekend | Vampire Weekend
10. Santogold | Santogold