To finish up my end of the year lists, I've asked some friends for their highlights of the year as well. After all, music is best when enjoyed with friends and these are the people I go to for recommendations or who I try to convince to go and see Lightning Bolt with me at 1:00 AM on a Thursday. Thanks so much for participating and thanks to everyone who read omg-nyc this year. See you in 2013.
Hoax | 3rd EP
Merchandise | Children of Desire
Hammock | Departure Songs
Savages | Husbands
METZ | METZ
Andy Stott | Luxury Problems
Give | Voodoo Leather
Kendrick Lamar | good kid, m.A.A.d city
The Men | Open Your Heart
Beach House | Bloom
01 Frank Ocean | "Pyramids"
02 Tame Impala | "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
03 Craig Finn | "Terrified Eyes"
04 King Tuff | "Anthem"
05 A$AP Rocky | "Goldie"
06 Andy Stott | "Hatch the Plan"
07 Kindness | "House"
08 Goldroom | "Fifteen"
09 Charli XCX | "Valentine"
10 The Men | "Turn It Around"
01 Frank Ocean | channel ORANGE
02 Tame Impala | Lonerism
03 King Tuff | King Tuff
04 Craig Finn | Clear Heart Full Eyes
05 Kendrick Lamar | good kid, m.A.A.d city
06 Beach House | Bloom
07 The Men | Open Your Heart
08 The xx | Coexist
09 Miguel | Kaleidoscope Dreams
10 Chromatics | Kill For Love // The Walkmen | Heaven
01 Kendrick Lamar | good kid, m.A.A.d city
02 David Brubeck passes away
03 Against Me! singer plays first show as Laura Jane Grace
04 Godspeed You! Black Emperor | 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
05 Ravi Shankar passes away
06 Wild Nothing | Nocturne
07 Crystal Castles | III
08 The Weeknd getting called out on the internet for a shaky ACL Nights performance and subsequently cancelling his ACL appearance due to a doctor's note
09 RAQ Remixes (all of 2012)
10 Fiona Apple getting busted for a serious amount of Hash in Texas
01 Trust | trst
02 Fiona Apple | The Idler Wheel...
03 Azaelia Banks | 1991 EP + Fantasea Mixtape
04 Jessie Ware | Devotion
05 Matthew Dear | Beams
06 Vanbot | Vanbot
07 Sam Sparro | Return to Paradise
08 Carly Rae Jepsen | This Kiss
09 Zowie | Love Demolition
10 Chairlift | Something
01 Usher | "Climax"
02 Loreen | "Euphoria"
03 Flight Facilities (ft. Giselle) | "Crave You"
04 Zebra Katz (ft. Njenna Redd Foxx) | "Ima Read"
05 Mykki Blanco | "Wavvy"
06 Le1f | "Wat"
07 Little Boots | "Shake"
08 Alunageorge | "You Know You Like It"
09 A*M*E | "Play the Game Boy"
10 Cassie | "King of Hearts"
01 Julia Holter | Ekstasis
02 Grimes | Visions
03 Blouse | Blouse
04 Trust | TRST
05 ScHoolBoy Q | Habits & Contradictions
06 Frankie Rose | Interstellar
07 Burial | Kindred EP
08 Lower Dens | Nootropics
09 Crystal Castles | III
10 Gary War | Jared's Lot
01 Danny Brown | "Grown Up"
02 ScHoolBoy Q (ft A$AP Rocky) | "Hands on the Wheel"
03 Grimes | "Oblivion"
04 Frank Ocean | "Pyramids"
05 Kendrick Lamar (ft Dr. Dre) | "The Recipe"
06 ScHoolBoy Q | "There He Go"
07 Todd Terje | "Inspector Norse"
08 Azaelia Banks | "212"
09 Cassie | "King of Hearts"
10 Jessie Ware | "Wildest Moments"
December 21, 2012
Following my favorite songs of the year, here are my favorite records of 2012. Thank you so much for reading all year. I'll finish up the year end posts with my guest lists next week.
December 20, 2012
December 12, 2012
"The great thing about New York is that people always seem to be on your side" stated James Blake shortly after easing his way into a spectacular show in Brooklyn and that statement never seemed so true. With the crowd hanging on every word, it seemed as if there was a cheer after every line he uttered kicking off with the opening lyrics"My brother and my sister" from "I Never Learnt to Share". Playing a heavy dose of material from his incredible debut and other EPs, Blake took a moment during some brief technical difficulty to let us know "the new record is almost finished" and some of the tracks from the forthcoming album even made their U.S. debuts. Carefully blending pristine vocals with tight beats that burst at the seams, Blake, with the support of two fantastic backing musicians playing live guitar and drums, unleashed a gorgeous display of crooning soulful vocals and concentrated dub blasts that hit you directly in your core. The dizzying early classic "CMYK" sounded as fresh and relentless as ever and his cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love" brought the show to another level. He really seems to have made that song his own. For someone who has had a relatively quiet year, it was sensational to see people so mesmerized by a performance. His vocals can easily be compared to those of Thom Yorke or one-time collaborator Justin Vernon, but his ability to bend and manipulate them to fit snuggly within his deep hypnotic rhythms, displays a genius level of songwriting skills. Adding layers of warbled samples and rich textures only add to his craftsmanship When he announced the final song of the evening, an astounding version of "Wilhelm Scream", the crowd responded with a heartfelt sigh to which Blake simply said, "I was hoping you'd do that". After a brief tease, he was back for more swirling textures that immediately transfixed the entire room. Yet with momentum building, the night came to a close with a delicate and much requested "A Case of You" which absolutely melted the crowd and ended an enchanting performance.
December 6, 2012
There was a lot riding on Animal Collective's make-up gig for their cancelled appearance at the Williamsburg Waterfront. My last encounter with the band was during their 2007 tour in support of the awesome Strawberry Jam. It was probably the most disappointing show I've seen in the past five years.
Playing a set of material mostly from the good (but not great) Centipede Hz, the group was surrounded by psychedelic claws and rainbow saturated teeth that hosted an outburst of warped images and television static. Exploding to life during new tunes "Applesauce" "Wide Eyed" and "Moonjock" the group was firing on all cylinders and seamlessly transitioned between each track. The slow burning "Crimson" got the night off to a slow start and lead single "Today's Supernatural" fell flat along with "Mercury Man" as Avey Tare donned his best Pat Smear hair style and sat cornered away while Deakin and Geologist kept the momentum at a high. Schizoid blasts of electric pulses were non-stop and throbbing bass lines echoed the cavernous hall; the band has never seemed so distant from their Sung Tong days. Panda Bear's booming "New Town Burnout" sounded as epic as ever and it was such a pleasure to see him behind a drum kit. As Merriweather closer "Brother Sport" began to take shape towards the end of the main set, the crowd reached a new level of excitement that had laid dormant for most of the new material. An epic sing-a-long from the crowd ensued during the monstrous hit as a wave of bliss overcame the audience. After what seemed like the culmination of sonic ecstasy for the evening, the song bled into "Peacebone" and Avey ditch his postion behind synths and boards for his traditional place in the front. His screams soared and his body lurched during each wail bringing the primitive nature of the band back into the mix. The encore kicked off with the under appreciated "Also Frightened" before the mega-sensation "My Girls" brought the crowd to a near frenzy. Things winded down with "Amanita", the closer from their latest release and probably the weakest track on the album. It was an unfortunate low to an evening of tremendous promise for a band not known to be crowd pleasers. Going into an Animal Collective show with any kind of expectation is a mistake and when you allow the band to take you on their magical journey with an open mind, you are far better off than hoping for them to play some sort of greatest hits set.
02 Today's Supernatural
03 Wide Eyed
05 Mercury Man
06 Lion in a Coma
08 Father Time
09 New Town Burnout
10 Monkey Riches
11 Brother Sport
13 Also Frightened
14 My Girls
December 2, 2012
Dinosaur Jr. playing their toxic fueled masterpiece You're Living All Over Me in its entirety is enough of a selling point on a show by itself, however add on a dream list of special guests, and it instantly becomes legendary. As the band catapulted into "Little Fury Things" they were joined by Lee Ranaldo who helped deliver extra backing vocals as the band celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of their immortal sophomore record. Played in near perfection, the trio ripped through the entire album busting out prime, oozed-out, renditions of "Sludgefeast", "In a Jar", "The Lung", "Tarpit" and culminating with Lou's lo-fi precursor "Poledo". And that was only the beginning. In the weeks leading up to the celebration, special guests were said to be joining the band onstage, but the onslaught of stars was nothing short of spectacular. Pixies leader Frank Black joined in on a new tune before sticking around for Doolittle classic "Tame" and that was only the beginning. Johnny Marr found his way to the stage along with Kevin Drew for perhaps the most epic version of the already killer "The Wagon" before leading the grunge pioneers into the Smiths classic "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side". And the hits just kept on coming. Kim Gordon pulverized "Don't" off Bug in what was one of the most thrilling and raw performances of the night. Seeing the queen of fuzzed out rock alongside the titans of Dinosaur is not something soon to be forgotten. Hell, they even through in a Deep Wound track. In someways it seemed like a fantasy. Dinosaur Jr. covering the Pixies with Frank Black and the Smiths with Johnny Marr is something straight out of a dream and being there to witness it in person will unquestionably be remembered for years to come. The encore kicked off with Fred Armisen taking on drumming duties and Tommy Stinson picking up the bass to cover the Stooges' "TV Eye" before bringing Kevin Drew back for "Start Choppin". Fittingly, the night ended with the forever fantastic "Freakscene", but not before the absolute annihilation of the audience. Sure there were some jams that lasted too long and some of J's solos were long winded, but that only made the classics shine through in an even greater light and in some moments be down right captivating. It seems strange to be gawking at a Dinosaur Jr. show in 2012, but tonight saw the band in rare form as they were joined by other visionaries that without a doubt influenced almost all in attendance. There are sometimes when Dinosaur Jr. can seem on par with your friend's garage band that you've seen a million times throughout the years, and then there are moments when everything clicks and you are witnessing three men unleashing some sort of magical power. The explosive guitar wails of J Masics and the locked in tight rhythms from Lou and Murph are certainly forces to be reckoned with and twenty-five years after the release of their magnum opus, it is clear that many other bands still have a lot of catching up to do.
02 "Little Fury Things" (w/ Lee Ranaldo)
05 "The Lung"
08 "In a Jar"
11 "Almost Fare" (w/ Frank Black)
12 "Tame" (w/ Frank Black) [Pixies cover]
13 "Alone" (w/ Al Cisneros & Kurt Vile)
14 "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know"
15 "Watch the Corners"
16 "The Wagon" (w/ Johnny Marr & Kevin Drew)
17 "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" (w/ Johnny Marr) [Smiths cover]
18 "Training Ground" (w/ Dale Crover) [Deep Wound] cover
20 "Crucified" [Iron Cross]
21 "Don't" (w/ Kim Gordon)
22 "TV Eye" (w/ Fred Armisen & Tommy Stinson)
23 "Start Choppin"
November 28, 2012
My only prior experience seeing Neil Young, was in 2008 when he was doing a combination of his greatest hits and new pleasures. This was not that same show. This time around, Neil has taken Crazy Horse out for another wild ride and watching these guys jam for over two hours was surely a sight to be seen. It has been called the "Crazy Horse Huddle", where Neil, Billy Talbot, and Frank "Poncho" Sampedro stand in a close-knit circle and repeatedly blast each other with monstrous guitar solos so larger than life, it's a wonder any of them can still hear and that their guitar necks don't break on a nightly basis. Entering to the Beatles' "A Day in the Life", stage hands dressed as crazed scientists assembled ten foot tall amps reminiscent from the Rust Never Sleeps era and the legends launched into "Love and Only Love" before the classic "Powderfinger". Gargantuan licks erupted from the band and Neil's signature thundering guitar seemed to be just as powerful as ever. From here on out, the band alternated between some classics and new tunes from the recent Psychedelic Pill. "Walk Like a Giant" can easily be seen as the junior to Neil's classic "Like a Hurricane" and it definitely has an ego complex. Stretched out to an epic 16+ minute long jam, junior might not be appropriate, however the homage to its older counterpart is crystal clear. The juggernaut of a tune culminated with a five minute long noise jam that you would expect from Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr, but clearly the Godfather of Grunge is not ready to hand over his title any time soon. At this point in his career, Neil is privileged enough to do what he wants, such as recycle riffs that worked for him decades prior and in a sense, reinvent his own wheel. Midway through his two hour performance, the acoustic portion of the set kicked off with the onstage banter from Live Rust and fake rain poured down on the stage as Neil delighted the crowd with "The Needle and the Damage Done". After the brief acoustic stint, it was back to the rocking classics. Another new jam, "Ramada Inn" was followed by an enthusiastic "Cinnamon Girl" from the Crazy Horse time machine and really saw people rise to their feet. The night concluded with "Mr. Soul" from Neil's days with Buffalo Springfield before the droning closer "Hey Hey, My My". For many in attendance, the show did not feature enough of the classis, which Mr Young certainly has enough of to make up an entire setlist, however watching these four men jam out with brilliant guitar playing was definitely a treat. For almost half a century, Neil Young has been a pioneer in both his song-writing and colossal sounding guitar and his performance at Madison Square Garden certainly aided to the idea that this living legend has inspired countless acts over the years even well into his tenure, Neil can outplay many that linger in his shadow.
01 "Love and Only Love"
03 "Born in Ontario"
04 "Walk Like a Giant"
05 "The Needle and the Damage Done"
06 "Twisted Road"
07 "Singer without a Song"
08 "Ramada Inn"
09 "Cinnamon Girl"
10 "Fuckin Up"
11 "Mr. Soul" (Buffalo Springfield song)
12 "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"
13 "Roll Another Number for the Road"
November 20, 2012
After obliterating the Knitting Factory during Sub Pop's CMJ Showcase, it was made clear that Metz was an act never to miss. As Mercury Lounge fell into darkness, the Toronto thrashers erupted in sonic furry that bubbled up into oblivion before collapsing into an absolute audio assault. In a year when punk has been resurrected to the indie circuit with bands like the Men channeling their inner Dinosaur Jr and Hüsker Dü and Titus Andronicus echoing the Replacements, Metz have angled their sound towards the more agressive and noise ridden tendencies of the Jesus Lizard and Big Black. Their striking and violent guitar is brought forth with sinister melodies and blood-curdling screams that are enough to give anyone an instant asthma attack, yet these guys still found time to joke aboot being from Canada. Jagged guitars rip at the pulsating bass lines and cymbals crash down like thunder; there was no stopping these three. They wrenched their guitar necks with such vigor and in such syncopation; their rhythms completely locked into a solid groove. "Get Off" and "The Mule" had some particular angst, but really there was never a dull moment. From the jolting opening until the ear bleeding finish, Metz were razor sharp delivering blow after blow to a masochistic crowd and a hyper-extended "Wet Blanket" delivered the knockout punch to end the trio's lightening set.
November 13, 2012
Widowspeak (my favorite Brooklyn band at the moment) has announced that they will release Almanac, the follow-up to their brilliant self-titled debut album, on January 22 via Captured Tracks. The album was produced by Kevin McMahon who also worked on Real Estate's Days and Titus Andonicus' The Monitor. You can check out the album art above and download the first single "Ballad of the Golden Hour" below as well as the full tracklist.
Widowspeak - "Ballad of the Golden Hour"
02 "Dyed in the Wool"
03 "The Dark Age"
04 "Thick as Thieves"
06 "Ballad of the Golden Hour"
07 "Devil Knows"
08 "Sore Eyes"
11 "Spirit is Willing"
12 "Storm King"
November 5, 2012
Brooklyn lo-fi folk punks Buke and Gase have released a cover of New Order's epic "Blue Monday" to benefit relief efforts in Red Hook, Brooklyn from Hurricane Sandy. Living in New York City for almost seven years now, I cannot begin to describe the events of the past week. It was unlike anything I've been through as a New Yorker and hopefully something that no one will have to live through again. Stay safe everyone!
November 1, 2012
Here's a new one from Thom Yorke and Co. (now known as Atoms for Peace) called "What the Eyeballs Did". It's the b-side to "Default" which they debuted a few months back and was premiered yesterday by Mary Anne Hobbs (you can here her talking at the end). As you would expect, Flea lays down a killer bass line.
Their new album is expected in early 2012.
October 28, 2012
October 23, 2012
"We put together the longest setlist of the band's career, so everyone get comfortable. We have about twelve more songs to go." That's not something a band typically announces shortly into their set. For the release of their third record, Local Business, New Jersey punks Titus Andronicus annihilated Shea Stadium with an almost two hour long set comprised of material from all three of their excellent records. Before heading out in support of the new album, the band played a final local sendoff to many friends and family in the intimate loft space and ripped through a stunning display of power-pop riffs, swelling choruses, and Replacement style break downs. Phenomenal transitions between songs are part of what makes Titus' albums so great and the live renditions only amplify the band's talent. "Ecce Homo" into "Still Life with Hot Deuce On Silver Platter" kicked off the evening and "Food Fight" into "My Eating Disorder" really riled things up. Patrick announced at one point that the band had to relearn a bunch of their older songs and they even debuted a brand new song that doesn't appear on their new album. "I Gotta Date Tonight" blended into "In A Big City" which was probably the best received new track and "(I am The) Electric Man" transitioned into a stomping cover of "Do You Love Me?". The expanded line-up allows for a triple guitar attack and gives their new material a richer sound and heightens any of their previous material. Naming their record Local Business exemplifies the communal nature of the band which is a vital aspect of how they operate. The band brought out drummer Eric Harm's father Steven to join in on harmonica for "Tried to Quit Smoking" as he does on the record and former guitarist Amy Klein got down in the pit. While the new tracks sounded great, part of what makes their live show so special is the involvement from the crowd so it might take some time for these songs to see their full potential. The chanting of the lyrics back to the men onstage instills a connection rarely seen by bands and their crowd. Titus Andronicus is band by the people for the people. Their charged anthems are composed of definite political context beyond the Civil War analogies of The Monitor and perhaps the best part of Local Business is the directness of the lyrics. The grandiose song writing doesn't seem as abstract as it has in the past (Patrick Stickles actually has an eating disorder and wrote "(I Am The) Electric Man" after being jolted during band practice) and this could be some of their most accessible material to date. Since the beginning of their career, there have been countless claims that they've been inspired by Springsteen (a plague to anyone from the Garden State), however on this record it seems truer than ever. They are working class men from the other side of the river. Their themes are embedded in blue collar hometown roots. They themselves are their own Local Business.
October 19, 2012
Hot off the release of their self-titled debut album, Toronto noise punks Metz are in the midst of a busy CMJ week here in New York and took part in Sub Pop's showcase at Knitting Factory. The trio wasted no time as they began their shrieking attack before the house music even faded away. Their blitz style of a performance featured high swinging guitars and blistering energy powered by slashing riffs and heavy drones of fuzzed out bass. With their record clocking in just shy of thirty minutes, there wasn't any longevity to be expected from their show, but it certainly packed a punch as raucous shouts joined post-punk brood. "Wet Blanket" (a personal highlight from their album) brought their set to an end after a battering jam threw out one final punch.
After Metz's punishing attack King Tuff brought the vibes to a much more mellow setting as his party induced jams flooded the room. His recent release fell slightly under the radar, but there is no doubt his sing-a-long style is sure to be met with smiles. Following such a charged set, his tunes certainly felt more relaxed, but just as exciting and even pleasurable. Power-pop melodies were inundated with sugary sweet choruses and Kyle even dedicated a track to a moose he saw on the highway in Canada. Who doesn't love a cute moose? For over an hour, King Tuff blazed through one of the longer sets I've even seen at CMJ (especially for a non-headliner) oozing good times and positive energy even if he is a self proclaimed "Bad Thing"!
October 17, 2012
After a few teases, the lights dimmed, a herd rushed on stage, and Fiona Apple launched into her stellar show at Terminal 5. Without hesitation, the songstress enveloped the building with "Fast As You Can" and never let up. Her sensational set list highlighted her entire body of work and each song was performed with such passion and emotion that you'd think she hadn't disappeared for years. Shadowboxer into Paperbag was magical and the follow up of recent stunner "Anything We Want" showcased her brilliant ability to transition between songs written so far apart. Every song was met with monstrous applause and cheers and it was evident that her devoted fans were out in full force. Some had probably waited over a decade to sing a long word for word with every lyric that was delivered with intense vigor by Apple. Such intensity that in some cases it resulted in her collapsing to the floor. While her newest album The Idler Wheel... is rather sparse in comparison to her past material, their live renditions breathed a new energy into each track that gave them new life and flaunted her band's talent. A year ago, no one would have predicted the number of chances New Yorkers would have to see their hometown darling and that might be what made this show (and tour) so special. For someone notoriously known for her erratic stage presence, Fiona Apple reappeared from the abyss not only with some of her best work to date, but with a rejuvenated live show that was light years better than anyone could have hoped for or expected.
"Fast As You Can"
"On the Bound"
"Anything We Want"
"Sleep to Dream"
"Tymps (The Stick in the Head Song)"
"Not About Love"
"It's Only Make Believe" (Conway Twitty Cover)
October 12, 2012
Hopefully you've heard that RZA is about to make his directorial debut with The Man With the Iron Fists and if not, well now you know. The awesome cast features Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, RZA, was written by RZA and Eli Roth and produced by Quentin Tarantino. Damn! With a cast and crew like that, you'd imagine it would also have a killer soundtrack. You'd be correct. Check out Kanye's track "White Dress" which has been getting buzz all week thanks to the lyric "You like pina coladas / Gettin' caught in the rain / Or rocking flannels all summer like Kurt Cobain."
October 4, 2012
Despite recently sharing a lot of festival bills with big name EDM artists like Justice, Deadmau5, and Skrillex, Crystal Castles brought their actual live show to Roseland Ballroom and showcased exactly what sets them apart from other big name dance acts. HEALTH kicked off the night with a blistering set of electro-noise rock that saw insane amounts of hair flipping, warped vocals, and a slamming rendition of "USA Boys" all while straddling the line of hardcore noise and dance music that seemed to leave some a little confused as to whether they should be dancing or moshing. Crystal Castles didn't help solve that dilema as the electro-punks unleashed their unique blend of big beats, live drumming, and Alice Glass' ferocious attack on the crowd. Disorienting lights flashed in every direction as Alice walked on the audience as if channeling her inner Iggy Pop and while her vocals were almost absent, the rest of the mix was at a soul crushing volume. Bro-step fans were out in full force to groove along to the band's eccentric electric throbbing rhythms and while some fans crowd surfed above, the dancing was kept to a surprising minimum. However unlike other contemporary guy-girl electro-punk duos (Sleigh Bells I'm looking at you), the energy of the show never let up and there was a heavy dose of their hits ("Crimewave", "Celestica", "Alice Practice", "Untrust Us", and a main set ending "Not in Love") that were all met with relentless euphoria from fans. While people raged on the floor, it did seem like there was some distance between the band and the dance party. Even though there was somewhat live instrumentation, it seems like modern dance acts can't compete with the connection generated by a live band. However, where their peers (Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, Calvin Harris) all stand behind huge decks far removed from their fans, Crystal Castles aren't afraid to get up in your face and make themselves apart of the experience.
October 2, 2012
I have no doubt that if the Barclays Center popped up in my neighborhood, I'd be less than thrilled. However, when I descended upon the rusted monstrosity, I surrendered to its magnitude. It's alien like structure penetrated the ground and rose like a glowing orb into the night sky. Upon entering the arena, it became apparent that you were in a place unlike anything you've ever experienced in New York. The smooth concrete juxtaposed against sleek wooden panels made the area feel more like a lounge than an sports complex and upon entering the stands, the all black everything decor furthered that thought. If anything, Jay-Z has created the ultimate club at which he can play house band. For two hours the Jigga Man dazzled the crowd in the ultimate Brooklyn celebration. Everything from a "Juicy" cover to the constant acknowledgment of his hometown friends ("We're all from Brooklyn tonight!") made the purpose of the evening (and week) clear. Jay-Z owns less than a percent of the Nets and yet if you ask anyone in Brooklyn "who runs this town?", there is a clear answer. HOVA assaulted the crowd with his bombardment of hits that have spanned his career, the forever epic "99 Problems" was an early evening highlight while brief bursts of "03 Bonnie & Clyde" and "I Just Want to Love You" reminded everyone just how many monster singles this man has delivered over the years. Stellar anthems "Big Pimpin" "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" and "(Ain't no Love) Heart of the City" were just as sensational as one could hope (hell, even "Empire State of Mind" was welcomed with open arms) and while some other tracks provided some perhaps necessary filler, Jay-Z earned his title as the self-proclaimed greatest rapper alive. There has been a lot of talk of just what this new establishment will do to the local community, but while we wait to find out, there will be plenty to keep us busy. He is New Yorker's favorite rags to riches story and with Beyonce by his side, he is on his way to becoming national royalty. Brooklyn, say hello to your once and future king.
September 25, 2012
Let me take a stab at this, for those who watched Grizzly Bear arrive on the scene with Horn of Plenty, grow into a muscular cub on Yellow House and mature into amazing talent with the breath-taking Veckatimest and Shields, you have been apart of a special journey. What started out as a bedroom project from front man Ed Droste, has evolved into one of the most majestic and sumptuous bands of the last decade. Radio City marked their largest hometown show yet, and the band proved their worthiness of such an honor. Things kicked off with "Speak In Rounds" which cascaded beautifully into "Adelma" before an epic "Sleeping Ute" and then the band really hit their stride. The group was backed with pulsating lanterns that floated angelically throughout the evening and shifted into striking patterns as the quartet delivered awe-inspiring renditions of tracks from each of their fantastic albums. Complex rhythms were unleashed with impecable timing, slicing guitars slashed along arresting harmonies, and Chris Bear delivered spectacular drum fills that resonated to the top tiers of the theater. Everything from "Lullabye" to "Cheerleader" to "A Simple Answer" was performed with such confidence and dexterity that it seems rather surprising this is not one of the biggest bands in the world. When the opening notes of "Two Weeks" began to ring out, people lept to their feet and immediately vibed to the supreme melodies and the show rocketed to another level. The ability to craft such wonderful and dynamic songs was enhanced by their extraordinary raw talent and perfect flow from moments of thunderous crashes to times of suspended elation. For the encore, the band eased into their breakout hit "Knife" beginning with delicate warped vocals before allowing the song to burst into a magnificent eruption of colossal beauty. To close out the evening, Grizzly Bear stripped things down to their pristine acoustic essentials for a tear evoking version of "All We Ask" and proved that they will always, not just sometimes, make it look easy.
Speak In Rounds
A Simple Answer
While You Wait For The Others
Sun In Your Eyes
On a Neck, On a Spit
All We Ask
* bottom photo courtesy of Emilysaur
September 21, 2012
For over a decade, noise duo Lightning Bolt have been massacring ear drums with their astounding records and even more relentless live performances. As always, the band was in top shape as they annihilated 285 Kent leaving heaps of sweat and fury in their trail. Behind the drum kit, Brian Chippendale is an absolute machine and his jackhammer style onsalught is unmatched by any other person in modern music. The sheer force and terror with which he plays is of a caliber all his own. Their live display has been likened to standing next to a demolition site or jumbo-jet at close range and three times during their set they blew a fuse leaving Chippendale to carry out frantic drum solos shrouded in blackness. You think you've seen some stellar pits until you're in the dark at a warehouse with that man pummeling away until Kingdom Come. Not to go unnoticed, Brian Gibson used his bass to spark the powder keg of pure energy unleashed by the band that ignited the audience into total chaos in just a matter of seconds. Without the slightest look of effort, Gibson's assault was pure distorted bedlam and the ear-splitting frequencies are nothing short of a jaw-dropping experience. The intensity of a live performance from these legends is an unparalleled experience that few will dare to replicate and while the magnitude and nature of their style is not for everyone, those who care to indulge will be converted to their brilliance. For over an hour, these two proved that they are true masters of their craft and are a sonic force to be reckoned with.
*Photo courtesy of Griffin Sandberg
September 15, 2012
Ariel Marcus Rosenberg (not to be confused with yours truly) led his band of merry pranksters through a sideshow performance that highlighted his excellent new album Mature Themes. Pink kicked off the evening with "Symphony of the Nymph" which included snippets of "Love Me Do" and then jammed through album highlights "Mature Themes" and the psychedelic guitar riffed "Only in My Dreams". Haunted Graffiti were locked in rhythm and did an excellent job catering to Ariel's typical stage antics which included attempts to swallow the microphone, dangling the mic in front of speakers for feedback, and using the mic as a mallet to smack various objects on stage (including R. Stevie Moore's beard which was dyed Smurf blue). The letters A P H G, which were assembled from PVC piping and strung with Christmas lights, acted as the backdrop for the show along with some of the most strange and sensational videos I've seen in quite some time. Kaleidoscopes of tongues, porn/MySpace pictures, and the faces of various celebrity which women morphed into each other (ala the end of Michael Jackson's epic "Black or White" music video) during "Menopause Man". After his past two releases, Ariel Pink has been idolized as a new studio genius, a man able to make outstanding records that act as some of the finest tributes to the 60s and 70s, or pop music in general (I cant think of another pop singer named Pink with similar color hair!) in recent memory. His ability to recreate warm A.M. pop tunes is unlike that of anyone else, and yet while his band does an unquestionably great job of making these tracks sound stunning live, you still have to wonder how much Ariel Pink enjoys performing. With his near infamous Coachella meltdown behind him, he still doesn't make much effort to woo the crowd (example: not playing the hit "Round and Round") and one may wonder if his confidence exists outside the recording booth. While those thoughts lingered, the man still put on an entertaining show. His face grimaced and contorted to make all of those bizarre vocals, he pranced around the stage smoking cigarettes, and for a guy that his a song entitled "Schnitzel Boogie", what other kind of live show should one really expect?
September 13, 2012
Remember no-wave? That awesome blend of post-punk/college rock/noise that emerged in the mid 1980s and was pioneered by that band Sonic Youth? Well, much to the disappointment of many indie music fans, that band went on an indefinite hiatus last year when leaders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon divorced after 27 years of marriage. While there is no sign of seeing these titans grace the stage together anytime soon, there is some light up ahead! Thurston Moore has assembled a new band called Chelsea Light Moving and they make music that sounds a lot like the kind of music you would hope a former member of Sonic Youth would make if he were to start a new band and make music. Ear splitting bursts of guitar filled 285 Kent (part of a benefit for Tom Carter) as Thurston and company powered through material despite not even releasing a debut record. For those never able to see Sonic Youth in their prime years, this show was a special treat. The D.I.Y. ethos behind the Brooklyn venue seemed to be a perfect match for this punk luminary. It was everything you would hope from the noise legend and the show really proved just how influential this man is on the current state of indie rock. Gut wrenching guitar squeals were met with a thudding rhythm section, soul crushing feedback, distorted lo-fi textures and with no banter between tracks, the attention was all on the songs. While each member of the band certainly held their own, the night (and band) clearly belong to the beloved Mr. Moore. Thurston's fingers slithered up and down the guitar neck in such a frantic manner, yet the cacophony resulted in perfect fuzzed out bliss. His display of abrasive atonal sounds were nothing short of thrilling and if there was any doubt about the musical state of Thurston Moore beyond Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving will let the music speak for itself.
September 6, 2012
Atoms for Peace (you know, that band featuring Thom Yorke, Flea, and Nigel Godrich) dropped a new single today titled "Default". The track is available on iTunes now and will be released by XL Recordings on September 10. Stream it below via We All Want Someone.
August 30, 2012
I skipped out on a mid-Summer mix, so to make up for it, I'm helping curate your last long weekend of the summer. Here are some jams (old and new) to enjoy while you give the Summer a final sendoff. So, whether your catching some last rays at the beach, chilling on a rooftop, or melting on the concrete, blast these tunes and look back on Summer 2012.
Sendoff to Summer | Mix 2012
01. Widowspeak | "Puritan"
02. Frankie Rose | "Know Me"
03. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti | "Only In My Dreams"
04. Real Estate | "It's Real"
05. Stereolab | "Diagonals"
06. Animal Collective "Today's Supernatural"
07. Orange Juice | "Rip It Up"
08. Beach House | "Other People"
09. Fiona Apple | "Anything We Want"
10. Dirty Projectors | "Impregnable Question"
11. Paul Simon | "You Can Call Me Al"
12. Grizzly Bear | "Yet Again"
13. Talking Heads | "Wild Wild Life"
14. The Men |"Candy"
15. Screaming Females | "It All Means Nothing"
16. King Tuff | "Hit and Run"
17. Japandroids | "Continuous Thunder"
August 20, 2012
Last Friday, three of the members of Pussy Riot were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison. In turn, the remaining members (who are still being hunted by the Russian police) released their newest single. The Guardian paired the song with a video montage which you can view above and below, you can read the translated lyrics.
This state may be stronger than time in jail.
The more arrests, the happier it is.
Every arrest is carried out with love for the sexist
Who botoxed his cheeks and pumped his chest and abs.
But you can't nail us in the coffin.
Throw off the yoke former KGB!
Putin is lighting the fires of revolution
He's bored and scared of sharing silence with the people
With every execution: the stench of rotten ash
With every long sentence: a wet dream
The country is going, the country is going into the streets boldly
The country is going, the country is going to bid farewell to the regime
The country is going, the country is going, like a feminist wedge
And Putin is going, Putin is going to say goodbye like a sheep
Arrest the whole city for May 6th
Seven years isn't enough, give us 18!
Forbid us to scream, walk and curse!
Go and marry Father Lukashenko
August 17, 2012
The Vans House Parties don't exactly provide the most intimate or acoustic friendly setting, but that didn't stop people from showing up to another free concert (complete with an open bar!) along the Williamsburg / Greenpoint border. After sets from Joyce Manor and Love as Laughter, an onslaught of people flooded the venue for New Jersey punks Titus Andronicus. Their adrenaline fueled set consisted of excellent new material from their recently announced third album Local Business as well as highlights from their great debut and killer sophomore record, The Monitor. Raspy shouts from front man Pat Stickles pumped up the crowd for some intense outbursts complete with flying fists and grand sing-a-longs. However, it was their epic finale that really took things to the next level. The medley of "A More Perfect Union" and "Titus Andronicus Forever" was the peak of their performance and extended solos were more than welcome from screaming fans and proved that the night really was theirs for the taking. Despite occupying the headlining slot, the crowd was significantly smaller before Saddle Creek veterans Cursive took to the stage. While Titus Andronicus proved that they are an important band in 'the now', the remainder of the evening was much of a nostalgia trip that accented the golden days of Emo long before it acquired the derogatory connotation. As the 90s came to a close, Cursive were a part of the final frontier along with the Get-Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, and Saves the Day (among many others). Long before the days of Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte, Cursive blended slicing guitar riffs, obnoxious yells (Pitchfork described Tim Kasher's voice as "the worst great voice in indie rock"), and hardcore rhythms and produced overlooked records that meant a lot to a certain group of people. While their recent work has fallen short in comparison, the men still stick to their guns. After playing deep cuts from their classics Domestica and The Ugly Organ, Tim kicked off the encore saying "Thank you for letting us be old rockers" and then directly plunging into "Sierra". The crowd may have dwindled as the night came to a close, but those who stuck around didn't waste an ounce of energy and the intensity never let up. They may be met with rolled eyes, but for those who grew up with them, they will always be a band that lost their genre to the malls.
August 7, 2012
When I first heard The xx back in 2009, I knew I was listening to something special but I never would have guessed that they would achieve their current level of success. Their hugely anticipated sophomore record, Coexist, will be released on September 11 and today the band shared the second single "Chained", a great next step forward that channels beats from Burial while still keeping true to their stark sound as made evident with that slashing guitar riff that echoes their great debut.
August 2, 2012
You've already heard "Sleeping Ute", the excellent first track from the forthcoming Grizzly Bear record Shields, and today the band premiered another beautiful track, "Yet Again", on BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe Show. Enjoy the track below as you wait for Shields to drop on September 18.
July 30, 2012
Last night, Panda Bear stepped up to the table and DJed the first addition of Animal Collective Radio. During his set he premiered the first single off their new record Centipede Hz. Check out "Today's Supernatural" in the video above.
July 25, 2012
It has been quite a while since I found myself at the low end of the age spectrum at a show, but tonight that was certainly the case. For the second consecutive evening, Wilco sold out Brooklyn's Prospect Park and put on a dazzling display that highlighted their massive back catalogue. Perhaps the most quintessential Americana rock band of the past fifteen years, the band unleashed their polished blend of alt-country jams and straightforward indie-rock on a perfect summer evening. Deep cuts such as "Misunderstood,""I must Be High", and "Kingpin" were placed perfectly between new jams "I Might" and "Whole Love"while classics "Hummingbird", "Pot Kettle Black", and "I'm the Man Who Loves You" really got the crowd in high spirit. Nels Cline blazed through a wicked solo for "Impossible Germany" and the band kicked off the encore with a stellar "Via Chicago" complete with chaotic noise breakdowns. For a band that has been in heavy operation since the mid 1990s, Wilco show no signs of slowing down as they powered through for over two hours and appropriately included a track from their Mermaid Avenue project with Billy Bragg (appropriately timed for the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie). To take out the first encore the band ripped through an extravagant "Monday", probably the most rocking and groove inducing track of the evening and transitioned gorgeously into "Outtasite (Outta Mind)". The classic band was in full form tonight and hit on all the touchstones of their discography proving that no matter how you label this band (country/jam/hippie/indie/rock), their top notch approach to song-writing is something special and worthy of their illustrious career.
Side With The Seeds
Pot Kettle Black
Say You Miss Me
I Must Be High
Art of Almost
Dawned on Me
A Shot in the Arm
Airline to Heaven
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
Side With The Seeds
Pot Kettle Black
Say You Miss Me
I Must Be High
Art of Almost
Dawned on Me
A Shot in the Arm
Airline to Heaven
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
July 7, 2012
Home town punks, the Men, joined a reunited Redd Kross as part of the inaugural CBGB Festival last night in Brooklyn. Although only a small crowd had assembled by the time the Men took the stage, the band blasted through charging anthems and roared through a set featuring new material from their forth coming record. The opening chords of "Turn It Around" really got people moving and the astounding transition into "Open Your Heart" didn't skip a beat and was without question the highlight of their show. Brooding bass plagued the band's sound, but did not stop them from unleashing a stellar set and their unabashed energy made up for whatever technical issues were keeping them down. When Redd Kross hit the stage, the room was feeling a little tighter and their sing-a-long anthems were met with a hearty reception. Often revered as the band that bridged the power-pop stylings of Big Star and Cheap Trick with the punk of Black Flag and influenced bands like Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies, the veterans were out in full form last night and delivered a career spanning set from the classic Born Innocent right up to new tracks from their first album in fifteen years. Led by brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald, the California punks offered some witty banter between songs and talked about the joys of being in the band again. After discussing their self-proclaimed laziness of recent memory, the brothers opened up about their excitement of more touring in the future and their new found energy was apparent as they ripped through an extensive set and even returned for several encores that included a full performance of their first EP that the band recorded with Greg Hetson before he joined Bad Religion. The sugary sweet pop-punk blowouts proved that these aging rockers could still nail a slick guitar solo and Roy McDonald might be the most entertaining drummer in punk-rock as he never missed a chance to show off his drum stick twirling skills and still kept the band right on pace.
July 3, 2012
Legends of the loudness, Dinosaur Jr., will return this fall with the third record in their reunion series and it will be called I Bet on Sky. That is the album art above, and below you can check out the first track up for grabs. Don't worry, J Mascis did not forget how to shred.
June 27, 2012
The always enchanting Joanna Newsom stopped by San Francisco's Warfield Theater this past Monday to perform alongside Philip Glass in a benefit for the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, CA. At the show, Joanna unveiled a new track entitled "The Diver's Wife" and it is just as beautiful as one could hope!
Joanna Newsom - "The Diver's Wife" (Live in San Francisco)
June 21, 2012
It's a shame that the intricate, thick grooves and ambient drones that make Oneohtrix Point Never's records so excellent, does not really translate to a live setting. Watching Daniel Lopatin hover over his laptop to produce these deep and heavy warped textures does not engage an audience like one would hope. Luckily, the same cannot be said about Liars. Riding high off their awesome new album WIXIW, the trio brought together their extreme blend of art/noise rock and their newly found electronic side for a night of intense, room shaking sonic pleasures. Kicking off the night with the first two tracks from the new record, the band plunged into heavy synth samples backed with pulsating bass lines and wild shouts. While every record has seen some sort of change in style, the one thing you can expect from this band is for them to be weird (that's a good thing). Their not quite post-punk and not quite dance approach to this album has drawn many comparisons to Radiohead's Kid A and trip-hop masterminds Massive Attack, but really this is still a Liars album at heart. Perhaps a bit contained on the album, everything becomes entirely flushed out in the live performance and expands the delicate inner-workings of each track. Although nothing rumbled the crowd quite like "Scarecrows on a Killer Slant", Drum's Not Dead thriller "Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack" was a welcomed surprise and received much praise. The violent, ever visceral, "Plaster Casts of Everything" caused the crowd to burst apart into a frenzy, unleashing a tension that had been building since the show began. Liars are capable of creating immense waves of fury through their music, and despite the new dabble into less punishing tones, the band still carries a presence unlike many other bands and as the house lights came up and the realm of Liars dissipated it was clear that the band has reached a level at which they will consistently deliver.
June 15, 2012
After nixing two shows last year due to Visa problems and health concerns (make that three if you include I'll Be Your Mirror: Asbury Park), the men of Mogwai finally touched down in New York for an almost two hour set of epic proportions. Starting the night off with "White Noise" from their most recent and underrated (yet awesomely named) album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the post-rock legends tore apart Webster Hall and delivered a performance that without question made up for last year's cancellations. Brooding bass lines, heavy synths, pummeling drums, and rocketing guitars were unleashed on the crowd as the band put forth a dazzling display of talent that ranged across their entire discography. Without even breaking a sweat, these titans demolished ear drums and inflicted thunderous cries of sonic fury of which only a band of this stature is capable. While you'd be lucky to catch some of their contemporaries such as Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Rós in a venue the size of Webster, the intimate setting really allowed the dynamics of these monstrous compositions to be fully realized. Typically, post-rock anthems will release a flood gate of emotions and memories that can take the audience to a whole new level, and tonight's performance did just that. It is hard listen to these tracks without the thought of imposing doom. About midway through the set, the band plunged into "Travel is Dangerous" and the synths were replaced with a triple guitar attack that propelled the rest of the show into the cosmos before a diabolical "Batcat", complete with heavy slashing guitars brought the main set to a close. The night culminated with an apocalyptic rendition of "Mogwai Fear Satan" in which torrential guitar shreds blanketed the room with intense swells of noise. When the wall of sound slowly began to fade, the band exited the stage one by one until waves of droning guitar began to evaporate over the dazed crowd.
June 5, 2012
Three years after Grizzly Bear released my favorite album of 2009, the baroque-pop quartet have announced the highly anticipated follow-up to the fantastic Veckatimest. While it still doesn't have a title, the band has confirmed the new record will drop September 18 (via Warp) and have provided us with the track list and opening song, "Sleeping Ute", which is an electric Daniel Rossen number in the vein of the stunning "While You Wait For the Others". Enjoy it below!
June 3, 2012
Taking a page from Dirty Projectors' book, Merrill Garbus creates a symphony of sounds compiled from loops, squawks, jagged horn sections, and strums from a ukelele to create a cacophony of music that somehow comes together in a brilliant and unique fashion. Backed with a bass player and two others, the assembled tUnE-yArDs brought their amazing jams to Terminal 5 on Friday night for an evening of high energy and dancing. Stomping percussion and funk infused bass riffs got everyone moving from the explosive opening of "Gangsta" and was only halted for a brief moment as a mis-triggered loop caught everyone off guard. Yet even in that moment, and impromptu saxophone solo resulted in heavy applause and cheers. The evening highlighted the band's most recent accomplishment, the stunning W H O K I L L, as the crowd responded with passionate sing-a-longs and non-stop body moving. The joyful banter from Merrill only increased the positive feelings of the evening and killer renditions of "Powa", "Es-So", "My Country" and "Bizness" brought the house down. "Sunlight" from BiRd-BrAiNs was a treat for fans of the the band before the breakout sophomore record and Merrill kindly reminded everyone that this was not in fact a new song, but the band's first single. The call and response action of "Do you wanna live" closed out the evening as a grinning Merrill left the stage and the house music came on with their latest single "Lady" (a Fela Kuti cover featuring ?uestlove) providing a little extra entertainment for a night that no one seemed willing to let end.
June 1, 2012
It seems almost unfair to still be calling Radiohead an indie band since they headline arenas and festivals across the globe, but whatever term you use to describe them doesn't matter. The demigods from Oxford stopped by Newark last night for their first of two shows in the area and much like their performance at Coachella, the band stuck to more recent tracks from King of Limbs and In Rainbows. Thom claimed "we're not ready to play the greatest hits" at one point, much to the disappointment of long time fans. However, anyone who left the show disappointed needs to do some reassessing. While King of Limbs may not have resonated well with fans and critics upon its release last year, when performed live, the new songs can easily hold their own with the exceptional brilliance of past Radiohead classics. "Morning Mr. Magpie", "Lotus Flower" and "Daily Mail" reveled in an arena setting and the band was able to give new meaning to these songs as they sounded so much more expansive; clearly these songs are meant for performance rather than recordings. Older tracks such as "There There" and "Myxomatosis" were nice surprises that found their way into the earlier half of the show and despite the fact that the band only played one song from their 90's hey day (the gorgeous "Karma Police", the encore consisted heavily of their genius work from the early 00's. It has become more apparent on this tour that the band is really trying to show how progressive and forward thinking they have become as a group and are moving further and further away from their guitar rocking days of the past. The turn towards electronics over the past decade seems to be the focus of the band's live show these days and that is not a bad thing. Even when the insanity of "Idioteque" became too much and caused the band to stumble, Ed came in to save the day after Thom said "ah fuck it" and just contiuned to move around like a maniac. He apologized for having too many machines at the start of the encore and did not let the problem get in the way of a stellar "National Anthem". With the rhythm section acting as the backbone and standing firmly in place, Thom danced across the stage like a mad man and with more energy than I have ever seen before and their dazzling light show left people breathless. Even without playing the hits, Radiohead are able to drive demand sky high and captivate people like no one else on the planet.
"The Daily Mail"
"Morning Mr. Magpie"
"You and Whose Army?"
"Everything In It's Right Place"
"Give Up the Ghost"
"The National Anthem"
"The Daily Mail"
"Morning Mr. Magpie"
"You and Whose Army?"
"Everything In It's Right Place"
"Give Up the Ghost"
"The National Anthem"
May 23, 2012
Almost a year after Danish punks Iceage unleashed their fantastic debut, fellow Copenhagen hardcore group Lower are making some noise across the pond with their recent release, Walk On Heads (also released on Escho). Wailing guitar lines and punching bass rev the song along with chugging percussion keeping steady pace combining as much college-rock/post-punk noise as hardcore growls.
May 16, 2012
May 7, 2012
It's been a while since we heard a proper release from experimental-psych masters Animal Collective, but today the band posted two new tracks to their website. Check out "Honeycomb" and "Gotham" which will see a physical release on June 26th via Domino.
May 2, 2012
After a slight name change, Brooklyn duo Arone and Aron (that is not the new name of the band, those are their real names!) are back with a new song entitled "Hiccup" which they recently recorded upstate as part of their follow-up to 2010's Riptose. Despite the substitution of an extra 'e' for the second 's', Buke and Gase have kept their lo-fi stomp and go sound alive.
April 27, 2012
Fresh off of back-to-back weekends at Coachella, Manchester's WU LYF stormed Brooklyn for rousing renditions of highlights from their excellent debut Go Tell Fire to the Mountain. By now, the mash-up comparison or Wolf Parade meets Explosions in the Sky may be getting redundant (hey, if you can think of something better let me know), but the guitars tonight certainly did their best to rival the post-rock legends and the accompanying howls ricocheted off the walls of the venue. While the band was limited to brief material (this is why bands with one album get overplayed and burnt out too fast), they still poured endless energy into each track and believe it or not, the growling vocals from a visceral Ellery Roberts continued beyond the songs and into the chatter setting an even deep tone to the show. "Spitting Blood" and "Concrete Gold" were delivered without a hitch, and a stellar "Heavy Pop" brought the main set to a close before the band returned for a laid back "Brooklyn Girls" and a night ending thunderous execution of "We Bros". The crowd responded with, at times surprising and unwanted, vigor and echoed along in the band's chants. Having few enough tunes to be able to play every wanted jam, there was little room for disappointment, but many in the past have not been able to hold up to the hype. World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation did not unleash a life changing performance, and albeit they brought they were followed by some over joyous fans, and still their admiration and ability to bring some yells into a pop mix are without question worth the indulgence.
April 24, 2012
The dust has cleared, the sun has set, the feelings of heat stroke have worn off and Coachella 2012 is in the books. Unless you're living under a rock (or you don't care about music), you've probably heard that Coachella expanded to two weekends this year fully stocked with identical line-ups and after rave reviews from weekend one, the bar was set high for the weekend two. With temperatures rising to over 100 degrees, the pristine Empire Polo Fields welcomed the masses to the desert.
Capturing sets from every band over the weekend would take too much brain power to recall in full and you'd lose interest half-way through day 1, so I'll just hit up the highlights. Things kicked off Friday afternoon with sets from Yuck, Neon Indian - "It's so hot my fingers sizzle when I touch my keyboard" (that's not a song, he said that), Jimmy Cliff covering Rancid's "Ruby Soho" and the Clash's "Guns of Brixton", GIRLS - melting the audience with "Vomit", and Arctic Monkeys before we were treated to the heavy hitters. Brit-pop gods Pulp, who were playing their last scheduled show in North America, put on one of, if not the best, sets of the weekend as Jarvis Cocker sprinted from end to end of the main stage and delivered possibly the best performance by a front man I've ever seen. With unparalleled energy, the wiry Brit chatted up a storm between songs and before delivering an epic, song of the weekend, "Common People". From there it was the Outdoor Stage for the stellar combination of Mazzy Star, Explosions in the Sky - another contender for best set of the weekend, and the reunited Refused - see Pulp and Explosions in the Sky. The mind blowing magnitude of "Fade into You" in the desert followed by a powerful April 20th performance by EitS climaxing with "New Noise" is not a night I will soon forget.
As temperatures blazed on, Saturday saw an energetic Azealia Banks give tribute to Amy Winehouse by covering "Valerie" (she later covered the Prodigy's "Firestarter"...), tUnE-yArDs power through non-stop sensations from her fantastic W H O K I L L, Andrew Bird bringing Annie Clark onstage for a crooning duet, Jeff Mangum who still brought me nearly to tears by once again engulfing the audience in pure serenity, St. Vincent thrash on guitar before a kick-ass stage dive, Flying Lotus, Bon Iver - seeing the transition from a small church in London to the pre-Radiohead slot at Coachella is a crazy thing and while "Skinny Love" was awesome, "Beth/Rest" was not, and then there was Radiohead. The best live band on the planet rocked out as tight as ever playing classic after classic (all post-The Bends songs) and nailed each track with such power and greatness, the one-two punch of "Pyramid Song" and "You and Whose Army?" was particularly mind bending. Video screens floated above the band, backed with Clive Deamer on drums, and erratic lights dazzled from all sides. Thom Yorke danced like a wind-up doll, relentless energy keeping the audience hanging on every note.
Santigold got things moving on Sunday before a perfect mid-afternoon set of breezy jams from Real Estate. Wild Flag tore up the Outdoor Stage just prior to the Hives recalling early 2000s glory with their garage rock revival jams that still pack a punch a decade after they crashed into the states. Decked in tuxedos the Swedes rocked with the charm and poise that heralded their fame from day one. As the sun descended on the final eve of the Weekend, the Weeknd made luxurious and sultry R&B that doused a scorching crowd. Abel's smoked out and silky vocals hit the limit as he closed out with "House of Girls / Glass Table Girls" and swooned off into the sunset. Justice brought the house down with their neon † firmly in place on the Main Stage before the crowds swarmed for the explosive reunion of At the Drive-In. Cedric Bixler-Zavala slithered the stage inbetween leaps from the stacks of speakers. As the crowd for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog grew by the second, the hip-hop legends took to the stage with a blazing vengeance immediately launched into "The Next Episode". A star powered performance ensued, featuring 50 Cent performing "P.I.M.P." and "In Da Club" and Eminem delivery a raw "Forgot About Dre". Dre and Snoop rocked "Nothin' But A 'G' Thang" and "California Love" to supreme approval and of course, there was Tupac. The now infamous, and underwhelming (yes, I said it) hologram resurrected 'Pac for two brief tracks before disappearing to endless screams of devotion, however the forever-young Tupac throwing down rhymes with an obviously aged Snoop left some unsettling feelings.
Of course there were other highlights like hearing Noel Gallagher dish out the classic "Don't Look Back in Anger", the Buzzcocks tear up "What Do I Get?" and the howl of WU LYF among others while doing simple things like wait in line for the bathroom that made the festival in the desert live up to its legendary status, but it is more than just the bands that made the trip to the desert so memorable, it's the experience and the idea that music can bring together thousands of people for a lost weekend in paradise.
April 17, 2012
Bloom, Beach House's beautiful follow-up to the stunning Teen Dream is not expected to be released until May 15th. However, if you do some advanced Google searches, you may be able to avoid the wait. In the meantime, enjoy "Lazuli" which will see a physical release this coming weekend for Record Store Day.
April 10, 2012
Hardcore hip-hop act Death Grips will release their debut album The Money Store on April 24th as a follow-up to last year's Exmilitary mix-tape (no, I don't know the difference between an album and a mix-tape either). Check out the first single "I've Seen Footage", which points the group in a retro-80's workout direction (think Salt N Pepa / Run-DMC) below, via Tiny Mix Tapes.
April 1, 2012
The 1990s were alive and well last night at Bowery Ballroom as Swervedriver came to New York for their most recent round of reunion shows. Armed with an extensive, and somehow under appreciated, discography, the U.K. quartet made the most of the venue's pristine sound system and delivered a stunning performance. While the group was originally associated with shoegaze acts such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride, their eye contact with the crowd and blend of dreamy/psych-rock with early alternative allowed them to really expand their sound on later records. Kicking things off with Mezcal Head classic "Last Train to Satansville", the band unleashed walls of sound that were complemented with rocketing solos and scratchy, washed out video clips blanketed the band during their hour and a half set. With little words to the crowd, the band powered on submerging their vocals in a haze of guitar and touched upon moments that reached all the way back to their terrific debut, Raise. Even before returning for a three song encore, the crowd was erupting with cheers for some of their quintessential anthems and proving that while they might not be met with the same love as those other shoegaze legends, Swervedriver still left their mark on the scene.
March 30, 2012
Brooklyn psych-pop wizards Dirty Projectors will release the follow-up to one of my favorite albums from 2009 this coming Spring (supposedly). To get you in the mood, the band has posted a new track "Gun Has No Trigger" to their SoundCloud page. You can check it out below:
March 26, 2012
Fuzzy/noise-rocking Canadian duo Japandroids are set to follow up their smashing debut on May 15th with a new album entitled Celebration Rock (how fitting). Check out the lead single "The House That Heaven Built" which provides plenty of "whoa-oh-oh" opportunities for you to scream along to until the album drops.
March 16, 2012
Squarepusher descended upon Manhattan's Webster Hall for his first American appearance in over six years and one of only two shows scheduled in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Standing dead center stage, Jenkinson was backed by a wall, surrounded by a force field, and donned a helmet that would make Daft Punk envious, all of which were comprised entirely of LEDs and dispensed mind bending visuals to accompany the deafening volume of sound produced by the electronic mastermind. Presenting his unique fusion of classic kraut-y electronica, drum n bass, and acid jazz, Jenkinson appeared sans bass and yet he was still able to rattle Webster and raise the volume to My Bloody Valentine levels of extreme all while only showing a simple smile between jams. As the man dazzling the crowd was hard at work, many fans found it hard to resist the urge to capture photos and videos of this rare electric performance, but after just over an hour Jenkinson left the stage while shouts for "more bass" were left only with the echo of the house music as the relatively short set came to a somewhat abrupt end.
March 8, 2012
Brooklyn noise/hardcore/punk quartet the Men packed 285 Kent to the brim as they unleashed some sonic fury for the record release show of their rocking new album Open Your Heart. The night exploded with the epic assault of "Turn It Around", "Open Your Heart", and Leave Home standout "Bataille" before heading into an annihilating drone jam. While the Men, are not breaking ground with a unique sound (hell, "Turn It Around" is almost a copy and paste tribute to Stiff Little Finger's "Suspect Device) their ability to combine thrashing classic riffs, ear bleeding guitar solos, and pulsating drum fills brings out an intensity lost on most bands. The raw rage built to such intensity through the opening tracks and strengthened the hostility of the crowd that as the set wore on, fists and beers were sent flying. Perhaps it might have been best to save one of their most aggressive and exuberant songs for the finale, instead of kicking things off with such a gigantic thrust of sound, but the Men have now proven that their ability to rock out leaves no room for questions.
March 7, 2012
Beach House will release the follow-up to my favorite album of 2010 with Bloom, out May 15th via Sub Pop. In anticipation, the band has posted a new track, "Myth", on their site and this beautiful luscious track seems to pick up right where the band left off.
March 4, 2012
Retro dream-pop sensations Widowspeak packed Glasslands last night for a hometown thriller and expanded their lineup to four, as they were joined by bass played Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh, and oozed their way through a great set of soft, slow burning songs. The always gorgeous Molly Hamilton led the quintet with her forever compared Hope Sandoval-esque voice and ethereal guitar tones that should really be exemplified for their true unique beauty. Despite Glasslands' soft tones, the band was still able to propel beauty and grace through their elegant tracks of blissful guitar melodies and simple rhythms. Favorites from their debut record "In the Pines" and "Puritan" were paired with world debuting new tracks that retain the same poised allure that makes the band so endearing. With full smiles in tact throughout the show, the band's pure joy easily transfered to the mesmerized crowd and set a euphoric tone for the entire evening. The group's charm is the heart of what they do as their tracks are not overly complex and Hamilton's voice can sometimes seem to be barely above a whisper, yet it is the delicate finesse that makes the tracks worth coming back to for repeated listens. "Harsh Realm" closed out the evening of fantastic celestial tunes as the band bashfully thanked all for coming.