October 30, 2013

Mutual Benefit - Love's Crushing Diamond

Love's Crushing Diamond is the proper debut album from Boston outfit Mutual Benefit and recalls earlier 2000s indie rock. Any of these tracks could easily fit on a high school mix CD buried between Devendra Banhart, Bright Eyes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and any other prominent freak-folk/lo-fi track from the not too distant past. Still, the simple pleasures and delicacy found here are not stale pieces left over from a time most didn't know they missed. If anything, Mutual Benefit seems to have added another chapter. It's more like a new friend that meshes so well with the ones you already have. It's immediately comfortable yet still offers something compelling with each listen.

October 21, 2013

Arcade Fire - "Afterlife"

After dropping by Bushwick, Brooklyn for some secretive performances this past weekend as The Reflektors, Arcade Fire continue their mysteriously wonderful marketing campaign with the lyric video for "Afterlife". The track continues with the disco-tinged aspects that we heard on lead single "Reflektor" while still feeling like classic Arcade Fire. The album drops next week. Scream and shout!

October 19, 2013

Fuck Buttons played (Le) Poisson Rouge

England's Fuck Buttons dropped by (Le) Poisson Rouge for a one-off performance during New York City's sprawling CMJ music marathon week to deliver an astounding set of their wildly experimental brand of electro-noise. Combining the enthralling elements of high intensity electronica with pulverizing blasts of dense textures washed in droning reverb sounds like a daunting task, but this duo makes it seem so effortless. For a band that makes such brutally loud and heavy music, it's remarkable how well they're able to translate their efforts live and make it appealing towards an audience that might not particularly enjoy music on such an extreme scale. Their recent release Soft Focus is perhaps some of their most accessible music to date, one friend put it as "M83 and Godspeed You! Black Emperor coming together to make a hardcore record" and that isn't too far off the mark. Still, while that might not sound like something enjoyable, there are certain aspects of the music that can be appealing to anyone with a taste for driving beats and pulsating rhythms. Fuck Buttons are far from the EDM scene, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone in the crowd who wasn't getting their groove on to the exceptionally sharp trance inducing tempos unleashed during their live set. It's rather hard to find a band that has the ability to make abrasive music sound so appealing (Deafheaven's recent metal masterpiece Sunbather and My Bloody Valentine are two others that come to mind, but are still so different) and yet Fuck Buttons are seamlessly able to bridge a gap that most others cannot come close to replicating. Hell, even their name is rather intimidating, but once the overall shock of their grating tendencies wears off, you're left with beautifully intricate sonic pleasures that leave one craving more. In-fact, after the house lights and music came on once the show seemed to have come to an end, fans weren't ready for the night to be over so the band came back for one more song. To no surprise, they totally obliterated it and before waving farewell to rapturous applause.

October 16, 2013

Nine Inch Nails and Godspeed You! Black Emperor played Prudential Center

The Tension 2013 Tour crashed into Newark's Prudential Center for the second and final New York City area show this week and post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor handled the opening duties for the show. With their typical venues being small intimate (and non-corporate sponsored), this was a rather bizarre setting for the band. Hearing their delicate rumbles transform into monstrous storms in such a cavernous space felt extremely out of place. Nevertheless, the group was still in top form. Slowly assembling onstage in near darkness, grainy and out of focus film began to backlight the band as their tracks swelled to epic proportions. While Godspeed and Nine Inch Nails seem like such great tour mates, it was evident that those strictly in attendance for the headliner did not know what to make of them and chatted away through their all to brief set.

As the lights darkened for NIN, all the chatter disappeared. When the curtain fell, the band was revealed in stark cubes of light as Trent led his impressive backing band into a full on rage, starting with the recent "Copy of A" and never turning back. The show catapulted to a start by banging out classics "1,000,000", "Terrible Lie" and "March of the Pigs" to which the audience erupted in chaos. Slowly the lights transformed and the show was taken to a new level. NIN may have been off the map for a few years, but this spectacle was something to behold and as near perfect as a show could be. Everything was on cue and seemed to go off without a hitch. Lights seemed to come from every part of the stage and just when it seemed to be peaking, another set of light encircled the band providing one of the most visually arresting performances I've ever witnessed. The set certainly favored Hesitation Marks, Trent's excellent come back record, but there were plenty of old favorites thrown in the mix as well. The main set ended with "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like a Hole" which were met with enormous joy. During the encore, Trent introduced a cover of Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" to much amazement before closing out the night with a haunting rendition of "Hurt". Listening to an arena of people sing that song isn't something I'll soon forget. These days, playing an arena doesn't come with the same accolades as it did in the past, but Trent and company are here to raise the bar and take people back to a time when big budget rock music was something worth caring about and from which to be inspired. With the brakes slammed on side project How to Destroy Angels, it doesn't seem like NIN will be slipping back into darkness anytime soon, and with a stage show that impressive, perhaps only Radiohead (another band still praised for their 90s glory) can conquer an arena like Trent Reznor.

October 7, 2013

Burial + Four Tet - Unreleased

Four Tet and Burial are no strangers to collaboration. On Sunday, Four Tet did an 8 hour takeover of Rinse FM and shared an old unreleased track which you can now check out below. While there's no word on any upcoming releases from dubstep mastermind Burial, Four Tet will release Beautiful Rewind on October 15.

October 3, 2013

Phoenix played Barclays Center

"I'm just trying to be cool" sings Thomas Mars on Phoenix's most recent (and highly underrated) record, Bankrupt! and given this path of following other big indie bands (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Atoms for Peace) at Barclays recently, they seem to be doing just that. And they're exceeding thoroughly. After playing rather intimate shows earlier in the year at Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Apollo, Barclays seemed like a giant next step with high anticipation and the band pulled out all the stops. A career set spanning early tracks like "Run Run Run", "Long Distance Call" and "Rally" were much welcomed amongst recent crowd favorites "Lisztomania" and "Lasso", but the medleys of "Too Young" with "Girlfriend" and "Bankrupt" and "Sunset" were impeccable. Even new songs had an extra sparkle to them tonight and with much more depth than on record and while Bankrupt! may not have produced monster hits like their previous record, there are still plenty of infectious grooves and hard hitting melodies. The man behind the drums pounded intense hardcore rhythms that took the heavy synth-pop tunes to a new height. The pure power behind each song made the band sound bigger than ever and confirm their status of arena level rock. As the synths belted out the opening to the band's biggest hit, "1901", a jolt of energy took over the stadium and it wouldn't let up. As the band ripped into "If I Ever Feel Better", the party was rocking enough for Thomas to pop up in the middle of the floor atop a stellar synth for an electric "Funky Square Dance". As the band carried into "Rome" for the encore, Mars took to the crowd and made his way all the way to the back of the arena amidst a reprise of show opener "Entertainment", before crowd surfing back to the stage. For one last wow-factor, the band then invited the crowd to join them onstage to close out the show. "Ok, everyone get on stage" yelled Mars. "Come on! Do it! When are you all gonna get to do this again?" For one night, these dapper Frenchmen brought their brand of splashy new wave anthems to Brooklyn and invited everyone to join the party. Gentlemen, there is no need for you to try. You're already there.