Saturday, September 28, 2013

Atoms for Peace played Barclays Center



In some ways it's a shame that supergroup Atoms for Peace never really had a chance to play intimate venues. After releasing Amok this past winter, their first full-length album as a band, the group are now on their first official tour of the states and they're already at an arena level. Of course when you're the brainchild of Thom Yorke, it doesn't seem all that surprising and when you throw Flea into the mix it, would seem absurd to play anything small. The fact that Atoms for Peace is even a side project is almost laughable. Between the legendary status of these two main figures, it's almost beyond comprehensible to see them side by side. And yet, on Friday evening this amalgamation of talent brought their forces to Brooklyn's Barclays Center where they unleashed furious rhythms and intricate melodies which came across like child's play. Watching these men groove was like watching your most talented friends jam in a basement, the pressure of performing as two of the biggest bands in rock gone, leaving the guys the opportunity to just have fun. Despite only two proper albums, the crew dazzled their way through highly complex and tight knit jams from Yorke's The Eraser as well as the proper album recorded as a full fledged band. Watching it all unfold on stage was like watching magic appear without the smoke and mirrors. Flea buzzed about the stage and Thom let loose a proper boogie that ignited the crowd in an all out eruption of joy. While on record, Amok may seem overloaded and too compact to really take control of the listener, however in a live setting, every minuscule detail bursts with life and energy. The piano textures of "Ingenue" took the song to another level and watching Thom and Flea fall in sync during "Harrowdown Hill" might have been one of the greatest moments I've ever witnessed. At this point in many bands' careers you find them doing performances of their classics in their entirety (for the record I would probably pay my rent to see OK Computer and something close to see Blood Sugar Sex Magik), but Thom Yorke has chosen to gather some of the finest musicians to join him on the road for his alternative/IDM concoctions and turns them into pure brilliance. Seeing Radiohead might be the best live musical experience of the last twenty years and while this is not near that caliber, it's not too far off. With that much talent gather together, Amok seemed a little disappointing, but it turns out it's not a record as much as it's a live experience.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Deerhunter played Webster Hall



"Only fear can make you feel lonely out here" breathed Bradford Cox, effortlessly into a cloud of pillowy guitar as he embarked onto an empty stage at Webster Hall. Slowly he was joined by the rest of the band and together, they carefully constructed a tower of gauzy reverb. Fear has never seemed like something that has held back any member of Deerhunter. Drawing from much of their excellent discography, the group covered everything from billowing ambient drones to shoegaze to obliterating noise jams. "We're here for a few nights, so we thought we'd change it up for each show. Hopefully you came to the one where we play the songs you want to hear" Cox uttered almost mid-way through the evening and considering the ever evolving cast of bandmates, the group still reached back for old classics like "Cryptograms", "Lake Somerset" and "Spring Hall Convert". With guitar lines that slithered like metallic snakes and heavy washes of reverb, the triple guitar onslaught sounded as powerful as ever. While Bradford may be the brains behind the operation (his outfit appeared to be the only stylized look and consisted of a wig, animal print shit and white jeans), Lockett's contributions to the evening, "Desire Lines" and "The Missing", honed in on the dreamier side of things. At this stage of their career, Deerhunter have the ability to play to both long-time fans as well as the recently converted and the extended breakdowns really allowed for the band to explore sonic textures that gave the show incredible depth. The main set concluded with a sparkling performance of "Helicopter" before a hyper-elongated "Nothing Ever Happened". For the encore, the guys stuck to a medley of tracks from Monomania before launching into the song of the same name. As the song built to it's catastrophic climax, a cacophony of feedback and blinding strobes delivered a sensory overload experience that almost raised a candle to My Bloody Valentine's infamous holocaust of noise. For a group that appears reclusive and shy, aside from Bradford I'm not sure any of the other guys so much as looked at the crowd, it's hard to imagine what find of fear would make them feel lonely onstage. Bradford's witty banter is so playful in nature it's almost as if he steps into character for each song, his narrations letting him speak from a plethora of experiences. Whatever the case may be, Deerhunter were as sharp and on-point as ever delivering majestic and brilliant tunes. I'm glad I went on the night they played all the songs I wanted to hear.

Friday, September 13, 2013

THABTO - Identity Theft



Emerging electronic-dance-pop duo THABTO (Two Heads Are Better Than One), recently released their debut EP Identity Theft. Displaying some of the most sophisticated and engaging songwriting, Kenneth Frank (vocals) and Matthew Connor (music) are sure to infect your head with their sleek production and flare for pure pop perfection. Check out the EP below and watch the video for the title track above.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Arcade Fire - "Reflektor"



It'll be interesting to see if 2013 goes down as the year the marketing campaign became as relevant as the album itself. From Vampire Weekend posting ads in the New York Times, to Daft Punk airing commercials during SNL, to Boards of Canada releasing mysterious 12"s, to Kanye West playing videos on buildings around the world, to Arcade Fire posting images on Instagram, the traditional album release has seen a total revamp. After months of teases, Arcade Fire have finally shared the lead single, "Reflektor", from their highly anticipated album of the same name. But instead of just releasing the single, the band released not one, but two videos. Check out one directed by Anton Corbjin above and head here to see the amazing interactive video. Aside from all the crazyness that led us to this point, the song (which was produced by James Murphy and feature vocals from David Bowie!!) is actually really, really good.

Friday, September 06, 2013

No Age played Music Hall of Williamsburg



"Wash away what we create" Dean Spunt shouts on No Age's "Teen Creeps", a stunning (and already classic) track from the duo's first true full-length, Nouns. And with walls of noise crashing like waves over the crowd, that is exactly what the band accomplished. No Age powered through a high energy set and unleashed an absolute audio assault on Brooklyn. Featuring a medley of songs ranging from their early compilation Weirdo Rippers to the recently released An Object, Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall tore through heavy feedback and blistering riffs that rattled Music Hall of Williamsburg. Thunderous drums and shrieking guitars were enough to make anyone's ears bleed. Their unique blend of harsh noise rooted in hardcore punk was captivating. While An Object may fall flat on recording, the songs burst at the seams and soared to new heights in a live setting and added great textures to the setlist. The new songs freed Dean from behind the drum kit and added a great dynamic of dissonant and pulsating drones that allowed the two men to stand side-by-side and really enforce the power of their anthems. Even though the new tunes held their own, it was fan favorites like "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy", "Sleeper Hold" and "Fever Dreaming" that sent the night over the top. "I won't end up, like them at all" Spunt continues and, again, he is correct. While the band might have surprised some with the direction and lack of force behind their latest record, they're still far and away unlike any other duo blending noise and melody. Everyone else can just keep on dreaming.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Vatican Shadow - "Enter Paradise"



Back in February, Dominick Fernow dropped Through the Window, his latest album under the moniker Prurient. On October 21st, he'll follow that up with Remember Your Black Day, only this time, it will be under the alias Vatican Shadow. While the name may be different, your expectations shouldn't be. Lead single "Enter Paradise" is an aggressive and agitated sound that weaves through an electronic web of abrasive textures. Listen to it over at Pitchfork.