Monday, April 30, 2007

Beat Happenings

Between trying to finish the semester on a strong note and working my ass off over the weekend, blogging has sort of fallen by the wayside, for now. But for those in desperate need of a fix, here are some happenings that have occurred in the recent days.

Clap Your Hands Say I Demand a Refund! - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "postpone" their final four US tour dates for no apparent reason. A brief Kansas City Star piece speculated that the VooDoo Lounge show, originally scheduled for tonight, was called off because of low ticket sales, which proves my theory, albeit a band too late, that indie bands with no radio play and 21+ venues don't mix. That, or it proves my theory that the new CYHSY album is shit, and that no one, regardless of venue, wants to see them anyway. But what do I know, I sit on muh porch with muh pa and watch them tumbleweeds a-rollin' all the livelong day. I never heard nonathis "indy" music, fact the only indy I know is racin'.

Why Pay For Coachella When You Can Watch It On YouTube? - You mean I can watch Win fuck up during "Rebellion" without paying $9 for a veggie dog? Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Seriously, I'd fuck up too if I had to play a show in that heat, so no disrespect. By the way, most of Bjork's set is on YouTube, you don't even have to look that hard. Thanks to all the kids who ripped the live web stream, by the way. Without your work I'd be left with only crappy minute long cell phone footage.

Will She Be Thrown in the Lake To See if She Floats? - The Pitchfork Music Festival Keeps getting better. Recently announced artists include Yoko Ono, Sea and Cake, Califone, Twilight Sad, and Nomo. This is turning out to be the best $50 I've ever spent, and the show is still 2 1/2 months away. Don't believe me, see for yourself.

Sheryl Crow on Hygiene - Sheryl Crow thinks everyone should use one square of toilet paper every time we take a shit. While many people have dismissed the idea, it certainly beats her usual means of waste disposal: releasing albums.

In all seriousness though, if musicians are so concerned with the environment, shouldn't they be embracing the MP3 as a waste-free medium instead of opposing it? I know that many do, if only out of necessity, but its still something I think about every time a band reminds me that they have CDs for sale in the corner.

New Minus Story Album Details Announced - God bless CMJ, one of the music magazines that helped inspire me to become a music journalist, even if that means having a shitty blog that I update only in my spare time. But I digress, Minus Story, one of my favorite area acts, are releasing their new album in June. Read more here.

Speaking of New Albums, Ever Hear of a Band Called Interpol?
- Pitchfork recently tickled my fancy with some details about the new Interpol album, Our Love to Admire, which will be released on July 10th. As of right now the band has no shows scheduled between July 8th and August 4th, so here's hoping they play some in that time frame. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they wind up playing a nearby gig on their way to/from Lollapalooza. Fingers crossed!

Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan's Pullhair Rubeye Gets Mixed Reviews, Played Backwards (Which In This Case Would Be Forward) - Knowing Pitchfork, and just about everyone else these days, has a bit of an obsession with all things Animal Collective, I was a bit surprised to see this album get a measly 1.0 rating. Granted, I have not heard a single note from the album, but surely it can't be any worse than Hollinndagain, can it?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hella Coachella Batman!

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival starts this Friday afternoon in the middle of some California desert. Depending on whom you ask, Coachella is the best of the American music festivals, though for my money that title would go to All Tomorrow's Parties, though this year's the Pitchfork Music Festival should be mentinoed as well. Still, Coachella's April/May start time typically means they get the jump on many of the year's biggest outdoor festivals, and though I can't be in attendence this year I can still leave my two cents and pick it apart.

Off To A Good Start - This year's Coachella opens with Flosstradamus, two Chicago DJs who know how to rock a party.

Let America Laugh Indeed - The Comedians of Comedy troupe get a whopping two-and-a-half-hour set time, which is only five minutes less than Bjork and Rage Against the Machine combined! With such funny men and women as Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford, Zach Galifianakis, Hard N' Phirm, Aziz Ansari, Howard Kremer, and Jasper Redd, you'll likely see more funny for your money here than you would all year. Besides, do you really want to see Tokyo Police Club and Nickel Creek?

I'm Sorry, Is This Coachella Or the Set of a New Sofia Coppola Film? - Let's see, you've got Peaches, Jesus and Mary Chain, Air...yep, its a Sofia movie alright. Let's just hope its better than the last one. I kid, I kid. But seriously, here's hoping that at least one person gets a lap dance to "Fuck the Pain Away."

And Now For Something Completely Different - On Friday, Rufus Wainwright soothes the nerves, only to have Peeping Tom fuck it all up 35 minutes later. On Saturday, Ghostface Killah is sandwiched between Blonde Redhead and the Decemberists. Still, nothing comes close to Sunday's main stage where Explosions in the Sky get followed by the Roots, who then get followed by Willie Nelson. After Willie, the audience will be treated to recently reunited one-hit-wonders Crowded House, who somehow have to find a way to top the living legend's performance, a feat that even Bob Dylan, another living legend, found difficult. Obviously the schedulers have a sick sense of humor.

Speaking Of Sick Senses of Humor - Is it just me, or did anyone else finally get why "on the main stage" was printed next to the second tier act Tiesto? In case you haven't noticed, Tietso are pseudo-headlining Saturday night. The Peppers must have booked some studio time with Rick Rubin to record some more songs about California. The Peppers still get a longer set time, so perhaps the joke's on Tietso after all. By the way (not a pun, I swear), the Rapture get the last laugh: They get a headlining slot and a longer set time than Bjork, Peppers, Rage, Tiesto, or any other headliner for that matter.

Aw No They Didn't (snaps fingers) - A rant to the schedulers: You gave Sonic Youth and Interpol conflicting set times?!?!? Did it not occur to you that maybe, just maybe, Interpol fans might also be Sonic Youth fans, and vice versa? How about switching Interpol and Tiesto? Interpol is far more deserving of a headlining spot than Tiesto, and thousands of sweaty, thirsty, drugged out people will no longer have the burning desire to beat your foolish asses.

This Week's Featured Flavor: Sour Grapes - How in the hell did so many flavor-of-the-week-it-bands take precedent over so many (somewhat) more established artists? Peeping Tom - who have a legitimate rock star in Mike Patton, I can't deny that - have one album to their credit, yet get a better slot than established artists like Of Montreal, Nickel Creek, Rufus Wainwright, and the reunited Jesus and Mary Chain. Peter Bjorn & John and MSTRKRFT get better slots than the Frames, Fountains of Wayne (who suck, I'll admit), and Roky Erickson & the Explosives, while Girl Talk trumps all of them plus the New Pornographers, the Decemberists, Travis, !!!, and Ghostface Killah. The worst offender is Sunday, where 18 bands play after Willie Nelson has finished. Let me repeat that, 18 fucking bands play after Willie Nelson. I'm seriously at a loss for words, especially considering that one of the "artists" trumping Mr. Nelson is Lily Allen. Let me repeat, Lily "I Thought Being a Pop Star Would Be Easy Because My Parents Are Rich, but No One Told Me I'd Have to, Like, Tour To Promote My Album and Now I Don't Want to Play Shows Anymore" Allen has a later time slot than Willie Nelson.

Making Your Own Mad Lib With Coachella Bands Is the New Sudoku - Bjork and her Busdriver were on their way back home after Coachella when Bjork got a phone call from her Brother, Ali. He invited them to a party at "some Crowded House" in the neighborhoood referred to as the Gotan Project. "What does the place look like?" Bjork asked.

"All the Cribs here look the same, except this place has a Grizzly Bear out front."

Bjork and Busdriver arrived at the party a few minutes later. They were treated to a set by DJ Shadow, who has not undergone much Digitalism and only spins El-Ps. Busdriver danced with some Brazilian Girls while Bjork mostly ate the food, which consisted of Peaches, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and some Damien Rice from the Fields that surround the neighborhood. While she was snacking, a man named Flosstradamus approached her and told her stories about the party's host, the murderous Ghostface Killah. He told her about his terror group, the Evil Nine, and of the Rapture, which the man felt was nearing with each passing day. "There will be no Happy Mondays for the Faithless in hell," he said to her. "Not even Jesus and Mary Chain can save you when you're down there." Bjork, figuring the man had eaten one Infected Mushroom too many, told him that she had to leave to grab another Pop Levi, but really made up the excuse so she could find Busdriver to go home.

Later there was a knock on the door. It was the Tokyo Police Club. "The Peeping Tom across the street must have complained about the Noisettes," said Ghostface. He opened the door to greet them and promised to be quiet. The police, feeling Justice had been served, turned to leave when they heard a sound. RATATAT!!! it went, and soon most of the officers were down. The police called Interpol for backup as they watched Ghostface and his evil men throw Roky Erikson and the Explosvies in the Air, creating several Explosions in the Sky. Interpol promised to send the Kaiser Chiefs and every law enforcer from VNV Nation, but told them it would take hours before they could arrive and the Coup could begin. The cops had the Feeling that they would never Circa Survive.

Suddenly, a superhero named the Nightwatchman rode in on his Sparklehhorse. He had heard about the Lupe Fiasco from his trusty sidekick, Kid Beyond, who was attending the party. Together, the duo foiled the Kooks and arrested them on charges of resisting arrest and crimes agains The Good, The Bad, and The Queen. After the commotion, Bjork and Busdriver, who were starting to miss the more soothing atmosphere of chirping Andrew Birds and the lovely Nickel Creek, left for home. When she arrived, Bjork climbed into bed with her Teddybears and fell fast asleep.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Thank You, I Guess I'm Floating, For This...

Interpol - "Pioneer" (Live 4/15/07)

Quality is what you might expect (not great), but its still decent enough to hold a person over...for now.

Interpol - "The Heinrich Maneuver" (Live 4/15/07)

Not the full song, but you'll get the idea. Any bets as to whether this song is going to be the first single?

Interpol - "Mammoth" (Live, date unknown)

I kinda dig this one, even if the quality is worse than the others, and Paul's voice is off more than its on. (Edit: It gets better as it progresses!)

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New Members

I'm working on finding collaborators to post on Midwest Music and More. So far one has already accepted, and posted. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you my dear friend Nicole, or Beckon the Wonderland, as she is known 'round these parts (Link removed. You had your chance). Give her a round of applause. Okay, now sit down and shut up. If the others accept the invite I'll happily introduce them too. Hopefully the new blood will help keep the content fresh, the tone edgy, and the beer cold.

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There is That Dark Side to Music Piracy

After the Junior Boys concluded their Tuesday night KC show with a lush, 7-minute stunner, my friend and fellow blogger SonicRyan said, “Wow, I’ve got to listen more to their first album.” I assured him this song could not have come from the band’s 2004 full-length debut Last Exit. My comment was partially true – it couldn’t have come from the version of the album I had heard.

After the dark, trance-like “Count Souvenirs” led me to 2006’s So This is Goodbye last fall, I wanted more. Naturally I looked to Last Exit. This album, or the incarnation that I downloaded, was to my ears Junior-Boys-lite – or worse, Junior-Boys-lost. The first track “More Than Real” featured, after an opening verse, nearly five minutes of Jeremy Greenspan repeating, “I finally got your number, I even know your street” over a similarly mind-numbing, albeit entrancing beat. The remainder of the album staked similar territory.

Maybe I just didn’t get it, I thought. Astonishingly, All Music Guide had selected Last Exit over So This is Goodbye as its Editor’s Pick for the band’s top album. Pitchfork Media’s review of Last Exit awarded the album an 8.9, a mere 0.1 below its spectacular follow-up. My confusion compounded upon reading the reviewer’s comments regarding the band’s use of “deceptively simple” tracks and “monochromatic” sound.

The day after the show I tried on Last Exit once more, looking for the spark I had heard in concert the night before. Again I was disappointed. "Under the Sun," which I recognized as the band's incredible closer, didn't sound as complex or lavish as it had in concert. My husband had his own explanation for the inconsistency in quality. “That track’s looped,” he said. I told him he didn't understand. This album was simplistic, monochromatic. “Because it’s looped,” he reiterated. After securing an album track list, I was simultaneously horrified and relieved to see that the tracks I had been listening to did not match those on the album.

Who would go to such lengths? Who would meld the looped segments so flawlessly, ultimately leaving the listener unsure where the Junior Boys ended and someone with a mixer and a mission began? Furthermore, why this album and not So This is Goodbye, the album that put the Junior Boys under the radar? These questions, I realized, were beside the point. The point is that in this age of rampant music downloading, music lovers cannot be sure if what they are downloading is authentic. I decided to chronicle some of my more egregious run-ins with mp3 downloading, so others might learn from the sad tales they tell.

Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights: For far too long demo versions of “Roland,” “Obstacle #2,” and “PDA” appeared on my copy of this album (a problem in part due to the fact that the album version of “Stella Was a Diver…” includes Paul Banks’ dialogue in the intro, a decidedly demo-like quality.)

Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: Track #6 on my version was not the amazing “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell,” but an as-yet-unidentified, nonetheless enjoyable track that my husband and I have dubbed “Fake Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell.”

Built to Spill, You in Reverse: Upon my initial listening of this album, I was convinced that Doug and company had collaborated with rapper Mike Jones. This was until I realized that “Who is Mike Jones?” was carefully edited into all ten of the album’s tracks.

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass: For some time I listened to this album, frustrated that many of the tracks trailed off into nothingness at often the most compelling points in the songs. What I had assumed to be a poorly conceived stylistic choice was actually someone fading out each track at the 1:00 mark.

There are also the songs plagued by annoying warbling (See “Dr. Strangeluv” from Blonde Redhead’s latest 23) or uncharacteristically low-fi renderings (See “Black Waves, Bad Vibrations” from the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible) or the case of the wrong track (See “Ego Tripping” above or the appearance of “Maddening Cloud” twice on Blonde Redhead’s 2004 release Misery is a Butterfly. That Blonde Redhead crew sure has their bases covered, don't they?). Any frequent downloader knows these headaches and a host of others will eventually crop up.

The obvious solution to this problem is for people to stop downloading music, right? These tracks have been doctored as a means to discourage music piracy, after all. Unfortunately in the case of the Junior Boys’ Last Exit, the looping in my copy didn’t make me dismiss the album as a fake – especially considering Junior Boys’ electro-pop style, in which beats are repetitious by nature. Instead of discouraging people from downloading and encouraging them to buy the album, this loop-job may shy listeners from the band or album simply because the music is a disappointment, or worse, a frustration.

Chronic downloaders like me will continue to tolerate the unpleasant side effects of mp3 downloading as long as we can still get our fix. And with so much music out there – and the large portion of it un-tampered with – the downloading trend will continue. Unfortunately, as in the unregulated world of illegal drugs, there’s no guarantee those downloads will be pure.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Live Review: Junior Boys

April 17th, 2007

Record Bar

Kansas City, MO

(This isn't so much a live review, its more of a random musing on a particular show. Maybe I should start taking notes. Then again, I had too much fun dancing to take any...)

Going into the venue, I was not sure about what to expect. The band's latest album, So This is Goodbye, is the sort of dance album that doesn't always make you dance. There are no falsettos, DJ scratches, cowbells and whistles, or any other tricks to get your booty shaking mindlessly. To dance to the Junior Boys, you really have to want to dance, which is what I think makes them so good in the first place. You can put the album on at a party and dance to it all night if you want to, or you can listen to it at the afterparty while you chill out. It works well for either setting. For me, I usually listen at home, alone, and therefore I'm more apt to chill. However, seeing the band in concert is a completely different ball game.

At this show, their second stop at the Record Bar while supporting So This Is Goodbye - the first being a measley six months ago - I found it impossible not to dance as the band effortlessly breezed through most of the new album, a few older songs, and even a couple that my friends and I were hard pressed to recognize. Girlfriend and I steamed up the Record Bar's windows during such highlights as "Like a Child", "The Equalizer", and "In the Morning". However, the best song of the night may have been the last one, which is unfortunately not one that I recognized. Its probably from the first record, an album I admittedly don't like as much as the new one, but this song was fucking unreal. What struck me about this song in particular was the guitars, the sound of which would have been right at home on, say, Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol. The song was about 8 minutes of sultry, dance floor bliss, though honestly the entire show could be classified as such.

I have to admit, the show really impressed me. I was afraid that with so many samples and a singer with a fairly unaffecting voice (sorry to offend any diehards), the concert could have been just as good if it were literally phoned in. I was wrong. In concert the band has a bit of a swagger that I have yet to pick up on just from repeated listens at home. Plus, having a hot date to dance with always makes the night better. Seriously fellas, take your girl to a Junior Boys show, and thank me in the morning.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Has it really been a week since I last posted? I guess it has. Crazy, huh? Well, here's what you missed.

Last week I got shitfaced smashed at a friends place. What was supposed to be a Yo La Tengo listening party quickly turned into a real party about halfway into a 30 pack of Miller Lite. Eventually we scrapped the Yo La stuff in favor of more danceable songs, only to take turns picking music in hopes to wow each other into oblivion. I forgot how much I like Lonesome Crowded West, and Joanna Newsom makes my head spin. Or was it the beer...?

The next day, Wednesday, was the Yo La Tengo concert (hence the attempt at a listening party). The show was good, very good really, but by far the mellowest of the 4 I've seen. Which isn't to say they didn't rock, they certainly did at times. The main set was well constructed with some of the more upbeat songs leading into quieter/slower songs, and then raising the set back up with monstrous, beefy tunes. Highlights include a pitch perfect rendition of "Tiny Birds", an intense "Story of Yo La Tango", and a noisy "Big Day Coming" that perfectly fed into "Little Honda", which the band stopped midway through for an extended feedback noise jam, only to bring the song back to life and finish it up.

However, the encore was a little flat. To be completely honest I would have liked a little more rock for my buck. For example, the slower version of "Autumn Sweater" was pretty cool, but it was missing something, and not just the organ and James' bouncy bass. Or, maybe I was the one missing the organ and the bass. That sounds more likely.

Also, it seems that the band is only playing the alternate version of "Tom Courtenay" these days (the one where Georgia sings, as heard on disc 3 of Prisoners of Love). I've heard the band play both the quiet one and the loud one in concert, and after hearing them both I can honestly say that I would much rather have the loud one. Its much more fun to rock out to and sing along with than it is to stand still and quiet while listening to it.

I probably sound like I'm complaining. I'm not, really. Okay, maybe a little. Regardless of my favoring Yo La's rock songs over the quiet ones (at least in concert), it was a very good show. Its not like I'm ever going to pass up seeing them in concert, you know.

Later I caught part of the Antelope show. I wasn't terribly impressed to be honest.

And to the obnoxious girls at both shows who kept telling me to dance: Make me. I didn't spend my money to listen to some drunk girl order me around. If you wanna dance, fine, knock yourself out. Just don't get all wound up and give me grief because I want to enjoy a song (or in Yo La Tengo's case, numerous songs) without hearing your voice every few seconds. And while I'm ranting, why is it that the quieter a band gets, the louder the audience becomes? What sense does that make? Its times like those I think back to when Saul Williams told the people at the Granada bar to fuck themselves, though his words (like so many he said that night) probably got lost in the chatter and fell on deaf ears.

Thursday was school.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I worked. I missed the Faint show in Lawrence, mostly because I forgot to hit the bank up before work, but the chilly weather didn't help matters any. Plus, they're playing Columbia in June and I'd rather go to that show even if it is more expensive and a 3 hour drive. I also took up playing video games again (God of War for PS2 if you're curious), and spent some time with a certain girlfriend, who was a little more rosy looking than usual. Watched Seven and Army of Darkness for the first time in 11 years.

Yesterday I relaxed and sold some CDs.

That pretty much sums it up. Lame, I know. But these things happen sometimes.

I do have some albums I plan on writing reviews for soon. Tonight's Junior Boys show will probably get at least a brief mention. I'll probably update the concert calendar. So it goes.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

Recommended Album of the Week: Blonde Redhead - 23

Grade: 82.0%
Official Score: 83.6%

What the Others Think:
Pitchfork Score: 7.0
Tiny Mix Tapes Score: 3 out of 5
Coke Machine Glow Score:

I remember my first time hearing Blonde Redhead's music. I was sitting in the grass at a nearby amphitheater, patiently awaiting the band's whose names were printed on the ticket I had purchased: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters. It was the summer of 2000, and your's truly was only a month removed from high school. Not quite yet 18, not quite yet ready for college, and not quite ready to grow up. My music tastes were on the verge of shifting towards the tastes I have today, yet I was not quite ready to dismiss the past and empty my CD collection of the bands that regularly graced the small screen and the small town radio stations I listened to religiously each and every night.

So there I was, sitting on the lawn with some friends, waiting to get in contact with other friends when I couldn't help but notice the noise the opening band was making. I stood up to get a look. From the distance I could make out three people, two men and a woman, that's it. But the noise. It was this Sonic Youth fan's dream come true. I filed the name of the band, Blonde Redhead, in the back of my mind, enjoyed the remainder of the show, and the rest is history.

As shocking is it may seem on the surface, the pairing of Blonde Redhead on a bill with two of alternative rock's biggest icons is nothing out of the ordinary given the band's history for their penchant of conflict and balance. Nearly everything about the band relies on one or the other, from the bands makeup (two Italian men and a Japanese woman), to their connections as people (singer/multi instrumentalist Kazu Makino is married to singer/guitarist Amadeo Pace, drummer Simone Pace is Amadeo's twin brother), their album titles (1997's Fake Can Be Just As Good, 1998's In an Expression of the Inexpressible), song titles ("Futurism Vs. Passeism", "Hated Because Of Great Qualities", and "Loved Despite Of Great Faults"), and even the name of the band itself, which suggests either a conflict or balance in hair color.

23, the latest release from Blonde Redhead, is no exception, only this time the conflict and balance is more in the album's tone and style than anything else. The album opens with the magnificent title track, a beautiful swirl of Kazu's gorgeous singing and yelping, Amadeo's best Loveless style guitar playing, and Simone's percise drumming. The song is the perfect foreshadow for what the listener can expect from the rest of the album, which is the marriage of Misery Is a Butterfly's lush production to the balanced instrumentation found on Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. This is how Misery, would have sounded if it were more raw, and how Melody might have sounded if it had better production. Which isn't to say that fans of yore should start picketing for an Unwound reunion (we should all be doing that regardless), even the old fans get some love with tracks like "Dr. Strangeluv" and "Spring and By Summer Fall", songs that, at their core, would not sound terribly out of place on La Mia Vita Violenta and Fake Can Be Just As Good respectively.

The album's strongest point is its second half. "Silently" is a bouncy pop song, reminiscent of the 80s new wave that Blonde Redhead's initial influences rebelled against. "Publisher" is the perfect culmination of Misery and Melody, and like most of the best Blonde Redhead songs, regardless of what album, have Amadeo and Kazu both taking lead vocals. "Top Ranking", perhaps this reviewer's favorite song on the album, is as striking for its foray into Japanese electro-pop as it is for hearing Kazu's voice with little or no effects. The album's closer, the spacey "My Impure Hair" returns brings the album full circle with its shoegaze sound, and is also noteworthy for its use of acoustic guitar.

It is hard to believe that it has been over twelve years since Blonde Redhead released their first album, and that six albums later they are still pushing the envelope and making artistic, creative, and thoughtful music. 23 might not be the best Blonde Redhead album of the bunch, but it is still an exquisite piece of work that, if nothing else, does and excellent job of representing the band both then and now.

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Live Review: The Ponys w/ Deerhunter

April 6th, 2007

The Record Bar

Kansas City, MO

Lately I've been on a no drinking or smoking kick.

Normally that first sentence would have absolutely nothing to do with a concert review, but this is an exception. I needed to put it out in the open because now I can competently explain why I was a little worried that I might not enjoy this show. Not because I thought the bands would suck, though to be honest I was a little concerned that Deerhunter's sound might not translate as well in the live setting. No, the reason why I was worried is because I feel that if past experiences have taught me anything, it is that Deerhunter is a band that best listened to while stoned, and that the Ponys are a band best seen while drunk. Being neither of the two (unless you count drunk on POWER! MWUHHAHAHAHAHAH!!!) I was a little concerned how the night would go. My fears went unfounded though as both bands provided sets with faithful renditions of songs off albums that have proved to be highlights in the first few months of 2007.

Deerhunter took the stage and opened with one of my favorite tracks from the critically acclaimed (and Midwest Music and More favorite) "Lake Somerset". One thing I had forgotten about Deerhunter is how danceable they could be, but this song, as well as a few others in the set, provided a swift reminder. The band quickly went into the album intro and the title track before playing a set that thankfully focused mainly on the albums actual songs, which are, in this humble writer's opinion, rather tasty. The closed the night with the stoner friendly jam "Octet", its hopping bass making even the most stoic of listeners nod their heads. The song, and the set, ended with a Sonic Youth style wall of noise that seemingly every band ends their set with these days, which really isn't a complaint even if it sounds like one.

The Ponys came on next after a tricky soundcheck where most microphones sounded "okay" (as opposed to "great" or even "good") and one barely even worked. Despite these potential sound disasters, the band seemed to be in a good mood this time, which is something I can't say about the last performance of theirs I attended in Lawrence back in 2005. Singer Jared Gummere wore a flannel shirt, prompting Girlfriend to comment, "he looks like he just stepped out of the 90s". But really, so does the bands music. The best thing I can say about seeing the Ponys live is that it is like taking all the best parts of Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes and rolling them into one. The band opened with the Pixies-esque "Harakiri", then went into the Sonic Youth-esque "Poser Psychotic". Even if you have never heard the band before, you probably know where this is going. The band front loaded their set with a smattering of songs from their latest album turn the Lights Out before playing a few choice cuts off Celebration Castle. The band ended the night with a blistering rendition of "Pickpocket Song", extending the already lengthy outro into a raucous coda.

In all, the night was great. Both bands were fantastic despite sounding a little dated. It is possible that while seeing Deerhunter or the Ponys you'll have a flashback to another show that occurred 10 to 20 years prior on the exact same stage. Perhaps that is exactly what both bands are trying to invoke. Regardless of their musical leanings, this is a double bill that should not be missed.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Heads Up!

Keeping You Posted About Things I Like Since April 5th, 2007

KJHK's Farmer's Ball kicks off tonight at the Jackpot in Lawrence with Coat Party, Ample Branches, Suzanna Johannes, and KTP. It continues tomorrow with Young Tree, The Kinetiks, Attack on Uranus, and Wood Roses. The finalists advance to play the Bottleneck on Sunday. My money's on either Coat Party or The Kinetiks, but I could see Wood Roses sneaking in there as well. Of course, never underestimate a punk band and their ability to self promote. If KTP can get all of their friends to come out and make some noise, they could walk away with the prize too.

Also on Friday you have your choice of seeing the beautiful songstress Neko Case at the Bottleneck or getting gritty with The Ponys and Deerhunter at the Record Bar.

On Tuesday, Bright Eyes releases his latest album Cassadaga. From what I've heard, the kid is all grown up, which is funny because he's 3 years older than I am, so he's not really a kid. Also, the highly anticipated album from Blonde Redhead, titled 23, finally hits stores too. If you're anything like me, you couldn't wait to hear it and have already been grooving on it for a month. Its fantastic, I must say. I will (hopefully) have a review of it in time for the album's release.

The next day, Yo La Tengo make their first stop in Lawrence since September of '03 in what will surely be an amazing show. I've seen them 3 times now and they have yet to disappoint. The same night my friend Justin's band, Well, Gentlemen, plays the Jackpot opening for Antelope.

On Thursday, a week from today, go see Boo and Boo Too play the Replay Lounge with Wichita's Paper Airplanes. Don't ask questions, just do it!

Finally, on Saturday, the Faint play an afternoon show on the KU Lied Center's Lawn for the annual, then canceled, and now annual again Day On the Hill. Those of you who weren't dancing to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at last year's show can make up for it by losing your shit, I'm sorry, shirts at this year's show.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Recommended Album of the Week: LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

New York may be a city with plenty of twist but a severe lack of shout, as James Murphy describes on Sound of Silver's final track, "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down", but there's more than enough of both on this album to go around.

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Album Review

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

Those unfamiliar with the band yet know that Warp, the band's label, is renowned for its cutting edge electronic acts might have assumed that Warp pressed the wrong album, or that perhaps Grizzly Bear pulled a Doves on us. Both would be incorrect, though the latter does come a bit closer than the former. In actuality, Yellow House is just the natural progression from their first release, Horn of Plenty, and all the better for it.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

New Old Album Reviews

The Faint


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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Playing spot the influence while listening to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self titled album is like shooting fish in a barrel, taking candy from a baby, using an old cliché, etc. It is something you have to endure if you want to be a fan of the band, so feel free to check out now if you thought you might be stumbling upon something truly original.

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The Arcade Fire

It started simply enough with a trickling of piano, a rhythmic bass line, and rising vocals. I had my head nodding, yeah, but little did I know that about four minutes later I would be jumping for joy, singing woo-ooh with the choir and rejoicing the arrival of the Arcade Fire. The album may be called Funeral, but if this is their funeral then I would love to see them party.

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Nostalgic Music Video of the Day: Smashing Pumpkins - "Disarm"

Earlier today I was cleaning out my inbox when I noticed an e-mail from CMJ. Now, I get about 2 e-mails a day from the esteemed music mag, but this one caught my eye because it mentioned the Smashing Pumpkins and the upcoming release of their new album.

It might be worth noting that, back in my more formative years I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. I remember reading a phrase describing Pumpkins fans as the kind of kids that would drink whatever Kool-Aid Billy gave them, and I certainly fit the description. Now that I'm older I have come to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was a bit too fanatical about the band, and have since toned it down. It also didn't hurt that I woke up one day realizing that the band I used to love was not flawless like I had previously thought for so many years. Songs like "Tales of a Scorched Earth" no longer resonate with this 24 year old the same way they once did the with 14 year old. Still, no matter what I think of their catalog (early stuff great, later stuff hit and miss), their drama (glad you're alive Jimmy, but who's playing bass?), and their singer (Billy the Egomaniac), I still to this day take notice when I see or hear the band's name.

The article was a short one, it just told of the release date of the new album, something I had already known for a while, but it got the old nostalgic juices flowing. I can't tell if I miss the old Pumpkins, or if I miss the old SonicRyan that listened to Smashing Pumpkins (which, coincidentally, is actually the young Ryan). Either way, here's a classic video from one of my old favorite bands.

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