Thursday, June 21, 2007

Seriously, WTF?!?

I hope I'm not the only one that finds this disturbing. I don't think this is what Kurt had in mind when he sang "Rape Me". No, come to think of it this is probably exactly what he meant. On a related note, whose dick did Phillip Morris have to suck to get that kind of free advertising?

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Live Review: Hot Chip w/ Tortoise (Better Later Than Never, Right?)

June 16, 2007

Granada Theater

Lawrence, KS

Last Saturday's co-headlining show was one that I had marked on my calendar for quite some time, though I must admit mainly because of Tortoise. I'm by no means a Tortoise superfan, but I do enjoy their music immensely when I'm in the mood, and really enjoyed their brief set at 2005's Austin City Limits Festival. I should also admit that I was a little upset to find out Hot Chip was headlining the show. To me, Hot Chip seemed like a flash in the pan compared to Tortoise, who not only have longevity on their side but a legitimate claim to having spearheaded the genre of post-rock (even if that genre has expanded so much it has rendered the term "post-rock" meaningless), not to mention their skill as actual musicians would surely overshadow a bunch of synth-poppers, right? The night before the show I forced myself to listen to Hot Chip's latest album The Warning at my friend and fellow blogger Nicole's house, and though I liked the album I was still not expecting to be blown away come show time. So, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, I was blown away. Little did I know that these 5 nerdy looking Brits would put on the year's hottest concert both literally and figuratively.

Tortoise was already playing when we arrived. I couldn't tell you what song for sure, again, I'm no super-fan, but I do know that the set featured a fairly healthy mix of songs old and newer. The band is not exactly the most exciting to watch. They do provide a screen with visual imagery, but honestly even the visuals were a little boring. The excitement from seeing Tortoise live is getting to hear a great band play a tight set that blends rock, jazz, fusion, funk, and ambient sounds, often times in one song.

The band constructed their set perfectly, loading the front part of their hour-and-a-half set with longer, slower building songs that crescendo late, if at all, which created some tension as the audience (most of whom were eager to dance to the night's headliner, mind you) applauded politely but secretly craved something a little more exciting. The band built on this tension by working in songs that take their time to building to a crescendo before relaxing again, which satisfied the audience some, but clearly there were others who wanted a little more punch and a quicker resolution. Tortoise answered by finishing the set off with a few rock songs. These songs would build early and remain intense throughout. Since the Tortoise's rock songs are much shorter than their others, they were able to play several in a row which worked the crowd up to a near frenzy. Tortoise finished their set, but much to my surprise they came out for an encore, a rarity even for co-headlining tours (or at least the ones I've been to), and focused again on some of the more ambient-rock and and fusion songs. Overall, I was incredibly impressed with their performance. Because of the Granada's small size I was able to see the band better than the last time. Even though they're by no means exciting to watch, it is still a treat to witness five incredible musicians all playing together, especially when there's dueling vibraphones.

As for Hot Chip, I don't have anything poignant to say about their set - Hell, I really only know two of their songs well - but that doesn't mean I don't have anything nice to say. One thing that is certain is that I was more than pleasantly surprised when, a few minutes into the first song, I found myself dancing like a fool in a sea of sweaty boys and girls. This really is no minor feat either, considering one of the air conditioners was broken that night (as if they would use it anyway, cheapskates!) and the temperature inside of the Granada was something comparable to the outer rim of the sun, or an oven at the very least.

Like Tortoise, Hot Chip also constructed their set perfectly. Each song would build on the energy created by the one preceding it, which created a pulse in the Granada that intensified throughout the entire venue before culminating and hour later with their "hit" song "Over and Over", which was anything but laid back despite Alexis Taylor's repeating of the phrase. I've been to Faint and Rapture shows that were tamer than the dance-pit during Hot Chip. I will admit that after "Over and Over" I lost a little bit of interest. "Over and Over" may not be their best song on record, but it sure as shit killed live. Though I'm sure it will pain some people to read it, I have to say that there really was no topping that song. Fortunately, this gave Girlfriend and I an opportunity to try and check on poor ailing Nicole, and rest my weary feet after a long day of working and dancing.

Despite the post-hit comedown, seeing Hot Chip completely changed my opinion of the band. I still might not enjoy their albums as much as some other people, but any band that can make me bust a move for at least an hour straight in that kind of heat deserves at least some credit. Way to go Hot Chip! Way to go.

But seriously, this was one of the best shows I've been to in quite some time. Perhaps it is because I was so pleasantly surprised, but in honesty I think its a testament to how Tortoise, and especially Hot Chip, have the ability to do their thing incredibly well in a live setting. Like I said at the beginning of the review, this was easily the best show I've seen so far this year.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Music Musings

Hey there, Nicole here again. As I haven't posted much lately, I thought I'd offer some recent music-related ramblings.

Arcade Fire Tours w/ LCD Soundsystem
I admit I'm intrigued by the coupling. The Arcade Fire seems far more capable of following up an LCD dance-fest than say, some other bands I've seen paired with dancier acts. I'm still unsure how I feel about the Tortoise/Hot Chip matchup, and though I was sadly turned away at the Granada door, I've heard the 2003 Rapture/Shins tour was a bit of a letdown. (I'm still itching to write a column about the shows that got away...) Word has it that the LCD/Arcade tour will kick off sometime in September and conclude in mid-October. That means, even if they were to visit the piddling Midwest, they will likely arrive on Sept. 12 or 13, no doubt adding to that whole Flaming Lips/Blonde Redhead/Devendra Banhart debacle.

About That Hot Chip Show...
Admittedly I missed much of Tortoise, as I was then experiencing the beginnings of an illness the likes I haven't seen since last year's bad shroom trip. Thankfully I was able to pull myself together for Hot Chip. I'm fairly new to the world of electro-pop, dance, techno, and so on (I have the Rapture to thank for my initiation, as I'm sure many a indie fan can concur). What I can say is that if you come to a dance band show -- and you dance -- you are going to have a good time.

On a side note: Alexis Taylor, the owner of that sexy, soulful voice, looked like one of my grade school classmates with his shorn hair, oversized glasses, and wife beater (you know, one of those kids) -- I admit I was elated to see him compel so many people to dance like sex-crazed maniacs, myself included. As a one-time hard-core-dork (I too had the oversized glasses), this scene warmed my heart. On a final side note: Succumbing to food poisoning in a public bathroom with a line of drunk bitches behind you is NOT an ideal situation.

(This picture is more dorky-cool, but you can imagine.)

What's the 'Deeler'?
More than a few friends have said of the band Memomena, "I didn't want to like them..." And yet, they do. They really, really do. At first listen, the band may seem like conventional fare, with their often poppy vocals and penchant for catchy hooks. Dare I say the album Friend or Foe is a grower?

After repeat listenings, I was surprised by the attention to detail that undoubtedly resulted from the band's use of its own computer recording system (called Digital Looping Recorder, or Deeler.) Drummer Danny Seim explains Deeler in an In Music We Trust interview: "First, we set the tempo of the click, which is played through a pair of headphones. We then take turns passing a single mic around the room. One of us will hold the mic in front of an instrument, while another one of us will lay down a short improvised riff over the click track. We usually start with the drums. Once the drums begin looping, we throw on some bass, piano, guitar, bells, sax, or whatever other sort of noisemaker happens to be in the room. Deeler keeps the process democratic, which is the only way we can operate."

Check out Memomena rockin' "The Pelican" live on Juan's Basement here. You can see them play the Bottleneck in Lawrence this Friday, 6/22, tickets $9.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Album Review: The Twilight Glad?

Grade: 89%

What the Others Think:

Pitchfork Score: 8.6
Tiny Mix Tapes Score: N/A
Coke Machine Glow Score: 64% (ouch!)

(It's Nicole here... Long time no see. The following is a review I submitted to the Pitchfork Music Festival review contest. Fingers crossed!)

For a band that purports to be the Twilight Sad, it’s been a while since I’ve heard an album so full of joy. Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters is a blissfully dark debut that wallows in the delights and despairs of childhood. What listener couldn’t relate to that?

If the album art of a child gleefully holding a pillow over another child’s face fails to signal the dreariness afoot, one can consider the titles: “Cold Days from the Birdhouse,” “And She Would Darken the Memory,” “Last Year’s Rain Didn’t Fall Quite So Hard.” Then there are the lyrics themselves, speaking of the apathy of parents, the despair following the death of a child, the pain of leaving the family nest. When James Graham shrieks, “The kids are on fire in the bedroom,” one recalls the Arcade Fire’s similarly dark yet triumphant debut Funeral, in which Win Butler wails about children dying in the snow: “Look at them go, look at them go!”

Graham’s thick Scottish accent might alienate some listeners, but its heaviness matches the weight of the music – and the subject matter – seamlessly. Although at times indecipherable, the lyrics strike the listener “like a knife in your chest.” The guitar hits you like a knife in your chest, too; at times heavy and bold, at times dissonant and dizzying.

Indeed the music is sprawling, and though the term is overused by many a music journalist, atmospheric. “Last Year’s Rain Didn’t Fall Quite So Hard” swirls and builds, priming us for the subsequent three tracks, the album’s centerpiece. “Talking with Fireworks” puts the spotlight on drummer Mark Devine, backed by My-Bloody-Valentine-esque guitar. In “Mapped by What Surrounded Them,” the theme of innocence marred by experience is encapsulated by the protagonist’s choice of playthings: “And she’s cutting herself with stain glass window, and she’s playing with her toys.” The track is perhaps the best example of the band’s aptitude for economy: at just over four minutes, the listener encounters a dense sonic experience that never feels rushed, anemic. Consider the twinklings that conclude this track and many others – the Twilight Sad understand that you can’t run this hard for this long without a cool-down lap.

Finally we encounter the album’s seventh track, “And She Would Darken the Memory.” As the title suggests, this is the darkest song on the album, and the band’s masterstroke. When Graham wails over fierce drum beats and heavy bass, we want to wail along with him. When he sings, “I’m putting in the boot tonight,” we know to get out of the way.

How can such a dreary album fill listeners with glee? Perhaps it’s simply because it's exceptional music. But maybe it’s also because of the common experience echoed here: the inseparable pleasures and pains of growing up, of growing old. Perhaps it’s because The Twilight Sad know what it’s like to be “so far from home,” and because they can say it so much more eloquently than we can.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Damn Tease!

Bits and pieces of Radiohead's seventh album.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Pitchfork just posted the Flaming Lips fall tour, much to my initial excitement. "Finally," I thought, "the Flaming Lips are going to have a KC area non-festival headlining show, the first since 2000's Soft Bulletin-era show at the Granada." What happened next was a kick in the balls. The Flaming Lips' long awaited headlining show is scheduled the same day as Blonde Redhead's long awaited midwest appearance at the Blue Note in Columbia. Fuck, damn, motherfucker! What is a blogger to do? Both shows have their high points and drawbacks: The Lips shows are usually nothing short of a serious mindfuck adventure in how to entertain an audience, but Wayne's voice is often so off-key live that you often only remember what you saw, not what you heard, while Blonde Redhead usually sound incredible live but don't do a damn thing worth watching. Also, the Lips show is going to be outrageously expensive, but the Blonde Redhead show means I'll have to drive 3+ hours there and back. What really kicks me in the pants is both shows are on my mother's 50th birthday, which means that there's a chance I won't be able to go to either one of them.




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Captain's Blog

On Monday, yours truely was supposed to hit up the Bloc Party show and hand out Noisettes stickers for Filter Magazine, but the package never came. Since I'm not a big fan of any of the bands on the bill, I decided on $6 pitchers at a nearby restaurant and a night out with the boys in Boo and Boo Too. I watched their set at the Record Bar (seeing them live is definitely the way to go), caught up with Oscar the Grouch and Drew Gibson, both of whom are also in Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, and left for a party where I ran into Rich Boy and fellow sandwich maker Kyle, er...Carl Redcorn. They have a show at McCoy's on Saturday with the Architects, which should be a blast if you like your rock 'n roll loud 'n snotty.

Tuesday was a pretty tame day. No concerts, barely any music listening. I did catch Feist on Conan, which I was hoping to post on here, but as of this writing I have not seen it on YouTube. She played "1 2 3 4" with about 12 backup singers, 4 of which were Grizzly Bear, her current tour mates.

Today was nice because I found out that Do Make Say Think are coming (even if it is several months off), Blonde Redhead will be playing Columbia, read a great review for Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation Deluxe Edition on Pitchfork, and also read that Radiohead is "nearly there" on their latest album.

On a different note, I learned recently that Conner, one of the better Lawrence bands around, was calling it a day at the end of June after their seemingly annual show with Austin's AM Syndicate. The band's MySpace bulletin gave no indication as to why the split was taking place. I was already super stoked about this show after hearing the new AM Syndicate songs on their MySpace page (a far cry from the ear splitting, yet melodic sound of two years ago), but knowing now this is Conner's last show makes it even more special. See you there?

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Catching Up

Just because we took a break from the blog for a while doesn't mean we stopped listening to new music. Here are some recent releases that would have made Recommended Album of the Week status had we updated more frequently. Though none of them have full, proper reviews written for them (yet) I thought we should still share our thoughts with you. (Edit: These are all my (Ryan's) opinions. Nicole's may vary.)

Twilight Sad

Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

Scottish rockers sound a bit like My Bloody Valentine to me and Interpol to Nicole, and fucking awesome to both of us.

Andrew Bird

Armchair Apocrypha

The Bird-man's rockin' (for him, at least) new album isn't his best, but it still sounds good and has been getting a lot of play recently despite its release many months ago.

The National


Clap Your Hands may have stolen the attention from them a few years back when the two bands toured together, but the National have the last laugh in Boxer, which is a near flawless album. If we were doing year end lists now, this would be my personal #1.



I don't know how to describe this album, except that it's like an aural acid trip. Really, REALLY looking forward to their Record Bar show.


The Reminder

Ms. Feist just might have the sexiest voice in rock music right now, 'nuff said. Actually, there is that whole bit about The Reminder being one of the year's best albums too. Oh, and did I mention that voice?

Older Favorites

Flaming Lips


One part genius mixed with the idea that listening to music should be an experience as well as an indulgence, and perhaps some illegal substances and the mad scientist production skills of Dave Fridmann thrown in as well, form one of the most amazing albums I've ever heard, even if I've only heard it 5 times in my life.


Gimme Fiction

I can listen to Spoon just about any time, and rather than burn myself out on an album that's not technically released yet, I've been digging their 2005 release pretty heavily lately.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

File Under: Thanks Jason Harper!

Thank you, Pitch music editor and author of the Wayward Blog, Jason Harper, for pimping us out recently. Reading that just a second ago really made my day!

On a side note, I spent too much money on booze in Lawrence last night (cheap beer at Free State + $1.50 Wells at Replay = why did I move to KC again?) and forgot to replenish my funds and do not have enough cash to see Albert Hammond, Jr. tonight. Yes, I have failed you.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Nostalgic Music Video of the Day: Flaming Lips - "She Don't Use Jelly"

Its been a while since we've done one of these, hasn't it? Long enough for I Guess I'm Floating to steal our idea (sort of).

Lately I've been on a medium sized Flaming Lips kick (for larger Flaming Lips kicks see last summer, and Fall of 2003). I even recently got together with fellow blogger Nicole and our respective significant others for a Zaireeka listening party, which I assure you is more fun than it probably sounds (so much so that I considered an entire blog on just how amazing that album, and the experience of listening to that album, truly is). As a result, I found it fitting to come back with the most famous Lips song and video: She Don't Use Jelly.

What I find so fascinating about this song, and the band, is that this song represents the middle period of the Flaming Lips perfectly. It is not as sloppy and loud as their pre-Warner days, yet not nearly as majestic and tight as they would become later, though traces of both the early and later phases are noticeable. The Flaming Lips, perhaps more than any other band, released albums that grew on one another to the point that after two decades of making music the sounds are entirely different. Yet, if you listened to each album in order of their release, it would all make perfect sense.

As for the video, its pretty standard 90s. Band plays somewhere indoors, outdoors, cut to scenes that vaguely relate to the song in some fashion, and scene. One thing I remember is that when I was young, I used to have a crush on the girl in the tub. I wonder who she is and where she is now? Was she a relative of Wayne's? A friend perhaps? It does seem like the only way to be in a Flaming Lips video is to be a friend of the band's, or Spongebob.

One more thing that I have to ask before I go is this: Why the hell is it necessary to take your unplugged electric instruments, a snare drum, and pretend to play them in the video? I mean, you could bring a high hat and and practice amp too if you want, but don't go out of your way to convince me that you're actually playing the song or anything. This is certainly not the only video where you'll see it, of course. I just felt that some attention needed to be brought to the matter. It wasn't until "Hardest Button to Button" that anyone finally got it right.

Well, without further ado, here's the Flaming Lips:

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