Friday, June 29, 2007

Interlude: Excuses For Travellers

(Upstate NY: pretty, but rather boring.)

Not to be too melodramatic, but I think I'm suffering what I'd consider to be a crisis of will. It's not completely due to personal (lack of) effort - Windows Vista demonstrates a remarkable inclination to crash, avoid like plague - nor is this lethargy limited to things musical and bloggerizable. But yeah, I'm having issues uploading onto Filexoom, which is why there's been a void of content here. Still, one has to try. In case you missed it...

One of the more exciting developments of the day is Stars announcing their fourth LP, In Our Bedroom After The War, to be released on September 25. You know that I love this band, but I think the track Pitchfork is offering will appeal to everyone, not just Arts & Crafts fanatics. A Fall US/UK tour is also in the works.

MP3: Stars - The Night Starts Here

Another band I really need to see is Fields, who have teamed up with an unlikely trio of producers for some dancefloor ready remixes. Although the group has an electronic element, these reworked tracks definitely offer a stylistic disparirt, although that's not necessary a bad a thing.

Did anyone go to the Mahogany show last night at Studio B? Apparently shoegaze was out in force, with Robin Guthrie joining them (and Andrew Prinz returning the favor in Guthrie's set). I wish I could have been there, but I'm sure I'll see the band again in the future. I'm longing for photos or writeups that might pop up, please share!

MP3: Mahogany - My Bed is My Castle
MP3: Mahogany - Supervitesse
MP3: Mahogany - Springtime, Save Our Country

Hope that redeems me somewhat. More (original) content to come, hopefully sooner than later...

Monday, June 25, 2007

You Walk Like A Peasant, Los Campesinos!

Okay. Things have been kinda stagnating around hereabouts of late, and like a hiccuping FM station, I'd like to introduce some format changes, or more accurate, diversification. While live music in its recorded and witnessed form is still my bread and butter, I'd like to add some spice, to mix to metaphors. So expect these quicker, blurby featurettes for at least the next couple months (until I get back to the city).

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Los Campesinos!, whom you may know as Arts & Crafts' newest signee. Instead of being a member of the ever proliferating Canadian scene, this group hails from the UK. They're not for everyone, and it's understandable if you're turned off by their frenetic, accented noise pop. However, I'm quite taken by their dense, jubilantly frivolous sound, and I think it straddles the line between pretty and crazy really well. Their EP proper, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, doesn't come out for a couple of weeks, but you can find a pair of songs the band is sharing below. They play at the Mercury Lounge on August 9th and 10th.

MP3: Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)
MP3: Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
MySpace: Los Campesinos!
Official Site: Los Campesinos!
Buy: Here

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Home: Ben Gibbard in Seattle, Day Two

What really struck me about these two Ben Gibbard sets is how enthusiastic the crowd response is throughout. Of course, it's bound to be elevated due to location, but the atmosphere seems pretty consistent with the way that many people regarded this solo tour (extreme anticipation). A few years ago, I'dve thought it unthinkable that a mere singer-songwriter could demand such a fuss, but I can still recall making a note to check out this Postal Service band in that haze of pre-musical awareness, which I suppose is a testament to the appeal of his songwriting. I almost wonder why he doesn't just go and release a proper solo album; after all, bandmate Chris Walla has It's Unsustainable coming out some time this year (allegedly).

So here's day two of his two day stay at the Showbox in Seattle, recording on May 21st, 2007. Major thanks again to Michael for catching it all on tape.

1. Steadier Footing
2. We Will Become Silhouettes
3. Why You'd Want To Live Here
4. Photobooth
5. I Was A Kalidescope
6. Title and Registration
7. Crooked Teeth
8. (This Is) The Dream of Evan Chan
9. Passenger Seat
10. Soul Meets Body
11. We Looked Like Giants
12. It'll Be A Breeze (Roderick Cover)
13. 405
14. A Lack of Color
15. Farmer Chords / Brand New Colony
16. I Will Follow You Into The Dark
17. Blacking Out The Friction
18. All Apologies (Nirvana Cover)
19. The Sound of Settling
20. Nothing Better
21. Such Great Heights

.zip of both sets: Here

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Week That Was #17: Happy To Be Here

So my from charts from last week are pretty incomplete, thanks to various technical catastrophes, but they still manage to do a decent job of encapsulating what's been tickling my ear drums recently. But before all the new stuff, I feel obliged to return to an older favorite...

I kind of squandered my chance to give Fields' Everything Last Winter the full-on review treatment, but I've come to the realization that criticism (even positive) is one of the least appealing aspects of this whole music blogging gig. All I can say is that I really like this album, and while it perhaps reaches for those major label-endorsed anthems, it's done in a way that I find consistently appealing. I managed to miss them no less than three times in the span of a few weeks back home, but hopefully they'll be back in the fall. Anyways, here's one of my favorite tracks, a pleasantly synthy track that gets really gorgeous in its last fourth. Head over to Chromewaves for some more multimedia goodness, and to i guess i'm floating for a trio of alternate takes.

MP3: Fields - Skulls and Flesh and More
Buy: Here

It's funny where you can pick up recommendations. A few weeks ago, I was perusing the New York Times' Arts Section, where they gave an unprecedented amount of room to electronic events of that particular week. One of the picks was Gui Boratto, and although his Kompakt labelmate the Field (not to be confused with the above group) has received more accolades, Gui recently released a fine album in Chromophobia. While I wouldn't go as far as the Times to call "Beautiful Life" a "revelation," it's still a good one.

MP3: Gui Boratto - Beautiful Life
Buy: Here

Thank arbitrary deity for new releases. I had a vague acquaintance to Trembling Blue Stars before their latest album, The Last Holy Writer, which is to say, I gave The Seven Autumn Flowers a distracted listen, and then lost it when my external hard drive crashed. Thankfully, I got reacquainted courtesy of Skatterbrain, and "Idyllwild" has quickly become one of my favorite tracks, period. But in the interest of fairness, here's a song that doesn't feature the sublime Beth Arzy as prominently (although she sings back-up), but rather Robert Wratten, who seems to be channelling Neil Halstead rather well.

MP3: Trembling Blue Stars - November Starlings
Buy: Here

And, all things being equal, here's Beth's other band, Aberdeen. I've come to the realization that I tend to cluster; if I really like a particular artist, I'll scour the the various resources on the right for additional projects, and it seems that these days, everyone has a side project or two. Again, the highlight of this group is Beth's voice, although I'm a bit mystified as to what people mean when they call something twee. Whatever it is, I like it.

MP3: Aberdeen - Sink Or Float
Buy: Here

I was really excited when Seefeel was described to me as a bridge between shoegaze and electronica, but I think I may have picked the wrong album. Succour, far from providing the aid its title implies, is a stark, somewhat harsh work, and pretty difficult to get into, at least without some effort. I haven't really spent enough time with it, but I am intrigued enough to delve deeper. Stay tuned...

MP3: Seefeel - When Face Was Face
Buy: Here

Monday, June 11, 2007

X-Amounts: Sneaker Pimps on KCRW

One of the great musical tragedies, as far as I'm concerned, was the departure of Kelli Dayton from Sneaker Pimps. Although the exact circumstances surrounding this split remain ambiguous, it is apparent that it resulted in a drastic change in direction for the group, and I'm unconvinced that it was for the better. It seems unthinkable to dispose of the voice beyond a song as immortal as "6 Underground," but a similar schism occurred following the equally incredible "Unfinished Sympathy." Although I inevitably align myself with Becoming X-era Sneaker Pimps, I must grudgingly give some credit to the group for a bold move, discordant as it is with my own tastes. But perhaps things have come full circle, as word on the Wiki is that their next album, whenever it's to come, features another female vocalist. Funny how that works out.

Anyhow, here's their KCRW set from November 2nd, 2000, which, like it or not, features Chris Corner on vocals (including "Low Place Like Home," which was originally sung by Kelli). Kudos to them for actually addressing the lineup change.


1. Intro
2. Kiro TV
3. Sick
4. Miami Counting
5. Interview
6. Blue Movie
7. Loretta Young Silks
8. Low Five
9. Outro
10. Black Sheep
11. O Type
12. Low Place Like Home

Bonus Tracks:
MP3: Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground
MP3: Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground (Nellee Hooper Edit)

Sugar: Here

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Nothing and Nowhere: Ride's Black Session

I need to listen to Ride more. Although I possess the shoegazing classic, Nowhere, I haven't heard it nearly enough, and I'm completely in the dark as far as newer stuff goes - although I do know that one song shares a name with one of my favorite blogs. But I am pleased to have heard the single, "Vapour Trail," probably one of the few 'gazing tracks that can be considered anthemic. There were apparently rumors of a reunion this year, but those seem to died down, which is probably for the best, considering the obscene number of other groups that are reuniting. On the other hand, even from my limited knowledge, it seems that they could really pull off the whole reunion thing; if I'm not mistaken, they eschewed fuzz for Britpop in latter years, and bassist Andy Bell joined some group called Oasis. So, they're pretty accessible, with conventional song structure, understandable singing, and all that good stuff, but for that reason, I guess they don't quite do as much for me as some of their dreamier peers. I generally go for overall sound before lyrics, generally preferring abstract pop songs to more literal ones, but in any case, I suppose I should give Nowhere, et al, some attention.

Anyhow, here's the band's Black Session, recorded on February 6th, 1994, along with said "Vapour Trail," as well as a cover by Trespassers William.


MP3: Ride - Vapour Trail
MP3: Trespassers William - Vapour Trail

1. How Does It Feel To Feel?
2. One Thousand Miles
3. Let's Get Lost
4. 0X4
5. Natural Grace
6. Birdman
7. Only Now
8. Magical Spring
9. Chelsea Girl
10. End of the Universe
11. Drive Blind

Buy a Ride: Here

In other news....

Do check out Pitchfork's interview and stream of Emma Pollock's new single, "Adrenaline."

MP3: Emma Pollock - Limbs

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interlude: Scale

Sorry, guys. That's the biggest gap in posts since my week in Florence, but it's officially over. I'm well and truly upstate now, and while that's about as far from my preferred urban environment as you can get, I think the setting will do me some good. But you can be happy to hear that I went out with a bang, although that might be my eardrums giving out after one of the largest daily doses of music I've enjoyed since CMJ week. And all that sounded unnecessarily nostalgic, it probably was, but I feel like the next couple months are an interim (with very few shows in sight) before the next major stage of my life, and I'm glad that, if nothing else, I got my fix.


So the scene was set: June 1st, with (inevitable) light rain, but more importantly, the inaugural show of the Seaport Festival concert series. I hadn't really considered attending this particular one, but the idea seemed so popular with my like-minded friends that I figured I had nothing to lose. In retrospect, in might pay to be more selective (or simply more conscious of whom I actually want to see) next time. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We made a bit of a roundabout trip to the Seaport, taking the Shuttle to Times Square and the 1/2/3 Line down (I had to make a pit stop - thanks Joe!), and arrived in the midst of Danielson's set. The group was six uniformed members strong, but with frontman Daniel Smith inevitably demanding the bulk of one's attention. It's fitting that Sufjan guests on the album Ships, because the set resembled some warped version of the Illinoisemakers, albeit a screechy and freakier version. In the end, I could reasonably conclude that they were generally not my thing, but the fantastic "Did I Step On Your Trumpet?" made the whole experience worthwhile.

MP3: Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet?
Official Site: Danielson

Animal Collective

I try to maintain some semblance of objectivity here, but Animal Collective's set bored me to tears, or more accurately, severe ankle cramps and mild claustrophobia. Things started off well enough, with a kickin' tribal beat, but the apparent inclination to "play new songs" made for repetitive, difficult hour, and an acquaintance that actually enjoyed Feels said she didn't recognize any of the songs. I'm sorry to say that I walked out early (a first), but I will give Feels another go before I dismiss them entirely; the giant crowd that was in attendance can't all be wrong. To make up for all that hatin', here's a recording of a set they played at Haverford College on April 23rd, 2005. Incidentally, they also played last fall at NYU, so I guess it's a bit of a tradition.

1. People
2. White Antelope
3. Banshee Beat
4. Lake
5. We Tigers
6. Daffy Duck
7. Country
8. Grass
9. Muffins
10. Big Big Bea
11. Kids On Holiday
12. Baby Day
Official Site: Animal Collective

Reggie Watts

After a rather lackluster couple of sets, I was somewhat relieved to be heading to a drastic change of scenery. You might remember my last time at Crashin'In, in which a very good time was had, and this night was equally excellent. I can't recommend the experience enough, and despite the fact that some part of Galapagos is apparently relocating, this fantastic concert series will be sticking around. Reggie Watts kicked things off, and I have to admit that my expectations (he was billed as a spoken word artist) didn't prepare me for the awesomeness that ensued. I'm gushing, aren't I? So much for objectivity.

Anyways, Reggie started off with a beatbox, which he then looped to create a steady beat, and then unleashed incredibly soulful singing, tongue-in-cheek-but-still-effective rapping (for example, making a stack out of unspeakable four letter words), and best of all, random interjections. These consisted of hilarious anecdotes, delivered in his radio-worthy voice, although he'd go on and morph said voice into all manners of accents, and at one point used distortion to make it resemble everyone's favorite daemonic entity (seriously). It's really remarkable what this man can do with his vocal cords and some cut-and-pasting. Another (well deserved) hyperbole goes here.

Official Site: Reggie Watts
Etree: Reggie Watts

Kill The Lights

At this point in my night, there was still a disturbing lack of rocking out. Kill The Lights definitely filled that quota...perhaps to a fault, as my ears were ringing all of Saturday, but the results were immediately gratifying. While they aren't terribly innovative, they played a strong, confident set, with Alex Hackett's voice cutting through the guitar-and-keyboard crunch, and Stephanie Hanna occasionally jumping in to keep things pretty. Chalk up another very good band from Canada.

MySpace: Kill The Lights
Official Site: Kill The Lights


I saw Chairlift last time, and their presence was a great hook to come again. While I was perfectly prepared to mellow out with their closing set, it had a bit more bite this time around. While the songs were as lovely as ever, they were reinforced with a driving beat more often than not. Caroline seems to have emerged as the lead singer of the group, and she did an engaging job of shifting between their self-described "synthfolk," while throwing in the occasional bit of banter. So far, Chairlift has been the brightest gem I've discovered through a purely live context, and I was more than happy to pick up a CD after the set so I could share them with you. The band plays a great many dates over the summer (see below for info), and if they come to your area, absolutely check them out.

MP3: Chairlift - Bruises
MySpace: Chairlift
Official Site: Chairlift

So, after that crazy night, I discovered that I am a bit more inclined towards the small and intimate venue compared to the more accessible, but generally less personable larger stage. Of course, lineup has a great impact on my enjoyment of any show, and I'll definitely be heading back to the Seaport in August, when things really pick up. But by the same token, Crashin'In and similar events are equally adept at providing a medium for music, and in the end, it's nice to have both options.

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