Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Despite the occasional gem on the radio during my stay upstate, I'm afraid to say that the my stay was populated mostly Top 40-type stuff at work. While I was generally tuning it out through headphones, the occasional period of exposure (like when my iPod went for a swim and wasn't functioning for a couple days) wasn't terribly impressive. Although I've developed something bordering on fondness for "Umbrella," I suppose the only way I like my mainstream pop is chopped up into tasty bits via Girl Talk (more on him later). Anyways, one group that did sort of stand out was Snow Patrol, whose single "Chasing Cars" seems to have been quite the hit. Although I haven't listened to Eyes Open in a while, I don't really remember that particular track as a standout, which is clearly why I not working at any radio stations. On the whole, I would say that I prefer Final Straw, and "Run" is such a spectacular track. But it's somewhat gratifying that a band like Snow Patrol has achieved such success, and you also gotta appreciate their iTunes playlist.
Here's the band's Final Straw-centric KCRW session, recorded on May 20th, 2004. And remember, check out Savenetradio.org and continue to support your web-based radio stations, or else we'll all be listening to...
2. Gleaming Auction
3. Spitting Games
4. How To Be Dead
9. Tiny Fractures
Thursday, July 26, 2007
If I could point out one band that really got me into music, it would be Straylight Run. The group exemplified the changing musical landscape by debuting with a batch of raw demos in 2003, which they made available for free download on their website. "Existentialism On Prom Night,” whose video records an exceptional slice of subway life, remains one of my favorite pieces of music. But unlike previous groups that grabbed my attention fleetingly, Straylight Run stood out not merely for its artistic output, but the integrity and creativity of the individuals that made up the band. As I played their self-titled debut album in the spring and summer of 2005, I became immersed not only in the songs, but in exploring what exactly it means to be an independent band in today’s musical environment.
MP3: Straylight Run – It’s Everybody’s Fault But Mine (Demo)
MP3: Straylight Run – Existentialism on Prom Night (Demo)
MP3: Straylight Run – A Slow Descent (Demo)
MP3: Straylight Run – It’s For The Best (Demo)
MP3: Straylight Run – Mistakes We Knew We Were Making (Demo)
MP3: Straylight Run – The Tension and the Terror (Demo)
Straylight Run is John Nolan, John’s sister Michelle, Shaun Cooper, Will Noon. The group recently released their second full length, The Needles The Space. One progression is apparent almost immediately; its jangly second track, “The Miracle That Never Came” demonstrates not only the band’s gravitation towards additional instrumentation – horns, strings, and tambourine – but Michelle’s emergence as a songwriter as prolific as her brother. While their first album is bolstered by her back-up vocals, as well as two late highlights in which she sings lead – the electrified “Tool Sheds and Hot Tubs” and the mournful “Now It’s Done” – her presence on The Needles The Space is far more pervasive, as she shares vocal duties on virtually every track and takes the lead far more often.
MP3: Straylight Run – Tool Sheds and Hot Tubs (Live on Domestic Disturbance)
MP3: Straylight Run – Now It’s Done (Live on WLIR)
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle, and she stated that this shift was a natural process. While John had written the bulk of the material for their first album, even before Straylight came together as a band, the two year gap between albums allowed her to develop as a songwriter. However, the creative process encompasses the entire group. Michelle described the process as either she or John approaching the entire band with lyrics, perhaps accompanied by no more than an acoustic guitar, which is then fleshed out with the rhythm section. Some of the songs on the new album have existed in demo form for over a year, subsequently becoming live staples even before the new record's release. “What we do in the studio affects what we do live,” says Michelle, and it’s clear that the group has developed great depth instrumentally. To supplement this development, the band is regularly joined onstage by Isaac Burker and Jeff DaRosa (formerly of the Exit), as was the case back when I saw them last November, adding an increased density to each track.
MP3: Straylight Run - Still Alone (Live at Irving Plaza)
MP3: Straylight Run – This Is The End (Live at Irving Plaza)
The band enlisted Mike Sapone and Bryan Russell to produce their second record, but Michelle noted that the band had a direct input in the production process. The result is more reflective of the desires of the band as a whole. For example, the untitled twelfth track exists as an instrumental interlude, something the band wanted to do for the first album but couldn’t due to financial constraints. Unfortunately, such are the realities of an often harsh industry. Despite the band’s many assets, they left the studio without a record deal, eventually signing to Universal Republic, whom Michelle said demonstrated the most interest. “I think there’s more of an opportunity to get yourself out to people, but the [industry] wants to see numbers, if you’ve sold this number of records,” says Michelle.
The band is in the midst two-and-a-half week stint on the Warped Tour, which Michelle views with some apprehension, alluding to “Porta-potties” and “Bad Religion fans throwing things at us.” While Straylight may be a bit melodic for the Warped Tour, the band has deep roots in the music community. The new record includes horns played by former ska band members who are friends of Shaun's, as well as accordion from Tim Brennan of Dropkick Murphys. And if one examines Straylight's influences, they're in good company.
MP3: Straylight Run – Now My Heart Is Full (Morrissey Cover)
MP3: Straylight Run – Velvet Waltz (Built To Spill Cover)
MP3: Straylight Run - With God On Our Side (Bob Dylan Cover)
With such a constant tour schedule, it's unfortunate that something documenting one of their shows never materialized; footage shot a couple years ago for a live DVD was plagued with bad lighting. “It’s always nice to be able to give things to your fans,” says Michelle, alluding to the potential release of the audio, but it’s clear that Straylight Run has already given a lot already.
Official Site: Straylight Run
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Last Friday afternoon, it was raining again. That in-and-of-itself was not so impressive, as it's been pouring pretty routinely for the last month or so. But the weather set a decidedly mellow mood, and caused me to bum a ride back from work (which will get far more exciting after I return to NYC this weekend). I was listening absentmindedly to the radio, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a breakbeat, which eventually coalesced into what could easily be described as trip-hop, complete with that female vocalist. I did some research, and apparently I was listening to show called the Beat Authority, a bit of a worldly gem in an environment dominated by Top 40 stations. Unfortunately, you have to be in the upper-New York area to have a listen, but its playlist is a resource that's available for everyone. As for the song itself, it's a collaboration between the jazz group the New Mastersounds and one Corinne Baily Rae, whose name and album cover I've seen a few times, but never had the adequate propulsion to seek out, until now. The version I heard is actually a remix by the DJ Fred Everything, who was already be residing in my iPod thanks to a Trentemøller remix. To tie things up even more neatly, the New Mastersounds also covered Sneaker Pimps' classic "6 Underground." And if that isn't evidence of the interconnectedness of, well, everything, I don't know what is.
MP3: The New Mastersounds - Your Love Is Mine (Fred Everything Remix)
MP3: The New Mastersounds - Six Underground
MP3: Corinne Baily Rae - Put Your Records On
MP3: Fred Everything & 20for7 - Friday (Trentemøller Remix)
In other news...
Lots of good stuff out there today. The Village Voice has features on the Field and Vampire Weekend, brooklynvegan unveils the new Tegan and Sara video (and freaks me out by saying their Webster Hall show is sold out, but apparently it's not yet), and Pitchfork has a review of the new Emily Haines EP that I kind of forgot was coming out. Enjoy.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Context is a wonderful thing. In retrospect, copious name-dropping probably is the only easy way to do a review, as pointing out influences is the only surefire way to describe a band without resorting to more abstract descriptions. But for less critical individuals, this web of categorization is often supplanted by a more humane consideration – particularly in today’s super-connected music environment – the individuals that make up groups. As for as today goes, this all means that I should have gotten into Dirty on Purpose a whole lot earlier.
A friend of mine first introduced me to the group by naming them as one of her favorites, and while they popped up under the local show listings over the Spring, I didn’t really pay much heed until one day, on a whim, taking a look at their informative AMG page. Aside from an appealing description ("A shoegazer-inspired indie band from New York City?" I’m sold!), that aforementioned name-dropping (although I don't recognize any of the latter trio), the fact that current Au Revoir Simone member Erika Foster was previously in the group was of particular esoteric significance. Sure enough, you can distinctly hear her on the lovely “All New Friends” on the early Sleep Late For A Better Tomorrow EP, and she's all over their full length, Hallelujah Sirens. I really like this record; it’s at times mellow and soothing, at other points noisy and cathartic, all while retaining a sort of detachment that I’m generally fond of.
Unfortunately, I haven’t tracked down any live stuff (for now...), but here are a couple studio tracks I’ve particularly enjoyed. Dirty On Purpose are actually dropping by WOXY tomorrow, and playing NYC in the coming months. Au Revoir Simone plays at the South Street Seaport on August 10th, and barring further calamities, I’ll be there.
MP3: Dirty On Purpose – All New Friends
MP3: Dirty On Purpose – Your Summer Dress
Monday, July 16, 2007
So I didn't actually manage to catch Metric on Friday. Let's just say that MetroNorth really spoils you, and other parts of the world aren't nearly as adept when it comes to getting me to shows. I can say with relative confidence that I will compensate with an obscene August (and onward) concert schedule, and things should pick up here as well. As always, if you've got any multimedia from the show (pictures, writeups, recordings), please do share.
Anyways, another event in August that I look forward to is the US release of the Pipettes' debut album, We Are The Pipettes. Although it's been available (and causing a buzz) for over a year now, this formal release should provide an opportunity for a wider audience to check out the group. And if you've been enjoying it for many months already, perhaps you'll be inclined to give it another spin. I've only been listening for about a month or so, but I'm swooning, appropriately enough, for their retro-yet-timely pop goodness. I've read that they're reminiscent of 1960s girl groups, and while I'm hardly familiar with the time period, they still make me nostalgic. While there seems to be this wave of like-minded groups, the Pipettes have really distinguished themselves thus far.
Here are my two favorite songs from the album, and I'm also going to make an effort to get a full live recording up in a bit. Stay tuned...
MP3: The Pipettes - Pull Shapes
MP3: The Pipettes - Sex
Update: Here's the band at the Leeds Cockpit, recorded on February 18th, 2005. Enjoy:
3. Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
4. It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling)
5. School Uniform
6. Why Did You Stay
7. Tell Me What You Want
8. Dirty Mind
9. It Hurts to See You Dance So Well
10. Kitchen Sink
11. We Are The Pipettes
Friday, July 06, 2007
I'm still here! Although my output has slackened, to put it lightly, I have been trying to keep up with things around the blogosphere. Although I've been meaning to address Interpol for quite a while now, the revelation that they're playing MSG in September makes this all the more timely. While far from an ideal setup (like their recent secret show at the Bowery Ballroom), I'm extremely tempted to go to the Garden for something other than a Rangers game (Drury and Gomez! Excellent!). And although this heightened popularity is all rather inconvenient for the indie purist, I'm thrilled for the group's continued exposure. Interpol is the epitome of NYC, or at least, my ideal of the city: bleak romanticism and, inevitably, with its strong supporters and detractors. Count me in the former.
The only question that remains, I suppose, is whether the band can fill the Garden to capacity. Apparently they sold out two nights at Radio City Music Hall the last (official) time they were in town, and neatly enough, here's a recording of the second night, March 2nd, 2005.
1. Next Exit
3. Say Hello to the Angels
4. Length of Love
6. Public Pervert
7. Not Even Jail
8. Hands Away
9. Slow Hands
12. Take You On A Cruise
13. Obstacle 1
In other news...
I've really been digging Fujiya & Miyagi of late, and they're playing at the South Street Seaport tonight. Go, because I can't.
MP3: Fujiya & Miyagi - Photocopier
As alluded to in the first half of the title, I'm finally going to see Metric, barring catastrophe! Pitchfork has a nice review of Grow Up And Blow Away, which came out last week, and stereogum has a streamable cut from Ms. Haines' new solo EP. Wonder what's in our setlist...