Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Interlude: Pools and Parks

This summer's big winner is McCarren Pool. It's a shame that the venue is being filled with water, as it's attracted thousands of people each Sunday. Long lines, blazing sun and overpriced food aside, it's been host to consistently excellent shows. While the bands that have played have been relatively unknown to me, or familiar mostly in name, it's a quintessentially summer setting. This show is from a few weeks back (July 13th), and it was another good one.

The Whip

As per their wardrobe - the bassist sported a Simian Mobile Disco t-shirt - The Whip were British and electroly-inclined. It's debatable whether you need an entire band to make people dance, but the extra instruments came together well. The songs were lyrically simple, with the emphasis on beats instead of songwriting - as it should be.

MySpace: The Whip

Matt and Kim

Call it home pool advantage: Brooklynites Matt and Kim's set was superfluously feel good. While I'm not overly fond of the bare drums-and-keys and Matt's nasal voice, the enthused crowd was digging it. Fun, but somewhat forgettable - until all hell broke loose.

Talk about circumventing the lack of instruments. The duo recruited a full-fledged marching band, complete with cheerleaders and synchronized dance moves. It was completely over the top, but if you're going to pull out all the stops, might as well do it in front of a huge crowd. All those extra people made the music swell, but at its core, it was all about cheery pop songs.

MP3: Matt and Kim - No More Long Years
MP3: Matt and Kim - Yea Yeah
MP3: Matt and Kim - Verbs Before Nouns
MP3: Matt and Kim - Silver Tiles
MySpace: Matt and Kim
Official Site: Matt and Kim

The Breeders

The Breeders were before my time, but the ubiquity of "Cannonball" - the highlight of this set - meant they weren't complete strangers. With Kim Deal of the Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses, placing the group in a context ('90s guitar rock) is pretty straightforward. Subsequently, the set wasn't particularly surprising or innovative - these guys have been around for a while. In that sense, it wasn't a terribly exciting, with perhaps the only real activity being the late addition of a violin. But that gimmick-less approach suits them, focusing the attention on the longevity of Deal's vocals and those guitars.

MySpace: The Breeders
Official Site: The Breeders
MP3: The Breeders - Bang On

The Fiery Furnaces - East River Park, July 17th

I like exploring new parts of the city almost as much as live music, and there was happily the opportunity for both a few Thursdays ago. We quickly learned that taking the train to Canal Street equaled a long walk to East River Park, but caught a decent chunk of a set from the Fiery Furnaces. The siblings Friedberger are absurdly prolific, with a full length in each of the last five years, and a 51-track live album, Remember, due in the fall. Fittingly, Eleanor's singing was akin to storytelling - not the most melodic, but perfect for a band that's crammed with ideas. Accompanying were two percussionists and a couple of synths, which created a varied background palette. Eclectic and disjointed, but it held together surprisingly smoothly.

More mp3s here and here.

MP3: The Fiery Furnaces - Duplexes of the Dead
MySpace: The Fiery Furnaces
Official Site: The Fiery Furnaces

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