Friday, August 08, 2008

Interlude: Siren

My first impressions of Coney Island go back to the film A.I. Near the end, Haley Joel Osment's character enters a submerged theme park in the future, equal parts spooky and exciting. I finally got a chance to visit, unfortunately on what was probably the sweatiest weekend of the summer. The reality of real estate means the park might be replaced by condos in the near future, but this day, it was all about the music. The Village Voice has been putting on Siren Festival for eight years, and it was my first time attending. It's a long subway ride and a long day, but an experience that isn't easily duplicated, even in a city as inundated as New York.

These Are Powers
It was jarring stepping into the scorching sunlight, and equally unsettling listening to These Are Powers. The trio sways into decidedly avant garde territory - using funky percussion, warbling vocals, and even coughing on "Chipping Ice." There's nothing wrong with being weird, but I can't help but think that some good ideas are buried under all the experimenting.

MP3: These Are Powers - Little Sisters of Beijing
MySpace: These Are Powers
Official Site: These Are Powers

Film School

Nostalgia is powerful. Film School continue the shoegaze revival, and they do the genre great justice. The band entwined guitar crescendos, searing feedback and soporific vocals - a combination that was overwhelming. My ears were aching after this set, but it was worth it; this was intense catharsis.

MP3: Film School - Lectric
MP3: Film School - Compare
MySpace: Film School
Official Site: Film School

The Dodos
Tough crowd - perhaps not for the band, but the mass of people at the Main Stage meant that getting a satisfying listen of the Dodos was difficult. Adding the fact that it's a mostly acoustic duo, with occasional help from another percussionist, and you've got a less than ideal situation. It's a shame, because Visiter has some great, appealing songs, which really stretch one's expectations for what two people with two instruments can do. Alas, the setting just didn't work.

MP3: The Dodos - Fools
MP3: The Dodos - Jodi
MySpace: The Dodos
Official Site: The Dodos

Times New Viking

After the too-quiet came the screeching, noisily jubilant Times New Viking. While fully condoning bands rocking out, I was taken aback by the sheer lack of restraint. The trio went through their set like a wrecking ball - singing was superfluous under the smashing of instruments. It was so loud that it was almost - almost - gratifying.

MP3: Times New Viking - (My Head) / R.I.P. Allegory
MySpace: Times New Viking
Official Site: Times New Viking

Ra Ra Riot

So happy for these guys. From opening for Editors to trouncing Bowery to playing in front of a huge crowd here, Ra Ra Riot have done great things in the last year. While this set didn't have quite the intensity of the last time, it was close. Wesley Miles' enthusiasm and earnest croon, the sublime string flourishes and the strong sense of community made for an expectedly wonderful set. Their debut full length, The Rhumb Line, comes out in a couple weeks, and hopefully they'll get huge.

Ra Ra Riot play Music Hall of Williamsburg on October 17th.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot - St. Peter's Day Festival (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot - Each Year (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot - Suspended in Gaffa (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot - Dying is Fine (Daytrotter Session)
MySpace: Ra Ra Riot
Official Site: Ra Ra Riot


Islands were greater than the sum of its parts - a trash can, sparklers and an arsenal of instruments. Like their Toronto neighbors, the band operates as an ensemble, with members multitasking. The result is a full, sometimes deafening sound, all the more impressive as someone who hadn't given their records much of a chance. A rough gem, indeed.

Islands play a BBQ Party on August 23rd.

MP3: Islands - Creeper
MySpace: Islands
Official Site: Islands

Broken Social Scene

High expectations generally end with two extremes. Sadly, this was a disappointment, but I probably would've felt the same about anything less than perfection. As it was, we heard a solid hour of most (but not all!) of the hits, and a smattering of solo tracks. The last minute addition of a lady named Audrey on female vox meant that "7/4 (Shoreline)" was played, but that was unfortunately the extent of it - no "Anthems" or "Lover's Spit" was heard. Nonetheless, the band was tight, if somewhat diminished from far back, and it's a marvel to hear all those instruments somehow sync up. I love this band to death, but I'm hoping for a fuller experience next time. They'll be at Brooklyn Masonic Temple on October 24th.

MP3: Brendan Canning - Hit The Wall
MySpace: Broken Social Scene
Official Site: Broken Social Scene

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