Monday, February 22, 2010

Wavves at Brooklyn Bowl 2/16/2010 and all the other bands I saw last week

I was supposed to cover the Wavves show at Brooklyn Bowl for Frequency and I did go and started to write about it immediately afterward. Unfortunately, freelance projects and going out every night that week prevented me from getting in touch with my editor until Sunday and she told me that Frequency readers like their reviews timely. Fortunately, infinity yeah readers aren't as picky so you guys get a half-finished review one week late.

Things present at the Wavves show that I stopped thinking were cool after 7th grade: moshing, that one t-shirt with Bugs and Taz dressed like Kriss Kross and boys yelling obscenities into microphones.

But punk rock always was and always will be cool. After a sound check that seemed to take forever (and lasted well into the first couple of songs without ever really getting it right), Nathan Williams and Jay Reatard's old boys launched into a set full of of loud, messy noise. They were playing to a half-full room of obvious fans who were quick to engage in violent dancing but soon grew tired of their apparent animosity and immature banter between songs. Luckily, they eventually shut up and just played.

...and then I fell asleep due to the DELICIOUS bourbon-nutella milkshakes which my food blogger roommate and I paid way too much for (luckily the show was free). I could finish the review, but I'm a bit lazy and I think Williams would appreciate the fact that a post dedicated to him is half-assed. NOTE TO WAVVES: Tell your drummer to stop yelling "pussy" into his mic multiple times. All the girls hated him for it.

A little slice of life: I tried to play Wavves for my dad once and I think within the 10 seconds he allowed me to keep the track on he became convinced that my generation would eventually destroy the world. I kind of knew he would hate it. But when I picked up the guitar and played and sang a softer, acousticer (yeah, I said acousticer) "No Hope Kids" for him a minute later, he was pleasantly surprised. "Yeah, you see," I said, "there are some good melodic ideas there." "But why cover it up with all that noise?" he rightfully asked. "Because it makes it sound like you don't care." And yes, I do realize how stupid that sounds.

I had myself a little music marathon last week, to curb jealousies of any friends that will be going to SXSW. I have seen 10 shows in 5 nights. Here are links to some of my favorites and info about upcoming local shows, completely influenced by whether or not I know someone in the band.

MNDR - electro dance pop, next NYC show isn't until May 6th at Coco 66 with Sleigh Bells (!)

Normandy - catchy indie rock by a good friend

PocckettKniffe - indie rock with soulful vocals by a trio of really chill guys, next show is March 13th at Cameo

The Bloodsugars - probably my newest favorite band, pop/rock with tight harmonies and sick world-influenced beats (plus my good friend plays keys with them), next show is a free one (donations requested) at Brooklyn Bowl THIS WEDNESDAY, February my date and split a bourbon-nutella milkshake with me?

DUET - dance music with a sax up front, much more awesome than that combination would have you believe

Tough Knuckles - mellow rock for the moshy crowd, these guys opened up for Real Estate and Girls at the Bowery Ballroom in November, I spoke with them on Saturday night and they are currently cutting a record with Ducktails, next show is March 1st at Death By Audio

Also, Savoir Adore further proved their awesomeness during the last night of their Cake Shop residency on Thursday. If you aren't in love with them by now you are not using my blog to the fullest of its potential.

One last tidbit in this quilt of a post: Mumford & Sons. They were recommended to me by my good friend and go-to concert/party partner Tamara. Beautiful bluegrass/folk-inspired music. Epic sounding. You should know about them.


Photo courtesy of The New York Rockmarket.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interview with Savoir Adore

My interview with Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer of Savoir Adore can be found over at Frequency (and below). This was my first field interview and I definitely had to prepare myself with a brisk walk around the LES and a stiff drink. I was very nervous but Deidre and Paul could not have been more sweet and easy to talk to. Plus, their performance later on in the night was the best I've seen them play. If you are in the NYC area you should definitely check them out tonight or next Thursday at their Cake Shop residency. I promise you won't be disappointed! If you're a little further away, download their album In The Wooded Forest and just try to not get "We Talk Like Machines" stuck in your head. I've been singing it all day...

How did you two start writing together? How did you begin collaborating musically?

Deidre Muro: We knew each other from NYU and then we were both kind of doing solo stuff for quite a while and we challenged each other to one weekend, we were like "Oh, we've never done anything together before. Let's go upstate to your Dad's studio - which is awesome that we have access to - and we'll make a concept album in one weekend, just for fun. Let's do it!" So we did and that was it and we gave it to a couple friends and it kind of blossomed from there.

Paul Hammer: Yeah and that sort of created the band. We were encouraged - it's funny, it's not very often that from an early stage there's a record label that's encouraging you to record more and through strange connections we knew the guys at Cantora Records. David, who plays guitar with us, he was working on MGMT's EP and he gave Will at Cantora Records our EP and they said "Why don't you guys just go upstate again and see what can happen?" So we went up for a weekend and wrote half of what's on the album now. So yeah it just kind of worked for us, that formula I guess.

Can you talk more about the songwriting process? Do you guys come to the table with a blank slate or do you both bring previous ideas and kind of bounce them off one another?

D: I mean, often it's a blank slate. We get in a room together and just kind of pick up different instruments and play at the same time and have something recording and then we'll go back and listen to it.

P: We've done it a bunch of different ways but our main go-to thing is we set up one microphone in the middle of the room and it's usually me on drums and Deidre on keyboard or bass or guitar. We sort of move around because we recorded all the instruments on the record. We record stuff until something feels good and then it's like "OK, there's an idea" and we copy and paste it. Then we look over the pieces - we call them nuggets - and if there is a really strong idea we just develop it.

D: But we've done it other ways too where Paul will record something like a guitar part and send it to me and I'll do some lyrics or vocals or whatever and then we'll flesh it out that way. The most exciting is when we just get in a room together and press record because it's so impulsive. By recording what were doing in the moment we can absolutely capture...

P: ...capture like the very birth of the song in its purest form. It comes through and it works, that's why certain things vibe.

You started with the concept EP The Adventures Of Mr. Pumpernickel And The Girl With Animals In Her Throat and now you've released a full-length LP In The Wooded Forest. How has your music evolved since you started playing?

D: It's definitely evolving. I hope it remains in a constant state of evolution. I mean we're always learning new things and we're always getting into new music. The first thing was legitimately a fluke, how we got together and so we're growing from that. I think if we kept sounding the same it would be really sad. For us it would be sad.

P: I think part of what drives the both of us is that we're interested in not only playing different instruments but also discovering new sounds, writing in new ways...

D: ...and recording too...

P: it really informs the songwriting process for us. It will naturally continue to evolve. Even after the first EP we were like that was great as it was but now we really wanted to develop a few more songs that were a little more fleshed out with developed parts and maybe thicker in the instrumentation so I definitely think the full album sounds very different than the EP.

Yeah, I think so too.

D: And whatever we do next will sound different from the both of those.

P: And that's not to say that that's the right way for every band to constantly have a new sound...

D: No, but it's in line with us.

P: It's in line with how we started which was very much an experiment and I think that's how we're going to keep getting the purest form of what we started with.

The name "Savoir Adore" is French and means "to know love..."

P: Roughly.

How did that become your name and were there any other names you were seriously considering?

D: It's such a ridiculous story, we just told this story to someone else. We were in the studio together for some odd reason. It was like January 2006.

P: I think it was upstate. Deidre and I, before this project, we were playing shows together. We were like best friends and we were just doing things that weren't necessarily a band.

D: We recorded an ambient demo thing and I was like "Ooo Paul I really want to be able to listen to it!" and he was like "Ha ha ha, I'll just make a MySpace page."

P: "We'll put it up there."

D: Oh! That's why, we were talking about French and I whispered some French on that track.

P: That's right you sang French on the track.

D: And Paul said, "Oh, let's just call the page Savoir Adore." And I was like, "Oh, OK I guess so." We didn't make the EP until 11 months later.

P: It just fit really well into the idea of what we do. We were talking about the beauty of the French language and to me, "Savoir Adore" means a lot. It's not a literal translation or anything but...

D: (in a cutesy voice) Love.

P: (mimics) Love. (they laugh) I think the idea "to know love" is a very powerful idea and it accidentally really fit in with what we are doing. But like a lot of our music it sort of just popped up. We were like, "We need a band name! Savoir Adore? OK."

D: "Got it! I want to eat now..." (laughs)

I think that you guys sound a lot like Arcade Fire. Do you get that a lot?

D: We have gotten that.

P: A couple times, yeah.

I'm sure you don't intentionally try to sound like any other artists, but who would you say your influences are?

D: That question is so hard to answer because realistically, we're influenced by everything. Everything we've ever listened to.

P: Musical and nonmusical.

D: Paul was raised on a lot of Beatles, classical music...

P: A lot of jazz.

D: ...and I was raised on Beatles, classical, a lot of 90s rock.

P: We have a lot of divergent tastes as well. At the time we wrote this record I was listening to primarily Ryan Adams.

D: ...and I think like Gogol Bordello and old cabaret music and 60s French pop. We try to accommodate each other's little personalities peaking out every now and then. At the time we made the EP, I loved Arcade Fire.

P: Me too.

D: So it's not surprising I guess.

P: There's always going to be those comparisons that come through whether it's based on the music or the fact that we're a boy and a girl - we get Mates of State a lot which I don't really understand because I don't think we sound like them.

D: The vocals are boy/girl.

P: We are a boy/girl vocal but I think the Arcade Fire thing is more in line for me at least. Their music is very explosive. Sort of emotionally explosive which I hope comes across with our stuff. People will always compare you to other bands and we're fans of Arcade Fire but I don't think there was ever a point where we wanted to sound like them.

D: It was never a conscious decision to sound like them.

P: Deidre and I have very different musical tastes.

D: We often butt heads.

P: We butt heads but we're also very respectful. If Deidre has a melodic idea, I'm just going to trust her because I know how amazing she is musically.

D:'re too kind.

P: It's true! We trust each other's opinions and we know that if we allow them to blend, something completely new and exciting is going to come out of it.

What are your favorite Savoir Adore songs to play live?

P: Ooo! "We Talk Like Machines" is my favorite.

D: "We Talk Like Machines" is really fun to play live. It's very satisfying. "TCP" is really fun to play live.

Do you do any cover songs?

P: That's really funny that you bring that up.

D: We're thinking of doing a cover of a Cocteau Twins song next week.

P: We were just talking about how much fun it would be to do more cover songs.

D: We're making a pact with ourselves to get a few more under our belt.

P: We've been playing a lot of the same songs for the last year. Obviously that's kind of what you do when you release an album but we realize that we really get a lot out of sneaking in new ideas...

D: It's rewarding to do something a little different.

P: We haven't come up with any other covers yet but Cocteau Twins "Iceblink Luck" may happen here next week!

You guys are based in Brooklyn. With so many bands coming out of Brooklyn nowadays, how do you ensure that you stay unique and relevant?

D: (laughs) How do we ensure that?

P: It's honestly something we can't even worry about.

D: We don't even think on that level.

P: We really don't.

D: We actually - and this is not to diss Brooklyn or the scene at all - but on a personal level we don't really identify with that too much because so much of our creative process happens in upstate New York.

P: Brooklyn is sort of new to us, it's exciting.

D: The only thing we can do to ensure staying unique is to be always honest and true with ourselves in what we want to do creatively. That's the only way you can be unique - be totally yourself...

P: Yeah.

D: ...and try not to do something scheming.

P: There are certain things that I feel if you really think about it can really drain you creatively. Thinking "How is my music going to be received?" should have nothing to do with why or how you create music, at least in my opinion. And I think what we've done so far is created all this music that really means a lot to us so far. Why would we let all that other stuff seep in?

D: I think people are not stupid. A lot of people can tell when you're doing something that's truly you or when you're watering it down or scheming...and I'm sorry to evilly laugh at your question but it's something that we talk about a lot, it's a topic that's so...

I think it's a topic a lot of people talk about because it's is such a "scene."

P: Yeah, and that really is the best way to answer that question. We will keep doing exactly what we have always wanted to do and remain honest with ourselves because at the very least it will be the truest form of what we want and how we approach the art. I think that will keep us unique. And I mean, as far as the Brooklyn stuff, if anything, there is so much music there that it has just sort of inspired us. It's not a setback or an obstacle, all this music. When we wrote most of this stuff we were both living in Manhattan and our music is completely created upstate so for the most part we're an upstate New York band. We just happen to live in Brooklyn now. And you know, at any given time you can go out and see a new band or a group of bands that are doing something you've never even heard and that's only a positive thing. Let it sink in, but don't worry about it. Don't let it freak you out. Let it excite you and I think that's the best thing we can do is to keep doing that.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren't playing music?

P: (very quickly) Chef.

D: Chef. And I would be...

P: Here it comes!

D: I would be - if I couldn't do any kind of music I would be a professional organizer.

Like closets?

D: More than closets though, there's so much...

P: There's so much more!

D: There are lives to be organized! There are a lot of aspects to it but basically helping people get where they want to be. A non-professional psychiatrist.

P: Savoir Adore isn't our money-making career yet. Hopefully it will be but right now...

D: We freelance.

P: We do a bunch of things in music. I teach guitar, I do post-production mixing with David who plays guitar with us and he and Deidre are dating so it's a lovely tangled web.

D: I do voice-overs for MTV.

P: She does voiceovers for we all do audio-related things whenever we can which is how we get by and it sort of funds this.

D: It would be one thing if you said, "If you couldn't do Savoir Adore what would you do?" I would think, "OK what other musical thing would I do?" But if I can't do music at all...

P: I would be a chef for sure! I still will be because I would love to do this for like 10 years but I'm going to get sleepy! At some time I'm not going to want to dance around on a stage and I'm just going to want to stand there and cook things.

But chefs have to work late too.

P: Yeah, that's true.

D: They have longer hours.

P: Maybe I can skip the whole chef thing and just jump right to chef/TV personality.

D: I think you want to be a restauranteur.

P: Oh yeah, but really that just means a rich person that likes to eat. What I really want to do, have you ever seen that TV show "Man vs. Food?" I want to be that guy.

D: What show?

P: "Man vs. Food"

D: Oh yeah, you've made me watch that.

P: He travels around the country doing food challenges. I've already got my Polaroid up in...

D: Three places?

P: Two.

(voice at the next table): Chicks dude!

P: Oh wow, Timmy...Timmy is our drummer.

(everyone laughs)

OK, last question. You get to curate your dream rock show. Savoir Adore is playing. Where do you play and who do you share the stage with?

P: That's a great question. I'll let you take the first one because I know what you're going to say.

D: What?

P: Jack White.

D: The first question was where do you play.

P: Oh, where do you play? Olympia, Paris.

D: Jack White in some form or another would be on the stage.

P: Whatever project he's currently...

D: Whatever one he wants. Solo? Fine, I'll take it. Jack White, that's number one. Solo on a kazoo, I'd take it.

P: Who else?

D: Well, I'll let you have one.

P: I don't know. I mean I would probably want The Police to play. Maybe they could open.

D: There's like a whole plethora of 80s and 90s groups that I would want.

P: It would be amazing if we could do Cocteau Twins, Jack White, then us. I think that'd be great, right?

D: Well, I think we should open.

P: We should open, yeah. It doesn't make any sense for us to play last.

D: That's a pretty good dream show for me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Don't Care About Your Band

This post is for the ladies only…

So yeah, I guess it’s obvious that I’m obsessed with music but I like other things too. I would say that reading is second to music in my list of hobbies. Well, third after boys. Unfortunately, I usually combine my first two hobbies by dating emotionally unavailable musicians. Lucky for me, Julie Klausner has written the perfect book enabling me to laugh about my own dating escapades by commiserating with hers. Seriously, it’s a fast, awesome read that feels like it was pulled out of the pages of my own diary. And you don’t have to be a sucker for boys with guitars to enjoy her dry sense of humor about guys who have no clue about who the actual star of the show is.

I don’t normally write about books so I don’t expect you to take my word for it. Here are the Time Out New York and Amazon pages.

You Should Know About The xx

I have to disclose that I don't listento new music very proactively. More often than not, I’ll put the latest buzz band on in the background while I do more important things like clean or update my Twitter status. If the music distracts me from whatever else it is occupying me, then I know for sure it’s worth listening to again. That didn’t happen with The xx. I gave the British band’s debut album xx a full two listens and even saw them live during CMJ (something that usually wins me over to the most obscure of bands) and they had yet to hold my interest. I thought it was just a bunch of guitar blips paired with vocals that Sasha Frere Jones recently described as “mopey” and that every song sounded exactly the same. But the insistence of the blogs and a few new friends convinced me to give them another chance and this time I gave them my full attention (well, I was painting my toenails).

The groove of “Intro” captured me immediately (seriously, when has “Intro” ever been the best song on an album? Download immediately!) and I was captivated until the very last notes of the disc. The songs of The xx are great pop songs stripped of all their unnecessary fluff, like chords. “Crystalised,” the first single, simply consists of songwriters Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim trading vocals over a bass line and click track. I had previously failed to notice the beauty of xx because this is an album that is meant to be listened to alone in your bedroom with the lights off, and preferably through a pair of really expensive headphones. What I originally thought of as “guitar blips” I now realize are ornaments to a foundation that is suggested rather than overtly declared and the vocals are more conversational than “mopey,” adding a train-of-thought vibe that reinforces the organic nature of the songs. Other favorite tracks of mine include “Heart Skipped A Beat,” “Shelter,” and “Night Time.”

So yes, I may be a bit late to the party, but The xx have hypnotized me and each time I listen I lean closer and closer to the speakers because there has to be something I’m missing. They can’t be this good, right? Oh yeah, they are only twenty years old.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Amanda Blank at Santos Party House 1/29/2010

Um yeah, Amanda Blank was awesome. I'm definitely going to go see her again the next time she comes into town. Maluca was great as well. Read my Frequency review of the Santos Party House show here. Photos courtesy of The Culture Of Me.