Thursday, October 13, 2011

Karen O - "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" Video

Karen O FTW this week. Last night her "psycho opera" Stop The Virgens opened at St. Ann's Warehouse and earlier this week Chipotle (yes, that Chipotle) debuted a music video/PSA that Karen O soundtracked to "raise awareness about the economic hardship family farmers face in the increasingly industrialized American agriculture system." KO covers Willie Nelson hit "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and the result is quite amazing. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs front woman is know for being pretty out there creatively and very original, but she keeps it classic with this cover. The soft simplicity makes me crave for more stuff like this from her.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Those Darlins - "Screws Get Loose" Video

Those Darlins are on my shortlist for album of the year and they just released a video for title track (and my personal favorite) "Screws Get Loose." The girls and guy look great, but the polished, fashion/catwalk themed video seems a bit out of place when juxtaposed with the raw, jangly song. The awesome part of the video is the close-ups of Jessi Darlin. It's cool to see her signature facial expressions (viewed from afar when attending live gigs) in hi-definition. Her eyes are so big!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wild Flag - "Romance"

I think I was a little bit too young to get as heavily involved in the Riot Grrrl movement as much as I would have liked, but it seems to be coming back into style in a really big way lately. I'm loving the new Wild Flag album. It's as close as we are going to get to Sleater-Kinney reunion as we are going to get for a while I think. "Romance" has been out for quite some time, but I'm still hitting the repeat button at least one time after it comes on my iPod. Fuck yeah Carrie Brownstein.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Alessi's Ark - "Maybe I Know"

Slowly falling in love with Alessi's Ark, the musical project of Alessi Laurent Mark. Her simple folk songs make me want to pick up my own guitar again, and I absolutely love it when an artist has that kind of effect on me. Her new album Time Travel is full of gems, but my favorite is her cover of Lesley Gore's "Maybe I Know." It's a lovely modernized yet still timeless interpretation of a heartbreaking song...and I love how her British accent never disappears.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Atlas Sound - "Modern Aquatic Nightsongs"

I'll say it. Atlas Sound is so much better than Deerhunter. I'm digging this chillwave-y track from new album Parallax. It's got a bit of a beachy vibe, which makes me wish it came out about four months ago, but Bradford Cox never plays by the rules.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Canon Logic - "Howl In The Night"

I truly know virtually nothing about this band and I am too lazy to fall down a Google k-hole right now. But after being turned onto the Canon Logic EP Rapid Empire by Eric over at The Wild Honey Pie a while back, it's been difficult to move them over to one of my less listened to playlists. Seriously, every track on Rapid Empire is a highlight. They remind me a lot of Ambassadors, a new fave band of mine in that they seem to have been brought up on rock but listen to a lot of hip hop and are working (quite successfully) at fusing the two together. You can grab track "Howl In The Night" for free by entering in your email over at the band's site, but trust me, you're going to want the whole shebang.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Austra - "Identity"

I was a latecomer to Austra, well after they had received much-deserved hype all over the internets. So I'm happy to be at least a little bit on time with this one. Austra's newest single is "Spellwork" and the b-side is new track "Identity." But don't let that b-side designation fool you. "Identity" is well produced and polished, definitely not a throwaway the band dug up and added on to the back of 'Spellwork" at the last minute. So typically Austra-ish (deep bass, high-pitched wind accents, Katie Stelmanis' haunting vocals), "Identity" sits well next to any track from Feel It Break. Catch it streaming over at disco naivete.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Big Pink - "Stay Gold"

It seems like I've waited forever for a new The Big Pink song. The single "Stay Gold" isn't officially released yet (we have to wait until November 8th) but in the meantime we can watch the video. It's dark and colorful at the same time and the song is energy inducing. It sounds like it was meant to be played loud. Like really loud. Can't wait for them to come to NYC...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laura Marling - Goodbye England

Not a new song by any means, but just re-appreciating it after seeing Laura Marling at Webster Hall last night. I've always loved this song because it makes me a bit jealous. The affection Marling feels for her homeland is so palpable here. Don't get me wrong, I love my city with all my heart (though it is a bitch when "covered in snow"), but listening to this song I've always felt like the American looking in on something that only true Brits could understand. Marling's performance of this song last night was superb but the thing that was really great about it was her banter beforehand. She talked about how she never feels more English than when she is in New York City and proceeded to tell stories that definitley deserve an "only in New York" tag. "Only in New York" is probably the biggest source of pride I have when it comes to the city I was born in, so it was awesome and generous of Marling to share that with the NYC audience right before singing a song about how much she loves her own country. Granted, this song is about (among other things) how beautiful England is and Marling's NY stories were about homeless women howling in the middle of the street and swinging rats around by the tail...but I guess we'll take what we can get.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out

I was not one of those people that was swept away in the whirlwind that was Florence + The Machine's "Dog Days Are Over." It was way too everywhere-you-went and Florence Welch's voice was throaty bordering on annoying. I'm much more attracted to "Shake It Out." With industrial-sounding percussion and more shout-y, less froggy vocals, it's totally more my wheelhouse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

North Highlands - Benefits

It's getting very redundant to write "Brooklyn-based indie band" for just about every song I like, but this one is extra special. North Highlands singer Brenda Melvi's super sweet voice juxtaposed against a relentless, creepy rhythm gives "Benefits" an eerie presence that's hard to stop listening to.

Monday, September 26, 2011

fun. - We Are Young (featuring Janelle Monae)

Oh wow, can't wait for this album but I'm kind of hoping the rest of the songs sound a little bit more fun.-y (is that how I should have written that?)...wrote this one up over at The Wild Honey Pie a few days ago.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oberhofer - "Gotta Go"

One of my most prominent and consistent music crushes Oberhofer have a new song, "Gotta Go." It's classic Oberhofer (can you say "classic" about a band that doesn't even have an LP out yet?) which means it features Brad Oberhofer's deep, enunciated vocals, a spastic, driving rhythm, and you will get it stuck in your head immediately.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wild Beasts - "Thankless Thing"

I've been a horrible Wild Beasts fan. I totally dug their last two albums but I haven't even listened to their last release Smother. It's been out for a few months now so I really have no excuse. Their next single off Smother is going to be "Reach A Bit Further" (which I obviously have nothing to say about) and they are releasing "Thankless Thing," the b-side as a free download. This song I have listened to. Tinny, precise guitars that sound almost computerized (but definitely maintain the human factor) and that distinctive, wonderfully unique voice...

Wild Beasts - Thankless Thing by DominoRecordCo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wavves - "Nodding Off" (featuring Best Coast)

I really really really like Wavves, but his latest EP is kind of lazy. While King of the Beach was an excellent album that showed variety and range, Life Sux doesn't show any kind of growth and is minimal in its originality. These cuts sound like songs that should have never left the studio. However, if there is one thing Nathan Williams knows how to do (besides smoke copious amounts of weed) it's write a catchy song. So "Nodding Off" has been appearing on my iPod playlists more often than it would seem natural, considering my first few sentences in this post. A collaboration with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, it's fun to hear their voices weave in and out of harmony together (aww) and it's way better than their last collaboration.

"Grohl" is not that bad either. Looks like I'm conflicted.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Repeat - 8/31/2011

MP3: Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down

I kind of love Dum Dum Girls. They are just one of those effortlessly cool groups of all females that make me want to relive the days when I used to rock out myself. I'm totally psyched for their new album coming out in about a month, and this little teaser is satiating my anticipation for the time being. The echo-y vocals are mysterious and sad. It's the perfect accompaniment to a late night subway ride home. If you're lucky and it's raining, no one will see your tears.

Love this summery track off TV Girl's new EP of the same name. Read my review of the record over at The Wild Honey Pie right here.

I don't know why I like this track from Wayne Memmers of Vacation. This spacey, off-tune kind of stuff is definitely not my bag. But for some reason I keep getting drawn to it. Maybe I'm really into stoners? Over on TWHP here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Repeat - 8/11/2011

MP3: Not Blood Paint - Army

A couple weeks ago I went to see Not Blood Paint at The Knitting Factory totally blind. Before the show, my friend Mike Levine assured me, "There is no way this band is overhyped." So I immediately thought, "This band is overhyped." So not the case. I was thoroughly impressed with the musicality present in Not Blood Paint's creative, hard core songs. These boys know how to play their instruments well and every one of them has true talent in powerful singing voices. "Army" is a new song and was a highlight of the set. My friends and I were singing "They said I wasn't cut out for the Army," for days afterward. Adding to the pleasure of seeing this band live was the high level of theatrics during the show. Band members wore extravagant clothing reminiscent of the Stonehenge scene in This Is Spinal Tap and their faces were completely painted. A group of devoted fans were dressed and painted all in white. They circulated throughout the audience, offering face paint to anyone that wanted to join in on the fun. Almost everyone drank the Kool-Aid and it was a wonderful experience. I will go see these guys anytime they are playing. Hopefully we will get the opportunity soon!

This is not blood, it's paint.

Photo of Not Blood Paint courtesy of Tamara Cabrero.

Is "unconsolable" a real word? It doesn't matter. I love this song. Read my review of the track over on The Wild Honey Pie here. The only thing I would add is that it was such a pleasure to be able to read the lyrics to "Unconsolable," which are on display on Ambassadors' Bandcamp page. It brought me back to the physical product experience of putting on a record, sitting down and reading the lyrics along with the band. Because the words of the song were right in front of me, I was more in touch with the song, less distracted by other browser tabs, or my Twitter feed. Excellent job Ambassadors!

Recently had the chance to review Bryan John Appleby's newest album Fire On The Vine for The Wild Honey Pie. Really grateful for the opportunity to have discovered him as he is similar to Fleet Foxes and I have not been able to stop listening to Helplessness Blues all summer. "Boys" was my favorite song on the album. Read my whole review, which includes a relatively in-depth description of the track here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sufjan Stevens at Prospect Park Celebrate Brooklyn! 8/2/2011

Am I being a snob by making the statement that Sufjan Stevens's Age of Adz show at Prospect Park on Tuesday was less than stellar?

Let me be clear: I am a Sufjan fan. And although Age of Adz is a complete departure from his previous albums, I enjoyed his exploration into auto-tuned electronics. Additionally, I think Sufjan himself did an excellent job. He was energetic and devoted to the material. He explained the Royal Robertson/inner body/outer space inspiration behind Age of Adz and won the Brooklyn crowd over by reminiscing about riding his bike through Prospect Park and attending Celebrate Brooklyn! shows himself. He was brilliant, especially in the moments when he would slow things down and perform a quiet song by himself (side note: a plane would indefinitely fly overhead very loudly every time this happened) but the whole idea of Age of Adz is to be out of body, experiencing an electronic mind trip with the musicians and your audience peers all at the same time.

That was the problem. The rest of the people on stage (excluding Sufjan, his dancers, his backup singers, and the guy on his left playing keyboards) were virtually motionless. It was difficult to get involved and excited when it didn't seem like anyone else was. A lot of the audience came decked out in neon clothing and face paint (two things I am a huge fan of by the way), ready to participate in the party. But it seemed like we weren't invited. Sure there were impressive light shows/lasers for us to ogle at and various amazing costume changes, but those can only do so much. I feel like we craved more of a human connection; we wanted to lose ourselves in the music and the mood, but we weren't afforded that opportunity because the people we were looking to for guidance weren't losing themselves either. They just kind of stood there.

Luckily this was not the case for the entire show. When the band released about a hundred clear beach balls into the crowd halfway into the epic "Impossible Soul" the performer/audience barrier was broken and we were finally part of the inner circle. As the songs says, "We can do much more together," and this was certainly the case. Once we were involved, the feeling was incredible. I finally had that summer concert euphoria I was expecting to have from the very first strum of Sufjan's banjo. Unfortunately, this was the last song.

I'm usually against encores, but one was needed here. Please Sufjan, now that you have my attention, let this feeling carry on for a few more songs. The encore was 3 songs long. We all sang "Casimir Pulaski Day" together and Sufjan closed out the night was the can't-go-wrong "Chicago." I left happy.

So yes, there were moments of brilliance. And a few of them could not have been pulled off by anyone by Sufjan himself. But this isn't the latest Brooklyn buzz band we are talking about here. This is SUFJAN STEVENS. I expected about 100% epicness and I only got about 40%. I do think I know who I want to be for Halloween though.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Repeat - 8/3/2011

Bit of a catch-up On Repeat. The next one will definitely have some newer ish.

MP3: JEFF The Brotherhood - Something In The Way (Nirvana Cover)

In case you didn't already know, Nirvana's Nevermind is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a massive, most likely expensive boxed set. If you don't have pockets deep enough to drop the cash, is offering the next best thing (kinda). Newermind is a compilation of great artists covering Nevermind songs. The lineup includes Surfer Blood, Amanda Palmer, even The Vaselines, who Kurt Cobain once named his all-time faves. It's always great to listen to covers of classics. Will the coverer pay homage to the artist by remaining faithful to the original recording or will they put their own unique spin on the song? Two of my favorite tracks from Newermind display both ends of the spectrum. JEFF The Brotherhood's "Something In The Way" sounds eeriely similar to the original, maybe with a bit crunchier guitars. On the other hand, Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band's version of "Stay Away" sounds completely new. They've taken the upbeat grunge screamer and turned it into a soul classic throwback (if you aren't already hip to Charles Bradley, do yourself a favor and check out some YouTube videos, he will not disappoint).

Tennis released an all-right album earlier this year, but none of the tracks are as good as their recent cover of Brenda Lee's "Is It True?" On this throwback track, Alaina Moore's voice has never sounded better.

"Wolves" is not the best track put out by UK's The Good Natured, but it maintains the gothic pop sounds I fell in love with on previous tracks "Be My Animal" and "Your Body Is A Machine." I seriously gobble up anything this band does. "Wolves" is on their new Skeleton EP.

Yes, yes, yes. Late on the Austra train by a few months. Truth is, I never gave them a listen until after I saw them open up for tUnE-yArDs a few weeks ago. They were all right and fun to watch. I was especially intrigued with the way they treated vocals. While not necessarily out front in the mix all the time, the effects are relatively clean. "Lose It" is their most popular song and it's a wonderful showcase of lead singer Kate Stelmanis's talent.

Monday, August 1, 2011

TWHP: Bon Accord At Your Summer BBQ [FREE MP3]

Recently started writing for the The Wild Honey Pie blog and you can read my first piece for them on English electronic artist Bon Accord over here. Very excited about this new venture!

Monday, July 18, 2011

tUnE-yArDs at Pier 54 Hudson River Park's River Rocks 7/14/2011

So I have bad news for every other band. It's going to take a lot to steal the coveted "best gig I saw this summer" title away from tUnE-yArDs. And I have a feeling this will hold true not just for me, but for most of the almost 5,000 fans who attended the kickoff show for Hudson River Park's River Rocks 2011 concert series on Thursday, July 14th.

I must admit, the praise surrounding Merrill Garbus and her solo project tUnE-yArDs (Garbus previously performed as a member of the band Sister Suvi) has been a little lost on me. While it is impossible to deny the unparalleled talent in her unique recordings and the video taped performances of Garbus effortlessly looping drum and vocal tracks on the spot, it has always been difficult for me to throw my full support behind an artist whose songs are not exactly mainstream accessible (no apologies). Even tUnE-yArDs's second album w h o k i l l, which marries Garbus's world music influences with the pleasing structure of the pop song, took a few listend before I could admit it was just OK. But you should never truly judge a musician until you see them live.

Garbus immediately asserts herself as an artist you will not take your eyes off of for the entire set. She opens with that "Do You Want To Live" song which begins with her signature intricate vocal looping. 10 seconds in you are amazed that she is still the only person on stage, as the web of sounds she creates so quickly and flawlessly fills the night (a particularly beautiful summer night on the water with the Empire State Building and a full orange moon behind you, complete with fireworks to to punctuate the performance with an exclamation point). When Garbus begins banging her drums and she shouts "Do you want to live?" your heart is jumping out of your chest as you scream back "YEAH YEAH YEAH!" Because of the nature of what Garbus does in live performance, all of her songs start out bare-boned and build slowly into a party where everyone has drank the kool-aid, and that feels so special to be a part of. Additional highlights include single "Bizness" and single-worthy "Gansta" as well as sexy rock-y ballad "Powa."

Everything technical about a tUnE-yArDs performance is muscle memory. As Maura Johnston suggested in her Village Voice review, "It would be amazing to watch her from above, which would offer a fantastic vantage point for her pedal manipulating" (read the whole article it's brilliant). There is no way Garbus does not know herself inside and out musically. This allows her the freedom to be most expressive with her voice. She can switch between a delicate falsetto and a primal scream at the drop of a hat, as easily as her songs switch from African rhythms to hip hop inspired beats. Garbus was joined by a bass player and two saxophone players (who occasionally hit Coke bottles and pot covers as added percussion) but she carried the entire show herself.

Walking away from the show, I mentally moved w h o k i l l up to my top 10 of 2011 so far. Not because I think it sounds any different now, but because listening to it will always bring me back to Thursday and to what was pretty much a perfect NYC summer night.

Le fireworks.

Opening for Ms. Garbus was stoic-faced Canadian band Austra. Quickly: the lead singer Katie Stelmanis is an icy Stevie Nicks and the pretty-boy keyboard player has the best legs I've seen (on a male OR female). The band's dark, bass-heavy, slow disco treats the vocals (Stelmanis has a pair of female twins backing her up) as another instrument in the mix. Normally this turns me off (probably has everything to do with the fact that I was a singer myself) but it seemed to work well for Austra, especially beacuse the mics were relatively clean with limited effects. Austra impressed me enough to finally look into their stuff (I had managed to avoid them even though the blogosphere was practically begging me to pay attention) but I definitely get the feeling this is more of a winter album.

First tUnE-yArDs photo courtesy of Sarah Benditt.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Repeat - 6/1/2011

MP3: White Denim - Street Joy

Whenever I hear this band's name I think about the crisp, fresh-to-death bleach-y white pair of jeans I owned when I was in the 5th grade. Similarly, White Denim's "Street Joy" is a bit of a throwback. Psychedelic guitars are the background to frontman James Petralli's gentle yet raspy Southern drawl. D, the band's fifth album, dropped last week.

UK buzzies The Vaccines finally released their debut What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? stateside yesterday. Usually categorized by fast-paced and short-in-length songs like previously released favorites "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)" and "If You Wanna", the filler songs on this album are much slower and less spastic, complete with warm background vocals and more sophisticated lyrics. Still, The Vaccines manage to remain consistent in writing simple songs that are fun to sing along to and require no embellishment to achieve listener satisfaction. "Wetsuit" displays this new experience of The Vaccines' sound. Also be sure to check out "Family Friend." Heartbreaking song (in that good kind of way).

So yeah, I guess you could say we like Savoir Adore. You can grab newest song "Sparrow" from Neon Gold. Usually it's Deidre's voice that gives us chills, but Paul is the one who stands out on this track. So great to hear new stuff from them.
MP3: Foster The People - Call It What You Want

Yes, I am aware that Foster The People are totally a guilty pleasure band. My affection for them is completely due to the tall drink of water that is their bass player and the fact that it's impossible to get "Pumped Up Kicks" out of your head for about 3 days after hearing the chorus. Unfortunately, new album Torches does not live up to the expectations set with their Foster The People EP. "Call It What You Want" is basically the only think salvageable from this record. If you already have the EP, you can forget the rest.

Another guilty pleasure. She's never been before, but seriously I can't stop playing Britney Spears' new tune "Till The World Ends." I hope you guys are still my friends.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On Repeat - 5/25/2011

MP3: Low - Especially Me

Are you guys sick of this weather yet? Seems like NYC isn't as keen as the rest of us to start off the summer. "Especially Me" by slowcore greats Low has been occupying space on my iPod as the perfect accompaniment to melancholy walks through the city in abnormally gray May weather.

Sub Pop has a wayyy excellent Summer Sampler available for free download through the iTunes Facebook app. That's where I ganked this track among other beauts from Fleet Foxes, Chad VanGaalen, Mogwai and more of the label's stellar artists.

"Fast Enough" by Brooklyn dance pop outfit Infernal Devices has been making me smile ever since I learned about them through new music discovery site groopEase (pretty cool, worth checking out). The sound is a bit Depeche Mode meets Billy Idol, so that can't be a bad thing right? Also, check out their new artist profile up on Blaqbook, the blog of my good friend Justin.

Austin indie rock veterans Okkervil River have released a hell of an album with this month's I Am Very Far. First single "Wake And Be Fine" is a true rock tune that sounds like it could have come out of the 1980s.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

my 2 Cents on LCD Soundsystem ticket fiasco

Just wanted to put this out there real quick.

Recently read that article on Reuters "James Murphy's role in the LCD Soundsystem ticket fiasco" and it left a horrible taste in my mouth. I don't think Mr. Murphy's hands are as dirty as Reuters implies. If the world works as they say it does, with the promoter holding back huge swaths of tickets and then dumping them on brokers, hangers on and the band, that still doesn't mean the band had to be in cahoots. Maybe the band got a couple of hundred tickets of the thousands? Immediately booking the T5 gigs, and then imposing a delivery regimen that would discourage scalping seems to indicate that Murphy's anger was genuine. After all, how often did LCD play big enough venues that he would be aware of how the deck is stacked against the lowly fan. And I'm not Machiavellian enough to believe that the whole enterprise was staged just to make a big pop.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SXSW 2011 video: Wanda Jackson - Let's Have A Party

One of the most unexpectedly enjoyable moments of my SXSW was Wanda Jackson performing at Rachel Ray's Feedback party. Also unexpected: Rachel Ray was not nearly as annoying as she appears on TV.

Monday, March 28, 2011

SXSW 2011 video: Sharon Van Etten - Love More

It seems a little condescending to call another girl adorable, especially one who is almost certainly 10 times cooler than me, but Sharon Van Etten is adorable and awesome and EPIC. Pun totally intended.

SXSW 2011 video: Oberhofer - I Could Go

I have a serious crush on these boys...

Friday, March 25, 2011

SXSW 2011 video: Foster The People - Helena Beat

It was impossible to escape Foster The People at SXSW this year, I think they played like every show. Apparently they are also on this thing called the radio?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SXSW 2011 video: Grouplove - Colours

Grouplove is quickly becoming my new obsession. Love love love this song...

SXSW 2011 video: The Vaccines - If You Wanna

SXSW 2011 video: Cults - You Know What I Mean

Cults is definitely one of the bands that proved they deserved my attention during SXSW. They are releasing their first full-length later on this year and debuted stellar new track "You Know What I Mean" at several SX gigs.

SXSW 2011: short and sweet recap + the best tacos + the songs that ruled the week

dragon's got her Ray Bans on...

bands that pleasantly validated their buzz: Cults, Grouplove, Deluka

most surprisingly unannoying celebrity: Rachel Ray

best tacos: Lustre Pearl

ridiculous "getting my hopes up" moment that (of course) never came to fruition: Jack White at the Wanda Jackson show

most random special guest: while all the beautiful people were being treated to an impromptou Jay-Z set at the Kanye VEVO Powerstation show, I was watching Dennis Quaid sing "Gin & Juice" with The Bravery at Stubb's

songs that ruled the week:

Cults - Most Wanted [MP3]
The Vaccines - Post Break-Up Sex [MP3]
Grouplove - Colours [MP3]
Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High [MP3]
Smith Westerns - Weekend [MP3]
Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks [MP3]
TV On The Radio - Young Liars [MP3]
Sharon Van Etten - Don't Do It [MP3]
Oberhofer - o0O0o0O0o [MP3]
Deluka - OMFG [MP3]
Tyler the Creator (of Odd Future) - French! [MP3]

lost of decent SXSW video to come!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Repeat: While I Was Away...

In an additional effort to catch up with my faithful readers, here are the latest albums I can't seem to stop listening to.

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Guys, I have a serious girl crush on Lykke Li. Her new album Wounded Rhymes takes off beautifully from where she left us on her 2008 debut Youth Novels. Her unique brand of melancoly art pop is infused with tribal beats and heartbreaking lyrics. If this hottie can't get a guy to love her, what hope do the rest of us amazingly talented and beautiful girls have? The more fast-paced songs like first single "Get Some," "Youth Knows No Pain," and "Rich Kid Blues" all seem to blend together and they sound very similar production wise. But where Wounded Rhymes really shines is in its quiet moments. I confess that I already know all the vocal parts to album closer "Silent My Song" by heart (looking for backup singers Ms. Li?) and I find it very difficult to not sing "Unrequited Love" aloud on the subway while letting a few tears fall...this album may be detrimental to my dating life. Favorite track is "I Know Places." Li is joined only by her background vocalists and a deeply tuned guitar. I dare you to not be moved.

Adele - 21

The depth of Adele's voice is incomparable. It's powerful and strong and can stand on its own without any ornamentation. She doesn't need to rely on the self-indulgent embellishments employed by other pop stars to validate their talent (ahem). When Adele opens her mouth, you feel something immediately. Another sophomore album, the songs on 21 are soulful and bluesy with immense commercial appeal. The simplicity of her technique is admirable and the emotion she is able to effortlessly evoke makes this former vocalist green with envy. Standout tracks include the throwback flavored "Rumor Has It," the dramatic "Set Fire to the Rain," and the delicate closing pair of tunes "Someone Like You" and "I Found A Boy." Plus, first single and album opener "Rolling In The Deep" has been remixed and covered dozens of times, and almost all are done quite well. Proof that it's almost impossible to screw up a song that is written well.

Acrylics - Lives and Treasure

I'm most surprised I like this album. Acrylics is a band that the blogs have adored for a while but I have been late getting to this particular party (see also The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, although they have an excellent band name). Even when I listen to the songs on Lives and Treasure, I know I shouldn't like it. The album has a heavy 80s influence which is usually a big turnoff for me, but this Brooklyn duo somehow gives integrity to cheesy synths and high pitched drum machines. It helps that Jason Klauber's deep vibrato and Molly Shea's sweet soprano complement each other beautifully. Fave songs are the opening "Counting Sheep" and the previously released "Nightwatch."

The Babies - The Babies

Blah blah blah more of that lo-fi indie rock stuff. But this one is sticking with me for some reason. Normally I can't really stand Vivian Girl Cassie Ramone's voice but with The Babies it doesn't seem as cringeworthy. Love "Meet Me In The City," "Voice Like Thunder," "Breakin' the Law," and "Caroline."

Young the Giant - Young the Giant

Young the Giant have released an incredible eponymous album that reminds me a bit of Local Natives, my number 1 album last year. They are similar in that they are true rock bands that place emphasis on the vocals but Young the Giant songs are a bit more upbeat and utilize less harmonies. Definitely a band I will be paying attention to.

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while...

I hate it when bloggers start their posts like that. Unfortunately lately I have fallen victim to idle time not put to good use. So I'm back and I promise to stop being lazy and yada yada's what I've been up to:

Most recently, I went to see Suckers at Bowery Ballroom on 2/25/2011. I saw Suckers at Music Hall of Williamsburg last year for the release party of Wide Smile, one of my top 10 albums of 2010. At that time, Suckers couldn't really fill the room and the crowd wasn't as responsive as I would have hoped. Things have definitely changed. Suckers was able to fill Bowery Ballroom (which has the same capacity as MHOW) with enthusiastic fans drunk enough to dance and sing along to every song. Along with his fan base, front man Quinn Walker has also gorn out his beard as well as his waistline. This really isn't something that needs to be mentioned, but I think that if it was a girl up there on stage it would definitely be noted, so there you go. They opened with "Before Your Birthday," one of my favorite Wide Smile songs, and Walker got to show off his impeccable glam rock vocals. Other crowd pleasers that sounded stellar included "Black Sheep," Martha," and "A Mind I Knew." Things to note: drummer gets so energized during some of the songs that he jumps off his stool, Walker is an unnaturally talented whistler, and the funk beat in the breakdown of "Loose Change" is a groove that will hit you in all the right places. All in all, it was a great show...but I really want to hear them play "Easy Chairs" live! I distinctly remember running into Pan at last year's Rock Lottery and pleading with him to start including it in their set. So far my wish has not come true.

I caught an excellent show with a stacked bill at Glasslands Gallery on 1/22/2011. The Vaccines are the latest ultra buzzy band to come out of the UK and they followed up their Bowery Ballroom show (their first U.S. performance ever) with a stop over in the fairer borough. The anticipatory energy in the tiny club was palpable and you couldn't whip your hair back and forth without swishing a blogger in the face. The band arrived in true headliner fashion, with a large entourage and their own soundboard in tow. I'm a big fan of The Vaccines recorded stuff and they were good enough live I guess. Unfortunately I don't feel very qualified to give them a proper review. Tamara and I got there early to catch the opening band and starting double fisting vodka tonics right away, convinced that once The Vaccines were up the bar would be impossible to get to. It wasn't...but we continued to drink ridiculously anyway.

The previously mentioned "stacked bill" was rounded out by Oberhofer, Guards, and Motive. Oberhofer has been dominating the playlists on my iPod ever since CMJ 2010. They are a young band with plenty of promise and hooks for days. Can't wait for a proper full-length release from these boys.

Motive was also quite enjoyable. The local band has a pretty excellent demo that they give away for free at all their shows. They've been building a loyal fan base in Brooklyn opening up for bigger name bands and impressing just about everyone with how tight they wear their pants.

Also had the chance to catch Robyn at Radio City Music Hall on 2/5/2011. It was a pleasing and different experience to attend a concert with a higher production value than I'm used to. Apparently, it was Robyn's largest crowd that she had ever pulled as a headliner. It was a glorious night, full of dancing queens. That girl is tireless. I guess I could learn a thing or two...

Photo of The Vaccines courtesy of We All Want Someone To Shout For.
Photo of Robyn courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cloud Nothings at Mercury Lounge 1/19/2011

I've seen Cloud Nothings three times. That's
  • once I've seriously reconsidered my position of not wearing ear plugs to shows (or maybe I should just stop standing in front of the speakers),
  • twice John Norris and I have given each other an acknowledging nod (at a Cloud Nothings show),
  • twice little brother has surprised me by telling me he really likes this band (I WILL turn him into a Wavves fan someday!),
  • twice I've started real life conversations with people I previously only knew on Twitter (at a Cloud Nothings show),
  • three times the drummer has totally cracked me up with his seemingly unnatural body positions as he plays (he reminds me of Animal),
  • and three times I've started crushing on the bass player (but seriously, when does the NOT happen to me at a gig).
It was also the first time I got to use my new Flip cam. The sound is pretty horrible but check out this video of "Even If It Worked Out," probably my fave Cloud Nothings song, such a good b-side...

If there is one criticism I have of Cloud Nothings' live shows, it's that they play too fast. Their performances are always faster than the recording. I've done my own fair share of performing/recording, so I know that it's terribly easy to unintentionally speed things up, but I feel like some of Cloud Nothings' songs lose their soul when rushed through. This is not to say that the band plays these songs sloppily. I'm consistently impressed with how tightly and cleanly these boys play music that on the surface seems anything but precise. I guess I'd just like them to slow down enough so that it's easier for people less lo-fi inclined to appreciate what an excellent songwriter Dylan Baldi is.

Here's another video of "Turning On."

Cloud Nothings' self-titled album is due out next week. Getting stoked.